Chapter Five – A Long Story Short
‘Oh Harry, so nice of you to join us.’ Said Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster for Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, a tall man with a silver beard that disappeared beneath the desktop. He peered at Harry and the Doctor over long, spindly fingers, and Harry got the distinct impression that the man could see right through him.
On either side of Dumbledore’s desk was a circle of large, squashy, purple armchairs. In these sat a number of people, among them Harry’s best friends Ron Wesley, a gangly boy with a shock of red hair, and Hermione Granger, the smartest girl in the year and lots of bushy brown hair. Her eyes were red and puffy, and her hand was in Ron’s. Harry was surprised to see Professor McGonigal, the transfiguration teacher and head of Gryffindor house. She was a very stern lady, with a tight bun and permanent frown to match.
The Doctor slipped from Harry’s left shoulder to stand protectively over one of the chairs. It belonged to the pretty, blonde stranger known as Rose, and she was as mysterious as the Doctor himself.
As Harry sat himself in an armchair that had appeared between Ron and Hermione, he found himself staring straight into the transparent eyes of Neville. The shock that this gave the raven haired boy nearly caused him to fall out of his chair.
Ron quickly looked at Harry, hearing his gasp of horror, and smiled meekly.
‘It’s alright Harry. Neville is a ghost now. It’s just like having him around has a human, expect he is.... a ghost.’ He finished stupidly. Neville laughed, and the laugh sounded exactly the same, expect it lacked something. Harry was sure that someone died when Neville had.
Floating next to Neville was a chubby little ghost, wearing a plain robe and calming smile and a taller and much prouder ghost wearing elegant clothes and a neck ruffle. These were the ghost of Hufflepuff and Gryffindor, known as the Fat Friar and Nearly Headless Nick, or as he was preferred to be called, Sir Nicholas Demimse Porpinton. They hovered close by Neville, and it was clear to see that they were some sort of mentors, helping Neville through this strange new world of his.
Dumbledore coughed polity, and all eyes shifted to him. He rose from his chair, and said in a calm voice, ‘Last night a tragic event took place. We all know what happened, but what I want to know is why. I have asked you to gather with me in this early hour to answer this question. Breakfast will be delayed and today’s lessons will be postponed until for Neville’s friend’s sake.’
He sat back down, staring straight at Harry, waiting expectantly. So Harry told them the events of that night, although he left out the scene in the morning, because he still wasn’t sure if it was a dream or if it had actually happened. The room gasped when Harry described the Darlek’s, and Neville whimpered slightly.
When Harry finished with him leaving the hospital wing, Dumbledore turned his now ferocious glare on the Doctor and Rose, silently demanding that they explain how those things had gotten into his castle. The Doctor stood a little straighter, and stepped into the middle of the circle of armchairs.
He coughed, clearing his throat and mentally preparing the speech he was to give. He glanced at Rose who nodded as if to say, ‘it’s okay, I’ll help where I can’. With that, the Doctor launched into the story of his life.
‘I think it’s best if I start from the beginning. Well, not the very beginning, we would be here all year!’ He began, grinning broadly.
‘Doctor...’ Growled Rose, warning him not to get side track.
‘Right, right. Okay, so I am not a human. That’s a good starting point! So I am a Time Lord. The very last in fact.... Anyways, I, sorry Rose, we are here on a sort of mission really. Those things that killed you Neville are indeed called Darlek’s, and you haven’t been their first victim. They destroyed my home planet and all who lived on it.’ His eyes stared straight ahead, not seeing the wall. They were remembering seeing the Great Time War, were he had fought bravely on the front line.
Rose sighed and got up from her chair.
‘I travel with him through time and space. We stole something from the Darlek’s, their main source of power. It was called....’ She looked up at the Doctor, silently asking him to supply the name.
‘It was the Archangel Crystal. Actually the Darlek’s stole it from the Time Lords about a thousand years ago, just before I was born. It helped them reform and become an organised killing machine. So Rose and I infiltrated their ranks when we came across them in when was it? Oh yeah, the year 9800. They were planning an attack on the Swampies, weren’t they funny things? Them and their Kroll.’ A look from Rose here stopped the Doctor from going into too much detail about the Swampies, ‘so we stopped them, and scored this! Oh, and it appears that they followed us through time and space to this place. We are trying to destroy it.’ He added as an afterthought.
The Doctor brightly took out a large, brilliant white crystal the size of a pomegranate. It was beautiful, the light in the room danced around it, as if playing a game. The core of the crystal was liquid gold, and the surrounding crystal was a white so bright, that it nearly blinded Harry. The white mixed with the gold, making wonderful tones of white gold and a soft yellow.
The room seemed fixated on the Archangel Crystal, and Ron’s hand had actually left Hermione’s to stretch towards it. The Doctor had become aware of this fact, and hastily stuffed it back into his pocket.
Hermione stood up. ‘This is impossible. I mean, time travel is possible, but only small leaps in time. And you’ She pointed at the Doctor, who lifted his hands in defence, ‘ You can’t possibly be an alien! The Muggles, the non magical population, have already proved that there is no life outside of Earth.’
She sat back down, looking pleased with herself for having disproved the couple’s story.
‘Muggles? Is that make me a Muggle?’ Asked Rose, looking at Hermione.
‘Yes it does. If magic is present, you would have been sent a letter.’ Stated the girl simply. ‘Look, I think I know a bit about time travel. I’ve read all about it. You can’t go back more than a year, because you could potentially rip the space-time continuum. It’s very fragile.’
Harry looked at Ron, who looked back as Harry, looking as confused as Harry felt.
‘That’s all very well, but there are other galaxy’s out there. My people, the Time Lords, have developed this sort of ability to be able to make all sorts of time-travel equipment-‘
‘But,’ interrupted Hermione, ‘How do you survive? It sounds as if you two do lots of time travel. How do you not run into your past selves?’
The Doctor crouched in front of the girl, who glared at him. His grin broadened. ‘Wibbly Wobbly Timey Whimey. My machine, the TARDIS, has a programme in it that stops me from entering my own timeline. Well, mostly.’
‘So now we know the story. Now we need to decide what to do about you two.’ Mused Dumbledore, studying the Doctor and Rose, who glanced at each other, wearing matching expressions of worry.
‘It sounds to me as if you too are the only ones who know how to deal with these Darleks. I also think that if your story is true, which I believe it is, you will be of great help. Some of our students are confused about the logic of magic.’
‘Well so am I!’ Interrupted the Doctor, straightening up.
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows before continuing, ‘ I thought as much. You and Rose will be temporary teachers here at my school. I believe you have something you could teach us all.’ He concluded, looking at the unusually silent McGonigal. She glared up at him, still thinking about the information she had been presented with.
‘Are you sure this is wise, Albus? We don’t even know if their story is true.’ She finally said.
Neville floated high, struggling to make himself stay at eye level. ‘I believe him. That thing that shot me wasn’t like anything I had ever even heard about before. And that laser, when it hit my body, it didn’t have that thing that you feel when a spell gets you. It was far to foreign.’
The room was deathly quiet. They obviously still hadn’t gotten used to the idea of Neville being a ghost yet. Hermione burst into tears again, and Ron slide over to her, holding her gently.