It had taken a long time to get the Grey Lady Helena Ravenclaw to share her story with the Doctor and Luna.
The only way the Doctor had eventually been able to convince her to help him was to allow her to come with them as they went to destroy the tainted diadem. So while Luna went up to Gryffindor Tower to collect Ginny and Neville, Helena Ravenclaw followed the Doctor on his way to get Ron and Hermione from the TARDIS in the library.
“You’re very different from most humans,” Helena said when they were around the charms corridor. “Are you sure you’re not a Ravenclaw?”
“I wasn’t Sorted into Ravenclaw, no,” he whispered, still hidden under his invisibility cloak. He hoped that if anyone saw Helena talking to him, they would simply assume she was talking to thin air like the crazy girl the rest of the school thought she was.
“I don’t mean that.” She waved her hand. “Are you of my family?”
The Doctor looked at her, startled, though of course she wouldn’t see under the cloak. “No,” he finally managed to say. “No, I’m descended from the Peverell family.” Though that wasn’t, strictly speaking, true. Harry Potter was descended from the Peverells. The Doctor himself was descended from a family a lot more removed from the Ravenclaws than that.
“Ah. A good family,” she said. “Very ambitious. Mostly Slytherins.”
Again, he was surprised. Though, thinking of the story of the Peverells--which apparently his headache would let him remember without consequence--he supposed that was not so surprising. “Even Ignotus?”
“Ignotus was a Hatstall,” she said.
He asked, “A Hatstall?”
“The Sorting Hat sat on his head for twenty-three minutes before putting him in Slytherin. You could see the two of them fighting it out. A shame. He was very clever. I thought he might have been a good Ravenclaw.”
“Maybe he was cunning, more than clever,” the Doctor finally offered.
“Likely. The cloak he invented--well, you’re wearing it. You must know all about what it can do.”
The Doctor looked down at the invisibility cloak. “This is Peverell’s cloak?” Something stirred in his mind and he stomped it down viciously, in case it was a memory he wasn’t supposed to have.
“Yes. And that stone in your pocket is a Peverell creation, too.”
He dropped his hand to the small black stone that had fallen out of his Snitch, when he had gotten the TARDIS key. “There were three Peverell brothers,” he said slowly.
“There have been many Peverell brothers. But I know the ones you mean. Antioch and his Deathstick,” she spat. “No matter how Albus and I argued, he refused to be rid of it. I told him it would only bring grief to him. The families I have seen broken by its power--they are too many to count.”
He wondered why he had never thought to ask the ghosts of Hogwarts to tell him history before. Surely they would have known all about the Chamber--especially Helena--at the very least. Stupid, he told himself. Very stupid. That’s what happens when you refuse to ask for help.
Resolving to re-read the tale of the Peverell brothers as soon as possible--wouldn’t it be in the book that Professor Dumbledore had given Hermione in his will?--the Doctor asked Helena to not talk anymore, as they moved into corridors where it was more likely they would be seen or heard.
Remembering what Luna had said, he was very aware of the sound of his breathing as they walked. It may have been silly, but if Luna had managed to catch out Dumbledore, of all people…
Classroom near the Headmaster’s Tower
Ginny and Neville nearly knocked the Doctor, Ron and Hermione over when they saw them. “You’re absolutely joking,” Neville kept saying. “There’s no way you snuck into Hogwarts. You’re absolutely joking.”
“I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve,” the Doctor said, peeling himself away from Ginny.
“I’m really glad you’re here, Harry,” she said, and the sincerity in her voice almost broke his hearts. Because he wasn’t Harry, not all the way through, and once Voldemort was defeated, Harry would fade away and become the Doctor, travelling time and space once more.
It was Rose and Romana and Sarah and Susan all over again--leaving behind the people he could have loved, would have loved, if things had been just the slightest bit different.
But he was who he was, and who he was, was not the type to settle.
So he pulled away from Ginny and spread out the Marauder’s Map on the desk.
“Why are we here, Harry?” Neville asked. “What d’you need us for?”
He looked up from the map. “You were all with me when we went into the Ministry of Magic. I thought you might be up for sticking it to You-Know-Who again.”
Ginny grinned. “It would be our pleasure. Right, Nev?”
Neville slowly nodded. “Right.”
“I’ve been trying to convince him to start up the DA again,” she told Harry. “The students need some kind of hope, and I thought that’d do nicely. Sort of a rebel movement.”
“I didn’t say you were wrong,” Neville protested. “I just said we’d have to be careful, and we should start small. Like the three of us,” he said, gesturing to Ginny and Luna and himself.
“And I thought we’d have to do something to show the students that we’re working against the Carrows and Snape. Something big. Something not careful,” Ginny said pointedly.
“Like stealing the Sword of Gryffindor,” Luna put in. When Neville, Ginny, Ron and Hermione looked at her, baffled and startled in turns, she shrugged. “What?”
“The Sword is in the Headmaster’s office,” Ron said. “You can’t break into the Headmaster’s office. Snape’s probably set all kinds of traps.”
Hermione shot a sharp look at the Doctor. “We’re near the Headmaster’s office right now. Aren’t we, Harry?”
“Yes, we are,” he said simply. He tapped the map, which he had been inspecting, trying to find one vital piece of information. “And Snape isn’t.” Severus Snape was currently in the dungeons with the dots labelled Amycus and Alecto Carrow.
“Harry,” Neville said very quietly, “you’re absolutely joking.”
The Room of Requirement
Ginny led the mission to recover the Sword, with Luna--who said she had a plan, and no one doubted her ability to think outside the box--and Neville, who refused to let them do it alone.
Ron and Hermione accompanied the Doctor to the Room of Requirement, where Helena Ravenclaw awaited them.
“You know where the diadem is?” the Doctor asked her, handing his invisibility cloak to Hermione to put in her beaded bag. “Helena…”
Helena was looking at Ron and Hermione. “They’re not Ravenclaws.”
“I nearly was,” Hermione said. “The Hat argued with me.”
“I never knew that,” the Doctor said. “I remember it took a while--”
She interrupted. “I was nearly a Hatstall. That’s when--”
“The Hat can’t decide where to put you,” the Doctor broke in, returning the favour.
Ron looked between them, bewildered. “The Hat couldn’t decide where to put you? I thought it just--knew. That it paused for, y’know, dramatic effect.”
The Doctor decided now wasn’t the best time to mention that he was nearly put in Slytherin. “Helena,” he said, appealing to the nervous ghost. “Please. Ron’s very intelligent, great at chess, and Hermione was nearly a Ravenclaw. Please. You trust me, and I vouch for them. They’re good people.”
She hesitated a moment more, then nodded. “All right. The Room of Hidden Things.”
Ron frowned. “What’s that?”
“That’s where I hid the Half-blood Prince’s potions book,” the Doctor said.
At the same time, Hermione told him, “It’s where Malfoy brought the Death Eaters from last year.”
“Once again, everyone knows everything, except me.” Ron scowled.
Hermione nudged him. “Cheer up.”
Ron sighed, but it seemed like he couldn’t continue being mad when Hermione was trying to make him feel better. The Doctor was very pleased at that.
He started pacing in front of the Room of Requirement, thinking about hidden things and the Vanishing Cabinets and the Half-blood Prince’s potions’ text and the diadem, which, it was entirely possible, he in fact had seen and touched before, he realised. He had used an old tiara and a wig to mark the place he had hidden the potions book.
Everything is connected, he thought.
The door to the Room of Requirement materialised in front of them. They ducked inside--Helena ahead--and Hermione spelled the door locked behind them.
Towers of old furniture and abandoned school paraphernalia rose up in front of them. Chairs and bathtubs and books and closets and boxes--if someone had brought it to school and forgotten it, or hidden it away and never retrieved it, it had found its way here.
“Do you know where it is?” the Doctor asked Helena.
She looked up at the stacks upon stacks of things. “I--I--”
“Looking for this?”
The voice came from everywhere and nowhere and it was very familiar. The Doctor got chills up his spine.
Draco Malfoy smirked as he emerged from the shadows between a forest of rolled-up rugs. Ravenclaw’s Lost Diadem dangled from his fingers. “Potter. Though that isn’t entirely true these days, is it.”
The Doctor started backing up, keeping Ron and Hermione behind him. There was something very different about Malfoy. Perhaps it was the presence of his dark allies at the school, Snape in charge, but he seemed so much more confident and sure of himself. The Doctor had seen him break in May, at the Astronomy Tower. He’d clearly put himself back together better than before.
He pretended ignorance. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Malfoy. What are you doing here? I thought You-Know-Who was keeping you and your parents under his thumb.”
Malfoy sneered. “The old fool couldn’t keep track of me for longer than an hour. He’s slipping, if you ask me.” He twirled the diadem around his long, elegant fingers. “Are you looking for this, Potter?”
“Like I said, Malfoy--I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Then you won’t mind if I take it.” Malfoy went to tuck it into the bag hanging off his shoulder. The Doctor could practically sense the wards coming off it, they were so strong.
He lunged forward, not even thinking, and tackled Malfoy back against the door of the Room of Requirement.
“Harry!” Hermione said. “His wand!”
Harry knocked Malfoy’s wand out of his hand just as it slid out of its sheath, and shoved his forearm across Malfoy’s throat. “Give me the diadem.”
“Bit desperate there, Doctor. Aren’t you worried about hurting me? A poor, innocent human?”
The Doctor jerked back at the use of his name, and the question slipped out before he could stop it. “How do you know who I am?”
Malfoy smirked again. “How do you not know who I am? Come, now, Doctor. Surely you know me.” He advanced on the Doctor, herding him back towards Ron and Hermione. “Look into my eyes and say my name.”
There was only one person with that kind of arrogance.
Ron threw the spell with all the force he could muster on his bad shoulder and the bag with the diadem flew out of Malfoy’s hands. It landed in the middle of the aisle twisting away from the door, and Hermione and Ron scrambled for it without hesitation.
The Doctor and Malfoy--the Master, his mind whispered, but he refused to accept it--stared at each other for a moment longer.
Malfoy flung out his hand and his wand, which had gone the way of the bag at the disarming spell, smacked into his palm.
The Doctor threw a wordless spell at him, a blast of hot light. Malfoy spun it away into a column of chairs and retaliated, an ice storm bursting out of the end of his wand.
Six years of flying took over, and the Doctor dived out of the way.
He chanced a look further up the aisle. Hermione had already snatched up the diadem and bag and Ron was dragging her away.
The Doctor had to get Malfoy away from the door, so they could get out and meet up with Ginny and Neville and Luna. He was going to have to make Malfoy chase him.
“Come on, Malfoy, is that the best you’ve got?” The Doctor raised his wand and swung it, and the air it stirred up blew into a miniature tornado. The tornado leaped across the space between him and Malfoy and grabbed the Slytherin up, tossing him into the rugs behind him.
Malfoy clambered off his soft landing pad and growled. “I’ve had seventeen years of classical wizarding education, my dear Doctor. What have you had? Eleven years in a cupboard and six years of copying Granger’s notes?”
The Doctor flicked his wand. The tornado was sucked back into the tip, and when it exploded forth again, it was on fire.
Malfoy ran for it. He took off into the stacks and the Doctor followed after, keeping his fire on a tight leash.
Malfoy fired watery attacks over his shoulder as he went, and little sparks of something explosive that made the chairs and bookcases and bathtubs crash down on the Doctor. It took all his years of Quidditch training and bully dodging to keep him safe and unscathed as he chased Malfoy far away from the exit.
He had to give up on the fire tornado when he almost lost control of it, and after that, he stuck to the jinxes and hexes that Harry Potter had learned and taught at DA meetings. Bat-Bogey, Jelly-Legs, boils and burns and waterfalls.
The Doctor ducked narrowly under a flying birdcage, and threw a ball of green lightning at Malfoy. “Fight me, you coward!”
Malfoy stopped and turned.
“Oh, did that hit a nerve?” the Doctor said.
“No. I think it’s the first time I’ve heard you admit to your bloodthirst since the War.”
“This is war, Malfoy.”
Malfoy raised his wand. “Not our war, Doctor. You’d do well to remember that, before you get too caught up in the inevitable fate of these people, like the Gryffindor you are.”
“These people are my friends,” the Doctor snapped. “I’m not going to leave them. They need me. They need Harry Potter, and I’m Harry Potter, and I’m going to defeat you and Voldemort if it’s the last thing I do.”
Malfoy grinned. “I was waiting for you to say that.”
“Voldemort. Have fun with the Snatchers. I’ll see you again very soon, Doctor.”
And with that, he cast a summoning spell on the pile of chairs behind the Doctor, and turned on his heel, Apparating away.
The Doctor flattened himself to the ground. The chairs catapulted through the air over his head, but the moment Malfoy was gone, they just fell--dropped right on top of him.
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