The next morning
A stick cracked behind him.
The Doctor half-turned, recognised Hermione’s jeans, and went back to stripping the leaf from its steam. The forest floor was matted with fallen, dead leaves--he figured mangling a few of them would make no difference in the scheme of things, and it had given him something to focus on during the long, cold night.
Hermione sat down on the ridge beside him and observed the litter of leaves at the bottom of the hollow underneath them. “Long night?”
“I should’ve loaned you my book. Sorry.”
“It’s all right.”
“Do you remember what happened last night?”
He gave her a sidelong glance. “How you kicked me out of the tent?”
She sighed. “Harry--I mean. Doctor. This is going to take some getting used to. You’re going to have to give Ron and I some time. We just... we just lost our best friend.”
“No, you didn’t.” The Doctor got to his feet and looked down at her earnestly. “Hermione, you didn’t. I’m right here, I swear. I haven’t gone anywhere. I’m a little different, but I’m still Harry. I remember that first day we met, on the train, you said Ron had dirt on his nose. And in second year, I sat by your bed for weeks when you Petrified, right there with Ron. And in fourth year, you told me when Krum kissed you for the first time. You were the one who pushed me to start the DA, in fifth year.”
She stood up slowly, still looking a little skeptical.
“Hermione,” he said helplessly. “Hermione, you’re my best friend. And I need you to not give up on me now. Not now, of all times, please. You trusted me enough to come to the Ministry with me, to save Sirius. You trusted me enough to be here with me, searching for Horcruxes.” The Doctor rubbed his face, tired and miserable. “I need you, Hermione. I can’t do this without you.”
She was blushing, just a little. “You’re a nine hundred and sixty-seven year old alien. I should think you could do what you want.”
Then Hermione stepped closer, and looked right into his eyes. She pushed his fringe away from his forehead, examining his scar, then she dropped her gaze to the back of his left hand, where I must not tell lies could still be seen. Then she threw her arms around him and hugged him as tightly as she could. “Harry!”
He melted into the hug, relieved. “I don’t know what I would have done without you, Hermione.”
She pulled back. “Crash and burn,” she said with a grin. “You and Ron, honestly. Hopeless.”
In the tent
“So basically,” Ron said over the top of the Doctor and Hermione trying to explain, “basically, you’re still Harry, but you remember being someone else as well, before you were Harry. But you’re Harry on top.”
The Doctor stopped and considered this. “Actually, that’s not a bad of explaining it. Harry on top. Yeah, that’s, that’s pretty close.”
Ron grinned. “Told you,” he said to Hermione.
She smoothed the blankets out over his waist. “Yes, well. It’s a little more complicated than that, I believe, but if you need it to be that simple, of course, Ronald, it’s a fine way of explaining it.”
He narrowed his eyes, then looked back to Harry. “Like cake, yeah?”
The Doctor chuckled. “Like cake. A big cake with Harry icing.”
“Not everything relates to food, Ronald. And you shouldn’t encourage him, Harry, you know how he gets when he thinks he’s right,” Hermione said, exasperated.
“Your name’s not Harry though, right?” Ron said to the Doctor. “It’s, what was it. The Doctor. Doctor who?”
“Just the Doctor.” He shook his head. “You don’t have to call me that. Harry’s fine. Probably better, actually, since we don’t know where the Master is. He could be listening all the time for any mention of me. It’s better if I keep on being Harry for a while, until we know who or where he is.”
“We know who he is, don’t we?” Hermione said. “And he knows who you are.”
The Doctor shrugged. “I looked different, the last time we met. It’s possible that he looks different now, too.”
“How can you--”
He held up a hand. “Don’t ask, it’s another complicated explanation that we can use to fill in time at some other boring point. Right. My TARDIS, that’s what we need to find first.”
“What about the locket?” Ron said.
Hermione frowned. “What?”
“Well, the locket turned into that watch-thing that turned you into the Doctor. So,” he pointed out, “Where’s the real locket?”
The Doctor and Hermione looked at each other.
“I hadn’t thought of that,” the Doctor said. Ron ducked when Hermione made to cuff him up the head again, and came up grinning.
“That’s another point to me, yeah?”
"Oh, shut up, Ronald.”
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