It had been a tough day for Torchwood. Along with the rest of Cardiff, they had nearly choked to death on the poison smog that blanketed the Earth. Captain Jack Harkness, in fact, had choked to death; three times, getting samples of the exhaust for analysis.
The process, he decided later, wasn't nearly as bad as the jokes he subsequently had to endure. Now, with the crisis over literally in a flash, all his colleague Gwen Cooper wanted was to go home to Rhys.
Jack dropped her off at Rhys's building, then continued with Ianto Jones to the Hub; Torchwood's underground base beneath Roald Dahl Plaza. Pulling their SUV up to the water sculpture that concealed the entrance to their underground complex, Jack saw a sight that made his heart soar.
In the Plaza, just three metres from the sculpture, was the comforting sight of a 1960s police box, in reality the disguised most advanced spacecraft in the universe.
The TARDIS was there for refueling, her temporal engines drawing power from the dimensional rift that hovered near the Plaza. Standing outside the TARDIS were the Time Lord called the Doctor, and two women; one known to Jack, the other not.
"Doctor!" Jack called out, his arms and smile wide. He hugged the Time Lord tightly, then the small black woman with the Doctor.
"Martha." He then moved on to the tall, fortyish redhead.
"Hi, I'm Jack."
"I'm Donna," she said when she caught her breath. Jack then pulled Ianto forward.
"And this is Ianto Jones," he said, kissing Ianto on the lips. Ianto gave a small, shy smile, and shook hands all 'round.
"So," Jack said as they helped him and Ianto carry equipment into the Hub, "I take it you had something to do with that flash in the sky?"
"All in a day's work for UNIT," Martha said, "Which he's still technically a member of, as a consultant."
"After that," Donna said, "we went to a planet in the future- now that was a mess we landed in- came back to Earth, but landed up in the Cretaceous. We spent the night there- then?- and here we are. Been here 15 minutes, topping up the tank."
"But now," Martha added, "we have to wait another two hours to take me home, or I'll get back before I left."
Once all the equipment was put away, they went back up to enjoy the fresh air. They passed the time pleasantly, until it was time to go. Then Jack asked the question that the Doctor knew was coming.
"Wherever it is you're going, can Ianto and I come along?"
The Doctor pretended to think about it, but he'd already decided before stopping the TARDIS for refueling.
"If the TARDIS has no objections, I don't see why not."
Jack tried the door, and it opened for him. He held out his hand to Ianto, but his lover held back.
"I'm not ready for that, he said. "Even with all I've seen with Torchwood, I'm not ready for the Doctor." He forced a smile; "but you go ahead."
The Doctor suspected there was something more to the refusal. He did not normally pry into peoples's minds, but Ianto met his eyes, and he peeked.
It wasn't the Doctor himself Ianto wasn't keen on- it was Jack with the Doctor. It was easier to not think of Jack bedding other men if he did not see Jack flirting with them.
"Are you sure? Jack asked, and Ianto assured him that he was. Although disappointed, Jack went into the TARDIS, followed by the women and the Doctor, who closed the door and started up the motor.
"So, when are we off to?" Jack asked as the Doctor made his pre-flight preparations, dancing around the console, turning dials and flipping switches in rapid succession.
"Well, first, right now," the Doctor replied. "Like Martha said, a side trip through space only, to drop her off a minute after we left; then it's off to your own century, the fifty first. There's a derelict ship I've been on board, which I want to see from the outside. I've some questions, and any hull damage might be a clue."
He moved the main start lever. "Get your coat, Martha. Allons'y!"
The TARDIS began to dematerialize, then lurched violently, landed hard, knocking everyone to the deck, and went dead.
"Oh no!" the Doctor cried. "Not again!"
As he reached for a section of deck plating, a power surge ran through the TARDIS's systems, shorting out the lights and the engineering segment on the console
The Doctor leaped for the console as the TARDIS again went dark. Just as he reached it, a faint hum came from the console, and the monitor glowed.
"Again," he said. "We're in another dimension; a parallel universe."
"The Rift!" Jack said as he got to his feet. "It must have opened just as we dematerialized. These things happen in surges."
"So what do we do now?" Martha asked.
The Doctor noted that more systems were slowly coming to life.
"That's not what I expected," he said, with a frown. "There seems to be an ambient power here that's compatible with rift energy, but stronger. Maybe we'd better see where we are."
The monitor screen was only showing white flare, so he opened the door cautiously, then poked his head out.
"Well," he said, opening the doors all the way, "we seem to be on an alternate Earth, early to mid Renaissance equivalent-" he stopped abruptly as they exited the TARDIS- "or a theme park".
They were in a town square, the architecture indeed from the Renaissance period. Dawn was just breaking in the cloudless chill of spring, and in the gathering light, they clearly saw the sign on the pub in front of them.
The Three Broomsticks.
Martha was delighted, and ran out to the centre of the square.
"It's perfect!" she cried. "Every detail, just like in the books!" She pointed down the street.
"Look at the signs; Gambole & Jape's, Madame Puddifoot's, Zonko's, Honeyduke's. Do you think they take real money in the shops, or will we have to buy tokens at the main entrance?"
She paused as she saw the faces of the others. "What's wrong?"
"Take another look, Martha," the Doctor said quietly. "Look at the people."
Martha looked around again. The crowd they were attracting looked like normal enough Harry Potter characters, but they were behaving very oddly for theme park staff. No one was scowling at the gate crashers, and no rent-a-cops or costumed security staff were approaching them. Instead, people were hugging the walls of buildings, or peering fearfully out of windows, and clutching wands like they were tazers.
"It's not a theme park," the Doctor said. "I felt the power in the air right after I spoke. It's as strong as in the Citadel on Gallifrey, but a different sort. It's what surged through the TARDIS."
Martha ran back to the Doctor. "How is that possible?"
"Hang on," Donna said. "You mean we shot through that dimensional rift, and now we're in Harry Potter?
"Well," he said, "the same dimension. If there's anything this will happen to, it's the TARDIS; relative dimensions."
A sudden barrage of loud cracks in the air assaulted their ears, and they were surrounded by six angry, hardened looking men and women, all dressed in wizard world robes and pointing their wands at the TARDIS crew.
"Transmats!" Jack cried, his blaster out, finger on the trigger.
"Stupify!" a wizard shouted, and Jack fell to the ground, unconcious.
"Incarcerus!" three others shouted, and ropes flew from their wands, binding the Doctor, Donna and Martha tightly.
Donna shouted in outrage, but when a witch stood over her, wand pointed at her face, she fell silent. One of the wizards seemed to be in charge, and he approached the Doctor, standing menacingly over him.
"Finally caught up with you," the wizard said, cold triumph in his voice. "Not so tough with your muscle unconcious. You are all under arrest for the murders you've committed."
"What!?" the Doctor said in shock. "Hang on! Murders? What murders? Who are you?" He struggled to sit up.
"Bartemius Crouch, head of Magical Law Enforcement, and there's no use claiming innocence. I know we'll find an extendability charm on that-" Crouch looked up to read the sign on the TARDIS- 'Police Public Call Box'"
The Doctor stopped struggling.
"Crouch. Chief Auror. So it's maybe early 1982 at the latest.
"Which means," he added sharply, "Albus Dumbledore is Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. I demand to see Professor Dumbledore immediately!"
"You'll see him at your trial," Crouch snapped. He turned to a young wizard behind the aurors. "Weasley, disenchant this thing, and return it to the muggle police."
Arthur Weasly shifted uncomfortably.
"Er, Mr. Crouch," he said, "we still need that , and with the charm on it. Evidence, you know; for the trial?"
"You can't disenchant the TARDIS, anyway," the Doctor said with irritation. "She's beyond magic."
One auror whirled on the Doctor in surprise.
He marched into the TARDIS for a look, then marched back out.
"Nice try. The TARDIS is supposed to be white and not that big inside, no way can these three pass for Susan, Ian and Barbara, the Doctor is a little old man, and Doctor Who is a kids' television show."
"What?! What?!" was all the Doctor could manage, but Donna was not so tongue tied.
"Yeah, well Harry Potter is a bunch of kids' books!" she snapped.
"We came through a dimensional rift," the Doctor said, knowing even as he spoke how weak it sounded. "Where we come from, the wizard world, Hogsmeade, Hogwarts, they're fictional. Here, they're real"
"And I suppose aliens with TARDISes are real where you come from?" the auror challenged sceptically. "So who's our killer, then? Got a Dalek with a shrink way in there, have you?"
Crouch waved his wand over them, with the incantation, "Locomotor Hominum."
The Doctor's companions floated up a metre and began to move, but the Doctor himself remained in place. The aurors and onlookers gasped. Crouch lost his focus, and the three dropped towards the ground. Before they hit, their fall was broken by an invisible cushion.
"I'm not human," the Doctor said simply.
"Evidently," said a calm, clear voice from the direction of the Three Broomsticks. A tall, thin, elderly wizard, his hair and beard grown down to his knees, was walking towards them, his wand pointed at the Doctor's companions. He moved the tip slightly and they sank gently to the ground.
"Professor Dumbledore!" Martha cried out in relief. "Now we'll get to the bottom of this."
Dumbledore smiled at her, then pointed his wand at the Doctor and said, "Natura Revelio."
The Doctor felt the spell flow through him. Dumbledore gasped, then stared at him in awe.
"So- old," he said almost in a whisper. "So- powerful. Lord-of-Time."
Seconds passed, then Dumbledore made up his mind and waved his wand again.
"Relashio," he said. The ropes vanised, and Doctor and the women got to their feet while Dumbledore revived Jack, over Crouch's vehement protests. Dumbledore silenced Crouch with a raised hand.
"The spell revealed that this unearthly man is a powerful force for good, and his companions are merely muggles," he said.
"Oi! What's that 'merely' stuff, magic man?" Donna said.
Jack broke in, "And if muggles means what it sounds like it means--"
"Not now, Jack," the Doctor interrupted.
Dumbledore smiled again. "You and your companions have me at a disadvantage, sir. This young woman who has such faith in me, for example."
"Ah. May I introduce Dr. Martha Jones, Miss Donna Noble and Captain Jack Harkness; and I'm known as the Doctor."
Dumbledore shook hands all around, then cast a patronus. Donna let out a low whistle as the silver form of the phoenix flew over the treetops at the edge of town.
The Doctor locked the TARDIS, then turned to the muggle reared auror.
"You mentioned a shrink ray?"
The auror looked hesitantly at Crouch, who conjured a box about thirty centimetres long, and shoved it with ill grace into the auror's hands.
"I want a full report by five o'clock, Arkwright," he said, and apparated out along with the rest of his wizard SWAT team.
"And you better read it, Sunshine!" Donna shouted into the air.
"Donna-" the Doctor hustled her after Dumbledore towards the Three Broomsticks.
"I know how you boss types are-"
"I'm the top temp in Cheswick-"
"Donna! He was in London before you got one word out."
"Oh? Where are we?"
"Scotland," he said as he pulled her in the door, followed by Weasley.
Dumbledore led them to a booth in the back corner, and Madam Rosmerta came to get their orders. Arkwright was on duty, so ordered tea, while Weasley had a light ale. Understanding that the Doctor and his companions would not have wizard money, Dumbledore offered to buy their drinks.
The Doctor and Martha ordered butterbeer and suggested it to Donna, who agreed. Jack wanted something stronger, and the
Doctor ordered firewhisky for him.
"Shrink ray," the Doctor said. Arkwright handed the Doctor the box, and the Doctor opened the lid. His blood ran cold when he saw the contents. The perfectly miniturized corpse was an unmistakable signature. He lifted it out of the box while the auror spoke.
"This was the third known victim. If you pull up the left sleeve and use a magnifying glass, you'll see on his arm a brand of a skull with-"
"The Dark Mark," the Doctor interrupted. "So he was a Death Eater. Any significance?"
"We don't know. He was shopping in a place known for catering to Dark wizards. When we investigated the proprietor on an unrelated matter, he turned the body over and said he'd reported it to you-know-who"
"I don't," Donna and Jack said in chorus, then exchanged looks.
"Voldemort," the Doctor said, just as Rosmerta brought the tray with their drinks. She dropped it, but Dumbledore brought the drinks floating to the table as the tray fell to the floor.
The Doctor quickly picked it up and handed it to Madam Rosemerta.
"Sorry," he said. "I didn't mean to scare you."
Shaking her head, Rosemerta walked away, muttering, "Fool'll be dead tomorrow, that's certain."
"The next victim was another Death Eater. You-know-who witnessed it himself, and was concerned enough to report it himself to Dumbledore."
Dumbledore took his cue and conjured the letter that contained Voldemort's report of the incident outside the Hog's Head. The Doctor read it, then leaned back, nodding, his hands behind his head.
"And the first two victims?"
Arthur Weasley told of the witch from Birmingham with her tale of the telephone box, and how the first two bodies were found. The Doctor quickly leaned forward.
"And that would have made it into the Daily Prophet. Mr. Arkwright, am I correct in assuming that the entire population of Hogsmeade is wizard reared?"
"Yes. The boomer generation of muggleborns is less willing to break ties with the muggle world. Bagpipes and lutes are nice, but we still want The Beatles, James Bond and, well, you."
"So to the people here, a police box and a telephone box would be indistinguishable. Well, that explains the reception we got. Normally, anybody conjuring a police box into Hogsmeade would just get yelled at."
Weasley added, "And fined."
Arkwright continued, "We attempted to restore the first two bodies to full size, but they fell into dust; because, it turned out, most of their celular mass was gone. So much for introducing forensic pathology to the wizard world."
The Doctor stood up and restlessly paced the floor.
"And Voldemort has been the only real witness?"
"Not quite," Dumbledore said. "Rubeus Hagrid, our gamekeeper at Hogwarts, was this mystery killer's next attempt. He saw a tree appear in the Forbidden Forest. A door opened in it, and Hagrid said he was not coming in. A man came out and pointed a strange wand. Apparently his spell didn't work, because he fled back into the tree, which faded away."
The Doctor had turned sharply on hearing that Hagrid had seen a man.
"Did Hagrid see this man's face?"
"Yes. He described it as looking like an Egyptian mummy- he's seen photographs- but the flesh was fresh and the eyes like those of a living man."
The Doctor leaned quickly across the table, almost in Arkwright's face.
"You need to get back to the office," he said. Find out if there have been any mysterious muggle disappearances. Look for any mention in the tabloids of voodoo; poppets like these shrunken bodies. Start before the first known wizard killing."
"You know what's going on, Doctor, don't you?" Jack asked.
"And you should, too, Jack. Surely Torchwood has some record. And Martha, didn't you read UNIT's file on me?"
His pacing turned to long strides, moving him all over half the room at a dizzying speed.
"Bodies compressed by cellular elimination, a TARDIS with a functioning chameleon circuit, a living corpse; oh, it all adds up. No wonder the TARDIS took that flying leap through the rift; she was chasing him!"
"Chasing who?!" Donna cried out in exasperation.
The Doctor slammed the palm of his hand against a post.