Kara stumbled to the treeline of the Forbidden Forest, away from the smoking ruin that was once Hogwarts School. Her body ached as much from dodging blasts from the enemies that followed her across time and space, as from those that had penetrated her defenses. Her fingers, still clenched in a death grip around her wand, sent shooting pains up her arm. Her temples pounded from the use of too much magic.
Yet all those pains were nothing next to the paralyzing anguish that rose from her gut, through her heart and into her soul. The Final Battle had been won, but at a terrible cost. Her life, her home, her friends, her father... they were all gone, lost amongst the rubble of her home planet...
Lost. Gone. Dead.
Her numb legs gave out from under her. With low keen she slumped against the base of a tree.
She watched with a kind of detached calm as figures moved around the rubble and over the grounds. Magic flared in greens and golds, blues and reds in the late afternoon sunlight. Dropping her wand and sonic screwdriver she clawed at the Gallifreyan robes that suddenly constricted too tightly. She tore the choking cloth away from her throat, gasping for breath.
Dazed, she pulled the tiny hourglass pendant from where it lay nestled against her breastbone, the script on the front of it just looked like hexagonal patterns to humans, they called them ‘time turners’ but they were so much more than that, especially in the right hands. She had forgotten she was wearing it. It had been crucial in gathering the information they needed to find and destroy... She couldn’t finish the thought, the feeling of her father’s body dyeing in her arms was too much, the tears came again, she had even begun to entertain the notion that her fathers’ somewhat reckless decision to let her use the device during her third year wasn’t reckless at all. It was foresight... It was training...
He’d sent her to school here, long ago, Hogwarts was different then, a more innocent time, nothing like how it looked now. Back then it was a place of peace, of hope, of friendship. Now it was in ruins, still smoking from the invasion. She couldn’t stop them invading her home, destroying and killing everyone and everything that she cared about, but she would be damned if she would let them do the same to earth, her adopted home.
Following the trail of clues her father had left for her, she had travelled back in time again and again to carefully observe the events leading to Gambler’s rise to power... never interceding, never changing them. The rules that had been drummed into her during that third year held firm. Intercession could be devastating. Change could lead to catastrophe. Brought back to the present by that thought, she looked in dismay at the destruction all around her. What could be more catastrophic than this?
Turning, she pelted deeper into the forest, mechanically twisting the hourglass in its casing. She could hear them crashing through the underbrush, firing their primitive weapons at her, the blasts missed her by miles, they weren’t that good shots anyway, especially against someone who could see exactly where they were going to shoot seconds before they’d even pulled the trigger. Gambler’s private army, his executioners, his guards... his ass kissers. Ducking behind a tree, she clasped the primed time turner, closed her eyes against the inevitable disorientation, and pulled the pin.
There was the rush of a warm breeze tickling across her skin. Golden light flared behind her eyelids and a scent that she’d always likened to honey enveloped her. That was what travelling through time had always felt like to her... it was the smell of her father, tears welled up in her eyes again as she pushed the memories away, the memories of him dying in her arms, of the blood soaking into her robes that she still wore, of his last breath as he told her how sorry he was that he had to leave her now. Time travel was always like this, ripping memories that she never wanted to think of again and pushing them to the surface, bringing back thoughts of old friends and lovers, perhaps that was why her father loved it so much, it was a way to remember all those that he had lost, and now she was the same way.
The light and warmth and scent slid away and she opened her eyes to a view not much changed. The old forest was as wild as always, but the colours and scents were autumnal rather than vernal. She knew from long experience that she had arrived at her intended when.
Now to get to her intended where.
Her breath hitched into another heaving sob and her swift walk became a hurried jog. Bugger prophesies, screw fate. It was in her grasp to stop it all, and she was damned if she was going to...
“And just where do you think you’re going?”
Kara skidded to a halt, her shoes scrabbling in the dusty track that led through the gates of Hogwarts. Sitting beside one of the ancient stone lintels was the dark blue shape of a... was that a phone box? And leaning against it with studied ease was a her father... he looked so young, so very young. She knew there was always a chance they would meet or cross timelines, there was always that risk when dealing with time travellers like her and her father. But it was something else to be faced with him like this, he was stood there, staring at her like he didn’t know her at all, wearing a brown suit with a loose tie hanging around his neck and a patiently amused expression on his long face.
“I…who? What?” She glanced around, but she couldn’t tell him who she was or what he ment to her, the rules of time prohibited that, rules her father had drummed into her from a young age. Crossing or changing established events was strictly forbidden. He’d told her horror stories about it before but she’d always believed that was all they were, just stories, but no, facing her father just moments after she’d held him as he died, the stories came back to her and she knew they were all true. The sun was near to setting here, just as it had been when she left, and she knew she didn’t have much time to spare. Stamping down her confusion and natural curiosity, she began to move past her father, swallowing her tears as she forced himself not to look at him, not to talk to him.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to talk. I have something…something I have to do. Excuse me.”
“I said, no. I won’t excuse you. And I’m not about to let you do what you’re going to do, so you might as well just give up and come inside so we can have some tea and a nice long chat.” He had shifted so that he blocked her path, but he was still wearing that genial, understanding look and she felt the same tug of yearning for paternal comfort and approval that she always had from him. But thinking of that reminded her that he was dead, and that reminded her of what she’d come here to stop. She felt new anger rush through her, clearing away her hesitation.
“And who the hell are you to tell me what I can and can’t do?” she challenged. The man’s eyes grew more stern, and some of his patience seemed to slip away, she’d always heard stories about her father’s temper from his friends, but she had never seen it first hand, he was always kind, always patient with her, but the cold steel in his eyes told a different story. This was definitely her father, though before she had been born, before he had even met her mother probably.
“I’m a Time Lord. The last of the Time Lords. And we both know you are about to do something monumentally stupid. It’s my job to stop you.”
“Time Lord?’ She shook her head in amusement as she felt a small smile creep over her face. He hated being called that, no one ever called him that to his face, not in all the years she could remember, but here he was stating it proudly.
“Yes. I happened to be in the area, temporally-speaking, and I noticed a massive snarl starting right around here, by you. My people…” something flickered in his eyes, a minute hesitation, but it was something she recognized because she felt it so keenly herself. Loss, anger, regret. “My people monitor these things, clean them up or prevent them from happening if we can. So I came to stop you before you mucked with things you didn’t understand and ended up destroying the universe.”
“Muck with…” She gathered the scattered embers of her anger into a smoldering glare, “look, I don’t care what you say. There’s a war going on and I mean to stop it, once and for all.” He raised his eyebrow, but it was enough to stay her when she moved to step past him.
“Before it ever started.”
“And save everyone who’s died. Everyone you’ve lost.”
“Yes,” her voice cracked slightly, and she realized that the tears she’d held at bay were welling up in her eyes.
“And the world will be a better place with them in it.”
“Yes,” she whispered. The tears were flowing freely now.
“How?” She closed her eyes, recognizing the trap in his question.
“I know what I’m doing.”
“No, you don’t. If you did, then you’d know it’s impossible.”
“I know what you’re doing. You’re grasping at straws because it’s too hard to face that they’re gone. But you can’t do it. You can’t go back and alter the events of a timeline so that the events that caused you to go back don’t come about. That’s–”
“Paradox,” she inserted, her shoulders slumping.
“Right. Either you don’t succeed because you didn’t succeed... usually because you died horribly trying... or you do succeed… and you don’t want to know what happens then.
“I can’t…” she whispered, wanting to deny his logic... what she knew, what she’d always known was true, “I don’t…oh, god. They’re really…they’re all dead.” She broke into harsh, wracking sobs, but when she would have fallen she instead found herself wrapped in an embrace of his soft brown trench coat and the soft cotton of his suit jacket as he embraced her tightly.
“I know,” he soothed as she cried, “I know.”
And just for that second she could pretend she was home, finally where she belonged.
The sun had set and the autumn night was growing chilly by the time Kara’s sobs had quieted to the occasional snuffle. Eventually she pulled away from an embrace that had shifted from comforting to awkward, but she was too wrung out to have honest remorse for dampening the stranger’s jumper. He shushed her half-hearted apologies.
“Perfectly understandable. A good sob’s just what you needed. Now that that’s over, fancy a cuppa? Amazing beverage, tea. Heals a multitude of ills. Puts the world into perspective. Fantastic with biscuits.” Again, his soft smile and voice reminded her of everything she had lost; she half-expected him to hug her again and kiss her on the forhead as he had always done, her hand immediately went to the sonic screwdriver in her pocket, hoping and praying that he hadn’t seen it, he mustn’t know who she is, that could cause things to be even more complicated than it already was.
“It’s bigger on the inside,” She smiled, using the phrase that her father always told her people always said when they first encountered his dimensional manipulation.
“You have no idea,” he chuckled, She followed him past the vaulted entry chamber and down a twisting set of corridors to a small, cozy kitchen. She sat at a solid, well-used table while he put together a tea tray, complete with chocolate biscuits. The normalcy of it all caused her stomach to drop, and she felt the aching void begin to creep up on her again. He put the tray on the table and began pouring out, but a glance at her face had him pursing his lips.
“Oi! No more of that. You’ve had your cry. You don’t want to overdo it. Tea’s what you need now.” He seemed to consider a moment before slanting her a soft grin, “or perhaps something a bit stronger?” He reached into a cupboard and pulled out a dusty bottle half-filled with amber liquid, pouring a dollop in her cup before sliding it over to her. Startled out of her downward spiral, she sipped from the cup. A warmth that came from more than just temperature began to blossom through her.
Manners came to her rescue when the silence that descended became awkward, “I’m Kara, by the by.”
“Whatever,” He waved away the comment. “I’m Methos,” He smiled softly as she nodded to him but then the steel was back in his eyes. “I’m serious though, you can’t just mess with time, you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s not a toy, look at the mess you almost caused. Lucky thing I was around to stop you, but you should have known better than to even try. Don’t mistake me,” he held up a hand when she would have defended herself, “I’ve considered doing something like this, too. We all have at some point. You think to yourself ‘If I could just go back, tweak a little here, warn the right person there, then things would be…different’. But that’s the challenge of responsible time-travel, isn’t it? And you, missy, were about to be very irresponsible.”
“I...” The words caught in her throat, she had to justify herself to him, she couldn’t just stand there and take this from him, she never used to so why should now be any different. “I’ve got to change it, everyone, everything died!” She screamed the last out, the moral indignation of it all raging through her. How dare he tell her what she could and couldn’t do? She had the same rights to change time as he did, only he never did the important things, rules and regulations he always said, but there was no one to enforce them anymore, not in her time, no justice, no higher authority, it now stopped at her. And that thought was enough to make her stop in her rant, she was the only one left now in her time, the lone survivor, the only one with the knowledge and power to change time as easily as her father had done.
“And then what happened? You just decided to go back to change things because the outcome of your little war wasn’t good enough for you? Endanger all of space and time because the price of winning was too steep.” He snorted with disgust, and the censure was back in his eyes, “You lot, you think you’re entitled to everything going swimmingly, like you’re the centre of the universe. You’re never satisfied with a successful outcome, it’s always more, more, more with you. You’d raise a fuss over a ploughman’s if it didn’t have the dodgy little pickle on the side, never mind that nobody ever eats it.”
“I lost everything!” she cried, “Everyone! My friends, my family, Everyone!” She screamed the last at him, picking up the glass of whiskey on the table and throwing it across the room where it shattered against the wall, and her father didn’t even blink.
“But you won the war. Bad guy defeated. Your world’s still standing, just waiting for you to step up and rebuild. Why’d you want to go and jeopardize that?”
“You wouldn’t understand,” she muttered, he couldn’t, she couldn’t tell him of everything she had lost, of the way she had watched the capitol city burning as Gambler’s forces overran it and burnt it to the ground.
“Yes. I would. You say you’ve lost everything? You don’t know the meaning of the word.” His censure had turned to a cold anger, “Losing everything is when your people, your planet, your entire culture is obliterated from the timestream so that not only does it not exist, but it never did.” She recalled then the loss that she’d seen in his eyes, the way he’d held her as she cried… and now she knew when she was, or when this version of her father was from. This was during the first war, when their home had been hidden from Gambler, he believed he had lost everything, he believed he was the only survivor, much like she was now. Only she knew it was the truth, she’d watched their home burn, watched him die. “I’d give anything — anything — to see my people again, and I didn’t even like most of them all that much. I’d even be happy to see my old enemies if it meant I wouldn’t feel this endless abscess sucking away at the center of my mind. But you don’t see me endangering all of creation to go back and change things because I know better.”
He held her gaze with his, boring into her the realization that he knew loss at a level that touched her own, even if his was false and would be changed one day, one day when he found them again, or when they found him, she could never remember how the story went but her father had told her it a dozen times or more, he called it his ‘dark time’, if only he knew what the future was to come. She glanced away, suddenly ashamed of her outburst, her selfishness, She remembered how she had felt like a child when her father had first shown her how great and masterful time was and why you should never play with it unless you know exactly what you were doing, the lessons had been drummed into her, year after year, and here she was now, disregarding them all, holding onto a feint glimmer of hope that she could save them all.
“I’m sorry,” She whispered. He grunted and crossed his arms, and she got the feeling that he wasn’t all that proud of his outburst either. Searching for a conciliatory gesture, her eyes lit on the dusty bottle between them. She nudged it across the table to him with a small smile, “Here. You seem to need this more than I do.”
He hesitated for a moment, then relented with a shrug and an apologetic quirk of his lips, “It’s alright. I imagine it’s been a rough time for the both of us.”
He poured a generous measure into their empty teacups, then set the bottle aside and raised his in salute.
“Here’s to those we’ve drunk with, but never shall again,” he toasted solemnly.
“Here, here,” She responded softly, raising her own cup.
“What? Call that a toast? Paltry. You can do better than that.”
“Methos,” She choked on the name, wanting desperately to call him ‘dad’, to tell him of everything she’d seen, everything he’d done for her. “I’ve been fighting a war since I was a child. There hasn’t been much opportunity to learn the finer points of drinking etiquette.”
“In my experience,” He pontificated, and she suddenly realized why others found her know-it-all attitude annoying at times, “Fighting wars give you the best opportunity to learn those kinds of things. Now come on, you can’t toast off your family with just a ‘here, here’.”
“Oh, fine.” Kara raised her cup higher. “May the lost ones find their way home and may the gods follow the lonely travellers through the darkness so they need never be alone.” She remembered that one, it was one of her father’s favourite toasts.
“Fantastic!” Methos nodded with a smile, and they both tossed back their drinks in one draw.
After she’d stopped gasping and her eyes had cleared from watering, Methos stood and offered her his hand. She took it and followed as he led her back through the halls of his ship to the entry room.
“Now,” he began flipping dials on the odd, mushroom-shaped console in the center of the chamber, “We’d better see about getting you back. You’ve got a deal of work ahead of you.”
“It’s alright, D... Methos.” She held up the time-turner, “I can manage it myself.”
“Oh, no,” He flipped a lever and the blue column of light in the center of the console began pumping and wheezing, “I’m afraid you violated the restrictions on your learner’s permit. I’m going to have to confiscate your vehicle.” His eyes and voice were shaded with apologetic humour, but he still held out his hand resolutely.
Reluctantly, she pulled the chain from around her neck, fingers brushing over the hexagonal writing on the front, she couldn’t let him see it, he’d know immediately what it was and where she had got it from. It was his old one, the one he used when he was a child, a family heirloomb, the crest of her family on the front glittered in the light as she ran her fingers over it, the golden sands seemed to sparkle in response to her touch.
“It’s a bit addictive, being able to travel back and forth through time like that,” she explained with a wry smile, before she ran over and opened the doors, this was the only way, she couldn’t let him have it and she couldn’t keep it, so this was the only thing she could do. She flung the doors open before he could stop her, the breathless sight of the time vortex stretched out in front of her, a million billion light years and all of eternity compressed and swirling around them. The dizziness passed and she pulled her arm back, bracing herself as she threw the time turner out into the vortex where it immediately got swept up and pulled out into eternity, into infinity.
“What the hell?!?” Methos shouted at her as she closed the doors behind her. “What the hell do you think you are doing? No one can look into the time vortex, no one, it should drive you mad to see all that.”
“I’m not just anyone.” She grinned at him. There it was, her past, her future, it was over now. He couldn’t take her home because she was from a different timeline to him and that was something he would never do, it was against his own personal rules and the rules of the high council, they still existed for him, they would have to stop him. So now, here she was, a lone survivor stuck in the past with nowhere to go, nothing to do, but her father was still alive, and she would stop the war. She’d stop Gambler, it may not be for another fifty years, a hundred years, but she’d stop him, she swore it to herself on the memory of her father.
The blue column slowed to a stop, and he walked down to the door and opened it. Outside she could see the lintel of the Gates of Hogwarts. In the distance was the smoking ruin of the castle. She hesitated at the doorway, taking a deep breath to retain the sad acceptance that Methos, her father, had helped her achieve.
“You could come with me,” he said suddenly. He looked almost as surprised as she felt by his offer, but his surprise quickly became resolve. For all that the offer was impulsive, she could tell that he honestly wanted her to come.
“It’s not that easy. There’s no one left. I don’t even have enemies to go back to. They’re all gone. I am alone.” She paused, as she leaned against the doorway. “I’ve nowhere else to go.”
“Then you’re coming with me,” He grinned at her and her heart leapt at the thought of travelling with her father again, to see all the things he had done, to be part of all the stories he had told her. “There’s so much to see out there, so much to do, maybe you’ll find somewhere you belong along the way.” He laughed as he jerked the leaver backwards and sent them back into the time vortex again.
She choked back the lump in her throat as she watched him run about the controls manically, this was her father but he was so young, so inexperienced, so innocent. She would tell him, one day, she’d tell him about the war, about everything that had happened, about Gambler and the fall of their home. But for now she would let him keep his innocence because when she told him, they would stop it together, and then she would have her revenge.
Yup, this is just the start of the adventures for Kara and Methos... i might write more but it won't be a regular update thing or a continuous story, just hints and flashes here and there when i get the inspiration...
hope you enjoyed it :D