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Something of a Hero

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"Look out!"

Harry gasped as a sharp pain hit his chest, barely noticing the chaos around him. His mind felt like it was filled with cotton, and he couldn't get his brain to cooperate. It was if he was trapped in slow motion and unable to keep up with the world around him.

Raising his hand, he touched the front of his shirt. When he pulled it away a few seconds later, his fingers were stained with blood.

Vaguely aware of someone calling his name, Harry tried to focus on breathing. There was a growing blackness gnawing at the edges of his vision, and a distant part of his brain kept telling him that he was going into shock. He had to stop the bleeding, he had to remember what happened, he had to... he had to....

His knees buckled as the world went dark.

*

Someone was running their fingers through his hair. Harry could hear a gentle buzzing sound, almost like a voice, so soft that it was all but inaudible. He couldn't tell who it was or what they were saying. His chest ached with every shallow breath that he took, and he knew that something must have gone wrong.

He just couldn't remember what it was.

"What happened?" he murmured, his eyes still closed. He wasn't quite ready to attempt prying them open yet.

The buzzing ceased, and he suddenly realized that it had been someone humming. "Harry?" a voice asked hesitantly. "Are you awake?"

Harry frowned, trying to place the voice. He'd heard it before, he was certain of it. A face popped into his mind almost instantly: brown hair, dark eyes, and a lovely smile. Sarah Jane. It took a bit of a struggle, but he managed to force his eyes open. He was in a bed of some sort, with Sarah sitting in a chair beside it.

"Hello," he said, giving her a weak smile.

Sarah smiled back. "Hello, yourself," she replied, her voice shaky. He noticed for the first time that her face was much paler than usual. "You had us worried."

Confusion filled him. "What happened?" he repeated, his eyes closing again despite his best efforts. "I don't...."

Before she had a chance to reply, he had drifted back to sleep.

*

Harry's mind felt much clearer when he opened his eyes, and his gaze immediately focused on the familiar ceiling of the TARDIS infirmary. There were still a few twinges in his chest, but the agonizing pain he vaguely remembered from earlier was gone. His last few memories were nothing but fragments bouncing about in his mind.

"I was beginning to wonder if you would ever decide to wake up." The Doctor appeared in Harry's line of sight as he leaned over him, a scanner in his hand. "All your species ever does is sleep."

Without warning, Sarah's face sprang into Harry's mind. He remembered seeing her pale and worried, so unlike her usual self. "Where's Sarah?" he asked, sitting up abruptly. The world spun dizzily around him.

The Doctor grabbed him by the shoulders, muttering something under his breath as he held Harry in place. He quickly pushed him back down onto the bed. "Lie down," he snapped. "That wound of yours is still healing."

Harry tried to calm his heavy breathing, doing his best not to grimace as the pain in his chest flared up again. He could tell that the Doctor was studying his face closely, but keeping up appearances was the last thing on his mind at the moment. "Sarah?" he prompted, trying to keep his voice steady. "She was here earlier."

"She's getting some rest," the Doctor said, shaking his head. He reached for a device sitting on a nearby table and studied the blue liquid inside it for a second. Then he injected it into Harry's arm before adding: "Finally."

Closing his eyes, Harry tried to gather his ragged thoughts. "What happened?" he finally asked.

There was a short pause. "What do you remember?"

Harry thought for a few moments, trying to piece together his scattered memories. "It's a blur," he reluctantly admitted, opening his eyes again. The Doctor was staring at him, an unreadable expression on his face. "Doctor?"

The Doctor shook his head, snapping out of whatever spell he'd been under. "Get some rest," he said, turning around and heading for the door. "I'll let Sarah know you woke up again."

Frowning, Harry was about to ask the Doctor about his wording when he realized that his eyes were feeling heavier and heavier with each passing second. "What did you give me?" he asked, his voice slurring.

The last thing he saw as his eyes closed was the Doctor's unusually serious face.

*

When Harry woke, he simply lay there in bed for a moment and listened. He heard movement nearby, and he frowned as his last memory fell back into place. "If you drug me again," he said matter-of-factly, "we will be having words."

The laughter he got in reply was feminine and definitely not the Doctor. "I'll keep that in mind."

His eyes shot open. "Sarah?"

"Don't even think about sitting up." As if she could read his mind, she placed her hand on his chest to keep him in place. "The Doctor said you needed to stay in bed a little longer."

Harry frowned. "What happened?" he asked. "And please answer this time."

Sarah's relieved smile faded. "You were shot." Hesitantly she grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze. "By the palace guards on Ssarunis."

Ignoring her protests, Harry pushed himself up into a half-sitting position. His injury protested somewhat, but it had healed enough not to cause him too much trouble. Traveling with a highly advanced alien had its advantages, he supposed.

He didn't pay any heed to Sarah's worried expression as he tried to piece together his fractured memories into a coherent whole. They'd been at the palace, and then someone had screamed. The Doctor had grabbed Sarah by the hand, yelling for them to run....

"There was some sort of misunderstanding," Harry said slowly. "They thought the Doctor was an assassin."

Sarah nodded. "That's right."

Harry continued as if she hadn't spoken. "You stumbled and the Doctor turned back. And then...." He trailed off, his memories too jumbled to continue.

"The Doctor helped me up," Sarah said softly, not meeting his gaze, "but I'd slowed us down too much. One of the guards caught up with us."

A vague memory of someone yelling played in Harry's head. "She ordered you to surrender?"

"Stay where you are!" The guard was young, barely more than a girl. "Keep your hands visible!"

The Doctor froze as the guard aimed a nasty-looking weapon at them. He subtly slipped forward a few steps, putting Sarah behind him. "Now really," he said, holding up his free hand; the other rested protectively on Sarah's arm. "Do we look like assassins to you?"

Sarah nodded, finally meeting his gaze. "That's right. Do you remember what happened next?"

Harry furrowed his brow, thinking hard. After a few seconds, he shook his head. It was no good - everything was still a blur.

"The guard pulled the trigger."

Both of them jumped at the sound of the Doctor's voice. Harry immediately regretted it as his healing chest started to throb, and he let out a hiss of pain as he sank back onto the bed.

The Doctor shot them both a look that could possibly have been interpreted as apologetic, but there was an unreadable expression in his eyes. "Then you proved that you're an imbecile."

Sarah glared at him. "Doctor!"

The Doctor rolled his eyes when the guard nervously licked her lips. "Come on, Sarah," he said, spinning around and pulling her after him. "I think we've worn out our welcome."

The guard tightened her grip on her weapon. "I told you to stay there," she stammered.

The Doctor ignored her.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion as Harry watched. The guard steadied her aim, bringing her weapon up a few inches. A determined look appeared on her face.

Without even pausing to think, Harry threw himself between her and the others.

Harry felt some of the blood drain from his face as his memories flooded back. The Doctor nodded, not looking surprised. "You remember," he said. It was a statement, not a question.

"I remember," Harry agreed, managing a weak smile. "Not my smartest move, I suppose."

Sarah let out an unladylike snort that suited her surprisingly well. "I wouldn't say that," she said, leaning in and pressing a kiss against Harry's forehead. "I think you're something of a hero."

He felt his face grow red.

The Doctor shook his head, but there was a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth as he rested his hand on Harry's shoulder for a second. "I wouldn't go that far."

Sarah glared at him.

"Get some rest, Harry," the Doctor said, abruptly turning around. He was out the door before either of them could say a word.

Harry stared blankly at Sarah for a moment; she shrugged. "I think that's his way of saying 'thank you'," she said, giving his hand a gentle squeeze. "Now get some rest."

He started to protest that he wasn't tired, but a giant yawn kept him from saying anything.

"Sleep," Sarah repeated, laughing softly as she apparently read the expression on his face. She let go of his hand and moved away from the bed. "You've earned it." After a few seconds, a wicked glint appeared in her eyes. "I mean, you are practically my hero, after all."

Harry coughed, his face growing warm even though he knew she was teasing him. Sarah winked before slipping out of the infirmary.

Once she was gone, he allowed himself a tiny smile. "Her hero," he repeated quietly. Even if it had only been a joke, he had to admit that it had sounded good to him.