Gallifrey was gone. Harry hadn’t been there to see it pass, but there was another home he could say goodbye to in its place. Punching in the coordinates he set them to travel back to the day Earth of this reality was due to burn. He intended to avoid interacting with anyone, but his timeship had other ideas. Once they arrived she utilized her chameleon circuit to take on the look of a small, sleek, expensive space cruiser. Then she flew them into the station where official viewing was due to take place without asking for his opinion or approval.
Placing his hand on her console Harry asked, “What are you up to?”
Her engines hummed out a comforting tone in answer while projecting through their telepathic connection the impression that she didn’t want to tell him her motivations. With ready acceptance Harry let it be. After so long traveling together he knew to trust her interference was for the best, that if there was somewhere she felt they needed to be there was probably a good reason for it.
“Alright Lovely,” he accepted with a loving pat. Looking down at himself he considered, “I suppose I should change.”
Off to the side of the control room the closet which housed some outfits for different common occasions popped open. One of his ‘dress to impress’ outfits moved to stick out from the rest and Harry laughed.
Gallifreyan Timeships were sentient to varying degrees unless something went very wrong in their development or they suffered some very specific and extreme trauma. As sentient machine's they had personalities all their own. Some were so subtle or shy you might live your whole life onboard without realizing they were there. Harry’s ship herself had started out as a very simple being, rarely taking action on her own. However, over the years she’d grown and developed into someone more lively and interfering. Exposure to magical realities during their quest to free Harry from his cycle of reincarnation accelerated this personal growth. No one could deny that she was a fully formed independent being and if they tried Harry would set them straight.
Harry often described his lovely ship as dependable, loyal, and cheeky. Having learned of the Hogwarts houses she’d decided she rather liked the sound of Hufflepuff and during her next remodel she slipped in some black and yellows to show her pride in that.
She was the only one Harry had told in this life about his history of reincarnation. There were no secrets between the two of them. She knew about all his lives from the good to the bad to the heartbreaking. Over the years they’d taken on others, temporary traveling companions, but in the end it was always the two of them. They were a team, and Harry wouldn’t have it any other way.
“What do you think,” he asked adjusting his tie. He’d changed into a fine suit done in deep red with a grey dress robe over top. He looked fit to go to a Ministry ball and in the varied styles of the event he should fit in just fine.
His Lovely chirped her approval.
Smiling Harry took up his cane and headed for the door. Unfortunately the cane was a necessary mobility aid and not a fashion choice. He’d managed to hold off from any fatal mishaps long enough for his body to have grown old but for all the aches and pains Harry was grateful. He indented if he could help it to have old age be the reason for all his regenerations going forward until this life was done and if the fates were kind he would finally be allowed to rest.
Harry felt guilty for hoping and ashamed of his selfishness. The destruction caused by the Time War in his absence made it clear to him that by escaping his responsibilities as Master of Death there were many that would not be saved because he would not be reborn to save them. The guilt however was not enough to make him ungrateful to be done, because Harry needed to be done. He needed this life as a Time Lord to be his last.
Harry gave the frame around the door an affectionate caress before disembarking onto the station. An attendant was quick to come up to him but thanks to some psychic paper, a reasonable cover, and his feeble appearance he wasn’t given any trouble. In fact the young woman was quick to turn on the hospitality she was trained for and offered her arm to help Harry along to where the ‘festivities’ would be taking place.
With the others all moving more quickly than him Harry was third to last to be announced allowing him to get an idea of the quests in attendance and figure out what exactly he would give as his ‘gift of peace’ before entering the fray. Thankfully for such occasions he always kept a replicator stored in his pocket. Because of its small size the portable version couldn’t do nearly a tenth of what the full-sized model was capable of, but it had its uses. Most regularly that was providing Harry with snacks, but on this occasion he set it to creating the dozen or so trinkets he had in mind to be giving out.
Coming into the sparsely filled room Harry avoided circulating and instead settled himself by the window looking down on Earth. He would conserve his energy and allow anyone who was interested to come to him.
The contingent of the Adherents of the Repeated Meme were the first to approach him. They presented their gift of peace which Harry accepted with grace but little fanfare before presenting in return a dense metal peace sign. With some gravitas he explained, “A symbol of peace from Earth’s past.”
It was actually designed as a drinks coaster but Harry didn’t share that information. It was just a harmless bit of entertainment to humor him through this part of the event.
Once that was seen to Harry turned his attention back to Earth. He rolled the sphere the Adherents had presented him between his hands as he took in the arrangement of the continents in that ‘classic’ Earth style, the one which had been all he knew in his first life. Taking in the view Harry let himself think and grieve for all he homes he’d lost.
Unfortunately his reflections were interrupted by people looking to network and mingle. Not in the mood for it Harry decided to leave the guests behind and headed off for one of the private viewing rooms. He didn’t make it that far. Instead he found himself stopping in the hall and just… standing there thinking and feeling.
“Are you okay,” someone asked him.
Turning Harry saw a young blonde looking at him with concern. Clearing his throat he asked, “I’m sorry?”
“Only, just…You’re crying.”
Reaching up Harry wiped at his cheek and his hand did indeed come away wet. “No need to worry dear. It’s the gravity of what is about to happen getting to me. After all, a planet that’s meant so much is about to be lost to us.”
“No one else seems to care very much,” the young one said with a touch of resentment.
Cutting a look her way Harry saw she was looking back at the party they’d left behind with barely concealed distaste. He watched her expression became crestfallen. Harry didn’t know why she cared where the others didn’t but here was another soul who truly cared about the Earth.
Using the alias he’d given the crew Harry presented himself. “I’m afraid we weren’t introduced. Harry Jay and you are?”
“Ah, Rose,” the girl introduced herself. She was obviously feeling self-conscious and uncertain but she didn’t let it stop her from holding out her hand to him, a gesture he knew was not typical of this time but he appreciated greatly. Taking her hand he smiled at her and she smiled in return. “Rose Tyler.”
“Nice to meet you dear.”
“Earth death in fifteen minutes,” the countdown announced.
Harry frowned up at the ceiling as did Rose.
“Miss Tyler,” he said pulling her attention back. Holding out his arm to her he asked, “Would you care to escort me somewhere a bit more quiet. I think I’d prefer to mourn my home in peace.”
Accepting Harry’s arm Rose asked, “Home?”
Harry nodded as the pair of them began walking down the hall to one of the viewing rooms. “Yes. Its been some time since I lived there but for many years Earth was home.”
Rose squeezed his arm and they both shared a sad smile.
“If you don’t mind my asking, what are you then? It’s just, you lived on Earth and you look human,” Rose asked sounding hopeful. She was revealing a level of ignorance extremely uncommon, nearly unheard of for this area of space at this time.
Harry felt his curiosity peaking as to just who this girl was and how she had ended up here.
Setting aside his curiosity Harry explained, “I’m not human, no, though I have lived as one.”
“But then what are you,” Rose asked with some frustration.
Down the hall Harry could see the contingent of the Adherents of the Repeated Meme heading their way. He bowed his head to them and Rose followed his lead.
Turning into an empty viewing room Harry shut and locked the door against those outside before sitting himself down on the nearest seat. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out a bottle of water to himself and Rose.
“Ta,” she said, taking it from him.
While taking a sip he reached back in his pocket to retrieve a packet of biscuits. He ate one himself before holding the other out to Rose. Smiling she sat down next to him before accepting his offer.
Watching her Harry asked, "Can you keep a secret?”
Rather than agreeing or refusing out of hand Rose hesitated to consider if she should. Harry felt his esteem for her rise because of it.
Coming to a conclusion Rose nodded with shaky conviction. Harry wondered what had happened to make her weary of answers.
Looking out the window he revealed, “My people were known as the Time Lords of Gallifrey.”
“…Were,” Rose asked. His esteem for her rose again for picking up on the distinction and caring enough to keep her tone gentle.
Harry nodded. He felt his grief and guilt rise up as he thought about the truths behind what he was about to say. “There was a war, and they died. I’m all that’s left now. Just me.”
He looked away from the Earth to Rose. Finding her close to tears for him Harry felt his own tears start coming.
She held out a hand to him which Harry readily took. He clasped her hand in both of his as he set his focus back on the Earth.
After a few second she asked, “Why would that need to be a secret?”
Harry took a deep breath. “Things might get dangerous if people knew. Not all our enemies were a part of the War. They’re still out there. And others, well many out there would seek to take advantage... People always want something.” He looked at her and soften the sentiment with a smile. “Not that wanting things is all bad. There are plenty of good things a person can want.”
His eyes going distant Harry concluded, ”Ambition isn’t to be villainized,”.
It had taken him a few lifetimes to fully overcome his Slytherin prejudices and accept that but it had come.
“And what is it you want,” Rose asked.
Now that was a question. What did he want? For so long being free took up so much room in Harry’s heart that there wasn’t space for other dreams. However less existentially and more immediately there was something he wanted. The reason for his being there.
“My planet was destroyed. I wasn’t there to see it. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I have a chance to say goodbye to Earth. I came to take it.”
Rose said nothing to that. Her own emotions distracted her. Together they sat looking at Earth which could have been saved but in minutes would be allowed to burn, while sipping their water and eating their biscuits. It was nice, peaceful. He found himself grateful for having someone like Rose at his side while he waited. He would owe his timeship for insisting he come.
“Sun filter descending.”
“What,” Harry said offended at the suggestion.
“Sun filter descending,” the computer repeated as the sun filtered did indeed begin to descend.
“What’s happening,” Rose asked panicking. She tried to make for the door but Harry kept her by his side. He pulled the shield projector from his pocket and activated it. Around them a personalized bubble formed creating a safe space within. Rose was still worried but not as much as before for seeing the shimmering barrier was holding up to the light. Tucking his cane under his arm Harry used his grip on Rose’s arm to support himself while guiding them over to the door.
“Hold this,” Harry requested transferring the projector to Rose’s hands. She held it with as much care as one might a fragile newborn. Nodding his approval he turned his attention towards dissembling the control panel to get at the meat of it.
As he worked he reached out to his ship.
“Hello my lovely,” he greeted. “It seems my lucks holding to typical form. Could you get ready to transport myself and a guest to safety?”
Harry didn’t think they would be needing the rescue as he should be capable of getting them out of a blasted room but better safe than sorry.
“Who are you talking to,” Rose asked looking back and forth between his work and still descending shield.
“My ship,” which had sent back confirmation of his request.
“You’re got a crew then?”
“No. Just me and my ship.”
“But you were talking to it like a person.”
“That’s because she is a person, even if she isn’t humanoid.” Harry sighed. “There.”
“Sun filter rising. Sun filter rising.”
“You did it,” Rose congratulated him happily.
“Sun filter descending. Sun filter descending.”
“Oh bollocks,” Harry complained. He was perfectly capable of getting the door open or to knock it down but that would leave the bits of the ship on the other side vulnerable and as such he was aiming to see the Shield’s up first.
He looked over at the projector that sadly was due for a charging. It was a potent bit of tec however not very energy efficient. They would only have a couple minutes before it started failing.
Giving up on doing it himself Harry pulled out an interface from one of his pockets which would allow his lovely to connect to the stations computers and wired it into the panel.
“Anyone in there,” a voice called from the other side of the door.
Before he could speak Rose exclaimed, “Doctor!”
The hint of concern the voice had before hearing Rose’s voice was gone. In its place was judgment. “Oh well, it would be you.”
And that, Harry felt, was hardly the thing to say given the situation. Even if Rose was known for unfortunate luck given the dire nature of their circumstances this Doctor, whoever he was to her, could hold off on judging until things were less dire. Harry scowled at where the man was on the other side of the door until a beep drew his attention down to the interface in his hand. It seemed his lovely had been successful.
"Sun filter rising. Sun filter rising.”
“Doctor,” Rose asked.
“That wasn’t me,” Rose’s 'Doctor’ called back confused.
With the shields in place Harry quickly opened the doors.
“That was me,” Harry said claiming the credit. Having disconnected the interface he stored it in his pocket while guiding Rose to quickly move out into the corridor.
Once they were clear the way closed behind them thanks to this Doctor. Plucking the shield projector out of Rose’s hands he used a custom sonic device to stand it over while keeping an eye on Harry. “And you are?”
“Harry Jay,” Harry introduced himself. He held his hand out for projector but man the man ignored the unspoken request and continued with his scan. Only once he finished was the projector handed over to Harry’s waiting hand.
“Nice piece that. Can’t say I recognize it and that doesn’t happen often.”
“Thank you,” Harry said slipping it into his pocket and ignoring the implied question to ask his own, ”And you are?”
“The Doctor,” the man said before turning about to run down the hall. “Now come on.”
Harry frowned. ‘The’ titles would always make him think of his fellow Time Lords but they hardly had the monopoly. Given the guest list for this gathering and with a nom de plume like that the man was likely a celebrity of some sort. He looked to Rose for an explanation.
“What did he mean by ‘the Doctor,’” Harry asked. “Am I meant to know who he is?”
Putting her arm through his Rose gave Harry a gentle tug of encouragement to follow after the Doctor. As they went she explained, “That’s his name, or at least its what he goes by. Its the only one he’s given me at any rate.”
Something she clearly resented obviously judging by her tone and the glare she was sending at the Doctor’s back as he got further and further ahead of them.
“Earth Death in ten minutes,” the countdown announced.
With Harry and Rose at the man's heels the Doctor lead the way back to the party until they turned a corner to find they’d been left behind as Harry’s wasn’t up to matching the Doctor’s speed and Rose refused to leave him behind. They caught up just in time to hear the announcement that the steward was dead. Harry hadn’t know the man, had never spoken to him, but rarely did he come across a person he was happy to hear died and as such he mourned for the murdered man.
He wasn’t shocked that it proved to be Cassandra “The Last Human” who had orchestrated this catastrophe. Harry had yet to meet someone desperate to be the unattainable who wasn’t willing to engage in murder eventually. He’d thought she was bad off when he met her two centuries or so younger but it had certainly gotten worse, likely in line with her desperation to reclaim the notoriety and admiration she’d once enjoyed. Most people didn’t see Cassandra as anyone of importance any longer. She wasn’t human enough for her title to matter. Harry had over heard one of the guests saying the only reason she’d been featured at the viewing was because she was the only ‘human’ left living who was born on Earth. Last known anyway. If ever she was going to arrange a hostage situation now was the time. Another opportunity might never be open to her.
Harry left Cassandra to the others and instead made his way over to the wall. Even with systems failing on the Station power wasn’t a problem, which was good for Harry. Connecting her shield projector to that power supply he allowed it to charge while fiddling with the settings.
“Lovely, on my signal I’d like you to be ready to come this way. I think you’ll be needing to offer some sanctuary to these folks. Once they are inside keep a tracker. I may need you to swoop me up.”
He got a sense of displeasure from his ship. Displeasure stemming from several sources and Harry didn’t quite have the time to sort them out.Cassandra was gone and the Doctor was preparing to go reset the ships computers taking Jade of the Forest of Cheem but leaving Rose behind. Rose however looked ready to run after him.
Disconnecting the projector Harry called for his ship.
Making his way over to Rose he stopped her just before she could leave.
“Rose, my ship is on its way,” he said, placing a key in her hand. “I’m trusting you to get everyone on board and keep them from being too nosey while I get this to that Doctor of yours.”
He lifted the projector as explanation.
“What about you,” Rose asked but his lovely began to materialize drawing her attention along with everyone else.
Harry slipped off while she was distracted, pushing himself to run for the first time in years. He knew he was ruining his chances of dying of old age, but while he was selfish he wasn’t so selfish as to let that stop him. And so he ran, through the station after the Doctor and Jade.
He found them in a dire situation.
“Doctor stop! Jade to me,” he commanded but while the Doctor did stop to look back his way Jade did not listen. She stayed where she was holding down a level to slow the rotation giving the Doctor a greater chance of getting through. Because of her stubbornness Harry had to make his way to her rather than meeting in the middle. That time which was lost was all that was needed for Jade to catch fire but thankfully Harry was only a step away.
Activating his shield he saw them both protected as he gathered Jade in his arms. Using his fire resistant robe was able to smoother the flames. That seen too and with his heart pounding Harry reached behind her to pull down the lever.
“There, there now, I’ve got you,” he tried to comfort her.
She cried in pain as she curled into him.
“I have her Doctor, and the lever. You continue on,” he shouted out.
“Right you are Harry Jay,” the Doctor called back sounding thrilled.
“Lovely, are they all on board,” he asked his ship while watching the Doctor proceed across the walkway.
His ship confirmed.
“I want you to be ready. Not for me but the Doctor. I want you to materialize around him if the worst comes.”
She didn’t approve.
He sent her comfort along with his assurances that, “The shield will hold. We’ll have only some seconds but it is enough time to wait to go last.”
They were running out of time and if the Doctor made it there would be with less than a second to spare. Harry watched anxiously. His ship was already taking off scaring those inside but then the Doctor made it. Made it just in time. Harry let out a breath of relief while many floors above his ship settled herself back into place. She waited a few minutes to ensure the danger was past before opening her doors. In that time Harry stood holding Jade while the Doctor made his way back to them.
“Here, take her,” Harry encouraged handing Jade over to the Doctor. “She needs medical attention and I’ll only slow you down.
“What about you,” he asked, proving he wasn’t heartless.
Harry waved him off. “I’ll catch up,” he promised.
He could see the Doctor had concerns and doubts about him, quite right to, but they didn’t stop him from taking Jade and making his way on ahead.
Slowly Harry made his way over to the wall to lean against it. Closing his eyes he brought a hand to his chest. His hearts were soon to fail. He could feel it. As soon as he stopped moving, as soon as he let himself rest, that would be the last for this regeneration.
“If I’m to die, it will be in my own bed,” Harry declared. With determination he made himself stand up straight and begin the journey. So many times he had died but he could count on one hand how many of those deaths had been at peace, in his home. He was determined this death would be.
“Have to start things off right. With the cycle broken this one will set the tone,” he reasoned.
Harry didn’t make it though. Halfway there he blinked and his eyes didn’t open.
“Just a quick rest,” he murmured having forgotten why that was a bad idea.
The Doctor wasn’t expecting to arrive back with the other guests to see a small space cruiser parked taking up a good deal of the room but there it was with the people cautiously leaving its protection to see what had happened. It seemed that Cassandra wasn't the only one willing to ignore the rules on teleporting. Which reminded him that things weren’t quiet finished yet.
Handing Jade over to her fellow trees the Doctor went about bringing Cassandra back to face justice but in the end instead of preserving her for the authorities he let nature take its course. He could have moisturized her. He could have kept her living to go on to trial, but instead he let her dry out. All things had their time and Cassandra was long past hers.
“Doctor,” Rose asked when it was over.
“Yeah,” he asked.
Biting on the tip of her tongue Rose hesitated. She looked back at the ship that had sheltered her and the others while the shield’s were down.
Rolling his eyes the Doctor tried to continue on to go check on Jade but Rose stopped him with a light touch to his arm. “The Tardis being bigger on the insider, is that a common thing? Like, do a lot of ship’s have that.”
The Doctor turned his attention to her fully. “No, that’s just my lot.”
“Your people… the Time Lords?”
The Doctor felt himself freeze. He hadn’t told Rose about that. She shouldn’t have known that name.
“It’s just, Harry was saying that his people, that they were the Time Lords.”
The Doctor felt like he’d been punched in the gut.
“He said it was a secret, but Doctor, he thinks he’s the last… and his ship’s bigger on the inside.”
The Doctor acted without thinking. Taking Rose’s hand he ran her over to the ship.
“Doctor,” she asked confused.
But he didn’t answer. He didn’t stop. He ran them right inside through those doors and… It was. It was a Tardis. The Doctor didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
“I know it doesn’t look like yours but you said your ship could change-”
“It is,” the Doctor confirmed. “It’s a Tardis.”
“So Harry is a time Lord then?”
The Doctor felt the blood drain from his face and Rose saw it happen.
“But isn’t that a good thing,” she asked only the Doctor was off running out of the ship.
Taking off after Rose called out, “Doctor!”
They ran. They ran through the satellite to parts of it she yet to see until they came to a corridor where there was someone laying on the floor.
Recognizing the outfit Rose called out in concern, “Harry!”
The Doctor had stumbled to a stop but Rose charged on right past him.
She’d just dropped down at Harry’s side to check him over when around them his Tardis began to form. Rose held him close as a new floor appeared under them with new walls all around and new air to breath which smelled of warmth and citrus. They were in a bedroom. A cozy space all done up in warm woods, reds, and gold accents with a fireplace going to one side of the bed.
“Rose,” Harry asked, looking at her through barely cracked open eyes. His voice was so faint.
Rose didn’t know much at all about medicine or biology, and she hadn’t been around a lot of death, but somehow she knew he was dying.
“I’m here,” she promised as she held Harry close.
“Where are we?”
“On your ship I think.”
Harry opened his eyes a little wider to look around and smiled. It was contagious, like with the Doctor. When he smiled it made you smile to. She wondered if it was a Time Lord thing.
“How inappropriate,” Harry teased even as his eyes slid shut again. “We barely know each other and I’ve got you in my bedroom.”
Despite herself Rose broke out with a laugh, but it died as she realized Harry wasn’t laughing with her.
Looking down she couldn’t tell if his chest was moving. Reaching her hand up she tried to feel for a breath, for a heartbeat, something but all she could feel was the mad beating of her own heart.
He hummed in return and she sagged in relief.
“Tell me what to do,” she begged.
He got one eye cracked open. “I’d like… I’d like to be in my bed,” he said barely managing to breath out the worlds.
Nodding Rose got up on her knees and worked to lift him. Slowly and with several stumbles she got them up.
The door opened startling her but when she turned she and saw the Doctor standing there a flood of relief went through her at not being alone.
“Help me,” she told him, but he stayed standing frozen in the doorway. “Help me Doctor, he wants to be in his bed.”
That got him moving. In a few long strides he was at Harry’s other side helping to take his weight. Once they had him laid out Rose quickly went about taking off Harry’s shoes and stripping off his jacket like she would do for Mickey when he’d had too much to drink.
“He’s dying isn’t he,” Rose asked as she worked. When the Doctor didn’t answer she looked back at him. His expression was all the answer she needed. Nodding she did her best not to cry. Since she couldn’t lift Harry up to tuck him in properly Rose adjusted the pillow under his head before reaching over to pull the blanket back on itself and over him.
Moving over to the Doctor, she wrapped him in her arms. She had time to think while she was waiting with the others on Harry’s ship. She’d figured if Harry thought he was the last, the Doctor might think the same but even if he didn’t he’d still lost most everything of his people and according to Harry his planet. She couldn’t imagine that. But she could imagine what it might be like to find a person only to loose them.
“I’m sorry,” she told him genuinely.
Stiffly the Doctor’s arms moved to embrace her in return.
“Isn’t there anything we can do,” she asked.
“No. There’s a chance of something, but it will be up to him.”
Suddenly the lights in the room dimmed, the fire nearly when out, and the ship, the ship made a noise that tore at Rose’s heart.
“Please,” the Doctor said with his voice breaking into the following silence.
That was the push over the edge Rose needed to start crying.
“Please,” the Doctor said again. “Have at least one more left in you. Don’t let that have been the last.”
As though answering him the room began to grow brighter and the Doctor took a shuddering breath. Rose looked around and saw the source of the light was Harry’s body.
“Yes,” the Doctor said sounding triumphant. His arms tightened around Rose.
On the bed Harry glowed brighter.
“Doctor,” Rose asked, hopeful but scared.
Sounding elated he promised, “Its alright Rose. Everything is going to be alright.”
Picking Rose up off her feet he swung her around.
A wave of energy burst out of Harry obscuring his features but not so much that Rose couldn’t see the change that started happening. The years shed off of him leaving behind a young man in his place.
With a gasp the light show ended and Harry who’s back had arched slumped down on the bed.
With the glowing gone Rose was able to get a good look at him. He seemed around her age now, maybe younger. With light brown skin, a head of messing dark brown hair, and a handsome set of features he’d be just the type to make her mother complain about not being young anymore. But what mattered to Rose wasn’t how he looked but that she could see his chest moving as he breathed in and out with ease.
“Fantastic,” the Doctor declared. “Absolutely fantastic!”