Impossible Is Nothing
The Doctor, Martha, Remus
Summary: The Doctor doesn't believe in magic, so Professor Lupin's about to get a bit of a surprise.
Author's notes: For hllangel at dw_cross, with many thanks to shaggydogstail and avendya for their help! Originally posted here.
"Right then!" the Doctor said as he slammed the door on 23rd century China. "Where to next?"
"You really don't stop for breath, do you?" Martha gasped, leaning against the wall of the TARDIS. "Oh God, I don't know, somewhere quiet." She gestured around her ears. "They're still ringing, you know."
"Quiet? How boring."
"Doctor…" Martha began warningly.
"All right, all right – pick somewhere, then!"
"Scotland," Martha said.
The Doctor opened his mouth to protest, but Martha's glare silenced him.
"Scotland, somewhere around present day – the Highlands, actually, always wanted to go there."
"You've never been to the Highlands?" the Doctor asked in surprise. Martha shook her head. "Oh well, in that case! You are missing out, I'm telling you."
Martha grinned. "So show me."
"Scotland it is!" The Doctor leapt to the TARDIS controls, setting off chaotic whirring and churning that made Martha sit down a little faintly. "Last time I was here I met Queen Victoria, you know."
"Oh yes! Had to stop her becoming a werewolf, now that was a fun evening."
Martha tried to respond, but the TARDIS was whirring vigorously to life and so she just clung on tight, laughing. The Doctor muttered to himself, pulling levers and staring intently at the screen.
"Something's messing with our course…" he said, turning to stare at Martha. "There's something here – ah!" he yelped as a plume of smoke billowed out from somewhere on the console – "something here interfering with the controls – Martha! Hang on tight!"
The floor shifted under their feet as the TARDIS careened through space, until they landed with a sudden thud, nearly throwing Martha off balance.
"Well," the Doctor began, absently running his hand through his hair,"we're still in Scotland. 20th century – 1990s, I think."
"So what happened?" Martha asked, brushing herself off a little shakily.
"No idea – let's go find out, shall we?"
They rushed forward to the door, Martha creaking it open carefully and peering out. She stepped outside, onto a windswept hillside, with a castle looming in the distance.
When they stepped out the TARDIS, a girl was staring at them.
"Oh! Um, hello there," Martha began. "What's your name?"
"And where are we?" added the Doctor.
"Hogwarts," she replied, taking a step forward, "and my name's Luna Lovegood."
Martha and the Doctor froze.
"Sorry, come again?" Martha said hesitantly.
"Luna Lovegood," she repeated. "It's very nice to meet you – fascinating police box you've got there – Transfigured on the inside, is it?"
"Err, yes, um – Miss, Miss Lovegood, would you excuse us for just a moment –just, um, hang on here, would you?" the Doctor stammered, staring wide-eyed at Martha.
"Of course," Luna replied.
"Great, all right, um, hold on a sec."
They rushed back into the TARDIS, slamming the door shut.
"That's impossible," Martha began.
"Completely impossible," the Doctor agreed.
"Really, completely, absolutely impossible."
"So…" Martha said slowly.
The Doctor broke into an enormous grin. "Come on!"
They dashed back out again. "Luna Lovegood, did you say?" the Doctor asked.
"Delighted to meet you!"
A man had just noticed them from some distance away, and was hurrying over.
"Luna, who are these people?"
Martha stepped forward. "I'm Martha, and this is the Doctor."
"Professor Lupin," Luna began, "they came here in that police box, I saw them, they just appeared out of thin air!"
Professor Lupin frowned, giving them both an appraising look. "Did they, now. Well, Luna, you'd best run back up to school, hadn't you - lessons will be starting again soon."
"But-" Luna began to protest, then caught Professor Lupin's eye. "Yes, Professor," she said meekly, before heading back up the hill, frequently stopping to look over her shoulder.
"You must forgive Miss Lovegood, she can be prone to the occasional flight of fancy – what can I do for you?"
"Um, we were just, ah, passing through, and we thought we'd stop by! Good old Hogwarts," the Doctor said enthusiastically.
"Old pupils?" Lupin asked. "Oh well, in that case – but why the police box? I've got to ask."
"Oh, we just travel around it," Martha said, glancing at the Doctor. "Much better than getting soaked on a broomstick."
"Well, I've never seen anything like it before! How interesting. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm freezing – come inside."
They followed Professor Lupin up towards the castle, and the Doctor took Martha's hand with a grin. They walked through the cold corridors and vast halls of Hogwarts, until they reached Lupin's office.
"Is that a - a Hinkypunk?" Martha asked with suppressed enthusiasm, pointing at a tank in the corner.
"Yes, just brought him in for my Third Years – nasty little bugger, mind you don't get too close!"
Martha edged away nervously, as the Doctor stared with fascination at the books on the walls. At a nod, they sat down at Lupin's desk.
"So," Professor Lupin began conversationally, though his hand seemed to grasp something in his robes, "who are you really?"
"Just travellers," the Doctor said, "just passing through."
"We didn't even meant to end up here, we just sort of – did," Martha continued. "That box, it can be a bit erratic, at times."
"You're really not meant to be able to just end up here – I've half a mind to march the pair of you up to Professor Dumbledore right away," Lupin said thoughtfully.
"Dumbledore?" The Doctor's eyes lit up. "Oh, I'd love to meet Dumbledore!"
"Doctor!" Martha glared at him. "Time and place."
Lupin shook his head wonderingly at them. "I've seen some strange things in my time, but you both really are something else."
"Professor, in truth – we're just as surprised to be here."
"Really? And why is that, Doctor?"
"Well," the Doctor leaned back expansively in his chair, "magic and witches and stuff – it's impossible, isn't it?"
"All of this – I mean, this can't really be here, it's just fairytales! Stories!"
Lupin stared at them. "Hang on, you mean to say you're Muggles? Now that I wasn't expecting."
The Doctor spluttered. "Well, no, that's not what I – no!"
"I always liked to think my Hogwarts letter got lost in the post," Martha said, grinning. "But you can't really do magic, can you?"
Lupin looked indignant. "I certainly can!" His hand emerged from under the desk, holding his wand. With a muttered incantation, he produced a bunch of flowers and handed them to Martha.
"That's not magic, that's just a different sort of science – a matter replication beam, I don't know how it works, exactly…" The Doctor stared at the wand, frowning.
"Professor, can I try?" Martha asked.
"Of course – I don't think you'll manage anything, though."
Martha gripped the wand intently. "Lumos!" Nothing happened. "Oh," she said quietly, looking a little crestfallen.
"So how can we– this doesn't make any sense, you know." The Doctor turned the wand over and over in his hands.
"I doubt I can explain to your satisfaction. But I'm sorry, I'm going to have to ask again, who are you?"
"It really doesn't matter."
Lupin sighed. "Very well. If you'll excuse me, I have a class to teach – my office remains at your disposal if you wish." He looked at them curiously for a moment or two longer, before picking up a pile of papers and exiting the room, shutting the door behind him.
Martha leapt to her feet, staring at the Doctor. "What is going on?"
"I don't know!" The Doctor stood up, and began to pace, waving his hand in frustration.
"He's not real, Lupin, he's – he's a character! I've read about him, I know what happens – look, here." Martha ran to the other side of the desk. "There's a newspaper – ha! The Daily Prophet! It's June the 6th, 1994 – oh my God, it must be around the time he finds out what really happened. I can't remember exactly, but it's definitely June."
The Doctor struggled to suppress a laugh. "Just how many times have you read the series?"
"Prisoner of Azkaban was always my favourite," Martha admitted. "Had a bit of a thing for Sirius, back in the day. Well, all right," she said after a raised eyebrow from the Doctor, "still do, a bit. Hey! He's out here somewhere! We could go find him!"
"But how – how can this have been here, this whole time – how does that even work?"
"Is this like the Carrionites?" Martha asked. "They could do magic, sort of."
"But that was a whole different species, a different kind of science! These people are humans, humans who have somehow managed to – but how? This is a book! Fantasy! This really can't be happening."
"So…" Martha said hesitantly.
"I don't know! If the books are real, somehow – we'd better not bump into Harry, in any case. I guess it's the same old trick – don't change the course of history!"
"Can we stay, though?" she asked.
The Doctor beamed. "Course we can! Ha! We're in Hogwarts! This is brilliant!"
"But if it's – we really shouldn't be here when Professor Lupin gets back – he's got to see Wormtail tonight, go down to the Shrieking Shack, everything!"
The Doctor stiffened. "I can hear something! Someone's coming!"
"What do we do?"
"Act like we're meant to be here!"
The door was flung open, and a man swept in looking exceedingly sour. He stopped short when he saw them.
"And who are you?"
"Friends of Remus'!" the Doctor said brightly. "Not staying long, just waiting for him to finish his lesson."
"I see. I wasn't aware Lupin had any friends," the man replied. He placed a steaming goblet on the table. "Make sure your friend remembers to take his potion, won't you?" he continued with a sneer.
"So you must be Professor Snape!" the Doctor replied. "Oh, we've heard a lot about you from Remus, delighted to make your acquaintance!"
"Charmed, I'm sure," Snape said through clenched teeth, before leaving the room again, robes billowing behind him.
Martha burst out laughing. "You are unbelievable!"
"Oh come on, how could I resist?"
"Ugh, he's much more greasy in real life than he was in the films. Murdering slimeball!"
"D'you think so?" the Doctor asked nonchalantly.
"How many times do I have to tell you?" Martha snapped. "If you dare give away the ending I'll…"
"I could just take you a bit forward in time, we could pick up a copy."
"After this, think I might have to take you up on that."
"Oh, there's this one bit… I can't wait to see your face!"
"Doctor!" Martha yelped, thwacking him on the arm.
"We should go – come on, let's go explore!"
Martha looked excited. "The possibilities! Where shall we go first?"
They edged quietly out of the room, looking around them. The corridor was deserted, and they began to wander down the halls, occasional cries of delight at the portraits and suits of armour.
"Hello there!" the Doctor said to a snoozing portrait of Merlin, who glared balefully at him.
They raced down a staircase into what must have been the Great Hall, with its enormous doors that swung backwards with a satisfying thud. Martha gasped, looking above their heads where the setting sun cast an orange glow over the ceiling. "That's amazing," she said in a hushed voice.
"We really shouldn't be here, should we?" said the Doctor with a laugh.
"Never stopped you before!"
"Well, no. But this is just…" the Doctor shook his head. "Let's head outside, we don't want to bump into more people than we can help."
"What's the time – oh wow, hang on, it's all starting!"
"Come on then!"
They dashed back out into the grounds. Martha gazed around them. "Look, the sun's really setting now, we'd better get out of the way – oh my God, see, over there!"
Two people were coming out from the main entrance, looking extraordinarily shifty.
They ducked behind a bush, and watched as two students that just had to be Harry and Hermione sprinted towards the greenhouses.
"Wow." The Doctor looked impressed. "That's bang on the money. Right, back to the TARDIS, I think."
They rushed inside, then stared at each other.
"So, Doctor, what is it?" Martha asked. "Parallel universe?"
There was a hard look on the Doctor's face for a moment. "No, it can't be."
Martha frowned. "All right then, what do you think?"
"No idea," the Doctor replied more cheerfully. "Either someone's created all of this, or Jo Rowling knows more than she's letting on!"
"In any case, this is amazing, isn't it? Magic, though."
"Yeah. Magic. It's not possible, you know."
"That's what I thought you'd say."
The Doctor smiled. "Ah, don't look disappointed – magic is just the stuff science hasn't explained yet! Doesn't mean any of this is any less impressive."
Martha still looked thoughtful. "D'you think someone really has made this all appear out of nothing, though? I mean, Professor Lupin, he looked pretty real to me."
"Yeah, he did." The Doctor walked towards the console, flicking switches reflectively.
"You really don't have the answers, do you? That makes a change."
The Doctor laughed. "Very refreshing, I'm sure."
Martha glanced at the door. "Wonder what's happening out there now?"
"Best not go out again, I don't think."
"So what do we do? Just wait?"
"Hang on." He hit a monitor, adjusting dials. "Tell you what, forget the film – we can watch it all happen on here."
"Seems a little… passive."
"I thought you wanted something quiet!"
Martha snorted. "Seems there's not much chance of that with you. I ask for quiet, you give me a bloody children's book brought to life."
"D'you know, I've no idea why everything happens to me."
"Animal magnetism." Martha shook her head, and settled down in front of the screen. "Got any popcorn?"
"Not demanding at all, are you?"
But Martha was already fixed on the screen, as three small figures began to walk along the grass. "Look, the rat! There it goes!"
"I always wondered about that – I mean can you imagine? Living as a rat? For twelve years?" The Doctor shuddered. "It'd be all… scrabbly."
"You don't like rats." Martha looked at him with disbelief.
"What? Oh don't tell me you have pet rodents or something."
"No, just – rats, really?"
"All those whiskers, and you know, stuff. Not good."
"Learn something new every day," she murmured as she looked back at the screen.
A few minutes later, and the grounds were deserted again. The Doctor looked thoughtful, then his eyes lit up. "Oh, I tell you what, I'm looking forward to having a gander at the werewolf later."
"Now werewolves – they are real, sort of. Met one of those once too, in Scotland. Something about Scotland – in the water, do you think?"
"Heh, maybe. We should investigate! Smith and Jones, werewolf hunters extraordinaire."
The Doctor beamed. "I like the sound of that!"
Martha leaned against the TARDIS. "Oh, shut up and watch."
When Martha woke up in the morning, the TARDIS was silent. She wandered outside. It was still quiet out, much before anyone else was awake. Somewhere, Sirius Black was flying to freedom, and she smiled at the thought. The Doctor had tried to rationalise all of this last night, throwing out a dozen theories about collective mythology and eddies in space-time. For once, Martha was content not to understand – a strange experience indeed, but a refreshing one.
The dew began to disappear from grass that couldn't exist, and inside a castle that wasn't there people who weren't real were presumably beginning to wake up. Martha sat on a stone, and laughed and laughed.
The Doctor leant against the doorway, and Martha recognised the look of restlessness in his eyes. "Come on," he said. "Time we went."
She nodded, getting to her feet. "You know, I was thinking," she said as they shut the door behind them. "These people, they're stories to us – what if that's all we are to someone else?"
The Doctor frowned. "What do you mean?"
"We'd make a pretty good story, don't you think? The Lord of Time in his travelling box, complete with dashing companion – I know I'd read that book."
He laughed. "Maybe."
"I've seen a lot of things, travelling with you – and now this? I could believe anything, now. Impossible? That's nothing!"
"Onto more impossible things, then?" the Doctor asked, looking at her with a grin. "Like Alice, I try to believe three impossible things before breakfast."
"Of course you do." Martha held on tight, and the TARDIS began to whir into life once again, heading onwards, ever onwards.