An Unusual Holiday in Cardiff

 

 

Captain Jack Harkness ran down the sidewalk, the wet pavement making slapping noises as his dress shoes fell on it. He couldn’t see anything behind him, but he knew better.

 

His jacket flapped behind him as he rounded the corner. He’d expected the streets to be empty this time of night, but he was wrong.

 

“You like living?” Jack blurted out at the tall man cloaked in black.

 

The man stiffened.

 

“Run!” Jack cried, taking the man by the shoulder and spinning him around. He pushed and the man took flight by Jack’s side.

 

“What are we running from?” The man shouted as they began running down another street.

 

“Cockatrice!” Jack bellowed.

 

The other man began running faster. “Where are we going?”

 

“Somewhere safe!” Jack stopped running near a black monolith. He pulled the man close to him and they began sinking down into the earth.

 

“It was right behind me!” Jack barked out. “Can you fire that new prototype?”

 

A black-haired-girl screwed up her face. “I’d really rather someone else—“

 

“There is no one else, Gwen, and I haven’t been briefed yet.” Jack said as he darted around the workplace to reach his desk. He pulled what looked like a gun made of woven green grass out of a drawer and seemed to check it over. It squelched at him and he gave it a satisfied nod.

 

“Why were you out there all alone, anyway?” Gwen asked in an annoyed tone. “And who’s that?”

 

“Well, that’s a good question.” Jack flashed the other man a smile. “Who are you?”

 

“Severus Snape.” The man sniffed as he looked Jack up and down. “Are you with the Ministry?”

 

Gwen snorted. “Hardly.”

 

“I don’t think that’s what he meant.” Jack looked at Snape curiously. “What Ministry?”

 

“The Ministry of Magic,” Snape huffed.

 

“You’re a wizard!” Jack exclaimed excitedly. “Great!”

 

Gwen blinked as she looked back and forth between the men. “A wizard?”

 

“Yup,” Jack said quickly as he rustled around in his desk some more. “Flying brooms, magic potions, wavy wands.”

 

Snape bristled. “That is an oversimplified way of looking at it.”

 

“Well, we’ll have a nice chat when all this is over,” Jack said patronizingly. “Now move before this thing starts wrecking property.”

 

“I’m not going out there with that thing!” Snape looked at Jack as if he were mad.

 

“You will,” Jack said firmly. “With these on.” He tossed Snape a pair of old-fashioned goggles. A blue light on the side blinked.

 

“These can repel the gaze of the cockatrice?” Snape asked skeptically.

 

“More like it takes it apart,” Jack said as he slipped a pair of goggles onto his face.

 

Snape slipped them on and looked around the room. Everything seemed to have fuzzy edges that moved in an organic way.

 

“Ready?” Jack asked him.

 

“Let’s get this over with,” Snape said in a clipped tone.

 

The men were soon above ground, Jack pointing his organic weapon and Snape pointing his wand at anything that made a squeak, but the creature was nowhere to be found.

 

“It wouldn’t have just left,” Snape growled. “They can track prey for days.”

 

“You think I don’t know that?” Jack asked in an annoyed tone.

 

Suddenly they froze as a warm breeze tickled the hairs on the back of their heads.

 

-+-+-

 

“How was Cardiff?” Professor McGonagall asked Snape as he appeared in the fireplace in the teacher’s lounge of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and wizardry.

 

“I managed to get the pixie eggs,” Snape said grumpily. “They cost a bloody fortune.”

 

“Well, I’m sure the Seventh years will be grateful for it,” McGonagall said, her eyes sparkling with amusement as she sipped delicately at her teacup.

 

“I also helped Torchwood take down a cockatrice,” Snape said casually as he went to pour himself a cup of tea.

 

McGonagall choked on her tea and began coughing. “Torchwood? That’s all just stories!”

 

“Says the witch in the pointy hat,” Snape said sarcastically.

 

“So they really do exist,” McGonagall said with wide eyes.

 

“They deal with alien technologies these days,” Snape went on. “Not interested in magic at all.”

 

McGonagall knitted her brows together and gave him an offended look. “And they just let you go?”

 

“Don’t be silly,” Snape snorted. “They were going to slip me some tea with a memory modification serum of some sort in it. I got to them first. They think I’m walking around clueless.”

 

“Serves them right,” McGonagall said with a firm nod of her head. “Going around modifying people’s memories like that! We do it to Muggles to stave off madness, but to our own kind?”

 

“I know,” Severus said with a sniff as he stirred sugar into his cup and took a taste. “Unconscionable. No wonder they keep popping up as legend.”

 

“Are you going to take it up with the Ministry?” McGonagall asked curiously.

 

“I’ll make a notation in the school records but there’s no reason to think they don’t know of each other. The one in charge seemed to be quite familiar with our ways.” Severus sat down in a comfortable chair with a sigh. “They’ve got some interesting tools now, you know.”

 

McGonagall snorted. “Wouldn’t surprise me after all this time.”

 

He quirked a corner of his mouth at her. “Some had a bit of cleverness about it.”

 

“Severus, what did you do?” McGonagall demanded.

 

He pulled a pair of goggles out of his robes, a small unlit blue bulb on the side.

 

“Try to modify my memory,” he huffed. ”Now we’re even.”