Summary: Sarah Jane Smith would joke that a suffragette rally was Harry Sullivan's worst nightmare, but this one has more than even they bargained for.
Notes: For smallearthcat. The details of the rally come from Emmeline Pankhurst's book, My Own Story.
Note: There's a remix of this by aralias: Dr Harry Sullivan in... Another Exciting Adventure! (The 'You Had To Be There' Remix)
"Votes for women!"
It was easy to hear the chants as they crossed the street; the roads much quieter than in Sarah and Harry's time. The few cars they saw were old enough to indicate to Harry they were in the early twentieth century.
But it was the words the women were chanting that made Sarah's eyes light up. "I know when we are!" She smiled at her companions before skipping on ahead.
When they'd landed the Doctor had only been able to tell them it was summer, a fact that was easily confirmed when they stepped out into the heat of a blazing sun in a perfect blue sky. Now that they knew the year, however roughly, it explained why Sarah had got some funny looks. The Doctor, for some reason, always seemed to escape notice no matter where or when they were and Harry never stood out.
Even Harry was amazed when they turned the corner and were greeted by the sight of thousands of women filling Hyde Park, all dressed in white with matching white hats. As far as the eye could see there was a morass of people, some of whom held banners, telling everyone they wanted votes for women. There was the odd man in there, Harry saw, but by and large it was mainly women.
"Isn't it amazing?" Sarah turned to him, eyes bright and face filled with wonder.
"All these feminists? My worst nightmare," Harry joked.
Sarah punched him on the arm.
"It's an important period in history." The Doctor sounded as if he wasn't that interested, though.
"Of course it is." Sarah huffed. "They're trying to get women the vote."
"Not all men have it yet," Harry pointed out.
Sarah sighed. "Don't tell me you don't think women should be given the vote."
"Of course not, old girl." At her look, he hastily corrected it to, "Sarah." He might have been tempted to tease her about women's rights at the turn of the century had they not been standing in the middle of London at the turn of the century. "But the suffragettes were a dangerous group to get involved in. Throwing themselves under horses and all that."
"I'm not going to get involved, I'm just going to watch. I'll be fine, Harry." She smiled. "And I've always wanted to see what Emmeline Pankhurst was really like." With those parting words, she strode off into Hyde Park and quickly vanished into the sea of people.
Harry sighed. He knew better than to try and stop her, but that didn't mean she should go in there alone. "I'd better follow her," he said to the Doctor. "Make sure she doesn't chain herself to any railings."
"I'll get the lock cutters," the Doctor said and grinned.
Despite being dressed differently, Harry still couldn't work out where Sarah was. It was all these hats. They made it hard to see round and Sarah wasn't particularly tall, unlike some of the women nearest him. He'd tried shouting after her once, but he'd got such horrible looks from the women nearby. Why they cared, he didn't know - it wasn't as if they could make out the speaker's words from here. But one woman upset with him was more than enough and he didn't dare try it again.
"Are you looking for Sarah Jane Smith?"
At those words Harry wondered what trouble Sarah had got herself into now. He glanced at the women standing on boxes addressing the crowd, but none of them were her, which was something at least. Then he looked round at the woman who had asked the question. Although she was dressed similarly to the rest of the crowd, her white dress looked as if it belonged in a ballroom and the hat was better placed at Ascot. But Harry wasn't one to question women's fashion, especially when there were more important things to worry about. "Do you know where she went?" he asked, presuming she and Sarah had bumped into each other and exchanged names.
"That way." She pointed towards the nearest speaker. Of course Sarah would want to go closer, despite the women pressing forwards making it hard to get anywhere.
"Thank you." Harry turned to head in the direction she'd indicated when she said, "You're Dr Harry Sullivan, aren't you?" He stopped and looked back, suspicious now.
"I'm Ethel Peters. It's an honour to meet you, sir." She did look genuinely excited to meet him, as if he was some sort of film star.
"Er," was all he managed to say to that. "How do you know how I am?" he asked eventually, when all she did was smile and blush.
"I learnt about you in school. Tour vaccines that saved the world," she said in a breathy voice.
He was going to point out that he hadn't been born yet, never mind saved the world when she continued.
"Oh, that hasn't happened yet has it?" She put a hand to her mouth.
"Er, maybe not." He scratched his head and resolved to ask the Doctor about her. Later, once he'd found him and Sarah again.
Almost as if she could read his mind she said, "Please don't tell anyone I said that." She put a hand on his arm, her expression so earnest he could hardly say no.
"I won't," he promised.
She sighed and relaxed, letting his arm go. "Thank you so much."
He was still pondering his meeting with Ethel and failing to get any closer to where Sarah might be when he saw a scuffle over by the edge of the crowd. It could be anyone, but it was bound to be either her, or more likely, the Doctor. He did have a knack of getting them into trouble, even when he blamed it on Harry. Elbowing his way out of the crowd was a little easier than getting in and he soon found himself in front of the Doctor, who was hanging upside down from a tree.
"Ah, Harry." The Doctor smiled. "I don't suppose you could get me down from here." His manner was untroubled, as if he'd intended to be upside down in the first place. Harry wouldn't put it past him. He seemed more worried about keeping his hat on his head than untying the rope attaching his ankle to a branch.
"Don't worry," Harry said, "I'll have you down in a jiffy."
The Doctor grinned. "Learnt all about knots in Naval school, I expect."
Now was not the best time to correct him, so Harry just murmured something that could be taken for agreement and unpicked the knot, dropping the Doctor on his head. "Now how did you get up there?" Harry asked as the Doctor sat up and rubbed his head.
"I think there might be someone trying to disrupt the demonstration." He jammed his hat back on his head. "A time traveller, if I'm not mistaken and I rarely am."
No, of course he never was. "How can you tell?"
"He tied me up," he said, as if that was obvious.
Harry managed not to roll his eyes. "That's not really proof, is it?"
"But he's right, Dr Sullivan."
Harry looked round and there was Ethel again.
"I'm sorry," she added, although Harry wasn't sure if she was apologising because he was wrong or because she'd interrupted. Again.
"How do you know?" Harry asked her as the Doctor beamed at her.
"That's why I'm here. To stop Kaiden from changing history."
"You're a Time Agent." The Doctor had just realised this, judging by his tone.
Ethel's eyes widened. "You must be the Doctor."
Harry wished, not for the first time, that he wasn't the only person who didn't have a clue what was going on. Especially when Ethel added, "But it's all right, Dr Sullivan is here."
Harry tried not to look too worried, but feared he'd failed, especially when the Doctor looked amazed.
"Harry?" he asked.
"Yes, of course." Ethel looked at Harry expectantly.
"Er," Harry said, feeling some response was required. "What is it you want me to do exactly?"
"Why, find Kaiden and bring him to justice, of course."
Of course. When she put it like that it sounded simple "Right-oh," Harry said with more confidence than he felt, thinking that he shouldn't let down this woman's high opinion of him. He took a couple of steps before turning back to the Doctor. "Er, did you see which way he went?"
The Doctor pointed and Harry headed off. At least this time it was outside the park. He soon found a man in jeans, t-shirt and a top hat crouched in the bushes, the shrubbery knocking his hat askew. Now Harry could see why the Doctor might think he was a time traveller, although he still thought that was a bit of leap - he could just be an eccentric.
But whatever he was Harry couldn't let Ethel down, so he approached Kaiden and coughed. "Excuse me."
Kaiden looked up with a thunderous expression on his face and Harry wished he'd thought of something better to say next. Or even anything at all to say.
"I really don't think that's a good idea," was all he managed in the end. He wasn't sure what the other man was doing in the bushes, but it couldn't be anything good.
"Oh, yes." Kaiden stood and Harry saw something silver and metallic in the bushes. He wanted a closer look, but the other man advanced on him. Harry resisted the temptation to take a step back and they ended up toe to toe, Kaiden looming over him and Harry wasn't short.
"Er, yes." Harry said, looking up.
"What are you going to do about it?"
Ah, the typical taunt of the bully. "Stop you."
Kaiden raised an eyebrow. "All right, then."
Neither man moved for a moment, Harry wondering what to say, when finally Kaiden turned back to the bush. Harry followed to watch Kaiden play about with wires and Harry worried it might be a bomb. Taking out the leaders of the suffragettes might set them back a bit and Harry couldn't let him do it. So he tapped the other man on the shoulder.
Kaiden looked round. "What is it?"
Harry opened his mouth to speak, hoping the right words would come out without him having to think about it - it always seemed to work for the Doctor after all. He'd only got as far as "Er," before Sarah emerged from the bushes holding a short, thick tree branch and hit Kaiden round the head with it. Harry was so surprised he almost didn't catch Kaiden as he fell.
"Steady on, old girl. You could have killed him."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Because you were doing so well."
He looked contrite at that. "Thank you. You've probably single-handedly saved the women's vote."
She grinned. "Well, you did help by distracting him. When's he from?" She indicated the unconscious man.
"How do you know he's a time traveller?" Why did everyone here know something he didn't?
She gave him a look as if he was an idiot. "It's obvious, isn't it, Harry?"
He might have asked more, had he not seen the Doctor and the Ethel approaching. He stepped closer to Sarah and grabbed her sleeve. "I'll owe you a favour," he said quietly, "if you tell them you arrived after he was unconscious."
Sarah frowned, then glanced behind her. "Trying to look good for your girlfriend?" she asked with a grin.
There wasn't time to say more and he had to hope she'd do it, whatever she thought the reason was.
"Dr Sullivan!" Ethel was breathless and wide-eyed. "You are a man of many talents."
Sarah gave a suspicious-sounding cough.
"Thank you so much," she gushed.
Sarah put a hand over her mouth, but Harry could see she was trying not to laugh. He hoped Ethel hadn't noticed, but it seemed that she only had eyes for him. For once he was grateful for it.
"I'll tell everyone how you brought a terrible criminal to justice." She kissed Harry on the cheek and Harry was still reeling from that when she lifted up her skirt. He quickly looked away, but turned back when he heard a whooshing sound. He was just in time to see Ethel with her finger pressed to something strapped round her thigh, and she and Kaiden disappearing.
"Well." The Doctor looked bemused. "Good old Harry Sullivan saving the day."
Sarah wasn't bothering to hide her laughter now and she was doubled up with tears in her eyes.
"It's not that funny, old girl."
Sarah put a hand on his arm and then ended up leaning against him to keep her upright. "Your number one fan," she managed to say.
Harry gave her a look. "If it wasn't for me-- us," he quickly corrected, "he would have blown up your beloved Emmeline Pankhurst. I rather think it was a bomb he was setting."
The Doctor, having investigated for himself, held out two silver hemispheres containing various coloured wires and a countdown that hadn't started yet. "It was," he said gravely. "Fortunately he hadn't activated it."
"That would have been awful." Sarah was serious now. "Imagine what would have happened. We might still be fighting for the vote in our time."
"I'm sure it would have happened sooner or later." Harry patted her on the arm. The movement had been more than one woman, after all. More than even a few women.
The Doctor shook his head. "If women hadn't got the vote when they did, they might never have got it."
Frankly, Harry wasn't sure he believed that. Not when there were women like Sarah around.
"That's awful!" Sarah was horrified.
"Is that true?" Harry asked, curious.
The Doctor shrugged. "It might be. Now we'll never know." He grinned and walked back to the TARDIS.