*Hello everyone! Here we are on the last page, once again. I have literally just finished this, because I'd been putting off writing the last 300 words or so. This last chapter felt almost impossible to write, as I wanted to strike a balance between optimism and realistic pessimism in the light of the last chapter. Anyway, smut warning on this chapter, plenty of fluff and all sorts. I hope I got this last chapter right. Because of the way I always planned to end this story with a level of bittersweet ambiguity, there will be no sequel. Partially because I like the way it ended but mainly because rule 1 of a writer is to never write a story that you don't feel inspired or motivated to write. And I feel as though I have told every story I want to tell in this universe.
For those of you interested in keeping up to date with my work, I have an Oswin Oswald superprompt AU chapter 4 is up tomorrow, and I also have another handful of multi-chapter superprompts coming up, including a multi-Doctor, multi-Companion spectacular. I'm also going to be posting a new AU sometime in late March, called The Year of the Doctor and set entirely from Clara's perspective. I hope you guys like this chapter and what comes next and as ever, thank you so much to everyone who has helped me along the way. Special thanks to xandrota for all your amazing support, to my two best friends who won't see this but were so so supportive along the way, and to every single one of you who has read, reviewed, followed and favourite along the way. I couldn't have got here without you. Follow me on tumblr at whovianmachine for more updates and prompts. I'll be back TPD*
"Can we get married?"
The question struck the Doctor as an odd one. Clara had had her good days and her bad days since the incident. For the first few weeks or so, it had been almost all bad days. By mid-July, it was about fifty-fifty. Now that August had rolled around, it was more good than bad. The Doctor could usually tell within five seconds of Clara getting up whether it was going to be a good day or a bad day. Today was going to be a good day, even before this sudden outburst over pancakes.
"We are getting married," the Doctor teased, replicating the format of the previous conversation, a few months earlier. "Remember."
"I meant, can we get married today?"
The Doctor choked on his pancake. He couldn't breathe for about five seconds as Clara leapt out of her seat and slammed her fists against his back. He started breathing again and wretched as he regained control of his lungs.
"It was just a suggestion," Clara cried. "If I'd known you'd rather die on me…"
"You want to get married today?"
"Yeah," Clara twisted her engagement ring nervously, as she always did when she was mulling something over. "I was thinking we round up Annabelle, Ten, my dad and the Ponds, get to the nearest registry office, see if they have a free slot, get married, catch a flight and we can be in the Maldives by this time tomorrow. What do you think?"
The Doctor didn't reply, he'd already got out his phone and was calling Ten. Clara giggled and squealed as the Doctor told his cousin to meet them at the registry office in an hour and Clara was already calling her father.
"I'll call the Ponds and then Jack, get Annabelle when you're done!" the Doctor instructed. Clara nodded as she started talking to her father. The whole process took about ten minutes and then Clara pulled the Doctor into a huge hug. All of her baby weight was gone but she'd started eating again properly, she'd had her hair and nails done a couple of days earlier and she was feeling back to her usual perky self. The Doctor was glad to see it. Clara had always been beautiful to him, but he wanted her to feel beautiful on their wedding day. She raced upstairs and the Doctor followed. They showered quickly and spent over half an hour getting ready. The Doctor went with his fanciest suit and matching black bow tie. Clara wore a stunning white dress that reached her knees and clung to her body. She did her makeup, flecking on eyeliner as the Doctor ran his electric razor over his head so it was at the perfect length that Clara liked it. They stopped getting ready for a moment to grin at each other and then Clara curled her hair whilst the Doctor busied himself with shaving his face and aftershave. Ten called and informed them that they had a slot booked for in twenty minutes time and they were very lucky that they could be fitted in. The Doctor laughed out loud and Ten confirmed that the others were all there and waiting for them. The Doctor doubled checked that he had the wedding rings that he had had specially fitted months ago and they were in the car driving.
"Why are we stopping?" Clara shouted as he pulled up alongside a small shop. He hopped out and re-emerged a few moments later with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. He handed them to Clara, kissed her on the cheek and they were back in the car, driving again. They parked outside the registry office with five minutes to spare and hustled in, to see everyone waiting for them, dressed up nicely as they'd hoped. Annabelle rushed over as the Doctor strode over to Ten and Jack.
"I hope you know what you're doing," Ten informed the Doctor as he straightened his cousin's bow tie. "She's been all over the place emotionally ever since the stabbing, you know she could wake up in the morning and lose her shit on your honeymoon?"
"Look, Clara is still coming to terms with the idea of a life without children," the Doctor sighed. "And I want to do everything I can to make her happy. And I want to marry Clara Oswald more than anything in the entire world. So I'm marrying her. Today. And then we're going to have the rest of our lives to deal with what comes next."
"Okay," Ten laughed. "I'm convinced. Let's get you two love birds married!"
The Doctor laughed and then he caught Clara's eyes. They had five minutes, they might as well make the most of them. They quickly excused themselves, saying that they needed the loo before the wedding and then they checked that nobody was looking before locking themselves in the disabled toilet. The Doctor remembered, a very long time ago, at Dave's wedding to Mandy, that the idea of sneaking off to have sex when they were supposed to be getting married had seemed counter-productive. Yet, here they were. Clara kissed him gently and he returned it, before slipping in his tongue and suddenly they were alive. They hadn't had much sex since the incident, but the Doctor knew that that wouldn't matter as soon as they found their rhythm.
Clara was already discarding his jacket and her hands were all over his chest, slipping under his shirt and raking up and down his rib cage. The Doctor gasped and deepened the kiss, his own hands practically ripping Clara's dress off of her. When it crashed to the floor, his trousers followed and Clara's hands were down his pants in an instant, as the Doctor removed her bra. He started trailing kisses down her neck and she moaned as he reached her collarbone and kept going lower. He cupped her breast and chewed delicately on her nipple as Clara tugged away. Her knickers and his boxers were kicked away and then he pressed himself into her.
"Sorry for the rush," he groaned as he lowered her gently to the floor and climbed on top. "But we are supposed to be getting married right now!"
Clara didn't get a chance to reply, as her world become splintered by pleasure.
Clara had never felt more scandalous. They each had half a dozen missed calls as they dressed quickly and left the toilet. She hoped her makeup hadn't run too much and her hair was still under control, but she doubted it. She nervously flattened down her dress and then straightened the Doctor's bow tie. He blushed and then they headed back to join the others. They were more than a little bit late.
"You have got to be fucking kidding me!" Annabelle snarled. "You couldn't wait ten minutes until you were married?"
Clara shrugged meekly and Annabelle grabbed her hand, dragging her best friend along behind her. The Doctor was right behind her and had earned an eye roll off Ten and a chuckle of Jack. Amy straightened out his tux and kissed his cheek as Rory gave Clara a quick final check. She took a deep breath. Rory grinned at her and she smiled.
"Nervous?" Rory asked. Clara nodded once. She wasn't nervous for this. She wasn't nervous for the ceremony. She was nervous for what followed. The rest of their lives. She still couldn't have kids and one happy day wouldn't change that. What if the Doctor changed his mind about her? She snapped out of such thoughts. They were useless to her. The Doctor was never going to turn his back on her and that was a fact. But her? What if she did something stupid? Clara mentally punched herself. She would probably spend their wedding night crying, but it made no difference, they would be married and the Doctor knew how she felt. She had spent much of the last few months crying. Sometimes, her hands would find the scar on her belly, the scar that marked where Tom had been. And then she would feel a wave of emptiness hit her, as if her entire world was collapsing in on itself, leaving nothing left. But those were all problems for tomorrow. She promised herself one happy day.
"I was absolutely petrified on my wedding day," Rory told her, as if she'd needed reminding. She had been the one holding the sick bag. "But once I got through it, I felt a lot better. Every marriage has its ups and downs Clara, you and the Doctor are the strongest couple I know."
"But will that be enough?" she whispered. "If I can't give him kids?"
"That doesn't matter to him Oswin," Rory insisted with a smile. "All that matters is you."
Clara took a deep breath and hugged Rory. Rory was a good hugger, Clara had decided, but he wasn't the Doctor. Nobody was the Doctor. Clara was getting married. She thought back to when she had first met the Doctor, her face buried in a map and he had elbowed her in the stomach. It had all been a rather silly affair. She remembered crying in her shower and then knocking on his door and telling him that she needed a friend. He had always been there for her, whatever had happened. He had nearly murdered Jessie for trying to rape her, he had got her through the summer of hell after Tom's death. He had opened up to her in ways that nobody else had, ever could have.
"Are you ready yet?" snapped the registrar. Clara nodded meekly. "Right then, I have been informed you brought your own vows, now is the time to read them."
"Clara," the Doctor started and she faced him, staring him in the eye. "My Clara. Ever since I met you, you have been a mystery to me. I have spent over a third of my life trying to understand the enigma that is Clara Oswald and I fear I may never succeed. Because I cannot, for the life of me fathom, how a girl so beautiful, so smart and so funny, could ever end up with a foolish man like me. The moment I met you, I thought you were beautiful and it was a privilege to be by your side as you realised it yourself. Clara, I have loved you for so long, I don't remember a time where I didn't love you. When we met, I was nothing. I was not a person, I was just a Doctor. A mad scientist with no interest in people. And you made me so much more than that. You made me who I am today. Without you Clara Oswald, there is no doubt in my mind that I would never have made it out of university alive. And I will spend every minute of every day, for the rest of our lives, repaying you. Giving you the love and cherishment that you deserve. Because you are the single greatest person that I have met in my entire life and I will never, ever let you go."
"Doctor," Clara replied, unable to stop herself blushing and smiling, tears falling now and ruining what little makeup had survived the sex. "I thought that I knew how to beat the world. I thought I knew everything there was to know about going through the motions. But I didn't. I was rubbish at it and the world broke me down. And if I hadn't met you, I doubt I would have had the strength to pick myself up again. Because you have been there for me, every step of the way. And the time that I have spent with you has been by far the best of my life. If I had a pound for every moment when I felt like crying and you made me smile, for every time that you made me laugh when I was angry, for every time that you made me feel like the luckiest girl who ever lived, then I would be the richest as well as the luckiest. You are the perfect boyfriend, the perfect fiancé, the perfect husband. And I know that we have some tough times ahead. And I know that our lives can never be the way that we always pictured them. But as far as I'm concerned, any life with you is one that is worth suffering for."
The Doctor was crying and Clara was crying. She fell forwards into his arms and he gave her a hug. But this was unlike any hug he had ever given her. She had thought that nothing could best the Doctor hug. She had been wrong. Their lips locked and the registrar was saying things but Clara's world only consisted of the Doctor. They only had to sign a piece of paper and they were married. It was that simple. She scribbled her name, he scribbled his and then that was it. They were Mr and Mrs Doctor. There was no other name he needed, in Clara's mind.
They filed out of the office and the newlyweds said thanks to everyone for being there. It was too early to go for celebratory drinks, but they promised to have a proper meal and drink with their friends when they got back from the Maldives. Then, they were driving home and the Doctor carried a heavily giggling Clara over the threshold, back into their house. He stumbled and they toppled onto the sofa, laughing so hard that they could barely breathe.
"I love you, Mr Oswald," Clara informed him, planting a light kiss on his lips and curling up into his arms. She never wanted to leave his arms again, as she tested out the name.
"I love you, Mrs Oswald," the Doctor replied, wrapping himself around her. "That sounds weird to say…Mrs Oswald. But I love you. To the ends of the earth and back."
The Doctor held Clara like she was a piece of delicate china, yet simultaneously the cuddliest teddy bear in the universe. It was gentle yet fierce and so completely him. She cuddled him back and she often wondered how effective her own hugging technique was. It couldn't possibly match his and yet he never complained. She wasn't sure what was next for them, but wherever they ended up, at least they were together.
The Doctor googled flights to the Maldives and they had eight hours to kill before their honeymoon. In the end, they returned to the film that they always turned to during big, life changing moments, Finding Nemo. They had watched it so many times together, that they knew it off by heart, but it didn't matter. They both loved it so much and it always brought them together, even when they didn't think that they could get any closer. After the film, they started to pack and the Doctor shot Clara a seductive look as she packed her bikini. She rolled her eyes and crossed the room to kiss him.
"Are you okay?" he asked her gently and she nodded, despite herself. "Clara, are you absolutely sure you want to do this? I mean, if you don't want to go…"
"Doctor," Clara silenced him. "We might never be able to get out of the shadow. We might spend the rest of our lives grappling with this. But as long as you are by my side, then there is hope. And hope is all we have. Hope of happiness. I can't stand by and watch my life slip away anymore. I love you and we're married. So let's go on our damned honeymoon."
The Doctor and Clara collapsed back into their house after the longest, most fun week of their lives. Clara's skin was burnt brown and her hair was streaked blonde by the sun. The Doctor was red as a tomato and he had had way too much to drink. Clara had abstained. As a general rule, she ignored alcohol during times of emotional turmoil, as she had learned during university that it was a bad combination for her. Plus, she'd been without booze for nine months because of the baby. She was sure she could last another month or so, until she was back on her feet.
The last week or so had taken her away from it all. But now that she was home again, it all came crashing back. Her little family with the Doctor, the family that she had never dreamed to hope would become real, but that she had finally believed in, clung to until it almost intoxicated her, was never going to happen. She wanted to cry all over again, as she always did when she thought about it, but she refrained. She didn't know much anymore. But she knew the Doctor. Her husband was watching her and as he saw her face shift, he reached out, taking her hand and brushing her fringe off of her face. He was there for her.
"Hey," he whispered, pulling her close. "You're going to be okay."
Clara's life had been turned upside down. It would never be the life that she wanted, not anymore. But, she supposed, this was the life that she had. And a life with the Doctor was not to be sniffed at, was not to be a consolation prize. They might never be able to have kids but, as much as they wanted them, they had something more important. They had each other. And whilst the wounds would maybe never heal, at least they could share in each other's pain. They were healing together. Step by step. Day by day. Maybe things would never be perfect and maybe their lives were just determined to trip them up. But Clara had no intention of going through it alone. And perhaps, if they were lucky, they could end up being happy again, somewhere along the line.
"I know," Clara whispered. "I know."