Look in your heart and see
There lies the answer,
Though the heart like a clever
Conjuror or dancer,
Deceive you with many
A curious sleight,
And motives like stowaways
Are found too late.
What shall he do, whose heart
chooses to depart?
He shall again his peace
Feel his heart harden,
Envy the heavy birds
At home in the garden,
For walk he must the empty
Between the needless risk
And the endless safety.
Will he safe and sound
return to his own ground?
Clouds and lions stand
Before him dangerous,
And the hostility of dreams.
Then let him honor us,
Lest he should be ashamed
In the hour of crisis:
In the valley of corrosion
Tarnish his brightness.
Who are You, whose speech
sounds so far out of reach?
-WH Auden, "The Witnesses," 1933
Amy woke, warm and safe, in her bed in Upper Leadworth. Her body was folded into her husband's, her back to his front, his hand trailing over her pregnant belly. Waking up had gotten easier. At least the morning sickness had stopped.
Sleepily, her mind went over the jumbled mess of her dream. There had been, what, a time-travelling alien, that she'd known since she was seven, and a giant eyeball and stone angels who—she shook her head, and wondered if she ought to start keeping a dream journal. Otherwise, I might just forget it….
"Good morning, honey," her husband said, and Amy smiled at the sound of his voice, then realized something very disturbing. She couldn't remember her husband's name.
She sat bolt-upright. "What is it, Amy?" her husband asked. "It's not the baby, is it?"
Panicked, she tried to remember things about her husband. He was completely familiar to her. She knew she knew him. But she couldn't remember how they met, or their wedding, or how they'd made the baby she was carrying. It was all feelings, no facts.
"The baby," Amy repeated. "What are we going to name the baby?"
Her husband laughed. "I was just going to let you name it."
"I trust you, Amy."
"Well, I was thinking," Amy hedged, "If it's a boy, we might name him after you."
He quirked an eyebrow. "Now, that's just mean. What did that poor baby ever do to you?"
"Are you kidding me? The nausea, playing football with my kidneys…"
Her husband seemed to be thinking on it. "I suppose you do have cause for revenge. It'd be confusing, though."
Augh, why won't you just say your name? Amy thought. But then her husband sat up and moved close to her, his eyes heavy-lidded, adoration for her clearly written in every line of his face, and somehow, she didn't care what his name was.
She kissed him, and it definitely wasn't a first kiss, even if she couldn't remember any others before it. Her lips remembered. He, too, clearly remembered the feel of her body against his.
"I don't have work today," he said huskily in her ear, and her pulse quickened.
They made love, slow and gentle, in bed on that lazy Sunday morning, sunlight coming through the closed curtains and turning everything quietly golden. She rocked on his lap, her arms around him, his face pressed into her breasts, then looking up at her with great love. There was something painfully sweet about each sensation, as though she knew in her heart that this would be their last time, and was memorizing every inch of him.
Afterwards, they lay side-by-side, breathing heavily. "That was different," he said to her. "I mean—not bad. Like, the exact opposite of bad. Amazing," he fumbled.
Amy was suddenly afraid she'd revealed her memory loss inadvertently. "Different how?" she asked.
"Well," he said, and moved in even closer, his breath tickling the hair behind her ear. "Usually, you scream my name."
Amy started, and her husband laughed. "Kidding. Though you do sometimes." He smiled warmly at her.
"But," he said, "that was different. Reverent." He kissed her forehead tenderly, and Amy had the strangest sense of déjà vu.
As he made her breakfast, Amy wondered if she ought to tell him that something was wrong with her memory. She really ought to see a doctor about it, especially given her pregnancy. It could be serious.
But, against reason, she felt strongly reluctant to disturb their peace. They were happy, like this. She didn't want to scare him, or ruin this beautiful day. So she sat at the table with her chin in her hand, watching him make fish fingers and custard for her (how did he know?) and kept this one secret. Just for today, she thought.
After breakfast, they cuddled together on the sofa with the telly on, her husband flicking through a medical journal. Amy had already come up with a ready list of names she could call him in a pinch—honey, darling, sweetie—and wondered if she could call him 'Doctor' too, now. Yet somehow that didn't feel right to her.
"Oh," she said. "I remembered a bit of my dream."
He looked at her interested. "Was it good?"
"I don't know. It was…strange. I was a traveller in space and time."
Her husband laughed. "Were you, now."
She nudged him with her foot. "Don't laugh at me. You were one too. We were both there. And there were vampires."
"No, in Venice. Though they were from space. Actually, they were fish from space."
"Now you're just pulling my leg."
"I know, I know, it's a daft dream," she said.
"And I was there?"
"Absolutely!" Amy said. "I couldn't have done it without you!"
There wasn't really anything that remarkable about that day. Their lives didn't change, they hardly even went anywhere, except for a stroll around the neighborhood in the evening. Yet, somehow, it was a perfect day.
It was on their walk, as the sun set, that Amy began to feel that sense of something just outside her awareness creeping in again. Something about that orange sky.
"Are you all right?" her husband asked.
"You, always hovering and concerned ever since I got pregnant," Amy said, with a light punch on the arm.
"My name isn't 'you'," he said with a sniff.
Amy tried to laugh. "Does it matter?"
"It does," he said. "It makes all the difference in the world." The skies were looking oranger, even in the east.
Someone had told her once, in her mixed-up memory, to look for the thing that didn't ring true. Which rang less true, the dream with the vampire fish, or this, this…
She held her husband tightly. "This is real," she said. "I know this is real. It has to be."
She expected him to look at her like she had sprouted a second head (like the people of Alfalva Metaxis, why did she know this?) and tell her to stop being silly, of course this was real, what else could it be?
But he didn't.
After a long pause, his reply came, "It's real to me. And if it's real to you, then it's real."
"Real to you? But who are you, really?" It was breaking her heart to say that, he was her husband, and she loved him, really, truly. But out of everything, he rang less true than the orange skies and snow-capped mountains in Upper Leadworth, he was the one thing that didn't fit.
"That depends on you," he answered cryptically. "Who am I? Say my name, Amy."
She shook her head, feeling tears brimming in her eyes, and pressed her forehead against his. "I can't remember," she said, perusing every tattered fragment of her memory. She did find something, though, not exactly what she'd been looking for, and pulled away suddenly.
"Doctor!" she called out, and to her husband, the Dream Lord, "What did you do with him? Where did he go?"
The Dream Lord sighed, and birds sang.
"Doctor," Amelia said appreciatively.
Her Raggedy Doctor stood before her, his hair still blond, his face freckled. "My dad's gonna kill me for what you made me do to his shirt," he said.
"Who are you more scared of, him or me?" Amelia demanded.
"Definitely you," he said, though he sounded pleased, almost worshipful.
"Well, the Raggedy Doctor isn't afraid of anything. Not even the crack on my wall."
"Who'd be afraid of a crack on a wall?" he asked lightly.
"You'd be afraid of this crack," Amelia said warningly. "It goes through all space and time."
"What's it going to do, swallow me up?"
Amelia stopped and frowned. "Huh, weird," she said.
"What is it?" the Raggedy Doctor asked.
"I don't know. I just suddenly felt…old."
The Raggedy Doctor looked as though he might be reconsidering all the things the kids in school said about that mad Pond girl. "Old?"
Amelia listened at the door. "Aunt Sharon's supposed to be asleep," she said.
"Did she wake up?" the Raggedy Doctor asked.
She shook her head. "That's not her voice." She went to her bedside, picked up the cup, casually dumped the water out on the floor, and used it to listen.
"I bet it's Prisoner Zero again," the Raggedy Doctor said.
But Amelia's eyes went wide. "It's him!" She flung the door open, and gasped.
Where there should have been a hallway, instead there was a completely different room. Instead of being square like a normal room, it was a rounded, organic sort of shape. Toys and trinkets laid about on the floor and were hung on strings; little bits of metal that moved in perpetual balance, and a ball with a light inside that cast pinpricks like stars all over the ceiling and walls, figurines of creatures she'd never seen before, and other things she couldn't even figure out the use of. In the center of the room was a bed, on which lay a little girl about her age, perhaps a little younger, with hair as red as hers. Next to the bed knelt her Raggedy Doctor, the real one, though he wasn't raggedy anymore, he was dressed in a dark burgundy robe. He was talking to the little girl in a language she didn't understand. It sounded like he was telling her a story.
He must have heard her, because he looked around. There was something in his eyes that had not been there before when she saw him last—or at least, had been better concealed.
"Did I dream about you," the Doctor asked, "or did you dream about me?"
"But I'm not asleep," Amelia said.
The Doctor laughed, cracked and hollow. There was something stirring in him, close to the surface, like a river churned with silt after a storm. "Someone's asleep." He turned to the little girl in the bed. "You're not asleep yet, and it's past your bedtime."
"But you said I could stay up," she pleaded.
"Is he your dad?" Amelia asked the little girl. She hadn't thought about the Raggedy Doctor having kids of his own, but the thought actually didn't bother her. She and this other girl could be like sisters. They even sort of looked the part.
"Yeah," the girl answered, "that's him."
"I don't have a mum or a dad," Amelia said.
"Oh," said the other girl. "Well, you can share mine, if you'd like."
Amelia beamed. "You can have all of my aunt Sharon."
The girl laughed. "That's quite all right. Who's your friend?"
Amelia remembered she hadn't come here alone. She looked behind her, at her room still there beyond the open door, and her friend dressed as the Raggedy Doctor.
"I'm not actually sure," Amelia said. "What's your name, again?"
The boy looked at her, hurt and silent.
"Too scared to speak, I think. Never saw a room like yours before. At least not where my hallway should be."
The girl laughed again. "Your hallway? On Mount Solace?" She looked baffled at Amelia's expression. "Wild Endeavor, Gallifrey, Kasterborus?"
"Oh, Amelia Pond's not from around here," the Doctor said. "She's a visitor, from a place very far away called Earth."
"An alien?" the girl responded in excitement. "A real, live one?"
"The best kind," the Doctor said, and lurched forward suddenly, a pain lancing through him.
"Doctor!" Amelia cried out, at the same time as the girl in the bed cried, "Daddy!" The Doctor fell to his hands and knees, wincing.
"What's happening?" Amelia asked.
"Oh, it's nothing, I'm just waking up," the Doctor said. "Bit of a shock to the system, you should feel it too in a moment. So, you only have moments left to remember, and I can tell you're getting close, because you've remembered what he looked like as a child—I've never met him that way, so it didn't come out of my memory. Take a good look at your friend, Amelia, the boy in the doorway there, and focus on everything you know about him. You've gone back to the beginning—that's good, focus on that, your earliest memories of him, let it unfold."
Amelia did as she was told and looked at the boy, trying with everything she had to remember where he came from, what his name was. They'd gone to school together. He picked the bologna out of his lunchmeat and gave it to her because he said he didn't like it, but she found out later from his mum that he liked it just fine. He'd been her first kiss—well, not a real kiss, she called it a butterfly kiss; it was made by fluttering her eyelashes against his cheek, and once against his lips, like the feel of a butterfly's wings beating on skin.
The Doctor, the room, and the girl all started to fade, leaving her standing in her hallway with just the boy behind her.
"I was afraid he'd take you away from me," the boy said.
"The Doctor said I'd wake up," Amelia said, "but I'm still here."
"He isn't a part of our dream anymore," the boy said. "You could leave, if you wanted to. There's enough stimulant in your system to wake an elephant." He looked frightened, lonely.
"Then how come I'm still asleep?" Amelia asked.
"You wanted to be. The Dream Lord is all about choice."
"So, the Doctor wanted to leave?"
"That would be an understatement."
"But why? He was here to help me. And he was just dreaming about his daughter, why's that so bad?"
"You really are thick," the boy said, a bit of an edge to his voice. "Couldn't you figure that one out? What's the worst kind of dream you ever have?"
"The kind where my parents are alive," Amelia said. "But those are only bad because I have to wake up. Why'd he want to wake up, if it's like that?"
"The Doctor is…complicated," the boy said.
"That's all I know, isn't it?" Amelia said to herself. "I mean, this is just my dream, now." She looked at him closely. "But you're still here. You're supposed to be from his mind, to hurt him."
"Ah, you're remembering."
"You're getting weaker. Not enough darkness in me to feed off of?"
The boy shrugged. "Enough. But this makes it a bit more exciting." One of the walls became transparent, and on the other side, she saw the Doctor and a woman—herself, she realized, older—in fields of wax-silver grass, under a purple sky.
"Amy," the Doctor said, tapping her cheeks lightly. "Amy. Any moment now, come on." The shadows in his eyes he'd acquired in the dream were still there, and deepening, as he held her limp form.
"Doctor," Amelia whispered, and put her face to the wall that was like a pane of glass.
"Do you want to go back to him?" the boy asked.
Amelia looked between them, torn. "But I still don't know your name!"
"True. But if you stay here, you may not be able to come back to him. And you may never remember me anyway."
Her fists clenched, furious. "I came here for you!" Amelia shouted. "Like hell I'm giving up on you now!" She held his gaze for a long moment, before looking back at the Doctor.
The Doctor's head was nuzzled in her hair, and…was he crying? No, not quite, but he looked near it. "Amy, Amy, Amy," he was whispering to her. "Amy, you have to wake up now. You have to wake up. I'm not losing you. Not you too."
"Isn't that what you always wanted?" the boy asked. "The Doctor, he came back for you, he really did, and he took you with him, and he cares so much about you. Look at me," the boy said, tugging at his oversized, raggedy sleeves, "I was only ever a stand-in anyway. Why are you wasting your time here, when you could be with him?"
"That's…that's not true," Amelia said. "Of course, I missed him, I…dressed you up as him, fine. But I did love you. That time we spent travelling in the TARDIS…those were the best days of my life. I had you both. My boys."
On the other side of the wall, the Doctor was rocking with her in his lap, stroking her hair. His voice came through, almost too low for her to hear. "No no no no no. Wake up, Amy, Amelia, you can do it." He fumbled in his pocket, and drew something out, a little box. That's what he was fiddling with earlier, Amelia thought. That's the something I lost. She watched expectantly as the Doctor opened it, saw something glitter inside. A ring. An engagement ring.
"See?" the boy sneered. "He loves you, he wants to marry you. Go ahead, be with him. Forget about me. You never really saw me anyway."
"I…I said yes!" Amelia shouted, triumphant. "I remember!" She punched him in the arm. "You gave me that ring, stupid, you daft, wonderful…." She hugged him tightly. She'd have kissed him, too, but they were only seven, after all. "I said yes, because I love you, because I want to spend my life with you, Rory Williams—Rory, Roderick, Roryroryrory, aha!" she cried. "I drove a minibus into a house because I didn't want a world without you in it."
They were growing up, suddenly, in each other's arms, and when Amy let go of him, she saw the energy burns on his chest, and the cold glaze in his eyes. She stumbled backwards.
The corpse of her Rory looked at her sadly and said, "I did want to be up on that hill with you."
"You'll always be where I am," Amy told him, choking on her tears.
He smiled, faintly. "But what good am I? All I'll ever do now is make you sad."
She kissed his cold lips tenderly, her final goodbye. "A world that never had you in it is sadder."
"Don't—don't leave," Rory said, holding onto her hands.
"I'll be back," Amy said. "Someday."
"I'll be waiting," Rory said. "Like always, waiting for you."
A bird sang, the sweetest song, and Amy's head fell forward onto Rory's shoulder, asleep.
She woke lying on grass under a purple sky, the box with the ring in it clasped in her hands, the Doctor's hands around hers. The Doctor's head hung low, his face wrenched in pain, but that changed when he saw her flutter her eyes.
"Amy!" he said, and hugged her so tight she almost couldn't get air.
She hugged him back, the ring box still held in one of her hands. "It worked," she said. "I remembered him. I remembered Rory."
"Oh, Amy," the Doctor said, pulling back, his eyes meeting hers with a mixture of triumph and deep sympathy. "I'm glad, and…I'm sorry."
"It's…it's okay," Amy said, though she was crying. Unable to hold it back, she bawled on his shoulder, and he held her. "It's okay though," she said again, through her tears. "I needed this. I needed to cry, I didn't know why, though, and it was like a terrible itch I couldn't scratch. I…this is good," she said.
He smiled weakly, and she saw that he hadn't been immune to crying either. "Come on," he said. "Let's get back to the TARDIS before we fall asleep again."
Amy looked at the ring dangling on the chain the Doctor gave her, which the Doctor promised would never break. It caught the lights of the TARDIS, sparkling in oranges and greens. She slipped it over her head, close to her heart, forever.
She padded into the console room, having the feeling the Doctor would be there. He was, quieter than she'd ever seen him.
"I haven't been able to sleep since Karass Don Slava," Amy said.
"It's the stimulant. It'll work its way out of your system," the Doctor answered.
"You haven't slept either?"
The Doctor looked back at her, with harrowed eyes. "I avoid sleep when I can anyway."
Guilt surged through her. "You had to go through that…for my sake."
The Doctor shook his head. "It was just a dream. I went through the reality. Dreams have got nothing on that."
"That one felt pretty real," Amy said. "We both saw someone we'd lost…but yours…" she had to stop herself, or she'd start crying again.
"I got to see her grow up," the Doctor said. "In real life, I mean, not in the dream. She became a brilliant young woman, and she made me a grandfather. We had a good, good life together. I don't regret any of that. I don't want to forget her." He looked very tired.
"So tell me about her," Amy offered.
But the Doctor shook his head. "I don't think I can. Not yet." He kissed her brow. "You can tell me about Rory, though. I want to know all about him."
Amy nodded, and she began.