She was flicking through the book, waiting for the next time she would be needed.

"Once upon a time there was a wizard."

"Was he a good wizard?"

"He was not a good wizard. He was not a bad wizard. Just a wizard content to be who he was in his blue crystal cave."

"But what was he like?"

"He was very old and he was very kind and he was the very last of his kind. There was no magic left. He was the last miracle."

"Why did he stay on earth?"

"Because he couldn't stand to see humanity cry."

There was a blue pond near the back of her house. Her feet dangled in it, in the blue water, and she was very brave, very strong when someone pushed her in. She never cried. She'd swim and splash and pull that person in after her. Pull them down past the clear surface and deeper into the murky darkness and against the coarse sand and slime coated algae.

You took the good with the bad, the light with the dark. Especially when someone put money in your fist, and bullets in your gun.

As a child she'd watched the stars from the garden. She'd try and clutch them with her hands. She was not confined by the possible. The stars always slipped through her fingers and flew away on wings of molten rock. Even when she had travelled through all the constellations those stars never lost their appeal. Sometimes, when she thought no one would catch her, she would try reaching. But even as a child she never minded that the stars escaped.

The gun had been light in her hand, the description brief, the accompanying picture small.

"Kill the mad man and his blue box. Destroy one, you surely destroy the other. Mad man cannot fly when their toys are taken from them."

Her mother had loved those silly earth stories. "There's magic out there somewhere River."

Even a young River had never been too fooled. "It's called science Mum. I'll be up there in the stars one day Mum, you'll see."

"And yet isn't time travel a kind of magic too?"

"I'm going to be someone."

"My River was always going to be someone."

"But adults are full of sadness and loose morals and inner torments. Why would the wizard want more sadness?"

"Because he is lonely and even adults can be redeemed."

The gun went off and yet the man (or was he still an adolescent? She hadn't been sure because his hair was so messy and his limbs gangly and awkward) was still alive. A blonde boy had pushed in front of him crying out. Now he was on the ground moaning, and a girl with red hair was screaming next to him and looking at her with such confusion, such betrayal.

"He might have just been a plastic man River, but he was my plastic man, and even plastic men have hearts that feel."

She had never been so intrigued in her life because how did the girl know her name?

And then the man, the one she was too have assassinated, only she couldn't now, not with that girl pinning her down with such pain, was pulling the gun out of her hand and his mouth was hard and frightening.

"Who told you to do this River, who told you?"

And she'd told him because he was there, in her face and she no longer knew whether it had been the right thing to do. And then they were all in that strange blue box, coming out somewhere else in time and space, but the man who had paid her was long gone, and the man calling himself The Doctor had to give up for the moment because there was a dead boy on his time travelling floor and on his time travelling conscience.

"Once upon a time, in a far away kingdom, a girl with obligations that scared her in the morning sat in her bedroom and said 'I pray,' 'I wish,' and a madman in a box came to call and took her away. The story zigzagged over and up, down and out, the stars winked out, the sun fizzled, exploded and recreated its own awesome rays. Time wove its spell. And Rory Williams died."

It was Amy and The Doctor's bewildering expressions that had caused her to change. The inexplicable mix of love and respect, shock and betrayal, sorrow and hope. Even as she was led to a cell and The Doctor walked away, she knew it didn't matter how long she was in for, as long as she atoned, made herself worthy of who she was to become. She remembered the last thing he had said.

"It's not over yet River. You aren't the person you'll come to be, but you will be, one day and with each new memory you'll be that bit closer. Hold onto that River and one day you'll be someone special."

"And did the wizard come out of his crystal cave?"

"He did."

"And did he and the murderess fall in love?"


"And did they marry?"


"Lost in time?"


"Lost in space?"


"But never in meaning."

She read the story an older Amy Pond had written into her diary and smiled. She was getting closer.

"Once upon a time there was a mad man with a box

And no one was quite sure if he were a good wizard, a lonely old man, an eccentric misfit, a genetic mistake or somewhere out there, somebody's Prince from a fairy story. The cracks of light were causing cracks in time, changing the very order of the universe and yet the mystery travelled ever onwards.

Sometimes the blonde woman would appear; though wether she were the fairy godmother or Avenging Angel or part dream come true was never very clear.

And there was a girl who waited.

And there was a boy who waited.

And they were married.

And when they were married something beautiful happened.

The wind rose fair, and The Doctor and his female Enigma came to call

And nobody died at all."