Title: Knowing What I Knew
Character: young!River Song
Pairing: implied future River/Doctor
Spoilers: Silence In the Library, Forest of the Dead, Day of the Moon
Word count: ~1,340
Summary: After unwittingly crossing her own timeline, a young River Song runs across the diary left behind by her future self, the book left to lie forever in the Great Library.
Author's Notes: s the first Who-fic I've posted though I've dabbled in the universe before. Hopefully, I did all right. Let me know what you think if you're up to it. Edited a touch to compensate for the Vashta Nerada.
Disclaimer: I don't own any characters recognizable as being from Doctor Who. They are the property of their actors, producers, writers, and studios, not me. No copyright infringement was intended and no money was made in the writing or distribution of this story. It was good, clean fun.
If you're wise, you'll run, it said, as though it knew who was reading it, on the very first page. River started, looking about her, somewhat wary. It was the Library after all, and books were meant to be read. Every book in existence at her fingertips, who was she to resist? Flickering her eyes up to the surrounding stacks, she concluded she must have been in Biographies. 'Fun.'
Noting it seemed to be getting darker, she took the book with her as she wandered toward a more lighted area. Underneath a convenient lamp, she began to read again.
If you're wise, you'll run, it repeated on the very next line. She frowned, wondering if this was a joke of some kind. She'd only picked up the worn volume because it so much resembled the diary the Doctor had recently given her, hoping perhaps to find the words of one of his many past companions to guide her. Her Doctor was a man of many secrets, few he seemed yet inclined to share. River could be patient when circumstances called for her to be, but she had never been one to turn down a shortcut when one was offered. She wouldn't have found her way into the sealed Library if patience was her favorite virtue. In all, however, this had seemed like a better idea before she'd begun to read.
I take it you haven't run, then? River took to scowling; then, skimmed the rest of the page to see if it continued much in this vein. It did. If you're quite finished with your tantrum, we can get started. She very nearly tossed it right over the railing where she'd found it. You'll be the worse without it, dear, but do go on.
"Bloody hell," she murmured to herself, resisting her impulse to do as she would and turned the page instead.
Congratulations, you've met the Doctor. Soon, you will love him and your life will never be the same. She snorted at that. She and the Doctor were quite well suited as mates, but she doubted she was the sort of love he was looking for. For all the affection he seemed content to show her, she always got the sense that with every landing he was watching for someone else. Which was perfectly all right with River, given that she had university to think about and digs to plan and the whole of time and space snapped onto her wrist. No, River Song would be just fine without a Time Lord vworping distractingly at her heels.
It was getting darker again. She growled in frustration and, glaring at the flagging lamp, moved to find a better lit area. Now that she'd found this manual of sorts, she had no intention of leaving it unread.
Whoever this companion had been, River realized, their relationship with the Doctor had been very different from River's indeed. However, hoping she could still glean something from the experience, she continued to read. 'It'll be good for ethnographic study, in any case.'
You keep thinking that you'll never love him. That's how it sneaks up on you. One moment, he's adorable and baffled and absolutely expendable; then, he's everything, absolutely essential. That's the Doctor and, soon, that will be you. The words were so presumptuous on the page, condescending and a hint too knowing for River's taste. The Doctor would have lamented her now-permanent frown. He said he liked her mischievous smile, the way she winked when she had a secret; but, he'd never liked her bothered and never bothered with her angry. This companion hadn't learned such a lesson.
You're temperamental; he'll love that. Perhaps he already does. It isn't that he likes you upset, it's that he likes that you can match him, that you can't be arsed to fear him. He likes that bravery, though he thinks it a touch foolhardy at times. But you'll show him the true fool, won't you? Hundreds of years old and those hearts still beat for love: lemming hearts, he's got, and I'd never want him any other way. Neither will you. In time, you'll come to love him just the way he is, and treasure those hearts as you would your own. River couldn't explain it, but she was sure this companion was speaking directly to her, though they hadn't addressed her by name. She was even somewhat certain she'd heard or read these words before. They echoed in her head like wives' tales, reverberated on her lips like a promise. It wasn't one she wanted to make. River Song did not, under circumstances grand or ordinary, fall in love. She rather preferred it that way.
Love with him is painful and complex, fleeting and, yet, so very worthwhile in the end. And that was what she feared. Her heart trapped like Gallifrey in his grip, crushed beneath the burden of his good intent. Underneath and subordinate to her endless ambition, River Song wanted to be loved. She wanted to explore all of tenses, modes, and aspects of time; touch heaven, the ground, and hell; visit every monument of every culture there had ever been. And, somewhere in between, she wanted to be loved. To be the direct object of the active voice, the subject of the passive. She wanted the Doctor to love her, to be loved by the Doctor. And hadn't that been an inevitable sentiment? What she didn't want was to become a museum, a mausoleum for a forlorn heart. That was something she already carried around, it wouldn't do for it to grow heavier. As it was, there were some days when she could hardly move for all the pain of beginnings and ends. There was still time, she knew. This didn't have to become one more ending. After all, she didn't love him yet.
The words almost seemed to sigh on the page and the rest fluttered underneath her fingertips, flipping easily despite her. Away, away, away until what felt like the close. It had been written for her after all.
Don't be a fool, girl. Fall completely, with your whole heart, knowing that it will all be broken. Know that you will die in this place, at his side, and you will have no regrets. Because you saw everything there was to see and he was there for all the important bits. Run until the universe runs out, and then fill your book with the words that I've put in your head till you come back 'round again. Don't worry, you will. This will carry on forever, you and the Doctor, until the end of time, until time begins again. You'll be there, and I'll have been, and he will always be. You'll come to cherish every moment, every single line.
I wish you better than I had, sweetie, and yet the very same.
Best of Luck,
River pulled the careworn journal to her chest, not nearly as afraid as she was overcome. She was reminded of the Doctor's stern, stern directives to never cross her own timeline, to never seek her future self. The dangers of paradoxes were high on his list of favorite bedtime stories and what he would never say she could surmise. The universe lost for want of a curious mind. Well, she'd always been curious, but never a fool. Not every time. River had been made for time and it had bent for her. Someday, she hoped it would do so again.
But first she had to live through it.
On shaking legs, she traversed the shadowy parlor of the Great Library until she arrived at the entryway again. With equally shaking hands, she laid the diary back on the ledge where she'd first discovered it. It wouldn't do to take it with her; she wasn't quite that careless. She'd remember and relive every word every day; she'd fill her own pages with her own truths. Maybe she'd even be right twice in a lifetime.
Departing the proverbial tomb of a Library with nary a look behind her, River retrieved her psychic paper from the depths of her bag and wrote her Doctor a note:
Do you fancy a trip to Sassura? See me there. – X. She'd had her eye on the king's collection of Alpha Meson weaponry for some time now. This seemed as good a time as any to investigate and, just maybe, finally kiss a Time Lord. 'I suppose it's me he's been looking for all along.'
River had read the ending, but this was only the start, so she thought it just as well that things got on with a bang. Her life story was going to be saved in the greatest library in the universe; the very least she could do was ensure that it would never be boring.
She had no idea.