When Melody Pond was taken by the Christian Authority it was decided be the Papal Mainframe that she should be taken straight to Earth in order to be raised amongst her own kind.

Well, partially her own kind.

None of them were going to pretend that Melody Pond – or River Song as a majority of the faction, the Gamma-people and their assorted territories called her – was a regular human child.

"If you say 'Spoilers!' one more time River, I might just lose my mind," the Doctor mumbled as he darted about the TARDIS, clutching the phone to his ear.

It was bad enough having River drop Amy and Rory back to their human life to grieve over the daughter they had lost and reel in the shock of discovering that it had been her all along. In a weird way the Doctor had hoped leaving River at their house would be some comfort to them.

But River had known it would be a difficult thing for them to take in.

So much so that when her scanning device received a call from the Doctor, she had darted up stairs to take it in the 21st century loo. It had been a remarkable thing for her as an archaeologist to see it all when it was shiny, prim and white. Nonetheless she knew she only had a few minutes before the 21st century kettle boiled, and her father would get out the 21st mugs for them to have a typical British cup of tea, and undoubtedly a chat with Amy and Rory about where she had been for the last forty-five years.

Well, the last three thousand years. Backwards.

"You know I can't tell you about your future," River replied calmly, sitting on the side of the bath. "I can't tell you when it was we first met."

"Can you at least tell me the address you grew up at?"

"Why, so you can just go there and accidently mess up my time line?"

"I'll be careful," the Doctor promised her.

"Like you were with the Neanderthals?"

The Doctor swallowed sheepishly before sulking back, "That was an accident! How was I to know that Pego do Diabo was a gateway to a rift in time and space? Besides even if I had known—well—heard rumours that there was one there, it was only a little one. It wasn't Cardiff!"

"All I wanted to do was see Neanderthals in their natural habitat; you take me to the end of their species and the TARDIS accidently opens the rift to refuel!"

"Oh," the Doctor said accusingly, but very un-seriously. "So now you're blaming the TARDIS—she's blaming you, Old Girl!"

There was a faint unconvinced whir from the TARDIS. She liked River and knew exactly what she was getting at; the Doctor shouldn't have parked her in a space where time energy could be absorbed by the engines.

"I'm not blaming her, I'm blaming you!" River said so herself.

The Doctor viciously scratched his scalp and rubbed his eyes. "Look, I promise I will be careful if you just give me to coordinates. I'm a Time Lord; I know what I'm doing."

"So am I, and so do I," River snapped back.

A long silence followed.

The Doctor stopped, picking up the emotion in River's voice. It made both his hearts squeeze painfully with pure concern.

"Besides I can't," she added simply. "That's not how you found out where I was brought up, so I can't tell you. You'll have to find it out for yourself."

He switched which side the phone was being held on. Although his heart fluttered nervously a small smile crossed his lips. River could feel his anxious glee as the prospect of adventure dawned on him. She could feel it even though he was in a completely different time era.

"Is that a spoiler, Dr. Song?"

River smiled softly, "A teaser."

Melody Pond sat on her small bed and read aloud from a picture book. It was printed with pictures of bright watercolours, her favourite type of paint. Surrounding her bed were all her pictures, .ost of which were inspired by this book.

The Child and the Goblin.

She turned to the first page.

"Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess who lived in a tiny little kingdom called Leadworth," spoke the young girl aloud to an empty room. She was no more than eight-years-old. "She had been cursed by a wicked goblin to sleep for thousands and thousands of years. There she sat in her throne, sleeping. There he left her, trapped inside a stone prison to sleep away the end of the universe, alone..."

The image of the red-haired princess sleeping like Briar Rose in the Grimms Brothers fairytale 'Sleeping Beauty', but not lying on a bed of rose petals and clutching one to her breast – she was sitting in a stone throne surrounded by green light.

Melody sighed and turned to the next page.

"The Princess had been in love with a brave young man. He was called the Last Centurion."

The Last Centurion was a noble-looking man; he was almost completely in shadows, clutching his sword ready for battle. The strongest aspect of his face that Melody could make out was his strong, fine nose.

"The Centurion called on the help of a Good Wizard to save the Princess from her endless sleep. The Wizard smiled be—be—"

Melody took a moment to sound out the word. She didn't want to have to look it up in the dictionary or ask one of the monsters to tell her what the word was. Most of the time they ignored her. "Only the Madam may speak with the child," so the order went.

"—benevolently, and used his magic so that the Princess would be freed from her prison in one thousand years. He then offered his magic to the Centurion to take him to that point in time when the Princess would awake, but the Centurion refused..."

The picture showed the brave young man guarding the closed, stone prison.

"He declared that he wished to protect the Princess during her sleep. So the Wizard used his magic to make the Centurion ageless and then left. For one thousand years, the Centurion waited."

Melody glanced about the room, only dimply lit by one luminous orb floating near her picture book. It made her feel less lonely.

"When the prison opened, the Princess was released. However the wicked Goblin's spell was two-fold for she had also forgotten her love for the Centurion."

The little girl smiled, well aware of the next part.

"But the Centurion knew that her love was still in her heart, and he gently kissed her lips. In that moment the Princess remembered everything and there was much jubila-jubilation- that means happy, doesn't it? There was much jubilation throughout the kingdom."

Melody was starting to feel tired but she had to press on. 'Read until the end,' was what the voice of God always told her to do. 'Read until the end.'

"The Princess decided that she would marry the Centurion, and he swore that he would always love and protect her. Together they vowed rule their kingdom fairly and justly. Soon after that their union was blessed with a daughter."

Melody turned the page to see the next image. The Princess and the Centurion were standing next to a blue cradle with a smiling baby inside.

"Almighty God looked down on this child and gifted her with special powers. 'This child shall be my New Eve,' he told the universe. 'To her I entrust the future of my people and, while the First Eve fell to the Devil, this Child will smite him.'"

She stroked the image of the Centurion and his wife before continuing with her book.

"But then dark and cold night, the dangerous and mischievous Goblin dropped out of the sky once again. Many stories had travelled from other kingdoms about the destruction and torment he had brought in the thousand years the Princess was trapped. The people of Leadworth shivered in fear; only the Centurion stood firm against him."

Melody turned the page again. The Goblin was portrayed as a shadowy figure; not shrouded in kindness and mystery as other 'shadowy' characters were. With him there was just void and sorrow in the black painted used to portray him.

Nonetheless he was still in the shape of a man.

"The Goblin had heard of the Child's powers and wished to possess them himself. However the Centurion sent his loyal infantries to spirit the child away and out of reach."

She could feel tears well up in her eyes as she knew the next part too.

"When the Goblin learned this, he was furious. In an act of revenge he proceeded to create more destruction and suffering in his search for the Child. He passed through world after world; set them aflame and watched as they burned..."

She went to the next page.

She scowled.

It was blank. There were still many pages left in the book, but there were no other pictures or words. The story just...stopped. There was no ending. Where was the rest of it?

Melody sighed and began to close the book.

That was when the voice came again.

Read on, River Song, it cried. Read on!

The young River went back to the final page. With that she closed her eyes and turned to the next page.

"So, if River can't actually tell me where she is—or rather was—then I will have to use my great sense of direction in order to find her," the Doctor concluded at the end of one of his mini-lectures. There was no one around. River was still in 21st century Leadworth with Amy and Rory. It was literally just him in the TARDIS.

She hummed with irritation at the idea that they were relying on his sense of direction. That was just a ridiculous thing to say!

The Doctor rolled his eyes, "By which I mean your rather dodgy sense of direction."

The TARDIS fizzed in protest.

"Well, it's true," he said in reply. "We argued about this before. I say Rio, you say Wales. I say France the planet, you take me to France the country. During the revolution, no less. Robespierre nearly had my head..."

He was tailing off the point as usually, and the TARDIS let him know it with a sharp whine. The Doctor flipped a switch and she stopped.

"I know, I know," he said quietly. "You always take me where I'm needed, but right now River needs me. Well, Melody needs me. Well, River-Melody-Pond-Song baby-infant-child of Amy and Rory, which I strongly suspect you knew about."

The TARDIS remained silent; only the sound of her engines filled the room.

"She has Time Lord DNA," the Doctor said, paused and then continued. "The only way she could have got that was through exposure to the Time Vortex. You must have sensed her!"

Again, she made no other sound. He would have given anything for her to speak to him straight again. Without that he was just a mad old man talking to himself.

That was when it hit him!

"You must have sensed her," he repeated.

At that moment the Doctor sprang into action, firing up the engines to full-speed. The TARDIS whirred out aloud.

He laughed, "You guessed right, Old Girl! You can sense her, go and find her. Find the earliest version of River you can and take me to her."

The TARDIS, as if spurred on by his words than the levers he was pulling and the buttons he was pressing, lunched forward into the Time Vortex. It rolled, tossed and tumbled side to side as it searched the Time Lines for a 'hit', like searching Google on dial up. Then with a great spark of burning wires and exploding gears, it shot towards a point where River existed.

The Doctor hooted at the exciting, plunging and plummeting, turning and tipping until—BAM , she stopped dead with a great jerk, as if the emergency breaks had just been pulled on a car. For a brief, painful moment the Doctor couldn't help but think of his daughter Jenny and the moment of her creation. Had it not been for her he might not have thought of asking the TARDIS to search for like-minded, like-made creatures such as him, of which he now knew Melody Pond slash River Song was.

He took a deep breath and opened the door...

"The Child grew up in secret, far away from the reaching eyes of the Goblin – the Devil, as God referred to him – yet he ramped and raged his way through the universe in search of her."

The picture then formed on the page of the Mighty Warrior Goblin, soaked in the blood of a million worlds –painted red and black.

"When he finally found her, to his surprise, she already knew him..."

"The University of IONA," the Doctor said aloud as he looked at the old building. "So this is where River studied..."

It had once been the Houses of Parliament but had since been sold by the world government, which resided in IONA – the Islands of the North Atlantic Britain and Ireland (which were now no longer countries, but a massive pair of Twinned Capital Cities for the World Authority) – to the Great Human University Foundation. It aimed to give the brightest humans of the Great and Bountiful Empire the best education in the universe. Credentials had to be high to get into this place.

The Doctor knew just how intelligent one had to be to get into this university; twenty-five A*s at least plus two examinations and an eight-thousand-word essay on an unseen subject. Although he was certain the Church pulled strings to get River in here, that she had an ounce of Time Lord-like DNA would have automatically increased her intelligence beyond that of the average intelligent human. MENSA be damned, she would wipe the floor with them.

He liked that.

He liked that a lot.

"Doctor!" came a young woman's voice.

Standing there in a red scarf, dark blue jacket, black tight-fitted jean and what looked like a purple jumper underneath it all. The thing that drew the Doctor's attention the most were her boots; they were dark brown high boots, and very stylish.

"I even like your fashion sense," he muttered.

Of course he knew that this was River. Her strawberry-blonde hair was undeniable and all over the place. Only River had such brilliant hair!

Before the Doctor could say anything else, River had embraced him. He couldn't help detecting the smell of her shower gel, shampoo and... smoke?

He tugged her away.

"You smell of cigarette smoke!" the Doctor snapped in annoyance. "Have you been smoking? Have you been picking up other bad student habits like drinking, drugs and... promiscuity?"

River choked with laughter, "That's none of your business. You smell adrenaline, oil and jelly babies. Are you cheating on me with the TARDIS again?"

The Doctor pouted, "I've had a long day, the TARDIS needed oiling and you know I like jelly babies."

She ignored him, pulling her school bag off her shoulder to fish around inside it. Lo, and behold! It was her TARDIS shaped diary that she produced from its content.

"So you really have already met me," he said, defeated.

"Of course I have," River replied generally.

Clearly the church had hidden River so well that even that TARDIS was not sure where the earliest River was.

"That bag looks a bit small for all the books a university student has to carry," he remarked. It was only a few inches across, red and with a blue ribbon at the side. Very un-River like.

River glanced up from her diary, "You gave it to me for my birthday."

"Which birthday?"


"That was nice of me," the Doctor said.

He didn't know what he was going to say when she finally asked the question, 'Where are we?' as him simply being there was completely out of whack. Usually he and River met back to front, but right now was very close to the beginning for both of them. They were equals for the first time.

"What did we do for your twenty-first birthday?" he asked generally, hoping he might have thought of something better.

Incidentally River just winked and said, "Wouldn't you like to know?"

Her tone was so suggestive the Doctor gulped. I can probably guess...

"The Goblin thought it was the oddest thing," read Melody Pond. "All the anger drifted away from him. As the Child read all the adventures they had apparently already had despite her youth, he realised that their story went right back to her infancy, and that no adventure she mentioned had included him as he was now. This was year dot...

"Right," the student breathed finally, looking at the front of her diary. "Where are we? You're a very early version of you, aren't you?"

"Fairly early," the Doctor admitted, straightening his bow-tie. "I imagine you've met... other versions of me."

"I have pictures of all your faces," River replied, flicking through her diary. "Have we done the Bone Meadows?"

The Doctor remembered that mature, older (and admittedly sexier) River had mentioned that one before. They hadn't done it yet, but he knew that one, so that must have been a very early adventure for them from River's point of view.

"Nope," he said simply.

"Have we done 'Death of a Politician'?"


"Pity, that's a good one, you'll enjoy it. Have we done hand-gliding on Europa?"

"We go hand-gliding on Europa?" the Doctor said excitedly. "Brilliant!"

River huffed in frustration, "Well, what have we done? Where's your diary? You tell me what we've done."

"I haven't got one," the Doctor muttered, and nodded. "You're right, I really should get one. First thing I'll do tomorrow, buy myself a diary."

She blinked.

"You don't have one?"

"No... why? Do I usually have one?"

River nodded, "You always have your diary with you. First time we met you—"



A thought occurred to her, one that made her feel bitterly sad.

"Is this..." she swallowed and went on, "Is this the first time you've met me?"

The Doctor shook his head, "No, no, I've met you many times before. I've just never met you this young before. Usually our timeline runs backwards but I've sort of broken the rules and..."

"You're trying to reach my childhood, yes," River finished knowingly. "That much I know. An older version of you gave me a teaser that if this younger you turned up at this early point of my timeline, that's what you'd be trying to do."

"So you've met other versions of me?"

"Yes, you practically live out of my dorm some weekends."

"Have you met this me before?"

River smiled, "Spoilers."

"The Child knew the Goblin wanted to possess her entirely, and so she took the Goblin on a date, plied him with a magic potion and tried to find out why he was so interested in her. However the Goblin refused to drink any potion unless she too drank it. The Child agreed..."

The Doctor didn't like student bars. He had a bad experience with them, not least dating back to his own university days. He was always unable to hold his (contraband) drink. He ended up naked, painted red and tied to a tree several times during his studies courtesy of the Master, his 'best friend'.

Nonetheless he found he quite liked the taste of classic WKD.

"Not many people here," the Doctor remarked as River came back with their third round. "I thought all students preferred to come to the bar and get drunk rather than do their essays."

"Not all students."

"I did."

"Exams," River said with a smile, pouring the drinks into their empty glasses, "and it's Sunday, so everyone is studying for their tests tomorrow."

The Doctor cringed. I can't believe the TARDIS landed me on a Sunday.

"Don't you have any exams?" he asked.

"I finished mine last week," River replied, and then bragged, "But exams never stop me heading out on the tiles. I can enjoy myself and still get a First. My tutors say I am gifted with a unique mind, that I am one of the most remarkable human beings they've ever met."

The Doctor regarded her with knowing eyes.

"Of course we know better, don't we Ms Song?"

She lifted her glass and fluttered her eyes flirtatiously.

"Indeed, we do."

They both slipped from their drinks and stared at each other from across the rims of their glasses. The shine in River's eyes was so recognisable to the Doctor that, for a brief moment, he wondered how this evening between them was going to end up.

River put her glass down.

"Why are you so interested in my childhood, Doctor?"

He put his glass down too.

"Who said I was?"

"You did," River told him, leaning her chin in her hands. "I've met an older you, remember. This face, this quest you're on... it begins here with this meeting."

A small smile crossed the Doctor's lips, "Do you remember meeting me, this me, as a child?"

River bit her lips.

The Doctor chuckled hollowly, "Alright, I know. You can't tell me."

She couldn't do that, no. There were many things about River's childhood that remained a blank. There was a period of her life that she could not quiet remember at all. Between the ages of nine and ten she had no memories at all.

However she remembered every meeting she had with the Doctor.

"I did meet you as a child," River confessed after a long pause. "I'll admit that because... I think you already know that deep down, don't you?"

The Doctor nodded, "Yes. In fact I remember you when you were just a baby, at Demon's Run."

"I know that."

"And your name was Melody Pond."

"I know you know that too."

He smirked and reclined far back into the uncomfortable student bar chair.

"I imagine they kept you under lock and key when you were a child," he hypothesised aloud to River, testing her reactions.

There was none.

"You know what I am," River said coolly. "You know what Madam Kovarian raised me for."

"Yes, I know what they raised you for."

River leaned across the table. Her eyes were heavy and her look was smouldering. It was difficult for the Doctor not to want to just stare at her lips as she said the next words. This young River was still developing into the confident and flirty figure he knew (and admittedly adored). He imagined that as he grew older, he would become used to seeing River grow younger and younger. But right now it was strange.

Despite all this the Doctor realised quickly that River was a girl who knew how to use her budding sexuality to get what she wanted.

Furthermore he could feel himself falling for it.

Well, it had been a long time since he had been face to face with another like him. Even if she was a human Time Lord.

"So why do you insist on visiting me the way you do?" she finally asked him. "If you know what I am and what I'll eventually have to do to you, why do you come here?"

The Doctor leaned closer to her too until there were barely more than a few centimetres between them. He then moved his mouth to her ear and whispered into it with tickling breath.

"Because I'm curious."

"By the time the magic potion took effect on both the Child and the Goblin it was late, and so the Child agreed to let the Goblin rest in her humble cottage for the night..."

The night ended just as the Doctor expected it would.

By the time they left the student bar it was bar and he couldn't remember where he parked the TARDIS. River Song agreed to let him stay in her dorm for the night. He could see where this was going a mile off.

They got back to her flat just before midnight.

"Ah!" River called as she spied a parcel lying against the door. "My books from Amazon have finally come. Ha! I selected 'Super Fast Delivery' and it takes them eight hours to send it. The service just isn't what it used to be..."

She opened the door with a card key.

"Make yourself comfortable."

The Doctor looked around the quiet and tidy flat.

"Where are your flatmates?" he asked, immediately getting the feeling that this flat was supposed to have more than one occupant, as many as eight. Yet there was no sign of anyone else. "I thought this was exam period. Shouldn't they be making coffee and trying to cram piles of information in before tomorrow?"

River shrugged, "I live alone."



"But... isn't there supposed to be seven other people?"

"The Church bought all the rooms out so I would have the flat to myself," she explained apathetically. River sank into the sofa of the common room and pointed at a corner in the ceiling. "The Headless Monks even installed CCTV cameras so they can watch my every move. It's so I don't mix with any undesirables. The wrong person gets in here, the Clerics escort them out. The cameras are monitored by the Papal Mainframe herself."

The Doctor stared anxiously up at them.

"Will they come and remove me?" he asked.

"They never have before," River assured him, tapping the seat next to her. He sat down in it and she continued. "They want me to mix with you, get close to you..."

She nudged up against him, smiling.

"Not close literally, I imagine," the Doctor said intensely, eagerly. "The church disapproves of that, don't they?"

River chuckled, "In public, yes. Not in private..."

She leaned forward and kissed.

"After all," she whispered softly, breaking the link between their lips, "we are a 'breeding pair'."

She kissed him again and this time the Doctor kissed her back. It was strange but he had always felt there was something different about River compared to other humans. When they kissed him, it was like getting a kiss from a... beloved pet. When River did it, it made him weak at the knees. The Time Lord in her, however small, genuinely did make her more attractive to him. They were indeed a breeding pair.

Could they do that, breed? Time Lords and humans couldn't, but River wasn't just human.

"Besides," she went on, breaking the Doctor's train of thought. "They want me to gain your trust."

"You have it," the Doctor whispered back.

"Liar," River replied, and kissed him again.

"I know you won't kill me," he said, breaking the kiss briefly but allowing it to continue. "Not unless I tell to do it."

River hummed.

"Would you do it?" the Doctor asked, "If I ever told you to do it?"

She stopped and stared into his eyes. The tone of seriousness passed between them before she gently rested her head against his shoulder and sighed, "I'd do anything for you."

And in his hearts, the Doctor knew she was telling the truth.

"Where can I find your childhood River?" he asked quietly.

She raised her head and sighed.

"I don't know, so much of it is missing even to me," she confessed.

The Doctor sighed; he knew this was true too.

"But I know where you can find out," she then added.

And she looked towards the Papal Mainframe cameras.

"That thing has kept records on me since my birth..."

"The Child then kissed the Goblin," read Melody Pond. "And from her kiss he could sense the same magic in her as was in his own soul. He realised that he did not need to steal her power for he had it already. Then in that moment he transformed himself into – the Good Wizard!"

The little girl looked up from her book and gasped.

'Read to the end, River Song.

Melody turned the page, "And thus he repented all his sins. He swore under God's will to rebuild every civilisation he destroyed and make amends for the cruelty he unleashed during his warrior days. The Child agreed to help him, and together they returned to the Princess and the Last Centurion to right the first wrong before they would wander through time and space to rebuild the image of the Goblin, together."

The near-human child sighed in relief.

"The end."

She closed the book and thought about the story. So, if the Goblin can turn into a Good Wizard... does that mean that I can help the Doctor make amends too?

"Maybe I could help him..."

That was the Christian way. Forgiveness.

A crackling voice hissed to the contrary, 'No, River Song. Go back to the beginning and read again.'

"I don't need to read it again."

'Look this way, River Song.'

Hesitantly, the child looked to her left and saw the Silent looming over her. She didn't scream even though she had never truly seen one before, or at least she through she hadn't.

'You will forget you ever read that story. Go back and then read it again. Read it until it ends the way it must... with the death of the Goblin. Only you can make it happen.'

"I don't want to," Melody said quietly. "I read to start another story."

'You will forget you ever read that story. Go back and then read it ag—ah!'

This time Melody did scream as the towering monster fell to its knees from being attacked from behind. A green stun-gun had shot the Silent in the back and rendered in unconscious. The collapsing of Melody's guard revealed the man behind it...

He smiled at her, "Hello there, River Song. I've been looking all over for you."

She huddled up on her bed as he stepped out of the after-smoke of the gun.

"Are you the Doctor?" Melody said, trying to keep her voice calm when she was clearly unnerved by this man's sudden appearance in her bedroom. No one by the Silence, the Monks and Madam Kovarian ever came to visit her.

"Yes," he answered softly.

"Are you going to kill me?"

He came up to her and stopped right beside her bed. He leaned down and took her hand.

"No," he assured her. "Are you going to kill me?"

The little girl stared into his kind, warm eyes. She knew who this man was and what she was meant to do. She knew one day she would have to do it, she would have to kill him. It was her destiny in a way. God wanted her to destroy the Doctor, to stop him harming people who he feels have wronged him. One day she would have to do it, and the Doctor knew it.

But not tonight, not right now.

"No," she whispered back.

The Doctor smiled, "Good."

He snapped his fingers and the TARDIS door opened behind him. The illuminated inside of the box made Melody's luminous orb look like a firefly next to a street light. It counted for nothing.

"I can't take you away from this place forever like a prince in a fairy tale," the Doctor told her, taking her hand. "But I can help you create a brand new story..."

And then he handed her the brand new TARDIS blue diary.