She ran away once. Her parents had taken her to London, a family holiday, she was only twelve and she ran away. She knew how to look after herself, after all, hadn't she been doing just that before the Doctor fell out of the sky and took her to her parents? But they weren't her parents. They didn't understand. She loved Amy and Rory, she loved them as much as she knew how, but they weren't her parents. Parents were the people who were there when you were a baby, who held you and changed you and fed you. They were the people who taught you to talk and walk and how to ride a bicycle. Parents were the people who understood you.
Amy and Rory didn't understand her.
Melody was different from them, she knew, they hadn't told her, but the Doctor had. She was not human. She was smarter than most, stronger than most, had impossible skills drilled into her by the woman who raised her into a weapon. She was different from them and it was because of this, Melody truly believed she had no parents.
So she ran away.
She was going to find the Doctor and live with him. She would travel the stars and learn everything there was to know about the universe and fight aliens and watch planets form and everything he had promised they would do together. Then she would grow up and marry him, and they would have their own babies, babies that would never be separated from them, never be raised the way she had been. And she would understand them; they would be like her, like the Doctor. They would be special.
"You're a bit young to be out on your own," A kind voice said, and Melody looked up to see a woman with red hair and a smile, "Where's your mum and dad?"
"I don't have a mum and dad." Melody replied quite simply, "I have Amy and Rory, but I ran away."
The woman considered this for a moment, "How about I run away with you?" she asked "We can run away together."
"Really?" Melody asked, "Can you help me find my friend? I want to live with him."
"Of course I can," the woman smiled, "What's your friend's name? Actually, first, why don't you tell me your name?"
"It's nice to meet you melody, I'm Donna."
Melody smiled, "I like you Donna. You remind me of my friend. You understand me like he does. You're special."
Donna frowned at this but nodded, "You're special too, Melody. Shall we find your friend now?" she held her hand out and Melody took it quickly. Together they walked down the streets of London, Donna told Melody about the time she ran away when she was young, her father had been away and her mother was angry at her, so she sneaked out the backdoor with her purse and caught a train to her grandfather's house.
"Did you go home again?" Melody asked her,
"After a while," Donna told her, "Do you think you will go back?"
"I don't want to."
"But will you?" They stopped and Donna crouched down to Melody's height, brushing her blonde hair behind her ear, "Amy and Rory love you very much, don't they? They'll be so worried, so sad that you're missing."
Melody bit her lip, "They don't understand me. I'm different."
Donna felt her heart snapping at the sadness in this little girls face. She pulled Melody into her arms, holding her close and stroking her hair soothingly, and Melody started to cry. Donna held her like she held her own daughter after a nightmare, and just like she would then, she sung softly against Melody's ear until the young girl's tears softened and eventually stopped.
Pulling away from Donna, Melody wiped her face, "Here," Donna said to her, pulling a small card from her pocket, it was a business card with Donna's phone number and address, "Take this, and whenever you need someone to talk to, someone to understand, you call me."
"Whenever?" whispered Melody,
"Even if it's the middle of the night." Donna nodded, giving Melody the card and straightening up, "Are you ready to go back to Amy and Rory now?"
Lifetimes later River stood in the Library and turned to the woman travelling with the Doctor, this incredibly young Doctor with a different face and absolutely no idea who she was. "This is the Doctor in the days before he knew me," She murmured, "and he looks at me and …he looks right through me, and it shouldn't kill me but it does."
"What are you talking about? Are you just talking rubbish? Do you know him, or don't you?" River didn't let herself flinch at the woman's outburst, though it was rather adding insult to injury,
"Donna!" the Doctor called out from across the room where he soniced the shadows, "Quiet; I'm working."
River barely heard Donna's apology, instead a memory played across her mind, the day she ran away and met the woman standing right before her, "Donna, you're Donna, Donna Noble."
But River just stared, she'd once considered Donna her mother, but later thought of her as something like an aunt. Every day since they'd met River called her, just to talk, simply because she could, because they understood each other and were different together. Donna had been there for her all through high school, until the day she ran off with the Doctor and settled down in the fifty-first century.
But this Donna didn't know her, and never truly would, though River still loved her like she had all those years ago, and so she looked her in the eye and told her, "I do know the Doctor, but in the future; his personal future."
"So why don't you know me?"
Of course River knew Donna's story. It wasn't until now that she realised the Doctor's Donna, the most important woman in all of creation, a Time Lord-Human meta crisis, was her Donna. River's hearts almost broke. How she had longed to share her world with Donna, how she had wondered when the Doctor told her quite clearly she was never to speak a word. Perhaps she knew all along their Donnas were the same, but refused to accept it.
"Where am I in the future?"
Perhaps she just didn't want to believe telling Donna about her wonderful life would kill her.