The Stormcage was unusually quiet. The ever present echo of guards' footsteps was nowhere to be found. Even the prison itself seemed to hum a bit more quietly, as if it meant to draw the anxiety of its most infamous inmate right out of the air.
River Song was busily writing in her TARDIS blue diary, carefully etching each letter into the yellowing paper. Her blond curls hung loosely around her head, casting a shadow on the open book. The light in her small cell was far from ideal, but it worked for her purposes.
She let her mind drift back only a few hours, when Demon's Run had come to pass. The incredulous faces of her parents had imprinted themselves in her mind and they had been awkwardly unwilling to let her leave them at their home in Leadworth. She had to promise them that everything would be alright. She knew it would, eventually at least. So many more things had to happen, things that were happening for the Doctor right now.
She slowly stopped writing as something made itself known to her. The air outside her cell became charged, as if someone had stepped into it, yet no one was there. She slowly stood from her bed as footsteps reached her ears, closing her diary and setting it on the sparsely furnished bed. The sudden presence of a guard was not unusual, yet she knew this was no ordinary guard. The footfalls were too sharp, too distinct, much like someone walking with an aim or purpose. Out of the darkness to her left a male figure appeared, vortex manipulator prominent on his right wrist.
"Octavian? What are you doing here?" River demanded, crossing to the metal bars that separated her from the rest of the Stormcage. Octavian said nothing, but reached into a pocket at his breast and pulled out a sheaf of papers. He extended them to her through the vertical bars and she took them from his outstretched hand eagerly, wondering what exactly would warrant such an impromptu visit. She unfolded the few sheets and ran her eyes over the words hurriedly. A slow smile spread over her face.
"They've actually agreed to it, though I can't imagine they're very happy," Octavian rumbled in his deep voice, working his way into River's thoughts. He was wearing his bishop's uniform, guns and all, save his helmet. She couldn't remember the last time she had seen him without it. It made him look younger. "It will take a minimum of four years to be processed," he added gruffly.
"I know," she replied, folding the papers silently and handing them back to him. "Why did you bring this to me? And where did you get a vortex manipulator? I could have sworn that time travel was restricted to cardinals and those of higher rank."
Octavian's mouth curled into a strained smile, showing no teeth. "It's just a borrow," he replied. "I brought it because I heard what happened at Demon's Run."
River quickly moved away from him and returned to her bed, hearing the faint squeak that her weight added to the flimsy metal protrusion that held her mattress. "And what exactly happened?" she asked innocently.
"Yesterday," he clarified, sending a whithering look in her direction. He could tell that she was irritated and the gentle tapping of a finger against the diary's cover confirmed it. "You came back a day late. You never do that." He paused, watching her open her diary and continue to write in it, ignoring him as best she could. "Word is spreading faster than a burning star. Yesterday-"
"Is none of your concern," she interrupted curtly. She pretended to write in the blue book, but only traced over previously written words. The crackle of the yellowing paper made Octavian impatient.
"It is absolutely my concern!" He raised his voice angrily and she briefly stopped writing. "Demon's Run has passed for the Doctor, that means-"
"I know what it means!" she snapped back. Her green eyes met his own with the fury of a Time Lord, a right she could now properly claim. "He has gone, just as he must. The timelines are falling where they should."
"And your parents?" he questioned gently. His voice took on a smooth tone, one she was unaccustomed to.
River paused. Amy and Rory had occupied her thoughts for hours now, but there was nothing more she could do for them. "They are fine."
Octavian smirked in derision. "He knows who you are, but not who you were."
River's muscles seized up in both anger and surprise. He must have read her file. After all, she would be assigned to his platoon when it came time to earn her pardon. She turned her gaze to him with a carefully measured frown. "What do you want, Father Octavian?"
"Oh nothing, Miss Song. Nothing at all." He turned away from her cell with a satisfied smirk, strutting down the shadow-filled hallway until the vortex manipulator took him away with a flash.
River let the breath she was holding finally escape her lungs. She let her head rest back against the prison wall and drew her legs upward, clasping her arms around her knees in a defensive gesture. Her blue diary sat on her lap and she looked at its cover sadly. It was happening now, she thought again. He would soon know the whole truth, not simply choice pieces. In a way, it would kill him.
She sighed softly and closed her eyes, thinking of the man in the bow tie that would soon know her secret. "I'm sorry, my love."