A/N: Because I love how much the Doctor loves little Amelia. (Spoilers for 6x08).
He'd promised her five minutes.
He can't do too much about it now. He's a Timelord, and he doesn't have enough time in the universe to be able to go back and keep every promise he's ever made.
She looks so angelic while she sleeps. It's strange to think that she will one day grow into the fierce, bossy, and spectacular woman that Amy Pond is. Little Amelia sleeps with her hair swept away from her face, splaying out on her pillow like a lion's mane. Her small hands are curved into loose fists, and the gentle noise of her breathing is soothing, almost hypnotic.
Sometimes, he just sits in the chair he has now claimed as his own, twirling her papier maché Tardis between his fingers and watching her for hours on end.
He tells people he likes to keep busy, and he does, he has to, to distract him from his guilt, more than anything else, but he treasures these moments. He likes the silence, and he likes the house. It's big and a little bit creepy in the dark, but he loves the age of it. He loves the rough wooden floorboards and the heavy doors with the old fashioned handles. He loves the scuffs and the chips and the worn down bannister.
He loves that it's lived in.
"There's a planet where sofas can talk, you know," he whispers. "They eat money and remote controls, and there have been a few cases of missing fingers, but don't let that put you off."
He pauses, just to watch her, to see if she's on the verge of waking up.
Part of him always wants her to.
"They did expand the market to beds, but then the divorce rate on the whole planet sky rocketed so they withdrew them...not really solving the problem but there you are - that's life, isn't it? People never really fix things properly. Just try to appease the guilt..."
She shifts in her sleep and sighs. There is a slight flicker of eyelids, a deep exhalation, and all is still once more.
He thinks it's probably enough talking for one night, and so he waits until the sun starts to peek over the horizon, before he tiptoes out, and down the stairs, avoiding the third step from the bottom, which creaks something dreadful if he so much as thinks about stepping on it.
He found that one out the hard way.
Mels is staying over tonight.
She and Amelia are asleep on the floor, curled up on piles of blankets and cushions. There is an empty bag of gummy bears lying close to where they've settled down for the night, the half eaten bowl of popcorn smells faintly of old cinemas, and the television is displaying black and white static, illuminating the entire room with its unnatural glow. The video player underneath has spat out a cassette, which on closer inspection turns out to be E.T. and he can't help but smile to himself as he puts it back in its plastic case and places it in the empty slot on the shelf.
Mels has her arms wrapped around a small model of himself, which looks as though it might be made from toilet roll tubes and a washing up bottle.
Amelia, meanwhile, is holding on to a teddy bear, and he very much suspects that she's been told off one too many times for clinging on to her imaginary friend.
"Oh girls..." he sighs, sitting down on Amelia's empty bed. "My girls, my lovely, lovely girls."
There is a bag of chocolate raisins lying on the bedside table, untouched.
"Eyes bigger than your bellies?" he murmurs, and plucks the purple packet off of the table and uses his teeth to tear open a corner, his entire body tensing when the bag crackles loudly.
The girls don't stir, and so he relaxes, and plunges his hand into the packet, extracting a handful of raisins. He throws a couple into his mouth and chews, watching as Amelia curls her little toes, which are peeping out from under the blankets.
"I know you both think you're going to be stuck here forever," he says softly, "In this silly little village with its silly little Post Office and its silly little duck pond without any ducks..."
It still bugs him.
"But you two...blimey. Between the two of you, you're going to save entire worlds, you're going to drive men insane...both of you. You're going to be brilliant."
He grabs some more chocolate raisins, and chews on them thoughtfully as he considers which story he should tell them tonight.
"One day, the entire world is going to up sticks and leave this planet," he begins. "Solar flares will roast it, and every country's going to get on a big old spaceship, the whole lot of them, and run to the stars."
Mels stretches out an arm, whacking Amelia on the side of her face. There is a small huff and the arm is shoved away.
The Doctor holds his breath, as though it makes him invisible to do so, and prays that she doesn't roll over and see him stealing all her sweets.
He knows it's a bad idea to cross Amelia Pond, little one or big one.
A few tense minutes pass, but then he can sense the gentle steady rhythm of her heart beat, hear her lungs inflating and deflating slowly and he knows he's gotten away with it this time.
"Britain gets left behind while the planet heats up, because you'll all be too busy watching X Factor to worry about saving your lives. But then a Star Whale comes. The last Star Whale, and it's going to save the lot of you. See everything Amelia, always see everything."
Her bedroom is very tidy the next time he sets foot in it. Sadly, there are no sweets available, and so he settles himself in his chair and considers what story he'll tell her tonight. She's probably a little bit young for the Weeping Angels - he doesn't want to terrify her, and the Silence are definitely out as well.
"There was once a pirate ship, a few hundred years ago, and it was cursed."
He pauses, as though he might get a reaction from her, but she's always been a very quiet audience when it comes to his bedtime stories.
"When I say it was cursed, I just mean that there was something that humans didn't understand about it, and instead of finding out what it was, they decided the whole ship had been cursed by the gods. Silly, really. I mean everything has an expla -"
He stops, mid-sentence, because something has caught his eye. A piece of paper with a gold star in the bottom right hand corner is sitting on her desk, pride of place, amongst the colouring pencils and crayons and plastic stencils. He gets up and quietly walks towards it, and picks it up.
He loves her writing. It is a young, excitable scrawl, and the red ink at the bottom reads: Wonderfully imaginative, Amelia, but remember to take care with your handwriting.
He makes an involuntary, disparaging noise at the criticism, and turns around quickly to check he hasn't woken her. She's still sleeping soundly, and he makes his way back over to his chair, sits down, and begins to read.
There is a planet in the sixth sector of the Bergamot system called Jannyfloppis -
She's spelled it wrong, but it doesn't matter, not to him. His smile is so wide he thinks he might look as though he's had his face cleaved open.
- and this is a planet where sofas can talk. Talking sofas like to eat strange things, like money and remote controls, but sometimes you get bad ones and they eat people.
Bit of an exaggeration, but he doesn't mind that, either.
Then the company that made them made talking beds as well, but people couldn't get to sleep because they kept chatting and sometimes they would sing, but the biggest problem was that they made mums and dads break up. To fix the problem of all the divorces, the government made the company stop making the beds, and everybody was happier because they got to sleep better and there were less arguments.
"What are you doing?"
He looks up, over the top of the piece of paper, to see a pair of hazel eyes watching him. Her face is half concealed by her bedspread, but she doesn't seem worried by the fact that there's a mad man sitting in her bedroom in the dead of night.
"Reading your homework," he says with a smile. "It's very good."
"I don't know where it came from," she tells him. "Just happened."
"Well it's all real," he says, "And I'm real, and there will be people that'll tell you I'm not, but don't you worry about them, because one day, I'm going to come back for you properly, Amelia Pond."
"You said five minutes."
"I know I did," he whispers, swallowing the guilty lump in his throat. "But the Tardis has never been all that reliable."
"What's the Tardis?" she asks.
He picks up the papier maché Tardis from her bedside table and waves it at her.
"Time And Relative Dimension In Space. Tardis."
"Right," she says, and he suspects that the words have made little to no impact on her sleepy brain. "Well seeing as you're here, you might as well read me a story," she tells him, and he can't help but laugh. She's already turning into Amy Pond, and the little fairytale Amelia is fading into the past, but that's okay.
It's okay because he can always pop back whenever he pleases, and read her a story.
He chooses a book from the shelf, a short one, because he doesn't suppose she'll last through War and Peace or even the ninth Harry Potter, which he's sure he's got tucked away in one of his pockets somewhere.
He settles himself down in his chair once more, and Amelia shifts on her mattress, making herself comfortable, her bright little eyes watching his every move. He clears his throat, and begins to read.
"In a dark dark town, there was a dark dark street..."