This is part of my non-linear Amelia Song series.
The sound of tears filled the halls each night. She wasn't always sure who's tears they were but they filled the darkness with sorrow. The little girl in the cell beside her's was afraid of the dark, she knew, but the tears she could hear weren't the kind of tears that thoughts of monsters bring.
It was on nights like that; where the little girl was crying or maybe it wasn't her; where she thought of her parents and how they told her she would always need to be very very brave.
It was because of them and their bravery, that she told herself never to cry.
"I don't think you should do this, Doctor. There must be another way. You're too close to this." The Doctor whirled on her.
"No closer than you, River." He narrowed his eyes down at her and whilst River swallowed, she didn't recoil. She never did.
"You've seen my future, River. You've lived it. How does it all turn out?"
Her eyes glistened, but her jaw was set. "You know I can't answer that."
"Do not tell me what I cannot do, River!" He shouted, so very suddenly. And for once, in her eyes, the Doctor could see actual fear. And in his, she had long ago realized much the same.
River lowered her voice, reaching out for him but stopping herself before she rested her hand on his arm.
"I'm not telling you that you cannot do this, my love. I'm telling you that you cannot fail."
"Can you remember anything from before?" She asked the darkness. Her rich hazel eyes, dimmed in the fluorescent light, looking out upon the dank hall, waiting for response from the only other cell she knew to be occupied.
"I remember my mother's voice." The tiny voice answered and she could hear the latent tears in the shake of the girl's words.
"What did she say?"
"She told me about my father. She told me that he was a legend or to some people, a fairytale. And that no matter where I am, he will always come for me."
The Doctor smiled to himself when he heard the doors close behind her. Though he closed his eyes tight with dread.
Her tenacity fueled his devotion, but he feared the almost inevitable argument.
"I'm coming with you." She whispered. And her lips at the back of his neck sent a shiver down his spine. He hadn't realized she was so close.
The Doctor's hearts sank. "No River."
"Come on," She slipped her hand over his on the lever, smiling against his cheek as she pressed her stomach to his hip. "we'll fly her together. She loves it when we do that."
"You can't come, River, and you know that."
"I know," She breathed. "but I can't stay behind either."
"Where did they take you today?" She asked, listening for the sound of the little girl's voice in response. They had never met eye-to-eye, but she figured through her sobs and the slight lisping of her words - she was quite a bit younger than herself. How much younger, she couldn't be sure. She didn't even know exactly how old she was herself. She just knew that she'd been staring at the same grey walls, and the same mould stain on the same corner of the room, for what felt like years.
On silent nights, when they kept the little girl later at her lessons than they ever kept her, she could hear her own mother's voice whispering in the darkness. She whispered promises and platitudes and embellished fairytales. Sometimes she let herself believe she was actually there, telling her stories and sometimes she thought that if she closed her eyes tight enough, she could smell her. But in the end, she knew it was just a dream.
"Weapons training." The little voice answered.
"Did you find her? Did you find Melody?" Amy's voice echoed through the TARDIS and the Doctor's tearfilled eyes turned towards River, sitting at the base of the stairs with her head in her hands; her mane of impossible curls completely hiding her face. Though he could see from the shake of her shoulders, that she
was silently weeping.
"You have no idea, dear Ponds." He whispered to the beating heart of the TARDIS.
"Do you believe in fairytales?" The little voice from next door, startled her out her her doze. She never slept particularly well, given the dripping in the corner of the hall and the constant chill in the air; exhaustion was the only way in which she slept and even that was fitful.
"I like to think so, why?"
"I was just wondering."
She licked her lips, waiting for more of an answer before she realized that there wouldn't be one. She knew why the girl was asking, because it was the same reason she often wondered. The question that hung on both of their hearts – is anyone coming for me?
She could remember her mother's voice, even her eyes, looking down upon her. She could remember some of the words of the promises whispered in her ears when she was thought to have been asleep.
"You will never be alone." The promise that stood out to her amongst all others. "I will always be with you. Even when you can't see me."
She believed in her mother, more than she believed in anyone, because her mother was a hero, a soldier, a fighter. And she loved her so very, very much. She knew that there wasn't much in all the universe, to stop her coming for her. And there wasn't anything in all the universe, that could stop her father from tearing worlds apart to find her. She only wished it wouldn't come to that, for both of their sakes.
"Stay here, River, you'll be safe here."
"I want to come with you." The Doctor hugged her tightly, his fingers in her hair and his forehead pressed to her's before he kissed her brow and sighed so deeply it rattled them both.
"I know," She whispered. "but I want to."
"Wait here." He pressed his lips to hers and he could taste the salt of her tears on both of their lips.
"I'll be back soon, my love."
"I'll be waiting."
She listened closely at the wall. There was movement outside and she expected at any moment, for a cleric to come into view and reach for the latch on her bars, or at the very least, to hear the sound of the girl's door beside her. She realized, so suddenly, that she'd never even asked her name.
All this time they'd been sharing their tales of their training and Kovarian's cruel idea of what a childhood was supposed to be. They were fed evil stories about the Doctor and his companions and they were taught to hate, to fear and to destroy him. They were weapons. But she liked to believe she was different. She liked to
hope they both were.
"Hello there, Melody Pond." The Doctor grinned down at the little girl, sitting motionless with her little arms wrapped tightly around her knees in the centre of her cell.
"You're the Doctor," She responded, staring up at him wide-eyed.
"You've come to take me away?"
"I'm afraid not, little Pond." He crouched down, resting his hands on the bars with such a look of sorrow on his face, Melody's pair of hearts broke into a thousand peices. "Some stories, should not be re-written."
"Then why are you here?"
"I'll tell you a secret," He lowered his voice. He paused for a moment, hearing movement from further down the hall. "You're going to be extra brave, Melody Pond. Extra tough. As your mother would say, you'll be super-hero tough. Because things are going to be hard, Melody, very hard. But you're strong. You're the last of a glorious race, Melody, and one day, you're going to understand what all of this means. But right now, you need to hold on and remember; remember your parents and you'll find them. I know you can."
"I don't think I can."
"Sure you can, Melody Pond, Child of the Tardis. Because you're the bravest person I know."
She knew that voice. She'd heard it a million times, whispering and promising. She'd heard it in her dreams and in her nightmares, as the voice of hope or the voice of comfort. She'd heard it shout from rooftops and breathe fear into the hearts of armies.
She sprung to her feet, clutching the bars of her cell so tightly in her hands as she reached her arm through, hoping she could grasp that voice in the darkness as though it were real.
"Father!" She called out, tears trickling down her face as she feared that the sound of his whispers were all in her head. But she heard the sound of footsteps on the concrete once again, and a shuffling and a whisper, before his kind eyes came into view and the soft sweep of his hair touched her forehead. "Father." She whispered, touching his face with chilled fingers, studying the contours of his cheeks as he kissed her brow much the way she'd always seen him kiss her mother, when she was afraid.
"Ah, my Amelia Song, how you've grown."
"You're a terrible liar, Father." She giggled.
"Yes, but only two people in the whole universe, know that."
"Is Mother here?" She choked. The Doctor grinned.
"She's waiting for us."
"Lets go then." She stepped back from the bars, her arms open wide as he soniced it open. When the large grill shuffled to the left, she waited only a moment for the rattling to stop before she burst free of her cell and leapt into his arms.
"She promised you'd always come for me."
"Bravest, smartest, person I know, your Mum."
His knees weakening beneath him, the Doctor lowered his daughter to the floor of the Tardis, thankful River wasn't two steps away to catch the child and bundle her up in her arms. They were safe. The both of them, safe and warm and protected inside the Tardis. They were home, and yet his heart ached with a pain he wasn't sure he could bear.
He could hear River's voice over the gentle hum of the old girl. She whispered more promises into the ear of their daughter, who giggled and hugged her and played with the ends of her hair as though it had been the one thing about her mother, she'd missed the most. There was so much joy and yet his hearts felt as if they were about to burst from the guilt.
River caught his eyes and with a smile, beckoned him towards them. With Amelia's arms still wrapped around her waist, she reached for his hand and pulled him towards them, wrapping her free arm around his neck and pushing herself up on her tiptoes to press her lips to his.
"I don't deserve it, River."
"You did as I asked. You gave me back my child."
"And your parents, River? What about their child. I just left you there."
"And I forgive you." She breathed, hugging him closer, pressing her face into his neck as Amelia stretched her arm out so that she could wrap an arm around each of her parents. "I love you," She breathed his name into his ear, his real name and the Doctor shuddered with the strength that gave him. "and I thank you."
"Even so, I'll spend the rest of my days, making it up to you."
"Of that I have no doubt, my love."