notes: set post-Forest of the Dead, River's timeline; title from Florence + The Machine's All This and Heaven Too.
all this heaven could never describe
River sings lullabies in the language of the Forests.
Soft syllables and deep notes and just a little off-key, she sings the words of ancient temples and falling leaves and bark that glows lavender in the sunset. Her voice is mellow, enveloping the room like a warm blanket; she smells like gardenias, and ages-old dust she can never seem to rid her hands of completely. Dust from planets and dust from ash and dust from Time itself, settled under her skin.
She sings of falling stars and buried treasure and the light at the end of the universe; worlds outside and worlds below and he doesn't quite understand how he got to this moment: with all the rewrites and all the foils and all the lies he's told again and again; it seems too miraculous, too brilliant, too perfect a gift for him to accept as he is because he's so, so old.
( He shakes.
He shakes and curls his fingers into fists and stiffens at her touch even as he craves it more than he does air.
"Look at me," she says, firm and soft and he tries not to, tries to stay away, but she crooks a finger under his chin and meets his gaze. "Look at me."
He looks, and all he sees is love. Love and all its attributes and all its foibles and all its farce; love that doesn't stop when he changes a face or a habit or a story.
Love that breaks through time and space and she holds his face between her palms and promises: "I will find you. I will always find you."
She shakes her head. "There isn't a universe big enough, my love."
"You can't promise me that," he says, without venom and without blame but with so much fear it makes her eyes sting.
"I can. I do." She takes his hand and presses her forehead to his, opening her mind and wrapping him up in her thoughts. I'm not like them, she whispers, I'm not young. I'm not brave. And everything I want is right here. She kisses him tenderly. and murmurs, "So what reason would I have to leave?" )
So old, so tired, and so alone for so many years that it seemed a fitting punishment for his crimes: that he should give up the only thing he allowed to steal his hearts.
( Your two, my two, she says breathlessly, buried under him, fingers curled around his shoulder blades and her lips near his ear and everything so warm and right; her voice in his head and against his skin and her hair fanned out like a light, making his entire being glow.
Trade you, he whispers.
She slides her legs around his waist and kisses him deeply. Already have. )
He should have known.
He should have expected it:
( "Did you really think you'd be rid of me that easily?" she asks, tears in her eyes and a smile at the corner of her lips and he doesn't breathe for fear he'll shock himself awake.
His voice breaks. Her hands cup his face, fingers stuttering against his bones as she trembles.
Hello, Sweetie. )
She was never one to be held.
Not by bars, not by fear, and certainly not by tired, old books and angry shadows.
"I promised," she answers, as if it's only so simple.
He runs a hand down her arm to ensure she's real. "I remember." )
And now she holds: a child against her breast, a note in the lullaby, his hearts in her hand.
"What do we call her?" she asks suddenly, softly, her voice barely a whisper across the room. He smiles and moves closer, perching on the edge of the bed near the rocker. "Nothing seems perfect enough."
"Nothing will be," he agrees. "But we've got time."
"For the first time."
Unable to be so far, he slides off the bed to the floor at her feet, wrapping one arm around her bare legs and resting his head on her lap, craning his neck to stare up at her. His other arm stretches up, fingers rubbing gently against his baby's clothed back. River smiles tiredly - peacefully, he thinks, maybe for the first time ever - and brushes her fingers through his hair. He closes his eyes, turning his face into her skin.
"For the rest of our time," he agrees, his voice muffled slightly against her thigh.
She laughs softly. "No more diaries."
"No more lies."
She smiles indulgently. "You always lie, my love."
He snorts, his breath making her shiver slightly. "Fine. No more gratuitous lying," he amends.
She strokes her fingers down his neck, fingernails scratching gently against his scalp. "Where's the fun in that?" she murmurs teasingly. He swats the back of her leg weakly and looks up at her again, eyes wide with hope and wonder.
"Right here," he says, so honest and so pure that her chest constricts in the most wonderful kind of hurt. "Look at us," he whispers, his hand brushing hers as he strokes his little girl's neck. Open mouthed in sleep, she shifts slightly, tucking her face firmly into River's breast, her small fist curled up near her cheek. "The adventures we'll have, River," he breathes. "My girls. My River and my Song." He starts suddenly, straightening his spine and pulling back just barely. "Melody," he murmurs. "We should call her Melody."
"We can use the Gallifreyan name, if you like," he says softly, predicting her protests and waving them away with a firm voice and honest eyes. "But that's who she is, River. Our little Melody. Our fresh start."
River inhales sharply, hearts speeding up, body immobilized by the look on his face. "Are you sure?"
Kissing her thigh through a smile: "I've never been more sure of anything in my whole, long life."
"Such a romantic," she murmurs, but her expression belays her mocking tone.
The Doctor grins and slides a hand up higher under her short robe. "How do you think we got here in the first place?"
( She steps out of the TARDIS and onto velvet moss under a yellow sky. She steps out onto the streets of Paris, 1902. She steps out into a castle, onto a ship, under stars and over canyons and every time he reaches for her hand and they run.
She steps out into wonders and steps back into home, and sometimes she doesn't step at all: sometimes they stay, doors flung open and all of space at their dangling feet, her back pressed against his chest and his arms around her waist, his breath on her neck and his heartbeats in tandem with hers.
Our four, he says.
Six, she whispers.
He kisses her fiercely to restrain his smile. )