One chilly, breezy morning, seven-year-old Amelia Pond bounded down the steps to the kitchen, where her aunt was making breakfast for the two of them. The girl was nearly bouncing with excitement, an announcement lingering on the tip of her tongue as she hurried over to where her aunt stood. As far as Amelia was concerned, the eggs could wait.
"Aunt Sharon, I made a new friend last night!" Amelia burst out, gripping the sleeve of her aunt's dressing gown in her hurry to get her words out. "When you were out, I was in my bedroom and a man landed in the back garden! I brought him inside, and he ate all sorts of food!"
Worried by what her niece was telling her, Sharon bent down to be closer to her eye level. "You brought a man into the house? Amelia, you shouldn't bring strangers into the house. Don't you know how dangerous that is? I've told you-"
"No, no, you're not listening! He flew down from the sky, Aunt Sharon! He was like magic! He was really hungry, so I had to fry some food. I think he ate all our custard, so we need more."
"Ah, an imaginary friend?"
Amelia sighed, and put both hands on her hips, staring straight into the eyes of her aunt. "No, silly, he's not imaginary. I'm not making him up, look, there's a dish in the sink and everything!"
Smiling at Amelia and giving her a loving pat on the head, Sharon stood back up to continue making breakfast. Amelia letting a stranger into the house was concerning, but an imaginary friend wasn't anything to be alarmed about. She was just a child, after all.
Amelia Pond was ten years old when she visited her first psychiatrist. Her aunt had accepted her tales of an imaginary friend for as long as she believed it was healthy. Years had passed since her niece had first mentioned him, and as she was nearing her teen years, Sharon grew more and more concerned. Eventually, she'd had enough. After several examinations, Amelia's doctor informed Sharon that her niece was perfectly healthy, with nothing wrong with her that he could see. Unconvinced, Sharon found the contact information of a psychiatrist, and promptly took Amelia to visit her.
Sitting in the backseat of their car, Amelia dangled her legs over the seat, inspecting her new shoes. Her aunt had promised her them if she'd agreed to see another doctor. Amelia agreed, though she didn't see why her aunt wanted her to see so many doctors. Armed with her journal and a bright blue pen, Amelia sat patiently as they drove to the other side of Leadworth.
Despite everything Amelia had imagined, this doctor was far different from the others. She didn't have a nice, clean-smelling office with all sorts of cold metal doctor's instruments like the others did. This doctor had several comfy chairs and a mat on the floor with some toys for small children. Puzzled, Amelia hurried over to the nearest chair and plopped herself into it, looking curiously around the room.
This new doctor, as it turned out, did not go along with Amelia's idea of a doctor at all. She did not want to examine her, to feel her pulse or to look in her eyes like the others did. This woman sat on the chair opposite Amelia's and asked her questions in a sugary-sweet tone that Amelia didn't completely trust. They were the usual things adults would ask you - how is school? Do you have many friends? What's your favourite thing to do outside of school?
All the while, the doctor nodded along and occasionally wrote things down on the little pad of paper in her perfectly manicured hands. Repeatedly, she smiled a too-large grin at Amelia, full of shockingly white teeth. Probably a little too friendly.
"I have a much more personal question for you, if that's alright. Do you miss your parents?"
Amelia shrugged half-heartedly. "Dunno. I don't really remember them. Sometimes I think about them and I'm okay that they're… gone, but sometimes I think about them and I get really sad. I don't know why. The Doctor told me it's because I've lost memories of them, and my mind is trying to get them back. That's why I get sad."
The doctor cleared her throat. "So Amelia, how do you like living with your aunt?"
"'S'okay, I guess. I get to stay up pretty late. Sometimes I get to stay home alone. That's fun."
"And what's your favourite thing to do when you stay up late?" Another bright smile.
"I like drawing things. Sometimes I play with my dolls. The Doctor plays with me too, but I don't think he likes my dolls very much. He says he doesn't trust them." Amelia stated matter-of-factly. She smiled (much more genuinely than the woman in front of her did) thinking about it - the Doctor would only ever show up whenever Aunt Sharon was out of the room. It was almost like a secret game.
"Sweetheart, who's the Doctor? You keep mentioning him."
"He's my friend. He landed in the back garden one night. We do lots of fun stuff together… ooh, yesterday we went to go look for ducks at the duck pond. They're still gone. It's sort of sad, actually. I really liked the ducks, I don't know where they've gone to."
The woman gave an incredibly fake sympathetic sigh that even Aunt Sharon raised an eyebrow at. "That's too bad! Has your Aunt Sharon met the Doctor?"
"Nope," Amelia replied, popping the 'p' as loudly as she could. "Aunt Sharon thinks I'm lying, but I'm not. The Doctor likes to hide from her, anyway. He doesn't like rules. And he doesn't even have an aunt!" she told her excitedly, as though such a thing was a massive accomplishment.
"Is he your imaginary friend?" the psychiatrist asked sweetly, cocking her head to the side. "I had an imaginary friend when I was a little girl."
"He isn't imaginary," Amelia countered hotly, a tiny glare making its way to her face, "he's there. I'm not making him up to be silly; he's with me almost all the time."
"Is he here now?"
Amelia rolled her eyes and looked down at her shoes again, evidently thinking that was a stupid question to ask. "Of course he isn't, he's staying at home. He's trying to make one of my old teddy bears fly."
"Well, maybe he is imaginary, Amelia, darling. Nobody else can see him-"
"They're not looking hard enough," Amelia snapped. "He's there and he's real, okay? And don't treat me like a baby, I'm not one. I'm almost eleven."
Aunt Sharon was willing to put up with a lot of things, but that certainly wasn't one of them. "Amelia!"
The doctor leant over and patted Sharon on the arm. "No, that's alright, it's perfectly normal for a child in her situation. Actually, I want to just have a chat with you for a moment, if that's alright. Amelia?"
Before Amelia could be told to do anything, she had already hopped down from her chair and headed out of the room, out the front doors of the building and into the carpark, where, thankfully, Sharon had left the car doors unlocked. Clamouring into the backseat, Amelia slammed the door behind her and felt her face grow warmer as she became angrier. She waited for several more minutes until Sharon appeared beside the car, shaking her head at the girl in the back.
"Honestly Amelia, do you have any idea how embarrassing that was? You can't speak to people like that. We're coming back here next week, and I hope you don't try to do anything like that again."
Sharon continued on, informing Amelia shrilly about how the doctor believed she had created an imaginary friend for attention, but Amelia wasn't even listening. Still angry, she kicked off her shoes and reached for the journal she'd left on the seat beside her. Grabbing her pen, she began to scribble furiously on the front cover, leaving a dark black mark where her name had been.
The journal that had said "Property of Amelia Pond" before their visit now read, in bolded, sharp letters, "Property of Amy Pond."
She refused to be treated like a baby any longer.
Amy Pond was fifteen years old when Sharon informed her of her plans to take her to her fourth (and, unbeknownst to her, final) psychiatrist. As far as breaking bad news went, Sharon's method of telling her niece after another long and gruelling day of school was not the best possible one. Amy, having dealt with her fair share of ridicule and disbelief in her life, did not take it lightly. The book she had been holding in her hands as Sharon spoke to her ended up halfway across her front room in her fit of rage, and in a whirl of red hair and seething breaths, Amy had locked herself away in her room.
Running her hands roughly through her wavy red hair, Amy watched as tears clouded her vision and felt her pain form a lump in her throat that threatened to choke her. One could only handle so much opposition in their lives before it became too much. This introduction of another doctor who would promise to 'fix her problems' and 'make her feel better' wouldn't help her at all. She didn't need to attend a single session to know that her floppy-haired man was really there, no matter how she treated the psychiatrist's guidance.
It had been many years since her first psychiatrist, and since her first day of 'therapy', as many called it, Amy had grown to resent them all. Wasn't it obvious to them yet that she wasn't making this up? She wasn't lying to get attention. If she'd wanted that, she'd have done the stupid things everyone else her age did. She could have dyed her hair every colour in the rainbow. She could go partying all night. She could even pierce every available bit of skin, if attention was her game. But no - that was not what she wanted. Not at all.
"It was only a matter of time, Amy," a familiar voice crooned in her ear. "I don't think your aunt was too pleased that you bit the last one."
"Oh god, shut up. You are the last thing I need right now, Doctor," she snarled, her tone suddenly vicious. Despite her furious demeanour, tears still fell from her eyes, now out of frustration more than anything.
With a sympathetic look in Amy's direction from his place at her desk, the Doctor blurted out, "Then what do you need?
"Look, you were fun when I was a little girl, but look at me!" she half-wailed, gesturing to herself. "I'm not a little girl anymore, am I, Doctor? Kids have imaginary friends when they're young. But I'm not young anymore, so I don't understand-"
"Amelia, you're technically still a child."
"Oh, shut up!" Amy groaned, covering her eyes and tossing herself back onto her bed. "You're not listening! I'm not saying I don't… well, appreciate the company, or anything, but come on! I'm fifteen. There's got to be a point to this that I'm just not getting. That's the one thing I ever really listen to with all these stupid psychiatrists - there's a reason for you. You're smart. Haven't you got anything? I need to know why you showed up in the first place, 'cos it's going to drive me mad, not knowing."
"What ideas could I possibly have, Pond? I'm inside your head, so I only know what you know," he said simply, moving from her desk to her bed. "But, well, you know that."
After becoming a teenager, Amy became even more insistent about the fact that she was not imagining the Doctor - he was right there. He was both real and fake, she had begun to see. He was as solid as anyone else she'd ever met, but at the same time, only she could see him. She could make neither heads nor tails of it.
"Well, use your imagination, then!"
"Why don't you use yours?"
Growling in annoyance, Amy wrenched herself back into a sitting position and looked over at the raggedy man that was sat on the edge of her bed, staring back at her. "You're impossible! Can't you just… I don't know, go into my subconscious, or something like that? You're in my head, you can get at it easier. Maybe I already know the answer and it's just buried."
Instead of replying, the Doctor raised a quizzical eyebrow at the redheaded girl.
"Oh, you know what I mean! Can't you just tell me?" Amy questioned. "For god's sakes, I'm seeing things! Look, please, Doctor. I don't understand. I just want to be like everyone else, but I'm not. Nobody else has someone like you following them around everywhere. You've been here since I was a little girl -"
The Doctor chose that moment to cut her off and give her the simplest of starting points. The words he spoke were so quiet that she could barely hear them, but when she did, everything in her mind fell into place.
"It's because you're missing people. Important people."
It came to her, so simple and so clear that she was astounded that she had not thought of it immediately. The man that was sat on her bed next to her was a substitution - he was everything she had ever wanted, everything she had seen others receive without want or effort. She could not recall the warmth of a mother's touch or the love of a father. She did not know the companionship of a friend or a boyfriend. And yet, everyone else she knew did, and it hardly seemed fair. They rarely (if at all) expressed their gratitude, or spent each waking moment with the ones dearest to them. As far as Amy could see, such people were taken for granted by everyone but her.
There were gaping cracks in her existence - holes that remained unfilled, and thus, loneliness settled in. Little Amelia Pond's loneliness was not temporary, and as a result, her Doctor stayed with her, even when she didn't want him to. After all, loved ones didn't disappear when you wanted them to, did they? But for how much longer would he continue to do so? What if this psychiatrist was the one that finally got through to her?
"Amelia Pond. All alone. The girl with the crack in her wall. The girl who didn't make sense," the Doctor whispered. "You're certainly no ordinary girl. Oh, Amelia. Where are your mum and dad?"
Amy had been ready to give him an immediate answer, but she couldn't. Her words began to fail her as she searched her mind and came up with nothing. She couldn't even remember any details of where they'd gone - no cause of death, no locations of graves. Nothing.
"I-I don't -"
"Shh, no, no, it's alright, it's alright. That's no ordinary crack, is it? You hear the voices at night, don't you?"
She nodded, amazed that for something that resided in her subconscious, telling her things she had stored away, this was all news to her. The subject of voices, however, was not - for as long as she could remember the crack being in her wall, she'd heard voices coming from it. She could hardly even imagine how much worse her situation would be if it got out than in addition to seeing things, she heard voices. And so, Amy kept quiet about it.
"Is it going to take me too?" she murmured, eyes flickering momentarily to the temporarily silent crack on the wall behind them.
"I don't know. It might. I wish I could fix it, but, you know," the Doctor said with a shrug, tapping one of his fingers on the top of her head, "I'm in there."
So he was, by everyone else's definition, 'imaginary'. That was definitely not how she saw it, and Amy still remained unwilling to admit that the Doctor was fake. Her raggedy man, her Doctor, was real.
And there they were - tears, and not for the first time that afternoon. Amy did not initially know why they had made their reappearance, but after taking a deep, shaking breath, realisation came crashing down on her. The tears were out of fear.
Her trembling fingers danced over the stitches in her skirt. She spoke this as though she had given up all hope of rebellion against it. There was no getting around it. "They want m-me to get better, to finally admit that y-you're fake. They're going to make me-"
"No one is going to make you do anything, Amelia Pond. If you can keep me in your head, you can keep them out."
"I know, but…" A heavy sigh. "…I think it's bothering Aunt Sharon. That I'm not properly listening, I mean. But she doesn't understand. She doesn't even try to. She just thinks there's something wrong with me and that all I need is a psychiatrist to get it sorted," she sniffed, wiping under her eyes with the sleeve of her jumper. "I mean, yeah there is something wrong with me, but that's not what I'm trying to say. Everyone just wants me to be a normal girl, but I can't, can I? Not anymore. I think that's long past. I'm just… other than Sharon, I've got nobody."
Amy turned to him, her expression listless and somewhat pleading. She him gave a sad smile before she continued. "I don't care what they all think. And you know what? I don't care if they take me to another stupid doctor. It's going to be hard, but… I don't want you to leave me. You won't leave me."
"Oh, Amelia. I wouldn't dream of it."
She focused her eyes on his, her face so serious that it seemed like she would never break her gaze. "Promise me. You won't go?"
The Doctor moved closer to her to brush his lips to her forehead in an attempt to calm her. She closed her eyes and breathed, something she had not properly done since storming to her bedroom. Before the Doctor spoke again, he moved to put his arm around her shoulders and give her a gentle pat on the back.
A/N: I came up with this idea at about 3:00 AM a few days ago. That's also when I wrote the majority of it! I always like thinking about what would have happened to Amy's childhood if The Eleventh Hour had never happened. The spookiest bit is the crack, I think - there's nobody that can fix it. Ooh.