like an instrument of many strings

She quite likes the outfit.

It is all ivory silk and gold netting and if it just so happens to do rather wondrous things for her décolletage, who is she to argue? She smoothes a hand down over the wig and frowns at her reflection in the decidedly unauthentic floor length mirror she's pulled out of her small knapsack. She's still not sure about the wig, but she likes to embrace the role, and she thinks the dress more than makes up for it.

"Hmmm." She turns to the side, glancing down at the headdress and elaborate neckpiece on the table beside her. Given that she knows this will be an awfully young Doctor – he'd been so young last time, all nervous flirting and twitching limbs as he preened before her – she thought the neckpiece might be rather helpful. After all, she knows how he can blush. She smiles at her reflection and sighs.

Waiting is always the hardest part. She loves the thrill of an unexpected message, a phone call, a passage in a novel that's changed since the last time she read it. He once managed to work an entire cryptogram of coordinates into Shakespeare's Macbeth – her favourite, which he knew. She loved the thrill of discovery, the adventure of tracking down ways and means to get to where he wanted her. She smiles, her mouth twisting sadly as she thinks of it fondly. Not that this adventure hasn't been as fun, but her reward is going to be markedly less, she knows.

His first kiss. She dreams at night of the look on his face as he stared at her, illuminated by lightening. His eyes had been wide, startled, but his pupils had been dark and she'd felt a simultaneous rush of desire and disquiet. She frowns at the carpeted floor beneath her bare feet, focussing on the thick luxurious weave as she tries to push those thoughts away.

"Ah, my Queen." She freezes at the sound of his voice, her stomach rolling and a shiver sliding down her spine at the mere sound of it. Some things she can still enjoy, no matter what his age. She pastes a teasing grin across her face as she turns toward the door. He's just inside the tent flap, his arms crossed across his chest with a smug grin on his face. His green coat is familiar and her breath catches as she meets his gaze because this – this is no young Doctor before her. He's not as old as she's ever seen him – not even close, but there is an age and wisdom lining his face that she is familiar with.

"Doctor," she breathes his name out and he steps into the tent further, peering around with avid interest.

"Never got much of a look around last time you know. What with all the – ah, spoilers, I suppose." He takes great delight in teasing her, she can tell, and she smiles in response, her hearts beating rapidly. He turns his attention toward her and his eyes take her in slowly, his gaze dropping down over her body with intense interest. She feels warmth ignite in the pit of her stomach, and it stretches throughout her body, like slow, warm honey. Oh now there's an idea. "Blimey I was blind young. How did I miss that dress?"

"Well chances are I'll be wearing the neckpiece so as not to give you a heart attack." She points out with an arch of her brow and he grins in response.

"Hello, dear."

"Hello, sweetie. Though I quite liked the my Queen bit – I could have fun with that one." She moves closer to him as she smiles, and he giggles giddily. It is a high pitched and joyous sound, and honestly, she knows that many a woman would pass him by without a second glance. She is so so happy she has never been one of those women. Instead his laugh spreads joy throughout her body, until she is laughing in response, the sound of it making her bones hum pleasantly.

"I bet you could, my bad girl." His eyes crinkle as he smiles down at her. She reaches between them, stroking a hand against the side of his face in wonder. It's something she'd thought she'd never do again, so she relishes it – the feel of his skin under her fingers, the scrape of slight stubble as her thumb grazes across his chin. He is so very dear to her now, but even when she'd first met him, she'd taken one look at his face and decided that it was the sort of face that she would never tire of. Rather ironic, at the time, given all that came after their first meeting. Given that they wore different faces like new outfits.

But oh, she'd been attracted right away.

"You shouldn't be here you know." She points out with a reproving smile, her eyes telling him she doesn't mean a word of it and he grins in response.

"Well I happen to know exactly when I arrive. Rather fortunate isn't it? I thought you might be bored, waiting."

"The TARDIS took you here by accident, didn't she?" She asks with a knowing smile and he flushes delicately. Ah. Still young enough to blush then. Not so very far along.

"What? No! I meant to come here, to see you and to-"

"Oh you did not." She laughs and he glares down at her with affront. "You can't lie to me sweetie. Maybe when I was younger, but after all this time? No."

"All this time?" He leans into her touch, his face the picture of eager anticipation and she lets the image burn into her memory, indelible.

"When are we for you?" She avoids his question and lifts her hand to brush fingers through his hair before she drops it down to his bowtie.

"I just died. Dropped an old friend off, and the old girl took me here, oddly enough." She swallows as she remembers that beach, that day, three times in her mind. She shoots him. She refuses. She watches from the shore. Her eyes tear up as she remembers Amy, on her knees, sobbing uncontrollably, while Rory tried to pull her away and she could do nothing. Absolutely nothing to reach out and comfort her own mother. "River?" She stares at him and her grip tightens on his bowtie. "Are you all right?"

"Just... remembering, is all." She swallows and drops her grip as he stares down at her, pressing his fingers to the side of his face.

"Would you like to slap me again?" He offers hesitantly and she laughs softly.

"Oh save that for the bedroom, my love." She winks and he flushes again before he looks at her earnestly.

"I'm sorry for putting you through that, you know. I'd only invited you because I knew you were there, I wouldn't have – have chosen to make you watch it twice." His sincerity is stamped all across his angular face and she sighs softly.

"That's not why I slapped you then." He frowns, confusion making his brow wrinkle as he looks at her. "Surely you could hear everything from in there – Amy was – I just – I lashed out at you. Not even you you, the you that – it wasn't your fault. Fixed points and they were there because they had been there – I know that. I understand that. But-"

Understanding flashes across his face in an instant and he pulls her into his arms, wrapping her into his embrace as she buries her face by his collar. His bowtie brushes against her cheekbone and the corner of her eye. "You slapped me for her." She swallows and nods and his arms tighten around her even further. He pulls back slightly, frowning down at her before he reaches one hand up and pulls the wig from her head, tossing it to the table behind her and her whole being seems to let out a sigh of relief as he pulls the hairnet off her head too and her riotous hair comes springing out. He smiles as his hand combs through it. "There now. You," he presses a soft kiss to her forehead and her eyes slide shut as she curls her fingers around his lapels, "River Song, are the very best woman I know. Do you know that? The things I've said – I've done – I've asked of you. No other woman in the universe could have done it. Certainly not with your grace and style." He whispers the words into her skin and pulls back.

Her eyes flutter open and she looks up at him. His face is all angles and long shadows, it would be quite fierce – could be, she thinks – if not for his eyes. His eyes are always warm, dancing with merriment or heated with lust or any variation of emotion in between. She likes to think – even if he was angry with her, they would still hold some warmth for her. She hopes against hope that the day she looks into them and sees nothing staring back at her – she hopes they're different eyes then. It would be easier, she thinks, if it were not this face that she has loved so well. He licks his lips and her lips part instinctively just as his head tilts down and his lips brush against hers.

The first kiss is feather light – a ghost of a touch, his lips brushing against hers gently. He kisses her again, and again, and again – each one firmer and firmer as his hands slide down to her waist, pulling her in by her hips. When her hips meet his own, they both moan and she reaches her hands up, winding them around his neck and burying her fingers in the hair at the nape of his neck even as she tugs him closer to her, kissing him more thoroughly, her mouth opening under his as his fingers wrinkle the material of her dress against her lower back. His tongue brushes against her lower lip and she hums, pressing herself against him, her own tongue darting out to meet his. At the touch of them, she feels a sudden rush of desire pour through her veins like fire – she moans into his mouth and he wraps his arms around her more securely. She is pressed against every inch of him, thighs to hips to breasts to shoulders, and she loves it. It has been so long, and she is oh so aware – this could be her last time.

The thought only serves to make her more desperate as she licks the roof of his mouth, her hands dropping to wander across his back, down around his ribs until she slides them under his lapels and pushes the coat off of his shoulders. He has to let go of her for a moment and he damn well whimpers into her mouth – still kissing her even as his hands move back to her as soon as the dark green fabric hits the floor. One hand buries itself in her hair, pulling and tugging and winding its way into the curls there as the other hand slides down over her back, pausing for a moment on the small of it before sliding even lower and tugging her into him.

She breaks away from his mouth with a gasp for air and she is sure she must be all insane hair and flushed skin and dark eyes, because that is how he looks right now and she shivers in his arms. "Have we done this for you?" She all but purrs the question out and his eyes widen before they skate down along her body eagerly. "Oh, excellent," she leans in and undoes his bowtie with a sharp tug, her fingers undoing buttons with rapid ease even as she presses kisses to his now exposed neck. His hands tangle in her hair as he squeaks out a moan. She smiles against the skin there, pulling back to run her tongue from freckle to freckle on his neck – like she is connecting the dots.

"River!" He gasps her name, suddenly seeming to remember he has hands as well. He pulls them out of her hair and drops them to her shoulders, fumbling in their rush as he pulls the straps of her gown down and it falls from her body, landing in a pool of cream silk at her feet. He stops, his mouth opening and closing in shock for a moment as he flushes and she laughs softly.

"Well you didn't expect me to bother with authentic undergarments did you? Have you seen what they wear in this time period?" His hands trace down from her shoulders, over her arms and his fingers stretch out to brush against the sides of her breasts and she sighs in contentment.

"And you couldn't bring some 51st century knickers with you?" He is scolding her even as his thumb brushes across a nipple and she bites her lip to contain the moan. Sensation shoots straight through her and she shivers, her nipples hardening under his fingertips.

"Well I knew I'd be seeing you."

"Young me, River. Why would you do that for younger me?" He frowns and looks up at her and she smiles.

"Because, my love, young or not, know me or not – you excite me. Always." She explains in a breathy voice as his eyes darken. He licks his lips and moves in closer, his hand dropping to skate over the skin of her stomach before landing on her hip.

"You are remarkable." He sighs the words out, his eyes taking her in head to toe and she laughs lightly.

"You're pretty remarkable yourself, my love, but let's get that kit off and double check, shall we?" She grins and his eyes light up suddenly, a smile stretching across his face seconds before his hands grasp her by the waist and lift her as she shrieks. "Put me down you daft man!"

He does no such thing though, instead striding over to the low mattress and tossing her down upon it with a bounce. His grinning as he watches her for a moment, but she recovers quickly, rolling to her knees and crawling to the edge of the bed, her hands unsnapping braces with expertise while he pulls his shirt off. She is already undoing his trousers and tugging them down, pants and all. He trips when he attempts to kick them off, getting caught up on his boots and she giggles as he falls face first into the mattress. "Not funny." He mutters into the soft bedding and she slaps his bum sharply and laughs when he jumps.

"It's a little funny, sweetie. Come here." She leans down and unlaces the boots, tugging them off his feet and then freeing him of the rest of his clothes. When she glances back over her shoulder, it is to find him staring at her with a look of naked want. The smile slides off her face as she feels heat pool within her, spreading fast and warm and tingling. His hand reaches out to tickle the back of her knee before trailing up the back of her thigh and moving higher, squeezing as he grins at her.

"Remarkable." He repeats softly and she laughs, turning around and crawling up to him before she settles on her knees at his side. Her hands trace his clavicle, down over his chest and bumping over ribs before reaching the smooth softness of his belly. She loves the shape and feel of him, loves how long he's held on to this face, and they've both grown attached, which she likes. There will be no new faces for her, so sometimes it feels like he is hanging on to this one just that much longer – to keep them even. She licks her lips, her teeth scraping over the bottom one before she pushes her palm down over his slim hips and her fingers tickle in between his thigh and groin. He jumps slightly, and she finally drags the palm of her hand over the length of him, that has been straining for her touch since she removed his trousers. "Uh – River." His voice is low and guttural and she smiles down at him, her fingers teasing and tracing along his length, and moving lower, nails scratching over the skin of his testicles as he shivers, before dipping even lower between his legs. "River!" He shoots straight up at that, reaching for her and she laughs, letting him pull her against him as he kisses her.

His hands are bruisingly tight on her skin, but she loves it – loves the idea that he will leave a mark. And younger him won't even know it, but she will smile and flirt with him even while his fingerprints are all over her body. She moans into his mouth as he pushes her down against the mattress, his own hands exploring, tweaking and pinching, gripping and caressing – every movement is a different pressure, a different sensation and she can feel the tension build within her as the heat spreads up until it simmers, just below her skin. "Doctor." She tears her mouth from his and pants out his name, and he lowers his head along her body, his mouth following the path his hands just took.

He's a biter, he nips and soothes with his tongue, sucks and scrapes with his teeth. Her Doctor always has been rather clever with his mouth, and she secretly thrills in the fact that so few people realise just how clever. He pauses at her breasts, nipping at the sides and underneath before finally wrapping his mouth around the peak and her hands bury themselves into his hair as she moans, low, and loud and throaty. She can feel him smile against her skin even as he moves lower, soft kisses across her belly, and his tongue dips into her belly button as she squirms. He bites her hip bone just as his fingers – his talented, talented hand finds its way between her thighs and he spreads her open with long strokes as she sighs.

His thumb presses flat against her clit as his fingers slide down and within her. Not far – never far at all, because he is the Doctor and he knows how things work – most especially her. His fingers curl instead, like he's trying to reach his thumb from the inside and she moans, her hands fisted in the mattress as she shifts and writhes beneath him. "Doctor!" She feels like this is the only word in the world she knows as her vision blackens and colours burst across her closed lids.

She recovers quickly, she always does, sitting up and all but dragging him up to her so she can kiss him fiercely and press him back into the mattress. She wastes no time in climbing on top of him, barely giving him time to find and grip her hips before she sinks down on top of him with a twist of her hips and a sigh of completion. "Oh, River – I've missed you." She knows he means this her, and older version of herself – the one who understands without speaking, who has learnt all the rules already. She smiles to herself, because he just doesn't know how much fun he's going to have teaching them to her. She rolls her hips and his head sinks between the cushions piled at the head of the bed.

His head is thrown back, exposing his throat and she leans over him to lick him there, biting down as his hands grip her hips so hard she can almost feel the blood rushing to the injured area. She doesn't mind, only keeps up her frantic rise and fall, each movement grinding her clit against his pubic bone in an almost too painful to be pleasurable motion. She can feel the energy rise between them, her chest is pressed against his and their skin is sliding together, another source of friction that sends her closer and closer to the edge.

She is dancing along it, but she holds back because she refuses to go over without him, and she looks down at him, one hand on his neck exerting just a touch more pressure than she should. His eyes pop open, all dark pupils and amazement and she licks her lips and leans forward until her mouth is by his ear. Her tongue flicks out and his movements increase, his breaths coming faster and faster as she breathes there slowly, while his grow shallower, thanks to her hand limiting him. She whispers his name into his ear, just one word, followed by a string of Gallifreyan, commanding him to let go, to come for her, and one of his hands reaches up into her hair, tugging sharply as he strains against her grip, rising up underneath her and burying his face in her hair. Her name is the last thing she hears before her own orgasm overtakes her and she lets go of him, falling in a relaxed heap over his chest.

"Oh god, I'm so, so sorry – I was – the commander sent me in – and I'll just uh – go. So sorry. Again. So sorry." The voice shocks both of them and River buries her face into the Doctor's shoulder, managing to sneak tiny glances to see the Centurion soldier stumble back out of the tent and hurry away.

Her hearts are still racing and she drops her face back into his neck, red with a mixture of embarrassment and laughter. "Oh no."

"Oh no? Oh no? River!" The Doctor is pulling the covers over them in quick jerks as he glares at her. Her embarrassment fades as she laughs and looks down at him in sympathy. "That was – oh god that was Rory!"

He drops his head with a groan and she slides off him, settling down by his side. She pouts up at him and presses a soft kiss over his right heart. "Oh, my love, you poor thing."

"That was your father!"

"I know, sweetie. But bright side – he doesn't know that yet!" She strokes his side soothingly and he huffs, before looking down at her and pressing a kiss to the top of his head. "Maybe he won't remember this."

"Well he hasn't stabbed me with his sword recently, so maybe he does forget." The Doctor admitted with a sigh. "Though you better come rescue me if he ever opens that memory door."

"Well he probably didn't see your face." She points out helpfully as he hugs her against his side. "Though then that means he thinks I'm not the fidelity type. Which I am." She points out in a steely tone and the Doctor strokes a hand along her back soothingly.

"Course you are, who's more loyal than my River?" She smiles at that and settles back down into his arms.

"How long?" She is almost afraid to ask, but he nestles his face into her hair as his eyes slide shut.

"Never long enough." His voice is a whisper and she nods in agreement. She wraps herself around him, in complete agreement.

She'll just have to make the most of it.