An explosion of pain engulfed Evie as blackness filled her mind. She couldn't move, she couldn't scream, she was trapped. A searing heat crept through her entire body, starting at her feet and sweeping quickly up her legs, through her body and into her head. Another white-hot explosion attacked her.
From the darkness, she could hear a sound, growing louder and louder. It was still just a noise, not making any sense. Gradually, very slowly, the darkness seemed to lift and the sound became clearer. Now Evie could recognise it as a voice.
"Evie… sweetie… can you hear me?" The girl blinked rapidly, feeling someone stroking her hair gently. "Oh, thank god… Evie? Evie!"
"S'matter?" She rasped her throat feeling as though she'd tried to swallow sandpaper. It was raw and excruciating painful and she coughed weakly, wincing at the discomfort. She struggled to open her eyes fully; the light was agony after the darkness that had been almost suffocating her. When she managed to squint in the direction of her mother's voice, she saw River leaning over her with red-rimmed eyes. Obviously she'd been crying. "You been crying?"
River slapped her lightly on the arm, before kissing her forehead and hugging her tightly. "Of course I've been crying! You used up five of your regenerations getting us back and then another one to save yourself!"
"Oh… that's what was happening! Never done that before…" Evie muttered, feeling stronger by the second. She pulled herself up, using River to steady herself. When she was in a seated position, Evie stopped to catch her breath and hugged her mother tightly; clinging to her and burying her face in River's soft hair.
"You stupid… reckless… just like your father!" River barely managed to choke out between sobs as she almost crushed her daughter to her.
Evie rolled her eyes. "I thought you'd have been grateful that I brought you back from computer world! But no, you had to throw insults at me instead."
The older woman mumbled something completely incoherent and her daughter rolled her eyes again, wriggling to get comfortable in her mother's grip. Then she glanced around and realised that she was sitting on the sofa in the living room of her mother's house in Ledworth.
"Hang on!" Evie shouted suddenly, louder than she'd intended and making River jump. "I've used up six of my regenerations? How many do I have left?"
"Six… according to your father."
After thinking about that information for a minute or two, Evie shrugged. "Fair enough… six is quite a lot. Dad's on his eleventh and he's 1004… well… he was when I saw him the day before yesterday." She reasoned with a shrug, screwing up her face slightly. Then her eyes widened as she realised something else and she turned to stare at her mother. "Hang on… you said I regenerated?"
River nodded, smirking slightly as she read her daughter's mind like a book. Evie sprinted into the hall, skidding to a halt in front of the mirror and almost crashing to the ground as the rug beneath her feet slid on the polished wooden floor. She grabbed at the table underneath the mirror to regain her balance, before looking at her reflection. A scream escaped from her mouth as she took in her appearance.
"OH MY GOD!" She shrieked, clutching at her hair in horror. "This cannot be happening! I'M BLONDE!"
Snorting with laughter, finally back to her usual self, the young woman's mother appeared in the living room doorway. She arched an eyebrow. "What's wrong with being blonde?"
"Well… nothing…" She muttered, calming down a little. She was still flustered as she tugged at strands of her new blonde, shoulder-length poker-straight hair in consternation. Then she prodded at her face, which was thinner than it had been. Her greeny-blue eyes were now a piercing bright blue and her skin was much paler. She looked older, perhaps in her late twenties, which she couldn't decide whether she liked or not. At least, she supposed, she didn't look like a teenager anymore. "I look like Jen! Like her older sister!"
"You do…" River agreed, standing behind her and scrutinising her daughter's reflection carefully in the mirror. She turned Evie round so that she was facing her. Where the younger woman had been at least a head shorter than her mother, she was now the same height and looked her directly in the eyes, almost challengingly. Lifting a hand, River stroked the younger woman's hair gently, before resting a hand on her cheek. "Thank you."
"What for?" Evie asked, squirming distractedly as she tried to catch another glimpse of her hair in the mirror. "I think I might have to dye it… it's just… odd. Oh… I wish I was ginger… that would really annoy Dad! Maybe I should dye it ginger and pretend it's natural? What do you think?" She paused in her babbling for a split second, screwing up her face and twisting away from River to look properly at her reflection. Then she grinned. "Yeah! I'm gonna do that!"
"Listen to me for one minute!" River laughed, grasping her chin and turning her daughter to face her. "Thank you for risking everything to save me. You really had no idea what you were doing or what would happen, did you?" Evie shook her head, a small smile twisting her lips. "You're the same as him, aren't you, that impossible man? You just can't leave things alone."
Evie tilted her head slightly, smirking. Her brand new eyes twinkled mischievously. "Nope… and aren't you glad?"
A/N: So that's it! River and Evie both survived The Library! I couldn't leave River in that Computer World… she'd have gone insane! Not to mention what might have happened to Evie… I imagine her running riot throughout the Universe and probably taking on more than she could handle!
So, I said before that this was going to be the last long Evie story.
But then I got a couple of messages and some lovely reviews (specifically from nicoleniks94, FrankTheBartender and kestra17 who asked about a continuation to the story – although massive thanks also HAVE to go to Misery Loves Sarah, 1945, Shifuni and NaviRebel16 for their reviews and messages which have meant so much to me) and decided that perhaps I could be persuaded to write a bit more.
I know, I know… I keep saying this is it and then changing my mind! But seriously, the next one – when I have a chance to write it! – will DEFINITELY be the LAST long fic and it's going to be a prequel. The story of how Evie ended up in the Time Loop was sort of covered at the end of 'Holding On', but after a chat with Nicky I had an idea of how I could explain it more completely.
Anyway, you'll have to watch this space!
Thank you so much for reading, favouriting, subscribing and commenting! It really does mean so much to me to know what you think! :)