heart to heart and hand to hand
Happy is the bride that rain falls upon
May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace
May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase
May the saddest day of your future
Be no worse than the happiest day of your past
May your hands be forever clasped in friendship
And your hearts joined forever in love
Your lives are very special
God has touched you in many ways
May his blessings rest upon you
And fill all your coming days
Swear by peace and love to stand
Heart to heart and hand to hand
Hark, O Spirit, and hear you now
Confirming this your Sacred Vow
There are stars upon stars upon stars upon stars.
The TARDIS is invisible, though should any of the inhabitants below happen to look up, they may be startled by two sets of legs dangling out of seemingly nowhere. River is leaning forward, sitting beside him in the open doors and her face is alight, a million million stars reflected in her eyes and he cannot look away.
The most stars at any given point in the galaxy, and he thinks he'd rather see them in her eyes then in actuality. She had chosen a flowing simple grey dress, and her feet are bare. Her hair is loose and she is gazing out over the night sky with wonder. "It's so beautiful," she breathes the words out in a hushed whisper and the corner of his mouth lifts.
"I've seen better," he smiles and she turns to look at him, staring for a moment as though she is startled.
"You're charming, I'll give you that." She smiles and he reaches over, lacing his hand through hers tightly.
"I'm glad you think so," he teases, leaning against her in the open doorway. "Especially as I'm not even really trying at the moment."
"Oh really?" She arches a brow and smirks up at him. "A wondrous once in a... well in an ever opportunity, a nice suit," she strokes his black bowtie gently and meets his eyes. "All of this is you being not charming?"
"Everything we do together is wondrous, River. Stars, deserts, catacombs, history, the future, space, time – all of it is wonderful. The suit is – well – not my usual, but always for you," he grins and she smiles wider.
"I like it," she admits and he grins.
"So how does this work exactly, then? I mean – you and I. How did you meet me, if we're out of order? Or how well do you know me – and is it me at all? I mean, I'm not... I'm not her yet am I? Unfinished. And if so then –" She looks at him, questions spilling forth and honestly he doesn't know how she's managed to contain them for this long.
"I can't tell you much, River." He hedges, fidgeting awkwardly. He's never looked forward to this – him being the one with the explanations. On the whole everything worked so much better when she knew more than him. But as he looks at her, she is the same. The same weighty gaze, the same soft smile that is slow to bloom but stays so long. The same softness in her gaze when she watches him – it has always been there, and he swallows upon seeing it. He's never not seen it, outside of one thirty minute encounter in Berlin. No matter when she is, she is always his River. "Spoilers. It's a word we use because if I tell you what happens in your future, it might alter our timelines. You knowing may change things."
"Wouldn't you want that though? If we could change it so we're going in the same direction-"
"No. No River, even though it's mad and upside down and inside out – it's us. It's you and me, and we are glorious. Every confusing bit of us." His fingers stroke against the skin of her wrist, and she shivers in the night air. "I wouldn't ever change it. Nothing could make it better."
"It must be difficult though. I'm not the me you know," she finally speaks softly and he sighs, shaking his head.
"One day you'll understand River, and I pray that day is forever away from this day – for both of our sakes. It's you," his hand releases hers and lifts to brush fingertips over the apple of her cheek gently as he smiles. "How you look at me, the shape of your smile, how you roll your eyes when I'm being particularly irritating, which is rather a lot of the time according to you – I don't love her more or you less. I can't – I can't separate it like that. You know that because if I could, Berlin would never have happened. But I looked at you even then and loved you. It's how you got past me so easily. Any you, River. No matter when you are or when I am, my hearts are yours." His thumb brushes against her cheek and she stares up at him in awe and he suddenly realises, he's never told her any of this before. Not for her. "I love you River, more than anyone in this universe - I love you."
She bites her lip and shakes her head, swallowing. "I don't see how. Who I am, what I was raised to do-"
"Raised to kill me, yet chose to love me. River. Who I am, you chose to love. You don't even understand what a gift that is to me. What a gift you are to me. I was alone, and then-" he grins suddenly, unable to repress it as he stares down at her, brushing his nose against hers briefly. "-and then out of nowhere, there was you. Just at the exact moment I needed you."
"I'm glad," she smiles up at him softly. "I'm glad I'm there when you need me."
"Always River. You're always just where I need you, even if you're not always where I want you. Remember that. " She sighs softly and he can feel her breath against his face.
"Is it worth it?" Her voice is a whisper and he pulls back to stare at her in shock. Her eyes are bright green and swimming with tears and he pulls her closer to press a soft kiss to her forehead.
"Sometimes it hurts so much I can't breathe. And sometimes it's so difficult I think it would be kinder for everyone if I just give up. Rewrite it all; let you have a better life." He swallows heavily and looks down at her carefully. "There are times when it is bad, River. But into every life some rain should fall, because nothing ever grows without it. And it's the same for us. Because there are times when I think – if I could just wrap one moment up, forever, and keep it and carry around with me – it would be that moment. Moments when I'm so light, and so filled with joy I feel like it burns through me. It is worth it. It is worth the work and the keeping track, it is worth the mystery and the frustration, it is worth all of that, just for those moments. You and me. Your hearts next to mine – telling you that I love you and hearing it in return. It's not easy. It is – it's you, so it is very definitely never ever easy. Stubborn, ridiculous woman, you are but you're mine and I'm yours and this is worth it." His forehead drops against hers as he squeezes his eyes shut, memories spilling through his mind of her laugh, her smile, the touch of her skin against his. Holding his hand and running. Memories of soft sheets and warm smiles. "It's your choice River. It's your choice now just as it was mine back then."
"You. I'll always choose you, Doctor." She speaks quickly and he smiles, because she doesn't know. Or maybe she does. Maybe she knows better than anyone, he's never met anyone who understands time quite like she does. He often wonders if it's more to do with those extra alleles in her DNA or the fact that the TARDIS had imparted them. He's not foolish enough to believe that any child conceived on his ship will be like River. No, it was his TARDIS, nudging the waters and helping create her.
He strokes her hair gently and he swallows, sighing softly. "You tore time apart, just to tell me that you loved me, River. And I want you to understand – you know, minus the universe ending – it's the same for me. And I know, I understand it's scary. It's a scary thing, this huge unknown thing."
"I am scared," she confesses in a soft voice, and when she looks up her eyes are full of tears and stars and his hearts catch in his chest because she is just so very beautiful in that moment. "I'm scared of who I am. I'm scared that – that she's not gone, not really. I'm scared I'll hurt you. Not just – not just physically. I'm scared it will end."
"Oh my River," he smiles down at her, his eyes stinging as he looks at her intently, his hands cradling her face gently. "Everything ends. Nothing is forever. But there's a stretch of time, between the beginning and the end. And that's what matters. Everything ends, River. But how does it end, is the question. What came in between – did you make every one of those moments as much as they could be?"
"And did we?" She blinks back tears as she looks up at him and he smiles sadly.
"I don't know yet. I'm not done. And I hope I can't answer that for so long River. I know this – I will make every moment from now until then moments so full of love."
"I will too," she promises as she looks up at him, her eyes shining and such a deep green as tears cling to her eyelashes. "Every moment, until the end."
"We didn't get to do it properly, did we?" He muses, looking down at her, his thumb brushing away tears from the corner of her eye. He pulls his hand back, tugging his bowtie undone and wrapping it around his hand. "You know what to do."
"But we've already-"
"Some things, River, are worth doing twice. Or more. Maybe I'll marry you in every way possible, until there's not a place in the universe I could go, without thinking of my wife." He smiles at her blush as she takes the other end of the bowtie, wrapping it around her own hand until it meets his and he grips it tightly. "At any rate, it was a terrible rush job the first go round, so here. River Song, Melody Pond – I consent and gladly give you both of my hearts. This life, and all lives after it are yours. All of my time, from this moment to my last, belongs to you. I do not own you, but I will be blessed and thankful for every moment you choose to be with me. Through sunshine and through rain, I will never leave you, and you will never leave my hearts, for as long as I live." Tears slide down her cheeks now, but she smiles up at him brightly.
"That's so much better," she wipes her cheeks with her free hand and he laughs.
"I know." He straightens, taking a deep breath and looks at her, his brows raised. Her hand tightens around his and she sighs softly.
"I think I was made for you. At first that made me angry and confused. But then, the more I thought about it, the more it felt like something wonderful. Because – because if I never knew you, I wouldn't know any of this. The universe and everything within it. I wouldn't be able to feel time wrap around me, or see history and the future the way I do. I wouldn't know that my heart was beating half as slow as it ought to be, I wouldn't know such pain, or such love, such joy or such sorrow. I would have lived a normal life, but it would have been a half life and so empty. And I would have been so much less for it. So now I think that she made me for you, and I am so blessed because of it. Your life isn't mine. Your time isn't mine. Your hearts aren't mine but will promise to take care of them, and to keep them with my own, as long as I live. And if afterward-" her breath catches and his hand grips hers as he shakes his head.
She pushes trembling fingers over his mouth and shakes her head. "My love, we both know, I only have this life left. Maybe – maybe I'll make it last forever. I hope I spend every second of it I possibly can with you. But if one day, I'm gone and you're not, I want you to know that I'm always with you, and-"
He kisses her then, because he cannot hear her next words. He cannot. He is not ready – he will never be ready. He kisses her, his mouth sliding over hers, tasting the salt of her tears and the warmth of her mouth. He kisses her, his hand gripping hers and his other hand tangled in her hair as she presses against him, all deep sighs and panting moans. "Doctor," she breaks away and he drags his mouth across her skin, unable to stop touching her. His hearts pound in his chest and he feels an immense need to just hold her here. Never let her go. He can remember the look on his older self's face.
"I love you so much, River. No one loves you like I do – no one ever will, no one ever can. My wife – my beautiful wife." He kisses her again, moaning into her mouth. When he pulls back he is breathing heavier, and neither of them are watching the once in a lifetime event occurring through the open doors, because they both know this is once in a lifetime as well, never to be reproduced. "I'm going to make it worth it for you, River, I promise." It's not a lie, he promises himself, it's not. Because he will. Every moment from now on, he is going to cherish and treasure. He will make sure she knows – what she means to him, how his hearts jump and squeeze together at the sight of her. How everything is better for having her near. The sun is brighter, stars shine better, the running is more exhilarating when it is her hand in his. He pulls her against him, kissing her over and over and over, his chest pressed against hers until he can feel her hearts beating just under his own.
"I love you too, Doctor, so much."
Their hands are still wrapped together, and her hearts fit next to his, and he feels a sudden sense of immense belonging. This – this was where he was meant to be. "Maybe," he whispers against her lips as her hand wraps around his back, stroking there gently, "maybe I was made for you too, River. You're just very, very late."
"I'm never late, sweetie." She laughs against his mouth, her face brighter now and his hearts lighten at the sight of it as he kisses the tip of her nose.
"It's okay, dear. You're more than worth the wait." She laughs and kisses him again, pushing him back until he lay by the open doors, his mouth on hers as she covers him.
Behind her there are stars upon stars upon stars. And they pay no attention.
In here is something far more precious to both of them.
Hearts upon hearts upon hearts.