Disclaimer: I own neither the show nor the characters. I don't earn any money; I just do it for fun.
Author's Note: After I watched the episode, I just couldn't get this idea out of my head, so here's a fic. MAJOR SPOILERS for The Angels Take Manhattan. Don't read if you haven't watched the episode.
She didn't know how much time they spent in that graveyard, but it didn't matter. The Doctor sank to his knees, and she followed suit, holding him to her chest as he wept over the loss of his two best friends. To any bystander, it would look like they had just buried someone they loved, and no matter how old this tombstone was, this was exactly what happened.
She hadn't let a single tear fall; she would have time to grieve later. Now was all about the Doctor and nothing else mattered. Her mother had told her to look after him, and she would do that for her. She would follow her mother's last instructions to the letter, because she owed her as much.
Her eyes fell on the tombstone; she didn't read the words, but it didn't matter as they knew what they were saying. Her parents might have died decades ago, but at least, they got to spend their whole lives together, just the way it should have been. They were happy to the very end because they had each other, and that was what really mattered to her.
In her arms, the Doctor's sobbing slowed down until it stopped completely. She dropped a kiss in his hair, letting her lips linger just a bit. The scent of him, the scent of time and space combined filled her nostrils, making her forget for an instant what she had lost to focus on what she still had.
His hold on her tightened, and her own arms tightened in response. Neither of them was ready to let go, and they didn't have to. They had all the time in the world; they had a TARDIS after all.
She let herself think back once more on her mother's last words to her. She had called her Melody for the first time since she had been stolen from them as a baby. Until then, she had been careful to always call her River, because only her infant daughter had the right to be called Melody.
But she had made an exception today, and for one last time, she had heard her birth name fall from her mother's lips. It had been her way of saying 'goodbye' and 'I love you' at the same time, and she wouldn't have wanted it any other way. They loved her, and she loved them, and it didn't matter where they were in time and space: nothing would change that.
She felt the Doctor's hand coming to rest on her wrist, but it still took her a second to understand what he was trying to do; he had almost took off the vortex manipulator from her wrist. She jerked her wrist away, but she didn't release her hold on him.
"You can't," she whispered.
"The vortex manipulator can get through..."
"It's done, my love. It's a fixed point in time. You and I both know you can't change it. We both know the consequences."
After she said those words, she realised she had spoken them as much for her as it was for him. She had needed to voice this reality; they could travel in time as many times as they wanted, they would never go back for them. Her parents, her best friends, were lost forever.
She felt him stiffen in her arms, and she braced herself for what was to come.
"How can you be so cold about this?" he asked, sitting up.
Her arms fell to her side, as she gaped at him; she might have been prepared for it, but his outburst still surprised her.
"We're talking about Amy and Rory! My best friends! How can you act like it's nothing?"
She didn't reply; she knew what he was trying to do. He wanted to hurt her, because he was hurting. So caught up in his pain, he didn't notice that she was hurting too. The difference was she couldn't show it because he needed her by his side. She would let it all go once she had made sure he was alright.
Her eyes were locked on his, and she saw the exact moment his anger faded to be replaced once more by sadness. She reached out and took his hand in hers, squeezing it. With her hand still in his, she got up to her feet, and prompted him to do the same.
She looked at the tombstone one last time, reading her parents' names. At least, they had each other, and it was all that mattered. Pressing a kiss to her fingers, she dropped her hand to let it rest against the cold stone for a few seconds. She would come back here soon and bring flowers with her.
She tugged on the Doctor's hand and together, they walked towards the TARDIS and away from the graveyard that had taken so much from them.
She was lying on their bed, alone. She didn't know where the Doctor was, but she knew he needed some time alone to process everything that had happened. And she needed to be alone too.
It had taken her hours, but the book was done, the pages sealed in an envelope she had left in the library. She was sure they were still traces of the tears she had shed earlier on her cheeks. She had finally allowed herself to cry for her parents, now that she knew the Doctor would be fine; it would take time, but he would eventually go back to his usual self.
And now, she was spent, but she couldn't sleep. Her mind wouldn't shut down, and kept replaying the events of the day, even though she knew there was nothing she could have done differently.
The door creaked open, but she didn't turn; she knew it was the Doctor. She felt the bed dip under his weight, and he crawled towards her, until his front was pressed against her back. One of his arms wrapped around her waist, tugging her closer. She took his hand in his and intertwined their fingers, as he pressed a kiss against her shoulder.
They stayed silent for a while; only the sound of their breathings filled the room. When the Doctor finally spoke, it was no louder than a whisper.
"I went to see Rory's dad. He knew about Amy and Rory travelling with me."
"I might have accidentally picked him up once," he admitted, and she snorted. "He was pretty upset with me, because I had promised..."
"It's ok, my love," River said when his voice cracked with emotion. "Rory's dad is a good man. He will understand."
"I left him the book. I asked him to read it." He paused for a moment, before resuming. "Brian knows all about you. They had told him a couple of months ago. He asked to meet you."
"Not now. But soon."
"Ok. I don't know what to say to Amy's parents, though."
"We'll tell them the truth. Together," she promised; facing them would be difficult, but she had to do that, for her parents.
"Together," he repeated.
"We may not be together all the time, but it doesn't change a thing. What Amy did... I would do it for you too. Never forget that."
She felt him stiffen against her, his arm tightening around her waist, but she didn't ask the question that was on her lips. She already knew what his answer would be: spoilers.
"Stay with me for a while," he whispered against her ear. "I don't want you to leave just now."
"I don't want to leave either," she admitted with a sigh.
She wasn't joking when she had said she didn't want to travel with him all the time. But right now, he needed her and she needed him. It wouldn't be for ever, but just a few days, maybe weeks. Just enough time for the both of them to get back on their feet.
She felt more than heard him take a deep breath before he spoke next.
"Sorry again for earlier. I didn't..."
"I told you. It doesn't matter."
"Of course, it does!" he said, turning her to face him. "It matters, River. They're your parents, I never should have... You matter. I... I love you, River," he finished, saying those words out loud for the first time.
"I know you do. I just needed to say it, for once. I needed you to hear it."
"It feels good to hear it," she replied. "Hush now, my love. We both need some rest."
She knew that neither of them would get any sleep that night, but she still settled against him, her face resting in the crook of his neck, breathing him in. She closed her eyes and was assaulted with images of her parents, happy and laughing. Some came from her own memories, others were projected by the Doctor's mind into hers, and she hang onto them, wanting, needing to remember those happy times.
They would never forget what happened today. They would never forget losing Amy and Rory to the Weeping Angels. They would never forget because they were their best friends, because they were her parents, because they were his family. Because they mattered.