A/N: if I don't stop fiddling with the end and post this now I never will.
She glanced back just the once, to take one last look at the Doctor. But his attention was on River, who was looking decidedly pleased with herself as they headed for the officiant. What would she give to be able to thump River one? Except when she looked back at them, Donna wanted to grab the Doctor and snog him even more. Her heart already ached for him as pain blossomed in her soul; and she sadly turned away.
It was only Brax who heard the Doctor say to River, "We need to talk…"
Brax adored his newly acquired human. She was full of laughter, compassion, comfort and friendship. She had dismissively described herself as his Tamagotchi pet, a reference Brax did not entirely understand; but he had been insistent that she was no such thing! He found that increasingly he lived for the days that she smiled at him; those moments charmed him.
Donna was very happy with Braxiatel; almost extremely happy. He had turned up soon after her dad's death, offering a release and escape from her grief and subsequent anger. In other words, he had opened up his life on Gallifrey to her, and she had willingly accepted the chance to change her life.
She had quickly settled into her temp position in the Archive he supervised, and had snickered at the way the other archivist assistants tended to pussyfoot around Braxiatel as if he would blow up at them at any moment. It was not the Brax she knew; the lovely, caring, sharing Brax. The Brax who had hinted at promising more from their friendship whenever she wanted to take a more permanent position. And she was okay with that; it was a comfortable safety net. She had been completely honest with him and stated that she could not have given a definite answer until her heart mended. You can't choose who your heart falls in love with, and unfortunately she had met and married the Doctor first.
It was because of Braxiatel that Donna had ventured out and written a book of her own; a children's book, no less. "We don't have the same fairy stories here as you know. Write the folk tales you know," he had encouraged her.
So she had; with some modest success. It was successful enough to stop the Elders of the High Council, and various other officials along the way, to leave her in peace for the time being. They were a bunch of stuffed shirts; even Brax. But for now he was her stuffed shirt, and for that she was very grateful. She could not have survived without him.
Her current occupation was typing up Braxiatel's notes in order to update the Archive records. It had taken some time to get used to the system, the language and the change of keyboard; but she had accomplished it all, thanks to his patience. She smiled fondly when she saw Brax appear in her peripheral vision, but he looked slightly worried. Her concern grew when he opened the cardboard box held in his hands and his face visibly paled.
As Donna watched him, Brax called over one of his assistants. "Drema, would you deal with this new publication, please?"
Drema did the library equivalent of running to his side. "Certainly, Archivist Braxiatel," she gushed, pushing her long white-blonde hair out of her eyes. Before he had the chance to grumble and tell her to, Drema peered into the box with delight. "Ooh, it's your brother's latest tome," she informed him pleasantly, and then pulled out a copy to peruse. "And oh look! He's dedicated it to Professor River Song. How sweet!"
"Yes; very," Braxiatel commented drily. "Just keep it away out of view for the time being."
"Why?" Drema questioned, and then noticed where his gaze had wandered to. "Oh right! She still not ready?"
Braxiatel instantly stiffened his posture. "I do not partake in idle gossip, Drema. I merely deal with facts."
With that, he turned on his heel and marched away.
Unseen in her position at the furthest desk, Donna's heart clenched; for both him and herself. No, she was still nowhere near ready to get over the Doctor, it would seem. But she planned to, very soon. Brax deserved that she tried.
There was a kerfuffle up by the main entrance, so Donna halted in carrying out her task to wander over to the nearest bookcase, where the view was better, and took a look. Surely it wasn't the High Council guard again? They periodically descended on the Archive to complain about Donna being there, sullying their records; and each time Braxiatel had exhausted himself sorting it out, stating he needed her valuable contribution as they dealt with the humanoid section. Fortunately the human colonies and the almighty human empires had/would do a lot to archive.
As she strained to see anything, there was a shout of, "Why didn't you tell me?"
This was followed by a, "Because I didn't think you would be interested anymore!"
Strange. It wasn't the usual argument that made it into the confines of the Archive.
Donna had just made the decision to go and look properly when a breathless man appeared at the end of the aisle she stood in, leaning shakily against the biographies bookcases sign. "Hello," she greeted him cautiously. "How are you, Doctor?"
"I'm fine. How are you, Donna?" he asked in return.
"I'm alright," she answered, and then peered behind him. "Where's Brax? He should have greeted you."
"He did; but I didn't come to see him," the Doctor replied.
"Didn't you? Oh… the new book. I suppose you came to check that we got the new book. Drema was dealing with that."
Her words seemed to startle him. "Did you... erm… happen to read the dedication?" he wondered.
The arrogant prig! Had he turned up to rub her nose in it?! "No, but I heard that it's dedicated to River! Very romantic, that."
He sighed in exasperation. "No, Donna. I didn't write it for her. The dedication is to my wife."
She stared back at him blankly. "But your wife…!"
He provided the answer by pointing at her. "Is still you, Donna. You are my only wife. The only one I want."
"Me?!" she squeaked.
She flung her hand over her mouth, unable to believe him, as she fought off her threatening tears.
"Aren't you going to say something? It isn't like you to be this quiet," he teased. "And I've come all this way to find you."
"I can't…" She sniffed, and tried again. "What happened?" she asked in a small voice.
"She didn't want me anymore. Apparently I'm not the version she loved, whatever that means; and I definitely didn't want her after meeting you. I heard she has run off with some bloke wearing a bow tie and a fez, of all things. Thank goodness she never got me to do that."
"I can't see you losing your look like that," Donna agreed. "So you dumped her because you didn't want style advice?"
He stepped closer, and reached out a hand to caress a lock of her hair. "I dumped her because she wasn't you; could never be you," he whispered, leaning in to smell her intoxicating aroma. "I searched for you; been all over planet Earth, and even had a quick trip to the moon, just in case. And then I found out through Brax that you've been working here."
"Brax did that?" she pondered, both grateful and also hurt on his behalf.
"Don't cry," the Doctor comforted her, moving ever closer until his lips were a hair's breadth away.
"Oi! I never had 'obey' in my vows," she playfully chastised him.
"No, you merely promised to be mine until death parts us," he added.
"Not much of a promise was it?" She pulled a comical face.
"Nope, a bit rubbish really," he pretended to agree. "By the way, I popped in and saw Wilf. He says hello. Lovely bloke; shame about Wilf's little condition. Or rather, it was a shame. All fixed now," he said offhand.
"What are you on about? What have you fixed?" she demanded.
"His memory problem. A few brain chemical elements were misaligned, but a quick flash of the sonic screwdriver, and he was right as rain. Weird expression, that," he pondered. "Can rain ever be wrong?"
"Wrong in the head. Sort of describes you; not that I think about it," she commented, holding in a squee. "Is he alright?"
The Doctor fought off a scowl. "Of course he's alright. I wouldn't have come unless he was."
"Thank you, Doctor. So that's the only reason you came?" She waited expectantly.
"No. I brought back this." He held out his hand. Nestled in the palm was her wedding ring. The very one she had handed over to Brax.
"You brought me a souvenir," she remarked, hoping against hope she was wrong.
"You could say that," he replied. A smirk appeared when her expression fell. "Then again, you could say something else entirely."
Inevitably she asked, "Like what?"
"Like 'marry me, Doctor'," he suggested.
"Why would I say that?!"
"Obviously I'd expect you to put a please on the end," he added cheekily.
"Obviously," she drily agreed. "Is there anything else I should say?"
"Erm.., that more or less covers it, apart from the being desperately in love bit." He grinned.
"Who am I in love with, precisely?"
His smug expression said it all. "That would be me."
"And do I get to be loved back by anyone in this scenario?"
"That would be me also," he readily supplied.
She forced herself not to smile. "Assuming rather a lot, aren't we, sunshine?"
"It depends if we want to argue semantics." He eased forward. "How do you fancy arguing about something else?"
What was his game now?! "I know I'll regret asking this, but what?"
He pulled her into his arms. "Little things like which side of the bed to sleep on, beef or chicken for dinner, which bra you wear for the wedding."
"You are obsessed with my boobs!" she accused him.
Nope, there was no fazing him in this moment. "I cannot think of anything better, except for your hair. And you have your own obsessions."
"Do I?" Okay, she might get away with this one.
"I remember how you reacted to me in that towel," he teased.
"Good! Let's find you one."
He waggled his eyebrows playfully at the thought; and then decided to go for gold. "Donna, can I kiss you? I've waited far too long, and I'm not sure I can wait any longer."
A mischievously glint appeared in her eyes. "It'll cost you."
"It already has," he answered. "Oh, bugger this!" And he grabbed her; crushing his mouth down onto her lips as he took the kiss he had been yearning for since their wedding day. There was no way he would release her from his tender clutches now that she was within his arms.
"By the way," he eventually breathed. "We're still married. It was never annulled. Are you pleased?"
"Oh yes!" She grabbed his head, and allowed him to kiss her again.
On and on; until...
The sound of his true name burst through her synapses, colouring her mind as they continued to share passionate kisses; binding their souls into one, and burying its way deep into her heart.
As for the Doctor, he had to admit it was the best promise he had ever broken. And Brax had vowed to do something ludicrous if their House showed disapproval. Okay… when their House showed disapproval, since that was almost written in stone. But there was something golden in this human's timeline that spoke of greatness, destiny and family in ways unimaginable.
The word 'destiny' was running through Braxiatel's head too as he viewed the timelines. His brother, Thete, and Donna were destined to be together, and he wasn't part of that. But his hearts only knew joy on their behalf.
His place was in the Archive, his own destiny lay in the corridors of power; and the universes would continue on without his presence but with the help of the infamous Time Lord known as the Doctor. As he tried to avoid seeing Donna promise her life away, he felt blessed that he had such a fine brother. The universes were in safe hands.