A/N: Got inspired by watching a little blip of a deleted scene between Ten/Rose. Eleven/River fic.
They had stopped at what they both assumed was a random point in twenty-first century London; River had insisted she had to do some early Christmas shopping for Amy and Rory. He had scoffed at her choice of time and place; why get them presents from their own time period when she could bring them something from any point in the universe? But River had bristled, insisting that, for once, she wanted to give her parents something they wouldn't have to hide away or fabricate a story to explain. He had complied; in spite of River's brazenness, and sultriness, and sauciness, and a lot of other -ness's that made her seem so maddening at times, she was, on the whole, very sensible and logical. When she DID get snappish over something like this, he'd found that it was the emotional part of her winning out over her brain, and it was best to acquiesce to her wishes.
So they had been walking briskly towards the busier streets, having parked the TARDIS in a more out-of-the-way location. After a moment, the Doctor realized that River was no longer walking beside him, and he craned his neck back to see where she was. She had stopped walking, and he stopped, as well, following her gaze across a children's play park. Squinting at two figures walking away from them in the distance, he tried to figure out what was so intriguing about the couple that made River stop - and then a sudden ache hit his chest as he realized who he was looking at.
There she was, hand-in-hand with a younger version of himself, the tenth version. They looked so happy together, so comfortable and companionable, and his current self was filled with an intense longing. He didn't forget them, not any of them, but he also didn't look back all the time; if he did, he knew he would go mad. So he kept the memories of the people from his past tucked away safely, not too far from the surface, but he let more specific memories be pushed further back out of reach. It was only now, seeing in front of his eyes how carefree they had been in that one small, random moment of time, that he remembered afresh how much had had loved his Rose.
The couple disappeared around a corner, and the Doctor unconsciously raised his hand slightly from his side, as if reaching out for them. Shaking his head as if to reset the picture in his mind, he cleared his throat, and remembered River. The thought flitted across his mind that she shouldn't even know who they had seen, but of course she would. She had spent her entire academic career researching him; she had pictures of all his faces, and the faces of his companions. And she knew just how he had felt about Rose.
He turned his head to look at her, and winced inwardly; those were definitely tears in her eyes. Most likely not a good sign.
Before he could find anything to say, she was standing beside him and had slipped her hand into his. He craned his neck a bit more to look at her standing just behind his shoulder, the entire length of her arm pressed against his. He raised his eyebrows slightly in surprise; honestly, he was expecting her to be hurt, to be jealous, the way most women in his life had been.
"I'm sorry, my love," she said, breaking the silence and squeezing his hand gently.
"Sorry?" he echoed, still a bit distracted and confused.
"That you lost her."
There was no bitterness in her words, no trace of jealousy for the young blonde woman his younger self had just looked so, so happy with. There was only sympathy. No, deeper than that; what was that word? Empathy. A very human thing. A new feeling of happiness began to gently lap over the ache in his chest like a calm tide at the thought of the impossible woman who held his hand now. Human and Time Lord, the child of his Ponds and the TARDIS. He loved Rose, would always love Rose, and she would never be forgotten, but he was happy now, too. Best of all, River understood that, and he loved her all the more for it.
"A rose and a river," he murmured absently, gaze going back to the spot where his younger self had disappeared. The names fit them. His Rose, who in some ways could stay so innocent and beautiful in spite of all she had seen, was just like a flower. From her spirit to those porcelain cheeks that had blushed such a beautiful pink, she was a rose. River was untamed, from her golden mane of hair to her flecked green eyes that seemed to change in the light like a forest stream, and she had washed over him in a torrent from the moment they met. He had been happy to get swept away.
"Your Rose and your River," she replied, giving him a gentle smile. He returned the smile and pressed a kiss to her forehead before pulling her along with him, husband and wife strolling together in the late afternoon.