Author's Note: So, I've been wanting to write this fic for a while, but didn't get around to finishing it until today. This one-shot takes place during The Power of Three, and examines the inner-workings of the Pond family. Hope you enjoy it:)
Tightening her grip on the chains of the swing, the ginger slowly swung her legs back and forth, allowing her boots to just brush the soft, white substance that covered the ground.
Her red hair dangled from beneath her beanie, each strand wet and lined with tiny, bright specks.
She sucked in a breath, eyes fixed on the sight before her—two grown men amongst a hoard of excited children, all playing in the snow.
One looked remarkably sensible—and attractive for that matter, but as for the other; well, he didn't exactly fit that description. He stood there fidgeting, brown hair flopping under his trooper hat, blue bow tie dangling just below his neck, tweed jacket hanging down to his waist.
One young boy gazed up at him expectantly, and the man rummaged through his pockets, before releasing a triumphant, 'Aha!' as he pulled out none other than a fez.
"Here, we can put this on the snowman's head when we're finished making him. Cos everybody knows fezzes are cool." His confidence waivered when the kid frowned, eying him strangely.
"You're so silly, Mr. Doctor. Everybody knows that snowmen wear top hats."
That comment elicited a harrumph from the man in the bow tie, who then crossed his arms in indignation.
"Oh, Fiiinnne…we can go with the top hat. But we are definitely keeping the bowtie." Lowering himself to the child's level, the Doctor tried to sound firm. He failed atrociously of course, which explained the immediate laughter coming from his counterpart.
"Hey! I heard that. It's not funny, Rory."
"Only you would insist on having a snowman where a fez and a bowtie." Rory Williams chuckled, watching as his son-in-law grunted.
"But they're so cool, Rory! All the kids agree…" His obviously false statement was met a series of shaking heads.
"Sure they do." The sandy haired man muttered under his breath, turning away from his friend and over to a girl who'd been waiting patiently.
Amy's husband grinned happily, a vibrant joy shining on his face as he helped a small child roll a giant snowball.
His blue-green eyes sparkled, a sight that warmed his wife's heart, but at the same time sent a flood of pain through her body.
"Thank you, Mr. Williams." The sweet little girl, probably about nine, said in a high-pitched voice, her round cheeks bright red.
"You're very welcome, sweetie." Rory spoke in that gentle, fatherly tone that always left Amelia Williams feeling a pang of loss. A corrosive, biting sting that rippled to the very core of her being.
It's your fault, you know. You're the reason he can't have this. Amy's darkest thoughts circled in her mind. No! Stop it! That's ridiculous and you know it!
But even then, she found herself staring longingly at the sight of that young girl beside her husband. The child's strawberry blond hair flowed down to her shoulders, her eyes especially bright and lively.
Amy's vision blurred, the ovular shape of the girl's face morphing into another, that happy expression contorting into one of fear. The child's tear-filled eyes were filled with so much sorrow, so much terror; her screams rung in Amelia's ears, cutting deep into her soul—a gaping scar forever severed on her heart.
'Help me! Help me! Please…'
And in her mind, Amelia could still her own frightened response; she'd been so naïve back then, if only she'd known, if only she'd known, if only…
'I'm sorry. I didn't mean to shoot you. I'm glad I missed. But you killed the Doctor. Or you're gonna kill him.'
The words from long ago echoed in her head, biting, seething.
Her daughter's helpless face swirled amidst the chaos, and now, as she looked back to the little girl and her husband, she couldn't see anything but her precious child, her Melody.
Biting her lip, Amy tasted the copper tang of blood as she tried desperately to push the now-inescapable image from her mind.
Stop! No, I can't…I just can't…
But Amy pushed the thoughts away, forcing herself to remain strong, to hold the tears in. For Rory's sake as much as hers. After all they'd gone through with the near-divorce she wanted to spare him the pain of seeing her like this. He just seemed so happy next to that little girl—it nearly broke her, knowing that if it hadn't been for what happened at Demons Run, this would have been them. Amy and Rory and Melody.
A single droplet slipped down her cheek, but she quickly wiped it away, not wanting to draw attention to herself.
Squeezing her eyes shut, Amy Williams clutched the chains even tighter, lost in the world of could-have-beens, completely oblivious to the sound of another body settling into the swing beside her.
She should have recognized the breathing—that faint, weary lapse of breath that could have only come from one person.
But all it took was five simple words to bring her out of the illusion, the nightmare.
"You miss her don't you?"
Startled by the woman's deep, yet painfully familiar voice, Amy jerked.
"R-River…" Amelia croaked out, eyes fixated on her daughter.
The older woman swayed her feet back and forth, fashionable snow boots brushing against the white surface, warm parka wrapped tightly around her upper body. Her golden curls floated above her shoulders, framing her crème-colored skin.
She looked stunning. Not that that was really much of a surprise. This was River Song after all.
Staring at her father and the small child up ahead, River sighed, heart filled with empathy for her mother's plight.
Honestly, she hadn't expected to be faced with this situation. She'd come solely to have a nice, proper visit with her parents.
And now her father and husband stood building a snowman with several children while her mother sat off to the side lamenting the loss of her daughter.
A tense silence fell between River and Amy, who both watched the scene in front unfold.
"She would have been nine this year." Her mother's hollow words were spoken just above a whisper.
Pain shot through River's body as she pondered Amelia's statement. She. Not 'you.' She. Amy referred to her lost daughter as if she was another person, as if Melody was a separate entity altogether. In a way, she was right. Never would Amy get the chance to raise her daughter, to read her a bedtime story, to tuck her in bed every night, to build her a lovely snowman, to hold her when she cried. All those moments had been stolen, ripped away.
"I'm sorry." It was all that River could manage without breaking.
But her mother looked vacantly into the distance, almost not quite there.
"He could've found her. All that time, he knew where she was. But he chose to leave her." Amy's face scrunched up, but she maintained control, refusing to cry.
River knew instantly who her mother was talking about. The Doctor. Her husband.
"It's not that simple."
"I—I know. And I don't blame him. Sometimes I just…I just look at Rory and I see…I see how good he is with children. And then I can't help but feel a pang of loss. Because we would—we would have…if Melody…" She breathed in deeply, unwilling to succumb to weakness.
"And…and then I look at him. I look at the Doctor. And I see how much…how much…he…loves you, River. I mean, I've known that man since I was seven years old, and I swear, in all that time, I have never seen him look at anyone the way he looks at you. He made you his wife…and that's a beautiful thing. I…I understand why he…why he couldn't…go back for…" She turned her gaze back to the ground, unable to meet her daughter's eyes.
"Oh, Mother. You know he would've gone back if he could. He…he still feels guilty… But…well, think of it this way, if he'd unwritten my existence, chances are you would have never met the Doctor in the first place, and because Mels wouldn't have been around, you and Dad might have never gotten together at all. Melody Pond would never have been born anyway. Face it; I'm a fixed point in time as I am. Who knows what would've happened if the Doctor had tried to go back for me when I was still a little girl. He probably would have blown a hole in the universe and severely altered his timeline. So whether the Doctor acted selfishly…out of…love for me…or not, he didn't really have much of a choice. But, I really am sorry for all you had to go through…and if…if I'm not r-really the daughter…y-you wanted…" River's voice trembled as she spoke, and her last apology was so soft that Amy had to lean in to hear.
"Melody…" Amelia placed her hand gently over her daughter's in a gesture of comfort and reassurance. "I…I'm the one who should apologize. I just…get carried away sometimes…I long for what…what could have been. But don't you ever…don't you ever think for one second that your father and I would change who you are. R-River, you're our daughter. You grew up as our best friend. And I've seen the woman you've become and…I…I couldn't be prouder. My Melody." Squeezing River's hand, the ginger tried to muster an encouraging smile. "Phew…sorry about that, River…really, I can get so emotional sometimes. You're always so strong, so sensible. You take after Rory that way. But seriously, I think I'm really starting to lose my head. Doesn't help that I have these idiots to keep up with all the time."
Her finger gestured towards Rory and the Doctor, and the curly haired woman couldn't help but chuckle.
"Well, I'm sure Dad isn't too bad. But as for the Doctor…"
"Yeah, I bet you know more about what that's like than anybody, right? Being his wife and all." Amy gave River a playful nudge.
A pink tinge spread in River's cheeks.
"Oh, believe me, Amy; you don't know the half of it." She cocked a brow in jest.
"Nor do I want to. But I'm glad he has you, River. There—there might…come a time when…your father and I…aren't around…or maybe, well, we haven't made a decision yet…but I…I just want you to be there for the Doctor. Look after him when…when we're…"
"Of course. I'll do whatever I can. He…He's my husband, after all." There was an unspoken sadness alight in River's eyes, as if she knew more than she let on.
"Speaking of which, I'm surprised he hasn't come over here yet. You don't think he really hasn't noticed that you're here, do you?"
"Oh, well, I don't know. Either he's too hyper-focused on making that snowman or else he's playing hard to get. I doubt he expected me to show up." River grinned, eyeing her ridiculous, bow-tie wearing husband. "How long has he been staying with you? I'm guessing all these black cubes are somehow connected to that, am I right?"
"How did you know he was staying with us? I mean, for all you know he might be popping in for a day."
"If an excessive stock of fish fingers and custard and Jammie Dodgers, off-the charts high scores on Wii sports, and a work station with an assorted keyboard and other gizmos was any indication, I'd wager the Doctor has been staying with you for a few weeks at least. Let's just say I know the tell-tale signs of my husband. And I'd also presume that whatever's going on with these cubes has piqued his interest. But apparently you haven't gotten anywhere with your investigation, since no one seems to be bothered by the fact that these black cubes are everywhere." The words rolled off her tongue naturally, speaking volumes about the brilliance of her mind.
"Wow…you are quite the clever girl, aren't you, Melody Pond? I'm sure it drives your husband crazy. And yeah. You're right, River, about everything. I guess you popped round the house on your way over?"
"Yes, well, I didn't realize you'd be out here. And I certainly didn't anticipate this…" River motioned toward the Doctor, who now stood sonicing a snowball, clearly intent on impressing the young children he and Rory were supposedly 'helping out.' "And that hat. Good grief, how could you let him leave the house with that hideous abomination?" The Doctor's head perked up at that, and his eyes widened in surprise and offense.
"Oops. Looks like him indoors finally decided to start paying attention." Amy winked at River, watching happily as the man in the bowtie suddenly blushed, moving over to Rory Williams and pretending to ignore his wife.
"Dad's giving him that look. I think he's known I've been here for a while. He's very observant like that. I'm sure he was just giving us our space. Unlike this oblivious idiot of a husband I have."
"Oh, River, how I've missed you." Her mother laughed softly to herself, her temporary pain suppressed at least for a bit.
"Rory, how long has River been over there on that swing talking to Amelia?" the Doctor whispered to his father-in-law, trying not to be so obvious.
"About an hour." The nonchalant response elicited a rather extreme reaction from the man in the bowtie.
"AN HOUR?! Really, no way, I would have noticed, I mean, it's River, she's quite difficult to miss, you know, with the hair and the guns and the-"
"Actually she's only been there for about fifteen minutes." He waved it off like it was nothing.
"Oh. Why did you say it'd been an hour?"
"Because I wanted to give Amy and River some comic relief after that emotional conversation, which apparently just completely blew over your head, considering you only just realized my daughter was here."
Flushing with embarrassment, the Doctor shuffled nervously, scratching his cheek.
"Centurion, I need your honest opinion. How do I look?" his fingers rose to straighten his bowtie and fasten his trooper hat.
Rolling his eyes, Rory Williams released an exasperated sigh.
"Ridiculous. As usual." He replied in a monotone voice.
"B-but I-I need to look good for River. Any suggestions?" the Doctor sounded childish and wimpy.
"Honestly, Doctor, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but you might want to get rid of the hat—"
"But trooper hats are cool!"
"—before your wife shoots it off your head." Rory motioned towards River, who seemed to be nodding.
"W-wait, she can hear us from there?"
"Yes. When you talk LIKE THIS." He annunciated the last two words, a surprisingly accurate impersonation of the Doctor.
"Mr. Doctor." A little girl tugged at the Doctor's trouser-leg, trying to get his attention.
Turning around immediately, he focused in on the child.
"My mummy says we have to go home soon. Can you and Mr. Williams help us finish up the snowman, please?" she practically begged, using the classic puppy-dog eyes.
"Why of course we can! Can't we, Rory? We'll make the best snowman ever!" the last exclamation was spoken with a breezy confidence.
Rory noticed how the Doctor's gaze flashed from River back to the little girl suspiciously.
Oh, Gosh, he's going to try to impress her. This can only end horrendously.
Groaning, the Roman muttered under his breath. "Why do I have a bad feeling about this?"
"Poor Rory." Amy sympathized with her husband, who was now putting up with the Doctor's antics.
"He's so patient, though, isn't he? I really admire that about Dad. If the Doctor lacks one virtue more than anything, it's patience."
"You don't have to tell me. When the cubes first arrived last year he stayed in our house for four days straight and it drove him off the wall."
"I believe it. He's quite testy at times. But then again, so am I."
After River's comment, Amelia watched the Doctor sculpting the stacked snowballs.
"What's he trying to do? This is a snowman not a chiseled statue."
River's cheeks reddened as her husband stared back at her intensely, a blazing flame alight in those green eyes.
She giggled, a low, deep sound exiting her throat, something that did not escape her mother's notice.
"Oh, well, then. I see. Looks like Somebody's trying to impress his wife."
"And failing miserably, no doubt. But I do applaud the effort. It's incredibly endearing. Though I expect something will go wrong…any second now…"
And just then, almost as if on cue, the snowball that the Doctor has been meticulously carving into tumbled over, landing straight on his head.
"Oh, Gosh…that clumsy idiot."
Rory, being the gentleman he was, kindly helped his friend, brushing the snow off the Doctor's now un-covered hair.
"S-Sorry kids. I—I didn't mean to…" Bless him; he looked genuinely apologetic, nonexistent eyebrows knitting together.
Luckily, Rory Williams intervened at just the right time.
"Come on, Doctor, it's alright. We know you didn't mean anything by it. But the important thing is we had fun, right, kids? That's what it's all about isn't it? Although…with such a lovely pile of snow, I can only think of one thing left to do. Snowball—"
"—Fight!" An eager girl and boy yelled in unison, already forgetting the snowman mishap.
In moments the Doctor's sour frown transformed into an excited grin, and soon enough the snow was flinging everywhere.
About ten minutes later, after all the kids had gone home, the man in the bowtie stood completely covered in white fluff. His arms crossed his chest as he shivered pathetically.
Time Lord biology. What a joke.
Rory, being more attuned to the art of snowball fighting than his alien son-in-law, managed to come out relatively unscathed.
"Come on, you lot. Time to head home." The ginger instructed them, much to her husband's relief and her friend's dismay.
"Oh, thank goodness. I'm whipped." Admitting to his exhaustion, the sandy haired man curled his fingers through his wife's. "You okay? You and River…earlier…"
"Yeah, we're fine. I was just…thinking about…Melody. And what might have been. But you know what, I think I have most precious family right here." She gave her husband a light cheek-kiss.
Behind them the shivering Doctor walked about a foot away from his wife, the distance between them making the younger couple slightly uncomfortable. Despite the exchange of casual looks in the other's direction, they continued on in that manner, following Amy and Rory's lead until they came to the house.
While the Ponds started up the stairs, River and the Doctor stayed at the ground-level.
"Oi, just get on with it, already." Amy huffed from up above, causing the Doctor to blush.
"So, you don't even have the decency to say hello to your wife?" The curly haired woman tried to sound as serious as possible.
"B-but I…I…Hi, Honey." He spluttered, limbs flying everywhere.
"And what in the name of sanity were you trying to do back there? Impress me, Sweetie?"
"Um…I…NOO…No. Of course not. Maybe. A little." He suddenly found his feet very interesting, and decided to look down.
"You know, you really needn't try so hard, love. I know full well what you're capable of." Her hand brushed his cheek and he grew even more flustered, body still trembling from the cold. "Are you cold, dear?" She asked, concerned.
"N-n-no. O-Of course not. R-River." His reply was not the least bit convincing.
"See. This is why you shouldn't get in the middle of a snowball fight, Sweetie."
"W-well. H-how was I supposed to know I'd get drenched in snow?"
Because any sensible person would. She wanted to say but decided against it, knowing that wasn't what her husband needed.
"Come here, Honey. I know just the trick to warm you up."
Ignoring the Doctor's confusion, his wife slipped her arms around his waist, pulling him flush against her. Her lips danced upon his and she kissed him passionately, mustering all the love in her heart, as he returned the favor, humming into her mouth and stroking his fingers through her curls.
Staring out the window at his daughter and son-in-law, Rory shook his head.
"What? What is it?" Amy demanded, glancing at her husband curiously.
"Take a look."
"Oh, God…" Her face crinkled up in disgust.
"And to think he wonders what we do in our free time. 'Mostly kissing' indeed. And yet there he is, snogging the living daylights out of our daughter- his wife. Goodness knows what those two get up to on their own time."
"Some things are better left unknown, Rory."
It was then that the door opened to reveal a very dazed looking Doctor, who was wrapping his arm around River's shoulders.
Amy marveled at the joy in his eyes, the love, that vibrant light, nearly tangible. His cheeks were tinted pink, but his proud grin said it all. The man was clearly besotted with his wife.
And, upon seeing her best friend so happy, Amy knew she'd never have it any other way.
Despite the loss of Melody and the oddity of life, she had quite the trio right here, her husband, her daughter and her son-in-law. A crazy, mixed up family- a daughter older than her and an a thousand year old alien man-child, and a long-suffering husband who made it all bearable.
A crazy, mixed up family indeed, but a family, nonetheless.
Note: Hope you enjoyed it! For those of you who read my other stories, I expect to be back to updating soon. Just had to get this fic out of my head.
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Have a fantastic day!