Her back ached, her arms felt like jelly and Donna still wasn't quite sure how she'd gotten the Doctor to the TARDIS. But it didn't matter how. What mattered was that the doors were locked, they were inside and...And she had no bloody idea how to control the TARDIS and get them back to the garden.Grabbing her communicator, she fumbled with it a few times before finally getting the button to work. "Help! I mean... No, I meant it. HELP! This is Donna. I'm with... with the Ninth Doctor? Thete?" She said it as if she wasn't sure. He had told her this and she couldn't remember now. "We're... he's out. Got hit by a bolt and.. HELP!"For a moment all she got was static. Tears filled Donna's eyes. And then there was a voice. "Donna, this is Reinette. The Doctor and I are on our way. We'll help you get the TARDIS home and take care of Thete." Her voice was soft, articulate, well spoken and slightly tinged with a French accent. Compared to Donna's calmest voice, it was like a Jackson Pollock next to a Monet. "Th-thank you." She panted, barely getting the controller back into her pocket before she crossed to kneel at his side once more. "WAKE UP! Come on! Dammit, talk to me. Tell me your bloody ears are sensitive,' she demanded, shaking him nearly violently. Nothing.Except a sharp rap on the door.Stumbling over her own feet, she jerked the door open. Calm and cool, Reinette offered Donna a small smile before sweeping past her. The woman was everything her voice had promised. Perfect hair, beautiful clothes, stunning features. Donna was prepared to hate her on sight.Then she'd hugged the ginger woman, her expression full of sympathy. And pride. "Got him back here all on your own,' she asked, a brow arching sharply before she crossed to the console.Donna nodded, stopping to try and make The Doctor more comfortable. "I couldn't get him farther than this.""This is well enough given how much larger he is. We'll be sure and bill him for the adjustments I'm sure your back will need. Now, my own Doctor told me what to do and... That's a good girl,' she murmured as the TARDIS started up, responding eagerly to Reinette as she worked to save the Doctor. "We'll get him back and soon enough he'll be up and about."Donna looked up at Reinette, her expression drawn and fear in her eyes. She didn't say a word. Not a single word. Reinette nodded nonetheless. "Promise. You'll have your Doctor back soon enough."Nodding, Donna sighed. She'd really wanted to hate her and now found herself truly liking the woman. Dammit.
The day had been long. There were few days on the hunt when Louis felt that way. It was one of his favoured activities. The air in his lungs, the sight of the countryside around him, the bay of the hounds - It was a complete activity that left him feeling invigorated. Until this day.A favoured hound had been lost, as had he nearly lost the child walking with him. Even now the boy was being raced back, as carefully as possible, that his leg might receive attention. A good child, few mentioned that he looked at them through tears and pain with eyes that echoed Louis' exactly. Just as they made no mention of the other children he oft spent time with, strays from about the palace that he was fond of. Between the lack of sucess in the hunt, the loss of a hound and the boy's pain, Louis' thoughts were a jumbled maze of pain, misery and death.For a long day, he was much enjoying wallowing about in such thoughts.Shouts from the men dragged him from his morbid thoughts, causing Louis to glance about in alarm. If there had been another death, he might well give up on the day and the hunt. But it was not a death that had caused such sounds but rather the possibility of a rather fair maiden meeting her demise.The speed was break neck, the colours contrasting with the landscape about the curricle. And the gown within was a perfect counterpoint. Yet the true perfection was in the maiden herself. Gold and cream and floral pastels that were little more than a blur as she passed the King and his entourage. The others looked away when they realised no harm would be intended. Louis did not. His dark eyes tracked her movements, watching her well beyond when he could see the girl no more. Crooking a finger, he whispered low to the man that responded. "A name for her. A way I might find her. I expect to know by sundown."He smiled indulgently as the man scurried off. All went well and Louis' night would be filled with much more entertaining thoughts than the loss of his children and his own death.
A million odd things had happened to the Doctor in nine hundred years. Daleks, the Master, Time Wars, and Rose. He'd regenerated ten times, stolen a TARDIS and destroyed two of the greatest civilizations known to man and alien.And all it took to break him down to the most base of human instincts was one small, pale child in France.Humans were such frail things. Easily broken. Their life span was so short. Yet they kept procreating, creating new life to carry on their DNA, their stories, their memory. Never, in nine hundred years, had he thought of such a legacy of his own. Until he had peered through flames in an antique fireplace aboard a crude ship and had seen wide eyes and a wry mouth staring back at him. She had been so brave seeing his face looking back at her, had spoken so articulately to a stranger whom could have been anyone. Even himself. The moment she had spoken The Doctor had found himself enamored with her. Smart, sweet, strong. Everything he might have wanted in a child if he'd ever planned to have his own. Everything he could want. And he realised in a moment he would give his life to protect her. Yet, in the end, she was the one that had died. They were always the ones to die. Not him.
d.Nothing sits in order with him. He can never tell when things are going to happen or what time. Nothing is linear. No straight lines. Not even his memories move in straight lines, they bounce and jump and occasionally make no sense at all.He should know this. He should recognise it.He misses his chance. Reinette is gone. Only the letter remains.The letter is never truly discarded, only misplaced in places he won't forget.I shall not listen to reason---He opens it when he feels truly lonely. He re-reads words long since memorised because they deserve to be re-read and when he's truly lonely there's no way he could fall any lower.I.When he first sees her, she's seven and peering at him curiously through a fireplace."What are you doing in my fireplace?" she demands. She is only seven. Her voice carries a sort of impudence; an almost rebellion he can appreciate, even as she covers it up with the politeness she knows is required for adults.She's a good child. He lies to her, as he does to all good children, and she appears appeased. Of course there's a fireplace inspector, and of course it's all routine. It's not naiveté; it's an open-minded-ness one doesn't see too often in children anymore. Willing to believe the impossible. A bit like Alice, if Alice spoke in proper French.He stands, and makes the decision to go into this magic door. He has to see this child, after all. It's his job to protect her. The fireplace spins, and he saves her. The monster that monsters are afraid of, that's him.He doesn't stop to think that he's making an impression on this little girl. How could he, after all? He's only been in her life five minutes.c.His fingertips touch her temples, and he remembers her memories.Her eyes wide and afraid of the clockwork men, her hero saving her. He remembers her long hair flowing behind her as she runs through the forest with her imaginary Fireplace Man, and their grand adventures beyond the fireplace.They battle monsters and demons, and her memories of the imaginary creatures are amazingly well-detailed and truly quite terrifying. She stands as his partner and equal, with a branch from a tree as her own magic wand to keep away the monsters.She grows older and eventually twines together flowers to make a crown. She is Queen of the Fireplace and her handsome Fireplace Man is King. They rule together, and they have fantastic adventures.She bases her crushes on him. Tall and dark-haired with a quick wit. They have to compete with the Fireplace Man that she visits in the forests behind her house.The visits to the Fireplace Man become shorter and shorter as the lessons become longer and the adventures she has become real. Her crushes become ambitions, and she is never sure if the Fireplace Man will approve of what she is becoming.He is never really forgotten, of course."Fireplace Man," she whispers, and he can just hear it over her memories, "You are inside my memories. You walk among them."In more ways than one.II.When he first sees her as a woman, he is unaware that it is her. He is expecting the small, fair-haired girl, not the beautiful young woman that stands before him. He fumbles a bit with his glasses and stuffs them in a pocket."I've been away," he says, "Not sure for how long."She looks so completely surprised to see him. Her face is then joy, expressed through a small grin. She knows him; she's remembered him for years and years after they last saw each other. She has no need to appraise him---as many women who have been attracted to him often do---she already knows him. Her memory has never failed her.Her mistaken identity isn't held for too long, and his eyebrows just about hit his forehead in surprise. Reinette, of course. Sticky fireplace and all that, of course she's grown up.Her expression changes. It's no less pleased, but now it is pride rather than simply a happiness to see him. He thinks of her expression like his own when he presented his father with his first completed Academy project.She, herself, is a project. A work in progress. She has little more than herself to offer, so she's improved herself. And there she is. Beautiful and lovely and brilliant and alluvasudden she's kissing him.So little time, she said.He's more than a little flabbergasted by this turn of events. After all, he's only known her twenty minutes at most, while she's had an entire lifetime to fantasize about him and grow herself around the imaginary Fireplace Man without a name.But, goodness, it's been a long time since he's been snogged quite like this, and she's very good at it. By the time he gets the wits about him to return the kiss, to place his hands on her hips and be a bit more aggressive in return, she's gone.b.It should be awkward.It should be awkward and frightening. He should be especially nervous because it's been a ridiculously long time since he's done this. Her breath is hot on his throat, and his hands fumble with her corset, and it's not awkward, it's all…strangely natural. Like a primitive step he knew at one point but forgot after many years.They dance. Every lonely little boy, she says, must learn how.A locked room in the palace and her arms twine around his waist and pull him towards her, but he is the first to kiss her tonight and it should be awkward and strange but it's not and it worries him that it's not. It worries him because he can't feel comfortable with her, because that means he'll love her or something equally stupid, and she doesn't belong to him, she can't belong to him.She's spent five hours preparing for this night. Five hours of powders and pins and corsets, and he manages to undo them all in the span of five minutes.Her fingertip snags on his pants zipper."If I am to be marked," she says with a teasingly arched eyebrow, "I'd prefer it to be with your teeth."He kisses her fingertip. He doesn't understand the look she gives him for his tenderness. They kiss again, and he's foolishly already started to fall for her.Never afraid. Never unsure. In some era at some point in existence, she might be considered a whore for her lifetime as a courtesan, but not to him. No, he knows she is more than that. More than the sexuality people mistake her life for. It is more than sex. She doesn't merely seduce. Such a concept seems almost too primitive for her.After all, he would not lie in the arms of a whore. He would not love one. But he loves her.Oh, he's in such trouble, now.III.The first time he dances with her---in front of others---it is a waltz.A dance considered a bit too lewd for its time, all that closeness and touching. She places a hand on his shoulder, and he has a hand on her waist, and they dance."You French certainly know how to party," he teases.She smiles. For a moment, just a moment, they are two ordinary people dancing together. The party vanishes, history vanishes, and he can have this moment. This moment where he's with her and he loves her.The moment ends, as all moments do.But he never forgets.a.When he first sees her, she is a child.Young and smiling and so very innocent.He shapes her unknowingly.IV.When he last sees her, it's with the promise of a return.A return he can't make.His memories come in waves, and he can't stop the entire day (lifetime) he spent with her from crashing around him when he remembers. It overwhelms him, and every emotion spent from the moment he saw the child through the fireplace to the last time he spun away from her come back as sharply and as fully as if he were experiencing them all over again.He promises himself he'll never think of her again.He does, of course.