"Dinner at the Savoy," Rory said, chinking his champagne flute against Amy's. "Think it's only been open about a year at this point."
Amy hummed happily as waiters finish smoothly moving around them, removing trays and spare plates until the door clicked shut and they were, at last, alone.
They ate slowly, enjoying the finest food a different century had to offer. Snatches of music and laughter floated up from the dining hall below, and Amy felt a little giddy, lit up inside from the place and the champagne and most of all from Rory, who was making such a pretty picture opposite her, elegant and gorgeous in the outfit the Doctor picked out for him.
She felt rather grand herself, with her hair swept up and her long gloves making every movement and gesture feel delicate and refined.
"Who do you think we'd be? If we had some psychic paper and showed it to the staff here. I wonder what it'd say?" Rory asked.
Amy considered this for a moment. "I think I'd like to be an opera singer," she decided. "Very famous, all the newspapers give me rave reviews. Tonight was the opening of a new show written just for me."
Rory smiled. "Then I'm your biggest fan. I was there in the front row tonight. You were magnificent up there on the stage, bringing the whole audience to tears. I couldn't take my eyes off you. After the performance, I had to see you. You get all kinds of suitors trying to come to see you in your dressing room, of course, and you never let them in, but I had to try."
The picture they're painting is so vivid in Amy's head - the glow of the stage lights, the crowd's applause, and afterwards, sitting in her dressing room and gradually removing the heavy stage makeup, her dresser coming to whisper in her ear.
"I was told that I had a new visitor. Polite, shy, and he had brought no expensive gift for me, just a single red rose. You were shown in and you could hardly look at me, you were so nervous. You asked me to dinner, and I said yes."
"We fell madly in love," Rory said, his voice growing dreamy as he picks up the narrative. "Stolen moments in the back of carriages and sitting in your parlour on rainy afternoons. I never miss a show."
He reached out to hold her hand, bringing it to his lips and kissing it.
Amy batted her eyelashes. "Why, Mr Williams!"
He smiled up at her, still leaning low over her hand. "Forgive my forwardness. I am so captivated by your beauty that propriety slips my mind."
She breathed in the moment - the smell and feel and sound of another place, another time. She took another long sip of champagne and let her eyes wander over to the bed. Oh, she had plans for that bed. Extensive plans.
Plans that were about to be rudely interrupted.
There was a crash outside, followed by the distinctive sound of a sonic screwdriver. The Doctor burst into the room, his arm flung over his eyes.
"Stop what you're doing and put your clothes on, you two, we're under attack!"
"You're joking," Rory said flatly.
The Doctor dropped his arm and started waving his hands around excitedly. "Zygons! Haven't seen Zygons in centuries! But they're trying to blow up the hotel so we'd really better get a move on - come along, Ponds."
They took a moment to stare at each other in horror, before they jumped to their feet and hurried after the Doctor.
"I'm going to kill him," said Amy. "Really. I mean it this time."
"I'll help you hide the body," said Rory.
"Aw, see, I knew there was a reason I married you," said Amy.
They held hands and ran for their lives.
Afterwards, they sat in one of the TARDIS's cosier kitchens. Amy's hands were clamped tightly around a mug of tea, and she was just about starting to feel her feet again. The Doctor looked genuinely rather contrite, and she wasn't really that cross with him. She had long ago accepted that you simply couldn't spend more than a week at the most with the Doctor without something blowing up. Usually, it took far less time than that, particularly whenever he was trying to take them somewhere nice.
Still. They'd gone to all the trouble of getting dressed up this time. She sighed, brushing some dirt off her skirts.
Then she had an idea. "Doctor? Do you mind if I borrow Rory for a bit?"
Rory looked up at her, curious.
The Doctor waved a vague hand as he attempted to drink tea, eat a sandwich, and do three crosswords at once. "Yes yes, off you go. Just say the word when you want dropping back."
"Well," said Rory. "I mean. We don't have to go back just yet."
"Right," Amy agreed. "Now that we're here, may as well make the most of it."
The Doctor looked up at that, surprised, and beamed at them both.
Amy grabbed Rory's hand and tugged him out in the corridor.
"What's the plan?" Rory asked.
"I want to make the most of us in these outfits. Not like that. Not just like that, anyway. Come on."
They strolled through the TARDIS - past the library, the arboretum, the hallway of disused bedrooms, three laboratories, only one of which seemed to be a bit on fire this evening, and at last they reached a heavy, wooden door with a big brass handle.
"Not sure I've been here before," Rory said.
"I've only been in once, years ago," Amy said, and pushed the door open, drawing Rory in.
The room was a ballroom. It was huge, echoing, ornate and mostly empty, except for a piano covered by a dust cloth, a few chairs, and a gramophone in one corner. A chandelier caught the light, sending patterns dancing across the polished floor.
Rory looked around with huge, appreciative eyes, and kissed her cheek. "Perfect."
"I know," Amy said. "Now go find us something to dance to."
He wandered over to the gramophone, and Amy sat down in one of the plush, elegant armchairs, slipping out of her shoes and trailing her feet across the floor, where the wood was cool against the thin fabric of her stockings.
A Viennese waltz started to play, and Rory walked over to her, extending his hand.
"Would you do me the honour?" he asked, his eyes bright.
She took his hand and got to her feet. She led, because she usually did, and he followed well, his hand light on her waist as they danced across the room in slow, quiet circles as the music played. He rested his head on her shoulder and she draped her arm over his neck to hold him close. It wasn't hard to fill the room up with music and light in her mind. She imagined other couples taking to the floor, moving in sync with them, while the band played and drink flowed. The echo of another world filled the room, and she wondered if they had ballrooms on Gallifrey.
Maybe she didn't need to wonder. The next time they completed a turn, the Doctor was there, leaning against the doorway. He looked fond but sad, just like he did at their wedding, and just like he had looked a hundred times since, like he was always getting ready to say goodbye to them.
Not tonight, though. Amy brought their dance to a pause, and beckoned the Doctor over.
"Didn't think you liked my dancing," the Doctor said, shoving his hands in his pockets as he walked over obediently.
"There'll be no ridiculous flailing, no," Amy agreed. "How's your slow dancing?"
Rory pulled away from Amy a little, his hand still on her waist. He looked at the Doctor and smiled, inviting. Making room for him, the way that they always did.
"Out of practise," the Doctor admitted.
"Come on, then," she said. "Rory, mind if I have this dance?"
"Just so long as you promise to share."
She grinned, and drew the Doctor in. "It's easy really," she told him. "Hands here and here, and follow me."
"Yes, ma'am," he agreed.
The music picked up again and they began to move. The Doctor was steady enough but preoccupied mostly with staring at their feet.
With their bodies so close together, it was hard not to remember old times, times when things were different. The days when the TARDIS felt like their only home and the Doctor had let his guard down and let them in. She could still remember the feel of his kiss like it was yesterday, and she knew Rory could, too. Their whole extended honeymoon, the three of them running through the universe together, and letting the Doctor into their hearts and their bed. Impossible to forget something like that.
There were a very many good reasons why they stopped. Amy wasn't entirely sure she could name most of them right now, but there were matters like entropy and history to overcome, and the Doctor's fragile, cautious hearts. Then there was the question of River, and maybe that one was insurmountable. She consented and she gladly gave them to each other, and that was an end to it.
She held him tight as the music picked up, a violin singing out an octave above the rest, beautiful in a way that made her heart ache. She gazed at Rory over the Doctor's shoulder. He was watching them both, smiling, but when his eyes met hers he stood up and came to join them.
"Hello," he said, walking up behind the Doctor and cupping his hand over the Doctor's where it sat on Amy's waist.
He matched the Doctor's other hand, too, lacing his fingers through theirs so he was mirroring the Doctor entirely, holding him between them. The Doctor smiled, lop-sided and pleased, and Amy began to dance again, taking them both of them with her. They were a little awkward, not quite in time, and Rory's feet scuffed against the floor as he tried to give the Doctor space, but it was nice all the same.
The song came to an end, and she pulled away from Rory so that she could dip the Doctor low, laughing at his startled expression as he found himself suddenly bending backwards. She kissed him, quick and soft, before pulling him upright again and letting him go. She wrapped her arms around Rory and kissed him too.
"My dancing boys," she said with a grin. "Thank you. Happy anniversary." She held their hands - one warm, one cool, like always. "I don't suppose any of us really know how long it's been, but in Earth years, ten years in both cases. June 26th - I went into space and I got married. Busy day, really."
"Mine too, then," said Rory. "It was still the same night when you popped out of that cake. Forget ten years, that feels like several lifetimes ago."
The Doctor held their hands and didn't say anything for a long time.
"So," Amy said eventually. "What do you want to do now?"
"Well. There is a planet out there where you can see two dozen rainbows arcing across the sky every sunset, and the starlight is so bright that they last overnight. Want to go and see?"
"Well, I suppose we've not got anything better to do," Amy said.
Rory shrugged. "Go on, twist my arm."
It was just as beautiful as the Doctor said. They sat on the shoreline, the sea reflecting the riot of colour above. They ate sandwiches and drank tea from a thermos and told each other jokes they'd all heard a hundred times before.
Amy didn't mind, still giggling into her mug as the Doctor told the one about the Silurian and the fish restaurant, complete with sound effects. She leaned against the Doctor, staring out at the beautiful view, and stroked Rory's hair as he rested his head in her lap.
She was so happy she was bursting with it, emotion filling her up and making her feel light-headed. If she could pick one single moment to bottle up and store forever, on-hand and available for all the days she needed it, this would be a serious contender.
Amy and Rory were finally alone, back in their room on the TARDIS. The room was a little more sparse than it used to be, as they'd gradually taken things with them when they'd stopped off back at home - photos, jumpers, things they hadn't wanted to leave behind for who knows how long - but it was still definitely theirs. The bunk beds were long gone, as they'd managed to requisition a double bed from a particularly dusty room a few years back. They were curled up together, facing each other, Amy's ankle hooked over Rory's calf and his hands cupping her face, pulling her in close to kiss her slowly.
They were still in the dishevelled remains of their Savoy outfits, both torn probably beyond repair.
"I like the dishevelled, rakish look on you," Amy told Rory, sliding his jacket off and letting it fall to the ground.
"Likewise," he said, kissing her cheek, then her neck, then her collarbone, his fingers curling underneath the lace at the top of her dress.
"Is it still our anniversary, do you reckon?" she asked, a little breathless. "I think it is. Until we get back to the party, it's like time's frozen there. This doesn't count, not really."
She imagined their house the way they left it - friends and family stuck mid-sentence, awaiting their return, not knowing that time was passing at all. It always felt a bit like that, here in the TARDIS. Like the passage of time wasn't quite real, and it could go as slowly or as quickly as you liked.
Rory was certainly taking the slow option, pushing her dress down her shoulders inch by inch, pausing every time to delicately kiss each part of newly-revealed skin. Amy wriggled a bit in protest, impatient, but she knew better then to tell him to hurry up. Few people knew just how much of a contrary bastard Rory could be at times, but Amy was far too aware, and she really didn't fancy encouraging him to tease her any more than he already was.
Here, in this magical box that they loved, a single moment could seem to last for days. Maybe it really did - time moved differently here, after all.
"Oh, Rory." She sighed, her head falling back as his hands skimmed up beneath her skirts. Maybe she could stand to be a little patient.
"What in the world?"
The Doctor leaped across to the console as the TARDIS started making a lot of very alarmed and alarming noises.
"We're picking up some kind of signal!" he yelled above the noise. "For something to be this loud it must be incredibly advanced technology, looks like someone's managed to encode something into the gravitational pull of the star in this system. Just clearing up the interference now--"
Amy looked at Rory, and raised her eyebrows. She had an inkling of what was coming.
"... Ah," said the Doctor.
"'Hello, sweetie?'" Rory hazarded.
"It would seem that your daughter is stopping by," said the Doctor. "Why she can't just phone me instead of trying to rewrite the laws of physics, I really don't know."
"Oh, that really is rich coming from you," said Amy, skipping over to the door and flinging it open.
River was floating outside in a stylish blue spacesuit. "Hello, darling!" she called, voice distorted through the helmet. "Happy anniversary! Hang on a moment."
She floated into the TARDIS, landing daintily and pulling off her helmet, her curls pinging out like they'd been released from a spring.
"Good to see you," she said, hugging Amy then Rory. "You didn't think I'd miss this, did you? Ten years, my goodness. Wasn't sure you two kids were going to make it."
Amy rolled her eyes. "Yes, you were."
"Okay, I was. But still, congratulations. And hello, dear, I'll get to you in a minute!" she called up to the Doctor, who was lurking behind the time rotor.
She sighed. "You see, some of us had the misfortune of marrying someone with the penchant for the kind of dramatics that mean that strictly speaking you got married while all of time was happening simultaneously, which does make it difficult to know when you should buy a card."
"If that's a hint to buy you flowers, I'm afraid you're out of luck," said the Doctor.
"Don't be ridiculous, you like flowers far more than I do. They say phase blasters are forever, though."
"It's so good to see you," Amy said, slipping her arm through River's. "Would it really kill you to call home once in a while?"
"Oh, I'm sorry," River said, squeezing Amy's arm. "Been a little busy lately - you know, the usual, published a few papers, got an advance on my next book, brought down a dictatorship or two."
"That's my girl."
"So when you said you brought down a dictatorship..." Amy said meaningfully, glaring at River as they crouched behind a makeshift barricade.
"Okay, apparently I didn't finish the job! Sorry, Mum, it won't happen again."
"You're right it won't. Now we just sit tight until Rory gets back with the shielding tech, then we go to the capital and secure the polling stations and hey presto, elected government."
"Won't really be that easy, you know," said River.
"Maybe not," Amy agreed. "Gotta be better than this, though."
They were silent for a while. River started to take her gun apart and clean it, and Amy sent Rory three texts telling him to hurry up.
"So, are you going to ask me about whatever it is that's bothering you?" asked River. "Something's on your mind."
"Is now really the time?"
River shrugged. "It often is. Pinned down by enemy fire does get dull."
Amy shook her head. "It's nothing. Nothing you need to worry about, anyway."
River just looked at her.
Amy sighed. "It's just. Rory and me and the Doctor. I don't know how much you know about what we were to each other, before Demon's Run."
River's face went soft. She finished reloading her gun and set it back in its holster, turning to her side to face Amy.
"I know a little about it, yes," she said quietly. "I've always known how much he loves you, that he loved both of you before me."
"Not sure about that," said Amy. "Have you done the crash of the Byzantium yet?"
River shook her head, looking curious.
"Ah. Well. Spoilers. But that's one to look forward to."
"Excellent," said River. "But the point is, it doesn't bother me. How could it? The way we work, the Doctor and me, we can't be the whole of each other's lives. I'd never dream of asking that of him, and I don't think it would even occur to him to ask it of me. I want him to love and be loved, by as many people as he can, because heaven knows that man needs it."
"And what about you?"
"Well, a girl must have her secrets." River winked, then patted Amy's hand. "But I promise you I'm happy, when I'm with him and when I'm not. Honestly, I'm almost as bad at domestic as he is, we were never going to have a regular marriage. And that's fine, really it is."
"Well, okay, but I'm still your mum."
"Yes, and I've been giving you terrible dating advice since you were thirteen. We both know the normal rules don't apply. If you feel something, please don't stop on my account."
Amy's mouth twisted, and she didn't quite look at River. It still wasn't clear in her head. The contents of her heart when it came to the Doctor were so often obscured with guilt and regret.
"We're going to have to stop one day," she said. "I love all of this, so much, but -- I'm tired, I suppose. It's so hard to make plans, or look ahead. I want a life, I really do." She laughed, glancing over at River. "I know - who am I, and what happened to Amy Pond? But we're going to break his hearts - we already are, I think."
"We all do, sooner or later."
"So why does he keep doing it?" Amy asked, though she could guess the answer. "Why travel with people when you know they'll always leave you?"
River looked at her, and Amy was suddenly reminded that it wasn't just the Doctor who was older than he looked. "Because it's still worth it. Because caring for people is the thing that makes him who he is. We all live the sort of lives where regrets build up - things we never said, people we didn't save, things we couldn't do. It's hard to say goodbye, and I don't think there's anything you can do to make it easier on you or him. But you're here, now. Don't waste it."
Amy nodded, thinking it over.
Rory raced into view, ducking for cover with the canisters in hand.
"Enough of the heart to heart," Amy said, smiling at River, "let's go save the world."
"Living clouds!" the Doctor proclaimed, spreading his arms wide as though he'd arranged the phenomenon especially for them. "Clouds that can be domesticated and tamed - on this planet, they herd the weather. Isn't that incredible?"
Amy laughed, staring up at the sky where clouds flew back and forth, slowly but with purposes, and making the occasional noise that was not entirely unlike a cow's moo.
"That's ridiculous," Rory said with a grin.
"You see, there are more things in heaven and earth, Roranicus," the Doctor said, slinging an arm around Rory's shoulders and drawing him down the path towards the farmhouse in the east.
Amy skipped along beside them, hanging off the Doctor's other arm. "So what's at the farmhouse?"
"My new farmer friend who has very kindly agreed to let us ride on one of her clouds."
"Hello, Doctor!" the farmer called out when they got nearer, shading her eyes to see them against the setting sun. "These are your spouses?"
"Oh, no," the Doctor said with a laugh. "They're married to each other, but not to me."
The farmer's eyes widened a little. "Just the two of you in a marriage, really? That's a little--" She shook herself. "Oh I'm sorry, that was rude of me. I should be used to you aliens and your customs by now, amount of tourists we see around these parts."
She walked over to some fencing and tugged lightly on a bit of rope tethering one of the clouds above. The cloud began to float down obediently.
"Now then, this here is Jessie and she'll take good care of you," the farmer said. "Won't you, Jessie?"
The cloud hummed and wriggled a bit, floating lower so that she was just above the ground. The Doctor leaped up, and held out his hands to pull Amy and Rory with him.
The farmer tapped Jessie's side and they started to rise up into the sky.
It was amazing. It was like how Amy had always imagined a hot air balloon ride would be, but better. No noise, no fuss, just floating gently in the sky, soft warmth beneath them and sunlight everywhere. The three of them sat back to back, making a triangle out of shoulders and hips, and shouted out to each other as they spotted things - a flock of birds, a lake, another cloud with passengers. Below them, rivers cut curling silver ribbons through a patchwork of fields of all colours - apparently the crops in this world come in blue and purple as well as green and yellow.
"The people of this world are fascinating," the Doctor said, in his best professorial voice. "Several different species live here, after this planet became a haven for the dispossessed in neighbouring systems. A source of conflict in the past, inevitably, but now everyone coexists happily. You have the natives, the Reithans, and the next largest group are usually known as the Ageless Ones."
"That sounds a little sinister," said Rory.
"Oh no, not really. The Ageless aren't really ageless, of course, they die just like everyone, but they are by nature very long-lived - on a par with Time Lords, actually. When their homeworld grew uninhabitable the Reithans gave them shelter and a fresh start. Now, a traditional marriage here tends to involve four or five people - smaller bonds are not unheard of but considered somewhat unusual, see our farmer friend's surprise at you two earlier. Some of the relationships within that marriage are romantic ones, while others are not, and between them all they build families. It wasn't long before you had Reithans and the Ageless falling in love with each other, as people tend to do, and then they had a problem. How do you commit to someone when you know that death will part you much too quickly? How do you stand growing old while your partner looks the same as the day you met them?"
As the Doctor spoke, Amy found herself holding her breath. It was just like him, of course, to tell them something about himself via a story about someone else, but up here in the clouds, the air thin and crisp, truth seemed to rise to the surface.
"Some of the Ageless choose largely to keep to themselves, not daring to risk the heartbreak. But most of them don't. Many marriages here now include at least one Ageless partner, and the traditions of their vows have changed accordingly. An Ageless pledges themselves not just to their partners, but to their partners' families and descendants for generations to come. To love a mortal person, so the Ageless say, is to love the people who came before them, and those who will inherit their gifts afterwards."
There was silence, then. Amy had a dozen things she wanted to say but couldn't quite bring herself to start. She heard the Doctor take a breath as though he was about to continue - once, twice, then on the third time, he managed.
"You said, before, that it had been ten years for the two of you. It has been rather longer than that for me."
"In Mercy, you said you were 1200 now," Rory said. "I kind of always imagine you make up a number depending on the day, though."
"Well, it is a little hard to keep track," the Doctor agreed. "But that's my reckoning these days."
"Three hundred years. Wow," Amy said. She turned away from the vista below them, beautiful as it was, because she wanted to see the Doctor's face. Rory had already done the same.
"I am an old, selfish man," the Doctor said, staring at his hands. "Hoarding your days with me like treasure in a cave, always coming back for you even though I shouldn't. But I think it's fair to say that I pledged myself to your family a long time ago." He smiled, and looked up at them again. "The glorious Ponds. I love each one of you, completely. I know that one day you'll leave me - of course you will, and you should. That's all right. It will give me great comfort to know that you will both go on to do magnificent things. You'll save lives, tell stories that people need to hear, change every world you find yourselves in. Those are the gifts you have given to your daughter, too, and I am so, so proud of you all."
He clasped their hands in his, and brought them up to his chest, holding them tight against his hearts.
Amy still couldn't speak. The wind was picking up around them, whipping her words away. They flew on, suspended between earth and sky, exposed to the elements. The Doctor's face was open and raw and she could hardly stand to see it, but couldn't bear to look away. She kept holding his hand, reaching out to find Rory's, too. The sun was starting to set, and she felt very small, and her heart was very full.
Rory found his words first. "We ran away with you on the night before our wedding," he said, slowly and carefully, watching the Doctor. "And we ran away with you again the night after our wedding. You've been a part of our marriage from the start." He nodded at Amy, smiling a sheepish smile. "Used to think that was a problem, but then I stopped being an idiot."
Amy found her voice then. "What he's trying to say is - we love you, too."
"Ah yes, that was it."
Rory leaned in to gently kiss the Doctor then, and Amy followed suit, her cheek bumping against Rory's.
Jessie let out a great, contended roar, and began to circle back to the farmhouse.
They held hands all the way down.
Back in the TARDIS, Amy leaned in to murmur in the Doctor's ear. "So, feel like being our anniversary present?"
It was always fun to flirt with the Doctor - he squirmed so delightfully every time.
"Oh, so the last few weeks haven't been enough for you, Pond?"
"Nope," Amy declared, tugging at his bowtie.
"She's so demanding," the Doctor said to Rory with a sigh.
"Oh, I have a demand or two myself," Rory said, looking the Doctor up and down. "What do you say?"
"I think this is the part where I say, I'm all yours."
"Good answer," said Amy. "Come on, then."
She drew the Doctor towards their bedroom, Rory right beside her. They whispered sweet nothings in his ear, started to undo his shirt and peel back his braces, and he let them gladly, smiling a surprised, contented smile.
"... You got rid of the bunk beds!" was the first thing the Doctor actually said when they reached the bedroom.
Amy sighed. Rory pressed a hand to his face.
"Yes, we did," she said. "And you're going to be very glad about that in a minute."
"But bunk beds are cool," the Doctor said mutinously.
"Yeah, if you're nine," said Rory. "Way less useful if you have more grown up activities in mind."
"Suit yourselves," the Doctor said with a pout.
"Oh, do shut up," said Amy, and kissed him.
There were over a decade's worth of memories in this room, and all of them seemed to rush to the surface at the same moment. Rory pushed her hair back and kissed her neck, and she remembered being twenty-one again, giddy and strangely nervous on their wedding night, her mind ablaze with all the miracles she'd wrought that day.
It was peaceful here, a place of dimmed lights and quietness save for the gentle hum of the TARDIS spinning through the stars. In their magical box, time and distance faded to nothing, and as the Doctor pushed her jacket off her shoulders and stroked her hair and kissed her she remembered everything as though it had been yesterday. Rory lay beside her, his hand warm on her arm, and all around them the TARDIS was humming.
Seven weeks after they left, they were back at their anniversary party, where only a couple of hours had passed. After catching up with her guests, Amy found the Doctor out in the back garden, playing with a couple of the cubes that festooned the lawn. He stood up when he saw her.
"Can I stay here, with you and Rory, for a bit. Keep an eye on the cubes. However long that takes."
"I thought it would drive you mad."
"No, no, no. I mean, I'll be better at it this time. I ... miss you."