“How would you like to help me plan the wedding of a Silurian who was awaken by the expansion of the London Underground and a match girl who became her maid?”
Amy arched her eyebrows as she took a healthy sip of wine, then raised her glass to her only child. “I’m in.”
“Excellent.” River tapped the item off the to-do list displayed on her tablet and clinked her glass against her mother’s.
“Silurian? The one who helped the Doctor rescue us … well, me I suppose, from Demon’s Run?”
“Yes,” River confirmed, pleased that Amy was now to the point where she could reference Demon’s Run at all. She never talked about it in the early days, and it was only after her and Rory’s temporary separation because of her fertility issues that she could begin to bring it up. River had chosen this version of her mother on purpose, one who had braved the Dalek asylum. “Vastra and Jenny. They decided to marry when they hijacked Clément Adair’s steam-powered aircraft in France to help defeat a rogue band of Ice Warriors.” River took another sip of wine. “I heard it was quite romantic.”
“Were you and the Doctor there?”
A hint of a smile tugged at River’s lips, and her pupils dilated slightly as she became lost in her memories for a few seconds. She winked at Amy and took a bite of salad.
“Right.” Amy didn’t even want to speculate on what those two were doing. “Adding that to the very long list of things about you and the Doctor I’ll never discuss around Rory. So, when is the wedding?”
“Trying to decide.” River paged through the items on her tablet. “Same-sex unions won’t be legal here for a few more years. We’ll either have to leap pretty far into the future or go off-planet.”
“What about Space Vegas? Like what we did a few years back with you and the Doctor?” Amy’s brow furrowed. “Have you done that?”
“Oh, yes. I thought of that, but Vastra wants something a bit more intimate.” River glanced at her tablet just as the door to the café banged open.
A few seconds later, the Doctor crowded onto the booth next to River, personal space be damned. “Amelia Pond!” he announced, then kissed River’s cheek. “Hello, dear. I’ve got them.” He proceeded to dump an armload of scrolls, assorted single sheets of paper and ornante leather wallets on top of River’s and Amy’s half-eaten salads. Without saying a word, River slid her salad out from under the stack.
“Doctor.” Amy picked up one of the pieces of paper and frowned. “A wedding license from the Proxy Nebula system?”
“Hello, sweetie. These are the blank ones, right?” River unrolled a scroll.
“Yes, yes, I didn’t grab our personal collection this time.”
Amy winged an eyebrow and let the license drop back on the stack. “How many weddings are you two up to now?”
“83,” River said at the same time the Doctor announced, “116.”
“116? I really am behind this time, bless.” River tut-tutted a bit as she started to sort out the licenses while Amy gaped at the Doctor.
“Did you even think to invite me and Rory to more than two of them, you daft Time Lord?” Amy huffed.
“You two have been to at least 26 of them, and spoilers, Pond.”
“Why do you have all of these licenses?”
“Oh, you never know when you need a wedding license or two. Always make sure to keep a couple at hand. Never know when you need to conduct a drive-by wedding.” The Doctor unrolled one of the scrolls and giggled as Amy fished her own salad out from under the stack. “We could take them to Disneyland Clom!”
River peered over his shoulder. “Oh, no, not then, sweetie. We’ve been banned by then.”
“When does that happen?”
“Spoilers.” River gave him a cheeky grin and lowered her voice. “Just remember to bring that whip that’s in the third corridor next to the second laundry room the next time you get a random invitation to Disneyland Clom.”
“I’m done.” Amy shoved her salad away.
“The licorice whip?”
“The very same.”
Amy signaled the waiter. “Could you just leave the bottle of wine here?”
“You don’t need the wine,” the Doctor proclaimed and scooped up all the licenses, accidentally grabbing their napkins and a few pieces of cutlery in the process. A knife slid out of the haphazard stack and landed on the floor with a loud clatter. “Come along, Pond. You too, dear. We’ll finish this on the TARDIS. Where’s Rory? We can’t have a Silurian wedding without Rory.”
“He’s at work, like most people tend to do on a Tuesday,” Amy said, quickly pulling out a few quid and leaving it for the bill. As an afterthought, she added a bit more to leave a very generous tip and to cover the cost of any cutlery that was still in the middle of the Doctor’s stack.
“Are we doing a traditional ceremony then?” River asked as they walked out of the café through the kitchens, causing the cook to yell and a couple of waiters to drop their trays. Amy followed and sighed with the deep, deep regret that they wouldn’t be able to come back to this place. Pity. She really liked their salads.
“Some of it is in Ancient Silurian, and one part requires the ritual sacrifice of a human, but we can probably incorporate the less dangerous bits,” he said. River ducked under the Doctor’s arm to open the door while he carefully navigated his way into the console room. A spoon fell out of the stack and landed in the dirt. Amy picked it up, set it next to the ash tray the café staff used and hoped they saw it there. “Jack’s offered to get me ordained in three galaxies, but there must be an officiant we can use somewhere.”
“You can use Rory,” Amy piped up as the Doctor deposited the load on the captain’s chair.
River closed the door behind them. “Dad?”
“Of course!” Amy placed her hands on her hips. “Rory would be perfect.”
Standing in his scrubs in the middle of the hospital A&E, Rory fisted his hair and paced a few feet before striding back to the menagerie that had appeared, all speaking over each other as they told him their plans. “No.” Rory pointed to his wife. “No,” he repeated, pointing at his daughter. “And most certainly not,” he finished, pointing at the Doctor. “Look, I was drunk when I did Universal Life thing. It was a joke. It’s not like you can be legally married by someone who’s been ordained via the Internet.”
“Well, that just invalidated about 28 of our weddings,” River muttered.
“Really 52, and about 37 of those involved Jack,” the Doctor added.
“You two were married on a pyramid in a time that no longer exists,” Rory pointed out.
“Yet, they’re married,” Amy cut in. She would defend the legality of her daughter and best friend’s first marriage until she was on her deathbed. “Besides, Rory, they’re going back to a time where their marriage won’t even begin to be legal. It’s something that exists in your hearts. They love each other, and you’re the right person to do it. They tried to save Melody, it’s the least we can do to thank them.” She curled her fingers on his arm, stroking it slightly. “Please?”
“I’ve always wanted to go to one of your weddings,” Brian Williams announced as he rolled a suitcase onto the TARDIS. He beamed at his granddaughter. “Ever since Amy and Rory told me who you were, I figured you had to be married in front of your old grandad at least once, Mels.”
River flushed. She’d tried her very best to get Brian to call her River, but he insisted on using the nickname that her second incarnation had used. It was the version of her he’d known best. “Actually, Grandad, we’re not going to be gone very long. Rory’s going to officiate the wedding of two very good friends of ours. We’ll be gone overnight at the most.”
“Last time the Doctor took us off, we were gone for 16 days,” Brian pointed out.
“I’m driving this time,” River assured him. “How did you know about this anyhow?”
“Rory called and asked to borrow my good putter. Said the Doctor asked for it, and then said he was going to a wedding. Figured it was one of yours.”
“Tell you what. When this ceremony is over with, we’ll stop off somewhere and get married just for you.” River dropped a kiss on his cheek, and Brian settled in the captain’s chair.
“OK, I’ve got … Dad?” Rory walked onto the TARDIS with his best suit slung over one arm. “What’re you doing here?”
“Thought you were skipping out on watching them get married again without telling me,” Brian said with a huff. “Don’t see why you’re being all secretive about it anyhow. She’s my only grandchild.”
“Well, it’s not them. I’ve been drafted to marry a Silurian and her Victorian lover somewhere in the … did you two pick a place yet?” Rory drop the suit on top of his father’s suitcase.
“Sweetie?” River called out.
The Doctor wandered out to the stairs with five scrolls in his hand and a paper airplane sticking out of his hair. “Dear, I can’t decide between Androxia 7 in the Krilas reign or the Grjur reign.”
“Don’t you have a license for the Knugren era?”
“I did, but that rubbish bin by the pool ate it as I was walking by. I thought you fixed it?”
“I did. I’ll go fix it again. Do we have any hair spray?”
“Don’t you use it by the gallon?” The Doctor glanced up from his papers in time to see River shoot him a look, and Rory and Brian edge to the other side of the console. He swallowed quickly. “I mean, not that you use all that much hair spray. I mean, none at all. Those curls don’t feel like you use 16 different types of hair product in it. Oh, I mean that’s just me. All me. I’m the one who uses all that product. It’s … just … Help me!” he begged, turning pleading eyes to Rory and Brian.
“You’re on your own, mate,” Brian said.
“It’s your funeral,” Rory added.
“Oh, what’s the use of having you two about?” The Doctor disappeared back down the hall with the licenses.
They arrived on Paternoster Row in the absolute worst snowstorm of 1891, which the Doctor insisted was the perfect time to whisk away its occupants for a wedding – narrowing the destination choice to Space Florida or a luxury cruise liner that was doing a tour of the Sunflower Galaxy in the 75th century. He landed the TARDIS just inside the entrance hall. He opened the front door to see Strax blocking the entrance with a gun.
“You will surrender any and all weapons at once and prepare to be assassinated,” he informed them. “Tea will be served in six minutes.”
“Very good, Strax,” the Doctor said.
Strax let his gun fall to the side and gave River a crisp salute. “General Song! Sir!”
“General?” Amy, Rory, and Brian turned wide eyes to River.
“Why do they always salute you?” the Doctor grumbled.
River flashed a knowing grin at him before turning to the Sontaran. “Strax, I told you, you don’t have to salute me.”
Strax stiffened, insulted. “Protocol demands I salute a senior officer, especially one whom I owe a debt to.”
“Even though I disturbed the hen night of your sister-in-law?”
Strax huffed and didn’t say a word.
“See, we get along famously.” River kissed the Doctor’s cheek and stepped out of the TARDIS as Jenny strode down the stairs.
“Dr. Song! Doctor!” She kissed River’s cheek, then the Doctor’s. “I’m so glad you two could make it.”
“Wait a second,” Rory said, getting a good look at Strax. “Didn’t you die at Demon’s Run?”
“I was fatally wounded, but I am not dead,” Strax replied. “There is a difference.”
“Well, I can see that.”
“Dr. Song did it,” Jenny spoke up. “When she came back for us. Did she not tell you? We were with Strax, after he had died. I don’t know what she did, but she managed to do something to get him to start breathing again.”
All eyes turned to River. “Temporary probic vent shunt," she explained. "They came into use in the 43rd century, and the Sisters of the Infinite Schism have them. Sontarans can be revived if one is used within the first hour of death. I had about three minutes to spare.”
“She took us to the hospital where she got the shunt.” Vastra glided into the room, inclining her head to them all. Brian merely blinked as he got his first good look at a Silurian. “They were able to fully heal Strax, and then she brought us back here. Strax has been quite useful to us. Though, we do have to replace quite a bit of china.”
“We keep the shops in business,” Jenny said as Vastra wrapped an arm around her waist.
“Why did you do it?” Amy turned to River. “Why didn’t you tell us? Did you know, Doctor?”
“Not the specifics.” The Doctor gave River a long, measured look.
“Right, well, we have a wedding to get to. Strax, are the bags packed?” River said breezily, slipping past the Doctor and avoiding eye contact with her mother and husband.
“Sir, I have packed six bags filled with munitions and other various arms as you asked.”
“It’s a wedding, Strax,” Vastra reminded him, “not a battle.”
“Yes! Which means you need at least 14 different types of grenades for when the opposing family arrives and attempts to eat all of the flufgan. I might have also packed a bag with clothes.”
“We’ll find something suitable in the wardrobe," River said. "Sweetie, the licenses?”
“Space Florida or the cruise liner?” The Doctor held up the remaining documents.
“Cruise liner,” Amy decided, snatched it from the Doctor’s hand and gave it to River. “I could use a spa day.”
The bride and bride were getting seaweed wraps, one that was very good for Silurian skin. Strax was getting a massage, and Brian had taken Rory off to the on-ship golf course. The Doctor disappeared shortly after they arrived on the ship, so Amy hauled River off to get pedicures and to grill her.
“You didn’t tell us,” Amy said once they were barefoot and had their feet soaking in water. “River, that was a wonderful thing you did. Did you know we were supposed to meet him again?”
River picked up a magazine, frowned at it and set it down. Her hands twitched. Amy hadn’t allowed her to grab her tablet on their way out. Instead, she closed her eyes and didn’t say anything.
“Melody Pond, did you rewrite time without telling us?”
“Just a bit, Mother,” River finally admitted and sighed.
“It was the only thing about Demon’s Run I could change.” River said, then looked at her. “For years, I’ve gone over everything I knew about Demon’s Run. What you and Dad told me when I was Mels. What the Doctor told me after we were married. My own recollections from when I arrived to tell you who I was and from when I had to tell Dad that I couldn’t go with you. Mother, you don’t know how many times I’ve nearly leaped back to the battle. I knew what to do to stop Kovarian, to rescue you and me. But, I can’t change it, or it’ll unravel everything that’s happened for all of us. I’ve told you about the Reapers. But, I realized I could at least help in some small way. Reviving Strax was the only thing I could do. It doesn’t make the guilt go away, but it makes it a lot easier to live with.”
Amy reached across and took her hand. “You’re a good girl, River.”
“Oh, Mother, don’t say that too loud.” River winked. “I’ve a reputation to maintain.” She squeezed Amy’s hand and looked over her shoulder. “And you heard every word of that, didn’t you, Doctor?”
The Doctor wandered into the salon, not looking ashamed of his eavesdropping at all. “I was thinking, maybe we could just nip over to the frost falls of …”
“Don’t even think about it,” Amy ordered. “They are getting a cruise ship wedding, and that’s the weakest excuse I’ve ever heard from you yet on this sort of thing.”
“Right. Well, Pond, I need to speak with your daughter.”
Amy lifted a foot out of the tub. “Pedicure first, groveling at River’s feet later.”
“I do not grovel at her feet.”
“Just that one time,” River said and selected a canapé off a refreshment tray. “And you did it so prettily.”
The Doctor promptly flushed. Amy shook her head, so the Doctor merely angled himself so she couldn’t look around him. “I’m sorry,” he murmured to River.
“For?” She polished off the canapé and folded her hands in her lap, wiggling her toes in the warm water.
“Demon’s Run. I just … I never …” He raked his hand through his hair.
“Sweetie, you apologized for it a long time ago.”
“But … yes … but …”
“My love, you have a guilt complex the size of a minor solar system. We all work through these things in our own way. I couldn’t help the way the younger you wanted, but you understand why. We’re always going to carry guilt about this. We just have to keep soldiering on.” She took his hand and squeezed it, like Amy had hers a few minutes earlier. “I didn’t save Strax for you. I saved him for me.”
He squeezed her hand hard in return, then pulled her to her feet. He lightly tapped her nose with his free hand. “Pond, I’m stealing your daughter for a bit.”
“Really, I hadn’t guessed,” Amy said dryly as she did her best to ignore them by paging through a magazine. She peered over the edge as the Doctor helped River step out of the tub and back into the sandals she had worn to the salon. “Doctor?”
“Sometimes, you manage to get the whole marriage thing right.” She winked at him.
The Doctor preened, adjusted his bow tie, and led River out of the salon.
“We don’t need an elaborate ceremony,” Vastra told Rory as he used River’s tablet to look up various vows. “I would prefer to avoid traditional Earth vows.”
“Well, yes, I’m not real big on the ‘obey’ part either,” Rory agreed. It was the first thing Amy had struck from their own wedding ceremony, upon pain of certain doom to the priest if he even tried it.
Brian walked into the parlor of the common suite they shared, glancing back over his shoulder every so often. He shook his head, then sat at the table. He looked over his shoulder once more, then reached for the water that had been left out.
“Dad?” Rory looked up from the tablet.
Brian pointed over his shoulder. “Do they always do that?”
“Who do what?”
“River and the Doctor. Out there.”
Rory didn’t even have to ask. He merely strode to the door and stuck his head out, not even blinking at the sight of his daughter and son-in-law’s activities. “Could you two please find a more appropriate place to do that?”
“Rory, this hall is the only place to do it,” the Doctor replied.
Rory held up his index finger, started to speak, changed his mind, then tried again. “Well, if you two are going to have a hopscotch competition, try to do it in an empty corridor?”
“Is that what we’re calling it these days, Dad?”
Rory held up his hand, shook his head, and disappeared back into the suite to leave them to their elaborate game of Gallifreyan hopscotch. He turned around to find Vastra at his back and slowly blew out a breath. Having aliens suddenly appear behind you really wasn’t that strange anymore.
Vastra watched as the Doctor finished drawing the hopscotch board and stood behind River to watch her try it out. She chuckled softly when the Doctor’s gaze drifted to settle on his wife’s bum. “They are good together,” she observed.
“Yeah. In the strangest way possible, they fit,” Rory agreed. “Took him ages though, from what Amy told me. I really wasn’t there for some of it. Well, I was, but I wasn’t. It’s still a bit confusing.”
Vastra gave Rory a measured look. “You’re not always going to be there.”
“Well, no, we’re human. I figured not.”
“Neither will she.”
Rory whipped his gaze around in time to see River’s amused expression as the Doctor took his turn and promptly tripped over his gangly long limbs. “Why wouldn’t she be?”
“You’re a nurse, Rory Williams. I suspect you know.”
“The Doctor said we weren’t supposed to know any spoilers about River’s life.” Rory kept his focus on the Doctor and River and tried not to think of nature taking its inevitable course. “You know him then? From a time when we’re no longer there?”
“There is a good reason why we asked this particular version of the Doctor to celebrate our nuptials.”
Now Rory found himself studying Vastra. The Silurian were a long-lived species, he remembered. He knew she had been in slumber for a great many years, and Jenny had mentioned earlier that she and Vastra had been together for about a dozen years. Despite their circumstances, they could have gotten married at any time. “You’re doing it so when we’re no longer here, he’d have a good memory of all of us together.”
“It is one of many reasons,” Vastra replied. “That, and he accidentally let it slip that we were to marry this year. Oh, it sounded like a fine idea, but …”
“That’s the Doctor.” Rory noticed the game of hopscotch had ended in well … lots of snogging. He flushed a bit before noticing his daughter had the situation well in hand. She merely turned them around, opened the broom closet next to where they stood and shoved the Doctor inside. He tried his very best not to imagine what they were going to get up to in said broom closet. “Look, when we’re not here, you’ll look after him? It’s what they’d want. Amy and River. They wouldn’t want him to be alone.”
“And you, Rory?”
He inclined his head. “Yeah. And me too.” He frowned. “How good is the soundproofing on this ship?”
“Extremely good.” Vastra flashed him a knowing smile and re-joined Brian.
“Right, well. OK, we have a wedding party,” Rory announced. Decked in Victorian finery, the small wedding party had taken over an atrium that had been designed to resemble the Crystal Palace during its heyday. “I’m the official. Um … River, you and the Doctor are the witnesses.”
“I am giving the bride away,” Brian announced.
“Which one?” Amy asked.
“I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Giving away isn’t part of the ceremony we’ve chosen,” Vastra informed Brian. “We choose to enter this union freely.”
“Well, we need something to do other than stand here and look pretty," Brian declared.
“You two can also be witnesses,” River told him, and he nodded. “Fair enough.”
“At least I’m not the flower girl,” Amy muttered.
“I am bearing the rings like you have asked!” Strax presented two thin iron loops.
“Strax, they’re supposed to be gold. And on a pillow,” the Doctor said.
Strax scoffed. “These are pins from high-caliber Sontaran war grenades. The finest weapons our military has. It is an honor to be wed in a ceremony with these!”
“Oh, Strax, I thought we left the grenades at home,” Jenny said.
“That explains all the screaming in the kitchens,” Amy said.
“Let’s just get on with it.” Rory held up River’s tablet, where he had the vows he decided on. He furrowed his brow. “Are you sure this is legal?”
“Of course it is! I have the license.” The Doctor patted his jacket pocket.
He’d changed into his tux, top hat angled jauntily. Rory silently wondered how long River would allow him to keep it on, then decided to just get on with it. “Well. OK. Dearly beloved …”
Rory prided himself on at least getting through most of the ceremony before the ship was attacked by Zygons. All he had left was for the bride to kiss the bride, which they hastily did as they drew their swords at the same time. After a lengthy battle that wound up destroying a good bit of the ship and causing an evacuation -- no thanks to Strax’s grenades -- the bedraggled wedding party found themselves back on the TARDIS.
“We’re alive. This is a good thing. Just need to sign the license,” a weary Rory said as Amy leaned against him. He wrapped an arm around her.
“Right!” The Doctor pulled out the license and squinted at it. “Oh.”
“What?” Rory asked.
The Doctor peered over the edge of the license at River. “I thought we hadn’t done this one yet?”
River took it and winged an eyebrow as she read it. “Sweetie, there was a reason I told you we couldn’t go near that galley on the 45th floor.”
“Seriously?” Rory took the license to find that the Doctor’s and River’s names were filled in. “You two were here? At a different time?”
“So, that’s why we still had the bags of weapons!” The Doctor declared. He pointed at River. “You cheated!”
River merely arched an eyebrow. “Well, I certainly tried to warn you that we were there getting married ourselves. But you were so intent on checking out that hat shop on the 32nd floor that you weren't listening, sweetie.”
“So, where’s the blank license?” Amy asked.
“Ah … Where is it, dear?” The Doctor turned to River. “This was definitely blank when we brought it on board.”
River pulled out her diary and flipped back to the entry. “Sweetie, you apparently found this license out in the hall where we did the Gallifreyan hopscotch and thought it was the blank one.”
“So, wait.” Amy held out her hands. “OK. I think I figured it out. The Doctor had a blank wedding license and it fell out of his coat. Then another Doctor, future Doctor, found it in the hall and took it to the other wedding ceremony. So, there was never a spare license to begin with.”
“Apparently, Mother, that was the case. I can hop back now with my vortex manipulator, get another license, and …”
“You mean I still didn’t get to see the two of you married?” Brian sighed.
“You know, I’ve always wanted to go to Space Vegas,” Jenny said helpfully.
“I’ll call Jack,” River said. "He's already ordained for there, and he'd be disappointed if he missed out on Space Vegas."
“I am not wearing an Elvis suit,” Rory declared.
Instead, they wound up in the Firefly wedding suite, and Rory and Jack briefly fought over who got to be Captain Malcolm Reynolds. They agreed to divide the duties, and Rory re-married Vastra and Jenny. In return, Jack offered to renew Amy and Rory's vows, and Amy accepted with the promise that she got to kiss the wedding official. Rory protested until Jack declared that he couldn't leave Rory out and proceeded to snog Rory for a solid minute.
"He is a much better kisser than you," Rory informed the Doctor.
Then they got Brian ordained so he could marry his granddaughter to the Doctor for the 84th/117th time. He cried the entire time.