The TARDIS is nothing like Amy thought it would be. It's infinitely more strange, and infinitely more beautiful than she could have imagined.
She had imagined it a lot.
It actually takes a while before she really gets the chance to explore - the Doctor's like a whirlwind, always looking for the next adventure, and so is she. Every moment is filled with madness, danger, and impossible new worlds, and she doesn't intend to miss a second of it, not after waiting for so long.
"Is it always like this?" she asks, gasping, as the two of them run from hungry aliens with really big claws.
"Usually, yes," the Doctor says, and then he beams and takes her hand.
The universe has become her playground, and she's never felt so alive.
The truth of it is - her life's been on hold. She doesn't regret it (despite what all of her psychiatrists have said) because she did it for a reason, and the reason paid off. Her resolve slipped after the Doctor disappeared a second time, though, and if he'd been one day later she would have been gone, off to live the life she almost wanted.
Maybe the Doctor does have a strange, alien sense of good timing after all. It's made this journey timeless, a dream between one breath and the next - it could last forever and she'd still get back before the clocks turned twelve and the magic wore off. She (the girl with the fairytale name) truly has fallen into a story.
The Doctor breathes out, leaning against the TARDIS door. "Well, planet saved, job well done, time for tea." He turns to look at Amy, and smiles kindly. "You look exhausted - listen, I'll put the kettle on, you come whenever you like."
"Where's the kitchen?" she asks.
"Oh, she'll show you if you ask nicely," the Doctor says, runs his hand down one of the TARDIS panels and disappears off into the labyrinth beyond the control room, humming to himself.
She's left alone, feeling both small and overjoyed, surrounded by incomprehensible wonder. She looks up, and there's a vastness there, like a galaxy in the heart of the TARDIS. It makes something ache in her, the feeling of a broken heart being knitted back together.
Amy soaked up everything - UFO sightings, science fiction, NASA missions, magazines about the paranormal - anything and everything she thought might give her answers. She took straight sciences at A-Level and she thought about going to university to learn more - her teachers did, anyway, but she knew she couldn't leave.
After all, she still had that suitcase packed and ready under her bed.
She wanders the corridors of the TARDIS - no particular destination in mind, just a desire to feel out the place, to let the beauty of it soak into her bones. She can feel age behind the glossy exterior of the ship, just the same as she can when she looks at the Doctor. There's history here, and ghosts, and she wants to know about every part of it someday, better to weave herself into the fabric of the next chapter.
There's a cupboard door on her left hand side. She opens it, and what do you know? He really does have a swimming pool.
There was a lot of clean up after Prisoner Zero - clean up that the Doctor conveniently missed, which Amy's pretty sure is a pattern of his. One thing stands out, though, and that's the morning she spent with a reporter named Sarah Jane Smith.
"Leadworth has a lot to say about you," she said, smiling over her coffee.
Amy blinked, non-committal. "All right."
"They say you were very involved with that whole business the other day."
She shrugged, because this was her story, and she wasn't going to give it to some busybody reporter.
"They also say that there was someone else there, someone called the Doctor."
"It happened at a hospital, there are a lot of doctors there."
"Ah," said Ms. Smith, still smiling. "But I suspect none of them were the Doctor, and I suspect you know exactly who I'm talking about. A strange, wonderful man in a little blue box."
Amy's eyes widened, her façade entirely blown. "You know the Doctor?"
"I do. At least, I did. I suppose he looks quite different now." Sarah Jane set her coffee down. "I'd tell you to be careful, and not to let him break your heart, but I suppose that I'm too late for that. Instead, I wish you good luck, Amy Pond, and remember: he does always come back. It takes him a good while, sometimes, but you will see him again."
And just like that, she was gone.
She must have been here once, Sarah Jane, caught up in the fairytale just like Amy is now. Amy wonders what happened to her - the question feels morbid, until she shakes herself and remembers that Sarah Jane is perfectly fine, happy and fully moved on with her life by the looks of things.
Amy can't imagine ever wanting to walk away from this, but she hopes that some day she will, that someday she'll want to wake up. After all, no one can dream forever.
She's not quite sure how she got here, but there is the kitchen, warm and bright and improbably 1940s-themed. The Doctor's sitting there with a copper kettle, looking like some kind of Oxford don, and there's a cup of steaming tea waiting for her.
"Good wander?" the Doctor asks.
"I feel like I've barely started," she says.
The Doctor nods, and pushes milk over to her as she sits down.
"You and me both, Amy. You and me both."