nostalgia: (dw - eleven/romana)
[personal profile] nostalgia posting in [community profile] romanafen
Title: One Hundred Years of Winter
Author: [personal profile] nostalgia
Rating: PG-13 at most I think
Pairings: Doctor/Romana, references Doctor/River
Spoilers: Up to the S7 break
Summary: The Doctor finds Romana, but it's not the happy reunion he'd have hoped for.

Notes: So basically there's this Thing where people like myself write a lot of fic where post-War!Romana is strangely unconcerned about the loss of her entire planet. I decided to see if I could balance things out a bit, only it turned out to be RLY HARD because I've only just now finished it and I started it in the mid-S7 break. The main trouble was judging how far and in what ways to mess with her head, and then having to somehow fix her by the end. So this happened.

It was winter when the Doctor arrived on Kozhkoi. It was, as he would later learn, always winter. He stepped out from the warmth of the TARDIS into the sudden chill of the planet's air with barely a shiver. He was travelling alone, deliberately ignoring what Amy and her daughter had told him to do, which meant there was no one to complain about the cold and demand a warmer destination.

He locked the door of the TARDIS and took a step into snow that almost covered his boots. Without flinching he continued walking for a while before pausing to decide on a direction. The decision was made quickly when he spotted a settlement in the distance, one of those vaguely medieval towns that almost always contained something of interest. He stuck his hands in his pockets as a concession to the weather and set off.

The streets were empty, which was strange even taking the weather into consideration. People had to go from place to place, after all, even if the snow was ankle-deep. The Doctor picked a house at random and knocked on the door. He straightened his tie to appear presentable, but nobody came to the door to see it.

At the next house he heard movement inside but still nobody answered. Something was definitely wrong here. He had a nose for trouble, after all. Crossing the street he selected another house and ignoring politeness stuck his head into a hole in the wall, pushing aside the ragged curtain that kept out the chill.

“Hello!” he called. “I was in the area and I noticed that it's very cold and you don't have double glazing. Or, indeed, glazing. That's my area of employment, so if you'd like to let me in we could have a nice chat about the available options.”

The people inside stared at him with expressions that suggested something like panic. A man, a woman, and a girl sat at a table making no move to welcome him in.

“I don't bite,” he added, hoping that would help.

“There's a madman at the window,” said the girl to the two others.

“Ignore him,” said the woman. “He'll go away if we pretend we can't see him.”

The Doctor started to climb in the window. The man inside stood and reached to pick up a frying pan from the simple oven at the side of the room.

“I'm completely safe,” said the Doctor as he negotiated the windowsill, “and only a little bit mad. Please don't hit me with your dinner.”

The girl giggled and the man looked uncertain. The Doctor dropped into the room and straightened his clothes. “This is a very nice hovel, you've done interesting things with it.”

The girl stepped towards the Doctor and timidly poked his chest. She turned to the people who were probably her parents. “He's real enough.” Her gaze swept over him. “But look at how he's dressed. And the way he talks!”

“Keep away from him, Drea!” said her dinner-wielding probable-father.

The Doctor held up his hands. “I'm not going to hurt any of you. I come in peace, and so on.” He smiled at the girl, who hadn't moved away at all. “I'm the Doctor, you seem to be called Drea. And these are... your parents?”

She tilted her head. “How can you be a doctor? There's no such thing as a doctor.”

“Yes, there is, and I'm one of them.”

“Mad,” said the woman at the table. “I knew it.”

The man put down the frying pan. “I'm Thorban. My wife is called Merin. Are you testing us?”

“Why would I be testing you?”

Thorban stood firm. “We know the laws, and we follow them as well as we can.”

“Oh,” said the Doctor, “is this one of those towns with no strangers? There's almost never a good reason behind it.”

Drea looked at her father. “I don't think he's a spy. I think he really is a stranger.”

Merin stood and came to join the group-stare. “What should we do with him? Do you think we could keep his clothes? They look warm.”

“It's bloody cold out, isn't it?” said the Doctor, remembering that weather was traditionally a safe subject for conversations. “So when's spring?”

The trio looked at him blankly.

“You know, the season before summer?”

Merin nudged her husband. “He means the warm times.”

“Yes,” said the Doctor, “whatever you want to call it.”

Thorban shook his head. “We don't have those.”

“Ah, an ice age. Don't worry, those don't last forever. It does feel like forever, and you probably won't be around for it ending, but-”

“It's winter because that's what the Queen wants,” said Drea. “If she wanted spring, it would be spring.” She said this like she was explaining something simple to a child. “Do you really not know these things? Where did you come from?”

“I come from... the North?” he ventured. “Eee, it was grim up there.” They continued to stare blankly at him. He cleared his throat. “So,” he said, “tell me about this Queen of yours.”

She came from the stars. Alien invasion, then. Good, he was good at alien invasions and it would give him something to think about that wasn't... other things. He shook that thought from his head and prodded the fire in the grate.

Drea sat next to the fire with her knees up against her chin. “Are you going to kill her?”

“Not if I don't have to.”

“But if you do have to?” She looked up at him curiously.

“We'll burn that bridge when we come to it,” he said, hoping she wouldn't press the subject.

“Maybe she can't die,” said the girl. “I mean, she's been here since before my parents were born, and they're incredibly old.”

The Doctor laughed. “I wonder what that makes me.”

“You're not old.”

“You mean I don't look old. You should have seen me when I first got this body. I used to get ID'd buying fireworks.”

Drea frowned. “What did any of that mean?”

“It means you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.”

“What's a book?”

The Doctor gave her a pained look. “Don't tell me she banned those as well?” he said, more to himself than to Drea. Tyrants, they were all the same when you got right down to it. No imagination, no compassion, no fun. “Of course she did. God forbid anyone read Alice in Wonderland without her express permission.” He clapped his hands together. “So, run-of-the-mill dictatorship with added snow. Shouldn't take me more than an afternoon to sort everything out.”

Drea shook her head. “She'll kill you. She kills everyone who tries to go against her.”

“Don't you at least have a secret underground group of rebels ready to take the reins of state once she's been deposed?”

“If we do then I've never heard of them.”

“Well, I'm sure you can sort out a provisional government when I'm gone. It can't be that hard,” he added, despite being aware that he didn't entirely know how often such things worked out after he left a hastily-liberated planet. “Right,” he said, looking at his watch, “I'd better get started. I promised I'd pop in on Rosa Luxemburg this evening, and I don't want another lecture about lateness being a sign of bourgeois decadence.”

He trudged up to the castle alone, heading for the heavily-armoured front door as the sun sat high in the heat-less afternoon sky. He pulled the psychic paper from a pocket and waved it at the bored-looking guards.

“Turret inspector, I'm here to check on your supply of attractive maidens with extraordinarily long hair.”

The guards looked at each other. Then one of them said “That's just a blank sheet of paper.”

“Is it?” The Doctor inspected it with some surprise. “You don't see anything about turrets?”

One of the guards drew his sword. It looked very sharp. “Trickery won't work on us, witch.”

“Why are you calling me a witch? I'm not a witch, I'm just a strange man with a blank sheet of paper. Actually, the turret thing's just an excuse to try and sell you double-glazing.” He looked up at the castle. “I see you have glazing here, that puts you one-up on the villagers.” He felt something sharp at the small of his back, realised that the other guard had circled around behind him.

“He talks like a madman,” said the guard at his back. “Do you think we should kill him?”

“Okay,” said the Doctor, trying another tactic. “Take me to your leader?”

Disappointingly there was a functioning bureaucracy on this planet, which meant that instead of the queen the Doctor was taken to see one of those sinister advisers who tended to congregate around dictators. He sat in a chair in the middle of a room with discreet storage cupboards that almost certainly held torture equipment.

“Who are you?” asked the man in the black robes.

“I told you, I sell double-glazing. Have you ever thought about how much warmer you'd be with two windows instead of just one?” He tried the knots that tied him to the chair. Not impossibly well-tied, but it would take him a few minutes to get free. He kept talking to cover his movements. “We've actually got an offer on at the moment, on skylights.”

The robed man nodded. “A madman, just as I suspected.” He sighed and produced a piece of parchment from his robes. “How would you prefer to be executed?”

“I get a choice?” asked the Doctor, surprised.

“Of course you do. We are not unkind.”

“I would like,” said the Doctor, “to meet the Queen before I die. Maybe she could kill me herself?”

“The Queen does not carry out executions personally.”

“Whyever not? She could use an axe, and maybe wear an old dress that she doesn't mind getting blood on.” He felt the ropes slacken around his wrists. “Or she could laugh in my face as she cuts out my still-beating hearts. I bet she'd enjoy that.”

The man looked at him strangely. “Hearts? How many do you have?”

“Just the two. Oh, that I had more than two hearts and thirteen lives to give her!”

The other man drew in a breath. “Where are you from? Tell me!”

“You won't have heard of it,” said the Doctor.


“...okay, obviously you have heard of it,” said the Doctor, somewhat confused by this turn of events.

“Then, yes,” said the man, “I think the Queen will want to see you.” He gestured to a minion to release the Doctor, who in turn found the alien's hands already free.

“Sorry,” said the Doctor, patting the confused man on the shoulder as he stood up, “force of habit.”

The Queen of Winter sat on her throne, eyes closed and back straight. A circlet of icy white held her her long dark hair from her pale skin. She looked tall, vaguely aristocratic, and serene.

He'd never seen her before in his life, but he knew her in an instant.

She opened her eyes. “Doctor.”

“Romana.” He corrected himself. “The Queen of Winter.”

“The Oncoming Storm,” she said with a smile. “What do names matter?” She rose from her throne and crossed the space between them to stand a few feet away. Her long white dress trailed along the floor as she moved. “You've regenerated.”

“So have you.”

“Not quite as many times as you have, I expect.”

“No,” he admitted, “probably not. Anyway, not to beat about the bush, you appear to be alive.”


“And in N-Space.”


He felt his face move into a grin. “Oh, this is Christmas and for once I've been a good boy!” He moved to embrace her, but she stepped back and her guards stepped forwards. “No hug?” he asked, disappointed.

“I don't think that would be appropriate, all things considered,” said Romana.

The Doctor's face fell. “What things?”

“For one thing, it's been six hundred years since I last saw you.”

“Speaking of which...” said the Doctor.

“There were cracks,” she said, “tearing across the fabric of E-Space. I was bored, I took a chance. I went home.” She looked up at him, expressionless. “I tried to go home.”

“Do you know what happened?” he asked quietly.

“I could guess. It was you who ended it, no?”

“I didn't have much choice in the matter.”

“So I assumed,” she said. “What was that old prophecy? The one about the death of our people and some bastard child from your House?”

“A story to frighten children,” said the Doctor dismissively.

“Rassilon believed it,” she countered.

“You're seriously using fairy-tales against me?”

“I don't hold you responsible,” she said, returning to her throne. “If I had been there I'd have done the same thing.”

He took a step towards her. “Grief's a terrible thing, Romana. It affects us all in different ways. You've, obviously, gone slightly off the deep end, but that's okay, we can put it behind us.”

She smiled. “Oh, Doctor, always so optimistic.” She sat back on the throne. “I did leave N-Space on purpose, you know. I didn't like Gallifrey.”

“I thought you were just trying to get away from me,” he said, lightly.

“That too,” she said with an unconcerned nod.

He tried to ignore the pain. “What happened to you?”

“Apart from the obvious, you mean? Apart from losing my home, my family, my culture? Isn't that enough?”

“So now you're, what, a dictator?”

Romana laughed. “Oh, hardly. The people love me.”

“Love and fear are quite different things, Romana,” said the Doctor.

“I feed them, I clothe them, I keep them safe.”

“Safe from what?”

“From people like you.” She leaned forwards. “You meddle, Doctor. You meddle and then you leave and you don't care what happens afterwards.”

She might as well have slapped him in the face. “That's not true,” he said, trying to gain control of the conversation. “And if it was true – which, again, it isn't – you never complained about that when we were together. You always ran off with me while the dust settled.”

“I grew up,” she said simply. “I learned a lot in E-Space. I learned about consequences, and stability, and about what happens when people like you run away from your responsibilities.”

“And obviously,” said the Doctor, “the solution is for you to rule the world and make everyone do what you tell them. Why didn't I think of that?” He slapped his forehead. “Oh, that's right, because I'm not evil.”

Romana stood. “Get off my planet.”

“It's not your planet though, is it? You've stolen it.”

“I could have you executed,” she said quietly.

“Why don't you?” he countered.

She sat down again. “You have until this evening to leave. That's more than generous.”

“If I don't?”

“Then the local population will learn to hate you,” she said calmly.

The Doctor decided on a tactical retreat. He gave her a mocking bow and then turned to leave her chambers. He stopped at the door. “This ends,” he said. “How it ends is up to you, but it ends.”

The sun was setting by the time he arrived back at the village. He walked into Drea's house without knocking. Thorban and Merin looked up from their work as he entered.

The Doctor handed them an empty sack. “You might want to go away for a few days. Things might get messy.”

Merin stared at him. “What are you talking about? Where would we go?”

“Your Queen of Winter is a Time Lord. Used to be a good one, and whatever's wrong with her moral compass at the moment makes her one to worry about.”

Drea stepped into the room. “I thought you said it would only take you an afternoon?”

The Doctor shook his head. “I taught that woman how to topple empires. She knows what I do and she knows how to stop me.”

“So there's no way to get rid of her?” asked Thorban.

“I didn't say that,” said the Doctor. He looked at Drea. “And no, I'm not going to kill her. She's still one of my own people, whatever she's done.” He closed his eyes. “I was so happy to see her,” he said quietly.

Thorban stood. “I'm sorry, Doctor, we can't risk you staying in the house. She has spies everywhere.”

“The barn,” Drea suggested. “He could sleep in the barn.”

“That's still too close.”

“I've got a... sort of a caravan,” said the Doctor. “Help me hide it somewhere and I won't have to stay with anyone.”

“Agreed,” said Thorban, picking up his coat. “Let's go.”

The Doctor was silent on the walk back to the TARDIS, kicking through the snow deep in troubling thoughts.

“You knew her before?” asked Thorban, presumably to break the silence.

The Doctor nodded, partly relieved to be roused from his own thoughts. “She was a friend. A really good friend. Perhaps a protégée.”

“A lover?”

“Bit of a personal question, that,” said the Doctor.

His new friend shrugged. “If that's why you won't kill her-”

“Our planet's gone,” the Doctor interjected. “Me and Romana are the last of our kind. I've tried to save people worse than her.”

They arrived at the TARDIS, which thankfully brought a change to the conversation.

“I thought you said it was a caravan? Where are the wheels?”

“It's a bit hard to explain to someone who's never even seen an internal combustion engine,” said the Doctor apologetically. “No offence.” He pulled the key from his jacket pocket. “Now,” he said, “this may blow your mind a bit, but I promise it's not foul witchery.” He ushered Thorban through the doors and then followed him in.


“Bigger on the inside?” Thorban nodded and the Doctor patted his shoulder. “Don't worry, everyone says that.” He walked over to the controls. “Now, is there any chance that you know the twelve-dimensional space-time coordinates of this barn of yours?”

The TARDIS materialised slowly with her usual fuss of noise. The Doctor stepped out and almost fell over Drea. He moved her to one side as her father exited the time-machine.

“Where did that come from?” she asked, staring at the blue box. She looked at the Doctor. “Are you a witch?”

“No! What is it with this planet and witches?”

Drea touched the doors of the TARDIS. “It's warm!”

“I'll explain later,” said the Doctor.

“Why later?”

“Because I'll have had a chance to make up an impressive lie later.”

Drea smiled at him and handed him the blanket she was carrying. “I thought you'd need this.”

“That's very thoughtful,” he told her. He looked at her, sizing her up. “How old are you?”

“Eighteen,” she replied. “And I'll be nineteen before the moons line up again.”

“How would you feel about travelling the universe?”

She blinked at him. “Pardon?”

The Doctor shook himself. “No,” he told himself, “not replacing them. No more picking up strays.” To Drea he said “Don't worry about the universe, this is a great planet.”

“If you say so.” She glanced at the TARDIS again and then said, “I have to help my mother make the evening meal.”

“Is it gruel?” asked the Doctor. “Don't worry, I love gruel. Om nom nom, gruel.”

The next morning he headed back to the castle, determined to give Romana another chance. He walked past the guards on the door with a quick “Time Lord, here to see your Time Lord, don't interfere.”

Romana was at the window of her throne room when he entered the room.

“I knew you wouldn't leave,” she said, without turning to look at him. “You just can't help yourself, can you?”

He joined her at the window, gazed out at the snow-covered trees. “Any chance you'd like to go on a date?” he asked.

She looked at him incredulously. “With you?”

“Birds do it, bees do it, even educated Gallifreyans do it.” He winked at her.

Romana sighed. “Doctor, this is pathetic. What's the plan? Shag the goodness back into me?”

“I wouldn't have phrased it like that, but... yeah?” He touched her cheek, stroked his fingers across the icy skin. “I could warm you up.” He leaned towards her, lips parted.

Romana slapped him. “Even for you that's arrogant,” she said pityingly.

The Doctor rubbed his cheek where she'd hit him. “It was worth a try.”

Romana raised a hand and placed it on his chest, between his hearts. Her touch was cold.

“Leave me alone,” she said.


She pressed her hand against him. Something cold worked its way through his clothes to his skin. The Doctor gasped as the heat began to leave him. He could almost feel ice crystals forming in his blood, stopping the flow to his hearts. He fell to his knees, Romana moving with him to keep her hand in place.

“What..?” He shivered convulsively. His hearts ached as they started to freeze.

“I picked this up on my travels. A surprisingly simple trick.”

The Doctor felt one of his hearts slow almost to a stop.

Romana removed her hand. Heat flooded back through the Doctor's body as it corrected his internal temperature.

“Now,” she said, “off you go.” She stood and walked over to sit on her throne.

The Doctor sat up on the floor. “Why are you doing this? I lost them too, you know.”

“You cut yourself off from our people long before they died.”

“So did you.”

“They never exiled me. They never put me on trial.”

The Doctor got to his feet. “If they could see you now -”

“Well they can't, can they?” she retorted.

He stared at her for a long moment and then nodded. “You're right. They can't. I'm the only one who can judge you.”

“Doctor,” she said, sounding suddenly tired, “if you don't leave right now I'm going to start killing civilians.”

“Oh, a Dalek tactic, how completely sane you are.”

She stared him down and he stepped back from her.

“I'll go,” he said, “but this isn't the last time you'll see me.”

He emerged from the TARDIS carrying an armful of miscellaneous equipment. He set them down on the floor of the barn and stared at them.

“What's all this?” asked Drea, who had somehow insinuated herself as his unofficial assistant.

“Ways to stop a Time Lord,” he said, serious.

“I thought you said -”

“Stop. Not kill.”

Drea nodded. “So what do we do?”

He raised his eyebrows at her. “'We'? No, you're staying here, this is far too dangerous.”

“I want to help!” she protested.

“You'd just be something else for me to worry about. I'm done with dragging people into danger just because I like the company.”

“When you leave -”

He cut her off. “No.”

“You don't even know what I was going to say!”

“You want to come with me,” he sighed. “You want to see the stars.”

“I can cook,” she insisted, “and I can clean.” She stepped towards him. “And I'm young, I could give you lots of children.”

“Ah,” said the Doctor. He held her at arm's length. “I'm already married,” he said gently, thankful for at least having a good excuse to let her down.

Drea looked down at her feet. “Oh. I should have realised.”

“Anyway,” he went on, “you're only eighteen, don't you think that's a bit young to be starting a family? You've got a world to explore, people to see, things to invent.”

“I feel stupid now,” she told him.

“Don't,” he said, shaking his head. “I may have been giving you mixed signals. I do that sometimes.” He looked down at his collection of technology. “I had a friend, not long ago. Two friends, actually. I thought we could run forever, but we couldn't. I lost them.”

“I'm sorry,” said Drea, because that was what people said even when it wasn't their fault.

The Doctor blinked his eyes and cleared his throat. “Anyway, let's get to work.”

“Third time lucky?” asked Romana as he entered the throne room. Her eyes widened as she saw what he held in his hand. “Is that a temporal inhibitor?”

“It'll hurt like hell,” said the Doctor, “but it won't kill you.”

Romana stood and spread her arms. “You won't use it.”

“Why not?”

She smiled. “Paris. Argolis. Calufrax. And what was that horrible swamp-planet again?”

“That was a long time ago,” said the Doctor.

She stepped towards him gracefully. “What did you do when I left you? Did you miss me?” She touched his chest. “Did your hearts stop beating?”

He felt the cold again, heat flowing into her fingers from his body. He dropped the inhibitor and fell to his knees. “Romana,” he said. “I just-”

He was cut off by a body pushing him across the floor, disconnecting him from Romana.

“Don't hurt him,” said Drea, holding a lead pipe in one hand and swinging it dangerously.

“Oh, Doctor,” said Romana with a wide smile, “you do inspire such loyalty.” She held her hand out towards Drea. “Give me that weapon,” she said in a tone that made the girl hand it to her without hesitating. Romana tidied Drea's hair with her hands. “So young. Such a shame.” She pressed her hand against the girl's chest.

Drea gasped as the heat started to leave her body.

“Romana, stop,” said the Doctor from where he still lay on the floor of the chamber.

Romana didn't move. “Why?”

“Because you're killing her, and that's not something you can come back from.”

She laughed. “Oh, I'm responsible for more deaths than you realise.”

He started to stand up. “But you didn't do it yourself, with your own hands.”
“As if that makes a difference,” she said dismissively, still pulling the heat from her victim.

“Please,” said the Doctor. “I don't want you to do this. I don't want you to have to see what I see when I look in a mirror.” He crossed the room slowly, painfully.

Romana looked at him and blinked. He took the opportunity to push her back against her throne, using his other hand to shove Drea out of the way. He picked up the discarded temporal inhibitor and pointed it at Romana.

“Go on,” she said, laughing. “I don't care any more. I don't care about anything.”

“I know,” he said, “but you will.” He dropped the weapon and knelt beside the fallen Time Lord. “You will.”

“I should have gone home when they asked. I should have died with them.”

The Doctor sat by Romana as she lay curled up on a bed in the TARDIS. He stroked her back and spoke quietly to her. “It's okay,” he said, “you haven't done anything wrong by living.”

She wiped tears from her eyes with the back of her hand. “I hate feeling like this.”

“But you have to.”

She nodded. “Does it get better?”

“Probably,” said the Doctor.

“You don't know?”

“Not yet. But I know it gets easier to hide it from other people.”

Romana looked up at him. “I think I liked it more when my hearts were frozen. I don't know how to live like this.”

The Doctor leaned down and kissed the warm skin of her forehead. “One day at a time,” he said.



April 2014

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