#yes it's me again back with more unasked for parallels
buddie + being each other's first call
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Why Chloe Bourgeois Should Have Been Redeemed
Oh, am I really about to talk about the most controversial arc of Miraculous Ladybug?
Yep, so strap in. This is gonna be a long one.
Now, I will say that everything that I am going to say in this post is not only information that I learned in my time as a psychology major in college…but it is also the culmination of talking to multiple individuals who are dealing or have dealt with forms of childhood neglect and/or abuse.
Okay, now we all know that Chloe Bourgeois is definitely no saint, but she definitely is not completely unredeemable as some people have alluded to. (You know the one.)
It is monumentally clear to me, as someone who has studied and written multiple papers on this subject, that Chloe is 100% a victim of childhood emotional neglect and abuse.
Now, what is that exactly? Well…
Childhood emotional neglect is the failure of parents or caregivers to respond to a child’s emotional needs. Childhood emotional abuse happens when a child is repeatedly made to feel worthless, unloved, alone or scared. This includes, but isn’t limited to:
Continually ignoring or rejecting a child
Audrey being completely unavailable to Chloe until she arrives in Paris in “Style Queen”
“I’ve never been to New York with you, and now you’re taking Marinette Dupain-Cheng?!” — Chloe, Queen Wasp
Constantly criticizing, humiliating, or blaming a child
“She always was such a show-off”, “What? Regarding my daughter’s ineptitude?”, “Chloe just clearly demonstrated that there is nothing exceptional about her.” — Audrey, Queen Wasp
Withholding love, praise, support, or attention from a child
“It’s not her fault, okay? Chloe just doesn’t like birthdays. She never remembers them, just like her mom.” — Sabrina, Zombizou
Telling a child that they’re worthless, unloved, or not enough
“The only thing exceptional about you, my dear, is your mother.” — Audrey, Queen Wasp
This is just to name a few, there are many more examples. Now, what can all of this do to a child mentally? Well…
1. They may have demanding behavior
2. They may try too hard to please their parents and/or their peers
3. They may fail to connect with others
4. They may appear uncaring or indifferent
5. They may withdraw from friends or group activities
6. They may shun emotional closeness or intimacy
7. They may often display aggression or anger
All of these seem like textbook behaviors for Chloe, don’t they? Now, this is in no way excusing her behavior, but it does explain it. This may also be why her father, Andre, acts the way he does. Audrey seems to be emotionally abusive toward Andre as well, and he can clearly see that Audrey is abusive to Chloe and tries to get her to be easier on their daughter.
She clearly doesn’t let up…so Andre gives Chloe whatever she wants and showers her in praise.
This is very common in situations where only one parent is emotionally abusive to a child and the other is not. The more caring parent overcompensates in response to the lack of/negative attention that the abusive parent gives.
Andre treats Chloe like a princess to make up for Audrey treating Chloe like a pauper. It’s no wonder that Andre got akumatized when he learned that Chloe would be leaving with Audrey. Would you want your child to be in a harmful setting 24/7?
But, speaking as someone who was in the exact same situation, no amount of positive reinforcement from one parent can make up for the constant teardowns you get from the other parent. Chloe looks up to her mother, acts just like her, imitates the way she walks. None of it works. Chloe isn’t sure what else she can do to make her mother notice her, to get her approval. So…she asks.
Chloe asks her mother point blank “Why don’t you love me?” This question implies so many others that go unasked: “What am I doing wrong?” “What can I do better?” “What is wrong with me?” “Am I not good enough?”
Look at her face. She looks she’s trying to do everything she can to keep from crying as she asks.
Chloe Bourgeois is arrogant, confident, and egotistical. This…This is Chloe. A girl who puts on a front, a girl who manufactures her high self-esteem…
A girl who was told that she wasn’t good enough time and time again…by someone she loves and looks up to…and wants to do everything she can to keep herself from hearing it from someone else.
So why am I saying that Chloe should have been redeemed? Easy.
To demonstrate to viewers that it is possible to break the cycle of abuse; and, that, in some instances, you can make an abuser see the error of their ways. Keep in mind, that the ML writers are showing that with another character: Adrien Agreste.
Gabriel Agreste emotionally neglects his son and has been doing so for about a year, if we assume that Gabriel’s neglectful behavior was tied to his wife’s ‘disappearance’.
Gabriel Agreste is withdrawn, manipulative, and cold in almost every instance we see him in.
Adrien Agreste, however, is kind, caring, sympathetic, and helpful in almost every instance we see him in.
Is Adrien a perfect character? No, he definitely has his flaws.
Is Adrien a better person than his father? Yes.
They could have done this parallel with Chloe. Hell, this could have been a thing that Chloe and Adrien could have bonded over since they are supposed to be childhood friends!
The writers started to sow the seeds of this concept in Queen Wasp, the main episode in which we see Audrey emotionally abusing Chloe. When all is said and done, they show that Chloe is remorseful and that she knows what she did was wrong.
So, Chloe isn’t as horrible as she seems. She knows right from wrong. She wanted a second chance. She wanted to be better…to be exceptional.
The writers could have given her a chance. Go back to that heart-wrenching conversation Chloe begins with her mother.
All of us know that, in canon, this conversation doesn’t demonstrate growth at all. Marinette tells Audrey that Chloe is exceptionally mean. Chloe tells her mother all the horrible stuff that she does to everyone. Chloe and Audrey bond over being horrible. End of episode.
This could have been a really good lesson…if you took the time to dig a bit deeper. Start with the same exact line:
Chloe: Why don’t you love me, mom?
Audrey: O-Of course I l-love you.
In the episode, Marinette butts in here. Instead, keep her quiet for now. Let Chloe be vulnerable, let her say how she feels.
Chloe: Well, it doesn’t really feel like it. I try so hard to be someone you can be proud of. I try so hard to please you…I try so hard to be you…But it never seems to be enough. You’re never around, mom. And if you are, it might as well be that you aren’t because I feel like I’m invisible. You can’t even remember my name. What can I do better? How can I be exceptional?
This could, potentially, be where Audrey realizes how she treats her daughter. She shouldn’t be treating her daughter like an underling if she really does love her. This can also be where Marinette actually helps to forward the conversation. She can recall moments where Chloe actually did try to help and to be a better person. Like when she sacrificed herself in Zombizou to help Ladybug, or when she helped Ladybug defeat Despair Bear. Now, Chloe doesn’t know that Marinette knows this, but Marinette doesn’t have to give these as examples. Instead:
Marinette: You know, Chloe is pretty great when she puts her mind to it. She threw a party for the whole school not too long ago to make up for a mistake she made. Now, the reason she threw the party was mainly for Adrien’s sake, but she made up for that in the end, too. Chloe can do a little better, but don’t you think that she should have a good role model to look to for guidance?
Now, there are still two ways for Audrey to go here. She can choose to see herself in the right and can continue abusing Chloe...or she can be better, thereby encouraging Chloe to be better as well. Even if Audrey chooses to remain abusive, Chloe has now heard that Marinette Dupain-Cheng, a girl who she’s tried to make miserable in every way she can, sees some good in her. Someone Chloe seems to hate sees something worthwhile in her…and, in the words of Eliza Schuyler, that could be enough.
If she enhances that good that Marinette sees in her, the good that Adrien sees in her, the good that Sabrina sees in her, the good that Jean the butler sees in her, the good that Ladybug sees in her…then she can be enough.
She doesn’t have to be like her mom. She could be like Ladybug. She can be exceptional.
She can be a hero.
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Personally, I’ve never paid that much attention to the Applewood manor. As far as I was concerned, it was just this lovely country estate that the Princes once viewed as a safe haven, away from the press and prying eyes. Applewood also turns out to be the first place where Liam, as an adult, finally allows himself to hope for a future with the MC, and the first time she sees him truly happy and carefree. It is the first place he allows himself to truly dream about his life with her. However, the shattering of this dream also begins in Applewood itself, right here in the MC’s bedroom.
By placing this love scene in the same bedroom, the book transforms this commonplace location into something that takes on a symbolic and metaphorical richness within the story. Allow me to elaborate further.
We first see (and I mean really see) the MC’s bedroom at a pivotal point in the story: when her privacy is being violated on multiple levels (the tampering of her lock, the invasive reporter who climbs a tree to take photographs of her in a state of undress, and Tariq being sent to her room by someone who is out to harm her). The work done to place her in an obviously vulnerable situation makes this bedroom a site of danger, an unsafe place.
But what is just as important to the MC is what happens after. She finds support and a semblance of security in the same bedroom as well: originally through Drake’s intervention, and now when Liam comes in to check on her. There are various parallels to these two scenes, that also serve as a clear contrast to the way Tariq forced his presence on her.
Both the Applewood bedroom scenes featuring these two love interests include diamond sequences. The pivotal choice the MC is to make, requires her to convince either man to stay back and spend more time with her. Both scenes feature alcohol of the love interest’s choice (whiskey for Drake, wine for Liam). Both allow the MC to choose her response to them, based on who the reader ships her with. Both ALSO feature the MC in a position of healing (physically healing Drake’s wounds, emotionally healing Liam when she hugs him after telling her that he wishes the ring was on her hand instead).
But what really stands out for me in both sequences, is the way the bedroom is used both is a site of danger and a safe space exposing vulnerability. Prior to each diamond sequence, both men acknowledge how unsafe her room is/was, and how worried they are that something bad will happen to her. But in the same room, we also see two of the three most guarded men in the books (I will explain why I call Liam “guarded” later on in this essay) become emotionally vulnerable: opening themselves up to the MC in a way that they haven’t before. The MC is also given a choice to either set the boundaries of her relationship with either of them (a clear contrast to her lack of choice with Tariq) or initiate romance.
The most interesting parallel lies in how Drake and Liam both view the precariousness of their relationship with the MC:
Drake pictures an alternate reality where Liam doesn’t feature, where the MC is someone he gets to meet at some normal place, free of her obligations as a suitor to the Prince. Liam envisions a role-reversal, where he is the commoner competing for the Princess’ hand. Both are emotionally loaded sequences, because they reveal insecurities and unasked questions within both men.
The books constantly underline Drake’s insecurities - his feelings of unworthiness stemming from being slighted as a commoner and as a person, and seeing people prefer Liam’s company to his. The book also underlines Liam’s feelings of self-doubt and his fear that people like him more for what he represents than who he is. These insecurities bleed into how they view their relationship with the MC as well, which is why both attempt to understand where they stand by asking her the same question. Would you have loved me?
The Applewood bedroom, therefore, is both a space of violation, and a safe space that allows for sharing, vulnerability and security. Both for the MC and for these two men in love with her.
I have a theory about this room.
This might be a bit of a stretch, but I was wondering if the MC got this particular room because it meant something special to Liam. No one else seems to know about the secret wine stash, and he implies that it is the only room to have one. Moreover, for Liam to be able to allot Drake’s room he would have to know where the MC was staying, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he had some say in allotting her room as well.
I envision this room as probably being a favourite of Liam’s from earlier visits there, and one that he gives to the MC because it means something to him. Unfortunately, the conspiracy ends up sullying so many happy associations he could have had with that room, so that - now - all he can think of is whether the MC will ever be safe again. We already know he feels tremendous guilt and self-anger at not being able to protect her the last time. Even though he spends every night praying she is safe, it is at Applewood that he takes the initiative - against his better judgement - to ensure her safety personally.
And maybe, just maybe, his looking out for her, staying in that room with her, opening his heart to her and loving her, is his way to setting things right again.
For me that highlights a very beautiful, and very painful, irony about the current status of their relationship.
This sequence is very important to me, because it highlights not only why Liam loves the MC, but also why he feels she will make a perfect queen. Remember, Liam’s feelings are still considered secondary to his duties towards the kingdom, and those duties involve finding Cordonia a queen that will lead the country with him. Liam may not mention this goal very often, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to him anymore. I mentioned in this essay that Liam’s goals as a monarch are people-oriented, not power-oriented. The MC’s response choices to this scenario (besides the ‘hat’ one) reveal the MC as either finding a solution to the problem (finding paper towels) or putting people at ease (crack a joke). Notice how both these options are more focussed on the people around her than on her own condition in that scenario? That is pretty much a textbook example of how a people-oriented ruler’s mind would work.
Part of why Liam is so confident in his decision to make her his bride in Book 1, is that he sees clear potential in her. He has, over a number of sequences in Book 1, highlighted her thinking as being “unique” and acknowledged that there is a certain freshness to her thought process that, with proper training, may potentially benefit his kingdom.
The other thing this thread of conversation highlights is the downside of constant stoicism and perfection. “Every gaffe isn’t a disaster”, Liam says, and - if one chooses for Hana to 'accidentally’ spill the curry chicken at the picnic - this is exactly how Madeleine (a master at duplicity and perceived stoicism) reacts. The downside to being stoic and maintaining composure constantly is that there is literally no space left for error, which means the simplest mistakes can get blown completely out of proportion. Liam is basically (and very subtly) advocating the benefits of letting the mask slip once in a while. And this is the root of why he feels the MC would have been perfect for his country, besides being the woman he loves so much.
It’s often very hard to see Liam as “guarded”.
After all, he does tell us a lot about himself. At the masquerade he tells the MC about his country’s past, his mother’s death, his childhood exploits. Over the books he lets out little tidbits about himself: I hate sailing, I only realised love was important after seeing how it changed my brother, I’m worried about becoming King so soon. But very often there is a pattern to how he speaks of these things. He tends to stick mostly to the easier stuff with the MC: the happier memories or stories about Cordonia. More emotional revelations tend to be made only if Liam wants to pass on important information or warn her (eg. the truth about his mother’s death was mentioned only so he could give her an idea of the kind of danger she was in at the Coronation).
Here, he opens up with little prompting from the MC’s side. Had the MC asked the Liam of Book 1 if he were having a hard time, he would have probably given her vague answers, like “oh, the usual, but nothing I can’t handle”. But here he makes sure she knows exactly how emotionally draining the whole pretense is on him:
He does this again when he reveals how he manages to convince people he is happy with Madeleine. He gives us an insight into his first few weeks, the advice Regina gave him, and his desire to let the MC know that her memory/presence is what has been keeping him strong all this while.
Opening up doesn’t come easy to this man. He may trust the MC, yes, but mere trust isn’t enough for such a man to let his guard down. It takes a transformation of an entire worldview to reach that stage, and this sequence highlights that transformation beautifully.
I view this sequence as a watershed in the Liam x MC relationship for exactly this reason: around the MC…all his walls, all his stoicism, all his secrecy, is unnecessary. He is allowed, at last, to be human.
Just before the couple kiss/make love/part ways (depending on the reader’s choice), Liam asks her a very important question: Would she still choose him if the tables were turned? If she was the Princess, and he was the Mystery Man who had come to win her hand, would she still choose him?
One way this can be viewed is through the lens of “normalcy”. That while Liam loves his kingdom and wants to serve it, he often wonders what a different life would have looked like. Make no mistake: Cordonia is the core of his identity. It’s who he is and who he’s meant to be and he has lived his whole life on this principle not because he is forced into that, but because he loves his country. But at the same time he is a man who loves normalcy and simplicity. His biggest dream is to have a normal family and provide his future children as regular a childhood as a King can manage. His favourite haunts are organic, natural places. The experiences the MC gives him are not grand gestures, they are simple heartfelt things - and that’s why he loves them so much. I believe that he finds a lot of fulfillment in his role as king, but often craves normalcy in some aspects of his life.
There are other ways one can interpret this question, but my personal pet theory is this: that Liam, so far, has been in so deep in his various roles that he doesn’t know who he really is without them anymore.
As I have mentioned before, Liam is a man who doubts himself and his likeability, often and frequently. He expresses surprise whenever someone shows concern for him, admits that his role is a big part of why people want to pay attention to him in the first place, is moved emotionally by the smallest, simplest gestures. Here, he questions not whether the MC would have loved him (he trusts her too much for that) but whether HE would possess anything worth loving as an ordinary man. He knows that in her place he would have done just as much as she did, but he doesn’t know if as an ordinary person anyone will find anything in him worth choosing or loving. This is evident by his reaction to her 'romantic’ response:
When the MC tells him that she would have fallen for him regardless, he isn’t just happy. He is literally at a loss for words. And this is a man who already knows this woman is madly in love with him. That kind of affirmation, obviously, means more to him that than the MC can possibly imagine.
Placed within this context, the love scene that follows feels more like a natural progression that stems from something more emotionally intimate. Again, the MC calls the shots on how far she wants them to go, and both options feel emotionally satisfying (if the reader chooses “just kissing”, he tells her that he loves her just before they go to sleep). I feel the beauty of the love scene is not just in what they do while it happens, but in everything that has come before.
I love doing these essays, honestly, and I love knowing that there are people out there who love reading them. But more than that, I also love it when my essays/insights open up discussions on the books. So I’ve decided to pen down a few things I would like to get YOUR opinion on, before closing this essay:
1. What are your views on the Mystery Man question? Why do you think Liam asks the MC this?
2. This one is primarily for Liam stans: what, in your opinion, would make your MC a good queen?
A lot of credit for this section goes to @firefly-hwufanficwriter , thank you so much! 💜 (Guys, answering these questions are completely optional: you totally don't need to answer them to leave a review/response 😀 I'd be just as happy to simply hear what you think) Let me know if you guys would like something like this at the end of each essay!
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Bael, Rose(s) of Winterfell, and Prophecies
So this meta is written in response to @bloomray and laney’s conversation that you all should read here before reading what follows. It’ll make more sense that way since this adds on a few things to B’s post.
Preface of Sorts
So first, a quick confession. I’m real hard pressed to find any evidence in ASOIAF of Jonerys. I’m sure it exists; I’m sure shippers can point me to something somewhere, but everything mostly feels like a stretch. And hey, that’s okay because god knows you don’t have to ship stuff that’s even remotely canonical. To each their own and all that. What does annoy me, however, is leveraging certain lines and selectively reading without a lot of context in order to prove canonical foundation. For me, the line that gets stretched the most is this one from the House of the Undying prophecies:
A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness.
Somehow, blue flower = Jon and sweetness = romance, and hence Jonerys is endgame. As bloomray pointed out in her post (and as other meta writers have as well), sweetness has a lot of negative connotations to it in ASOIAF, particularly in Dany’s narrative. Bloomray already outlined that in her piece, so I’m not going to rehash that here other than to say that perhaps the sweet smell could be the sweet smell of decaying flesh from the Others and Wights Beyond-the-Wall that Jon’s narrative is tied to? Just a thought.
Anyway, what I’m most interested in is the blue flower part in this post. Laney came up with the initial idea of the blue flower alluding to the tale of Bael the Bard, and bloomray expanded upon it in her post.
For this post, I want to talk about framing and the context surrounding the places where we hear about the tale of Bael the Bard to understand how it might fit into Jon’s narrative and, by extension, what GRRM is trying to get at in the HotU prophecy.
Bael the Bard’s Song
First, let’s talk about where Bael appears most significantly in the text. The only places that Bael isn’t just name-dropped in passing are Jon VI in ACOK and Jon I in ASOS. The former is where the story is laid out, and the latter is when it is revealed that Mance infiltrated Bobby B’s visit to Winterfell. It may be worth noting, in passing, that Bael is never mentioned in ASOIAF outside of Jon’s POV. Thus, I think it’s fair to say that the story of Bael is meant to tell us something about Jon.
So the story itself:
“North or south, singers always find a ready welcome, so Bael ate at Lord Stark’s own table, and played for the lord in his high seat until half the night was gone. The old songs he played, the new ones he’d made himself, and he played and sang so well that when he was done, the lord offered to let him name his own reward. ‘All I ask is a flower,’ Bael answered, ‘the fairest flower that blooms in the gardens o’ Winterfell.’”
“Now as it happened the winter roses had only then come into bloom, and no flower is so rare nor precious. So the Stark sent to his glass gardens and commanded that the most beautiful o’ the winter roses be plucked for the singer’s payment. And so it was done. But when morning come, the singer had vanished...and so had Lord Brandon’s maiden daughter. Her bed they found empty, but for the pale blue rose that Bael had left on the pillow where her head had lain.”
“Lord Brandon had no other children. At his behest, the black crows flew forth from their castles in the hundreds, but nowhere could they find any sign o’ Bael or this maid. For most a year they searched, till the lord lost heart and took to his bed, and it seemed as though the line o’ Starks was at its end. But one night as he lay waiting to die, Lord Brandon heard a child’s cry. He followed the sound and found his daughter back in her bedchamber, asleep with a babe at her breast.”
“Bael had brought her back?”
“No, They had been in Winterfell all the time, hiding with the dead beneath the castle. The maid loved Bael so dearly she bore him a son, the song says...though if truth be told, all the maids love Bael in them songs he wrote. Be that as it may, what’s certain is that Bael left the child in payment for the rose be’d plucked unasked, and that the boy grew to be the next Lord Stark. So there it is--you have Bael’s blood in you, same as me.”
-Jon VI, ACOK
Alright, so there’s that--the tale itself. And the similarities to Rhaegar and Lyanna are definitely there within the story itself. Singer, Winterfell’s daughter, a son born to a dying line (Targs), etc.
Perhaps Jonerys shippers read the similarities between the tale and Rhaegar/Lyanna and make the blue rose a connection to Targaryen bedding Stark. I say bedding here because (1) I don’t believe Rhaegar/Lyanna were ever married, (2) the power dynamics make consent very challenging in this relationship, and (3) as Ygritte says, maybe the Rose of Winterfell did love Bael like the song claims, but in Bael’s songs everyone is in love with him so it’s hard to say what the nature of the relationship was.
Winter’s Rose v2.0 - Lyanna Stark; Or, Why This isn’t About Jonerys, but Jon’s Parentage
Now that we have access to the tale itself, I want to talk about what surrounds the tale. As I said in my preface, I think what frames the tale tells us a lot about how we’re supposed to read it both in the context of the chapter and ASOIAF as a whole.
Let’s look at what comes almost directly before the tale first. Ygritte and Jon share the following exchange:
“You said you were the Bastard o’ Winterfell.”
“Who was your mother?”
“Some woman. Most of them are.” Someone had said that to him once. He did not remember who.
She smiled again, a flash of white teeth. “And she never sung you the song o’ the winter rose?”
“I never knew my mother. Or any such song.”
“Bael the Bard made it,” said Ygritte. - Jon VI, ACOK
And then what follows shortly after when Jon is tasked with beheading Ygritte:
He raised Longclaw over his head, both hands tight around the grip. One cut, with all my weight behind it. He could give her a quick clean death, at least. He was his father’s son. Wasn’t he? Wasn’t he? - Jon VI, ACOK
The tale of Bael the Bard is bookended with mentions of Jon’s (1) maternity, and (2) paternity. Naturally, when Jon references being his father’s son, he’s talking about the man who passes the sentence swinging the sword. But it takes on such a beautiful, double meaning for the reader in the midst of mentioning his mother, telling the tale of Winterfell’s daughter (the Winter Rose) being abducted by a singer, and then Jon questioning his paternity.
The blue rose is meant to represent Lyanna. Of course it’s tied up in the great Rhaegar/Lyanna debacle, but it’s first and foremost about the Rose of Winterfell. Jon is associated with the blue rose through his mother. Yes, through the crown of roses Rhaegar bestowed upon her, but even more significantly through this legend---Winterfell’s daughter and her bastard son who return to Winterfell while he’s still a babe at her breast.
We know Jon will be important in the War for the Dawn, just as Dany will be. It’s only natural they meet. They are, after all, the last surviving big-name Targaryens. But to see that her seeing him in a vision means that they’re going to have a romance or bang? Well, need bloomray and I remind you that Dany also saw a man with a wolf’s head being paraded around (Robb Stark). No one is pairing Dany with a resurrected Robb Stark. We can’t assume anyone she sees in the vision is meant to be her lover.
Into Every Generation? Winter’s Rose v3.0 - Or, I’m Shipper Trash Always and Forever
GRRM loves his sets of three, almost as much as I love Jonrya. The parallels between Lyanna and Arya have been written about a thousand times over. We’re meant to see those two as freakishly similar, from looks to personality. It’s in canon. I don’t think I need to rehash any of that here.
Likewise, bloomray already addressed a bit of the Jonrya parallels to the Bael story in her post. To briefly reiterate, on Jon’s behalf, Mance as Abel (read: Bael) goes to Winterfell in an attempt to save fArya and bring her home to Jon. Jon is the legend’s Bael by proxy, and Arya Winterfell’s daughter who Jon intends to spirit away from Winterfell. (Note: the 3.0 legend plays out by proxy on both ends, because Mance is Jon and Jeyne is Arya, but whatever).
Now, surely you’re thinking that I’m reaching here. Look, at little, yes, but let’s look at the framing of Bael in Jon I in ASOS. Jon goes to meet Mance, and it’s revealed that Mance was present during the King’s visit way back in AGOT. Then:
“Bael the Bard,” said Jon, remembering the tale that Ygritte had told him in the Frostfangs, the night he’d almost killed her.
“Would that I were. I will not deny that Bael’s exploit inspired mine own...but I did not steal either of your sisters that I recall. - Jon I, ASOS
So here Mance likens both Sansa and Arya to the Rose of Winterfell from the initial tale. We’re invited to read all Stark daughters as the Rose of Winterfell. GRRM through Mance is putting Sansa and Arya in the same position as he put Lyanna. If anyone is the Rose of Winterfell/Lyanna Stark in the blue rose image and backstory, it’s Sansa and Arya.
But there’s more. We see the tale appear in two important moments where Jon begins his decent into “breaking” his vows. Except he breaks his vows to play the long con on Mance & co. Sure, he bangs and falls for Ygritte (who reminds him of his little sister, which, weird), but he never truly things to break with the Night’s Watch.
Except he does in ADWD for Arya, Winter’s Rose and Daughter of Winterfell. He tries to steal her from Winterfell, to take part in a war with the Boltons, and thus really and truly breaks the vow that he’s been able to (TWICE befre) resist breaking about taking no part in the affairs of the realm.
But, you say, either Sansa or Arya could be the Winter Rose. Yeah, maybe, except let’s look back at the original story:
“Now as it happened the winter roses had only then come into bloom, and no flower is so rare nor precious.”
Sansa flowered in AGOT. Who is expected to bloom and become a woman in TWOW? Arya Stark. Just check out “Mercy” if you need any proof that she’s using her body sexually as a weapon. And who is the most precious to Jon? His heart, the girl he broke his vows for, the girl he gave his dick to in AGOT. ARYA F-ING STARK.
The beautiful parallels are there, my dears. Maybe v3 is too much to ask of you, and that’s totally okay. It makes a lot of sense to me, especially since ASOIAF up to this point has been basically an ode to Jonrya. Their love is about canonical as it gets. Platonic? Meh, if you must, but you have a lot of weird sexual thoughts to explain away if you think that’s just brother-sister stuff.
I would invite you, however, based on the context surrounding the tale of Bael and in light of everything @bloomray said her post, view that prophecy in the HotU not as Jonerys as canon, but as a not-so-subtle nod to Jon’s parentage for the reader to put the pieces together.
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What do you think changed for Bill and Hillary after 1998 that helped him stop the philandering cycle? Had they done therapy before?
Well, the good news is, we can let them speak for themselves on this topic. I’m making a conscious choice to not use sources that don’t provide direct quotes from both of them, and sticking with three in particular: Living History, My Life, and Hillary’s Talk Magazine interview from 1999. There’s also a quick excerpt from May 2017′s New York Magazine interview. I wanted to add some bits from the Blair Papers in as well, but the length is already a bit out of control.
If you’re reading this and think the Clintons are lying about how they frame their marriage when discussing it publicly, then this post probably won’t do much for you.
Had they done therapy before?
I’ll start here, as it’s a pretty cut-and-dry one. Based on Hillary’s own words in the New York Magazine article from May 2017, the marital counselling after Lewinsky was the first and only time they did any kind of therapy together. Bill may have had therapy/counseling as an individual in the past, but the 90′s was the only time HRC went through any kind of counseling herself, and the only time they did as a couple:
Remembering Election Night and the inauguration, I can’t help but think that Clinton’s ability to set aside her own feelings might be useful but perhaps not entirely healthy. I ask her if she’s ever been in therapy, and she shakes her head. “Unh-uh. No. I have not.” When I express surprise, she allows, “Well, we had some marital counseling in the late ’90s, around our very difficult time, but that’s all.”
She shrugs. “That’s not how I roll. I’m all for it for anybody who’s at all interested in it. It’s just not how I deal with stuff.” [New York Magazine]
What do you think changed for Bill and Hillary after 1998 that helped him stop the philandering cycle?
A few things to start:
I need to preface that I do, indeed, believe that Bill stopped cheating after 1998. My posts here (regarding where I generally stand on interpreting the nature of their marriage) and here (regarding rumors about him cheating in the 2000s onward) cover that - so my answer will align with your phrasing of the question in that the cycle did indeed stop. Again, if you’re reading this and don’t believe that he stopped cheating, much of this won’t mean a lot to you.
So, to your question, what changed - and why did the cycle stop, this time?
(1) They attended marital counseling for the first time. It was extensive - for a full year, and weekly. Per both of them, they began discussing things about themselves, their marriage, their histories, etc. that they had never really dug into before. As HRC says in 2017, “That’s not how I roll.” She’s never been a soul-barer, and from what I outline below, WJC had never really faced the root of his own issues, either. So what changed this time was a willingness to start uncovering the core of the issues they faced in the 80s in their marriage, really surfacing them, and talking through them together with openness and honesty.
Hillary and I also began a serious counseling program, one day a week for about a year. For the first time in my life, I actually talked openly about feelings, experiences, and opinions about life, love, and the nature of relationships. I didn’t like everything I learned about myself or my past, and it pained me to face the fact that my childhood and the life I’d led since growing up had made some things difficult for me that seemed to come more naturally to other people. (Bill Clinton, My Life)
We continued with our regular counseling sessions, which forced us to ask and answer hard questions that years of non-stop campaigning had allowed us to postpone. By now, I wanted to save our marriage, if we could. (Hillary Clinton, Living History)
The simple act of talking - openly communicating - comes up a lot in their writing about the recovery of their marriage, in combination with an admission that it’s not something they had really done before that point in terms of discussing their own personal issues in great depth. If you’ve been married (or in a substantially long-term relationship), you’ll understand exactly how much this matters, and exactly how damaging it was that this hadn’t really happened up until the 90′s. That’s not to say they didn’t talk about their marital issues at all - it’s that they hadn’t taken time to be (1) deeply introspective enough to uncover everything (see: WJC’s note that some of what was discussed was for the first time), and (2) whatever issues they had uncovered in the past had never really been resolved (see HRC’s point above re: postponing answering the hard questions).
So, they pushed aside deep self-reflection up until they really faced it head-on together in the 90′s. That has so much to do with why the 90′s saw the end of the cycle. They asked and answered the hard questions, at last.
(2) Beyond just marital counseling sessions, they kept on communicating, and they got to know each other again as spouses, and as two people who loved each other, beyond just the fulfilling work they did together through public service. You’ll hear this common thread from a lot of folks who go through marital counselling - this idea of “getting to know each other again”.
In the long counseling sessions and our conversations about them afterward, Hillary and I also got to know each other again, beyond the work and ideas we shared and the child we adored. I had always loved her very much, but not always very well. I was grateful that she was brave enough to participate in the counseling. We were still each other’s best friend, and I hoped we could save our marriage. Meanwhile, I was still sleeping on a couch, this one in the small living room that adjoined our bedroom. I slept on that old couch for two months or more. I got a lot of reading, thinking, and work done, and the couch was pretty comfortable, but I hoped I wouldn’t be on it forever. (Bill Clinton, My Life)
I think I survived because of a combination of soul-searching and relying on friends, the support of people who give advice, religious faith, long and hard discussions. (Hillary Clinton, Talk Magazine 1999)
“Bill has been subjected to so much abuse … he doesn’t make any excuses for what he did. But the reaction was unprecedented and harmful to the country … People are mean. I think it’s a real disservice, the way we sort of strip away everybody’s sense of dignity, of privacy. People need support, not disdain. … And you know, we did have a very good stretch,” she adds later, referring to the period after Gennifer Flowers. “Years and years of nothing.” And how they repaired their connection this time? “We talk. We talk in the solarium, in the bedroom, in the kitchen – it’s just a constant conversation…” she gives a tired smile. “We like to lie in bed and watch old movies.” (Hillary Clinton, Talk Magazine 1999)
(3) Bill further received personal therapy/counseling independently, much of it from religious leaders, to discover and deal with his own issues. This may be ongoing, still.
…I would pursue counseling from pastors and others to find, with God’s help, “a willingness to give the very forgiveness I seek, a renunciation of the pride and the anger which cloud judgment, lead people to excuse and compare and to blame and complain.” We would pray, read scripture, and discuss some things I had never really talked about before. The Reverend Bill Hybels from Chicago also continued to come to the White House regularly, to ask searching questions designed to check my “spiritual health.” Even though they were often tough on me, the pastors took me past the politics into soul-searching and the power of God’s love. (Bill Clinton, My Life)
I also came to understand that when I was exhausted, angry, or feeling isolated and alone, I was more vulnerable to making selfish and self-destructive personal mistakes about which I would later be ashamed. The current controversy was the latest casualty of my lifelong effort to lead parallel lives, to wall off my anger and grief and get on with my outer life, which I loved and lived well. During the government shutdowns I was engaged in two titanic struggles: a public one with Congress over the future of our country, and a private one to hold the old demons at bay. I had won the public fight and lost the private one. (Bill Clinton, My Life)
Some of this included uncovering and opening up about abuse he suffered as a child, and the impact that had on his adult life.
“Yes, he has weaknesses. Yes, he needs to be more responsible, more disciplined, but it is remarkable given his background that he turned out to be the kind of person he is, capable of such leadership …” I tell Hillary I read in his mother’s autobiography, in which she wrote about the atmosphere of alcohol, violence, and chaos that forced her son to be the man of the house while he was still a child. Hillary leans over and says softly, “That’s only the half of it. He was so young, barely four, when he was scarred by abuse that he can’t even take it out and look at it.” (Hillary Clinton, Talk Magazine 1999)
[Note: Some of the language in the Talk Magazine article on the topic of childhood abuse were walked back/softened afterwards, but I believe they are true. Topic for a different post.]
Now, I want to continue to answer the unasked question that I think is incredibly important - why did she bother at all? Why did she fight for him? Why even instigate the counseling in the first place, if Lewinsky was just part of the cycle? In order for any of this to be effective, and for the cycle to end, there had to be a drive and a willingness.
(1) They had a lot of shit to fight for (and against), and they were willing to work through whatever issues they uncovered to stay together and make sure that could continue to do so. Bill needed to address his own infidelity and weaknesses, but the “bigger picture” for both of them never went away. And that seems to have so much to do with why they (she, in particular) kept on fighting to make it work - she believed in what they were fighting for, and she believed him to be good and worthy. His infidelity did not overshadow that for her.
Bill and I had agreed to participate in regular marital counseling to determine whether or not we were going to salvage our marriage. On one level, I was emotionally shell-shocked and trying to deal with the raw wound I had suffered. On another level, I believed Bill was a good person and a great President. I viewed the independent counsel’s assault on the Presidency as an ever escalating political war, and I was on Bill’s side. (Hillary Clinton, Living History)
“Now she was arguing the other side, explaining to Democrats in Congress with legalistic dispassion why her husband’s actions, while deplorable, were not impeachable. ‘She was very effective and certainly won him the support of the Democratic caucus,’ says Congresswoman Nita Lowey. (Talk Magazine 1999)
She turns to me now with startling intensity. “I don’t believe in denying things. I believe in working through it. Is he ashamed? Yes. Is he sorry? Yes. But does this negate everything he has done as a husband, a father, a president? … And what is so amazing is that Bill has not been defeated by this. There has been enormous pain, enormous anger, but I have been with him half my life and he is a very, very good man. We just have a deep connection that transcends whatever happens.” (Hillary Clinton, Talk Magazine 1999)
(2) They have an absolute, deep, endless, abiding love.
And, well, the most important part of all, right?
And, most important, Hillary stood with me and loved me through it all. From the time we first met, I had loved her laugh. In the midst of all the absurdity, we were laughing again, brought back together by our weekly counseling and our shared determination to fight off the right-wing coup. I almost wound up being grateful to my tormentors: they were probably the only people who could have made me look good to Hillary again. I even got off the couch. (Bill Clinton, My Life)
“You know people have a lot of daily problems in relationships. Everybody has some dysfunction in their families. They have to deal with it. You don’t just walk away if you love someone - you help the person.” (Hillary Clinton, Talk Magazine 1999)
And, my favorite excerpt of all, from that 1999 Talk Magazine article.
Does she believe, I wonder, that you don’t leave someone you love under any circumstances? “You have to know the real quality of the person,” she says thoughtfully. “You have to be alert to it, vigilant in helping. I thought this was resolved 10 years ago. I thought he had conquered it, but he didn’t go deep enough or work hard enough.”
“What’s the part of the Bible that deals with this?” she had asked at one point.
“Corinthians?” I suggested.
“Love endures all things? No, I love that, but I was thinking of when Peter betrayed Jesus three times and Jesus knew it, but loved him anyway. Life is not a linear progression. It has many paths and challenges. And we need to help one another.”
“And it is love, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is,” she said. “We have love.”
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Moving On ~ A Doctor/Rose Fic
Title: Moving On
Word Count: 4,044
Pairings/Characters: Tentoo/Rose Tyler
Summary: In the parallel world the Doctor had a dream that seemed entirely too real.
Notes: I had this idea in my head for a while but wasn't sure I was going to write it until there was the prompt from @doctorroseprompts . I also found it very appropriate with the timing of the release of the new Beauty and the Beast movie what with the age old comparison between TenToo and Ten and the human Prince and the Beast after his transformation.
Read On A03
It was something he didn’t even realize was there - not until it was suddenly ripped out of him and he was left with a strange emptiness inside him.
He watched it all unfold before him and for a moment thought it had been him. He thought he had been the one in the TARDIS, every cell of his body burning with pain that had been suppressed for too long as he fought the inevitable. Then there was the oh so familiar tingling of the powerful energy of the time vortex itself preparing his body for a change.
He felt it growing and growing inside him getting ready to burst from him.
“I don’t want to go…” He had said.
And then -
He shot up, his heart pounding in his chest, his breath leaving his lips in short, quick pants.
He glanced wildly at the dark surroundings, trying to make sense of where he was and what had just happened.
Was he not just in the TARDIS? Was he not just about to regenerate? He could feel it. Clear as the eleven other times that happened before it.
“Doctor?” A groggy, soft, familiar voice and a gentle touch to his arm sharply pulled him back to reality with a gasp.
He turned around, wide eyed and was met with a half-awake Rose Tyler, propped up on her elbow, blinking up at him in concern.
“You alright?” She asked, now sitting up, fully taking in his frantic expression.
Just like that it all came crashing down around him.
He had not just been in the TARDIS, he had not been in the TARDIS for almost two years. He had been living with Rose - he was married to Rose - in the parallel universe. He had not been just about to regenerate - he would never regenerate again.
It had all just been a very vivid nightmare. It was not the first time he dreamed about his past - he missed space travel very much as happy as he was in this new adventure with Rose.
And yet...it felt so entirely real.
“Doctor?” Rose prompted again, her hand now sliding into his.
“Yes I…” He paused, the words dying on his tongue.
He blinked rapidly trying to solidify himself in this reality. Despite the solid form of Rose beside him and her very real touch he felt extremely disoriented.
That dream was more vivid, more real than anything he'd ever dreamt before. He was finding it hard to believe it wasn't real.
“Was it a nightmare?” Rose wondered, keeping her eyes on his face.
His brow furrowed. “I don't know.” He said quietly, his eyes focused on the wall behind her.
She squeezed his hand again. “The time war?”
Finally he turned his gaze to her.
Her voice had been so quiet and tender as it always was when she approached the topic of the time war. Rose had spent many days and nights comforting him and he was always touched by how concerned she was for him every time she did.
The corners of his lips twitched. “No.” He breathed, relieved. Nightmares and memories of the time war had been less frequent since he became this version of himself.
However, it still left him with that surreal and uneasy feeling that he was feeling now. What he saw and felt and heard was not just a nightmare.
Rose also visibly relaxed but only for a moment before the concerned and curiosity returned to her eyes. “What did you see?”
“I was regenerating.” He told her and her eyes widened for a moment.
“Oh, Doctor…” She breathed. “Which time?”
He pressed his brow together, shaking his head. “That's the thing, Rose...it wasn't any of my past regenerations. It was like I was regenerating...me, the way I am now.”
“You said that wasn't possible though, yeah? That you'd never regenerate again.”
He nodded once, distractedly. “Yes, it's not possible in this human body.”
Rose nodded slowly. “So it was a dream then.”
He shook his head slowly, his frustration of his own misunderstanding growing with each second. He could not shake the feeling that something was wrong. It wasn't just the memory of regeneration- that was a similar feeling but not the same. It was like something was missing, like something was suddenly just gone-
He gasped suddenly, his eyes widening and Rose’s eyes widened in alarm.
“What is it?”
“Bloody hell...” He whispered and brought his free hand to his chest. Rose’s eyes darted down, following his gaze, brow furrowing in concern.
He felt his one heart solidly beating against his hand.
“Doctor, what?” Rose pressed, looking back up to him and inching in a little closer so their knees were pressed together.
“It wasn't me. Well, obviously it couldn't be me but it was real.” He met her wide eyes with his own. “It was him.” He whispered. “Rose, it was him…”
Roses face went almost blank, her body tensing. “Him….you mean…”
The Doctor nodded slowly. “I saw it, I felt it. I didn't even realize...but I suppose it makes sense in some way. I was created from him, I'm a part of him...so someway on some deep buried level we were connected.” He marveled for a moment at the miraculous discovery. Then he frowned deeply, that emptiness inside him now suddenly deeper than ever. “He's gone.” His voice grew deep and low. “He regenerated.”
His eyes drifted back to Rose and he could see the emotion building in her eyes.
After a small period of adjustment, Rose accepted him pretty quickly. They acted on feelings they denied for too long and led blissfully happy lives the last two years in Pete's World but he knew, he knew, Rose thought about the full Time Lord that had left them behind. There were periods of time she just looked so sad and he didn't even have to ask where her mind was. It was with him. And even though he was him, he also wasn't and just like the the Time Lord would always carry Rose around with him, Rose also carried a piece of the Time Lord with her.
She had that same look in her eyes now and he felt at a loss for what to say. He always knew to leave Rose alone when she was thinking about him because she would always come back to him with a smile and a twinkle of love in her eyes.
He felt the loss of the TARDIS every day. He felt the loss of time and space travel. He missed being a full Time Lord (most of the time - there were some perks about being human).
Though he could never feel what Rose felt - his loss - until now.
Oh the Doctor still existed, right there in him and in the now recently regenerated Time Lord, galavanting across the other universe with fresh eyes and - hopefully - a renewed spirit.
But just like when he has regenerated the first time in front of her, Rose’s Doctor as she knew him was gone.
Rose blinked quickly and tears pooled in her eyes but never fell. She took a slow inhaling breath and swallowed thickly.
“Was he happy?”
His heart broke as her voice shook.
He knew, they both knew, that when the Time Lord had left them on the beach he was not happy. He had given up his happiness to give them their chance that he could never have.
He knew what the Time Lord felt because he was him - he knew how much he loved Rose and how much losing her at Canary Wharf devastated him. He knew the sacrifice that had to be made for Rose on Bad Wolf Bay and...he knew Donna’s fate.
Was he happy?
He could feel the Time Lord’s pain as if it were his own - the physical pain from dying and suppressing regeneration but also the emotional pain.
I don’t want to go.
That is what he said. He was holding on to that version of him for whatever reason. The Doctor would live on but still he didn’t want to go.
“I don’t know.” He whispered and he knew Rose didn’t believe him.
Her jaw clenched and she averted her eyes, taking a shuddering breath.
“How did it happen?” She asked quietly, still looking away.
“I don’t know.” He answered honestly. “It was in the TARDIS.” He went on quietly and Rose slowly looked back at him trying fiercely to hold her emotions at bay.
“He was resisting it. We can...I mean...Time Lords can put it off...for a time. It’s not pleasant but it is possible and he definitely fought it for as long as he could.”
Rose furrowed her brow but stayed quiet and her unasked questioned just seemed to hang in the air.
He shook his head slowly. “He couldn’t hold it back forever. Though he could have chosen not to regenerate at all.” Rose’s brow shot up and explained cautiously. “I mean...he could have chosen to let whatever was killing him kill him. We don’t have to regenerate but most of the time it is a superior option to dying. So at least he didn’t want to die...that’s something I suppose.”
Rose’s lips twitched in a half, sad smile.
The Doctor took a deep breath. “It was strong - the regeneration energy.” He held out his hands in front of him. “It’s like I can still feel it…” He muttered and Rose frowned as she looked down at his hands.
She slowly reached out to place her hands under his, flipping them around so they were palm to palm and their fingers wrapped around each other's hands before slowly rotating so their fingers could interlock.
Rose lifted her head, meeting his eyes sadly.
“You were there...with him.”
“Sort of. It’s….complicated. Time Lords are a telepathic race but I’ve never connected with myself before and I have been in the same place and same time as one of my past selves. More than one actually and more than once. But I’m different...I’m him but I’m seperate. I never could have communicated with him, I don’t think but in his last moments in this body…” He drew his hands back to his chest, bringing Rose along with them and she easily came, practically climbing into his lap. “We were going to be separated for ever...the connection was as strong as it ever would be and then completely severed for good.”
Rose frowned and sighed deeply as she rested her head on his shoulder. He shifted his position, opening his legs so Rose could fit comfortably between them.
He rested his chin on the top of her head and stared off at the far wall.
“Was there anyone with him?” Rose asked, her voice quiet and he felt his heart breaking again.
He didn't remember seeing anyone but that didn't mean that there wasn't. Although, there was the ever present sting of loneliness.
“I'm not sure.” He answered honestly and held onto her tighter. “I could really only see him…”
He trailed off as a sudden memory flashed before him. At least...he thought it was a memory. He knew it wasn't his memory but perhaps it was something the Time Lord had witnessed just before he regenerated.
“Although…” He murmured thoughtfully send then trailed off again. Rose lifted her head curiously.
He tilted his head down to meet her eyes and as he stared into her captivating brown eyes, there was another flash. It was clear as day as if he himself had been there.
The freshly falling snow, the very smell of winter in the air and the echos of all of a London celebrating.
And a face...sweet and smiling….pink and yellow...and so young.
He quickly shook his head. “No that's impossible.”
Rose quirked a brow and leaned back to better look at him. “Doctor, nothing’s impossible with you. What is it? What did you see?”
His lips twitched up for a moment and then he inhaled deeply and lifted his shoulders in a shrug.
“I saw you.”
“Me?” She leaned back further in surprise and their joined hands dropped to her lap. “With him?”
He pressed his lips together and shook his head. “No...not exactly…” He used his free hand to scratch the back of his neck. “I saw him in the TARDIS but I also saw you but you're out on the streets...it's snowing…” He pressed his brow together. “You looked so young.”
Rose tilted her head, puzzled and he smirked.
“Believe me, I can't make head or tails of it either but it's definitely you. I'd know that face anywhere.”
He lifted his free hand to her face, caressing her cheek and she allowed a small smile, leaning into his touch.
“I bet you're going to have a really great year.”
Suddenly Rose froze in his arms, her eyes widening slowly. “What did you just say?” She whispered.
He blinked, quickly shaking his head. “It just sort of popped into my head. I think I must have said that to someone.”
He frowned in corners as Rose’s face flashed in recognition and then her eyes welled with tears.
“Oh my god…” She whispered and dropped his hand to cover her mouth.
“What is it?” He moved his hand to rest comfortingly on her knee.
She stayed silent for a long moment just slowly shaking her head and then she lowered her hand and sniffled as a few tears rolled down her cheeks.
“I remember.” She whispered.
She sniffled again and wiped at her cheeks. She cleared her throat as she turned to him. “Years ago, on New Years, just after midnight I was out with Mum. She wanted to stay out but I was just gonna go home. There was a bloke…” She pressed her brow together, shaking her head and she looked down at her lap. “He was hidden in the dark but completely pissed. Didn't even know what year it was.” She allowed a small smile before it quickly fell again. “He sounded like he was gonna be sick at any moment - moaning and such. He asked what year it was,” Her voice broke with sudden emotion and tears welled her eyes, “I told him...and that's what he said.” She looked back up at the Doctor. “I bet you're going to have a really great year.” She repeated breathlessly.
His eyes were wide as the realization swept over him. Of course it was her. The Time Lord had gone back in time to see her...to say goodbye.
“What year was it?” He whispered.
“2005.” She answered just as quietly.
“2005.” He echoed and a small smile twitched at his lips. “The year we met.”
She nodded, smiling a watery smile of her own. Her lips trembled and a few more tears rolled down her cheeks as the emotion visibly swelled inside her.
“It was you...I mean it was-it was him and I didn’t even know it. Oh my God, he was right there in front of me and he was dying and I didn’t even know…” She broke off with a sob and the Doctor’s eyes widened and he moved quickly, taking her face gently in his hands and looking intently into her eyes.
“Hey, Rose, look at me…” She took a shuddering breath but met his eyes. “He didn’t want you to know, alright? If I know him, and I do know him because I am him, he probably didn’t even have any intention of even talking to you that night. All he wanted to do was see you again and he couldn’t have risked visiting you at a time where we had already met - timelines, you know.”
She sniffled, nodded and let out a small whimper.
“I could have helped him.” She said in a small voice. “Even without knowing who he was I would have…”
“I know.” He smiled weakly and leaned in to press a tender, lingering kiss to her forehead. “I know you would have my beautiful, brilliant girl.”
She closed her eyes and a few more tears rolled helplessly down her cheeks and she leaned in to rest her forehead against his.
No words passed between them for a few minutes - the only sounds being Rose’s slightly labored breathing and the pounding of their own hearts.
The Doctor could do nothing but hold Rose and comfort her while she mourned. He had been a little frustrated when she first mourned him just after he left them on the beach, because the Time Lord was gone but he, the Doctor, the Doctor that loved her, the Doctor that remembered every single moment they spent travelling together was right there in front of her and she couldn’t see it. He gave the the space she needed and eventually she came to him with acceptance that he was the Doctor - the very same one she loved.
Now she mourned him again and this time he mourned with her. He knew the pain the Time Lord must have felt the last several years on his own. For surely, he was on his own. He knew himself well enough to know that after losing Rose and Donna his wounded hearts would not so easily take on another companion.
The only solace he had was knowing that a regeneration often came with a new outlook on life for him - in some way. He was still the same man but it was seeing the universe with fresh eyes and a new personality. One that was just as much fun to discover as the universe itself.
He hoped that wherever the Time Lord was that he got a good new body. One that might even -
“Rose,” He murmured against her hair and she hummed from her place now on his chest. “Do you think finally…I might be ginger?”
To his delight and relief Rose let out a laugh and buried her face in his chest, muffling the sound for a moment before she pulled away to look at him, smiling that Rose Tyler smile.
She sniffled and wiped at her cheeks, letting out another small laugh. “I dunno.” She shrugged. “Maybe. I hope so.”
He grinned back at her. “Yeah, me too...because that would definitely be a plus side to regeneration.” He turned his eyes upward thoughtfully. “Yeahhh, he’s gotta be! I’m telling you, Rose Tyler, somewhere out there in that old universe of yours there’s a brand new, ginger Doctor, travelling the stars in the TARDIS, saving species and planets and just being absolutely brilliant.” He looked back down at her.
She smiled for half a second then bit her lip and looked back at him through curious, hopeful eyes. “Yeah, you think so?”
“Absolutely.” He nodded and reached out to take her hands, his face softening. “It was time for him, I think….to move on. To face the universe again and have a brand new adventure...just as he gave us the chance to have our brand new adventure here - together.”
Her lips twitched up in a small, sad smile and she squeezed his hands and nodded. “I just want him to be happy.”
He released her hands and brought one of his hands up to brush a strand of her hair out of her face. “You saved me from self destruction.” He told her earnestly and her lips twitched up a little bit more. “You brought a light back to my life and along with it a joy I never thought I could feel again after the Time War. You made me the happiest I’ve been in a very long time and no matter what has happened since...I was created... and I went my way and he went his...he will always have those memories of you and I know he will always think of them with joy in his hearts. Sadness too...oh yes, there will be plenty of that but I think you will always be a source of joy for him, whether you’re there or not. That is why he choose to come to you just before regenerated. To say a final goodbye, of course, but more than that because your very presence would make him feel better. You said you wanted to help him, Rose...well you did, you helped him more than you'll ever know.”
Her lips trembled and then she hoisted herself onto her knees and propelled herself forward, wrapping her arms around his neck.
He let out a small grunt at the impact but easily welcomed her, slipping his arms around her and holding her tight to him.
She slipped one hand into his hair and buried her face into his shoulder, squeezing him tightly.
She lifted her head only for a moment to whisper in his ear. “I love you, my Doctor.”
His chest swelled with warmth and his throat tightened with a flood of human emotion.
The love he felt for the woman in his arms was immeasurable. He thought he had loved her when he was just a Time Lord, and he had, oh there was no doubt about that, but his human side fell for her harder and deeper than he ever thought possible. As a Time Lord he tried to understand human emotion and compared to the rest of the species, he did a fairly good job of it. Being human however brought brand new experiences and feelings the Time Lord couldn't understand if he tried. He had Rose who already made him more human than he ever had been and then he was made from Donna - one of the most compassionate and caring human beings he'd ever known.
“I love you, my Rose.” He murmured against her hair and she snuggled back into his shoulder.
After another few minutes of remaining wrapped in the comfort of each other's arms, Rose finally pulled away, releasing him and returning the spot in front of him.
Her cheeks were still tear stained but she seemed a little more at peace now.
She let out a small sigh and gave him a small smile.
“He’ll be alright, won't he?” She asked, tucking a strand of hair behind her ears.
The Doctor smiled softly. “ ‘Course he will. He's always alright.”
Rose gave him a knowing look. “I mean...he'll really be alright. Not in the Doctor “I'm always alright but not really” sort of way.”
He chuckled quietly. “You know me too well, Rose Tyler.”
She grinned. “And that's just the way you like it.”
He took her hand and brought it to his lips, brushing a tender kiss over her knuckles. “Always.” He answered and they shared a loving smile.
“Yes Rose...I do think he’ll be alright.” He answered her seriously, wrapping his fingers around hers and resting their joined hands on his lap. “He’s moving on as we always have done. He’s brand new now….regeneration truly does wonders sometimes.”
Rose smirked. “New New New Doctor.”
He grinned. “Welllll technically he’d be the new new new new new new new new new new new new Doctor.”
She laughed quietly and lifted a brow. “How many new’s was that?”
“Entirely too many.” He laughed but then was hit with a sudden sinking feeling in his gut. It was twelve new’s. Twelve new’s for twelve regenerations which meant, much like him, the new new new Doctor would never regenerate again.
Rose thankfully didn’t notice any change in expression due to his sudden revelation.
She bit her lip and let out a small laugh and he gave her a small, half smile.
After they settled back into bed and Rose fell back to sleep curled up to his side, the Doctor’s attention was drawn to the window.
For once the dark skies were cloudless and the stars seemed to shine brighter than ever.
One life, that was all they had left. He was more than content living the domestic life with Rose and he hoped more than anything that the Time Lord, wherever he was, whatever he was doing , was finally content with his life too.
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