Every night, when Mr and Mrs Harris have gone to bed, Victoria creeps down the stairs and outside, breathes in sea air and looks up at the stars.
They turn the still night silver and white and she wonders if Jamie and the Doctor are doing the same. She can imagine them, side by side with sunbeam smiles as they look up at black velvet skies and no matter how far away they are, she can feel their glow on her heart.
The breeze is faint some nights, teases at her hair and clothes and she counts as many stars as she can, tries to guess how many they might have visited since she'd said goodbye.
(because it had been her, hadn't it?)
She traces invisible lines and paths, all the adventures she'll never know.
On other nights the wind is harsh, blows with all its might and she can almost feel them in the air around her, Jamie all safety and warmth, the Doctor comforting and steady. She can't quite make out the stars, eyes watering but she knows they're out there, somewhere, in that great expanse above her.
Waves lap at the shore and it's just a trick of the light, the TARDIS floating out there on the water, but just for a moment, she lets herself believe it's really them and that goodbyes aren't forever after all.
She barely blinks, can never look away and the stinging in her eyes isn't from wind or rain. Her hands tangle in the handkerchiefs she's embroidered for them (because it may be 1968 but 1866 still burns its way through her veins) and her fingers rub over the stitchings bearing their names.
She wonders if they think of her as often as she does them, wonders if they miss her with the ache she feels deep in her bones. She looks at distant stars and wonders if they know, her beloved boys, her family, that they've taken her with them, her heart and all her love, wound around their bodies and held in their hands.
There's a tingle on her lips, a flood in her chest and then Victoria goes back inside, closes the door soft behind her.
She climbs into bed, looks out her window and wonders if the stars will ever lead them home to her.
She's a little bit older, a little more comfortable in the world she's starting to call home. She doesn't sit out and watch the stars as often, only on the nights she really needs Jamie and the Doctor by her side.
(lonely nights, sad nights, happy nights)
She holds tight to their handkerchiefs and tries to imagine what ridiculous things they've gotten themselves up to, knows deep inside that they're alright and maybe, someday, she'll see them both again.
She thinks about what she might tell them if they visited, what details of her new life she might share. About her new friend Kate, about the volunteer work she's been doing, about the book she'd read last week. Or maybe about the boy who'd asked her to dance and then wouldn't let her speak all night, talked loud and over her throughout.
(she can almost see Jamie's scrunched up nose and pouty lips, the Doctor's amused smile)
Her mouth turns up all on its own and she almost laughs, because no boy has ever held a candle to you Jamie, not even close. It's been three years and still, there's only one pair of arms she craves to fight away her fears, one voice she strains to hear in every conversation, one pair of lips that linger against hers.
Kate thinks she's fallen for a navy sailor, off on some ship far away and it's the closest Victoria can ever get to the truth and who knows, maybe, one day, her soldier boy will come back across the ocean to her.
She misses the Doctor too, in entirely different ways. She loves him like a father and how strange, to lose two fathers in so short a time. Except the Doctor isn't really lost, he's just not here right now.
Victoria goes back inside, still believes in someday.
The world continues to change and Victoria is a part of it, feels as if she belongs.
She sleeps with handkerchiefs beneath her pillow, catches sight of stars beyond her window and thinks that maybe, that last goodbye really was the last.
It's been almost ten years and she can't help but wonder if they've found someone new to travel with, if she's become just a piece of history to them. What splendid lives they must live, how dull her existence would seem to them.
Maybe it's time to let memories truly be memories.
(but still, there's still that tiny hope for one day)
It's so easy to forget that she was once from another time, that she once felt so alone here. Victoria blooms and flourishes, just as she has for years and it's only in melancholy moments that she thinks of Jamie and the Doctor, of the boys who'd left her behind.
(or maybe she'd left them behind, it's getting so hard to remember)
She can't help but miss them, would never want to forget them and there's a still a piece of her heart with each of them, a piece that will always remain.
But life moves on and so must she, so she puts away their handkerchiefs, can't keep clinging to the past.
(but she never quite lets go either)
Victoria sometimes looks at the stars absentmindedly, occasionally daydreams about Scottish accents and kilts.
She remembers her boys in odd moments and it makes her smile, makes her well with fondness. The ache is barely there, just the happy buzz of warm remembrances. And if there is a twinge of something worse, well, it makes perfect sense.
After all, there are still two pieces of her heart missing, one tucked in the pocket of a man she wouldn't recognize and the other buried in the heart of one who wouldn't recognize her.
(Victoria idly wonders sometimes if she'd missed out, staying behind, but when it comes to memories at least, she may have won it all)
A new century begins and Victoria takes out her handkerchiefs, wants Jamie and the Doctor to witness it with her.
(because this may be her future, but it's the past that got her here and it's the past she'll be taking with her)
Even as the memories start to collide in her mind, as the exact lilt of Jamie's voice starts to fade and the Doctor's face starts to turn hazy, Victoria rekindles hope of seeing them again.
Oh how she'd love to share her life with them, how she wishes they could grow old beside her.
The impression they've left on her soul still runs deep and I miss you she admits to the stars, because she's old enough now to know that growing up doesn't have to mean letting go.
Will I ever see you again? she asks the sky but it never answers and Victoria lives a life that would make her father proud.
But more importantly, it makes her proud.
Fifty years since she'd last seen him, the Doctor pays her a visit.
He looks entirely different and speaks with a voice he'd never had before.
"Just like Jamie," she murmurs with a smile and his eyes are so tired, so sad.
This is the Doctor, but he's not her Doctor, not anymore.
Or so he says, words gruff.
She takes his hand, wraps a handkerchief around it.
"You'll always be my Doctor."
She goes to Scotland, the Doctor's words in her ears.
She visits an ancient grave, centuries old with words faded and lost to time.
She lays flowers beside it, bound in a embroidered handkerchief.
She presses fingers to her lips, presses them against the grave and looks up at the stars.
She knows Jamie is watching from each of them.
The Doctor has never been good at visiting but every few years he pops by for tea.
She shows him all her pictures, of a long and happy life and his smile makes him look so much younger, so much lighter.
His face changes, once or twice or maybe more, but it doesn't matter.
The smile's always the same.
"I'm getting too old for this," she murmurs to Jamie's grave.
No one really knows why she comes out here, so far from home. Her loved ones have asked and she just smiles.
"Visiting an old friend," she'll say and oh, if only they knew.
Our lives aren't like anybody else's
Those words carry back to her through the years and she and Jamie both know she'll never be too old for this.
Victoria lies in bed and looks out her window.
And just before she closes her eyes for the final time, she sees the stars calling her home.