It had been spring. Eight o’clock on a bright spring morning, over two years since that winter day. It had been spring, new birth, before these measurements and descriptions were made meaningless, before the Earth was moved so very far away from the star it orbited which gave them days and times and seasons.
Now she feels cold. She’d expected heat somehow. A burning bolt of energy, killing every cell in her body simultaneously. After that, she’d expected to be cold, but she hadn’t expected to feel it. And this cold isn’t numbing; it’s biting, sinking its teeth into her flesh and making her bones ache.
She still has senses, senses which tell her that she still possesses both of the aforementioned organic structures. She opens her eyes (still have those) and an intake of breath becomes a gasp. The air is chilled and makes her throat sore.
She’s moving, breathing, feeling, thinking, in what seems to be a corporeal body. The obvious conclusion is that she’s still alive. Logical, but completely nonsensical.
She’d been standing in her home, facing the Daleks, facing death. Now she stands outside, on some kind of beach, and looks out across slopes and towering peaks of ice.
“It’s called Woman Wept.”
She turns, and yes, she has joints - shoulders, hips, knees - and muscles contract and stretch and her body turns.
“What is?” she asks, of all the questions she has.
“This planet,” Rose gestures around them. “Or at least the planet that it’s meant to look like.”
Rose sits down and, after a moment’s consideration, Harriet joins her.
The ice looks real. Rose scratches at the ground, which is real enough to support them, and inspects her fingernails afterwards.
“I’m supposed to be dead,” Harriet Jones tells Rose Tyler, a neat little conversation starter that she hasn’t used before.
“Perhaps,” is the reply. “Perhaps I am.”
Perhaps. The list of the dead from the Battle of Canary Wharf held the name Rose Tyler. Yet here she is.
Perhaps the list wasn’t that wrong. The Rose Harriet had last seen, Christmas Day 2006, shone. Not all of it was reflected from the Doctor. Rose Tyler shone like a star, a sun, warm and bright and blonde, and her petals were vibrant and alive that day, even though they would wither and fall in time.
This is a different winter, a deathly winter, a hard-packed winter that squeezes the world tight as the cracks run together. Always winter and never Christmas.
This Rose Tyler is colder. She’s frozen like the landscape around them, her rose frozen in perfection yet somehow less colourful, and ice is strong but brittle.
She might not be Rose. She might be a reimagination of Rose, a Rose that might be, a Rose that no longer was. Harriet likes to think so.
Then again, she might not be Harriet. Harriet Jones might be dead, should be dead, and she’s merely an echo caught up and bounced between the collapsing universes with delusions of corporeality.
She tries to remember the life that ended. It slips away, hides in the cold and the white and the dark; it might not have been her life. Perhaps her life started there. All she knows now, or ever, is here, Rose.
Rose cries. She says she can’t remember, then she can’t remember why.
Perhaps they kiss.
Perhaps there’s strength and life and warmth and hope in it.
Perhaps it floats tantalisingly just out of reach; if only they fight that little bit harder.
“I’m too old for you,” she tries to say.
“I could say the same thing,” Rose replies.
Perhaps they drown when the ice melts.
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