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happiness as a measure of being

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The wardrobe was a mess.

Though Rose figured that keeping things tidy wasn’t exactly in line with what she knew of the Doctor, so that made sense. It was still trying to navigate, what with the thee random suits of armour (so far, she was fairly sure she could see another one past the coral columns), the couches, chairs and stools, and the dresser drawers filled with all sorts of tidbits. 

The most annoying part was that most of the clothes were either super weird (see: the scarf , oh God, the scarf. Rose shuddered thinking about it), or utterly hideous (the patchwork jacket, for starters — this man’s fashion sense was highly questionable). Some things were just fine, but not quite For Her: the muscle top, the plethora of pinstriped suits, the skintight leather jacket. 

(A skintight leather jacket wasn’t really for anyone , though, she considered, and was tangibly relieved the Doctor favoured a looser one. Maybe that girl from the cooking show she’d watched last week to avoid doing laundry could wrangle one, though. She considered it for a moment, neck heating as she recalled the introductory shot, lingering on her face as she’d concentrated on a measuring scale, teeth toying with her lip, and okay, definitely that girl. Her souffle had not been up to standard, though, which did lower Rose’s opinion of her.)

Either way, it was impossible to find anything wearable in this gods–forsaken whirlwind of a wardrobe. Surely a Lord of Time, however self–important and brash, could find an afternoon off to clean up.

“Come on,” she muttered as she wandered between the racks and mirrors and piles of clothing. “Just a nice jacket? Or a shirt?” She tried to remember what the clothes of the 1860s were like. “Something frilly? Or pretty?” 

The wardrobe seemed to listen, because behind the next corner she rounded was the most beautiful skirt she’d ever seen, laid out neatly on a pouffe, the end swaying gently as if it had only just been set down.

“Oh my God,” she said, running a careful hand over the silky fabric.

It was a beautiful red, ending in a red ruffle, and when she held it up to herself, it seemed about ankle–length. It was so pretty . A grin split her face, and she pulled her jeans off to put the skirt in their place. 

Rose turned to the nearest mirror — a standing one, frame decorated lavishly in engraved golden flowers — and gasped.

Warmth spread up her neck, and she shook her shoulders to relieve some of the energy building up in her body. That was her! She was the girl in the mirror! 

She flapped her hands, grinning wildly at her reflection. Lightness spread through her body in waves, each accompanied by a rush of energy, until she felt like she was floating.

Even ignoring the way it made her feel, the sensation of the skirt itself was delightful. There was an unfamiliar but very welcome weight to the silk, and she delighted in taking a few steps about to feel it sway. The lining was soft against her legs, and wasn’t hemmed down to the outer skirt, separating into two swirly soft feelings.

“Awesome,” she breathed, still smiling. Now she needed a top.

A quick scan of her surroundings divulged nothing helpful: a beige coat, a jean jacket, and a polka–dot dress. She wandered through the racks of clothes, feeling quite anachronistic in her tank, hoodie and skirt, jeans slung over her shoulder. 

The next rack was fruitless, too — it was a collection of identical pyjama shirts — and the one after that, also (seriously, who needs that many flannels?). Persistence proved to be of the essence, because the hangers after that held the most gorgeous array of tops she’d ever seen, let alone had the opportunity to wear.

They were all lovely, but she picked out a black one with red panels, to fit with the skirt. The lining was soft and velvety, and she relaxed into it with the same sensation of releasing a pent–up breath. This was home.

There was another mirror behind her, a red–and–blue Bauhaus affair. She turned to look in it, and, for the second time in ten minutes, said, “Oh my God!”

There was padding in the front of it, she realised dimly, because her chest actually had some shape to it — damn the NHS and their endless waiting lines — and shiny thread on the red panels, and little ruffles at the hem, and she felt very distinctly pretty. 

The sleeves sat on her arms, leaving her collarbone and shoulders uncovered. It wasn’t terribly cold in the TARDIS, but she picked out a woollen cape from an adjacent clothes rack anyway. Better safe than sorry, a suspiciously Mum–like voice said in her head.

With that, Rose folded up her clothes into a bundle and hunted for shoes, yet another clothes item of which the TARDIS boasted a worrying selection: “Converse. Converse. Gumboots. Converse. Converse. Why are those furry? Converse. Runners. Slippers.”

After a good five minutes of talking alternately to herself and to the TARDIS, she found a pair of black platform boots that went nicely with her outfit. A pair of stockings was quite conveniently just in reach from the stool by the shoebox, and she pulled those on too. 

With the shoes, Rose was almost satisfied with her outfit. Something was still missing, though. 

She wandered back down to the floor she’d started on, eyeing the side tables and vanities for that last missing piece — it was an accessory, she was sure of it.

Endlessly helpful, the TARDIS nudged something off a table, and Rose caught it on instinct. She was just putting it back when she realised what it was: a red hair ribbon, the same colour as her skirt.

She grinned. Perfect.

 

“Blimey!” the Doctor said upon seeing her.

“Don’t laugh,” Rose warned, giggling a bit herself as she stepped out into the console room, but biting her lip in anticipation. He wasn't unkind — far from it, in fact, she knew that, but for a moment she worried —

The Doctor didn’t laugh. He looked her up and down, lips slightly parted. “You look beautiful,” he said, and he sounded entirely truthful, and (if Rose indulged herself for a moment), awestruck.

And for the most wonderful moment, Rose didn’t just feel pretty, she felt seen.

As much as unhappiness was a measure of her identity, this joy was a fragile rarity, a welcome relief from sleepless, anxious nights and grim despair, and all of it thanks to this strange, wonderful enigma of a man, who she couldn’t quite look in the eye just now but was undyingly grateful for nonetheless. 

She bounced on her heels with a grin and hoped he understood.