Their first Christmas Eve is one month, three weeks, and four days after they watch the TARDIS disappear from Bad Wolf Bay.
The Doctor has always liked Christmas. Or rather, he’s tried to like Christmas. For one reason or another, it never does seem to like him back. But this is different, symbolic - he’s only had one other Christmas with Rose, and he was shiny and new then, too, all bright wonder, and now, as then, always a helpless hairsbreadth from pinning Rose to the nearest wall by her hips and kissing her senseless.
The fear was there then, too, hovering just at the edge of his vision, that she would’ve preferred the old him, that he’s different now and there’s absolutely nothing he can do if she decides she’d prefer him the way he was.
It’s only appropriate, then, that his Christmas tradition of participating in an utter disaster is carried on, when he looks up from fretting over existential and Rose-related matters to find that it’s the twenty-third of December and he still hasn’t got her a present.
She’s standing the back room cluttered with tools and bits of tech smuggled in from Torchwood, with a bench perfect for tinkering, his new sonic lying in several pieces scattered across it, and the bit of baby TARDIS coral suspended in midair in a sort of field that gives her proper food and light. They call it the nursery, for the lack of a better term, because the Doctor doesn’t always sleep there, so it isn’t his bedroom, but he doesn’t always sleep in Rose’s bedroom either.
There’s a soft blue glow from the bits of TARDIS nursery cast across her face, and she’s holding out a card with a Christmas tree printed on the front.
“Rose, I -”
She smiles - she smiles, and it’s all the more beautiful because it’s been so rare, lately - and he reaches out his hand to take it.
“S’an early present,” she says, sensing his panic. “Go on then. We can go out later for proper presents if you like. I know you forgot.”
There’s no envelope, or anything. Just the card. With a question in his eyes, he pulls it open.
Neatly folded inside is a red paper crown. It’s not the same one he wore all that time ago - that one has since crumbled to dust in his bigger-on-the-inside pockets - but it’s very similar. Quite abruptly, his eyes throb and tears threaten.
“Had to go through a whole box of crackers to find it,” she tells him, biting her lip. “Hope it’s okay, I just -”
Very quietly, the Doctor closes the card. He lays the paper crown on the bench next to the scattered pile of sonic screwdriver bits, running the tips of his fingers over it reverently.
There’s a sudden heat in the room, a shivery feeling that rolls over the Doctor’s skin in waves as he makes a decision, and then there’s barely half a beat left before he’s pulling Rose against his chest, letting his mouth find hers. Rose makes a soft little squeak, under him, and his hands inch towards her hips, pulling her closer and eliciting the noise again.
“Guess I’m still the Doctor, then,” he murmurs against her lips.
Rose Tyler’s smile curls warm in his stomach. She brushes his chin with thumb, lifting it as she looks into his eyes.
“No arguments from me.”
I think one of the main reasons that Harry Potter is so lastingly powerful is that the story that it does not tell is just as powerful, if not more powerful, than the story that is on the page. In the end the book isn’t so much about a kid haphazardly struggling through the awkwardness of growing up, or the magical quirks and obstacles that complicate that bildungsroman arc. I think what those books are really about is everything that led to Harry entering the Great Hall on September 1st 1991: the sacrifice, the pain, the friendship, and the love that made his life possible. The journey we take with Harry is his discovery of that story, that he’s not some nobody kid with nothing to lose, but that he has a whole history that defines who he is, and that he is part of something he never thought fathomable. That’s what resonates, the desire in all of us to feel that we are contributing to something important that came before us, and of course, the desire to feel loved.