When he was twenty, Harry was full of hope, eager and expectant. He knew that his soul mate was out there somewhere, that she was looking for him too and always, gradually getting closer. He had faith in her.
At twenty five he was getting a little worried. He tried to immerse himself in his work, after all he was proud of the good he did, that he saved lives, and mostly it worked. But he would often catch himself musing over his loneliness, he was all too aware that all his friends were married, engaged or otherwise in long term relationships, some even had children. Yet he was single. He was always single and though they meant well with their assurances that his kind heart would soon capture that of a wonderful, beautiful woman, he felt more and more doubtful, and as the hopeless romantic he was, it saddened him. But still he had faith in her.
By his thirtieth birthday Harry had given up. He didn’t think it was so much that he hadn’t found her, but he hadn’t even got close, he’d met many beautiful and interesting women and yet not one had really appealed to him. He thought it was rather pathetic to be thirty years old and to never have even been kissed, and yet despite that, his heart was still insistent that he should only ever kiss a woman out of love for her. It seemed that some little part of him still had faith and that at least satisfied the romantic part of him that remained. He felt cheated; all he’d ever wanted was his soul mate, he wanted someone to spend his life with. Just one person. He had so much love to give her, that he’d been wanting to give her since was twelve and had first seen what love really was, and now he feared she didn’t even exist. The night he turned thirty, he wept, the fear and pain finally getting the better of him, crying for the wasted time and the dreams he’d never get to live, or dream with her, he cried for all the things he’d never get to experience, from the deepest passions of love to the simple act of holding her hand, and most of all he wept for her, terrified he’d lost his faith in her.
That night he hadn’t the slightest inkling that Sarah Jane Smith would walk into his life that year.
The first time he met her he actually thought his heart had stopped, that was until a few seconds later when the normal, even beating resumed and he realised it was its way of saying, ‘That’s her.’ She was busy, bustling around and asking questions, and he didn’t even think she’d looked twice at him until she was leaving, needing to rush off and finish an article. But she was polite and friendly, shaking his hand as she said goodbye, and he’d later admit to smiling to himself as she’d walked away, unaware of the effect she’d had on him. He was left wondering when they would next meet, certain there was so much more to follow.
The next time he saw her he’d been brought in to care for the Doctor, and even in the chaos and panic he had instantly noticed her sat caring for her friend. She looked so worried and he wanted to reach out and comfort her, embrace her and assure her that he would make sure the Time Lord would be alright, but that wasn’t what she wanted. She needed him to be quick and active in helping the poor man and once she saw he was alright then she would relax and perhaps he’d get to see her beautiful smile once more. So he went to work and soon earned said smile when the incidentally perfectly healthy Doctor had tied him up. But all the strangeness and embarrassment and danger hadn’t bothered him, not really, because he got to be with her; he relished every second he got to bond with her, to find out more and show her who he was. Somehow, even though they were in the most ridiculous situation he had ever experienced, he thought it was perfect. He could think of nothing better to bring them together and he would always be grateful for the job that had brought that to them. And of course he was grateful to her for having faith in him, just as he now saw he had never lost faith in her.
“Sarah.” The lieutenant reached out to her, wriggling his fingers in the hope of drawing her attention to him, unsure if she was even looking, but busy tracing his gaze along the odd crack in the ceiling and opposite wall. “You have to move.”
“Would you stop?” She glanced back at him for only a second, slowly continuing on her way through the dank and gloomy cave. “I'm fine.”
“No, I'm not being silly, you need to move now, quick, Sarah. Something is not right about this.”
“Harry, we're walking through caves and tunnels on an alien planet, in shorts, five galaxies away from the beach we were supposed to be on. Do you think anything is right about this?”
“Please listen to me. Just this once, listen. You're not safe.”
Stopping in her tracks, Sarah turned to face him. “What?” She narrowed her eyes at him, he was looking everywhere but at her and that didn't exactly persuade her there was any need to change her direction or speed.
“I think this is a trap. Come here.” He pushed his hand further towards her. “Be careful and come here. Please trust me.”
“It's not about trust, I can look after myself just fine. Would you look at me when you talk to me?” His gaze shot round to the right, even further away from her. “Harry, are you even listening to me?”
Still silent, he tilted his head to the side, listening intently but to their surroundings rather than her, his instincts making him heighten his senses. He thought he heard a metallic click, then there was a thump. Harry sprung forward, wrapping his right arm around her waist and pulling her with him. The swinging blade passed through the spot where Sarah had been stood, slicing into his shoulder; he groaned, bracing himself against the wall to avoid crushing her.
“Oh God... Harry.” Lifting her hands to his shoulder, she pulled the material of his shirt apart a little more to keep it out of the wound.
He growled through his teeth slightly, waiting for the pain to numb, yearning for the burning to dull just slightly. “It had to be a movie style booby trap.”
“I'm so sorry.” Still pressed between him and the wall, she made no attempt to move him, instead placing her hands on his sides to alleviate some of the strain on his muscles.
“It's okay. I know.” He took a second to control his breathing a little more. “I was just trying to protect you.”
“You did.” She brought her left hand up to his face, helping him to concentrate on her and ensure he was still with her, keeping awake. “Thank you for saving me. I do trust you.”
Squinting to focus, he found her looking into his eyes and suddenly realised how close they were. “Just give me a minute.”
She nodded, keeping her gaze on his as she rubbed her thumb over his cheekbone. “I've got you.” Digging her heels into the ground, she wrapped her arms around his middle, pushing against him to take his weight. “Let me patch you up.”
The next morning as he lay recovering in bed, safely in the TARDIS with Sarah looking after him, he dared to imagine that one day she would trace her fingers over the white scar the wound would leave, or even press a kiss to that mark on his skin and whisper how much she loved him. Really he knew he wasn't that lucky, he was just delirious from the painkillers, but he had his reward in her still stood before him, still breathing, and was content to simply make the most of the time he did get with her.
After one particularly stressful trip spent fighting for their lives and separated by time, with Harry facing a werewolf, an Arthurian man, tree spirits, Morgan le Fay, and another Doctor, and Sarah finding his grave in the snow, she had hardly let him out of her sight. He wondered if she felt guilty, as if stepping back inside the TARDIS, leaving him alone for one minute, had meant it was her fault that the ship had inexplicably jumped forward through time. It wasn't and he yearned to reassure her that he had never thought so; she had found him, they were safe, that was all that mattered. With gentle, patient reassurance, he had managed to convince her to let him leave the room, five minutes to get refreshments from the kitchen, he hoped a treat would help her relax.
There he had found the Doctor, who had immediately urged him to go and be with her, not just so they could look after each other. His profession had certainly helped with that, given the harsh conditions she'd been in, and he was glad she trusted him enough that he could take care of her emotional and mental welfare too.
Despite his assurances that Sarah was alright, and the pair would always take care of each other, the Time Lord was persistent. Normally Harry would have dismissed it as silly, nothing more than unnecessary paranoia, fuelled by the care and responsibility he felt for her, and a little guilt. But that thought was cut short as the Doctor urged him to ask her just what she did to find him. He fell silent, nodded and made sure that was the first thing he said to her when he returned to her.
“You nearly froze to death for me?!” Harry's jaw dropped just a little, eyebrows drawing together. “Sarah, I—”
“I had to.” The memory caused her brow to furrow as she looked down. “I had to know. I had to prove that I'd find you. I couldn't leave you.”
“Sarah.” He tenderly tilted her chin up with the touch of a finger so he could look her in the eye. She didn't just tolerate him, he didn't annoy her; she loved him. “Thank you.” Soft lips pressed against hers with a single tender caress. Then, as they parted, he sat back just slightly, leaning towards her with a broad smile on his face. “That was my first kiss.” For a few seconds he simply held her gaze. “To say thank you. Goodnight, Sarah.”
As he rose from his seat, she placed her hand on his arm. “Harry. Stay? For a bit?” She looked up at him with hope, and the awe in her eyes touched his soul. Without looking away, he rejoined her on the sofa, watching with curiosity. “That was my first kiss too.”
He closed his eyes. “Sarah—”
“Harry!” She smiled as he stopped withdrawing and just stared at her. They had been to the future but she couldn’t see theirs, and even if nothing ever became of it, she was infinitely glad it was him. Glad that it was so simple and pure and perfect, and that it was out of complete and utter love for each other. “Thank you for making it so special.” Assured, his lips gradually curled into a soft smile, and before he could say anything in response she’d pressed herself into his chest, arms wrapping around him as he embraced her.
“Sarah…” She looked up at him, keeping her head resting over his heart. Harry beamed in response, cupping her cheek and kissing her forehead, and when she burrowed back into him he felt sure that she wouldn’t let him go for hours.
He really didn't mind.
When the Doctor had left her far from Croydon with just the change in her pocket and no way home, it was Harry she called. There were cracks in her voice, but relief began to seep in too once she found him free to help her. The fact he was more than willing even coaxed a small smile from her worry stricken features.
“I’m on my way, Sarah. Read a book, find a café, just try and relax, I’ll be with you as soon as I can. Just stay somewhere in the centre so I can find you.”
“Thank you, Harry.”
He grinned, hoping she would hear it in his voice. “You’re welcome, old girl. See you soon.”
Travelling there by train had taken far longer than he wished when he had no way of contacting her until he arrived. Once there though, it hadn't taken long to find her, sat in the window of a café that would soon be closing, watching the sunset with her chin rested on her palm. He noticed her solemn expression lift as he came into view, and couldn't resist smiling back as she stood.
“Sarah, old thing, come here.” Harry wrapped his arms tightly around her to envelop her in his embrace. “Hello.”
“Are you alright?”
She nodded, although he was entirely unconvinced. “Thank you for coming. I was worried you’d be on a mission.”
“No. But if I was I would have dropped everything. You’re far more important.”
After they'd shared a long embrace, with Harry whispering words of assurance, Sarah Jane was adamant that they didn't stay the night but head straight back to London instead. Though that wouldn't have been his choice, he bought them both tickets for an overnight train, careful to keep her from worrying about the price when he wasn't. By the time they were settling down in their cabin, her worries had calmed leaving exhaustion to take over. In the peaceful solitude, comforted by his arm around her, she fell asleep with her head on his shoulder.
The first time he left for a mission after her return was hard on them both. He had taken several weeks off work just to spend them with her, but eventually he had been needed. Harry did far too much good for the world for her to ask him to stay, but despite her better judgement, knowing he was about to leave felt agonisingly like being abandoned once more.
All too aware what the crease in her brow meant, the lieutenant pulled Sarah to him, folding her in his arms and purposefully cradling her head against him. As her eyes began to water, he assured her it was safe and that he'd tell her all about it on his return, rocking her in his embrace to combat the tears.
The subsequent promise to come home, accompanied by a soft kiss to her forehead, soothed her enough to let go. He was worth the fear and the worry, and the pain she was terrified would follow if one day he couldn't return. She could deal with that uncertainty, with waiting forever if she had to, for him.
The second time he kissed her was exactly what she'd come to expect from him; soft and sweet and pure love.
She kissed him too, tender and purposeful, smiling at the way his eyes stayed closed for a second or two after they parted, lips curling uncontrollably upwards.
“Sarah.” Cupping her cheek, he drew her closer again so their foreheads touched.
She leant into his palm, grinning even wider. “Yes, Harry?”
Softly caressing her skin, he withdrew just slightly, making sure to look into her eyes as he spoke. “Sarah, old thing, beautiful, incredible, amazing, Sarah, I am so in love with you.”
The words leaving her speechless, despite already knowing, she gently pulled his hand away from her face and into her lap, enclosing it in her own. She tenderly ran her thumbs over his skin, stroking his fingers as she savoured the moment, relishing every feeling as she committed them to memory. When he opened his mouth, seemingly to doubt himself and even his beautiful choice of words, she cut in first to keep those thoughts at bay. “Harry!” His mouth closed and just a touch of confusion crossed his features. “Harry, I love you too.” She took his face in her hands to make sure he took her words to heart, knew what he and his love meant to her, and how fond she'd become of the nickname, with its affectionate meaning far from the face value. “I know, and I love you so much.”
Harry clutched her to him, pressing his face into her shoulder as he hugged her, broad grin still spread across his face. She wrapped her arms around him in return, cradling his head against her as she happily waited until he was ready to let her go.
They swiftly formed a routine for whenever Harry returned from an assignment, a way to celebrate his safe homecoming, providing comfort and reassurance after being parted. He took to going straight to her once back in London, not caring for his flat, and sweeping her into his embrace, strong arms enveloping her. She always welcomed the way he crushed her against him, and rested her head over his heart in response, homing in on the soothing even beat as relief flooded through her.
In the evening they'd dine out at their favourite restaurant, his treat, taking pleasure in dressing up for each other, so much so that Harry had soon come to keep a collection of clothes in her flat to remove any need to leave on such days. Later, returning to one of their apartments, they'd have a hot drink, cuddle up under a blanket, talk and just relax with sheer relief at being in each other's presence once more. Inevitably they'd fall asleep on the sofa, and often when he woke in the middle of the night Harry would tuck her into bed, whoever's bed it was, but some mornings she would wake still wrapped in his arms. Those were her favourites.
It was meant to get easier, that was what they'd heard, but had come to realise the opposite. The more he went away, the more probability was against him, and he didn't think he could stand it any longer. The Navy, UNIT, MI5, NATO, they could all easily replace him; Sarah couldn't. He didn't want to be one of those people that never came home; missing in action and leaving his beloved forever wondering if she'd ever see him again, if the worst had happened, where he was, if she could find him if she just looked in the right place, what happened to him, how it had happened, if it had been painless or if he'd known it was coming.
He wanted to spend the rest of his life by her side, her sidekick, he wouldn't actively pass up his chance at that. Nor did he want to put the woman he loved through that pain, she deserved better.
As she looked up at him, he gently held her face in both hands, kissing her forehead. “No more missions.”
He smiled. “That's it. Last one. No more missions.”
“Harry, I'd never ask you to give it up.”
“You didn't, and I know.” He ran his fingers through her hair, drawing it back from her face. “I can't do it anymore. I need to be here with you. I love you, and I don't want to give up my life with you. You're the most important thing in my life, old thing.”
“But what would you do?”
“Transfer. I'm still a doctor, I could work in a lab, research. I can still help people from there. And I could help you proofread your articles, and your book if you ever get round to it.”
She beamed at him, cupping his cheek to press her lips to his. He didn't ask for honour or glory, for medals or recognition for anything he did, all he wanted was her, provided she felt the same, and she felt honoured to give him that, to be enough reward for this brave, loyal and caring man. “I am so proud of you.”
“That's all I need.”
Wrapping her arms around his middle, she pressed herself back against his chest so he'd hold her tight again. “I love you. Thank you for making it home safe.”
The day he proposed was the most nerve-racking of his life. It wasn’t that he doubted she loved him as much as he did her, nor did he think that she wanted to leave him, but she had never expressed any particular desire to marry. Neither, he reminded himself, had she said she didn’t want to, and he was sure she knew how he felt; they had shared their dreams and all his life he had been seeking a family based on love not just blood, where they chose each other. He longed to make that official, to be bound in everyone’s eyes, the danger in his former line of work a reminder of all the benefits it gave them too, for the good and bad things in life. But she was his family regardless.
His heart pounded as he gazed at her, and before he even opened his mouth Sarah gently placed her hand on his chest, feeling the furious beating beneath her touch. “Relax.”
Suddenly it wasn't nerve-racking at all; this wonderful woman loved him, she wanted forever too, and there was no way that wouldn't make him smile. “Sarah—”
“Just relax, you have nothing to fear.”
The way she read him and knew all, yet only showed an abundance of care and patience made his grin widen. His heart now calm and overflowing with love for her, he proceeded to speak.
In the warm afternoon sun, the young couple sat curled up together on a bench that overlooked the garden, enjoying the solitude away from the small group of people they could hear just out of sight. Harry wrapped his arm more firmly around her shoulders to shield her from the breeze, kissing her temple as she leant further into his embrace, gazing up at him. “You look so very handsome, just gorgeous.”
Beaming, he carefully threaded his fingers through her hair, brushing them against the blue and white flowers in her soft curls. Just the sight of her left him speechless and a little breathless, in fact that was exactly how he'd felt when he'd first set eyes on her earlier that day. “Oh but look at you; you are beautiful. I love you, Mrs. Sullivan.”
“Mrs. Sullivan?” Sarah raised her eyebrow at him, but kept her arm firmly around his middle, nestled against him. “Now I’m definitely Sarah Jane Smith, but I suppose Mrs. Sullivan has a certain ring to it too.”
“You could put up with it, could you?”
“Perhaps.” She beamed. “Or maybe I should call you Mr. Smith.”
Cupping her cheek, he pressed his lips to hers. “I don’t mind either way, as long as I can call you my wife.”
She smiled, unable to take her eyes off him. “As I am very very proud to be your wife; how about both?”
To his joy, later that year, the dedication for her first book read:
Doctor, Lieutenant, Agent.
Hero, Best Friend, Husband.
Without you I wouldn't be here.
I love you.