Marion had intended to spend this day quietly, at home, with Cally. She thought it was the best thing to do. But at breakfast she changed her mind.

“Let’s go somewhere,” she said to Kristoph. Somewhere, quiet, nice, with good weather... but not on Gallifrey. I feel as if... I can’t explain it. I just want to be somewhere else today.”

“If that’s what you want, then so be it,” Kristoph answered her. “We’ll take a trip in the TARDIS.”

He smiled warmly at her and reached to kiss her. Cally put her arms out to be hugged, too. Kristoph lifted her into his arms and cuddled her lovingly.

“My little love,” he said. “As if I would refuse you a hug.”

Marion bit her lip and said nothing. In the last few days she had wondered if it had been the right thing, bringing Cally into their lives. The first few weeks had been so pleasant. It was nice having a child around the house. All the servants adored her as much as Marion and Kristoph did.

But now it seemed harder for them all.

As they got ready to go out for the day, the cook and the housekeeper both came to the drawing room.

“You’re going to be out for the whole day?” Mistress Callitha asked Marion, watching her put Cally into a travel coat and carefully fix the miniature oxygen tank in place that helped her to breathe.

“Yes,” Marion answered. “So... there will be no need to make meals. We shall probably just want something light when we return... the master of the house and I...”

“When... the two of you return...” Mistress Callitha emphasised.

“Yes,” Marion said again. She understood what the two women were asking. But she couldn’t put the answer to their question into words. She just sat there with Cally on her knee and let them both bend and kiss the little girl on the cheek.

“Have a good journey, little one,” Mistress Callitha said. The cook didn’t even manage to say that. They both nodded courteously to Marion and then backed out of the room. Marion finished dressing Cally and carried her to the hall where the TARDIS was incongruously disguised as a mirrored cabinet. Caolin and Rosanda were there. They, too, wanted to wish Cally a good journey. Both went away sadly afterwards.

“That phrase can mean a lot of things, can’t it,” Marion said as she sat down on the sofa by the big viewscreen and watched Kristoph manoeuvre the TARDIS through the transduction barrier. He had been extremely short with the barrier control clerk, pulling rank in a very severe way when the man had the temerity to ask if a presidential guard was aboard the TARDIS.

“Which phrase?” he asked, his tone softening as he looked at his wife.

“Good journey,” she said. “Sometimes people say it in a casual way... just like Americans say ‘have a nice day’... as if it really doesn’t matter as if you have a good journey or not. Other times, it really is a well meant blessing upon the journey. Other times, it almost seems like a blessing for life itself. And... today... when Mrs Callitha said it to Cally... it wasn’t this journey that she meant, was it?”

“We’re a funny lot, we Gallifreyans,” Kristoph said. He locked off their flight plan and came to sit next to her. “We don’t have any gods. But we do believe in the soul and we know there is a sort of life after death. We built the APC Net to make certain of it. But ordinary people like Mistress Callitha, whose wisdom extends to getting indelible marks out of table linen and the like, not to the sort of lofty ideas of Time Lords, think of death as the start of an eternal journey for the soul.”

“I... like that idea,” Marion said. “But... Cally isn’t Gallifreyan. Does it count for her?”

“Venturans believe in living the corporeal life to the fullest. But they do think there is an afterlife. They have very swift funerals, usually within the same day that death occurs, unless there is doubt about the cause of death. They do that in order to ensure the soul joins with the elements. That’s their chief belief... that in death they become a part of the air, the sea, the soil, the waters of the world, or the dust of space, even. They usually choose cremation in order to free the soul of the physical body all the faster.”

“That’s not so bad, either. But... it’s easier to think of it when it’s an old person who really has lived life to the full. Cally hasn’t had time to do anything.”

“We’ve given her six weeks of full, happy days,” Kristoph reminded her. “That’s the best we could do.”

“It seemed a lot six weeks ago. Now it just...”

“I know,” Kristoph said in an unusually quiet voice. He put one arm around Marion’s shoulders tenderly and the other around the little girl on her knee. He held them both tightly.

“We said we’d be strong when this day came,” Kristoph reminded his wife. “And we will be. We’ll make this a good day.” He kissed them both again and held them as the TARDIS travelled through the vortex to their destination for the day.

“The Eye of Orion!” Marion smiled despite herself as she saw the planet they materialised on at last. “Oh, yes. This is a lovely, peaceful place.”

Kristoph took her hand as they stepped out into the fresh, sweet air. Marion breathed deeply. The Eye of Orion was a blissful place. She always loved it when they visited.

“I thought we’d look at the sea for a bit,” he said. “It’s a very nice day for a picnic on a Cliffside.”

“Yes,” Marion agreed. The cliff was not very high, but there was a drop down to the grey beach below where the sea made a soft shushing noise as the tide came in and a rasping one as the waves ran out again over the shingles. It was a restful sound. Marion sat on the cool grass and Cally sat by her side, running her hands through the grass and appreciating the feel of it.

“We can take off the oxygen feed,” Kristoph said as he placed a heavy picnic basket on the ground and sat beside them. He reached and gently detached the tubes and unfastened the strap that held the bottle in place. “The air here is so good, she won’t need it.”

Being unencumbered by the oxygen feed was a relief to Cally. She smiled easily as Marion played with her in the grass. There were flowers growing among the green blades. They were a little like daisies, except the primary colour was violet. The inner part of the flower was deep violet and the petals a paler shade. She made a chain of them and put them around Cally’s hair like a crown of flowers, then made a necklace of them. Then she fastened more of them together and made flower jewellery for herself while Cally made some for her doll.

“You look like dryads,” Kristoph commented. “Beautiful creatures of nature itself. Stay there, like that. Let me fetch a camera and take a photograph.”

Marion hesitated. She had not taken very many photographs of Cally in the past weeks. She felt as if they would be too painful to look at afterwards. And it seemed all the more cruel today.

“Just one,” Kristoph insisted, and dashed quickly back to the TARDIS. He returned with a camera and had Marion sit with Cally on her knee, both of them in their flower finery. He actually took several pictures in different poses, all emulating classical paintings. Marion quite enjoyed herself. So did Cally, and that was the important thing.

They picnicked after a while, then Cally learnt to make daisy chains for herself. Even that was tiring after a while, though. Marion let her lie down on a blanket and she read a story to her as she fell asleep. She read to the end of the story even though Cally wasn’t listening, then she put the book down carefully and reached out to her. She was still breathing gently.

“I was afraid...” Marion said. “I thought she might...”

“We have a few more hours yet,” Kristoph promised. “She’ll wake in time for her tea. Why don’t you have a nap beside her? You look tired, too.”

“I don’t want to. I don’t want to miss a moment...”

“I know. You’ve been sitting by her cot at night for the same reason. That’s why you need to take a little sleep. Come on, my dear. Lie down. Let me soothe you to sleep.”

Marion did so. The thought of being soothed to sleep by Kristoph was too tempting. She closed her eyes and breathed the good air of the Eye of Orion slowly. Kristoph put his hands on her forehead and gently eased her immediate thoughts while he put soft, sweet clouds of contentment into her mind instead. She fell asleep with a smile on her face.

She woke two hours later and looked around in a panic. Cally wasn’t beside her. Neither was Kristoph. She sat up and saw them both. Kristoph was walking along the cliffside with the child in his arms.

“We’ve been watching the waves,” he said when he came back to her. “But I think there’s a storm in the air. We should probably have our tea in the TARDIS.”

Marion looked out to sea. There were dark clouds on the horizon. It still felt comfortably warm yet, though. They sat and watched the clouds gathering before the first drops of rain fell on them and they retreated to the TARDIS.

The storm was spectacular. There was thunder and lightning and the rain came down in torrents. They sheltered inside the TARDIS but with the door wide open and ate their picnic tea watching it. Cally wasn’t afraid of either the thunder or the lightning. Nobody had ever taught her to fear them. She laughed at the noises and watched the forks of lightning come down over the sea.

It was almost dark when the storm was over, though. It was time to leave. Kristoph closed the door. Marion took Cally to the sofa and they sat quietly as he put the TARDIS in orbit.

“Kristoph,” Marion said after a while. “Kristoph... I think...”

He caught the urgency of her voice and came to her side. He looked at Cally and he nodded unhappily.

“Hold onto her,” Kristoph said. “Just hold her as you have all this time.”

Marion had no intention of letting her go. Kristoph didn’t intend to let go of either of them. He held them both until it was obvious that it was time to let go. Even then, Marion didn’t stop holding Cally. She cried softly and kissed her cheek, knowing there was never going to be a response. The little girl was still wearing the crown and the necklace of flowers. She still looked like a dryad. But she was silent and still.

“It’s over,” Kristoph said. “Marion... let me...”

“Not yet,” Marion answered. “A few more minutes. Let me hold onto her a little longer.”

Kristoph waited a few more minutes. Then he went to the console. He first contacted the hospice on Ventura IV and told them that their patient had died peacefully of the illness that was going to take her eventually. Then he contacted Gallifrey. Marion looked around in surprise as Pól Braxietel answered the call. She didn’t know it was a legal requirement to inform the Castellan when a death occurred aboard a TARDIS.

“It has been recorded,” Pól told him. “Do you intend...”

“I do,” Kristoph answered. “As soon as Marion is ready for it.”

“I will record that fact, also,” Pól said very formally. Then his tone softned. “I am sorry for this. Especially now, when my wife and I are celebrating the birth of our son.”

“You have no need to feel guilty, Pól. And Marion and I will come to see you and the baby next week. Thank you for your kindness at this time.”

He ended the transmission then came to sit beside Marion. He took Cally’s still body in his own arms and held her for a little while.

“Marion,” he said. “Pól has given me leave to do something... the idea might shock you. But it is the best way....”

He told Marion what he intended to do. She was shocked at first. Then, as she thought about it, she realised it was the only thing they could do.

Kristoph carried Cally to the Cloister Room. Marion walked beside him, still crying softly. When they got there, he gave her back to his wife while he made the preparations. Marion watched as he pulled the lever that opened the cover over the Eye of Harmony. She looked into the silvery well of pure energy that looked like a liquid with its own internal light swirling around in a huge vat.

Marion knelt beside the Eye and laid Cally on the floor. She straightened her limbs and closed her eyes fully, and garlanded her with all of the flower chains. She sang a lullaby as she did so.

Kristoph came to her side. He recited a Venturan prayer for the soul and then, in a low, deep voice, he sang a Gallifreyan keen for the dead. As he did so, he lifted Cally from the floor and held her body over the well. He lowered her down until his own hands were only a foot away from the surface. When he took them away she remained there for a little while, caught in the localised gravity field. Then she sank down onto the surface. Her body was enveloped in the energy and shone like silver before it was consumed by the energy and was no more.

“She is a part of the Eye of Harmony now,” Kristoph said. “Part of the TARDIS. She... will be with us everywhere we go from now on.”

“Yes,” Marion managed to say. “Yes.” Then she began to cry uncontainable tears. They weren’t just for Cally. She cried for the child of her own that she had lost only a few weeks ago. She cried for Anna, the little girl she gave birth to that didn’t live to breathe even once. She cried for the child she had lost in the first year of her Alliance. Kristoph let her cry. She needed to do so. She needed to remember her losses.

She needed to cry because he couldn’t. She was expressing his grief, too.

When she ran out of tears, he held her for a long, long time.

“We’ll go home now,” he said to her. “And go on as we always knew we would have to. Next week, we will go to see Isolatta and Pól and their newborn son. If it makes you cry, they will understand. After that, you have the opening of your first library. Life goes on for you and for me. And there is much to look forward to as well as looking back.”

He closed the well cover. Marion stood up and brushed the tears from her eyes. She walked back to the console room with Kristoph. As he piloted the TARDIS back to Gallifrey she picked up Cally’s doll from the sofa and kissed its plastic cheek. She put it in a box, carefully. When she visited the hospice again, there would be a child there who would appreciate it.