"It’s coming," Martha says, her head resting in Jenny’s lap, her eyes shut tight. "We’ll be gone soon. Mud and death and disease, sweeping it all away."
"Hush," Jenny says, her voice quiet, for a change, gentle and careful. "Tell us another story about the stars, instead, love, go on."
"That’s where I’m going," Martha says, "into the sky."
"All the way out," Jenny finishes, nodding. "All the way out."
* * *
It became a joke, between them; when they’d first met, Jenny had been a bit wary of Martha.
"You seem so posh," Jenny says a few days later, blowing on their hands as they sit outside behind the building, waiting for the cook to call them in to help with dinner. "Cleverer than me by half, I should say."
Martha laughs. "Not posh at all where I come from, though better off than some, of course."
Jenny just rubs her hands together, looking into the distance.
"Hey, Jenny," Martha says carefully, touching the other girl’s shoulder. "Thanks for being kind to me, these last few days, showing me around, even if I come across as too clever and I'm, you know...different," she finishes lamely, gesturing at her face.
"What, since you’re from London?" Jenny says, genuinely surprised. Martha starts laughing and finds she can’t stop; Jenny joins in, her smile transforming her face.
Afterwards Jenny pinches two sausages from the pan and shares them with Martha, the hot food sizzling against their fingers and lips as they eat them with relish, enjoying something fresh and forbidden. Jenny smiles, and Martha realizes she can start smiling too.
* * *
Martha finds she hates scrubbing floors. She also hates polishing military antiques, peeling mountains of potatoes, and most every other task she has to perform, day in and day out, head down, not complaining.
Her favourite task is beating the rugs. She lets loose, outside in the crisp air, furiously working up a storm of dust and dirt and emotions.
Jenny never joins in; she takes a rest under a tree, waiting and watching, while Martha does the job twice as well as it needs to be done anyway.
When Martha finishes, there are tear tracks on her face, visible through the dirt caking her skin. Jenny makes room for Martha to sit next to her under the tree, and carefully wipes her face clean with a handkerchief. It has Jenny’s mother’s initials on it and it’s the only possession she has that she truly values; after getting every last bit of dirt off Martha's face, Jenny folds the handkerchief solemnly, placing it back inside her dress.
"Thank you," Martha says, and it's inadequate, but Jenny doesn’t mention it. "Jenny, how do you do this, over and over, every day? How do you not just want to scream, tear down the school with your hands, and fight?"
"It’s all I’ve ever done," Jenny says. "And it could be worse, working in some factory in London, no disrespect meant — " they giggle as they always do when the city comes up " — and the boys aren’t always so bad here. They know — they know I wash their sheets, for one," she says.
"What do you mean?" Martha asks, though it dawns on her as she says it. "You — Jenny!" she says, surprised and pleased. "You're awful, you really are. That's brilliant!"
"It's disgusting, really," Jenny says, wrinkling her nose. "But it keeps them from getting too horrid, sometimes. I think they're afraid that one of the other boys will say they were dreaming about me when it, you know, happened."
Jenny is flaming red at this point, an odd reaction for one so joyous and outgoing and unashamed. "Jenny," Martha says, "they’d be lucky to be dreaming about you, really."
The silence that follows is not as awkward as Martha thinks either of them would have expected.
* * *
"How're you not embarrassed?" Jenny asks, flushed and sweaty, trembling as Martha presses her hands along Jenny’s spine.
"I'm a modern girl," Martha says, laughing gently. "Now hush."
"Can’t shut me up," Jenny says, arching her hips. "I've got rights, you told me so yourself. Talking and voting and, oh," she moans.
"A regular Mrs. Pankhurst, you are," Martha says, as she moves her hands lower, slower. "Now, honestly, hush."
* * *
Martha doesn’t take Jenny to see the TARDIS. It's one thing to tell stories of London and the stars and all sorts of fantastical things, but it’s another to show someone a box that's bigger on the inside than out.
When she visits the TARDIS she sits in the chair, on the console, on the floor, her back against the wall, soaking up every bit of energy the ship is still emitting. She peels stolen oranges and sucks the juice from her fingers, thinking of Jenny, thinking of the Doctor, thinking of home.
After the Family of Blood kills Jenny, she realizes she should have shown her everything. Time's too short for secrets. War is coming; war has already come to this village.
No one escapes unharmed, she thinks.
* * *
Martha rediscovers that life is always easier with two.
"There's something special with you and that Mr. Smith, isn’t there," Jenny says one morning. They’re cleaning the banisters on the staircase, and Martha’s just given John Smith a fairly goofy smile, and is still grinning after he’s gone.
"It's complicated," Martha says, thinking of Joan, and home, and trust and duty.
"It's all right," Jenny says. "There's so much going on in that head of yours, Martha Jones. I feel like I could know you for ages and not understand anything about you."
"Join the club," Martha says, and they both laugh, but Martha's smile doesn’t reach her eyes, and Jenny remains watchful.
"It'll be fine, love," Jenny says. "He'll be fine in whatever it is you think is coming. He's a survivor; you can see it in his eyes."
Martha can't speak, but Jenny's careful fingertips on her clenched fists show she understands.
* * *
"All the way out," Martha says, clutching at Jenny in the narrow, creaky bed, warm and improbably, unbelievably, loved without reservation for her spirit, her sense of adventure, her wisdom and the way she gives hope. "Come with me, Jenny," she says. "We're going to see the stars, you and me."
"Hush," Jenny says, slow and careful. "We'll see what happens. This is enough for now."
And it's never enough, but for a shining moment as the world turns on, hiding out on an unremarkable piece of rock in an insignificant solar system, in a world that can’t be what it needs to be, there's a little bit of magic in the air.