Author's Notes:
A.N. I claim no credit for the characters populating the Whoniverse and am receiving no money for writing this; please don’t sue me. No spoilers, but references her character arc from the Third Doctor to the Sarah Jane Adventures, and beyond.

Hers is a pleasing name.

Friends, enemies, lovers, children, even artificial intelligences who should really be above such petty linguistic pleasures–there is not one among them who cannot claim to have taken the opportunity to say it in full, simply to taste the way it rolls off the tongue. It is a name to savor.

A good part of its appeal is its rhythm: STRESS unstress STRESS STRESS. Irresistible. A name to smack your lips over, if you have lips, or to chatter your mandibles to, if you have mandibles, or to rustle your primary speaker tentacles to, if that is your preferred method of communication.

Rhythm is not all of it, of course. There is also the alliteration of the first and forth syllables; so few species can resist alliteration! And when one adds to those S’s that name-final consonant…oh, how the tongue (or the analogous articulatory apparatus of your species) glides over those satisfyingly hissy sibilants…

Yet even more satisfying than the alliteration is the oft-unremarked assonance, the long A’s of the first and third syllable in near perfect counterpoint to the same/similar vowels of the second and fourth (it all depends on what dialect of English you speak, you see, and how readily you distinguish between a schwa and a cap I in an unstressed syllable, and which exactly you believe to be the correct designation of the vowel in the second syllable of her name).

It is truly a pleasing name.

It is also one which the Mendanys people of Oddonyssa Five have absolutely no way of pronouncing.

Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that the Mendanys people of Oddonyssa Five have no mouths. (Oddly enough, they do have kissing. But I have already strained your patience with this impromptu linguistics lecture, and now is not the time for the intricacies of Mendanysian biology.) Most of the difficulty lies in the fact that the Mendanys do not understand the human method of naming. They hear what we use as her name, and they do not simply hear a collection of sounds, but all the definitions and translations and connotations of each word. They hear ‘Hebrew woman of high rank,’ and ‘Yahweh is merciful,’ and ‘a worker of metal (particularly by hammering it when it is hot and malleable),’ and a thousand things more besides, and none of this has anything to do with the woman that they worship.

So they do not call her Sarah Jane Smith.

Instead, they call her The Lonely Goddess.


She was carried to the Oddonyssa Five by her son, whom they call The Both Less And More Boy, and by her lover, The Dancer Between Stars; by that time, the loneliness had mostly faded from her eyes, leaving only its shadows behind.

She was dying.

The Mendanys are divided almost equally between scribes and explorers, and a good part of their initial awe came from the fact that this woman had not only chosen to be both, but that she did both well. Their scribes had for many years disseminated the tales brought home by their explorers, including those of this impossible woman who could both traverse the wonders of the universe and record them with her pen, but such stories were dismissed as blatant falsehoods, unchecked romanticism. Yet now she stood before them.

Clearly she was no mere mortal, for all that her body had begun to fail her.

And though her loneliness was only shadows in her eyes, still she carried it like an inseparable part of her, a memory faint but nevertheless burned into her bones and her grey-green gaze and the darkest depths of her soul.

There are many legends that the people of Oddonyssa Five tell about The Lonely Goddess and all her adventures, but the one told most often, the first one whispered into an infant’s ear and the last one read before setting aside the book on many a sleepless night (there have been a great deal of sleepless nights since The Lonely Goddess came to rest in the skies of Oddonyssa Five, but it is not a bad sleeplessness, and the Mendanys do not mind), the tale that opens the harvest festivals and closes the winter solstice, the yarn that every child knows by heart before they have turned five years old (keeping in mind that a Oddonyssian year is roughly comparable to thirteen Terran months)…

That legend goes like this.


Once when the days were young and the universe did not know what it was, there was a planet. It was the planet written now in the Book of Elders as The Center, or as The Starting, or as That to Which All Things Return, and from it came many great heroes and villains in equal measure, such as no one could have ever imagined. But this was when days were young and the universe did not know what it was, and thus the Book of Elders at the time called it only The Third Blue. No explorers ventured there for glory, and those who fell to its shores by misfortune brought home no tales for the scribes.

And one day on The Third Blue, a girl was born with a heart that only grew with each piece that was taken away.

She gave a piece to her parents, as all children do. And when with a kiss and the whiff of petrol they were gone, she was too young to understand that she was wailing not just because she was hungry and not even because she had just lost a part of herself forever. She wailed because of the pressure of her growing heart inside her chest, emptier than before and yet beating all the louder.

She gave a piece to the one remaining member of her family, who took her in and sheltered her. The woman loved her clumsily, for she did not understand her, and was often gone. And while her aunt lectured in the far away halls of distant lands, the girl dutifully did her schoolwork and all the things that her relative approved of, for approval was a thing like love.

And at night the girl dreamed of someone who would never leave, and nursed the slowly expanding ache until she could feel it in every cell of her body and it was not unlike an embrace.

She gave a piece to a girl who was daring and wild and held her hand, and rushed into places she herself was afraid to go. The other girl rushed into an early death, carrying a piece of her friend’s heart with her into the cold seawater.

Her heart was raw and scraped and sore, bleeding, and so she built up walls all around it, so that no one could break through them and she could never give another piece away. She built them high and thick and solid, and though she was as kind to others as she could make herself be, no man or woman so much as scraped the stone with which she stacked them, or came within a mile of scaling their heights.

And then The Dancer Between Stars came to The Third Blue. And he did not even need to try to break down the impenetrable walls, was not given the time to even think about the impossibility of such a task, for the girl shattered them from the inside in one blow and thrust as much of her heart as she could hold into his hands.

The Dancer Between Stars took her hand and they ran, and no one ever left her because now she was the one forever leaving, her eyes locked on nothing but her lover. She gave and gave and gave pieces of her heart to everyone she met, knowing by now the contradiction that meant there was only more to give to the The Dancer Between Stars. Hand in hand with him she waltzed around planets and past supernovas, grew drunk on his impermanence and caprice and dared to hope that all the ways in which he was so much more unreliable than everyone she had ever known would mean that he would be reliable in the way that everyone else had never been. That he would never leave her.

He left.

He left but she had so long been giving her heart to him that she could not stop, and so it flowed from her across stars and across time to find him, blood from a wound that would never close and that she did not want to. She built up walls but they were always crumbling and in need of repair, and when The Dancer Between Stars returned to her, her heart burst forth and shattered them to dust.

And thus the girl, who was by now in fact a woman, became The Lonely Goddess.

She danced no longer between stars but on the land and seas of her birth, and the loneliness and love which twined in equal measure throughout her hummed a pianissimo of sweetest pain, and The Third Blue lit up with it. She held it close to her like the lover who sometimes returned but still never stayed, and to whom she still sent pieces of her heart. She breathed the pain, filled her lungs with it, and felt her heart expand as she bestowed yet more pieces upon the children who came to her, especially The Both Less and More Boy, to whom she gave more than she had ever given anyone and still ached with fear that it might not be enough.

For many years she lived this way, balancing on the edge of a paradox wrapped inside a riddle, loving so fiercely it ignited the sky yet never able to give it all. Her heart grew with each gift, and so she always held something back. She was The Lonely Goddess, but her divinity came from being broken, damaged in a thousand small ways that could never be repaired.

She was happy. Her life shone with all the joy and wonder it could hold, and she and her companions–The Both Less and More Boy, The Newest Fire, The Weeping Joker, The Girl Who Finds–fought valiant battles, undertook epic quests, and unearthed delights and terrors unimaginable. They wove new tales and ways of being into the fabric of their world, and along with many others left it as The Center, The Starting, That to Which All Things Return. The Lonely Goddess was not alone, except in the way she had been broken, the way she always had been and would be for all her mortal life.

It is written by the wise scribes of The Book of Elders that she never stopped giving away the pieces of her heart, and it grew and grew and grew until her human body could not hold it, could barely struggle to make it beat. And so The Both More and Less Boy called upon The Dancer Between Stars so that he could say his goodbyes. But her lover had long grown overtired of farewells, for he had made too many, and so he carried her to this world.

Here she sat for seven days and was visited by the most learned elders and the most impetuous infants, and though her voice grew hoarse and threaded through with weariness, she did not stop her tales, and all sat, spellbound by everything The Lonely Goddess had been and continued to be.

On the seventh day we gave The Lonely Goddess her true name.

On the eighth day, she gave us all of her heart, and she did not die.

The Dancer Between Stars took her body into the sky, and The Both Less and More Boy wrapped it in a quilt and mapped the path of its orbit.

With her last breath she gave us all her heart, and though her body is gone her heart beats within us, a tempo of fierce love and pain and the lessons that come with strong and lasting loneliness. She is warm and cold, distant and near, and though we may feel lonely we are never alone, for she is always with us. She is our teacher of life’s soft and stinging mysteries, and of its one sure lesson: that to give love is always worth the consequences.

Once when the days were young and the universe did not know what it was, a girl was born.

Today, The Lonely Goddess rises above our planet, and watches over us.