The Real Mother Goose

by livii [Reviews - 3]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Character Study, Drama

Author's Notes:
For the amazing Munditia, who won this in the help_pakistan charity auction last year and has been waiting patiently ever since. Many thanks to Stunt Muppet for her lightning-fast and excellent beta work! No spoilers past “A Good Man Goes to War”.

Amy Pond has lost her baby girl. Well, not lost in the sense of misplaced like sunglasses or keys, or left behind at the store and now she’s waiting in the lost and found; and not lost in the sense of being left unattended in a pram at the park and spirited away to Neverland by Peter Pan. No, Amy Pond’s baby girl has been stolen from her. Replaced with living flesh, while the real Melody Pond is taken to worlds unknown, crying, missing her mother.

Amy Pond is going to find her baby girl. She has a gun. She has willpower. She has River Song’s vortex manipulator (best not to think about the fact it’s her daughter’s vortex manipulator too; much too complicated).

“It doesn’t work right,” River says, as Amy fumbles with the strap. “Especially not when you’re emotional. Not when there’s a connection. Be careful, Amy.”

“My baby girl’s lost,” Amy replies. “You’re lost. I’m lost. I have to do something.”

*

monday’s child is fair of face

It’s hot. That’s the first thing Amy registers. Hot, and crowded. Little children mill around her, clapping their hands with delight at her sudden appearance.

“Children, children!” says a voice, and a beautiful blonde woman comes through the sea of children. She’s got a stern look on her face, but her eyes are dancing, and her voice is light. “Leave the poor woman in peace.”

She finally reaches Amy. “Hello,” she says, as if strangers popped into her yard every day, “I’m Polly Jackson. Would you like a cup of tea, or glass of water?”

Amy nods gratefully, and follows Polly into the building.

They sit down together in a sparsely-furnished room. Polly is barefoot and seated lotus-style; Amy perches herself awkwardly down next to her.

“Welcome to the orphanage,” Polly says. “Lost souls, wayward children - we help them all. Have you been to India before?”

“India?” Amy asks. “No, never. I - I have no idea why I’m here in particular, actually.”

Polly clucks her tongue sympathetically. She’s older than Amy thought at first, but she’s got a timeless beauty that seems to radiate out from inside. She pats Amy’s hand, and oddly enough, Amy feels reassured.

“I’m looking for someone,” Amy says. “Melody Pond. Or River Song. Have they been here?”

Polly’s smile lights up the room. “Oh, yes,” she says, clapping her hands together with delight. “Melody was the one who opened our eyes to the good we could do here. I was on a hiking holiday with my husband Ben, and we met Melody in the neighbouring village. I...I haven’t been able to have children of my own, but Melody showed me how many children here could benefit from my love. She lost her mother, you see, and so she had a keen interest in orphans. Of course, it was hard work to convince Ben to stay - “I’m a bloody sailor, not a Yogi!” he would say - but he loves it here now, and we’re so very happy.”

Amy stares at Polly. “You met her?” she says, in a small voice.

“She was thirteen; beautiful face, long, dark hair. The most wonderful young girl I have ever met. And she knew the most amazing stories. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she knew the Doctor.”

Amy does a double-take. Polly grins, mischief in her eyes. “Don’t think I can’t tell a fellow time traveller when I see one!” she says. “I hope you can find what you’re looking for. You seem so awfully lost too. I wish I could help you more, but I don’t know where Melody went to after she left us here. One day she just...disappeared.”

“I don’t know where to look for her,” Amy says, hating the plaintive note in her voice, but unable to control it.

“I think maybe you do,” Polly says enigmatically. “I think you are on a quest; I think you’ll find what you’re looking for. I hope so, very much.”

When Amy fiddles with the vortex manipulator to leave, she realizes her gun is missing. She starts to say something to Polly, but she’s whisked away before she can, and the look on Polly’s face suggests that perhaps a gun isn’t a crucial part of her mission after all. The thought gives her a tiny spark of hope.

*

tuesday’s child is full of grace

The spaceship is warm. Too warm; Amy feels uncomfortable as sweat starts beading along her brow. At least it’s not as warm as India, she thinks.

“I’m sorry about the heat. The patients here require a warm atmosphere to recuperate. Those of us who are healthy do tend to find it a bit unpleasant, however.” The voice is quiet and calm, yet authoritative, self-possessed.

Amy turns around quickly. The woman standing in front of her is very pretty, with wavy brown hair and a smart lab coat.

“Nyssa,” the woman says, holding out her hand. “Welcome to Terminus. I assume the Doctor sent you?”

Amy knows her face must be exceptionally comical right then, but she just can’t help it. Nyssa laughs lightly, not making fun, just enjoying the experience.

“You’re not one of the usual arrivals,” Nyssa says, “so it seemed likely. Terminus is both the beginning and the end of everything. It’s a good place to start looking for things, and a good place to find answers. I hope I can help you.”

Amy’s head is spinning as she follows Nyssa to her office. It’s cooler in there, a fan giving a nice breeze. There’s some green leafy plants scattered about, and a picture frame on the desk. It shows Nyssa smiling widely along with four little girls.

“Yours?” Amy asks, but Nyssa shakes her head.

“No,” she says, looking at the photo fondly. “But there have been so many wonderful children in my life here. Three of those girls were my first full successes on Terminus. Lazar’s Disease completely eradicated, with no significant or lasting side effects. The fourth girl brought me the key. She was very special.”

Amy peers at the picture more closely, and gasps. One little girl has long, red hair, and a smile that can only be described as Amy’s own. And the nose is a dead giveaway for Rory.

“Melody Pond is a wonderful little girl,” Nyssa continues. “Nine years old and full of so much knowledge. I enjoyed working with her, and will forever be in her debt.”

“I’m trying to find her,” Amy says, a little desperately. “She’s my daughter. My baby girl. The Doctor...I don’t know where he went, but I’m alone.”

Nyssa smiles again. “I had a feeling you might be coming along. Melody was just fine, though a little sad. She misses you, but she knows you’re coming for her.”

“I didn’t even know I was pregnant,” Amy blurts out, then covers her face with her hands. “I mean...”

Nyssa reaches out and takes Amy’s hands in her own. “She’s a beautiful child,” she says, holding Amy’s hands tight. “And there are forces at play here that are so much bigger than either you or I can imagine. You’re a good mother. You will always be a good mother.”

Amy can’t speak, but her tears say enough for Nyssa to understand.

*

wednesday’s child is full of woe

It’s a pretty enough little cottage in the countryside, she supposes. Thatched roof, roses out front, a swing hanging from a large tree in the backyard. If you liked that sort of thing, it was a shining example of - well, that sort of thing.

Amy knocks on the door. After a few moments, the door opens a crack. Two dark, inquisitive eyes peer back at her.

“Hello,” Amy says, “I’m looking for a little girl called Melody Pond. Do you know her?”

“Mum!” the girl yells, “there’s a strange woman at the door!” She slams the door shut.

Amy can hear footsteps rushing towards her, and then the door opens again. “I’m so sorry,” says the woman, a grown-up copy of the little girl. “I don’t know where her manners have got to. Please, won’t you come in?”

Amy steps through the door. The house smells like fresh baking and clean laundry. It’s nice.

The woman makes her a cup of tea. “I’m Dorothea,” she says. “Obviously. Thank you for coming to the interview. Our last nanny quit very suddenly and we are desperate for a new one.”

“Um,” Amy says. “Well, my last job was for a little girl called Melody Pond, and before that, River Song. Do you know them?”

Dorothea shakes her head. “What funny names!” she exclaims with a small giggle. It’s an oddly girlish sound. Amy looks at her more closely. The woman actually looks quite young, much like the daughter who had opened the door, except - the eyes, Amy notices. They’re dull, flat. Nothing like the shining she had glimpsed in the daughter’s eyes.

“What’s your daughter’s name, then?” Amy asks.

“Polly,” Dorothea says, and for some reason she looks a little sad. “I seem to remember knowing someone lovely by that name, and so I decided to use it. But I’m afraid I can’t remember where or when I would have met her. She’s a darling, my Polly,” she adds, “so quick and smart, and at only seven years old! Her father works in the City and isn’t home often, so I do need someone to help me out during the day. I can’t keep up with my girl; she’s far too bright for me!” Dorothea giggles again, but this time, it was a bitter sound.

“Well, you know, kids these days,” Amy said, at a loss for what else to say. Then she thinks for a moment. “Polly? Long, blonde hair, very pretty, travelled with the Doctor?”

Dorothea stands up so quickly she knocks over her teacup, splashing amber liquid all over the floor. She doesn’t seem to notice.

“How do you know that?” she asks, anguished, wringing her hands. “My Polly talks of him all the time. Him, and the girl who came to visit. Do you know who they are?”

Amy is stunned. It really is a trail, she thinks, but by who, and why? “Do you know the Doctor?” she asks carefully.

“I can’t remember!” Dorothea all but wails. “There’s this gap, this missing time in my head.”

The little girl’s head suddenly pops around the corner again, and Amy can tell by the look on her face that she’s been listening in.

“Mum,” she says quietly, “it’s okay, it really is. I love you, mum.” She goes over to Dorothea and hugs her tightly. Amy swallows thickly, a lump suddenly in her throat. Dorothea sighs, and relaxes into her daughter’s arms.

The little girl - Polly, did she know the reference? - turns to Amy. “I met Melody Pond,” she says, simply. “She was eleven years old. She came ‘round to tell mum that you’d be coming, and to tell me the stories she said I deserved to know. About the Doctor, and the TARDIS, and adventures. But mum can’t remember,” she continues, “and it’s awfully sad. One day I hope Melody comes back, and can take her on an adventure. Then maybe she’ll remember. My mum travelled in the stars, you know. She’s a heroine.”

Amy falls to her knees in front of Polly. “Melody is my daughter. How is she? How was she? Please tell me she was okay.”

Polly takes Amy’s hand and pats it gently. She’s so grown up, Amy thinks, so knowing and wise. Is that what Melody was like as a child? Does this sort of knowledge change you like that?

“Melody was wonderful,” Polly says. “She’s smart and funny and very, very brave. I loved her so much. When you find her, bring her back here one day.”

“I will,” Amy promises, even though she can’t possibly know if she’ll be able to keep her word. Somehow, though, she’s starting feel hopeful that she will.

*

thursday’s child has far to go

An asteroid, this time, from the looks of it. Cold and barren, a dark, forbidding place. Amy shivers. The thought of her baby girl spending time here makes her heart hurt so much.

“Friend or foe?” says a voice suddenly, and Amy whirls around. There’s a brunette in an oversized jacket pointing an alien gun at her. The woman looks cheerful, but also as if she wouldn’t hesitate to shoot.

“Friend,” Amy says, “probably, if things are still on course. I’m Amy. Are you with the Doctor? Or Melody or River?”

The woman lowers the gun. “Ace,” she says. “The Professor’s off saving someone or something. I was scouting here and got stuck. Just waiting for him to come back and pick me up.”

Amy exhales, relieved without knowing why.

“And he was after a girl called Melody,” Ace adds, “not that he’s going to find her, cos she was here with me just a few minutes ago.”

Amy chokes. “Who was she?” she manages to get out.

Ace isn’t thrown by the unusual question. “I’d say twenty, twenty-one, short brown hair, very composed. She was very kind about...” Ace trails off, glancing down at her stomach.

“Are you...?” Amy asks.

“Only four, maybe five weeks,” Ace says, putting a hand on her belly. She seems unsure of whether to be protective or repelled by it.

“Congratulations,” Amy says, sincerely. But Ace just shakes her head.

“What am I going to do with a kid?” Ace asks. “I don’t know anything about them. My own mum wasn’t much of an example, and what sort of a life is it, travelling around in the TARDIS, for a kid? But I can’t leave,” she adds, “I just can’t. Melody tried to tell me I could, but...”

“I didn’t know anything about kids either,” Amy says. “In fact, I didn’t know I was pregnant until I was giving birth. It’s a long story. And yet...Melody is my baby girl. And I have Rory. Are you alone?”

Ace shakes her head. “It’s Hex’s,” she says, “but...I don’t know. I don’t want to do domesticity. I don’t know who I am yet. How do I care for someone else, then?”

Amy feels an immense rush of empathy, and reaches out for Ace’s hands. “We’re more alike than you know,” she says, “though I guess Melody knew that. I didn’t really have a family either. And I love my life the way it is. But if Melody needs me...Rory and I will be there for her. And it’s not like my life is over. It’s just different, now. And there’s more love to go around.”

Ace nods. “Melody said a lot of the same things. And it makes sense. It’s just hard. I’ve been searching for so long, and even with the Professor...I still haven’t made it to the end of my journey.”

“Far to go,” Amy says, something old and forgotten rousing itself in her memory. “But if Melody visited you,” she adds, “she thinks you’re going to make it. If I’ve learned one thing about my daughter so far, it’s that - Melody Pond’s blessing is a gift.”

Ace smiles then, a hint of bravado coming back into her face. “Course you’d say that - you’re her mum!” But she’s teasing, and a little envious, and Amy grins. She’s getting there, she thinks. They all are.

*

friday’s child is loving and giving

It’s a pirate ship. Like, a real, honest galleon, skull and crossbones flying, a parrot undoubtedly lurking somewhere nearby squawking about pieces of eight.

“But most pirate ships didn’t have hypersonic drive engines,” says a voice that’s clearly enjoying Amy’s surprise. “Or a crew made up of orphans and foundlings, for that matter.”

Amy turns around and smiles. The captain of the ship is a small woman with unbelievable masses of curly red hair. She has a warm face and Amy immediately feels welcomed.

“Captain Mel Bush at your service,” she says, with a flourish of her arm. “Welcome to the Jolly Roger, Amy Pond. We’ve been expecting you.”

“Melody?” Amy asks. Mel nods.

“I was on a pirate ship recently,” Amy says, “so this is a bit of a surprise. Melody has led me somewhere new each time.”

“Like I said, my ship is better,” Mel says with a wink, “and have you met me before? No? Well, then you’re somewhere new.”

Amy laughs, and follows Mel back to her cabin. Along the way, bright eyes peek at her from behind masts and rigging.

“Those are my crew,” Mel says, waving at one particularly bold girl. “That’s Liesl. She was abandoned in the woods by her parents when she was eight years old. No money to feed her. I’ve taught her to read, and she’s our best navigator now.”

“That’s awful,” Amy says, “I mean, the abandoning in the woods part. It sounds like a fairytale.”

“Fairytales,” Mel replies, “are generally true, as you should probably know by now from travelling with the Doctor. As you probably also know, the Disney versions are usually pretty misleading. But some of us still fight. Take Melody, for example.”

“What did she tell you? Where is she?” Amy asks.

“It’s only Friday,” Mel says cryptically, but there’s sympathy in her eyes. “She helped me refine my homing devices, to find children and teenagers who needed me, who needed the structure of being part of a family, part of my crew. I’m a bit of an expert on computers, but Melody had specific, deep knowledge that was invaluable. I’m in her debt.”

Amy thinks quietly for a few moments. Mel waits with great patience. “Did she ask to join your crew?” Amy asks finally, hesitantly.

Mel reaches out and pats Amy’s hand. “She’s neither orphan nor foundling, even if I think she’s often lost. No, she didn’t ask. There wouldn’t be anything I could teach her, anyway. They all move on eventually, which is the way it should be, and Melody was ready.”

“How do you let them go?” Amy asks. “How do you bear it?”

Mel smiles. “I miss each and every one, but time marches on. I did learn a few things from the Doctor, after all. And there are lots of exciting space battles to look forward to. That’s always a distraction. Speaking of which, if you don’t mind, my sensors here are showing a Draconian ship is heading right for us, and I’d better man the battle stations.”

She’s a bit of a surprise, Amy thinks, as Mel rushes off, grabbing a cutlass as she goes, this tiny little person with all that hair, looking for all the world as harmless as a fly. But then, Amy thinks as well, so are they all.

*

saturday’s child works hard for a living

“You’re almost there,” the girl says, her voice excited and hopeful. The enormous black dog next to her lets out a loud bark that almost sounds like confirmation.

Amy shakes her head, takes in her surroundings. The girl and the dog are standing in the hallway of a nice-looking flat. The walls are an understated cream, the carpet thick and plush.

“Shoes!” comes a voice from the kitchen. An Asian woman appears, holding two glasses of red wine.

“The carpet’s new,” she says almost apologetically, as Amy bends down to take off her trainers. “Anji, by the way, that’s my daughter Chloe, that’s her miserable dog Jamais, and let’s go in the kitchen for our wine.”

Amy follows her without comment. She’s getting good at this, she thinks. And the girl sounded so positive, and Amy herself can feel it - the end is so very close.

“So,” Anji says, after they’ve both settled in with the wine, “Melody Pond. My daughter, Chloe, she’s not biologically mine. I adopted her after travelling with the Doctor. She’s...well, a bit complicated, but she needed a home, so I let her into mine. And then I had the most horrible time adjusting to being a parent, and a single parent at that. Thankfully, that’s when Melody arrived.”

Amy nods, and Anji continues. “She and Chloe had so much in common, even some shared heritage, and Chloe too had been taken away from her family and people. And I saw how much Chloe needed me, and I saw how much it had taken Melody to come and see us, to help us become a happy family while she was still searching for hers. I was so impressed. And she stayed a week and cooked for us and stayed with Chloe while I ran around trying to enrol her in school, so that was excellent too.”

Amy laughs. “I’ll have to remember that she can cook. Useful to know.”

“Nice food too,” Anji says. “If she ever feels like coming back, she’s more than welcome. Working in finance in London doesn’t really leave loads of time for cooking more than some noodles and sauce, after all.”

“She has all these talents,” Amy muses, a little sadly. “I can’t cook at all. How did she get to be so amazing?”

“You,” Anji says. The dog, Jamais, barks again from the hallway, and finally - Amy believes it.

*

but the child who is born on the sabbath day / is bonny and blithe and good and gay

The scene is immediately familiar. The rambling old house, the night sky, the little girl, with her hat and her wellies, waiting for yet another grown-up who won’t love her as much as she wants, or deserves.

“Amelia,” she says softly, and the red-haired girl looks up. “It’s late, darling, and cold. Let’s go inside and have some tea.”

“I’m waiting for someone,” Amelia says plaintively, but she follows Amy up the stairs anyway.

Amy’s not surprised to find another little girl in the kitchen, pouring three cups of piping hot tea. She has Amy’s smile, and is exactly the same height and build as seven-year-old Amelia.

Amy can’t find any words, but Melody just comes around and hugs her tight.

“Who are you?” Amelia asks. “Don’t tell me I have to make more fish fingers. We’re all out.”

Amy laughs. It was true; the next night she’d wanted fish for supper and there hadn’t been any left. She’d eaten biscuits and crisps instead, and had a terrible stomachache.

“We’re friends,” Melody says, “real friends, ones who will never leave you. We’ll stay with you in your heart.”

Amelia smiles, hopefully. “No one ever stays,” she says.

Amy’s heart breaks a little, for herself, and looking at Melody, for her daughter. They all had their mothers stolen from them; they were all stolen from their mothers, and their fathers.

“Bonny and blithe and good and gay,” Amy says. Melody’s eyes light up, pleased that Amy caught on.

“It’s a nice poem,” Amy says. “I don’t know if any of us exactly fits that last part, though. So much loss, so much suffering.”

Melody smiles. “It’s not so much a permanent state of being,” she says, “but an overall temperament, and the parts of the whole. Together we’re happy, aren’t we?”

“How you know words that big at seven is beyond me,” Amy says, grinning. “And yes, we are.” She kisses Melody on the head, and then kisses Amelia on the head as well. Both girls glow with delight.

“Can we go play on the swings together?” asks Amelia excitedly. “I never have anyone to swing with, and I do love it so.” Amy nods, and they all head outside.

The three of them sit on the swings, Amy in between the two little girls. The sky is full dark now, but full of twinkling stars, little pinpricks of light.

“This has to be breaking every law of time ever,” Amy says. “Like, I keep thinking the world is going to end any second now.”

Melody laughs. “It’ll all be right again in the morning,” she says. “Don’t you worry, mum. We’ll all be okay.”

On her other side, Amelia frowns. “Am I going to remember this?” she asks. “Am I just dreaming?”

Amy shakes her head. “I don’t think so. I didn’t remember it until right now. But it’s okay, darling, because eventually, you’ll get to live it.”

Melody nods approvingly. “You’ve really got the knack of this now, mum. You’ll see. It’s all going to work out fine.”

Amy laughs. “I don’t understand a thing, yet,” she says, “but I know that you’re safe, and that’s enough for now.”

She starts pumping her legs then, willing the swing high into the air. The two little girls laugh, and start swinging as well. Amy slows down a little so they can catch up, and then they’re all flying through the air at the same speed, laughing and shrieking as they go higher, higher, reaching for the stars.

*

Rory and River are staring at her when she pops back onto Devil’s Run.

“That didn’t take long,” Rory says, looking doubtful. River just grins.

“Baby girl,” Amy says, and she takes River in her arms, hugging her tight. River laughs, and then starts to cry.

“Shh, shh,” Amy says, while Rory looks on, mystified. “It’s okay, it’s okay. I was always there for you. I will always be there for you.”

Amy Pond’s baby girl was lost, and that can’t be fixed, but she has found her now, and she has loved her and will love her across the universe.