The ceremony concluded with a great cheer. The giggling children of the village circled around Clara and the Doctor, then linked hands and skipped in a line away from the fountain. The children each had a glowing spark orbiting their head; the globes looked like tiny stars in the gathering dusk. The Doctor took her hand and they followed the children across the grass. They were leading the way toward the great tree in the center.
For once an encounter with an advanced civilization was not going to end in war, catastrophe, disaster, or even a pell-mell run toward something or away from something. The planet they were visiting was cultured, well-educated, and going through a peaceful period of its long history. And the Doctor had just done it a massive favor, returning an historical artifact thought long-lost. They’d been so pleased they’d put on this ceremony to thank the Doctor–to thank them both, to Clara’s pleasure, for she’d been a major participant. They’d poured wine into each other’s cups, toasted each other, and been gifted with their own floating fairy light globes.
Some time during the ceremony their globes had fused into a single, larger one that pulsed with soft colors. It was gorgeous, in Clara’s opinion, though odd, because nobody else seemed to have shared lights. All of the adults had single globes about the size of oranges, and the children had those adorable sparks. Their big blobby light globe followed them now, about a foot over the Doctor’s head. The procession mounted the stairway that wound around the bole of a huge white-barked tree. The stairway wound up and up, narrowing as it went: the children appeared to be leading them to the very top.
The Doctor said, “Look at this, Clara! This tree! This civilization has such high technology that they appear to have none at all. This walkway, for instance. See the vines? And what appear to be planks?”
Clara looked and then was sorry she had, because while she wasn’t especially afraid of heights, looking down through the wood slats meant admitting how high up they were and how flimsy this whole vine skyway thing felt.
“Nope,” she said, “not looking any more than I must.”
The Doctor ignored this reply, predictably. “See? It was grown, not made. They persuaded the tree to grow what they wanted, without harming it. Very clever. We’re meant to spend the night at the top. It’s apparently a great honor.”
The grin on his face made it clear how pleased he was by the gesture. He went on about it more while they climbed. Clara listened to him with half her attention while she concentrated on not falling to her death. He was in the best of all his moods, pleased with himself and with how this visit had turned out. She was happy with her part in it–the identification of a crucial symbol hidden in the dust–and with how little running they’d had to do. Though maybe the next planet should have some running on it, just to keep things interesting. She’d have to bring that up to him.
They were near the top of the tree now. The branches were thinning out and Clara could see glimpses of the sky through the treetops. The children led them out along a swaying vine bridge, arching up to a platform at the very highest point. Clara breathed out in relief when she reached the platform, which was solid. She was resolutely not going to think about having to climb back down tomorrow morning.
“See? This is grown as well!” the Doctor said. He spun around almost gleefully, pointing down at the platform. Not a platform, she saw, because it really was the branch itself, flared out flat. They were standing on bark. Very nice slightly spongy white birch bark, but it was definitely tree. The whole thing was made of plants coaxed into useful forms, in fact. The other half of the platform was hidden behind a curtain of vines that made a sort of living hut, with a little roof, like a tiny house.
The children circled around them and sang a song. Clara tried but couldn’t catch the words–it was in what sounded to her like Middle English, which meant it was a traditional song for them, too, not in their daily language. Whatever it was, it was short and apparently hilarious. When they were done they all ran down the bridge toward the trunk, giggling, most of them looking exactly like they were about to pitch over the edge and fall. But nothing terrible happened, and Clara was left smiling down at them as they vanished around the tree. When she turned back she found the Doctor gnawing on a forefinger, which wasn’t a good sign.
“Everything okay? We going to have to make a rapid escape?”
He shook his head. “There’s no danger. Just–” He fluttered his hand in front of his face. “You might not like the accommodations.”
Clara looked her question at him, but he had no more to say about it. She ducked through the vines to take a look for herself.
It was a hut, sort of. There was a the vine wall, and a roof, but the other side of the platform was open to the night. The view was terrifying but gorgeous: tree branches and fireflies and the glow of sunset and a whole lot of nothing until the ground far below. On a low table was a glass bottle filled with something green and two glasses–more of the wine they’d drunk earlier. And there was a dish of something that looked like berries. If this were a hotel, Clara would be making incoherent noises of delight. Except it wasn’t, and they were about two hundred feet up in the air, and there was one bed in the middle of the hut. One oddly circular bed, piled with blankets and round pillows. Over the bed, their joined light floated. It glowed warm and green and flickering.
“There’s only one bed,” Clara said.
“Yeah.” The Doctor gripped one of the branches that held up the roof and peered over the edge. “I think it would insult them if we refused to sleep here,” he said, almost apologetically. “I think it’s a high honor to be given this platform for this occasion. But you don’t have to stay. You can go down to the TARDIS and I’ll stay.”
“Not in total darkness I’m not going down there.”
“It’s hardly total. There are those green firefly lights floating everywhere.” And now he was leaning right out over the edge, trying to get a better look, or perhaps to get himself killed. Clara wrapped a hand around his belt and braced herself.
He straightened up and scowled at her. “You needn’t worry. I have a preternatural sense of balance.”
Clara snorted. She’d just seen him nearly fall off a larger tree branch because he’d been so distracted by the pattern of vine growth.
“Besides,” he said, “that’s what the soul globes are for. They’re guardians. If you were to blunder off the edge, with your merely human reflexes, your globe would catch you. And of course they light your way, guide you around the city, that sort of thing.” He flicked his hand at the tree-city below them.
That was considerate of their hosts, in Clara’s opinion, with just one catch. “We don’t seem to have one for each of us any more, you notice that? We’ve got just one big one now.”
The Doctor cocked an eyebrow at her. “One globe. Odd.”
He spun on his heel and strode to the center of the platform. He stood on the bed–in boots no less–and pointed his sonic at the glowing fairy light. It whirred. Normally that was a sound that made Clara happy, but here, among the leaves and wind-chimes and fireflies, it jarred.
“How do they work?” she said.
“Nanotechnology. Very advanced. Linked to us somehow. Like a–like a mood ring. Empathic. The color. Reflects internal status.”
His tone had softened; he approved of this culture, however annoyed he was about the bed. The bed he was standing on. The bed that was clearly a little small for two people, especially when one of them was a stick insect. The bed she was already thinking about speculatively, because of how exciting and long the day had been.
She yawned despite herself.
“We’ve spent the night in the same bed before,” she said, because it was true. Sometimes in the most dire circumstances.
He made an noise that she interpreted as assent, glared at the sonic, shook it, and aimed it at the globe again, then at her. He frowned at it.
She said, “No big deal this time.”
He made a different noise that was not so easily interpreted as assent, then stuck the sonic into his jacket pocket. Clara watched him, frowning. He seemed nervy all of a sudden. She could probably make it down if she felt like it without falling. There were all those fireflies in the air, after all.
“One globe. One bed. Clara! Have you asked yourself why our soul-globes joined?”
Now that tone of voice made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. “No, but I have a feeling I’m not going to like the answer.”
He jabbed a finger up at their joined lights. “The soul globes aren’t anything to do with souls of course since no such thing exists. They’re merely reflectors of emotional state. Floating mood rings. Only this one is linked to both of us right now.”
“Both of us?”
“Then there’s the question of the tree. The song. They named it. The tree is really–” He broke off and turned away from her, fingers crooked over his mouth.
“What? The tree is really what?”
“I believe I may have mistaken the nature of this ceremony. Earlier in the day. When they asked me if I wanted to do it. They asked me who you were to me and I explained you were my companion, and then they proposed this–” He broke off and waved his hands around again. “A special evening, they said. I think–”
“Out with it. Now, Doctor.” She used her scariest do-as-you’re-told-now voice, not that this ever worked on him. “What is this tree?”
“The song. You heard the song. What they called the tree.”
“It’s the wedding tree. It was a wedding ceremony. Maybe.”
“They married us. Maybe.”
“Married. Us. Married.”
The Doctor glared at her. “I’m not happy about it either.”
Clara folded her arms. “Shut up,” she said. “Shut up and tell me all you know about this ceremony.”
“I knew it was a bonding ceremony, but I thought it was just for us and the village. They were claiming us as their protectors. A bit old-fashioned, for them, but quaint and charming. An excuse for a civic holiday.”
“But it wasn’t a protector ceremony.”
“It was! I wasn’t wrong. I was just wrong about who was being bonded. And to whom.” From the hand gestures he was making, Clara could see he was annoyed, though whether he was annoyed with himself for having to admit being wrong about something or annoyed with their hosts, she wasn’t sure.
“They bonded us,” she said, because that was the part she was stuck on. “Married us. And we went right along with it.”
“Said all our lines like the obliging idiots we are. The thing I can’t work out, though, is why. Why interfere? They aren’t the sort of people who’d have played that trick on you. They asked me. They can’t have known what you wanted.”
Now Clara had to speak up or else. “Yeah, about that. One of them might have asked me… something. Something about staying together. And me. And you. And I might have answered.”
“Aha! It’s your fault.” The Doctor pointed at her.
“No, you’re not pinning this one on me. They asked you too.”
“What about P.E.? Didn’t you tell them about him?”
“We broke up months ago. After he figured out I was still traveling with you.”
He frowned. “And you didn’t tell me.”
“You never asked about him. Would have said something if you did.”
“You should have told me. I’d have taken you out for ice cream or whatever consolation you humans require,” the Doctor said, in a cross voice.
“As if that would have helped. You don’t pay attention in the least. And now we’re married.”
Clara stomped across the weird bark-covered platform and sat down at the point furthest from where the Doctor was standing. He should have asked. She dangled her legs over the edge–why not? she had a guardian mood-globe–and gazed out into the deepening dusk. The sky was just barely lighter than the leaves now. The nano-lights floated everywhere below them, down in the main city, faint pinpricks of color, almost as pretty as stars would have been. Insects were chirping somewhere.
Married. By accident. To the Doctor. What did she think about that? Besides being annoyed that she hadn’t been asked properly. Asked by him, on one knee. He probably hated every second of it and had already found a way to get out of it. Which should please her, but to her surprise it wasn’t that clear. If one of them was going to reject the other, she was going to do the rejecting. The Doctor wasn’t going to reject her. Except that she should probably want him to.
Asking herself what she really felt about him was dangerous. She knew she loved him, but that was easy. She loved lots of people: her grandmother, her father, most of the kids she taught. The Doctor was tops of that list any day. She was afraid of looking at it any more closely than that. Fortunately she didn’t have to. He made all the decisions about what their relationship was. And he mostly decided it involved going fun places together and hugging only on special occasions. Not getting married.
Eventually she lay on her back and stared up into the sky watching the stars come out. The constellations here were different than on Earth. Probably they had names. Probably the Doctor knew them, which was predictably annoying of him.
Soft footsteps on the bark: the Doctor came up behind her. He sat down near her and scooted himself forward until his knees also hooked over the edge. He didn’t say anything, which was good. Clara was not ready to hear him blither on just yet.
It was fully night now. The air was warm on their faces and gentle breezes rustled the leaves and the chimes hung in them. Nano-fireflies darted past. Or maybe real ones. As wedding nights went, this would have been a hand-down winner in the romantic getaway contest. Tens from all the judges. Clara was finding it difficult to be properly angry. She wasn’t sure who to be angry with.
The squaddie had dumped her, and she’d deserved it, and they’d both moved on. And she’d taken to spending more and more of her waking life on adventures like this one. Even being chained up to be eaten by the sand piranhas had its charms, when you were sure you were going to escape every time. When you trusted the person you were with implicitly, with every fiber of your being. Which–right. She sat up. The Doctor was sitting with his arms around one knee, watching her.
“Sorry,” she said. “Should have told you.”
He made a dismissive gesture. “I am sorry to have missed the chance to comfort you. Nothing more.”
“You did that anyway, trust me.”
He cocked an eyebrow at her, as if to tell her what he made of that suggestion to trust her, and Clara giggled. Then she said, “Not, but really. Are we married? In a cosmic sense?”
The Doctor waved his hands around his head. “We swore oaths to each other and to the community and we exchanged tokens. What else does it take?”
“A piece of paper?” He fixed a gaze on her so withering that she bristled. “Well, marriage where I come from needs that.”
“Not through most of your history it hasn’t.”
“Yeah, but right now it does.”
“And on Gallifrey at the time of my birth it required that the partners tell each other their true names. You don’t have one and mine would be just a string of syllables to you.”
And he most definitely hadn’t told her his true name. So they weren’t married, except that wasn’t what he was arguing.
“You’re saying we can be married if we want.”
He shrugged. “Or we can not be married. We can do whatever we like about it. I’ve been married four times. Ignored it a couple of times. The times there was a shotgun pointed at my back.” His eyebrows came together and he frowned. Whatever that memory was for him, he was still grumpy about it.
Clara had an opinion about this–she had a dozen opinions, each more fiercely held than the last. Her main one was that she was going to find out what he felt about her once and for all. Or else. If it took an accidental wedding to figure it out, she was going to take advantage of what fate had offered her.
She said, “What do you want to do about this one?”
“I don’t know. What do you want to do about it?”
“I asked you first.”
The Doctor stared out away from her, off into the trees. He had that remote look on his face, the one he got when she strayed onto topics like what it had been like on Trenzalore, and what had happened to his family if he’d been a dad once. The one he got when he was hiding something.
“I’m not your boyfriend,” he said, eventually.
Clara blurted out, “Right. Silly idea. Would never have done it ourselves if asked. Ignoring it, then.” She’d been striving for chipper when she spoke. She wasn’t sure she’d nailed it.
The Doctor gazed at her sidelong, eyebrows furrowed, and it did not make her feel comfortable in the least. “Right,” he said, eventually. “Okay. We ignore it.”
He got up and vanished behind her.
Clara sat staring out into the night and breathing. She’d been braced for his answer, but not well enough. She focused on the toes of her boots. Breathe. In, out. Dammit. She’d wanted it. And she’d known she’d wanted it for months. It was why she’d been such a jerk to poor Danny. Well, now she knew. Her chest hurt.
What a day. Get married by accident; find out that he still doesn’t want to be your boyfriend; figure out at last that you wanted it more than you knew. Like an idiot.
“I’m not going to cry,” she muttered. “I’m not. I’ve still got everything I had before.” He would still pick her up on Wednesdays, still show her the universe. She still had her job, her own life. His friendship. At least that wasn’t gone.
The Doctor came back with the glasses and the bottle. He sat back down beside her, this time close enough that his knee brushed hers. Confirmed: friendship still intact. Would probably stay intact if she didn’t give herself away. Stiff upper lip, Oswald. She watched him pour wine into the glasses. He offered one to her.
Clara sniffed at the glass. Green, bubbly, suspicious-looking. “What is this stuff? Some kind of aphrodisiac? I don’t trust these people any more.”
The Doctor shook his head. “It’s just wine.”
“That’s okay then. Cheers.” She’d managed chipper that time.
“L’chaim,” he said, and clinked his glass against hers.
Clara had a healthy swallow. It was strange wine, not made from grapes probably. Alien wine. Sweet, fizzy, easy to drink. And the Doctor drank with her, sitting so close to her that she could feel his warmth in the cooling air. After a while he began to talk. He told her a story about Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the true origins of “Kubla Khan” in an alien being’s attempt to meddle with time and undo the catastrophe that had commenced life on the planet. She wasn’t sure the story was true, but he was happy to be telling it, and it made her happy to see him smiling. And to feel him sitting so close to her. Maybe it had relaxed him to get this thing between them settled, to have them both in agreement that they weren’t a thing. It was almost worse for her, then, when she had that thought, because evenings like these were the evenings that made her love him most, this awkward grumpy Scottish Doctor with the aggressive eyebrows. She loved watching his face, so expressive and changeable, and his hands, dancing before his face as he talked.
The story was a long one, and had a happy ending, involving Bach and more music than one human could write in a lifetime. When he wound to a close, the bottle was empty, and it was time for bed. He helped her to her feet and they retreated from the night toward the little bed in the center of the platform, where their soul-globe patiently waited.
Clara unlaced her boots and set them by the bed. Then she sat on the edge of the bed, facing away from the Doctor, and wrestled with her stockings. Then her earrings and rings, all tucked away inside one boot for the night. Behind her were the sounds of the Doctor’s boots hitting the floor, one, two, then rustling. She turned to look. He had stripped to shirt and trousers. His feet were bare. He had cute toes, she thought, then had to stifle a giggle. Toes. She was thinking about his toes. She must be a little tipsy after all.
The giggle burst out a moment later when he tried to lie down on the bed. The villagers were closer to her height on average than to his. There was no way he could fit himself on the bed without his feet hanging over the edge. It was beyond ridiculous. He wriggled around and then finally laid himself across the exact center. The look on his face dared her to say something about it.
Clara curled herself onto the half of the bed he was facing. There was enough room for her if she snuggled close to him. Shove her backside against him? Hardly. She decided instead to lay her head against his chest. He cooperated, at least, stretching out an arm for her, then pulling the blanket over them both. Cozy.
The soul-globe dimmed to a low orange, like candle-light, as if it knew they wanted to sleep. And why wouldn’t it know? It was empathically linked to them.
Sleep. She was supposed to want to sleep now. Clara reminded herself she was tired. But here she was, with her head on the Doctor’s shoulder. Things had changed. She was now utterly aware of him as a man, a man with a body next to hers. He smelled nice. Odd but nice, as he always had. There was a faint whiff of cologne, a little bit of sweat. Two hearts beating, familiar to her from many close encounters, though she hadn’t been this close to this version of the man before. She’d missed it. He’d begun to relax with her a little bit, this prickly one, had begun to take her arm every now and then, to tolerate her head against his shoulder, but he wasn’t a cuddler.
Except–He was stroking her shoulder. That was new. The anti-cuddler was cuddling her right now. Clara held completely still lest she startle him.
After a while, he said, “The ceremony.”
“What about it?” Softly, trying not to break the mood.
“I remember it now. It wouldn’t have worked if we didn’t–the soul globes wouldn’t have fused if we–” He sighed. “It wouldn’t have worked if we hadn’t meant what we said. Both of us.”
He’d meant it. He was saying he’d meant it. Hope was a painful thing: it made Clara’s heart beat fast and her breath come short and if he let her down again she might not be able to bear it. She waited for him to do it, waited for him to break her in two again.
“There are so many reasons why I shouldn’t want what I want. Or shouldn’t allow myself to have it.” His voice was strange, so rough.
“What do you want?”
“I can deny myself everything, but I could deny you nothing. Clara–”
“Tell me. I need to hear it.”
It surprised her so much she hesitated. “Hear what?”
“You know what.”
Oh. That. And it was easy to say. “I love you.”
“The way you say it–”
He tipped her chin up and kissed her. Clara laid her hands on his chest and he kissed her again, cool, sweet, gentle, hesitant. Clara wanted to cry, except she couldn’t, because he was kissing her again, hands on her face, stroking her cheek, reaching down and taking her hands. He kissed her fingertips. Now she was breaking in two, but it was possible to break in two in a happy way.
Long slow kisses, deep kisses, that went on and on, his body pressed so close against hers. He seemed so cautious, so shy. When she let her hand wander down near his belt buckle, he froze. He closed his hand around hers. “I’m not ready for more just yet. Sorry, I–.”
Clara slid her hand back up to his chest, to safe territory, over his hearts. “It’s okay,” she said. “There’s no rush.”
He sighed. “You know I want you, yeah?”
“I’m terrified.” That she hadn’t known. “Been such a long time. I was there so long, alone. I almost forgot. Forgot what it was like to be held.”
He sighed again, and rested his forehead against hers.
“I used to be braver.”
“We have time.”
“Time. Oh, my Clara, I have learned never to trust time.” His voice was almost hoarse now. He took her hand and set it on his buckle again. “Carry on.”
Too much too quickly starting there, she felt, so she took pity on his nerves and lifted her hands deliberately to his shirt collar. One button opened, two. He lay passively while she worked her way down, lips parted, watching her, until his shirt was open. And then he reached up and found the buttons of her blouse.
The wedding tree. It was here for wedding nights. The whole village had to know they were up here, doing this. She’d have to remember to be embarrassed about that later, maybe tomorrow morning when she had to look at the faces of the people she’d met earlier in the day. But right now she didn’t have time for embarrassment. She was helping the Doctor unbutton her blouse, reaching up and pushing his shirt off his shoulders, running her hands down his bare back, gasping when he touched her breasts for the first time, laughing when he could not figure out how her skirt was zipped. And finally, undoing that belt buckle.
First time sex: a little fumbling, a little clumsy, noses bumping, trying things and listening for that intake of breath that meant it was the right thing. Hands exploring bodies for the first time. He was pale and smooth, spare, almost bony. He used his tongue when he kissed and he liked it when she licked his ears. He discovered that she liked to be kissed along her throat.
She was so aroused by the time he knelt above her that it was easy. He was inside her as if he’d held her a thousand times before, as if this body was meant to be there. Clara sighed in satisfaction and pulled him down so he was pressed against her as tightly as he could be.
“Clara,” his rough voice in her ear, “why did we wait?”
Afterwards they lay in bed and simply held each other. Clara was tempted to wrap a blanket around herself, but didn’t, because she liked how he could not take his gaze away from her, and how he blushed.
He woke her in the deepest night to make love to her again. Any doubts she’d had about his commitment vanished that second time. Once he might pretend hadn’t happened. Twice? With that much intensity? Clara lay awake afterward thinking this over, with a sleeping Time Lord wrapped around her. He’d never say it, never ever, but his feelings were clear.
As she lay awake, she watched the soul globes disentangle from each other and commence slowly revolving around each other. One of the two was dark now, with little blue sparks flaring inside now and then. She decided that one was the sleeping Doctor’s. The other was more orange, still hot at the core but dimming. Hers. Separated now but still together, as their bodies were now. The ceremony was complete.
Clara woke alone in the bed to bright sunlight filtering through the leaves, to birdsong, and to a single smaller globe floating above. She sat up and wrapped a blanket around herself and said a bad word. She’d been wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. He’d fled. She just had to hope he hadn’t fled all the way off the planet with the TARDIS.
Time to get dressed and find out how bad it was. Her clothes were scattered over the platform. His, of course, were all gone. Clara found her knickers on one the side of the bed, and her skirt on the other, near her boots.
There was a single flower in her boot. A long stalk, yellow, something like a tulip but not exactly. Oh. She picked it up and sniffed. It had a faint scent, pleasant, like rain far away.
Also poking out of her boot was a folded note with her name on it in black ink, in handwriting she recognized. Fetching breakfast it read, followed by an odd circular symbol of the kind he’d been writing on his blackboard. PS: Washroom in the tree trunk. She got dressed and stuck the note in her pocket where she wouldn’t lose it. She would ask him to translate that circular squiggle later, though she suspected he wouldn’t.
She was almost bored enough to start making her way down the tree again when she heard grinding sound of the TARDIS arriving. It materialized against the edge of the platform, very neatly, positioned precisely where it did not disturb the tree.
The door opened and the Doctor stepped out. “Good morning,” he said. He had a tray in his hands. Clara smelled coffee. Moments later a globe shot up from far below them and settled itself above the Doctor’s head. He scowled at it, but Clara knew that was for show.
“Good morning.” Clara grinned up at him. He smiled down at her almost shyly. “You took the TARDIS up here rather than walk?”
“You slept very late. I’ve been down and up and back out again. I said our farewells to our hosts already. They asked me to convey their congratulations to us both and well-wishes to you.”
“That was sweet. And aren’t you forgetting something?” she said.
“Oh! Your coffee!” He handed over a paper cup.
Clara took it and turned it around in her hands to look at the logo. “You went back to Earth to get me coffee?”
“That’s what I needed the TARDIS for. I think I got the kind you like. Hazelnut?”
“Yeah, you did, I like that, but that’s not the point. The point is that you’re forgetting something.”
She took his coffee from him and ostentatiously set both cups on the platform. She stepped right up to him and laid her hands on his chest.
“Oh!” he said.
He took her face in his hands and kissed her. His eyes were closed but she kept hers open, and that was how she saw their soul-globes spin around and trade little blobs of color, like a shower of sparks, like that binary star he’d shown her once, joined by streams of fire.
She broke away from him and pointed.
“Ah,” he said. “They interact when we–when we–when we, you know. And do other things, I suppose.” Was he blushing? She certainly was.
“Can we take them with us?”
“We will leave them here, and they’ll find us if we should ever return.”
Clara rescued their coffees. “I like them. Seems like it might be a great place to celebrate our anniversaries. Does an anniversary mean anything if you’re on a time machine mostly?”
The Doctor brightened instantly. “Yes! Tracking them correctly is a fascinating problem. I can solve it though. Quite solvable.” He drank a swig of coffee to punctuate this.
Clara poked him in the chest. “Yeah? How?”
“Let me show you. I can build a calendar using the TARDIS’s chrono-circuits. The principle is easy to understand once you have the background. Which you’ll learn.”
He opened the TARDIS door for her and bowed his head. Clara flourished a gracious wave to him, with coffee cup, and preceded him inside for a lesson in calendar-making.