“Melody, are you paying attention?”
The young girl blinks once, twice, three times before focusing her hardened gaze on the older woman. Madam Kovarian’s eye, the one that’s not hidden behind the menacing eye patch, shrewdly stares as if she’ll be able to read her thoughts. Maybe she can. It would be so much simpler that way, so much more appealing than the systematic game of guess-and-check to make sure that her thoughts haven’t strayed into undesirable territory.
Melody’s blank expression shifts to offer a mask of obedience, obstructing the true wandering of her thoughts long enough to satisfy the old woman. If she finds out that Melody is less concerned with the names of the Doctor’s companions during his eleventh regeneration, Madam Kovarian will punish her.
Her fingertips still burn from the last time she misbehaved.
She studies the faces of the Doctor’s associates, watching them scroll on the expansive screen in front of her and for a moment, a brief flickering flash of a second, she doesn’t care.
She feels as though there’s something wrong with her wiring, as if the circuitry has been exposed and is spitting sparks. Is this a malfunction, she wonders, this lack of hatred and malice toward the handsome, gangly man she’s been raised to kill? Will she be punished for this freedom of thought?
Melody bites back a smile. Freedom. The word is heady in her mind, intoxicating and rich and so much more appealing than the rest of her programming. She likes the way it tastes, the way it feels. Maybe she’ll chase it one day—when she is really, truly free, when she is the one who will deliver the punishment.