19 July 5119 (Earth Standard Date)
Together, they followed River into the house. The archaeologist was walking a circuit of the room, peering into corners and generally being nosy. Samara wanted to say something, but she refrained, instead waiting to see just what River was up to.
She spun on her heel, and Samara found herself the focus of a pair of sharp, green eyes. She wondered in the back of her mind where Merlin had gotten his blue eyes from, since as far as she knew both of his parents had the same colour eyes.
But then, the Doctor was a Time Lord. Perhaps Merlin was taking more from a former regeneration than the current one?
“Now,” the woman began, “I need to know where would be the best place to set up at.”
“Set up what?” Samara asked warily.
She was favoured with a happy smile. “Why, the door to the stasis chamber I’ve brought with me. All I need is a section of wall that won’t be in the way. It’s Time Lord technology, you see, sort of like the TARDIS only with just the door visible.”
Samara glanced at Rhys, and he was just as confused as she was. She stifled a sigh, then pointed toward the wall closest to the hallway. “There might work.”
“Excellent.” River pushed the sleeve of her jacket up, revealing the unmistakable shape of a Vortex Manipulator. Samara still hated the sight of them, just because of their association with the Time Agency, but according to Jack that one was possibly the last working wrist strap in the universe.
River pressed a couple of buttons, and a metal door shimmered into view against the part of the wall that Samara had indicated. It was a burnished bronze, with the familiar symbol for the Time Lords on the upper part of the panel in a more polished material. There was no visible handle, but the door itself opened as River stepped closer.
Samara and Rhys moved toward the now-open door. Beyond the portal was a large, narrow room, wood panelled, with ornately carved shelves against each wall. Dark red cloth draped from the shelves, and served as cushioning for the objects on the shelves.
The objects were eggs.
Samara knew what dragon eggs were: they were shells that had been magically wrapped about babies and children, to protect them against harm and to preserve them for a time when the danger was past. Five of her grandchildren had been placed within magical shells, and it had taken a past version of her son to locate just those five.
“How many are there?” Rhys asked, awestruck. He’d know what these were as well, also having heard the story of how James, William, Oswyn, Robyn, and Lisa had come to be a part of their family.
‘Eighty-five,” River answered proudly. “It’s taken me a long time to find them, but I had to once I’d seen the very first one and recognised it.” She stepped into the stasis chamber, one hand raising up to stroke one of the eggs carefully. “I was visiting Catherine the Great – and heavens, she certainly lived up to that name – when I happened to see it in the Royal Treasury. I knew what it was, and had to remove it to more…protective circumstances. I knew Jack and Ianto would take care of it.”
River turned back, her cocky smile now almost sweet. “I knew if there was one out there, there had to be more. I just couldn’t leave them to fade away, so I went searching. These are the ones I managed to locate.”
Just on this alone, Samara was suddenly predisposed to forgive River a lot of what she put Merlin through. “Ianto said he searched,” she murmured, making her own way into the chamber.
“He did, but he didn’t have the resources I did. Of course, I didn’t take the five he found, knowing they would already be in good hands, but these…they deserve the same chance that those five children did; to have a loving family to protect them.” A shadow passed over her face, and Samara wondered if she wasn’t thinking about her own son. Maybe she was aware of what she’d done, but thought it was too late to fix it?
Should Samara get involved?
Goddess knew, she wanted to. She wanted to fix the estrangement between Merlin and his mother, to make them whole the same way she’d been when Jack – her Jamys – had forgiven her.
But could she?
In this timeline, River Song was long dead. Merlin had mourned her, and while he did still miss her, it was hurting him every time she showed up after he’d been told that she’d given her life at the Great Library. Maybe it would be better if she left well enough alone…
“This is bloody amazing,” Rhys breathed, joining them. ‘You know, back in the old team’s days, you could always see that Jack and Ianto would be excellent parents, just from the way they treated each of us. Hell, we’d often tease them about it.” He chuckled. “The both complained when we would consider them the Mam, but you could see they actually liked it. This is gonna be the best surprise ever for them, although how they’re gonna deal with so many kids running around…”
Samara laughed. “I’m sure some of the others would want to take over some of the parenting. I know Anwyn and Gwaine have been finally thinking about children, as have Rowena and Henry. Maybe even Clint and Phillip, because I get the impression that Phillip isn’t so sure the two of them are compatible.” She’d certainly given them enough hints, until Phillip had pulled her aside about it.
“Yeah, and Jack and Ianto were both convinced they’d never have kids,” Rhys snorted. “I still remember, after their mating, Ianto saying something along those lines. Did you know, one of the blessings of the Great Dragons was one of fertility?”
“Well, that certainly turned out to be true!” River exclaimed.
“So I doubt those two will have any problem,” Rhys went on, “especially with the Great Dragons meddling the way they tend to do.”
Samara thought back to the what the Water Dragon had asked, and she couldn’t help but smile. The offer had been genuine, but at the same time she was very much aware that the Great Dragons always did things for a reason. So, while she was completely honoured by the suggestion that she take on the Water Dragon’s Mark, she would have to think carefully on it before making her decision.
“The stasis chamber will keep the eggs viable for millennia,” River went on. “They can stagger how they’re hatched, so at least they won’t be inundated with children all at once.” The smile left her face. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell if any of them are…gone. I’m sure Merlin would be able to, though, as he’s the Dragonlord around here.”
It just about broke her heart, that some of those little dragons might have died within those magical shells. To lose those children, when their parents had meant only to protect them…it was something Samara didn’t want to think about. She found herself praying that this wasn’t the case, that all of the babies would be fine, and she thought she felt a stray sense of comfort touched her.
“It seems like you have everything taken care of,” Rhys said, “so how can we help?”
River ushered them out of the chamber, shutting the door behind them. Samara watched as she carefully checked the seal, then turned back to regard them both. “I have a lead on two more eggs,” she explained. “I tried to get to them, but…and this bothers me to admit…I’m not able to gain access. But I think you might be able to.”
“And what makes this place so impenetrable that a time travelling trouble-shooter like yourself can’t get in?” Samara enquired.
River cocked her head, her face softening as she rolled Samara’s words about in her head. “Time travelling trouble-shooter…I quite like that.” Then she shook herself lightly. “This place is very special. It’s been especially constructed to house and protect magical artefacts. It’s called the Warehouse.”