“Are you ready?” said the Walrus.
Sir John glanced at Marie, Morag and Miss Henderson. Marie nodded lightly.
“I believe so,” said Sir John as a small fish passed in front of his face.
“Then we’ll begin,” said the Walrus.
She doesn’t need you, John. She hasn’t needed you for a while now. She’s more powerful than you. She had found out more with her wits than you have with your clever toys. Even as we speak she learns more and more about who she is and what she can do. How long before she leaves? How long before she finds people, creatures, beings that she does need?
And what will you do then? Lick your wounds and fly home? Build more pointless machines? Look for phantasms that you’ll never find? For if she doesn’t need you, then no one will.
“Mon cher?” said Maire, looking at her husband, her brow furrowed. “Mon cher, are you alright? What was said, mon cher? I didn’t hear.”
Why do you think she’s dead, Marie? You never had proof except from an aunt who lied to you. How do you know she didn’t lie about your mother? Or is it easier for you to believe she is dead? After all, running away is what you do, isn’t it?…is what you always did. Is it easier to run from the possibility of your mother than to search for her? Is it easier to believe there is no family at all anywhere? That you, with all your powers, couldn’t find a family if they did exist? Have you really come to Paris to find who you are, or are you just running again from who you’ve become?
“They’re catatonic,” hissed Morag, “What did it say to them to do that?”
And why do you think he’s dead, Morag? Your father stuck by you for centuries, made sure you were safe. He dragged your soul from death, even in the wrong body. He tortured himself every day for that mistake. He worked tirelessly to create the stone to liberate you both or keep you alive until he could. And then when he vanished, magically, you forgot about him. You didn’t try to see if anything had happened, not one operation, not one conjuration to see if he was alive. Was it such a relief for him to be gone, after all he did, that you turned your tail and walked away?
“Morag?” said Miss Henderson. “Marie? Sir John? What… what’s happened to you?”
He can never marry you, Felicity. No matter how much he loves you or you love him, you can never be man and wife. How could you be? Your family are criminals and he is a policeman, a detective even. How would that work? What would the wedding be like? At least there would be no need for introductions as the left aisle has likely been arrested by the right. If you were to marry, what would happen to you both? He would be rejected by your family, suspected at work. He’d have to leave the job he loves and he would come to resent you for that. And you, how would you feel about your family, or them about you? You could be ostracised, you could be abandoned. It is impossible to see how you could be together.
A tear slowly trickled down Miss Henderson’s cheek and she looked down.
“That…” she said, “that would be a very sad thing, because in truth, I like him very, very much and I think he likes me and I think together, just us, we could be very happy. But if what you say were true… if that were true…”
She looked up at the Walrus and stuck her trembling chin out.
“There are plenty more fish in the sea.” she said.
The Walrus smiled and the aquarium vanished. Miss Henderson stood in the gloom with her three companions. She wiped the tear with a clenched fist.