AN: Because today of all days it is brought home to us the importance of remembering, and because sometimes the hardest thing is to be the one left behind. This is dedicated to all of those brave people that serve their country, no matter which one it is, and those that support them.
But mostly it's dedicated to James because he was kind, and brave, and funny, because he was just like you and me, because he wasn't the handsomest bloke on the planet but thought he was God's gift to women, because he bought me a rose for Valentines day when we where 8. It's dedicated to him because he was 19 and now I'm 21. It's dedicated to him because he was killed in Iraq almost three years ago and I miss him.
This is part of my cross-over series but you don't have to have read any of the others to know what's going on, it's suffice to say that Vala was once a Time Lord.
Vala gently fingered the flower clasped in her hand.
Around her, the cold November wind whipped at her hair and the grey overcast sky threatened to rain but all she was aware of was the small and delicate flower. She had seen them on hundreds of worlds all across the galaxy, growing in great fields or in small gardens, flowering in every colour of the rainbow. She could think of at least a dozen different names for them.
On any other world it would have been an insignificant little bloom, overshadowed by the fragrance of a rose or the beauty of a lily. On any other world, it was as inconsequential as a daisy; it held no great meaning or value. On any other world, it was simply a flower.
But this world was different.
On this world they were called poppies.
The one in her hand was scarlet red and she knew its meaning was Remembrance.
The great monument in front of her stood also in remembrance. The names of those that had fallen engraved reverently upon it, the world weary soldiers and the youthful recruits, the boys and the men, husbands, fathers, brothers, sons. All of them brave, all of them noble, all of them dead. All of them to be forever remembered in an epitaph of stone and sea of poppies.
But what of those for whom there was no stone monument? What of those for whom there were no poppies?
She twirled the stalk between her fingers as the first drops of rain fell from the sky. The howl of the wind increased and from the faint tingling in the back of her brain, she knew it was because the TARDIS was landing behind her.
Silently, the Doctor exited his beloved ship and stood beside her. He placed something at his feet before embracing his cousin in a tight hug, the tears that she had tried so valiantly to hold back now soaking into his shirt while his own fell and mingled with the rain in her hair.
When the Doctor released her, she took a step back and looked up at him through ancient eyes. Eyes that so resembled his previous selves, full of the pain and anguish no other could understand, but different too. While his ninth self had eyes that had hardened under the burden of his actions, Vala's seemed to drown incomprehension. And yet it was all the same, it was all pain in all its glorious, horrific, incarnations.
"There's no monument for them." Vala told him in a quivering voice, "No flowers for Gallifrey, for the Time Lords, for the War. Who remembers a war with no beginning and no end? Who remembers those left behind?"
"We do." He told her quietly as he picked up the wrapped bundle he had placed at his feet.
Reverently he peeled off the black cloth to reveal a wreath of red roses surrounding the seal of Rassilon, the symbol of the Time Lords.
"I thought it was poppies for Remembrance?"
The Doctor gave her a sad smile, "Roses are worthy of remembrance too, don't you think?"
She clasped his hand as they made their way forward to the base of the monument, "I think you're right." She told him as together they laid the wreath down.
They laid it for those who had been lost, for the Time Lords and Gallifrey, for the lost worlds and people uncounted, for the canonised heroes and the nameless dead, for the valiant soldiers and the innocent bystanders. But they also laid it for those who remained behind, for those who had lost pieces of themselves but were left to carry on, for those whom the war hadn't taken everything but wished it had, for those trapped between one hell and the next.
For a long moment they stood in silence, each lost in the memories of not only the Time War but of all those they had lost in their long lives.
Vala took in a deep breath before opening her eyes, the storm within her subsiding slightly. She nodded her head as if in agreement to an unspoken question, "yes," she whispered, "We remember."
The Doctor didn't respond apart from to squeeze her hand tighter and led her back to the TARDIS. There was nothing left to say, the words written so long ago by an English poet encapsulated it all:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.