Professor De Leon was puzzled. He looked around the class he was about to teach. There was a conspicuous absence. He felt disappointed. He had been looking forward to teaching a class that she was in.

“Does anyone know where Marion is… Marion Horsely?”

“She’s sick, I think,” one of the young women in the front seats told him. “She looked grotty at breakfast. Sniffling and bunged up.”

“I see,” he said. “But you don’t know if she went back to bed or….”

The young woman shrugged. He sighed and began the lesson. But his hearts were not in it. He was glad when it was over and he had a free period. As the students filed out he asked the one that knew Marion what her room number was. She looked at him as if she thought it an odd question, but she gave it anyway.

He went back to his house. In the bedroom he went to the door that seemed to lead into another room unless you realised that it was on the outside wall of the house.

It didn’t lead into a perilous drop to the garden below. It led to his time and space travel machine. He stepped up to the control console and pulled up a schematic of the female hall of the summer school residence. He fed the co-ordinate into the navigation console and initiated the drive.

He stepped out moments later in the corridor outside Marion’s room. His TARDIS had disguised itself as the door to a linen cupboard. He looked around to make sure there was nobody looking and pulled out his sonic screwdriver. He unlocked the door to room number twenty-two.

It was a standard student room with bed, desk, cupboard, shelf and tiny bathroom cubicle. Kristoph looked at Marion as she lay in the bed with the curtains closed. She was asleep. He wondered exactly how he would have been explaining himself right now if she wasn’t. It had been something of a spur of the moment idea and he hadn’t thought it through completely.

He examined her. She was feverish. She must have caught a cold from her drenching after all. He lifted her into his arms, blankets and all. She didn’t even seem to notice, her sleep was so deep. He carried her back to the TARDIS machine and left her on the sofa in the corner of the console room while he initiated their return to his house. She seemed to stir once, but he passed his hand over her forehead and sent her back to sleep.

Marion woke from a dream of travelling. She felt as if she was still moving as she fought to open her eyes.

“What….” She stared at the ceiling of the master bedroom of Kristoph’s house. How had she got there? She remembered going to sleep in her student room.

“Here,” Kristoph said and held a cup of some strange liquid to her lips. It tasted pleasant, like honey, but obviously some sort of medicine. “You’ve slept a long time.”

“What time is it?” she asked.

“Two-thirty in the afternoon – Tuesday afternoon.”

“I’ve missed a whole day?” she struggled to sit up but she felt dizzy and disorientated. “How sick was I?”

“A mile bout of pneumonia,” he said. “You’ve slept it off.”

“How did I get here?”

“I brought you. You were not going to get any better all alone in that little room.”

“You brought me…. That was… You were in my room? You…” She knew she ought to be angry. But she wasn’t. Maybe she was too sick to muster the strength. Or maybe she was just too warm and comfortable in this nice bed, with him looking after her.

“Go to sleep again,” he told her. “You still need rest. When you wake again I’ll have some food for you. Something tasty to tempt your appetite.”

“I do feel sleepy,” she admitted. “And this is a nice, warm bed.”

“There you go, then,” he said. “Sleep well.” He bent and kissed her forehead. She smiled and snuggled down into the bed. He watched until she was asleep then he turned and left the room.

He went to his meditation room. He crossed the floor and opened the impossible door that would have led right out to empty air. There was a noise and the door disappeared.

If it wasn’t for his Gallifreyan stamina, he would never have managed to divide his time between teaching his classes and being with her. As it was, he felt quite weary by the time he finished his last class and then programmed the TARDIS to return him to ten minutes after he left her. At least now he could spend the rest of the afternoon and evening with her. He sat in an armchair by the side of the bed and watched her sleeping.

“You are playing with fire,” his inner voice told him. “She will be your undoing.”

“She could be the making of me,” he answered himself.

She was beautiful, though not in the way of the women he had loved in the past. He let his mind drift. Lilliana D’ Argenlunna. The woman who had broken his hearts. He had loved her since they were children. He had always imagined they would be together. He could not have imagined it any other way. But she got engaged to his friend Perjules D’Alba while he was away doing his painful duty for Gallifrey.

Hillary Dey Barr, the gendermorph was the first alien who had attracted him. He always laughed as he thought of their first meeting at the Ambassador’s ball. “I danced all night with a beautiful woman, and the next day he and I forged a vital treaty.”

Gendermorphs were such sensual beings, it was easy to fall head over heels with them. And he was sure Hillary loved him, too. But her species were not the staying kind. By mutual consent they had parted as loving friends. He had met him many times since at conferences and enjoyed a drink and remembrance of good times.

Marion was not a beauty in the same way Hillary or Lily were. She had a simpler, easier loveliness. She had a pure heart and an honesty that made him feel guilty that he was NOT honest.

And made him dread having to tell her the truth eventually and have her know he had lied to her.

Marion slept on and off all day and all night, and most of the next day, too. By the Thursday she managed to stay awake a lot more. She enjoyed the luxury of the big, soft bed, fruit in a big basket and barley water in a huge jug. Kristoph brought her books to read, including a beautifully bound hardback copy of Dracula that she kept under the pillow when she slept.

Kristoph must have gone out to work some of the time. There were times when the house seemed empty. But other times he was there. He looked in on her. He brought medicine. It tasted better than most flu preparations she had ever tried before and she had an idea it was home made.

“What is it?” she asked. “Herbal remedy?”

“Yes. My mother taught me the art. She was a countrywoman with knowledge of the use of herbs.”

“Sounds like the sort of person they’d have called a witch once,” she remarked, then blushed bright red. “Oh, I don’t mean… I don’t mean to imply that your mother is a witch!”

“Some old-fashioned people have called her that in the past,” he answered. “My father dealt with them.”

“Are your parents alive, still?”

“Yes,” Kristoph told her. “We live long lives where I come from.”

“Herbal remedies and healthy living?”

“Something like that.”

“Do you have classes to go to this afternoon?” she asked him after a while.

“I’ve cancelled them. I would prefer to be with you.”

“Oh.” She seemed surprised by that. “That’s… well, I must be dismal company. I have been sick for days. My hair….”

“You look fine,” he told her. But she put her hand to her face and hair and was horrified. “All right, tell you what, I’ll run you a nice hot bath and you go and soak yourself for an hour. Wash your hair. There’s an apricot facial scrub for those deep pores women worry about. I’ll change the bedding so it’s nice and clean when you get back from the bath.”

That was a tempting idea. She didn’t even feel self conscious about him moving around in the bedroom while she was soaking in the bath, enjoying the luxury of it to the full. He knocked once and said he was going to make some phone calls in his study and that she should take as long as she liked.

He took four hours, the time he was scheduled to teach English literature, plus a long conversation with his superior about the fact that there was NOTHING to report. But he brought his TARDIS back to the meditation room only fifty minutes later. He wondered if living the same day twice, once with her and once at the college, would catch up on him. But after all he had thousands of years of life. A few days give or take was nothing.

Marion was back in bed when he returned to the room. She was sitting up, trying to brush her hair. It was very knotted from being neglected for so many days.

“Let me,” he said, and he took the brush from her and began to gently pull it through her hair. After a while the knots fell out and he brushed smooth, silky hair soothingly. She enjoyed the feeling. He enjoyed the simple intimacy with her.

“You seem used to that,” she told him. “Have you been married before? Did you do that for your wife?”

“No,” he said. “I have never married. I had a lover, once, who had very long, beautiful hair, and I used to brush it for her.”

“What happened to her? If… if you don’t mind me asking….”

“I joined our army after college. I thought she would wait for me. But… she met another man. When I returned, they were married.”

“Oh,” Marion looked at him. “Oh, I am sorry. She… didn’t love you enough?”

“I think she never stopped loving me. But she thought… there were difficulties. I was gone longer than anyone expected. She thought I was dead.”

“Oh,” she said again.

“That’s not a period of my personal history I want to talk about. It was a long time ago. Let’s talk of other things. I see you’re in the middle of our favourite gothic horror.”

“Yes,” she said. “Would you… I’d like to hear you read aloud.”

“I would love to.” He picked up the book and found the marker place and began to read. She lay down in the crisp, clean linen and half closed her eyes. She watched Kristoph as he read. She wondered about that lover who had jilted him. She wondered what terrible things happened to him then that he didn’t want to talk about. Was he a prisoner of war, perhaps? His face was rugged in a way of a man who might have gone through many hardships. And yet, now, he was a teacher of literature. What a contrast.

He intrigued her. He fascinated her.

She was more than a little bit in love with him.

Marion, you are being silly, she told herself.

But then, if he didn’t have an interest in her, why was she here? He must care.

“Kristoph,” she whispered. “I would wait for you.”

She was half asleep when she said it. He wondered did that make it merely a rambling comment, or a truth from her heart spoken when she was least inhibited.

Either way, he felt his hearts warmed by the thought.

She drifted to sleep properly. He kissed her forehead and stood up with a sigh. He stepped out of the room. He went to the meditation room where he had left his TARDIS disguised as a door that would logically have led through into the en-suite bathroom of his bedroom.

Time to put in a couple of hours at his ‘job’ then he wanted to have a long talk with his superiors.