Kristoph smiled as he looked at Marion, sitting on the sofa, reading her favourite Gallifreyan poetry book. When he packed the books up and put them into the TARDIS he noticed that she slipped that one into her own travel luggage. Now as he set their course home to Liverpool she took it out and read it.

Every so often she looked up at the viewscreen or at him, and he felt her thoughts. She remembered in those moments just how amazing it was to be travelling in a relatively dimensional time and space ship with an alien at the controls, while reading a book from his own planet.

And how amazing it was that the alien was her own lover, and the time and space ship a place she felt more safe and secure than anywhere else and at any time in her life.

He finished programming their journey and came to sit beside her, his arm slipping around her shoulders as she leaned back against him.

He looked and saw that she was again reading that beautiful long poem of noble sacrifice.

“It came a little too close to the truth last night,” she admitted when she reached the end of it. “Don’t scare me that way.”

“I’ll try not to,” he promised. “But I’m not one to let thugs and bullies have their way.”

“It’s still a beautiful poem, anyway,” she said. She turned the page to the next epic, again beautifully illustrated. For a moment the words appeared to be an alien language then they shimmered and resolved into English.

“I see it in my own language, of course,” he said. “The TARDIS translates it for you. Because you have travelled in it, you have absorbed its background psychic and all languages, written or spoken will appear in English for you.”

“Oh,” she said. “That’s why it does that.” Then she frowned. “But.. when I read this first, in your house, I hadn’t…” She thought about it. “Oh. When I was sick… You brought me there in the TARDIS?”


“My first trip I didn’t even know!” She laughed. “What a pity.”

“You would have been frightened. But now you’re not. Now you are falling in love with Gallifrey through its poetry.” He snuggled her close to him as they read the poem together. Another love poem. This one about a man who fell in love with a woman who was of a lower caste than him. A woman of the very lowest caste while he was the heir of a high ‘Oldblood’ house. Enemies tried to stop them being together, even his friends thought he was mad. He even had to foil a plot to kill the woman he loved. But eventually they overcame every obstacle and she became his Lady.

“Would that happen to us?” Marion asked. “If we were on Gallifrey, would people hate me being with you?”

He paused before answering that question. He debated in his head how to answer her.

He decided on the truth.

“Yes, some would. But not in my own family. My mother and father were like them. My mother was a servant of our house and my father fell in love with her. He made her his lady. She was accepted by all but a few sour faces. And it would be the same if I took you there as my Lady. My friends would love you, Marion. As for my enemies… well they are my enemies regardless of what I do.”

Marion looked at the woodcut picture of the Time Lord and his Lady at what their wedding, and smiled wistfully. She wasn’t one to dream of fairy tale weddings and happy ever after, but there was something about that picture that was compelling.

“But reality awaits,” she sighed as she closed the book with an air of finality. “Mount Pleasant Young Women’s Hostel and all my worldly possessions in a couple of boxes in storage.”

“Marion!” Kristoph was shocked. “I never asked where you were living in Liverpool..”

“I’m a first year student. I was in Halls. They close for the summer. That’s why I went on the Summer School, really. For somewhere to BE for most of the time. But there are another three weeks yet.”

“I never realised,” he said. “Marion…”

“It’s all right,” she said. “Really it is. Just… Can we make the journey last as long as possible? Let the dream last just a few more hours.”

“I already sorted that out,” he told her. “Look… our favourite scenic route – to the edge of the solar system and back. Let me just keep an eye on the asteroid belt, and then there’s something special I want to show you.”

She sat there as he watched their journey through that most dangerous and unpredictable part of the system and then he came and reached to take her hand.

“Come with me,” he said. “I want to show you another part of the TARDIS.”

She knew, of course, that there WERE other parts to it. She had seen the wardrobe and the bathroom, and he had made coffee in the kitchen. But she hadn’t yet seen the less mundane and functional parts. Willingly she let him guide her through the seemingly endless corridors of the TARDIS until they came to a double door. The only double door other than that to the console room, and this one elaborately carved in what looked like oak. Kristoph opened the door and led her inside.

“Oh,” she murmured as she gazed at the beautiful space within. It looked like an indoor garden. There were trees growing, and there was a waterfall or a fountain somewhere. She could hear it tinkling, cooling the air. There were classical pillars and statues with vines growing around them. Marion wondered at first why a TARDIS would have a Greek theme, then she remembered what he had told her about Greek culture being taken from Gallifreyan.

It was beautiful. She gazed around happily, noting what she knew had to be artificial sunlight coming through a big window opposite where they stood at the top of a staircase down to the floor of this lovely room.

“The Cloister,” he said with a smile. “A place of peace and tranquillity. Also the repository for the heart of the TARDIS.” He pointed to what looked like a well of some sort with a great oval cover over it, decorated with Rassilon’s symbol. “But that need not worry you, Marion. I brought you here to enjoy the journey.”

He showed her a place where a silk covered palette was set, such as she had seen in pictures of Greeks or Romans enjoying themselves. There was fruit and cheese in silver dishes and wine in a crystal carafe. Kristoph sat her on one of the palettes and poured wine for her.

“This is…” The sheer luxury of it all overwhelmed her. “Oh, this just makes it even harder to go back to Mount Pleasant…”

“Marion, you are NEVER going back there,” Kristoph insisted. “But don’t think of it now. Wait. There is an adjustment I want to make.” Marion stared in amazement when he simply flicked his fingers and the fake sun set. She looked up at the ceiling and it wasn’t a ceiling. It was glass, and it looked out onto the solar system. A huge, panoramic view that was even more breathtaking that it was on the console room viewscreen.

“Oh, my!” she whispered as she looked up at it. “Oh, Kristoph, it is beautiful. Of all the things you have done for me, this…. I love being the only person on Earth who has SEEN these things close up. Well, apart from you, of course.”

“One day we should visit some of the planets,” Kristoph said. He sat by her side and sipped a glass of wine with her. “Not in this time, of course. Later. When they are colonised. Mars is dismal. Far too commercialised. It’s like Las Vegas without the charm. But Saturn is wonderful in the 44th century.”

“You’re teasing me, surely?” she answered him.

“No, I’m not. And there are many other planets out there, too, beyond Earth’s solar system. The Eye of Orion, the most peaceful planet in the universe. It is impossible to feel anxious or worried there. The natural atmosphere of it just calms and soothes.”

“Just the thing after my final exams?”

“After your final exams, there would be nothing for it but a whole weekend in the Orion sector,” he replied. “Nothing but the best for you.”

“Kristoph,” she laughed. “You’re so sweet to me. What did I do to deserve you?”

“You let me love you,” he answered. “And I DO love you.”

Marion ate some of the food and drank a little of the wine, but it was still only 10 am in the morning by her Earth-bound watch and when she realised that it seemed a strange thing to do. Instead she lay down on the palette and looked at the wonderful view again.

“Are we going more slowly?” she asked after a while.

“Yes,” Kristoph answered. “I want it to last.”

“Lie beside me,” she told him. “I want to feel you near me. I want to watch the solar system pass by and hear your hearts beating next to me.”

He did so. She sighed happily and lived for the moment. For every moment of that wonderful journey. She delighted in the nearness of the man she loved. To lie with him like that, both fully clothed, but so near to each other that they could hear each other’s hearts beat, was a perfect feeling.

It was several hours later as the TARDIS approached the Asteroid belt on the return journey that Kristoph rose from her side.

“Stay there,” he told her. “I will be back in a little while.”

“I’m too comfortable to move,” she said, stretching herself. “It’s so nice here.”

She lay there happily while he was gone, watching asteroids of different sizes in their strange orbit of the sun. She remembered what he had told her about the asteroids, how his own people might have created the belt by destroying a planet with a great and terrible evil on it. She wondered if it was true. And what did that mean then? Had Kristoph’s people protected this solar system? Had they protected Earth even before Humans existed on it?

They must be good people then, she thought. Wise, clever people who dispensed justice across the universe. What was it that Kristoph called them? The Guardians of Eternity, the Lords of Time, the Princes of the Universe.


She heard the doors open as he returned to the Cloister. She sat up to greet him. He sat beside her and took her hand in his.

“You really are an orphan?” he asked. “You have nobody?”

“My mother died when I was a little girl,” she said. “My grandparents died, too. I suppose I have a father somewhere. But I don’t know who he is. He left my mother before I was born.”

“Then he is no father to you,” Kristoph said. “Fatherhood is more than biology.”

“Why do you want to know?” she asked.

“Because… in my culture, when a man wants to enter into a Bond of Betrothal with a woman, he draws up a contract to seal that Bond and has the parents sign it.”

Marion looked at him with a faintly amused smile. “On your planet, when a man wants to get engaged he has to get her parents to sign a contract?”


“And I thought you were a romantic lot.”

“Romantic, yes. But also very precise. The Contract ensures that no other suit can be made, and signifies his acceptance of the legal, financial and moral responsibility for the woman he loves.”

“On Earth, usually there’s a diamond ring involved,” Marion said.

“I understand kneeling is involved, too,” Kristoph added.

“I think that’s optional,” she answered. Then to her surprise, Kristoph knelt before her. He took her left hand in his and kissed it.

“Marion, would you do me the honour of being my betrothed fiancée?” he asked.

“Oh!” She wondered why she hadn’t realised it before when he mentioned the contract. “Oh, Kristoph…”

“I want to be legally, financially and morally responsible for you, Marion. I want to look after you, cherish you, love you. I want you to be mine, and be sure no other man could take you from me.”

“I… I want you to be all those things to me,” she answered. “Oh, Kristoph… But… DO you have to have a contract signed?”

“Not if there is nobody to sign it. All I need is for you to say yes.”

“Yes,” she said. “Oh, yes.” Her heart was bursting with joy. That simple word was all it needed to change her life forever. “Yes.”

“Thank you, my love,” he said. And then she felt something cold against her hand. She looked and saw him pressing a diamond ring onto her finger.

“Where did that come from?” she asked. She looked at it. It was a big solitaire diamond. It felt heavy on her hand. She was glad that she had the manicure yesterday. The beautiful, professional polish still looked nice and she felt her hands deserved a big, expensive ring.

“It is a family heirloom,” he said. “It belonged to my grandmother. The wife of the one who fought dragons.”

“Oh!” she breathed. “Then… it’s from Gallifrey? It’s an ALIEN engagement ring?”

“Yes, it is,” he laughed. “The stone and the gold were both mined on Southern Gallifrey on my family’s estate. It is a Gallifreyan ring. And you are the fiancée of a Gallifreyan Lord. You are my Lady now, Marion.”

And with that he sat beside her and drew her close as he kissed her for the first time as his fiancée.