They stopped at Mount Pleasant briefly. Just long enough for Marion to collect those of her belongings she wanted to keep, mostly some books and records that she liked, and any mail that had arrived for her. Then she turned her back on that part of her life. A few minutes later, in defiance of the lunchtime traffic in Liverpool, they arrived at Kristoph’s house in Knowsley. The TARDIS disguised itself as a trailer in the car port, beside a rather lovely open topped car that came under the category of ‘classic’.

“For when I am pretending to be a normal person,” he said as they passed it and went to the front of the house. “I DO quite enjoy driving on quiet roads, but I can’t BEAR the city traffic.”

The house was lovely. Marion looked at the cream walls and the moulding above all of the windows, and the half-circle fanlight over the double doors of the front entrance.

“Late Victorian villa,”Kristoph said. “Genteel middle class suburban living.”

It was beautifully appointed inside, too. Marion looked around at the pleasant living room with warm cream walls and big leather chairs and sofa and carefully chosen antique dresser and sideboard. It was a nice room.

“My home from now on,” she breathed out happily.

“I’ll show you to your room,” Kristoph told her, taking the largest of her suitcases. “It has a small en-suite shower room if you want to freshen up.

The bed was already made up in the room. And there was, to her surprise, a big bunch of flowers in a vase on the dresser. She looked at them and saw a card.

“Welcome, Marion, to your new home and to my life. Kristoph.”

“I had the flowers sent by Interflora and instructed Mrs Flannery, my ‘daily’ to put them in a vase for you when she made up the room. She’s a very nice lady. Irish Catholic, so she’ll be checking that we sleep in our own beds, no doubt. But when I told her I was bringing my fiancée to stay, she nearly expired in delight. She’s been telling me for months I need a good woman in my life.”

Marion smiled and quoted a literary line that came to her head.

“Last night I dreamt I went to Mandalay again"

“Not so bad as that,” he assured her. “Mrs Flannery will probably want to ply you with tea and chat all day.”

“I could live with that,” she said. She sat on the bed and looked around at her unopened cases. “It’s still a bit unreal. I’m engaged. I have a nice home. Everything to look forward to. What’s the catch?”

“There isn’t one,” he told her. “You relax now, and I’ll see you downstairs in a while.”

She took a shower in her own shower room. Her OWN shower room! After living in foster homes from the age of 12, then in Student Halls for a year, she could think of nothing more luxurious. And Kristoph must have done more than ask Mrs Flannery to make up the bed and arrange flowers. There were big, soft towels on a rail and shampoo and sweet smelling glycerine soap in the dish and a whole set of moisturisers, cleansers and toners. Even the shower had been made ready for her.

After she had dried and put her favourite kimono around her, she sat on the bed and looked through her mail. Most of it was junk, she noted. There was a postcard from her last foster parents from their holiday in Majorca, and that was the only personal mail. There was the form to fill in for her student loan, and another one from the university. She opened it, not expecting anything important.

Kristoph heard her running down the stairs and knew something was wrong. She ran into the drawing room, tears in her eyes and gasping for breath.

“Whatever it is, breathing is still imperative for your species,” he said, catching her in his arms. “Marion…”

“There was a letter from the university,” she said. “It’s been waiting for weeks. It’s about ‘improper’ behaviour.’ Somebody reported that I was sleeping at your house in Harrogate, the week I was sick.”

Kristoph said nothing. He turned and looked through the pile of mail waiting for him, all of which looked far more important than hers. He opened one letter. He read it quickly and showed it to her. It was identical.

“Get dressed,” he told her. “And come down to the TARDIS. Short hops aren’t good for the circuits but I want this sorted out now.”

He was angry. Marion was aware of that as they took the very short trip by TARDIS to the university in the city centre. His eyes glittered and there was a muscle in his neck that positively throbbed. She was glad she wasn’t the object of his anger. She thought she would BURN under it.

“There is nothing you could do to make me angry,” he said gently as he caught her thoughts.


When he confronted the Head of Humanities in his office, she was reassured by that, because the full unleashed force of his anger was a sight to behold. She thought the Head was very foolish to try to answer back.

“But it IS true that this young woman slept in your bed for a week?”

“And I slept in the guest room,” he answered. “She was ill with single pneumonia. She would have died of neglect in the student accommodation. Nobody knew or cared that she was alive. She was under my care until she was well enough to return to her room. Not that it should have been necessary to explain the sleeping arrangements in my private home to anyone.”

“There is evidence of inappropriate conduct…”

“There is an anonymous note from a coward who could not even face me with his or her accusations. I refute it utterly. And I demand an apology right now to Marion and to me. I take my personal honour seriously. And I will not have an innocent woman slandered.”

“I….” the Head looked at him. Kristoph had remained standing while giving the chair to Marion. It gave him the psychological advantage. “I… apologise for the upset caused. Of course if the circumstances are innocent…”

“They most certainly ARE,” Marion said. “Kristoph is a good man. An honest man. And a wonderful teacher.”

“Nevertheless,” the Head continued. “It is quite impossible for the situation to continue. Unless you can both give a signed undertaking that no further fraternisation will take place…”

He never finished his sentence. Kristoph exploded with anger. It was several minutes before the Head dared to speak again.

“I am sorry, but there are no exceptions… not even…”

“I’ll leave the university,” Marion said. “It would be all right then, wouldn’t it? You are only complaining because I am a student and Kristoph is a teacher.”

“No, Marion,” Kristoph told her. “You should not be punished for this. I know how much your degree means to you.”

“There are two other universities in Liverpool. It might be too late for this term, but I could take a year out and transfer.”

“No,” Kristoph insisted. He put his hand on her shoulder and spoke very quietly but adamantly to the Head. “You will write a reference and recommendation on Marion’s behalf, and ensure that she is accepted on the course of her choice at the university of her choice on the first day of the new term.”

“That would be completely irregular,” the Head protested.

“So are your departmental finances,” Kristoph answered and he saw the Head’s mouth twitch nervously.


“Blackmail is not a pleasant word,” Kristoph continued. “But it is far less unsavoury than the words imputed to myself and my fiancée by you.”

“I will see what I can do,” the Head said after a moment’s silence. “But…”

“There are no buts.” Kristoph’s steely eyes fixed on him. “You will do it. I think we have finished here. Marion, my dear, let us go home.” He held his hand out to her as she stood. And as they left the room he put his arm around her shoulder.

“What was it they called you when you were an assassin?” she asked with a wry smile.

“The Executioner,” he answered.

“You did for him, anyway,” she laughed. “Serves him right. I never liked him. Is it true about the departmental finances?”

“Yes. But that’s his problem, not mine. Mine is taking you home for tea, and then a pleasant evening in our own drawing room, with our favourite composer and a little Gallifreyan poetry.”

“Sounds good to me. OUR drawing room. OUR favourite composer. All that sounds VERY all right to me.” She was quiet then as they walked back to the TARDIS. She was thinking of something they hadn’t considered before. As they returned to the house in Knowsley she raised it tentatively.

“Kristoph… we never talked about this…But do you mind if we have a long engagement.”

“How long?” he asked warily.

“Three years,” she said. “Until I do my degree and then a year of teacher training. Would that be all right?”

“You still want to be a teacher?”

“Yes,” she said. “That is all right, isn’t it? Women on Gallifrey have careers don’t they?”

“Indeed they do and I am perfectly happy to wait. I am a Lord of Time, after all. Three years are an eyeblink for me.”

Marion woke early the next morning in the comfortable bed of her own bedroom and smiled joyfully. She looked around the room in the early morning sunshine. She had put her few personal possessions around it and made it feel like it DID belong to her. HER bedroom in HER house, HER home.

Kristoph didn’t realise just how much he had done for her by that small act of kindness.

She thought about last night. It had been such a pleasant evening. He asked her if she would like to go out. After all, he reminded her, they had not properly celebrated their engagement. But she said no. They had eaten out in so many places. New York, Nice, Victorian London. Special, for her, she told him, was to be warm and cosy in their own home, just the two of them.

So he had found a bottle of wine that was made the year she was born. He swore it was coincidence as he opened it. He had several bottles of wine on the rack in the kitchen. They drank wine and danced in the living room to music from the CD player, just the two of them, kissing when the mood took them, not talking much, except to comment about the music.

The evening passed so very pleasantly. They shared a light supper and finished the wine and then he kissed her goodnight and they went to their separate beds.

It was the 1990s, she noted as she lay awake, remembering putting on a new nightdress and slipping into her bed. Most people would expect her to share HIS bed. Most people would be surprised that she hadn’t done so already.

But most people didn’t know Kristoph. He was romantic. He was sensuous. But he was also a perfect gentleman. He never touched her in any way but gently and tenderly. He never ‘groped’. He never tried to ‘cop a feel’ or any such thing.

And she loved him all the more for that.

She sighed and stretched and sat up in the bed. As nice as it was she could sleep no more. She got up and put on a pair of bedroom slippers and went out of the room.

The house had the silence of early morning about it. She walked along the short landing, and stopped at one closed door. There was a note pinned to it.

“Meditation room. You may enter. But do so quietly.”

She opened the door and stepped in.

It was just like the room she saw in the house in Harrogate, except this one had a permanence about it. The floor was polished wood inlaid with the Seal, and the walls had panels with symbols on them.

Kristoph was kneeling in the middle of the seal. His eyes were open but he wasn’t focussing on anything. He was perfectly still.

Marion looked at him for a long time. She knelt just outside the seal and watched him. It was something she should get used to, she supposed. He probably did this every day, the way some people went for a run or did exercises in the morning.

“I love you,” she whispered and quietly stood and left the room.

She had the urge to do something useful. Perhaps she could make the beds, she thought. Save Mrs Flannery, when she arrived, a chore. She teased herself that it was an excuse to go into Kristoph’s room, but after all, he WAS her fiancé. It wasn’t taboo.

The bed didn’t need making. It was already neatly made. The room was clean and tidy. She looked about it, noting the masculine presence in this room, men’s toiletries and shaving things on the dresser, a jacket hanging on a hanger on the door of the wardrobe.

Her eye caught what looked like a very sophisticated TV screen fixed to the wall. That surprised her. He didn’t seem the type to watch TV in bed.

She reached and touched what turned out to be the on switch. The screen came on with the sort of swirling pattern of circles and swirls she saw on the TARDIS computer screens, and then, to her surprise a message appeared in front of the swirls.

“Incoming Video Phone call. Source, Gallifrey.”

And before she could switch it off, the call connected. Marion looked at the elegant woman in her 50s or 60s who appeared on the screen.

The woman looked back at her with some surprise.

“Well… surely you’re not the cleaning woman dressed that way?” she said.

“No,” Marion answered. “I’m… You’re really on Gallifrey? This is a message from all that way?” She was amazed. It wasn’t possible to do a satellite link to the Middle East on the TV news without a ten second delay and distortion. But here she was talking to somebody 250 million light years away.

“Who are you?” the woman said again, her voice hardening with concern.

“I’m… I’m Marion,” she answered. “I’m… Kristoph and I are engaged.”

“You…” The woman looked taken aback. “My son is betrothed?”

“Oh!” Marion was surprised by that. “Oh, you’re his mother. I didn’t know… Oh I am pleased to talk to you. He never said he was in contact with you. I… I didn’t even know….”

“Don’t be flustered,” she answered. “It’s quite all right. Just unexpected. Kristoph has been away from home for many years. We never expected…”

“Marion?” She spun around as Kristoph called her name. She felt guilty. She had touched things she shouldn’t have touched. But Kristoph just smiled and came to her. He stood behind her and put his arms around her shoulders, kissing her cheek. Then he looked at the video screen.

“Mama, I meant to introduce you later. This is Marion. She is my betrothed. We love each other very much.”

“I am pleased for you, my son. As will your father be, I am sure. But… She is an Earth Child?”

“Yes, she is.”

“You know the difficulties of such a union?”

“Yes, mama, I know. But she is the woman I love. Would you deny me a love match?”

“I have never denied my first born son anything. If she is truly the one you love, then I am pleased. Young woman, Marion, you love my son?”

“With all my heart,” she replied. “All my heart and soul.”

“Then you have my blessing,” Kristoph’s mother told her. “I am glad to welcome you to our family. We shall, I am sure, talk again. But there are things I must talk to my son about.”

“Oh, of course.” Marion nodded politely and turned to kiss Kristoph on the cheek before going to get dressed.

By the time he was done talking to his mother, she had breakfast ready. He came to the kitchen, smiling.

“My mother thinks you are adorable,” he told her. “As I knew she would. I think you two are quite alike. Both gentle souls with a subtle charm.”

“I’m sorry for touching the screen,” she said as he sat to eat the meal she had made.

“You are allowed to touch it,” Kristoph assured her. “I will show you how to use it later. Mother wants to know all about you.” He paused and looked at Marion as he ate the food. “She thinks you should have an allowance. She is going to talk to my father about it.”

“An allowance?”

“You are betrothed to the Heir of the noble House of Lœngbærrow,” he said. “You should share in its wealth and bounty. Mother thinks you should have an account in your name. To spend on the things you need.”

“Oh,” she said. “But… I don’t… I have my student loan. I couldn’t…”

“Yes, you can,” Kristoph assured her. “You are my promised bride, Marion. You should live like you are. The paperwork will take a few days. But then it is yours, my dear. The Student Loan can go to one who needs it.”

“Well…” She smiled. “If it makes you happy.”

“It does,” he answered. “Marion, my Earth Child.” He lifted his glass of orange juice and saluted her. “To a good, wonderful life for us both from this day forward."