Kallo V’Asel was all it promised to be. The sunsets were amazing. The aurora was breathtaking. Every night Marion walked with Kristoph under the stars, watching the sky turn phenomenal colours and just enjoying each other’s company.

They talked about what had happened with Lee. They both needed to do that.

“You know,” Marion said as she lay back in a long, low boat that Kristoph had rowed into the middle of a deep crystal lake that reflected the sky and its aurora. “Even when he was making threats, I really did feel as if I could like Lee. I can see why you and he were friends. You are a lot alike. If I’d met him first, I wonder could I have fallen in love with him?”

Kristoph smiled. He knew she was teasing him. But there was a seriousness to it.

“I almost lost you. It was in your voice, in your eyes when you looked at me. When you protected him from me. You really did hate me for a few minutes.”

“Not you,” she said. “But the person you became with the sword in your hand. Kristoph, I will ALWAYS love you. But promise me you ARE done with The Executioner now.”

“I promise you,” he assured her. “I shall never pick up a sword except against a hologram, to exercise my body.”

“Good,” she said. “What about Lee? What do you suppose will happen to him?”

“He will live out his life in China, the country and culture he loves.”

“And you’ll never see him again?”

“I’m sure I will. I’m sure we both will. I am sorry it happened the way it did, but at least now we can be friends again. The bitterness is resolved between us.”

“Kristoph,” she said after a long, quiet pause. “Will you tell me…”

“About my regenerations?” He read the thought before she found words for it.

“Yes,” she said.

“It’s not a pretty story,” he told her.

“I know, I understand that,” she answered. “But I feel I need to know. You said that a Time Lord has twelve regenerations. Thirteen lives in all. How many times have you…”

“Eleven times,” he answered. “This handsome man you see before you is the twelfth version of me since I was born.”

“You’ve DIED eleven times? Oh, Kristoph!” She sat up and looked at him as he slowly rowed the boat. “Oh, my love.”

“Let’s not speak of it here. This is supposed to be a holiday. We are in a beautiful, beautiful place. We are alive, and we are free, Marion. Let us be thankful for that much.” He laid down his oars and moved around so that he, too, could lie on the long seat, beside her. “We have perfect peace here,” he reminded her as he reached to kiss her. Marion sank back against the soft cushions and relaxed into his kiss. Above them the sky was filled with dancing lights. But the ones in her head were just as beautiful.

“Chrístõ Mian,” she murmured as they held each other tightly.

“You pronounced it right!”

“Lee said the Mian bit means desire.”

“Yes,” he said.

“And that the name is given at birth after reading your future and seeing a characteristic.”


“Does that mean we were destined to meet? That you would desire me…”

“The timeline of a newborn can change as he grows older. Different things occur unexpectedly. We make decisions for ourselves that alter our destiny. We are not locked into our timelines irrevocably. But it seems that, despite spending much of my life avoiding close relationships, I WAS destined to love a beautiful woman.”

She smiled and sighed. Kristoph was the reason she FELT beautiful. Well, it helped that she had that very generous allowance from his family, of course. It meant she could buy nice clothes, and have her hair done regularly and have manicures and facials and little luxuries like that. And when she had done all of those things she DID feel beautiful. She felt a different person to the shy, mousy Marion of last summer.

“Your hair, incidentally, looks lovely,” he told her. “The stylist at the hotel did a marvellous job of repairing the damage.”

“Explaining that my hair was cut off by a man with a sword wasn’t easy.”

“It will grow back. Meantime you are still beautiful with a fine bob cut.”

She laughed, just because she could and surrendered again to his kisses and gentle caresses until he announced it was time to go back to the hotel for dinner.

As they came down to dinner, Kristoph was startled by a voice calling his name. He turned, and Marion felt his gasp of surprise.

“Hillary!” he said with a warm smile as an immaculately dressed woman of about his own apparent age swept towards them. “My dear, how are you?”

“I am very well, Chrístõ Mian,” she answered. “But it seems you have deserted me for a younger and more beautiful woman.”

“Hillary, in the eyes of the universe you sparkle like a diamond,” he answered her. “But allow me to introduce my own precious jewel. Marion, this is Hillary Barr Dey, a fellow diplomat with whom I have been honoured to do business. Hillary, this is Marion Horsley of Earth, my Fiancée.”

“Oh!” Hillary gave a cry of delight and kissed them both on the cheek. “I am delighted for you both.”

“Thank you,” Marion managed. “And… it is delightful to meet an old friend of Kristoph’s. You are only the SECOND he has introduced me to.”

“Are you hiding her away for your own pleasure, Kristoph?” Hillary asked. “Not fair at all. And where are you hiding yourself? Diplomatic circles are dull places without you.”

“That is a long story and one I am not completely at liberty to tell you,” Kristoph answered. “But…”

“Please join us at dinner,” Marion suggested. She felt she wanted to know more from Hillary about Kristoph’s former life. She had a strong suspicion that Hillary knew a lot about him that she had still to discover.

“Please do,” Kristoph added and held out his arm to escort them both into the dining room.

“I am so pleased to see Kristoph ready to settle down,” Hillary said to Marion as they ate the first course of their meal. “He is a wonderful man. I am sure you will be very happy together.”

“Thank you,” Marion said.

“What of you?” Kristoph asked her. “How has life treated you since we were last… How long has it been?”

“Forty years,” Hillary answered. Marion looked startled by that. She smiled warmly. “My species live to about five hundred years of age. I am three hundred and fifty. Middle aged for my people. A mere sprig on Kristoph’s world.”

“Impossible on mine,” Marion told her. “But when you were… together… you and Kristoph were… lovers?”

Kristoph looked at her and she knew what he was thinking. She didn’t need any psychic powers to know. He hadn’t meant for her to guess that. But she had.

“Not in the physical sense,” Hillary admitted. “Not for the want of trying. I spent as many hours trying to seduce this noble Gallifreyan as I did on Treaty negotiations. And the Treaties were far more successful. Oh, we were the most dazzling couple at the diplomatic balls. We would dance in each other’s arms, walk under the stars. but he always kissed me goodnight at the bedroom door.”

Kristoph smiled indulgently at her.

“My dear you always danced divinely.”

“You kissed divinely.”

“But it was never to be. Our species are too different.”

“Oh, I know, I could never have been a Gallifreyan Lady,” Hillary admitted. “And you would have been lost on my world. But if I have one regret in my life, it is that you and I never had one night of unrestrained passion.”

“Hillary, my dear,” Kristoph protested. But Marion was not jealous. She was doing her best not to laugh out loud. His expression was so priceless.

“No,” Hillary admitted. “Chrístõ Mian was right. His kind marry for life. Mine never marry at all. It could not have worked. Just tell me you have been happy since we parted?”

“Yes, I have,” Kristoph assured her. “The more so since Marion came into my life. And what of you? Are you still representing your world in diplomatic circles?”

“I am. Though I shall be taking leave very soon.” She smiled a secretive kind of smile. “I am incubating,” she said.

“Congratulation, my dear,” Kristoph told her. “How many children do you have now?”

“Three. You remember my eldest, Brandon. She is at our university now, and hoping to follow in my footsteps. Drew is just twenty years old, at boarding school still, and my youngest, Kaye, is with me here. She’s tucked up in bed already. Perhaps I will introduce her to you at breakfast.”

“I should very much like to meet your little girl,” Marion said. “And the new baby… are you hoping for another girl or a boy this time?”

Hillary smiled. “I always bring them up as girls.”

That seemed an odd way of putting it, but Marion remembered that Hillary was a different species entirely, and different people had different ways of living. She looked around the restaurant. There were many different species. It had been hard for her, the first night in the hotel, not to stare. They WERE, by and large, humanoid in shape. Kristoph had explained that the term Human specifically meant a being whose ancestors came from Earth. But humanoid was a common term for the body shape roughly corresponding to that type.

But within that term were a group of people who were totally bald, male and female, and with bright blue skin. There was a family, man, woman and two teenage children, who were perfectly ordinary looking except they had four arms. Another group were the most beautiful people Marion had ever seen, all over six foot tall, with golden skin and long blonde hair down to their waists, tied back in bandanas. Their faces were also remarkable. They had three eyes. Two in the usual place, and one in the middle of their forehead. Kristoph had told her that the third eye saw the future, not the present. They were born with the gift of precognition.

Hillary, in comparison, could easily pass for ‘normal’ on Earth. And she would be a woman men admired. She looked fifty in Earth years, but still beautiful, still able to turn a man’s head.

And she looked the part of an Ambassador. So elegant and self-assured. For a moment, Marion wondered if she could ever measure up. For all her clothes and manicures, she had not been brought up in such a world. Hillary obviously had.

“Marion, if this was an ambassadorial ball, you would be the centre of attention,” Kristoph assured her, reading her doubts so easily.

“Indeed you would,” Hillary agreed. “Especially if you were seen in his presence. The Peacemaker’s Lady would be the toast of the night.”


“That is what he is known as. This planet we are enjoying tonight would be a radioactive rock if Ambassador de Lœngbærrow of Gallifrey had not been such an able negotiator. Two worlds were on the brink of annihilating each other until he intervened. I was there as an impartial observer. And he was magnificent.”

“We all use our gifts that we are given,” Kristoph said, modestly.

“And that is another thing. He is a MODEST Gallifreyan.” Hillary laughed.

In such conversation the dinner passed pleasantly. Marion enjoyed Hillary’s talk, especially about the various places she and Kristoph had both been to as representatives of their worlds. Afterwards, there was dancing. Kristoph took them both out on the floor alternatively. Hillary, of course, was a graceful and accomplished dancer, but Kristoph assured Marion that she was fully equal to her.

“Madam, would you care to dance?” She was rather surprised when one of the golden men approached her. She was on the point of saying no, but somehow the idea of dancing with a beautiful golden man intrigued her. She let herself be led to the floor. Kristoph caught her eye and smiled. And when the dance ended and a man with pale green skin, wearing a shimmering robe asked her to dance she didn’t hesitate. She noticed that Hillary was now with the golden man and Kristoph was dancing with a golden woman.

She sat down after four more dances, one of which found her in the arms of her own man again. He was claimed by a woman with feathers instead of hair, and Hillary found her seat as well.

“You did beautifully,” Hillary told her. “That is half the job of diplomacy, simply mixing with people. Did you find the Kalonian just a bit clingy? That’s the one with the pointed ears.”

“Yes, he was a little,” she admitted.

“They’re all like that. Perfectly harmless, but you feel as if they’re going to insist on you going back to their place afterwards.”

“Have you ever…”

“Not with a Kalonian,” she answered. “I never really found one that attractive. Nor with a Gallifreyan, as you gathered. Though I found him irresistible. But… Oh…” She gave a soft smile and touched her stomach through the elegant ball gown. “Oh, the little one is moving about. I can feel it.”

“So soon?” Marion asked. “How long have you been…”

“It doesn’t start to show until about six months,” Hillary explained. “But I can feel the movement before then.” She reached and took Marion’s hand and pressed it against her. Marion gasped with delight as she felt the movement of the child. She smiled warmly. As she sat back down again her eyes turned to Kristoph and without thinking any conscious thought, her hand brushed the front of her own dress.

“You can give him what I couldn’t,” Hillary told her. “His own child, of his blood, heir to his House.”

“Is it possible?” she asked. “I am not of his species either. You said you and him were not compatible species…”

“My people are not compatible with any other. That is ONE of our peculiarities. If I could have made him forget for one moment that he is a noble Gallifreyan, bound by sacred vows of chastity, it could only have been for fun. And it would have been terrible to make him go against his nature just for a brief good time. That is one of the reasons I never pressed my suit. But you, my dear, will be the one he takes as his wife, with whom he will be fulfilled. And yes, you will be the mother of his children.”

“I should like that,” Marion said with a smile.

“I am sure you will,” Hillary assured her. “And perhaps a little Hillary will one day play in the ambassadorial crèche with a little Chrístõ.”

The thought was a sweet one, and it kept her smiling through the evening until the Kalla national anthem was played at the end of the dancing and they all stood respectfully before making their way to their rooms.

At the door of the suite Hillary was staying in, Kristoph took her in his arms and kissed her warmly. She touched his face tenderly as the kiss lengthened and when they stopped kissing he held her a little longer.

“For old times sake,” he told her and she smiled at him and went into her room. Kristoph took Marion’s hand and brought her to the suite they were staying in. He poured a glass of sherry for her and a malt whiskey for himself and spent a pleasant hour on the sofa before she declared that she was ready for her bed. At the door to her room, Kristoph took her in his arms and kissed her as he had kissed Hillary, except that it went on much longer.

“For the days still to come,” he told her before she went into her room and got ready for bed while he went to his next door.