She must have fallen asleep in the car. She didn’t remember arriving at the lodge or much about it except that it felt much warmer than she expected it to feel after the sun had set.

“You missed the sunset,” Kristoph told her as he opened the door of what looked, in the moonlight, to be a rather large log built bungalow. Marion was still feeling a little sleepy though and she didn’t really take it in. She was aware that the lights came on inside at a voice command from Kristoph and she thought the sofa in the lounge was a comfortable one. She sat on it as Kristoph went to find supper. When he returned she was drowsy.

“Have you been sleeping properly?” he asked as he coaxed her to eat the food and drink a milky drink that was a little like chocolate.

“Not really,” she admitted.

“Because you have been anxious and fretful about things?”


“Well don’t, please,” he begged her. “There is nothing wrong that we cannot work out between us. And for the next two nights I don’t want you to worry at all. I want you to sleep well and tomorrow we will have a pleasant time. Together. This place is utterly private. Nobody will bother us. We will have a wonderful, relaxing time. I promise.”

After she had eaten he brought her to her bedroom. The bed was a big, wooden framed one and the mattress was so soft she knew she would have little trouble sleeping on it. She didn’t protest when he helped her undress. He tucked her into the bed and kissed her goodnight. She wondered briefly how many bedrooms the lodge had but was asleep before she could work it out.

The next thing she knew, she was waking to bright sunshine and the sound of crockery being put by her side. There was an aroma of tea. She sat up and took the cup that Kristoph had placed by her bedside.

“If we’re going to be a couple of weeks on Gallifrey, I hope we brought enough tea. The herbal infusions your mother and Lily both serve are all right, but they’re not the same.”

“I can arrange to have it imported,” he answered. “Enjoy your tea and then join me in the pool room. You did bring a bathing costume?”

“Yes,” she said. “This place has a pool?”

He smiled enigmatically and left her to her tea. When she had finished she got up and found her bathing costume and a silk sarong. She tied up her hair in a pony tail and slipped a pair of sandals on her bare feet and went in search of the pool room.

When she did find it she was astonished. She had expected a small pool that it was possible to swim across in a few strokes. But this was something else. It was carved out of the natural rock, and fed by a natural hot spring that gurgled constantly with just a very faint smell of the diffused minerals of the rocks it had forced itself up through. The ‘room’ only partially enclosed it. Half the pool was in the open air, and half covered by the roof and great glass sliding doors. Kristoph, sitting at a poolside table eating a fresh fruit and nut salad, reached and pressed a button and it slid back fully. A cool morning breeze refreshed them both as Marion seated herself at the table and took some fruit salad for her own breakfast.

“That is fantastic,” she said, admiring the pool. “Building a house over a hot spring.”

“There’s a sauna and steam room, too,” he said, indicating two wooden doors leading off from the room. All courtesy of the natural phenomena that occurs here.”

“Beautiful,” she said. “I can’t wait to swim in it. I can feel the warmth of it from here.”

She ate her breakfast first, and took it easy for the first half hour, treading water and floating in the warm water. She watched as Kristoph stripped down to a pair of swimming trunks and joined her. He swam several fast lengths of the pool before joining her in a more leisurely enjoyment of the water.

“It feels good,” she said. “I can feel all the tensions melting away.”

“There are minerals dissolved in the water that have therapeutic properties,” Kristoph told her.

“Don’t get all scientific about it. I just want to enjoy it. This, and Lily’s rose garden are just about the only things I’ve REALLY enjoyed since coming here to Gallifrey. So just let me make the most of it.”

“Make all you can of it,” Kristoph told her. That is what we’re here for.”

And she did. She swam and played in the deliciously warm pool for as long as she desired. She sampled the sauna and steam room, too. She rested on a cushion covered deckchair when her skin began to get too wrinkly. She sat in her swimming costume and sarong and ate a lunch, cooked by Kristophm who had decided that she was not to lift a finger in any form of work this weekend. And then she swam again. Sometimes he joined her. Sometimes he sat by the poolside and watched her, smiling to see her really enjoying herself for the first time since they had come to Gallifrey.

He made tea, too, and they lingered over it. They talked happily, just as they did in their quiet evenings at home on Earth. Kristoph avoided certain topics of conversation that might spoil the mood. Custom made gowns for Receptions was one major taboo. So was how long they might be staying on Gallifrey. He was slightly surprised, therefore, when she brought it up.

“Do all parties here have to be major social events?” she asked him, “Grand receptions for all of the high Gallifreyan society?”

“Well, no,” he answered. “We have private occasions, too. Why?”

“I think I could cope with the Reception if… well, if you don’t think it’s too greedy, asking for two parties… but would it be possible to have some kind of family dinner? I think I’d like Lily to be invited, maybe. She almost IS family. But just you and your mum and dad and your brother and… you have two sisters, don’t you? I’ve not met them yet. Could THAT be done first? Let me get to know YOUR family properly before I’m plunged into the deep end of it all.”

“Well, YES, of course.” Kristoph was relieved and delighted that she had thought it through and come to a solution that was so relatively EASY to arrange. “It might not be possible to get Renita to come. The Sisterhood is quite strict about visits to the outside world. But I will try. I should like you to meet her. She is the sweetest woman. I wish she had not chosen to shut herself away like that. But she felt the call to a more spiritual life and we could not gainsay her.”

“And your other sister?”

“Oriana is a typical example of a Gallifreyan society lady,” he said. “She made a good marriage that was socially acceptable, financially advantageous and politically erudite.”

“Did she love him?” Marion asked, startled by the criteria Kristoph outlined.

“Possibly not,” he admitted. “We DO that a lot in our society. Love comes a long way down the priorities. I think she liked him. And I think a kind of love grew between them over the years. But nobody is ever going to write epic poetry about them.”

“Your father married for love, didn’t he?”

“Oh, definitely,” Kristoph said with a smile. “And he has never stopped loving my mother, nor she him. She has been distraught in the past weeks when my father was so ill. If it didn’t seem so when you came here, it was because we do find it hard to show our feelings in front of strangers. We are known as a stoic race. Her first reaction to you, even in the midst of the crisis was to be the gracious hostess.”

“Your mother is wonderful,” Marion told him. “And I am glad your father is getting better. Do you know I haven’t actually MET him yet.”

“His illness has been such that he needed to be isolated from all but a few people,” Kristoph explained. “But he is on the mend now and we shall rectify that before long. He has asked about you. He asked if you were happy here amongst us. I said you were. That was a lie, I’m afraid. You weren’t happy at all, but nobody took the time to realise. Least of all me, to my deepest regret.”

“Your father asked about me?” Marion had more or less forgiven him for his neglect. She fixed instead on the other point.

“Of course. He was overjoyed to know you had come home with me to Gallifrey. He wants ME to marry for love, too. He thinks I was foolish not to do it sooner. But I told him I had to wait for you to be born and grow into a beautiful woman.”

Marion blushed sweetly.

“You didn’t really tell him that, did you?”

“Of course I did, why not?”

“Strange idea, that you should have been waiting all these years for me. But you weren’t really, of course. You were too busy doing other things.”

“Yes, that is true. But if a soothsayer had told me that the woman of my hearts would be an Earth Child I would not meet until my third millennia I would have been happy to wait.”

Marion sighed.

“How can I not love somebody who says things like that to me?” she asked. “Just don’t take me for granted, that’s all.”

“Never again,” he promised. “Never again. There is so much to lose if I do something so foolish.”

He reached out and touched her hand. She let him close his around hers, his fingers entwined with hers. He pulled her close and kissed her.

“I am sorry for all the hurt I caused you,” he whispered. “I love you, Marion.”

“I love you, too,” she told him. “And I love being here, in the lodge. I think I will swim again in a little while. Before it gets dark outside.”

“It’s warm enough to swim after dark,” he told her. “But tonight I was going to suggest a walk outside. There is a meteor shower due tonight. It should be quite lovely.”

“I can live with that,” Marion said happily. She looked at the warm, inviting pool beside her and thought about diving back into it. But before she did there was something she wanted to do. Something that had been in her mind all day.

“This costume is so annoying,” she said. “It’s so tight and constricting.”

“That costume is barely covering you as it is,” Kristoph answered her.

“It’s too tight,” she repeated. “I need to feel free…” And to his surprise she peeled it off and dived into the water. Kristoph knelt by the poolside and watched her swim down to the bottom of the pool and then rise back up to the surface. She swam the length of the pool in a lazy, leisurely backstroke as he watched, enthralled and delighted. She was beautiful. He had always known that. But this was the first time that he had seen her naked.

And he was pleased with what he saw. His brain was working overtime telling the rest of his body to keep calm. He steadied his hearts and calmed his blood pressure and told himself that a Time Lord of his experience should be able to cope with this without losing control of his dignity or his honour.

But that didn’t mean he couldn’t take great pleasure from watching her. And loving her deeply.

She swam several slow lengths of the pool and then climbed out. He gave her a towel to dry off with and then she wrapped the silk sarong around her body as she sat and took a glass of fruit juice.

“Did you enjoy that?” he asked.

“Very much,” she replied. A faint blush rose on her cheeks as she caught his laughing eyes. “Yes, I know,” she added. “I could never have done that before I knew you. I don’t think I could do it anywhere else but here in this place where I know it is just you and me. I’ve not changed THAT much. But something here… maybe there’s something in the water. Have you had it analysed? Perhaps there’s a mind-altering drug.”

“No,” Kristoph said with a deep sigh. “It is me. I have done it to you. Taken away your inhibitions, given you the belief in yourself.” He laughed softly. “I think when we return to Earth I should tell the university I am changing my name. I shall not be professor De Leon. I shall be Professor Higgins.”

“In the play or the musical?” she asked.

“In the musical,” he answered. “Although Shaw’s original work is the literary superior, of course, the ending of the musical is much more satisfying.”

“She leaves him in the play,” Marion remembered. “In the musical they have a happy ending.”

“I hope we shall have a happy ending, too,” he said. “Marion…”

“Shouldn’t that be Eliza?”

“No, I think I’ll stick with Marion. A beautiful name. A beautiful woman.”

She shifted from her seat and came to him. He reached out and pulled her gently down onto his knee. He kissed her for a long time. Longer than either of them realised. Time lost its meaning even for a Time Lord as they made up for lost time in the sorrowful, frustrating week that had almost torn them apart. He held her tightly, almost as if he feared to ever let her go again.

When he did let her go again it was so that they could both swim. She threw off her sarong and again excited and enthralled him in her uninhibited joy. Again he used every ounce of his willpower to stop himself from forgetting his honour. Nearly three thousand years old, and he had never made love to a woman. There had been times when he came close. Lily, when she was young was a shameless tease who had sorely tried his resolve. Later, when he was recovering from his terrible physical and mental injuries, when his resolve was at a very low ebb, he had known that, married woman as she was, she could have been his lover if he had only said the word. She had tended to him in his illness as a wife tended her husband and he had loved her with aching hearts, knowing that she belonged to another man.

There had, he remembered with guilty pleasure, been some passionate kisses between them. But he held back from asking her to commit adultery with him. And not just because Jules would have had the right to have him flogged in the public square for the crime. Not just because Jules was a good friend. Not just because he loved her too much to make a harlot of her. But maybe all of those things together.

As for Hillary, she was a walking pheromone time bomb who had swept him off his feet. But her own honour prevented her from taking advantage of him and it had been an exciting, heady, beautiful relationship, but a purely platonic one all the way.

And despite the ideas he was suppressing desperately just now, his relationship with Marion was never going to be anything else until the day she was legally and morally his wife.

She never put the costume back on. It lay on the poolside, forgotten. When she did climb out of the water he wrapped a silk dressing gown around her. He wore one himself. Only as the sun began to drop lower in the sky did he suggest that they put on a few more clothes and go outside for a while.

They didn’t need VERY many more clothes. The hot springs and the heated rocks made the whole area around the lodge comfortably warm. They walked together in balmy, tropical temperatures and watched the sun set on the eastern horizon and the big moon of Gallifrey rose high in the sky, silvery white in the reflected glow of the sun.

As they walked, the meteor shower filled the sky, and Marion watched in astonishment. She had, on occasion, seen such things on Earth. Gold and silver streaks in the sky as the fragments burnt up in the atmosphere. But here the streaks were every colour of the rainbow and then some more besides and it was a much bigger and longer shower than she had ever witnessed. It took nearly an hour before the display finally dwindled. Marion pressed herself close to her lover as they watched together. His arm around her waist. She was glad the nightmare of the past week was over. It all felt right again. There were problems ahead, perhaps. But she felt ready for them now. As long as she was sure he was with her all the way.

“I am always with you,” he whispered to her. “Never doubt it again.”

“I won’t,” she replied.

In the moonlight of a quieter sky now they walked slowly back to the lodge. Marion stifled a yawn.

“These twenty-six hour days,” she said. “I’m not used to them.”

“Yes, I forgot about that,” Kristoph said. “You take yourself to bed and I’ll bring you a nice hot milky drink.”

“Mmm,” she murmured. “That sounds good.”

She sat up in the comfortable bed as he came into the room with the drink. He brought two mugs and sat on the edge of the bed as she drank. He had changed for bed. He wore a pair of black satin pyjamas with a matching robe over them with golden dragons on each side over his hearts. He looked handsome in black. She put aside her empty mug and reached out to him.

“Stay with me,” she said. “I want you near me.”

“Marion I...” He was surprised and a little disconcerted.

“I know,” she said. “You’re an honourable Gallifreyan. That’s why I’m asking. I don’t want you to do anything against that honour. I just want you close to me through the night. Just this once. I know we can’t in your family house. And we certainly can’t scandalise Mrs Flannery with such things back in Liverpool. But tonight, here, just the two of us…”

Kristoph didn’t say anything. If she HAD asked him to go against his honour he thought he might just have given in and surrendered himself to her. But what she proposed was almost as sweet and as he slipped under the bedcovers and reached to hold her he knew there was one Gallifreyan alternative that she was not aware of.

He didn’t touch her in any special way. His one hand caressed her cheek gently and the other curved around the side of her face as he kissed her. But Marion gasped as she felt him enter her mind. It felt like silver running through the synapses of her brain. She closed her eyes and a kaleidoscope of colourful abstract images filled her inner vision.

“What are you doing?” she asked and her voice seemed strangely remote from her.

“Relax,” he assured her. “If it works it will feel wonderful for us both. I haven’t tried for centuries. It is a way of making love with the mind, that lets us feel the joy without compromising each other.”

“You can do that?”

“If you let me. If you will allow me to touch your mind with my whole-hearted love. Don’t be afraid. It won’t hurt.”

“I’m not afraid,” she answered. “I just…oooh… Oh Kristoph. Oh, my love. Don’t stop. It feels….” She sighed happily as his mind literally made love to hers. She had no experiences with which to make a comparison, but she had the idea that what he was doing to her mind was something comparable to how physical love-making would feel. Yet he was still only touching her with the very lightest touch of his fingers on her face. Even Mrs Flannery could not be upset by such minimal physical contact, though the thought of their strict Irish Catholic housekeeper witnessing them here almost undid Kristoph’s efforts.

“I don’t intend to stop,” he answered. “Not until you are thoroughly happy.”

“I’m happy now,” she gasped as the chemically-induced equivalent of a fireworks display went off in her head and still he continued his mind stimulation. She had a strange moment when it occurred to her that this would be a very beautiful way to kill somebody, by stimulating their brain to death. But it was a fleeting thought, swept away by the joyful feelings he roused in her. She was aware all the time of lying in the soft, warm bed, and of her lover beside her. But at the same time she was transported to an emotional plane she never thought possible.

Kristoph sighed with pleasure. It was as good for him as it was for her. His mind was the one in control, making the fireworks happen in her head, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t receiving a wonderful high from it. The chemical reaction as the mental fireworks exploded in her head had a kick back in his own mind that had the savour of the single malt whiskey he loved, of a fine wine, of breaking the sound barrier in a racing capsule, surfing a plasma storm in a well-tuned TARDIS.

And she was overwhelmed by his love for her. He called out her name in words and in his mind at the same time, and he heard her call out to him as they rode the crest of sweet rapture together. Only then did he hold her physically, gathering her in his arms and kissing her lips as they both slid over that crest and into a feeling of sublime satisfaction.

He felt her slip into ordinary sleep. He was not surprised or disappointed. Her Human mind needed that safety cushion and he knew that her dreams would continue to be delightful ones in the aftermath of their mental love-making. He laid her down on the pillows gently and wrapped his own body around hers protectively and he put himself into a low level meditation that would refresh him mentally after giving so much of himself to her before allowing it to merge seamlessly into the ordinary sleep that his body craved.

Marion woke several hours later, feeling as she imagined it must feel after spending the night making love in the most deep and satisfying way. She had no fear about that, though. She knew neither of them had lost control of themselves physically. But it had been a beautiful, beautiful thing and she was so grateful to him for making it possible.

She turned over in the warm, cosy bed and looked at Kristoph. He was lying beside her, his eyes wide open and smiling as he watched her.

“I was going to let you sleep a little longer,” he said. “But if you feel awake enough it’s almost sunrise. Remember when we were young and in love and we stayed up all night to watch a sunset and sunrise in the same night?”

“We’re still young, and still in love, and I would love to watch the sun rise,” she told him. “Though after having a supernova in my head all night, it will have a hard time competing.”