Marion stayed for the afternoon with Aineytta, but her heart wasn’t in it, and in truth, she was glad to go home after tea.

Kristoph wasn’t back. Caolin confirmed that as soon as she came into the hallway. She told him to ask cook to prepare dinner for the usual time and then called one of her personal maids to see to Rodan’s afternoon nap.

She went up to the master bedroom, wearily. She kicked off her shoes and laid herself down on the bed. She looked up at the moulded ceiling and then turned on her side and closed her eyes. She didn’t want to look at the ceiling. She didn’t want to look at anything. She wanted to shut everything out and not think about it.

Except she had thought of nothing else all afternoon and she couldn’t get it out of her head.

Aineytta didn’t believe it of him. Of course she didn’t.

Marion didn’t believe it.

But she couldn’t think of any other reason why Kristoph was visiting Valena d’Arpexia and neither could his mother.

She felt let down and betrayed, by the one person she never would have imagined letting her down.

She told herself she was being silly, that Kristoph couldn’t possibly be doing anything like that.

But then all kinds of thoughts came into her head.

She was Human. Valena was a pure blood Gallifreyan, and perhaps she could offer him more than she could.

She always thought their love life was satisfying to them both. But then again, was it satisfying for Kristoph? She sometimes thought when they made love that he was holding back. Did he have urges that she couldn’t satisfy?

Was Valena d’Arpexia giving him the satisfaction she couldn’t?

She dismissed the idea. He loved her. And he believed in the sanctity of those vows that they made at their Alliance. So even if he was feeling frustrated in some way that he had never confessed to her, surely he wouldn’t betray her in that way?

But then….

She remembered some of the most obscure words of the Alliance vows, the arcane words that everyone told her not to worry about. They were just words. Nobody took them seriously on modern Gallifrey.

But those words said that their Alliance was binding and insoluble unless she failed in her first duty as a wife – to produce an heir. In that case, she could be set aside and her husband free to choose a woman who could ‘bear his fruit’ as the arcane words suggested.

Before the Alliance, she had talked to Lily and Aineytta and her other friends about it. They had all assured her that it was nothing to worry about. The practice of setting aside wives and taking another for the purpose of assuring the family line had been abandoned long ago. Lily pointed out that she, herself would have been abandoned by her husband in that case, since she was barren. It just didn’t happen any more.

But it could, she reasoned. The words WERE in the Alliance. They WERE binding.

He COULD do that.

No, she reasoned again. He wouldn’t. Surely not without telling her there was a problem, anyway! Surely Gallifreyan wives were not pushed aside just like that, without any inkling that it was going to happen.

Surely Kristoph wouldn’t do that to her.

No, he wouldn’t, she told herself. He loved her. He told her that every day. He told her it passionately every night when they made love. And after all, he had decided it was too soon to think about trying again. If he wanted to, then all he had to do was ask. She would be ready any time he wanted to try to conceive again. She would give him the heir she knew he wanted. He didn’t have to look to another woman for that.

A stab of jealousy pierced her heart as she thought about it. Valena d’Arpexia was young for her kind. She was healthy. She would produce a strong, healthy Gallifreyan child. There would be no question of watered down blood. Kristoph would have what he wanted, and, indeed, as the patriarch of the House of Lœngbærrow, what he needed.

But pure blood hadn’t mattered to him when they married. He had assured her that her child would be a Gallifreyan child, that he would be equal to the pure-born children of other Houses. He told her that the idea of ‘watered blood’ was nonsense, and only fools believed it.

And besides, she reasoned with herself, she knew she would bear him a child. Li had told her. She had seen him in the Pool of Foretelling at New Year. That handsome young man with the brown eyes and dark, curling hair who became a Time Lord in the fullness of time and regretted that she was not there to be proud of him - he was their future child. It would happen.

So why wouldn’t Kristoph wait to see that future unfold? Why would he want to do anything so cruel to her?

If it wasn’t about that, then it came back to the first thought. She didn’t satisfy him and he was seeking fulfilment with a woman of his own kind who was equal to his vigorous lovemaking.

But if that was so, then he was not only breaking the solemn and binding vows of their Alliance, but also the law of Gallifrey. Adultery was still a crime. It was punishable by…

She opened her eyes and stared up at the ceiling in shock.

It was punishable by a public flogging and possibly even imprisonment.

Her blood froze as she thought of Kristoph taken from the Chancellery Guard detention centre in the Capitol and brought to the place of punishment, tied to a frame, his back exposed for the scourging whips to rip it to shreds. Of course, his body would mend. He was a Time Lord, after all. The wounds would heal within the hour. But the shame of his punishment would be with him forever. His position as High Magister, the respect he commanded as the patriarch of a noble Ancient House, a descendent of one of Rassilon’s own twelve sons, would be destroyed.

And what would she do? What was she supposed to do? Was she supposed to forgive him, was she supposed to carry on living as husband and wife, for the sake of appearances, or should she leave him?

The last thought cut her deeply. Leaving Kristoph, going back to Earth, never seeing him again, was too terrible to think of. She loved him dearly. If she was allowed, she would forgive him. Yes, she would.

But it would be hard.

Tears came. They had been coming ever since the disappointing visit to Athenica. She had done her best not to break down in front of Aineytta, even though that gentle woman would not have thought any less of her. She had held it in.

But now, she cried. She buried her head in the pillow and cried miserably, convinced that her world was crumbling around her.

Somewhere in the midst of the tears, she fell into a troubled sleep.


Kristoph came home at a little after five. Caolin was there to take his coat, and he went straight to the white drawing room, where he expected to find Marion as she almost always was if she had not arranged to have tea with one of her friends. He was surprised to find the room empty. He stepped into the day bedroom, which served as a nursery for Rodan. The child was napping in her day crib, and there was a maid sitting beside her, reading a book.

“Madam was feeling tired and went to bed,” the girl said when he asked. Kristoph didn’t bother to ask anything else of her. He looked at Rodan and saw that she was sleeping easily, and left her in the care of the maid. He went upstairs to the bedroom he had shared with Marion since they returned from their honeymoon. She was asleep on top of the counterpane, still in her day dress. She looked unusually pale, though. He put his hand on her forehead and she did seem a little feverish. He wondered if she was coming down with something. He was always a little worried about that. They had travelled to so many different places lately and mixed with all kinds of species, and then come back here to Gallifrey where most people were immune to almost every illness it was possible to get - every illness she was vulnerable to.

He wondered if he ought to call a physician to look at her. But since very few Gallifreyan physicians knew anything about Human illnesses it would probably be pointless.

He decided to let her sleep for now. A little bit of rest was probably all she really needed. He would see how she was at supper time.

Meanwhile he leaned over and kissed her cheek and then left her in peace. He went down to his study and carried on with some work for a while. Caolin brought him a pot of herbal tea but he was so engrossed in the case notes from his morning dispensing justice that he let it go cold.

The next time he looked up from his papers, Caolin had returned to tell him that dinner was ready.

“Is her Ladyship awake yet?” he asked.

“No, sir,” Caolin replied. “Shall I send a girl to wake her?”

“No,” he answered. “Let her sleep. I will be in the dining room in a few minutes. Have a tray brought up to the bedroom later.”

He ate a quiet dinner. It felt wrong. He was used to enjoying the evening meal with Marion. She always talked enthusiastically about her day. He told her as much as he was able about his own work. She understood that much of it was confidential and didn’t press him about it.

After he had eaten he went again to the nursery and found Rodan awake now and playing happily under the supervision of the maid. He sat on the floor and enjoyed a game with her for a while. Then he left instructions with the maid to make sure his fosterling got her supper and went to bed at the proper time.

He went up to his bedroom again. Marion still seemed to be asleep. She was still pale and a little feverish. He found her nightdress and gently undressed her and put her into it, then laid her in the bed properly. He kissed her again and quietly left the room. He went downstairs to the library and read for a few hours before bedtime.


Marion was awake when he came to bed at a little after eleven o’clock. But she pretended to be asleep, still. She heard him go to the bathroom and run his shower. She heard him drying and putting on his pyjamas and then she felt him getting into bed. He reached out his arms around her and kissed her cheek. She heard him whisper goodnight to her.

She kept her eyes closed and carefully cleared her mind of all those thoughts that had haunted her all day. She didn’t want him to know what was worrying her. She didn’t want him to know that she knew.

When she was sure he was asleep she sighed softly and turned over in the bed, facing away from him, and tried not to cry again as exhaustion took her over and she fell asleep.

Kristoph lay awake a little longer, wondering what was wrong with Marion, wondering what had made her unhappy, and what he could do to make her feel happy again.