Two weeks after the inauguration, Marion still found it startling to wake up in the morning sleeping beside the President of Gallifrey. While the two of them lay together in bed, warm and comfortable and enjoying a few precious minutes before they had to get up and face the day, it wasn’t so bad. It was when they stepped out of their bedroom door that it began to be obvious that their lives were different now.

The two Presidential Guards standing outside the door were the first reminder. The two men saluted them both smartly and then followed them downstairs where they were relieved by two more men waiting in the hall. These stood to attention just inside the dining room while the President and his wife breakfasted.

“I feel guilty eating while they’re standing there,” Marion commented. “I keep wanting to offer them food.”

“They had their breakfast before they came on duty,” Kristoph assured her. “All the guards are well fed. I’ve seen the grocery order for all the extra staff. And cook has demanded extra help in the kitchen. Which she will get, of course. I don’t want an unhappy cook marring the first weeks of my Presidency.”

“You’re going to the Capitol today?” Marion asked. “Will you be gone for long?”

“I may be a little later than I am when I travel to Athenica,” Kristoph admitted. “But I will be home in time for dinner with you. And it IS just the two of us tonight. No guests to entertain.”

“I’m teaching this morning,” Marion reminded him. “Then I might have lunch with your mother. I suppose I must endure the usual circus when I do both those things!”

“I’m sorry, Marion,” Kristoph told her. “The ‘circus’ as you put it IS necessary. Try not to let it spoil the things you do.”

“I will try,” she promised. But she had put up with it for a fortnight already and it didn’t seem to be getting any better.

Kristoph left straight after breakfast. Marion walked to the door with him and he kissed her tenderly on the top step before going to his car. His chauffer opened the door and he sat in the back of his limousine. Kristoph had done that almost every ordinary working day of their married life. But now, as well as his limousine, there was a car at the front and two at the back with Presidential Guards in them. It was a convoy, escorting him to his new place of work – the Citadel.

She watched him go then went to get ready for her own work. When she stepped back outside there was a similar convoy waiting for her. Her own car was there, of course, with Gallis Limmon, her own chauffer waiting patiently. But again there was an escort.

“I think I will drive today, Gallis,” she said. “You may ride shotgun.”

Gallis was never quite sure what that expression meant, but he held the driver’s door open for her and then went around to the passenger side. Marion switched on the music player. Gallis was introduced to the soundtrack from the musical Anything Goes, which she had bought in New York having gone to see a revival of that show on Broadway. He confessed to enjoying the music, even though it was nothing like any music ever heard on Gallifrey.

It was pleasant driving that way, and Marion managed not to think too much about the escort car in front of her or the one behind. She thought about the lessons she was going to be teaching the children this morning and managed to smile. She always enjoyed spending time with them.

The Guards did not enter the school, although they did maintain a presence around it for as long as she was there. She was able to forget for most of the morning that she was the wife of the President of Gallifrey. The children didn’t care. They just wanted to listen to the story she was reading them and make paper models of the characters from the stories. It was a happy morning.

When it was over she stepped outside again and into the waiting car. She was tired now, so she let Gallis drive and she sat in the passenger seat. She watched the scenery as the convoy headed towards the Lœngbærrow Dower House.

She was pleased when she reached the house by the river to find Lady Gyes with Aineytta. The former First Lady smiled warmly as she greeted her.

“How are you enjoying the honour of being First Lady of Gallifrey?” her Ladyship asked as they sat down in the drawing room with a view over the B?rrow. “Are you getting used to it?”

“Used to it, yes,” Marion answered. “But I don’t know if I will ever enjoy it. I’m not ready for this. It doesn’t feel right.”

“But aren’t you proud of Kristoph?” Aineytta asked. “I certainly am. The circumstances were not the happiest, but I could not be prouder. My son was the first choice when this planet of ours was in a terrible crisis. That’s something to be so proud of.”

“Oh, I am proud of him,” Marion assured her. “But it has changed our lives in so many ways. I feel like a prisoner in my own home. I can’t even take a drive in the country on my own any more. I have to let the Presidential Guard know in advance. Yesterday I went to see Rodan. She was so pleased to see me. But the guards stood outside the house all the time. I was so embarrassed, it spoiled it for me. And they’re at the school when I teach. They’re outside here, now. As if there could be a threat to me in your house. And Kristoph has spent so much time away. He told me this morning he would be home to have dinner with me. But I just know he won’t. Something will come up. And once he has had to call me on the videophone to say he couldn’t get home at all…”

“That is something you will have to accept, Marion, dear,” Lady Gyes said. “There will be constitutional crises. There will be long-winded ambassadors who don’t care that your dinner is spoiling. There will be days like that. I can’t promise that will get any better. Sometimes, it might even be worse. Especially when there is an important vote to be taken in the Panopticon. That much you will have to accept, I am afraid. But you should put your foot down about the Presidential Guard. Kristoph must have it, especially when he attends any kind of function. And I think you ought to have one of them with you in the car along with your driver. That’s for your own safety. But the escort is not necessary on non-ceremonial days. You can dismiss them. You ARE the President’s wife, after all. They have to do as you say. The rest… Well, there haven’t been very many Presidential wives in the past millennia. Including Lady Stillhaeven there are only the three of us. Do you realise they don’t have any idea what our duties and functions actually ought to be. So with a little ingenuity you ought to be able to devise a programme of activities that you would find enjoyable. The grand reception room at the Citadel is entirely at your disposal, you know. I only had a dozen or so banquets there. But you could probably think of other ways it could be used.”

“I do enough banquets,” Marion said. “And dinner parties. If Kristoph and I eat alone one evening a week it is a miracle. There must be something more useful I can do.”

“And you’ll think of it,” Lady Gyes told her. “When you do, you will have all the support you need. I have plenty of time on my hands since my husband retired. Aineytta will, too. And Lady Lily. You have a strong circle of friends, Marion, who will be ready to join in any cause you want to pursue.”

“I never thought of myself as having ‘causes’,” she said. “I mean, I do my work at the school, and there’s the hospital on Ventura. But I’ve never really….”

“Now’s the time to start,” Aineytta told her. “By the time Kristoph is ready to hand over the presidency to Lord Stillhaeven, you may have achieved something be proud of in your own right.”

“Yes,” she decided. “Yes, I suppose I can. I shall think about it.” She smiled warmly. Yes, this didn’t need to be such an ordeal, after all. It could be something she could turn to the good.

She began straight away. When she was ready to leave the Dower House she dismissed the escort, keeping only one man to act as her personal bodyguard, and that was a man Gallis Limmon said was a distant cousin. The bodyguard actually sat in the back of the car while she drove to the little wooden house on the plain where Argis Mielles and his granddaughter Rodan lived. This made two visits in as many days, but she knew Rodan wouldn’t mind, and she wanted to talk to Argis.

“You see,” she said as they sat and watched Rodan playing on her swing in the garden. “I have a chance to do something for the people of Gallifrey… the Caretaker people. I can’t do anything about getting them votes in the High Council or anything like that. But I CAN do something. I just don’t know what. It’s got to be something that would be useful to people. But not something that feels like charity. So… I was… hoping… maybe you might have an idea.

Argis nodded. He didn’t say anything much for a little while. Then he did. Marion listened. She thanked him and accepted his offer to stay to tea. When she reminded him that there was a chauffer and a bodyguard sitting in the car he invited them to tea, too. It made for an odd kind of company, but Marion enjoyed the tea and happily conceded to Gallis doing the driving on the way home. She had so many things to think about that she doubted she could concentrate on driving at the same time, anyway.

Kristoph was an hour late for dinner. Marion didn’t mind very much. She had been busy, herself. And over the meal she outlined her idea of how she would spend her time as First Lady.

“Libraries?” Kristoph was puzzled at first. “But… there is a huge library in Athenica. And all of the Academies in the Capitol have magnificent ones. You’ve seen them.”

“The Academy libraries are only open to staff and students. And the one in Athenica is a repository for rare books and manuscripts. Ordinary people don’t actually read them. What I have in mind are public libraries where ordinary people can pick up a book and read it. All sorts of books…”

“I just know the collected works of Tolkein and CS Lewis are going to be on those shelves, aren’t they?” Kristoph had a twinkle in his eye as he spoke. “Your favourite books?”

“Well, yes. Of course,” she answered. “But not just those. There are lots of Gallifreyan books. And what about all the literature of Ligattya, Gallifrey’s dominion planet. And this would be a new kind of employment for well educated Caretakers. They could be trained as librarians. And stop smiling like that. It’s not just a whim. I can do this. Just you watch me.”

“I have every confidence in you, my dear,” Kristoph responded. “I was just going to suggest that you engage a secretary, maybe a couple of secretaries. The First Lady of the USA has a whole wing of the White House for her staff. You should certainly think about making over the old smoking room. Or would you like me to arrange for a suite of offices in the Citadel?”

Marion wondered if he was teasing her. She looked at him carefully for a long time, trying to decide if he was, but his face was utterly inscrutable as always.

“The old smoking room would be fine, and if you could tear yourself away from Presidential duties some time, I would value your advice on the appointment of secretarial staff,” she replied at last.

“Good,” Kristoph concluded. “Meanwhile, I shall be spending the evening in the drawing room with a good single malt and some fine music, and the company of my wife.”

“Is that a Presidential decree?” Marion asked.

“It most certainly is,” Kristoph replied.