Kristoph rushed into the hospital waiting room. Hillary stood and embraced him fondly. Nobody thought it odd that two middle aged men were hugging. Not on Haollstrom IV.

“Calm yourself,” Hillary told him. “Your hearts are both racing like mad. You’ll do her no good if you have a heart attack.”

“I won’t. I’m fine. But Marion... What’s wrong with her?”

“She’s in surgery,” Hillary told him. “Come and sit down.”

Kristoph let his old friend press him into an armchair. He took the iced water that was offered to him, but his mind was still only on the one matter.

“She’s going to be all right,” Hillary assured him. “She’s in good hands. Haollstromnian surgeons are among the best in the galaxy.”

“I believe that,” Kristoph said. “But what happened? She was all right this morning.”

“She started to feel ill when we were out on the yacht. She said it was nothing, at first. Just a little sea-sickness. The water WAS a little choppy beyond the bay. But she was enjoying the trip. Then I noticed her clutching her chest as if she was in pain. And when I asked her what was wrong, she couldn’t talk to me. Her face was white and... then she fainted. I got straight onto the air-sea rescue corps. They were with us in minutes and brought her straight here. There was no delay. And she’s getting treatment, now.”

“Treatment for what?” Kristoph asked. “Hillary... I know she’s had problems with her heart in the past. But...”

“She told you?” Hillary was surprised.

“What?” Kristoph looked at his old friend carefully. Those three words opened up a whole set of questions. “You... Hillary... what do you know about Marion’s health that I don’t?”

Hillary sighed dismally. He laid his hand on Kristoph’s hand and said nothing for a long time.

“Some diplomat I am, when I go and blow a secret like that.”

“You’re a very fine diplomat, Hillary. And a good friend, to me, and to my wife. But what is going on? Please tell me. Why did she talk to you about this and not me? Did she think I would be angry?”

“She thought you would be worried,” Hillary replied. “And that you would...”


“Above anything else in the world, she wants to give you an heir. She thinks if you’re worried about her health, you won’t....”

“If I thought it would put her life at risk. And... she’s right. I need her more than I need an heir. I’m the owner of diamond mines. And she’s the most precious jewel of them all. And don’t look at me like that. It isn’t a cliché.”

“No, it’s how you have always described Marion to everyone,” Hillary told him. “Do you remember when you introduced her to me for the first time. She felt inadequate, a shy girl with a nice dress and her hair done, over-shadowed by my impeccable wardrobe and careful coiffure. And you said to me... ‘Hillary, in the eyes of the universe you sparkle like a diamond. But allow me to introduce my own precious jewel.’”

“I said that?” Despite himself Kristoph managed a smile.

“Yes, you did. And since you are a Time Lord, and I have never known one of those to forget anything, I am sure you do remember. Marion is your jewel. And she is the future mother of the child you so desire. But perhaps you both need to be patient about that. As for...”

“Yes,” Kristoph insisted. “You have sidetracked me, Hillary. I suspect you’ve been playing one of your pheromone games with me. And that is hardly fair when you have a longer beard than I do.”

Hillary shimmered and turned into an elegant woman who looked just a little odd in a man’s yachting outfit. She embraced Kristoph again and this time didn’t let go. Still holding him she gently told him the secret she had agreed to keep for Marion, about the time when she had come to Haollstrom in order to see a physician without her husband knowing, and had undergone emergency surgery to repair a tear in the wall of her aorta. She had been within a breath of a fatal heart attack when the damage was discovered and skilfully repaired by a Haollstromnian surgeon.

“That’s why,” Kristoph said. He remembered the Gallifreyan physician who had treated her after she was trapped in the ruins of the school. He had insisted that there were traces of previous surgery. Now he knew when, and why.

“That was before her latest miscarriage. I didn’t know. Is it possible that...”

“Kristoph, I’m not a heart surgeon. I don’t know any heart surgeons. I don’t know what could trigger something like this. Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. Maybe it was always going to happen one of these days. In which case, be thankful that it was the day she was spending with me, here, on a planet where we have such magnificently gifted surgeons, rather than on yours where they barely understand the concept or hers where the same operation would take twenty hours and months of recovery afterwards.”

Kristoph acknowledged that much. But he was still desperately worried.

“You know what your problem is,” Hillary said to him.

“What is my problem?” he replied.

“You don’t cry. You hold it all in, stoic, unemotional Gallifreyan to the last.”

“It’s not that I DON’T cry. I CAN’T,” he told her. “We can’t. Gallifreyans don’t have tear ducts. That doesn’t mean we don’t feel, that we don’t hurt. That’s a myth about us. And I thought you knew better than that, Hillary. As a friend, you should know me well enough, if not as an accomplished diplomat with knowledge of other species and cultures.”

“I know,” Hillary told him. “I know all about your culture and your species. And I know you. I know what you need.”

She placed her hands either side of his head and drew her own face closer. She kissed him on the lips tenderly. As she did so, Kristoph felt himself overwhelmed by her Haollstromnian pheromones, but not in a sensual way. Rather, he felt himself overwhelmed by a deep melancholy. All of the fears and sorrows he had felt in the past year came to the forefront of his mind. Losing the child they both wanted so desperately and the accident at the mine were the deepest wounds, but there were other issues, too. It had been a long, hard year for him, with the responsibilities of the presidency thrust on him so unexpectedly and so many other worries. He felt as if his head couldn’t contain them all.

He didn’t have tear ducts. But a rush of salt water welled up behind the nictating membrane that served the same purpose in his species, keeping his eyes moist and clean. The water overflowed from his eyes, running down his cheeks unchecked for several minutes as Hillary held him closely.

“I know a secret,” she whispered after a while. “I think Time Lords can cry after all. If they really have to. And it does them a power of good.”

“Hillary...” Kristoph replied. He wanted to say something more, but the words failed him. He let her hold him tightly as a quiet hour passed. He felt comforted by her closeness. His worry about Marion didn’t abate at all, but he felt he wasn’t alone in his grief. One of his dearest and closest friends was there to help him, and he wasn’t too proud to accept that help.

He looked up from that warm embrace of friendship to see a physician – in female form – waiting to talk to him and Hillary.

“She is in recovery, now,” the physician said. “You can see her in a few minutes. But I need to talk to you, first.”

She looked so grim when she spoke, that Kristoph feared the worst. He clung to Hillary’s hand as they stepped into a well-appointed physician’s office. He continued to hold her hand as he sat and waited to hear the worst.

“Lord de Lœngbærrow,” the physician said. “Your wife’s surgery was successful. She is in no physical danger and can live a normal life. There is no cause for concern about that. But...”

“No cause for concern?” Kristoph contradicted. “This is the third time she has needed surgery for the same reason,” Kristoph said. “In only a few years. The last time, it was as a result of an accident that caused stress to her heart. But...”

“You misunderstand, your Lordship,” the physician said in careful tones. “Your wife didn’t suffer a recurrence of the aortic tearing for which she has received treatment in the past. Her heart was damaged by a build up of celestine in her bloodstream. The crystalline form caused a blockage in the main artery. The blockage was removed using micro-laser treatment and her blood purged of the foreign substance.”

“Celestine crystals?” Kristoph looked at the physician in surprise. “But Celestine is a harmless mineral that occurs in the fresh water on our planet. It is perfectly normal and natural. It is in all of our drinking water. I have never heard of anyone being affected by it.”

“Your wife is not a native of your planet,” the physician pointed out.

“Oh, Kristoph!” Hillary squeezed his hand gently. “Marion’s Human body can’t process the mineral that is natural to you. It built up gradually all the time she has been living on Gallifrey.”

“Then... it’s my fault?” Kristoph shuddered in horror as the facts sunk in. “I could have killed her... just by bringing her to my world.”

“Marion is the first non-native of Gallifrey to live there for millennia,” Hillary pointed out. “And certainly the first Human of Earth origin. Nobody could have expected this. It’s not your fault.”

“It feels as if it is.”

“Well, it isn’t,” Hillary insisted. “And now that you know there is a problem all you have to do is make sure that there is a water filter fitted to the supply into your home, and that Marion takes some kind of pill to flush the stuff from her body if she regularly drinks water outside of your home. Which I know she does, since she spends so much time with her friends drinking tea.”

“A simple chelating agent with no side effects can be prescribed,” the physician said. “One pill a day would suffice.”

“There you go,” Hillary said. “Problem solved. Now, come and see Marion. That’s what you need, now. To be with your precious jewel.”

Kristoph nodded. He let Hillary guide him by the hand to the private room where Marion had been made comfortable after her surgery. She looked pale, but the heart monitor by the bedside showed a good strong rhythm, and as he sat by her side, she slowly woke up.

“It’s all right, my love,” he told her as he reached to kiss her on the lips and the heart monitor registered her quickened heartbeat as she responded. “You’re fine now.”

“I’m sorry, Kristoph,” she said. “I didn’t mean to worry you.”

“I’m not worried,” he assured her. “We’ve got to get a plumber into the house. The Dower House, too, since you spend so much time there with my mother. And the Lodge. It’ll cost a small fortune. Good job I’m a rich man.”

Marion was puzzled. Kristoph slowly explained what had made her ill. She was upset, but not as much as he expected.

“So... I’d need to take a pill every day, and then I’ve got nothing to worry about? That’s not so bad. It’s just like English people in Malaysia and places like that who have to take anti-malaria pills. And it won’t affect any of our plans. We can still try again to have a baby.”

“Not just yet,” Kristoph said. “I want you to get plenty of rest before we think about that. I think we’ll have a holiday on planet Earth while the plumbers are in the house. We’ll drop Hillary in late 20th century Cardiff on the way to wherever you would like to go.”

“I don’t know where I’d like to go,” Marion answered.

“Then think about it while you’re here overnight. And tell me tomorrow.” Kristoph leaned forward and kissed her again. He sighed with relief when he saw her smile. She was all right. This crisis was over.