Marion was dressing for an evening at the theatre. She was going alone, which was very unusual for her. She felt quite confident about it, though. She looked at herself in the mirror and thought about that for a while. She was actually going to be guest of honour at a gala event, and she wasn’t even nervous about it. Was she really the same woman who wasn’t even sure she could go to Leeds with a friend to see Chekov so many years ago? She certainly didn’t look like her. She was wearing so many diamonds she sparkled and she was wearing a delicate lace version of the sort of high collar that Kristoph always wore on ceremonial occasions. It was meant to emphasise that she was the wife of the Lord High President, and therefore of importance in her own right when he was not with her. She felt just a tiny bit self-conscious about it, simply because it was so big. It made her feel as if she had her own personal sunshade around her. But it had been designed to go with the gown she was wearing and it was something she could get used to.

She could get used to wearing a collar that denoted her as a high member of Gallifreyan society – the very highest. Yes, she really had changed in so many ways from that shy girl the Professor had first taken an interest in.

The videophone beeped, indicating an incoming call. She looked around and saw the Seal of the President on the screen. She happily accepted the transmission. Kristoph smiled at her when he saw her complete outfit.

“You look wonderful, my dear. A supreme Gallifreyan lady.”

“I hope people will think so,” she said. “Even those who still think I’m a foreigner.”

“They will all be too busy being polite to say anything. I just called to wish you a good evening, my dear. You had a lot to do with setting up this theatre project, after all.”

“I didn’t, really,” she answered. “I just gave some money towards it – then the plague happened and everything came to a halt. And it was a surprise to me to discover that it had all got going again afterwards. I really had nothing to do with it, though.”

“You were an inspiration to them,” Kristoph insisted. “Anyway, have a good time, won’t you.”

“I will, even though I will miss you being with me. Are you at the camp, now?”

“I am. We’re making a very early start at first light tomorrow. I’m taking the TARDIS as close to the escarpment as possible without hitting the Dark Territory boundary. After that, it’s a twenty-five mile hike. That will be easy enough for healthy boys who’ve been acclimatised to the desert for two years. We’ll camp at midday and then we’ll climb the escarpment in the late afternoon when the heat is easing off.”

“A twenty-five mile hike in the desert isn’t my idea of easy!” Marion commented.

“No, it isn’t. This is strictly for hardy Gallifreyan constitutions,” Kristoph agreed. “You stick to your ladylike pursuits and I will see you in two days time. I love you, Marion.”

“I love you, too, Kristoph,” she answered.

The call was welcome, but when it was over she felt a little bit lonely. Still, it was only for two days, and they were busy days for her. This theatrical gala was only one of her many official and unofficial engagements while she was staying in the Capitol. Tomorrow afternoon she was going to a grand fashion show in which all the couturiers in the Capitol were exhibiting their winter collections. She was very pleased to be attending that event as Rosanda had a selection of her own designs, many of them influenced by her offworld trips as Marion’s companion.

Tomorrow evening she was attending a Betrothal party for Halliv Mírraflaex and a daughter of the House of Stillhaeven – the grandaughter of her friends, Alanna and Almanzo, Lord and Lady Stillhaeven. Then the day after that she had relatively informal activities, a morning at the bath house with some of the Ladies, lunch at Valentins, an afternoon getting her hair and nails done, tea at The Conservatory.

Then as long as everything went to plan, she would be having a private dinner with Kristoph, the menu of which she had already planned and discussed with the cook.

But right now she was ready for an evening at the theatre. She checked the collar again and was satisfied that everything about her clothes, hair, make up and shoes was perfect. She picked up a warm cashmere wrap and put it around herself before heading to the rooftop where the car waited.

Two cars waited, in fact. There was her own limousine with Gallis Limmon standing by the passenger door and a black escort car with two Presidential Guards ready to make sure she was safe on her journey.

“I can see the theatre from here,” Marion said, pausing and looking out over the city at dusk. The theatre’s domed roof was lit from within like a small golden moon. “I could walk if I wasn’t wearing heels.”

“But you are the Lord High President’s wife, madam,” Gallis Limmon reminded her. “As such you should have the comfort of a limousine and the protection of the Presidential Guard.”

He smiled warmly at her and held the door. She climbed into the car and made herself comfortable for the short journey. Gallis sat behind the wheel and started the engine. The car rolled a few yards on wheels and then hovered six inches above the roof before leaving it behind. She didn’t look down at the street far below. It wasn’t that she was worried about the height. It was just that Gallis worried if she seemed fidgety in the car and thought his driving was at fault.

It really was a very short journey. Before she knew it the limousine gently landed in front of the brightly lit theatre. Gallis Limmon opened the door for her and all of the Lords and Ladies of Gallifrey who were around the entrance turned to watch the arrival of the First Lady. She had long ago stopped worrying about that. She turned and smiled at her loyal chauffer.

“Have a good evening, madam,” Gallis said to her with a bow of his head. She walked on, into the theatre, where the manager himself gave her a leather-bound programme and escorted her to the President’s box.

This was the special gala opening of a play put on by the very newly formed Capitol Youth Theatre. The youth in question were a group of young and talented Caretakers, male and female, who had been able, through the patronage of several Oldblood and Newblood patrons, including herself, to train as performers instead of going into domestic or civil service. She was looking forward to seeing their play, which was an adaptation of a Ligatyan folk story about a heroic youth who fights the dark forces to save his people.

She was very interested in the play and the Youth Theatre in general. But sitting alone in a box that was capable of holding a party of eight was rather lonely. She had nobody to talk to about the interesting details in the programme, and the bottle of fine champagne that was provided was far too much for her to drink by herself. She ate one of the fine dark chocolates that were also there for her pleasure and waited for the lights to go down.

It was an interesting play, but Marion wasn’t really paying full attention to it. She was mostly looking at the young man who was playing the role of the hero. He was a strikingly handsome youth with dark curling hair and fine features.

She found herself thinking that he looked like the young man she had been told was her future son when she saw him in the brief visions that Aineytta was able to show her. In truth, he probably didn’t look anything like the future Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow, except in a very general way.

But she allowed herself to think about the promise that she would one day be the mother of Kristoph’s heir. It was the thing she wanted more than anything, and the thing that had been so very cruelly denied her not so long ago.

Her little baby, Christian, might have grown to be a handsome youth like that one if fate had not taken him from her. That thought became fixed in her head and it spoiled her enjoyment of it all.

The second half of the play was still going on when she rose from her seat and walked out of the box. The two Presidential Guards outside were surprised, even more so when she told them to stay where they were and not to follow her under any circumstances.

The corridor behind the boxes was quiet. Everyone was watching the play apart from a couple of waiters who brought champagne and chocolates to guests. They didn’t talk to her. They wouldn’t unless she spoke to them.

She climbed the stairs to the parking roof. The plush carpets and good lighting continued all the way, because this was how many of the theatre-goers would leave. Their cars were all parked up there on the roof. Their chauffeurs would be in a lounge set aside for their comfort until it was near the end of the evening. Only the Caretakers who bought tickets for the gallery at the back of the theatre would go out through the front and walk home.

She wasn’t entirely sure where the limousine was. There were a lot of cars parked there. When it was time to leave, Gallis would be expected to drive to where she was waiting. But he hadn’t been told to expect her yet.

She went to the low parapet at the edge of the flat roof area. The dome that covered the auditorium glowed with a soft light so she wasn’t in total darkness. High above her head was the enviro-dome. It was snowing outside of it, but the snowflakes evaporated as soon as they came close to the anti-transmat shield that covered the dome itself. Inside its protection, the air was cool and not too dry. It was as close to fresh air as she could expect.

She stood there breathing deeply and looking over the great city with its spires and domes and huge towers and thought for the first time in many years just how alien it was. There was no use comparing it to New York or Hong Kong or Sydney, or any landscape of skyscrapers on Earth. It was distinctly Gallifreyan.

“Madam….” She felt a hand touch her shoulder lightly at the same time as the voice spoke to her. She turned to see Gallis Limmon there.

“Why are you on the roof?” she asked.

“I didn’t feel like joining the other drivers in the lounge,” he answered. “I was sitting in the car listening to… I think it is called Michael Feinstein’s Simply Gershwin.”

“That’s a very good CD,” Marion said.

“It is,” Gallis agreed. “Madam… why are you… expelling liquid from your eyes?”

“It’s called crying,” she answered him. “I’m a foreigner, remember. I do that when I’m unhappy.”

“Why are you unhappy, madam?” he asked.

“I don’t really know,” she answered, reaching for a silk handkerchief with her monogram on it to wipe her eyes with. “I just….”

She couldn’t think what to say. Even if she could, sharing such personal troubles with her chauffeur would be a social faux pas that would embarrass him and leave her feeling awkward.

“It really IS a very good CD,” Gallis told her gently. “Come and sit in the car for a little time and listen quietly.”

That seemed like a good idea. Besides, when she was in the back seat and he in the driver’s seat it was the proper way for a chauffeur to talk to his Lady, even if they were both avoiding the reason why Marion was upset and simply talking about Gershwin.

“Which is your favourite track?” Marion asked, simply because she could think of nothing else to say.

“‘They Can't Take That Away from Me’,” he answered with certainty. “It is a very fine sentiment, and a pleasant tune.”

“Yes, it is,” Marion agreed. “I think my favourite is ‘Someone to Watch Over Me.’ It always makes me think of how Kristoph… I mean… his Lordship… takes care of me.”

“He is a very good man, madam,” Gallis said.


“It’s not that I’m bothered about him being away for a few days. But… you know he’s leading a group of the students from the desert camp on a climbing expedition.”

“Yes, madam.”

“He enjoys being with those boys. In a lot of ways, they help him come to terms with… the fact that we have no child of our own. The Dúccesci boy and young Maxic especially. He talks of them so proudly, just as I think he would talk about our own son’s achievements. They… are a comfort to him. And I don’t begrudge him that. Besides, in another month Rodan is coming to live with us again, and she will be my joy. But… but… I miss my son. I wish….”

She cried again as the American pianist and singer Michael Feinstein sang ‘Embraceable You’ over the very finest in-car stereo system in the galaxy. Gallis Limmon diplomatically said nothing until she brought her tears under control again.

“I am just being silly,” she said. “A small thing made me feel sad. I must try to keep my emotions under control. I cannot let people see me like this.”

“There is plenty of time, madam,” Gallis told her. “The play doesn’t finish for another hour.”

“I shall have to be back before then,” she said. “Or there will be questions.”

Gallis Limmon said nothing. He simply pressed a button and the CD changed to Michael Feinstein sings Irving Berlin. She sat back and listened to the music for a little while. She would happily have stayed there on the roof all evening, but Gallis reminded her of the time.

“You had better go back, madam,” he told her. “Otherwise it will be thought that you were taken ill… and sooner or later it will get back to his Lordship that you were unwell at a theatre performance. He will worry about you unnecessarily.”

“You are quite right,” she agreed. She checked that her make-up was repaired while Gallis opened the door for her. He walked with her to the door, but she found her own way back to the Presidential Box. She sat and watched the last ten minutes of the play and applauded warmly when it was over.

Afterwards she was escorted backstage where she was introduced to the performers. She had a chance to talk to the leading actor who had commanded her attention. He was a pleasantly spoken and polite young man and she wished him luck in his acting career. She told herself he didn’t look anything like her own son would look. That was just a fancy that she let get the better of her.

When the reception was over she made her way up to the roof again. This time she only had to stand for a few moments before the limousine and the Guard escort were there and she settled down in the back again. In the time it took for Michael Feinstein to sing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ she was home again. Gallis wished her a good night. She wished him the same before he got back into the car to take it to the parking garage. She went to her bedroom where hot milk and a late night snack were left by her maid while she showered and got ready for bed. She drank the milk while checking the videophone and finding a recorded message from Kristoph telling her that he loved her and wishing her goodnight.

Even while he was away from here he was still thinking of her, still watching over her.

“Good night, Kristoph,” she whispered as she put out the light and closed her eyes to sleep after a tiring and emotional evening that she was glad to be done with and looked forward to a better day tomorrow.