Marion got ready for bed carefully and deliberately, using the preparation Aineytta had recommended. Kristoph was already sitting up in bed when she came from the bathroom. His chest was bare. He was probably naked already. He preferred to sleep that way. It was the usual habit of men of the southern continent. She was wearing a cream coloured silk-satin nightgown that clung to her body in a way that left nothing to the imagination.

He was reading a report from the Panopticon, but he set it aside when she came into the bedroom. He smiled invitingly and reached out to her as she reached the bed.

“Was that important?” she asked about the report as she slid between the cool sheets and felt his warm body beside her. Yes, he was, as she expected, sleeping in the traditional way.

“Not as important as you,” he answered. “It passed the time while I was waiting for you… and being extremely dry stuff, it kept me from becoming frustrated that you took so long.”

“I’m sorry,” she told him. “To have kept you waiting. But I’m here now.”

“Yes, you are.” He kissed her lingeringly and slowly slid her nightdress off again, pushing it aside. “Silk satin and lace looks very alluring on you, my dear, but only briefly.”

Marion giggled at that comment.

“I wonder why I bother owning nightdresses. I never wear them for more than a few minutes on any given night.”

“Well, if you put it back on later, it will spare Caolin’s blushes in the morning when I ask him to bring us breakfast in bed,” Kristoph answered.

“There is that,” she giggled again. Kristoph kissed her again, his gentle hands moving over her body tenderly, arousing her as he had done so many nights of their married life. She trembled with anticipation, remembering what his mother had said about the star-flower preparation.

It was everything she had hoped. Kristoph noticed straight away, and so did she. Their love-making was as new and fresh as it had been on the first night, except that this time she wasn’t scared of his vigour. She embraced the power of her Time Lord husband fully and let her body respond to him in the most pleasing ways.

“That was wonderful,” Kristoph told her afterwards as they lay together, warm and satisfied, her body pressed close to his. “You’ve been taking advice from my mother, I suppose?”

“Advice… and a posy of blue flowers with interesting properties.”

“Ah.” Kristoph smiled softly. “I sometimes wonder how my mother knows so much about these things. Even for a herbalist she is remarkably skilled in that particular sub-field of the practice.”

“Perhaps you should ask your father,” Marion answered. “He benefits from her knowledge regularly, by all accounts.”

“That would not be the sort of conversation I normally have with my father,” Kristoph responded. “Women may talk of such matters when they are together, but it is not usual for men to discuss matters of the bedroom. That is one reason why we are wrongly assumed to be a dispassionate race.”

“Very wrongly,” Marion said as he reached again to pull her into a close embrace and another deep, lingering kiss. This was just an interval in their love-making. Kristoph was still full of wanting for her and she was more than willing to give him all that he wanted.

“It’s a good thing I don’t have to be in the Panopticon tomorrow,” he said when they lay quietly once more. “I don’t think I would be able to keep my mind on affairs of state, and I rather think what I would be thinking of would disturb the psychic balance within the chamber.”

“Don’t think about the Panopticon,” Marion told him. “It will spoil your mood.”

“I don’t intend to. I’m just wondering what else my mother gave you this afternoon. I can think of several interesting plants that are in bloom at this time of year. It really is a little unfair of you women not to warn us that you are using such preparations, though. We are supposed to be patriarchs, lords and masters of all we survey, and our wives are slipping potions into our wine and goodness knows what else. We’re puppets of feminine desires.”

“I didn’t use anything other than the woodland blue perry posy,” Marion answered. “And that was for me. The rest is all you, my wonderful husband.”

“I am relieved to hear that. Not that I don’t fully trust mother’s preparations, but unlike my father, I am still in my prime. I don’t need any help in this area.”

“I don’t think your father does, either,” Marion responded. “Your mother just likes to spice things up a little from time to time.”

“Well, there is nothing like a little spice,” Kristoph agreed. “But I can think of other ways of creating it, depending on how sleepy you are.”

“Not very sleepy,” she responded. “What do you have in mind?”

“Put that deliciously alluring nightdress back on, and a gown and slippers.” He rose from the bed and slipped a satin gown over his well-toned flesh. He took her by the hand out onto the landing. There was a lamp at the far end turned down to a glimmer. Beside it was a small staircase that went up past the servant’s rooms and eventually onto the roof. Marion was a little surprised to find that was where Kristoph was taking her.

“There are solar panels fitted to the roof,” he said when they emerged on a flat section where they could walk easily. “As well as providing all the power we need in the house, they remain wonderfully warm all through the night except in the very coldest part of winter. My father used to keep his telescope up here. On clear nights like tonight, he would spend hours observing the stars, drawing huge, complicated charts by hand. When I was old enough to come up with him he would show me all sorts of wonders out there in the galaxies. I never really took to star-gazing. I prefer to travel among them than look at them, but I did love being up here in the dark, under the sky.”

Marion looked up. The sky was the deep chocolate brown it always was in the dead of night. The moon was gibbous, and in her silver aspect, matching the thousands of stars that could be seen in a perfect hemisphere with absolutely no light pollution to spoil them.

“What is that pale disc below Pazithi Gallifreya?” Marion asked. “It looks almost as if there are two moons tonight. But Gallifreya only has the one.”

“It’s The Fibster, still in close enough orbit to be seen with the naked eye. Most nights he’s darker and difficult to see, but tonight he is reflecting the sun nearly as brightly as the moon. In about half an hour he will pass behind her, appearing to be swallowed by her. Or for those who think in more carnal ways, he will ‘enter her’. He is known as Pazithi’s lover in this aspect. Her adulterous lover, of course. She has her wedding night when the shadow of Gallifrey herself eclipses her.”

Marion was still feeling the effects of Aineytta’s preparation, and memories of their honeymoon night were fresh in her mind. She remembered how she had been dazzled by a lunar eclipse at the height of consummation. Now, Pazithi Gallifreya offered another metaphor for their love-making.

“I have no need for an adulterous love,” she said. “You are more than enough for me.”

“I am glad of that,” Kristoph answered. He took the gown from around her shoulders and laid it on the ground. He took the one he was wearing and laid it on top to make a bed of silk satin. Then he took her nightdress from her and they sank down together, naked beneath the stars. Neither of them were cold, shielded from the wind by the slope of the main roof and warmed by the solar tiles beneath them. Marion looked at the sky above her as Kristoph came to her for the third time tonight. Just as she had on her wedding night, she felt an affinity with that silvery moon that had been perceived as a female by those who thought in such terms. She wasn’t committing adultery as the moon was when The Fibster drew close, but making love in the open, a secret assignation on the roof, a secret place where nobody would ever think to look for them, made it feel just as mischievous as such an affair. It was just the very spice that Kristoph had suggested, and without anything added to his wine at dinner.

Despite all of their exertions, Marion woke early the next morning. She noticed at once that she was in bed and she was wearing her cream silk satin nightdress. There was a pleasantly satisfying ache in her bones that reminded her at once of the love-making they had shared last night. She couldn’t quite remember going back to bed. Perhaps she had fallen asleep in their love nest on the roof. The last thing she remembered was crying out so loudly in the heat of the moment that she disturbed a night bird among the chimneys and it hooted loudly in response to her.

She laughed quietly to herself as she remembered that bird. In the midst of the laughter she felt Kristoph’s arm reach out around her shoulders and his kiss on the back of her neck.

“Good morning, my dear,” he said. “How do you feel?”

“Blissful,” she answered.

“Good. Shall I ring for breakfast?”

“Not yet,” Marion responded, turning so that she could claim a kiss on the lips. “Just make sure I can reach my nightie afterwards. We don’t want to shock Caolin when he comes in with the tray.”