Kristoph had only intended for Li to visit Lily for a few hours, and then to bring him straight back to Earth, to his exile that had to be fully enforced from now on.

But if this was to be his only chance to see his homeworld again, then Kristoph couldn’t do that to him. He promised him one night and a day before they had to return.

He spent the evening and the night in Lily’s bedchamber, sitting by her side. She slept in short periods, still exhausted mentally and physically long after Aineytta’s potion had worn off. When she woke she talked to Li in a quiet, sad voice. They held hands. He kissed her.

Marion actually carried a light supper for two people up to the bedchamber room as it got dark. They were both surprised that she should perform the task of a maid servant, but she used the excuse that she wanted to see them both. She sat with them for a while and the conversation was between three. When Lily fell asleep again she kissed Li on the cheek and left them in peace again.

She and Kristoph and Rodan, stayed the night at Maison D’Alba. The guest rooms were given over to them. That meant, of course, that a Presidential guard was on the house, but Kristoph made sure they remained outside. None of them knew there was an extra visitor in the house.

“We ARE playing a dangerous game,” Kristoph admitted to Marion as he looked out of the bedroom window at the guards patrolling the grounds. “We can be sure Lily’s own servants are loyal, but asking the Presidential Guard to commit treason by keeping quiet is too much. They must not know that Li is here.”

“There is no reason why they should if he stays within the house with her,” Marion answered. “I am glad he came, even if it is risky. But I hope we get away with it. The consequences if we are discovered…. Your political enemies would destroy you, and Li, and Lily, too. The social scandal if it became known that she and Li… a Renegade exile… were having an affair….”

“Rassilon forbid,” Kristoph said. “We all must be VERY discreet.”

But in the morning Lily had very clear ideas about what she wanted to do, and they didn’t include staying in bed a moment longer than she had to.

“I want to be out in the fresh air,” she said. “I want to go to the weir with Li.”

The weir was a part of the River B?rrow where it formed the border between the de Lœngbærrow estate and the D’Alba lands. The river had once been subject to spring flooding at that part but it had been artificially widened and channels put in to guide the water into its proper course. There was a pleasant meadow land beside it that was ideal for picnics and a coppice of trees for shade. It was a perfectly quiet and restful place and there was no doubt that a few hours there would be good for Lily.

But with Li?

“No,” Kristoph told her at first. “No, it is impossible. You and he must stay within the house. It is the only way to ensure that you are both safe. You know the risk, Lily. If he is caught here… it would mean….”

“I know what it would mean,” Lily answered. “But please grant us this much. We will be careful. The weir is on my own property and it is perfectly safe. Nobody would interrupt us there.”

“How would you GET there?” Kristoph asked. “What happens when the Presidential Guard at the gate sees the two of you in the car being driven out by your chauffeur?”

“Put Li in the chauffeur’s uniform and let him drive,” Marion said. She had not meant to oppose Kristoph directly. She understood why he was being strict with his two friends. But at the same time she wanted Lily and Li to have a little time together on their own, and the idea popped into her head.

“What?” Kristoph, Lily and Li all turned to look at her.

“You know very well that NOBODY looks at the faces of servants. A chauffeur is a chauffeur. Even the Presidential Guards won’t see anything but a man in the D’Alba livery behind the wheel of the car.”

Kristoph sighed. Marion was right. There was a way. And having been shown it, he could not now uphold his own argument.

“If you are caught… there is nothing I can do to help you. I will be too busy trying to keep myself out of prison to stop them sending you straight to Shada.”

But he conceded that they could try. Marion herself helped Lily get ready. She was feeling far better than she was yesterday but she still needed the medicine Aineytta had left for her and there was always the possibility of a relapse. But she said that she was in the best possible hands. Li would take care of her.

Li was almost unrecognisable in the chauffer’s uniform. Marion had always known him as a Chinaman, either in the full traditional Chinese style of clothing when he was in his beloved adopted country or in a semi-westernised style when in Liverpool. He looked quite different, now.

He looked like somebody nobody would look closely at – a servant, a chauffeur. He took Lily’s arm gently and walked with her out to the drive where the car had been made ready. Marion brought a picnic basket that had been prepared in the kitchen and put it into the boot while Kristoph made Lily comfortable in the back seat with a blanket around her.

“If you start to feel ill, come straight back and I will call mama,” he told her. “Take care of yourself, Lily.”

“Li will take care of me,” she told him. “Thank you.”

Li was already in the driver’s seat. Kristoph closed the door and stood back with Marion. The car moved off. The Presidential Guards were not interested in it at all. Their concern was the President, and he wasn’t travelling anywhere.

“Come, my dear,” he said to his wife. “We shall have our own picnic by the carp pond with our fosterling. My guards will make themselves discreetly available against the unlikely event of a sniper infiltrating the D’Alba estate to make an attempt on my life.”

Lily leaned her head back on the padded head rest in the back of the car and closed her eyes. If truth be told, another day in bed would have been better for her. But when she woke this morning she saw Li sleeping on the chaise beside her bed. He had sat with her until she slept. Twice when she woke in the night he had been there at her side to bring her water and medicine. He had slept when she slept. Now it was morning. Sunshine poured through the window – the sun that shone from Gallifrey’s yellow sky. She knew just how long it had been since Li had felt that sun warm him. She wanted to give him that opportunity, just for a few hours. So she lied about how she felt. She took one of Aineytta’s analgesic preparations against the pains she still felt and told everyone that she could not bear to stay in bed any longer.

“Do you still know the way?” she asked him. “To the weir.”

“I have never forgotten a single inch of these lands,” he answered. “We had such good times when we were young. There is hardly a part of the southern plain I don’t know. I have forgotten nothing. It merely sleeps in my mind while I am in exile.”

And in proof of that he brought the car to the place Lily spoke of in a little under an hour. He parked and went to open the boot and take out a blanket and the picnic things, laying them down on the grass before coming back to bring Lily, holding her arm gently but firmly. He made sure she sat on a nest of cushions with a parasol to shade her from the direct sunlight and poured her a glass of cooled moon fruit juice. He drank a glass himself, savouring the taste. Of course, both Lily and Marion often brought him food from Gallifrey. He had eaten moon fruits at his table in Liverpool, after a dinner of cúl nut pate and Pazithi Goat cheese with bread rolls flavoured with Pellis seeds. But those same foods tasted so much better eaten on this blanket on Gallifrey’s own soil, with its own sun overhead.

“It feels good to be here,” he admitted, looking up at the sky. The sun was near its zenith, which meant that a unique phenomenon could be seen in the sky. At this time of day, for an hour before and after the thirteenth hour, it actually looked as if there were two suns. The second orb many degrees lower in the sky was a refraction of the sunlight in the atmosphere. It was beautiful to see, and confused visitors to Gallifrey or anyone who saw photographs or paintings of their world, into thinking it was part of a binary star system.

He looked into the western sky and saw the moon, Pazithi Gallifreya, visible in the daytime sky. It was in sickle phase, almost dark, and that meant that another phenomenon could be seen – the rings of Pazithi. When the moon was at least half full it wasn’t visible, but when only a curving sliver appeared in the sky there was the appearance of rings such as those that orbited Polafrey. In the case of the Gallifreyan moon it was a very narrow ring of very fine dust that was only visible by day and only when it was waning.

“I’m so used to the Earth sky,” he admitted. “Yet it all comes back to me when I look at it, now. Our ‘double sun’ and our ringed moon, so exotic, yet so familiar and commonplace to those of us born under such a sky.”

“I have so often wanted to be with you like this,” Lily told him. “Even when we have made love on the open plains of your beloved China, I have thought of quiet afternoons here with the water of the B?rrow tumbling away beside us and our own sun on our faces. I never thought to have the chance.”

“Nor I,” Li admitted. “And this is the only chance. Kristoph has risked so much for us. We cannot make him risk any more. Later, I return to my exile. So we must make the most of these precious hours.”

“Yes,” Lily said. “Yes, we must.”

There was nothing they wanted to do in those hours except sit there together, holding hands, eating the good food in the hamper and drinking cool drinks while listening to the sound of the river falling over the weir and feeling the warm sun on their faces. They talked a little. For a solemn time they spoke of the trouble that brought Li here from his exile, of course.

“It would have been difficult, but all the same, the thought of a child, an heir to both our Houses….” Lily said. “That is the thing I regret most. It is the one joy neither of us have ever known.”

“We will both have an heir,” Li told her. “Marion’s son will be that to us both – spiritually in my case, since I am dispossessed of all but my memories, legally in yours. He will be our son as much as he is the son of Lœngbærrow.”

“Is that a prophecy?” Lily asked. “You were always a strong seer when you tried. Do you really know that will come to be?”

“I know,” Li assured her. “I have seen it strongly. Our dearest friends will yet face the same sorrow we have known these past days. It won’t be easy for them. But in time, yes, the great House of the Silvertrees, sired by Rassilon himself, will have an heir who will be a greater Time Lord than any since his great ancestor himself, and we will both play our part in the moulding of his life.”

“Then perhaps there is a reason why we are both childless,” Lily said. “Perhaps Rassilon himself has willed it so that we can be second parents to Marion’s child. That… would be an honour that eases the bearing of this sorrow.”

“Indeed,” Li agreed. Of course, it was a matter of personal faith and belief whether Rassilon, the immortal Creator of the Time Lord race had that kind of power over his ‘children’. Li was one of the sceptics, and the cruelty of the blow dealt to both of them in these past days only hardened his view. If Rassilon did act as that kind of omniscient deity, playing with the lives of mortals, then it was a cruel kind of game. He preferred not to believe in him that way. But he would not deny Lily the comfort it brought her.

They stayed by the weir as the ‘second sun’ faded and the afternoon passed quietly and uneventfully. When the shadows began to lengthen Li packed away the remains of the picnic. He brought Lily back to the car and settled her comfortably. She slept on the journey home. She ought to have slept before, but she stayed awake for him. He roused her when they reached Maison D’Alba and she walked with him to the drawing room where she rested again.

“It is time,” Kristoph told him. “We must go, now.”

“Yes, I know,” Li said. “Wait in the hall while we have a few minutes more, then I will be ready.

Marion and Kristoph both left them alone. Li sat by Lily’s side and held her hand. She smiled at him.

“When you are well enough to travel,” Li said. “We will spend some time in China again. I will take you to Zhong Yuè – the Central Great Mountain, a place of peace and meditations.”

“I am sure it is beautiful,” Lily told him. “I will love to be with you there.”

He kissed her once, making it last as long as possible. Then he stood, letting go of her hand reluctantly. He turned and left the room. Marion came back in to sit with Lily. Li went to the hallway where the TARDIS waited, disguised as a heavy oak cabinet.

“One more moment breathing the air of our world,” Li said, taking a deep breath as if he might hold onto it until he reached Earth. “Then I am ready.”

“I understand, my friend,” Kristoph told him. “But remember you left Captain Harkness ‘holding the fort’. I’m not sure how long we can trust him to do that.”

“I think,” Li answered. “We can trust Captain Harkness as far and as long as we would wish. In all else, he may be doubtful, but his devotion to you and your House is absolute. We have an ally in him.”

“Perhaps,” Kristoph answered with a wry smile. Then both men stepped into the TARDIS. A few minutes later, with Li hidden in the zero room, out of reach of the Transduction Barrier probes, it dematerialised. Lee Koschei Oakdaene, known on Earth as Mai Li Tuo was an exile from Gallifrey once more.