Marion and Kristoph had spent a good weekend at the Lodge, and had lingered over the journey home. It was nearly midnight when the car stopped on the driveway outside Mount Lœng House. As they walked up the steps one of the chauffeurs came out to drive the car to the garage and the door was opened ahead of them by Caolin, the butler.

“You may go off duty, now,” Kristoph told him as he took their coats and hung them in the cloakroom. “I am sorry our indulgence made such a late night for you.”

“Not at all, sir,” Caolin answered. “Would you like tea in the drawing room?”

“The bedroom, I think,” Marion answered. “We’re both quite tired. Oh, but… No, never mind. Making tea for us means you will be longer before you can get to your own bed. That’s not fair…”

“It will be my last duty before I retire to my quarters.” Caolin assured her.

“Is my brother here?” Kristoph asked, noting another coat in the cloakroom.

“He is, but he took to his bed some hours ago, sir.”

Kristoph took that news philosophically as he and Marion mounted the stairs and Caolin headed for the kitchen to make the tea. They were showering together when the tray was brought into the bedroom.

“So Remonte is here?” Marion said as she slipped into the bed and poured her tea. “I suppose it is a good thing I didn’t require my personal maid tonight?”

Kristoph poured himself a single malt from the decanter on his dresser and joined his wife in bed.

“She sleeps in his bed all night when he is here,” he noted. “He doesn’t even pretend to be discreet. It can’t possibly be a secret among the staff. Caolin knows, I am certain. He is a good, faithful man. I can count on his discretion. But even so…”

“They do love each other,” Marion reminded him. “If he was just using her for… gratification… I would put a stop to it for her sake. But they love each other. And it is so unfair that they have to keep it a secret. On Earth, nobody would care. On Hillary’s world, they would be congratulated. Only here are they forced to hide.

“I agree,” Kristoph told her. “But the law isn’t going to be changed for his benefit. Adultery is a crime. If he is found out, he will disgrace our name. I will be forced to disown him. He will be publicly flogged, and perhaps even imprisoned. And if it came to light that I condoned his transgression under my own roof… I would share his punishment.”

That alone troubled Marion. But she had another concern.

“Rika? What about her?”

“As a servant, it would be assumed that he put pressure on her to become his lover. They would be lenient with her. But she would be ruined, of course. Her reputation would be destroyed.”

“I think seeing Remonte punished so dreadfully would be enough punishment for her. But Kristoph….”

“Enough,” he said. “Don’t go to sleep with such sad thoughts in your head. They are both safe for now. As long as they take care not to be seen it is no more than kitchen prattle. But come here, my wife. Let me hold you. Mother of my child.”

Marion sighed and let Remonte’s indiscretions with her maid be forgotten for a while. Instead their thoughts turned over their weekend and the sweet love-making on the geo-thermally warmed rocks around the swimming pool. Marion remembered the touch of his warmed flesh against hers and the pleasure of his all consuming love. And then the miracle he had shown her afterwards. As they lay together in the sweet aftermath of their congress, he had rested one hand on her stomach and the other against her forehead, and she had seen with him the fertilised egg within her womb, the fruit of their passion.

He did the same now, and she sighed as she saw the two day old embryo, growing by the minute, though still only measured in millimetres yet.

“I’m so glad,” Marion told him. “Though I don’t want to think of the sixteen months ahead just yet.”

“We’ll treasure every day as it comes,” Kristoph promised.

“Yes, we will,” Marion agreed. “By the way, I’m not very tired yet. And…”

“Insatiable woman!” Kristoph laughed. “Do you know that in the spaceports of the galaxy there are jokes about Time Lords having no passion in them.”

“Not the Time Lords in this family.” Marion answered as she felt his hands caressing her body.


It was near dawn when they were startled from their sleep by a noise outside. Kristoph slipped his dressing gown on as he went to the window and saw a Chancellery Guard troop carrier landing on the driveway.

“What is it?” Marion asked fearfully.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “But I must be dressed. This looks official.”

He pulled on his clothes quickly and hurried downstairs. Marion pulled on her nightgown and robe and followed. She was at the top of the stairs in time to hear an insistent knocking at the door. Kristoph was going to open it, but Caolin came to his side, partially dressed in his butler’s livery.

“Sir, even at this unseemly hour it is my responsibility,” he protested. “Let me protect the dignity of this house.” Kristoph stepped back and let him open the door to the Castellan, husband of her friend, Madame Braxiatel. He had been to this house as a welcome friend, as a guest. But this time he came on official business.

“Where is the master of the House?” the Castellan asked.

“He is right here,” Kristoph answered, stepping forward. “Thank you, Caolin, for your faithful duty. What is it that brings you here at this hour?”

“I have a warrant for the arrest of Remonte de Lœngbærrow,” the Castellan replied. “Is he here? Sir, as much as you have my respect as the patriarch of an Oldblood House, I should have to arrest you if you obstruct me.”

Marion didn’t wait to hear the rest. She ran across the landing and along the corridor to Remonte’s bedroom suite. She pushed open the door and ran to the bed, She shook Remonte firmly, but she was more anxious to wake Rika by his side.

“You must come,” she said. “Rika, come with me, quickly.”

The girl woke slowly, sleepy and confused. Remonte at her side stared in surprise at Marion.

“There are guards here to arrest you,” she told him. “She can’t be found in your bed.”

“Go, my sweet,” Remonte said, kissing Rika’s lips as Marion put her own robe around her naked body. She could hear footsteps outside. There was only one place they could go. She pulled Rika towards the en-suite bathroom.

It was only a little smaller than the one off the master bedroom, but it only had the one door. They could not get away. They could only hope that the bathroom was not searched.

“Hush,” Marion told Rika as she smothered a whimper of fear. “For his sake, don’t make a sound.” She held her tightly as they both leaned against the door and listened to the sounds in the bedroom. They heard the Castellan come into the room, followed by his men, who told Remonte that he was under arrest.

“On what charge?” he asked.

“Murder,” was the simple reply. Rika and Marion looked at each other in shock as Remonte asked if he may dress himself first. The request was assented to. Some of the guards seemed to leave the room. There were sounds of somebody moving around the bedroom.

Then they heard Kristoph’s voice protesting.

“The Manacles are not necessary, for Rassilon’s sake. He is a son of an honourable House. He will not run from you.”

“I’m sorry,” answered Castellan Braxiatel. “But it is a capital crime. I must do my duty.”

“Yes, you must,” Kristoph told him in a softer voice. “Remonte, my brother, do yours.”

“Brother,” Remonte answered him. “Be assured I have done nothing to sully the good name of our House.”

“I know that,” Kristoph assured him. “Go now, and the truth will be known soon enough.” There was a pause. Marion felt that Kristoph had kissed his brother. Then the Castellan told him to come and there were footsteps receding from the bedroom.

“Murder!” Rika gasped. “Oh, it can’t be true…”

“Of course it isn’t. As if it could be. I thought it was about the two of you. But all those men for the sake of an adultery charge? This… this isn’t…”

There were footsteps again. They clung to each other fearfully as the steps approached the bathroom door. Then Marion gasped with relief to see that it was Kristoph. He embraced them both in his arms comfortingly.

“Get dressed, both of you,” he said. “Come to the drawing room. I will tell you what little I know.”

He left them. They looked at each other wordlessly, then Rika went to the wardrobe in Remonte’s room. Her clothes were there alongside his. He had made her his Lady in every way accept for acceptance in Gallifreyan society.

Marion went to her own room and dressed quickly. Then she made her way to the drawing room. Rika stepped in shyly a moment after her. The smell of fresh coffee was reassuring in this devastated morning.

“Sir…” Rika began hesitantly.

“Sit down, child, and drink coffee. You are my brother’s lover. It is too late to pretend you are merely a servant here. Sit and be a comfort to my wife. And she will be a comfort to you in the same distress.”

“What is happening, Kristoph?” Marion asked as she poured coffee and pressed a cup into Rika’s shaking hands. “Castellan Braxiatel said that it was murder. Who… who has been killed?”

“Idell,” Kristoph answered.

“What!” Marion and Rika both gasped out loud. “Oh, no. Surely not. But… what about… her baby… Remonte’s child…”

“I do not know. I trust he is with her family. I know nothing more than that bare fact. I do not know how or when this foul deed happened. All I know for sure is that Remonte is innocent. He told me he was, and I believe him. I can only hope that… Oh, poor mama. She will be devastated.”

“Oh, Kristoph…” Marion groaned as she thought of this sorrow extending to his beautiful, gentle mother.

“It’s still early. She won’t know for a few hours yet. When she does… She will surely come here. Marion, do what you can for her…”

“Where are you going?” Marion asked.

“To the Citadel. To find out what evidence there is that in any way points to Remonte. I will try to find out exactly what happened. Marion…” He pulled her into his arms and kissed her lovingly. “Take care of Rika,” he told her. “She needs somebody who understands. And look after our little spark of life.”

He left the room. Marion heard him speak to Caolin, then the door opened and closed. She heard his car on the driveway briefly.

Marion felt so very alone.

“Madam…” Rika said.

“Not Madam,” she replied. “Rika, dear, call me Marion. This is no time for servile manners.”

“I am so afraid for him,” she answered. “Marion… I… I can’t bear to think of it. My poor Remonte. My Lord, in chains…”

She called him her Lord, as if he was her husband, Marion noted.

“We are all afraid. But we must be patient. Kristoph will do what he can.”

“It can’t be true? Remonte would not…”

“No, he wouldn’t.”

“He hates her. I know he does. I hate her, too. She is the reason he and I cannot be… And I know, if she were dead, then he and I would be free. But he would never…”

“Of course not. Come on. You’re tired still. So am I. We’ll lie on these sofas and sleep a little. Later, when the servants are up, Caolin can bring us breakfast here.”

Rika was too weary to object. Marion put a cushion under her head as she curled up on the sofa and closed her eyes. She went to the other sofa and did the same. An uneasy oblivion came over them both for a little while.

When she woke, Aineytta was there. She sat up. Rika woke with a start and looked ashamed to have been sleeping in such a way.

“Rest, child,” Aineytta told her. “You have had a terrible shock, as we all have.”

“Madam…” she began. But Aineytta touched her fevered forehead and calmed her.

“You are my son’s lover and comfort. Whatever the rules of our world say, I bless you. You will sit by me and Marion and we three women who love the men of Lœngbærrow will keep vigil together until this terrible misunderstanding is over.”

Caolin brought a pot of tea and breakfast fruits. Marion and Aineytta persuaded Rika to eat and drink. They took food themselves. It helped a little. But nothing filled that yawning hole in their souls.

The hours passed slowly for them. Sad hours in which they spoke only a little. They didn’t dare say anything. They just kept telling themselves that it was a mistake, that it would be sorted out soon. Remonte would be home and all would be well.

But Remonte didn’t come home. Nobody came near the house until a little after a sad lunch had come and gone and they had eaten out of need rather than pleasure. Then Caolin announced two arrivals. Lady Lily and Madame Braxiatel. Marion stood and greeted them both. Lily, she embraced fondly. Isolatta Braxiatel stood back hesitantly.

“I’m glad you came,” Marion told her. “I don’t… you’re my friend, no matter what…”

“Pol told me to come,” she answered, speaking of her husband, the Castellan. “He said I should give you my support. But I would have come anyway. Marion, dear… Aineytta… I am so sorry about all this.”

“Thank you,” she said. “Please, sit down. Take some tea. Caolin has made such a lot of it today.”

They sat. Isolatta had some tea and made a little comment about how the habit was spreading among the other ladies of Southern Gallifrey. The food processing companies were having to manufacture it now.

But then they quickly came back to the central problem.

“Understand,” Isolatta said. “I cannot tell you anything about the investigation. Pol cannot discuss his work with me. And even if he did, it would be a confidence I could not break. But it is true. Idell Malthis is dead. And it was a violent death that involved another party. Who that party is, nobody yet knows. Remonte is the chief suspect. But it does not mean he is guilty.”

“Where was she killed?” asked Lily. “Can you tell us how it happened?”

“I don’t know anything more than that,” Isolatta admitted. “But I think it must have been in the Capitol. She lives there and rarely leaves her home these days. She is so unwelcome in the good houses.”

“Well, then Remonte couldn’t have done it,” Marion said. “He was here. Thousands of miles away.” But of course she knew that was not necessarily true. Transmats were as strictly controlled as TARDIS or portal travel, but unauthorised use was not difficult. “How could they think him capable?”

“It is known well enough that he detests her,” Isolatta said.

“In that, he is not alone,” Aineytta answered very quietly. It sounded so very wrong coming from her lips. Aineytta the Gentle she was known as. “She was wrong for my boy. I never liked her. She looked down on me for my humble beginnings. She was a snob who was interested only in our family name. Remonte loved her at first. But it became so obvious that she was only interested in the possibility of inheritance. The betrayal was in his eyes every time I looked at him. My poor boy, trapped in a marriage to a harridan like her. Whoever killed her, did him a favour. But I don’t believe for one moment my gentle son did it. If it was in him to do such a thing, he would have done it long ago.”

“Aineytta…” Lily took her hand. “Of course he didn’t. He couldn’t any more than you could.”

Rika watched them all quietly. Marion saw the expression in her eyes when Aineytta talked of Remonte. She, too, had everything to gain from Idell’s death. But nobody could imagine her being capable of it.

“Marion,” Isolatta said quietly. “I want you to know that Pol is doing all he can to prevent this becoming a matter of gossip. It is known that Idell is dead. That fact cannot be covered up. But that it was anything other than natural causes, or that Remonte is a suspect is being suppressed for as long as it possibly can. If he should be formally indicted, I am afraid there is nothing to be done. But until then, he is attempting to be discreet.”

“He didn’t seem very discreet this morning…” Rika protested, forgetting in her grief that she was talking to the wife of the Castellan. “A whole troop of guards dragging him from his bed.”

Isolatta looked at Rika. Her presence among them had puzzled her all along, but now she understood. The girl had given away her feelings. Aineytta and Marion both reached out to her, their hands on her shoulders protectively. Isolatta nodded. She was a Lady of Gallifrey, married to the man whose job it was to enforce the laws of Gallifrey. But she was a woman. And she understood Rika’s feelings.

“I am sorry,” she said. “That was unavoidable. But still…”

“I thank you both,” Marion said. As mistress of the house, in the absence of her husband, it fell to her to speak. “And be assured… When this is over, no resentment will be held. You will both be welcome to dine with us. I know that Pol only did his duty.”

“He will do no less, and no more,”

Several more terrible hours passed. Aineytta spoke sadly of the other women of the family who did not yet know. Her sister in law, Thedera, who, childless herself, adored her two nephews, and gentle Renita in her Sisterhood. This news would trouble her. As for Oriana…”

“Oriana will only care that her family will be the subject of the gossip. That will wound her,” Lily said. “She and Idell are of a type. I never understood how such a woman was born of the Lœngbærrow family.”

“I indulged her too much,” Aineytta admitted. “She was my first born child, a beautiful girl. And I let her have her way too often.”

Whatever the reason, Marion was only glad that Oriana wasn’t present just now. Where the other women were company and a comfort, she would be neither. And she would certainly be unkind to Rika.

Then, a little after five o’clock there was a new development. They all heard voices in the hall – male voices. And their hearts all seemed to stand still as the door opened and Kristoph and Remonte’s father, the senior Lord de Lœngbærrow, stepped into the drawing room.

“Chrístõ de Lún!” Aineytta cried. “What is it? What has happened? My son….”

“Oh, my dear, precious wife,” he answered, holding her tightly. “I am so sorry. I have worse news to bring you all. Marion…”

Marion stood up. She felt as if it was appropriate to do so. Lily stood with her.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Kristoph has been arrested, too,” Lord de Lœngbærrow said in a broken, sad voice. “The suspicion is that he aided and abetted the murder of Idell Malthis… that both my sons where involved in that foul crime.”

Marion gave a scream that was only outdone by the one that came from Aineytta. But both of them were upstaged by Rika, who stood up from where she was sitting next to Isolatta and then promptly fainted.