Gallis Limmon, Marion’s faithful chauffeur, drove as fast as he could while still driving safely. In the back of the limousine, Kristoph held his wife. Aineytta tried to calm them both, but Marion was crying with pain and Kristoph was shaking with grief and panic.

“My son,” she said. “Is this any way for a Time Lord to behave. Try to bear yourself with dignity before we reach the house.”

He knew it. He knew his training as a cool, collected man who could kill in an eyeblink, or as the poised and calm diplomat, had both failed him this time.

“Mama,” he pleaded. “Help her, please.”

“I don’t know if I can,” Aineytta answered him truthfully. “At best I can stop the pain with soporific herbs. But I don’t know how much damage there is. We should have stayed at the Patriclian House. This journey is doing no good.”

“No,” Marion said. “No. I want to be home. Did you call the physician?”

“I tried,” Kristoph answered. “I can’t get any answer. He may not be home.”

“There may be little he can do, anyway,” Aineytta said. “Nature has its way with these things. We must prepare for the worst.”

Kristoph knew his mother was not a pessimist. If she said such things, it was because she genuinely thought there was little hope and she wanted to prepare them both. His hearts thudded with dread.


The lights of Mount Lœng House came into view and moments later the car was parked on the driveway. The doors of the house were opened and Caolin rushed to help, but there was little for him to do as Kristoph carried Marion in his arms except run upstairs ahead of him to open the bedroom door.

“Has there been any word from the physician?” Kristoph asked.

“No, sir, I am sorry,” Caolin answered. “He still cannot be reached.”

“It little matters,” Aineytta said. “Physicians know little of these matters. It is the work of women.” She gave Caolin instructions. Herbs would be found in the kitchen that she would need. Then as Kristoph laid Marion in her familiar bed where she had asked to be, she took charge, examining her carefully.

“It doesn’t look good,” she concluded. “The fall caused a lot of damage. The child is in distress.”

“Is she going into labour?” Kristoph asked.

“Not yet,” Aineytta replied. “But that would be Nature’s way of it.”

“You must stop that happening.” Kristoph said. “It’s not time. She’s only nine months gone. You have to…” He turned to his wife. She was groaning with the pain. He put his hands on her face to soothe her, but he was so overwrought himself it was only half as effective as it should be.

“Chrístõ Mian,” his mother said. “If you cannot control your emotions, then you should go from the room. You are only in the way. This is no place for men, anyway.”

“No,” Marion cried out. “No, I need him here.” She was so distressed that Aineytta had no choice but to let him stay by her side. For now, at least. “Kristoph.. I am so sorry. Forgive me,” she whispered.

“There is nothing to forgive,” he answered.

“If I had stayed at home, as Madam Arpexia said, then this would not have happened.”

“Nonense,” Aineytta answered her. “You could have as easily slipped on the dayroom carpet. These things happen. Nobody is at fault. Don’t distress yourself with such thoughts.”

Caolin arrived with the herbs. A maid came with towels and hot water and the bowls Aineytta needed to prepare her medicines. She prepared a sleeping draught right away.

“I need you to sleep a little, Marion,” she said. “Drink this, my dear. You will feel no pain as you sleep and it may be that nature will resolve the problem by herself.”

“Is that likely?” Kristoph asked as he watched Marion fall into a drug-induced slumber. “Will it stop?”

“If she is calm and resting, it is possible… if the damage is not too severe… that labour will not begin. But she will have to remain in bed, resting always, for the months to come. She will need much care.”

“She will have it. But what if the labour begins despite…”

“Then we must let nature take its course and hope for the best… while being prepared for the worst.”

“She is full term for a Human. Perhaps…”

“I don’t know about that. She is the only Human I know, Kristoph. The only Human on this planet right now. I don’t know.”

“Then… how long will she sleep for?”

“An hour at least,” Aineytta answered.

Kristoph nodded and bent to kiss his wife’s face.

“Marion, forgive me for leaving your side, but I am going to find somebody who can help. Somebody who knows about Human childbirth.”

He turned to his mother.

“I trust you, mama. I believe in your skills with herbs, and your knowledge of these things. But I must… I must try everything.”

“Go, my son. Do what you must. I shall do what I can.”

He ran from the room. He ran down the stairs, aware of servants who looked anxiously to him, hoping for news. His face told them all there was to tell just now. He swept through the house to his study where his TARDIS rested when it was not in use. Caolin followed just in time to see the cupboard behind his master’s desk dematerialise, blowing papers around. He tidied them dutifully before going to set the rest of the staff to the duties they were neglecting in their anxiety for the mistress of the house’s wellbeing.

Kristoph bypassed the Transduction Barrier using a code he used when he was officially a Gallifreyan Ambassador and travelled by diplomatic privilege. He was in no mood to give details of his unscheduled journey to some pettifogging civil servant in the traffic control centre. As soon as he was in clear space he sat his course.

The SS Marie Curie, a hospital ship of the 24th century by Earth measure, was about as advanced as Human medical science ever got. By that century almost every possible advance had been made. Certainly in the field of obstetrics.

A schematic of the ship allowed Kristoph to choose the best place to materialise and a list of the staff on duty told him who he needed to speak to. He stepped out of the linen cupboard that had appeared where there wasn’t one before and quickly found the office of Doctor Joachim Pederson, head of the maternity department.

The doctor was at his desk. He didn’t even look up at first. He wasn’t meant to. Kristoph knew how to open and close a door without anyone hearing. He was standing in front of the man, holding a long, thin knife called a stiletto in front of his face before he was even aware of his presence.

“I am sorry for this,” Kristoph told him. “But you must come with me. My wife needs your help.”

“My help?” the doctor was puzzled, rather than scared. “You mean there is a woman in need of… then your weapon is not necessary. Put it away. Let me get my medical bag.”

“Don’t touch anything that might alert others,” Kristoph said as he allowed the man to open a drawer in his desk and take out a large valise. “I can’t… there mustn’t be any delay.”

“All right, I am ready,” the doctor replied. “Show me where your wife is. I don’t know why this is necessary…”

It was necessary because Kristoph’s will was at such a low ebb he doubted his powers of persuasion by any other means. He kept close to the doctor as they stepped out of his office.

“Say nothing to alarm them,” he whispered as two nurses entered the corridor from the far end. He pressed the knife against the doctor’s back as he spoke.

“If you injure me, I cannot help your wife,” the doctor protested. But he let the nurses pass by, only acknowledging their polite ‘good morning’. Then Kristoph urged him forward until they reached the linen cupboard.

“What is this?” the doctor asked as they passed over the threshold into the TARDIS. Kristoph closed the door and ran to the console. He hit the fast return switch that would bring them back to the last location – in his study – within miniutes.

“I am sorry to do this,” he repeated, still holding the knife. “But I need a doctor who understands humans… Human women. There is no-one on my own planet. I promise I will get you back to your office afterwards. Nobody will know you were gone. But please do what you can for my wife, first. Please…”

“I would be in peril of my soul if I refused. To say nothing of the oath I swore when I became a doctor. But… your planet… am I to understand this is a space ship… in a cupboard… you are… not Human…”

“Yes, it’s a ship.” Kristoph answered. “No, I’m not Human. But my wife is. And she needs you.”

“Then put away your weapon. I clearly have nowhere else to go. I will do what you want.”

Kristoph did so. He looked at the real time clock on the console and hoped that Marion was still asleep and unaware of his absence just now. The closest he could make their return was half an hour after he left. But what might have happened in that half hour?

The TARDIS materialised in the study once more. Kristoph ran to the door. Doctor Pederson, no longer a prisoner, but making an unusual and unexpected house call, followed behind. Both men ran up the stairs. Kristoph opened the door to the bedroom fearful of what he might find there. Aineytta looked around at him and the stranger he brought with him.

“Mama,” he said. “This man is trained to look after Human women in childbirth. Let him…”

“I still think this is the work of women,” his mother answered. “But let him try what he can.” She stepped back from the bedside and took hold of her son’s arm. “Anything for Marion’s sake.”

Doctor Pederson opened his medical case. It was fully equipped to twenty-fourth century standards of obstetrics, including a portable medical scanner. He powered it up and used it to make a diagnosis while he gently asked questions about the accident that had caused the problems that required his attention.

“She fell? Yes. That did the damage. The placenta is detaching from the wall of the womb. It is too late to reverse it. She is late in the pregnancy though…”

“No, she is not,” Kristoph answered him. “For my kind, she is only halfway through. My wife is Human. But our child is not. She is dangerously premature. She cannot be born now. It is too soon.”

“She will be born tonight or not at all,” the doctor answered. “And I am far from hopeful. Her heart is weak.”

“Heart?” Aineytta echoed with a fearful tone in her voice. “Oh, no. No. There should be two heartbeats. If one has failed…”

“Two hearts?” Doctor Pederson looked at the ultrasound picture on his scanner and saw that she was right. “One has stopped. The other is weak. We have no time to lose. We must induce the birth.” He sighed and looked accusingly at Kristoph. “You should have told me the extent of the problem. I need drugs that were readily available on the ship. If you had not brought me here so precipitously…”

“You will need an internally administered protoglandin and an oxytocin,” Aineytta said. “I have the ingredients for both here…. I hoped they would not be needed but I prepared for the worst.”

The doctor looked at the array of pungent herbs Aineytta had laid out on the dresser. He was less sceptical than Kristoph expected of a man who worked with drugs developed in the most advanced laboratories in the universe. He nodded and told her to proceed.

She first prepared a draught that would rouse Marion.

“She must be awake. She needs to know what is happening. Give her this, my son.”

Kristoph pressed the glass with the reviving liquid to Marion’s lips. She swallowed enough of it to be effective and woke quickly, crying out as the pain she had been oblivious to while asleep assailed her again. Kristoph told her what was happening, and she sobbed unhappily. She looked at the doctor he had brought to attend to her.

“He is Human?” she asked. “How did you… but… oh, Kristoph… my poor baby. Even if he is the best in the galaxy…”

“Try to be calm, my dear,” Aineytta told her. “For your child’s sake. There is still hope.”

“Indeed there is,” Doctor Pederson added. “We will do what we can this night.” He stepped forward and took Marion’s pulse gently. “How did you come to be living among people who have no knowledge of Human childbirth, bearing a non-Human baby with two hearts?” he asked.

“I fell in love with a man with two hearts,” she answered. “But… oh, please. It doesn’t matter about me. Save my child.”

The doctor looked at Kristoph coldly.

“Is that what you have made her think? A Human woman surrounded by aliens… far from home. Have you made her feel her life is worth less than the child she is carrying? Is she no more than a vessel for your progeny, easily thrown away?”

“Certainly not,” Kristoph responded. “She is my wife. My lady. I love her dearly. She is in pain. She is not thinking right. She does matter, very much. She matters to us all. So does the child. I cannot… will not choose between them.”

“I don’t intend to make you choose,” Doctor Pederson answered, his tone softening. He nodded to Aineytta as she came to apply the protoglandin that would soften the cervix and aid the dilation. The oxytocin was a foul smelling and bitter tasting brew that Marion could hardly swallow. Almost as soon as she did so, though, she cried out as a sharp pain assailed her.

“That was a contraction,” Aineytta said. The doctor confirmed it. “It is beginning.”

Marion cried all the more for that. She was not ready to give birth now. The baby was not ready to be born until summer. It was still winter. It wasn’t time.

“I’m not ready,” she said. “I’m not. I can’t.”

“You must,” Kristoph told her. “You must be brave. You must bear this, now. There is still hope. If she is born quickly, we may restart that failed heart. She may still be well.”

“Then stay by me,” Marion told him. “Don’t leave me until it is over.”

“I will be here,” he promised. “I won’t let you down, Marion. I’ll be here.”

Kristoph sighed deeply as he clung to his wife’s hand. He had never faced a task so hard as this. He had done his duty for Gallifrey in so many difficult, dangerous ways, but this was the hardest duty yet.

It was harder for Marion. The first hour passed with contractions becoming more frequent and lasting longer. She cried with the hurt and the grief, despite Aineytta’s pain relieving drugs and Kristoph himself drawing off some of the agony into himself.

A second hour, and a third, with the contractions almost continuous. Kristoph was taking so much of the pain into himself that he had a cold sweat and his own face told a story of constant distress. Even so, it only dulled Marion’s suffering. She had to bear most of it herself.

“What is it?” he asked as he helped Marion through another long, unbearable contraction. He saw his mother and the doctor talking quietly. Both looked anxious.

“We’re very close,” Doctor Pederson answered. “But the baby’s head is not presenting. A breech birth would be too dangerous. The child’s heart would not stand it, and I would be afraid for your wife, too.”

“What can you do?” he asked. But the doctor’s expression was grim. Aineytta, though, had the answer.

“He can do nothing. This is up to us, my son. It is possible to turn the child using the power of our minds. Both of us, together. The Human physician will monitor with his machine. Join your mind with mine, Kristoph.”

Telekinesis, on his unborn child. It was a frightening idea. But if it helped, if it gave her a better chance of survival and it helped Marion to give birth to her without undue distress, then he would try. He joined with his mother as they both reached out mentally. They found the child, easily. But it was distressing. She was weak. The one heart still beating was erratic. Kristoph was dismayed. He had caressed her mentally this way so often, and felt her respond to him with something almost like love. Now there was hardly any response. He touched her mind and where before it had been a soft cloud of unformed dreams, it now seemed disjoined and fractured and wrong. She had not been receiving oxygen fully through the partially detached placenta. There was brain damage already.

He knew the worst now. His hearts were torn to pieces as he saw the immediate future so clearly.

“I’m afraid so,” he heard his mother say. “But still, for Marion’s sake, concentrate.”

He did so. Between them they gently pressed and pushed the child until it turned and the head was in the right position.

As they withdrew their minds Marion gave a hearts-rending scream and grasped Kristoph’s hand ever more tightly. Doctor Pederson reported that the baby’s head had engaged just in time. Her waters had broken and the birth was now imminent.

“She’s dead, though,” Marion sobbed. “I know she is. I’m giving birth to a dead baby.”

She cried in sorrow as she felt the movement of the child slipping from her womb into the birth canal. It would have been an exciting, wonderful moment for her if the time had been right. But now, it was just wrong. She knew it. She knew there was nothing to hope for now. She could see it in Kristoph’s eyes. She was going through the worst agony she had ever known, and for nothing but heartache at the end of it.

“All right,” said the doctor gently. He was the only one in the room not overwhelmed by their emotions, despite two of them being Gallifreyans who should know how to control themselves. “Not long now. When I tell you, push. As quickly as you can. We can’t waste any time.”

“We can do it,” Kristoph told him. Marion couldn’t speak at all. She gripped him tightly and he tried to bear her pain as much as he could. But he thought if he had to endure much more he would collapse himself and be no use to her at all. His head span and there seemed to be noises within and without. Marion’s cries echoed inside his skull and somewhere beyond, almost remote from him, he heard Doctor Pederson say that he could see the head. Then Marion made another great effort and pushed hard. He heard his mother gasp softly. He looked around and saw a baby in the doctor’s hands. He saw him cut the umbilical cord and clamp it quickly. Then he turned and placed her down on the table while he tried to resuscitate her in the way he had been trained to do in such circumstances. As the minutes ticked by it was clearly no use. The baby was dead. He heard Marion’s sobs of grief and his mother’s voice inside his head telling him she was sorry… she had felt the second heart stop a few minutes ago.

“Let her hold the child,” Aineytta said out loud. “Let her have a few moments.”

“Yes,” the doctor agreed. Aineytta put a soft, woollen cloth around the tiny body and pressed it into Marion’s arms. She looked at the still form of her baby that had never even drawn a breath.

“She… has your eyes, Kristoph,” Marion said through her anguished tears as she clung to the lifeless body. Kristoph reached to touch the tiny face with half opened eyes that never saw the light of the world. He brushed her cheek with a finger. The flesh still felt warm, yet, from the heat of Marion’s body. But it would get cold soon.

“Marion, I am proud of you,” Kristoph said, steadying his voice. “You went through all that so very bravely. And she is… she is beautiful. If we have her only for these moments… let us remember… how beautiful she is.”

The baby looked perfect, but for the fact that she was dead. Kristoph looked at her face and fixed her in his mind. His first born child’s face. He promised himself he would never forget that face.

He turned from looking at her to look at his mother and Doctor Pederson as they completed their work. The doctor was obviously affected by what had happened, by his own failure to deliver the child safely, despite every effort. Kristoph wished fervently he had not dragged him into it. Would it even have made any difference? All he had done was made a good man, a clever man, doubt his ability to do his job.

“It… wasn’t your fault, sir,” he said to him. “Please… give me a little time here. And then I will take you back to your office.”

“Take all the time you need,” the doctor replied. “And… please… accept my condolences. I only wish… but there was already too much damage. I am so very sorry.”

“Thank you,” Kristoph said. “Mama… if you are done… would you take Doctor Pederson to the drawing room and have the servants bring him food… something to drink. Whatever hospitality we can offer.”

Aineytta nodded and the doctor quietly followed her out of the room. Kristoph turned back to Marion. He held her and the baby together as they shared a brief, quiet time.

They had an hour. Then Aineytta came quietly back into the room. She stepped close and bent to kiss the head of the child that had meant as much to her as to her son and his wife.

“Marion, my dear,” she said. “You must let me take her now. I have to do what is necessary.”

“Not yet,” Marion answered. “Kristoph… before I give her up… I want… I want to name her.”

“Oh…” Kristoph was lost for words. He looked at his mother. She hardly knew what to say, either. Naming a child that never lived even for a second was not done on Earth or Gallifrey. If she had breathed, even briefly, a naming could have been done in extremis. But…

Kristoph decided. If that was what Martion wanted, it should be done.

“Anna,” he said. “Short for Aineytta. That’s a good name for a girl child.”

“Yes,” Marion agreed. She bent and kissed the child. She was cold now. Aineytta was right. It was time to give her up. Kristoph kissed her, too, as he took her from Marion’s arms and gave her to his mother. She held her gently, lovingly as she turned and walked away from the room. Marion cried again as the door closed.

“Sleep now, sweetheart,” he said to her. “You must rest and recover your strength. You matter to us all. You must not let yourself become ill.”

She didn’t want to. She was afraid of dreaming of pain and sorrow. Or even worse, dreaming that this hadn’t happened and waking to the shock of it all again. But she was weary. It was morning already. She had struggled through the night to bring their lost child into the world. Kristoph put his hand against her forehead and gently eased her into a sleep that would not take away the hurt and grief, but would at least give her strength to cope with it.

He turned and left the room. He went downstairs to the drawing room where he found Doctor Pederson. He was standing by the window looking out at the snow-covered garden and the burnt-orange sky of a winter’s dawn.

“I don’t even know what planet this is,” he said. “I’ve never seen a sky like that before.”

“This is Gallifrey, home of the Time Lords,” he answered. “Have you heard of us?”

“Only as legend,” he replied. “You are powerful people. And yet…” He paused and looked at Kristoph, man to man. “A people who feel pain and sorrow just as much as any sentient beings, I think.”

“You have seen a Prince of the Universe brought to his knees by sorrow,” Kristoph answered. “Some may call that a unique event….”

“If there was anything I could have done…”

“I know.” Kristoph paused a moment and looked back at the doctor. “I am a man of means… as you may have guessed from this house. I can pay you for your time.”

“No.” Doctor Pederson shook his head. He needed no payment. Kristoph nodded and went to the mantelpiece where a warm fire burned. Beside the ornamental dagger with the crest of the House of Lœngbærrow on the pommel, was a small silver casket. He opened it and scooped up some of the contents.

“Whatever cause or charity is dearest to your heart,” Kristoph said as he pressed a fistful of diamonds into the doctor’s hand. “Now, let me take you back. I shall make sure you have been gone no more than ten minutes. You will not be missed.”

“The hardest ten minutes I have ever worked,” he said. He looked at the contents of his hand and then thrust them into his pocket.

Returning the doctor to his office aboard the hospital ship took only a short while. Kristoph returned quickly and after making sure Marion was still asleep, he went to the white drawing room. His mother was there. So was Caolin who stood solemnly. On the table was a small box made of cúl nut wood that had been bleached and treated until it was almost white. It bore the Silvertrees of Lœngbærrow in mother of pearl on the lid that was open yet, waiting for Kristoph. He looked once at the body of his child lying in a cocoon of soft fabric within the makeshift coffin, then closed the lid and sealed it. He lifted the box in his two hands and carried it. His mother and Caolin both followed him silently as he stepped out of the house into the snow covered garden. He walked to the place where the memorial stones of the Lœngbærrow family were. One of the gardeners and Gallis Limmon, showing his devotion to Marion in this sad, solemn time, waited there. Between them they had cleared the snow from around one of the memorials and dug a small grave. The frozen sods of Earth lay in a pile beside it.

“My grandfather and grandmother,” Kristoph said aloud, though the servants all knew that. “Chrístõ DracœAfire and his wife, Kierinia. Dracœfire was the first to break with tradition and have his wife’s name inscribed along with his on his tomb. He loved her so much that he would have her remembered alongside him.”

“She was a good woman,” Aineytta agreed. “A gentle woman. Her spirit will look over the soul of this precious little one.” She watched as Kristoph placed the little coffin into the prepared grave and with his bare hands, regardless of the bitter cold, placed the soil over it again. He arranged the sods of grass over the mound and then stood. Aineytta reached out to hold his frozen hand in hers as they stood and watched the first flakes of a new snow fall cover the grave of Anna de Lœngbærrow. Then quietly, without another word, they turned together and walked away, back to a house that offered warmth and comfort for the body, though as yet, little for souls frozen by grief.