Aineytta watched Rodan moving about the white drawing room in her baby walker that supported her back while she strengthened her legs for unaided perambulation.

“We think we are such an advanced people,” she said. “But we have never invented a way of teaching babies to walk. Humans are so resourceful.”

“I never thought of it that way,” Marion conceded. “We’ve never invented time travel and our ordinary space explorations have never gone beyond our own moon. Inventing a baby walker seems quite a poor thing in comparison to all that.”

Even so, Aineytta thought the baby walker was a very fine invention. She watched the child enjoying her exercise. When she grew tired of it and came to her foster family for attention, it was she who lifted her from the contraption and held her on her knee. Aineytta adored Rodan as much as Marion did and loved to cuddle her.

“She has thrived in your c

are, Marion,” Aineytta told her. “She is nearly a year old now, and a fine Gallifreyan Child.”

Marion smiled. She treasured every day she had with the little girl, particularly because those days were limited. By the time she was coming up to two years old her grandfather would be ready to take her to her new home, and she would have to say goodbye to her.

But she would not think of that, not yet. She still had a full year to enjoy with her fosterchild. She would see her first unaided steps very soon, and many other milestones of her little life.

“She will talk soon, too,” Aineytta said. “With you caring for her I expect she will speak much faster than most Gallifreyan children.”

“How so?”

“Their mental skills develop much faster than ordinary oral skills. They can talk telepathically much quicker and easier than forming words with their mouth. So Gallifreyan children tend to be very silent, conducting conversations with their parents by thought alone. But you talk with her, read to her, orally. She will learn ordinary speech much sooner.”

“But what about her telepathy? Am I holding her back?”

“Not at all. She is already quite bright. I can feel her chattering away about her toys and thinking of the stories she has heard you read to her. And Kristoph always does his share. He’s a wonderful father to her.”

“He’ll be a wonderful father to our own children, in time,” Marion said. She gave a soft sigh, but not an unhappy one. She was content to care for her fosterling for now. She watched as Aineytta gave her a nutritious cúl nut to chew and sang her a Gallifreyan nursery rhyme.

Their contentment was interrupted by a signal from the video phone. It was a call from Earth, which could only come from one place. Marion and Aineytta were both worried by the expression on Li’s face when the call connected.

“What is it?” Marion asked. “What’s wrong? Is it Lily? Has she had an accident?” Marion had last seen Lady Lilliana yesterday when she came for breakfast with her before going through the portal to see her exiled lover. She was due to return in time for tea today.

“She is ill,” Li told her. “Very ill. She asked for you and Kristoph to come.”

“Is she… how bad is she?”

“Too ill to return to Gallifrey through the portal. Please won’t you come?”

“I’ll be there very shortly,” Marion answered. “But Kristoph is hearing a case this afternoon. I can’t reach him until it is over.”

“You go on ahead,” Aineytta told her. “As soon as he can be contacted I will inform my son of the situation. Rodan will be perfectly fine with me.” She turned to the viewscreen. Li was almost a second son to her, though his exile on Earth meant that he was nearly four times her age. She looked at him anxiously. “Please tell me when there is news,” she said.

“I will, Aineytta,” Li assured her. He broke the connection. Marion was already kissing Rodan and giving Aineytta a quickfire list of instructions for her care. Then she stopped. Aineytta knew full well how to look after a baby. She hugged them both and ran out of the room. Upstairs she stopped in her own bedroom long enough to change from her Gallifreyan gown to a skirt suit and coat suitable for England in winter. Then she went to the wardrobe in the spare room and set the portal for Liverpool. A short taxi ride when she got there brought her to the Chinese herbalist shop of Mai Li Tuo.

“How is she?” Marion asked as Li let her into the shop and up the stairs to the living quarters. “Do you know what’s wrong with her?”

“She has a Human disease, measles,” Li answered.

“Oh.” Marion was relieved. “But… Li, that’s all right. Measles isn’t a very bad disease. She’ll be all right in a few days.”

“To Humans it’s not bad,” Li replied as he brought her to his own bedroom. Lily was in the wide bed, her silvery hair strewn against the pillow, her face pale against the rash of red spots.

“You mean it is dangerous to Gallifreyans?”

“It is an alien disease to us. We have no natural defences. Measles is not dangerous to humans because most of them – at least in the developed parts of the planet – are immunised against it. But we have no such vaccines. We have no immunity. Lily and I were at the theatre last night. Somebody near to us must have been infectious. Today, she is sick.”

“As quick as that? It takes days for Humans to show symptoms of this sort of disease.”

“Our metabolism is faster than humans. She caught the disease and presented symptoms in only a day. If she lives through it, she will be free of it in only a few more days. But they will be dangerous days.”

“You have medicine?” Marion asked. “You can make up your herbs and things…”

“I have made up a brew to keep the fever down and a poultice for her skin,” he said. “Even so, I am worried. Lily is not a young woman. I often forget that when I am with her. I see the flame haired beauty of her youth. But she is old and I fear for her.

Marion looked from Lily, fitfully sleeping in the bed, to Li. He truly was worried. She had never seen him so agitated. Usually, even in a crisis he was calm and collected. But he loved Lily so very much and he obviously felt guilty about her becoming ill while visiting him.

Lily stirred in her sleep and Li picked up a bowl of medicine on the table and helped her drink some. It must have tasted bitter, because she tried to refuse it, but he held it to her lips until she swallowed enough of it.

“Chrístõ Mian,” she whispered in her delirium. “Chrístõ, my love.”

Marion was surprised. Chrístõ Mian was, of course, Kristoph’s real, Gallifreyan name. But everyone she knew, even his own mother, called him Kristoph now, the name she had always known him as. Lily was obviously remembering days long before he was known by that Human version of his name, when she called him her lover.

“She’s happy,” Li said. “Within the dream, she is not agitated or upset. Let’s leave her that way. Don’t worry about what she says. It has no bearing on you and Kristoph or upon her love affair with me. These are memories of times long gone.”

“Oh, I know that,” Marion assured him. “I don’t mind. If thinking about those days helps her, then that’s good.”

Marion and Li both listened to her side of a remembered conversation from when she and Kristoph were young as they drew back the covers and applied a cooling lotion to her body, one that Li hoped would reduce the rash and let her sleep more comfortably. He wrapped the sheets around her again afterwards as she continued to talk of a pleasant time she had with her lover, lying in the grass by the river B?rrow on a Gallifreyan summer’s day.

“Chrístõ Mian, you are a rogue,” she whispered. “You should not say things like that. And you should not touch me in that way. Not until we are joined in Alliance. All the same. Don’t stop. It feels so…”

“I think I know just what she means,” Marion said with a smile and a blush at the same time. “Kristoph used to make me feel like that. He still does, of course. But now he’s allowed to. Before our Alliance it was stolen intimacy. They were so very much in love, weren’t they.”

“Yes, they were,” Li told him. “She was certain they would be married. But for the war, they would have been.”

It must have been coincidence, for she seemed unaware of their voices around her. But at the same moment that Li mentioned the war Lily gave a frightened cry and called out for Chrístõ Mian. Li tended to her, bathing her face in a cooling astringent and making her take a little more of the fever-breaking medicine.

“Kristoph is coming as soon as he can,” Marion assured Li. “He’s coming by TARDIS. He’ll be able to take her home.”

“No,” Li insisted. “That is out of the question. She must stay here until she is no longer infectious. If she went home, she would infect all of her staff. And yours, too, and Aineytta and little Rodan. In a few days all of Gallifrey would be ill, Oldblood and Caretaker alike. No-one on the planet has immunity from it.”

“Then what about you… and Kristoph?”

“We are the rare exceptions. We both caught it when we were young CIA operatives. We have the antibodies in our blood. That’s one of the more dubious advantages of being travellers, mixing with people from other worlds. We catch all their diseases. We were both very low for several days. Nearly missed catching our man because we were sick. But we recovered and we are at least among the few who can be here with Lily right now without risk. As are you, as a vaccinated Human.”

“Aineytta was saying earlier that Humans were more resourceful than Gallifreyans in so many ways. She was talking about Rodan’s baby walker. But perhaps this is another way in which we inferior people are not so backwards.”

“We are too sure of our superiority,” Li agreed. “We have long ago reached a stalemate as far as scientific research is concerned. We do not seem to advance at all. One day we may rue that short-sightedness.”

“You say ‘we’ – even though you are an exile from Gallifrey and its ways.”

“What is it that they say around here? ‘You can take the man out of Liverpool, but you can never take Liverpool out of the man?’ The same is true of a Gallifreyan. No matter what they say of me, I am true to my world.” He smiled wistfully, and Marion listened as he talked about his feelings, about being an exile, loving his world, but hating its political system and the corruption that had made him a Renegade and the unbending arrogance that refused to forgive him his past trespasses even though he was known to be innocent of the crimes set against him. He spoke of his happiness in recent times since he had known Lily’s love, and that brought them both to look at her now, still in a semi-coma, talking fitfully from time to time of times long gone by.

“If she dies,” Marion began, biting her lip even at the thought. “She was my first friend on Gallifrey. I don’t know what I shall do without her.”

“Let’s not think of that,” Li told her. “We shall do all we can until there is no more to do. It may take all day and all night. Are you strong enough for it, Marion?”

“Yes, I am,” she assured him. “I will care for Lily with you. No matter how long it takes.”

The hours passed slowly. It started to get dark outside and a cold sleet battered the window. They kept the bedroom warm even though Lily burned with the fever and shivered at the same time as if she was cold. They re-applied the ointment to her body twice more and gave her more of the fever medicine, stronger this time, as it seemed to have so little effect. Her temperature kept rising. Li shook his head sadly when it registered one hundred and twenty degrees.

“Normal for a Gallifreyan is sixty,” he said. “That’s dangerously high. We could lose her.”

“What can we do?”

“We have to get her temperature down fast,” Li answered. “The medicine isn’t doing it. A cold bath, as cold as it can be made.”

“No!” Marion protested. “That could kill her.”

“Indeed it could,” said a familiar voice. “It’s called ‘kill or cure’.”

Marion turned and ran to Kristoph as he stepped fully into the sick room. She had been so concerned with Lily’s plight that she hadn’t even heard is TARDIS materialise on the landing. She hugged him tightly as Li explained the situation to him.

“Measles!” Kristoph sighed. “We should have had a vaccine years ago. Everyone knows it’s the only Human illness that Gallifreyans are affected by. They think we’re safe, but we have trade connections with the Earth Federation. It only takes one of our freight ship pilots to arrive back infected. We should consider the possibility.”

“Now is not the time for a political debate, my friend,” Li said. “Kill or cure… Lily’s life is in our hands.”

“Yes,” Kristoph said. “Marion… please run the bath. Cold water only. We will get her ready.”

Marion went to the bathroom. It was a very beautiful one with a big, wide sunken bath in a half moon shape. Lily and Li must have had a lot of romantic times in warm, scented water together. But this time there was no need for the candles in the holders around the edge of the pleasant coloured salts in jars. She put in the plug and turned the cold tap on full. Soon the bath was full of cold water. The air above the water felt cold from it, even though the bathroom was warm. It made her shiver to think that they were going to bathe Lily in that water.

And yet, when Kristoph came in and tested the temperature he closed his eyes and concentrated hard. A thin layer of ice radiated from his hand. The water was even colder now.

Li came in, carrying Lily, wrapped in a sheet. He laid her on the bathside and unwrapped her before gently lowering her into the water. He climbed in beside her, in his Chinese silk robe that billowed around him. He held her above the water for a moment or two, and then pressed her under, holding her there for longer than Marion thought possible without her drowning, even if she was Gallifreyan and could recycle her breathing.

He brought her to the surface and Kristoph helped him lift her out onto the sheet. He and Li massaged her arms and legs with soothing ointment and then they put her into the water again. They repeated the process several times more. Marion watched fearfully, sure that the cold would kill her. But it didn’t. In fact, she began to look a little less ill. When her limbs were massaged they looked less pale and the rash less acute.

“She’s over the peak,” Li said. “Her temperature is coming down. One more time and then we’ll get her back to bed.”

Marion was relieved to hear that. She was even more relieved when this strange and unorthodox procedure was over and they rubbed her dry with warm towels and covered her body again with the soothing ointment and brought her back to the warm bed. She definitely did look better. She seemed to be in a more natural sleep, now, and the rash was starting to fade.

“All we can do now is wait,” Kristoph said. “Marion, you ought to rest a while. We’ll keep vigil through the night.”

“No,” she insisted. “Lily is my friend, too. I’ll take care of her.”

She conceded that she should sit down. A soft chair was placed by the bedside. Marion sat in it and tried to stay awake, though she dozed a little, unable to help herself.

She woke once to hear Lily talking in her sleep again. Kristoph was holding her hand and listening with a faint smile on his face, filling in his side of the conversation from long ago when they were sweethearts. He looked around as Marion stirred and looked a little embarrassed.

“It almost sounded as if the two of you…” Marion said. Kristoph nodded.

“She’s imagining it. We never were lovers in the physical sense. She’s dreaming of what would have happened when I came home from the war. Only I didn’t… at least not until it was too late. She kept thinking of me for a very long time before she gave me up for dead.”

That much was obvious from her words. They took on a sadder tone as her memories turned on the terrible time when Kristoph was reported missing, presumed dead, and her hopes for the two of them were shattered. She spoke his name so sadly, heartsbroken.

“Lily, my precious flower,” Kristoph said, gripping her hand tightly. “Lily, I never meant to be away so long. Forgive me, my Lily of the Silver Moon. And remember I have never stopped loving you, even though we were never to be together. Remember that, and come back to me, now.”

Marion knew there was nothing for her to be jealous of in those words. Of course he still loved Lily, his first sweetheart. And he wanted her to live.

Marion gasped with relief as she saw Lily breathe in deeply and her eyes flutter. She was waking. The fever was going down and the delirium was gone. She opened her eyes and looked up at her one time lover as he held her hand in his.

“Kristoph,” she whispered. “But… why are you here?”

“Li called me. Marion, too. We came at once for you.”

“Marion!” She turned her head and saw her sitting at her side. “Oh, dear. I had such dreams… Did I….”

“You remembered old times fondly. There is nothing to be ashamed of. And… besides, your own lover is here, too.”

Li came to her side. She relinquished Kristoph’s hand as he bent over her and kissed her lips tenderly.

“You’re going to be all right now, my love,” he assured her. “I’ve some medicine with a taste you will detest and more ointment for the rash, but in a day or so you can go home. Marion and Kristoph will stay with you until you’re ready.”

“People will wonder where I am…” she said. “I have a luncheon with Lady Arpexia tomorrow…. I mean… later today even. I don’t know what time it is.”

“Take as much time as you need to recover,” Kristoph told her. “Without any fear or anxiety. Marion and I will be here. And when you’re ready, we’ll go home in my TARDIS. I’ll bring us all back to the afternoon when you were supposed to return and have tea with Marion and Aineytta. That means Marion won’t have to worry about missing Rodan for more than a few hours, too. For such peace of mind, bending the rules of TARDIS use won’t hurt, just this once, I think.”

Marion had almost forgotten to worry about Rodan. She was too busy worrying about Lily. But now, as the sun rose on a wintery day in Liverpool she was relieved to know she had nothing to worry about in either case.