Doctor Who

They spent a couple of pleasant days in Turin, in 1886. Rose added a few precious facts to her sketchy knowledge of architecture. The boys learnt a lot more, because The Doctor was able to pass huge chunks of information to them telepathically. He was always careful not to leave her out, and talked to her and the boys together out loud as often as possible, but she did envy them that silent, private bond they all shared. She wished she still had the psychic connection with The Doctor.

Even without it, she loved being a part of their family unit. She smiled whenever people assumed that she was the mother of the twins and The Doctor their father. When a lady at a café in the Piazza Carignano said they had her eyes she could hardly control her laughter.

“But you do have beautiful brown eyes,” The Doctor said later as they walked in I Giardini Reali, the sixteenth century Royal Gardens of Turin. “Just like they do.”

“Yes, but they get it from their mum. And SHE gets it from your Julia. You said she is the image of her.”

“That she is,” The Doctor sighed. “And I’m the odd one out in this incarnation. I had brown eyes, too, when I was Julia’s husband.”

“But you said you have your mother’s eyes now,” Rose told him. “That’s special.”

“Yes,” He smiled. “It’s a nice dream - the four of us as a family. But we have to remember it’s NOT true.”

“I wish you were our dad,” Davie said. The Doctor looked at him and at Chris, and he knew they both had the thought together.

“No,” he said. “That’s not fair on your real father. You owe him your respect and your love first. Before me.”

“But he is so…” Davie began.

“He doesn’t want us to be Time Lords,” Chris said, voicing the idea they both had.

“He doesn’t have a lot of choice. You two are learning so fast, I think you WILL be Time Lords much faster than any of us ever before. If you keep practicing your telepathic skills and work at the theory, you will probably both transcend by the time you’re done with ordinary Earth school. I think… when you’re ready, you might be more skilled than I am. You’ll be BETTER Time Lords than I am. And your dad will have to come to terms with it.”

“He says stuff about you sometimes,” Davie continued. “To mum, when they get cross with each other. He says that we’d all be better off if you’d never come back.”

“He’d be dead if I hadn’t come back. He’s being silly. Humans get that way sometimes. They’re a very irrational race. I mean, look at Rose… falling in love with somebody as daft as me. Totally irrational.”

He tried to make light of it, but the next thing Chris said made his eyes glint with anger.

“Humans are so pathetic. Including dad.”

“NO!” Chris jumped visibly at the anger that was turned on him from the grandfather he loved. “NO! And don’t ever let me hear you say or think a thing like that. I never taught you to think that way.”

“Gr….grr..anddad….” Davie stammered nervously and looked at his brother. They clutched hands together as they looked back at The Doctor and felt his anger both in his spoken words and in the telepathic signals he was sending out. Rose saw their faces and put her hand on his shoulder, speaking quietly to him. His anger softened a little when he spoke again.

“We…all three of us… have Human DNA in us,” he said. “Along with our Gallifreyan blood. Our Human side is in many ways the better part of us. It is our compassion, our empathy, our love, our sense of justice and mercy – all things that Gallifreyan society valued least while they put intellect, logic, blind and unquestioning loyalty first. Even when I was your age and I was teased by other boys because I was a half blood, when I was scorned by teachers who thought I couldn’t learn with the pureblood sons of Gallifrey – even then I never denounced my Human traits. I was always proud of what my mother’s blood had given to me. And to hear such scorn coming from your lips - Chris, my own flesh and blood… NO, No. I cannot, I won’t have it. I don’t even know where it comes from. I know I have been teaching you to be proud of where we come from, proud of our Gallifreyan society and its history. But NOT at exclusion of that other wonderful race that is a part of us.”

There were tears in his eyes when he said that. The boys had tears, too. “Only half blood Gallifreyans can shed tears,” he said. “That’s another gift my mother gave me.” He put his arms around both boys and hugged them tightly. “Never look down on Humanity. It is true their bodies are weaker than ours, their short lives mean they can never reach their full potential, but they are incredible all the same. They do so much, they achieve so much. Your DAD - and a few brave people who fought back - saved Earth from the Daleks before you were even born. The Daleks thought themselves a superior race, but the inferior Humans beat them. They’ve done the same countless times. Above all, even the meanest and poorest of them has courage – another gift that Gallifreyans don’t value, but which the universe needs as much as it needs compassion.”

“We… we understand,” Chris stammered. “But….”

“When we get back,” The Doctor continued. “You two need to spend some time with your dad. You need to talk to him. He needs to talk to you, and he needs to know that you ARE still his sons, no matter what else you are. And that you love him. As for the Time Lord thing… I’ll talk to him about that. There is no choice in it. You two are BORN to be Time Lords. Your telepathic abilities would be too dangerous without the disciplines that go with it. You would hurt yourselves and others. THAT’S the main reason I began this. Not… not just because I was afraid what would happen if I really was the last Time Lord. Not because of some mad plan to repopulate our society. That’s hardly going to happen with just three of us, anyway. But…when you two transcend… when you become fully-fledged Time Lords… I hope your dad will be as proud as I will be.”

“Grandfather,” Davie said. “We’re sorry.”

“There you are then,” he said. “THAT’S your Humanity talking. I never heard “I’m sorry” from a Gallifreyan and thought he meant it. But you ought to tell Rose you’re sorry, too. It is HER race you insulted with careless and thoughtless words.”

Both boys turned and hugged her tightly. Rose smiled and kissed them. They had some funny ideas in their heads, and it was probably The Doctor’s fault for putting so many of them in there. But they were also two wonderful children. She loved them as much as their great-grandfather did and really DID wish they were her own. For all The Doctor had said, it WAS a nice dream. The only thing wrong with it was that it made her WANT to have children of her own, and the only man she wanted them with kept on telling her it wasn’t possible because he was a Time Lord and she was a Human. Sometimes that hurt deeper than she let on.

“It hurts me, too,” The Doctor whispered to her, his hand on her shoulder. She was surprised, as she always was, when she realised that he could read her thoughts. He didn’t deliberately intrude on her, but when her thoughts were especially emotional, and especially when they involved him – and when didn’t they these days – he would catch hold of them somehow.

She turned to him, but his mood had changed again. He smiled brightly at them all and brought them by the hand to a large, elaborate fountain. “This is the fountain of the Naiads and Tritons. It is said to have magical powers. If you walk around it three times and think about a problem you have a solution will come to you.”

“Do we believe in magic?” Chris asked.

“It’s worth a try.” They walked slowly around the beautiful fountain three times. Rose’s thoughts were on that difficult problem of how two people who weren’t even of the same SPECIES could have a REAL relationship. She didn’t know what the others were thinking of, but she hoped there was a solution for them all.

“We could buy dad a present from Turin,” Davie said. “To tell him we love him.”

“There,” The Doctor said. “It DOES work.” He turned to Rose and his eyes dimmed even though he still smiled with his mouth. “Our solution might take a little longer, but don’t give up on the magic.” She knew that his wish had been the same as hers. That in itself gave her comfort, because as long as they both wanted it, there was no reason why it might not happen one day.

They returned to the TARDIS and The Doctor set their next destination. He was in a good mood again and as he worked at the console Bob Dylan music played softly on the CD player that he had long ago incorporated into the communications console. He said something about picking up some new CDs next time they were back on Earth in Rose’s era.


“Earth, May 1st, 1598 in the forest of Pendle,” The Doctor said.

“Never heard of it,” Rose replied.

“That’s because you come from London and have never ventured north of Watford,” The Doctor told her. “But to paraphrase myself, lots of places have a north, and we’re in East Lancashire in the late Elizabethan era, and it’s a very interesting period which is the only reason I’m submitting to having to WEAR the kind of clothes people wore back then.”

When they had found what the TARDIS’s apparently limitless clothing supply had to offer for Elizabethan wear, Rose understood that comment. For her, there were dresses to die for. The only problem was the tight, stiff corsetry underneath. Although, she admitted, for a waistline The Doctor could span with his hands, it was worth it.

HIS clothes were startling. They did Tudors and Stuarts to death in her school history, so she knew the technical term for it was a doublet and hose. But seeing HIM standing before her in them was another matter. The doublet was deep mauve with silver fleur de lis embroidered onto it. There was a cloak of deep purple lined with the same mauve and silver slung casually over one shoulder. Despite herself her eyes travelled down from his laughing eyes, past the distressingly sharp looking sword in a scabbard that went with the outfit, to his legs encased in the silver hose – or in modern parlance – tights. At that point the carefully adopted Elizabethan demeanour broke down and she shook with laughter until her tightly corseted sides hurt.

“Oh, shut up,” he said, as through her laughter he heard something like “nice legs.”

The boys also had a version of the adult costume, though simpler in style. They, too, had to suffer the indignity of the ‘hose’ but it looked less silly on boys. She noticed that they had smaller versions of the sword as well. The Doctor assured her they were just ‘toys’ that could hurt nobody, least of all themselves.

“I bet Susan won’t say so,” she said as they stepped out of the TARDIS and walked away from it.

“Susan needs to relax a bit and not worry so much. We got into a lot more trouble when she was their age.”

“Yes, I think that’s her point.” Rose noticed The Doctor looking back at the TARDIS and frowning. “What’s wrong?”

“When we’re in these pre-industrial time periods I always worry about the TARDIS. These are suspicious times when anything unusual was seen as the work of the Devil. I do wish sometimes the chameleon circuit DID work. If it just looked like a woodsman’s hut or a cave it would be ok.” He turned back and looked at Rose. “I love that you always wear the pendant. But they might see it as an astrological sign and that kind of thing was suspect – witchcraft and all that. Tuck it inside the dress where it won’t be seen.” Rose did as he said. “The thing about places like this is to look like you have a perfect right to be there.”

Rose knew that he did that almost everywhere. From her first trip with him to the end of the world, when, with a little help from psychic paper he got them accepted as guests of honour at the party, to the other day in Turin when they were treated royally at the opera, he made people believe he was not only meant to be there, but that it was important that he should be there. And it worked even when he was in that scruffy leather jacket as well as when he was dressed up like now.

“You can also get away with it if you look like a servant or a person of no account that nobody takes any notice of,” he added. “But I think its more fun being aristocracy, don’t you.”

“Except in the French Revolution,” Rose reminded him, and he grinned and was about to come up with a riposte when they heard a noise as of someone or some thing crashing through the undergrowth somewhere off the forest path. The Doctor reached for his sword and Rose saw that he handled it like he knew what he was doing. He drew her and the boys close to him and waited, eyes alert.

What emerged onto the path in front of them, stumbling, bruised and bleeding, was a man. He was about The Doctor’s height and apparent age, with blue eyes and dark hair and was dressed in a black cloak over black jerkin and leggings. He fell at their feet and it was Chris who bent to try to help him.

“Chris… be careful,” The Doctor said, turning his sword towards the stranger. “You, be still.”

“He’s a good man, granddad,” Chris said, touching the man’s hand. “And he needs our help to escape capture.”

The Doctor blinked in astonishment and looked at his great grandson and the panting, nervous man whose face was, nevertheless, kindly and open. He looked around. There was a clump of thorn bushes nearby. “It’s a painful hiding place,” he said, jerking his head towards it, “But less painful than what awaits you if you are taken. We’ll try to head off your pursuers.” The man scrambled to his feet and pressed himself into the thorn bush. Rose winced. It must have been VERY painful. But even as he concealed himself they heard horses on the path and alarmed shouts. The Doctor drew them all forward away from the bushes and told them to keep their eyes ahead.

Moments later several horsemen appeared. All were dressed in leather jerkins and hard-wearing cloth and carried plain steel swords. The Doctor stepped forward as the men reined in their horses.

“Sire,” the leader of them said. “I am constable of the watch here in the forest, and we are pursuing a knave. Have you seen such a one?”

“A black-visaged rogue passed us in that direction some quarter of the hour ago,” The Doctor answered. “But he would be long gone. He had a swift horse.”

“Horse?” The constable frowned. “From whence did he get that? When he was sprung from his bolthole he was on foot.”

“I know not,” The Doctor said, “being a stranger to these parts. But it seems that horse thievery is common. An hour past as we rested by a stream to the west of here our horses were taken by a gang of thieves who spoke most roughly to my lady wife.”

“You are unscathed, Sire?” the constable asked, suddenly concerned.

“I defended myself and my lady’s honour,” he replied. “But being one alone I could not prevent the horses being taken. Our scurvy knave of a body-servant ran off in fear and is doubtless lost in the forest by now,” he added. “I am the Marquess de Lœngbærrow,” he continued. “Lately come with my Lady and my children as a guest of Sir Richard Assheton of Whalley, and thus far not assured of much welcome in this cold northern shire!”

The mention of his own title and that of the local lord of the manor settled any other questions the constable might have and he became animated in his efforts to please his betters.

“Sire, I shall send the lad here back to fetch horses for you,” He promptly dismissed one of the riders. “Meantime – the rogue who passed you - I beg your pardon, and your leave sire, but he is a dangerous criminal – a seminary of Douai banned from these shores on pain of death and I must continue the pursuit.” And at that the man and his followers were off, riding in the direction The Doctor had pointed them.

“What the heck is a seminary of doowhatsit and why is it pain of death to be one?” Rose asked as The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver from inside his doublet and used it to break through the thorns and extract the hidden man.

“He is a Catholic priest,” Davie told Rose quietly. “And at this time in England that was illegal.”

“Sire,” the man said standing before The Doctor. “I owe you my life – incredible as it seems if you are, indeed, a friend of the Asshetons of Whalley.” He shook his hand gratefully and then bent to address Chris. “Little gentleman, I owe you for your intercession on my behalf. May I ask your name?”

“Christopher Campbell,” he answered, and the man’s eyes flashed in apparent understanding.

“Ah,” he said. “Then you are of the old faith despite acquaintance with heretics such as those who now reside at the Abbey. There are, of course, many noble houses who hide such a secret.” He clasped Chris’s hand and straightened up. “With your leave, I shall be upon my way. You have gained me time enough to reach a nearby safe place before nightfall. My blessings and the blessings of Christ and Saint Christopher upon your own journey.” The man made a sigil in the air before them and turned and ran into the forest.

“They killed people in this time for being priests?” Rose asked in astonishment. “I never knew that.” She blushed and looked at Davie, who HAD known that. “My school was such rubbish. Ten year olds know more than I do.”

“You know now,” The Doctor said. “So don’t worry. Chris, what’s that he gave you?” Chris held up a silver crucifix on a thin chain that the man pressed into his hand when he held it. “You’d best hide that away, too, son. Crucifixes were very much out of fashion in these times.” Chris put it around his neck but hid it inside his clothes.

Then something else struck him.

“Chris, how long have you been able to read people’s timelines by touch?”

“About a year. Davie can, too.”

“Your psychic abilities are fantastic,” The Doctor said. “You’re both way better than me. And I’m totally useless at telekinesis.”

“Davie’s best at that,” Chris said. “I’m best at image projection. I do the chess boards.”

“You’re both fantastic,” he said again with obvious pride. “But none of our tricks here, boys. They definitely fall into the witchcraft category.”

“That man…” Chris spoke sadly, tears pricking his eyes. “He’s going to die in ten years, time. They’ll catch him and….”

“I know,” The Doctor said. “I felt it too. We can’t help that. It’s his destiny. At least he lives for today. And for a man in his position that’s enough to be going on with.”

The ‘lad’ arrived back just then with three spare horses, one large gelding and two smaller ponies. Rose looked nervous suddenly and pointed out that she could not ride.

“You don’t have to,” The Doctor said as he fixed the travel bag they had with them to the saddle of the stallion. “Ladies rode pillion in these times.” After seeing the two boys onto the ponies he lifted her sideways onto the back of the gelding and mounted it in front of her in a swift movement.

If she lived to be a hundred in his company he would never cease to amaze her, Rose thought. WHEN in his colourful life did he learn to ride a horse as if he was BORN in the saddle? He told her to hold on to him, and she put her arms about his waist and her head against his cloaked back as he urged his horse on at a walk. The ‘lad’ stayed with them as guide as they came out of the forest and descended along a better made road to a village that they saw ahead of them at the bottom of a rounded hill. The boy said it was Whalley, their destination.

“Do you actually know this Assheton guy?” she asked him in a low voice only he would hear.

“No,” he answered. “I’m going to use Power of Suggestion and brazen it out. But how are you enjoying your Elizabethan adventure so far?”

“These people… They’re suspicious of anything strange, they hate Catholics and hang priests, and they believe in witchcraft. They’re not very nice, are they?”

The Doctor wondered if he ought to mention that the penalty for being a seminary in Elizabethan England was actually to be hung, drawn and quartered, the second part happening while the condemned man was not fully dead. He decided not.

“I’ve had some good times in this period,” The Doctor said. “Maybe I should have taken you to Stratford to meet my old mate Will Shakespeare instead, but I thought after Puccini you’d think I was just showing off.”

“William Shakespeare is your friend?”

“Yes. So was Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Middleton at various times. It’s a good thing alcohol has no effect on me, though. All three of them were in the habit of trying to get me drunk and married off to women they knew.”

“And these are people you would think of introducing your great grandchildren to?”

“Shakespeare isn’t such a bad lad. He’d behave himself in mixed company at least.”

“Well, I’d sure like to tell him how bored I was by the Merchant of Venice at school.”

“Not a good idea. They didn’t teach Shakespeare in school for at least another century and girls didn’t go to school anyway.”

She lapsed into silence then and just enjoyed the rare treat of riding side saddle behind her own beloved man. She expected to be scared, but she actually felt perfectly safe there, holding onto him. And it was nice to be that close up to him for so long, like a very extended hug.

It was dusk when they arrived at the aforementioned Abbey. There at least her sketchy history came together. She knew that Henry VIII had dissolved all the abbeys and monasteries and sold the buildings to nobles who could afford to buy them as private houses. The Abbey at Whalley had gone that way and now belonged to Sir Richard Assheton, a man in his fifties who seemed friendly enough for one the priest had regarded as an enemy. With a little help from ‘Power of Suggestion’ he recognised The Doctor as an old friend and they were conducted to chambers to rest before the banquet they were apparently expected at.

Rose was not a girl who was used to being waited upon, but she was grateful to be helped by a maid out of the elaborate dress which was feeling less comfortable now. She lay down on the big bed in a ‘shift’ of white fabric that she was helped into before she dismissed all the servants from the room.

The Doctor came in after making sure the boys were napping. He was wearing a sort of loose velvet robe that she supposed men of this time wore when they relaxed.

“The trouble with people thinking we are married,” he said, “is that they ALWAYS provide us with rooms with double beds in them.” He laid down on it beside her even so.

“You look like you have something on your mind other than sleeping arrangements,” Rose said to him as she snuggled close. A cuddle was a cuddle no matter what century it was in.

“Thinking about the boys… Chris knows how to read a timeline already. It took me years to get the hang of that. Even now I need to concentrate. He only has to touch their hands. I should teach him to block it, though. It’s not always a good thing.”


“Would you really like to know exactly when, where and how anyone will die the moment you touch them? If I’d known the day my son was given into my arms newborn… if I’d known he was destined to die and leave me alone.…” His eyes dimmed at the thought before he shook his head and freed himself of the thought. “No, we learn to block it to protect ourselves as well as others.”

“Seems like once you start this Time Lord training there’s one thing after the other to teach them.”

“Yes. But that’s ok. I’m proud of them both. They WILL transcend much sooner than anyone on Gallifrey ever did. I am giving them centuries of theory in a matter of years and their skills are progressing exponentially. I really DO need to teach them to pilot the TARDIS next. I think I should teach you, as well. It’s your home. You’re a part of it. If anything happened to me, you ought to have it, and be able to use it properly.”

“I thought only Time Lords could operate a TARDIS.”

“So did I. But I never expected the TARDIS to be so empathic with you. I think you could.”

Rose had a brief vision of being alone in the TARDIS, getting it to take her places she could only dream of. But then she realised that, without him, there was nowhere she wanted to go. And he had said – “if anything happened to me.”

“Nothing is going to happen to you. But I WOULD like to learn along with the boys.” She paused and came to something else that was on her mind.

“Did you read my timeline?” Rose asked. “The first time we met… you grabbed my hand…”

“Not the first time. I was more interested in getting you away from the Autons and out of a building I intended to blow up. The second time - when you asked me who I was and I told you a load of nonsense about the world turning… I read as far as you stepping into the TARDIS to come with me… after that… there was no point. Time travel introduces so many uncertainties. And once you’d actually begun travelling with me it was too late.”

“So you have no more idea than I have what the future holds for us?”


“So there are all sorts of possibilities, and neither of us really know what the future holds.”

“When you put it like that….”

“We’re facing the uncertain together, and that’s fine by me.”

Later, Rose banished him from the room again while she dressed for the banquet. The travel bag had concealed a dress she just HAD to wear at least once, and she submitted to being squeezed into the tightest of corsetry before putting it on. It was pure white, embroidered over with a silver-white thread and covered in pearls. REAL pearls. In any era it must have been worth a fortune.

The smile on The Doctor’s face when he saw her was worth it.

“The prettiest woman in the room,” he told her as he took her arm. She smiled because she knew he meant it.

The banquet involved an unbelievable array of food and they all made a pretence of eating their fill like their companions. But they were all too well aware that the village they passed through had its share of beggars and people who looked as if they never had their fair share of the food the land gave up. It was hard to truly enjoy this bounty in that knowledge.

Rose tried to join in the chatter of the women around the table, but they were too empty-headed. Nothing but dress fabrics and the size of ruffs and their hopes of being presented at court.

Strange, she thought, but before The Doctor took her hand and changed her life, she probably COULD have talked to them perfectly easily. It was a shock to realise how much she had changed. She thought about the last time she’d been back home and had met up with Shireen and some of the other girls she grew up with, and how empty their conversations had seemed.

Of course the fact that she couldn’t really tell them what SHE had been doing made it harder. Shireen and the others had the idea that The Doctor was some kind of international traveller and that she went along with him for the laugh, and for - well, the SEX.

They couldn’t imagine any other reason to be with a man but that. In a million years she couldn’t explain to them that what they had went beyond physical attraction, that just being with The Doctor was enough for her, without BEING with him, that the touch of his hand on hers still thrilled her as much as the first time, that the rare kisses he gave to her were enough to know that the desire was there without needing it to be a reality. She couldn’t explain that in a million years, and neither could she explain that she didn’t care about clothes and boys and pop music.

Nor could she explain the thrill of seeing her first opera, of listening to Bob Dylan while flying through the time vortex. She couldn’t even tell them how beautiful Turin was, even though that was a perfectly plausible place for her to have visited.

And did she MIND that she had changed so much? If she met another version of herself that had not met The Doctor, that other self would probably think she was a snob who thought she was too good now for her old friends. But it wasn’t that. Her life had been stretched, her expectations raised, her hopes for the future solidified. Even when she WAS a shopgirl she had wanted more. Now she knew WHAT she wanted - to be a time and space travelling defender of justice alongside the man she loved. It wasn’t in the careers booklet they gave her at school, but it WAS what she wanted.

The Doctor was not finding the conversation entirely stimulating, either. He had spent enough time in this era to have take part in hunts, or given the appearance of taking part. In truth he hated blood sports and he was entirely winging it in the conversation until it turned to more specifics.

“I understand you encountered some of our local rogues today,” Sir Richard Assheton said to him.

“Aye,” he replied. “Our horses were stolen. A damnable nuisance.”

“The forest roads can be treacherous that way. You should have sent a servant ahead and we could have arranged an escort for you and your good lady and your fine children.”

“Alas, in hindsight….”

“I understand you crossed paths with another rogue, also,” Assheton continued, and The Doctor immediately paid attention. “A dangerous renegade – a seminary preaching sedition among the weaker of mind.”

“He didn’t look so much when he came past us,” The Doctor said.

“Maybe so. But those who influence the minds of the people are far more dangerous than mere thieves.”

“That much is certainly true. I take it the rogue has evaded you?” He was aware that the boys were paying attention to this part of the conversation. He could feel Chris in his head asking him to find out more.

“He cannot be far away. Somebody will have given him succour. But there is a manhunt even as we sit at meat. He will be taken, I am sure. And once taken he will be swiftly removed to Lancaster. There, the gibbet awaits him, as befits one of his sort.”

“Indeed,” The Doctor said idly. “Yet thus far he is not taken?”

“Not yet, but it will not be long.”

“I rejoice that the Queen’s law is so well attended in these parts.” The Doctor took up his wine goblet and drank as a distraction from the conversation.

“I don’t know,” he told Chris who was asking questions still. “I think he’s safe. This man is all blather. But, I feel for our seminarian, hunted in the dark.”

When the banquet was over there was dancing. Rose REALLY panicked because this was a different kind of dancing than she had ever known before. But The Doctor grinned at her and led her out onto the floor amongst the crowd. HE appeared to be an expert in it. He held her hand up at shoulder level, barely touching, as was the custom apparently and placed his feet expertly. She did her best to keep up with him in a formal dance called the Galliard in which there was a great deal of bowing and curtsying and courtly actions involved, and then a more informal one called the Branle which was a little easier to handle, though she never stopped being nervous about it.

Still, dancing with The Doctor was always an experience, no matter what kind of dancing it was, and she smiled through it all.

Suddenly the doors to the great hall opened with a crash. The musicians stopped playing and people stopped dancing as the constable and his men came in, a bound prisoner thrust in front of them.

The Doctor heard Chris’s anguished cry in his head and sent a warning message to him. The boys both came to his side through the crowd and he put his arms around them and Rose. He held them all tightly, but there was nothing they could do for the prisoner. The crowd parted and he was manhandled towards Assheton who looked him up and down.

“Who was sheltering him?” Assheton demanded and the constable said he was taken alone hiding in a disused mill by the Downham road. Assheton was clearly disappointed there were no other prisoners taken. Obviously he had hoped to flush out supporters of the ‘old faith’. He contented himself with ordering that the Seminarian be secured in the dungeon beneath the house until the morning when he would be taken under guard to Lancaster.

The man was turned and manhandled out. He passed close by The Doctor and his family. There was a flicker of recognition in his eyes, but of course he said nothing.

As the doors closed again The Doctor whispered to Rose.

“I want to get out of here. Faint… as dramatically as you can… now…”

Rose raised her arm to her brow and gave a loud sigh and fell backwards in a swoon worthy of a silent movie heroine. The Doctor was there to catch her, of course, he shouting for help because his lady was taken ill. Not that he needed help. He lifted her into his arms and, with the boys following he swept quickly out of the room. A servant ran ahead with a lantern up to their chambers, but after that he dismissed him and the chambermaid who was waiting there.

“Granddad,” Chris said out loud as soon as they were alone. “We have to help him.”

“Yes,” Rose said. “We DO. And don’t give me any of the stuff about not changing timelines and whatever. You can’t. We saved him once. We have to save him again.”

All three of them clamoured loudly until The Doctor hushed them. “Somebody is coming. Rose… lie down on the bed. You’re meant to be ill. Boys, sit quietly by her.” He waited for the knock at the big oak door. He opened it to see the mistress of the house, Lady Assheton, looking anxious.

“My wife was shocked to see again the same rogue who startled us this afternoon,” The Doctor told her in explanation. “She took fright and swooned. But she is well now.”

Lady Assheton tutted and said that a man never knew what ailed women and swept by him. Rose acted her part well as she pretended to be coming around dizzily from a faint. The boys did a grand job of seeming upset that their mother was ill. Command performances from all three.

Lady Assheton was soon satisfied that it WAS no more than a faint and after speaking a few words to Rose she left again. The Doctor bolted the door behind her and then he came and sat on the bed as Rose pulled herself upright and leaned against the fat pillow roll. The boys came and climbed on the bed too, either side of The Doctor, and he put his arms around them.

“Of course we’re going to do something,” he said. “I don’t think we have any choice. Chris, you read his timeline. He is meant to live another ten years. That means we MUST be intended to rescue him. But we can do nothing yet. We’re going to wait, calmly, until the house is quiet.” Below in the hall, the revels were still going on. It would be a time yet.

“Renegade Seminarian!” he said. “Renegade… I hate that word!” Rose looked at him and understood. It was, he had told her once, the worst thing you could call a Time Lord. And HE had been called it for centuries. Apart from a sense of natural justice, Rose thought there was another reason why he wanted to help this man. Did he see something of himself in him?

“Let’s pass the time our own way,” he said, taking the hands of the boys and they, in turn, taking Rose’s hands so that they formed a circle. “Chris, you said you were best at thought projection. Show me your favourite place in the whole universe.” Chris concentrated and easily produced an image in the air in the middle of their circle. It was the garden of their home on Earth. The image was perfect, right down to his father’s rose bushes. Then Davie came in with his favourite place, the old Millenium Wheel that still stood in the twenty-third century as a tourist attraction. The Doctor conjured Mount Lœng with its beautiful waterfall. And then they all looked at Rose.

“I can’t do that,” she protested. “I’m not like you.”

“You can with our help,” The Doctor told her, and she felt the boys both squeeze her hands. “Think of your favourite place in the universe. Concentrate on it. And between the three of us I think projecting it for you will be no difficulty.”

Rose thought. There was one place above all in the universe that she loved, where she always felt safe. She smiled as she pictured it in her head. The Doctor smiled, too, glad that of all places THAT was her favourite. The boys were delighted, too, as they watched the image of the slowly revolving TARDIS.

“Home,” Rose breathed, hardly daring to move.

“Yes,” The Doctor agreed. “Our home.”

They played that game, almost silently, for hour after hour. Midnight came and went and then the first hour of the morning. A little after that, The Doctor said it should be safe now. He looked at Rose and at the boys. He was leading them all into a mortal danger. Lancaster and a gibbet was the penalty for aiding and abetting a seminarian, too. But he would not leave any of them alone right now, and besides, when he had seen the prisoner free he fully intended to summon the TARDIS and leave this time and place.

But that dress… Rose could not even walk without it rustling and the tightness of the bodice and the fullness of the skirt meant that she could hardly walk quickly.

“Take it off,” he said. She did. Beneath the elaborate dress were three layers of petticoats and the corset. She threw off all but a plain white linen “shift” that reached to her ankles. It was loose fitting but she tied it at the waist with the cord from the bed post and put her outdoor cloak of black over it. She regretted leaving the beautiful dress, but she did, indeed, feel freer without it. She left off the tight shoes, meant for show not comfort, too. In her bare feet the stone flagged floors were cold but at least she was unhindered.

The house WAS quiet. In the hall there was a sleepy servant who slept more soundly when The Doctor approached him from behind and rendered him unconscious with a hold to the back of the neck. He rolled his eyes as Rose made a comment about the ‘Vulcan death grip’ and said he knew how to do that seven hundred years before Mr Spock. But now as they entered the lower floors of the house they stopped talking. The Doctor took Rose’s hand, the boys followed behind. He spoke to the boys telepathically and signalled to Rose through the pressure of his hand on hers.

It was not exactly a dungeon as such, this being a not especially old house, but it WAS a secure place with windowless rooms that could be locked. The one the seminarian was in was guarded by three men of the watch. They were alert and on their guard, though not so “on guard” as to notice four people approach. Chris and Davie grinned as they saw the stout sticks the men carried as weapons. They both concentrated and two of the sticks began to rise up and come down on the heads of two of the men, rendering them unconscious.

At the same moment, Rose, without any prompting, took out the third with a well executed Judo throw. Unfortunately for the guard he was not an expert and he landed hard and lay unconscious with his comrades. The Doctor would have been proud of her if he was not too busy stepping over unconscious guards to get to the locked door.

The sonic screwdriver dealt with the lock and the bolts were no problem. He pulled open the door and the Seminarian, knelt on the floor in earnest prayer, looked up at him. He held out his hand and the man sprang to his feet and reached for it.

“This is the second time you have come to my aid, sir. The first might be called generous – kindness to a stranger by the wayside. This second is an act of bravery. I commend you.”

“Let’s talk when we are safe,” The Doctor said as they hurried back up the stairs and quickly through the silent hall. Outside The Doctor quietly dispatched two more members of the watch who were thus the first people in England ever to find themselves on the receiving end of the Shaolin Way, though they were too busy falling unconscious to appreciate the honour.

Soon they were slipping quietly through the sleeping village. They stopped for breath in a dark alleyway by the village inn.

“Do you know of a place within a short distance where you would be safe?” The Doctor asked the Seminarian. “I don’t know how long it will be before the hue and cry goes up for your escape.”

“Not long, I fear,” he replied. “But yes, I know a place.”

“Then you go to it. You are less likely to be seen alone, and can move faster. We slow you down.”

“What of yourselves? You will be hunted, too.”

“We won’t be here to be hunted,” The Doctor told him. “Go now.”

“Christ, His Holy Mother and Saint Christopher guide your journey,” the man said, as he had said to them before, and as before making a sigil. “I shall remember your knew the area and was soon gone from sight and sound.

“Time we were away, too,” The Doctor said as he pressed the TARDIS key. “Let them search high and low for the Marquess de Lœngbærrow and family tomorrow. Especially if it keeps them from the trail of the good priest.”

“We never knew his name,” Rose said as they stepped into the TARDIS and the doors closed behind them.

“We didn’t need to know it, only that he was a good man,” The Doctor said. “Any more than he needed to know ours to know that he could trust us.” He set them in temporal orbit and then turned to the boys with a smile.

“When you tell your mother that we visited the Elizabethan era, best if you stick to the funny clothes and banqueting, dancing and horse riding and leave out the aiding and abetting of seditious prisoners.”