The Steroid Saga
In this corner, weighing in at twenty milligrams a day is the awful, the hyperactive, the terrible… prednisone!
And in this corner, weighing in at God knows what by now, is the one, the only, author of Graveyard Shifts…Laura Del!
It’s not a joking matter. But hey, if you can’t laugh at life, you’re doomed to be miserable for as long as you’re alive.
Anyway, let me explain why I’m on these wonderful and horrible drugs called corticosteroids. I have, what is known as, ulcerative colitis. However, being on a “steroid” is not new to me. I’ve had asthma all my life, and with flare ups or really bad asthma attacks, I’ve had to go on and off them from time to time. They were actually why I was two-hundred and forty some-odd pounds in high school.
Now, the reason behind so much weight gain is that the steroid makes your body retain water, which is always the fun part. Because in the beginning, you look like you have become about five, maybe six, months pregnant depending on the dosage. And then…then you start to eat. This is what I mean by eat…you are constantly hungry!
Let’s say that you’re having a meal, but it’s not just a meal anymore, it is your lifeline. Your salvation. You eat everything on your plate. The chicken, the mashed potatoes, the carrots…big portions all, but you’re still hungry! You can’t get enough. So you just keep eating, and your stomach gets more and more distended, until you feel like you’re a tick about to pop. But do you stop? No! Because you can’t! Your life now revolves around food, and what time you’re going to eat, and how much you can have, and when you can have your dessert. It’s not fun. And if you don’t have food, you become, what I like to call, “manic depressive” Laura. She’s always exciting. She wakes up crying and screaming in the middle of the night. “Manic depressive” Laura becomes violent at the drop of a hat, and will kill you for a cube of cheese.
Anyhow, when you begin to get hungry all the frigging time, the water retention moves into other parts of your body…like your face. This is called “moon face.” And it’s exactly what it’s sounds like. Your face, as you once knew it, becomes distorted and round. You lose your cheekbones, your nose…hell, even your chin. They all disappear and you start to look like the Stay Puff marshmallow man. (Yeah, I went there.) Then the water moves to your arms, hands, legs, neck and feet. So much so, that you are unable to move your joints without feeling as though your skin is going to be ripped apart. I mean, no one wants to be The Hulk in their own skin. It’s damned uncomfortable, believe me. It’s not cool. Especially when you’re trying to walk up the stairs to take a shower, and you have to waddle like a duck in order to accomplish this once easy task.
Once the water retention gets bad, it’s an uphill battle from there. Not only are you starving for food, you are now starving for activity. You can’t get enough. You feel like you can run six marathons in a day. You climb every mountain and forge every stream. This is the stage where I become “hyperactive” Laura. She’s not as scary and “manic depressive” Laura, but she’s damned close. She does not shut up! She won’t stop talking. It’s all, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” and “Babble, babble, babble!” Then she runs around the house like a cat at three in the morning. Going nowhere in particular. She just keeps going and going and going and going and only stops for food.
Finally, it’s my favorite part…the wean down stage. Once, when I was little, we didn’t do this stage, which we now realize is very dangerous and can cause renal failure. Well, let me tell you one day I was fine, and the next I was literally paralyzed from the neck down. It was terrifying. I have since learned that you must wean down the steroids! (I’m actually on the wean down stage as I write this.)
Here’s what happens during this very awful and hurtful stage…
I become “cry at the drop of a hat” Laura, and “don’t touch me” Laura. Yes, ladies and gentleman, you read that right. This fucking drug messes with your emotions and with your nerve endings as well. Every part and I mean every part of your body hurts because the water retention is now dissipating. You become moody and irrational. One time, I cried because I couldn’t get a candy bar open. I kid you not! I bawled, like a two-year-old, because Mr. Hersey “hated me.”
You can laugh at that, it’s funny. But it was not funny at the time. And it’s never funny when one minute you’re laughing at something and the next you feel like you want to jump off a bridge. I mean, depression isn’t even the word for it. There are actually no words for how rotten and awful you feel during this stage. Even the gentlest of touches can send your entire body into spasm, and make you weep like an emotionally disturbed child.
Yes! It is that bad. And if you have had the good fortune of not being on steroids, do me a favor? Close your eyes and imagine the worst part of your life, the worst pain you have ever been in and then keep playing that over and over in your head for about a month. Then you will understand what people go through while on this “miracle” drug. That’s what the doctors call it because it cures almost any autoimmune disease…or at least, helps manage them.
After all of the stages are done with, you now have to deal with the recovery. Losing weight, fixing the broken figurine that you threw across the room because it began to talk to you and trying to apologize to someone you yelled at because they were in your way of the refrigerator. Even then, it’s never truly over, because years after you finish the drug, other things start showing up. Hair in places you never had hair before, stretch marks all over your body, a deepening of your voice and sometimes worse than that. High blood pressure, bleeding ulcers in your stomach and heart failure. All of these things could happen, so you just sit back and wait. Wait for the day that the doctor has that look on his face. Until then, all a person can do is just live.
Let’s end this on a happier note, shall we?
No one wants to be on steroids, and you can’t stay on them forever…thank God. But if you ever have the misfortune of being on them remember these things: lower your salt intake, eat healthy options, exercise, drink plenty of fluids and never leave the house without a pack of tissues, a portable fan, because you will have night sweats and be hot all the time, and at least two chocolate bars.
(A true story by: Laura Del)
A Girl Named Smith
Do you believe in destiny? In that magical something that brings two people together in a moment of need, want or love? Do you think that fate can somehow meddle in our lives in order to put us on the path that we were meant to follow?
I know I didn’t until it happened to me. It is real, whether you call it fate, destiny or the powers that be. It does exist. Two beings from opposite ends of the universe can crash into one another and finally understand their purpose. The encounter shows them their raison d'être. Their reason for being, if you will. And when they leave one another, their lives are never the same. Just like my life was never the same after I meet him.
My name is Anna Marie Smith, and this is the story about when my life changed. The story of how I met the Doctor…
It was an ordinary day in London.
I woke around ten that morning as usual looking out at the busy street from my flat above an antique shop on Portobello Road. I had lived there for over two years, and it always surprised me how many people just loved to sit and chat outside, even in the rain.
Being a native of Blackwell, Worcestershire where the population is less than three-thousand, London was a shock to me. But I had gotten used to the crowded street and the eclectic array of people. In fact, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
Except that day…that day I was so down in the dumps that I almost didn’t want to get out of bed, let alone go to Harrods for some much needed retail therapy. Nevertheless, after spending two days of my two-week vacation from work cooped up, I decided to get out. So it was with a heavy heart that I dressed in my favorite tan and blue horizontal striped jumper, that went down to my knees, and a pair of black leggings.
I sat on my bed with a sigh as I put on my black knee high boots. It was late October and the fall had come fast and cold. It had rained everyday for a month, and this day was no different. But I was resigned to go out no matter what.
When I got up off the bed, I walked over to the mirror. My hair—dark and curly as it is—was more than a little frizzy, so I pinned it up as always. Then I noticed that the dark circles under my eyes looked like deep bruises against my pale skin. I covered them up with foundation as quickly as possible. After which, I tried to make my honey coloured eyes less red by using some mascara, and it worked…a little.
“There you go, Anna.” I told myself as I put on some tinted lip balm. “You don’t look as if you were crying at all.” I smiled, but it was a sad sort of smile and I could not look at it without tears forming. So I picked up my messenger bag, wrapped my blue wool scarf around my neck and out of my flat I went.
As I walked outside, I bumped into the shop owner’s son, Mitchell Morgan. “Morning, Anna,” he said, smiling down at me. Mitch is a foot taller than I am, which makes him at least six foot four, with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He’s handsome in a rugged sort of way, and even though we flirted a little, we were just friends. I adored this friendship, especially when we had out morning talks.
“Morning, Mitch,” I said back, trying not to frown.
“Where’s the barrister boyfriend?” he asked, talking about Jeffery. We had been dating for four months, and Mitch rarely saw me without him. “I thought you two were going to Paris on holiday?”
I could feel the corners of my mouth tilt downward. “Jeffery said that I wasn’t suitable enough for Paris, so he took a leggy blonde in my stead.”
“Oh, Anna,” Mitch said with a tinge of sorrow in his voice. “I am so sorry.”
“It’s all right, Mitch. You didn’t know.”
“I feel awful anyway.”
A gave a bitter little laugh. “That makes two of us.”
There was a small silence between us, until he asked, “So, where are you off to then?”
“Shopping,” I answered.
“Fancy,” he said with a bright smile.
I looked at my watch, and I knew if I didn’t leave soon, I would miss the bus. “Well,” I sighed, “I have to go.”
He nodded. “Get yourself something nice.”
“I will,” I assured him as I turned to walk away.
“Bye, Anna,” he said with a wave.
I was almost half way down the road when he yelled, “Have a good time!”
“I’ll try,” I yelled back, waving over my shoulder. “I’ll try,” I whispered to myself, trying to keep my spirits up.
Three hour had passed before I found myself on a bench in the middle of the park. The sun had broken through the clouds, so I decided to sit for a bit. I was disappointed with the selection of clothes the store provided, but I wound up buying a white silk nightgown with black lace trim anyway. The clerk had talked me into it, and really, I just couldn’t say no. So I had gotten that and a chocolate bar.
When I was done with my sweet treat, the clouds had started rolling in again, and I decided to get up and go home before the rain started. That was the plan anyway.
As soon as I stood, I heard someone yell, “Look out!”
I turned around quickly to see a man in a bow tie and a long dark purple coat running in my direction. I didn’t even have time to react before he slammed into me, and we went tumbling to the grass. The man landed on top of me, and when he leaned back a little, I could finally see his face. Greenish-grey eyes, straight nose, thin lips, big chin and floppy brown hair with his ears sticking out a little. “Hi there,” he said with a smile.
“Hello,” I responded, a little shocked.
He helped me to my feet, and as I was fixing myself, he looked over his shoulder. “We should run,” he said.
“Run,” he yelled, grabbing me by the hand. The man almost dragged me away from where we stood, and before I knew it, I was running just to keep from falling.
“Who are you?” I asked as we ran.
“No time for that now,” he answered, looking over his should at me. “Just run!” As if, I had any other choice but to run. His grip was like a vise.
We must have run at least half the park before we came upon a blue police box. I hadn’t seen one of those in years, and the next thing I knew, he was pulling me inside it.
I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, because as we went through the doors, we stepped into an extremely large white and blue room. It had silver railings with stairs leading down to a lower level, and a control panel with a glass tube that reached all the way to the ceiling. It seemed to be from a different world with all its knobs, switches and buttons. There were these circular panels going round, and as I stared at them, they started to make me dizzy. “Oh…my…” I managed, as he ran over to the glowing middle console. “What…the…”
“Hold onto something,” he told me.
“That!” He pointed to the railing, and I grabbed it, holding on so tight, I was white knuckled. We lurched forward, and then the whole place shook violently and I lost my footing, winding up on my knees.
It seemed like an eternity before the box stopped moving, but when it finally did, the man was extremely happy. “That’s it, TARDY baby!” He leaned down kissing the console.
“Bigger,” I whispered to myself as I stood, placing my bags down on the glass floor. “Actually bigger on the inside. How is that possible?” When I finally turned around to get a better look, the man was standing right behind me.
“Who are you?” he asked with anger in his voice.
“Oh no.” I shook my head, matching his temper. “I asked you first.”
He seemed confused. “When?”
“When we were running,” I reminded him.
“Ah, yes. Now I remember,” he said as he made his way back over to the controls.
“Who are you?” I repeated.
He smiled brightly. “I’m the Doctor.”
“The Doctor of what?”
He opened his slightly, and then his brow furrowed as he pointed at me. “It’s been a very long time since someone has asked me that,” he told me, smiling a bit. “You could say that I’m the Doctor of time and space. But my friends just call me the Doctor.”
I shook my head again, trying to wrap my brain around what he said. “What is this place?” I asked, gesturing around me.
“This,” he said, arms wide, “is the TARDIS.”
“What’s a TARDIS?”
“Time and Relative Dimension in Space,” he blurted.
I could feel my face scrunch up with confusion. “What’s that in laymen’s terms?”
“Basically…” he shrugged. “A time machine.”
I stood there for a minute gob smacked, and then I started to laugh. It was just too ridiculous.
After a moment, the Doctor started laughing with me, as he placed his thumbs inside the breast of his blue vest. “Why are we laughing?” he asked me, happily.
“This is a prank, right?” I asked, looking around me. “There must be cameras in here, and at any minute you’re going to tell me that this is a joke. Well,”—I held my hands up—“you’ve had your fun, but I’m leaving.” I made my way over to the entrance.
“I wouldn’t—” the Doctor began, but I had already opened the door.
My eyes widened, and I gasped when I saw we were in the middle of space, right next to…I slammed the door shut, placing my back against it. “Please tell me that is not Saturn.”
“How did you know?” he asked with that bright childlike smile. Then he looked off into the distance. “I just love looking at its rings.”
“So, you don’t have cameras?”
“I have one,” he said, walking down the stairs, rummaging through something. “Ah-ha!” he exclaimed, bringing up a large wooden box. “Here it is.”
When he set it up, I realized what it was. “Is that a cinematograph?”
I walked over to it in awe. “It looks brand new. Where did you get it?”
He shrugged. “The Lumière brothers gave it to me. I’ve had it for almost a hundred years.”
“You’ve had this for…” my voice trailed away, and the panic set in again. “Did you just say a hundred years?” I asked quietly, and he nodded. “How old are you?”
I watched him carefully as he thought. I could actually see the wheels in his head turning. “Eleven-hundred and four to be exact,” he finally replied, and I started to hyperventilate.
“This cannot be happening,” I said as I paced. “I’ve lost my mind. I never thought it could happen…but it has. I’m probably wandering around the park talking to myself. Oh my…” I cried, placing my hands in front of my eyes. “This is not real…it can’t be.”
“Miss,” the Doctor said, and I could hear the concern in his voice. “It’s all right. I’m real.” He assured me, taking my hands away from my face. He smiled gently, and I could feel my nerves quiet. “You can pinch me if you’d like.”
I pinched his forearm through his coat, and he jumped. “Ow,” he yelped, rubbing his arm. “What did you do that for?”
“You said I could.”
He frowned. “Next time don’t listen to me. That hurt.”
“What exactly are you?” I was suddenly very intrigued by this strange man.
His smile returned. “I’m a Time Lord.”
I felt my brows pull together. “A what?”
“To you, I’m an alien.”
“You don’t look like an alien.”
He raised a brow at me. “What do aliens look like?”
“You know…small, green, big heads.”
“Stereo type,” he yelled, and I jumped back. “If you ask me, Hollywood needs to learn to listen better.”
I didn’t understand what he was talking about, and before I could ask, he walked back over to the glowing console. “What’s your name, darling girl?” he asked nicely.
“Anna Marie Smith,” I answered automatically. I didn’t know who this man was, but something inside told me that I could trust him.
He threw his arms wide, smiling. “Annie!”
“Anna,” I corrected.
“Annie,” he said again, dropping his arm, whilst that bright and slightly crooked smile of his never wavered.
“Anna,” I repeated, trying not to get frustrated with him.
“Smith.” He pointed at me, and I realized that I was never going to win this argument.
I nodded. “That’s right, Doctor. Smith.”
“Do you know Sarah Jane?”
“Never mind,” he said quickly, focusing on the buttons and knobs. “Tell me a little about yourself, Smith.”
“There’s nothing to tell, Doctor,” I said, testing the name out. It was funny…a man just called the Doctor. “What is this?” I asked, placing my hands on the controls.
“The controls of the TARDIS,” he explained quickly, “and don’t change the subject.”
“I wasn’t changing the subject,” I sighed, feeling my dark mood return. “And exactly what I said—there is nothing to tell.”
I tried to touch a button, but he grabbed my hand. “What about your parents?” he asked, leaning against the controls.
“They died a year and a half ago.” I told him quickly, so that the tears wouldn’t begin.
“Aunts and Uncles?” he inquired, and I shook my head. “Any family at all?” I shook my head again. “What about a boyfriend? Girlfriend? Cat? I don’t judge,” he said quickly. He did that a lot. He was a fast talker.
“I had a boyfriend.”
His brow crinkled. “Had?”
“He broke up with me.”
“Broke up,” he mused quietly, looking at the ceiling for a minute. The wheels were turning again. “Why?” he asked, turning his attention back to me.
My lower lip began to quiver, and I realized that he was still holding my hand. I pulled away turning from him, and then I began to walk around, pretending to be interested in the enormity of the TARDIS. “He…” I began, clearing my throat. “He told me that I wasn’t suitable enough.”
“What does that mean?”
I looked at him for a second then turned my back toward him, placing my hands on the railing. “We were supposed to go to Paris on holiday, but when I asked which train we were taking, he told me that he didn’t want to be seen with me anymore, and that he was taking his twig of a secretary instead.”
“Why didn’t he want to be seen with you?” he asked, and I could hear the puzzlement in his voice.
“He said that I was getting fat.” The tears started. “He said that…that a barrister should not have an overweight girlfriend. There are standards, you know. He’s a public figure…and all that.”
The Doctor placed his hand on my shoulder, and I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand before I faced him again. “You are not fat, Smith. In fact, I think you are too skinny. Come on,” he said, lifting my chin gently with his finger. “Surely, it’s not that bad.”
I sighed. “Sometimes I wonder…”
“Wonder what?” he asked, and I looked away. “What you have to live for?” I nodded. “Well, what do you have to live for? There must be something.”
I shrugged, walking away from him again. “I don’t…”
“It’s not that hard of a question.” He began to get loud, and when I turned round, I saw his face had gone from soft and understanding to hard and frustrated. “What is there for you to live for?” The Doctor yelled the question. “You said it yourself. You have no family and no prospects. So what is there for you to live for?” he asked again, this time he bit out each word.
“I don’t know,” I whispered.
“I don’t know,” I said a little louder.
“What do you mean, you don’t know? You must have an inkling, a clue, something—anything that keeps you going. What do you have to live for, Smith?” he persisted. “What?”
“You guess what? Come on, I don’t have all day,” he huffed, folding his arms. “What is it?”
“The possibility of something,” I shouted, and he backed away a little. I hadn’t realized he was walking toward me.
“What was that?”
“I keep living for the possibility that one day there will be something for me to live for. All right,” I snapped. “Are you satisfied?”
The edges of his mouth crept up into a smirk. “Well then,” he said as he leaned his back against the gears of the TARDIS. “We better find that something.”
My mouth dropped open. He had tricked me out of my melancholy mood, and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to slap him or kiss him.
“Shall we?” he asked, holding out his hand.
Suddenly, I could feel myself smiling as I walked closer to him. I looked into his eyes for a second then I took his outstretched hand. “Let’s do this.”
“That a girl, Smith!” He pulled me towards the controls. “Where do you want to go?” He took me around the central console, grabbing knobs, pushing buttons and pulling leavers. “All of time and space is at your disposable, my darling girl!”
“We can go anywhere?” I asked in awe of him.
He stopped, dropping my hand while he smirked again. “Anywhere.”
“Any time?” I asked, moving closer to him.
He came closer to me as well. “Any time.”
“Any place,” he answered when we were as close as we could get without touching.
I thought for a moment, until I knew exactly where I wanted to go. “I want to meet Jane Austen. Can you do that?”
“Of course I can,” he exclaimed as he tweaked the controls. “Jane Austen’s London it is! Jane and I are old friends.”
“Really?” I asked, watching him play with a leaver.
“Really.” He turned a knob, pushed another button and finally pulled one more leaver. “Here we go!”
The ride was a lot smoother than the last time, and after a minute, the TARDIS started to make a whooshing sound. “What is that?”
“We’re landing,” the Doctor answered, busying himself.
I walked over to where I placed my bags, putting the smaller one (that held the nightgown) into my messenger bag. Then I put my bag over my shoulder, and was ready for Jane.
“Are you ready, Smithy?” the Doctor asked from the doors of the TARDIS.
I nodded. “Ready.”
He opened the door, gesturing for me to go first. “After you.”
I was so excited that I almost skipped outside. “Thank you,” I said as I walked out of the time machine. But when I looked around, something was not quite right. “Doctor?”
“Yes, Smith?” he answered as he shut the door behind us.
“I don’t think we’re in London.”
He turned around, and when he finally saw what I saw, he said, “Oh dear.”
We were in the middle of a field where the beautiful green grass shone in the sunlight of midday. And as I looked at the horizon, I saw one of the most beautiful castles I had ever seen perched on a glorious hill. I had only ever visited the ruins of the other castles, but this one was fully intact and looked almost to be made of gold.
“Where are we?”
“What do you mean, you’re not entirely sure?” I asked, frustrated. “You were the one controlling the TARDIS, weren’t you? Or does the blue box control you?”
“No,” he said indignantly. “I control the TARDIS.”
“Really?” I gestured around us. “Because it looks like it’s in charge of itself.”
“The TARDIS is a she,” he corrected. “And I control her.”
“Then how do you explain this, if you’re so ‘in control’ of your time machine?”
“Sometimes it happens,” he admitted.
“Really? Does the box have a mind of its own?” I asked, more than frustrated at that point. To tell you the truth, I was almost to the point of anger.
“She,” he corrected again. “And no…yes…it’s complicated.”
“Complicated?” I yelled then I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “Maybe I should just ask someone where we are.”
“Smith, I don’t think—”
Before he finished, I saw a man in chain mail and a cloak with a coat of arms, coming toward us on a horse. “Pardon me, sir,” I called, and he stopped riding so I could move closer. “Could you tell me and my…” I paused, gesturing toward the Doctor, “colleague.”
“Colleague?” the Doctor yelled the word.
I glared over my shoulder at him, and he quieted. “Could you please tell me where we are, kind sir?”
“It would be an honor, my lady,” he said, giving me a little bow. “You are but a mile from Camelot.”
My mouth dropped open slightly. “Camelot. Right. Well, thank you, sir. You have been most helpful.”
“A pleasure, my lady.” He bowed again, and I curtsied as much as I could. Then he kicked his heels into the horse, ridding off.
I turned back round, narrowing my eyes at the Doctor. “Camelot? How do you miss Jane Austen by twelve-hundred years?” I yelled, throwing my hand up as I walked back to the TARDIS.
“I will admit that is a pretty big gap,” he said loudly. “But I swear, I had the controls all set for…” his voiced trailed away. “Oh.”
He grimaced. “I may have taken a left in the time stream instead of a right.”
He nodded. “Yes…but there’s no need to panic.”
“No need to panic?” I shrieked. “Need I remind you this is a time where they burn people at the stake?”
He laughed a little. “Why would they burn us at the stake?”
“We just came out of a blue box that is bigger on the inside,” I said slowly.
He frowned, looking away from me. “We did do that, didn’t we?”
I shook my head. “Take me home.” I told him, but when I tried the TARDIS door, it would not open. “It won’t open.”
“What do you mean? Stand aside,” he said, and I moved back so he could try. It still didn’t open. Then he patted his pockets down, made a pained face, and finally ruffled his hair. “Oh no.”
“What?” I asked, not liking the look on his face.
“Now don’t get upset…but I may have left my key inside.”
“You what?” I screamed.
“See, now, that’s getting upset.”
“It must have fallen out when we left London.”
I looked at the door. “It looks like it locks from the outside, though.”
He grimaced again. “I landed her pretty hard the other day, and I…may have…broken the lock.”
“You broke the lock and didn’t bother to fix it! Then why did she open for us back in the park?”
“I think when we landed here it jiggled something loose.”
“Jiggled something loose,” I said through my teeth then I turned round, banging on the door. “Open up! Please! I don't want to die here!”
“Stop being so dramatic,” he huffed. “We are not going to…”
“Doctor?” I looked over at him, seeing that he had a sword pointed at his throat. Slowly, I turned to see three men on horseback pointing the sharp ends of their weapons at us. “I hate you so very much right now,” I hissed.
He smiled down at me. “No you don’t.” I just stood there glowering at him, until his smile faded. “You really mean that, don’t you?”
“Yes, Doctor. I do.”
“Who are you?” The sword in the middle asked.
“Sorry,” the Doctor said, reaching into his inner coat pocket. The weapons tightened on us. “Just getting our papers.” He pulled out a blue cardholder, showing the content to the sword on our right.
The man took it from him, and he lowered his weapon immediately. “Our deepest apologies, my lord,” he said, gesturing for the others to sheath their swords. “We did not realize.”
“It’s all right, boys,” the Doctor said, taking back his credentials. “No harm done. So, who do we have the pleasure of talking to?”
All three dismounted, bowing almost in unison.
“Sir Dinadan,” the knight in the middle addressed us first. I knew they were knights by the crests and the chainmail. Besides, I knew Sir Dinadan from the stories.
“The Sir Dinadan?” I asked, but he did not answer.
“Sir Lionel,” the man to our right said.
“Sir Sagramore,” the last man introduced himself, bowing slightly.
None of them took their eyes off us, until I realized they weren’t even looking at the Doctor. Their eyes were all on me.
“It would be an honour to escort you to the castle, my lord,” Sir Lionel said with a smile toward me.
“Wonderful,” the Doctor answered, clasping his hands together. “Lead the way.”
The three knights just stood there, until I graced them with a smile. “Please, sir knights, show us the way.”
“Yes, my lady,” they said together, and then mounted their horses.
“May I offer you a ride, my lady?” Sir Sagramore asked, holding his hand out to me.
“No,” the Doctor answered for me, and when I glanced at him, I saw his face had grown hard as stone. “We’ll walk.”
Sir Sagramore bowed. “Very well, my lord.” All three turned round, trotting slowly while we followed.
“Doctor?” I whispered.
“Yes, Smith?” he said just as quietly.
“What did that paper say?”
He gave it to me, and I watched his face soften. “Here. See for yourself.”
I took the credentials from him, reading it carefully. “It says here that you’re…Merlin?” I shouted, and he shushed me. “That wasn’t very smart, Doctor,” I hissed. “What if the real Merlin shows up?”
“He won’t,” he whispered.
“How do you know?”
“I just do.”
I shook my head. “If that’s what this says about you, I would hate to see…” my eyes widened. “Your wife!” He shushed me again, but the knights were too busy talking amongst themselves to notice my screaming. “This says I’m your wife. Why?”
He shrugged, taking back the cardholder. “Sometimes the psychic paper has a mind of its own.”
I didn’t know what psychic paper was, and I didn’t really care. However, I did care that he would not look at me. “Are you lying to me, Doctor?”
“Rule number one,” he said immediately, “the Doctor always lies.”
“You have rules?”
My annoyance peaked. “I must be with the most idiotic Time Lord ever.”
“Hey,” he protested, pointing at me. “I will have you know, my brain is a lot bigger than yours.”
“Where is it?” I snapped. “In your chin?”
He rubbed the part in question, frowning. “No, it's not in my chin.”
There was a laugh ahead of us, and when I looked, I noticed Sir Dinadan was smiling.
“What are you laughing at, Dinadan?” the Doctor asked, and I could hear the anger in his voice.
“My apologies, my lord,” he said over his shoulder. “It is just…your wife is rather amusing.”
“Do you hear that, Merlin?” I taunted. “I am amusing.” The Doctor huffed, as I ran up to Sir Dinadan’s horse. “Sir knight, would you mind giving me a ride?”
“Not at all, my lady. It would be the greatest of pleasures,” he said with a bright smile. He stopped his horse, and helped me to mount her. It was obvious that the animal was a female, and she had to be the prettiest brown mare I had ever seen.
Once I was on the horse, I gently wrapped my arms around the knight’s waist. “What is her name, sir knight?”
“To whom are you referring, my lady?”
“Your mare, of course.”
“Minerva,” he answered, smiling over his shoulder at me, “my lady.”
“She is a magnificent creature indeed, sir knight.”
“My lady, please call me Dinadan.”
Sir Sagramore gave a laugh. “You should be honoured, fair lady. Dinadan rarely allows beautiful maidens, such as yourself, to call him anything but sir knight.”
“Sagramore,” Sir Lionel scolded, “leave Dinadan be.”
I couldn’t help smiling as I watched the knights bicker with one another. They were so different, not only in looks, but in personality as well. Sir Lionel was and older gentleman with gray in his light brown hair and beard, but his blue eyes shone with a youth that was eternal. However, Sir Sagramore was young with the brightest of blonde hair and a smile that would stop a woman’s heart. His large hands were bruised and scraped, most likely from all the fights he got himself into. And finally, there was Sir Dinadan. Broad and sturdy like a knight should be, with pitch-black hair, dark brown eyes and skin the colour of caramel. He seemed more talkative than the other three, and I was glad I chose to ride with him.
“He is just envious,” Dinadan said with a smile.
Sir Sagramore laughed again. “Envious? Of what?”
“She is riding with me,” Dinadan taunted.
“That is quite enough,” Sir Lionel interceded. “I am sure the maiden would prefer you not fighting over her like dogs over their supper.”
The Doctor cleared his throat from behind us, and I think the knights had forgotten he was even there. “She is not a maiden,” he protested. “She is my wife.”
“Our apologies, my lord,” Sir Lionel said over his shoulder. “It will not occur again.”
“Are you seriously going to walk the whole way?” I asked the Doctor.
“Yes,” he answered with a huff.
“My lord,” Sir Sagramore said, “the trail is quite treacherous ahead. It would be wise to ride with one of us.”
“Walking is good for you, Sagramore.” The Doctor told him harshly. “It's especially good for the hearts.”
I sighed, shaking my head. “Fine. Be a stubborn mule and hurt yourself. No skin off my nose.”
The rest of the bumpy ride to Camelot the knights prattled amongst themselves, laughing and being charming for my sake. Of that, I was sure.
“What is your name, my lady?” Dinadan asked just as we were approaching the gates of the castle.
“Anna, sir knight,” I replied.
“Anna,” he said quietly, and then smiled over his shoulder. “A beautiful name, for a beautiful lady.”
“What are you saying up there?” The Doctor yelled, as he hobbled behind us. He had fallen twice, and his trousers were almost knee deep with mud. There was never a more stubborn man in this world. At least, not to my knowledge.
Dinadan winked at me. “The castle is just ahead, my lord.”
The Doctor nodded. “I see that, Dinadan.”
“Is he always so prickly, my lady?” Sir Sagramore asked in a whisper.
I shrugged. “Our marriage is fairly recent, so I wouldn’t know.” The three knights laughed as they trotted through the gate.
As we made our way into the courtyard, I could not believe the beauty of it all. Camelot was everything the legends said and more. Towers, shining in the light of late day. Flowers, beautiful in their bloom. Trees, ivy, animals and people…all existing in perfect harmony.
The people didn’t even spare us a glace, they just went on their merry way, as if this was an everyday occurrence. Then it dawned on me that it was.
Sir Sagramore was the first off his horse. “Come on, Dinadan. Get that beautiful lady off your mare, so we can stable the horses, and escort her to court.”
“With the greatest of pleasures,” Dinadan said, hopping off Minerva. He helped me down gently, smiling as he bowed. “We will be right back, my lady.”
I curtsied, and Sir Lionel caught my hand in his, kissing my knuckles as he did so. “I shall announce you myself,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. Then they left us to fend for ourselves for a bit, and I was almost glad for it. All that smiling was hurting my face.
The Doctor limped up to me, leaning in close. “Smith?” he asked with a grimace.
“What kind of power do you have over those men?”
“To be honest?” I asked, and he nodded. “I have no clue.”
He tried to walk, but he grimaced in pain again. “Ouch!”
I shook my head. “Sit down.” I gestured to a stack of hey, and he shook his head. “Sit down,” I repeated a little louder. He did. “If you rode with one of the knights, you would not be in so much pain. But you had to be stubborn.” I got on my knees, taking off the shoe that seemed to be bothering him.
“Ow,” he yelped, as I pulled it off. “I didn’t want to ride with them. They weren’t very nice.”
“You weren’t very nice either,” I pointed out, turning his shoe upside down. There was at least ten pebbles stuck in there, and I made sure I shook them all out before handing the shoe back to him.
“Why do you have my shoe?” he asked, snatching it from me.
“Did you not just see me take it off to get the rocks out?”
“So that’s why my foot doesn’t hurt anymore.”
I shook my head, stood and dusted my knees off. “You are unbelievable.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” he said as he stood up, testing the shoe out.
“Better?” I asked, disregarding what his last comment.
“Much,” he answered, giving me that smile of his. “You know what, Smith?”
“I think you're wonderful.”
I cocked an eyebrow at him. “Are you serious?”
He bounced up and down, making sure he was no longer in pain, of which I was certain there wasn’t. “I'm always serious.”
“What happened to the Doctor always lies?”
He shrugged. “Not when it’s important.”
“Yes, I am,” he said with a swift nod.
“My lady,” Dinadan’s voice was right beside me. I had not seen him walk up to me because I was still too busy staring at the Doctor.
I turned to him and smiled. “Dinadan.”
“I would be honoured to escort you into court,” he said with a bow.
“Nay,” Sir Sagramore protested. “You had your chance with her, Dinadan. Let someone else escort the lovely lady to court.” He pushed Dinadan aside, bowing. “Allow me, my lady.”
“No,” the Doctor said, pushing his way through the knights. “I’ll take her myself.”
They both bowed, while Sir Lionel stood behind them, smirking. “Our apologies, my lord,” Dinadan said.
I shook my head. “Please, sir knights, stop apologizing to him,” I said, taking the Doctor’s offered arm. “He doesn’t deserve it.” All three knights laughed, turning to show us the way.
It was the Doctors turn to raise a brow at me. “Were you serious?”
“I'm always serious when it’s important.”
His mouth dropped open slightly, and I laughed. Finally, he smiled, laughing with me.
We walked through the castle, and I could not believe we were actually there. The Doctor, on the other hand, seemed unfazed by all of its majesty. “Have you been here before?” I asked him. However, he seemed distracted, not by anything in the castle, but with something going through his head. “Doctor?”
He blinked at me. “Yes, Smith?”
“Have you been here before?” I repeated, but before he could answer, Sir Lionel was introducing us to a very large room filled to the brim with people and food. It was mostly filled with the former, but the food smelled and looked so good that it made my mouth water. That is when I remembered I hadn’t eaten anything all day except for the chocolate bar.
“Merlin,” a man in the midst of the crowd exclaimed, bringing me back to the task at hand. When I finally got a good look at him, I noticed that it was the man on the horse from earlier.
My eyes narrowed as I turned my attention toward the Doctor. “You’re the real Merlin?”
He nodded, not looking at me. “Yes.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that before we were dragged in here?”
He shrugged. “I didn’t think it was important.” I opened my mouth to say something, but before I could get a word out, the Doctor said, “Wart!”
He unhooked his arm from mine, patting the man’s shoulder. When they stood head to head, the man named Wart was taller than the Doctor by at least five inches. He was truly awe inspiring with his broad shoulders and salt and pepper hair. Wart’s eyes were the bluest of blue, and his face was so chiseled it almost hurt to look upon that kind of perfection. He had abandoned his mail and crest for a tunic and some sort of animal hide trousers.
“You’re the man I asked where we were,” I pointed out, and he smiled.
“Yes, and I do apologize for sending my men to escort you here that way. I am afraid they were overzealous with their efforts.”
“It’s all right, Wart,” the Doctor replied. “No harm done.”
“Wart?” I asked smiling. “That’s a funny…” my voice caught in my throat when I realized who this large, handsome man was. “Oh dear…you’re King Arthur.” I curtsied as quickly as I could, bowing my head. “I am so sorry, Sire. I did not know you.”
“My lady,” he said, lifting my chin so he could look into my eyes, “we do not bow here.” The king helped me to stand up straight. “We are all equals in court, and to be quite honest with you it has been ages since anyone has not recognized me. I enjoyed it immensely. Especially, being called sir.” He winked at me, and I had the oddest feeling that the king was flirting with me.
“Merlin,” he turned his attention toward the Doctor, “why did you not tell me you had such a lovely wife?”
“Last time I was here, Wart, I didn’t.”
The king laughed, eyes sparkling. Then he leaned in so only the Doctor and I could hear him. “Psychic paper, Doctor?”
My mouth dropped open. “How did you know that?”
“You are not the only one he has taken for a ride in that blue box of his.”
“Oh, really?” I said, folding my arms and cocking a brow at the Doctor. “Where did he take you?”
“Almost everywhere,” the king answered.
“And has he ever locked his keys in the TARDIS?”
“Once,” his majesty replied, and then they both started laughing like little boys.
“Am I missing something?” I asked quietly.
The king was the one to give me an answer, while the Doctor kept on laughing. “We were stuck in the middle of an unknown wood for three days, until he shook his trousers and the key fell out.”
I shook my head at both of them. Only men could think that being stranded in the middle of nowhere was amusing.
“What are you conversing about, my love?” a beautiful, long blonde haired woman, asked as she came up from behind the king.
He turned to smile at his young bride, and I could not help the surprise that washed over my face. It was Lady Guinevere in the flesh. The day just kept getting better.
The famous lady walked almost in slow motion, as if she was on a cloud. I had heard of her beauty, read books and looked at pictures, but seeing her in person…she was beyond anything I could have ever imagined. She and Arthur were perfectly matched, both in beauty and in dress. The lady wore a beautiful gown with gold embroidery at the hems and sleeves. The colour was an ideal match for her hair, and made her dark blue eyes sparkle. She reminded me of Grace Kelly. She even had the same face shape. The lady was exquisite.
“We were discussing Merlin’s wife’s attire,” her husband said, smiling and winking at me again. “She looks spectacular, does she not?”
The lovely lady eyed me pleasantly. “It is indeed fascinating. Tell me, Lady…?”
“Anna,” I answered. “Your majesty.”
She laughed at me, but it was not a malicious laugh, it was a kind and gentle one. “Please,” she smiled, her eyes twinkling, “do call me Guinevere. And, Lord Merlin,” she beamed toward the Doctor, “I have heard nothing but wonderful and fantastical things about you.”
The Doctor bowed his head. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Guinevere.” He took her hand, quickly kissing her knuckles. And when he let go, the lady turned her attention back to me.
“Now,” she said, turning that blazing smile toward me again. “What is this ensemble for? It looks practical for horseback to say the very least. Is this the style where you hail from?”
I glanced over at the Doctor and he shrugged. I was on my own. “Yes, my lady, it is. It is also very good for…” I paused, trying to choose my words carefully. “Activities.”
“Pray tell, what are these actives?”
I shrugged. “Horseback, as you said before and…sword play.”
She laughed at me again. “Sword play? Is this true, Lord Merlin? Is your wife good with a blade?”
I looked over at the Doctor again, this time he was glaring at me. “It’s difficult to say,” he answered the queen. Then he leaned in and whispered to me, “Are you?” I nodded a little. “Yes,” he said skeptically. “She is.”
“I would adore seeing that,” Guinevere looked at her husband. “Do you not agree, my love?”
“I do,” Arthur responded. “That is, if Lady Anna is willing.”
“Wart,” the Doctor protested, “I do not think—”
“I would be delighted,” I interrupted him, and he stared at me wide eyes.
“Excellent,” the queen exclaimed, clapping her hands in order to grab the courts attention. “My Ladies! My Lords! Permit me your attentions. Lord Merlin’s magnificent wife, Lady Anna, has agreed to show her sword skills. Who will permit her the use of their blade?”
Arthur cleared his throat. “She may use Excalibur.”
I shook my head. “Thank you, Sire, but that would be too great an honour to bear. However, if someone else where to allow me to borrow—” Before I could finish, Sir Sagramore, Lionel and Dinadan were upon me.
“It would my pleasure,” Dinadan said, yielding his weapon to me.
“She will have mine,” Sagramore protested, almost shoving the other knight out of his way.
“No,” Lionel interceded. “She will have mine, and there will be no further discussion.” He handed me his sword, bowing his head as he did so.
“My thanks, sir knight,” I said, taking (what I knew to be) the heavy weapon out of his rough and gentle hands.
Lionel kissed my knuckled. “You are welcome, my lady.” The blade slide from his hand easily, as he and the other knights backed away from me. The sword itself was a balanced one, but the tip still clanged on the stone floor as my arm sank with the weight of it. Snickers rumbled though the court, but I knew that there would be. I smiled to myself, knowing that when I picked up the sword again, there would be gasps. So I weighed the weapon and tested how much effort and strength I would need to pick it up and keep it raised. Then I placed both hands on the beautiful hilt and lifted.
Sure enough, as I knew there would be, gasps, especially from the maidens, went through the hall like the plague. All the knights’ heads turned, and the wives and ladies around the court whispered as I struck the air with a slow, deliberate slice. Then I struck again, this time quick and deadly. The blade made that beauteous “whoosh” through the open air, and I could not help but close my eyes and smile at the sheer music it made.
I lifted the sword, letting it sparkle in the candle light. “This is a remarkable blade, Sir Lionel. Tell your smith a job well done.”
“I will, Lady Anna,” he said with a smile and a slight bow of his head.
I looked at the Doctor, and even though his demeanor was calm, I could see that he was just as shocked as the rest of them.
Guinevere clapped almost soundlessly. She seemed to have grown more excited by the moment. “Marvelous! Absolutely spectacular. You must spar with someone.”
“My lady,” both the Doctor and Arthur said. They looked at each other, and then turned their attentions back toward the queen.
“I do not think that Lady Anna had anything like that in mind, my love,” Arthur continued.
“Oh, I am very willing to oblige,” I said, placing the tip of the sword gently to the floor. Then I smiled at Guinevere. “If your lady wife so wishes it, I mean.”
Her smiled had dimmed for a moment, but when I said that, it brightened. “Sir Knights,” she addressed the crowd again. “Who will challenge this lovely lady?”
The court went silent, and as I looked round no one would meet my eye. All save one. A tall, dark haired man stood up from his place at the far end of the vast room. “I will,” he boomed, and the crowd parted for him. The whispers seemed to fill the silence, until the air was thick with them, and when the man came into full view, I could see why there was so much excitement. He was magnificent in statue, and very broad through the shoulders. However, he was not fat. On the contrary, he was all thick muscle wrapped up in a light blue tunic and trousers. The term “Middle Ages rock star” came to mind. He was very ruggedly handsome.
The knight walked over to where I stood, looking down on me with a bright white smile on his gorgeously dark face.
“Lancelot,” the king spoke from behind me, “do you think this wise?”
“Lancelot?” I asked. “Lancelot du Lac?”
He bowed his head, his raven hair falling into his eyes. “You have heard of me?” he asked, standing up straight. I could hear that he had a slight accent—that wasn’t English—to his voice.
I giggled a little. “Yes, I have.” I looked over at the Doctor and we exchanged a “this is really awesome” glance. “It is a pleasure to meet you,” I said, as I curtsied.
“I wish I could say the same, my lady,” he replied, smile never wavering.
Mine, however, did. “Excuse me?”
“No, I will not excuse you. Your behavior is abominable.”
“Oi! Watch it, Frenchy,” the Doctor spoke up, stepping forward. “That’s my wife you’re addressing.”
“I am merely stating a fact, my lord,” du Lac said with a slight bow. “I believe that Lady Anna needs to learn her place.”
I could feel the fire of rage run through my veins. “And what, exactly, is my place?”
His smile brightened as he answered, “At least three paces behind your husband.” Laughs and murmurs that swept through the crowd.
The Doctor leaned over, whispering in my ear, “Smith?”
“Yes,” I said quietly.
“Teach him a lesson he’ll never forget.”
I smirked over my shoulder at him. “With the greatest of pleasures.”
“Lancelot,” Arthur said disapprovingly.
“It is perfectly all right, Sire,” I interrupted his scolding with a smile. “I suggest Sir Lancelot take arms so that he may teach me how to behave like a lady. Or perhaps I will teach you a thing or two, sir knight. Quite frankly, I do not think you worthy of that title, but that’s just me.”
Lancelot looked me up and down for a moment, and as he unsheathed his sword,—which was attached to his hip—I took off my messenger bag. “Hold this,” I told the Doctor, handing it to him.
“Why?” he asked, taking my bag with great care.
“I can’t very well fight with it on, can I?”
He pointed at me. “Good point.”
I turned back round to face the knight, and as I lifted my blade, du Lac did the same. “Let us begin, shall we?” he said, and we started our little dance around each other, circling to test the waters so to speak. The queen, the king and the Doctor retreated to give us more room to spar, and as we circled, the room fell into silence.
We eyed each other for a moment, both readying to strike, but neither one of us doing so. “What is the matter, sir knight?” I asked du Lac as we went round each other for a third time. “I thought you wanted to teach me a lesson?”
He smirked at me. “I do.”
“Then why do you not strike the first blow?”
“Ladies first,” he bowed his head a little.
“That is why I am offering the honour to you,” I retorted, smiling just as fiercely. That seemed to hit a nerve inside him, and when he struck the first blow, it was with such force and fluidity that I almost missed it. However, I lifted my sword to meet his just in time to hear that wondrous and beautiful tin clang the blades made as I deflected the blow. The man had a swing like a bolder falling from a high cliff, but I pushed him off and the battle began.
“Good form,” I complimented him, as I struck and he deflected. “A bit predictable though.”
“I shall try to remedy that,” he said, as his blade swiped at me, but I moved out of the way with ease. He was big and bulky, but still lithe and quick on his feet. I was smaller, faster and was a girl, so he would automatically assume that I was weaker than I looked. It is always good to have the element of surprise on ones side.
Our swords crashed together over a dozen times. He would strike and I would deflect then I would strike and he would deflect. I could see that he was becoming frustrated with me, which was excellent for me because it meant he would be making more mistakes, and eventually he would slip up so bad that I would find my opening, delivering the final blow.
He sliced his sword at me, but I hopped out of the way. “Stop moving about!” he hissed.
“What seems to be the matter, du Lac?” I asked, moving out of the way of his blade again. “Having trouble hitting a moving target?”
He roared wordlessly as his blade hit mine. I tried to push him off, but he pushed back harder almost knocking me to the ground. Finally, I got away from him, but he was relentless with his blows. Once, the tip of his blade came so close to my throat I had to jerk my chin back in order not to get it sliced open.
“Be careful,” the Doctor yelled, as I dodged another strike. “Watch out,” he screamed as du Lac hit my sword, and then finally, “Get him!”
That’s when du Lac pushed on me so strongly that I went flying backward, falling into the Doctor. “Doctor,” I said, breathlessly.
“Yes?” he answered as I turned in his arms.
“Would you please stop yelling,” I breathed. “It’s very distracting.”
He nodded. “Right,” he said, and then his eyes widened. “Behind you!”
I turned just in time for our swords to clash together to deflect, and du Lac moved back as I pushed away from the Doctor. “Hey, that was a cheap shot, Frenchy,” the Doctor shouted, and I had to agree.
“He is right, you know,” I told Lancelot. “That was very un-knightly of you.”
He held his arms wide. “Prey, tell me what you are going to do about it?”
That’s when I saw my opening. “Well, you know what they say, sir knight.”
“What?” he asked me with a skeptical look on his face.
“The bigger they are, the harder they”—I swiped his legs with the flat of my blade, and he went tumbling to the stone floor—“fall.”
In no time, he was looking up at me from the flat of his back, his sword on the ground by his side. He tried to reach for it, grabbing the grip, but I stepped on the blade. I shook my head, tsking at him, while I held my sword to his throat. “As I see it, you have two options,” I told him with a smirk. “First, you could attempt to pick up your weapon, and then I could split you from fore to aft.”
“And what is the second?” he breathed.
“Drop. Your. Sword.”
He stared at me for a second, and I saw something in his eyes understand that I was serious. Finally, he releases the grip, holding up his hands in defeat. There was silence for a moment, and then the cheering began.
I bowed my head to the crowd, resting the sword at last. The Doctor rushed up to me, embracing me so tight that I almost couldn’t breathe. “That was brilliant!” he said as he leaned back, fluttering his hands at me. “Especially the Princess Bride line.”
“I know,” I said excitedly. “I’ve always wanted to say that.”
“Where in the world did you learn to do that?” he asked.
I shrugged. “I was on the fencing team at University.”
“Oh, you are good, Smith. You are very good.”
“So glad of you to notice,” I laughed.
“Well done,” Guinevere yelled, clapping her hands the loudest. Arthur, however, stood there in stunned silence, glancing from me to du Lac, and then back again.
I turned my attention to the fallen knight. He was just laying there with a distressed look on his face, so I walked back over to. The room fell silent again as I stood beside du Lac, holding my hand out to him.
He glared up at me. “What is that?”
“It is just a hand,” I answered with a shrug. “You can either see it as a sign of friendship or you can just take it to help you stand. It is your choice, sir knight.”
He looked at me for a moment, and the smiled. “Friendship it is,” he finally said, taking my hand. When he was on his feet again, he kissed my knuckles and the crowd cheered even louder. “And please, my lady, call me Lancelot.”
I bowed my head at him. “Then you must call me Anna.”
He stood up straight, letting go of my hand in the process. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sir Lionel coming over to take back his sword. “Thank you, Lionel,” I told him with a smile, as I handed him his precious weapon. “It did me well.”
“I believe,” he said, putting it back in its sheath, “you did it well.”
I laughed, but before I could turn back toward the Doctor, the other knights pounced. Dinadan and Sagramore walked up to me until I was surrounded by the three knights. Lancelot was shoved out of the way so the knights could congratulate me on my success, and I watched as he picked up his sword, smirking.
“It is about time someone taught that Frenchman a lesson,” Dinadan said.
“He deserved everything you gave him,” Sagramore agreed.
Lionel shook his head. “Gentleman, he is our fellow knight.”
Dinadan sneered and Sagramore scoffed. “Do not act as though you are fond of him Lionel,” Sagramore spoke up. “You too have been on the other end of that sword, and were none too happy when he slaughtered you.”
Lancelot moved forward, tapping Dinadan’s shoulder. The knight was directly in front of me, and when he looked over his shoulder, I could see the annoyance on his face. “What is it, du Lac?”
“May I cut in?”
“That is up to, Lady Anna,” Sagramore was the one to answer. “Besides, I wish to ask her for a dance.”
“Oh, no,” Dinadan protested. “She is going to dance with me.”
“If she will dance with anyone, it will be me,” said Lionel with a wink.
“Sir Knights, I…”
“I believe that Lady Anna may, in fact, be hungry,” Lancelot interrupted. “Is that not right, my lady?”
The three knights stared at me, and I smiled. “As a matter of fact, I am starving.” If grown men could pout, the faces Dinadan, Sagramore and Lionel gave me would have been considered as such.
“Perhaps she will be willing to dance with you gentleman tomorrow evening,” Lancelot suggested.
“Then I must have the first dance,” Sagramore perked up, smiling brightly again.
“That is not fair,” Dinadan argued.
“You had her on your horse this afternoon. It is my turn to be first.”
“Let us ask, Lady Anna,” Dinadan said smugly, and then they turned their eyes on me.
“Sagramore did ask first,” I said gently. Sagramore gave Dinadan a triumphant smile, and Dinadan looked like he was about to hit him. “However, I will give you the second dance, Sir Dinadan. If that is all right with you?”
He smiled at me. “That would be wonderful, my lady.”
“And me, my lady?” Lionel asked.
“You will be my third,” I replied, and I had never seen a man so happy in all my life, especially because of something I had said or done.
“Now if you will excuse us,” Lancelot said, gently pushing his way through the knights. “I believe that I owe this lady an apology.”
“You do not owe me anything, Lancelot,” I told him with a smile.
“On the contrary, I behaved like a child. And it would be an honour if you would sit with me so that I may apologize properly.”
“I do not think…” I paused, looking over my shoulder in order to see the Doctor having a conversation with the king. “Why not,” I said as I turned back to du Lac. “I would love that.”
He smiled down at me as he held out his arm. I took it and we walked over to where he had been seated earlier. No one even paid attention as he held out a chair for me, and asked a servant to make me a plate of food. Then he sat, and before we could get a chance to talk, the servant was back, making me too hungry for apologies.
The Doctor watched as Smith walked away with Lancelot. He could not quite understand what was going on, but from the looks of things, it seemed as though she was being asked something. It wasn’t important, but he felt protective toward her. And even though she had just beaten one of the greatest swordsmen in history, he still wanted to make sure she was safe.
“Doctor,” Arthur snapped him back to the conversation. They hadn’t really been talking about anything in particular, but he could see that was about to change. “Who is she?”
“I have no idea,” the Doctor admitted with a smile. “But I can’t wait to find out.”
When I had finished everything on my plate, I turned my attention to Lancelot, who just sat there smiling at me. “Are you full, my lady?” he asked.
I nodded. “Very. Thank you for waiting.”
He waved me off. “It was a pleasure.”
“I doubt that.”
He shook his head. “No, it was. You eat very vigorously. Unlike some women who only pick at their food, you eat like a champion.”
I laughed, shaking my head, knowing what he said to be a compliment. “Thank you.”
“You are welcome,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “Would you like to take a walk with me?”
I thought about it for a moment. Would I like to take a walk with Sir Lancelot du Lac? The answer was a resounding, “Yes. I would love to.” He stood, pulling out my chair for me, and we walked out of court arm in arm.
Lancelot led me out into the corridor, letting go of my arm. We strolled side by side for a while, and then he stopped. “I am deeply sorry that I said those things to you, Anna.”
It was the first time someone had actually called me Anna, and not “my lady” or “Lady Anna.” “There is no need to apologize, Lancelot. Really. It is all right. People say things in the heat of battle in order to get their opponents hackles up, I understand that.”
He shook his head. “No, my lady, I truly meant those insults, and I realize now that I was wrong. Will you ever forgive me?” he asked, taking my hands in his.
I nodded. “Of course, I forgive you, Lancelot.”
“Thank you,” he said, kissing both of my hands in turn. “Now, how did you defeat me so easily?” he cocked a brow at me, letting me go as we began to walk again.
“That was not so easy,” I admitted. “It took me all those blows to realize your weakness.”
“Your ankles,” I told him.
He looked perplexed. “My ankles? What about them?”
“Well, they are usually weighed down with chain mail and armour, so you compensate for the extra weight. Without it, you are unsteady on your feet, and I am certain that it has been a while since you have practiced or battled without the garb. Am I correct?” I asked, and he nodded. “Also, you are very top heavy, so naturally your ankles would be your weakest point.”
He looked down at his large feet, and I could tell that he was studying the body part in question. “What do you think I should do?” he asked, sounding truly interested in the answer.
“Practice without the armour and the mail,” I suggested. “That should help a little. I would also start balancing on the tips and the balls of your feet every morning. That is…if you wish.”
“You speak very strangely sometimes, Anna,” he said with a chuckle. “However, I will do as you have said.”
I smiled up at him finally looking around. We had gone down another corridor and I could see a large room open room at the end. “What is down there?” I asked, but he did not answer. Instead, he moved in front of me, blocking my way.
“You are a very interesting woman, Anna,” he told me, moving closer. “It would be an honour to get to know you better.”
Something in his voice suggested that was not all he wanted. I blinked up at him, and found myself being back up against a wall. “Sir Knight, do you think this wise?” I inquired, placing my hands on his chest to stop him from getting too close. “I am a married woman.” He started to lean down, and my heart lept in my chest, until I heard someone clear their throat.
Lancelot moved away from me immediately, looking over at the Doctor. He was standing there with a blank look on his face, and even though he did not look friendly, I was never so glad to see someone in my entire life.
“Don’t mind me, Frenchy. I’m only the husband.”
“My apologies, Lord Merlin,” Lancelot said, unfazed by the Doctors cold demeanor. “I was just showing Lady Anna the castle.”
The Doctor nodded. “I see. Well,” he said, clapping his hands together, “the king wishes to see you, du Lac.”
Lancelot smiled toward the Doctor, and then turned his attention on me. “It has been a pleasure, Lady Anna,” he told me with a bow of the head. I curtsied in response, and du Lac left the Doctor and me alone in the corridor.
I sighed with relief. “You have no idea how much—”
“What do you think you’re doing?” the Doctors face lit up with rage, as he threw his hands up in my face. “Do you know what you almost did, Smith?”
“Me?” I yelled in surprise. “In case you didn’t notice, he was about to kiss me. Not the other way round.”
“It doesn’t matter,” he said through his teeth, coming so close to me that I had to really look up at him. “That man has to fall in love with the queen. It has to happen. Do you understand that? It is a fixed point in time. If you change that…” his voice trailed off.
“I wasn’t going to change anything,” I explained. “I didn’t realize that he was going to try to make a pass at me. If I did, I wouldn’t have gone with him.”
His face softened, and he placed his hands on my shoulders. “I know that. But don’t do it again,” he pointed his finger in my face.
“I didn’t do anything,” I tried to make that clear.
“But you went with him,” he said.
“If I would have known—”
He waved me off. “Typical human excuse.”
“Well, excuse me,” I huffed. “What did you want me to do, read his mind? Oh, I know, you wanted me to say no and be considered rude because I wouldn't accept his apology. Great idea, Doctor!” I gave him a sarcastic thumbs up. “Then we could really get ourselves put in the dungeon and burned at dawn.”
“Well,” he scolded, shaking his hands at me, “the least you could do is act like a wife.”
“You don’t love me anymore,” I whined, and then smirked. “How was that?”
“Surprisingly annoying. So…perfect!”
I scowled at him. “I'm so glad you approve.”
There was silence between us, and the Doctor broke it a moment later. “I’m sorry, Smith,” he said, holding onto my elbows. I noticed that he was very touchy for an alien, and I wondered if he was like this with all the girls he dragged with him. “We just have to avoid certain things so that we don’t destroy history or create a hole in the universe.”
I shook my head, trying not to smile. But with the Doctor, that was almost an impossibility. “That would be bad, right?”
He nodded. “Very bad.”
“We should avoid that then.”
“That would be an excellent idea,” he agreed, and we both laughed, the tension between us breaking. “Come on, Smith,” the Doctor said, holding his arm out to me. “Let’s go back to the party.”
“That would be delightful.” With that, I took his arm, and we made our way back to court.
It was not long until everyone decided to leave. Guinevere said her good nights first and everyone seemed to follow. All except Arthur, the Doctor and me.
“Shall I show you to your room?” the king asked.
“Certainly,” I said, looking over at the Doctor.
He wasn’t paying attention, so I nudged him with my elbow. “What?” he asked, coming back to reality.
“Do we want Arthur to show us to our room?”
He nodded. “Sure.”
“Come with me,” Arthur said, gesturing for us to follow him. We went through the castle, up a flight of stone steps, and when we reached a large wooden door, the king stopped.
He turned toward us with a smile. “This will be your lodgings for as long as you wish. I hope it will do.” The king opened the door to reveal the biggest bedroom I had ever seen. It had a circular hearth in the middle with the fire blazing for warmth and light. There was a large window with a balcony right across from where we stood, and a large bed big enough for a king on the right side of the room. It was framed with a beautiful purple canopy, and covered with furs and, what looked like, pillows. On the left side, there was a sitting area with a large wooden table that seemed as though it was carved out of one piece of wood. It was very intricate with animals etched into the sides.
The whole room was too big for one person, and I wondered where the Doctor was going to sleep, until Arthur said, “I hope you two will be comfortable here, and now I must wish you a goodnight.”
“The two of us?” I asked, not able to keep the surprise out of my voice. “But…”
“We’ll be fine here, Wart,” the Doctor waved the king and I off. “You do what you need to do.”
Arthur nodded. “Goodnight, Anna,” he said with a bow, and I curtsied in response. “Doctor,” he nodded toward him, and left us alone to fend for ourselves.
I sighed, shutting the door. The situation was about to get interesting to say the very least, especially when it came to sharing the bed. But I would cross that bridge when I came to it. “This is weird,” I mused as I looked up at the tall ceiling.
“Good weird or bad?”
We looked at each other, having a moment of silent understanding. “Both,” we said together.
“So,” I breathed, sitting on the mattress, which looked a lot softer than it actually was, “what do we do now?”
“I know what they expect us to do,” he said, and my eyes widened. “Sleep,” he exclaimed, throwing his hand up when he finally realized what I was thinking. “You lot have such dirty minds.”
“Humans,” the Doctor explained.
“You lot are no picnic either.”
“Aliens,” I said, and he smiled.
“Have you met many aliens?”
“Just you,” I replied. “But if you’re the example…” I shook my head. “You must be a wild bunch.”
He looked off into the distance with a smile on his face, rubbing his hands together. “You should see the Christmas parties.”
“I would rather not. I can only take one crazy alien at a time. And you’re a handful all by yourself.”
He was silent for a moment, making his way over to the window on the other side of the bed. “Do you really think that?” he asked, gazing out into the now darkened sky.
“That I’m a handful.”
I smiled, even though he could not see it. “Yes, Doctor. I really do.”
He looked over his shoulder at me. The sadness on his face was overwhelming. “You don’t like me, do you?”
“No,” I said, getting up. He misunderstood me and turned back to the window with a frown. “I mean…I do like you, Doctor,” I amended. “It’s just that…” I paused, placing my hand on his shoulder, “you're insane.”
He turned his face away from me even more. “Insane? That’s what you believe?”
“Yes, but in a good way.” When I said that, he looked at me, bewilderment replacing the sadness on his face. “How do I explain this?” I asked myself, thinking on it for a second or two. Then I had it. “There are two kinds insane,” I told him, taking my hand from his shoulder. “The bad kind and the good. The bad kind includes murderers, robbers and the Teletubbies. But the good kind includes Albert Einstein, and doing things like running through the rain barefoot. You are most certainly the good kind, Doctor. The very good kind.”
He smiled a little. “Do you mean that?”
I nodded. “I do.”
“I like you too, Smith,” he told me as his smile widened, and we both looked out of the window.
“Smith?” he said after a moments silence, glancing down at me.
“Did you just…?” his voice trailed away as he narrowed his eyes at me for a second.
“Did I just, what?” I asked, innocently raising an eyebrow at him.
“You did, didn’t you?” He shook his head. “Oh, you are good.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You just talked me out of a bad mood,” he said, folding his arms.
“You know you did.”
“I learned from the best.” I bowed to him, and he laughed, before we looked out the window again.
“Smith?” the Doctor said after a minute.
“Are you tired?”
I shook my head. “Not in the least.”
“Neither am I.”
“What should we do then?” I asked, looking up at him.
He smiled down at me, and we had another one of those silent understandings. “Explore,” we said together, smiling at each other, and I noticed his tie was askew.
“Your bow tie is crooked,” I told him, and he blindly tried to fix it. “Here, let me.” I moved in front of him, straightening it with ease. “There you go. You know,” I touched the purple tie gently, “I have always thought bow ties were cool.”
His mouth opened in astonishment. “You’re joking.”
I shook my head. “No. I really think that bow ties are cool.”
“That’s what I keep saying,” he said throwing his hand up. “Thank you.”
I laughed a little. “You are very welcome.”
We stood there for a moment, just smiling at one another. Then he blinked, turning away from me, so he could walk toward the door. For a minute, I thought we were…but he was the Doctor, and I knew he didn’t think that way. Therefore, I just followed him without as much as a word.
We walked through the castle again, down the stairs that we had used earlier, and then we began to explore the main floor.
“This place is enormous,” I finally said, as we walked in the direction of the court.
The Doctor nodded. “It sure is. I never thought that he would make it this big.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
“I was the one to give him the idea for Camelot.”
“You did not.”
“I did,” he said, looking down at me with a smile.
I shook my head. “Amazing. You have been so many places. It makes me wonder how many decision were made because you planted an idea in someone’s head.”
He shrugged. “I’ve lost count.”
I laughed as we past the empty court, and the Doctor sighed. “What?” I inquired.
He shook his head. “Nothing.”
“It has to be something if you're sighing like that. Come on. Tell me.”
“I was just wondering why all of those men seem to fall all over you,” he stated, “especially the Frenchman.”
“I think I have an idea.”
“Really?” the Doctor asked, and we stopped walking. “Tell me, because I can’t understand it.”
“I’m different than the other girls,” I explained. “And I think they think I’m something I’m not because of what I’m wearing.”
His face scrunched up in confusion. “What? What does it have to do with what you’re wearing?”
“You can see my legs,” I pointed out.
“And I think they may believe that I’m a…you know.”
He stared at me for a moment with a confused look on his face, and then his eyes slowly widened. “Oh...oh! But…why?”
“I don’t know,” I huffed. “It’s just the way it is around here. Women who are different are either witches or promiscuous. It’s just the way it is in this day and age. Quite frankly, it isn’t much different in my age either.”
He laughed, his eyes sparkling. Then he grew serious. “I’m sorry they think that, Smith.”
“It’s not your fault we landed here. Oh, wait,” I said with just a hint of annoyance, “it sort of is.”
He sighed. “I said I was sorry.”
“No, you said you were sorry for other things, but never for taking me to a place where the women are treated worse than horses.”
“Why do you have to ruin the majesty?” he asked, and I could tell he was getting irritated with me.
“Majesty? We're stuck in a time where personal hygiene is an option not a necessity. So forgive me if I don’t see the appeal.”
“You know, Smith,” he yelled throwing his hands up in my face. “Sometimes you make me so…”
“I make you so?” I asked matching his tone.
“You make me so…”
“I make you so?”
“You make me so…”
“I make you so, what?” I yelled, and the Doctors face softened. Finally, I looked into those impossibly old eyes, and I could feel my frustration waning.
“You make me so…” he whispered, sweeping a curl out of my eye. Gently, he touched my face with his rough hand, and I felt my heart skip a beat. He leaned down, his face only inches from mine, and I leaned up a little. For a second, our lips were so close that they almost touched, and when the Doctor began to close his eyes, something made a loud noise in the distance.
“Did you hear that, Smith?” the Doctor asked, as we turned our attention toward the sound.
“Yes,” I replied. “What was it?”
He shrugged. “I have no clue.”
“We should check it out,” I suggested.
“That is exactly what I was thinking.”
I began to walk in the direction of the noise. “Come on then,” I said, gesturing for the Doctor to follow me. “What are you waiting for?”
He shook his head. “You know, I’m supposed to lead and you” —he pointed at me—“are supposed to follow.”
I turned, walking ahead of him, finally hearing his footfall behind me. “Says who?”
“It’s a rule,” he yelled after me.
I turned, stopped and folded my arms. “What number is it?” I asked, testing him.
He paused with his mouth slightly open, and when he did not answer, I turned back round. “Four-hundred and one,” he finally answered, but I just kept on going.
“I refer you back to rule number one.”
“Don’t wander off?” he asked, and I could hear the confusion in his voice.
“The Doctor always lies,” I corrected, looking over my shoulder at him. “You have more than one top rule?”
He shrugged. “It all depends.”
“You are unbelievable,” I said, shaking my head, “do you know that?”
“Yes,” he said, making his way beside me. “I do.”
I shook my head, noticing that we had walked to the same spot that du Lac had taken me earlier, only there was something wrong. “Hm…something's not quite right,” I said, seeing that there was a wall where the large hall used to be. “This wasn’t here earlier.”
“What wasn’t here earlier?” the Doctor asked, looking bewildered. He often did that, but I had a feeling it was just an act to make him look more human.
I pointed at the wall. “That.”
“No, the ceiling,” I huffed. “Of course the wall.”
He rubbed his hands together, sticking his face almost right up against it. “Huh. Interesting…” the Doctor reached into his inner jacket pocket, pulling out a gold, silver and white thing. He stood up straight, pointing it at the wall and a green light came from it, while it made a noise that sounded like a cricket with sore legs.
“What in the world is that?” I asked, taken aback.
The Doctor pressed something and it extended, opening up like a flower. “Sonic screwdriver,” he answered, looking at it intently.
“Sonic screwdriver,” he repeated.
“What does it do?”
“Almost everything. Except wood. It doesn’t do wood.”
I didn’t understand what that meant, but I knew if I kept plaguing him about it, I would not get anywhere, so I just accepted and moved on. “Okay…what’s it telling you?”
“Hmm…there isn’t anything here,” he said, flipping the screwdriver and placing it back in his pocket.
“What does that mean?”
He smirked, placing his hands in his trouser pockets as he stood there staring. “I have no idea.”
I walked closer to the wall. It was obviously right in front of us, so it had to be there…didn’t it? “Maybe your sonic thingy is wrong.”
“Screwdriver,” he corrected. “And it is never wrong. Well…almost never.”
“This is insane. How can a wall just appear?”
“I guess it could be a hologram, but the technology here is too primitive. And how would anyone be able to get their hands on one? It is puzzling.”
“A hologram? You mean like that stuff on those science fiction shows? Those thins are real?”
He nodded. “Yes. Very much so.”
“What I don’t understand is why would someone want to block off this particular part of the castle?”
“Another excellent question. Maybe they’re hiding something.”
“But what could they possibly be hiding?”
“I don’t know,” he sighed. “But I think we should find out, don’t you?”
I nodded. “It would be the right thing to do.”
The Doctor smiled at me. “All right, let’s see how we get to the other side.” He took out his sonic screwdriver again, lighting it up and moving it back and forth over the wall.
“What’s that going to do?”
“I’m scanning the wall to see if there are any weak points.”
“How does that work?”
“Well, it breaks down the wall at a molecular level, and then processes it so that the sonic finds the exact spot we can push through. Simple mathematics. It’s just like two plus two equaling…equaling…”
“Four,” I answered.
“You told me you were a genius, and yet you don’t know that two plus two equals four?
He waved me off, crouching to scan the wall at the bottom. “Trivial things, Smith. I mean, considering I invented mathematics, it really shouldn’t matter.”
I could feel my face scrunch up. “You invented mathematics?”
“Maybe,” he said, not looking at me.
“Are you lying to me again, Doctor?”
“Maybe,” he muttered.
I shook my head. “Do you always say the first thing that pops into your mind?”
“Yes,” he answered quickly. “All my people do.”
“Are you telling me that all Time Lords talk to themselves?”
“Yes,” he said, still not looking at me.
“You’re lying again.”
“Stop calling me out on it,” the Doctor huffed, standing so he could throw his hands up in my face. It seemed he really likes doing that. In fact, he really loved his hand gestures. Period. “It’s not fun when you do that.”
“It’s not fun when you lie to me,” I bit back.
“Really?” he asked, this time the confusion was real.
“But I thought women liked being lied to?”
I sighed. “Only about two things: how old we look and our weight. Everything else we like to be told the truth about.”
“Women are strange, Smith.”
“That we are, Doctor,” I agreed. “That we are.”
I walked closer to the wall. “You know, maybe if we just…” I leaned into the stone. “Ah!” I yelled as I fell through the wall onto the floor. “Ow…”
“Smith,” the Doctor yelled,” are you all right? Smith? Smith?”
I stood, brushed my knees off, and before he could yell my name again, I poked my head through to the other side. “You called?”
He jumped a mile. “You scared the living daylights out of me.”
“Are you coming?” I asked, smiling.
“You,” he said, pointing at me, “are very frustrating.”
“So is that a yes?”
“Yes,” he answered, and I moved my head back through to the other side. A moment later, the Doctor walked through the wall, looking over his shoulder at it. “It’s a hologram,” he mused. “But how?”
I shrugged. “Another mystery we need to solve.”
The Doctor turned toward me, and we both looked round. “I don’t see anything,” he said.
I walked further in, feeling that I had stepped in something. “Ugh…what is this?” I asked, lifting my shoe to see that the substance was viscous.
“Hm…” the Doctor squatted again, sticking the tips of his fingers in the goo. When he stood, he smelled the stuff, and then stuck his tongue out to taste it.
“Doctor,” I scolded, grabbing his hand. “You don’t know what that is. Don’t put it in your mouth.”
“It has never done me harm before.”
“Just please use that sonic thing of yours,” I pleaded, and he nodded.
He scanned his fingers and when it was done, he looked at it. “It seems to be some sort of hallucinogenic.”
“See?” I couldn’t help the smugness that came through in my voice. “Now aren’t you glad you didn’t stick that stuff in your mouth?”
“Yes, you’re very clever,” he said annoyed. “We should look around, if it’s all right with you?”
“By all means,” I said, gesturing for him to go ahead of me.
He walked in front of me wiping the tips of his fingers on his trousers, before placing his sonic screwdriver back in his inner jacket pocket. I followed him dutifully, looking around in order to see if there was anything suspicious. I couldn’t see much, but the Doctor seemed enthralled with the empty hall. “Why would someone want to hide an empty room?” he asked turning to face me. “It makes no sense.”
“I don’t…” my voice trailed away when I saw something large move in the shadows.
“I mean, I understand if the room was filled with gold or treasure of some kind. But there’s nothing.”
“Doctor,” I choked, as I saw the thing that was slowly breathing, move ever so slightly.
He just kept talking, “I really wanted there to be something. It’s very disappointing. You know, one time I went into a room like this and it was filled with feathers, just as far as the eye could see. Actually, they weren’t really feathers and they tried to eat me…”
“Doctor,” I whispered again, and this time he looked at me.
“What is it, Smith?” I pointed behind him, and he turned to look where I was looking.
The thing was large…larger than any animal I had seen in my entire life. It was also fully scaled. I couldn’t see what colour it was, but I could see an enormous head with a long snout. It’s eyes were closed, and it breathed deep and heavy. It looked like it was a…
The Doctor slowly back away from it, and I followed his lead. “What should we do?” I whispered, trying not to wake the beast.
“Bascially?” he asked, and I nodded. “Run.”
We turned on our heels, running through the castle as fast as our legs could carry us. I tripped on the stairs, but the Doctor helped me up, taking my hand as we ran. When we finally made it back to our room, and we shut the heavy door behind us. We both leaned against it, trying to catch our collective breaths.
“You and your ideas,” the Doctor breathed.
“My ideas?” I shouted when I got air in my lungs, and then let it go. There was a bigger issue at hand. “Doctor?” I said the anger completely gone from my voice. “Is that creature what I think it is?”
He nodded. “Yes, Smith. I’m afraid it is.”
“So, we just saw a dragon?”
We both looked at each other for a moment, and then smiled. The Doctor took my hands and we started dancing around the room, singing, “We just saw a dragon! We just saw a dragon! We just saw a dragon!”
“Hold on,” I said, and stopped dancing. “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?”
He looked off into the distance, letting go of my hands. “I have no idea.”
“You’ve never seen one before?”
He shook his head. “No. But I have heard of them. They’re from a different planet…different galaxy actually. I wonder how it got here.”
“Have you ever heard of them being dangerous?” I asked tentatively. “They do have a reputation for breathing fire, but those are just stories, right?”
His face became very serious. “I’m not entirely sure.”
“What are we going to do?” I sighed.
“I am so sorry, Smith,” he said, and he looked endlessly sad.
I touched his cheek. “It’s not your fault, Doctor. You didn’t plan to take us here, it just happened.” He walked away from me, going over to the window without a word. “Doctor?” I said, and he would not face me. Then it hit me. “You didn’t. Please tell me you didn’t…” my voice trailed away.
He turned abruptly. “Well,” he threw up his hands again, “Jane Austen is so boring. Trust me, I’ve met her. I didn’t realize that I was putting you in danger when I brought you here. I just wanted to take you somewhere cool your first time. I mean, you looked so sad sitting on the bench all by yourself—”
“So,” I interrupted him, “you didn’t pick me up by accident?”
The Doctor looked like a child then. “No, I didn’t.”
“Were you even in danger?”
He rubbed his hands together. “That part was true. I was running from the police. The TARDIS landed on one of their cars. It was a complete accident.”
“Oh,” I huffed, folding my arms, “so that was an accident? I cannot believe you. We're now stuck here because you wanted to impress me. Was that part of the plan or another one of your ‘accidents’?” I couldn’t keep the annoyance out of my voice.
“No, that was an accident.”
“Why should I believe you? You have done nothing but lie to me, Doctor, since we met. You even acted as if you didn’t know I was on the TARDIS with you.”
“Actually,” he said, pointing at me, “I did forget you were there.”
I sighed, and I could feel my lips pull down into a frown. He had lied to me, and I felt so betrayed. I trusted this man with my life, but it seemed as though it wasn’t mutual.
Walking over to the bed, I sat down with a thump. “You could have just asked, Doctor. You didn’t have to drag me.”
I was quiet after that, and the Doctor seemed worried. “Smith…please, I am sorry. I know it was wrong now, but I just wanted to cheer you. And I did do that…for a little while anyway. Please, Smith, don’t be angry with me, I couldn’t handle you being angry with me. I feel…guilty.”
“Good,” I said quickly. “You should feel guilty.”
He grimaced. “I deserved that. Will you ever forgive me?”
I shook my head. “You know, Doctor, I never know whether to hit you or hug you. On the one hand you did lie to me mercilessly, and on the other, you did all of this to cheer me up. That being said, you need to learn that you cannot just grab people out of their lives. It could be considered kidnapping. Actually,” I thought on it, “it is considered that. Next time, you might not find yourself with such a willing victim. Do you understand?”
He squatted in front of me, placing his hands on my elbows. “I do understand. I really do, Smith. But you didn’t answer my question.”
I had forgotten what he had asked me. “And what was that?”
“Will you forgive me?” he asked, giving me that little lost boy look he seemed very fond of.
“All right,” I sighed. “I forgive you, but only because I can’t seem to stay angry with you.”
He smiled. “That’s great. What do you want to do now?”
“Sleep,” I told him, realizing that I was exhausted.
He pointed at me. “Right. Good idea.”
I took my bag from my shoulder, placing it next to me on the mattress. The Doctor stood, looking at me for a moment with wonderment. “What?” I asked, confused by the look he was giving.
“I was just thinking…” he paused, “do you have anything to wear to bed?” he asked, but I knew that wasn’t what he was thinking at all.
“As a matter of fact, I do.” I remembered buying the silk nightgown in Harrods, and smiled to myself. It was fate. I reached into my bag, taking out the nightgown. Then I got up, walking around the bed, bag in hand, so I could place things my on the floor.
I looked up at the Doctor after I took the tags off the garment. “Turn around.”
He looked confused. “Why?”
“I have to change.”
He just looked at me for a moment, and then his eyes widened. “Oh,” he pointed at me, “right. I will do that.”
Once he his back was toward me, I undressed. And about two seconds into me taking off my shoes, the Doctor began to babble. “You know, it’s not as if I haven’t seen it all before. I have known my fair share of women in my time.”
“I’m guessing that sounded better in your head,” I said, trying not to laugh as I took off my leggings. When my jumper was off and on the bed, he turned his head a bit and I covered myself with the nightgown. “Doctor!”
“Sorry,” he said quickly, looking away. “I didn’t see anything, I promise.”
I pulled the silk garment over my head, fixing it into place. “All right, you can look now.”
He turned round, his eyes widening. “Is that”—he pointed down at nightgown—“what you have to wear?”
“Yes,” I answered, looking down at myself. “Do you like it?”
He nodded, clapping his hands together. “Yes,” he squeaked, and then cleared his throat. “Very much.”
“What are you going to sleep in?”
He gestured down at his clothes. “This.”
“In your coat and bow tie?” I laughed, shaking my head. “Doctor, you'll never be comfortable in that.”
“I don’t intend to be comfortable,” he said with a shrug, “because I’m not going to sleep.”
“Like hell you’re not,” I said indignantly. “I need you to be wide awake to fight that thing downstairs, if it comes to that. You are not leaving me alone on that one. So take off your coat, your bow tie and your vest and get into bed.”
“Don’t ‘Smith’ me,” I interrupted his protest. “It has been a long day, and for once you're going to listen to someone besides yourself. Is that understood?”
The Doctor looked at me for a second, and I could tell that he was trying not to smile. “Yes, Smith. Whatever you say, Smith.”
“Good,” I said with a curt nod. “Well,” I continued, “what are you waiting for?”
He shook himself. “Right. Turn around.”
“What?” I asked with a laugh. “It’s not as if you’re going to be naked like I was.”
“True,” he stated, pointing at me. “But could you do it anyway?”
I sighed. “All right. But be quick about it.” I turned my back on the Doctor, shaking my head as I did so. He was such a strange man to say the very least, but as I stood there, I kept thinking that I needed a little something bizarre in my life, and the Doctor was definitely more than a little something.
“Done,” he announced, and I turned around to see that he had done what I had asked. I liked the way he looked in his white shirt, blue suspenders and trousers. He actually looked like a normal person, which was a bit disconcerting considering that I knew better.
“Are you going to take off the suspenders?” I asked softly. “They might dig into your shoulders while you sleep.”
He clapped his hands together. “Right. Good thinking, Smith.”
I watched as he expertly shrugged his suspenders off, placing them on the wooden chest at the foot of the bed. He sighed, and I could tell that something was plaguing him. “What is it, Doctor?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he said with the shake of his head.
“Again, that sigh was most certainly not nothing. Tell me what’s wrong?”
“Of what?” I inquired gently.
He sighed again. “The nightmares. When I close my eyes, I always see the faces of the people that I've lost. And trust me, Smith, there are a lot of them. More than you could ever imagine.”
“My mother always used to say that a dream is just that, a dream. You are the one to control it, not the other way round. It cannot harm you.”
“But what if I can’t control it, what then?”
“Well,” I said, looking down at my now bare feet, “she would always cuddle with me, until I fell asleep. We could cuddle. It couldn’t hurt.”
“Cuddle?” he said the word as if I spoke a different language. And when I finally looked up at him, he seemed utterly confused. “How do we do that?”
I could feel my brow furrow. “You’ve never cuddled before?”
He shook his head. “No. Does it hurt?”
“No,” I laughed, “it doesn’t hurt.” I pulled down the first layer of furs, and got into the bed. “Come on,” I said, patting the mattress beside me, “I’ll show you how it’s done.”
It took him a second to make up his mind, but he finally got into the bed with me. “What do we do now?” he asked, and I felt that he still had his shoes on.
I shook my head. This was going to be a lot harder than I thought. “Well, first you have to take your shoes off.”
He sat up again, untying them. When I heard them drop on the floor, I yawned as I watched him settle back under the furs. “What now?” he asked me.
“All right, there are two ways to do this,” I explained. “I can either lay my head on your chest and you can put your arms around me, or we can spoon.”
“Spoon?” his voice and his brows shot up. “What is that?”
“Let me show you.” I turned around, pulling my knees up as I did so. “Now, all you have to do is come up behind me, and put your arm round me,” I explained. The Doctor was hesitant, and as I watched him, he looked as though he was in deep thought. “It’s all right, Doctor. I promise I will not think anything of this.”
That seemed to make his mind up, and he moved as close as he could to me. “Like this?” he asked, and I nodded. “And my arm goes around you like this?” he placed his arm around my waist, and fidgeted.
“My other arm is really uncomfortable, and your hair is in my face.”
I chuckled a little. “I don’t like this position either. Personally, I like the other way.”
“Let’s try that then,” he suggested.
I turned round. “All you have to do is lie back, and put your arms around me when I place my head on your chest.”
“That sounds a lot more comfortable.”
I nodded. “It is.”
He lay back, getting himself comfortable, and I placed my ear next to his heart. Only there was something wrong with the rhythm of his heart, and I jerked my head back almost immediately. “What’s wrong, Smith?” the Doctor asked, looking a little concerned.
“Your heart sounds strange.”
“That’s because I have two of them,” he said matter-of-factly.
My eyes widened. “Two?” I paused, trying not to be freaked out. “You're just full of surprises, aren’t you?”
He smiled at me, and I put my head back on his chest. Then he gently placed his arms around me, while I placed my left arm around him. “This is nice,” he stated, and I looked up into his face. He seemed to relax, taking a deep breath as he did so.
“Strange,” I muttered, “but nice.”
My eyes began to close when he asked, “Smith?”
“I just wanted to say that I really am sorry for putting you through this.”
“It’s…” I yawned, “all right.”
I began to drift off when the Doctor spoke again. “Smith?”
“Good night, my darling girl.”
I smiled a little. “Night, Doctor.” And, listening to the drumming of his two hearts, I fell asleep.
The Doctor looked down at Smith, as her breathing deepened. “Smith?” he said again, but this time there was no answer. His thoughts were in a million places, while he looked up at the ceiling. Quieting his mind took some time. He knew how long it took for him to normal fall asleep, and even then, the nightmares would wake him only a few hours into his slumber. However, when he looked down at the small child in his arms,—not a child, his mind told him. A woman.—he watched her chest rise and fall in a hypnotic way, and suddenly he felt his eyes begin to close. He fought against it at first, but soon his eyes shut and his mind went silent. Sleep overtook him, and he braced himself for the nightmares…
Deep in the castle, the beast slumbered, dreaming of a homeland to which he most likely would never return. He was displaced, and longed for his brothers and sisters.
As he stirred, he knew that he would soon be dead in this place. Dead and buried without his family around him, and they would never know what happened to him.
A savior…in desperate need of a savior.
I awoke to the sun blazing in my eyes. Moving my body, I realized that I wasn’t at home in my bed. In fact, I remembered slowly that was in Camelot with…I moved my arm around, but I couldn’t feel him. “Doctor?” I said as I opened my eyes.
“Morning, Smith!” He waved from the chair on the other side of the room. “Come and have some breakfast! Well…actually…lunch.”
“What time is it?” I asked, stretching, and as the cold hit my naked arms, I shivered. “It’s freezing.”
He checked his pocket watch, and I noticed that he was fully dressed. “It's almost one in the afternoon.”
My eyes widened. “What? Why didn’t you wake me?”
The Doctor shrugged. “You looked so peaceful. Besides, I decided since this is like a holiday, you might as well sleep in.”
I shook my head, smiling as I rubbed my arms in order to get warm. “Thank you, Doctor. That was very nice of you.”
“You look awfully cold, Smith,” he stated the obvious. “There's a dressing gown on the edge of the bed for you. I figured you would be chilly, especially since it snowed last night.”
“What?” I bounded out of bed, going over to the window. He was right. There was a light dusting of snow on the ground that made everything shine even more. “This is truly amazing.”
“Humans,” the Doctor said, and when I looked at him, he was smiling. “I will never get over your sense of wonder.”
“And I hope you never do.” I smiled back, taking the dressing gown off the bed, placing it on. It was nice and warm, and when I walked over to the Doctor, he sat back down in a chair, which pulled up next to the large wooden table. On the table was a whole array of food. Fruits, bread, meats and even something that looked like wallpaper paste.
“What’s on the menu?”
The Doctor rubbed his hands together. “They brought us cherries, grapes, boar, some sort of fish, and whatever”—he pointed to the paste like substance—“that is.”
“Mmm…” I heard my stomach growl. “I love cherries.” However, when I looked into the bowl, it was only full of pits and steams. “Doctor?”
“What happened to all the cherries?”
He craned his neck looking into the bowl. “I ate some. Why?”
“You ate them all.” I told him.
He shook his head, standing to get a better look. “I did not.”
“Oh…” he grimaced. “Sorry about that.”
I shook my head at him, picking up a piece of bread, chewing on it slowly. “What is that?” I asked, gesturing over to the bowl with the mush.
“I have no idea. I probably should taste some, just so I can compliment whoever made it.”
I nodded. “Good idea.”
The Doctor picked up the wooden spoon that was set beside the bowl, dipped it in and placed it in his mouth. The face he made was not a pleasant one. “Oh my…” he managed to mumble through the spoonful of mush. “It’s stuck to the roof of my mouth.” I placed my hand over my mouth, covering my smile. “It taste like…mud,” he managed, and I began to giggle. “It’s not funny, Smith,” he scolded, and I laughed even harder. “At least get me a glass of water!”
It threw my head back and laughed so hard that I began to cry. I finally picked up the pitcher, poured out a glass of water and handed it to him. The Doctor drank it as fast as he could, and when he was finished, he glared at me. “That was not funny, Smith.”
“You were the one who insisted on tasting it,” I managed to say through giggles.
“Yes…well…”—he waved his hands about—“you didn’t have to laugh at my pain. I mean, I didn’t see you trying it.” When he said that, he flicked the spoon at me, and the remaining slop hit me in the face.
The Doctors mouth dropped open. “Smith, I am so—”
“Dead,” I shouted.
“You are so dead!” I picked up a handful of the mush, flinging it at him.
It hit his chin, and he just stared at me for a second. Then he smiled, picking up a handful of cherry pits, throwing them at me.
“This mean war,” I declared, taking a piece of bread and chucking it at him. It bounced off his shoulder and the battle began.
The Doctor and I laughed as the food went flying around the room. “I am the Doctor,” he proclaimed. “I am the oncoming stor—” I hit him in the face with some mush before he could finish.
I laughed as he wiped it off. He picked up a grape, throwing it at my head, but I dodged it easily. Then he took a whole bunch, and just kept at it. “Give up?” he asked, as he kept pelting me.
“Never,” I exclaimed, tossing a piece of meat at him. After which, we both reached for the mush in the bowl. Our eyes locked for a second, and then we smashed the slop in each other’s faces. Both of us crumpled over with laughter, holding onto each other for support.
“What are you doing?” a deep voice bellowed from the doorway, and the Doctor and I stood up straight in order to see the king standing there looking concerned.
“Wart,” the Doctor greeted him, and I stifled a laugh, “what are you doing here?”
“I wanted to see how you slept,” Arthur said a little more gently. “And to tell you that we are having a ball in your honour tonight.”
The Doctor waved him off. “Oh, Wart, you didn’t have to do that.”
“It was not my idea, Doctor. My wife insisted. She also insists that Anna be fitted for a gown, and that you be given more suitable attire.”
“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?” the Doctor asked.
“Have you seen yourself,” the king sighed, pointing at the Doctors clothes.
We were covered in food, and when the Doctor looked down at himself, he pointed at Arthur. “Good point. Send in the dressers.”
The king bowed his head slightly. “I will. Just do not throw anymore gruel at one another.”
“So that’s what that stuff is,” I said, and the Doctor smiled, winking at me.
“Have a pleasant afternoon, Doctor,” Arthur told him. “Anna,” he said with a bow toward me, and then he left.
I picked up a cloth that was on the table, walked over to the Doctor, and began wiping down his clothes. He picked up another one, and did the same to me. Luckily, the food had only hit my face and the dressing gown, so all I had to do is was take it off. The Doctor, on the other hand, was covered in gruel and other bits. When I began to wipe his face, something dawned on me.
“What’s wrong, Smith?” he asked, noticing my furrowed brow.
I wiped the last bit of mush out of his hair, throwing the cloth on the table. “I just thought that they would be speaking a different language here. Like Middle English, Ole English, Brythonic, or even Latin. But they speak regular English. It’s strange.” The Doctor gave me a look that confused me. “What?”
“You’re giving me that I know something you don’t know face.”
“This is my normal face,” he said, and I pursed my lips. “Oh, shut up.” He paused for a moment, looking as though he was thinking about how to tell me something. “All right,” he sighed. “They are speaking a different language.”
“But I can—”
“It’s the TARDIS translation matrix,” he explained. “It translates every language into English.”
“So what am I speaking now?” I asked.
“Brythonic,” he answered gently, trying not to scare me.
“That is so…weird. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it's amazingly cool, but still very strange. I'm speaking a different language right now and I can’t hear it.” I chuckled. “I won’t speak like this forever, will I?”
He smiled, shaking his head. “No. When we return to London, you’re speech will return to normal.”
“Wait,” I said, realizing something. “Are you telling me that I don’t need to speak all prim and proper like I have been? Why didn’t you tell me?”
He shrugged. “I liked listening to you. You do it very well.”
“Well, I’m not doing it anymore.”
Before he could protest, there was a gentle knock on the door. I turned round to see that a woman was standing in the doorway with a man right behind her. “My lady,” the white haired woman smiled, “I am her majesties dresser. She suggested that I measure you for an evening gown. Your husband is to follow Matthew”—she gestured toward the neatly dressed man behind her—“to the kings chambers to be fitted as well. Will that be all right, Lord Merlin? Or do you wish to stay with your wife?”
I looked over at the Doctor, and he blanched. “No,” he said raising his hand, “I’ll go with Matthew and get dressed. See you later, Smith,” he whispered to me, and then followed the man out of the room.
“Now then,” the woman said, closing the door behind her, “let us see what I can do for you.”
And so began one of the longest evenings of my life.
It took over five hours to get me fitted and dressed. The whole time I was pinned, pricked and stood on a pedestal, while the kindly gentlewoman, named Flora, ripped and stitched me into a gown that she would not let me see until it was finished. Then one of her assistants got a full-length mirror and I finally got to see what they had done to me. Flora had made the most beautiful brown and gold gown for me, trimmed in a fine dark green. It was floor length, synched at the waist and the style fit the times perfectly.
They had me sit during the times when Flora was stitching things together, and someone came in and fixed my hair so that it was down and beautifully curly. The combination of the beautiful dress and the wonderful hair, made me almost giddy with excitement. I’m going to a ball, I thought, and could not thank the dresser enough for what she had done for me.
I only had to wait five minutes after everyone left for the Doctor to make his way back into our room. I turned to give him a full view of the dress and was quite surprised by what he was wearing. His tunic and trousers were the same lovely shade of brown as my dress. However, the pants where just a little too short and he wore those same lace up brown boots. He was still the Doctor, just in different wrapping.
“How do I look?” I asked, twirling for him, and then posed.
“You look lovely,” his voice raised about two octaves when he said that, and he smiled. “What about me?” He turned to the side, striking his own pose, and I couldn’t help but smile.
“You look good,” I replied. “Even without the bow tie.”
He frowned a little. “Yeah, they made me take it off. But I protested.” He wagged his finger at me. “They won though.”
I laughed, and then noticed something shinning under his arm. “What in the world is that?”
The Doctor pulled a knights helmet from under his arm with a flourish. “It’s a helmet. I wear a helmet now,” he said, placing it on his head. “Helmets are cool.”
“Who gave it to you?” I asked, trying not to let him see in my face how ridiculous I thought he looked.
“I asked and he gave it to me,” he stated, as if it was the most matter-of-fact thing in the world. “Do you want me to take it off?”
I shook my head, trying not to laugh. “No, Doctor. Whatever you want to wear is fine with me.”
“Good on you, Smith,” he said, putting the visor on the helmet down.
“Doctor, I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
“Why not?” The metal muffled his voice.
“You won’t be able to see anything,” I explained.
He waved me off. “Nonsense! I can see perfectly fine. Shall we?” He walked in front of me, banging into the open door. His head hit the edge with a clang and he stumbled back.
“Are you all right?”
He opened the visor, and made a pained face. “What?” he yelled.
“Are you all right?” I shouted, making sure that he heard me.
He gave me a thumbs up. “Fine! Apart from my ears ringing!”
“I told you not to put the visor down!”
“Yes, I know!” he huffed. “I’m going to take this off!”
He took the helmet off quickly, making a face and shaking his head in order to get the ringing to stop. “I don’t like helmets anymore,” he yelled, and I laughed.
After a minute, I asked loudly, “Feeling better?”
“Yes,” he answered in a normal voice. “You don’t have to shout.”
I shook my head, offering my arm to him. “Shall we, Doctor?”
He nodded, taking my arm in his. “We shall, Smith.” And we walked arm in arm to the ball.
When we walked into court, we were greeted with warm smiles and bows. After the Doctor handed Sir Lionel’s helmet back, Sagramore whisked me away. He was so excited to have my first dance that he escorted me onto the dance floor before anyone else decided to take me away from him. We danced the first dance, and once it was finished, I was so relieved and happy that I had gone all those times with Mitch to the Renaissance Faire. And before I could catch my breath, Dinadan shoved him out of the way for the second.
I had dance with all those who I had promised one to, which only included the three knights, and when I was done, I made my way over to the Doctor, who was talking to the king and queen. “Good evening, your majesties,” I said with a slight bow.
“Good evening, Lady Anna,” Guinevere said with a smile. “May I just say that you look lovely and what a spectacular dancer you are? Simply marvelous. Do you not agree, my love?” Arthur nodded in response, smiling down at me. Both of them wore different shades of purple, and the queen had her beautiful golden hair pulled up halfway, which made it wave down her back gorgeously. “Arthur, why do not you and Merlin get Lady Anna and me something to drink?”
“With pleasure, my queen,” Arthur said, whisking the Doctor away before he could say anything.
As soon as they were gone, Guinevere leaned in so no one would hear our conversation. “I heard something rather interesting about you and a certain knight.”
“Sagramore, Dinadan or Lionel?” I asked jokingly. “Although I think that Lionel’s wife would be awfully upset if I stole him from her.”
She laughed, shaking her head. “Not Sir Lionel, my dear. This is about a certain Frenchman.”
“du Lac, dear,” she explained. “Sir Lancelot du Lac.”
“What?” I was shocked and I could not keep it out of my voice. “I mean…” I tried to recover, but couldn’t pull it off. “What?”
She laughed again. “He likes you very much,” she said slyly. “In fact he has told one of my maids that he wishes to court you.”
My eyes widened. “Court me? But I’m married.”
“He knows that. This will be a different kind of love.”
“You can’t be suggesting…that is…what?” I could not believe that the queen of England was telling me that her famous lover was going to “court” me. “Oh dear…”
Before she could say anything else, the Doctor and the king came back with some goblets for us. I took mine and drank it on the spot. Then I handed the cup to a servant with a smile, and the Doctor held out his hand. “Shall we dance?”
I nodded, still in shock from what the queen had told me, as we made our way to the dance floor. “Doctor,” I whispered, but the musicians started to play some light, tinkering song and we had to dance.
“Yes, Smith,” he answered as we moved toward one another.
“The queen just told me something very disturbing.”
We switched partners, as one does in those sorts of dances, and it was another minute before we spoke to each other again. “What was it?”
“About du Lac.” And as if he heard me, Lancelot showed up at the edge of the dance floor, smiling at me.
“What about him?” The Doctor asked, taking my hand gently as we stepped in time with the music.
“She told me that he wants to…” I paused, shaking my head at the thought, “court me.”
His face scrunched up, and we had to switch partners again. When he was back with me, he said, “What?”
His tone was just as shocked as I felt. “I know,” I couldn’t keep the panic out of my voice. “What are we going to do?”
“Nothing,” he said, flapping his hands about. “We just have to ignore it.”
“How?” I asked, and when it was time to switch partners again, the Doctor wasn’t having it.
“Oh, for pities sake,” he huffed, taking me in his arms, dancing the waltz. “You just have to stay away from him,” he continued, stepping on my foot. “Sorry.”
“It’s all right,” I said, trying not to look in Lancelot’s direction. “But what if he asks me to dance with him?”
“You say that someone else has asked you.”
He stepped on my foot again, and I winced. “You are a terrible dancer,” I told him, and began to lead him around the dance floor. When I looked over at the king, he was smiling at me. At first, I thought he was laughing at our strange way of dancing, but I noticed his eyes were only on me. “The king,” I whispered to the Doctor, “is smiling at me.”
“Well, smile back,” he told me, and when I did the musicians ended their song. There was a round of applause as we separated, and I saw that everyone had been watching us dance. We looked at each other, nodding. Then we took a bow, and before we could walk off, someone yelled, “Merlin!”
The crowd parted and in walked a raven-haired woman dressed in sliver. She glided over to us, grabbed the Doctors face and kissed him on the lips. No one seemed to care when she did this. However, I was stunned, and so was he. The Doctor held his hands away from her, his eyes wide.
I noticed a silver streak in her hair that matched her dress as she pulled away from him. The rest of the court turned back to their conversations, and I waited to be introduced to the woman who stole a kiss from the Doctor.
“Hello, Morgana,” the Doctor greeted her, his voice very high and strained.
My mouth dropped open. “Morgana? Morgana le Fay?”
“You have heard of me?” she asked with a sly little smile.
“Oh,” I pursed my lips, raising an eyebrow at her, “I have heard of you. Your reputation precedes you.”
She looked at the Doctor up and down. “I would have thought you would have mentioned me to her.”
“Well,” he said, lifting his hands, “I didn’t have time, Morgana. Oh,” he jerked himself, as if just realizing I was there, “this is my wife.”
“So I have heard,” she said pleasantly, but there was venom behind those lilac eyes of hers. “She is awfully young, Merlin. Then again, you have not aged a day. How is that possible?”
“Magic,” I answered with a smile, and she glared at me. “But, of course, you already knew that, didn’t you?”
“Speaking of magic,” she said, looking back at the Doctor. “You and your lady wife may want to move to the edge of the room. I am going to show you just how truly magical I can be.” She winked at him, walking away from us so she could see the king.
“Old girlfriend?” I asked the Doctor, as we moved off the dance floor.
“Something like that,” he answered.
“How old was she when you knew her? Twelve?”
“Seventeen,” he corrected, and I cocked an eyebrow at him. “Not like that, Smith,” he scolded gently. “Stop thinking that way.” When he said that he poked my forehead, and I waited for more of an explanation. “She had a crush on me.”
I nodded. “Was it mutual?”
He lifted his hands, shrugging as we joined the crowd that began to form. “She was a child.”
“She was a young woman and you know it,” I huffed, and he blushed a little. “You snogged her, didn’t you?”
He opened his mouth, pointing at me. “I did not,” he protested, and I lifted a brow at him. “She snogged me.”
I laughed, shaking my head. “I can’t take you anywhere, can I?”
“Oh, shut up.”
“Honoured guests,” Morgana boomed from the middle of the room. Some of the servants had brought a large caldron into the center of the court, and she had placed herself in front of it to address the crowd. “For your entertainment, I will shock and amaze you with magical wonders you have never seen before!” She was being a little high handed, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it, and when she reached inside her long sleeve, she pulled out something that caught my eye.
“Doctor?” I asked, and he looked down at me.
“What could have brought the…you know what, into this galaxy?”
He thought about it for a second. “Well, someone would have to open a vortex, a portal in space and time…they could even have created a black hole. But they would need the right tools and have to find a weak point in time.”
“You mean a tool like your sonic screwdriver?” I inquired, staring at Morgana as she threw things into the caldron.
When I looked up at him, he nodded. “With the right chemicals…that would work.”
“Could Morgana have done it?”
He shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. She would need some sort of sonic device, and I doubt that she has one.”
“What about a magic wand?”
His face scrunched up. “Magic wand?” he asked, and I took hold of his chin pointing his face toward Morgana. In her right hand, she held a long black wand with a glowing red tip. “You have got to be kidding me?” He looked and sounded perplexed, and then he grimaced.
I let go of him. “I’m guessing you gave that to her?” I asked, and he nodded. “And the hologram thing?”
He nodded again. “Yes. They were her seventeenth birthday present. I gave them to her for protection and privacy purposes.”
“I see.” I said, nodding. “So I’m guessing your relationship was a little more than just snogging.” He glared down at me, and before he could say anything, I waved him off. “I know,” I smiled. “‘Shut up, Smith.’”
Morgana threw the last ingredient into the caldron, whispered something over it, and then pointed the wand. The tip glowed, and I heard the faint chirping sound that a sonic device makes. The liquid exploded, creating a cloud of smoke that looked like the outline of a hawk. Then it whirled around the room, looking as though it was flying, until it final evaporated into nothing.
“If she can do that,” I said over the applause, “there’s no telling what she could accomplish.”
“I think I need to have a talk with Morgana le Fay,” The Doctor said, and I could tell by his demeanor that he was none too happy.
After she was done with her “magic” show, the crowd began to go back to their previous activates, and I noticed that the king was walking toward us. He smiled at me as he moved closer, bowing when he was finally in front of me. “Doctor,” he said quietly, “may I talk to Anna alone for a moment?”
I looked over at the Doctor, and he nodded. “I would be delighted,” I told the king, and he escorted me out of court, while the Doctor tried to make his way over to Morgana.
Once we were away from everyone and in the quietness of the corridor, Arthur turned to me. He became very serious, and he took my hands in his. “Anna, I heard about Lancelot,” he told me.
For a moment, I wondered what he was talking about, but then I realized what to what he was referring. “Oh,” I said with the shake of my head. “It’s all right, Arthur. I’m not worried about it. He’ll get over it.
“Knowing Lancelot, I suspect not. However, I wish to assure you that he will not peruse you if you do not wish it.”
“Thank you,” I said with a gentle smile. “That means a lot.”
He smiled back at me. “You are very welcome, Anna. I know being with the Doctor can be terribly nerve wrecking and strange, I do not wish for you to be uncomfortable during your stay here. That would be,” he paused, taking one of his hands and brushing a piece of hair out of my face, “truly terrible.”
I took my hands away, realizing that he was being a little too intimate with me. “We should go back to the ball,” I suggested, but when I moved away, he blocked me. I laughed nervously. “Really, Sire, I believe they will be missing us.”
He shook his head. “Not quite yet, Anna. I must tell you that I think you are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen.”
“Oh, no. Not you too,” I sighed. “I’m not what you think I am. The Doctor just picked me up…that’s sounds awful. I mean, I’m really not all that wonderful. I’m just some poor little thing that he took pity on.”
“Do not talk of yourself that way,” he whispered, moving closer to me. “Why do you try to be one of the stars, Anna? When you were born to be the moon and sun.” He leaned down, trying to kiss me, but before he could, the Doctor found us.
“Oh, thank God,” I whispered to myself. “Doctor,” I addressed him. “We were just coming back.”
“Good,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “Wart,” he looked at Arthur. “Your wife wishes to dance with you.” Arthur bowed with a smile, and then took my hand and kissed it before walking back into court.
“I can’t leave you alone, can I?” he asked, and I could tell he wasn’t joking.
“It’s ridiculous,” I snapped.
“I can’t disagree,” he said. “What do you do to them, Smith?” he inquired agitated. “Put them under a spell?”
“It’s not funny, Doctor. And you don’t have to be such a grumpy old man about it!”
“You take that back,” he said, pointing at me. “I am not grumpy,” he huffed.
“Yes, you are.”
“Well, you are just a silly little hobbit.”
“You’re jealous,” I said, finally realizing why he was so agitated.
His face scrunched up, and he scoffed. “I am…” his voice trailed away when I raised an eyebrow. “Maybe,” he amended, and I just stared at him. “Fine,” he huffed, throwing his hand up. “Yes, I’m jealous.”
“Because you’re supposed to be my wife.”
“Who’s fault was that?” I asked, folding my arms.
He opened his mouth, pointing at me. “The psychic paper.”
“Sure, Doctor. You just keep telling yourself that.”
He turned round to walk back into court. “Sure, Doctor. You just keep telling yourself that,” he said in a high, mocking voice.
“You know I can hear you, right?” I asked as I followed him.
He looked over his shoulder at me. “I do now.”
I sighed, but before I could even take two steps, a crashing noise stopped me. The Doctor and I whirled around, looking at each other for a moment until the crashing came again. “It sounds like somebody’s up,” the Doctor said with a slight smile.
“It sounds like we should go and say hello,” I suggested.
“I think that’s a great idea,” he whispered to me, and we walked together to where we had last seen our dragon friend.
The wall was still up and we walked right through it, not giving it a second thought, which we probably should have. As soon as we made our way to the other side, there was no sign of the beast, but the crashing grew louder. In a far corner of the hall there seemed to be a large shadow. It was not moving at first, but when we drew nearer, it shifted rather slowly. The Doctor held out his arm to stop me from going any further, but I seemed to be glued to my spot. The dragon was larger than what he had seemed earlier, and as he moved into the dim light, I could see that his scales were of the most beautiful green and royal blue.
“Hello,” the Doctor said gently. “I’m the Doctor, and this is my companion Smith. Say hello, Smith,” he told me.
“Hello,” I said with a wave, my voice surprisingly strong, considering I was frightened half to death.
The dragon turned to look at us, his amber eyes narrowing, while the pupils became vertical slits. He looked at us for a moment, and then bounded toward us. At first, I thought he was just curious, until I realized that he was going to attack. “Doctor,” I shouted, and he turned, grabbing my arm.
“Run!” He tugged me, but it was too late. The dragon took hold of the extra fabric of my gown, pulling me upward in the process. Before either one of us knew it, I was dangling ten feet off the ground.
“Put her down,” the Doctor screamed, but the dragon did not seem to understand him. He shook me, and I cried out. “I said”—the Doctor picked up a loose stone—“put her down!” When the beast ignored him again, he threw the rock, hitting the dragon somewhere that I did not see, and the beast roared. Instantly, I was falling, and the last thing I remember is the Doctor running to catch me.
“Smith,” I heard a distant voice call in the darkness. “Smith,” the voice grew louder. “Please, Smith, don’t die on me! Please! Smith! Not her…please, not her.” That same voice had grown louder still, and I felt someone holding me.
I knew that pleading voice, but I couldn’t quite remember where I had heard it before. “Smith,” he yelled again, and I could just make out the sorrow in his voice. “Smith, please don’t leave me! Smith, answer me!” It was the Doctor…the Doctor was pleading for my life. “Smith,” he almost sobbed, tightening his grip on me.
“What?” I said when I could finally think.
He sighed, and when I opened my eyes, I could see the relief wash over him. “Thank you,” he whispered to me, only I did not understand what he was thanking me for. “Are you all right?”
“I think so,” I said, but when I lifted my head, I grimaced. I touched the back of my skull to find a large lump, and I winced when I touched it. “Maybe not.”
“Here,” he said, pulling his sonic screwdriver out of his trousers. “Let me.”
“What is that going to do?”
“You’ll see,” he replied with a wink. He whirled the sonic at the back of my head, and I started to feel better. After only a second or two, I felt like myself again, and I could finally sit upright.
When I did, my palm landed in something warm and thick, making it sting. “Ow,” I exclaimed, and when I turned my hand over, I saw that it was covered in blood, some of which was not my own.
The Doctor moved the sonic over the wound, and it was gone by the time he pulled away. I wiped my hand on my shirt, and tried to get up, only to realize the Doctor was still holding me.
“I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t woken up,” he told me.
“You would have moved on,” I said, touching his face lightly. “That’s what creatures like you do, they move on.”
He shook his head, placing his hand over mine. “Not from you, my darling girl. Never from you.”
“Doctor?” I smiled at him.
“Help me up.”
He gave a curt nod. “Right.”
When we stood, I saw that we had guests. The Knights of the Round Table and the king now surrounded the dragon. However, when I took a closer look, I couldn’t see du Lac anywhere. That was quickly pushed out of my mind when I saw the Knights pointing their swords at the beast.
“Don’t you dare hurt him,” the Doctor yelled, as they closed in on the dragon.
Leave me be, I heard a deep voice say, and I looked around to see where it was coming from.
“Hello?” I asked the air. “Who said that?”
The dragon turned its attention toward me. Mortal girl, can you hear me?
My mouth dropped open, and I stepped forward. “Yes,” I told him, “I can.”
“Smith?” the Doctor said, but I put my hand up, gesturing for him to be quiet.
Wonderful! Please tell these men to leave me be, I mean you no harm.
“But you did try to kill me,” I pointed out.
His head dropped slightly. I am sorry for that. I thought you were here to hurt me.
“So, you couldn’t understand us?”
No. But now I can. Prey, what is your name?
“Anna,” I answered gently. “What’s yours?”
Bathrix, he told me. Could you tell them to stop pointing their shinny sticks at me?
“Oi,” I shouted at the knights and the king, and they turned to look at me. “Could you please put down your swords? You’re scaring him.”
“Smith?” the Doctor said from beside me. “Are you…is he…can you understand each other?”
I nodded. “It’s like he’s talking in my head. I don’t know how, but there you have it.”
“Boys,” the Doctor yelled when the knights didn’t put their swords down. “Do as the lady says and put down your swords. He means us no harm.” They reluctantly put down their weapons, but none of them relaxed. “What’s his name, Smith?” he turned to me and asked.
“Bathrix,” I answered, and the dragon bowed his head.
“I wonder why you’re the only one who can hear him,” the Doctor mused, looking at me for a second. Then he looked at the floor where the blood was, and it seemed as though something clicked. “Oh! That is brilliant!”
“What is?” I asked the question everyone else was thinking.
“Blood transfer telepathy,” he explained, rubbing his hands together. “I love new things.”
“I got the telepathy part,” I told him. “It’s the other stuff I’m confused on.”
“All right,” he said quickly, clapping his hands together. “When you put your cut hand in the dragons blood it mixed with your DNA and created a connection between you and him. It’s incredibly cool.” I could tell that he was excited by the fact that he was talking so fast.
What is the babbling man talking about?
“He’s excited that I can speak to you,” I told the dragon, and when I looked at the Doctor, he waved me on. “Who brought you here, Bathrix?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
The sorceress, he answered.
I turned to the Doctor. “The sorceress.”
“Morgana,” we both said at the same time, and the Doctor nodded. “Arthur,” he called over to him, and the king left his men.
“Yes, Doctor?” he answered once he was in front of us.
“Send for Morgana,” the Doctor told him. “She created this mess and now she’s going to fix it.”
“Lionel,” Arthur called to him, and he turned with a bow. “Get our sorceress and bring her here.” Lionel nodded, walking through the wall as though it were nothing. It must have been a sight to see them standing there confused when they first walked through it. I was very sorry that I missed it.
Are they sending me home, Anna? Bathrix interrupted my inner musings.
I nodded. “We're sure going to try.”
Thank you, dear mortal girl.
“Don’t thank me yet,” I told him, and before he could say something else, Morgana was dragged into the room by her arm. Her eyes widened when she saw the knights and the king standing in front of the dragon.
“Morgana le Fay, how did this happen?” the Doctor scolded, wagging his finger in her face.
Lionel let her go and rejoined the rest of his fellow knights. She frowned at the Doctor, whispering, “It was a complete accident, Doctor. I did not mean to…” her lower lip quivered, and her eyes started to tear. Morgana’s demeanor changed so rapidly that I thought she might be a different woman. Then I realized she was acting earlier.
“So she knows you’re the Doctor too,” I said. “It seems your relationship was a lot more than you said it was.”
“That’s not important now, Smith,” the Doctor huffed.
“It’s a little important,” I muttered, making the king smile.
“What happened, Morgana?” the Doctor asked not paying attention to me.
She looked down at her feet, wiping the tears away. “I was just making some of my usual potions, and when I used the sonic wand you gave me, the whole caldron exploded. The next thing I knew…” she pointed to the dragon.
What is the dark one saying? Bathrix asked.
“She was just saying that she brought you here by accident,” I said, and Morgana’s eyes widened again.
“You can talk to it?” she asked me.
“He is not an ‘it’,” I yelled at her. “He is a ‘he’ and his name is Bathrix.”
“Sorry,” she whispered, looking down at her feet again.
The Doctor took her by the shoulders. “Morgana, do you think you can remember what you did?”
She nodded. “I wrote it down.”
“Then why did you keep him here?” I asked her.
“I could not send him back,” she told me. “No matter how hard I tried the thing just would not open to me again.”
“What if you helped her, Doctor?” I inquired. “Could you send him back?”
He looked at me for a second and smiled. “I think it’s very possible.”
“Sire,” one of the knights spoke up, “I think we should kill the beast. It is a monster!”
Arthur looked confused, but before I could say anything to him, my vision blurred and I saw a beautiful planet where dragons roamed free. Bathrix was perched on the highest mountain, his green and blue scales blazing brightly against a purple sky. He seemed regal, and I realized he was. Bathrix was their leader.
“Arthur,” I whispered to him, “you cannot deny him safe passage home. His race is depending on him. Without him, they are lost. He is their king.”
The king’s eyes widened. “Their king?” he asked, looking over his shoulder at Bathrix.
“Sire,” another knight tried to protest, but Arthur raised his hand to silence him.
“That is enough,” he bellowed, looking at me as he spoke. “We are going to help Lady Anna, Merlin and Morgana send this…Bathrix back where he belongs. He is their king and we will not keep a ruler from his people.”
“Yes, Sire,” all the knights said at once as they bowed to him.
“We are at your disposal, my lady,” Arthur told me with a smile.
“Thank you,” I whispered, and he took my hand, kissing it.
“All right you two,” the Doctor stepped between us, “get a room.”
I smiled at him “Was that a joke?”
“A small one,” he said with a smug look on his face.
“A very small one,” I added, and the way he looked at me, I knew he wanted to stick his tongue out.
After that, it was very chaotic. The knights brought in Morgana’s caldron and we began mixing things. Arthur read the ingredients, while the Doctor tried to figure out how he could open the vortex again without ripping the universe apart.
“So you and the Doctor were…” I began to talk to Morgana after a half an hour or so, and I waved the question on.
She shook her head. “Oh, no. In fact, I was the one who tried to woo him. I did not work out as I planned.”
“Nothing ever does when it comes to that man.”
She laughed. “There is truth in that,” she paused for a moment, putting another vile of something into the caldron. “How long have you and the Doctor been in love?”
“What?” I asked, feeling my brows shoot upward. “No. I’m afraid you have the wrong idea. The fact of the matter is, I just met him after my…betrothed decided to court another woman.”
“That is awful.” She looked and sounded truly appalled. “That must have been horrific. I am so sorry.”
I shrugged. “It’s all right, because without him doing that I would have never met the Doctor. Well, we didn’t actually meet. It was more of a grab me and run situation.”
She nodded with a smile. “Yes, he is very adept at that.”
“I’ve noticed.” We laughed together as we placed more of the ingredients into the mixture.
“I am sorry for earlier,” Morgana said, and I could tell that she meant it.
I waved her off. “Don’t worry about it. No hard feelings.”
“What is your name?” she asked.
I smiled at her, realizing that we were never really formally introduced. “Anna.”
“You talk very strangely, Anna. Where are you from?”
“Very far away,” I told her with a sigh. “A different time. A different generation.”
“Is it nice there?”
I shrugged. “It’s all right.”
“Forgive me for asking,” she began gently. “Am I…remembered?”
I nodded. “Oh, yes. You are remembered.”
“Is the memory good or evil?”
I opened my mouth to tell her the truth, but thought better of it. “I don’t think I should tell you that. The Doctor tells me that some things are set in stone, and I would not want to unravel one of those things.”
“Spoilers,” she said, and I cocked my head at her. “That is what he would always say when I asked about the future.”
“Spoilers,” I whispered. “I like that.” We smiled at each other, and then worked in silence until we were through.
It took about an hour to finish the concoction, and when Morgana and I were done, the Doctor and Arthur had come up with a plan on how to get Bathrix home. Although, I suspected that the Doctor figured it all by himself.
“You ready, Smith?” the Doctor asked me with a smile.
“As I’ll ever be,” I answered, and then I turned to a very patient Bathrix. “Are you ready?”
He closed his eyes, bowing his head. That I am, young one. That I am.
“He’s ready,” I told the Doctor.
He clapped his hands. “Let’s light the fire.”
Morgana nodded, taking a torch off the wall and placing it under the caldron where we had put a nice stack of wood. It lit almost immediately, and as it began to bubble, smoke came up from the contents. “Almost ready,” Morgana announced, smiling at me.
“You seemed very friendly with Morgana,” the Doctor pointed out.
“You know,” I said with a smile, “girl stuff.”
He shook his head. “Over twelve-hundred years and I don’t think I will ever understand women.”
“Twelve-hundred?” I asked, shaking my head. “You told me that you were younger.”
“Well, I…I mean…” he became tongue-tied.
“It’s all right, Doctor,” I told him, placing my hand on his shoulder. “Your secret is safe with me.” I winked, and he laughed a little.
“Ready,” Morgana announced.
“Here we go,” the Doctor said, rubbing his hands. He took out his sonic, pointing it at the caldron. It exploded and we all took cover, including Bathrix, who spread his wings, folding them in front of him. The knights and the king drew their swords again, in preparation for what was to come. Finally, something snapped and crackled in the air, making the smoke from the caldron swirl overhead.
“Now,” the Doctor yelled at Morgana, and she pointed her sonic wand at the swirling smoke. That seemed to break something open in the air and a vortex began to form. “Now to reverse the polarity,” the Doctor said to himself, pointing his screwdriver at it. It slowly formed into, what looked like, a whirlpool in the air. “That should do it,” he told me, and I nodded.
“Bathrix,” I said to him, and he moved his wings out of the way. “You can go home now.”
“Through there.” I pointed at the vortex, and I could actually feel his delight.
Thank you, Anna and Doctor. You are my saviors. Good-bye, gentle girl.
“Good-bye, Bathrix.” I smiled as he moved forward, shaking the entire hall with his footfall. But all was not as well as we thought. As soon as Bathrix was standing at the entrance to the vortex, one of the knights moved forward, sword ready to strike.
It all happened so fast that I could barely process it. As Bathrix opened his wings to take flight, the knight and a few others charged him. However, before they got to him, I heard someone yell, “No!” Morgana flung herself at the knight leading the charge, and his sword ran through her.
I gasped as she slid from the blade, landing on the floor in front of him. That seemed to stop the knights in their tracks, and when I looked over at Bathrix, he and the vortex were gone. I turned back to the scene at horrific scene at hand, and ran over to Morgana, feeling as though I was going in slow motion. I knelt beside her, and I watched as her breathing became shallow.
“Doctor,” I cried out for him, and he was beside her in a second. “Use your sonic,” I said, as the tear began to cloud my vision. “Help her.”
He took it out, running it over her body, but there was no improvement. “It’s too late, Smith,” he said sadly.
“Doctor,” she breathed, holding out her hand. He held it in his, and then she lifted her other hand towards me. “Anna.”
“Yes, Morgana,” I said, trying to hold the tears back. “We're here.”
“Doctor,” she said weakly, taking both our hands and placing them on top of one another. “Stay with her.” She took one last breath, and was gone.
The Doctor squeezed my hand, and I began to cry, the tears hitting Morgana’s beautiful silver gown. “Smith,” he said gently, “let her go. She’s gone.”
I shook my head. “I can’t, Doctor. She saved his life. I can’t leave her.”
“All right,” he soothed, still holding my hand. “All right.”
“How dare you,” I yelled at the three knights that caused this misery. “You shamed yourselves and your…” my voice trailed away when I looked at Arthur. He was avoiding my eyes and I had a sickening feeling that I knew why. “You told them to do it, didn’t you?”
“Wart?” the Doctor looked at him, and he seemed to crack under the Doctors gaze.
“I did not know it would end like this.”
“Why would you do this when you knew he was peaceful?” the Doctor yelled. “Why?”
“He was a monster,” Arthur snapped back. “And I had to protect my people!”
“Humans,” the Doctor hissed. “Give you a little bit of power and you think it’s all about you!”
“Doctor,” I said quietly, and he looked at me softly. I wiped my eyes with my sleeve, but the tears still flowed hot and heavy down my cheeks. “I’ve got this,” I finally told him, and he nodded. When I let go of his hand, I stood facing the knights and the king, the anger raging through me.
“You dare call yourselves knights and king,” I said, my voice cracking with emotion. “You are nothing but cowards! Cowards disguised as gentlemen. And to think I used to regard you as wonderful men, doing what they thought and knew was right. Well, this was neither right nor was it fair. You should all be ashamed to call yourselves heroes. The only person worthy of that title is lying on the ground dead! Morgana saved that creatures life. She saved a leader because his people needed him, and one day I pray to God that he comes back and sets fire to this place! Maybe then, you will learn what your cowardice has done. Until that day, remember what happened here tonight, and learn from it. Let it make you better men than you are. And never forget that Morgana le Fay was a hero this day, while you stood idly by and did nothing.”
The Doctor touched my shoulder gently. “That’s enough for now, Smith.”
I shook my head. “It will never be enough, Doctor. It will never be enough,” I told him, and then I turned in his arms and wept.
I had gone to our room, waiting for the Doctor to come back with news. He and some of the knights were going to bury Morgana, so he told me to rest for a bit. However, I couldn’t bring myself to close my eyes. All I could do was change into my jumper and leggings, thinking of the stories my mother told me of Morgana and her evil ways. The fact that I knew differently now, made me feel awful. I had miss judged her when all along she was the heroine of the story.
I heard the door open, knowing it was the Doctor. When I turned to see him, he was dressed in his old dark purple coat, vest and bowtie. “You okay, Smith?” he asked, sitting next to me on the bed.
I nodded. “Yeah, I’m all right. How was…I mean, where did you bury her?”
“On a hill,” he said his voice sad. “She would like it there, I’m sure.”
I lay my head on his shoulder, and he wrapped his arms around me. “What I don’t understand is why she is in the books when she died tonight?”
The Doctor lifted my chin so I would look at him. “She’s just a story, Smith. That’s all we ever are in the end. Just stories.”
“I know that now,” I agreed quietly, pausing for a moment. “Doctor?”
“I don’t want to be here anymore. Somehow, it’s lost its appeal.”
“I know what you mean.”
“It’s a shame we’re still stuck here.” When I said that, he let go of me, and I sat up in order to see him grimace. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
He reached into his vest pocket, pulling out a key, and my mouth dropped open. “It was in my left pocket the whole time.”
I started to laugh, shaking my head. “You know, for such an intelligent person, you are so scatter brained.”
“I always thought it was one of my best qualities,” he told me, and I laughed a little harder.
“Let’s get out of here, Doctor,” I said, grabbing my bag off the floor.
He nodded, stood and took my hand in his. “Would you like a souvenir?” he asked.
I shook my head. “Hell no.”
He smiled, leaned in and whispered, “Well then…run!”
We both laughed as we ran through the castle, making our way to the stables. The Doctor and I took a horse and rode until we found that wonderful blue box in the field. I looked round as we dismounted, taking in the stars above. “You ready, Smith?” he asked, and I nodded. He put the key in the lock, and the door opened without any resistance. Then he held his hand out to me, and with one more look round, I said good-bye to Camelot and hello to the inside of the TARDIS.
The Doctor twisted some knobs, and pulled some levers, and the glass cylinder glowed green, its inner workings moving up and down.
Something had been bothering me, and I figured it was a good time to ask. “Doctor?”
“Yes,” he said, moving about the controls.
“Something has been gnawing at me,” I told him. “Where was Lancelot? I didn’t see him anywhere.”
He looked up at me with a smirk on his face. “Where he was supposed to be.”
“And where was that?” I asked him, leaning against the TARDIS console.
“With the queen.”
I was shocked. “You didn’t.”
He splayed his fingers. “I may have whispered something in his ear, and I may have told her of his affections.”
“So, basically, you lied.”
“Maybe,” he said with a wink, and I shook my head. “So,” he continued excitedly, “where to now?”
He nodded, frowning ever so slightly. “And where is that?”
“Portobello Road,” I told him.
“Ah,”—he raised his hands—“street where the riches of ages are sold.”
I laughed. “I love Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”
He smiled at me. “So do I, Smith. So do I. Now,” he said, switching a couple more switches, “off we go to Portobello Road in the twenty-first century. Geronimo.” He winked at me, as he pulled a lever and we began to move through space and time.
It only took a second or two before the TARDIS did her wheezing sound as she landed. I was so excited that I ran to the doors, but before I could open them, the Doctor was by my side, grabbing my hand in order to stop me. “Smith,” he said gently, “I just wanted to tell you that…I…uh…had a wonderful time with you.”
I smiled up at him, feeling the sadness creep its way through me. “Well, Doctor, I've been wanting to do something since I met you. Would you mind terribly if I…” I paused, taking a deep breath, “kiss you?”
He looked stunned for a moment, and then smiled. “No one has ever asked me before. They usually just do it.”
“Oh,” I breathed, looking down at my shoes. “Well then, I won’t…” my voice trailed away as he lifted my chin.
“Please, Smith. Kiss me,” he told me, and I smiled, going on my tiptoes in order to kiss him gently on the lips.
When I pulled away from him, he placed his forehead against mine, and I closed my eyes. “Would you mind if we did that again?” he asked.
“I would love it,” I answered, and he leaned down, kissing me just as softly as I had kissed him. It was a friendly, warm and somewhat passionate kiss, and I knew, if he would let me, I would keep kissing him until the day I died.
“I don’t usually do that,” he told me. “And I don’t know whose was better.” He laughed.
“Tie,” he agreed, pulling his forehead away from mine. “Anna?” he whispered.
“Yes, Doc…” my voice trailed away when I realized what he said. “You just called me Anna.”
“Did I?” he asked innocently. “I suppose I did. Well, Anna,” he said again with a smile, “travel with me.”
I bit my lip. “Where would we go?”
“Everywhere and anywhere.” He gestured around us. “We can go through time and space. Backwards, forwards, sideways, longways…any kind of ways you want. As long as you are with me,” he said, rubbing his hand together, “anything is possible.”
“I would love to travel with you,” I replied.
“Wonderful,” he exclaimed, pulling me toward the controls of the TARDIS. “Where do you want to go—”
“Doctor,” I interrupted, yanking him back to me. “I would love to travel with you, but I can't.”
He frowned down at me, looking deflated. “Why?”
“Because,” I explained, the tears burning the corners of my eyes, “I have to live.”
“But you will live,” he insisted.
I shook my head. “No, Doctor, I'll be running. Running with you, but still…running. I would rather spend my life standing still than run away from it for the rest of my years. However long that may be.”
His frown deepened, his lower lip quivering ever so slightly. “It wouldn’t be like that,” he protested.
I smiled sadly. “But it would, Doctor. I'll grow old and die in the blink of an eye to you. And you…” I paused, touching his cheek. “You won’t even have a gray hair.”
“Anna,” he said, closing his eyes. “Please, don’t leave me.”
“I have to,” I told him gently. “How else are you ever going to miss me?” I asked, and he opened his eyes, giving a small laugh.
We hugged, and when the Doctor pulled back, he had a slight smile on his face. “I have something for you,” he told me, pulling something out of his vest pocket. Then he placed it in my hand. The key to the TARDIS gleamed in my palm, and I smiled up at him. He opened the door for me, and we walked out into a bright sunny day. We were at the end of the street, and as I looked around no one seemed to notice that a police call box just appeared out of nowhere.
“I don’t think I should accept this,” I told him as we stood in the doorway.
“Hold onto it, you know,” he winked at me, “just in case.”
I smiled, leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. “Good-bye, Doctor.”
He wagged a finger at me. “Never say good-bye, Smith. Always say see you later.”
“See you later then,” I told him as I walked out onto the street. He turned to walk back into his box, and I called back to him, “Doctor?”
He turned back around. “Yes, Anna Marie Smith?” The Doctor said with a smile.
“I’ve found my reason to live.”
“And what might that be?”
“New adventures,” I told him with a smile, and he beamed at me. I waved at him, turning to walk down the street to my flat.
“Smith,” he called after me.
I turned, walking backward. “Yes, Doctor?”
“You were wonderful!”
“I know,” I told him. “And so were you.” I turned back round, walking away from him even further.
“Don’t get yourself killed,” he yelled after me.
“Don’t get yourself lost,” I said over my shoulder. I could hear him laugh, and as I rounded the corner the TARDIS wheezed, and I could feel myself smile as I approached the antique shop.
Mitch was standing outside, sweeping up as usual, and when he saw me, he dropped the broom in surprise. “Anna?” he asked, his brow furrowed.
“Who’d you expect?”
“Not you,” he said, sounding as shocked as he looked. “You’ve been gone a week. We were so worried that we called the police.”
“That man,” I huffed, folding my arms. “You would think a man with the word time in his title would know how to work his own machine.”
Mitch looked at me sideways. “What’re you talking about, Anna?”
I waved him off. “Never mind.”
“Where have you been all this time?” he asked, finally picking the broom up. “And what did you do to your hair?”
I had completely forgotten it was still done up from when I went to the ball. “I went on holiday,” I lied, “and they had this spa there, so I got my hair done. Do you like it?”
He nodded, and I saw him flush a little. “Yeah. Looks great.”
“Thank you,” I said, smiling at him. “Well, I’m really beat from the ride, I’m going to go upstairs and rest for a bit.”
I walked past him, and when I was about to walk inside, he called, “Anna?”
“Yes?” I answered, looking over my shoulder at him.
“Would you like to go out with me tonight?”
I smiled at him. “Sure, I would love to.”
“Great,” he exclaimed. “See you around eight?”
“Anna?” he called again when I opened the door. “I missed you.”
“Did you?” I asked, turning my back on him. And as I stood there, I thought about what he said for a moment, and replied, “Good.”
I walked through the shop and up the stairs to my flat. When I made my way inside, I flopped down on the bed, opening the hand that once had the TARDIS key. I had put it back in the Doctors pocket when I gave him that final kiss.
He didn’t need me anymore. I had served my purpose, and he had served his. The Doctor made me stronger somehow, and I would never forget him for that. He was a savior and a friend to all. I knew that now. And I realized as I lay there in my bed, that the Doctor doesn’t belong to one person. He belongs to all of us. That is why I had to let him go. But I would never forget the day I met a man in a blue box.
The day I ran away with the Doctor…
When the TARDIS had found itself in deep space, the Doctor took out his pocket watch to see the time. There was a slight clatter on the floor, and as he bent to pick up the object, he noticed that it was the key that he had given Smith.
Gingerly, he grabbed it, enclosing it in the palm of his hand. As he did so, he brought it to his lips, kissing his fingers. “Good-bye, my darling girl,” he whispered gently. “My girl named Smith.” Then he violently pulled on the controls of his TARDIS. “And hello new adventures! Geronimo!”
(A Doctor Who Fan Fiction By: Laura Del)
Wretched pain shoots through your body, and you have no idea how to deal with it. The ache becomes your life, your being, your everything. You don’t know what to do, so you go to a professional who tells you that they have no idea what you’re talking about. “Nothing has those symptoms,” they say, as you tell them your story. So you go home feeling that maybe they were right, maybe it’s just something that’ll go away with time.
That’s what gets you. You let your guard down and the pain comes again. This time it’s more debilitating than the last. But you move on, you pretend that everything is all right, until one day you can no longer take it. You wind up hospitalized, and they tell you that you’re near death. Finally, when the tests are done, they give you a diagnosis of “chronic.” It’s so bad that there’s no cure.
The word that means the end of your carefree life.
Something that kills your soul.
The word that rips your heart out and holds it in front of your face while you watch it stop beating.
Then you find yourself in a world where people whisper that you’re faking it or that you’re doing it for attention, and pretending to be chronic because you want people to feel sorry for you. No one realizes that you are dead inside. This thing has taken your passion, your life and your dignity. The friends that once thought you were remarkable, now find you to be a boring and not worth their time. They tell you they still love you, while they’re saying that you are being overly dramatic behind your back.
This is your life now. You pray to anything that’ll listen, and know that no one is. The Universe has abandoned you in your time of need, so you declare war. War on life and war on this chronic thing inside you!
That’s when you become the goddess of pain with a smile, the god of keeping it to yourself, and the deity of “I’m fine. It’s nothing. Don’t worry about me.” Still you struggle with the words as you say them. They stick in your throat, which becomes dry and tastes of the bittersweet lies you tell the people around you.
The life you once treasured becomes a battlefield filled with promises that your body is unable to keep. You are alone. All alone. And no one understands this chronic illness inside you. “No cure,” you hear as the tourniquet gets pulled tighter and tighter, and the needles gets pushed in a vein that explodes inside you. “One little pinch,” they tell you, while the poison, that they consider medicine, injects into your arm and burns you from the inside. You stick yourself with needles at home that make you so tired you can’t move. Your face becomes unknown to you as it blows up and distorts from the side effects of the oral medication. “The miracle drug” that no longer works because your body has become immune to it.
This is what you are used to. People calling you faker…liar. Life becoming more difficult by the minute. Your world spinning out of control. Your body becoming a battleground…
Chronic is a simple, detestable word that makes your life a living hell. Combined it with disease and you have fallen down a rabbit hole that you can’t get out of…no matter how much you climb, you will always wind up with bloodied hands and scrapped knees, only to find that you haven’t even lifted yourself off the quick sand you now stand on.
Two words that cannot be tamed.
Plans made, and then broken.
Everything on hold.
Spiraling out of control…and you just can’t stop it.
(Short Story by: Laura Del)
I am not a hero… I’m not. I don’t even play one on TV.
So why do people tell me that I’m theirs?
It doesn’t make any sense.
Why do people tell me that I’m a warrior?
I don’t feel like a warrior and I certainly don’t feel like a hero. I mean, what’s a hero? A person who saves lives and has some sort of superpower. What’s a warrior? A person who fights the good fight and wins that fight.
I don’t have any superpowers, I don’t save lives and I’m definitely not winning the fight that I’m fighting. So why am I an inspiration?
I suffer on a daily basis, I’m in constant pain and I DO NOT HAVE ANY SUPERPOWERS!
If anything I have the power to be tired all the time, and I can make my hair fall out with one wash. In clumps. For no reason.
I am not a warrior. I don’t fight the good fight. I fight a dirty fight. I fight a fight that doesn’t seem to want to end. An aggressive, nonsensical and boring fight that people seem to think is either in my head or that I’m milking it for all it’s worth.
So why am I considered an inspiration?
Why do you think that my life is worth being inspired over?
Is it because I cry sometimes because there is no cure for what I have?
Is it because I can’t stand for too long otherwise I might get a fever?
Is it because I sit at home most days and wonder why the Universe decided I was a good person to crap on?
I think it’s because my life is worse than yours.
I think you think that if I can still smile with what I’m going through, you can smile through what you’re going through.
I think I’m also the worst case scenario. I’m that person that everyone goes, “Well, at least I’m not them.” And that makes them feel better about what life has thrown their way.
Am I okay with that?
Why am I okay with it?
Because I know that if I help one person understand what I have, that we become one step closer to finding a cure.
I also know that everyone needs that one person in their life whose existence is worse than theirs. And I may not be glad it’s me, but I am glad that I’m strong enough to deal with it. I’m glad that through me, people are more aware of what others suffer.
I’m glad… but I am not a hero.
(Monologue By: Laura Del)
(A "Spoonie" is a term coined my Christine Miserandino in her article The Spoon Theory. It's just a term for a chronically ill person.)