They were approaching the Transduction Barrier. Kristoph was preparing for another tussle with the civil servant on duty today.

He was not prepared for the terse voice that ordered him to pass through the Barrier and go to the co-ordinate transmitted to the TARDIS.

“What do you mean?” he demanded. “Who is this? And by what authority do you interfere with my TARDIS?”

“Go to the co-ordinate voluntarily or your travel capsule will be forcibly detained.”

“Kristoph?” Marion came to his side and he put a reassuring arm around her shoulders.

“I don’t KNOW what’s going on,” he said. “But we have no choice. The order came from the Castellan’s office. We must do as ordered.”

He set the co-ordinate and prepared to pass through the Transduction Barrier. Marion shivered with fear. The Castellan, she knew, was the man in charge of the Chancellery Guard, the sort of cross between an army and a police force that was responsible for the internal security of Gallifrey. But what would the Chancellery Guard want with them?

“The co-ordinate is in the secure compound,” Kristoph said. “I really don’t know…” He held her closer and kissed her forehead. “Whatever it is,” he promised her. “I’ll sort it out. Nothing for you to fret about.”

“I hope so,” Marion answered. “Just when I was actually looking FORWARD to getting home.”

She called it HOME. Kristoph noted her use of that word. It cheered him as he felt the TARDIS materialise at that secure co-ordinate. It was the only thing that DID cheer him. The lifesigns monitor told him that there were a number of people outside. He didn’t turn on the viewscreen because he didn’t want to alarm Marion. He took her by the hand and headed for the door.

As soon as they stepped out of the TARDIS they were flanked by Chancellery Guards.

“What is the meaning of this?” Kristoph demanded in his most authoritative tones. By what right are you detaining me?”

“Come with us now, and do not make any attempt to flee,” replied one of the guards.

Marion screamed as Kristoph was pulled away from her and two men and a woman in white clothes that looked medical took hold of her.

“You will come with us,” she was told.

“I will not,” she answered. “You have no right. I have done nothing wrong. Nor has Kristoph. Where are they taking him? Let me go.”

She struggled to free herself but to no avail. She screamed again as the female produced what looked like a space age syringe. It had no needle to penetrate the skin, but when it was applied to her arm she felt the knock out drug course through her body.

 

Marion woke up in a bed in a white room that hurt her eyes as she tried to focus. She tried to reach to shield her eyes and found her arms were restrained. She turned her head and saw the female in white standing next to the bed.

“Why am I here?” she demanded. “Why am I held like this? Let me out.”

“You must remain here. There are tests which must be performed.”

“What tests?” Again ‘demand’ was the appropriate word. Marion didn’t quite know herself where she got the strength to make a ‘demand’. She was frightened and confused. She was aware that her clothes had been changed. She was wearing a long gown made of some sort of paper. “That had better have been YOU,” she said. “If either of those MEN touched me… Who are you anyway? And where am I?”

The woman repeated the same unhelpful explanation.

“I’m not submitting to ANY tests. I want to go home. Where is Kristoph? What did they do with him?”

The door opened and she gasped with relief to see Lily and Thedera.

“Get those restraints off her now,” Thedera demanded. “Where are her clothes?” The female nurse or guard, whichever she was meant to be, flinched under Thedera’s steely expression. Reluctantly she did as she was told. The restraints were released and she opened a cupboard that fitted flush into the featureless wall, where Marion’s clothes had been stored.

“She may dress for now, but she cannot leave the facility until the tests have been completed.”

“We’ll see about THAT,” replied Lily as she helped Marion to dress herself.

“WHAT tests,” Marion demanded. “Lily, what is going on? Where is Kristoph? Where did they take him?”

“He is under arrest. He has been detained at the Chancellery Guard compound. Aineytta has gone to try to see him. His father is at the Inquisitor’s Chamber trying to get the charges dropped.”

“WHAT charges?” Marion asked. “What has Kristoph done? What have I done? Is this… is it about Li? I thought all that was sorted.”

“It’s not about him,” Lily assured her. “We need not speak of that here in the presence of a stranger. Marion… A complaint was made and somehow…”

“Kristoph has been charged under an ancient statute that nobody has enforced for generations. The Purity Laws.”

“The….”

“The complainant said that the two of you were away for the weekend without a chaperone and that ‘intimacy’ took place between you.”

“THAT is a crime on Gallifrey? I thought… the whole thing about staying with Lily until the Alliance. I thought it was a TRADITION, not a law.”

“It is,” Thedera said. “At least it has been for about a thousand years. But it USED to be a law. The adultery statute is still in force. This part of it, it has not been used for so long. But it was never abolished, only forgotten. And somebody has invoked it now and Kristoph is…”

“But ‘intimacy’ hasn’t taken place. We have never….”

“THAT is what the TESTS will determine,” said the guard woman.

“WHAT!” Marion stared in disbelief. “They want to test me to find out if Kristoph and I have…”

Lily and Thedera exchanged glances.

“Yes,” Lily said.

“NO!” Marion shouted angrily. “No, I will NOT. I will NOT be violated in such a way. Nobody has a right to make me submit to such a test. I will not… NO.”

“If you do not, then your fiancé will be publicly humiliated,” said the guard. “He will be flogged in the city square as a deviant. He will be imprisoned and his status as a privileged citizen of Gallifrey will be stripped. He may even lose his right of inheritance. And you, of course, will be expelled from Gallifrey as an alien with no right of abode here.”

“So that’s what this is all about,” Marion cried out. “This is Idell’s doing, somehow. This is about her son being named as heir. This is what THIS is all about.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt it,” Thedera agreed. “But Marion… if you refuse… Would you put Kristoph through all that to save yourself a few minutes of discomfort? If you and he have truly never consummated your relationship, then that’s all it takes. A few minutes. I agree it is a disgrace. You should not be forced to submit. But for Kristoph’s sake. Marion, you have no idea. To see him disgraced. Taken out into the public square as a prisoner, stripped and flogged. His poor mother. The shame would kill her.”

“Kristoph once told me he would die for me. And I believe he would. He would NOT want me to submit to anything against my will. He would not WANT me to do that. And I will not. I will NOT. I demand that somebody listens to me. This world, this society sets such store by honour. I demand that my WORD of honour is taken as proof. I will NOT be probed or scanned or tested to determine that I am telling the truth.”

“Quite right, too,” said a voice and she looked around to see Kristoph’s father, the Lord de Lœngbærrow at the door. His second son, Remonte, was with him. Both looked grim and angry, but Lord de Lœngbærrow held out his arms and smiled at her. “My dear child,” he said as Marion ran to his embrace. “No, you will not submit to any humiliation, and nor will my son. We are to have a private audience before the High Inquisitor. Come, Marion. Lily, Thedera...”

The two women flanked Marion as they walked through the stark white corridors of the hospital facility. Outside there was a car that sped off as soon as they were inside. It was all a blur. Things seemed a little better now she was not tied to a bed in a horrible room, but she was still very frightened.

They reached the Citadel, the great hexagonal building with the impossibly tall tower rising up from it where the Panopticon was housed as well as the offices of all the most important officials of Gallifreyan government. It was an imposing building at the best of times and right now Marion looked on it in fear. She was going to attend an Audience with the High Inquisitor. No matter how you looked at THAT, it was bad.

The waiting room they were brought to was a good deal more pleasant and comfortable than the hospital at least. There were soft furnishing and hot drinks and sandwiches available. Marion turned away from the chairs and the food and drink though and stood at the long window which looked down from a dizzy height from what must have been near the top of the hexagon. She could see almost the whole of the city. With so many tall buildings and spires and towers it was like looking at the Manhattan skyline – though a decidedly ALIEN Manhattan.

That was another thing about this. She had begun to look at Gallifrey as familiar and as home. She had begun to see the Capitol as something normal. Now, because of another round of petty vindictiveness it had become alien and hostile to her again.

“Marion, try some food and something to drink,” Lily coaxed her. “You need it. It’s been hours and we don’t know how long these proceedings might take.”

“I don’t want to eat,” she said. “I want.. I want Kristoph here with me. I want this OVER. Lily, how CAN anyone be so mean? Even Idell? Is she SO jealous she would hurt Kristoph this way?”

“I think this is beyond jealousy now,” Remonte said as he came to her side. “Marion… I…”

“How many times do you have to apologise for her?” Marion asked. “You shouldn’t have to. It’s not you’re fault, Remonte. I don't hold you responsible for her.”

“I should be,” he answered. “If she can invoke millennia old purity laws, perhaps I should invoke some of the archaic vows of Alliance and make her subject to my will.”

Marion remembered some of those vows. She had read them in a book of Gallifreyan rituals and thought they were horrendous. If they were invoked fully, a Gallifreyan wife could not leave the family home without her husband or a designated chaperone, could not speak without his leave, could not have any money or own any property in her own name. She had to submit to her husband in the bedroom whenever he demanded. There were even rules about how she should dress.

Kristoph had laughed about it and said nobody actually enforced such vows. They were simply a form of words that had never been changed over the centuries. But the Alliance vows WERE legally binding and a man COULD enforce them on his wife if he chose.

“No,” she said. “That’s not how we do things on Earth - at least not the part of it I come from. I would not wish to live that way. And I would not wish it on Idell. I just wish she would… she would…”

Marion forgot what she was going to say because at that moment the door opened. Aineytta rushed in and her husband rose to embrace her. Behind her came two Chancellery guards, then two more with Kristoph between them. Marion gasped in horror to see him shackled hand and foot like a criminal, but she ran towards him, putting her hands around his neck and kissing him. He responded to her as if they had been parted for days, not merely a few hours. One of the guards tried to pull her away but she screamed at them to leave her alone and she heard Remonte and his father both protesting loudly.

“Enough,” called out a commanding voice from the door. The guards stood to attention and Remonte and Lord de Lœngbærrow both bowed their heads respectfully as the High Inquisitor herself stepped into the waiting room. “Unfasten those shackles,” she commanded of the guards. “This man is no criminal and he is no more a prisoner than I am. Unfasten him and then go from this place and resume your proper duties.”

The guards obeyed. The inquisitor looked at Kristoph as he enclosed his freed arms around Marion and told him there would be a short delay before the hearing. Kristoph said nothing but he managed to nod to her. Once the guards and the Inquisitor were gone, he seemed to sag into Marion’s arms, though. He was trembling with emotion. He almost seemed – Marion was shocked to realise it – afraid.

“When they closed the cell door,” he whispered hoarsely. “I felt… it was if I was a prisoner of war again. Only this time my own people… my own people were doing it to me.”

“Come, my son,” said Aineytta. “Sit and rest. Eat something.”

“Yes,” he answered her, rallying himself. “Yes. Of course. I AM hungry. Marion, my dear. Come and eat with me.”

Somebody had said something to him telepathically, Marion thought. Somebody had told him to bear himself up for her sake, and to try to make her eat with him. She still felt sick and scared, but with him at her side she could be braver. She did manage to eat and drink something.

There was still a hearing to go through, though, and she still felt worried. There WAS a law that they were deemed to have broken, and if they could not prove they didn’t Kristoph would be punished. So would she.

Then what? When she was deported to Earth, after he had been flogged and imprisoned, would he follow her? Would he become a renegade like Li or…

Or would she never seen him again?

“Nobody will part us,” Kristoph assured her. “Nobody.” And he held her hand so tightly that she could have believed him literally.

At last, a man in a uniform not unlike those of the Chancellery Guard but blue and gold instead of scarlet and gold told them that the Inquisition was ready. They all stood and followed him along a short corridor to a door that said ‘Private Hearing’ above it.

It looked like a small courtroom. There was a high table and seat where the Inquisitor would sit and a low one beneath it where a man who in any costume, in any place, looked like a lawyer waited. Two sets of seats were arranged opposite each other. On those farthest from the entrance nobody was entirely surprised to see Idell de Lœngbærrow and a woman who could only be her sister, Shion Malthis, the civil servant who operated the Transduction Barrier. Her clothes were those of somebody who worked in an office and her expression when she saw Marion and Kristoph matched that of Idell.

Kristoph sat on the front row opposite them and Marion sat beside him. Aineytta sat beside her and Kristoph’s father, Lord de Lœngbærrow took the seat next to his son. Remonte, with Lily and Thedera, sat behind them. There was a brief silence before the usher called them to stand and acknowledge the Inquisitor. She stood at her high seat and nodded to the assembled court before all but the lawyer and Kristoph sat once more.

“The accused is charged with trespass against the ancient and sanctified Laws of Purity in that he has committed lewd intercourse with a woman who is not his lawful wife by the Bond of Alliance,” intoned the lawyer and then the usher asked Kristoph how he pleaded.

“I have no need to plead,” he replied. “This is a hearing not a trial. It is to determine whether a crime has been committed not to condemn me or ruin the reputation of anyone. And I am not the ‘accused’ I am His Excellency, Chrístõ Mian de Lœngbærrow, Magister of the Southern Continent, Ambassador for Gallifrey in the Seven Galaxies.”

The lawyer looked uncertain for a few moments before drawing himself up and addressing the Inquisitor.

“Gallifreyan law is even handed. The defendant’s social position is irrelevant.”

“That is so,” answered the Inquisitor curtly. “Continue with the evidence you intend to bring before a full court should I consider that it justifies such a step.”

“Madame Inquisitor,” continued the prosecutor. “The evidence is circumstantial, but it is overwhelming. The defendant has continuously flouted the law and the honour of Gallifrey by consorting with the woman who, even now, before this court, he holds hands with.”

“Holding hands is not against any rule or law that I know of,” said the Inquisitor. “And this is NOT a court, it is a hearing room.”

“Nevertheless, it is perfectly obvious that inappropriate behaviour has been going on. And I should like to call my first witness…”

Shion Malthis was asked to stand and tell what she knew of the passage through the Transduction Barrier when Kristoph had informed her that he and Marion were travelling without a chaperone. Marion was astonished that this piece of ‘gossip’ was being taken as evidence of wrong doing.

“Three nights the defendant was offworld with this woman, without a suitable chaperone. We may draw our own conclusions.”

“Well we might!” Remonte murmured under his breath. “With minds like that.”

Shion was told to sit and Idell was called upon. Marion listened in astonishment to a list of occasions when, according to her, she and Kristoph had been engaged in unlawfully lewd behaviour. She mentioned their weekend at the Lodge. She alluded to the fact that they had been living together on Earth for more than a year. All of which could not be denied. But she also made accusations which were complete fabrications, about Kristoph staying overnight at Maison D’Alba, or of her going out to meet him at night for ‘assignations’.

“Let it be noted,” the lawyer added as Idell sat down, smiling triumphantly. “That the woman in question refused to submit to a purity test earlier this day. Such a refusal is surely proof of guilt.”

“It is NOTHING of the sort,” Marion burst out, unable to stay quiet any longer. “It is proof that this whole affair is sordid and disgusting and I won’t be bullied.”

“Madame, please do not shout,” said the Inquisitor “You will be heard in time.”

Her time was next. Marion was called to stand. She did so shakily but with as much dignity as she could muster, and she answered truthfully. Yes, she and Kristoph had spent time at the lodge. No, he had never spent the night at Maison D’Alba apart from the time when she was injured and unconscious and he sat by her bedside. No, she had never met him in a secret assignation. That was a lie.

“But you did sleep in the same bed as him for a year?”

“Yes,” Marion answered. “On Earth.”

“I think that speaks for itself,” said the lawyer.

“No, it does not,” Marion answered.

“No further questions,” said the lawyer. “You have condemned yourself and the defendant out of your own mouth.”

“No,” Marion said. “I will be heard. You said before that Gallifreyan justice is even-handed. So stop your innuendos and listen to me. Yes, Kristoph and I slept together on Earth. Yes, we slept together this weekend at the home of our friend, Hillary Bar Dey Greibella of Haollstrom IV. She… he… is a diplomat. I am sure she would confirm that nothing improper occurred.”

“Sleeping with a man you are not joined in Alliance with IS improper.”

“Sleeping is not a crime anywhere in the universe, I don’t think,” Marion said. “We are not talking about sleeping. We are talking about ‘lewd intercourse outside of marriage.’ And I have not done anything of the sort. Kristoph and I ARE married on Earth. We had every right to… to do anything we liked there. But we didn’t. We promised each other we would wait until we were married on Gallifrey, too. We HAVE waited. And anyone who says otherwise is a liar.”

“I’m sorry,” the Inquisitor interrupted. “Did you say you were married on Earth?”

“Yes,” Marion answered. “Nearly a year ago now. In a church. Legally and properly. We have a certificate. It is in my room at Lady Lily’s house.”

“A marriage outside the jurisdiction of Gallifrey is not valid,” said the prosecutor. “Only the Alliance of Unity as laid down in our statutes is recognised.”

“That is not so,” the Inquisitor corrected him. “Gallifrey recognises the law of other planets with which it has diplomatic or trade ties. The Earth confederacy is one of our allies.”

“Not in the 20th century where SHE comes from,” replied the prosecutor.

“The 20th century is a civilised period of Earth history with laws we would fully recognise as binding. And if a marriage took place in that time and place it is binding.”

The lawyer looked about to argue but the Inquisitor stood up and the usher waved him to his seat.

“It is my judgement that there is no case to answer here. The prosecution case was based on hearsay and gossip and did not take into account the fact that the defendant IS in fact legally married to the woman he is accused of committing lewdness with. There are no further proceedings against the defendant.” The inquisitor paused just long enough before raising her voice. “HOWEVER, there is a case, I think, for slander and perjury. Idell De Lœngbærrow Malthis, stand up and remember this is not a court, but a hearing. Nevertheless I am a High Inquisitor and to lie to me is a serious matter.”

Idell stood. The Inquisitor looked at her.

“Did you KNOW when you made your accusations that Chrístõ Mian de Lœngbærrow was married on Earth?”

Idell swallowed hard and looked around at Remonte. He would know if she told a lie. He could expose her in front of them all.

“Yes, I did,” she answered in a quiet voice that nevertheless carried well enough.

“Very well, you are found in contempt. You will be fined a sum that the bailiff will fix at a later time. You are also found to have acted dishonourably. There is no statutory punishment for that, unfortunately.” She glanced at Marion before continuing. “I visited Earth once many years ago. In what is called the “Tudor” period. They had some barbaric methods of justice which fortunately were abandoned as they became civilised. But they also had a way of dealing with wicked liars and gossips. Those found guilty would be set in something called a pillory for a term of hours. There was also something called a scold’s collar which prevented gossips from speaking. If it were in my power I would recommend a period of such punishment for you.”

Idell blushed with humiliation. Marion suppressed a vision of her in a pillory or fitted with a scolds collar and tried not to look pleased by Idell’s discomfort. Then, to her surprise, Remonte stood up.

“Madame Inquisitor, before you dismiss this gathering may I beg a moment of your time in order make something official that has, until now, been unofficial. I wish to formally set aside my wife, Idell De Lœngbærrow Malthis. I acknowledge my financial responsibility towards her, but no more than that. Furthermore, I set aside all rights of inheritance formerly due to the children of our union. If you will acknowledge this, then it is binding and irrevocable.”

“So acknowledged,” said the Inquisitor in a calm voice. Idell looked anything but calm as the Usher showed her and her sister out of the court. Remonte stood, looking inscrutable. Kristoph went to his side and put his hand on his shoulder.

“It was going to happen anyway,” Remonte said. “She only hastened the day.”

“I am sorry,” Kristoph told him.

“There is something you should know,” said the Inquisitor and the two men looked at her. “Just now I have been delivered a message from the Panopticon. The High Council has just this minute formally abolished all of the Purity Laws except the one relating to adultery. The vote was more than the two-thirds majority and the Lord High President gave his seal to the abolition. They did not make it retrospective, so if there HAD been evidence a trial would still have been necessary. But it means that no such accusation can be laid in future.”

“Thank Rassilon!” said Kristoph. He reached out his hand to Marion and she came to his side. “Madame Inquisitor, I don’t think you have been formally introduced to my wife.”

“I had hoped I would be at your Alliance,” she replied. “That will not be necessary now, you realise. It was, surely, only a formality before?”

“Oh, no,” Marion said. “We will wait still. We must have the Alliance. We have waited so long. Kristoph and I… we decided we would wait until the Alliance. And it is almost all arranged.”

“Quite so,” Kristoph agreed, smiling warmly at her. “The Alliance goes ahead. Meantime, should my wife and I take any weekends offworld, or a trip to the Lodge, we shall be free to do so?”

“There is no law to prevent you doing so,” said the Inquisitor. “And I think no gossip who would dare make any comment.”