by lurking_latinist [Reviews - 0]

  • Teen
  • None
  • Drama, Het, Romance

Author's Notes:
Originally published November 21, 2021, on AO3.

Paraclausithyron: a type of love poem which portrays a lover, often a young man returning drunk from a night out, waiting outside his beloved's locked door.

Korvel didn’t know what to make of the intruder. His ship must have the right credentials, to have landed in the Lady President’s antechamber at all. Korvel hadn’t even known that such credentials existed—and he’d been a guard for almost a millennium. Yet the ship was archaic and in bad repair, and when its pilot emerged he didn’t look much better. He was small and crumpled, dressed in a shabby assortment of offworld clothes. When Korvel demanded his identity and intentions he stared back glassily, and Korvel began to suspect he was either drunk or ill.

“Look here—” Korvel began, just as the intruder found his tongue.

“I have to see Romana,” he said.

“I’m sorry, sir,” said Korvel with practiced polish, “I need to see some identification.” And it had better be good, he added silently.

“I need to see her, ” the intruder insisted. “Right now. I need to talk to her.”

Korvel tried a different tack. “Who shall I say wishes to see her?” he asked, somewhat disingenuously.

“Tell her it’s me,” he said, edging towards the inner door, “tell her it’s the Doctor. She’ll let me in. I’m sure she will. I need to see her.”

The Doctor! Korvel’s hand drifted toward the communicator that would allow him to summon the rest of his patrol. And yet… the most recent orders they’d received about the Doctor were from the President herself. She’d written off several centuries’ backlog of his TARDIS operation error penal assessment notifications. What lower civilizations would call traffic tickets, she’d said. That was one of her little jokes.

So perhaps she did have some use for this scruffy incoherent little renegade. Or at least, Korvel didn’t rank nearly high enough to decide whether she did or didn’t.

None of that, however, overrode his very clear and specific orders, which were that no one was to disturb the President until second sunrise.

“No one can see her,” he said. “I can have you taken somewhere you can rest until”—he looked him up and down—“you feel better.”

“No, no, no, I don’t want to see anybody else. Tell her it’s me,” the Doctor said plaintively, taking slightly unsteady hold of Korvel’s arm. “She’ll see me. I’m sure she will,” he added, not sounding sure at all.

“I can’t even disturb her myself,” said Korvel, holding the intruder away from himself.

“Then I’ll wait,” said the Doctor, and threw himself into one of the deliberately uncomfortable plastic chairs placed for the convenience of guests. He leaned back, closed his eyes, and remained in perfect stillness, except a continuously bouncing leg.

Well, that’s all right, she can throw him out herself in the morning if she likes, thought Korvel. Relieved, he returned to his post by the door.

Then the Doctor’s eyes snapped open. “Have you ever been in love?” he said without moving.

“No, sir,” said Korvel.

“You should try it. There’s nothing quite like it. I’m in love with Romana myself,” he announced.

“Oh?” said Korvel incuriously.

“Have been for centuries. Because she’s wonderful.”

Korvel nodded politely.

“Do you think she knows I’m in love with her?”

“I wouldn’t know, sir.”

“Love,” the Doctor went on, speaking a bit thickly and very earnestly, “is often thought to be an offworld invention. And while certain manifestations of romantic love are unique to specific planets and indeed to specific cultures, the fact of love is not unknown in the history even of our own planet.”

If he was going to have to spend the rest of the night minding a nutter, thought Korvel as the Doctor rattled on, at least it was going to be educational.

Shortly before first sunrise the Doctor fell asleep—lost his way in a sentence and just suddenly dropped off. Head full of facts about flowers, poetry (especially bad poetry, the Doctor had insisted), wooden spoons, dancing, padlocks, veiled brides, chocolate boxes, serenades, and something called an Eiffel Tower, Korvel welcomed the sudden silence.

But sooner than he expected, the bell rang that summoned him into the President’s private chambers.

“Good morning, Korvel,” she greeted him when he came in, and handed him a stack of datacubes. “Please send these out, and order a cup of tea, will you? Add something for yourself and then you can take your break.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” he said. “I should let you know that there is a person to see you.”

“I see that,” she said, sounding amused, and Korvel turned in consternation to see that the intruder had not only woken up but had followed him in.

“Romana,” he said blearily. “I need to talk to you.”

Korvel tried to look uninvolved. “He’s been very insistent, ma’am. He said you would want to see him.”

“Of course I want to see him!” she said, then seemed to collect herself. “Thank you, Korvel. You may take your break now. Tell whomever relieves you to wait in the antechamber.”

“Yes, Madam President,” he said, and left.

“So what is it?” said Romana, when they were alone.

“I need to tell you something.”

“Yes, you said,” she said gently, realizing something was wrong. She took his arm and noted with surprise that he was remaining upright with some difficulty. “Look, you haven’t been drinking or something?”

“I have not. I have been being in-ter-ro-gated,” he said, lingering over the last word.

She instantly froze. As he was leaning on her he could feel her begin to tremble, as if she’d just run for hours.

“No no no, I’m all right, you see I’ve escaped. The important thing is I have to tell you that I love you.”

“Have they hurt you,” she said, hard and cold. “What have they done?”

He reached out a hand to her face. “Romana. Romana, look at me. Let’s sit down,” he said. They found their way to a seat together.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said, that was stupid of me,” he said.

“I am in control of myself,” she said. “But if you’ve been interrogated and you’re delirious…” Her grip on his arm tightened.

“Delirious!” He tried to sound totally dismissive. “I’m fine. Romana, listen, it was a truth serum. I got out before they even asked me anything. Look.” He raised his hands, visibly unmanacled. She took deep breaths as he went on, “Only it has a psychic effect which compels you to tell your most important secrets. Also it makes you a little…” He twirled a finger by his head.

“Loopy?” She laughed, a little hysterically. “I should think so. Oh, Doctor, don’t do this to me.”

“I’m sorry.” He paused. “Do you mean don’t remind you of—you know—or don’t come and see you, or don’t tell you I love you? Because I do, but now I’ve said it I think the psychic compulsion is letting up.”

“I mean don’t scare me like that. What you said—would you say it again? In your right mind?”

“I love you,” he answered immediately. “I always have and I still do. But you needn’t worry about not feeling the same way. I want to be your friend, if you’ll still let me; if you need an ally, I’ll try to help.”

He didn’t continue, because she had her arms around him, pulling him close to her. His face nestled into the crook of her neck. He’d never been so close to her in this body.

“You idiot,” she said passionately. “How could you think I didn’t want you?”

He made an inarticulate noise, which meant you left me in E-Space, and I didn’t rescue you quickly enough, and you locked your door.

“I’m not going to come away with you, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”

“And I’ll never come back to Gallifrey,” he said softly. “But I’ll always come back to you.”

She pulled him into a kiss. When they broke away at last, she said, “Oh, before I forget.” She pulled out a communicator and opened a channel to her guards.

“Change of standing orders,” she said. “The Time Lord known as the Doctor to have permanent access to my rooms at all times.”

He smirked like the cat who’d got the cream. It was an obnoxious expression that she thought simply demanded to be dissolved in another kiss.

She just barely remembered to turn off her communicator first.