Note: Written for Remix Redux 9, remix of the
story "Sarah/Giuliano" by paranoidangel.
Noble Little Boxes
Sarah looked at herself in the mirror. It seemed strange to be
preparing for a ball as cultists were preparing to destroy the world,
but that's what happened, wasn't it, when one travelled with the
Doctor? She was starting to think there was nothing unusual in having
guns pointed at her, or other nasty things, or ending up in a dungeon
as she had in this trip. Certainly, being hypnotized and commanded to
kill the Doctor was a little unusual, but she couldn't help but think
it was one of the hazards of the journey.
It seemed the Doctor had a knack for getting in trouble, or his TARDIS
sought it out, she wasn't sure. Sure, there were quiet stops -
beautiful sunrises and sunsets, wonderful foods, exotic worlds. But
there were times like these, where she was once again worried about how
they were going to get out of this one. How they were going to survive,
and save the world. Or at least how the Doctor was going to save it;
sometimes, she felt like she was along for the ride, a useless
decoration. It rankled her, but she had to admit he had centuries more
experience than she did. He'd done the same to Harry, so she didn't
have problems with what he did.
Stepping into the court, she saw Giuliano and Marco. They were both not
bad looking in their own ways, stylish, well-kept-up as expected for
someone of their ranks. Giuliano was looking at her, focused on her as
if he had never seen her before, even as she wasn't wearing her mask.
She tried to smile, but it was hard to when she still had the nagging
doubts that this time, this place, the Doctor would fail and she'd die
five centuries before she was even born, her skeleton in an unmarked
grave in a ruined world.
She tried not to think of it as she danced, trying not to seem too
out-of-place in this court, in this time. Heavens knew what Giuliano
thought as she kept an eye on the other dancers. Of course, did it
really matter? Saving these people, this place, was what they were
there to do, not impress the local nobility. Not to dance correctly,
even as she tried.
It said something about her nervousness that she asked Giuliano five
times during the dances about whether he'd heard anything from the
Doctor. It was funny how that was really the only thing the two of them
had in common, which made conversation hard. She felt like she should
be witty, but it was hard to find her place, sometimes, in strange
lands, in strange times, among strange people. Giuliano looked like
there were other things he wanted to talk about, but what could she
share with him? Almost certain death was not something on which to base
At least she felt somewhat prepared for getting sacrificed. Silly how
that was, really. Everybody else was in a panic; she had to admit she
was too, a little, but experience with the Doctor helped. Having
encountered strange things really helped.
Not that she wasn't relieved, as they all were, when the Doctor turned
up and saved them all after they'd been kidnapped. It was starting to
feel sometimes like the same old, same old, except it was a new world,
or a new time, or something else different. It was a relief that the
whole thing had ended the way she'd hoped, though it was hard to
convince her heart to stop pounding and relax and realize the danger
Maybe she'd get a few quiet days of vacation in a beautiful land,
courtesy of the local duke. She certainly didn't mind. They were
guests, he was nice, she could forget about her work and all the danger
she'd been through since she'd gotten there. A grateful Duke was
someone she wouldn't complain about being in their debt.
"So, the evil is over. The threat has passed." He was still staring at
the altar as if he couldn't believe what had nearly happened. She'd
noticed people were like that, no matter where they came from. They
weren't involved in danger of the kind that the Doctor tended to end up
in; they were used to their own issues, their own threats.
"Yes." She smiled at him. "There's nothing more to worry about; the
Doctor is good at this sort of thing." Sometimes smiling was all she
could do, all that was left for her to do. And explaining the Doctor,
but that was a bit harder.
"Oh." he looked over at the Doctor, as if amazed, again, that it had
all happened, or maybe that it was over. He then looked back at her.
"In all that happened, I didn't ask... are you married?"
After all that happened, he was worried about that? Of course, social
etiquette and appearances were probably paramount in his realm. Which
was why she was surprised she and the Doctor didn't stick out more;
neither of them were typical for the time and place. Maybe the same
gift that allowed her to speak all languages without noticing made it
seem like they belonged.
"No," she said. He probably expected her to be; she was probably even
old enough to be widowed, if she had been from his time. She didn't
"Ah." He looked at her. "Betrothed? Widowed?"
"Neither." She gave him a brilliant smile. "In the land I'm from, it's
not uncommon for some women not to marry." He probably didn't
understand, or maybe would think of her as a nun.
Things had changed so much, between his time and hers. Yes, there was
still a fair amount of pressure for women to marry, settle down, and
have kids, to be good wives and mothers and mot much more. But women
had so much more freedom to be educated, to break out of their molds,
to be who they wanted to be and what they wanted to be instead of
meekly following their husbands. She couldn't imagine what it was like
to live in Giuliano's century, or any other place where women didn't
have a chance as being seen as equal to men.
Of course, it didn't matter, not really. She and the Doctor would be
out of his life soon enough.
"But you are a noblewoman, are you not?" He was still trying to figure
out how to treat her, now that everything was over. It was politics,
but sweet in a way. "You are too educated, too graceful, to be a
She wished she could fit neatly into his worldview, but that was the
trouble with the travel she did.
Thinking of her Aunt Lavinia, of her grandmother before her, she
smiled. "I come from a family of scholars who made sure I was
well-educated. I don't think we can claim nobility as such...." She was
probably confusing him even more, not fitting into a neat little box.
Things had changed so much between her time and his own! "But thank you
for the compliment."
"Are you sure?" he asked, looking a little forlorn. She wished she
could comfort him, but there was nothing she could do. "You seem like a
noblewoman in all but name...."
"I don't hold a title." That was what was important, wasn't it? To him,
at least. "Or at least nothing you would consider a title."
She was pretty sure that the term "Investigative reporter" wouldn't be
popular for a few centuries yet. Nor would it be any title nobility
would recognize. In fact, if Giuliano knew what she did for a living...
well, at least he didn't.
"Ah, so you are a noblewoman, you just do not call yourself such!" He'd
finally found a box to put her in. She reminded herself it didn't
matter. "And he is your escort."
"I don't know if he'd think of it that way...." He'd gotten excited,
she could tell, from his decision. People seemed to be relieved when
they could frame things in a way that they could understand. "But our
land is much different." The Doctor's even more than hers.
"Does he hold your father's authority?" he asked, and suddenly things
clicked into place.
He'd been asking her all these things because he wanted to marry her.
Or at least court her. She wasn't sure which. She had to admit, he
wasn't bad looking, he was really sweet, and if she'd found herself
stuck there, he'd probably be a good husband. But she had no intention
on staying in this time and place, and she knew the Doctor didn't
"To be honest, I'm not sure." She tried to picture him asking the
Doctor, and her imagination utterly failed at that point. She really
hoped he wouldn't try to marry her off without her consent; she didn't
think he would, but this was the Doctor, after all, and he was... a
But he knew she belonged in the twentieth century, not the fifteenth.
He generally knew where he'd taken his fellow travelers from.
"Of course," he said smoothly. "Forgive me for asking." But he didn't
go away, end the conversation to speak to the Doctor. Which was fine by
her; she didn't mind his company. "I will talk to him later."
She had a feeling that he was only doing it because he had to, and he'd
rather pay attention to her, which was flattering, if confusing, in a
way. One could do worse than the local ruler liking one.
He looked at her for long moments, as if deciding something. "The
masque is not over," he said finally. "We should return." He looked at
her, holding out a hand. "Would you like to dance with me?"
There would be things to straighten out later; there always would be.
Always complications. But she was fairly sure the Doctor would not
marry her off, and Giuliano was a pleasant person to be with for a few
"Certainly," she said, and laid her hand in his. And he smiled.
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