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Fic: My Shadow in the Sun

Title: My Shadow in the Sun
Author: lareinenoire
Fandom: Doctor Who
Characters / Pairings: Elizabeth I, Ten, Donna, Eleven, Amy; Ten/Elizabeth
Rating: PG13
Wordcount: 2836
Warnings: historiographical dodginess, emphasizin ur wimminz, gratuitous quotation, royalty in compromising positions, dodgy monarchical theory, wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey
Summary: Their history was written in snatched moments, between a girl who became a Queen, and an impossible man with two hearts and a weakness for clever ladies.
NB: Title comes from the poem 'On Monsieur's Departure' by Queen Elizabeth I. This cribs shamelessly from The Girl in the Fireplace, but that particular structure just worked too, too well for me to resist. Many thanks to my lovely beta-reader, rosamund, and to angevin2 for encouragement.

Crossposted to Archive of Our Own.



My care is like my shadow in the sun,
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands and lies by me, doth what I have done;
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
No means I find to rid him from my breast,
Till by the end of things it be suppressed.

-- Queen Elizabeth I, c. 1579

The first time she met the Doctor was in the gardens at Hatfield, where she had retreated with a book from Kat's attentions.

"...now, remember, you can't say anything about...you know what I mean, Donna. Don't do what you did with Agatha--"

The voice that answered was a woman's, with a peculiar accent Elizabeth had never heard before. "I said I was sorry about that--"

"I don't need you to be sorry. I need you to not do it again. You say those sorts of things here, you could be burnt for witchcraft." The man paused for a moment. "Also, let's hope her father isn't here."

The woman began to laugh. "What on earth did you do to Henry VIII?"

"Me? Nothing!" Another pause, one that Elizabeth could have sworn sounded sheepish. "I did steal some suits of armour. But with very good reason. The Rift was leaking."

"The Rift? You make it sound like a job for the plumber!"

"That's me. The Doctor. Intergalactic Plugger of Leaks."

They were quite close now, just beyond the hedge. Elizabeth held her breath until the voices had passed out of earshot. Neither accent was one she had heard before, even if the gentleman's had sounded vaguely Scottish at first. It occurred to her with a sudden jolt of excitement that perhaps they had come from the lands across the sea it was said the Spanish had found. Her sister Mary had visitors from the Emperor's court every now and again--after all, she was his cousin.

But when she emerged from the shelter of the hedge, there was nobody to be found. Biting back her disappointment, she made her way slowly toward the palace. If they were part of a delegation from Spain, she could hardly expect to meet them properly. Not when the Emperor firmly believed her mother an adulterous whore and Elizabeth herself a bastard.

"Um. Pardon?"

Elizabeth spun on her heel, her heart jumping into her throat as she found herself facing a lady in the oddest costume she had ever seen--where in the world did ladies wear hose and doublets?--but whose hair was just as fiery red as her own. Swallowing her sudden excitement, she straightened and schooled her face just as her ladies and--supposedly--her faraway father would have expected. "Yes?"

"I'm looking for my friend. He's about yea high," she gestured to the hedge with a roll of her eyes, "and looks like he's not eaten in weeks. Also, he'll be speaking a mile a minute and won't make even the slightest bit of sense."

Elizabeth bit her lip to keep from smiling. "He sounds like Master Grindal. Are you from the New World, Madam?"

"No! I mean...not exactly. It's a bit hard to explain, really." She glanced over her shoulder and it was all Elizabeth could do not to reach out to touch the oddly shiny material of her sleeve that was like nothing she'd ever seen before. "He's a bloody great nuisance, he is. You turn around for five seconds, and poof! He's gone!" She was frowning now, eyes narrowed at Elizabeth. "Were you here all this while?"

Elizabeth held up the book. "Please don't tell Mistress Ashley. She doesn't approve of books in the garden."

"But gardens are the best place for books! Well, stiff breezes excepted, I suppose." It was a man's voice from behind her that prompted Elizabeth to spin on her heel, eyes widening as she found herself facing a man with snapping dark eyes and a madman's grin. "Will you look at that hair. Oh, you're magnificent."

"Sir?" Elizabeth blinked. "Do I know you?"

"Now you do." He held out his hand. "I'm the Doctor. This is Donna Noble. And this, Donna, is the Lady Elizabeth Tudor."

"You're..." Her mouth dropped open in an expression of which Kat would not have approved in the least. "But you're so small."

Elizabeth's glare was but a weak reflection of her father's, but it did not stop her from trying. "I shall be thirteen next month, Madonna Nobile."

The Doctor was--there was only one word for it--cackling. "Of course. Look at you. Red hair or no, you've got your mother's eyes, that's for certain."

"My mother?" She nearly dropped the book. "You knew my mother?" Surely he could not be old enough. "What was she like?"

A shadow passed across the Doctor's face. "I didn't know her very well, I'm afraid. We only met once or twice. Something about Cardinal Wolsey and a replicator--"

"Oi!" interjected the Lady Noble, elbowing him in the side in a most unladylike manner. "I'm the one who's not meant to say anything incriminating but that doesn't apply to you, does it, Spaceman?"

"Replicator," Elizabeth said to herself, frowning. "Replico. To reply. Were you trying to speak to somebody?"

His smile was nearly incandescent as he moved closer to her, hands stuffed into the folds of his coat. "Oh, you're a clever one, you are. Always were, now I think about it." Elizabeth opened her mouth but something in his face forestalled her. "Elizabeth Tudor." He shook his head, laughing as if he couldn't quite believe it. "You're brilliant, you. Don't forget that."

"My lady!" Kat's voice carried out across the garden. "My lady, where are you?"

"Off you go, then," the Doctor said. Her dismay must have shown, for he reached out and touched her cheek. "Fantastic meeting you, finally. Well, properly, anyway. Though it still doesn't explain why..." He tilted his head to one side. "Hm."

"Why what, Sir Doctor?"

"Nothing. I'll find out sooner or later, I'm sure." Another of those grins followed as he gave her a perfect court bow. "Au revoir."

"But not adieu," she said, a smile of her own unfurling. "I should be very sad indeed if 'twere adieu."

"Why, Doctor," Lady Noble said, grinning widely, "you should at least try to come back at this rate. It's only polite." It seemed to Elizabeth that there was a great deal not being said, but with Kat drawing rapidly closer, she had no time to question them further.

Instead, she held out her hand. "Madonna is quite right."

"I never could resist a clever lady," he confessed.

"Then I shall look forward to seeing you again, Sir Doctor. And mind you do not forget."

With one last curtsey, she ran from the shelter of the hedge and found Kat, a bounce in her step that had not been there before.

***


It was near thirty years before she saw him again. She had waited for him on that night at Hatfield when she had first learnt of her sister's death, foolishly thinking that he might appear on that of all the nights. For what reason, she could not say.

He did not, though she waited all night for him. As the years stretched on, she stopped waiting, until she awakened well before dawn on the eve of her Accession Day to discover a shadow in the window-seat of her chambers at Whitehall.

"Who goes there?" she demanded, cursing inwardly as her robe seemed to have grown three arms. In one hand, she brandished the dagger she kept by the bedside; in the other, a candle. "Answer, in the name of England's Queen!" Another, louder call would summon the guards in an instant.

"Have you forgotten me, then, Your Majesty?"

She froze, dagger clattering to the ground, at the sound of his voice, its cadence and accent as clear in her memory now as they had been all those years before when she saw him in her garden. Impossibly, as she drew closer, it seemed he was the very same man, as if the years themselves had ceased to touch him. "Doctor?"

"The very same." The smile too was just as she remembered, if perhaps not quite reaching his eyes. She set the candle on the window frame and sat gingerly beside him on the cushioned seat.

"Did you bring your friend? Lady Noble?" It seemed, as soon as she spoke the name, that the scant light died in his eyes. "Doctor? Are you well?"

"I lost her." He seemed to be staring far beyond her, into some unseen abyss. "It was all my fault. She saved my life--saved us all--and that was the thanks she got."

"Sometimes that is enough, Doctor." Slowly, cautiously, Elizabeth stretched out her hand to grasp his. "Dulce et decorum est--"

"But she doesn't know!" The words seemed to burst forth like a flood as he bent forward over their entwined fingers. "She'll never know. And I can't tell her, nobody can tell her, or she'll die. I've destroyed everything Donna Noble was." After a moment, he twisted free and Elizabeth rose to follow him, even when he held up one hand to stop her. "I don't even know why I'm here."

"Even wizards can be lonely betimes."

Startled, he finally met her eyes. "You've found me out, then."

Elizabeth smiled faintly. "I tried. There was little to find. You are a very great mystery, Sir Doctor. And," she straightened, adjusting the robe's brocade sleeves, "a very rude man."

"Rude?"

"You could have done me the courtesy of ageing a little. You do my vanity no favours." She was close enough now that they were practically touching. Breaking that last, fragile barrier, Elizabeth brushed her fingers against his cheek. "Only your eyes, Doctor. You could be my son, but for your eyes."

"Now who's flattering?"

"I mean it. What manner of man are you, Doctor?"

"I'm not a man at all." She knew it was impossible when she realised there were two heartbeats beneath the hand he had guided to his breast. "I don't even know how to explain it to you."

"Two hearts." She swallowed. "You have two hearts. But that is--it can't possibly--"

"There are more things in heaven and earth, your Majesty, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." His brow furrowed for a moment. "Probably shouldn't have said that. Can you forget I said that?"

Elizabeth's hand still hovered over where no heart ought to have been. "I could no sooner forget myself."

"And you never forget yourself, do you, Elizabeth Tudor?"

She laughed, the sound devoid of humour. "Queens do not have that luxury. I am as alone as you are, Doctor. Perhaps that is why you came."

He nodded slowly. "My song is ending."

"As all songs must. Even the loveliest measure grows dull with infinite repetition."

She had not intended to kiss him. It was neither discreet nor wise--how Robin would scold her if he should learn of this. Dear Cecil would expire from shock and disapproval.

The Doctor paused, his face a bare hairsbreadth from hers. "Are you certain about this, Your Majesty?"

"Are you?" At his expression, she laughed. "Call it a leap of faith, Doctor. A Queen's impulse." On a caught breath, she asked, "Would you deny me the chance to touch the infinite?"

"I thought we'd just decided I wasn't infinite," he said, the odd, quirked smile warming her.

"Do you dare contradict the Queen of England?"

"Wouldn't dream of it."

Afterward, she challenged him to a game of cards, at which she was absolutely certain he cheated. Still, she was a woman who kept her word, and she secreted the odd, heavy ring with its indecipherable symbols in a casket for safekeeping.

***


She never expected to see him again after those few snatched hours, regardless of what had been said or done. That had been, Elizabeth was forced to admit, part of his appeal.

The first thing she realised was that it was not the same man. Of that, she was completely certain.

"Is it a title, then?" she said, drumming her fingers on the arms of the throne. "The Doctor? He did seem to think he was like to die soon when last we met."

"He died, yes. You could call it that." His face was unreadable, rather to her pique. Her predecessor had always seemed an open book to her. "It was his time. Even if he may not have understood that fully."

Elizabeth smiled. "No, I cannot imagine he did. There was more life in him than in any other man I have ever met."

The man--or did he too have two hearts?--before her seemed distinctly uncomfortable, as if his very skin did not quite fit. "He wasn't a man."

"Of course not. Neither are you, I suspect."

She might have said more, save that the door behind him swung open to admit a young girl dressed even more strangely than the missing Donna Noble, but with yet another shock of bright hair. "I see your tastes have not changed, Doctor," she said drily.

"My ta--"

"Red hair." Nobody was foolish enough to believe hers was genuine now. Vanity was a sin, perhaps, but for a Queen it was a forgivable sin. Gloriana shone in her perfection while Elizabeth toiled with unguents and powders behind closed doors. It was a fact she had accepted long ago. "And who are you?"

She had eyes dark as Elizabeth's own, large and awestruck in a freckled face. "Amy Pond. Um." She bobbed in what could not be called an obeisance even by a generous observer. "We need your help, ma'am. I mean. Your Majesty?" She shot the Doctor a desperate look. "Please!"

"Of course, Mistress Pond." She carefully hid the reaction the young lady's Christian name had prompted, a woman's shape crumpled at the foot of a flight of stairs and Robin's face, grey with fear but--thanks be to God on High--not guilt. She would have known guilt if she had seen it.

"There's a ring," the other Doctor said, looking directly at Elizabeth as her courtiers did not dare. "I think you know the one I mean. You've kept it safe all these years, but it's now needed, Your Majesty."

"Come now, man, do not mince words with me. 'Tis my wedding ring as we both well know."

"Wedding ring?" Mistress Pond squeaked. "Are you married to Queen Elizabeth the First?"

A thousand questions danced on Elizabeth's tongue. The First? Did that mean there were others? What did the Doctor's predecessor having been married have to do with the present Doctor? What, in point of fact, was the Doctor anyway? Finally, she forced herself to choose one, enquiring with borrowed levity, "Do you not remember, Sir Doctor?"

When he looked at her again, it seemed for a second that another man was looking through his eyes, his smile filled with secrets. "I do, Your Majesty. But I was, quite literally, another man then."

"Of course you were." Rising to her feet, she stepped down from the dais. He did not move, kept his gaze fixed on her shoes. "It did make things quite awkward with Monsieur. He had heard a rumour--I cannot think from where. I had presumed upon your discretion."

"You never meant to marry him anyway."

"He wasn't meant to know that," she retorted. "Who else knows?"

A look not unlike that of a hunted rabbit passed over his face. "...the Pope?"

Elizabeth had to think over the words several times before she understood exactly what they meant. "I beg your pardon. Did you just say the Pope knows about this?"

"It was my fault!" Mistress Pond interjected, biting her lip. "Well, my husband's fault. Rory's locked in a dungeon and the Doctor thought--"

"The Doctor thought what?"

"Information! It isn't as though he's got enough time to do anything really awful!"

"And what, precisely, does that mean?"

"Doctor, this might have been a bad idea," the red-haired girl began to retreat toward the door.

Elizabeth waved one hand dismissively. "Take the ring. You know, no doubt, where it is. But if I ever see your face again, it will be on pain of your life."

If she had hoped to see hurt in his face, she was bitterly disappointed. Indeed, it seemed as though he had barely noticed.

***


There had been rumours surrounding one of the Bankside theatres--enough that Walsingham noticed, which naturally piqued Elizabeth's interest. Something about comedies and witches, two things that did not necessarily fit together.

But when she stepped into the timbered frame of the Globe Theatre, all she could see was the man on the stage and the utter, blithe incomprehension in his eyes, as if he'd never set eyes on her before.

She did what any sensible monarch would have done. She set the guards on him.

"And as for you, sir," she said, eyeing the playwright who had laughed so merrily at the Doctor's ignominious exit. "If you would write further of love, think no less on its pain than on its pleasure. I will be curious to see what you make of it. There are," she added after a moment, "more things in heaven and earth, Master Shakespeare, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

As she left him staring after, only then did she smile. Somewhere, it seemed, the world had fallen into place again.

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
lost_spook
Aug. 10th, 2010 08:03 pm (UTC)
This is brilliant - absolutely brilliant! :-)
lareinenoire
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It was a lot of fun to write!
tempestsarekind
Aug. 10th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
Yaaaaaay. I love this! It's chock-full of redheads and Amys--just as it ought to be.
lareinenoire
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:33 pm (UTC)
YES. The redhead thing only occurred to me about halfway through and I just couldn't resist! :)
ladymercury_10
Aug. 11th, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)
Ooh! This is lovely! Quite an interesting little history indeed.
lareinenoire
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm very glad you enjoyed it!
eve11
Aug. 11th, 2010 03:16 am (UTC)
Oh, this is fantastic. I love it! I love the point of view and the sensibility of it; it's always fascinating to see the Doctor's timeline from an outside perspective, and Elizabeth I is a great choice.
lareinenoire
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! There were those random, throwaway hints about Elizabeth and Ten and I just couldn't help wanting to see what happened if I tried to put them together...
persiflage_1
Aug. 11th, 2010 05:55 am (UTC)
Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul But I do love thee!
lareinenoire
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:35 pm (UTC)
Poor Elizabeth! Ten is just so adorably hopeless. ;)
persiflage_1
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)
Indeed!
jehane_writes
Aug. 11th, 2010 10:34 am (UTC)
Gorgeous, milady. But you already knew that :)
lareinenoire
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
Doesn't mean I don't appreciate hearing it. ;) Thank you! Also, KITTY!
caz963
Aug. 11th, 2010 11:07 am (UTC)
Here via a rec on selenak's LJ. This is wonderful - Ten's final meeting with Elizabeth is beautifully done and her meeting with Eleven is so bitter-sweet. I could go on, but I won't, or I'll be here all day. I loved all of it - thanks for sharing.

Edited at 2010-08-11 11:07 am (UTC)
lareinenoire
Aug. 11th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it -- thank you so much! I had a great time writing it, and seeing both Ten and Eleven through her eyes.
von_gelmini
Aug. 11th, 2010 02:21 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this. I liked the way she encountered different versions of the Doctor throughout her life.
lareinenoire
Aug. 11th, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC)
I unfortunately know little to nothing about any of the Doctors prior to Nine, so I wasn't able to include any more, though I wish I'd been able to. But I'm very glad you enjoyed it!
sahiya
Aug. 11th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
Oh this was fabulous! Love it, love it, love it.
shezan
Aug. 11th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
Here through selenak, and this is BRILLIANT!!!
tree_and_leaf
Aug. 11th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, fantastic!
torn_eledhwen
Aug. 11th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
*Wild applause* I love this. I think this happened.
bewarethespork
Aug. 12th, 2010 11:24 am (UTC)
I put off reading this for a few days because I wanted some time to sit down and appreciate it properly, and now that I've read it, I just wish I'd done so sooner. It was well worth the wait, though.
(Deleted comment)
lareinenoire
Dec. 15th, 2011 12:41 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry I lost this--yes, I am definitely still writing and I only just realized you'd friended my LJ. Have friended back accordingly. :)
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )