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How do the people he affects see The Doctor? Small vignette based on The Girl in the Fireplace and some considerations of the Doctor as a myth. Very mild spoilers for TGITF only.
Great big thanks to Drakyndra and Margaret Price, for encouragement and intensive grammar check, respectively. Any mistakes, oddities or faults still remaining should, of course, be blamed on me.
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In the Eyes of a King
We have seen him, this stranger. He danced with our lady the Madame de Pompadour before she was introduced to us. Such impertinence.
Such impertinence also, in not introducing himself to us, in attending the Royal Court in such inappropriate dress, in his manners and his ways. He spoke of such strange things. He carried foodstuffs that we had not seen before. Yet these strange delicacies were not presented to us, and we had to learn of them from the courtiers he did bestow his courtesy upon.
We suspected then that he was not a man. He could not be a man. What man would scorn a King's attention, yet make merry at Court?
We saw him again, in a time of urgent need. He was the protector of the Royal Mistress, or so Madame claimed. We did not understand this claim, for surely she was under our protection. She loved him, she claimed. Was this treason, then?
He rode through a mirror on a horse. And surely this must confirm he is not a man. To burst out of a solid wall with a horse and then ride into a ballroom with a wink and a grin is beyond any man's daring, let alone power. To dismiss our protests with a jest, only to then proceed to work a magic of a kind we had never seen before and have not seen since, with nothing but words as exotic as his appearance; this speaks also of a being not of this world.
We asked our lady about this stranger and sometimes she answered. Then she spoke of a man who skipped in and out of her life, watching over her and protecting her. A man who would come to her as a child and save her from the monsters, then leave and return years later, expecting her to come and play with him as if she were still a child. Not a day had passed on his face, she vowed.
We know what this creature must be. Are there not stories about these people, to whom time and royalty mean nothing, and magic is everyday? A mischievous spirit is he. The Puck come out of the hearth to have his fun with the mortals. It cannot be treason to love such as him, for what mortal could resist? Yet it is not reality, and we forgive our lady her trespass.
He comes again, this night of mourning, cheerful as always, calling her name; a name only he uses still. Reinette, the little queen. We judge her worthy of the title.
He halts when he finds she is not in the room. She left a letter for him. Courtesy demands that we deliver it. Quickly he understands, and the smile disappears. He needs not our words, but we speak them nevertheless. We need them, we think.
When the carriage with its grim burden has left the gates, we turn to enquire after our lady's last message. We see into his eyes, and so we recognise him. And we stay silent, for of some folk not even Kings dare make demands.
Fae he is indeed, but no Robin Goodfellow. No mere maker of mischief carries the burden in those eyes. Our lady: she was extraordinary in our eyes, but now we truly see how extraordinary she must have been.
That she might hold the love of Oberon.