Moonlight slanted through the gently swaying trees. The night was still and darkening. Somewhere distant an owl hooted.
"Funny place for a peace conference if you ask me," said Donna Noble.
The Doctor sighed. He was pacing out the distance between two dull metal pads that he had placed on the grass in the middle of the little orchard.
"I've already told you. It's not a peace conference. That's all done and dusted, This is just the final ceremony."
He seemed satisfied that the pads were the required distance apart and joined his companion.
"Same difference." said Donna. "If it's that important you could have chosen somewhere more impressive than the bottom of someone's garden."
"Important? This ceremony will end the centuries-old war between the Generene and the Usk. Millions have died on both sides."
"Where are we, anyway?" said a suitably chastened Donna.
The Doctor waved a dismissive hand. "Somewhere in England. Out of the way. Anonymous."
"That's a bit vague."
"Beckenham, Kent. 1 June 1903. 10.59 PM. Specific enough?"
"Very, " said Donna, somewhat suspiciously.
The Doctor looked at his watch and pulled out his sonic screwdriver. He quickly scanned the pads with pale blue light.
The rim of each pad began to glow dully. Pocketing the screwdriver the Doctor looked up into the night sky. "Here they come."
With an accompanying low hiss of static a fuzz of assembling molecules appeared over each pad.
"Whew! Beam me up, Scotty!" exclaimed Donna. She fell silent as the molecules assembled and she stared from one pad to the other, slack-jawed.
The occupant of the first pad was hovering a couple of feet above it. Supported by gossamer-wings. She was exquisite. A beautiful image robed in flowing silk, glowing with golden dust. She was less than a foot tall.
The other was a taller. Say three feet. His oversized feet were planted firmly on the pad. He was dressed in crude, russet-coloured clothes. On his head was a cloth cap. He was pot-bellied, ruddy cheeked and white-whiskered.
"Oh God," breathed Donna at the Doctor's side."It's a Fairy and a Gnome! Who arranged this? Mary bleedin' Poppins?"
The Doctor waved her into the silence and stepped forward.
He turned slightly towards the hovering figure and bowed low. "My greetings to the representative of the Generene Conglomeration." He repeated his bow to the other. "And to the representative of the Usk Union."
The Doctor took a pace back. "I am appointed Overseer to this ceremony under Article 52 of the Shadow Proclamation. Do you have the agreement?"
The representatives each held up a tied parchment scroll.
The Doctor stepped forward and took the scrolls, exchanging them.
"Now for the formal declaration under Article 73."
The representatives spoke in unison. One voice fluting, the other bass.
"We will fight no more, forever."
"Then the deal is done." said the Doctor.
The static hiss heralded the transportation effect. The representatives dissolved and were gone.
"Short and sweet." observed Donna. "No cakes, sandwiches, glass of wine."
The Doctor moved to pick up the pads. "We can't expect too much too soon. But it's an historic moment..."
He turned at Donna's voice and followed her outstretched finger.
At the fringe of the orchard stood a tiny figure. In the moonlight it resolved itself into a dark-haired young girl of about five years. She was dressed in a plain cotton nightdress and was clutching a teddy-bear. Her eyes were like saucers.
"Hello there," said the Doctor, gently.
"She's seen it all," whispered Donna, at his side. "Hello sweetheart. My name's Donna."
The girl said nothing as Donna approached. "You're up late. Where have you come from then?"
The little girl pointed back down the rolling lawn behind her, to the darkened house.
"I think I' d better take you back, sweetheart." The girl tentatively took Donna's hand.
The Doctor watched them go as they made their way quietly towards the house.
Some ten minutes later Donna returned to the orchard.
"The kitchen door was open. I think she just wandered out. I saw her back upstairs to her room." Donna looked worried.
"What's the matter?"
Donna sighed. "Aliens at the bottom of her garden. What's it going to do to her?"
The Doctor shrugged. "Who can say what goes on in the mind of a child? She'll have probably forgotten all about it by tomorrow."
As Donna made off towards the Tardis the Doctor paused and looked back at the house. "Although somehow, I don't think so." He allowed himself a brief smile and followed his companion through the trees.
In her room the little girl stared up at the ceiling. Her eyes still saucers.
In her mind strands were being formed that were not there before. Connections were made. Her imagination danced. One day these acorns will blossom and she will become the greatest childrens' author of her generation. But that is in her future.
For now we must leave five-year old Enid Blyton as sleep claims her.
But she dreams.
She dreams of pixies and elves. Goblins and brownies. Witches and warlocks.
And, of course, fairies and gnomes...