The Doctor seized Clara and tumbled back with her into one of the little curtained alcoves.
He clamped a hand over her mouth briefly and released it as the attendant approached. She caught on, thankfully, and pulled further back into the alcove. He flashed the attendant the psychic paper; she bowed to him and promised to be back in a moment with the wine and the incense.
“What’s up?” Clara hissed at him.
“My alarm tripped. The guards have discovered the breach in the queen’s security.”
“Uh oh. They saw me. They know I’m involved.”
“They didn’t see me. I’m in disguise.” He was, in fact, a master of disguise this time, all dressed up like one of the minor nobility.
Clara snorted. “Deep cover. You’re wearing a satin coat and a sash.”
He ignored this and peeked outside the curtains. A hubbub at the entrance of the great hall. The musicians faltered and then resumed.
The attendant reappeared with a carafe of wine and a bowl of incense, already burning. The air was hazy with it already, but it would help the illusion that they were just another pair of courting aristocrats. And-- he aimed his sonic screwdriver at the burning stick and altered its chemistry ever so slightly. He grinned. That had been very clever of him. Or it was going to be very clever, once the guards got a snootful of that instead of the usual aphrodisiac. It would make them very suggestible indeed.
“This is a snogging booth,” Clara said. “One of those snogging booths you told me not to go near.”
The Doctor ignored that, too. They were not snogging booths, and he was quite certain he’d explained that.
“Soldiers in the hall,” he said.
She wrinkled her nose and sniffed. It was rather adorable, in his opinion. Enticing, even. Then she sneezed. That was adorable too. The Doctor rubbed at his own nose in sympathy; the smoke from the incense was syrupy sweet, and there was rather a lot of it.
Clara said, “Just because we’re hiding in a snogging booth doesn’t mean you should get any ideas.”
That was not adorable. The Doctor ignored it.
She said, “You think the queen got away?”
“We need to keep the palace shields down for at least ten more minutes. Then they can find us.”
The Doctor risked another look out: a handful of soldiers, fanning out through the hall, and the raised voices of annoyed celebrants. “They’re starting to search the alcoves. If they recognize you–”
“Have to make sure they don’t see my face.”
“No idea how we’ll manage that. This isn’t a masked ball. That’s on the spring equinox.”
“Sometimes you’re pretty stupid, you know that?”
Clara grabbed a fistful of his shirt and dragged him down to her level. And then she kissed him. The Doctor flailed his arms around. She kept kissing him. Her mind, his mind, touching-- he flinched away, but her free hand slipped inside his jacket and onto his waist. Her thoughts battered at him for long seconds, images of them on a bed, on the floor of the TARDIS console room, everywhere. Finally he regained control and closed himself off.
Kissing him was a good idea. He had to admit it. It’s what the alcoves were for: privacy for courting couples at the grand celebration of the return of the sun. Conceiving a child on this day of the year was a grand honor. He had explained all this to her and she must have been listening after all because she was still kissing him, and his entire body was on fire. He opened his mouth and her tongue thrust inside immediately. She pulled him back down onto the couch with him and then they struggled for a bit over who was to be on top. He settled this at last by grasping her wrists and stretching them over her head. Clara moaned and let him kiss her for a minute.
Then she said, “I wanna be on top.”
“Shut up,” he said, and then shut her up with his tongue in her mouth. Clara Oswald might protest about wanting to be on top, but that’s not what she craved. What she craved was his body on hers, her wrists pinned over her head, his thigh hard between her legs. And oh, was he certain of this. He knew her fantasies now, in detail, thanks to those moments of telepathic contact, which he would either apologize for later or never, ever mention or hint at or go near ever again. It all depended on what happened after they got out of this. If she slapped him, no mention. If she asked him to carry on, apology. Later. Much later.
The incense was thick in the air and it made his head swim. Had he perhaps miscalculated? Bother. And bah! It didn’t signify. The Doctor set himself to the task of doing what any courting aristocrat would do on Solstice Night: make his beloved tremble. Clara whimpered under him. The Doctor lifted her skirt.
Bootsteps coming nearer. The swish and clatter of curtains being pulled open and then closed again. The outraged voices of courting aristocrats.
She was panting under him now. He rolled his body onto hers fully. She wrapped her legs around him.
The rattle of curtain rings on the metal rod. The Doctor did not release her. “Excuse us, your excellencies,” said the soldiers, and the curtains rang shut again.
“We’re safe now,” Clara said.
“Five more minutes,” he said.
He bit her neck. She moaned.
“I’m still going to slap you when we’re back on the TARDIS,” she said.
As it turned out, the events of the next half hour were a successful distraction from whatever it was she’d been angry with him about, and she never did get around to slapping him. Therefore he’d been clever at least twice over, which made it a very good day indeed.