Marion, Kristoph, Lily and Li were enjoying a fine dinner in the Terrace Restaurant at the St. George’s Hotel on the famous North Shore promenade. Rodan was safely asleep in her nursery in the TARDIS, which was parked in the corner of the restaurant disguised as a door marked ‘Staff Only’. Remarkably, none of the staff seemed worried that it had never been there before or that none of them had ever opened that door.

Not remarkable at all, Kristoph had commented. Simple use of Power of Suggestion to make them all think it was nothing to do with them.

So far, Rodan hadn’t stirred in her sleep. She had been a busy child all day, enjoying the delights of Llandudno and was happily dreaming about it all, now, while the adults spent some quality time together.

“This is nearly as lovely as the hotel on the Promenade d’Anglaise in Nice,” Marion commented as she watched the sky turn through several shades of red-brown of a fine early summer sunset. The Welsh waitress who brought the locally caught baked lobster for their main course looked rather affronted by her comment.

“Of course,” she added. “There is far less for the children in Nice. Rodan has enjoyed herself thoroughly here.”

That restored national pride and they ate their meal in full favour.

“All the same,” Lily said with a sigh when the waitress was out of earshot. “Nice is a little more refined. It’s almost like being in one of the coastal towns of the southern continent. But… this… Llandudno…” Marion smiled as Lily managed to get her tongue around the correct Welsh pronunciation of the ‘Ll’. “I’m not sure it’s really me. I find the crowds rather….”

She broke off with her sentence unfinished. Marion wondered if it was going to be something uncomplimentary about Llandudno. Lily was not one to be unnecessarily rude, but nor did she shy away from the truth if she wasn’t satisfied with something.

“Some of them lacked manners,” Li pointed out. “I really don’t appreciate being called ‘wong fu’ by young men with lager cans.”

“Exactly,” Lily added. “Nor is there a need for the pushing just to get onto a tramcar with plenty of seats for everyone.

Marion had to agree. The crowds, especially in the hottest part of the day, were a little too much. It was very different from the usual quiet and refined lifestyle they enjoyed on Gallifrey.

“Rodan has enjoyed it, though,” she pointed out as a point in favour of Llandudno. “She had a wonderful time today.”

“I’m sure she did,” Lily answered “But isn’t it rather absurd that we came all this way across the galaxy just so that Rodan can build a sandcastle and ride a donkey, and get covered in sticky toffee that took half an hour’s bathing to remove from her.”

“She did look lovely on the donkey, though,” Marion said. “Her grandfather is going to love the photographs we took.”

“I really wanted you and Lily to have a go on the donkeys,” Li said with a twinkling smile.

“I hardly think so at my age,” Lily responded. “A dignified side-saddle behind you when we were trekking across northern China was all very well. But a donkey on the beach in Wales….”

“We should have got photographs of Lily riding side-saddle in China!” Kristoph remarked. “I’m sure you looked wonderful, my dear.”

Lily smiled at the compliment from her former lover but then she became serious again as she turned to Marion.

“My dear, all of this has been wonderful for Rodan. She has gained some marvellous experiences that a Caretaker child would not hope to have, ordinarily. But you do realise you cannot possibly do this sort of thing when you have children of your own.”

Marion was puzzled. The tone of Lily’s voice was so unlike her. It almost sounded snobbish, as if their day’s activities had been beneath her. Yet, apart from the crowds, she was sure Lily had enjoyed herself as much as any of them had.

“Why not?” she asked. “Why shouldn’t we come here with our own little boy, and let him ride a donkey and eat a stick of rock while watching a Punch and Judy show. Rodan absolutely loved that. There are so few places where they still do that sort of thing.”

“Because your son will be the heir of an Oldblood House, Marion,” Lily reminded her. “He will have so many other things to experience. He will need to prepare, even from an early age, for his noble destiny. These trivial pursuits will distract him from what is important.”

Marion looked at Lily, then at Li and Kristoph. Neither of them were disagreeing with what Lily was saying.

“Your Time Lord society is so important that I won’t be able to take my baby… when he is still only Rodan’s age… to see a puppet show and walk on the beach… make a sandcastle… ride a donkey… eat toffee and candy floss? How will all of that stop him being a Time Lord in two hundred years time? Can’t he be a Time Lord who remembers being a little boy and having ordinary fun, first?”

“It will be hard enough for him to cope with being of mixed blood,” Lily reminded her. “If his upbringing is too different from that of other candidates, it will make it harder for him to fit in with them. You have to remember that, Marion. It would be better if your own child was brought up as a Gallifreyan. You really can’t….”

“Who says I can’t?” she replied crossly. She looked around. Her voice sounded louder than necessary. A few people had looked around at her. She realised that none of them could have understood what she had said because she had been talking in Gallifreyan. She was used to doing that these days. Her husband and friends all spoke their native language among themselves and it was natural for her to do the same.

“You’ll have long enough to make him into a boring, snobbish, Time Lord when I’m dead and gone,” she said. “As long as I have breath in my body, I’m going to bring my child up my way… as… as a child. He’s going to have fun… before he has to be all the things you want him to be.”

“Marion,” Kristoph said gently. “Nobody expects….”

“Yes, you do,” she answered him. “You all do. Everyone does. I’m expected to produce an heir for the House of Lœngbærrow and then he won’t have anything to do with me after he’s born. He’ll be… he’ll be your son, Kristoph. But he won’t be mine.”

“Marion,” Kristoph said again. “Please… don’t….”

But she didn’t want to hear any more. She pushed her chair back and stood up from the table before walking away quickly. Kristoph stood to follow her, but she had already reached the ‘staff only’ door and pushed through it.

“Let her be,” Li said to him. “She’s upset, right now. It’s all a misunderstanding… hasty words. She’ll realise that in a little while, when she’s had time to think about it. Then she’ll be ready to listen to you.”

“I never meant to upset her,” Lily assured him as Kristoph sat down again and pushed his plate of food aside. He wasn’t hungry, now. He sipped a glass of water and looked out through the window. Li was right. Marion would be all right for a little time alone. But that time was not going to be a happy one.

“You were right,” Kristoph said to Lily. “You were perfectly right. This sort of thing… this holiday… it’s not the kind of thing we could do with our own child. I do hope Marion will realise that, too, in time.”

“I should have left it alone,” Lily admitted. “I’m sorry that this dinner was spoiled by talking about it.”

Kristoph sighed. He watched as Li touched Lily’s hand gently, reassuring her. Then he turned in horror as he heard an all too familiar noise. He had hardly risen from his seat when the ‘staff only’ door vanished to be replaced by a blank wall.

“Oh, no!” Lily murmured as she stood, too. “Kristoph… she’s dematerialised the TARDIS.”

Kristoph didn’t need to be told that. His hearts thudded as he stared at the wall. He felt Li reach out a reassuring arm. But it was difficult for him to be reassured.

“Let’s settle the bill and get out of here,” Li said. “We will all think more clearly in the fresh air.”

Marion hadn’t meant to do anything to the TARDIS. She had reached for the automatic door lock and accidentally hit the dematerialisation switch. She was horrified when she felt it moving. That hadn’t been the intention at all. She had just wanted to go and lie down for a little while until she felt less annoyed about it all.

The TARDIS materialised again quickly. She looked at the temporal location and was pleased, despite everything. That looked like a good idea. She went and got Rodan and put her in her pushchair. It was a bit anachronistic. So was her dress. But it was early evening and maybe nobody would notice.

It was a pleasant summer evening in 1954, according to the temporal clock. She was still in Llandudno. The TARDIS had disguised itself as a closed newspaper vendor on the promenade. Marion walked with Rodan down towards the pier where they had spent a pleasant part of their afternoon and where she had got the most sticky with sweets and candy floss. There was a candy floss vendor here, now, but Marion didn’t have any 1950s money and Rodan didn’t seem very bothered. She was happy to be out in her pushchair with her foster mother.

She walked a little way along the pier and was surprised to see a Punch and Judy show going on. It looked like the exact same booth that had been on the promenade this afternoon nearly fifty years later. The same name – Professor Codman – was emblazoned on the striped canvas.

It must have been the last performance of the evening. There were still plenty of people to watch, though. Marion sat on a seat with Rodan on her knee and enjoyed the simple show. Rodan enjoyed it, too. Afterwards, a man came around with a hat and people put in coins. She didn’t have any. She reached and took off one of her diamond earrings and put it in the cap. She knew they were worth quite a lot, and she didn’t mind giving one of them away to somebody who had given her a half hour respite without thinking about the unhappy situation she had wanted to get away from.

As the Punch and Judy man put away his show, she wheeled the pushchair up to the end of the pier and then back again. It was getting cooler now, with the sun down and night falling, but the pier was still quite busy with people walking just as she was. Nobody took any particular notice of her. The fact that she didn’t quite belong there didn’t matter. She wondered what they would think if they knew that she was from the future and her little girl was an alien from another planet. The thought made her smile despite herself.

It was getting a little bit cold by the time she got back to the TARDIS. There were lights all along the promenade now and the hotel where they had eaten their dinner in the future had a warm, inviting glow in all its windows. But the TARDIS was the most inviting and familiar place to her and she opened the door and pushed the pushchair inside.

There was a light blinking on the communications console. It was a call relayed from Kristoph’s mobile phone. She pressed the button and accepted the call. His voice sounded so relieved when she spoke to him.

“I know,” she said. “I’ve been stupid. I’m sorry. I’m… I’m coming back to you as soon as I can. I just have to use the fast return switch, don’t I? Won’t it bring me back to you?”

“It’ll bring you back to the restaurant in the St. George’s Hotel,” Kristoph replied. “We’re not too popular in there. Between us we did make a bit of a scene. Go to the navigation console and do exactly what I say and you’ll materialise on the promenade nice and safely right where we’re all waiting for you.”

She did as he said. It was complicated, but she knew the TARDIS well enough by now. She put the co-ordinates into the navigation and then moved to the drive control.

“Strictly speaking, this shouldn’t even work,” Kristoph told her. “My TARDIS is primed only to respond to me. But it seems to recognise you. That’s why it allowed you to take it away in the first place. But come on back to me, now.”

She was a little worried that it wouldn’t work. But the time rotor moved up and down and she felt the faint vibration of the engine. A few minutes later she knew it had materialised again. She opened the door and stepped out onto Llandudno promenade again. It was much brighter than it was in the 1950s, with bigger, stronger lights. But it was the same place.

Kristoph was there. He embraced her lovingly.

“Don’t scare me like that again,” he told her. “I don’t just mean going off in the TARDIS. I mean… we almost fought. All of us. Over something that… Marion….”

He sighed deeply. Lily was right. A young Time Lord candidate shouldn’t be brought up on donkey rides and Punch and Judy shows.

But Marion was right, too. Her child – their child – could be more than just a Time Lord candidate. He would be a product of two species, and it would be wrong to deny his mother’s heritage. If they did, then Marion was right when she said he just wanted an heir and she didn’t matter.

And that wasn’t true at all.

“Yes,” he said. “We can bring our own child to the seaside. We can do all these things. And he can still be a Time Lord. A proud Time Lord… but not a snobbish, boring one. He’ll be a unique and fantastic Time Lord who remembers what it was like to be a child enjoying a holiday in Wales.”

“Forgive me,” Lily said, stepping close. “I didn’t mean to upset you. Marion, dear, you are right. You raise your children how you think fit. And I am sure they’ll surprise us all.”

Marion turned and hugged her friend. She was ready to forgive her. She felt Li hugging them both.

“That’s better,” Kristoph said. “Now… shall we all go find somewhere else to have dinner. We didn’t finish the lobster.”

“Let’s order a take out,” Marion replied. “I’ve got to get Rodan settled again and I think I just want to eat some food and then get an early night after that.”

Kristoph looked at the TARDIS, disguised as a closed up seafood stand.

“Getting it delivered might be a little tricky,” he answered. “But we’ll give it a try.”