There was such a strange silence for a few moments. The car engine was dead, the women too shocked to speak. The snow outside the windows seemed to hush all sounds.

Then Anya cried out again. She couldn’t help being frightened. It looked as if she was going to have her baby in the car, in the snow, with nobody to help her who had any skill at all in midwifery. Seogham twisted in his seat and tried to reach out to his wife, but Gallis warned him against trying to get out of the passenger seat because opening the door would let all the heat out.

“With the engine stalled, the heaters are running off battery,” he explained. “We have to conserve the warmth until somebody comes for us from the Dower House.”

“But how will they even know we’re here?” Marion asked him, trying to keep her voice low. “They don’t know we’re coming or that the house is on fire or….”

“They know, Marion,” Rosanda told her quietly. “You have forgotten this IS Gallifrey. We are people with great powers. His Lordship contacted his mother telepathically before sending the car on. I felt the message strongly. Lady Aineytta knows that we were on our way. She will know there has been a delay. She will send one of her own cars out.”

“How long will it take?” Marion wondered. They were only a few miles from the Dower House, now. If there wasn’t a stand of trees shielding it she would have been able to see lights from the house. But how long before anyone would come looking for them?

“They’re coming,” Rosanda whispered very calmly. “They’re coming, now. We’ll be all right.”

Marion looked. She could still see nothing at first. Rosanda had her eyes closed. She was concentrating on a telepathic message that she was sending. It was another few minutes before Marion could see the lights of a car – no, of two cars. There was relief all around as the lights grew brighter and the vehicles touched down on the snow beside them. Rodan gave a cry of delight as Aineytta jumped from the larger vehicle dressed in warm winter clothing and boots, but Marion told the child that grandmamma had come to look after Anya. She could tell her later about all that was happening.

“Come on, poor child,” Aineytta said, reaching for Anya’s hand. “Yes, I know how bad it is. But we’ll have you safe and warm in a matter of minutes. Where is your husband?”

“I’m here, madam,” Seogham said. He came around the car to help carry Anya into the back of the stretch limousine that the elder Lord and Lady de Lœngbærrow customarily used for formal occasions. This night it was serving as an ambulance. It took off vertically from the snow and accelerated away before the other stranded passengers were transferred to the other car. Gallis Limmon was relieved to sit in the passenger seat beside Aineytta’s chauffer. He had done all he could and deserved to rest for the length of time it took to reach the Dower House.

Before they got there Anya had been taken to a private room that Aineytta and her servants had already prepared. Seogham was with her. The elder Lord de Lœngbærrow was waiting in the drawing room for Marion and Rodan and the rest of the party who had reached that sanctuary. He paid no attention to the fact that some of them were servants of his son’s household. He invited them all to sit and gave them hot drinks. He told Marion that there was a bed made up for the child, but Rodan didn’t want to leave her side. She wrapped blankets around her on the sofa.

“How bad is it?” his Lordship asked. Marion didn’t feel competent to tell him. Gallis Limmon gave the best report he could of the state of the De Lœngbærrow mansion before he left.

“The fire seems to have started in footman’s parlour, sir,” he explained. “In the east wing. The wind blew the flames towards the garages. We got all the cars clear.”

“The east wing….” Chrístõ De Lún nodded in understanding. “The indoor servants were always quartered there.”

“Yes, sir,” Gallis confirmed. “That is how Anya became trapped. His Lordship let Seogham have a large bedroom and sitting room with their own bathroom… with the child on its way he said they needed to be well quartered.”

“Oh, that’s terrible,” Marion said. “If their rooms are destroyed, they’ll have lost everything for the baby.”

They were not the only servants who would have suffered losses. The east wing was home to most of them. Only Caolin and Rosanda, quartered in the ‘butler’s pantry’ and Mistress Calitha who occupied the housekeeper’s rooms lived in the main part of the house.

“We have our lives,” said the night nurse who was sitting close to Rodan. “We must be grateful for that much.”

That was true, but Marion wondered if it was good enough. She didn’t even know if the house was insured. She wasn’t entirely sure if there was such a concept on Gallifrey. As well as a fire service that seemed another glaring omission in the ordinary life of people on this world. But even if there was such a thing, it would be Kristoph who would make the claim. It was his house. Would the servants be compensated for their losses?

“His Lordship was telling the men to pull down the roof between the east wing and the ‘long side’ when I told him that Mistress Anya was trapped,” Gallis added. “They were starting to do that when I drove off with the ladies.”

Marion wondered exactly what all of that meant. Tearing down part of the house was surely a drastic measure.

“The east wing is a later addition to the house,” his Lordship explained. “It was built in my great-grandfather’s time, three generations after our noble forefather the first Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow built the main structure. Chrístõ Diam?ndh?rt, the noble judge, established a Sessions room and Chambers so that he could hear smaller cases without travelling to Athenica. It was only later that it was used as part of the family dwelling, and later still as servant’s quarters.”

He seemed to be just talking about architecture and family history, but Lord de Lœngbærrow had a point to make.

“Anyone who ever looked closely would know that it was designed as a free standing building,” he continued. “In the original plans there was an open pathway between them. Later a covered passageway was built with double doors at either end. The panelling in the passage was very fine – Gallatian mahogany. It’ll be a pity if that’s gone. Replacing it will be expensive.”

He seemed to fix on the Gallatian mahogany for a moment before he continued once again.

“Later still, in my grandfather’s time, a roof and walls covered the whole void between the walls to make it seem all one building. I considered adding another room in the space between. It seemed a waste, otherwise. But even with our brood of children we had quite enough rooms for every purpose. I never got around to doing anything about it. Anyway, my son knows the layout of our family home as well as I do. He will have ordered the roof collapsed over the void to create a firebreak. It will save three-quarters of the property.”

Marion should have taken comfort from that. The part of the house she lived in would be saved. But she was still thinking of the servants who lost so very much. It still felt like a disaster.

Besides, she kept looking towards the door every little while, hoping for news about Anya and her baby. If that innocent unborn child proved to be a victim of this distressing night, then saving any part of the house would be a hollow victory.

“Trust my dear wife,” Lord de Lœngbærrow told her in a soft, gentle voice. “She is the best midwife on the southern plain. If it is within her power, she will bring the child safely into its mother’s arms.”

“I pray it is so,” Marion answered him. The concept of prayer was unknown on Gallifrey except to her, but Lord de Lœngbærrow nodded his approval of it nonetheless.

She didn’t quite pray. In any case, on this occasion her faith was in Aineytta’s skills rather than any deity. She had been grateful more than once for her tender care and expert knowledge of difficult childbirth. In her case she had known before that there was little hope, but Anya and Seogham had everything to hope for.

As the night wore on with others busy but nothing for her to do but wait Marion fell asleep beside Rodan. Somebody put a blanket around her and left her to rest. Lord de Lœngbærrow watched as the rest of his night visitors finally slept, then quietly left the room.

It was long past dawn when Marion woke to find Kristoph pressing a cup of latte coffee into her hands.

“Did you come by car?” she asked, still a little confused by sleep. She looked at him carefully despite her drowsiness. He wasn’t burnt, but his clothes were dirty and smelt strongly of acrid smoke.

“I came by TARDIS,” he answered. “I’m sorry I didn’t bring you and the other ladies that way but I had other work to do. I thought you would be safer travelling by car.”

“We were perfectly safe,” Marion assured him. “Gallis looked after us. But is it over now? Is the fire out? Is everyone else all right? Nobody was burnt?”

“The fire is out and everyone is safe and well,” Kristoph assured her. “There were some burns, but none of them were serious. I brought all those needing attention for my mother to look after. I’m afraid we’re putting upon her rather a lot this night, but as always she has risen to the crisis admirably.”

“Does that mean….” Marion gripped her husband’s hand tightly. “Anya….”

“Anya gave birth to a healthy if slightly underweight baby boy. Mother has recommended a food supplement in addition to milk to help him along. Anya, Seogham and their son are all sleeping now, but you can see them all later.”

“I’m so glad,” Marion told him. Now that she knew all the people involved were unharmed, she turned to the other concern. “The house… how bad is it?”

“The east wing is gutted, but still standing. The fire got as far as the kitchen and scullery before we created the fire break. There is a lot of damage there. Mistress Calitha’s rooms and Caolin and Rosanda’s quarters have smoke damage and the furnishings are ruined by water. The garage is utterly destroyed. The stable needs a new roof. Part of the garage crashed through it.”

“What about….” Marion began, but Kristoph anticipated the question.

“Rodan’s horses have been taken to Lily’s estate. She has found a suitable place for them. The main part of the house was saved by the firebreak. Our own rooms are hardly affected.”

“That’s small comfort,” Marion pointed out. “I know we own a lot of valuable things – paintings and china, and chandeliers, all of that. But in a way… I’d rather we’d suffered a little more personal loss. Our servants bore the brunt of it. They’ve lost everything.”

“I will make amends to all of them,” Kristoph vowed. “Today, I must go back and fully assess the damage, and you, my dear, need to go to bed and sleep properly. Tomorrow, I’ll drop you in Liverpool for the afternoon and you can buy baby clothes for Anya’s child. I’m sure you’re absolutely itching to do that. Then we can start thinking about the rest of the work that has to be done to restore Mount Lœng House as a home for all of us.”

“We?” Marion queried.

“We, indeed,” Kristoph answered. “You are mistress of the house. I think you should certainly have a say in how the damaged parts of the house are restored. It’s something to think about in the next few days, instead of fretting about what was lost. But don’t think about it at all, today. Sleep, food, and fussing over the new baby who has become a part of our household are all you need to think about for now.”

He squeezed both of her hands and then hugged her tightly. Marion cried a little, out of relief that things were not as bad as they could have been rather than sorrow. He waited until she was done then took her to a quiet bedroom where she could sleep. He did the same for Rodan before speaking to his mother about boarding part of his household with her before he set off back in his TARDIS to the ruin of his family home. There was much to be done, and the prospect was a bleak one, but like his wife he was thankful nobody was hurt and that Anya’s baby was healthy. Those reasons to be thankful managed to outweigh the reasons for despair and make the prospect a lighter one.