The Promenade des Anglais in Nice, on the Côte D’Azur, thronged with elegant and wealthy English visitors who came for the ‘season’ that was almost over on this warm, balmy, September evening. Among them were two people who, while certainly elegant and wealthy, didn’t appear in the 1884 edition of Burke’s Peerage. Lord and Lady de Lœngbærrow walked leisurely, stopping when Lady Marion felt the need to rest. The Promenade was nicely accommodating in that way, with benches every few hundred yards where the gentry could sit and look out over the wide, sweeping bay that was such a draw to them.

Marion sat, now, and gazed at that view, drinking in the way the sea colour changed from turquoise where it was shallow to the deep azure that the coast was named for, and all shades between. It matched the shades of blue in her late Victorian maternity gown and the lapus lazuli droplets that alternated with Gallifreyan diamonds in the matching jewels she was wearing. She felt as if she belonged to that calm, blue sea, and to the sky that matched it.

Blue sky. It was strange enough to her now to make her look twice. She had become accustomed to the yellow-orange sky of what was, now, her home planet. She had sat in her own formal garden, or the rose bower of Lady Lily’s garden, or by the river B?rrow at the Dower House with Aineytta almost every day of a lovely Gallifreyan summer with that yellow-orange sky above her, and now a blue Mediterranean sky felt exotic to her.

I’m becoming an alien, she thought. But the idea didn’t scare her as it might have done a few years before. The first time she came to Nice with Kristoph, she was still getting used to the idea that he wasn’t Human, and that she loved him, and both had been incredible things to get used to. But now she took both for granted in all the best ways.

“I’m having a nice time,” she told her husband, though he hadn’t even asked the question yet. He had told her that she might start to pick up some of his thoughts as her pregnancy advanced and the baby’s Gallifreyan DNA affected her own. And she did it then. She completely pre-empted his question. “Yes, I am. It’s nice to visit Earth now and then. And you have to admit, Gallifrey hasn’t got anything quite like this view.”

“No, it hasn’t,” Kristoph admitted. “Earth is a beautiful planet. But you’re still its chief attraction for me.”

Marion had anticipated him saying that, too, and smiled warmly at him. “You say the sweetest things to me. I haven’t felt attractive just lately though. I am tired so much and ache so often. I so want to have your baby, Kristoph. I am happy. But the back pain and the swollen ankles and needing to go to the loo every twenty minutes… and the thought that I have to keep on like this for another ten months… I’m not complaining, don’t think that for a minute. But…”

“You complain if you want. Every ache you bear is my fault. The least I can do is listen to you.” He fully sympathised with all of the problems her pregnancy was causing. This weekend in nineteenth century France was intended as a relaxing time in a place she loved to take her mind off it all. And mostly it worked. She had enjoyed the day’s outing, in a horse drawn brougham that took them up into the hills behind the seaside resort where the air was deliciously cool and they could see the coast of Italy in the far distance. They had picnicked with that view to enjoy and then come back to the hotel to change for an early evening stroll on the promenade built for the English visitors who had made it such a fashionable place.

“They are all such terrible snobs though,” Marion commented. “Some of them would give Lady Ravenswode a run for her money. Can you imagine her taking breakfast in our hotel with Lady what was it… Beaufort. The one who demanded that the marmalade was more finely cut.”

“Lady Ravenswode would demand her own personal marmalade untouched by anything but silver spoons and served in a crystal bowl,” Kristoph responded, glad to see her smiling. “And a liveried footman to spread it on her toast for her.” He laughed. “Yes, she would fit right in there with Lady Beaufort and her sort. Come to think of it, I was brought up to fit in with such a crowd. I do like to be served efficiently by well-groomed staff. I was just never that particular about the cut of marmalade.”

“You were born a Lord,” Marion noted. “I met you as a humble professor of English, but you’re a Lord. And you look it here. They take you for one of their own.”

“And you, too, my dear. You have become a real lady. Not one of them thought of you as less than equal to them.”

“Lady Broadstairs noted that my accent was a little ‘provincial’,” she answered. “Funny thing was, I had been speaking to you in Gallifreyan… as I have become used to doing these days. And I spoke to her the same. But she heard English, of course. Because of the TARDIS translating everything. So I wonder what sort of accent she heard? And then she asked where our estate was, and you told her it was on the Southern Continent, and she heard you say it was in Hampshire.”

“A simple bit of logical distortion,” Kristoph said with a smile. “I tell the absolute truth and her mind hears what she expects to hear. But you charmed them all by yourself.”

“I didn’t have to do much,” she admitted. “Especially with Lady Cranleigh. When she saw that I was ‘with child’ she never stopped talking about the best nanny agencies, the best schools. And I don’t mean primary schools. She was talking about Eton and Rugby… and Oxford and Cambridge…”

“We’re not so different on Gallifrey,” Kristoph pointed out. “I had a conversation with the Master of Tyros of the Prydonian Academy on the day we announced your pregnancy. He was a little disappointed that we’re having a daughter, but even so, her place in my old alma mater is assured.”

“Snobbery and misogyny seem to be universal,” Marion commented. “Oh, but never mind any of them. It is so lovely here. I just want to sit and look at the sea and the sky for a little while longer, and dream of… coming back here, when our little girl is born… when she’s old enough to walk beside us in a little girl’s dress and a little parasol. Can you imagine that, Kristoph? Won’t she be beautiful?”

“She is beautiful already,” Kristoph answered. “I’ve seen her, growing within you every day. My little girl. She knows me already. I’ve touched her dreams.”

“Yes, you have.” The way he could do that was a little unnerving sometimes, but quite wonderful, too. He did it often as they lay together at night, when the baby was kicking against her and making it hard for her to sleep, he would put his hand over her stomach and reach into the child’s mind, soothing her to sleep with a sweet dream in her still not fully formed baby mind that Marion often found herself sharing.

“Your own dreams are beautiful, too,” Kristoph told her. “But don’t wish the years away too fast. Let’s enjoy each day as it comes with our little one safe within you and the future still an empty page to be written on.”

“Let’s go back to the hotel now,” she said after a while. “I would like to call Rika on the videophone and maybe you could massage my ankles before we dress for dinner.”

“Let’s not bother dressing for dinner,” Kristoph said. “We’ll have the meal sent up to our suite. Just the two of us and the occasional attendance of a waiter.”

“Even better,” she conceded as Kristoph stood and helped her to rise from the bench. They only had to walk across the Promenade anyway, to where a line of broughams waited for customers. They rode in the open topped carriage back to the hotel. At the reception Kristoph placed the dinner order and then they went to their suite.

Marion sat in a comfortable wicker chair padded with silk cushions by the window with a view over that same azure bay as the dusk turned it to navy blue. She held the terribly anachronistic portable videophone on her lap as she placed the connection and soon she was chatting happily with Rika in her new home on Ventura IV.

Kristoph watched as the two women exchanged gossip across a galaxy and several centuries. He knew Marion was a little disappointed not to have her friend on Gallifrey. But the move was good for his brother and for his bride. Remonte had a chance to shine, without being constantly in his shadow. The younger brother of an Oldblood House always had trouble being recognised on Gallifrey. And it was much better for Rika if she didn’t have to fight the snobs of the Southern Continent for recognition.

Besides, they would visit, very soon. He just wanted to give them chance to settle down in their new home and new life.

“What about those ankles now?” Kristoph said when she was done with the videophone and hid it out of sight of the waiter who would be coming soon with the dinner. “Come and lie down on the sofa. Marion did so. Kristoph took off her period walking shoes and lifted the skirt of her beautiful azure dress to slide off the stockings. Her ankles were very hot and swollen, even though they had been careful in their walk. He massaged them gently, with a cooling lotion his mother had made from subtle and pleasant scented herbs. She watched him and smiled.

“You’re a greater man than any of the lords and ‘sirs’ and ‘honourables’ having their before dinner drinks downstairs right now. But here you are, on your knees, massaging my feet.”

“I think there are some analogies in the New Testament of the Earth Bible,” Kristoph said. “’The Washing of Feet?’ But I am more than happy to do this service for you, my wife, mother of my child.” Marion sighed as his hands reached beyond her ankles, caressing her legs tenderly.

“Mmm,” she murmured as he pushed her skirt higher. “That’s nice. But it might shock the staff when they bring dinner. Perhaps you should restrain yourself for a little longer.”

“I shall restrain myself long enough to savour the very excellent food and wine I have ordered,” Kristoph decided as he leaned back and straightened her skirt again. “But I think we shall be having an early night afterwards.”

Marion smiled. That was an enticing prospect. She might be eight months pregnant, with another eight to go, but her husband still found her desirable, and knew how to make her feel that she was. That early night was something to look forward to.