Garrick de Lœngbærrow sat on the swing seat on the veranda of the winter house and looked up at the broad-backed mountain that cast a deep shadow over the snow-covered valley. His eyes followed the movement of the ski lift that wound slowly up to the top of the piste. There were two people dressed in red and blue on the lift. He watched them step off the lift at the top and a few minutes later they began to descend swiftly, zig-zagging down the slope.

“Chrístõ,” he said happily. “Chrístõ and Julia, skiing.”

“Yes, it is,” Valena said with a smile at her son. “I hope they’re going to come in after this descent. The light is fading, and besides, dinner is ready.”

Garrick reached out his arms to her. Valena lifted him up and hugged him. She sat on the swing seat and held him on her lap she watched her stepson and his fiancée on the ski slope.

“Drink, my dear,” her husband said passing her a glass of warming brandy. There was a plastic cup with a non-spill lid for his youngest child. It contained orange juice. The boy drank from the cup in careful emulation of his father as he drank a measure of single malt whiskey. “Chrístõ used to do that when he was that age, too. He wanted to be like me.”

“Your son is a credit to you, my Lord.”

“And to his mother,” Lord de Lœngbærrow whispered with a far away look in his eyes that Valena recognised and had learnt not to be jealous of. When he came back from his memories he always looked at her and smiled.

“Both my sons give me reason to be proud,” he said. “I am a lucky man.”

“Chrístõ,” Garrick said. He struggled from his mother’s grasp and ran to meet his half brother as he waked through the snow with his skis on his shoulder. Julia was by his side. Both were exhilarated from their afternoon on the slopes. When Garrick tumbled over into a deep drift Chrístõ dropped his skis and ran to him. Valena, watching from the veranda, was relieved when he lifted the boy in his arms and brought him back to her.

“Did you have a good time?” Lord de Lœngbærrow asked as he passed his son and his fiancée a warming brandy based cocktail each.

“It was fantastic,” Chrístõ replied. “I would have stayed out longer, but we’re losing the light. Besides, it’s Christmas Eve. Time to be with family.”

“Yes, it is,” his father agreed. “Let’s take our drinks inside. Dinner will be ready very soon.”

“Garrick wants to learn to ski,” Julia commented as they did just that. “The afternoon tobogganing wasn’t good enough for him.”

“I spend my time sliding down a snow-covered hill on a wooden raft on rails just to amuse him, and he wants more!” his father laughed. “My last vestige of dignity as a Time Lord of Gallifrey is wasted on an ungrateful child!”

“He wants to be like Chrístõ,” Julia explained. “Chrístõ skis, so he wants to.”

“Chrístõ lives far from home and spends at least part of his time getting into trouble on behalf of Paracell Hext and the CIA,” Valena pointed out. “I hope Garrick won’t want to follow in his footsteps quite so keenly as that. I would worry about him, too much.”

“You can’t hold onto him all his life, my dear,” Lord de Lœngbærrow told her. “He’s six years old. Two more years and he will be ready to face the Untempered Schism and after that he will dedicate his life to becoming a Time Lord. You will have to let him decide for himself what other destiny he will choose.”

Valena obviously knew that. But she equally obviously had no wish for those two years to pass swiftly. She wanted her little boy to be just that for a little longer. But when they came into the warm lounge of the winter retreat of the Gallifreyan Embassy on Ventura IV, he didn’t want to sit on her lap. He came to sit beside Chrístõ on the sofa. Julia relinquished her place at his side to him. Chrístõ hugged his brother and spoke to him in a low, soft voice. The boy replied to him in surprising detail. Garrick’s oral skills were lagging far behind his telepathic ones, and Chrístõ was one of the few people other than his mother who he would talk to at all, let alone at length.

“He misses you when you’re away,” Valena said.

“I miss him,” Chrístõ replied. “But I have to live my own life. I will be ready to live on Gallifrey when Julia is ready to be my wife. And that is still five years away.”

His father and stepmother said nothing about that. It was a subject they had visited many times and his answer was always the same. They didn’t want to mar this day by dwelling on it.

“You’re here now,” Valena said. “And I’m glad you are, Chrístõ. This celebration of Christmas means a lot to your father.”

Valena might have had something else to say, but one of the small band of servants who had come to the Winter House with them entered the drawing room and announced that dinner was served. They want through to the elegant dining room which was adorned by a huge pine tree covered in glittering decorations. Greenery hung all around the ceiling, sparkling as if jewels were hidden in the branches. The dinner table was set for the four adults and a special chair for Garrick that allowed him to be a part of the celebration along with them.

“I used to sit that way when I was his age,” Chrístõ said with a smile as he encouraged Garrick to take hold of one end of a gold-coloured Christmas cracker. The boy laughed at the noise it made as it pulled and happily accepted a paper crown on his head. The toy that was inside it, a small blue plastic rabbit sat beside his place setting as the meal was served.

“When I look at Garrick, I see so much of you in him,” Lord de Lœngbærrow said to his eldest son. “Especially in this setting. You were his age the last time we spent Christmas here at the Venturan Winter House.”

“I don’t remember,” Chrístõ admitted. “I do recall many Christmases from my childhood. You kept your promise to my mother and always celebrated the Human festival with me. But I don’t remember being here.”

“It was the last Christmas we had with your mother,” his father replied. Valena looked at him anxiously. Chrístõ looked at his father, too, and realised that his remark had struck a melancholy chord for him.

“It’s Garrick’s first Christmas here,” he said. “And hopefully it won’t be his last. It’s good to be here as a family.”

With that, he shared another cracker with Garrick and claimed the party hat inside for himself as well as a little plastic figure on skis that he placed by his water glass. Garrick laughed at the sight of his older brother wearing a paper hat and the moment of tension was forgotten. Chrístõ’s father smiled warmly at his two sons and made a toast to them and to the family.

“Not forgetting you, my dear Julia,” he added. “You are a part of this family already, and in not so very many years that will be official.”

Julia accepted his compliments happily, and Valena’s remark that followed it.

“When you and Chrístõ are married, of course, he will be the head of the family and you his lady by his side. Chrístõ Mian and I will be your guests at occasions such as this.”

“I know,” she answered. “I’ve been reading books about Gallifreyan social etiquette. It’s a strange idea in some ways. You all moving to the Dower House while Chrístõ and I live in Mount Lœng House.”

“The Dower House is nearly as big as the main house,” Lord de Lœngbærrow pointed out. “And in a beautiful setting by the river. You’re not condemning us to penury. It is the way it is done on Gallifrey.”

Then he proposed a new toast to the future and they all joined in happily.

When the meal was done they returned to the drawing room to find that the servants had been busy. Another tree was decorated and more sparkling greenery around the room. There were gifts placed under the tree for opening tomorrow morning.

And a surprise for this evening, too. Garrick looked curiously at the bulky parcel left by the fireside. It was wrapped in shiny paper as the presents under the tree were, but it was obvious this one was meant to be opened tonight. Chrístõ knelt on the rug with his little brother as he tore at the paper. Julia came and sat with them, too, and watched as the two brothers slowly revealed a rather special toy.

“It’s this place,” Julia said as the last of the wrapping fell away. The house... and the mountain.”

It was a highly detailed model of the Winter House in the snow with the mountain rising above it as it did in real life. The ski lift really worked by turning a small handle and there were figures that could be placed in the seats to go up to the top of the ski slope. Turning another handle made the little skiers zig zag down to the bottom of the mountain and another made a sleigh pulled by two horses circle the mountain. The sleigh had two figures in it, snug under a painted blanket. The house, meanwhile, opened up like a doll’s house and there were figures inside that could be moved around. Julia took a delight in playing with the house while Chrístõ and Garrick took it in turns to wind the skiers up the lift and then down the slope again. It was a simple pursuit, that ought to have been dull to an educated young Time Lord like Chrístõ, or even to his eager to learn half brother. But the toy fascinated Garrick and Chrístõ enjoyed being with him as he played. So did Julia. Lord de Lœngbærrow and his wife drank their after dinner drinks and listened to music and were content.

When it was Garrick’s bedtime he reluctantly left the toy only because he was promised that there would be more presents in the morning, and on condition that Julia tucked him up in bed. He kissed his brother on the cheek and let the two women of the house take him off to bed. Chrístõ remained sitting on the floor by the open fire turning the little handle that took the tiny skiers up the mountain. His father watched him idly at first, then he knelt beside him and touched him on the shoulder.

“Son...” he whispered.

“I... remember... sort of...” he said. “Just a glimmer of a memory. This isn’t new, is it? It was mine once. It was given to me to play with...”

“That Christmas we came here,” his father said. “Your mother and I and you.... the same age Garrick is now... He really is the image of you at that age.”

“I can’t remember anything else. I don’t remember that Christmas at all. Except... sitting here, turning this handle... I remember doing that once before.”

“I had the model specially made,” Lord de Lœngbærrow said. “It’s hand carved from Venturan pine, seasoned with natural resins and each piece hand-painted. When you saw it, your face lit with joy. You insisted that the figures in the sleigh were your mama and me. And YOU were the skier on the slope. Even though you were too little to have begun learning to ski at that age.”

Chrístõ touched the sleigh model fondly, but shook his head.

“No, I don’t remember that. Not in such detail. Why can’t I remember?”

“In the summer of the next year, we lost your mama. You don’t really remember that properly, either, do you?”

“I remember playing in the garden of the Residence in the Venturan capital. And somebody came out to me and told me... and then I remember you hugging me when I cried. Then... a few days later we left Ventura. We went to Gallifrey, and everything was different after that.”

“Our kind don’t handle grief very well. We are unused to it. We live such long lives that we forget how much it hurts when a life ends. And you were only six years old, hardly prepared for such a trauma. Your mind couldn’t contain it all.”

“It’s not fair,” Chrístõ said. “It took away the good memories as well as the bad ones. We were happy that Christmas, weren’t we?”

“Very happy,” Lord de Lœngbærrow said. “Since the day you were born your mother and I didn’t know a day’s unhappiness. You were a joy in our lives. And that Christmas...”

Chrístõ closed his eyes as his father reached out and held his face in his hands. He felt his father’s touch on his mind. He gasped as he felt himself seeing this same room in this same house nearly a hundred and ninety years before.

It was decorated a little differently. The Christmas tree was more colourfully decorated and there were bright paper chains ad balloons around the ceiling. On the sideboard was a beautiful porcelain nativity set with a wooden stable for the figures to go in. There was a silver star above it and a whole set of golden angels to proclaim the birth of a king who had to be laid in a manger because there was no room at the inn.

They had fascinated the six year old child of Lord and Lady de Lœngbærrow. He had spent hours picking up each figure and looking at it closely, then putting it in a different place on the sideboard. The three wise men and their camel were wandering for a time among the crystal dishes of candied fruits, unable to find their guiding star. The shepherds went on a mystery tour of their own along with one of the angelic host.

“Let them rest, child,” said a gentle voice when he moved the Holy family themselves out of their humble accommodation. “They’ve had such a long journey, and they’re tired.”

Little Chrístõ put the figures back and let his mother put him on her knee as she told the first Christmas story to him. He didn’t completely understand it, but he listened intently and took it into his hearts.

“Of course you don’t understand why a king would be born in a stable,” his mother told him. “You are a prince of the universe and you were born in a mansion. Perhaps when you’re older it will make more sense to you.”

Chrístõ smiled at his mother and let her embrace him in her arms. He felt safe and warm there for a little while. Then his father came and kissed his mother on the cheek.

“There are sleigh bells ringing outside,” he said. “Are you sure you feel well enough for the journey?”

“I feel fine,” she told him. “Besides, we can’t let the children down.”

A servant put Chrístõ into a warm coat with a fur lined hood and warm gloves and scarf while his father helped his mother into her coat. Then they all stepped outside of the warm, cosy house into a snow-covered late afternoon. The sky was clear blue and the sun dropping low over the valley. It would be getting dark, soon. But that didn’t matter. The beautiful sleigh with silver bells on the reins had lanterns that could be lit when it got dark. Little Chrístõ laughed as he was seated behind the driver, inbetween his parents with a warm rug wrapped around him. He sang a song his mother had taught him about a sleigh ride. He wasn’t quite in tune, but nobody told him that.

“I sing better now,” Chrístõ remarked. “I was almost a teen idol, once. But where were we going? What children?”

The answer was clear after a short journey across the smooth white snow, roughly following where there must have been a road before the winter set in. They came to a small village where most of the houses were built of red brick foundations with wooden walls and possibly wooden roofs, too, but since they were all snow-covered it was impossible to tell. In the centre of the village was a larger building. The sign on the front, in Venturan script, identified it as an orphanage. At nearly six years old, Chrístõ didn’t know what an orphanage was, and he didn’t worry that he might be left there. His parents were too fond of him for that. He was excited when he was brought into a big, bright room where some thirty children of different ages were assembled. There was a concert of sorts, in which the children sang Venturan folk songs and danced and acted out little plays. Then Chrístõ’s father and mother gave out gifts wrapped in silver and gold paper to the children. Chrístõ was allowed to be involved, too. He gave presents to the children his own age and smaller. He didn’t wonder why he didn’t get a present, because there were lots of them under the tree in the house they were going back to afterwards.

“It wasn’t a Christmas party, of course,” he heard his father explain. “Venturans don’t celebrate Christmas any more than Gallifreyans do. It was a solstice festival in which singing and music, dancing herald the beginning of the second part of winter, when the days begin to lengthen again. But your mother thought presents for the orphans were appropriate and I saw no reason why not. She enjoyed doing it. I still send money to the orphanage each year to buy gifts for the children. I never quite felt able to go there in person without your mother.”

After the party was over, the family snuggled up in the sleigh again under the blankets. It was dark now and there was a soft fall of new snow. The driver hurried the horses along and the bells rang merrily. Young Chrístõ was aware of an exciting bite to the air that touched his face, and a comfortable warmth everywhere else. He didn’t know that his parents were both a little worried about the snow coming down.

“You’d best not risk trying to get back to your own place tonight,” Lord de Lœngbærrow said to the driver when they reached the house. “Unhitch the horses in our stables and go and get a drink in the kitchen. You can stay the night in the butler’s room.”

“Thank you, sir,” the driver replied. He lifted the boy down from the sleigh while his Lordship carried his wife in his arms over the threshold into the warm house. She protested that she was quite all right, but he wouldn’t be satisfied until he had made sure there was no part of her that was cold.

A sumptuous family dinner was served soon after they got back. Chrístõ sat on a special chair with a cushion under him so that he could reach the table. He drank fruit juice from his own cup while his parents drank wine. He had the same food as they did and felt grown up and sophisticated, carefully minding his table manners, even though he did spill a little gravy on his napkin.

And afterwards, when they went back to the warm drawing room there was a surprise for him. His father and mother sat on the sofa and watched as he unwrapped the peculiarly shaped parcel to reveal a lovingly detailed replica of the house they were in and the mountain that rose above it. He turned the handles and watched the sleigh travel around the mountain and the skiers go up the lift and down the slope. He opened up the house and looked at the people enjoying their evening by the fire just as he was with his parents.

He was a young Gallifreyan. At six years old he was already learning advanced mathematics, physics, astronomy and many other disciplines that would fit him for life as a Time Lord. But he took pleasure in turning a handle attached to a simple mechanism hidden underneath the painted and lacquered wood that made the figures go up and down and around and around.

He played for hours as the snow fell fast outside and the sleigh driver enjoyed a Christmas evening meal with the servants of the household. Lord de Lœngbærrow and his wife watched their little boy playing until it was long past his usual bedtime.

“Let him stay up until he’s ready,” his mother said. “I like to watch him play.”

“All right,” her husband agreed. “But when it’s his bedtime, I think it should be yours, too. Otherwise you’ll be too tired in the morning and you might miss a moment of pleasure watching our son playing with his Christmas presents.”

It was another hour before the hands turning the handle got tired and Lord de Lœngbærrow picked his son up and carried him to his bedroom. There was a nurse employed to look after him, but she was in the kitchen with the other staff. His lordship himself undressed the boy and put him into his bed. He asked if he wanted a story, but the boy told him one, instead, about people who lived in a snow-covered valley and travelled by sleigh or by ski lift, depending on their plans. He fell asleep with the story not quite finished. Lord de Lœngbærrow kissed his sleeping son and crept out of the room. He returned to the drawing room where his wife was lying on the sofa. His hearts jolted a little as they always did when he saw her asleep and still. He lived with the constant possibility that she might, one day, not wake up from her slumber.

“But, father,” Chrístõ interrupted. “You could have read her timeline. You would know the day...”

“I didn’t want to know. She was desperately ill. There was nothing to be done. We both knew that. I treasured every day we had together. And the last thing I wanted was to know exactly how many of them there were.

She stirred at his touch and let him lift her in his arms. He carried her to the master bedroom and helped her undress. He slid into the bed beside her and told her part of the story his son had told him. She smiled softly.

“He can tell it to me, tomorrow,” she said. “I’d like to hear it.” Then she fell asleep in her husband’s arms.

“Merry Christmas, my dear,” he whispered before he let himself sleep.

“Father,” Chrístõ whispered. “Some of that must be my memory being stirred by you. But some of it was yours, I think.”

“Yes, it was. Good memories of a wonderful day. We had been tobogganing earlier. Your mother sat on the veranda and watched. It was good to spend time with you like that. The next day, of course, you had lots of presents to open, some of them expensive, specially made gifts like the silver clockwork merry go round model that you used to have by your bedside. Some of them cheap, colourful things from the street market in Liverpool city centre. That was your mother’s way of doing things. And I loved her for it.”

Chrístõ opened his eyes as his father drew back from his mind and hugged him around the shoulders. He had tears in his eyes, but he wasn’t really unhappy. Nor was his father, though his Gallifreyan eyes were glossy with liquid that the nictating membrane was struggling to wash away.

“Chrístõ Mian,” said a soft voice. Lord de Lœngbærrow looked up at his wife. She and Julia were standing by the fireside watching the deeply intense father and son affair but not intruding upon it. “My dear... thank you.”

“For what?” he asked.

“That toy obviously means so very much to you. It has such strong memories for you of... of Marion and how happy you were together. Thank you for letting my son play with it, now.”

“OUR son,” Lord de Lœngbærrow reminded her. He tightened his hold on his first born son and kissed his cheek tenderly. “We need our memories. A man is a sum of his memories. A Time Lord even more so. That’s why Chrístõ needed reminding of that Christmas with his mother. But a Time Lord also needs to remember to live in the present. And that’s why it was time for us to spend a Christmas here and for Garrick to enjoy the simple pleasure of winding a toy ski lift up a wooden mountain.”

“Christmas past, Christmas present,” Julia said as she came and sat by Chrístõ’s side and took over hugging him as his father went to sit on the sofa with his second wife. “What about Christmas future?”

She asked the question casually, hardly expecting anyone to have the answer. But Valena left her husband’s side and came to sit with them on the fireside rug. She took Julia’s hand in hers and Chrístõ’s, too.

“You’ve both travelled so often in the time vortex that it takes a lot of effort to read your future timeline, but it might be possible. I was always very good at it when I was younger.”

Julia gasped softly as she saw the images in her mind, relayed to her by Valena. Chrístõ grasped her hand, tightly. He was seeing the same images.

They were skiing down the slope of Mount Halcyon, keeping perfectly in line with each other. Chrístõ glanced at his wife and smiled at her. She smiled back then gave her attention to the smooth snow ahead of her. As they rapidly descended, they saw a toboggan racing down the lower part of the piste. There were two youngsters aboard, both dressed in bright blue thermal coats and hoods. The older boy was in charge of the tobbogan, controlling its speed and direction. The younger boy was enjoying the thrill of racing across the snow.

At least he was until the toboggan hit a tree root or a rock, or some other obstacle in its path and veered off course, coming to a sudden halt in a snow drift that half covered it. Julia squealed in fright and changed direction to ski down towards the scene of the mishap. Chrístõ followed behind her. He knew neither of the boys were hurt. He could feel their telepathic laughter in his head. But Julia would not be satisfied until she had checked their son from head to toe for injuries.

“Garrick de Lœngbærrow!” she shouted as the older boy emerged from the snowdrift carrying the younger one. “I told you not to go so fast on that thing with Christopher aboard.” She snatched the child from his grasp and hugged him tightly. Christopher squirmed in her arms. He didn’t mind being hugged by his mother, but he wanted to get back on the toboggan that his teenage half uncle was hauling out of the snow and setting upright again.

“Sorry, aunt Julia,” the older boy replied. “But he wanted to go faster.”

“And how old are you?” Julia demanded. “Twenty! When I was twenty... I... I had to be responsible for myself. You... you act like there’s nothing to do but play around.”

“It’s all right, sweetheart,” Chrístõ told his wife. He embraced her fondly and kissed her cheek. “Garrick IS still a boy by Gallifreyan standards. He doesn’t have anything to do but play when he isn’t at his lessons. And Christopher is just fine. There isn’t even a bruise on him.”

“I want to go again,” Christopher insisted.

“One more time,” Chrístõ said to him. “It’s nearly dinner time. Garrick, please be a bit more careful. He IS only five, after all. Besides, even you haven’t fully developed your regenerative abilities, yet. If you break anything it stays broken.”

Garrick grinned and lifted Christopher onto the toboggan before taking the reins to haul it up the slope. Chrístõ picked up his skis and Julia’s and held her hand as they walked back to the Winter House now that their own afternoon’s sport was done. There wasn’t time for another trip up to the top of the mountain before the sun dropped behind it and the valley was cast into shadow. Besides, there were warm drinks on the veranda where his father and step mother were waiting for them.

“You really don’t have to molly-coddle him that way, you know,” he said to Julia as they trudged through the deep, evenly laid snow. “A bit of rough play in the snow won’t hurt him one little bit.”

“He’s our only child,” Julia argued. “I don’t want him to get hurt. Don’t tell me you didn’t panic when you saw them crash into that snow drift.”

“I didn’t panic,” Chrístõ insisted. “Christopher is all right. Garrick is a good boy. He won’t let him get hurt.”

When they reached the house, he wasn’t entirely surprised, though, when his stepmother took Julia’s side over the issue. She berated him for not making both boys come back to the house after their mishap.

His father defended his position.

“They’re healthy boys having fun,” he said. “Don’t worry, either of you. They’ll both be fine. You’ve got to let them stretch themselves.”

“Christopher is too young to be stretching himself,” Julia argued. “Garrick should know better.”

But it was Christmas Eve and she couldn’t stay cross for long. When the boys finally came running back to the house she hugged them both.

“It’s getting cold now that the sun is going down,” she said. “Let’s get inside by the fire until dinner time.”

She tried to lift Christopher into her arms, but he wanted to be with Garrick. Chrístõ put his arm around his wife’s shoulder and told her not to worry. Later, when he was tired, he would be happy to seek the comfort of her lap.

The house had been decorated by the servants while they were out for the afternoon. Christopher’s eyes grew wide with joy as he saw the tree covered in sparkling baubles and the prettily wrapped gifts underneath as well as the greenery and more sparkling jewels adorning the ceiling. Garrick grabbed a handful of candied fruit from the crystal bowl on the sideboard and shared it with his nephew as they sat and listened to Julia read the story of the First Christmas. Chrístõ put the figures in the nativity stable while she read. It was a tradition they had kept ever since their son was born, to remind him of the traditions of his Human blood, a tradition that began when he, himself, was a child born of a Human mother and Gallifreyan father who wanted him to be proud of his dual heritage. He wasn’t sure how much Christopher was taking in. He was more interested in the sweet treats Garrick was giving him. But Julia was satisfied.

Then it was dinner time. The dining room looked as splendid as it ever did with more decorations and another glittering tree. The table sparkled with silver, crystal glasses and fine china place settings. Christopher had his own chair with a cushion to raise him up to the table and was thrilled to be given the same food as everyone else as if he was one of the grown ups.

Afterwards, when they returned to the dining room there was a surprise for the young Lœngbærrow heir. A strangely shaped packaged wrapped in gold was placed on the rug in front of the fire. Garrick helped him unwrap it. Christopher laughed gleefully when the intricate and beautifully crafted model of the Winter House and Mount Halcyon, complete with ski lift and skiers, and a family riding on a sleigh was revealed to him. He quickly grasped how to make the ski lift move and the skiers and sleigh riders to go on their way. Garrick sat beside him, enjoying the fun second hand.

“It doesn’t seem like yesterday since we gave that to Garrick to play with,” Valena said. “And now it’s Christopher who gets to enjoy it.”

“He loves it,” Julia agreed. “I’m glad.”

“It’s over two hundred years old,” Chrístõ pointed out. “It was mine originally. When I was Christopher’s age.”

“He’s the image of you at that age,” his father told him. “A chip off the old block, as they say on Earth.”

Julia sighed as the images faded and she found herself back in the present again. Chrístõ was holding her around the waist and he kissed her on the cheek.

“That was nice,” he said. “Seeing us in the future... as parents. You and me and...”

“Christopher.” Julia said the name with a contented sigh. “The closest Earth name to Chrístõ. I like that. Our little boy, Christopher. Wasn’t he a fine looking boy.”

“He was,” Chrístõ agreed. “Though apparently there was never going to be any doubt about that. He looks like me.”

“Why was I so worried about him?” Julia wondered. “Panicking when he took a little fall, and wanting to hold onto him. That doesn’t seem right. I’m not that fussy, really.”

“You will be when it’s your own child,” Valena assured her. “I worry that way about Garrick all the time. And if you ask my dear husband, he will tell you that Chrístõ’s mother was just the same. Our wayward sons will always give us cause for concern.”

“Still, I would like to be a good mother to him,” Julia said. “My little Christopher.”

“It’s a nice dream,” Chrístõ told her. “More than a dream. A nice promise for the future. But it’s getting on for fifteen years away. Don’t rush to get there. Those fifteen years have plenty to look forward to in them. You have to have your shot at the Olympics, yet. And all the other things you want to do. Besides, father is right. We have to remember to live in the present. Time Lords, especially. Right now, we’re happy. We’re together. And it’s Christmas. I don’t think I could ask for a better present than that.”