Cranleigh Hall 1937
Ann, Lady Cranleigh, sought out her husband amidst the jostling gaiety of the ballroom and struggled to make herself heard.
"Charles...Charles...I'm just going to look in on the children."
He pecked her cheek. "Don't be too long, darling. We can't be missing the Guest of Honour, you know. Bad form. And anyway, Uncle Percy is refusing to dance with anyone but you..."
She laughed and returned his kiss. "I'll just be a couple of minutes."
It took her a while to weave her way past the numerous well-wishers and leave the ballroom behind her. Gathering up her elegant gown she hurried up the grand central staircase and along the top landing. She looked in on Andrew first. The ten year-old was snoring loudly, oblivious to the music wafting up from downstairs.
Ann brushed a blond frond of hair from his eyes and closed the door quietly behind her.
The twins' room was next door. The four year-olds were likewise fast asleep. Henry and Estelle. They would have to sort out separate rooms for them before the summer was out.
Satisfied, Ann returned to the corridor. As she turned to go back downstairs she gave a squeak of surprise as she caught sight of a tall figure standing at the far end of the passage, only half illuminated by slanting moonlight from the window.
"Is that you, Jenkins?" He seemed too tall for their butler. Anyway, she had just passed him in the ballroom...
The figure stepped forward a pace. She saw him clearly now. A man she had last seen twelve years ago. A young man dressed in Victorian cricketing attire.
He raised his panama hat slightly, his eyes fixed on her.
"Lady Cranleigh." he said.
Ann stepped forward, heart thumping. They shook hands.
"I didn't mean to startle you."
"N-no. Not at all."
"I would have made an appointment in the normal run of things but I'm afraid I don't have much time and it appears you have a social engagement downstairs." He cocked his head at the distant music.
"That's right. My husband arranged a surprise for my 30th birthday."
"I would offer my congratulations," said the Doctor. "But of course it isn't your 30th birthday today is it, Nyssa?"
Lady Cranleigh opened her mouth to protest but she knew it was useless. In her heart of hearts she knew that this day would come.
"How long have you known?" she said.
"About the switch? Oh, more or less from the start."
"What happened to Ann?"
"She left me. On a space station. To care for sick people. Quite a sacrifice. Tegan didn't understand it at all."
"Ann Talbot was a trained nurse. She worked as a volunteer at St Guys. With injured veterans of the first World War. It doesn't surprise me, that she would do that. What about Tegan and Adric?"
"Tegan is home. Adric..." his eyes flickered for a moment. "Well...I don't really want to talk about him at the moment."
Sounds like they had a falling out, thought Nyssa. They were always arguing.
"If you knew about Ann and me at the start, why didn't you say something?"
"I trusted you well enough to think that there must have been a good reason. I'm here to find out if that trust was misplaced."
Nyssa sighed and leaned back against the panelling. "It was Ann who came to see me. The night before George's funeral. She only loved George, you see. Not Charles. The thought of marrying Charles was making her desperately unhappy. She was thinking of running away. She was in a terrible state. She might even have been suicidal."
"Was life with me in the Tardis so awful that you could give it up just like that? On a whim?"
Nyssa shook her head. "I need you to understand why I agreed to her plan." Nyssa indicated the bedroom doors. "Charles and I have three children. They have Traken blood running through their veins, Doctor. Do you know what it is like to be the last of your race?"
The Doctor looked startled for a moment and seemed to be gazing into the middle distance. "No...not yet," he said in a small voice.
" I could see a way to continue my line, albeit in a small way. In an established family with high standing in this society. Of course, then there was the miracle..."
Nyssa smiled. "The miracle that I fell in love with my husband."
The Doctor regarded her for a moment. "And you are happy?"
"Very much so."
The Doctor sighed. "Then I wish you well, Lady Cranleigh. My trust was not misplaced." He leaned forward slightly. "Uncanny. Like two peas in a pod..."
"Ann! Where are you, darling?" Charles' voice echoed up from the stairs. She had been gone too long.
Nyssa, Lady Cranleigh, swung back anxiously to the Doctor but the corridor was empty, save for her.