“Genteel,” murmurs Rose as she dusts the dirt off her jeans.
“Pardon?” quieres the Doctor absentmindedly.
“It’s nothing,” answers Rose hastily, continuing to mumble something under her breath as she studiously ignores the Doctor’s stare.
The Doctor’s curiosity is piqued. The adventure at the Purple Palace is over, and the Princess is safe as the Kingdom’s ruler, and the Knight who protected the Princess during the uprising of the lords is her betrothed now. All is safe and well in Glubenia, and the Doctor decided to stay for the feast even. By all means, Rose should be happy now, if a little tired after the adrenaline-filled day, but she should be in a sweeter mood. She loves romance, Rose does, thinks the Doctor tenderly, even if she hides whatever romance novels she reads from the Doctor any time he appears in the doorway of her room. So, it’s only natural that he expects her to be bubbly and shiny after such a fairy-tale-like happy ending, yet she is not.
“Spit it out, Rose,” the Time Lord urges his companion firmly. He doesn’t want any understatements between them.
Rose sighs, dropping the fruitless task of trying to clean up her jeans. “It’s just what the posh ladies said, is all,” she supplies unhelpfully.
The Doctor narrows his eyes, then raises his eyebrows. It’s a “Do continue” sign, and Rose knows it all too well.
She sighs again, irritated, and throws her head back. “The ladies in the Purple Court. They were discussing the Princess, Doctor, and they pointed out that I wasn’t genteel enough to sit with her during the dinner.
The Doctor’s mouth hangs open at Rose’s words.
She blushes furiously under his stare and looks away, starting to pick on her nails nervously.
“Erm...forget about it, it’s silly. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to hear that, anyway, it’s not like they meant for me to overhear.”
The Doctor stares. And waits. And stays silent.
Impossibly long, Rose must say.
She’s sure she’s about to fall through the ground from embarrassment, and she scolds herself for bringing up the stupid words at all.
And then the Doctor guffaws suddenly, head up in the sky, his hands clutching his sides convulsively.
“Rose Tyler,” he barks, still laughing, and he’s looking at her so strangely now, smiling, and his eyes are so warm, so kind, and Rose doesn’t quite know what to make of him at the moment.
“Rose Tyler,” continues the Time Lord, “these gaudily dressed chickens have nothing on you! Take them out of their fripperies and fobs, take away the thousands of spoons and forks, and they’ll lose their genteelness that same instant!” The Doctor keeps on laughing when he hugs Rose over her shoulders with one arm, and he squeezes her close as he steers them towards the place where the Tardis is parked.
“Remember what I said to Adam, Rose?” he peers down on her, eyes blue, affectionate, and Rose’s breath catches somewhere behind her heart. She can only nod unsurely.
“I only take the best,” repeats the Doctor and squeezes her forearm again gently as he leads her down the purple-bricked road. Rose searches his eyes, waiting for a catch, waiting to understand the reason for his sudden happy outburst.
The Doctor stretches his lips in a smug smile and then repeats 'Genteel!’ again, shaking his head in wonder.
Rose frowns in puzzlement but lets the subject go once she realises that the Doctor won’t say anymore about the matter. She relaxes into his embrace, and a skip appears in her step when the smile doesn’t disappear from her Doctor’s dear face.
The walk to the Tardis is filled with amicable silence after that.