Author's Notes:
Welcome to the next installment in my doctor v gender series it's only been over a year after I posted the previous and also first one yay me. funny story: I actually had almost all of this written before I posted the first one but i didn't like it and planned on writing an actual beginning, and it wasn't until right now that I decided to cut my losses, write a sloppy intro paragraph, and release it into the world. also the last time I watched the fires of pompeii was like two years ago and I also don’t care about what actually happened in canon so you get to decide whether the contradictions in here are intentional or bc I don’t remember the episode

Judging by the expression of the young woman before them, Donna was willing to wager that oddly-dressed strangers running up to the temple doors wasn’t a regular occurence, especially when accompanied by the shouts of guards looking for them. She and the Doctor had managed to lose them for the moment, but that couldn’t last long, so the Doctor had led them to this temple, claiming he knew of a place to hide. Despite the flustered look on the girl’s face, the Doctor launched into conversation immediately after she crossed the threshold to speak with them.

“Hello! I’m the Doctor; this is Donna. Would you mind letting us into your temple? I don’t want to rush you, obviously, but there are quite a few men with big, scary swords chasing us, so time is rather of the essence at the moment, so if it’s all right with you—”

As the girl’s expression escalated from confusion to mild alarm, Donna elbowed him, cutting him off. “What my friend here is trying to say is that we need to come into your temple, if you don’t mind, thanks very much.” She proceeded to stride toward the entrance, before an arm reached out and blocked her.

The girl was looking at her apologetically. “I’m sorry, lady, but men are not permitted to enter the temple.”

“Yes, that is rather the point,” the Doctor said, having also been denied entrance. “You see, the people chasing us are men, so we were seeking the sanctuary of the temple because, as you just very thoughtfully pointed out, they’ll be denied entrance, so—”

Once more, the acolyte interrupted, this time more firm in her resolve: “I don’t think you quite understand, sir. No men at all are permitted in the temple, not under any circumstances.” Here, she eyed the Doctor meaningfully, as if there were something quite obvious that the two of them were missing that she nevertheless felt was impolite to bring up directly.

“Yes,” the Doctor ventured once more, now looking rather confused. “You said that already. And as we said already, that’s the reason we’re here in the first place, so I don’t quite understand the source of your hesitance...” he trailed off, seemingly waiting for a clarification that would explain the woman’s refusal.

Said woman was now beginning to mirror the Doctor’s confusion. “Well,” she began hesitantly, “you... well you are a man, aren’t you?” she asked, clearly hoping that this would clear up the matter entirely.

At this, realisation dawned on the Doctor’s face, and he began to respond, but she was already continuing, gaining more confidence the more she spoke.

“So you see, Lady,” she said, addressing Donna this time, “you are of course welcome to shelter with us, but your companion must remain outside.”

She paused briefly, perhaps to continue, or perhaps because she considered that clarification to be sufficient. Regardless of her reason for the interlude, the Doctor jumped at it eagerly.

“Ah! I think I see the miscommunication now. You see, I’m not a man, but it is an easy mistake to make, so I understand the confusion.”

“Um...” she started, before she broke off, obviously unsure as to how she was supposed to deal with this unexpected complication.

Before she was forced to decide, however, another woman emerged from the temple behind her, striding purposefully forward.

“Camilla, what is going on?” she demanded.

Donna could see the girl—Camilla, apparently—instantly relax once she heard the other woman, a look of pure relief breaking over her face, presumably at the knowledge that dealing with the situation was no longer wholly her responsibility.

She called out to the woman over her shoulder in an impressive contortion that ensured that, while her body tilted towards the new arrival in deference, her gaze remained firmly fixed on the trespassers in front of her.

“Madam, these strangers seek sanctuary within our walls.”

“Then what exactly is the problem?” At this, she drew even with Camilla, who stepped back a little, so as to position the older woman slightly in front of her, like a shield between herself and the Doctor and Donna.

“You see”—her voice had more confidence now—“that one appears to be a man—” here, she gestured at the Doctor “—but he denies this. Ergo, I was unsure how to proceed.”

“First of all, Camilla, how many times do I have to remind you to stop using that odd Celtic slang? You’re in Pompeii now, my dear girl; leave that barbarism behind.” Despite her words, her tone was fond, reminiscent of that of an older sibling or parent.

“And secondly,” she continued, now turning to address Donna and the Doctor, “you must forgive my disciple, good citizens; she is not yet wise to the ways of the world.”

The Doctor rocked back on his heels, hands in his pockets. “Oh that’s quite all right, isn’t it Donna?” he said cheerfully.

Everyone looked at her and she hastily nodded.

“See?” the Doctor continued. “Easy mistake to make, no harm done and all that—can we come in now?”

The priestess blinked for a moment, briefly taken aback by his speed and enthusiasm, but quickly gathered herself and returned to her former composed demeanour.

“Of course. Follow me.” She turned, and briskly guided the two of them—as well as Camilla, who was sticking as close to her as possible, like a baby duckling with their mother.

“Finally,” Donna muttered under her breath as she and the Doctor followed. He sharply glanced at her, but she had apparently been quiet enough that the women in front of them either hadn’t heard or were pretending they hadn’t; both of which were equally acceptable outcomes in Donna’s opinion.

At the moment, she was content to have escaped the guards and possibility of capture. And hey, she thought, maybe when everything's all calmed down I can tell the Doctor congrats on the gender.