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A Time For Every Purpose

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Epilogue

 

No one on Gallifrey comments on the fact that the Lady President has scheduled her yearly holiday to Davidia to precisely coincide with the official lifting of a certain regulation on Presidential behavior. No one comments on the fact that, while two suites are booked, as formerly, in the names of the Lady President and her human bodyguard, the staff on Davidia are told that they ought to expect four visitors. No one comments on the facts that Coordinator Narvin and Agent Andred—now the acknowledged head of Narvin's considerably increased security detail—happen to be scheduled to be off-planet at precisely the same time as President Romana and Bodyguard Leela. Which is to say that no one comments on those things within Narvin's hearing, but that, as a dealer in secrets, he's perfectly aware that his personal life isn't remotely personal these days, and that half of Gallifrey is talking about it all behind his back.

Narvin has already been informed that the ritual of the Davidia trip is still to be strictly observed. For at least one night of their visit, Romana is going to permit herself to be dragged away for some sort of absurd excursion with the savage, the Lord High President of Gallifrey sleeping outside, in nature, with no one but a primitive in skins for company (sometimes, Romana still makes him despair for the Presidency, and he's not sure what he'd do if suddenly she didn't). But the first night on Davidia is theirs. That morning, the law that has kept their minds apart for nineteen months will go officially out of effect, and Narvin will finally be able to come into Romana's head.

Once, when he was a young field agent, barely out of basic training, Narvin was sent on a mission to Earth, early 20th century. He maintains to this day that he'd done nothing which ought to have provoked a mob, but primitives are unpredictable beings, and, he has learned since, habitually irritable during their hibernal season. So it was that he had found himself dashing through a small country town, sinking and sliding in several inches of snow, with a large number of angry humans running after him. In hopes of shaking off the pursuit—or, at worst, of holing up in what looked like the sturdiest available place—he had ducked into a small stone building which his research had indicated was likely some variety of religious edifice.

It had been much darker inside than it had been out, with the sun blazing bright on white drifts of snow, and yet it had felt like he was stepping into a world made entirely of light. The walls had been covered in windows, stained glass as far as the eye could see, color blazing everywhere like tumultuous fire, sinking into everything, burrowing beneath Narvin's skin and all the way through him, and yet somehow the effect wasn't garish; he wasn't sure he'd ever felt so quiet in his lives. It had done nothing to take religion off of the list of the most preposterous alien institutions he'd ever heard of. But he'd understood why, if these stupid brief creatures felt it necessary to worship their gods, they would choose to do it somewhere like this. Just to move from the violent, loud, whitewashed world outside to this place of dark and silence and color was a spiritual experience.

Stepping into Romana's mind, it turns out, is exactly like that.

"Rassilon, Omega and the Other," he breathes. And she's in his head, too, so she can see exactly what he's thinking, and he's in hers, so he sees her flustered, flattered pleasure, and she can feel how much that pleases him. She kisses him, soft and breathless, and it occurs to him for the very first time that he's only got thirteen lives to live.

They aren't going to be nearly enough.