Ridiculous, Narvin thought to himself, pushing past a couple strolling arm-in-arm and looking all around, not at all desperately, for a glimpse of blonde hair or Gallifreyan robes. Absolutely ridiculous. Sooner or later, the President was going to get herself assassinated, what with her penchant for placing herself in danger, and perhaps that would be all the better for Gallifrey.
It had taken one look at the scanner when they arrived on Unvoss to realise the coordinates had been slightly off. Narvin had immediately begun calculating the correction while making a mental note to trace who was responsible once they returned to Gallifrey.
“Oh, I think I’ll walk,” Romana announced.
“Madam President?” Narvin said, aghast.
“It looks a lovely day, and it’ll only take a few microspans. You can take the TARDIS and meet me there.” Her tone was light, but she glared at him, daring him to defy his President.
Narvin didn’t bother wondering whether the President was doing this deliberately to spite him.
“Madam President, I must strongly advise you against this. We don’t know why there was an error in the coordinates; it could be that a Free Time activist altered them and has laid a trap!”
“Or it could be that the Time Vector Coordinator made a mistake.” Romana sighed pointedly. “If it will make you feel better, Coordinator, you could always use those comprehensive sensors and scan the area.”
“Oh, use your imagination, Narvin! Weapons, explosive devices, anomalies...”
The scan didn’t reveal anything significant enough to deter Romana. Leaving the President to wander the streets of an alien planet alone was unthinkable, so Narvin pocketed the Stattenheim remote control and stepped out after her, ignoring her ferocious scowl.
Then he lost her. Unthinkable.
This was Leela’s job, Narvin thought. But the Crown of Unvoss had requested only Gallifreyan personnel, so Romana had regretfully left Leela behind, much to Leela’s displeasure. This should be Braxiatel’s job, but the Cardinal was engaged on other business. He certainly wouldn’t count on Braxiatel to protect him from Leela, who would no doubt want to cut out his hearts and make him eat them should he return with a President who was in anything other than perfect health.
The readout beeped, indicating the Gallifreyan biosignature matching that of the President was close. Blonde hair caught his eye, moving towards him, and he hurried forwards before he realised his mistake.
It was Romana, but not his President. She was ridiculously young, barely out of the Academy, and her blonde hair was long, falling down the back of an outlandish outfit. Narvin stepped to the side as unobtrusively as possible. The greater the distance, the smaller the chance of timeline contamination, although, in this instance, the danger should be insignificant. Romana’s entire attention seemed to be fixed upon the man next to her – the Doctor, Narvin surmised – who was gesturing expansively while somehow avoiding hitting anyone on the crowded street. Her eyes were bright, but not with the fire that burned in his President’s eyes, and she was smiling happily, if a touch indulgently, an unfamiliar expression which nevertheless suited her. As he watched, she said something to the Doctor, some witticism or observation probably, and he broke into a smile twice as wide and just as happy. He took her hand, and then they had passed Narvin.
He filtered that reading, and followed the second trace.
“Do keep up, Narvin,” Romana snapped, two microspans and a right turn later. Narvin pushed her smiling image from his mind, as he always did, and hurried back to her side.
Of all the admittedly few times he's seen her smile (which he doesn't think about), this is the one that leaps to the forefront of his mind as Romana smiles at him for the first time. She seems paler and thinner every day of this wretched civil war, from lack of sleep and lack of food and too much worry; there’s a bruise spreading across her cheekbone where a small piece of debris flung from an explosion hit her; she’s dripping wet, with her hair darkly plastered to her head. Yet she still seems more beautiful than all the other times put together.
She follows it with a caustic comment, because she wouldn’t be Romana otherwise, and he makes a rather weak reply, distracted by the knowledge that he wouldn’t trade her – scowls and frowns and all – for anyone, even herself.
As if his life wasn’t complicated enough.