Casoi 5 in the Sapphire System was reputed to be the most romantic planet in the galaxy. In proof of that, every room in every hotel on the sweeping Promenade des Amours was a honeymoon suite with a queen size bed. Every restaurant had violinists that played soft music while the lovers ate. There were wedding chapels to suit every possible religious or civil requirement on every street corner.

How it came to be so even Kristoph, who knew everything, wasn’t sure. It might have been the spectacular natural beauty of the place. When the two suns, one yellow, one deep red, set on a warm balmy evening, one to the south over the sea, the other to the north over the mountains that rose up beyond the resort town of Cas, three moons of gold, shimmering silver and burnished bronze rose in a clear velvet sky with golden stars. They shone down onto a wide beach of yellow sand beside a gently lapping sea where lovers could always find a piece that felt as if it belonged just to them.

Yes, romance was the heart and soul of the planet, especially on ‘Romance Night’. Every nine weeks when the three moons were full together was Romance Night and it was celebrated with a parade that stretched along that Promenade des Amours followed by music and dancing on the golden beach. The idea might have been very cheap and commercial. Marion had been just a little sceptical when she dressed for the occasion in the executive penthouse honeymoon suite of their hotel. She thought Kristoph was over-compensating for the worries they had both shared in the past weeks by bringing her to such a place, and she wished she could find a way of telling him he didn’t need to go to such trouble.

But she enjoyed every minute of the parade. Kristoph didn’t pull any privilege of rank. They watched from the pavement along with all the other spectators. It was delightfully colourful and loud like a mardi gras festival. Marion felt the throbbing music in her feet and the lights and colours dazzled her eyes. Dancers and acrobats in amazing costumes did astounding things with their bodies as they passed along the road. Others juggled luminous batons that turned and span in the air. There were bands and musicians of all sorts and colourful floats with friezes representing all aspects of love and romance. Then there was the whole reason for the parade – the loving couples riding in carriages decorated with flowers and ribbons and pulled by sleek horses. Some were newly betrothed young people, some newlyweds wearing their finery, others celebrating their anniversaries. It was custom on Casoi to have weddings close to a full moon cycle, so there were always plenty of weddings and anniversaries to celebrate.

And the custom was not confined to Casoins, either. Not now that they had a space station and an intergalactic tourist industry. Now couples from other places joined the parade. There were two ladies from Haollstrom riding in one carriage, and a joyful pair from Mizzone in another. Even more unusual was a Gellican bride with her six new husbands all dressed in gold. These foreign concepts of romance had taken Casoins by surprise at first, but now they embraced the different ways that love manifested itself across the galaxy.

“It is the thing that binds all of these different races,” Kristoph said as he waved back at the rather excitable pair of Hiye-Nez wives with their newly wed husband. They were having trouble containing their enthusiasm. If it hadn’t been for the decorative silver chains that bound all three together in symbol of their matrimony, the wives might have fallen out of the carriage.

“Love,” Marion said with a smile. “It caught us up, even though we come from two different parts of the galaxy.”

“Next year, perhaps we should ride in the parade,” Kristoph added. “Though I’m not sure if Gold Usher would approve. He has a bit of a bee in his bonnet about the President upholding the dignity of the Time Lord race. I think he would find this rather trivial.”

Marion laughed at the vision of Gold Usher wearing a bonnet, with or without a bee.

“A flutterwing in his ceremonial skullcap, even,” Kristoph amended. That made Marion laugh even more. Her laughter mingled with the voices raised in celebration all around and she felt as if she was a part of it all.

When the parade had passed the spectators followed on foot. They made their way to the widest part of the beach where the tide came in only once every eight years and the sand was fine and soft. An arena was set up by the simple means of roping off a huge square of sand. There the jugglers, dancers and acrobats performed in not too serious competition and won rosettes simply for turning up. Then the couples who had ridden in the parade were presented to the ‘king’ of the parade and received crowns of golden flowers.

Thus blessed, the betrothed, newlyweds and anniversary couples danced on the sand. Kristoph watched them for a while before taking Marion by the hand and drawing her onto the impromptu dance floor. He held her as closely and as lovingly as any of those who were crowned in gold. As more dancers joined them, though, they were happy to withdraw. They slipped away along the wide beach, leaving behind the crowds and the lights and the music. It was nice to be in sight and hearing of it all, but completely by themselves again.

“I have to agree,” Kristoph said looking up at the three moons in a rough triangle pointing towards the horizon. “Casoi 5 is the most romantic place in the galaxy.”

“I think it tries too hard,” Marion replied. “I mean... yes, it is lovely. But romance isn’t something that a pretty view can create. We always found ways of being romantic without a place like this.”

“That is certainly true,” Kristoph admitted. “But I thought it might help.”

That was obviously a poor choice of words. Marion looked at him curiously.

“Does it seem to you that we need help to be romantic?” she asked him. “Is there something wrong?”

“Of course not,” he assured her. “There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t think how lucky I am to have you beside me, my wife, my Lady. I brought you here because Gallifrey isn’t a place where the concept of celebrating love and romance will ever be fully grasped and I wanted you to know how much I love you and I want to celebrate that fact.”

Marion smiled and let him press himself close to her. She felt his heart beating. That was the chief difference just now. He was still recovering from the dreadful injury done to him. His new heart would grow in a few months, but until it did the sound was very different to the double syncopation she was used to.

“Two hearts or one, I can’t love you more,” he said.

“You’re not like any other Time Lord,” Marion told him. “All the others know full well that the heart is a complicated muscle that pumps oxygenated blood around the body. Only you know it has anything to do with love.”

“I’m the Lord High President – by custom, the wisest man on Gallifrey. I am given many secrets not known to ordinary Time Lords. That the heart is more than an organic Archimedes Screw is one of them.”

“I doubt that,” Marion replied with a soft laugh. “Mainly because I don’t believe there ARE any special Time Lord secrets imparted to the President. I think that’s one of those myths that keep people guessing like the Colonel’s secret ingredient in Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

Kristoph laughed and hugged her.

“I used to think the same thing. But unfortunately it is not so. The Lord High President guards very many secrets, some of them in his very soul, and some of them so dark they would blot out those stars above us. That’s why I need a special, romantic place to be with you, so that I can stop being Lord High President for a while and just be your husband and lover.”

“Oh, Kristoph!” Marion felt his embrace tighten around her, as if he was reluctant to ever let her go. She knew he carried burdens, but she little knew how onerous some of them were. And he, a great man, the greatest of his people, strong and wise as he was, needed her as his rock to lean upon when the burden was heaviest.

“I will always be that,” she promised him.

“I know you will, my Lady Marion,” he answered. He didn’t let the one traitorous thought enter his head. ‘Always’ for her was a much smaller word than it was for a Time Lord. There would come a time when his precious rock would not be there and he would carry his burdens alone. He didn’t let that thought blot out the stars for him. She was with him now. That was enough.

“Kristoph,” she said after they had walked in silence for a little way. “If those secrets are only given to the Lord High President... what happens when he isn’t President any more? Does Lord Gyes still have the same secrets?”

“No,” Kristoph answered. “When the new President accepts the Coronet of Rassilon and is accepted by the Matrix as the one, true and only leader of the Time Lords, the burden is lifted from the outgoing man. The knowledge is wiped from his mind. It is the only safe course. Such secrets would be of value to our enemies. A former president would be at risk. Lord Gyes lives on in contented retirement knowing he has done good service to Gallifrey and that his burden is on other shoulders, now.”

“And in time you’ll pass that burden to somebody else and be free of it?”


“Good. I am proud of you. I think you’re a very good President. But I look forward to a time when you’re just Lord de Lœngbærrow again.”

Kristoph decided not to point out that presidencies of the High Council could last for centuries if there was no cause for impeachment. His chief reason for doing so was that he didn’t see himself being President for that long. He had no expectation of impeachment, not now he had crossed the hurdle of his first fiercely opposed Bill. But he knew he would not wait so long as that before passing on the ultimate power over the Time Lord race to another man.

Because in many ways, simply being Marion’s husband was a more satisfying occupation and he would be glad to give up all else for her.

“Enough of such thoughts,” he said. “I brought you here to forget about Gallifrey for a time and simply lose ourselves in the most romantic place in the galaxy.”

“Which I must reluctantly agree it is, I think,” Marion told him. “But you know I could love you just as much on Gallifrey or anywhere else.”

“So could I,” Kristoph answered. “After all I fell in love with you on Leeds railway station. I didn’t know it at the time. Nor did you. But we did. And there can be few places less romantic than that. We don’t need three moons shining down on us. But it cannot do any harm, can it?”

Marion looked up at the three moons and sighed happily as Kristoph took her hand and led her up the steps to the promenade. It was quiet there now with all the excitement happening down on the beach and they didn’t see anyone else on their way back to the hotel except a few couples like themselves who had left the party seeking quieter and more intimate romance. They found their hotel, overlooking the beach and went up to their room. After she got ready for bed, Marion looked out of the window at the lights on the beach. The festivities would go on for many hours, yet. The Romance Night literally went on all night, heralding the dawn. But she was happy to come to bed when Kristoph was ready for her. She was happy when he turned off the bedside lamp and the dancing lights on the beach reflected off the ceiling as he reached for her.

Romance was very definitely in his mind as she surrendered to him.