Mid-Autumn on the southern edge of the Northern continent was as cold and stormy as it was on the southern plains of Gallifrey. Bitter winds and rain battered the coast, driving the sea against the high cliffs that marked the edge of the Rassilon Straits.

Above the Capitol the wind and rain blew, too. Unbroken Grey clouds covered the yellow sky. But few people ever looked up at the sky and the wind and rain didn’t trouble them. Under the enviro-dome the temperature was carefully controlled so that ladies could wear their lapin fur coats for fashion not necessity. Like Camelot, it only rained after sundown, for two hours between midnight and one o’clock in the morning, a carefully controlled rain that freshened the air and washed the pavements clean.

Marion had never really taken to the manufactured climate inside the enviro-dome. She usually preferred to be under the real sky on the southern continent, but Kristoph was right this time. She needed to get away from the rain and wind and the glowering clouds that kept her in the house. She was happier with the freedom to walk around the capitol, meeting some of her friends for quiet lunches in the Conservatory or Valentins or visiting them in their homes. She began to feel sociable again as the grief and unhappiness slowly passed.

This evening she wasn’t walking. She was travelling to the Citadel in an official car with Kristoph. She was dressed formally. He was wearing a simple black robe and gown with silver fastenings. He was quiet. This was a solemn occasion for him.

It was the right time, of course. Gallifrey had been under emergency government for a year now. It was time for him to take up the responsibility of leadership again, and to get the whole planet back to normal.

He had asked her more than once if it was all right for him to do so. If she had said she needed him still, he would have formally resigned as Lord High President and named a successor, most likely Malika Dúccesci who had proved a very able stand-in for the past year, despite his own personal troubles. But she had assured him it was all right. It was time for them both to emerge from the darkness of this sad year and resume their lives. When he took the Oath of Resumption she would be as proud of him as the day he was inaugurated as President and took Office for the first time.

The car landed on the flat roof of the Citadel before the great tower that reached nearly to the apex of the enviro-sphere and made it the most imposing building in a city of imposing buildings. A phalanx of Panopticon Guards met them and they walked to the turbo lift side by side with two men in front and two behind to guard them.

When the lift stopped Marion was glad they were greeted by more than just another phalanx of guards. Talitha Dúccesci stepped forward and hugged her while Lord Dúccesci greeted Kristoph more formally.

“Marion, you and Talitha will be accommodated until the ceremony begins. I have matters to discuss with Lord Dúccesci before we begin.”

“Yes, of course,” she said and allowed herself to be escorted to a comfortable room where refreshments would be provided. There was a lady already there, sitting in an armchair. Marion greeted Mia Reidluum happily. She had not yet seen her in any of the places where the ladies habitually gathered.

“It is good to see you, my dear,” she said. “How are you?”

“I am… as well as might be expected,” she answered. “It has been a difficult time for us all. I… heard of your loss, Marion. I am sorry.”

“Thank you,” Marion answered. Many people had said the same to her in the week since she came to the Capitol and was seen socially again. They were the ones who meant it, of course. She was aware of a few people who murmured darkly about her weak foreign blood, citing the loss of the baby as proof of that. Talitha Dúccesci proved an ally against those murmurings, reminding them that she, a pure blood Gallifreyan, had also lost a baby in this past year. The plague had hurt them both in that way.

Mia had the child she and her husband wanted, but the cost had been high for her, too.

“We must come and visit you at home, soon,” Talitha said. “Then we can see the baby.”

“I would have invited you both,” Mia answered. “But I wasn’t sure you would want to.”

“Of course, we do,” Marion assured her. “Neither of us begrudge you. I was glad when I heard that you have a son at last.”

“It’s been hard. I was so ill afterwards I couldn’t look after him. But he’s four months old now and I can hold him in my arms. He is named after his father, of course, as the first born heir. But I call him Jari. He smiles when I say his name. Jarrow smiles when he hears me say it, too. He has been so worried for us both, but I think we will be all right.”

“Are you sure of that, Mia?” Talitha asked. “Jarrow is… well… it cannot be easy for a high born man like him to….”

“He has no intention of setting me aside because I cannot be a proper wife to him any more. He loves me. He… has been so attentive to me since our son was born. He has promised he will never let me down.”

Marion thought back nearly two years, now, to when Jarrow was so disappointed that they had no heir he was ready to formally renounce his wife. What a change had come upon him… for the better.

“Malika wants us to try again as soon as possible,” Talitha said. “For a baby, I mean. He was bitterly disappointed. He doesn’t blame me. If anything, I think he blames himself for being so concerned with matters of State. But he had no choice. He was the most senior member of the High Council within the Capitol when the quarantine was enforced, and he had his duty just as everyone else did.”

“Kristoph didn’t,” Marion noted. “He invoked the Eighty-Fifth Clause and put the responsibility on others.”

“Nobody blames him for that,” Mia assured her. “He was cut off anyway, on the southern plain. Lord Dúccesci and the Premier Cardinal were both better placed to command the affairs of Gallifrey while it was in crisis. But the crisis is over now. We are all ready to begin a new era of peaceful and wise government of our world.”

“Absolutely,” Talitha agreed. “So don’t you go imagining that either you or Kristoph are to blame for anything that has happened in the past year. It was the plague that caused all of our troubles, nothing else.”

On that they all agreed and further declared between them that they would not dwell on the past. They would look hopefully towards the future, beginning with lunch at the Reidluum residence tomorrow, when baby Jarrow, son and heir of that House would be formally presented to Marion and Talitha.

Meanwhile there was a much more solemn and important formality to go through. Lord Reidluum came to escort the three ladies to the public gallery. Marion and Talitha stood back as he lifted Mia into his arms. He held her carefully, she with her arms around his neck, resting on his shoulder. He had not put on the high collar of the formal regalia on yet so that he would be unencumbered in this duty.

He was attentive to her, and before he left her in her seat at the front of the gallery he kissed her fondly, even though there were many people watching, something that was unusual for stoic and undemonstrative Time Lords. The possibility of losing her to the plague and its consequences seemed to have woken him up to just how much he really loved her. Or perhaps it was guilt about putting her through so much to bear him a healthy heir at cost of her own health.

Love, Marion decided charitably before turning her attention to the Panopticon floor below. Lord Dúccesci and the Premier Cardinal were in attendance. So was Kristoph. Gold Usher in his magnificent robes struck the obsidian floor with his staff to silence the assembly. Then the two men who had formed the emergency leadership of the government stepped forward one at a time to formally relinquish their authority.

“By the Grace of Rassilon, under the Eighty-Fifth Clause of the Constitution of Gallifrey, I hereby restore to the rightful and anointed Lord High President the full powers which he set aside under the said clause three hundred and eighty-five days before this day,” said Lord Dúccesci.

The Premier Cardinal said the same.

Gold Usher struck his staff again. Then Kristoph stepped forward.

“By the Grace of Rassilon, under the Eighty-Fifth Clause of the Constitution of Gallifrey, I hereby resume the Office of Lord High President of all Gallifrey. I shall honour the oath I made at my inauguration and promise to rule the whole people of our world with grace and wisdom in the name of our great Creator.”

Gold Usher struck his staff once more. Then the Chancellor stepped forward with the Castellan at his side. They brought the Sash of Rassilon which was reverently placed around Kristoph’s shoulders. The two men who had relinquished power bowed to the newly restored Lord High President, as did the Chancellor and Castellan, then all of the High Council and Councillors. The onlookers in the public gallery stood when they were done, all but Mia Reidluum, of course. Gold Usher struck his staff once again before the National Anthem of Gallifrey was played. Then he struck it yet again to formally dismiss the Council. Kristoph led the procession out of the Panopticon, followed by the High Council and Councillors.

The public gallery emptied quickly. Now the formalities were over, everyone wanted to get to their homes or to dinner reservations at the restaurants of the Capitol. Marion and Talitha waited with Mia until Jarrow came for her. Again he lifted her gently and safely into his arms, considering it his solemn duty to do so, as well as an act of unconditional love for his wife.

Marion said goodbye to Talitha, who was going home with her own Lordship, then went to the Presidential Chamber to meet Kristoph. He had divested himself of his finery now. The Sash of Rassilon was safely in its box once more. He turned to her and smiled.

“Lord President,” Marion said with a teasing smile and a curtsey.

“You never need to do that in my presence except on formal occasions,” he told her before allowing her to embrace him fondly and kiss him on the lips. “It feels right to have taken upon myself the mantle of Office again.”


“What do you want to do now? Shall we eat out or have a quiet evening?”

“Quiet evening, please,” Marion told him. “Just the two of us.”

“Good enough,” he told her. He took her hand and they left the chamber together. Presidential Guards flanked them now and their car had an escort all the way to the town house, but Marion didn’t mind. She looked forward to that restful, quiet evening.

Except she didn’t get it. They were only home a few minutes when there was an emergency videophone message.

“What is it?” Marion asked, noting Kristoph’s anxious face.

“The Castellan called to tell me… The Reidluum baby has been abducted while they were at the Panopticon.”