He sees her eyes now, more than he ever did before, although he misses the top of her head.
Soft eyes, now. Soft with tiny lines around them, and prone to focus on empty air while she talks. Weren’t they bright with mischief once? Didn’t they use to cut through his layers of pretense?
Or maybe it’s him that has changed. Maybe he’s folded himself within a harder shell, and won’t let her see anymore.
She closes her eyes, and it is as if the lights went out. There is only one consolation: he kisses each of them, softly, softly.
She’s cut her hair. Soon after her return, they tell him; it brushes her shoulders now, a pragmatic length, easy for a busy President to care for. But he’s read too many Earth stories, because it makes him think of Rapunzel in exile.
He imagines the silky mass falling under her shears, and the story changes; Rumpelstiltskin and his treasure of spun gold. He runs his fingers through her hair, as fair and fine as ever. Who ever heard of a story, he thinks, where the funny little man with the secret name won the queen’s heart in the end?
He doesn’t pull her along by her hand anymore. His hands are smaller than they were, talented rather than beautiful. Hers are graceful, delicate. They always were, in her first body too.
Her hand lies loosely between both of his; he cups it, gently, as if cradling a small bird. He’s not sure she realizes that he’s holding it, engrossed as she is in her book. He imagines kissing her palm, winning her attention.
He wonders if it’s true, or just self-delusion, that the reason he doesn’t pull her by the hand anymore is that they’re going the same way.
When he first saw her she wore white, a long gown of Presidential white as if she foresaw her destiny. He was slightly, absurdly shocked when she changed into trousers. Nobody has legs on Gallifrey; or if they do, you’d never know. He found himself suspecting, then, that she’d someday understand him.
She’s wearing robes now, but she’s sitting far closer than necessary. He feels the pressure of her thigh and the outline of her kneecap through the heavy fabric. He treasures the idea that he might be the only person on Gallifrey who’s thought about the President’s legs today.
He can hear the thudding of her hearts, echoed in his own chest as they press against each other. Hers are speeding up, beginning to pound. With all that’s passed, she still remembers the rhythms of their old dance.
He’s oddly sad, because he’s sure he’s lost that passion. Reckoning by regenerations he’s middle-aged, and granting that he’s lost those lives frighteningly young, he still feels old and tired. He’s just visiting her for sentimental reasons; what he’s taking in his arms is a memory.
Then the blood rushes in his ears as his hearts race into time with Romana’s.