Disclaimer: I do not own any of the historical characters in Victoria nor do I own the TV series which was written by Daisy Goodwin. Any lines from the show are also not mine and are just borrowed from Daisy Goodwin and ITV Victoria.
"I think perhaps now ... I'm speaking as a woman and not as a queen … now I feel, I know ... that you are the only companion I could ever desire."
He knew that he should lie to her, should tell her that he did not love her.
But even though she was a queen and he was her Prime Minister, even though she was royalty and he was a politician, he could not bring himself to say that he did not care for her.
She was everything he wanted and nothing he deserved. Yet she felt something for him too and his devotion to her would not allow him to break her heart.
She deserved the truth, deserved to know that even though it was wildly inappropriate he did love her, had done almost since the moment he first met her.
She looked up at him and he could not help himself. He reached out to take her hands, caressing them gently with his thumbs and revelling at the contact even with her gloves preventing him from touching her bare skin.
"After Caro left me, after my poor boy died, I did not ever believe I could love someone again. I became something of a cynic, I will admit. But as I told you not too long ago, Ma'am, you gave me a reason to continue. You became my friend, the brightest spot in my days. My time with you has been incredibly precious to me. But Ma'am, I cannot accept your heart."
"No," she cried out, gripping his hands to prevent him from pulling them away, "please do not say such a thing. Why can you not have my heart … it is yours entirely."
"You are the Queen of England," he protested, "you are expected to marry a king or prince, not a tired, old politician like me."
"I have told you before, Lord M, you are not old. And I do not want a prince or a king, I only want you."
She paused for a moment, tears building up in her eyes that he so wished to wipe away, "do you not love me, Lord M?"
Her expression was so sorrowful, her beautiful blue eyes damp with tears.
And he was undone, for the woman in front of him was worth far more in his eyes than propriety ever would be.
He lifted one hand to wipe away her tears, "Ma'am, you mean more to me than anyone else in this world and I love you more than words can adequately express. But this path is folly, it will never be accepted."
"Why should they object to you?" she asked indignantly, "why should I not be happy?"
"Ma'am, surely you know that your marriage is a public concern."
"What I know, Lord M, is that you have been the only one to truly believe in me. Mama desires to hold a regency, my uncles desire to rule in my stead, Lehzen desires for me to remain a child and unmarried. No one wishes for me to follow my own judgement, they still consider me incapable."
"You are very able, Ma'am, and exceptionally hard working. Your councillors realise this, but –"
"They do not," she interrupted, "only you do. Lord M, you have been my most loyal champion, always aiding me, always helping me learn. But you have been more than that to me – you make me laugh, make me happy, give me strength when I think I cannot go on. You say that you will not be my Prime Minister forever but I know I wish you to be by my side always, not as my minister but as my husband."
She looked at him then, so very seriously. He knew he could not put her words down to youthful infatuation – he knew her well enough to see that she had well thought out her decision, that she would not let her mind be changed.
"There is nothing more that I want, Ma'am," he told her, "than to be your companion for life. But you must realise that this path will not be easy – it will certainly not be a popular decision."
The queen looked determined, fire in her eyes. A diminutive stature she might have but her personality had some of the greatest force he had ever seen. She would not back down from a fight, especially not this one."
"I am bound to do the best I can as queen of this great nation," she told him, "I have made mistakes but I have learned from them and I will try to do my duty by my people. However, I refuse to be told who to marry and I refuse to accept that uniting myself with you would be a mistake. I will make the council understand this because I believe that the discharge of my duties will only become easier with you by my side and I know that you have the best interests of myself and England at heart."
He looked at her and could not get over how beautiful she was, radiant in the sunlight and with such a look of love on her face that it made him feel quite powerless to resist.
Not that he had ever had much luck in saying no to her, he thought ruefully.
He dropped her hands then and lifted his own to cup her face gently. To touch her like this was a pleasure he had never expected he would receive.
They had talked alone often, danced together and ridden out many times. She had seen him ruffled and in disarray at Dover House. But this was the most intimate they had ever been, the connection between them palpable.
He had never before allowed himself to dream of such physical closeness, too aware of his duty, too convinced of his unsuitability, too unsure of her feelings.
Now all those repressed dreams flooded his mind. The idea of being able to hold her hand every day, to press his lips to hers, to laugh and talk with her always.
It was bliss to him.
She tugged off her gloves and brought her hands to meet his.
She looked nervous and excited and a little shocked all at the same time. It struck him how innocent she really was – he remembered her naïve confusion when the doctor had come to speak to her about Lady Flora Hastings – and how confusing her feelings might be to her.
Nevertheless, she seemed to know what she wanted, lifting her face as he bent down to kiss her for the very first time.
He was soft and gentle at first, knowing how sheltered her upbringing had been and not wanting to alarm her.
He was tentative, still not able to quite believe he could kiss her.
It was a little clumsy to begin with – he was experienced while she was only learning – but they soon found a rhythm and the kiss became a little more frantic as they both gave into the feelings they had previously been obliged to hold back.
His delight could not be supressed. He smiled as he kissed her and felt her do the same back.
When they broke apart they were both flushed but pleased. Her eyes were a little glassy and he was sure his own were the same.
Normally he would not have been so affected by a kiss but this had not been a mere kiss with a woman he had little real feeling for, this had been the first kiss he had shared with the woman he was so very much in love with.
He felt privileged to have the chance to kiss and love her. He thought he would probably feel the same for the rest of his life – all his previous romantic affairs paled in comparison with what he felt for the woman in front of him.
His lips quirked up into the smile her presence always caused and she beamed like the sun at him.
"I believe," she said with only the faintest tremor in her voice, "that this signals your acceptance of my proposal, Lord M?"
"Quite so, Ma'am," he told her, unable to quite repress the roguish twinkle in his eyes.
"I think," she said with some exasperation, "that you may call me Victoria now, at least while we are alone, and I," she paused for a moment, "… I may call you William?"
"You may call me anything you please," he replied with a look of exceptional fondness.
Then he made a slight bow and kissed her hand.
"Victoria," he said for the first time, lingering over the word, savouring the chance to use her Christian name.
"William," she replied softly but clearly.
He stood and offered her his arm, "shall I escort you back to Brocket Hall? I am sure your ladies are anxious to ensure your well-being."
She touched her hair to smooth it down where the wind and their kiss had mussed it slightly. Then she looped her arm through his and he was once more struck by the knowledge that this would be normal now, that soon he would be able to have her near him always. The path that they had chosen would not be easy, but it would be worth it.
He paused a moment before they set off. Just so he could look at her, this amazing woman who wanted him to be her husband, this wonderful queen who had brought him back to life.
He did not believe in much but he knew he believed in her – her love, her strength, her magnificence.
She was his happy ending, the one he had stopped believing existed.
Now she was his and he was hers.
And all was right in his world.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it.