Thank you for reading my story. My fanfic follows the Theatrical release of the film, where Stuart and Leopold are not related.
As Leopold gracefully waltzed Kate around the dance floor, she was aware of every eye on the room upon her. But, no one's stare was more fervent than that of Leopold's Uncle Millard and Miss Tree; both sporting identical wide-eyed, gaping mouth expressions. As she looked about the room, with each turn, Kate felt as if she was on an elaborate movie set. She was certain this could not be real. All these people had to be actors or she was deep inside a cruel dream. Her heart pounded relentlessly and she felt as if she might faint. Leopold must have sensed the urgency in Kate's expression, because he quickly led her from the dance floor and up the stairs; the very stairs Kate had just descended to accept her new position at CRG. Leopold thought it best to avoid a publicly embarrassing confrontation with his Uncle, which Millard was quite capable of. He pulled Kate into the first room at the top of the stairs, quickly closing the door. They stood facing each other for a moment, before Kate fell into Leopold's arms.
"Leopold" Kate whispered breathlessly. "This can't be real."
"I can not quite believe this is real myself, but I am holding you and you feel very real to me." Leopold said as he gently caressed Kate's face. "How is it that you are here? Stuart said quite adamently that I could not stay nor would I ever see you again."
"Stuart said he was wrong and that I belong here...this is how it's supposed to be."
"And, just how did he arrive at this conclusion?" Leopold asked .
Kate told Leopold about her speech and the pictures she was in. "I don't understand it either... I think Stuart is the only one who really does. But, here I am." Kate paused and her eyes welled with tears. " Oh God...I hope you still want me. I can never go back and I didn't know how I was going to live without you."
Leopold touched his hand to Kate's face and smiled as he wiped a stray tear away. "You will never have to live without me. You are home now." Leopold kissed Kate with a passion they had both only dreamed about.
Downstairs, the sound of hushed whispers filled the room, as Otis signaled for the music to resume. Millard yelled for Otis, demanding to see Leopold in his study, at once. Kate and Leopold were still in an embrace, when they were interrupted by a loud knock. Leopold opened the door and ushered Otis into the room.
"Your Uncle wishes to see you in his study, at once, your Grace."
"Ah, what a surprise. Well, I must say, I am rather looking forward to this." Leopold said with a decidedly wicked smile. Otis raised his eyebrows in a very discrete manner and an almost indiscernible grin.
"Well, my dearest Katherine, as much as I hate to leave you, for even a second, I must attend to my Uncle. Otis, can you take care of Kate for me? I promise to return as quickly as I can." Leopold kissed Kate's hand and said, smiling, as he walked out the door, " If I do not return in an hour, send a search party out for me." Leopold made his way down the stairs, confident that Otis would not ask Kate too many questions, which she would not be able to answer.
Otis offered Kate a glass of wine, which she readily accepted. He returned promptly and Kate assured him she was fine to wait alone. Otis obliged, hesitantly and left Kate. She took a few gulps of wine and began surveying the room. It was apparently a small library and she made her way over to a handsome leather sofa near a window. Kate looked out onto Old Madison Ave, dimly lit with gas streetlights. "Utterly amazing" she said to herself as she took a deep breath and another gulp of wine. Kate sat on the sofa and soon stretched out, as exhaustion set in.
Her mind was a whirlwind of thoughts. Her first thought was of Charlie and what would become of him. Kate's mother had been widowed when they were very young and had struggled to raise Kate and Charlie alone. Before she died, only 3 short years ago, Kate promised her mother that she would take care of Charlie until he was self-sufficient. Kate had teased her ailing mother, saying she might be taking care of Charlie for the rest of his life in that case. Kate managed to rise above their financially limited upbringing. She excelled academically and completed her Master's Degree in Marketing. In a short time, she worked herself up the ranks at CRG.
Charlie, on the other hand, barely managed to graduate high school. His father's death had impacted him so deeply. Loveable and endearing, Charlie wandered aimlessly from one job to another. After watching a friend perform in a play, Charlie became fascinated with acting. He enrolled in college and decided to pursue theatre arts as a major. Kate was thoroughly surprised after seeing Charlie perform in school productions. He actually was quite good. Although she doubted he could support himself this way, she was supportive and happy he found some direction in life. But, now what? She had broken her promise to her mother. He was totally alone, with little income and living in Kate's relatively expensive apartment. She began calculating in her mind when the rent was next due. Kate was overwhelmed with guilt over leaving her brother behind.
Her thoughts then shifted to CRG. She had worked so hard to achieve her success, but at the moment of seeing those pictures, that all did not matter anymore. She wondered what they thought became of her. She didn't want people to believe she jumped off of a bridge, but just walked away from her promotion. Of course, she had no way to ever know what the world thought happened to Kate McKay. Kate closed her eyes and was soon asleep on the sofa.
Downstairs, guests passed Leopold as they began leaving the party. He spied Miss Tree, looking red-eyed and weepy as he walked down the hallway. Hesitating before knocking on the study door, Leopold wondered how his Uncle grew to be such a cold and disdainful man. Leopold's beloved father was a compassionate man with an infectious sense of humor. He wondered how two brothers could grow so differently. Leopold's parents died within three years of each other, when he was just a boy. His Uncle was granted guardianship of Leopold and controlling power of the family fortune. Millard failed to invest wisely while frivolously squandering the assets, leaving the family in great debt. Millard brought the family to America, seeking greener pastures. He had hoped to secure a rich bride for Leopold, thus, saving the Mountbattens from total financial ruin. He thought their future was secured tonight, until Leopold failed to choose Miss Tree as his bride.
Leopold drew in a deep breath, rolled his eyes and prepared for his Uncle's wrath, as he knocked on the study door.
"Come in" bellowed his Uncle. Millard sat behind his desk, clearly enraged. "Leopold, I demand explication!"
"Well Uncle, there is not much to explain as I can see. I was ordered to choose a bride tonight and I did just that." Leopold answered matter-of-factly.
"A rich bride, Leopold. Not just a bride."
"I chose to marry for love not fortune. I would be living in misery married to Miss Tree."
" Miserable, but financially secure, Leopold. If you marry a woman of no means and live in poverty, even the deepest love will turn to misery. How are you even acquainted with this woman? Who is her family?"
" Kate has no family, she lost both her parents as I have. We met while I was, um… traveling and have been corresponding by letter. " He hoped his Uncle would not press for more information. Leopold was already growing weary of this conversation. He only wanted to return to Kate, but knew he had to make arrangements for her.
"Uncle, Kate's belongings seem to have gone astray during her journey. She will be needing a wardrobe."
"A wardrobe? She may stay until she secures passage back to where ever she came from. I am not in the habit of taking in stray women."
Leopold should have been used to the tactless and unkind things that came from his Uncle's mouth, but he was not. " Kate is an accomplished and educated woman of great character. If you would not be so blinded by money, you might come to admire her."
" I have no intentions of any such thing. And be informed, Leopold, I will never give my consent to this marriage."
"But, I do not need your consent now, do I." replied Leopold, whose anger grew with each breath.
"If you wish to live under this roof you do. And, that is my final word. You may secure Constance's assistance for Miss McKay. This conversation is over."
Leopold quickly walked out the study, slamming the door just a bit harder than he should have. He found Otis standing outside of the library. " Miss McKay has fallen asleep"
"Thank you Otis. Could you ask Constance to ready my cousin's quarters for Kate? We shall be there shortly."
"Yes, your Grace." nodded Otis.
Leopold quietly entered the room and found Kate asleep on the sofa. He stood there for a long moment watching her and still not quite believing that this was real. He sat next to Kate and began softly stroking her hair until she woke.
"Leopold, you're back. So...how did it go with your Uncle? He hates me...doesn't he?"
"It went as well as can be expected Kate. My Uncle will be fine, once he mourns the loss of Miss Tree's fortune."
"Leopold, what happens now? I don't have anything; no clothes, no money…nothing."
"No Kate, you are wrong. You and I, we have each other and that is everything."
Leopold put his hand inside his jacket pocket, pulling out his mother's ring. He had kept it in his pocket each day as a reminder of Kate. He had prayed for this moment but never quite believed it would happen. Kate took a deep breath, as Leopold got down on one knee and looked intently into her eyes. "I love you desperately Kate. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
Kate's eyes welled with tears as she nodded and whispered "yes." Leopold slipped the ring onto her finger. It fit as if it were custom- made for her. Kate looked at her finger, recalling the day she saw the ring for the first time. Leopold smiled and kissed Kate; holding her tightly.
"You must be exhausted my dear. You shall be staying in my cousin Sarah's quarters. You both appear to be of similar size and her wardrobe will suit you well. Constance, my Aunt's maid will be assisting you."
"Where are your cousin and Aunt, Leopold? Did I see them tonight?"
He hesitated before responding. "There is a family matter and they have returned to England for a period of time. But we will speak more about this tomorrow." Leopold kissed Kate one more time. "Come my darling, let us get you settled."
As they walked, Leopold assured Kate not to worry about the staff asking any questions. He explained that it would be inappropriate for them to do so. He tried to tactfully describe such rudimentary things as what indoor plumbing was like in 1876 and other such useful information. Kate chuckled, although she was starting to worry about the lack of the modern comforts she was certainly used to. She followed Leopold up another flight of stairs and to the open door of a well-appointed and large room. "These are your quarters, my dear."
Kate peered inside, "Oh, what a beautiful room. Come inside." She called, holding out her hand.
"I am afraid I cannot do that Kate. Men do not enter ladies quarters unless they are married. However, I much prefer your customs in this regard."
A cheery looking, older woman appeared at the doorway. "Constance, may I present Miss Katherine McKay to you." said Leopold.
"Why, it is a pleasure to meet you Miss McKay."
"Thank you, it's a pleasure to meet you too." replied Kate.
"Constance, please take good care of my girl for me. She has consented to be my wife, you know."
"Oh my! What wonderful news, your Grace. Congratulations to you both!"
The expression on Leopold's face, as he looked at Kate was something Constance had never witnessed before. She smiled to herself and felt such happiness for him. Constance also had cared for Leopold since he was a young boy, and felt he was more like a son than a royal subject.
"Please come in, Miss McKay. Good night, your Grace." Constance smiled at Leopold.
He kissed Kate's hand. "I love you Kate…sleep well."
"I love you too."
"Good night, your Grace!" Constance said as she took Kate by the arm, leading her into the room.
Kate turned and looked at Leopold one more time. Their eyes met as Constance closed the door. Leopold turned and walked down the hallway. He could only pray that this was not a dream.
Kate looked around the elegantly appointed room.
" I think you shall be quite comfortable here. I have laid out some sleeping garments for you. May I assist you?"
" I am not used to someone helping me. Would you mind if I was alone?" Kate responded, hoping that she would not offend Constance.
"If you insist, Miss McKay. But, ring if you need any assistance and when you need the light turned down. You may hang your gown here." Constance said as she pointed to a closet and then turned down the bed.
"Thank you so much." Kate forced a smile.
Constance reluctantly left Kate alone. She hoped this would not displease Leopold, as it was quite unacceptable to do such a thing. Kate surveyed the exquisite room. Leopold had described their rather primitive plumbing, which certainly did not please Kate. The bathroom was found and Kate hoped she used the contraption correctly. Kate began to undress and a small folded piece of paper fell to the floor. She had forgotten that Stuart had given it to her when Charlie was not looking. She had tucked it into the top of her dress. He had told her not to read it until she had gotten there. Kate sat on the side of the bed and slowly unfolded the paper. Seeing Stuart's familiar handwriting brought tears to Kate's eyes.
I wish you happiness with Leopold.
But, you have one chance only to change your mind. Next Friday the portal will be open until midnight. I am sure of it. I just had to let you know.
Kate took a deep breath. She had not expected this. Stuart had seemed so firm in his conviction that this was where Kate was supposed to be. She wondered what was the motivation behind this final act of compassion. At this moment, Kate could not even contemplate such a thing. She was fully committed to Leopold and their new life together. Kate carefully folded the note into a small square. She removed her gown and ripped a small section of the hem open, Kate tucked the note inside. She hung the gown in the far end of the closet, hoping to hide the last fragment of her past.
Upstairs, Leopold shared his elation with Otis, as his quarters were readied for the night.
" Otis, who would believe that a person could experience such despondency and such joy in one evening?"
"Yes, quite an extraordinary turn of events, your Grace. I am exceedingly happy for you. However, I do not believe your Uncle is quite sharing in your delight."
"Well, that was to be expected. But, I believe he will come around to find Kate as delightful as I do."
" One can only hope, your Grace."
Once alone, Leopold could not fathom being able to fall asleep. He ached to hold Kate in his arms. Wished he could hold her all night as he did just a few days ago. However, in 1876, this would be unheard of. Throwing caution to the wind, Leopold tiptoed barefoot to Kate's room. Barely asleep, she woke to a faint knock on the door. She slowly opened the door, to see Leopold standing in his robe.
"Leopold, what's wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong, Kate. I needed to hold you once more. To be certain I am not dreaming." He took Kate into his arms, stroked her hair and kissed her softly. "Sleep well, Kate. We will spend a glorious day tomorrow."
One last kiss and Leopold made his way, undetected, back to his quarters. Despite longing to stay together, they both slept blissfully happy. Tomorrow could not come soon enough.