Hush

            Night. It can be the most peaceful and restful time of day, the time where you are safe and snug in bed. It is a time where you can close your eyes and dream, and let all of the day's tiresome troubles fall away. The darkness can be soothing on the frazzled senses. But for some, this beautiful time is not available.

            Kate was lying in bed with her eyes closed, but she wasn't quite asleep. Rather, she was in a pleasant floating state where she was still conscious and thinking, but her body was comfortably and completely relaxed. She was aware of the strong arm draped over her side and the steady, deep breathing behind her. Leopold. He always slept with his body curved around hers from behind, in a protective position. And to Kate, nothing could help her sleep better.

            She was just about to drift off into the realm of dreams, when a familiar sound reached her ears. A babies' cry. Charles was awake, and he wanted attention. He was six months old, and he still woke Kate up during the night. They had decided to name him after someone very dear to both of them. Kate's brother Charlie would have been delighted to know this, but he was years away. Baby Charles was here and now, and he was fussy.

            Kate was exhausted. It was hard enough being a mother, caring for and raising a good son. (She disliked leaving her baby to be raised by nursemaids.) But on top of her maternal duties, she still had to be the Duchess of Albany. She had to make appearances with her husband, the Duke. She had to stand straight and be beautiful and gracious. And that was tiring work; it was a serious job.

            Charles cried out again, very insistent that someone come and pay attention to him. He probably wasn't hungry, just wanted someone to come in and love him. He'd been waking Kate up at odd hours for the past couple of nights, and she was tired. Maybe he would go back to sleep… No, he was very awake. Kate groaned inwardly. Time to get up…

            But before she could get up, someone else did. Leopold's arm slid slowly off of her, and he eased out of the bed. He obviously thought she was asleep, and was intent on keeping it that way. Kate felt him pull the covers around her, and then lightly kiss her on the forehead. With her eyes still closed, she heard the door open, and shut.

            What a sweetheart… Kate thought drowsily to herself. Gradually, a new sound reached her ears. Singing. Intrigued, she slid out of bed, opened the door, and crept towards Charles' room. Her nightgown rustled quietly as she moved, and she peeked around the doorframe.

            It was Leopold singing. He was walking slowly around the darkened room wearing only his pajama trousers, crooning a lullaby. As he turned, Kate could see Charles rested in the crook of his arm. Leopold was a big man, 6'3", and the baby looked so tiny and fragile. But his father handled him like a precious treasure, gently stroking his forehead with his free hand. The duke was unaware of his wife's presence, and she listened to his heartfelt and familiar words.

'Hush, little baby don't say a word

Papa's gonna buy you a mocking bird.

And if that mocking bird won't sing,

Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring turns brass,

Papa's gonna buy you a looking glass.

And if that looking glass should break…'

            Leopold's song faded away. It appeared that Charles was asleep. Silently, the duke moved towards the crib and started to put the baby back to bed. But Charles was not asleep, and he wriggled at the idea of being separated from daddy so soon. So Leopold went and settled down in the old rocking chair, still carrying the child in his arms. His lullaby started again, and Kate couldn't quite hear the words. But it got clearer after a moment.

'… gonna buy you a puppy sweet.

And if that puppy just won't bark,

Papa's gonna buy you a horse and cart.

And if that horse and cart falls down,

You'll still be the sweetest baby in town.

Hush, little baby don't you cry,

Papa just sang you a lullaby.'

            And then the song ended and silence reigned, broken only by the faint squeaks of Leopold's chair rocking back and forth. Kate watched the peaceful scene, father and child, and she saw the pure love radiating around them. She saw undying affection shining in her husbands' soft brown eyes, and she saw the complete trust and dependency that her son had in the man holding him. Kate felt tears spring to her eyes. Two years ago, she wouldn't have believed you if you told her such boundless love existed. But now, she saw it every day. She received it every day. Leopold loved her with such purity and passion that at times she almost felt like she didn't deserve it.

            Charles was asleep. Leopold eased himself to his feet and moved back over to the bed. Gently and with infinite care, he slowly lowered the baby back into his soft blankets. And with tenderness only a father could exhibit, he tucked the blankets carefully around the sleeping child. Leaning over the crib, he lightly kissed his sons' forehead.

            As he rose, he finally spotted Kate leaning in the doorway. At first, he looked rather disappointed that she was awake, but then he shook his head and smiled. Walking over to her, he put an arm around her shoulders and guided her back down the hall. She leaned onto him, heaving a contented sigh.

            They parted, her climbing into her side of the bed, and he onto his. He snuggled up behind her, as always.

            "You were supposed to be getting some peace, my dear." He whispered in her ear.

            Kate thought back to the loving scene she had just witnessed. She smiled and whispered back.

            "I think I just did."

            Author's Notes: Fic number two. Huzzah. I love this movie, can you tell? Yeah… please review, it keeps me aliiiiiiiive… J

            Disclaimer: All characters belong to Miramax. 'Cept Baby Charles! He's mine! Mwa ha ha!