Otis stood in his master's bedroom packing clothes into the large trunk. The following day the family would be taking the train to Liverpool and then crossing the Atlantic to New York, where Leopold was accepting an award at a dinner for scientists. As he rummaged through the wardrobe he found the waistcoat Leopold had worn the night he had announced his engagement to Kate and he smiled fondly remembering how happy Leopold was that evening. The day Kate had entered his life.it had been 6 years now since the wedding and all the events of that year. Otis sometimes wondered how they had all gotten through some of those times but they had due to Leopold's strong sense of family and the values he held dear to him. Many changes had occurred, that was for sure. As Otis continued his packing he reflected on the events that had transpired over the years..

Edgar had received the proper burial Leopold had promised, but not on Balinor's property next to Leopold's mother and father, but at Westlake beside Lord Spencer. Leopold could never bring himself to have him buried on his property. Leopold, Kate and Charlotte had attended the funeral and the country finally knew the truth. There was no scandal, Edgar's colleagues and cohorts didn't much care for him and were glad he was dead, Jocelyn was now committed to an insane asylum and Edgar Spencer was pretty much forgotten. Almost as though he had never existed.

Millicent had a rough time. She was not expected to live and spent the next 6 months in the hospital. But on a visit from Leopold and her children shortly after Xmas, she began to improve. Although her mental health was not as it should be. Murder charges were dropped because of her mental state. Commander Burns could not bring himself to accuse this delicate creature of such a crime. Millicent spent the next 2 years in a nursing home where Commander Burns became a frequent visitor, as well as Leopold, Kate and the children. She knew Edgar was dead but she never remembered firing the pistol that killed him. She returned to Balinor with a private nurse in 1879, and Commander Burns was often a guest of the Mountbattens and showed quite an interest in the recovering Millicent.

And then there had been the changes to Balinor itself.Kate and Margaret had taken over the running of the estate, and Millard had become a man of leisure.he was often found painting or playing the piano.he took an interest in Leopold's inventions and could be found on all fours carrying a Mountbatten or Blackmore child throughout the halls neighing and carrying on as if he was a horse. Kate thrived on looking after the estate.and Leopold enjoyed watching her take such pride in their home. Being a mother had been much more difficult for her, she felt she didn't have the motherly instincts others had. Stuart Charles Philip Millard Otis Mountbatten had been born in the spring of 1877, and while Janet was being the perfect mother to her Colin, who was only 10 days older, Kate could not relax in this role that was supposed to come so naturally to women. Leopold felt some concern, but he had bonded immediately with the infant and made up for Kate's disinterest. Finding a nanny was next on the agenda.. Philip hadn't needed a nanny, Janet and the other servants had tended to him, but now with another baby in the house a nanny was needed. This was not to be an easy task, because Kate and Leopold could not agree on anyone. Leopold felt no one was good enough and this frustrated Kate to no end. It was Leopold's idea to take on the soul caring for his son of course with help from the staff when needed, which Kate thought would last a few days.but she had no idea he would take this duty quite so serious and soon the staff were afraid to even make an attempt to help him, he was very particular in his ways. He would be found in his lab with Stuart asleep on a blanket on the floor while he worked. He constructed what Kate called a playpen and as Stuart began to crawl, he had both babies playing happily while he continued his research. He insisted on changing nappies and feeding them. He took them both for walks, and as they got older, he took them both out on the horse, much to Kate's dismay. He would read them poetry and history books, and sing and play music for them. Leopold was what Kate called Mr. Mom.

The estate was soon brimming with the sound of little footsteps, Jack and Janet had Hayley a year later and Jamie 2 years after that, but Kate had no intentions of going through a 19th century pregnancy again. Leopold continued his research; Kate took care of all business aspects of his inventions. She often went to London with Maggie, who was now her companion since Janet was too busy being a mother; she dealt with solicitors and patent lawyers, and arranged for Leopold to speak at meetings and events.which he despised. He was content at Balinor with the children, and wished Kate could feel the same. When Kate had arranged for him to go to New York because they would be constructing his elevator there for the first time.Leopold put his foot down and refused. He would go only if Kate agreed to give him another a child.

Otis remembered the tension in the house during this time. Kate was adamant she would never have another a child. Stuart was happy and healthy and he had Philip, Colin and Hayley to play with. But Leopold didn't want Stuart to be the lonely child he had been and he was determined there would be a brother or sister. After weeks of them not speaking to one another, Leopold apologized by taking Kate to the coast for a few days.no children.but Kate knew he still was set on having his way.but after 3 glorious days together, Kate gave in and 9 months later Emily Victoria Mountbatten made her way into the world, not at all like her much more peaceful brother, she cried more than any baby Leopold had ever come across, Kate found it amusing to watch Leopold cope with the crying infant, he was often found asleep with Emily in his arms in the lab or in the nursery. These moments Kate cherished. He was too good to be true, any other man would haven thrown in the towel long ago..

Otis closed another trunk and was interrupted by Charlotte, "He isn't here, Otis? Aunt Kate said he would be in here packing. I must speak to him."

Otis smiled at her. She was no longer the child that had been brought to Balinor. At 15 she was a young woman, a striking beauty, much like her mother had once been. And she kept Leopold on his toes. "And who is him, Miss Charlotte?"

She knew he was teasing.. "Why Uncle Leopold of course? I must tell him I am not going to New York and he cannot make me. Doesn't he see I must stay here with Mama, Commander Burns could take advantage of her and that would be just horrible? I am sure Uncle Leopold would see that Mama needs me here to protect her."

Otis smiled, "From Commander Burns?"

"Of course. He is after Mama's money."

Otis tried not to laugh, "Your uncle is in the laboratory with Miss Emily, do be quiet, he has finally gotten her to sleep, and you know what your cousin is like when disturbed from her naps."

"Thank you Otis, I do promise not to cause a ruckus." She skipped out of the room . Otis shook his head, Charlotte was not the same little girl who had been content riding horses with her Uncle or using her brother and cousin as dress up dolls.she was now interested in boys. One in particular, Jack's helper Gareth. The same boy she had had a crush on so long ago. His family had fallen into bad times and Leopold had realized Jack needed some help, so he was hired 3 years ago. He was now 16 and where once they had been friends, it was quite obvious the boy was interested in much more than that now. He was sure her wanting to stay behind was all about him and not her mother at all.

Charlotte noticed Leopold's lab door was slightly ajar and she quietly peeked her head in, he was sitting at this desk and he held sleeping Emily in his arms, while he tried to pack a satchel full of notes and various paper works, while not disturbing her. At 18 months old she still was a horrible sleeper and often Leopold found he could not put her down once she fell asleep or she would scream. So he would carry her about with him, he was getting so used to not having any feeling in his left arm whatsoever.

"Uncle Leopold." Charlotte whispered, and he looked up.

"Charlotte, do come in," he said in a quiet voice,

She stood in front of him looking down at her feet.

"I take It you have something on your mind." He still had a hard time thinking of her as a young woman. And Kate was always on at him that it was time to let her grow up a bit. But that worried him. He had only to think of Janet and what had become of her at 15, and he was determined to keep his niece safe.

Charlotte figured this was as good as time as any, if he was preoccupied with Emily and He wouldn't want her to wake up there was no way he would be able to raise his voice and get cross, "I just wanted to say that I am not going to New York with you. Mama needs me here. " Before he could answer she started to turn for the door.

"What just one minute, young lady." He carefully stood up and took Emily over to the playpen, gently laying her down. She stirred a bit but she settled and Leopold headed for the door. Charlotte slowly turned around.

"I know what you are going to say, Uncle Leopold. But I am not a child anymore and I can really be of assistance to the nurse with Mama, and who is going to keep an eye on Commander Burns and his advances? You surely must be aware he is only interested in her money. I cannot even believe you would think of leaving her, knowing what he is after." She raised her voice and Leopold turned to look at Emily who was starting to stir.

"Commander Burns...after your mother's money...really, Charlotte, let's be honest here. Your real concern is leaving Gareth behind."

"My mother is my first concern." She said angrily.

"You mother wants you to accompany the family to New York. You will abide by her wishes."

"The family? Aren't you forgetting my mother is my family, you are only my uncle?"

This was a new tactic of hers, throwing the fact out that he was not her father, whenever she was upset, Leopold remained calm, "And you know fully well your mother is not capable of traveling at this time. It makes her very nervous. She believes New York will provide a unique opportunity for you and your brother."

"But she will miss us. How will she bare it without us."

"You are being melodramatic, it will only be for a few short months."

"I am not going." She shouted and thus in turn woke up Emily who began to cry. Leopold shook his head and went to her picking her up; she buried her head into his shirt and rubbed her eyes.

"You are going and that is the end of that."

"Uncle Leopold, you are being unreasonable. Gareth will find someone else and then what will I do? Do you want my heart to be broken?"

"You are 15 years old with a whole life ahead of you, I don't like you becoming so serious about this young man. You are too young."

"My mother met you when she was 16.and she knew you were the one."

"But I wasn't the one, Charlotte. She was too young to know what she really wanted."

"She only wanted you and if you would have married her, then she wouldn't be sick now. This is all your fault."

"You are twisting this for your own benefit. You will go to your room and help Lily pack your things this instant."

Kate had appeared at the door and was listening. "And what if I refuse?" Charlotte said defiantly. "Then I will have no problem taking you over my knee and treating you like the child you are behaving like at this moment."

She stomped her foot, "I hate you. I really do." And she ran out of the room past Kate and upstairs.

Kate smiled, "Well, you scored points there didn't you? Very nicely handled." She said sarcastically.

Leopold gave her a look of disgust and began to rock back and forth with Emily, "You go talk to her then, such an expert on child rearing as yourself."

"Okay, I deserved that. But Leopold she is a teenager and she is going through all these emotions, surely you must remember being 15, and what it was like to be in love for the first time."

"Have you noticed the way that boy looks at her?"

"Probably like the way you looked at her mother. And you were a gentleman. Give him the benefit of the doubt. He does really like her."

"I suppose you think I should allow her to stay."

"No, I didn't say that. I think New York will be good for her; she needs to see there are other fish in the sea. But you could be a little more understanding. It won't be long you will have Emily in the same shoes. You will be devastated if Emily turned on you saying she hated you."

"I will not allow any boys near my daughter until she is at least 25." He smiled and tickled Emily's chin, she giggled, "Who's my girl?"

Emily pointed to herself, "papa's girl."

Kate moved closer to them, and smiled. "And is mama, papa's girl?"

Emily shook her head, "NO." then pointed to herself, "Me.papa's girl."

Leopold couldn't help but smile and Kate just smirked, "You are enjoying this aren't you. I know you, Leopold; you put her up to this."

"I did nothing of the sort. I can't help it if I have a way with the ladies of this house." He leaned towards her and kissed her, Emily began to push her away, "No, No, No." Emily's favorite word. "Kiss me."

"She is just like you Leopold, always demanding, getting her way." Kate teased.

All of a sudden Otis burst into the room, "I am sorry to intrude, your grace, but there seems to be a small disturbance out on the front drive, I noticed it from your window."

Leopold looked slightly alarmed, "What kind of disturbance?"

"Master Stuart and Master Philip.I am afraid they are having a fight."

This surprised Leopold, neither boy was known to be violent in any way. Kate, Leopold with Emily and Otis rushed out the house and down the front stairs where Stuart was found sitting on top of his cousin and punching him. Philip was trying hard to protect himself, but to not much avail. Stuart was the stronger of the two and bigger, even though he was 7 months younger. Hayley stood crying near them. Leopold set Emily down next to her and proceeded to pull his kicking and hitting son off his cousin.

Kate immediately went to Philip who sat up and wiped at his nose, he was trying desperately not to cry. Coming from the stables, where obviously Colin had run to get Jack... came Jack, Colin, Janet and Jamie. Philip's nose was bleeding and Kate dabbed at it with a handkerchief.

Leopold managed to get Stuart settled, "What is this all about, you two?"

They both began babbling at once and Leopold put up his hand, "Stuart." He turned to his son.

"He called me crazy, Papa, he said I belonged in an insane asylum like his grandmamma, and they should lock me up and throw away the key."

"He is crazy", Philip added, "Uncle Leopold, he makes up all these stories and believes them and you have always told us, we should tell the truth. It's a horrible thing to lie."

"What kind of stories are you telling, Stuart?"

"They are not stories. They are the truth! I don't lie."

"Stuart, this is serious. You know how I feel about lying and fighting on top of that. Look at Philip; you have given him a bloody nose. Tell him you are sorry."

"I won't. Not until he says I am not crazy."

Leopold looked at Philip and he crossed his arms defiantly and turned his head away.

Kate looked over at her son, the same stubborn temperament as Leopold, the same look when he was upset, "Stuart, why does Philip think you are crazy?" she asked.

"He doesn't believe me about the bridge and seeing Uncle Charlie.I told him when we got to New York, that's how we can see Uncle Charlie, by jumping off the bridge."

Kate immediately glared at Leopold and Leopold gave the same look back to her. Both believing the other was the one who told him about it.

Kate helped Philip up and paced back and forth a bit, all eyes were on them...Otis, Janet, Jack and the children.by this time Charlotte had heard the commotion and stood behind Otis, very curious about her cousin's rantings. And Millard and Margaret had also come out of the house when they heard the commotion.

Leopold was silent, Philip looked at him waiting for a response, but there was none.

Stuart was frantic, "Tell him Papa, how you fell off the bridge and that's how you met Mummy in another time, and then you both jumped off it to come back here. Tell him I am not crazy."

Emily giggled and jumped up and down, "Papa Jump, Mama jump, me jump too."

Leopold put his head in his hands, knowing he would have to come up with some explanation without Stuart made to look like a fool, but the question was what. He looked at Kate, "Kate, I think it's only fitting that you give us an explanation of the bridge and visiting Uncle Charlie..."

She couldn't believe it, "Me? This is your doing Leopold, you sort it out. I have to finish my packing."

"My doing? There you are mistaken.surely this story is one you made up to make our courtship sound a bit more exciting, a bit more adventurous..."

Stuart stood up..."Mummy didn't tell me.I saw the drawings in your laboratory, I saw the journals you have been working on."

Leopold looked at him dumbfounded. At 5 Stuart was bright, but Leopold had a hard time believing he would be able to make heads or tails of the dozens of journals Leopold had filled with theories and research on the time portals. Leopold took Stuart by the shoulders, "You can't possibly understand my research, Stuart..."

"Not all of it, but I look at the drawings and I understand that the hole is going to open up again. I am right, aren't I, papa? I don't know how I know, but I do.and I want to take Mummy to see Uncle Charlie. That's the only thing I want to do in New York. And I don't want him to go..." he pointed at Philip. Kate turned and looked at her son in disbelief.this couldn't be...the portal opening up at the same time they would be in New York.Charlie.she thought about him so often. In fact all of her bedtime stories to Stuart had been about Charlie. She couldn't help but smile, this obviously meant something. Leopold saw that look in her eyes, a longing she had to go back to her own time.he got up and went over to her putting his arms around her, there was nothing said between them. But she held on to him tightly. He knew what she was thinking. He had deliberately not told her about the portal and his findings because he knew it would bring back so many memories and feelings, especially since their trip to New York was coinciding with the possibility of the portal opening. Now Pandora's box was open, and the possibilities.well, as always, Leopold now knew to expect the unexpected.he looked down at his children and his nephew, still their eyes were on him, looking for answers.Charlotte still cross with him glared, Jack and Janet curious with how Leopold would handle this, Otis, Millard and Margaret looked concerned.Leopold smiled and sighed.who knew what the future held at this point.but one thing was for sure, this trip he had been dreading now looked much more enticing and exciting and although he loved the peacefulness of the countryside and his home, he wasn't one to turn down an adventure of this magnitude. As he looked at his son, something connected without a word.Stuart smiled at him and then turned to Philip.

"I am truly sorry, Philip and I promise it won't happen again."

Philip looked at him dumbfounded, his mouth open. Stuart went to Leopold and he took hold of his hand, "Can I help you finish your packing in the laboratory, Papa?"

Emily raced over to them, tugging on Leopold's trousers. He picked her up, "NO, me...me, Papa."

"You both can help. Come on, we have a lot to do before we set out for Liverpool in the morning." Kate and Leopold walked back up to the house, his arm around her, Stuart skipping ahead of them. Emily in his arms. Leopold couldn't remember ever feeling as content as of this moment.

The others stood watching them head to the house, looking at one another, not understanding any of it. Philip looked over at Colin, and the two boys smiled at one another, "It's true." Philip said to him.

Charlotte rolled her eyes, "You are more of a baby then I realized Philip, if you believe that story. Uncle Leopold obviously made it up, he loves a good fairy tale."

"He didn't make it up, I know him better than you.and I am going to find out about it right now, come on, Colin."

They both ran up the drive trying to catch up, Janet tried to stop them. And Jack stopped her, then Hayley not wanting to be left out scooted along after them. Charlotte looked at the adults, who seemed not that concerned with the events of the afternoon. Margaret and Millard walked hand in hand back up to the house, and Jack and Janet took Jamie back to the stables. She was left standing with Otis.

"Do you believe that story, Otis?"

"Your uncle is not one to fabricate stories, miss."

"You can't possibly believe that?"

"Well, there is only one way to find out, Miss."

"Jump off the Brooklyn Bridge? Like Stuart suggested? I think this whole family is crazy and it's rubbing off on you." She stormed off after them, Otis smiled and followed.

As they headed into the house, Kate turned to him, "Leopold, what does this all mean?"

"I don't know, but let's just take it one day at a time. There are no promises and I wouldn't want you to have false hope."

"I am happy here with you, I don't want you to ever doubt that."

"I have never doubted it for a second, my dear.but, you lived another life and I can never expect you to forget that life or the people in it. This trip is going to be quite like no other I am for certain of that.traveling with 4 children alone is going to be an adventure in itself...I am prepared to expect the unexpected, and I suggest you open your mind and do the same, otherwise it will drive you mad." He smiled.

"You drive me mad!"

He kissed her cheek, "Well, that has always been my intention." She gave him a little pinch on the rear and he smiled. Philip and Colin ran past them into the house hot on Stuart's tail. Then Hayley followed running into Leopold, he looked down at her and smiled and shyly looked down, she had always been shy around him. She then darted past him. Leopold was surprised to see Charlotte behind him. Her arms crossed over her chest,

"I don't believe any of it. it's a fairy tale you made up for the children."

"Suit yourself, Charlotte." He said nonchalantly.

"Jumping off a bridge, how absolutely ludicrous. How do you expect me to believe that?"

"Of course I don't. But the bridge is within walking distance of Uncle Millard's townhouse in New York, so you will be able to see for yourself."

She looked at him, he sounded like he believed it.and something inside her made her feel he was telling the truth. But she couldn't. He just smiled and they joined the children in the laboratory where Stuart was showing the others the drawings Leopold had made of the bridge, Leopold headed over towards them and tried explaining it the only way he knew how. They listened and looked at him in awe, Kate smiled and began packing a few books into the remaining boxes. She watched Charlotte watch her uncle in amazement and knew she wanted to believe but felt to grown up. Kate put an arm around her, "You are never to old to stop believing in fairy tales, Charlotte. I once stopped believing and it was the biggest mistake in my life."

"Uncle Leopold made you believe again, didn't he?"

She nodded and handed her some books to pack. Charlotte looked at her uncle and then back to Kate, "As always it looks like I will be left to do all the packing.it doesn't look like he will be able to pry himself away from the children for at least another hour."

Charlotte had always known there was something special between them, but had never been able to put a finger on it. She had always liked Kate's honesty and openness. She immediately began to help her pack. Kate was glad of the help, Leopold had packed up nearly his whole laboratory for this journey.she stopped a minute and looked over at her husband, he had stopped and looked at her at the same time. He was in his element, surrounded by children, talking about his discoveries. no, this was going to be much more than a journey. Kate could see that now. This was going to be an adventure.