Disclaimer: Neither of these characters are mine.

Edward VIII appears briefly in Thrones, Dominations, where Lord Peter was shown retrieving state papers from him and worrying about his carelessness. After I saw The King's Speech, it occurred to me that Peter probably would have gotten along much better with Bertie. Hence this story. Thanks to Haiza Tyri for encouragement and feedback.

Lord Peter and a Question of Sanity

It occurred to Lord Peter Wimsey, seated across a large and imposing desk from the king's younger brother, that he had never actually seen the king himself in a similar position. Edward VIII might have been carrying the fortunes of the nation on his nattily tailored shoulders, but it was Albert, Duke of York, who looked burdened.

"Wimsey . . ." The duke stumbled over the word. Lord Peter waited patiently. "You know m . . . my brother rather well, I think."

Lord Peter hesitated. "Frankly, sir," he said at length, quietly, "I have wondered of late if anyone really knows His Majesty. Except—"

"Except Mrs. Simpson," the duke supplied, in one of his strange abrupt bursts.

Wimsey nodded.

The duke dropped his eyes to his desk. "I used to think I knew him," he said softly.

Lord Peter said nothing. The watchful grey eyes remained fixed on the bowed head and clasped hands on the other side of the desk.

"Tell me—d . . . do you think my brother has t . . . taken leave of his senses?"

Lord Peter drew a quick breath. Had anyone else asked the question, he might have brushed it off as absurd. But he recognized the deadly seriousness in the duke's tone.

"I don't believe so, sir." He picked his way with care. "I do think that—he finds himself—caught up in something that has become more important to him than his responsibilities."

He stopped short, observing the slight flush rising in the other man's face. The Duke of York was said to be especially sensitive about the family honor, even more than most royals. That he had asked for this meeting at all was a sign of something that looked almost like desperation.

"I'm sorry," Wimsey offered, softening his tone. "I wish I could believe otherwise."

"So do I, W . . . Wimsey," the duke said grimly. His hands were locked so tightly that the knuckles showed white. "So do I."

Studying the troubled face across from him in the dim lamplight, Lord Peter opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again. Some strange delicacy compelled him to lower his own eyes. As a veteran solver of crimes, his lordship had seen many sad things, but he could not remember the last time he had felt so terribly sorry for any man.