I smiled at the sound of my name of his lips, "Yes, my love?" I questioned, looking at him in the mirror as I braided my hair for bed, my jewels and flowers from the long day laid out on the vanity before me.
Albert paused awkwardly in his pacing beside our bed, hands wringing behind his back as he asked me, very slowly, "Do you ever...regret having to ask me to marry you?"
I frowned deeply at his question, and turned around in my seat to look at him in bewilderment at his sudden unsureity in our marriage, and said bluntly, "Albert, me asking you to marry me was purely my decision and my decision only-" I said, starting to go into rambling, political Queen mode, looking at him seriously.
"No, no, that's not what I meant." He said evenly, looking as if he were trying to phrase this carefully while he looked at me with slightly narrowed eyes, deep in thought, "I mean...did you ever wish I could ask you-as is normal for most couples-and not you having to ask me?" He seemed very concerned with the problem at hand, and I found myself smiling despite myself.
I chuckled, relieved he didn't question our marriage, and kept my eyes on him as I said, "Dearest, I don't think it matters who asks who to marry." I stepped up from my vanity and walking over to him quickly, reaching up to push a curl away from his blue eyes that were searching mine, "We're happily married now, and that should be all that matters." I said softly, smiling reassuringly at him.
"Victoria." He said softly, imploring me with those blue eyes that held me captive, his hand reaching up and interlacing with mine.
I looked at him for what felt like a long time, biting my lip slightly before answering with a murmur, "Sometimes-and very rarely, I might add-the inner child in me wishes for a large, romantic, elaborate proposal." I felt ashamed for admitting this, and could scarcely look up at him, "But Albert, you must know I'm quite alright with how things turned out." I added quite quickly, looking up at him earnestly.
He smiled somewhat sadly at me, but chuckled all the same, "I'm quite happy with how things turned out too." He said in his poised, ever-polite German accent, kissing my forehead tenderly before he led me to bed, and I soon forgot about our conversation.
Three days went by, and not another word was spoken on the subject of proposals, or anything of the sort. We were both far too busy to dwell on the subject, and I doubted either of us thought it of much importance anyway.
But, it wasn't until about two in the afternoon on that third day that Albert said to me in our shared study at his desk across from mine, in an ever-so-casual tone; "Dearest, would you like to accompany me on a walk through the gardens? I noticed it looked particularly lovely outside today."
I looked up from a letter I was writing to the Queen of Spain, slightly bewildered by his sudden suggestion, "Well, I'm afraid I'm busy now." I said, pausing thoughtfully, "But I suppose I could go with you in an hour."
He smiled at me, and dipped his pen into more ink, "Wonderful."
I stared at him as he bent his head back down to sign some document, my own pen in midair as I opened my mouth to ask a question-but thought better of it, and snapped it closed. Though Albert was my husband, and I supposedly knew more about him than anyone else, I was quickly realizing I may never understand some things about him.
True to my word, we did go walking in the gardens an hour later, hands clasped together as we went past the meticulously groomed hedges slowly.
"It truly is lovely today." I mused softly as I sighed contentedly, resting my head on his shoulder, "I needed to get away from the endless supply of papers to sign anyway." I added with a soft laugh, before pausing and saying, "Thank you, for this. For everything, really."
Albert hummed in response, and kissed my head tenderly as he made sure I kept my balance, "It's the least I could do for you, my dear." He said softly, squeezing my hand lightly.
We walked in silence for a short while, the smell of flowers and the sound of buzzing bee's filling our senses as we made our way into the Rose Garden, the lazy summer sun shining down on us. Everything was in it's normal place, and I didn't even hear the Violin playing in the background at first.
I paused in our walking at the distant sound, and turned my head up to look at my husband in bewilderment, "Albert, what...?"
He simply smiled at me, and led my further into the colorful flowers and towards the music, his hand gripping mine tightly suddenly, as he came to a stop in the clearing.
My eyes widened as I saw the quartet standing there beside the fountain and playing one of my favorite Schubert pieces-the Swan Song Albert had sent me in our days of courting-that had been beautifully arranged for the four instruments, no doubt by Albert's own hand.
"Oh my..." I whispered, turning to look at my husband, "This is-oh. Oh my." I said in soft shock, my hand flying to my mouth as I saw what he was doing.
He was knelt down in front of me on one knew, still holding my free hand in his as he said quietly, but still firmly and wonderfully low, "Victoria," He started, eyes warm and loving as he looked up at me, "You have been everything a man could wish you have in a wife. Your sweet and loving nature never ceases to amaze me, and you constantly make me stand in awe at your endless compassion and grace for everyone around you." He took a breath, eyes never wavering, "I love you, my Victoria. I always have, and I know that I always will. Would you do me the honor of...continuing to be married to me?" He asked in a somewhat awkward way, that was nevertheless charming in indescribably Albert, it made me start to weep with joy.
"Oh Albert!" I said joyously, helping him to his feet before I promptly jumped upon him with a hug, my eyes overflowing with tears as I whispered, "Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes..." My lips kissing every inch of skin I could find as I vaguely heard the music swell beside us.
He laughed weakly, but held me tighter to himself, his face buried in my neck as he murmured, "I love you so much."
I laughed a watery laugh and nodded as I pulled away, pressing my forehead against his, "Oh, my life, I love you too. So much."
He smiled broadly, and swept me in for a kiss, which I gladly returned.
As we kissed under the light of the July sun, I vaguely remembered the quartet going back into the palace to give us some privacy-not that either of us really noticed.
I had everything I needed right in front of me, anyway.