Endearments

[]

David is as careless with personal correspondence as he is with state papers. Bertie blushes when his gaze falls on the letters spread out for all to see.

"My sweetheart," they begin. Edward VIII calls himself a boy; he calls Mrs Simpson and himself WE. He invents endearments. He signs the letters "more & more & more," sometimes following "I love you," sometimes leaving it understood.

The notes sound pathetic for a man, let alone a king. Yet when Bertie thinks of the restrained letters he has exchanged with Elizabeth, even after their wedding, he can't help envying his brother.

[]

"It isn't just fear of stammering," he tries to explain to Logue, later, having escaped from David's noisy weekend party. "Even when I write, I find that there are things I can't express."

"Do you mean politics or social conventions?" Always Lionel assumes that official duties are Bertie's only concern, unless Bertie tells him otherwise.

"I mean affection." The word comes out sounding cross. Anger is one feeling that Bertie has never had trouble expressing. "Can't say those words."

Logue's eyebrows shoot up. "Such as?"

"'Sweetheart,'" Bertie tries to say. He doesn't stammer, but the word sticks on his tongue.

[]

"Say them to your daughters," Lionel had suggested, but now that Bertie is conscious of trying, he can't force the words to come. His own mother never called him darling.

Now that Lilibet is older, she resists her nickname, wanting to be called after her mother and the famous queen. And Margaret talks so quickly that he can't slip in his adoration.

"Love," he calls Elizabeth one afternoon. She shoots him a look, reminding him that his equerry and secretary are just outside. Even among friends, she refers to him as "The Duke."

Bertie would prefer a bit less propriety.

[]

"Pretend it's the F word." Lionel grins. "Say it as though you aren't supposed to say it."

"Darling," Bertie spits at him. "Dear one."

"Beaut," chuckles Lionel.

"B-beloved." Bertie can't muster the anger to say it to Lionel like a profanity. He thinks Sweetheart, but, because Lionel keeps grinning, says "Bugger!" instead.

Lionel only smiles more. "Very good, love," he says, as easily as if he were speaking to a sweetheart. Perhaps it's not just for encouragement.

Bertie wonders, again, how it would feel to have the gift over and over, like a parent to a child. Like true love.