Chapter 1:

Victoria was still crouched on the ground trying to wake Albert when help finally arrived. She watched through teary eyes as the palace guards quickly gathered around the fallen prince lifting him up before heading for the Private Royal Quarters located in the north wing. Victoria followed behind, she briefly paused and asked a passing servant to deliver a message for her to Vicky and Bertie's governess informing them of the Prince's illness and requesting that the children be kept in their chambers until they were summoned. She also asked that the message be relayed to the nanny caring for her younger children and requesting that they are kept in the nursery overnight.

Those matters dealt with Victoria proceeded to her and Albert's private chamber where the physician had already arrived and begun examining the Prince. Victoria moved to Albert's side as the physician continued his examination. Slowly she bent down to grasp his hands in hers, they were pale and freezing cold and Victoria could not help the anxiety that crept in at the thought of what he had sacrificed for his Great Exhibition. All the sleepless nights and endless worry had not only taken a toll on their marriage but on Albert himself. As he had driven himself to exhaustion they had argued more frequently, leading to Albert spending nights in his study and Victoria retiring to bed alone. Staring at him now Victoria could not help the guilt that settled in her stomach as she wondered whether this could all have been avoided had she supported him from the beginning. She had chosen being Queen over being a wife and she dearly hoped this would not cost her husband's life.

The attending physician cleared his throat to gain the Queen's attention before relaying what he had determined from his examination.

"Your majesty, I am afraid your husband's collapse was cause by the body shutting down due to sheer exhaustion. It would appear His Royal Highness has not been sleeping nor eating well and this has led to his body running on empty for some time. The body can only carry us for so long with little sustenance before it is overcome. He is also slightly hypothermic though I am led to believe he was found on the balcony this evening prior to his collapse, which would explain this."

"Will he recover" Victoria asked, her eyes never once leaving her husband.

"As long as he is kept warm and rested and eats from a certain diet over a period he should make a full recovery, but it may take time. This level of exhaustion is the result of a prolonged period of neglect and as such will require a lengthy recovery." The physician replied bowing his head.

"He will have everything he needs, thank you" Victoria subconsciously pulled the comforter further up the bed covering Albert's shoulders.

"Your Majesty, I shall take my leave of you now. I shall re-examine the Prince in the morning to see how his recovery is progressing and shall be in my chambers should you require anything further tonight". The physician bowed before leaving the room.

Victoria moved to sit on the side of the bed, gently brushing her fingers down the side of Albert's face. As she watched him twitch slightly in his sleep she wondered how she had not noticed how pale and gaunt he had become. True she had discouraged Albert's idea initially, but she wondered if she had been led by her government more than she would care to admit in that decision. Only a few years ago Victoria would have fiercely defended Albert's freedom and personal liberties and would have supported any endeavour of his, so why had she tried to force him into a military position against his will whilst simultaneously denying him the opportunity to create a monument that was not only magnificent but a benefit to the cultural education of Great Britain. Victoria was afraid she knew the answer. She rejoiced in the adoration that being Queen brought her and a small part of her enjoyed the importance and prestige it afforded her. Victoria felt thoroughly ashamed of her actions as she lamented on the wedge that had been placed between her and Albert over the previous months. She could not remember the last time he had freely called her "Liebes" or kissed her forehead as he was passing by. They used to be inseparable, but they had lost sight of each other. That was something Victoria could rectify now she decided. She would stay by Albert's side through his recovery and be his devoted wife. Of course, as Queen some matters of state simply could not be ignored but anything that was not of the uttermost importance could wait until Albert had recovered his strength.

Victoria knew she had promised to collect Vicky and Bertie but she could not bring herself to leave Albert so instead she summoned a servant and asked them to inform the governess she required the prince and princess' presence in her chamber immediately so that they may see their father.

Only a short while later Victoria heard a gentle tap on the door signifying the arrival of her and Albert's oldest children. Standing up Victoria moved to open the door, she bent down to embrace her children before dismissing the governess and thanking her for bringing the children to her. She walked the children over to their father's bedside, watching as Bertie cowered behind her. Settling herself once more in the chair she pulled Bertie on to her lap whilst Vicky perched on the side of the bed.

"Will Papa survive?" whimpered Bertie.

"Of course, my darling" replied Victoria. "He is very tired but as long as he gets some rest he should be just fine". Victoria placed a gentle kiss on Bertie's head and watched as Vicky did the same to her father.

"He feels cold Mama" said Vicky glancing to her mother looking for reassurance.

"He will darling, he is unwell so until he recovers he will have to be kept warm".

"Can I bring him one of the comforters from my bed Mama, that way Papa will have me with him while he recovers" asked Vicky.

"That's a lovely idea dear Vicky, I am sure your father would like that very much" Victoria stroked her daughter's head as she continued to stare at her husband.

Bertie began to cry as he whimpered "I don't have a comforter I can bring Papa".

"Bertie, you have that picture you drew of Papa's building and the exhibition. He would like that; you know Papa also enjoys drawing" announced Vicky with a smile.

Victoria ran a hand through Bertie's hair in comfort before reassuring him "Oh Bertie, that would be a wonderful idea. I am sure once your Papa has woken up he would be delighted to see your artwork. That is a talent both you and your Papa share."

Victoria placed a gentle kiss on Albert's head before escorting her children back to their chambers. Vicky fetched her comforter and Bertie his picture before both bidding goodnight to their mother. Victoria kissed her children and promised they could visit their father the next day once he had woken up, so long as the promised not to overtire him.

Returning to her room, Victoria blew out all the candles before sliding into the bed next to her husband. Placing a protective arm round his waist she snuggled close before falling into a light sleep.