Second to Great

(The next day, Peter is in the throne room, sitting on the throne with Ilya fanning him. A servant walks over to Peter with a cup on a sliver tray.)

Servant: Your coffee, your majesty.

(Peter grabs the cup and takes a sip, but immediately sips it out.)

Peter: What is this?!

Servant: Umm, you're regular coffee, your majesty?

Peter: Well, it's too hot! Take this back and fix it!

(He slams the cup back on the tray.)

Servant: Yes, your majesty.

(The Servant quickly leaves the room.)

Peter: Such a boring day, Ilya. I need some sort of entertainment.

(Just then, Catherine storms in.)

Peter: Well, not what I had in mind, but it will do.

Catherine: Peter, we need to talk!

Peter: About what?

Catherine: If you dare get anywhere close to my son again, I assure you

Peter: You mean our son? You know, it's funny: the night when "it" happened, I was drunk, but the odd thing is . . . you weren't.

Catherine: I have better control of my drinking unlike you.

Peter: And how is it that I can't see the kid anyway? I am the father, right?

Catherine: You're nothing more than a childish, self-center monster that doesn't have the capability of being a father!

Peter: Ah-ha! So, I'm not the father! There's someone else!

Catherine: Perhaps so, but you can never found out who it is.

Peter: I will find out who it is and then, you'll be sorry!

Catherine: I have the empress on my side. You can't touch me.

Peter: Not for long. Her health is fading fast. She'll be dead soon enough and then I'll have the power. Then, you're going to wish you were never born! And the boy will be locked away in the coldest, darkest dungeon to rot!

Catherine: Over my dead body!

Peter: Oh, even better! Good day to you . . . while it last. ILYA, COME!

(Ilya follows Peter out of the throne room leaving Catherine alone.)

(One night, Elizabeth is lying her bed, pale and ill. Her gray hair is down, covering her shoulders and she is wearing a white nightgown. A maid comes in as the empress lays out a cough.)

(ELIZABETH COUGHS)

Maid: The Grand Duchess is here to see you.

Elizabeth: (Weakly) Sent her in, please.

(The maid bows and fetches Catherine. Catherine walks in slowly; examining the dying queen. She walks over to the bed and kneels down at the empress' side.)

Elizabeth: Catherine, darling.

Catherine: Yes, your highness. I'm here.

Elizabeth: My dear child. Ever since you first arrived in Russia, I knew you will bring this empire to its' true glory as my father did. I have always admired you, Catherine.

Catherine: And I have admired you as well. I try my best to please you.

Elizabeth: You have always pleased me and you always will . . . evening when I pass.

Catherine: Don't say that, your highness. The doctors will cure you and you'll recover soon enough.

Elizabeth: Catherine, there's one thing medicine can't cure and that's death itself. My time is growing short and I can't rule this country any longer. It's time for a new queen . . . you.

Catherine: I understand the position I must face, but I can't run a country with Peter. The truth is I never loved him and I never will! I can't be empress, not with Peter as czar.

Elizabeth: Then do something about it! You are stronger and wiser than Peter: you have the knowledge that he does not have and the heart to help the people! If you want something, you have to fight for it.

Catherine: But what about Peter?

Elizabeth: You do whatever you believe is right. Listen to your heart: it will tell you what to do.

Catherine: Yes, your highness. I should leave you to rest.

Elizabeth: Wait! Before you leave, there's one more thing I must ask of you.

Catherine: Of course, anything.

Elizabeth: When I die, I want you to promise that you will keep Paul safe. Keep the child away from Peter. Who knows what he'll do to him. Promise me you'll protect him.

Catherine: You have my word. I won't let anything happen to him.

Elizabeth: I know you will. (Sighs) You may leave now.

Catherine: Good night, your highness.

(Catherine leaves the room as Elizabeth closes her eyes and drifts to sleep. Catherine returns to her department and sits on her bed. Soon, she starts crying.)

(Days later on a rainy day, everyone gather for the empress' funeral at the church. Catherine is standing in front with Paul by her side. Dianna is standing by Alexi and Charles. Peter is standing by Ilya and is the only one not sad. As the service continues, everyone goes up to the coffin, saying their last words to the dead queen. Catherine and Paul go up to say their goodbyes. Peter comes up to her.)

Peter: Well, it was nice knowing her. Somewhat.

Catherine: You could at least look sad.

Peter: Oh, I am: for you.

(CATHERINE SCOFFS)

Peter: I hope you're ready to leave once I'm crown czar next week.

Catherine: I'm not planning on leave without a fight.

Peter: We'll see. May God be with you: you're going to need it.

(Paul hides behind Catherine's dress as Peter walks away.)

Catherine: Never mind him, Paul. Remember what I told you.

Dianna: Shall I take the boy back to the palace, princess?

Catherine: Yes, he needs a nap.

(Paul gives her a look and Catherine raises an eyebrow. The boy gives in and goes with Dianna and Alexi. Charles walks over.)

Charles: She was a strong woman. Will never be forgotten.

Catherine: She was.

Charles: I have faith in one, Catherine. You're not alone. Take care, princess.

Catherine: Thank you.

(Charles leaves the church. Catherine takes a final look at the queen's body and leaves.)

(That night, Catherine is in her suite, reading a book. The sound of the door opening and closing is heard. Catherine turns to see Cero, trotting in with some flowers in his mouth.)

Catherine: Cero, where did you get these?

(The dog drops the flowers by her feet. She picks them and takes a whiff. Just then, her eyes widen in shock. Girgory is standing in front of her, smiling.)

Grigory: I told you he was a message dog.

Catherine: Girgory! I can't believe it! You're back!

(She runs into his arms and starts kissing him.)

Catherine: Oh, Girgory! I missed you so.

Girgory: As did I. The soldiers were brought home when the empress passed. I figured I surprised you.

Catherine: You have no idea how great it is to see you. For three years, I never thought I see you again.