Second to Great

Catherine: (Voice) It wasn't long until Peter and I got married. Everyone in the country was happy, but I wasn't and clearly Peter wasn't either. I despised the man more than anything. I wish I was never betrothed to him, but I had no other choice. If I were to become the next express, I had to marry the Grand Duke whether I like it or not. After two years of marriage, nothing has changed. The empress adored me ever since my arrival. But one day, she was to give me my next test: one I couldn't do alone . . . Literally.

2 years later . . .

(Elizabeth and Catherine are walking in the snow in warm clothes and with servants behind them.)

Elizabeth: Ah! Prefect day for a walk. Don't you agree, Catherine?

Catherine: Yes, it certainly is your majesty.

Elizabeth: You know, it's nice to just come out here and stroll through the snow. It takes all the stress away, which makes my doctors very happy. They like to see me happy.

Catherine: It's best if you were.

(Elizabeth looks down Catherine's body. Catherine takes notices.)

Catherine: Is there something wrong, your majesty?

Elizabeth: Oh, no, nothing is wrong, dear. It's just that I was hoping you be gaining some pounds.

Catherine: Should I change my diet or-

(ELIZABETH LAUGHING)

Elizabeth: Oh, Catherine! You make me laugh! I was talking about a . . . well, you know.

Catherine: No, I don't.

Elizabeth: An heir! An heir to the throne!

Catherine: OH! An heir!

Elizabeth: I will be expecting one soon, am I correct?

Catherine: Of course, but-

Elizabeth: But? Why is there a but?

Catherine: Well, it's just that I believe Peter and I are far too young to have . . . a child.

Elizabeth: But you've been married for two years. How long are you going to wait?

Catherine: Um, perhaps . . . for a couple more weeks? Or months? A year or two? I mean, I don't see the point of rushing this sort of thing.

Elizabeth: Oh, Catherine, darling. Having a child changes a woman's life. Well, I wouldn't know: I never had children. But you're right: if you want to wait to have children, that is your decision.

Catherine: Really?

Elizabeth: Why, yes! Of course, you can be like me who waited far too long with no husband, therefore no children. But no need to be pressured. It's not like if there isn't any heir, the Romanov dynasty will not continue and will come to a complete halt. The greatest empire in all of Europe will soon crumple and-well, we don't want that to happen, do we?

Catherine: No, your majesty.

Elizabeth: Then, I shall be seeing an heir 9 months from now. A male would be wonderful. A female is fine, too. Good day, Catherine.

(Elizabeth and her servants walk away. Catherine is in shock and doesn't move.)

(Later, Catherine is sitting in her apartment with Charles and Dianna with her. Dianna is busy cleaning the room while Charles and Catherine are playing chess.)

Charles: An heir, you say. Well, quite a pickle you're in, princess. Check.

Catherine: What am I to do? I simply cannot have a child with the Grand Duke! He's far too childish and-and rude! You can clearly see why we have different apartments!

Dianna: Yes, his room is a pain to clean! All those toy soldiers and his clothes on the floor! Oh and-

Charles: Dianna, if you would mind.

Dianna: Sorry. Continue.

Charles: Anyway, it's the queen's orders, Catherine. If she wants an heir, she gets one. Check.

Catherine: There has to be another way.

(Charles and Dianna exchange a look.)

(CHARLES CLEARS HIS THROAT)

Charles: There is . . . one other way.

Catherine: What? What is it?

Charles: Well, it's very hard to explain, but I'm sure for a young woman like you, it shouldn't be that difficult to understand that-

Dianna: You need to do it with another man!

Charles: Thank you, Dianna.

Dianna: You're welcome!

Catherine: You suggest that I . . . with another . . . and not . . . I will not do such thing!

Charles: But you have no other choice. You are correct: it's rather absurd. But Peter is far from . . . well . . . doing it.

Catherine: It's too risky. What if the empress finds out? Who knows what will happen to me! Let alone the child. Maybe if I just tell him, he'll understand, right?

Dianna: But Catherine, think about it. If Peter is the father, the child will be twice as bad as him! That will be a big mess for me to clean up. Besides, the grand duke is always flirting with one of the maids. Sometimes, he's sleeping with them. (Covers her mouth)

Catherine: WHAT?

Dianna: Oh, dear! I wasn't supposed to say that! Curse my talkative mouth!

Charles: Don't fret, Dianna. They're just rumors. Nothing, but rumors. Ah, check mate! Another game, princess?

(Catherine gives him an annoyed look.)

(Later that night, Catherine is walking over to Peter's suite. When she gets to the door, she stops: inside she hears noises of laughing and screaming. The voices are Peter and the other sounds like a woman. Catherine slowly backs away from the door, ashamed and angry.)

(The same night, the scene moves to soldiers housing where Grigory is polishing his boots with Cero lying on the floor. His brother, Alexi, comes in.)

Alexi: Well, I'm heading for the bunks. Good night, Grigory.

(Grigory simply nods and continues polishing. Just then, there is a knock on his door. He walks over and opens the door to Catherine. Grigory is surprise to her and doesn't say anything.)

Catherine: We need to talk.