|Romance must advertise
Author: Miss Puppet PM
Not daring to risk his friendship with Elsie, Charles decides on a rational approach to find love. Isobel has began a scheme of her own and Richard Clarkson is dealing with some regrets. Let it never be said that Downton is a dull place.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Humor - C. Carson & E. Hughes - Chapters: 22 - Words: 71,798 - Reviews: 149 - Favs: 23 - Follows: 18 - Updated: 01-03-12 - Published: 10-19-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7478159
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Romance must advertise
Pairings: Carson/Hughes, Isobel/OC
Disclaimer: It could not be less mine. Julian Fellowes wrote Downton Abbey, which is produced by Carnival Films for ITV Network. This disclaimer applies for the whole story.
Spoilers: The story is set in season 1, so no spoilers for season 2.
Summary: Isobel decides she´s not quite old enough to retire to her rocking-chair and Charles resolves to sensibly and rationally find his way to love. Much madness ensues. C/H, I/OC
The title is a spoof from Dorothy Sayers´ wonderful Murder must advertise, but bears no semblance to the story.
A/N: Don´t take this seriously, it´s mostly crack!fic. But I need some relief from the angst!fest season 2 is turning into. So join me back to a time where life was still simple and peaceful and the family was away to enjoy the Season so the staff has time to pursue their own (romantic) interests.
He must be going soft in the head in his old age. There really wasn´t any other explanation for the downright ridiculous endeavour he was undertaking at the moment. Folding another sheet of paper into a ball and throwing it in the direction of the trash bin he resisted the urge to chew on the back of his pen, while he contemplated the words he was about to write down.
Part of him was exasperated with himself that it had come to this. If Elsie knew, she would… well, she wouldn´t exactly laugh at him. She was far too kind to do that, but she would roll her eyes at him and shake her head. She would look at him, her thoughts as obvious as if she had spoken them out loud. You´re an old fool… He already suspected that particular thought crossed her mind regularly, his present actions would only confirm it thoroughly.
She was his closest friend at Downton, or outside of it for that matter. He trusted her blindly and he confided in her with whatever was on his mind, either good or bad. He knew they made a good team, years of working closely together had seen to that. She had come to Downton as Head housemaid when he had just been appointed as butler. At first he had kept his distance from her. He´d been rather full of himself at that time, firmly believing that it wouldn´t do for the butler of Downton to become friendly, let alone romantically involved with a member of staff. Apart from that, he feared he didn´t stand a chance. She´d turned quite a few heads during her first years. The second footman had followed her around like a love-sick puppy and the first footman had declared it to be his pursuit to ´win her over´ before the year was out. All of sudden the village´s merchants had all insisted on personally delivering their goods at the servants´ entrance, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. Even some of the male visitors of Lord Grantham professed their interest, much to his dismay.
He had stayed away, had huffed and puffed about the indignity of it all, all the while trying very hard not to think about the effect her Scottish accent was having on him. As the years had gone by he had mellowed down a bit, although he was certain many of the younger staff would beg to differ on that. His overly stuffiness and dedication to rules and propriety, infused by his sense of shame of his past in the music halls, had lessened considerably and he managed to find a steady balance between the butler and the man.
Then Elsie had become housekeeper and as such they had grown closer together, first as colleagues and later as friends. Her companionship had dispelled much of the loneliness he often felt, although he was reluctant to admit he felt so, even to himself. He found her to be one of the most interesting women he had ever met. During his years at the music halls he had met his fair share of women, even had a few brief affairs, but none of them really appealed to him in a deeper sense. Between keeping Charlie Grigg in check and the fact that most of the women he met on and off stage were as mad as a fruitcake, he hadn´t found his match there. During his first years of being a butler he had been so focused on his career that even the thought of pursuing a woman, of wining and dining them appeared laughable to him. By the time he had started to entertain the thought of doing just that, much spurred on by growing attraction to her, he had discovered that in the eyes of the world he was a confirmed bachelor, rather past the chance of romance.
It had killed whatever nerve he had and in the months that followed he began to realise that the fear of losing the friendship with her that he had, outweighed his eagerness to discover what could be between them if he were to act on his interest. So he held back and invested in their friendship instead. And as the years went by he had been content with his choice. He valued her above anyone else he knew. She was his voice of reason, his unwavering supporter and his dearest friend.
He was content and very much so, although sometimes, especially late at night when he was tired from a long day´s work and his defences were low, the old, familiar feeling of longing would stir inside him. He would walk in the servant´s hall, bleary-eyed with tiredness, barely able to keep an upright posture and she would be waiting for him with tea or soup. He would sit and eat, already half asleep, and she would bustle around the kitchen, cleaning or tidying away, humming a tune or talking softly, her voice just a little hoarse from being tired herself, her accent just that bit more pronounced. He would watch her, gaze at her more like, thinking it would be so easy, so natural to grab her hand and draw her close. To tell her without ceremony how he felt, how he´d felt for her for so long.
But he never crossed that barrier. In the end he always wished her goodnight and went to bed alone. And in the stark light of a new morning he shook his head and berated himself for his foolishness. Told himself to be grateful for what he had: her friendship and the knowledge they would in all likeness grow old together.
So what had changed in the last months? He wasn´t really sure himself. It had started in the months after the Titanic had sunk. He wouldn´t go as far as to presume he knew the people on board who had died, but the fact of the matter was that he had known them on some level. As family and friends of Lord Grantham he had waited on them, observed them and served them. The knowledge that all those fine young men had died in the icy water of the Atlantic ocean had filled him with a newfound reverence and appreciation for his own life. And because he was Charles Carson, this reverence had quickly turned into a sense of duty. If he was still alive, when so many men in their primes had lost theirs, then he was bound to do something with it.
After the death of Patrick Crawley, the heir of Downton, finding a suitable for match for the eldest Crawley daughter, Lady Mary, had become a matter of utmost priority. He watched with a protective interest as the many suitors filled the house, deeming none of them really worthy of her. But it got him thinking. There was a certain conviction to the idea that one´s happiness in life was entirely related to the question whether or not one had managed to secure a spouse. At least it appeared so to the members of the aristocracy. And although he knew his rank and station, it left him wondering if his ´happiness in life´ so to speak would increase greatly if he was to find a wife.
It would certainly be nice to care for someone who belonged to him, opposed to caring for people he belonged to. It would be nice to be cared for. And while his heart still conquered fantasies of brown eyes, dark curls, a death-panned wit and small smiles that only came to life in the fore-mentioned eyes, his mind took a more pragmatic approach. He would sensibly and rationally find his way to love.
If only he could stop feeling so foolish. He still couldn´t quite believe it. He, Charles Carson, the dignified butler of Downton Abbey was drafting an advertisement for the lonely hearts column.
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