|Ghost of Girlfriend Lost
Author: Lady Etiquette PM
Matthew happens upon strange goings-on in the east guestroom as he stumbles in to an old memory. A one-off fic of a brief encounter.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Mystery - Lavinia S. & Matthew C. - Words: 2,849 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 5 - Published: 11-18-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8716491
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N I've been missing Lavinia-I felt Julian Fellows made it all too easy by scripting her death. I'm a shipper for M/M, of course, but still...I felt Lavinia was a sweet character. So this is my attempt to revisit her. Enjoy! :)
Downton Abbey – November 1928
Matthew walked along the second floor corridor, carrying several books under an arm, the sound of his confident footsteps thudding softly on the carpeting as he made his way toward his dressing room. He glanced down and checked his wrist watch and confirmed it was two o'clock. The afternoon sunlight filtered through the upstairs bedrooms and warmed its way in to the hall.
He rounded the east corner and one of the books slipped from his grasp, flopping on to the floor. As he stopped and bent down to retrieve it, a sound from the far guest room caught his ear. It had sounded like a gentle chime, or perhaps a breeze from an open window. Still bent over, he paused and his head looked up, waiting for the sound to whisper itself again. But only the quiet of the day filled the hall. Shrugging it off, Matthew picked up the book and tucked it under his arm with authority, and returned to his route again.
And there it was again…he froze as the unusual sound came from the guest room once more, as though calling out for his attention.
He stood stock still, with his back toward the door to the room. He had never liked the east guest room, shrouded in it's memories of Lavinia's death. Still standing, he waited, his eyes blinking in curiosity, to see if the sound recurred.
Suddenly, he heard it again. He spun around, facing the door, which was ajar. He slowly stepped toward it and as he approached the door he could detect the sound of the chime from a mantle clock that resided over the fireplace…perhaps it needed winding?
He shifted the books under his arm, and slowly reached a hand out toward the bedroom door, nudging it open with his fingertips. The door creaked open, and he peered in to the room suspiciously, cocking his head to see inside. As his eyes scanned the room he saw the clock above the fireplace and then they stopped on the far window, where he noticed the sheer curtains fluttering from a draft. His eyelids closed in relief and he exhaled, chastising himself for harboring childish superstitions. "For God's sake," he breathed to himself, pushing the door open and setting the books down on the nightstand. He walked over toward the far window and saw that the window was cracked. He reached up and pulled the window down, locking it back in to place. As he adjusted the curtain, he froze. The sound was there again, chiming gently….directly behind him.
Matthew stood frozen, his hands still on the drapes. He heard the sound of the bedroom door creaking behind him, followed by the click of the lock as it shut. He felt himself breathing harder, his heart speeding up in his chest. But just as he had started to panic, he suddenly felt himself feeling another sensation—an unexpected familiar warmth spreading through him, calming his irrational fears. He lowered his arms slowly, but remained with his back to the door….to the source of the little sound.
He closed his eyes and that's when he noticed it…breathing in he recognized a fragrance that tugged at his heart with memories that had long been buried, with the young women who had worn the perfume he had given her.
"Lavinia…" he breathed out. He could sense her….feel her. But rather than feeling afraid, he somehow felt comforted. Slowly, he turned around until he was facing the door, and opened his eyes.
Lavinia stood before him. He blinked as though he might clear the vision from his sight.
"Hello, Matthew," she said sweetly, her voice and appearance unchanged from death.
He leaned back against the drapes and rubbed a hand against his eyes. "Dear, God, I've gone mad," he said as though speaking to himself. "Now I'm seeing things." His fingers pressed against his brow, attempting to rub away the hallucination.
"You're not seeing things," she said gently. "And there's no reason to be afraid."
He slowly pulled his hand away and looked up at her. "Lavinia," he whispered. She looked exactly as she had in life, still beautifully young and her strawberry hair was swept up in to a twist. She stood with her hands clasped in front of her, holding a white linen handkerchief, and wore a pale blue dress that matched her eyes. Her image took his breath away.
Lavinia nodded and stepped cautiously closer to him. "That's right." As she stood in front of him she reached up to touch his cheek.
Surprisingly, her hand felt warm against his skin. He didn't know what to say, and yet had a thousand things he wanted to share. "Dear God in heaven, is this real?" He cocked his head in question.
She smiled. "Yes, dearest, it is."
Matthew felt his heart lighten and he couldn't help the chuckle that escaped his lips. "Lavinia?" He gasped her name.
She nodded as she looked up in to his eyes. "Yes, Matthew, it's me. And you needn't be afraid of anything." Her voice was soothing and filled with affection.
He reached a reciprocating hand out and caressed her cheek. Like her hand, her cheek was warm to his touch. "Oh, my God, I don't know what to say, or where to start?" He laughed nervously as his eyes searched her face.
"Well, you could start by saying, hello," she said tentatively as a crescent smiled turned up her rosy lips.
He looked her up and down. "Are you a ghost?" He asked expectantly, his voice trembling.
Lavinia wrinkled her nose and looked slightly offended. "Ghost is such a negative term, Matthew." She straightened her shoulders. "It frightens children." She whispered and smiled. "I much prefer angel if you don't mind."
The sweet tone of her voice and her remark made him laugh. "Just as you were in life, as well." He stepped closer to her, closing the space between them. Matthew slowly put his arms around her small waist, hesitant and unsure. As he pulled her to him, Lavinia rested her cheek on his chest. "Oh, my darling girl…" he whispered.
Lavina wrapped her arms around his middle, squeezing him. "I've missed you so much, Matthew." She hugged him tighter and he pulled her closer. "And you must forgive me, you see, because the afterlife is a funny thing. Although it's been eight years for you since I left, for me it's as though it were only days ago. So I'm afraid my feelings are just as they were."
"It's alright." He whispered and kissed the top of her head, then rested his cheek against it. "Have you been here this whole time?"
She shook her head and pulled away to look up at him. "Don't be silly; of course not." She reached a hand out and touched his necktie.
Matthew glanced down, feeling the familiar report between them. "Then where?' He spoke softly, not wanting to frighten her away.
"Many, many places. Here and there, and everywhere." She thought momentarily. "Last year I helped your daughter, Charlotte, down from an apple tree across the estate."
He looked at her perplexed as though a thought were just coming to him. "That was you?"
Lavinia nodded with a gleam in her eye, and smoothed her hands over the front of his jacket to straighten it.
He let out an astonished breath. "She told me about a woman with ginger hair who helped her down from that tree, and I didn't believe her and was cross at her for fibbing to me and for being too far from the house."
Lavinia chuckled. "Yes, I know and you were quite unfair, Matthew. The poor little thing was stranded and I gave her a hand; so it was all quite true, and then you sent her to her room."
He sighed. He loved seeing her again and knowing that she was alright. And in his own way, he loved holding her again. "Thank you for rescuing her."
Lavinia looked at him affectionately. "It was sweet of you and Mary to name Charlotte after me."
He smiled down at her. "Well, we both thought Charlotte Lavinia Crawley was quite a lovely name." He gazed down at her and his tone became tender and serious. "Lavinia…" he traced a finger over her brow to brush a strand of hair away. "…my darling, I hope you have forgiven me. I was so incredibly lost and adrift after you…." He couldn't say it out loud to her. "…after you left us that night."
Lavinia could see the regret in his eyes. She tugged his hands and pulled them toward the edge of the bed. As she sat down, he knelt down on front of her. "Oh, Matthew, my dearest, you mustn't keep this burden in your heart." She reached out and brushed his hair from his forehead. "I know how badly you felt. And it's true that I love yo…" she caught herself, "…that I loved you with all my heart, and in fact I'm afraid I still do. But my time here was shortened by my illness, not by anything you did or could have done."
His heart clenched at this unimaginable moment with her, hearing her words of forgiveness and understanding. "Then you have forgiven me?" He implored her, looking up in to the depths of her cornflower blue eyes.
"No, I haven't forgiven you." She cupped his face with her hands, stopping his momentary confusion. "I haven't forgiven you because I don't feel you need my forgiveness." She kissed his forehead.
Matthew smiled up at her and leaned his head over, resting his cheek on her lap. "Thank you, my darling."
Lavinia bent down and brushed her lips over his soft hair. "There's nothing to thank me for. I am just so happy for you and that you have the life you wanted and the love you deserve."
He blinked his eyes closed as he listened to her sweet words. "It doesn't mean that I didn't love you or never think of you or of us…of what might have been."
She rubbed a hand lovingly over his back. "I know. And I know you visit the cemetery each year on my birthday."
He looked up at her with innocent eyes. "You know about that?"
She chuckled. "Yes, silly, and I think it's quite sweet of you to bring me my favorite flowers on my birthday, instead of the day that I…that I said goodbye." She brushed her fingers through his hair. "It was also very kind of you to be with my father when he was so ill. He's told me how much he appreciated your kindness."
"I'm so glad." Matthew took her hands in his and whispered. "I wanted to be there for both of you." Her linen handkerchief became intertwined in their hands.
She leaned forward and rested her forehead against his. "And you were, my dear, Matthew." A melancholy smile pulled at her lips. "I hope you'll permit me to periodically visit with your children. I know they belong to you and Mary, but they are so lovely. I'll keep an eye out for them, if it would be alright?"
He smiled and nodded his head against hers. "Of course it's alright."
"And you'll practice restraint and understanding when they tell you about their ginger-haired angel?" Her tone was soft and teasing.
He smiled and felt his eyes water. "Yes, of course." They sat together like that for a long while, in the quiet of the room, heads touching and their hands interlocked.
"I must go." She whispered.
"Thank you for visiting me…for understanding." He sighed bashfully. "And for looking after my daughter when she needed it."
"Thank you for not being afraid." She stood and tugged him up by his hands and led him around the bed. "I want you to lie down."
Matthew eyed the bed suspiciously. "Here? On this bed?"
Lavinia huffed. "Oh, Matthew, you must stop being so superstitious about this room. It's really one of the loveliest in the house." She nudged him by the arm. "Here then, lie down."
He begrudgingly obliged her and sat down on the bed. "When you disappear," he cleared his throat awkwardly, "how do you do it?" His voice held the fascination of a little boy.
She laughed. "It's rather like magic." She motioned at the bed. "Now go on and lie back"
He smiled up at her. "Can I watch?"
Lavinia leaned over him. "Certainly not!" She chided him. "You'll find out someday, but not for a very long time, thank goodness."
He stretched out on the bed and reached a hand out and touched her arm. "What's heaven like?" His eyes glittered up at her in earnest.
Looking down in to his brilliant blue eyes, Lavinia felt the love she had always known for Matthew. "Like this," she said endearingly as she leaned down and touched her lips to his, gently caressing his mouth with hers. Their lips found each other tenderly and lovingly, and Matthew felt himself floating away, as though he were falling asleep and slipping in to a wonderful dream. Memories rushed in to his head…of the night he and Lavinia met; when they danced at the regimental military ball and shared their first kiss; and when he proposed after dinner at Mirabelle. He heard Lavinia's voice, comforting him as she seemed further and further away, "Sleep, dear, Matthew."
"Goodbye my darling," he murmured as he felt her slip away.
The mantle clock chimed half past four. Mathew stirred, still feeling the warmth and emotions from Lavinia's visitation. As his eyes fluttered open and he looked up to find Mary sitting beside him on the bed.
She tilted her head to one side. "Are you alright?" She lovingly rested a hand on his forehead.
He nodded his head and his mouth formed a crooked smile. "Yes, darling, of course." He reached a hand up to his head, putting his hand over hers reassuringly.
"I'm surprised to find you in here, knowing how you feel about this room." She said reverently.
He smiled up at her and yawned. "I wandered in here to close the window. I must have sat down for a moment and dropped off."
Mary patted his arm and bent down and kissed him. "I'm glad to see you in here, actually. I know you've never liked this room ever since Lavinia's death, so perhaps it doesn't bother you as much as it used to?"
He looked up at her. "Perhaps not." He shrugged. "But I had the craziest dream."
She rubbed his chest. "Oh?"
"Yes," he started, "I dreamt that," he started to tell her, but he stopped. It was all too unbelievable. Looking up at her, he saw the love and trust in Mary's eyes. She would think he was truly crazy. He decided to ask her a question instead. "Do you believe in ghosts…uh, or rather, angels?"
Mary contemplated his question briefly. "I'm not entirely sure, but I suppose I do." She looked deeper in to his eyes. "Why do you ask? Did you see something in here?"
He smiled and moved to get up. "Maybe."
Mary stood. "It's alright you know. Many people have seen things in this old house. Granny once thought she saw the ghost of George III."
He chuckled and looked up at her. "It might have been nothing…just a childish dream."
Mary leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Alright then. I'll see you downstairs."
As she left, Matthew stood up and faced the mirror over the dresser. He raised his left hand to tug his jacket, and that was when he saw it. The white linen handkerchief, embroidered with the initials L.S.
He smiled to himself and at the memory. "So it wasn't a dream." He looked around the room as though he might not be by himself. He tucked the hanky in his pants pocket, walked around to the nightstand and collected his books. He took another last look around the room. "Thank you, my darling," he whispered as he turned to leave.
At long last the east guestroom had taken on a new and lovely memory for Matthew Crawley.
"You're welcome…" the soft, feminine voice whispered in the empty room as he shut the door behind him.