A/N: Okay, this was to be my original Christmas fic, and then I asked for festive prompts and then the Chelsie Exchange cropped up and well, this has been sitting in my files for a few weeks now. I'm posting because I think that's the only way I'll get myself to actually finish the rest of the chapters. ;) The 'names' will be the same as before, and we'll be catching a glimpse of a Christmas either past, present or future from where Five Names left of. This one is definitely in the future; you'll know when. I hope you enjoy!

One: Nanny

Winter has fully set in by the time Christmas rolls around. She loves this time of year, when the leaves crunch beneath her feet, ice glitters on rooftops, frost in windows and the whole city seems alive with hope and goodwill. She isn't by nature a sentimental woman, but there is something about Winter, and December especially that fills her with warmth for her fellow man. All of them, even that impertinent wisp of a footman Gerald.

She takes her meals with the children as always, but often times she is invited down to the servant's hall for a cup of tea and a slice of cake or gingerbread. It seems that everyone is affected by the Season and she has found that to be mostly the same in all the houses she has worked.

This year she makes an effort to accept the Housekeeper's invitations, whenever they're offered; they are all aware that this will be her last Christmas here, with Master Michael going off to school in the New Year.

She hasn't made many friends downstairs, it's hard to when everyone knows you are only to be around for a few years while the Family's children grow, but the servants have all been kind to her. Such a small thing, really, but she knows enough to be thankful for it.

{She has sent her letters out for a new position, answered a few advertisements and has an interview on the 5th for a family over in Kensington. She is not worried; this life is familiar to her now, the constant moving around. She has impressive references from all of her employers and she flatters herself, perhaps, but she has it on good, reliable authority that her reputation is well-known. She will find something suitable in time.}

It is a white Christmas this year, the snow coming down only the afternoon before and not stopping until the grounds were covered in a thick white sheet.

As she looks out of the Nursery window she thinks of the children she has cared for before, remembers their excitement when they saw their first snowflakes. A smile settles on her face, a little sad perhaps but still grateful that she was able to experience it with them all.

Fingers pressed to the frosted glass, she sends a quick prayer out for them all, thanks the Lord that they all survived the terrible war, that they are growing and marrying now, having children of their own.

"Nanny Hughes?"

She starts at the soft voice, turns to smile at Molly. Such a timid little thing, but as good a maid as she has ever seen.

"I'll be out in a moment, Molly and then you can dust in here."

She gathers together young Michael's dinner clothes, ready for when he returns from his afternoon walk with his parents.

"No I mean, thank you Nanny, but that's not why I came. There's a call for you, on the telephone. Mr Bailey sent me up."

She can't help the way her heart jumps, but she can fight the smile that wants to pull at her lips. She has been waiting for this call all day, all week really, since he mentioned it in his last letter.

{Charles Carson was not an original fan of the telephone, but since they began speaking to each other once a month outside of the Season, he has rather changed his mind on it. It is her intention to have him accept the usefulness of the electric toaster by the Summer.}

She hurries down to the Butler's pantry, Michael's coat and shoes in hand and tries to keep her face impassive, it won't do for anyone to suspect how much she enjoys hearing his voice like this.

There is something so much more immediate about talking over the telephone, a sense of him being only a wire away, almost in the room with her, that she doesn't get from a letter.

The Butler hands her the receiver and leaves, shutting the door behind him, a sign of respect and trust that she appreciates. She drops Master Michael's things onto the armchair and finally seats herself at the desk.

"Mr Carson?"

"Ah, Miss Hughes, Merry Christmas."

It is now, she thinks and says; "Merry Christmas, Mr Carson."

"I hope the day has seen you well, Miss Hughes?"

"It has, Mr Carson, very much so. And your own day? Would I be right in assuming by your tone that it has been a good one?"

He sounds happy, a grumbly joyful tone slipping into his voice. She hears the clink of glass on wood and bites her lip to hide a smile he can't see anyway; he has started on the port a little earlier tonight, the Crawley's must be out for the evening.

"I have few complaints, Miss Hughes, about the day or the servants' performance throughout it."

He sounds proud, the servants' performance a good reflection on him. She is pleased for him; these past few years have seemed hard at the Abbey, too much sadness it seems, another crisis arising with each letter she receives from him.

"Then I'm glad for you Mr Carson."

She asks then about his Lady Mary, how she is coping with a young bairn and her husband so suddenly gone, how darling Miss Sybbie is.

He coughs awkwardly through the telephone and she imagines him straightening his jacket, an action she has seen many times over the years when he is unsure of how his next words will be received.

"Before I talk of the children, a question if I may Miss Hughes?"

She rolls her eyes, ridiculous man, he always goes so formal when he feels unsteady.

"Of course, Mr Carson."

She finds her heart is beating hard in her chest for no reason at all.

"Last week, you mentioned that you had still not accepted a new position, has that changed?"

She frowns, she can feel her pulse in her neck and she squeezes the receiver tightly. She wonders if he can really be going with this where she thinks.

"No, I have an interview a week or so away and an offer or two already, but nothing I've agreed to."

"Good, good. I mean, that's...right."

Her eyebrow rises, a smile slowly creeping across her lips.

"Mr Carson-" she starts into the silence that follows.

"Lady Mary would like to meet you."

She swallows her words suddenly, chokes a little and coughs. "I'm sorry, Mr Carson?" She asks when she has recovered.

"Lady Mary, she wishes to meet you."

"I don't...Charles-"

"There was a problem with the Nanny, you see and Her Ladyship sent her away. I spoke to Lady Mary and she was worried about finding a new Nanny at such short notice and I mentioned you..."

"And she wants to meet with me before making a decision?"

"Yes. Although I assure you, Miss Hughes, it is simply a matter of routine, caution after the last experience. She has heard of you, of course and I have told her my own observations."

She has nothing to worry over there, he has always been her most staunchest supporter.

She has not accepted a job outside of London for over twenty years and it would be quite a change to move away now, to Yorkshire no less, where she has never been. Away from all the familiar people and places. Well, except for one particular person of course.

And in truth she has met many of the staff and has always enjoyed when Mrs Patmore accompanies Mr Carson to the Park on occasion. He has described Downton so well and so often that she feels as though she knows it well already. So perhaps it will not be so unfamiliar after all.

"When does Lady Mary have in mind for this 'routine' interview, Mr Carson?"

She can practically hear the relief in his voice. "The fifth, Miss Hughes. You could come up on the 12 o'clock from Paddington."

She smiles, she hadn't really wanted to live in Kensington anyway.

"I shall be there, Mr Carson, you may tell your Lady Mary that."

If you have a moment, please let me know what you thought. I'm serious when I say that it's your comments that inspire me to actually write.