A bit of a one shot. A rather bad one I have to admit, but I needed to write something else for a change since I'm a bit blocked on my other story. Still, I hope some of you'll enjoy it and if you do please leave a review.
He had been there when they told her. Had seen how not a muscle moved in her face when she heard the news. She didn't cry, didn't even sit down. She just stood there, her eyes blank, devoid of all emotions.
He had been there during the funeral. She was standing next to the grave, dressed all in black. Nothing else gave away her mourning. The other faces were grim, tear streaked even, but not hers.
He had sat across from her at the family dinner. She hadn't said anything. Not even when Mary jumped up and fled from the table. Lady Mary, the epitome of a grieving wife, her complexion pale her eyes reflecting a sadness he hadn't thought her capable of.
Not at all like her. She didn't storm out. In fact she didn't do anything at all. She just sat there, her back straight as could be. Any other would have assumed that the realisation had sunk in yet. It sometimes happened. They would have thought the blow was yet to come.
He knew better. It wasn't at all like her to be so quiet. Her eyes were empty, almost as if she wasn't really there. It was as if she was hiding deep inside, where only she could go. Alone with an overwhelming sadness.
No one at that table could really know what she was going through. Not Lord Grantham, not Branson, not even Lady Mary. They had lost an heir, a friend, a husband, but none of them had lost a son. They had all been very fond of Matthew, but they hadn't been there when he was born, hadn't heard his first words or seen his first steps.
She had. And she wasn't about to share that pain with anyone. Perhaps she felt that the unspeakable hurt was the last connection she had to her son. Or maybe, deep down, she already knew that no one would understand.
He watched her leave without saying goodbye, wondering what would happen when she got home. Would she cry then? He wanted to reach out to her so badly. Comfort her if such a thing was even possible.
It had seemed like a good idea when he was walking home to the village. But standing in front of her door, he wasn't so sure anymore. Still contemplating on whether or not to knock on the front door, he heard a crash inside.
His voice was hesitant. He didn't want to invade her privacy. He knocked three times, calling her name a little louder this time. A soft whimper reached his ears.
"Isobel, are you alright?"
No answer came and for a moment he wondered whether he had imagined even hearing the sound. Yet when he turned around, thinking she might want to be alone, the whimpering returned, louder this time.
"I'm coming in."
Concern had overshadowed his intention to give her space. He knew he was invading her privacy, walking through her door uninvited. Cautiously he opened the door to the living room, aware that she might not want to see him.
What he saw however, had his eyes widen. The floor was littered with broken china; the tray she normally used to serve the tea was lying upside down beside the mess. Isobel was kneeling amidst the shards, her shoulders shaking violently. He could see her fragile frame being racked by soundless sobs as she pressed one hand against her mouth. Blood flowed from a cut on the other hand, but she didn't seem to notice. Without thinking he rushed to her side, feeling her recoil when his hand touched her back.
She turned to him, still shaking. Her face was blotched from crying and unshed tears were still pooling in her eyes. Even now she was beautiful, he thought, immediately berating himself. For a moment he was sure she was going to ask him to leave. He braced himself, adamant to insist upon staying. Then, before he could do as much as blink, her lips were on his with a ferocity that nearly made him topple backwards.
He managed to croak when she pulled back and started to tear at his buttons. Unable to move in his shock, he stared at her quick fingers.
His voice sounded steadier now. He gently took her wrists into his hands and pulled them away from his half opened shirt. There was no embarrassment in her eyes, like he expected, only unbearable pain.
It was probably the first time she had called him by his Christian name. He had imagined this moment so often, dreamt about it. But in his dreams she wasn't crying. In his dreams they weren't sitting on the ground surrounded by a shattered tea set and her black dress wasn't darkened by blood.
"Let's get you to the hospital. You might need stitching."
He ignored her pleas. Though it took him a great amount of effort not to get lost in those brown eyes and give in.