Epilogue

It had been the longest night of most of their lives. Most of the men of the house crowded around the drawing room well into the early hours of the morning- quite forgetting that by proper standards they should have retired hours ago. The father-to-be sat silent with anxiety somewhere in the middle of the group, being served whiskey at intervals by Charles, who thought he himself was probably quite as worried about Lady Mary as Mr Crawley was. None of the women were to be found anywhere, they had each been delegated their own onerous task. Everyone sat, waiting for the arrival of the first baby to Downton since Lady Sybil had been born.

Finally the drawing room door opened, heads swivelling towards it rapidly. A very battered looking Lady Sybil emerged. During the course of the war, Charles knew she must have seen her fair share of pain as a nurse, but still she looked as if this experience had unsettled her. He prayed that that did not bode ill. But she smiled a rather weary smile and they all breathed a sigh of relief.

"A boy," she spoke directly to Matthew Crawley, "Very blue eyes. You can go up and see them, but Mrs Carson says you're to be as quiet as mice."

Charles smiled to himself; that sounded very like Elsie. His Lordship and Mr Crawley departed hastily to meet the new arrival, but Charles did not. It wouldn't be proper for him to go just yet. Perhaps tomorrow. Or later today, that was, he reminded himself. At the same time, the female servants seemed to be coming back downstairs and he hung around, waiting for Elsie.

She emerged looking quite as worn out as Lady Sybil had. She smiled when she saw him. Though there were people present and the Carsons were certainly not prone to overly public displays of their affection for one another, he wrapped his arm around her and kissed her on the top of the head. She looked exhausted and he was happy; he didn't really care if Daisy goggled at them. Arm in arm, they headed down to the basement.

"Mrs Crawley's crying," she informed him hazily, "I've never seen anyone so uncontrollable," she remarked, rather fondly.

"Did Lady Mary have a name in mind?" he asked her.

Elsie nodded but did not enlighten him as to what it was.

"Go on," he pressed.

"I don't think you'll quite believe me," she told him, "She's called him Charles."

He truthfully didn't know what to say to that.

"Surely that can't be proper," he finally managed, "Won't they want him to be named after Mr Crawley."

"That's what her Ladyship said. Lady Mary was quite adamant. She was always very fond of you when she was a little girl, and she couldn't stand to name the child Robert after her father."

Amid being fairly speechless, he noticed that she had a distant thoughtful look about her, more than just weariness about her.

"What are you thinking?" he wanted to know.

"Sheer force of coincidence," she replied, "If our son couldn't be named after you, at least theirs is."

He kissed her on the forehead and hugged her as they reached the bottom of the stairs. Things about them had an odd way of working out, but he for one had no objections to it.

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