This is the beginning of my very long fic that is pretty much how I see the C/H relationship unfolding. It is finished although it needs some editing. The fun part about doing all this before the second series is that pretty much anything goes. We don't know anything yet, so things could happen any way we want. I do admit that if the powers that be don't agree with me, I'll probably refuse to accept their reality in favor of my own. Again, I don't own these guys and will send them on their merry way when I'm finished.

PROLOGUE

Mr. Carson thought as he wearily made his nightly rounds around the house. He thought as he checked each room for any stray wine glasses or untidiness that would have to be taken care of before morning. He thought as he checked and locked each door. This was no different from his usual evening routine except tonight he had rather more to think about. Her Ladyship had miscarried the likely future heir of Downton, and his heart went out to the Earl and his wife. To have one's hopes raised and then dashed so completely must have been devastating. Of course, Elsie had said that before he thought it. Elsie, specifically her emotional state, was foremost in his thoughts. They'd all been upset by the news, except Thomas of course (privately he congratulated William on the black eye he'd managed to give him), but Elsie had seemed especially distraught. She'd been heartbroken over the 'poor wee babe', and Thomas' comments had only seemed to make her feel worse. He'd left her in her parlor so that he could take care of Dr. Clarkson's arrival and departure and planned to join her again. He had no intention of allowing her to sleep alone in the state she was in. The other thought that was tickling his mind was a comment from Dr. Clarkson as he left; he'd asked that Mrs. Hughes speak with her Ladyship in a few days. Why would he single out Elsie in particular? Surely any woman could empathize with the loss of a child and it wasn't as if Elsie had ever been … His thoughts trailed off and then suddenly a great number of things seemed to fall into place, but they still didn't make any sense. "Charlie, my boy, you have been a very stupid man!" he thought as he hurriedly finished his rounds and went in search of answers.

He entered her parlor without knocking. No one else would be so bold especially at this hour. She looked up only briefly from her intense study of the rug. Crossing to her he knelt before her so that he could look in her eyes. "You miscarried our child," he stated flatly. As she looked up at him sharply, he took her arms. "That is what you couldn't tell me that first summer after we were together. Why didn't you tell me, love?" he asked gently. As he noticed the tears shining in her eyes and spilling onto her cheeks, he knew he was going to have to wait for his answers. Pulling her against his chest he waited while she cried six years of tears and shed a few tears of his own for a loss he hadn't known.