A ficlet I wrote for Sunday funday over at the LJ comm Lovebelowstairs. The first Charles/Elise fic I've actually finished. I hope to contribute a few more. I had a lot of fun with them.

Nothing really spoilery, just stuff from series 1.

I own nothing. Just having some fun.

Happiness ... can exist only in acceptance.- Denis De Rougemont

The garden party was normally a long day but never had one ended like this Charles Carson thought to himself. War with Germany. He couldn't quite believe it. A war would change everything at Downton and he didn't like that idea one bit. At least Mrs Hughes would still be there to weather the storm with him.

She was the very person he was in search of. It was late now and the house was quiet. It was an ominous silence. As if it knew dark days were on the horizon. He went to her sitting room to find it empty. This was most unusual. She always ended her days talking with him in her sitting room or his pantry.

He walked to the dining room to find the two cooks talking somberly.

"She's outside." Mrs Patmore said signaling towards the back door.

"Thank you." He said with a sad smile and went in search of the housekeeper.

She was standing with her back to him, alone by the fire. She was tense, on edge and it was more than just from the hunching of her shoulders. Was she crying? He couldn't tell but the thought caused him considerable anguish.

"Mrs Hughes," he'd said quietly so as not to frighten her, "is everything all right?"

"Mr Carson please just give me a minute." She replied not turning around.

He walked up behind her uncertain what to do next. His feelings concerning her had become such a mess lately. He'd known Elsie Hughes for so long. He considered her his oldest friend but a man called Joe Burns had made him have to rethink many things concerning their relationship.

"I can see that you are upset. Is there something I can do to help?"

"Charles I wish you'd hold me like you did Lady Mary." she said her voice barely above a whisper.

He startled then turned her to face him. "I could never hold you like I held her."

He watched her face drop and she made to step back. He grabbed at her arm.

"You misunderstand me." he told her. "Elsie if I held you I'd never want to let you go."

Reaching up to touch his cheek she said, "I don't think I would mind that."

Opening his arms he sighed softly as she walked in to them. This was one change he was sure he could happily live with.