The final (very short) chapter of a short fanfic :) Enjoy reading!
Thanks for all the reviews so far!
A/N I do not own the characters though I wish I had invented them. No copyright infringement intended. The characters and the show are an invention by Mr. Fellowes.
She put the single red rose into one of the small vases she kept on the shelf in her sitting room and placed it on the table next to the little box. A perfect arrangement for their private Valentine's Day celebrations though it was already one in the morning. She had not expected the ball to go on for that long. But finally, all the guests had either gone home or stayed for the night in one of the upstairs bedrooms. The only people in the house that were still awake were the butler and the housekeeper.
Elsie had sent Anna, William and Thomas to bed already thirty minutes ago and was now waiting for Charles to finish his rounds. She sat down and could not stifle the yawn anymore. She had longed for the solitude of the late evening hours, but right now she was so tired that she would probably fall asleep in his arms right away. A look at the clock on the mantelpiece told her that yet another ten minutes had passed. There was still no sign or sound of him. The only noise she heard came from the rain outside and the soft ticking of her clock. A shiver ran down her spine and she suddenly noticed how damp and cold the room was. She had not been in here for hours so the fire she had started half an hour ago had not yet warmed the place enough. Furthermore, the constant rain always made her freeze. She decided to put another log into the fire and to light one of the candles she kept in her drawer for special occasions. You are getting very romantic now, Elsie.
Another five minutes passed before she could hear the familiar footfall coming along the corridor. "Finally alone." He stood in the doorway of her sitting room. "You must be very tired. At least I am."
"It's past one o'clock already and it was a long and tiring day. But I'm still awake enough for our own Valentine's Day celebrations." She stepped closer and took his hand to lead him into her room. "Besides I'm cold and could need someone to warm me up."
"I know just the right person who is perfect in warming Elsie Hughes up," he chuckled and reached out to embrace her, but Elsie stopped him.
"Before we start with that I would like to give you this." She reached for the small box and adjusted the red ribbon one last time before she handed it to him.
"Didn't we agree that there should be no presents this Valentine's Day?" he asked, smiling, but Elsie just looked at him instead of answering his question. She did not want to wait any longer because this box had been in her drawer for too long now already. She had found his present in Ripon right after Christmas and decided to buy it though unsure when she would find the right occasion to give it to Charles.
He removed the ribbon slowly. The lid of the box sprung open with a click and revealed to shiny golden cufflinks. He carefully took them out of the box. "Elsie, this is…!" Charles Carson was seldom speechless.
She stepped closer and took the box from his hands. "How about Thank you Elsie?" she reached for his cuffs to remove his usual cufflinks and fasten the new ones. "I remembered the day when you had lost one of the silver ones and we could not find it anymore. Since then you only had this pair. I thought it would be nice to have a spare one in case another cufflink goes missing." She stood on tiptoes and kissed his cheek.
"Thank you, this is the most thoughtful gift I ever got." He drew her into an embrace and tenderly stroked her back.
Elsie closed her eyes and enjoyed this moment of closeness to the fullest. This time of the day was the only possibility for both of them to have some privacy. Sometimes they could just share ten minutes, on other occasions several hours. Today she'd rather stay awake as long as possible ignoring the tiredness.
She could feel his breath close to her ear and then heard him whisper, "It's time for your gift now." He loosened the embrace, went over to the table and took the rose out of the vase. "Happy Valentine's Day, my dear. Now, would you please follow me?"
Before he allowed her to step into his pantry, Charles quickly opened the door to make sure that Mr. Bates had in fact arranged everything the way he had told him to. As far as he knew, William had also been let in on his plan and he hoped the boy would keep it secret as well. He would never be able to explain to the rest of the staff why he had a gramophone in his pantry.
"Just one more minute." How adorable she looked with the rose in her hands, he thought. And how lucky he was to have her all for himself this night. He closed the door behind him, rekindled the fire and lit the hand lamp on his desk. The record was already set on the turntable all he had to do was turn the crank and set the needle down. A soft melody escaped from the gramophone and he opened the door again to let Elsie in.
She stood there and gasped, at him, at the music. "Where did you get that?"
"How about Thank you Charles?" he teased her, before he took her hand, put his hand on her hip and started to slowly dance with her through the room. She beamed up at him, her eyes sparkled. He had longed for this moment all day long. For weeks he had this plan in his head and until a few hours ago he had doubted that it would actually work out after all. Not after all the trouble he had gone through today. They made a turn, and he swirled her around, causing her to laugh out loud.
"Thank you so much for this wonderful surprise. It's perfect." She stopped and pulled his head down to kiss him deeply. After that Charles held her closer than necessary. In fact her head rested on his chest and they were barely moving forward anymore. The needle scratched on the record and eventually the tune was over but Charles did not want to let Elsie go now. Instead they continued to dance slowly to a melody that played only in their heads.
"This is the most perfect Valentine's Day I ever had." He heard her murmur into his chest.
"You are perfect," he whispered in reply. "And without you I would have hardly survived this day."
She raised her head to look at him. "Would you mind coming over to my sitting room and hold me for while now?"
"Still cold?" he touched one of her hands which were indeed freezing. "I thought that the dancing would warm you up but obviously it did not." Charles released the embrace a bit and took the needle from the record. Then he grasped the hand lamp and followed Elsie into her sitting room.
Her room was much warmer than his pantry but still Elsie was feeling bit cold. She sat down on her settee and waited until Charles had closed the door behind him. For a while he just stood there, looking down at her, smiling and she wondered what he was thinking. "What is it?"
"Nothing." He finally sat down next to her. "I was just enjoying the view."
"It's much better from where you sit now. You can enjoy all the details even more." Her fingers touched his lips, then the side of his chin and ran from there down his neck towards his shoulder.
His breath quickened and Elsie felt how his arm encircled her waist and his hand drew her face closer to his lips. "I can't look at all the details often enough." He breathed against her lips before he kissed her.
A warm sensation ran through her body, better than the fire in the fireplace behind her and better than his warm hands on her back. She deepened the kiss by opening her mouth and letting his tongue into it. This was indeed the best Valentine's Day she ever had. His hands started to fumble at the back of her dress. She had several buttons that fastened it at the neck. Charles managed to open quickly without ending the kiss but when he reached out for the front of her garment, Elsie had to withdraw to give him more room for his hands.
"Do you really want to do this now and here?" she teased him, well aware that the question was unnecessary. She could see by a look into his eyes that he was as much longing for a night with her as she was.
Instead of giving her an answer he slowly removed first his tie, than his collar and at last the new cufflinks. "We still have five hours until the night is over." And he took her face into his hands to give her another passionate kiss.
I'm not very good at T rated stuff that's why it ends here. Sorry for that. Let me know what you think :)