The feedback to Stuck Downstairs was overwhelming so thank you all! I'm so glad you all enjoyed it! And not that I really needed much persuading to write a sequel…but I'm looking again at you Orangeshipper, who again gave me the inspiration to write one! A/n: I couldn't think of a better title, sorry. Set about five months after SD. Pure, unashamed happiness and fluff.
His son was in his arms before he'd barely even made a sound. He was used to it now, his ear completely tuned to the nursery across the hall. The war had at least been useful for something; all that time spent just waiting and listening. Matthew had slipped out of the bed, pulled on his dressing gown, and slipped out of the room, careful not to wake his sleeping wife, and had gone straight to the baby. He had picked him up with a practiced ease, smiling as he thought of that first time, almost five months ago now, when he had been terrified of dropping him or crushing him or doing something wrong, and holding him as delicately as one would hold the finest porcelain, but now he was fine. He could do this. He carried the wriggling baby carefully down the dark stairs. There was no need to wake anyone else. He could do this. He shifted William carefully in his arms and opened the door to his study, flicking the light on and heading to the bookcase. He looked at the baby, who was watching him with wide eyes and he smiled, pressing a soft kiss to his forehead. He quickly scanned the shelves and found what he was after, before settling himself down in his chair.
"Well, where were we up to? Ah yes, when you're married, said Peter, your bootlace will come undone going up the church aisle, and your man that you're going to get married to will tumble over it and smash his nose on the cemented pavement, and then you'll say you won't marry him, and you'll have to be an old maid. I shan't said Phyllis," he paused and looked down at his audience, his heart swelling with love at the little dark-haired, navy-eyed baby who seemed to be hanging on his every word, just as he did every night. "I'd much rather marry a man with his nose smashed in than not marry anybody. It would be horrid to marry a man with a smashed nose all the same, went on Bobbie. He wouldn't be able to smell the flowers at the wedding. Wouldn't that be awful?" He stopped again, and smiled at the baby, whose fingers had made their way into his mouth. He put the book down and gently pulled the little hand away, chuckling as the now damp fingers closed around his own. "I think, young man, that it is time for a drink." He stood, shifting William in his arms and picking up the book before heading into the kitchen.
Dropping the book onto the table with a quiet thud, Matthew moved round the kitchen and started to heat up some milk in a pan. He rocked William as he got a cup out, hoping, as he always did, that Mrs Bird wouldn't mind too much that he'd been in the kitchen; well she hadn't said anything so far. He added some sugar to the milk and stirred, before pouring it into the cup. In the past few months he had become something of a master at the one-handed drink making. "I suppose you'll be wanting some of this?" He raised his eyebrows at his son, and chuckled again as the response he got was a gummy smile. He took a sip of the sweet liquid, it was just right for both of them. He dipped his finger in and put it in the baby's mouth, who suckled on it with a determined frown. Matthew smiled; when he looked like that, he was definitely his mother's son. With some awkwardness, he sat and shifted with the baby, and found his place in the book.
"Shall we have a bit more? Bother the flowers at the wedding cried Peter. Look, the signal's down, we must run…" he carried on reading, and dipping his finger in the warm milk for his son to suck, smiling as he held the baby close to him, thinking about how much he loved his little boy.
Mary rolled over and reached an arm out, expecting to feel her husband so she could curl up against him, but all she felt was an empty space. A cold, empty space. He'd not been in the bed for a while. Her eyes shot open and she sat up, frowning and wondering where he was. She pulled on her dressing gown and crept out of the bedroom, heading straight into the nursery, but there was no sign of husband or son. Feeling slightly panicked she headed downstairs. The light in the study was on, but still no sign of Matthew or William. Where on earth… Her train of thought was broken as she noticed the thin crack of light from under the kitchen door. She stepped closer, hand on the handle, and then she heard it…her husband was reading to their son, his smooth low voice soothing and calming. She pressed her ear against the door; smiling and feeling tears prickle in her eyes at this tender moment between father and son.
"…At the end of the field, among the thin gold spikes of grass and the harebells and Gypsy roses and St. John's Wort, we may just…more milk? You greedy thing!" A soft chuckle and a high-pitched giggle. Oh the sound of her son laughing filled her with so much…everything. She couldn't even describe it.
"We may just take one last look, over our shoulders at the white house where neither we nor anyone else is wanted now. And that is the end of that. One day my little darling, I will take you on a train. Maybe we could take Mama on a surprise outing. I think she'd like that. We could go…" Mary stepped back as Matthew's voice dropped to a murmur. She smiled again and tiptoed back to the bedroom. She didn't need to worry, although it did explain a couple of things.
"I think little one, that it is time to go back to bed," William had finally given in and drifted back to sleep. Matthew smiled; he didn't know why the baby fought it so much. He tidied up as much as he was able to, collected the book, and carefully carried his sleeping son back to the nursery, placing him in the crib and smiling again as he looked at the hands curled into tiny fists, and the slightly parted rosebud lips. "Until tomorrow night then my little one," he whispered as he backed out of the room, closing the door behind him.
A/n: The book that Matthew was reading was, of course, The Railway Children by E. Nesbit (the only children's book I had to hand that would have been around at the time).
Thank you for reading!