Warwick Pritchard took great pride in his work at 165 Eaton Place. The crystal glasses sparkled, the dinners were always on time and house ran like clockwork…well, usually it did. He ran his hand over a non-existent wrinkle in his jacket, frowning at the recent events of the past months. First Miss Buck fell ill, then that strange scandal with Dr Mottershead and that woman and now her Ladyship was at odds with both her sister and her husband. How could things unravel so quickly? Pritchard liked routine; routines had worked for the past 27 years…why would they stop now? Maybe he was losing his touch?
No, that defiantly wasn't it.
Sighing, Pritchard stood up and looked around the empty kitchen. The surfaces were clean and well scrubbed and everything was neatly put away. That Eunice was turning out rather satisfactorily, if a little slowly. He yawned discreetly, as it would never do to look tired even off duty, and made his way across the wooden floor to lock the doors. The house was silent and still. And dark. And lonely.
Oh, how ridiculous.
Shaking his head quickly, as if to dispel the unwanted opinions from his brain, Pritchard went to bed swiftly. If a little unsettled.
Maybe it was all the talk of war. Yes, of course! That was it. All that argument and disruption from his schedule…at least the staff still respected him.
The lamp died next to him in a dull, tired sort of way and Warwick Pritchard was encased in darkness.
He had never felt more lost.
Miss Whisset was busy. Well, that was an understatement really; she was completely and utterly swept off her feet. Being the Ladies Maid of a very rich, prominent woman did that sort of thing to you, always a new scandal, another stocking to mend, 3 more maids to scold. She chewed her lip in agitation; all those years in service, perfecting her routine and for what? Decent maids were so hard to come by now…she had caught the newest addition to the household in bed with the butcher's boy.
Well, really…it wasn't as if they were even trying to be quiet.
Thinking of the simply silly noises that had been coming from the servants room last week made another catch her attention. Somewhere ahead of her on the bustling street a loud wooden clunking was steadily louder and louder. Ordinarily it wouldn't have bothered her but today, today she was on a tight schedule and it involved carrying a lot of parcels which seemed to be getting heavier by the minute.
Her ladyship had wanted a sudden shopping spree at the most expensive store and there simply hadn't been enough room in the car for all her glittery over priced hairclips and shoes. Miss Whisset prided herself on her ability to help in any situation and had offered to carry the rest. How stupid that offer seemed to be now.
She was so swept up in her thoughts that she walked straight into someone standing very still in the middle of the pavement. By the pain in her temple he seemed to be wearing the most ridiculously hard hat.
The parcels flew everywhere and she lost her footing, damn that lose heel on her shoe, and fell straight into the man, for that was what he apparently was judging by the shout of surprise he gave as she collapsed on top of him.
For a few tiny seconds they stared at each other, noses nearly touching and legs sprawled awkwardly. The she felt something hard pressing her leg…
The parcels fell with surprising noise around them and Miss Whisset pushed herself away from him with slightly unnecessary force. "I do apologise, I am so sorry…" She trailed off, the blood rushed to her cheeks and she felt incredibly hot and flustered.
Warwick Pritchard peered up at her from the floor, completely winded and dazed by the sudden weight on a woman on top of him. He got up with as much dignity as he could muster and straightened his time helmet. The woman that stood before him was not, as he had assumed, an over eager kitchen maid but was instead a tall, handsome woman with a surprising air of authority. Well, she would have been if she hadn't been quite so utterly speechless.
With her hand clapped to her mouth Miss Whisset found herself unable to do anything but squeak. What had just happened? Ridiculous at her age…
The man held up a thick broken wooden object in front of her forlornly "I think you landed on my…" Mr Pritchard broke off, she had broken his air siren. They both stared at it for a moment and then realisation hit them both at the same time.
"…I thought…I am so sorry, I thought you'd…" Miss Whisset spluttered, the ludicrousness of the situation was making it very hard not to laugh. At first the man looked highly affronted and make to gesture with the thing but the end fell off completely, falling to the floor with a loud thud. The sudden noise seemed to knock them both back into reality and the woman laughed, shyly at first but soon they were both laughing.
"Pritchard,Warwick Pritchard, Bulter"
He extended his hand almost gracefully to her in the air of one who practiced. Miss Whisset took it still smiling
"Whisset, Violet Whisset, Ladies Maid. Sorry for knocking you over"
Mr Pritchard smiled genuinely at her as they shook hands. "Apology accepted. Sorry for…confusing you" Miss Whisset felt her lips twitch into a knowing smile as if they had know each other years and were sharing a very old private joke.
Slowly they gathered the dropped parcels together and time seemed to gain back its normal speed.
"You are sure I can't help you more?" Warwickfelt instinctively that he should see her home. It was nearly evening after all now.
"No, no! Don't worry, I quite capable of fighting away ruffians! Its just butlers with helmets on that seem to get the better of me!" Miss Whisset's shy smiling eyes met his over the large pile of brown packages and he couldn't help but chuckle. Her glasses shone in return and she made to leave, walking briskly down the road. Mr Pritchard watched her for a moment, taking in what had just happened for the first time. He blinked foolishly for a moment and brushed off the dirt from the street from his coat. She was wearing a very nice coat, grey and long, very elegant. What a strange thought. He blinked again, unsure of where his mind was taking him. She had smiled at him. No, not at him, with him he corrected himself.
With a moments hesitation he turned and ran after her down the road. Not entirely sure what he was doing he round the street corner and nearly bumped into her again.
They both spoke at the same time, awkward and hurried.
"I could call on you some time?" It was a badly phrased question that seemed to fall out of Pritchard's mouth before he could stop himself. Miss Whisset seemed taken aback by his forwardness and raised her eyebrows, adjusting the parcels that sat in her arms. There was a pause in which she seemed to be scrutinising him. All the traces of the nervous, shocked woman he had had on top of him for a split second were gone and had been replaced by a confident glint in her blue eyes.
"Very well." Miss Whisset paused tilting hr head on one side, blonde hair moving gently in the evening breeze. "My day off is Sunday. I like the Park"
"So do I" Suddenly feeling very much like a naughty school boy Pritchard straightened his tie needlessly and cleared his throat, aware of her judging eyes sweeping his face.
"Good" She turned and walked smartly away. Pritchard found himself grinning. Well, why not? He could do things too couldn't he? Very suddenly he was reminded of all the times he had spoken a harsh word on watched her figure silhouetted against the dark with unsure eyes. A female friend.
He had never felt more alive.
Well, there it is! Please let me know what you think via message! ….I haven't felt this inspired to write since my epic Downton Abbey saga! Yay! I'll post most nights at about midnight!…there seems to be a woeful lack of Upstairs Downstairs fics…follow me on Tumblr thereislaceatstake for more updates and fangirling!