Getting Through It
Crossover with Downton Abbey. Following the death of Lady Sybil, Lord Grantham decides a trip to South Africa may just be what Lady Grantham needs in order to grief properly without people watching. Along with Bates and Anna, they arrive at Leopards Den where they quickly realise they aren't the only one's to have lost a dear one.
Black, with it's connotations of pain and loss, was the only colour to be seen as the swarm of mourners moved away from the grave. As the residents of the picturesque home walked away from the place they'd just committed the person they loved so much to the ground, a solemn mood was all that could be felt.
"We have to carry on Danny." Alice whispered as she gripped her devastated Husband's hand, "Dup wouldn't want us to wallow my love."
"It's too soon for guests Alice." Danny breathed, swiping at his eyes, "How can I be all happy and smiles when I've lost the man who was like a father to me, to us?"
"I know... I know." Alice responded, "Now, how about we go and give Dup the send off he deserves... at the bar?"
"I'm glad I have you." Danny whispered, stopping momentarily and turning to face her. The others continued to walk past them to wrapped up in their own grief. Alice smiled, and wrapped her arms around him. They'd get through it.
"Robert, it's been an awful long journey." Cora yawned as he escorted her into the car that would take them to their final destination.
"You can sleep on the way." Robert smiled, climbing in beside her as Anna and Bates climbed in behind them. "It's another few hours yet."
"You win, wake me before we arrive." Cora asked before gripping his arm and resting her head on her shoulder, as she closed her heavy eyes. She smiled slightly to herself, it felt good to be liberated. No one saying she shouldn't be showing so much affection, no gossips. Of course there were Bates and Anna but Cora knew that they posed no threat and it had been her decision that Anna should accompany her as opposed to O'Brien. The Bates' got about as much time alone as she and Lord Grantham did and so she'd decided that time away would do them good too.
"Caroline go to bed, rest." Alice said softly as they arrived back at Leopards Den. They had to prepare for their next guests, Lord and Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey and two of their staff. "We'll deal with these guests."
"Caroline..." Alice insisted, "We'll be fine."
Caroline nodded gratefully before taking her leave, Alice watched her walk away and into her room before setting off down to the animal hospital. She'd seen Danny slink off down their earlier and she knew almost inevitably that he'd be mentally preparing himself for what was to come.
Sure enough, he was. His green eyes gazing down at a sleeping cheetah that had been brought in last week after being shot in the leg. He turned slightly as his wife entered, his expression remaining the same - heartbroken. Alice sighed, she wished she could remove his pain. She felt enough of her own but she'd happily take his just to see him smile and get through this. After an initial cry, he'd bottled everything up and avoided talking about Dup to anyone. Now and then she'd see his barriers begin to break, but the minute he himself noticed, he quickly reconstructed them, obviously obsessed with being the strong patriarch.
Alice didn't speak one word, just simply walked up behind him and wrapped her arms tight around his waist, resting her head against his back. She knew that he didn't want to hear any words, he simply needed to know she was there, to be held. They stood like that for a few moments before Danny turned, his hands falling to her hips.
"Everything arranged for the Granthams?"
"Yes." Alice replied.
"I suppose we ought to go up to the house, be ready to greet them." Danny said matter of factly.
"You sure you're ok to do this? I don't mind..." Alice asked him softly.
"Alice, you're hurting as much as each and every one of us. Don't burden yourself with everyone's duties... it'll only tire you out and I don't want you to be ill. Besides, Robert won't understand."
"He's five now Danny, he's not stupid." Alice sighed, "Olivia took him to bed, he was gone by the time we got here."
"Is Olivia staying?"
"Yes." Alice replied, taking his hand and leading him out the animal hospital and across the lawn up to the house. "She said she'd remain for the duration of Lord and Lady Grantham's stay and take on Caroline's duties."
"She never fails to make me proud." Danny smiled as they advanced the steps. Suddenly a set of headlights lit up the darkened area and a car rushed into the reserve. Danny took a deep breath, before descending the stairs with his wife ready to greet their guests.
Lord and Lady Grantham exited the car and looked around as Anna and Bates began to organise the luggage the best they could.
"Lord and Lady Grantham." Danny smiled, "Danny and Alice Trevanion." He continued, shaking hands with the Lord and nodding their heads to Lady Grantham.
"Please, call us Robert and Cora." Cora smiled, "This is Anna and John Bates." She smiled signalling to them.
"Pleased to meet you." Alice offered, shaking their hands with a forced grin.
"This is a wonderful place." Robert smiled, "Beautiful."
"Thank you, we think so." Alice replied, "We imagine you all must be hungry? Nomsa, our house maid is just cooking some food now. We've had a bit of a..." Alice paused, she didn't want to give too much away as to the family's grief.
"We've just had a bit of a hard day that's all." Danny finished, "For as much as this is a business, we're a family too."
"Of course." Robert replied earnestly. It felt good not to have any expectations or to have to keep up his greatness. "Please don't rush."
"If one of you could show me to our rooms, we'd happily start sorting things out for you M'Lord." Anna offered.
"Of course." Alice nodded.
"If you're quite sure..." Robert answered, "There's no hurry."
"We're fine, we had a small lunch on the way here." Bates answered.
"Very well." The Lord replied, "In that case I bid you good night. There'll be no need for you to come and see to us Bates."
"Nor you to me Anna." Cora smiled, "Enjoy your time with Bates." She replied with a slight glint in her eye.
"Thank you." Anna grinned, as Danny handed Alice his keys.
"Won't be long love." Alice told her Husband before moving off to help with the bags.
An hour later and Robert and Cora had both eaten their dinner and were sat upon the veranda, talking quietly amongst themselves. They hadn't really done this since before Sybil's death and tonight it seemed as though it was a taboo subject - at least until they were in full privacy anyway.
"When Alice gets back, I might ask if she or Danny could take us to our hut." Robert said softly, "Ah speak of the devil." He smiled as he saw a Jeep approaching, the headlights shining brightly for a few moments until the car halted and a tired looking Alice jumped out. Robert was about to call her when she seemed to stop on her journey towards the veranda and look down to the animal hospital, before walking with purpose down there. "I'll call her-"
"No." Cora insisted quietly, "Wait." She murmured as she spotted another figure in a shadow by the fountain. Robert followed his wife's instructions, watching as the figure turned and upon seeing Alice walked forward towards her. "It's Danny." The American Countess smiled. "Oh wait, Robert look." Cora whispered tenderly.
It looked as though the couple were talking before Alice gripped hold of her Husband holding him close as he buried his head in her shoulder. Within moments, Alice's own head was in his neck and their sobbing could be heard quite clearly as the hush of the African night was broken.
"I feel quite intrusive." Cora sighed, "May we excuse ourselves?"
"And go where?" Robert murmured, "No, let's just pretend we can't see."
"Just because we can't see does not mean we can't hear." She replied pursing her lips, "We need to think of something more... appropriate."
A/N- Ok, so I know I have 101 unfinished stories and I have hundreds of oneshots and half written chapters but I've had this story lingering for a while and it's annoying me. Of course, originally it wasn't for Lady Sybil but then they killed her off so it seemed more fitting.