Caveat Lector *
Your humble author accedes to the suzerainty of Lord Fellowes, Carnival Films, ITV and NBCUniversal.
This story is a direct continuation of 'Scapegoats'. It is extremely OOC.
If you disliked any part of 'Scapegoats' you will dislike all of this story so turn back now.
If you have not already read 'Scapegoats' you should, otherwise this story will not make any sense (this is not to represent or warrant that it will make any sense even then). But before you do you should read the very first review for Scapegoats and two of the last five reviews (the ones by Guest and Ann Onymouse). You may then wish to better engage your attention elsewhere.
If you are a M/R shipper it is amazing you made it this far. Turn back now, you are obviously lost.
If you read DA fanfiction for the fluff turn back back now. There is precious little fluff herein and what there is is thin stuff indeed.
If you read DA fanfiction for the smut turn back now. In this story there will be innuendo, bawdy humour and a lot of wink, wink, nudge, nudge. There will be no descriptions of the mechanics. The words 'moist' and 'thrust' will not appear in the same paragraph. There may be smut in future stories, the publisher has warned that if readership for this story does not consistently exceed three figures he may be requiring your author to subcontract some smut.
This story will deal with mature adult themes including violence. If you are not of the full age of thirty (in terms of maturity, not chronology) turn back now.
You have been warned. Read on at your own risk.
*Bumf required by the Legal Department. The same stuff printed on the back of your ski lift ticket. You do read that don't you?
Welcome back Gentle Reader, or given that you have made past all the above screens, perhaps it is better to say welcome back Tough Old Hard Bitten, Seen It All Before, After All That This Better Be Entertaining Or Else Reader.
This story is appearing earlier than anticipated. It turns out that it is easier to escape from Rehab than one might think if, repeat if, you don't swallow those two pills they give you every four hours and you wait until the dogs are having their after dinner naps. It also helps if you can outrun Charlie.
As with Scapegoats the chapter titles are songs by Bob Dylan. You might think that this is anachronistic but then again ITV used a Dylan song in a promo for a S03 episode so maybe not.
After too much ado about nothing the curtain is set to rise on Scapegoats II (but there's only one scapegoat), the long dreaded continuation of Scapegoats (of which there were four).
The version of the chapter title song by Bob Dylan is recommended.
Lay Lady Lay
"That was a very nice wedding, small but nice."
"You're thinking of our wedding."
"We could do it over, do it up right"
"Thanks but I'm only getting married once."
"Sir Anthony seems like a nice sort, a little old maybe"
"Old? Ancient you mean...you know he was Plan B?"
"Oh? Who was Edith's first choice?"
"No, not for Edith. He was my parents' Plan B for me"
"You mean if..."
"You hadn't so graciously proposed I would be Lady Strallen as we speak."
"And the better off for it. Plus you probably would be the Widow Strallen by now. I don't think an old man like him could keep up with some of your, ah.. shall we say more athletic manoeuvres."
"You don't seem to be having any problems."
"But I am a young virile soldier. Speaking of which I think we should go for the record tonight."
"Four? You're going to have to stop falling asleep after the second one."
"The nights are long, we'll have Molesley wake us up every two hours."
"I like to see you explain why. Anyway, what do you mean we? I can stay up."
"Oh you think so? Little Lady 'I Don't Snore'. Many times I've asked you a question and all I've gotten was..."
... snore ...
"We really should get out of bed"
"We don't have to be to the Abbey for dinner until 7:30"
"We can't stay in bed all day. People will start talking"
"In the last sixty days we've spent more time in bed then out. I think people got tired of talking about us on about day twenty. Besides we need to practise."
"What do you mean practise?"
"You know, keep doing something until you can do it perfectly. As my old piano teacher would say 'The way to get to Royal Albert Hall is to practise, practise, practise.'
"We're not taking this show to Royal Albert Hall. And I didn't know you could play the piano."
"I can't. You see I didn't practice"
"I can see your point, in fact I can feel your point... Let me turn around. ...Once more from the top maestro. And largo please, this is not the 'Flight of the Bumblebee"
"What did you say to father to get him so riled up?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know very well what I mean. When the two of you rejoined us after dinner father was glaring at you and you had on that fake innocent look, the same one Grannie's cat, Turandot, had when she caught him with her budgie's feathers sticking to his chin. So what did you do to father?"
"All I did was point out to him that he had violated two fundamental military rules and thus put the whole estate in jeopardy. What have you done with your money? You haven't put it back in the estate have you? Have you bought a farm yet?"
"Our money, it's in both our names now, is still basically where you invested it, I've just rolled some of it into war bonds. Father asked me to put it back in the estate but I refused. I haven't bought a farm yet, Sir Anthony thinks that once the war ends land prices will drop. And don't change the subject. What do you mean the estate is in jeopardy?"
"As you know your father wants me to take an active role in managing the estate after the war instead of going back to the law. So this afternoon he let me look through the estate's books. It was not a pretty picture. First of all the books are a mess. You might profitably spend your time studying the 'Principles of Accountancy'. Secondly it appears, no that is the wrong word, there is no doubt about it, your father has invested almost all of the estate's cash reserves in some speculative Canadian Railway. He did this on the basis of some rumour he heard at his club. I checked the latest stock price in the newspaper and he has already lost twenty per cent of his investment. As one military man to another I pointed out to him that he had attacked without having done a proper reconnaissance and then compounded his error by committing his whole reserve. I further pointed out to him that the proper course open to him was to cut his losses and retreat. And if he didn't he could lose the whole estate. I may have implied that I was damn glad he wasn't commanding any troops in the present conflict as he would have lost them all by now. Right after that we rejoined you ladies."
"Exactly. I doubt that we will be receiving any further invitations for dinner. And when you find a farm make sure it has a house you'd like to live in."
"What can I do?"
"I'm not sure, maybe get your mother or grandmother to speak to him. I don't know if it'll do any good, you know how stubborn he is."
"I know how stubborn all Crawley men are. I will do what I can. Come closer I think I need to cuddle."
"Pass the sponge... Thanks ... Doesn't that feel good?"
"Hey no splashing! Did I ever tell you about discovering that birthmark of yours?"
"I don't have a birthmark."
"Oh yes you do. When I'm drying you off I'll show you where it is. I discovered it when I was giving you one of those bed baths. It'll have to be by touch though; no matter how much you contort, and I've grown to appreciate just how much you can contort, you'll never be able to see it no matter how many mirrors you use."
"What does it look like?"
"Yorkshire...and Downton is right here ... hey what did I tell you about splashing!"
"Do you have to go tomorrow?"
"You know the King gets quite shirty when his soldiers are absent without leave."
"But ... but you're injured..."
"Not any more, thanks in no part to your tender ministrations..."
"Quit that! We're talking"
"You're talking, I'm listening. Keep talking I find your voice very erotic."
"You find everything erotic. So far you've found me brushing my teeth erotic; me getting my stockings out of my drawer erotic .. speaking of which where did you throw the other one? Not so fast...yes ...yes ... that's it..."
Saturday, January 29, 1916
They could hear the train whistle in the distance. Matthew pulled Mary into an embrace.
"Matthew it's not proper..."
"A soldier's farewell is entirely proper in wartime" he nuzzled her neck. "We haven't talked about it but there is a chance I won't..."
"You're coming back" she interrupted.
He kept on "If I don't please take care of mother..."
"Of course we will"
"... and don't mourn me too long. Find someone, other than that damn Carlisle, and move on..."
"Don't talk like that! You're coming back and I'll be waiting for you."
They held their embrace until the conductor called 'All Aboard'.
As Matthew was boarding the train Mary handed him something.
She called out to him "It's my good luck charm."
The train pulled out of the station and Matthew watched with his head out the window until he could not see her anymore. He then looked down at the object she had given him. It was a little stuffed animal, a dog.