A/N: I knew I wanted to write something today, and really wasn't sure what (if anything) people would want to read. But I remembered then, how Matthew had told Mary he'd sent Isobel back to the house to be with the family, and so realised that they'd have seen each other in the hospital then - and I just had to write it. I love them so, so much. Written in a rush and interspersed with many tears, so errors may be rife.
A Parent's Delight
It wasn't so very long a journey, from the train station to the hospital, but it seemed to take an eternity. The train had been hot and stifling, and all the long way down from Scotland Matthew had tapped his knees restlessly, staring out of the window at the blue skies above and wondering, wondering… He cursed himself, now, for not having insisted that he come back with her. Was Scotland so tempting to have kept him away from her, even for a moment, an hour, a day? Oh, the Earl and Countess reassured him as much as they could, and there was little he could achieve by worrying for her… but still, once they at last reached the familiar stretch of Downton station, Matthew barely spared them a glance and a rushed promise to telephone before he was in his car and away.
By the time he reached the hospital, after negotiating interminably slow traffic and cattle across the road and every other delay he could imagine, he'd worked himself into a state. Raking his fingers back through his hair, he pushed breathlessly into the hospital in search of news of his wife and… God, he hoped, his baby.
"Ah, Matthew! There you are!"
Her face, when he saw her coming into the corridor, was instantly reassuring as she beamed happily at him. Hurrying to her, he kissed her cheek quickly and clutched her hand.
"What's happening?" The questions tumbled from his lips as his eyes flicked rapidly between hers, seeking confirmation of his dearest hopes and glancing up as Doctor Clarkson appeared behind her. "Is it over? Is Mary alright? When can I see–"
"My dear, you'll wear yourself out!" his mother laughed, patting his hand fondly. "Yes, it's over, it was all over quite a while ago, and your wife and little baby are resting quite contentedly."
Matthew released the breath he hadn't realised he'd been holding, desperate relief flooding over him as he still clutched his mother's hand.
"Oh God. Really? And they're both – they're both quite healthy?"
Clarkson smiled from where he stood beside Isobel.
"Perfectly healthy, Mr. Crawley. Certainly judging by the little mite's pair of lungs when they met air, at least!"
"Oh, God," Matthew said again, grinning helplessly as he felt tears prick at his eyes. He had a child. God, Mary had just given birth – darling, darling Mary – and they had a baby. He was a father. He felt an odd, floating sensation, as if he was on a cloud. He wasn't quite sure whether to laugh, or cry, and rather worried that he was about to do both, before concern set back in. "But," he pressed on, "the baby shouldn't have come for another two weeks, at least – you are quite sure that everything is as it should be?"
"Quite sure. But perhaps instead of asking me that, you could go and see for yourself," Clarkson smiled, and clasped his shoulder as he passed the pair on his way to another room, another patient. "And – congratulations, Mr. Crawley!"
"Thank you," he breathed, before turning back to his mother with shining eyes. It wasn't until she tugged her hand from his grasp that he realised how tightly he'd been holding on to her, and he chuckled apologetically. "Can I see them? And is it – I mean, do you know whether–"
"Certainly you can! And, I'll leave Mary to tell you that," Isobel smiled, taking his arm as she led him down the hall towards Mary's room. "You can't imagine that she'd let me spoil the surprise for you!"
"No, of course…" He trailed off, lost in happy anticipation as he began to allow himself to accept, that they had come through this – well, Mary had. Darling Mary and their baby, he had… a family. His own family, and the thought made him nearly burst with excitement.
Isobel watched him, saw all this across his face, and couldn't help but smile. Though it seemed so long ago now, she could remember perfectly the day that Matthew was born, and his father's delight as he saw him for the first time, and held him… and she saw the anticipation of that delight so perfectly replicated in Matthew's features now. Her darling boy, after everything he deserved this… She clutched his arm a little tighter, feeling impossibly proud of him.
"Here we are," she said at last, drawing them to a stop outside a pale wood door. She watched Matthew straighten, his ears alert at the discernible sound of Anna, and Mary, and… no, there was quiet, the baby must be resting still…
"Right." He blinked, and licked his lips, and didn't move; a happy but nervous smile trembling upon his face. "Do they – know, at the house?"
"I telephoned, yes," Isobel smiled. "But only with the briefest facts, and they're all itching to come and see for themselves, of course!"
"Naturally," Matthew chuckled, and then… paused. Beyond the door were his wife, his child, his own little family – and he knew that soon, so soon, they'd be pressed and clamoured with well-wishers and congratulations and kisses and of course that was all quite right but… just for this moment, he needed to be with them, and to know that it was just them. "Look," he said quickly, "I'd like – to spend a little time with Mary, and – our baby, and – Mother, do you think you could back to the house and sort of… keep them all at bay for a while? And I'll come back soon to fetch you all."
Isobel looked at his dear face, and understood him absolutely. Rubbing his arm fondly, she nodded.
"Of course, my dear boy. Congratulations – my dearest congratulations, to you and Mary and the baby – Matthew, I'm so happy," she beamed.
"God, so am I," he whispered, and the tears behind his eyes stung fiercer as a lump formed in his throat, as it dawned on him that he was about to meet his child. "Thanks, Mother."
He leaned forward to kiss her cheek, his thanks for far more than agreeing to hold back the family, but for being there, too, for Mary.
"You're perfectly welcome, darling. Now then, in you go and see them."
"Yes, I'll… see you shortly."
He still looked a little lost, and Isobel gave him a little smile and a nod, which he returned before stepping through the door to meet his newborn little son.
A/N: Thank you so much for reading. As I was writing this, I just couldn't comprehend the end of the episode in my mind - agh, I don't even have the words. I just had to fill in this little scene. Oh, Isobel, how I love your relationship with your darling boy... and now I'm going to stop before I start crying again. Hugest hugs to all you dear shippers. Thank you.