Summary: How Cora came to call Violet "mama".
Disclaimer: Downton Abbey and its character don't belong to me. I make no money from this work of fiction. I only own the plot line and the OCs, Miss Sanderson and dr Brezington.
A/N: The idea came from Oceanna while we were discussing Cora's Fortune plot line. It couldn't fit in the other fic so I wrote an OS out of it.
Cora awoke once again to the overpowering urge to pee. The diuretic property of tea was starting to get on her nerve. Her husband didn't seem to have the same problem but he had been living here longer she guessed. And with the amount her mother-in-law drank, Cora wouldn't be surprised if both Robert and Rosamund had tea instead of blood in their veins. She smiled at the thought before hurrying out of bed. Her head spun a little as every time she was too quick to stand. She sighed and waited a few seconds before going into the adjoining bathroom.
When she came out her husband had left the room to be tended to by his valet. Cora put her robe on, rang for Sanderson then waited for her lady's maid at her dressing table.
"Good morning, Lady Cora, here is your morning tea. What do you wish for breakfast?"
Cora thought about it for a moment when she realized that nothing really appealed to her. She had to eat something though.
"I'll just have some toast and j… Actually just some toast."
The maid nodded and Cora downed her tea eagerly. She hadn't like the way the English drank it when she had first came here but now she couldn't go without the bitter taste. She put the empty cup on the dressing table and fiddled with her jewelry. Robert had promised her a walk in the garden and she looked forward to a couple of hours without her mother-in-law's barbs.
The Countess' new favourite complain was her daughter-in-law's appetite and the fact that she was putting on weight. Cora couldn't refute the fact that she was indeed hungrier of late but she was not putting on weight. The only thing that refused to cooperate with the closing of her corset was her chest and that was probably due to her period approaching given the way it felt swollen.
The Lady's maid came back and Cora forced herself to eat the toasts at a normal speed while Sanderson laid her clothes out. Once the whole morning routine was done the young lady joined her husband in the library where he was waiting for her. They mostly kept silent, content to just enjoy the other's presence.
There was no need to complain about Lady Grantham temper, or Lord Grantham refusal to truly involve his son in the running of the Estate. The course their marriage had followed was enough to remind them that everything could get better. Their mutual support, though never express in word, meant the world to them.
"I think I'll go riding tomorrow morning. Would you like to join me?" Robert asked as they were coming back to the house.
"I would like nothing more, Darling, But I doubt your mother will allow me to have to mornings off in a row. Beside, my back is killing me."
"I'm sorry to hear that. Should we call the doctor?"
"There's no need. I know the cause quite well, but I won't mention it to avoid making you uncomfortable."
He blushed, just like he did every single time there was an allusion of women's monthly bleeding. Cora found it quite charming now, but when her periods had first appeared after the wedding and she had realized he had no idea what was happening, the moment had been quite awkward. She had out flat refused to explained, but had relented the next month as Robert was sick with worry. He remained sick but with disgust and Cora all but banned him from her bed until he apologized. Since then the future earl blushed whenever the monthly event was mentioned and his wife did her best to avoid the subject.
The went inside the house and walked up the stairs together before going each in their own room to ring for their servants. Cora used the waiting time to go to the bathroom again. She then changed as soon as Sanderson arrived before hurrying to the drawing room to wait for luncheon. She was ravenous. She didn't know if it was the walk or the fact she ate so little that morning but she felt she could eat a horse.
She was the first one downstairs and dropped on the settee in a very unladylike manner. She tried to quench her impatience by counting the days since she had sent her last letter to her mother to know when she could expect an answer. She still missed her family and America and she doubt she would ever stop missing them but she had gotten used to the absence. She sometimes wished she could talk to her mother more often but it wouldn't really change anything: listening had never been her mother forte.
Lady Grantham was the first to join her. Cora straitened her posture but knew she was in for a scolding when she saw her mother-in-law frowning.
"Robert asked me to let you join him for a ride tomorrow morning. Why he sought my permission I'll never know, but the fact is he did."
She didn't expect that remark and she had no idea what the Countess expected for an answer.
"I'll consider moving our appointment with the Cook to go over the menu in the afternoon if you let me call the doctor to examine you today."
"Just humor me."
"I have a feeling that, even if I say 'no' Dr. Brezington will be there this afternoon so I guess it makes more sense to accept your proposition."
"Good. He's supposed to arrive at 2. Now don't slouch, Philip and Robert won't be long and it wouldn't do for them to see you like that… or Heaven forbid: the servants."
Cora nodded and corrected once again her posture. She still wasn't feeling up to riding but she might be able to convince her husband to pretend going for said ride and just spend the morning together. She doubted he would refuse and she smiled at the prospect at the same time both Robert and his father entered the room. A few moments later the Butler announced they could go to the dining room.
With only the four of them, lunch was a quiet affair and soon it was time for Cora's "appointment" with Dr. Brezington. Sanderson helped her disrobe down to her chemise and robe but left the young lady alone with the aging doctor which reminded her a little of her father. Cora was feeling uneasy at first: she didn't know the man well and he was supposed to get intimate knowledge of her body and the way she was feeling. The first thing the doctor did however was to ask about America and the way she grew up. A few minutes into the exchange, the future countess was way more relax so she allowed the doctor to examine her and answered his question as truthfully as she could.
"Lady Grantham wanted me to assert if you were fit for riding but I'm afraid I have to tell her you shouldn't."
"What? But I have been riding my whole life!"
"And I sure you will again, but I advise against it for the time being."
"And why is that?"
"You are pregnant my Lady."
Cora's jaw dropped. She wasn't expecting that. Of course everyone was waiting for an heir and she did share her bed with her husband but she hadn't really considered the possibility before. Slowly the idea crept into her mind. She was pregnant. She was going to have a baby, a child for Robert and her to cherish, a son or daughter for her mother and parents-in-law to spoil rotten. She smiled to the doctor.
"Are you sure?"
She took dr. Brezington's hands in hers and squeezed them with glee.
"I need to tell Robert!" she exclaimed, the excitement making her forget how to address people outside the family.
The doctor smiled fondly and offered to send the future earl when he went down. Cora agreed enthusiastically and he left the room. She didn't have to wait long or Robert to burst through the door, out of breath and apparently quite worried.
"Cora what is wrong? The doctor told me you needed me. Are you ill?"
"No… not quite. I… hum, do you want to sit down perhaps?"
"No, please, tell me!"
"Well, it is a good news. A few months from now, you'll… well you'll either have a heir or a daughter."
"Do you mean you're…"
"Oh my dearest one!"
He took her in his arms in a warm embrace, nearly lifted her of the floor.
"Are you pleased?"
"Are you kidding? I'm elated! I guess I have to tell my parents"
"I think your mother already knows."
"I don't know, I think she does that's all."
"So there's no way to keep that a secret?"
"I'm afraid so."
"Oh. Alright then. Will you be fine?"
"I'm pregnant Robert, not sick. Now go, I have to get dressed."
"Robert Crawley! Go tell your parents."
He kissed her hard before hurrying out of the room as Cora laughed merrily and rang for Sanderson. She didn't tell the girl of her predicament and did her best to hide her cheerfulness until her back was turned. Just as the maid was sliding the loose ends of the corset's threads under the garment the door opened again.
"What is going on here?" Lady Grantham's voice was sharp.
"I am merely getting dressed for tea…"
"Get out you divvy!"
Cora couldn't whether she was more surprised by her mother-in-law's language or by the fact the Countess actually pushed Sanderson out of her way and started undoing Cora's corset.
"Make yourself useful and get Lady Cora's dress."
The maid left the room and Lady Grantham threw the corset on the floor as if it had bitten her. Cora turned slowly to face her mother in law, a puzzled look clearly written on her face.
"You shouldn't wear a corset while expecting, my dear. Not only will it increase your discomfort but it isn't good for the baby."
"I didn't know that."
"We will take care of you now."
"Thank you, Violet."
"I think it's high time you called me Mama, don't you?"