A/N: Prompted by anon on Tumblr. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have posted it alone because of it's short length, but I didn't really think it was suitable to tag onto the end of Need.

Disclaimer: Downton Abbey does not belong to moi.


"Hard at work I see?" teased Cora, peering around the doorframe to Robert's study. He didn't glance up from the papers that were strewn across his desk.

"I'm just trying to sort out a cottage for Bates and Anna," he told her. "I did promise Bates years ago, and now that he's out of prison, it's only right that I should keep that."

"It's certainly lovely for them," Cora agreed, slipping into the room. "Are they excited?"

Robert shrugged. "I should imagine so. Bates is a quiet fellow, but it will be the first time that he and Anna can live alone. So I'm sure they're both very excited at that prospect."

"We never got that option," said Cora playfully, coming to stand right behind her husband, resting a hand against his shoulder. "I had to live with your mama and papa right from the very beginning."

"And you think it was any easier for me?" he said, twisting around in his chair to give her a grin. "To have my mama and papa scrutinising me every minute of every day, with my knowledge that I could have you with me at any time I wanted?"

"It was different at the beginning, though," she said. "You and I didn't share our bed then."

He shook his head. "I was a fool who didn't know what he was missing out on. But I soon realised it."

"A year isn't soon," she teased him.

"I've told you before," he said good-naturedly, "it wasn't as long as a year."

"Well, it took you a year to pluck up the courage."

He chuckled. "And then our lives were never the same."

Cora laughed too, plunking herself down on his lap. "Oh, yes. They certainly changed for the better."

Robert's eyes darkened. "They became much better."

"And then it was even more difficult living under the same roof as your parents," she said, lifting a hand to run it through his hair. "We wanted to be alone constantly, but your parents were always around."

He smirked. "We were quite inventive with some of our excuses, if I recall correctly."

She hid her smile against his chest. "You mean when you tried to convince them that I was dying of a cold, and that it was imperative that you missed dinner so that you could watch over me?"

"I thought that that was quite good," he murmured.

"I think the lack of privacy made it better for us, though," she said after a few beats, casting him a wicked grin. "It certainly made things moreā€¦intense."

"Yes," he said, stifling a groan against her hair. "Although it was a relief when my parents went away to London, and we were given the run of the house."

"In a way that they weren't imagining, I should think," she said cheekily, lifting his chin with gentle fingers.

He stared at her hungrily. "Oh, most definitely."

Her fingers began to stroke against his chin. There was a sneaky purpose in that stroke, which he had come to know anywhere over the years.

"You know," she said conversationally, "we're home alone now."

"Oh?" He tried to keep his voice nonchalant.

She nodded. "Mary and Matthew have gone out. Tom is somewhere on the estate. Edith is still in London. And your mother isn't around."

"No, she's not," he breathed, stroking against her thigh.

The smirk on her face was devious. "So, where do you want to go? The bedroom?"

"No," he said. "I think the library needs a visit."