A/N: Hello all Downtown fans! I'm PurplePlasticPurse (not my real name, obviously). I'm so excited to finally get my thoughts on "paper" after falling in love with DA this past summer. I am no stranger to the world of fanfiction but I rarely publish what I write, normally because another writer has usually done a much better job than I could ever do and I don't want to disappoint. I figured I would tap into my dusty writing skills and try my hand at my favorite couple on the show, Lord and Lady Grantham. I'm fascinated by their relationship (and I love me some Hugh and Elizabeth…who wouldn't), so this is what came out when I fired up word a few days after finishing the third season. I hope you enjoy! Please leave a review if you would … I find them inspiring
Sarah O'Brien's standard prickly exterior is visibly rattled as she stands in the doorway of your dressing room. Something is wrong, terribly wrong. "My Lordship, you must come at once. It's … it's her Ladyship." Her face is pale and in her hands she wrings a bloody towel. Your stomach plummets to your feet and you are shouting for the nearest footman or maid, luckily it is Bates who responds to your desperate plea.
"Call the doctor at once, Bates!" You follow – chase – Cora's trusted maid into the bedroom you've shared for so many years, past the bathroom door. Your stomach churns at the sight and you instantly cover your mouth, nauseous at the horror in front of you. Cora is slumped on the cold floor, wet from a bath and half covered with one of the soft towels O'Brien keeps nearby, writhing in a pool of her own blood and agony that appears to grow with each passing second. Cora. The baby. Her hair has come undone from its messy knot and is sticking to her sweating, gaunt pale face as she tries to stop the bleeding.
"What happened? By God, someone do something!" You realize the severity of the situation when Cora shrieks in pain and clutches her abdomen, hands covered in her own blood as O'Brien is hurriedly getting more towels to clean up the mess that is spreading across the bathroom floor.
"My Lord, please, let us take it from here." You recognize the voice behind you as Mrs. Hughes, who has appeared behind you as Carson waits in the adjoining room out of respect for the Countess. If your wife notices your presence, Cora doesn't acknowledge you as O'Brien attempts to soothe her with a cold, wet towel to the forehead. "The doctor is coming, my lady," she says, and you're not sure if she's trying to comfort herself or Cora at that moment.
"O'Brien," her voice is a ghostly whisper. "The soap … I tripped on the soap. It … oh god." She cries out in pain again, her maid at her side. "I didn't see the soap!" Her voice cracks into a whisper and she presses a bloodied hand to her head, leaving an imprint that eerily resembles that of an infant foot. You fight a wave of nausea. Surely this is not happening.
"I will not leave her," you bark to Mrs. Hughes, which comes out much more harsh than you intended. From the look on the woman's kind face, she understands, and is not rattled by your tone as she gently ushers you closer to the door.
"With all due respect, my Lord, this is not the way she wants her husband to see her. Let us take care of her until the doctor arrives." She blocks your view of Cora with her body, but you still hear O'Brien's voice over your wife's sharp moans of agonizing pain. Her attempts to comfort Cora have failed; your wife is sobbing in fear. The door is slammed shut in your face and Carson's deep voice penetrates your most feared thoughts.
"My lord, Dr. Clarkson said he would arrive immediately." He too looks shaken, which is not an emotion that is often seen on his face. "
"Thank you, Carson. And please thank Bates for relaying the message so quickly."
"Certainly, my lord. Shall I send word to the Dowager?"
"No thank you, Carson. I don't want to alarm her just yet."
Just yet. What if. What. If.
Dr. Clarkson, ever true to his word, arrives in short time and heads straight to Cora. Carson leaves the room to tell Mrs. Patmore to make sandwiches and tea – dinner is certainly cancelled for tonight - leaving you to pace your small dressing room with Isis pawing your feet. Dr. Clarkson had quickly seen you out of Cora's bedroom, insisting it was not proper for a husband to witness such things. Before shutting the door in your face, the doctor's voice softened and he provides a short reassuring word. "I will take care of her, my lordship."
Dr. Clarkson is a man of science. Having seen Cora safely through three pregnancies and deliveries, a particularly nagging chest ailment prior to Edith's birth, and countless small matters, the man knows what he's doing and you do believe she is in good hands. The thought is comforting, but only for seconds. Dr. Clarkson has said himself medicine is not an exact science, and you nervously turn your wedding ring around your finger as your palms sweat and throat tightens. Through the thin doors and walls, you can just barely hear O'Brien and Mrs. Hughes relaying information to the doctor in thin voices and Cora's cries, which have not ceased whatsoever.
No matter how many times you blink, the only thing you see is Cora. Crumpled on the floor and shivering in pain. Blood everywhere. O'Brien's shaking hands. It is at this moment you notice Cora's silken dressing robe is crumpled in your hands. You don't remember picking it up. The pale silk that you typically find so irresistible and tantalizing when covering her body is now bone-chilling. The frivolity of a silk dressing robe seems ridiculous considering the scene on the other side of the door. You twist the fabric in your sweating hands and watch the clock move backwards.
After some time, Dr. Clarkson emerges, medical bag in hand. "Her Ladyship will be just fine," he says in a slightly dejected voice. "But…" He trails off, running a hand through his thinning hair. "Your son… did not survive, my Lord. I am terribly sorry."
You swallow a massive lump in your throat and nod as your eyes well. "Her Ladyship will …?"
"She lost a decent amount of blood, but she will recover. She is very tired as you can imagine, and devastated at the circumstances. She will pull through, but it will take time and she will need support. I will be back tomorrow to see her again."
"Thank you, Dr. Clarkson. I am grateful for you. Can I see her now?"
"Of course. Miss O'Brien and Mrs. Hughes have been very attentive to her needs thus far, but could use relief. She will be very tired."
As if on cue, O'Brien emerges from the room, looking as if she has not slept in days. You note her hands, which have been cleaned and are no longer streaked with your wife's blood. "My Lord," she says softly. "Her Ladyship is asking for you." You notice fine lines in her forehead that didn't seem to be there earlier in the day. While you don't necessarily care for her at times, Miss O'Brien is truly devoted to Cora and for that you are grateful.
"Thank you, O'Brien. And thank you for your constant vigil."
She nods, unspoken understanding between two unlikely comrades in your never-ending devotion to the beautiful Countess. "Follow me, my Lord."
Cora's room is dim without the gas lamps O'Brien quickly flicks on. Your heart twists and your lungs constrict when you see your wife in the bed you've shared with her for the past quarter decade. Her eyes are closed; getting much-needed rest, and O'Brien tiptoes from the room, leaving you to stare at her. While Cora's face is etched with age and the history of your marriage, she looks like a porcelain doll in her bed. When down, her beautiful hair is long and curly; you ache to run your fingers through it. The room is spotless; O'Brien and Mrs. Hughes cleaned away the blood and took the stained towels away and changed Cora into something comfortable. She looks peaceful and simply asleep, not having just lost her child.
Your heart tightens in your chest when her eyelashes flutter against her face and her lovely blue eyes meet yours. The blue eyes you fell in love with well with tears when she recognizes your face, and you're by her side faster than you knew your old bones could move. "I'm so sorry, Robert."
As gingerly as you can, you clamber into the bed next to her. As if magnetic, she curls into you and her shoulders shake violently as the sobs escape from deep within her heart. Your arms wrap around her, her truest source of comfort in this world, and your lips press to her sweet-smelling hair. "Please don't cry, my darling. Please don't cry." Your heart breaks – not just for your beloved wife but the loss of the son you created together – and tears drip from your eyes too.
"It was a boy, Robert." Her voice is almost inaudible. "A boy. I saw him…I saw his…" She trails off, the fresh memory of the small, deceased body too much to bear. "A boy…"
"I know, my love. I know. I spoke with Dr. Clarkson a few moments ago." You kiss her cold temple in a desperate attempt to comfort her, a small gesture that reminds you of how precious she is to you.
"He was so small … there was nothing they could have done." She begins to shake again as she recalls the past few hours. "I'm so sorry, Robert. If only I saw the soap and didn't –"
You cut her off before she can blame herself. "Cora, it is not and never will be your fault. Please calm down." Your gentle hands are rubbing up and down her back, whispering the soft comfort your brain cannot register to your mouth at this moment in time. "You must relax. Your body is exhausted. Please darling, stop crying." You slide a hand into her beautiful hair, massaging her scalp with tender fingers. "God I thought I lost you," a sob rips from your throat this time as you bury your face into her sweet-smelling neck. "I thought for sure ..."
It's her turn this time to soothe you, albeit in her fragile state. "Me? No, my love. No. I'm still here. Very much here." Her nimble fingers stroke your cheek; they are so cold you have to stare at her for a moment to make sure she's still breathing. Even in her heartbreak she has a small smile reserved just for you when blue eyes meet.
"Thank god for you, dear Cora. I couldn't express how much I truly love you." Your lips meet hers softly and it's all you need to begin mending the gaping hole in your heart. Together you lay in her bed, holding each other tightly. Her sobs quiet to sniffles eventually and her eyes close, her head a welcome weight on your chest.
In the morning, you both awaken with tears stained on your cheeks.