So bizarre timing because I've had this in the works for a while, but what with the new royal baby (but seriously how much news coverage does a baby need?) here's a fic which accompanies Home Is Where The Heart Is detailing the births, or more specifically, the naming of Mary and Richard's children, as well as Mary and Matthew's children.
As always hope you enjoy - please review!
What's In A Name?
14th November, 1920. Haxby Park, Yorkshire.
"My dear, sweet..." His eyes flickered tentatively, just for a moment, from the baby in the bassinet to the exhausted woman sat up in bed next to him, "...Irene?"
"We're not naming her after your mother."
Her voice brook no argument and he was hardly surprised, but they had yet to think of anything better. RIchard had to stop himself from rolling his eyes at her tone; he'd never been a patient man and he wanted a name worthy of his daughter. He reached back into the crib, in silent wonderment as the little darling instinctively curled her hand around his finger.
"What's wrong with Irene?" He said, smiling at his daughter, but more than a little exasperated. He looked up waiting for an answer and, this time, did roll his eyes at the expression on his wife's face. Mary could be so obstinate when the mood suited her, but then again, it was one of the many reasons why he loved her. And love her, he did. To have the stubborn Lady Mary on his arm made him walk taller, and he couldn't have been prouder of her than today, of all days, when she'd clenched her jaw after twelve hours in labour, gritted her teeth and silently did what had to be done. He pursed his lips, scrutinising her, quietly impressed. Not even a hair out of place.
Mary raised an eyebrow, hardly in the mood for whatever quip he wanted to make nor for a battle over their daughter's name. She could only hope he wasn't going to push her on the subject; she wasn't sure that she'd be able to summon the strength to fight him on it. All she wanted to do was sleep. Finally, her Mama and the midwives had left her to rest and the nanny was in the wings waiting to take over. She didn't know how to feel about a stranger being so intimate with her baby. She didn't know how to feel about any of it really.
Perhaps sensing a sudden nervous shift in his wife's demeanour, Richard reached down for his daughter, with a carefulness - so unlike Richard but so like a new father - that Mary found herself almost endeared to, and gently cradled her as he sat down on the bed beside Mary. Mary smiled down, stroking her daughter's soft hair, a dusky blonde like her father. Richard sighed; no, Irene wouldn't do. "Fine, but we're not naming her after yours."
Mary tilted her head examining her daughter. "I don't know, Cora Carlisle certainly has a charm to it."
There was a brief grimace on her face even as she said it, but Richard still raised a disbelieving eyebrow. "Would you like to name her after your mother?" It hardly needed answering, Sybil and Edith were more suited to making Mama happy. Richard sighed again, more deeply. A man always ahead of the game, always prepared for anything - but not today, apparently. He clucked his tongue, irritated. "Honestly, Mary - you should have thought of this before."
Mary blinked at her husband, incredulously. She should have thought of this before? "Seeing as you lavished money on the nursery, what with that ghastly wallpaper-"
"You said that you liked it!"
"-all without my consent," She continued, ignoring him, "I assumed that you would take the liberty to choose our child's name."
"I assumed that you'd already picked out names years ago." He snapped back, but quickly cooled as his daughter fussed a little in his arms at their tones. Sighing, Mary held out her arms for the baby, Richard willingly gave her up and watched as Mary rocked their baby and popped a pinky finger into her daughter's mouth to stop her crying. Richard's prickly mood seemed to disappear at such a sight, just in awe at how easily it came to Mary.
"Do I strike you as the sort of woman to pick out names?" Mary looked back to her husband, exasperated but fondly so, the baby in her arms having tempered her mood.
"Well, what about Violet?" He shrugged helplessly.
"She won't like you any better for it." There was no need to elaborate on who she was. If Richard was hoping that giving Granny her first great-grandchild was going to soften her ways, then he would be waiting a long time. "Besides, one Violet in this family at any given time is more than enough."
"That's hardly logical." Richard frowned. "This is her great-granddaughter; their lives are hardly going to overlap for very long."
Mary tutted at how matter-of-fact he sounded about her grandmother's eventual demise, but Richard merely smiled, unfazed, stretching his legs out on to bed, making himself comfortable."And you still wonder as to why Granny doesn't care for you." She muttered wryly before conceding, "- as a middle name, then. What about...Catherine? Any spelling of it suits fine."
"No, my first kiss," He shook his head, correcting himself, "- no, in fact, my first attempt to kiss was with a girl called Catherine. Catherine McAllister. She wasn't having any of it - almost clawed my eyes out." He sniffed dismissively at the memory.
She frowned bemusedly, a smirk soon gracing her face. "Richard, if we discount the name of every girl or woman who has rebuffed your romantic efforts, we won't have many names left."
"Mary it is, then."
She narrowed her eyes, but said nothing. Touché. She tried again. "There's Roberta for my father."
Richard's snort made his feelings clear enough."Do be serious." Her eyes narrowed once more. He ran a hand over his face, frustrated that a name wasn't coming to them. "Well, what books are you fond of?"
Mary glared at Richard. "How is that helpful when the only literature that you're fond of are your own newspapers?"
"Hence, I am asking you, dear." He persisted, sure that a migraine was trying to make itself known. Why did she insist on being so difficult? His mother-in-law had assured him that Mary would be in better spirits once the baby had been born, having been such a joy throughout the pregnancy. "Can I look forward to you being this charming from now on?"
Her nostrils flared, but Mary bit her tongue. "Emily. I like Emily."
Richard opened his mouth to argue, but stopped himself as he realised he was doing it for argument's sake. He frowned thoughtfully, running the name over in his mind. He gazed down into the sweet face, yawning a little after the biggest day in her life so far. She looked almost bored with them, willing him further to hurry up and think of something. Emily. He didn't hate it. "I don't hate it. What made you think of Emily?"
"You wouldn't let me have Catherine," Richard's eyes hit the ceiling, praying she wasn't planning to hold that over him, "and Granny will accuse Isabella of being too foreign, so I thought of the author." Mary sighed as her husband blinked at her, non-plussed. "Emily Brontë, Richard."
"As in Wuthering Heights?" Richard blurted, surprised at the choice. Her expression dared him to comment, but he merely raised his eyebrows, innocently enough. "I wouldn't have thought that to be one of your favourites."
"It's not, but I find that these days I have many comparisons to make with Heathcliff."
He smirked at the cheeky comment, as Mary's eyes determinedly caressed her daughter's face - Emily's face - to stop herself grinning. "How sweet." Richard decided to smile enough for the both of them and dared to put a lazy arm around his wife's shoulders. "I didn't realise that you've been likening me to a romantic hero, darling."
A romantic hero? Mary mused. She'd read Wuthering Heights in her youth, just as she was beginning to regard her coming-out ball with impatience. She'd waited for the cold and brooding Heathcliff to reveal himself, to emerge loving as Mr. Darcy and Mr. Rochester had done before him. But he never did. Mary relaxed into her husband's embrace, feeling what she supposed was contentment. Just over a year in marriage, she felt a peace wash over her that she hadn't felt before. All thoughts of Downton, and Matthew and whatever else had crept their way into Haxby had not even crossed her mind, and she wondered if this was what being happy was like. She smiled indulgently, suddenly thankful that her husband only read his newspapers. "You've never read it."
"I know that it's aptly set in Yorkshire." Richard tried, knowing it wasn't much. He scowled as she continued to smile at him. "Well, it's a love story, isn't it?"
Mary stroked Emily's hand as she drifted off into a slumber, and impulsively let her head rest on Richard's shoulder. "Of sorts, yes."
4th July, 1924. Bolton Gardens, Kensington, London.
Her expression was a careful control of cold indifference, but Richard knew Mary to be far from calm as she fiddled with her long strand of pearls in agitation. He swallowed at the door to their parlour, feeling Carson's judging presence beside him as the guilt began to find its mark, and gnaw away. He'd missed it. His gaze drifted to the Moses basket next to the settee, his heart panged with relief to hear the gurgling from it. He had a son. And he'd missed everything to spend the last month in the company of a woman who pandered to him just because he could. Richard Carlisle rarely felt guilty, but his wife had the uniquely canny ability to make him rue the day he'd ever been born.
"And here he is!" Richard smiled, determined to let her know how truly pleased he was, and how truly sorry he was for all of it. Coming forward, his eyes lit up in wonder to see how different he looked to Emily, and how much he looked like his mother. "My son..." He near stuttered, clearing the frog in his throat and daring to smile at Mary. "Gosh, doesn't he have your hair?"
But Mary could only return a level gaze, her smile only for the butler. "Thank you, Carson. Might we have some tea?"
Richard didn't bother to clench his jaw, as Carson regarded him with a faint look of disdain, his loyalty only for Mary. "Of course, milady."
"How was France?" She'd waited until Carson had left the room, but Mary wouldn't afford Richard any more than that.
His eyes begged her to leave it alone. "I'm glad to be home."
"Are you?" Mary asked wryly, raising a cool eyebrow at him, almost in awe of his continued ability to disappoint her in recent months. She wasn't sure where it had all gone so terribly wrong, so sour. He'd felt suffocated in Yorkshire by too much country air and too many Crawleys and so they'd agreed to keep to London almost exclusively for the last year or so. Yet, now, how they resented each other! They led busy lives and he left her to tend to their social circles and homes, to their children and responsibilities. In Mary's eyes, nothing came before Richard's papers. He thrived on the cut-throat, exciting world of business and newsprint. Haxby may have been surrounded by unwelcome ghosts, but at least they'd had a semblance of family life. This, this was simply existing with one another. And whilst Mary refused to rise to the bait as Richard tried to provoke her with his dalliances with dancers and poor excuses for actresses, she could never have dreamt that he would embarrass her so by taking himself and a Miss Rhonda Marks - whose mother happened to occasionally frequent Aunt Rosamund's circle, no less! - off to the Riviera. "You've just missed Mama and Papa." That he'd missed the birth of their son hadn't riled her - what use were husbands in such circumstances anyway? - but that she'd had to entertain her parents and their pity, fully aware of where Richard was and who kept him company, had been too much. Pity - she'd suffered it because her husband had decided to be selfishly indiscreet.
"Cora must be pleased." Richard tried, stroking his son's raven locks. "A grandson on Independence Day."
Mary almost snorted, but carefully smoothed her skirt, if only to keep herself from losing her temper. "Not particularly, seeing as he was born nearer 10 o'clock last night."
Richard's head snapped up at that. He closed his eyes tiredly, his mind cast back to her telegram. Yes, it had been last night, hadn't it. A healthy son. Stop. Come home now or not at all. Stop. "Oh yes, sorry, I-"
"It hardly matters." Mary said dismissively, not ready for any of her husband's apologies. "They assure me that they'll be back tomorrow - be prepared for the Spanish Inquisition." She raised a wry eyebrow, but didn't give him a chance to respond, suddenly getting up to check on the baby. Unlike Emily who'd been infamous for howling, her son had been terribly quiet. Content though, Mary mused, as she reached down to take the baby in her arms. Richard only watched, an inward sigh as his wife's hand brushed his as she picked him up. He'd missed her. But Mary went on unknowingly, coming back to sit on the settee. "Papa's quite the proud Grandpapa, you know." She said quietly, her voice finally losing its hard edge with Richard, if only for a moment.
"Well, he prefers boys, doesn't he?" Richard said conversationally, but the comment only made his wife wince.
"And Carson was quite the proud butler." She went doggedly on. "I don't know what I would have done if he hadn't been there. I'd nearly blacked out in the drawing room."
Richard swallowed guiltily at his absence. "It's a messy business - having children."
"As if you have any idea about it." Mary muttered, increasingly irritated as her husband - who made it his business to get straight to the point and found it easy to charm - was making a hash of winning over his wife with inane conversation. "Your part to play was certainly more pleasant than mine."
"I would hope that was pleasant for both of us."
"Hmmm, hope all you like." Richard could only blink as his ego took the blow; that would teach him to try flirting so soon with her. Mary went on, unfazed. "I want to christen him Robert."
He grimaced, not wanting to argue but not wanting to give in. "Mary, we discussed this-"
"I know, but that was before you went away...," She left that hanging in the air; as far as Mary was concerned, he owed his wife the right to call her son whatever she so wished. "I don't see why not."
"Oh please, one of your sisters is bound to have a boy - then, that child can have his namesake." Richard tried, sighing as his wife glared at him. "Don't look at me like that. You've always maintained that people don't like you any better for naming their children after them, so what's the point?"
"I don't know about that. Papa is more easily won over than Granny - It might change his opinion of you."
He almost scoffed as she dangled that in the air, as if he had ever cared for the opinion of Robert Crawley. As if the Earl of Grantham would think of him differently than the uncouth newspaper tycoon who'd prevented Mary from marrying his would-be son and thus taking up her rightful place as the Countess of Grantham. "He won't hate me any less - and he won't like you any better for it either." Richard said pointedly, knowing how much Mary cared for her father's good opinion.
Knowing the truth of it and knowing that even Richard's guilt wouldn't make him capitulate, Mary looked down at her small son, resigned, and admitted to herself that he didn't really look like a Robert anyway. A loving smile graced her face as her son yawned. "Well, what about Carson?"
"He's seeing to your tea."
Mary rolled her eyes, certain that he was only here to aggravate her. "For the baby."
Richard's head snapped up. "Christen my son after one of the servants! Are you mad?"
"Our son," Mary corrected him sharply, "and don't be so snobbish Richard, it doesn't suit you as it does me." She scowled at him, but already knew her family would probably agree with him. It was rather outlandish. Master Carson Carlisle being named after the butler - Granny would have a few choice words on the matter. She clucked her tongue, feeling her nerves starting to fray. "Why are you even here? Did France lose its charm? Or had you simply tired of the company?"
Richard opened his mouth, probably to fire something back equally spiteful but was thankfully interrupted by a blonde flash bounding into the room and flying into her father's arms. Richard smiled thankfully as his daughter of only three (going on four) planted a sloppy kiss on his cheek and flung her arms around his neck.
A breathless nanny soon followed, coming to a halt as she saw Sir Richard and Lady Mary before her. "Oh, I'm sorry milady, but Miss Emily heard that..."
That her father was home. Mary sighed inwardly; nothing else would put a smile like that on Emily's face. "It's alright, Molly - Miss Emily will take tea with us. I'll send for you later."
"Very good, milday." Molly bobbed, before quitting the room.
"Hello!" Richard grinned back at his daughter, thankful for such a lovely distraction. "Come to see your little brother, Emmy?"
Emily nodded, content as her father carried her over to the settee to sit beside Mary, and sat his daughter down on his lap. "He's very little!" Emily declared confidently, quickly sliding off her father's knee to see her brother better.
"Yes, he is. Come on, your father would like a hold." Richard continued smiling, wondering for a moment if Mary would refuse him, but she obliged and carefully put their son in his arms. "What a good job Mama did, hmm? I'm sorry that I missed the big event." His words gently told to Emily, but their sentiment meant for Mary. Mary glanced at the ceiling, exasperated that her anger was beginning to wane. Her husband's knack for worming his way back into her good books well-practiced. She'd just given birth to his son, she supposed - if there was ever a right time to forgive...
"Mama had me."
"Yes." Mary allowed herself to grin as her daughter shrugged, as if to wonder who else could her Mama possibly need. Lifting her daughter up so she could sit beside her, she brushed Emily's fringe back from her brow and kissed her head fondly as she snuggled into her mother. "And how well you looked after your Mama! I don't know what I would have done without you."
Richard smiled at the sight, and glanced back to the baby in his arms. "Carson is a good Scottish name, I suppose." He could feel Mary's eyebrows raise at his admittance. "But I really would rather my- our son have his own name." He bravely met his wife's eyes and held them. "One that is quite his own, a name that he can make something of."
"All right." Mary agreed, tired of fighting and forgiving him despite herself. "I'll leave you to choose one from the Bible then, shall I? It has all the good, strong names that I can think of."
"Oh, quite." Richard nodded in agreement, but barely having opened a Bible since his boyhood days at Catholic Sunday school. "John, then?"
A name quite his own? Everybody was called John. "No."
Mary looked at him, warning him. "If I cannot christen him after my father, he's not being named after yours."
"Fine." He agreed, not wanting to bicker. "Luke?"
Mary pinched the bridge of her nose. "Do you only know the four Gospels?"
"Do I even know all four?" The corners of his mouth quirked playfully, before pouting thoughtfully. "Ah, Matthew?" Mary said nothing, but raised an eyebrow, waiting for it to fall into place. Right, that. "...Jesus?" He tried again.
"Oh, for heaven's sake." She shook her head, interrupting him. Richard truly only read his newspapers. "Peter?"
"Peter." He repeated blankly, looking down at his son. Peter Carlisle. He could see that. "Well, I suppose so. I don't mind it, do you mind it?" Mary looked at her husband, incredulous at the lack of thought he was willing to put into this. Richard only shrugged a little in his defence. "There's no point in discussing it all day."
"Mama likes Leonard." Mary deadpanned, knowing Richard wouldn't want to call the baby just anything.
"Your mother chose Edith and gave both you and she the middle name of Josephine." Richard muttered, making it clear what he thought of his mother-in-law's suggestions.
"It's a family tradition." Mary tried, but her heart wasn't in it. Not a well-kept tradition, seeing as her little sister had been christened Sybil Cora. She shook her head; did her family have any imagination at all? "Peter it is, then." Richard nodded. Yes, Peter Carlisle would do very well indeed. "Would you like to hold your brother Peter?" Mary asked Emily, who nodded gently, her eyes having been on her brother in awe this entire time. Edging closer, Richard very carefully put Peter into his sister's arms, making sure to cradle his head as she tried to hold him right. "There, look at that. He likes you."
Richard looked down at his family, a little in awe himself. To think he might have thrown any of this away for a pretty face, when the woman he truly wanted had given him two such perfect gifts. Living in London had got the better of him. He'd escaped the Crawley family and Downton, but was now holed up in his office, only let out to do business with men in clubs and lounges who cared little for their wives. "What do you think of Boston?" Richard blurted.
Mary blinked, as her husband's expression told her all the needed to know. "Not for my son's name, but I pray that's what you're referring to."
17th March, 1931. Downton Abbey, Yorkshire.
"Can we come in?"
Isobel started at the door to Mary's room of old, towels in her arms. Matthew looked so desperately excited, his hands on Peter's and Emily's shoulders. She smiled at her son, at how much younger than his years he appeared. The look of any new father. "Of course you can, but don't be too long - your wife and my grandson need to rest."
"Is he as handsome as me, Granny?" Peter grinned up cheekily.
"Yes," She laughed, tweaking the boy's nose, "which means that he is very handsome, indeed."
"Do you ever stop?" Emily rolled her eyes as Rabbit looked for compliments, and made her way to see her Mama. Matthew shook his head at the pair, pushing Peter to enter the room, too, but not before stopping to kiss his mother's cheek and grin at her words in his ear. My boy, he's perfect.
He'd waited nearly thirteen hours - and how many years before that - for this moment, and now that it was here, despite his impatience, Matthew was almost nervous to follow the children. After the wedding, and their tour through Europe, they had left London for Yorkshire once more. There had been hiccups, trials that every newly married couple went through (even more so when Matthew had to learn how to parent), but they grew together, finally deciding to settle in the Dower House. With Cousin Violet up at Downton and his mother at Crawley House, it had made perfect sense, affording Mary the independence that she needed and allowing all four of them to find their footing, as a family.
That they were to be a family of five so soon had come as quite a shock, but rooted at the door, taking in the scene before him - Peter firmly buried at his mother's side, Emily sat on the bed, both of them peering at the bundle in their mother's arms - Matthew couldn't imagine anything less surprising. This, this was how it was meant to be.
"How are you, my darling?" His mouth finally shaking him from his stupor before his brain could, his eyes, too, drawn to the baby.
"Exhausted, but very happy." Mary smiled contently from her bed, still flushed from labour. "Is it awful to be relieved that he's a boy?"
Matthew's smile somehow grew even wider when he was able to see the child, his son, fully in her arms, his rosy face and his tufts of brown hair. Girl, boy - what did it matter? His mother was right; he was perfect. "Well, the weight of the world certainly came off your father's shoulders." He acceded gently, coming to sit on Mary's free side. "He might be the first of many, or we might have a girl next time."
"Oh yes, please." Emily agreed in earnest, already imagining what a nightmare another brother would be.
Seeing her husband so entranced by the baby, Mary handed him carefully over, smiling as Matthew got used to having a newborn in his arms. "You're getting a little ahead of yourselves, aren't you?"
"We do have a lot of rooms to fill." Matthew grinned, as the baby opened his eyes for a moment. "What's it to be, then?"
"I have a name!" Peter proposed, his hand shooting up in the air.
"I'm not having a brother called Nicholas."
"It's not up to you!" Peter argued petulantly, ignoring his sister's firm tone, but had the good grace to look abashed when Mary shushed him. "Mama and Papa will choose." He went on, stage-whispering.
"Yes," Emily raised an eyebrow at Mary, expecting vindication, "what has Mama to say about it?"
"Well, I did want Robert," Mary ventured, biting the inside of her cheek, "but I suppose you'll be wanting Reginald for your father."
Matthew dragged his gaze away from the baby, only to frown at Mary's dejected expression. "Reginald's not so bad, is it?" He received no response, but the look that passed between mother and daughter was answer enough. "You're behaving as if I'm going to have my way - I'm not quite sure what to make of it."
"Your father's dead - you've got the trump card!" Mary replied, almost as petulant as her son had been. Matthew blinked bemusedly; Mary grimaced apologetically.
"Luckily for you, I have it on good authority that my father, himself, disliked Reginald." Matthew decided to reassure her. "Mother said that he'd always fancied himself as a Eugene."
Eugene, Emily mouthed, silently horrified, at her Mama. Matthew rolled his eyes as Peter wrinkled his nose in distaste. "Oh, I don't know darling, Reginald is lovely." Mary said, suddenly having a change of heart. "How about...Robert Reginald Crawley? It rolls off the tongue."
"What, in French?" Emily muttered under her breath, but Mary ignored her; this name would save her from having a son called Reggie.
"I like it!" Peter determined, nodding approvingly. "My brother Robert..."
"Robert," Matthew tried it out, looking at his son, "...well, little Robert I suppose - it might get confusing."
Little Robert. Mary shook her head vehemently, and looking far more like Cousin Violet than Matthew was comfortable with. "That makes him sound like a dwarf."
"It's too much, Mama." Emily sighed, "I cannot have two brothers called Rabbit and Robert."
"Bobby for short, then." Peter tried, always eagerly looking for agreement. He was sure Robert shortened to Bobby. "That's right, isn't it?"
Matthew raised an expectant eyebrow as she watched Mary bite her lip, thinking it over. "I think your Mama's about to say that Bobby far more befits a dog."
"Robin is a diminutive of Robert." Mary said instead, after a moment.
"Like Robin Hood!" Peter jumped up, not having the faintest clue what a diminutive was.
"Our Robin - that's who he is." Matthew frowned, as if the name should have come to them earlier, before another grin graced his features. "An outlaw who steals from the rich and gives to the poor - your father won't like it."
Mary shrugged tiredly, the baby would still be named Robert - it would have to do. "No, but your mother will." She allowed, suddenly realising that this was Matthew's first baby and that perhaps she should be more giving on the matter. "Anyway, this way it's...quite his own and he can make something of it."
"How very middle class of you."
Mary smiled at his quip, but smiled softly as she realised from where - or rather, from whom - she'd picked up such a phrase. Since she'd lost Richard, Mary's second marriage had not been unmarred by moments of guilt, even doubt - to be so heavily pregnant with another's man child on the first anniversary of his death had been a difficult time in particular - but she had started to find a peace in which Richard could stay a part of their lives. Not only for the children's benefit, but for her own, as well. She couldn't love Matthew more for respecting that. But the birth of their first child together, she supposed, was not a day for bringing up her late husband and so Mary merely continued to smile, holding her arms out for her son, for Robin: "Oh, do shut up and hand me the baby."
"You've had your wicked way with me and now I'm dismissed because you've got what you wanted." Matthew teased, as Emily reached over him to come closer and hold her littlest brother's hand.
Mary would have argued with him, but as Emmy and Rabbit closed ranks around her, begging for a hold of the baby, she could only shrug, smiling."I wouldn't put it like that exactly."
25th April 1932. The Dower House, Downton, Yorkshire.
"Another boy - your daughter is not best pleased with you."
Mary's eyes fluttered open at the sound of her husband's wry voice at their bedroom door. Another year, another baby. If her pregnancy with Robin had left them shocked, flabbergasted seemed the only appropriate word to describe their reaction when old Dr. Clarkson told them to expect another child. They couldn't believe it - Mary had thought it a last joke the doctor wanted to make before retiring at Christmas. Yet, the last few hours of screaming and pushing told her that this was no joke at all. And now they had a son, again - and it felt just as right, just as perfect.
"I can only imagine." Mary muttered, but still, a third brother - her heart went out to Emily. "Please offer my sincerest apologies."
"Well, I'm pleased." Matthew grinned, almost bounding over to the bassinet beside his wife's bed. Mary envied his energy. "Are you?"
As if he needed to ask. "When he's this handsome, how can I not be?" She smiled at Matthew, unable to recover at how strong his genes had carried this time, how blonde her son's hair was. She pursed her lips, wondering - nigh hoping - that the baby would be as good-natured as his father as well. "A rest in between might have been nice though - I've spent most of our married life pregnant."
"We said that we'd let nature take its course." Matthew shrugged, but Mary rolled her eyes as the pride came off in him in waves, clearly smug to have everything in such working order - another fruit of his loins, so to speak. Not wasting another moment more, Matthew bent down to hold the baby for himself. "Your grandmother wishes me to pass on her congratulations, an heir and a spare - you've done your duty, apparently."
"Marrying you wasn't duty enough?" Mary asked drily, relaxing into her pillows, lazily watching her husband perch on the bed. "Where are the children?"
"Your father's keeping Rabbit entertained and somewhere I'm sure there's a maid cooing over Robin."
"Somewhere?" Mary raised an eyebrow at how easily distracted Matthew was by a bonny face. "Emmy's sulking, then." She ventured, smoothing down her sheets, hoping her daughter wasn't too distraught.
Matthew looked up to see genuine concern on his dear wife's face. He smiled, shaking his head and giving his wife an impromptu kiss on the lips to put aside any of her worries, which she gladly accepted. It was the least she deserved after the day she'd had. "Emily thought that she'd give us a moment alone together, actually." He assured her with another kiss, "- and she promises not to make a fuss that you broke your promise - if you let her name him."
"If my memory serves me correctly," Mary said, pulling back from him, "it was you who promised it would be a girl."
Matthew feigned a frown. "I don't remember that. You must be confused, dear."
Mary narrowed her eyes, but let him off as the baby yawned, demanding their attention. "So, what's it to be?" She asked, almost nervous to hear the answer. "If it's silly, then I'm afraid she'll have to-"
Mary stared. "George? Any particular reason why?"
"No, she likes George. So do I." Matthew smiled happily down at his son. Yes, George suited him just fine. "Do you like George? George Patrick, I thought. For your grandfather, or for your cousin, whichever. It seems to please everyone, even Edith." He looked back to his wife for her opinion, who only continued to stare. "What's the matter? You don't like it?"
"No, no I do." Mary said, blinking out of her daydreams. She did like George, very much in fact. But she had grown so accustomed to the headache that usually ensued. Somehow, a name for her child was never chosen before he or she was born, and when she'd gone into labour early yesterday evening, Mary had assumed that she would have the same headache to look forward to today. She blew a tired breath. "It's only...appeared so easily. Have you read the newspaper this morning? Are you sure there isn't a George someone or other who's being hanged this week for slaughtering a village?"
"An entire village?" Matthew barked a laugh. "I doubt it." His wife didn't look quite convinced, but she left it be. "So, he's a George - we were all very calm about it."
It made a nice change, Mary relented, her eyes once more drawn to the fair-haired boy in Matthew's arms. What perfect babies she made. "Perhaps it's a good omen, perhaps our dear George will be a calm man." She leaned forward, caressing his little cheek with the back of her fingers. "He has your hair. A golden boy, at last. Hopefully, he'll have your manner as well."
Matthew studied his son's face, remembering how Robin had eased into his arms, happy to be in a parent's embrace. He hoped that it was a trick of the light, or otherwise dear George had managed the raised eyebrow already. He sighed softly as their little son yawned once more, somehow seeming to enjoy and be bored of the attention all at once. "He may have been quiet since his arrival, but I've not been here five minutes and he already looks distinctly unimpressed." Matthew muttered quietly, before going on wryly. "I think Emily and he might get along very well indeed."
Mary lightly swatted his arm for such a comment, wondering what ran through her husband's mind. He was just a baby. They would have weeks, months, even years before his personality really began to show, before they would both understand what it was to love and live with their George Crawley. She shook her head - along with all the rest of them. Four children: they were too old for this. "I love you." Mary kissed Matthew's cheek softly to ease the blow. "But no more."
Not that he needed preparing for it. Silently thanking God that she agreed with him, he sealed the deal with a kiss.
22nd December, 1933. Downton Cottage Hospital, Downton, Yorkshire.
Will Mama be alright? Emily had so desperately asked, as the midwife and Sybil had agreed that Mary needed a hospital, - and a caesarean. That had been almost a day ago, and now his wife lay, too deadly still for his liking, in a ward bed, yet to meet their latest - and God help them, their last - addition to the family. They should have been more careful - he should have. They'd agreed to stop and had taken appropriate precautions since George, but then they had escaped the children and Downton for a weekend in Harrogate and certain...things were forgotten about. Never again. Not when their forgetting had almost killed her.
Matthew looked down as the baby squirmed in his arms and blinked guiltily. A daughter. Raven hair and fair skin like Peter, she was as beautiful as her mother and, if things had gone quite differently, may never have seen the resemblance for herself. Her darling face couldn't help but coax a small smile from him - he couldn't regret something so precious, but this could have easily been a sombre day indeed.
He swayed her a little, as she let out a quiet whimper, deciding to fuss, but Matthew managed to calm her. Yet, a mother always hears her baby's cry. And Matthew swallowed in anticipation, watching his wife blink against the room's lights, too bright for her despite being dimmed at night. Almost choking with relief, Matthew rose to put the baby in the small cot beside Mary, before coming to grasp his wife's hand as if it were a lifeline. Matthew smiled tearfully, stroking her hair as she fought for consciousness.
"The baby?" Mary managed to whisper hoarsely.
"The baby is well." He quickly assured her, gesturing towards where their daughter lay. "She is more than well, in fact."
"A girl..." Mary returned his tearful smile. "Emmy got her wish."
"Yes," He agreed, kissing her forehead lovingly, "- and she is the last."
Mary nodded tiredly, but determinedly lifted her head to see the child. "Even if we have to snip it off." Despite the threat, Matthew grinned at the joke, just content to hear her speak, but he soon frowned as Mary doggedly tried to sit up a little. He automatically reached out to support her, as she grimaced with discomfort.
"Mary, you shouldn't try to-"
"Give her to me, then."
Matthew started at the demand, shaking his head, not willing to bend to her whims for the sake of her health. "Doctor Seymour thinks you should rest."
But he forgot that his wife could be far more stubborn than he could ever hope to be. "Your wife thinks you should hand over her daughter."
Her voice was hard, though it wavered with fatigue, and normally Matthew would have sighed and given in, but his eyes wouldn't, couldn't, leave her face. He remembered Sybil running into the library, demanding that the chauffeur bring the car to the front, asking that Matthew and Tom come to help carry Mary downstairs, explaining that she'd lost so much blood and that if they wasted time, she would... "You could have died, Mary."
"But I didn't." Mary tried, breaking his gaze. "So, there's no point in-"
"We could have lost you." His words rang through the ward, demanding her attention. Mary flinched, all too well aware of what might have happened. She remembered the exhaustion as she tried, in vain, to push, the worried looks that the midwife sent her sister, even the breathless promises she made Sybil swear should the worst happen. "I could have lost you." Her eyes watered to hear her husband's voice break.
Sniffing, she looked at Matthew once more and wiped away a tear from his own cheek, lest someone see them like this. An understanding passed between them of what might have happened, but what didn't. She shrugged helplessly, thoroughly drained. "Such is life, Matthew. We look after ourselves the best we can, but..." She shrugged again; she knew too well how easily loved ones could be taken away.
He didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but settled for kissing her hand. "How morbid, darling."
Mary clucked her tongue, raising his chin so he'd look at her. "I'm alive. We have a baby. We won't be having another. What more is there to say?" He wanted to argue with her, but she beckoned him for a kiss and he gave it whole-heartedly, pressing his lips firmly to hers, making it clear how much he loved her. Licking her dry lips as he pulled away, Mary smiled shyly, nodding towards the baby. Heaving a heavy sigh, but knowing he couldn't refuse her anything, Matthew picked up their daughter and, at Mary's continued insistence, relented, placing their daughter tentatively into his wife's arms. Mary kissed her daughter's hands in greeting, leaning back into her pillows. "You can't regret it, look at that face - she's beautiful."
"She looks just like you."
"Precisely." Mary smiled up at her husband cheekily, before her daughter's sweet face grabbed her attention once more. "Our darling Sephy."
"We agreed on Josephine." Mary said innocently. "Josephine Isobel Crawley."
"Exactly! Jo! Like Little Women, I thought that was why you chose it." Matthew argued, flinging himself into the chair by her bed.
"Josephine is a family name." Mary informed him, before raising a belatedly disappointed eyebrow at his words. "Oh Matthew, even Edith hasn't read Little Women - that's the sort of tripe Mama enjoys." She sighed, dismissing his suggestion. "Jo, please - people will think her a boy."
"No, then they'll think her a maid."
"You've certainly recovered, haven't you?" Matthew muttered.
"But I could have died." Mary cooed at the baby, ignoring her husband's glare at her flippancy.
Matthew wiped a hand over his tired face, knowing the battle was lost. "Well, I'm not calling her Sephy."
"Details." Mary smiled pleasantly, pleased over her victory. "Hope that she'll pick up a book one day and a name will stick."
"Hmmm," Matthew sighed, unconvinced before a thought occurred to him, "- you know Peter Rabbit's mother is Mrs. Josephine Rabbit."
"I wonder who told you that." Mary smiled, suddenly wishing for all her children to be around her. Glancing outside into the darkness, she supposed it was too late to send for them - and also supposed that Matthew hadn't left her side. She softened; maybe she'd allow him Jo, after all.
"I used to dream of having a big family." She suddenly whispered, after a while. Alone with his thoughts, Matthew looked back to her questioningly. "Not before I married Richard, but after..." She trailed off, glancing at Matthew, but he still seemed curious enough, "- I wanted to fill the house with children. But out of us three sisters, I don't think anyone thought I would have the most."
A smile tugged at Matthew's mouth at that. He didn't suppose that he'd thought that either. "Regrets?"
Life was full of regrets, but not her children, never her children. She shook her head, then pouted pensively. "One day, it'll be just us. We've never had that before."
Matthew nodded slowly, imagining the chaos that was taking place back at Downton, all the children sharing the nursery, driving their grandparents mad, as they waited for Mama to be well enough to go back home - was it so wrong to be counting down the days already? He'd been an only child, and now he had five children. His eyes widened at the prospect. "We'll take Percy, go on a holiday." He assured her, standing to take the baby as exhaustion seemed to win.
"How long does the doctor think I need to rest for?" Mary murmured, happy to watch Matthew rock their daughter.
"He wasn't sure..." Matthew frowned, seeing a briefly wicked look seize his wife's face. "You're not going to leave this hospital for the next month, are you?" It wasn't a question. She deserved a well-earned rest to be certain, and nothing could take away the relief he felt to see his wife in recovery, but Matthew Crawley didn't doubt that their five children would be his responsibility for the foreseeable future. He could only tut as his wife closed her eyes, smiling.
"I shouldn't think so, no."
So, just so you know, in this little world, it's:
14th November 1920: Emily Violet Carlisle
3rd July 1924: Peter Carson Carlisle
17th March 1931: Robert Reginald Crawley (Robin)
25th April 1932: George Patrick Crawley
21st December 1934: Josephine Isobel Crawley
So, there's my little M/M family as I've got them - and this is not the last you've seen of them, but can't decide whether to write a fic straight after Mary's and Matthew's honeymoon, to see them settling in etc. or later on with all the children, thoughts?
Also, I've realised that, according to canon, my Mary and Matthew are younger than they are supposed to be. I put Matthew's 40th birthday in 1930 but apparently he would have been 45 and I'm sure my Mary is two or three years younger than she should be as well, but to fit in with when they're having the children, you'll have to forgive me for leaving it as it is. (Let's face it, they haven't aged much on telly either!)
Anywho, let me know your thoughts - please review!