The Miracle Girl of Downton

Summary: In the wake of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic, Cora received a letter bearing the name of her sister, Elizabeth Springer. Travelling to New York to face the worst, Lady Grantham discovers that she did indeed lose her sister, but finds hope in the woman's young daughter, Annabelle, who survived the hellish night, and returns to Downton with the child.

Disclaimer: I only own Annabelle. Everything else belongs to Julian Fellowes.

Chapter One

Cora was still reeling from the shock of the revelation Robert had just made to her. She would not quite believe that both James and Patrick had been taken by the Titanic, especially as they were not meant to have been going onto it for another month. It had changed absolutely everything.

It was strange to think of them, actually, going onto the ship on its maiden voyage, not knowing that they would never step foot on dry land again, that they would never again see their families and friends. That neither of them would live to see the sun rise.

The woman's morbid thoughts were interrupted, luckily enough, by a soft knock at the door. On her summons, Mrs. Hughes entered the room, bearing a silver tray, a letter knife and what appeared to be a telegram, a somber expression on her face, which the countess had expected, as she did not doubt that everyone would look the same way in the wake of such news.

"Telegram for you, ma'am." the housekeeper confirmed, her Scottish lilt a familiar comfort to the woman, who had precious little of it at that moment, a sense of strange foreboding taking over her rationality. She took the tray from the woman with little hesitation, placing it down on the bed beside her and gazing at it, as if it were a bomb that may explode before her eyes.

"Thank you, Mrs. Hughes." Cora told the woman with a smile, though her voice was still slightly distant. The woman swiftly took the hint in the woman's tone and exited, leaving her mistress to her own thoughts. She had no idea what the telegram would be about, but she had a strange feeling that it would not be full of positivity.

Desperate to discover whether her feeling was correct, the countess seized the letter knife and ripped open the top of the envelope, tearing all the way down the paper to get to the sheet inside. Unable to breathe easily until she had discovered the purpose of it, with the note shaking violently along with her hand, she began to read.

Lady Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham,
We regret to inform you that your sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Springer, her husband, Mr. Lucas Springer, and their daughter, Miss. Annabelle Springer, are listed as being aboard R.M.S. Titanic when it ran into trouble and sank.
Mr. and Mrs. Springer have unfortunately been listed as deceased from the accident, while Miss Springer is still unaccounted for.
Yours faithfully and regretfully,
Charles Lightoller.
Second Officer of R.M.S. Titanic.

Time stopped, and Cora could hardly find the willpower to breathe. Her own sister, Elizabeth, and her entire family. Dead.

Elizabeth had always been the child of the Levinson family, even after she had produced a child of her own, due to the fact that she was the youngest daughter of Isidore and Martha, and thus remained to be seen as the baby by both her parents and siblings. Or she had done.

'I just can't believe that Lizzy is gone.' the countess thought, her mouth, though in shock, unable to form the words, even when faced with only an empty room. 'She and Lucas were so in love, just like Robert and I, really. And poor little Annie, as well; I hadn't seen her since she was born, just a decade ago. It's all too terrible for any words.'

Once the tears had dried on her face, the woman forced herself to think logically. The letter specified that both Elizabeth and Lucas had been listed as deceased, which meant that their bodies must have been recovered from the water. If they were fortunate, Annabelle's would not be far behind, and so it would not be long before they were laid to rest. As her elder sister, Cora would need to be in attendance at the funeral, and she would never miss it. She would not let go of a last chance to say goodbye to the more beloved of her two siblings.

Upon realising this, she rose from her bed, and reached out to pull the cord at her bedside, which would summon O'Brien to her, to dress her for the morning. If she needed to get to America this swiftly, then she needed to inform her husband of the necessity without a moment's delay, so that she could board the last ferry that evening. If she did so, she should reach the port in the States in just over a day's time.

However, just as her hand closed around the fabric covering, the middle aged woman realised something, a miniscule detail in the letter that she had completely overlooked, not recognising its importance at the time. In this detail, the woman found a reprieve from the awful emotion of loss that she had been experiencing. It gave her a second chance at life, a second chance to have a part of her sister near to her, even if the woman herself had been taken by the clutches of death.

Breathing a slight sigh of relief, Cora found that it had transformed into a tearful laugh, one that lasted only a moment, but was there nonetheless, that being all that mattered. The haze of utter despair that had fallen over her when she had read the telegram had now dissipated, leaving only a sense of respite that she could not have explained before. Her hopes rising with each passing moment, the countess raised the paper in front of her eyes, reading over the line that may mean that the Titanic had not decimated the Levinsons as much as they had thought.

'Miss Springer is still unaccounted for.'

Cora knew very well what that meant, and all the hope she had for the dreams that her sister had dreamt relied on the meaning as she saw it. It meant that Annabelle could be alive.

A/N: I'm publishing this to celebrate the release of Downton Abbey series four. I had the idea when I was watching Titanic, as I still had Downton on the brain at the time. I hope that you like it so far. Please review!