abbey's birthday!

My characters shall have, after a little bit of trouble, all that they desire.

2

Whoever built my mind needs to redo the wires and find better balance because I’m leaning all over the place. I’m tilted and sideways and so fucked up—this isn’t even half of it.

happy belated birthday, garrison abbey!! ♥

So, someone didn’t tell me about their birthday coming up, so consider this fashionably late. So, happy birthday to @gabriel-fucking-agreste! This is an illustration for her GabrielxNathalie/HawkmothxNathalie fic Psyche. I definitely recommend it. I love me some Gabenath and Hawknath and she combined it so yesss. Also, fox!Nathalie. Anyway, she’s wonderful and you should go pester her because I said so (and read her fics and look at her art). Happy (late) birthday, Abbey! Hope you enjoy it!

More of my art at @sorakachanart

Beatles Related Asks

(feel free to add more)

The Beatles: what’re your favourite blogs?

John: who’s your favourite artist (musical or not)?

Paul: where’s your favourite location?

George: what’s your favourite food?

Ringo: what’s your favourite thing to wear?

Apple: what’s your favourite pass time/hobby?

Cavern: where did you grow up?

Guitar: are you left/right handed, or ambidextrous?

Paris: do you have a significant other?

Shea: have you been to any concerts?

Mop top: your worst fashion choice?

Liverpool: have you ever been on holiday?

Abbey: when’s your birthday?

Brian: have you lost anyone close to you?

Sixties: have you got a lucky number?

Boots: what’s your fashion “clique”?

USA: ever been banned/kicked out of somewhere?

Nose: your favourite feature?

Fan club: who is your OTP?

Linda: have you ever been in love?

Stuart: have you ever had a serious injury?

Love: what’s your “catch phrase”?

Submarine: do you like the ocean?

Vinyl: favourite album?

Glasses: what’s your favourite tv show?

Shakespeare: what’s your guilty pleasure?

Brunette: what’s your hair colour?

Movies that are never gonna happen, but it’s fun

Some movie ideas that popped in my mind:

  • Draculaura: about young Draculaura losing her mom and dealing with it with her dad.
  • Clawdeen: young Clawdeen, we get to see more of her family and maybe at the end meeting Draculaura.
  • Ghoulia + Cleo (win win): Indiana Jones-like movie (based off the poster of Ghoulia being Jones, that we see in “Frights,camera,action”). Just gals having a fun adventure.
  • the whole Amanita, Nefera, Cleo happening in a different movie maybe.
  • random: Clawdeen and Cleo planning Draculaura’s past birthdays.
  • Abbey: the ghouls go during the winter vacay to Abbey’s place, where we get to learn more about named culture.
  • Catrine DeMew: having an art block, she gets back to France, where we learn more about french culture and the struggles of artists.
  • Gigi Grant+Whisp: (I’m totally just going to ignore the Whisp + Valentine 2 pack story) Gigi looking for Whisp and we see Gigi being really lost and her feelings towards Whisp and flashbacks of good times they had together.
  • Gooliope Jellington: her whole diary turned into a movie + the big mistery who her dad is.

These are the ones at the top of my head, I may add more later.

Feel free to add more: (?

anonymous asked:

I have a headcanon that the batfam bought Alfred the complete boxset of Downton Abbey one christmas/birthday

It was just a joke gift at first, but Alfred surprisingly really appreciated it. He watched it all in just a few weeks, getting really into it and even convincing the fam to watch some of it with him. 

The Songs of Downton Abbey

Prologue: The Worst Birthday 

 When Lady Lily Crawley, third daughter of Earl Grantham was born, her two sisters were rapt with curiosity.

Lady Mary, who was at the time aged six, looked fondly at Lily, thinking she’d finally even out the constant push and pull between her and Brienne.

 Brienne, who was her own adult at four realized that if Lily were here, perhaps the Baroness would pay more attention to Lily’s dresses and she can wear the special pantaloons Papa had made for her and focus on riding horses and learning how to wield a sword.

 Lily of course, only wanted her quiet and her feeding.

And so marked the course upon which the daughters of Downton Abbey took upon their lives. Mary, being eldest, grew accustomed to the expectations of a woman her stature possessed and focused on becoming a proper lady, capable of running an estate and a business. Though of course in the modern world that meant running more a business like a shrewd businessman as opposed to a Countess.

 That also meant getting used to the fact that she will never inherit her own home unless she marries its heir, who luckily enough manged to be a very distant cousin whose great great great grandfather was her great great great great great or however many greats there was grandfather’s youngest son.

Matthew Crawley, who walked into Windemere when he was but a lad of 20 for the first time with his mother had been the bane of her life for the past ten years. But not so much as Brienne.

Brienne caused great uproar when she picked up her skirts, threw them in the fire and cackled madly while she watched them burn. Of course, that was just in her head. Brienne was the first of them to demand that she be allowed to go to university. And the chit had enough brains in her head to acquire a scholarship to Cambridge to become an engineer. Covered in grease all day, Mary could not deny that Brienne was good at what she does, serving as a research specialist at the Lannister Corporations.

 Of course, the Lannisters were a family as old as their own. But much more shrewd. When the Industrial Revolution began, the then Duke of Casterly Rock invested most of his estate in mining and production – an investment that has payed for itself ten times over, making the Lannisters one of the wealthiest families in the county. The heir apparent – the Jaime Lannister, Marquess of Castamere  was Brienne’s most ardent friend and made sure she had a place in Lannister the moment she graduated from university.

 It was Brienne’s success, Mary thinks that made the way easier for Lily, having naturally been a curious nuisance took it upon herself to go off and study medicine at the university. Showing them all that she was indeed better than the rest of them combined. Lily was of course, in the same class as James Potter, Duke of Godric, who had been Lily’s sworn enemy since she was but a child of eleven protecting a mangy old cat from James Potter’s firecrackers. 

It was a fact Mary heard about every week whenever Lily would bother writing. And now, all of them are coming home. Her sisters, the Dukes, Matthew.

Matthew and his new fiancee, Ms. Lavinia Swire. 

Of course Mary was happy about this. She refused Matthew’s proposal five years ago, but she never imagines that would cause Matthew to just up and leave and join  a ramshackle law practice in town. 

And she never imagined he’d return home with a fiancee. 

Just as she’d never imagined her sisters making their way home and dragging with them the 2 most powerful Jameses in the country. Well… Jaime she expected, for he and Brienne always seemed to be attached at the hip. James she was quite surprised at for she was sure Lily would have murdered him in the first year. 

But both her sisters have finished university, and both of them took up positions near the house and soon her life would be full again. For no matter how annoying her sisters might be, Mary loved them dearly and longed for their company in the long days they’ve left her alone in Downton, with no one for company except Isis. 

And yet there was a deep sadness in her heart, a deep longing for something more, like she’s lost something so valuable and she could not get it back. 

“Mary?”

All thought drained from her mind as she heard the familiar baritone of his voice that spoke of summers in lakes, and strawberry flavored kisses. She turned and he was still the same, the sun glinting off the gold of his hair, his smile still so kind and warm and his eyes, still so blue, as blue as the waters she loved as a child. 

“Matthew.”

They stood in silence for a second, words unsaid, a valley, a trench stretching between them, and then she was running and he was scooping her up and she was held against him, her heart thumping against his own and she thinks here at last, at long last, what I’ve been looking for. 

“It’s good to see you Mary.”

He whispers against her neck, his breath sending shivers down her spine because here he was, here was her Matthew and he was home. 

And that was all she ever wanted. 

Until she sees her across the room, watching them with uncertainty in her eyes and she realizes of course Matthew was not hers, he would never be and breaks away from his embrace to greet his fiancee. 

But her heart was still thumping as if it had been asleep in the last six years and only now just remembered how to beat. 

And Mary knew she was in trouble. 

To be continued…

3

for @incognito-princess (based on an idea by her)happy birthday!
(manip by @magfreak)

Cora’s marriage to Robert is in fact her second; her first marriage was to an Irish businessman named Branson, and Tom is her son by her first husband. When Tom was three years old, his father passed away, and a year later, his mother married Robert Crawley and became the Countess of Grantham. In her second marriage, Cora had two girls: Mary and Edith, who are Tom’s half-sisters. 

Isobel Crawley has two children, a son (Matthew) and a daughter (Sybil). After the death of Patrick Crawley, Matthew receives news that he is now Robert’s heir to the earldom. He, along with his mother and sister, come to Downton…and no one’s life is ever the same.

~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ An excerpt ~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Well, this is a fine welcome…”

Tom lifted his head at the voice of the Dowager Countess, her tone one of complete vexation.  He rose to his feet as she entered the library, but she immediately lifted a hand to stop him.  “I come here to talk important matters and find neither my son nor daughter-in-law here!”

Tom felt compelled to make excuses.  “They’ve gone to—”

“Oh, it doesn’t matter,” Violet muttered, before taking a seat on the nearest chaise.  As if a silent bell had rung upon her sitting, Carson appeared and asked if Violet would care for some tea, but she shook her head, before waving a hand in dismissal.  Tom glanced up at the Downton butler and offered a small smile and nod of the head, but Carson was already exiting the room.

“Where are your sisters?” Violet asked, turning her attentions to Tom once again.

Tom rose from the desk where he had been sitting and crossed the room to sit at the opposite chaise.  “Mary’s gone into the village, and Edith…” his face fell as he thought about his youngest sister.  “…She keeps to herself, mostly.  Sometimes she stays in her room, other times she takes walks in the garden…but she prefers to be left alone.”

Violet frowned at his description, then sighed and gave a shake of her head.  “She always adored Patrick—hero worshipped him, practically.”

It was deeper than that, Tom knew, but he kept his thoughts to himself.  
“As for Mary…well, while she cared for Patrick, I know that the grief she bears is not the same as that of most women who lose a fiancée.”

Again, Tom chose to remain silent.  Besides, from the sound of things, it seemed like Violet knew everything already.

“Well, thank goodness you are here, Tom,” Violet sighed, offering a small smile to him.  “You have always been a calming presence in this house, especially with your sisters…and these next few weeks are going to be trying ones, I fear.”

Tom frowned and leaned a little closer.  “What do you mean?”  While the family was still grieving the loss of both James and Patrick, he had a feeling that wasn’t to what Violet was referring to.

The dowager countess lifted a questioning eyebrow.  “Have you heard about the new heir?”

Tom resisted the urge to roll his eyes.  Not several hours after they had learned about Patrick’s death, had the subject of “who is the next in line?” been brought up.  His mother had married Robert before Tom was five, he had spent the early years of his childhood growing up at Downton, learning the odd ways that was the English aristocracy, and the strange emphasis they put on “male heirs”.  Even after all these years, he still didn’t completely understand it.  And it was yet another reminder that he was a man of two worlds. 

“He’s the son of Robert’s fourth cousin,” Violet explained.  “Quite a distant relation; he has some occupation in Manchester.”  The way in which she said the word “occupation”, you would think she had swallowed a lemon. 

“Do you know what he does?” he asked, genuinely curious.

Violet frowned.  “Does it matter?” She didn’t bother waiting for a response.  “The point is, he is going to inherit everything now!”

Tom would agree that he didn’t think it was fair.  Mary was Robert’s first born; she should be the one to inherit (although Tom knew that the laws of the English aristocracy were quite strict on who exactly could inherit what—and that who being one with a male pronoun.

“Do you know anything else about him?” Tom asked, his curiosity for the new heir growing.

“He’s young…” Violet mumbled, her brow furrowing in thought.  “Although I do believe he’s a year or two older than yourself,” she explained.

Tom’s eyebrows lifted at this.  “Do you know his name?”

“Well ‘Crawley’, obviously,” Violet muttered with a bit of an eye roll.  But her brow furrowed once again as she thought about the mysterious Mr. Crawley.  “…Matthew, I think.”

Matthew.  Matthew Crawley.  Who was only a few years older than himself.  And who had an occupation of some kind in Manchester.  Well, that would certainly be a change!  And quite frankly, Tom felt it was high time that they all faced reality that they were now living in the 20th century, and that they needed to let go of these old-fashioned, Victorian principles. 

“I was hoping to speak further about this subject with your mother,” Violet sighed.  “Try to get her to help me talk some sense into Robert.”

Tom’s brow furrowed.  “About what?”

“Well, isn’t it obvious?” Violet asked, looking surprised.  “About the entail!  About finding a way to…break it!”

Tom’s eyebrows shot so high at these words, he wondered if they were still attached to his head.  “You want to break the entail?”

“Of course!  I’d much rather see my granddaughter inherit than some stranger,” she grumbled.  It was perhaps the most “progressive” thing Tom had ever heard the older woman say.  Of course, leave it to being about keeping money and property within the immediate family, to get the dowager countess to say anything related to women’s rights.

“It will not be without some difficulty I fear,” she sighed.  “My husband was far too clever for his own good, when he secured the marriage between Robert and your mother…and your own grandfather was quite clever as well, having the insight to securing you and you alone to the fortune his business has amassed over the years.”

It was a small fortune when compared to the money his mother had brought to both her marriages, but Violet was right in saying that it was something his grandfather had painstakingly worked hard in securing for Tom and keeping out of the late Earl’s greedy hands.

“Yes…trying times, indeed,” Violet grumbled once more.  “Your mother and sisters will be in need of you.  I just hope that your grandfather can spare you.”

“I’ve already made arrangements to stay in England until the end of the summer,” he assured.  As eager as his grandfather was for him to return to Dublin, the old man was understanding, considering the circumstances.
“Well, that’s a bit of good news,” she sighed, though she hardly sounded relieved.  “Well, do what you can for your sisters, as I know you have been, and I will do what I can about this whole affair.”

Even though he knew better than to enter into an argument with Violet Crawley, Tom couldn’t resist.  “Maybe it won’t be as bad as you think; maybe Mr. Crawley is content with his life, and wishes to have nothing to do with it all?”

Violet stared at him as if he had just started speaking in tongues.  “My dear boy,” she said after a long beat of silence. “That isn’t how it works.  It isn’t a matter of ‘wanting’, it’s a matter of ‘duty’, and while I know next to nothing about this Mr. Crawley from Manchester, I do know that he is a ‘Crawley’, and therefore, he will do his duty…” she rose to her feet and started to hobble out of the library, muttering along the way, “whether we want him to or not.”

~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Are you sure?”

Matthew paused mid move and looked up across the table at the mischievous blue eyes that grinned back at him.

“Are you questioning my strategy?”

His sister rolled her eyes, before folding her arms across her chest and proceeding to wait for him to finish his move.

Matthew looked at her for a long moment, then back at the chess board, before looking back at her.  Sybil simply smiled sweetly as she waited patiently.

Matthew looked down at the board once more…and with a resolute sigh, moved his bishop to take out her last remaining rook.  He glanced up then, but instead of seeing his sister fuming, she was simply shaking her head, before letting out a long, weary-sounding sigh, and grasping her queen and moving it across the board to take out his own queen and put his king in check.

Matthew stared in horror at the board and began sputtering, “How…where…?”

“I warned you!” Sybil laughed. 

“You cheated,” Matthew accused.

Sybil’s face turned an indignant shade of red.  “CHEATED!?”

“Yes, I think you did,” Matthew stated, teasing her now, but always enjoying getting a rise out of her.

Sybil grabbed a cushion from a nearby chair and threatened to throw it as his head, but paused in doing so upon the entrance of their mother, who looked at Sybil with questioning eyebrows.  “Have I interrupted something?”

“Only Sybil cheating at chess—”

“I DID NOT CHEAT!” despite their mother being present, Sybil didn’t hesitate to throw the pillow at his head, to which Matthew simply laughed.

“Alright, that’s enough,” Isobel Crawley groaned, though she too was smiling.  “A telegram just arrived for you,” she informed Matthew, holding the small envelope out to him.

Matthew’s brow furrowed as he accepted the telegram.  Sybil looked upon the small envelope with curious eyes.  She then turned to their mother and inquired, “Did the messenger say who it was from?”

Isobel shook her head.  “I didn’t recognize the address or the handwriting.”

Matthew opened the telegram.  “It’s from…Cousin Robert?”

“Cousin Robert?” Sybil repeated, looking even more perplexed.  “We have a cousin named Robert?”

“Robert Crawley,” Matthew explained.  “He’s…the Earl of Grantham.”

A gasp escaped Sybil’s lips then.  “We have a cousin who’s an earl?”

“Hush, dear,” Isobel murmured, taking her daughter’s hand in her own, before sinking down into a chair next to her son. 

Silence filled the room then, and though Sybil was not quite seventeen, she began to squirm like an over-eager five-year-old.  She couldn’t remain silent, such was her curiosity, and risking the reprimand she might receive from her mother, asked her brother, “What does Lord Grantham want?”

Matthew finally lifted his eyes and looked at both the faces of his mother and sister, before answering, “To change our lives…”

How It Might Have Been

10

“An (Inconvenient) Engagement of Convenience”for patsan

November 11, 1918…the War is finally over.  But tolls have been taken, and many husbands and fathers will not return…including Patrick Crawley, Lord Grantham’s heir, and Lady Mary’s husband.  Patrick not only leaves behind a young, beautiful widow, but also a tiny son, who is far too young to take on the burdens of being the next Earl of Grantham…a fate that may fall upon his tiny shoulders sooner than his mother would wish, as his grandfather’s health begins to fail.

There is only one solution…Mary must marry again.  But whoever her next husband is, he must be a man with fortune but no title, a man who will not be a threat to her son’s inheritance or legacy.

It is the Dowager Countess who suggests the Irishman.  Tom Branson comes from a family whose wealth is new, but the father is a social climber and would delight in nothing more than setting up his younger son with that of the widowed Lady Mary.  The two begin an awkward courtship, and while Tom seems decent and kind, Mary quickly resigns herself to a life where she is to never really know “love” in marriage.  But such romantic frivolities hardly matter, so long as her son is provided for.  Which is why she seeks help from her father’s attorney, wanting to make sure that upon her marriage to Tom, George will receive everything he is due.  Murray suggests Mary speak with someone in his Manchester’s office…a Mr. Matthew Crawley. 

As for Tom, he too finds himself concerned for the future.  He manages to develop a friendship with Mary, but cannot deny, he doesn’t see the two of them having much in common.  Nor does he care for the life that his father has thrust him into, and feels a longing to join his Irish brothers and sisters in their fight for a free nation (that is, of course, if they don’t shun him).  While in London one day, Tom finds himself drawn to a political rally, where several speakers are speaking most passionately…including that of a young woman.  Soon chaos erupts when the police arrive, and Tom finds himself pushing forward to the young woman’s aid.  He soon learns that this woman is not a complete stranger…but Mary’s estranged sister, Lady Sybil Crawley.

With the wedding only a month away, invitations sent and newspaper articles written, the engaged couple find themselves questioning the so-called “convenience” of this union, especially as their hearts are “inconveniently” drawn to different people (who may just turn out to be the love matches they’ve been longing for)…

**images not mine


ABSOLUTE LOVE

A birthday fic for @mistressdickens

FF.net is being a twerp, so am just posting here.

A while back the lovely @mistressdickens mentioned she would like to read a fic based on when Isobel realized she really was in love with Merton, so here is my attempt at writing such a piece.

What strikes me about Merton is the absolute and complete love with which he looks at Isobel…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, @mistressdickens- hope you are having a glorious day!


SPRING

Our reception would have been nothing like this.

Isobel Crawley glanced around the school hall with its pastel paper garlands and long tables filled with pastries and sweets, artfully set as was the groom’s way, but simple and understated, as was the bride’s. A gentle smile crossed her lips as she regarded her daughter-in-law’s gallant attempt at disguising her disapproval which was a loving exhibition of the young woman’s dedication to Charles Carson, which was second only to his to her.

No. Our day would have been more formal.  Her gaze drifted to her lap as she pictured the terrace outside the sitting room of Cavendem tastefully decorated with urns of white and blue hydrangea, Lady’s mantle, and fragrant white peonies.  Lily of the Valley.  I would have carried a small posy of Lily of the Valley…

She shifted in her seat, her own thoughts suddenly making her uncomfortable.  Don’t be silly. Get ahold of yourself. Giving her head a shake, she smiled brightly at an approaching Cora Crawley.

“Mind if you keep you company for a while?”

“Please.”  Isobel patted the seat next to her.  

The pretty woman inhaled deeply, her eyes scanning the room.  “It’s very them, wouldn’t you say?”

“Oh, yes.  I was just thinking that myself.” She nodded at the bride who beamed up at her new husband. “It was a lovely thing you did the other night, giving Mrs. Hughes her say.  I was quite impressed with how she handled things.”

“The poor woman.  She was being railroaded, and I love Mary, of course, but there was something rather wonderful about watching her be put in her place.  Anyone can stamp their foot and make a scene, but Mrs. Hughes has such a…”

“Quiet gentility.” Isobel offered.

Cora nodded.  “Very aptly put.  It was like watching a rose bloom in spite of a bitter frost.” She met Isobel’s eye and they both began to laugh.  “That was a rather harsh description of one’s own daughter…”

“She thought she was being his champion.”

“Goodness knows he has been hers.” Cora’s eye was drawn across the room to the tall gentleman so clearly captivated by the beautiful woman at his side.  “I don’t know how we could have missed it in all these years, but he looks at Mrs. Hughes with absolute love.”

Isobel’s shoulders sank as her eyes followed the gentle brush of Mr. Carson’s hand along the inside his new wife’s arm, his look tender and worshipful as he glanced down at her before guiding her towards a new group of well-wishers.  

“I envy them.”

Her utterance had been so soft Cora wasn’t certain she had heard her right.

“What did you say?”

Taking a deep breath, she forced a smile onto her face as she shook her head, “I should be going.”

Standing, Cora reached out and placed her hand on Isobel’s arm, quietly offering, “It isn’t too late, Isobel.”

Smiling sadly, Isobel whispered, “Isn’t it?” before darting away, briefly stopping to bid the newlyweds goodbye before heading home to an empty house.


SUMMER

Isobel found Mary’s presence in the churchyard unexpected, but it didn’t take much deduction to determine the reason for her daughter-in-law’s afternoon visit to Matthew’s gravestone.  Waiting until the young woman was out of earshot, she leaned down and ran her fingers over the word Husband on the cool stone.  “I’ve not spent much time with Mr. Talbot, but he does seem like a lovely fellow and it is clear he loves her.  You can see it every time he looks at her.”

Her fingers moved to the word Father as she continued, “Goodness knows she doesn’t do things by halves, so she will have given great though to George’s well-being and the future of Downton before making this decision. I know both her and George’s happiness would be your absolute priority, my boy, because you had the most generous heart.  Always caring more about those around you being happy.”

The word Son now covered by her gloved hand, she closed her eyes for a moment, Matthew’s voice sounding in her head with the question, “Are you happy?”

Turning her neck to the side, she looked skyward, her hand resting against her throat as she gave a light shake to her head, “I’m not.  No, I’m not.”

“Mrs. Crawley?”

The warm Scottish brogue of Mrs. Hughes surprised her and she fought to regain her composure, discreetly wiping a stray tear from the corner of her eye.  “Mrs. Hughes.”

“I’m sorry, but are you alright?”

She managed a warm smile at the housekeeper.  “Quite.”

Regretting having made her presence known, the petite woman apologized.  “I didn’t mean to intrude.  I’ll leave you be.”

Isobel took a step towards her.  “No, you aren’t intruding. Please don’t go. There’s something I’d like to ask you, if you have a moment?”

Mrs. Hughes regarded her with kind curiosity. “Of course.”

“Are you happy, Mrs. Hughes?” The question came out with a more desperate tone than she had intended, but she was relieved to be met with a grin.

“Yes, Mrs. Crawley, I am very happy.  The happiest I have ever been, as a matter of fact.”

“I apologize. You must think me quite mad.”

“I would never think that.”

She motioned towards a small stone bench nearby and the women were soon seated in the shade of a large elm.  “This happiness is because of your new life with Mr. Carson, I take it?”

Mrs. Hughes blushed, but nodded.  “It is. I am finding married life quite…wonderful.”  Smiling brightly she continued, “Of course you know what I mean having been married yourself.”

“Yes, I do, well…I mean, I was a doctor’s wife and a mother and my life revolved around my husband and child, and it was busy, oh, and lovely, of course, and I have the most wonderful memories, but now…”

Mrs. Hughes reached over and gently patted Isobel’s hand.  “I think I know what you are asking, Mrs. Crawley.  What is it like being newly married at our age?”

Isobel let out a sigh, nodding with appreciation.

“It’s the small, simple things I think I find the most enjoyable. Sharing the newspaper over a cup of tea before we leave in the morning, or feeling him squeeze my hand to wake me when I’ve fallen asleep on the settee with a book before bed.” A playful smile filled her face as she admitted, “And there is no sweeter sound to my ears than the racket of his snoring.” Earning a chuckle from Isobel, she added, “And for all the strands of gray in my hair and the lines on my face which seem to multiply daily, I often catch him looking at me as though I were the most beautiful thing he has ever seen and no matter how badly may day may have gone or how weary my joints are, just that look makes it all go away because I feel absolutely loved, Mrs. Crawley.”

Letting out a small sigh, she murmured, “How wonderful.”

Squeezing Isobel’s hand, Mrs. Hughes gave her a knowing look as she offered, “It is and I highly recommend it.”

____________________________________________________________

Mrs. Hughes words stayed with her as she made the short trek home.  The look the new wife had described receiving from her husband was not foreign to the widow, nor one she knew only from the distant past; it was the look of absolute love she had received countless times from the man who had so ardently wished to marry her.  

Having made her way into the house, she stepped in front of the mirror to remove her hat, only to stop short as she took in the weary face reflected in the glass.

 “My God, you fool.  You terrible, terrible fool.”

____________________________________________________________ 


FALL

Her posy of Lily of the Valley rested on her lap, his hand squeezing hers as their car pulled away from the Registrar’s office.  Isobel wore a warm smile as she looked up at Dickie, only to find his face was filled with worry.

“What is it?”

“I am terribly afraid that you will regret today…regret what you’ve signed up…”

Her fingers gently pressed against his lips as she shook her head.  “The only regret I have is having wasted time not becoming your wife sooner.”

“My heart feels as though it might burst to hear you say such a thing, but I still don’t know why you changed your mind other than the fact that you are kindest, loveliest woman in the world and you’ve taken pity on a dying man.”

Cupping his cheek, she shook her head, her words simple, but heartfelt as she gazed into his eyes.  “Pity plays no part in this, Dickie.  I simply realized I was a fool to let go of someone who looks at me the way you do.”

“I am unable to look at you with anything less than absolute love, Isobel Crawley.”

Returning his loving gaze, she lifted her head and kissed his cheek before whispering, “It’s Isobel Merton, and I love you, too.”


WINTER

The hospital ward was quiet despite the clock’s ticking over to midnight to welcome in the New Year.

Clasping his hand, she lovingly smiled down at her husband.  “1947, Dickie.”

He was weak, but still managed a grin as he gazed up into the gentle eyes of his wife, whispering,
Nineteen New Years and we’ve never missed a kiss.  Don’t let me down now, Lady Merton.”

Having softly pressed her lips to his, she lifted her head to find him gazing up at her.  “Even at eighty-one, you look at me like that and I feel sixteen again.”

Stroking his cheek, she never took her eyes from his in the minutes that followed.  His breathing having grown more and more labored, she lifted his cold hand to her lips as she watched the spark slowly dim in his eyes. Lowering her ear near his face, she could just make out his final words.

“Absolute love.”