E or L :)
I know you requested this ages and ages ago, and I can’t apologize enough for it being so delayed. I had a note in my phone listing all of my drabble prompts, and it somehow got deleted. But I do remember that these two were ‘a shared drink’, and 'a shared kiss’. I’ve combined them both, though the shared drink is more of a muse than anything else. I hope you enjoy it. It sort of ran away with itself.
Robert poured himself another whiskey, swirling the amber liquid in its tumbler before downing it in one gulp. It had been a ghastly evening. His mother had insisted on inviting Lord and Lady Flintshire for dinner that evening as they made their way to their estate in Scotland. And though Susan was his first cousin, Robert found the woman endlessly infuriating. She had never been one of Robert’s favorite people, but tonight she had crossed the line.
He’d known he was in for a long night from the moment they had sat down to dinner and Susan had inquired after Mary. He remembered how Cora had beamed with pride as she talked of how their daughter had just recently learned to laugh and, at just four months old, could almost sit up on her own. Shrimpie had chuckled when Robert himself had mentioned that he’d a feeling they would have their hands full once their little lady was grown, mentioning that he had the same feeling about their son, James. At the mention of their son, Susan’s face had taken on its characteristic smugness. “I’m sure Mary is a perfect darling, Cora,” she offered. “Still, it is rather a shame.”
Cora’s eyebrows drew together, her head tilting in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“Only that it took you more than a year to fall pregnant, and it must have been rather disappointing that the baby turned out to be a girl.”
Robert watched Cora’s face as it blanched white, feeling his own flush red with anger. The rapid blinking of her eyes told him that she was fighting back tears, the realization causing his blood to boil.
“Actually, Susan, Cora and I wanted a little girl the first time round,” Robert interrupted, his voice calm in spite of his barely-contained anger.
Susan was incredulous. “You did?”
“Indeed. There’s always so much pressure on the eldest child in any family. Cora and I both know that all too well. And when we do have a son, his title will come with its own expectations and pressures. Having a daughter first means that some of that pressure is taken away. And Mary will be a great help to her younger siblings. Even at only four months old, I can tell that she will be a force to be reckoned with.”
His statement drew soft laughter from those seated round the table, and a look of immense gratitude from his wife. But Susan, never one to let the opportunity to make a cutting remark pass her by, merely nodded. “I’m sure. And hopefully it won’t take as long with the next one.”
Before Robert could react, Shrimpie turned sharply to his wife. “That’s quite enough, Susan. Let the subject drop.”
And now, as he poured himself yet another post-dinner drink, he was thankful that his cousin’s husband had taken control of the situation. Robert Crawley was a tolerant man, and a kind one. But one thing he could not, and would not, abide was someone hurling snide remarks at Cora. His lovely Cora, who was only ever kind to everyone she happened to meet. Cora, who had endured a difficult pregnancy–and an even more difficult labour–to bring their child into the world. Cora, who doted on their daughter and barely let the Nanny do the job she was being paid to do. No; that he could not tolerate.
As if sensing his thoughts, his wife entered the library, the agitated clicking of her heels pulling Robert from his reverie.
“Have Susan and Shrimpie gone up?”
“They have; thank heaven.” Cora rolled her eyes. “Mama and Papa have, as well. Do you know, every time I have to be around your cousin, I feel more and more sorry for Shrimpie?”
Robert’s laughter rang through the room, prompting his wife to do the same. “She’s never been one who seemed capable of keeping her opinions to herself, that’s for certain.”
“And may the Lord have mercy on us if the new baby is another girl. We’ll never hear the end if it.” Cora had not realized what she had said until she heard her husband’s glass hit the floor and dared to look up to his face, barely able to contain her laughter at the stunned look he gave her.
“New…” Robert struggled to find his voice as he took both of Cora’s hands in his. “Did you say 'new baby’?” Cora could only grin up at him in response. “Oh, Cora darling, is it really true?”
“It’s a bit ironic, isn’t it? After the amount of time it took with Mary, not to mention Susan’s remarks at dinner.”
“But when did you find out? Why didn’t you say anything?” The questions tumbled out as Robert endeavored to take everything in.
“I only found out this morning,” Cora replied, squeezing his hands affectionately. “I asked Jacobs to take me into the village to see Dr. Clarkson. I didn’t want him coming here and getting everyone’s hopes up if it turned out I wasn’t. We had so many instances of false hope before we found out Mary was on the way. And it had taken such a long time that I didn’t think it was possible that I would become pregnant again so quickly. I guess I was wrong. Our newest little darling should be here in the early spring. To answer your other question,” Cora lowered her lashes a bit, “I was hoping to find a slightly more romantic way of telling you. But, I found myself telling you before I even realized fully what I was saying.”
“It doesn’t matter how you told me. My darling.” Unable to resist any longer, Robert captured her lips with his, his arms snaking their way around her waist and pulling her close.
Cora allowed the kiss for a few moments before pulling back. “Robert,” she began, wrinkling her nose, “just how much whiskey have you had?”
“More than I should have, I admit,” he answered sheepishly. “I’d offer you some after the evening we’ve both had, but…”
Cora laughed, taking one of her husband’s hands and bringing it to rest on her abdomen. “I could use a drink, but I think I’ll pass.”
“I want you to know, Cora, that I meant what I said at dinner. It doesn’t make any difference to me that we had a daughter instead of a son.”
Cora swallowed. “But, the entail…”
Robert shook his head, his free hand finding it’s way into her hair. “We’ve years to worry about that. I want children with you, Cora, not just sons. And if we do happen to have all girls, well” here he shrugged his shoulders, “there’s always James. But I don’t want you to worry about it. Whatever happens, happens. Just know that, no matter what, I love you very, very much.”