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04 August 2015 @ 10:37 pm
While Away - Chapter Four  
Title: While Away
Chapter 4
Author: Aussie
Rated: Tish, heading towards M

Somewhere above Elsie a bird shrieked. She tilted her head back to search the sky, and caught its shape as it contentedly floated upon the wind’s updraught. Soon enough it changed direction and swooped, breaking through the sparkling surface a mere few yards away from Elsie’s place at the water’s edge. Then, with a twist and a flash of grey and white, it ascended to drift in the breeze again.

The gull, as she eventually recognised it to be, repeated its performance many times, greedily returning to dip into the bay again and again. She kept watching it for a long while, its sharp eye focused and alert as it scouted for sparkling silver bounty.

She’d become greedy over the last few days. She’d gone with the smallest of human contact for years. You can’t miss what you’ve never had, her mother used to say. But with their wedding night everything had changed. Going back to how she was, how they were, would not be an easy task.

She still couldn’t believe she’d gone from a woman who’d never been kissed, to… Well, for starters she’d not easily forget Charlie’s intent to emulate the intimacy he’d seen in the risque postcard!

At first she’d watched with fascination as he bent over her, his brow furrowed in concentration. She felt a strong surge of power shudder through her body along with the tingle of arousal. He was on his knees serving her… When would wonders cease?

Next, the wonders of his tongue licking and circling certain spots took over. Her eyes closed and her shame was complete as she heard herself making whimpering noises in the semi-darkness. She clung onto the bed sheets, digging her fingernails into the mattress to keep herself and her weak limbs from sliding off its edge.

Like one of the marionettes she’d see on the promenade in a few days, she surrendered control of her body over to Charlie. He was the master puppeteer, pulling on her strings with his mouth. But also with his tongue, his lips, his chin, his nose, his fingers… Her awareness and ability to differentiate between each new touch whilst her eyes were shut surprised and thrilled her in equal measure.

Unbelievably, her pleasure increased and her gasps grew louder. It seemed Charlie was warming to his objective with vigorous energy.

Then, abruptly, she reached a point of no return; she trembled from what she could only describe as pure bliss and she cried out with a mixture of relief and awe. Even though it was a frank vocalisation of joy she simply could no longer suppress, she would later rue the sound, and compare it to a banshee on the Moors. However, at the moment she was too busy noting she had developed a new appreciation of her five senses to admonish herself over her noisy fervour.

She could hear the blood pumping through her veins. She could see stars through her closed eyelids. She could taste the salt of her tears. She didn’t even remember shedding them, or reckon why. She could smell her own thick earthy scent, mortifyingly hanging in the air, the candle’s aroma not quite masking it. She could feel a flush burning all the way from her cheeks to her chest, her pale skin once more hindering any semblance of decorum.

Reluctantly, slowly, she opened her eyes; Charlie was climbing higher in the bed, while she still dangled over its edge awkwardly. She snapped her knees together. They had somehow ended up parting wider and wider, and her ankles were pressing into the mattress base.

Just when she thought she couldn’t be more embarrassed, a rush of moisture pooled near where his mouth was previously placed.

Before she could think of how to react to all these matters, she was picked up. She weighed no more than a feather apparently. Charlie settled her comfortably beside him, his breathing reassuringly as laboured as hers. His fingers distractingly danced amongst her hair, tidying its obvious disarray. Had she writhed around on the pillow that much?

He finally spoke. “Well?” he asked, his eyes seeking hers.

She couldn't quite meet his eyes. “I’m so sorry," she said without any particular reason she was apologising in mind. Other than the noises she’d made, and the sheet she’d probably stained and twisted, and the way she’d just laid back whilst he did all the work and yet she now felt exhausted.

“Oh, I thought… I’m sorry.” He inched away from her. “I didn’t… You seemed… It was too depraved,” he said. Not a question at all, but an affirmation which made her instantly frown.

“It was?” she asked, confused and worried. She needed to shout out in denial; rebuke this claim for all it was worth.

She had been sure he’d enjoyed it. Well, if not enjoyed exactly, at least found it tolerable enough to see it through to the end for her sake. Charlie always wanted to do everything right, and she supposed he was adding pleasing his wife to his list of personal obligations.

She would concede she’d kept her eyes closed the entire time, but she’d still thought he’d been enthusiastic at one stage. Perhaps she had just talked herself into believing that because she had never felt so… Satisfied was one way to put it. Plus she was quite surprised how free and independent she felt after the experience.

“Don’t get angry," she pleaded quietly, "but I had found the entire act quite liberating. And very… Good,” she finished, although good was such an inadequate adjective. She was still feeling a little dim-witted and an extensive vocabulary was escaping her right now.

“Thank goodness,” he said with a relieved sigh, adjusting his body so they were again closer, but still had some room between to manoeuvre. “Of course I’m not angry. I was a little confused, that’s all. If I’d read your enjoyment completely wrong, I’d have to admit I don’t know you as I thought I did.” He rested his forehead on her forehead, capturing her gaze as he did. “And that,” he whispered, “Elsie Carson, would break my heart completely.”

“Oh, you.” She slapped him lightly on the chest, but then let her hand linger there, exploring the different textures at the same time. His mouth found hers and they began to kiss again. Soft, gentle kisses, to fill the lull before they moved to the next step in their love making. “You romantic old duffer,” she mock scolded against his lips.

He pulled away slightly. “I want you to not worry,” he said seriously, “I won’t force you to reciprocate.”

She blinked. Then, after a moment it dawned on her he was talking about. Without thinking of the consequences, she literally licked her lips. And without any control, she looked straight down. Quite appalling behaviour, she'd acknowledged later.

This time, the way he was positioned, or the way his pyjama pants were positioned… Or... Something… She could see… Something...

Her hand moved, again quite on its own volition, and she lightly brushed the back of her hand against the pronounced bunching.

This slightest of touches had a similar effect as his touch had on her a few moments ago. He groaned, louder than she was expecting from such meagre contact, causing her to jump in fright and pull her hand away quickly.

He made a gruff apologetic sound at the back of his throat and in response she giggled like a young maid.

He firmly kissed her again. She was getting quite used to his kisses now, but she was still fascinated by how each was unique in its own way.

She was suddenly so glad she'd waited until Charlie was ready to share a physical relationship. She couldn't imagine sharing all these new discoveries with anyone else. “You know you’re the only one I could ever…”

He gripped her wandering hand and lifted it to his mouth, brushing his lips across her knuckles. “Yet you imagined I’d done such things to three maids?” He cocked one thick eyebrow, and feigned a scowl.

“Three maids at the same time, in fact,” she teasingly confirmed with a nod.

His real horrified look made her lips twitch.

Soon after Elsie started at Downton, she discovered there was quite the twitter of excitement amongst the female staff each time Mr Carson’s name came up in general conversation. The girls’ talk included mentions of marriage and money, which made no sense at first, but she soon realised they were all embroiled in some type of competition. There was a pool of money to be collected should the butler take a wife before the end of winter.

“I don’t quite understand.” She had again approached Mrs Collins, the most senior member of the staff other than herself.

“What’s not to understand, Mrs Hughes?”

“A butler cannot marry, and certainly once a maid has, her career will be over.”

“A career, you say? Is that what you’d be calling it, then? Well, the hoity-toity housekeepers might call it a career, but most maids would be calling it biding time until they can find a man, for sure. If you’re going to wait on someone hand and foot, you might as well get some added benefit of a bit of a romp under the sheets now and then, mark my words.”

“I don’t think there’s any need for such talk, Mrs Collins,” Elsie noted sourly. Not only was the cook being unnecessarily crude, she was belittling the path Elsie and many other women had chosen to take.

“Yes, hoity-toity indeed! Although you’re a Scot, so I’d say that’s for show, I would,” Mrs Collins peered down her nose, which was oddly thin and pointy compared to the rest of her solid frame. “You’ve set your sights on Mr Carson yourself then, have you?”

“No!” Elsie denied hotly. She hadn’t even met the man! “I just don’t think it’s very appropriate that the maids are being distracted from their duties by--”

“Fine men are hard to come by, they are,” Mrs Collins cut her off. “And most of the maids think they’ll be able to keep him in line and blinker his wandering eyes once they have a ring on their finger, you see. In the mean time he certainly isn’t opposed to the attention, if you get my meaning, Mrs Hughes, and I’m sure you do.” The cook turned and headed for the kitchen, effectively dismissing Elsie once again.

Before entering her domain, Mrs Collins did throw one last piece of advice over her shoulder in Elsie’s general direction: “You should watch yourself, you should. He’s had a couple of redhead sticks for girls visit his room so I’m sure you’re his type, I am.”

“That old battleaxe!” Charlie growled after Elsie related this conversation. “Wandering eyes! Opposed the the attention! No girls had ever visited my rooms!” As he ranted, she escaped his grip and she explored his chest again, mentally measuring its impressive breadth, letting the feathery hair tickle her palms, circling his dark nipples with her fingertips.

“No wonder you were apprehensive when I returned that year,” he commented, only the slight falter in his tone an indication that he was affected by her ministrations.

“Yes, and our first meeting was not what I imagined…”

“And you were much more stubborn and defiant than I imagined a housekeeper could be in her first week.”

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled unapologetically. She tried kissing his nipple, eager to understand why men found the action so appealing. She thought it might be something to do with the sharp contrast between soft and hard. Although, she realised with a frown, Charlie’s chest was quite muscular and hard also.

He grunted, reminding her she should make an effort to keep up with their conversation. “You do bring out the worst in me, Mr Carson,” she admitted.

“Or the best,” he suggested.

To that she only made some incoherent reply before nipping the raised flesh without undue pressure. She didn’t dislike the act but Charlie carried on as if he did, growling and using his superior weight to push her off and pin her to the mattress.

“I like it,” he said, contradicting her thoughts. His gaze wandered slowly over her nakedness. Her own nipples obediently stood to attention for his gaze. “I like them.” He covered both her breasts with both his hands. She always thought she was fairly well endowed in the area, but they disappeared in his huge paws. “Our tussles.” He separated the fingers of one hand until her nipple peeked out indecently. “You do have a knack of eliciting my passions...”

“Mr Carson,” she started, but then gasped as his head lowered and he lapped fiercely on the impertinent point.

When she was making those banshee noises again, he relented and looked up, smug. “I suppose it’s much too late to make a good first impression,” he whispered softly.

He was right in assuming she’d decided on her first impression of him before they’d even had a chance to meet.

Even if the cook was lying about Mr Carson’s involvement, the lack of discipline amongst the staff did not bode well.

There was, it seemed, three main contenders in the competition to snag the reputedly handsome butler. Elsie took quite a while to ascertain which three maids these were, because from what she could gather, only Miss O’Brien was immune to his charms.

Elsie met Miss O’Brien oh too soon, when Lady Grantham had returned to the house earlier than her husband and young daughters, and right from the start she and the lady’s maid failed to see eye to eye on any subject. So the disapproval of this woman in particular didn’t immediately diminish how Elsie perceived Mr Carson’s widely reported appeal.

Much to Elsie’s exasperation, when hearing of Mr Carson’s imminent return to Downton, many of the female staff even attempted to spruce up their looks by using rags in their hair and pinching their cheeks to mimic a healthy glow.

Elsie’s introduction to Mr Carson finally came about when she was in the servants’ hall, embroiled in yet another fiery debate with Miss O’Brien. He swept in, informing them of his general disapproval for raised voices.

It was obvious from the onset he was totally at ease with being in charge. He seemed to fill the room with both his size and demeanour. The rest of the occupants faded away, insignificant. All attention focused obediently on his every word and action.

“Mrs Hughes, I shall give you the benefit of the doubt, considering your newness here at Downton, but I do hope this type of behaviour is not something I will come across frequently now that you’ve taken the helm.”

She would need to rethink her theory that discipline was not his strong point, considering the way her own knees knocked at his clipped instructions. His voice was deep and smooth, with the perfect Yorkshire accent suggesting he’d at one time been a local to the area.

Behind her Miss O’Brien quickly recapped her version of events, one which placed Elsie in a most unprofessional light.

Elsie swallowed down her anger and embarrassment. First impressions count, she fretted.

“Mrs Hughes?” he prompted. He was waiting for her side of the story.

Elsie bit her tongue, deciding that if she said too much about the issue, and how she thought Mrs Collins was spurring on the younger lady’s maid, she would simply sound untrained and unable to handle the female staff.

“You’re right, Mr Carson, disturbing the house is not the correct approach. Please, Miss O’Brien, join me in my sitting room. We will finish our discussion there in private,” she said, turning towards the servants’ hall exit.

“Wait,” Mr Carson commanded.

Slowly Elsie turned and Mr Carson stepped closer. His scent permeated into her pores. He smelt of leather and cedar, baking soda and tallow, pine and beeswax.

“I think it might be for the best that I join you, Mrs Hughes.” His voice was low. She felt like he was bent, whispering the words urgently near her ear. Only her neck was craned so this couldn’t be the case.

Her heart raced and she tried to concentrate fully on the occupation she was employed in. If she agreed and accepted his help she would appear weak to the female staff, especially those who had only returned from London and were still getting to know her ways. But to refuse was insubordination.

She finally forced herself to look away from his interesting features to glance over his shoulder to Miss O’Brien who hovered behind him.

“Thank you,” she said, spurred on by Miss O’Brien’s smug expression, “but I think I can handle it alone.”

He demanded attention though, stepping closer again. She bent her neck further backwards to hold his gaze. She did so determinedly for what felt like hours, even though it was probably only a matter of seconds. She noted his dark eye colour, the slightly ruddy tinge of his cheeks, the vertical wrinkle that marred the bridge of his nose.

He cleared his throat noisily, prompting her to shake her head in an attempt to clear this new tendency of wanting to itemise each aspect of his appearance.

“I think, seeing as you’ve only just started--”

“No.” Later, when she knew him better, she would know he was almost ready to explode at her interruption, but if she was an efficient housekeeper, any further temper tantrum by Miss O’Brien did not need to be witnessed by the butler.

An efficient housekeeper would handle all issues regarding the female staff. Butlers were too important to be saddled with the women. Yes, she should remember all men liked to be reminded of their superiority.

“I’m sure you have much more important matters you could be attending to than a minor disagreement between two female servants,” she said in the most placating tone she could manage.

After a moment he bowed his head in acquiescence. His hair was a glossy black, parted neatly to one side, and was starting to recede. She wondered whether he had any idea about the wayward curl just above his left ear as she turned to leave the servants’ hall again, this time with Miss O’Brien in tow.

All and all, she’d thought she came through the entire event quite unscathed. Except for the clammy palms, and the racing heart, and the goosepimples spreading beneath her clothes.

“Being attracted to you could never be,” she said now. He was giving her a brief respite from suckling her nipple but his hands were softly massaging her breasts. “I had to provide for Becky. But, I’ll readily admit if you’d given me any encouragement, things might have been very different. I’m not sure if I could have resisted.”

Yes, her reactions to him that first day definitely pointed to her being instantly enthralled by Charlie. Then, and now.

She let out a shuddering sigh and looked down, so ready to move on. She reached out and brushed against the visible bulge with the back of her hand, and watched as the pyjama pants material did a jig in response. He’d made the comment earlier about making her ready so things would fit. She wasn’t a complete innocent; she knew men came in different shapes and sizes, but...

“Does it make any difference, do you think?” she asked.

She bit her bottom lip and slowly began to untangle the knot which held up the waist of his pyjama bottoms. Beneath it was a button, straining to be free. She popped it easily.


“That you’re so large.”

“Mrs Hughes!” He automatically addressed her with her maiden name in his agitation. “You’d better explain to me how you know such a thing!”

End Chapter 4