Rated: T, mild M
Chelsie first time fic I originally started writing for Cami’s birthday
Elsie blatantly admired Charlie -- his familiar broad back, long lean legs, square shoulders -- as he still managed to move gracefully, even barefooted through thick sand.
He’d taken a few steps away from her to investigate the sound of cheering and clapping. It wasn’t the children, who she could still hear cooing and laughing at the puppet show, but a party of young men further along the beach. An enthusiastically posed ‘howzat’ echoed across the bay, confirming the men were playing an impromptu game of cricket on the sand.
It hadn’t been until she’d been back at Downton for three years that she’d witnessed a village cricket match. Before then, there’d only been a disorganised series of casual matches played, due to the disruption of the Boer War.
Her first taste of the sport came when she and the other staff were required to put on a spread for a village versus the house match. Throughout the day she poured tea, and served scones, and offered sandwiches, and clapped when their side scored a run, and cheered when the umpire declared one of the opposition was out.
She stood in the shade, blaming the sun for her flushed appearance, and regarded one particularly handsome man on the field. She took full advantage of surveying his body as it was required to stretch and flex when bowling or batting. His whites displayed so many finer details which his dark jackets had hidden from view.
At one stage on their wedding night, he’d implied he’d never made similar studies of her body.
“Did you never think about this?” she tearfully implored, stiffening beneath him, caught up in a desperation of needing his desire to be as sustained and impassioned as hers.
He urgently asked her what was wrong, begged to know if and how he might have hurt her. She mumbled some abrupt responses until finally she stammered out an explanation, dismissing physical pain and clarifying that it was his words that had hurt.
She ached from his adamantly commanded suggestion that he had never yearned for them to be this close in the past.
He collapsed from his position above her, slipped out of her body, leaving her bereft and confused even more.
“You’ve misunderstood me.” He pushed a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “Of course I always felt attraction tapping at my shoulder around you. I thought I agreed earlier that this want has always been between us?”
“No, no you didn’t agree.”
He frowned. “I should have,” he whispered. “But you see, I don’t want you to wonder. Wonder how it would have been if we had just consummated this straight away, captured this love that has always lingered between us instead of leaving it waft in the air, just out of reach. I don’t want you to have regrets. I don’t want you to admonish yourself about things we can never change.”
Her throat constricted with even more pain, beautiful pain this time, however. Why was this big brash, opinionated and chauvinistic man always saying the right thing and making her love him even more. She wriggled closer. They were both lying on their sides, face to face.
“Yes, I thought you were beautiful then,” he murmured, his thumbs wiping the tear stains from her face. “Yes, I was attracted to you then. Always.” He stared over her shoulder, his eyes focusing, only not, on the dresser. “While performing that albeit weak, but often necessary function that males must partake in, I did, at times, think about one sharp tongued redhead in particular.”
Her good humour returned with his shocking confession.
“Heavens to betsy, you’re admitting that?” she said with a snort of laughter.
His only reply was an irritated grunt, which only made her laugh more.
She wondered if he would find it awfully insulting if she told him that her favourite thing about him was how much he made her laugh. Then their eyes, both now full of merriment, met for the long time, and she knew that telling him would be a redundant measure.
He leaned forwards, rested his forehead on hers. “Elsie… If you’re… Ready… I would rather like to continue where we left off, before things become more… Difficult.”
She laughed again before she leaned back to peep at his maleness, strong and sitting snug against his stomach. He was quite ready to continue.
Blushing, she hid her embarrassment by returning to what she knew and was completely comfortable with. She kissed him. Only this time her mouth opened and sought his tongue and its oddly comforting intimacy immediately.
“Yes,” she whispered as they eventually parted.
He caught her face and cradled it gently. “No more regrets about what we could have had,” he commanded, his tone like that of when he berated the young footmen. “I’d rather thank someone for this beautiful thing we do have.”
She turned quickly. He’d abandoned watching the cricket game and was standing alongside her again, staring out at the horizon. His words were meant for the view, not offering her a compliment as she’d immediately imagined. She really was getting far too uppity of late. His fault completely…
Feeling foolish, she looked down at her feet and wriggled her toes, popping up some of the moist sand that had gathered upon them. The waves were curling closer up the shore, until they just covered her feet with foam for a moment before receding away. She began to sink deeper and deeper into the sand as this pattern repeated itself.
Beside her, Charlie was resorting to hopping from foot to foot to prevent his feet similarly burying in the sand.
It was still difficult not to have regrets, as much as he insisted they not. She turned her head and regarded his body again now. It was quite different, true, from those early years. Much less lean, from the finer things in life in which he enjoyed. She was thankful that he never overindulged completely like so many other butlers she knew.
She had actually wondered more than once what he might do if he did imbibe a little too much one night. Would things have moved along a step or two should he have been instilled with false bravado? Would she have kissed him as she had on their wedding night? Would she have lain with him on her sitting room settee? Would she have crept into his room late at night, holding her keys rigid to stop them jangling, and joined him in his tiny bed?
These questions could never be answered. She would not be this Elsie Hughes if she had done those things, and he would not be the Charles Carson she loved so dearly if he'd allowed them to happen.
She’d only realised she'd fallen in love with him on the beach at Brighton. And yet, on their wedding night she’d kept wanting him to somehow admit he loved her before that.
“I’m a contrary female and you have every right to put me over your knee and soundly beat me.”
He turned away from the water and gave her an indulgent smile. “Yes, you do need a firm hand, Mrs Carson,” he murmured.
His actions had almost matched his words that night. Almost...
The firm hand wasn’t a raised one, but one that slid along the curve of her buttocks, then drifted down her thighs until it fussed with the back of her knee.
“That tickles,” she complained good-naturedly and wriggled out of his reach when his thumb drew an invisible line down her calf.
He grabbed her and rolled over so that he lay on his back with her flung across his bulk, the room singing with their laughter once more.
He moved slightly beneath her, and she slid, until she was straddling him.
“Elsie, there’s something else I should tell you,” he whispered urgently.
She held her breath and bit down on her tongue, anxious yet confident. How many different ways could a man tell her he loved her before she really relaxed?
“When I said I want you now, not then, I meant I want you now.”
“I don’t understand…”
“I want you now. As you are now. This body, this one you think is wrinkled and old and not worthy. I think it’s perfect. I think it’s beautiful. I don’t want you to think for a minute that I’m trying to win back my youth by bedding a woman I desired over two decades ago. I’m not trying to recapture anything with a fantasy I had. I desire you now.”
He reached up, caught her swaying breasts, thumbing her nipple and making her squirm, perhaps enticingly, she thought.
She manoeuvred herself down so she could graze her finger along the dark hair surrounding his erotically exotic skin. Next, she tentatively touched the smooth skin sheathing his rigidness.
“Elsie,” he groaned her name.
She instantly pulled her hand away. “Charlie?” She posed his name as a question. Did he like it or not? Should she continue?
His breathing was heavy and his face flushed.
“Yes,” he agreed urgently despite the fact she hadn’t vocalised her question.
As he could always use his superior strength to refuse she figured, she ever so carefully touched his arousal, wrapped her fingers and thumb around its thickness, and guided him into her body.
She rose and lowered a few times, stretched around him. “Maybe I could have coped with an obedient and meek Elsie. Maybe your independence could have been sacrificed for this...”
Ignoring his rambling, she rocked back and forth, feeling her body adjusting to his size again.
“I’m not good at being meek,” she murmured, repeating her earlier thoughts.
“If we had taken up together all that time ago, I would have insisted on you being my wife, with all that would have entailed. And that would have made you a different person. Your position at the house has given you such strength of character. By marrying you, I would have taken that away and you’d be a different person.”
“I’m your wife now,” she reminded him.
“Being my wife would have been your entire career. You would have cooked and cleaned and tended to my every want. You would have had no thoughts of your own, merely been at my beck and call.”
“And this fantasy of yours is different to reality how?” she asked with a laugh.
“Yes… I would have stifled you.” He held her gaze. “I am quite serious this time, Elsie, when I say this is the time for us. Enjoy it while we still can,” he rasped.
And she did. She lifted herself up to soar above him before crashing down, grinding their bodies together as they pressed hard together, prompting every nerve ending within her to pulse at the action. Again and again and again.
She closed her eyes and let the contented feelings flow throughout her, ignoring the pain in her knees and the muscles she had never needed to use in such ways before now.
He let go of her breasts and dug his fingers into her hips, bruising her skin with his tight grip, lifting himself to meet her, stroke for stroke.
Yes, it wasn’t him taking her like she’d read in the occasional novel, or even her taking what she wanted. They were moving together, working together, just as they always did, just as they always should.
And finally their efforts liberated them both. She arched her body and cried out. Waves of pleasure rippled through her and her senses again danced and sung with pure elation.
She felt, rather than heard, Charlie rumble of pleasure beneath her. She slowly opened her eyes. His head was flung back, settled on the edge of one of the thick feather pillows. His eyes were still closed, his face flushed. She was glad for his heavy breathing or she might have thought he was suffering negatively from the act.
She had expected him to roar out, voice his pleasure loudly. He was so quiet.
“Charlie?” she repeated, a little more anxiously.
His eyes slowly opened to reveal tears.
“Oh, Charlie.” She leaned down, kissed the tears away.
“Am I an old booby or an old duffer?”
“Neither,” she whispered near his ear. “An old sweetheart.”
His gold fobwatch chain hooked on to one side of his vest caught the sunlight and sparkled brightly in the early afternoon sun, distracting her from her daydream. She smiled wistfully at the now-very wilted and brown flower pinned on the other side. Neither of them had suggested disposing of the boutonniere even though it was now emitting a suspiciously rotting stench.
He glanced over, his mouth tugging itself into a gentle smile when he saw her staring at the floral reminder of their wedding.
“I’m going to miss this,” he said.
“Sand? Sun? Or the sea?”
“Threading my fingers through your hair to untangle the wind’s knots,” he elaborated, “tasting the salt on your skin at the end of the day; applying cold cream to the patches of red.”
She bit down on her lip, warmed by the erotic images he was painting with his words.
“I’ve enjoyed our daily walks," she offered. "I think I shall have to keep them up when we get home.”
The word, ‘home’ fell from her lips so easily nowadays. She meant their cottage, of course. Even Charlie now referred to Downton as the ‘house’ and their cottage as ‘home’.
“You’ll have time,” he concurred. “Unlike some of us! My first job will be finding a suitable replacement housekeeper!”
“You insisted no wife of yours would work, Mr Carson,” she reminded him. “So now you must take the punishment of this rule.”
“I’m surprised you don’t wish to be the one to find the replacement,” he remarked. “After all, Mrs Patmore wasn’t employed on a whim…”
Mrs Collins had been a selfish old biddy, out to pinch every penny she could from all and sundry. She was also a wily old thing, who couldn’t get the short shrift as easily as the three troublemaking maids.
Inspiration, and grounds to dismiss the cook, eventually came to Elsie when she met with the salesman supplying soap flakes to Downton.
It was common practice to take a cut from local merchants. The house would pay the full amount for goods, but the suppliers would always offer a discount, which the cook, or the housekeeper, pocketed.
This was the usual arrangement at all big houses. It was even what she and Mrs Patmore still did today, albeit the funds they pocketed were shared amongst all the senior staff. But when searching for legitimate grounds to ask Mrs Collins to find another position in another house, it was quite acceptable.
“You can now admit that Mrs Patmore was given the job for her sincere lack of looks and puritan ways as her cooking skills.”
“I’ll admit no such thing, Mr Carson,” she said, prim. It was completely true, however.
“Asking four staff to leave in quick succession saved Miss O’Brien, of course. We had to settle on the lesser evil.”
“True… I should perhaps attend the interviews for the new butler when the time comes. I might make many a suggestion on how to behave with the housekeeper.”
“Or not,” she murmured suggestively. Bravely she bit into the globe of icecream, now that she’d given it several licks to soften it. She looked up, eyes shining with merriment and teasing. Satisfyingly, he was watching her mouth carefully.
She flicked out her tongue, searching for any smears of chocolate treat.
He reached out and his finger dabbed at her bottom lip, “Steady…”
The muscles between her legs clenched. He wasn’t above teasing too, it seemed.
She should probably change the subject and get them back on steady ground, indeed! “Would you like to wander up to the castle again this afternoon?”
“No, I’m a little… Tired actually. I thought we could return to our room. Spend the rest of the afternoon… Resting.”
Her breath caught. His way of speaking had not done anything to steady her, that was for certain. “I don’t know how, Mr Carson, but you made that sound almost risque,” she scolded softly.
“And if I did?” he asked immediately, proving he remembered their conversation just as well as she.
He caught her hand, and gently dragged her out of the trench she had created around her legs. Sightseeing could definitely wait. In two days time they’d be returning to Downton and she’d only see him in the evenings. She would miss him, and would be counting down the days until he too retired.
Her mind wandered back to their less than auspicious beginning as Charlie tucked her hand into the crock of his elbow and they began the short trek back to their accommodation.
In a few short days, they’d gone from a couple of old fools twisted up with anxiety in the bedroom, to a couple of old fools moving completely in harmony. She had every confidence they’d soon be synchronised when it came to public shows of affection as well.
“I’m sure it’s quite possible for us to while away a few hours together…”