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04 December 2011 @ 02:31 pm
Any Time Is Kissing Time (Downton Abbey, C/H, rated T)  
For the Mistletoe Challenge, meeting the required plot points of:
  • Kiss under the mistletoe with one half of your ship and another character
  • A sober Lady Violet drinking everyone else under the table
  • Singing – drunken or sober

----------------

It was Anna who'd informed her she'd be needed upstairs, that the drawing room would likely be too much even for Mr Carson tonight. "They drank all the wine he'd brought up for dinner. And then they asked for more. A lot more."
 
"Good heavens. You never mean to tell me they're drunk, do you?"
 
"Not all of them. The dowager countess is steady. But Lady Edith isn't. Her Ladyship is singing carols very loudly. And every time Mrs Crawley's glass was empty Lady Violet had Mr Carson refill it. I wouldn't want to be her come morning."
 
Mrs Hughes hurried upstairs. Mr Carson could handle many things; a household of drunken females was not one of them. She had her hand on the doorknob, ready to try to slip into the room inconspicuously, when she heard shrieks of laughter and Mr Carson trying to demur politely but firmly.
 
She pushed into the room and stopped dead still at the sight of Mr Carson under the mistletoe, with Mrs Crawley passionately kissing him. The poor man was standing stock still, looking as far off into the distance as he could with a woman hanging about his neck, her lips on his. Mr Matthew was trying to pull his mother away and the dowager countess was hooting, banging her stick against the floor in approval.
 
With the help of His Lordship Mrs Crawley was finally pulled off Mr Carson, who still stood as though he were awaiting orders, as though his mind were elsewhere. Her Ladyship started singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and commented that poor Carson did not look merry at all. The dowager countess beckoned Mrs Crawley to sit by her side and handed the woman yet another drink. After downing it in a gulp she said, "Cousin Cora, I think your mistletoe is broken."
 
"It's not broken. It was just the wrong woman," Lady Edith answered.
 
"If I'm the wrong woman, who's the right one?"
 
"Just about anyone, my dear," said Lady Violet handing Isobel another glass.
 
"Mother!" His Lordship looked up from trying to silence his wife to hush the dowager countess.
 
His momentary lapse of attention allowed his wife's tongue to run free. "Edith's right. I'll bet Carson would perform much better with a more appropriate partner."
 
"He might at that," Lady Violet agreed. "But it is quite out of the question for him to kiss me!"
 
Mrs Hughes could see Mr Carson's breath of relief, but alas, it was too soon.
 
"Mrs Hughes!" Lady Edith's cry was triumphant.
 
"Yes, m'lady?" Mrs Hughes stepped forward, hoping all that was required was a glass of water or help to the girl's room.
 
"You should kiss Carson. Then we'd know if the mistletoe works."
 
"I couldn't. It wouldn't be --"
 
"Oh, don’t be tiresome, Mrs Hughes," Her Ladyship interrupted. "Just do as Lady Edith asks."
 
Elsie walked over to the mistletoe, stood on her toes, and gave Carson a quick kiss on the cheek. He stared, as he had all along, off into the middle distance.
 
"I told you it was broken!" Mrs Crawley yelled triumphantly.
 
"That was hardly a kiss for the mistletoe, Mrs Hughes" Lady Violet reprimanded her. "I've given men I wouldn't even care to know better kisses than that."
 
Elsie leaned up again to whisper to Charles. "I'm sorry."
 
"Let’s just get this over with, shall we?"
 
It was the wrong thing for him to say. She knew they were only friends, but no woman likes to think her kiss would be unwelcome. Suddenly she understood why Mrs Crawley was so insistent, but she suspected it wasn't the mistletoe which was broken but Mr Carson.
 
Her musing was broken by Her Ladyship. "Less talking, Mrs Hughes! More kissing!"
 
She rose again to her toes, placing steadying hands on Mr Carson's shoulders, pulling her body closer than was strictly respectable. She touched her lips to his lightly and then lingered, leaning forwards a little more. She knew his instinctive reaction -- anyone's instinctive reaction -- would be to bring his hands to her hips to keep her from falling, and knew how it would look to the Crawleys. She deepened her kiss, hoping to get him to look at her, and was surprised to feel him return her kiss. She was shocked to feel him deepen it, and flabbergasted to feel his fingers tighten on her waist.
 
"Told you the mistletoe worked!" Lady Edith's whoop was a scarcely heard rumble in the background. Her Ladyship moved on from Christmas carols to a love song from before the war. And still Mr Carson was kissing her. Her fingers dug into the material of his jacket.
 
It took the dowager countess's "Thank you, Mr Carson, I believe we get the idea," to make the man take a step back. His hands lingered as they trailed from the back of her hips to her front before he took another step away, out of reach, away from the mistletoe. She quickly stepped to his side; it wouldn't do to be called upon to prove the plant's efficacy with anyone else.
 
Lady Violet called for another round of drinks. Mrs Hughes and Mr Carson went through the room, refilling glasses, neatly stepping around each other when they met in the middle.
 
"It wasn't the mistletoe," Mrs Crawley cried into her sherry. "It was me. I think I'm going to be sick."
 
"I think it's time I got Mother home," Mr Matthew decided, and Carson rang for the chauffeur. "Will you be coming with us, Cousin Violet?"
 
"I think I shall, if Mr Carson will be so good as to prepare us all a glass for the road. It's a cold night out."
 
"I'll come with you," Lady Sybil offered. "Help get Cousin Isobel settled." Mrs Hughes suspected it was more to spend the trip back home alone with Branson and that she should protest, but tonight she didn't care.
 
After the visitors were gone, it was time for the household itself to break up. "Come on, Edith, time to get you to your room before you make more of a spectacle of yourself," Lady Mary said. "If that's even possible."
 
"I'll see Her Ladyship upstairs, Carson," His Lordship said, interrupting his wife's second chorus of 'Let Me Call You Sweetheart.' "I believe the house will sleep in tomorrow; please let the staff know they, too, might wish to sleep an extra half hour or so."
 
"It will be most appreciated, m'lord."
 
And then the room was empty, leaving only the two of them. And the mistletoe. The silence was absolute and they each looked at the floor, at the walls, at anything but each other. The clock chimed the hour and startled them both.
 
"I'm sorry, Mrs Hughes. I ought not to have done that." He spoke to her, but he kept his eyes on the floor.
 
"Blame the Crawleys, not yourself."
 
"I should have said no. I may choose to let the Crawleys have their fun at the price of my dignity, but I had no right to cost you yours."
 
"It would take more than a kiss to cost me my dignity, Mr Carson. I didn't mind it."
 
He turned to her. "Is that true?"
 
"It's been a long time since I've been kissed."
 
"And it's been a long time since I've kissed anyone."
 
"Then maybe the Crawleys did us both a favor tonight."
 
"I don’t need the Crawleys to do me that sort of favor."
 
"Don't you?" Her heart beat as loud as the clock. So many years of silence now broken -- she felt as though she, too, had over-indulged, had drunk too much of something she could not name but which she wanted to try again.
 
He walked over to her slowly, stopping so close he loomed over her and she had to lean back to look up at his face. It felt like time had stopped as he lowered his face to hers, his lips to her mouth, his hands to her shoulders.
 
She had thought their first kiss nice, but now she realized how restrained he had been by the circumstances and the company. Her mouth opened beneath his and she felt the warm wetness of his tongue seek hers. When at last they broke apart for breath she rested her head against his chest, he his cheek on her hair.
 
"That's some mistletoe," she said when she could finally manage speech.
 
"We are not under the mistletoe," he laughed.
 
She looked past him and saw the mistletoe hanging just a few steps away. "If Downton mistletoe is so potent from afar, I wonder what effect it has up close?"
 
"Perhaps you'd care to join me in my pantry, Mrs Hughes. Anyone could walk in here, and Lady Sybil insisted on hanging a bunch above my desk this morning."
 
"Lady Sybil is an incurable romantic."
 
"Like her grandmother."
 
"It seems to be the family affliction."
 
"Are you a hopeless romantic?" he asked her as he stepped away.
 
"I prefer to think of myself as hopeful, Mr Carson. And you?"
 
"As of tonight -- " He pulled her closer and it was only when he kissed her that she saw he'd maneuvered them under the mistletoe once again -- "as of tonight I am the most hopeful of men."
 
 
 
The Geriatric Fangirl: JC2.03 their roomcrazymaryt on December 4th, 2011 12:52 pm (UTC)
That was great. Playful but had that underlying UST that's always present IMO with them. I'm so glad our couple will have a great Christimas.
frakcancer: Carson bedroomfrakcancer on December 4th, 2011 01:08 pm (UTC)
I'm very glad all that came through. In my own head-canon Carson and Hughes are friends-with-benefits (at least until they retire and can risk something more). It's not that I'm against a real relationship, but I'm also a canon whore, so I have to fit my C/H shipping into Fellowes's narrow mind.
The Geriatric Fangirl: JC2.08 unexpected lettercrazymaryt on December 4th, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
I've got fingers crossed that before the series ends for good those two get to find some happisness together. I just rewatched S2 and I'm more convinced than ever these two care more for one another than just friends.
frakcancer: C/H frownsfrakcancer on December 4th, 2011 01:39 pm (UTC)
these two care more for one another than just friends

I totally agree. The only reason I think they haven't gotten together (in-universe) is their jobs.
The Geriatric Fangirl: JC1.07 side by sidecrazymaryt on December 4th, 2011 01:51 pm (UTC)
Curse you jobs!!! And responsibilities.

I want those two together. Plain and simple. TOGETHER!
frakcancer: C/H frownsfrakcancer on December 4th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
True, but romance aside, Elsie's got it pretty good -- from a farm girl she's risen to what's the equivalent of the head of a mid-sized corporation. She's made huge leaps in her standard of living, so why would she want to give that up? It's unfair that she would have to if she were to indulge in a romance, but she knew the price when she signed on for the job. (Varson could probably more easily get away with having a romance, though I'm certain his employers would prefer the woman were not in Downton.)
akachankami: speedyakachankami on December 4th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC)
my shippy heart ♥ i'm so happy! XD that's so cute and playful and hot at the same time! XD
i love your violet LOL the dowager countess was hooting, banging her stick against the floor in approval. LMAO i can just see her XD

and then the 'now kiss' moment *squeeeeeeeeeee* and then they kiss again! ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
i don't think i ever gave you so many hearts =P this fandom is keeping your darkness caged! XD speedy can have all the cookies =D
thank you for this xmas special XD ♥
frakcancer: Carson-Hughesfrakcancer on December 4th, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
Oh nom nom nom! Speedy thanks you.

How sad is it that BSG doesn't feel dark enough to me and needs more angst, but DA doesn't?
akachankami: dirty little secretakachankami on December 4th, 2011 02:03 pm (UTC)
ç_ç DA isn't dark enough to trigger your dark queen darkness... and let's face it: mrC and mrsH are too cute (*-*) ♥ XD you canon whore...
fragrantwoods: cheersfragrantwoods on December 4th, 2011 02:49 pm (UTC)
This was great :-)
First, drunkenDownton...yay! And sober puppetmistress Violet, yay!
(and who was Violet smooching with, back in the day, hmm?)
And poor Carson, poor Elsie, having to do entertainment kissing for the crowd--so glad you had them able to forget themselves a little and enjoy it.
I got shivers at the Perhaps you'd care to join me in my pantry, Mrs Hughes. So much potential there! I can hear the rumble of that suggestion all the way over here.

"I prefer to think of myself as hopeful, Mr Carson. And you?"
"As of tonight -- " He pulled her closer and it was only when he kissed her that she saw he'd maneuvered them under the mistletoe once again -- "as of tonight I am the most hopeful of men."

That is a couple of heavy-duty acknowledgments of feeling, and willingness, and intent, it would seem.
Lovely!
frakcancer: Carson bedroomfrakcancer on December 4th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
And poor Carson, poor Elsie, having to do entertainment kissing for the crowd

We've seen several times in the show that the Crawleys don't think of the servants as having lives of their own (particularly not Carson), especially when a servant's private life would interfere with one of the family's whims.

heavy-duty acknowledgments of feeling, and willingness, and intent,

While I tend to waver back and forth about whether they've gotten to the stage of execution, I've never doubted, from their first interaction, that there was feeling and willingness and intent. My only question has ever been how much they let duty and responsibility trump their feelings.
ellie987: PJs party with Charles and Elsieellie987 on December 4th, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC)
First off, let's forward this to Fellowes, please! Secondly, Isobel is just adorable, I can so imagine her embarassed face the next day. And a big hurray for Violet, the captain of all ships. I so love the humor, specially in the first part. You've been able to create such a festive and funny images!

But mostly I soooo love the kiss and the UST there. Leave it to Carson to be all dignified and apologetic. I'm just glad they finally seemed to loose some control and do the right thing for themselves. Now, that mistletoe in the pantry...
onesimus_42onesimus_42 on December 4th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you. That was wonderful. I loved the last line. Glad they's be able to enjoy the Dowager Countess' and Lady Sybil's manueverings.
nixnixmom on December 4th, 2011 05:38 pm (UTC)
This little RCT soft spot you have for C/H is so darn cute!!!!! It is rainbows and unicorns and glitter!!! I used to hear maniacal laughter when I'd seen you posted something new, now all I here is the sweet mewling of kittens! =D

I really loved this. Violet as puppet master is fantastic. And Isobel totally wasted is something i really want to see. But mostly yes, I want to see that carson and hughes make out in front of the family. And then again in the Butler's Pantry. And just about anywhere else you'd like to write them.

*raise the roof* Funny and sweet. Well Done.
northeto: There is no normal lifenortheto on December 6th, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
This is delightful. Smug Lady Violet and the Carson/Hughes pairing is a great combination.

"That was hardly a kiss for the mistletoe, Mrs Hughes" Lady Violet reprimanded her. "I've given men I wouldn't even care to know better kisses than that."
What a great Lady Violet line! Not only can I hear it perfectly in my head, I can see her expression as well.
(As a side note, perhaps this is also a plot bunny to be developed at some time? hinthint)

"Less talking, Mrs Hughes! More kissing!"
Loved this line as well. Well said, Cora, well said.
aussiegirl: ce in bed togetherbsg_aussiegirl on January 4th, 2012 08:14 am (UTC)
Thank goodness I never missed this. You pretty much had me at: The poor man was standing stock still, looking as far off into the distance as he could with a woman hanging about his neck, her lips on his. Mr Matthew was trying to pull his mother away and the dowager countess was hooting, banging her stick against the floor in approval. What a scene that is!

"He might at that," Lady Violet agreed. "But it is quite out of the question for him to kiss me!" Oh, of course, Violet! Of course they meant you!!! LOL

I love how Elsie gets all testy when she thinks Carson doesn't want to kiss her. And then all shocked when he does kiss her so well! And her moving away in case they wanted someone else to kiss her made me really LMAO.

Lovely. :)