This little drabble was inspired from this tumblr prompt:

Could you possibly write a young/boyhood Matthew fic? One with Isobel and Reginald? You always get the Matthew/Isobel dynamic so well! :) - Anonymous


Learning to ride

Manchester 1900


Matthew woke up the day after his fifth birthday, eager to once again play with his favorite new present. Both the maid Nora and his mother chided him as he rushed through the typical morning rituals, but he still ate his breakfast with impish impatience. As his father prepared to leave for work, Matthew was presented to him to say goodbye for the day.

Dr. Crawley surveyed his son and grinned. He set his medical bag on the hall table and knelt so that they were eye to eye. Dr. Crawley put his hand on his shoulder and patted fondly.

"What did I tell you yesterday was the key to riding a bicycle?"

Matthew sputtered out the word quickly, "Equalriblium."

Dr. Crawley chuckled affectionately as he corrected his pronunciation, proud of his memory and his diligence from yesterday.

"Yes, my boy. Now, be careful," he admonished him gently. Dr. Crawley stood and reached for his medical bag. He kissed Isobel on the cheek and walked towards the front door. However, he then turned back around.

"Matthew," he called to his son. "There is something else I forgot to tell you."

"Yes, Papa," he said eagerly.

"Have fun," he said with a wink.

Matthew giggled as he started to rock back and forth the tip of his toes, waiting with baited breath for his mother's permission.

"Go," Isobel said with astonishment at his enthusiasm. "But, remember what your father said. "

Matthew bolted outside, peaking down the street he could see the retreating figure of his father on this way to work. He was swinging his umbrella and whistling. Matthew rode cautiously at first. However, it was just as easy as he remembered from what his father had coached him yesterday. Matthew peddled faster. If he wanted to he was sure he could reach his father and catch up to him if he really tried. Matthew was sure this would impress him and so he continued to peddle.

But, then the neighbors cat Samson strode across the sidewalk. He was a beautiful creature with luscious hair like his namesake. Matthew tried to steer his little bicycle away from the animal, but he panicked and soon he landed on the rough ground. He sat up in a daze, hardly aware of the small scrapes and bruises already forming as the result of his tumble. Matthew stared at his new present and saw the damage. The bright red paint had chipped. His lip quivered and Matthew sniffled.

He had ruined his bicycle, ruined it! And his papa had told him to be careful. Just as he was about to cry, he saw his mother approaching, and Matthew blubbered in earnest.

"Darling," she said gently. "It's okay."

Matthew rubbed at his eyes as his mother embraced him. "It was my fault," he quivered. And just then Samson mewed from a few feet away.

"It is no one's fault," Isobel said soothingly. "Not yours and not Samson's, accidents happen. But, now its time to pick yourself up and ride again."

"Papa told me to be careful," Matthew said as his mother released him and offered a handkerchief. However, he wiped at his wet eyes without it.

"He also told you to have fun," Isobel said as she held his chin up.

Matthew was silent and stared at his bicycle.

"It's okay darling," she coaxed. "Papa won't be mad, you know that. After all, he helps people when they are hurt."

Matthew bit his lip and his breathing hitched.

"Mama, I need to go to the hospital," he said urgently.

Isobel looked at her son's seemingly superficial bumps and scrapes again; he did not appear to be seriously injured at all. But, perhaps he had bumped his head? Questions abounded at she tried to remain calm. However, then she observed her child again and she suddenly understood.

"You are right," she said lovingly. "Going to the hospital will help both you and Papa."

Matthew nodded with a small reserved smile.

Isobel picked up the overturned bicycle.

"Would you like to ride there?" she asked cheerfully. "Show Papa how brave you are despite your nasty fall?"

Matthew's smile spread in earnest and they started out on their short journey.


Downton – 1926

"Equilibrium George," Matthew said as he held the handlebars of his son's bicycle about to give him his first lesson.