A/N: First, I have to thank Faeyero and a special guest beta...she knows who she is. As always, Faeyero (and friend) were most helpful and encouraging. Secondly, thanks for all your comments. I have so many to catch up on. There will be a chapter 58 and then an epilogue so your chance to speak up is dwindling. Please let me (us) know what you think, if not now, then when?


Chapter Fifty Seven

Like Matthew, in her head, Mary had created plans for the labor of this child. She knew Matthew wanted to be in the room, no matter how unfashionable it appeared. She wanted him there as well, because he deserved to know what it felt like to watch one of his children come into the world and because, of course, Matthew was the best support she knew, the first support she'd allowed in so many years, the only person she'd allowed herself to bend into and lean upon.

Yet Mary could remember parts of her labor with Gracie–hazy bits she tried to forget–and she knew she'd cursed the doctor more than once and screamed and wept. It had been painful. She'd never felt so alone as in those moments before she met her daughter in a bedroom she did not yet consider her own, with a doctor and his silent, judging eyes. I cannot do this, she remembered thinking.

But then.

The pit of loneliness was hard to remember when such a momentous occasion occurred so soon after–meeting her daughter for the first time, brushing the lightest kisses to the soft skin of her forehead, feeling Gracie's naked skin pressed to Mary's own naked collarbone, the solid feeling in her chest at holding such a fragile, needy thing in her arms, cuddled close as close could be and vowing, vowing with everything Mary had, that this child would know love without conditions. She had whispered against Gracie's skin, her lips moving in benediction: I've been waiting forever to meet you. You are everything and more than I expected. You are mine and I am yours and I love you. Fiercely and completely.

Already.

When you've done nothing to earn my affection but simply be.

Those bits of screaming and cursing were hazy when compared to meeting her daughter. Still, she refused to allow Doctor George or Matthew to see her like that. She could not scream at the doctor, curse, and weep. She had no excuse this time since this time, she was far from alone. She would have to be stalwart and strong, as quiet as possible. Mary could remember a tiny Sybil sneaking into Mary's bed when they were young, so young that Mary had had to pull Sybil by the arms up to the mattress as her youngest sister monkeyed her way up and under the sheets. Mary would press her finger to her lips and whisper, "You must be as quiet as a mouse, Sybil" and Sybil would reply, "Squeak!" before closing her eyes and falling asleep curved into Mary.

Now, Mary would need to be as quiet as a mouse, as calm as Matthew had been in the face of the latest (and last) of Richard's violent acts towards her. She could not worry her husband any more than she already had in the past nine months when it came to the trauma's induced by Richard. Somewhere inside of her a voice answered, new and tremulous, whispering: That was not your fault. That was not your fault at all.

But Mary could not heed it as she prepared to deliver her second child into the world. Matthew had watched her in pain. Worse than that, he had seen her ruined from the very first night in the small library in her ruined corset, bruised and bloodied–and that was not your fault either, the voice continued. Mary could not bear to show him any more pain, especially when the pain was joyful, such as this.

She could not allow Matthew to see pain when this time Doctor George would lay their baby on her breast and Mary and Matthew would both think: We've been waiting forever to meet you. You are everything and more than we expected. You are ours and we are yours and we love you. Fiercely and completely.

Already.

When you've done nothing to earn our affection but simply be.

But already things were falling apart. She was not at Downton Abbey but at Crawley House and Sybil was helping her take her coat off and murmuring soothing words as Mary breathed deeply and Matthew watched her. That was the thing about Matthew; he knew her so well. He could equate every blink of her eye with some emotion and usually he was right. She had to be strong. He could not know, he could not see however much it was starting to hurt.

It was not your fault and there is no place for guilt in this room, the new soft voice uttered inside her...

She told the brave voice, newly borne inside of her, to pipe down. Where was Doctor George?

As if on cue, a brisk knock interrupted Mary's thoughts just as Sybil helped her lie back against the pillows in her nightgown. "It's Tom," he said through the door, and Mary couldn't help but reach for Matthew's hand and think: what could possibly go wrong now?

"It's not appropriate, Tom," Sybil tsked and walked to the door where she could open it a few inches and confer with her husband, whispering, before she shut it soundly in his face.

She turned to face Matthew and Mary, who looked at her and waited expectantly. Sybil smiled and clasped her hands together in front of her. "It seems," she began, as her smile wobbled, "that Doctor George slipped on some ice after leaving Downton Abbey and has sustained some injuries..."

"You must be joking," Mary snorted, laying her head back against the pillows. Sybil could remember Mary using the same tone, the same words to speak to the various governesses. Today we will learn how to accept an invitation to dance by a man in the formal French, the governess might have said. And Mary with her plaited hair would throw her head back and roll her eyes, You must be joking.

"I'm afraid not," Sybil replied uneasily, worried not over her own capabilities in such a situation (she'd talked Tom through delivering Robbie, after all) but of the reaction of the couple in front of her.

"He better be bloody bleeding," Matthew retorted, squeezing his wife's lifeless hand, and speaking viciously. "There better be blood. A lot of it."

Perhaps in another life it would have been comical to hear Tom say rather loudly, through the door, "Man, give the doctor a bit of credit, broke his ankle clean in half...through the skin, poor doc."

"Thomas Branson!" Mary called, which again reminded Sybil of a younger Mary. Patrick Crawley! she would yell across the acres of green of the estate. "Save your pity for your sister-in-law who is about to have much more than a bone breaking!"

Sybil coughed. "Thank you, Tom darling," she called.

Matthew closed his eyes.

"Right," Tom replied through the door and they heard his head thunk against the wood. "Well, I'll go check on the children then."

Mary wanted to cry but she could not, not after the silent promise she'd made herself and Matthew. This time the voice in her head was Matthew's: There is no need for such promises. She was suddenly terribly cranky and irritable. It seemed like such a small thing to ask, really–that the baby be delivered by Doctor George at Downton Abbey–especially in the scheme of things, especially after all they'd endured.

Didn't they deserve that at least?

Then Mary remembered their sleeping daughter, Grace, that first grace, their first undeserved miracle, and she knew that, no matter how their second child came to lie on her breast, it would be undeserved. They were not entitled to such a joy, and she remembered the bath she had given Patrick Strallen. The word grace whispered in her mind over and over again, a puff of a dandelion blown into the wind and a heart filled with wishes.

With a sigh, she pressed her eyes shut. "Mary?" Matthew asked.

"I'm fine," she smiled. "Just feeling sorry for myself. I'm stopping now."

"Mary," Sybil began. "There shouldn't be a problem. I've delivered plenty of babies and I'm sure Matthew's mother–"

"Matthew's mother!" Mary screeched before lowering her eyes, the outburst completely out of her control. "She can't...I can't...Down there, Sybil!"

"Let me talk to Tom," Matthew offered. He was at a loss. "Perhaps Clarkson..."

"Are you out of your mind?" Mary clamped her mouth down on the rest of her words. "He is not coming anywhere near me. My sister is perfectly capable."

Mary would never know what that moment meant to Sybil, the absolute trust and pride Mary had not in who Sybil was but what she could do, the skills she'd learned.

"All right, darling," he appeased, pressing her fingers to his lips.

She'd already failed, letting the pain and irritability crawl out of her mouth to attack her husband, the one person who deserved none of it. Suddenly, she wasn't sure if she could have him here at all. The concept of grace seemed far away when a contraction began and she could not keep her face free of strain. She had to turn away from him, her fingers leaving his, to grip the sheets, her teeth biting the pillow until it passed. When it was over, Sybil examined her with capable and gentle hands and Matthew stroked Mary's hair away from her face. "Mary," he reassured. "I'm here."

She smiled, forcing the smile into a grin. "Of course you're here; where else would you be?"

He thought of the night, so long ago in New York, right before they had left for Downton, when she was still sick in the mornings and suddenly it had hit him how much was changing, in her body and her life. He had put down the book about pregnancy that he'd been reading and curled himself around her as if he could protect her from the bout of morning sickness that would surely come with the dawn. He had not been able to protect her then and he could not protect her from this, either. But he could be here.

Here.

I am here, he'd whispered soundlessly into her hair then, into the night.

He shook his head. "Mary," he began again. "You're not alone this time."

She turned away again. She could not abide his tenderness, not now. Her face and neck throbbed, along with the deeper aching in her womb. His patience irritated her as much as her own inability to keep it all together for his sake. She thought of all the things which calmed her–rocking their daughter to sleep, teaching Gracie her numbers, laughing at Matthew's silly faces towards the baby, watching her papa teach Baby and Gracie their tricks. Then there was Matthew as her husband–Mary's cheek to his chest, hearing his heart beat in rapid rhythm, unable to move after lovemaking, his hand wrapped in her hair. She catalogued every good and perfect thing of the last nine months and there was so much...too many graces to be grateful for...She did not allow herself to consider the bad; it was unworthy to consider them when there had been so much grace in the first place, when one day sitting in the park someone had called out her name.

"Mary," Matthew repeated as another contraction tensed every muscle in her body.

"Breathe," Sybil commanded gently. "It's early yet."

But it did not feel early yet. Her face ached. She could feel each separate bruise, the fingers of Richard's grip on her neck, the depth of his strength she longed to forget, and meanwhile the pain of the labor increased. She did not remember it hurting this badly with Gracie; she could only remember brief moments of cursing followed by her daughter. Her beautiful baby girl. "Sybil," Mary asked after another contraction passed. "How much longer?"

Sybil glanced at Matthew, biting her lip, afraid to tell Mary the real answer.

"Look at me," Mary insisted. "I'm the one having this baby." She shook her hand out of Matthew's, irritated at him for no reason at all except that he was here and she could do this alone. She did things better alone.

You know that isn't true, the voice whispered.

"Awhile," Sybil replied as calmly as possible. "Awhile yet."

"Something must be wrong," Mary retorted haughtily. She could not help it. It hurt so terribly badly, as if this baby were using his or her nails to claw his or her way out Mary's body. "I don't remember it being like this with Gracie."

"Of course you don't," Sybil said with a soft smile, reaching up to clasp her sister's hand, linking pinkies. "You only remember holding her. You only remember the reward. That's how God designed it, or else no child would ever have the pleasure of a sibling."

You must be as quiet as a mouse.

"Oh God," Mary cried out. "Matthew, I think you should leave."

Sybil averted her eyes, unclasped her hand from her sister's, and found something to do in the corner. Matthew only pressed his lips to Mary's other hand again. "Of course I'm not leaving. I'm not going anywhere, Mary. You don't have to worry."

I'm not worried. She remembered closing her eyes in the small library, begging him not to look at her. But I don't know how to have you here, she thought before she realized she was repeating words she'd spoken aloud in the apartment when he'd wanted to make a family with Grace. Matthew was a good man, a kind man, an honorable man. Even Matthew himself would never take credit for falling so inexplicably in love with a little girl who technically did not belong to him, and yet Gracie was as much Matthew's as she was Mary's, as if everything had been planned all along.

"Maybe I don't want you here," she snapped and pulled her hand away. Could she trust that? Could she believe that Matthew was as necessary to Mary's life as he was to Gracie's? Days ago the answer would have simply been yes. But she was suddenly so frightened, remembering the tiny shell of Edith's son's ears, how still he remained, while her pain intensified. Another contraction was beginning. "Maybe it's more difficult having you here watching me than if you were downstairs having a drink and a puff on a cigar with Tom."

"We talked about this," he replied steadily. God, he was so steady and she was the furthest thing from it. "We talked at length about this and you always–"

"Damn it, Matthew!" she cried. "I said go."

Lady Mary could still make Matthew Crawley hate her, Mary thought, if she worked hard enough at it.

Lady Mary hated herself for how easily she could push him away.

He dropped her hand, hurt and angry; hadn't they traversed this land before? And though they'd barely made it, they'd come out whole and stronger. He thought about giving into her wishes but it was so hard to know with her, with Lady Mary Crawley, if he was doing the right thing or merely the noble thing. She arched off the bed, crying out. "Go," she pleaded, and tears streamed from her closed lids. "I can't have you here and do this. I can't have you see me like this."

He remembered how she'd kept her eyes closed in the library, how loud her thoughts had been, throbbing in the room: I don't want you to see me.

He watched her hands grip the sheets, turn white at the knuckles and hold on. "No," he replied softly, and with a great deal of strength pried each of her fingers off of the sheet and attached them to his hand. "I'm here this time, Mary. I'm here."

She began to weep as the contraction only intensified. "But I don't want you here."

"I don't believe you," he retorted. "I think you do want me here. And you're afraid."

"I'll hate you if you don't leave," she threatened through heaving breaths, but she gripped his hand as if it were a lifeline.

"I'll risk it," he replied. "Now breathe," he commanded as Sybil had. "Breathe and we'll get through this together."

"There is no together!" she wailed petulantly. "There is me. And there is this baby. And it hurts."

"I'm sorry," Matthew replied and meant it truly and completely. "I'm sorry it hurts and I wish I could do something. You don't know how badly I wish it. But you belong to me, both of you, just as I belong to you."

"This is..." Mary moaned, "is bloody horrible." Her body collapsed in relief as the contraction ended. "And you don't need to see it."

"You're right," he replied, holding her hand, feeling the sweat between their fingers. He did hate to see her in pain. "But I'm here this time. You are not alone. And I will say it a hundred times until you get it through your thick skull. I've been waiting nine months to see this, so do us both a favor and put your efforts into bringing our daughter into the world instead of fighting me for no good reason except that you are afraid for me to see you weak."

"Well, you told her," Sybil whispered from the side of her mouth.

Mary's hand was limp in his, her face turned away. But then she squeezed his palm and smiled up at him, her face sweaty and somehow luminous. "Son," she whispered. "How many times must I tell you?"

He leaned forward and briefly, lightly pressed a kiss to her lips. "Well, darling, now is your chance to prove it."


So much was the same:

The first anxious cry of a babe in a room filled with silent, yearning expectation.

A warm, hastily wiped-down infant pressed to her breasts, skin to skin, heart to heart.

Kisses pressed to a tiny head seasoned with the slightest bit of dark hair.

Tears leaking from her eyes uncontrollably, rolling off of her cheeks in waves.

Relief.

An anxious flood of love rushing through every part of her.

And yet so much was different, too. First, there was Sybil at her feet instead of some nameless Doctor, cheering her sister on: "I can see the head. Just one more push!"

And then, of course, "Oh, Mary, it's a boy! He's gorgeous."

An aunt passed a nephew to his mother.

Matthew. Right beside her the whole time. Hearing every curse and yell. Holding her hand and taking it even when she batted his hand away. Smiling at her when he should have pinched her. Watching his face as he leaned forward eagerly during the final push. Seeing his entire expression change as he watched their baby come into the world. The joy, the thrill, the tears he did not notice. She did not believe a heart could be so full as it was watching Matthew watch their son slip into Sybil's hands.

But then Mary held their son and she knew that a heart could expand infinitely, a thousand times over, as his little body curled into her own, and he fit so perfectly there, as if he had been made for her–and in a way he had been. "Hello, my handsome boy," she whispered as her tears dropped hastily on to his head, an early baptism. "I'm so glad you're here." And though he had the same hair as Gracie, when he opened his eyes Mary's breath caught at the sharp glacial blue of Matthew's. "Oh!" she murmured and no one dared tell her that all babies are born with blue eyes, that babies' eyes change, because Mary the mother saw her husband's eyes in her son's face.

"Mary," Matthew whispered brokenly, and he leaned forward, his face nearly on his wife's breast, tracing the line of his son's nose with the lightest of touches. "Mary. He's perfect." He was crying, those same ice blue eyes that he shared with his son filled with tears. "Thank you," he told his wife before kissing her soundly on the lips. "Thank you...for both of them."

And she knew he meant this baby and Gracie.

So much was different.

She was not alone in a room, with a doctor she barely knew, her heart so full and no one to share it with–because Sybil was crying as she washed the baby and then helped Mary wrap him and transfer him into his father's arms. Matthew sat back in the chair he'd claimed for the last ten hours and held his son nervously, gently, and tenderly. It was the closest he had ever been to a miracle, to see so much of himself and of Mary in their son and to know that he would grow to become someone wholly separate, to know that moments ago their son had been inside of Mary and now he was here and separate and whole. And even with the joy came the sorrow, as it so often does, because he had never been allowed to hold Gracie like this, so new to the world, so brave and fresh. It could not be dwelled on because it could not be changed, and just as easily as he had fallen in love with Gracie, over her trembling lips and pitiful cry, he fell in love with his son in the same exact way, as the baby sighed softly in his arms and went to sleep, exhausted by his entry into a family filled to the brim with grace.


By the time everything was said and done, it was nighttime again and Gracie was asleep, and somehow Isobel knew not to intrude so that Mary and Matthew lay on their bed with new linens and their new son between them. She knew that there would have been so much activity if they'd made it to Downton. If she let herself, she could imagine they were in her bed in New York with their daughter and their new son, Gracie asleep down the hall, waiting to join the fun. Of course, Mary wanted to share him with everyone–but at the same time, so soon after meeting him, she felt a bit greedy and this was wonderfully cozy. So Mama and Papa watched him, delighted by his yawns, his reaching hands, his long fingers.

"He has hands like yours," Mary noted sleepily. She loved his fingernails, the tiny shells of them. She could not explain, to anyone but another mother, what it was like to love tiny, perfect fingernails.

Matthew held his hand up to the baby's. "So tiny."

"Well, he will have hands like yours," she corrected.

"And your lips," Matthew replied. "I suppose I will be the odd man out, surrounded by my brunette family."

Mary pressed a silent kiss to the baby's ear. "But he has your eyes. I secretly hoped he would. Just as I knew he would be a he."

He lifted those eyes to look at his wife, who must be dizzy with exhaustion. "You've won the bet. I owe you a pound." He ignored her snort of confidence. "You should sleep."

"I will." She smiled. "Thank you for staying with me. For knowing me enough to ignore me. For wanting to stay." She brushed a hand through his thick wave of blonde hair. "You are such a good husband."

"Stop," he commanded softly, and lifted one of his sons hands to kiss it. The baby watched him, taking in his features as if he was thirsty to know this man whose face was close enough to see with his brand new infant eyes. "I can't wait for Gracie to meet him."

"Hmm," Mary replied, laying her head on the flat bed. "When she wakes up."

"Maybe we'll have a name for him by then," Matthew added. This time he brushed the hair off of her face. "Hmm?"

"Any suggestions?" Mary asked. "I can't even think, I'm so tired."

"Not at the moment," he admitted before urging, "Sleep. You showed me how to swaddle him. I'll rock him. You did the hard work. Let me do this."

"I love you," she whispered. "So much."

He grinned at her, foolishly, and then his smile slid away. "I am so happy. I cannot even say how happy I am, really. But I wish, so badly, that we could go back, and that a brand new Gracie could be between us. I am so sorry to have missed this with her."

"Shh," she told him, leaning over the baby, despite the pain, and kissing him lightly. "We cannot go back. But the fact that you...that you would even think of that...or say that...or mean it, as I know you do...there is nothing more I could ever wish for or hope for–your desire for that. You are her Papa as much as you are his. The best Papa."

He stole one more kiss before she lay back down and closed her eyes.


It wasn't long before she woke to their son's quiet cries and Matthew's voice regretfully calling her name. "I think he's hungry." Matthew's uncertainty made Mary want to kiss him all over his face–if only she had the energy. Instead, she began to unbutton her nightgown. "Should I go?" Matthew asked softly, swaying the baby back in forth in his arms. And then timidly, "Can I stay?"

Mary's eyes were half lidded but her smile was warm and inviting. She patted the bed beside her. "You survived the birth," she replied lightly. "I'm sure you'll make it through watching our son have his dinner."

He could not take his eyes off of the pair of them–his wife and his son, the way Mary looked down at the baby with so much love, how their son, with a bit of prodding, began to suckle. He reached over, touching the skin of her breast, just above the baby's mouth, in amazement.

"There you are," she whispered to the baby. "There you are."

"He's so beautiful," Matthew murmured. "The two of you...I can't explain. My chest..."

"He's handsome," Mary corrected as she smiled and touched the baby's cheek. "He's our handsome boy. And your chest..." She winced for a moment before dragging her eyes off of the baby's face to look at Matthew. "I don't think I could be happier. Oh, Matthew."

"There is just one thing missing," he replied, scooting a bit closer.

"Two," Mary replied. "Two."

Matthew looked at her with confusion in his eyes. "You mean Gracie, of course. But who else?"

"Why, the dog, of course. Baby deserves to be in this bed with her family just as much as any of us..." Mary swallowed and smiled through tears. "You'll have to lift her, you know. She won't be able to jump." Mary's smile wobbled. "But Baby deserves to see what she saved."


The winter morning light filtered in through the frosted windows of Gracie's room as Matthew opened the door. She slept, in a crib she was fast outgrowing, as she always had, with her bum in the air. She was just like he'd found her in Mary's room on the second day of knowing her, Mrs. Larsen having told him to go right on up. He would have to telegram Mrs. Larsen, Matthew realized, for surely she would want to know. And one day, he promised himself, the four Crawleys would go back and stay in the brownstone and have a lovely holiday. As he walked towards the crib he realized that's exactly what their time in New York had been–a lovely, perfect holiday/honeymoon, their family in a snowglobe of protection and the joy of new discoveries. There had been no extended family to contend with and then make up with. Nor real life enemies who could wound them or worse. It had only been the three of them–Matthew, Mary, and Gracie (and the baby of course), learning, practicing how to negotiate life as a family. It had been wonderful and though it could not have gone on forever, because holidays were not made to go on forever, it had been their beginning and sacred in its way. It had been where he learned to be a father.

He hadn't really learned to be a husband until they arrived back at Downton, when real life had smacked both Matthew and Mary in the face. But those thoughts were for another time. Yes, in New York, Gracie, with help from her mother, had taught him how to be a Papa, how to make animal sounds, cut up food in the right size, rock, change a nappy, sing silly songs, cuddle with a toddler in the middle of their bed.

He laid his hand on her back and she stirred, lifting her head briefly and then closing her eyes again before she realized that it was him. "Papa!" she whispered with excitement. She rolled onto her feet and lifted her arms to be held. "Papa! My papa!" She kissed his unshaven cheek and rubbed her cheek against it. "Ouch," she mocked and laughed. In turn, he kissed her smooth cherub cheek.

"Ouch," he cried back and they laughed together.

"Mama. Papa. Gracie," she said next. It was her new favorite string of words, a litany of her family. Sometimes she included Syb and Tom and Robbie, or Vi and Iz, depending on who was in the room. But much of the time, she only said three names. "Mama?" she questioned as if she may have dreamt the last time she saw Mary.

"Mama is with your baby brother. Would you like to meet him?" Matthew asked.

Gracie looked at him warily, just as Mary had the first day in the park. "Brother? Mama?"

"The baby," Matthew corrected. "The baby was born and he is your brother."

She nodded her head, agreeing. "Yes."

Mary could hear Gracie jibbering away as Matthew carried her down the hall. Per usual, she was recounting her favorite story, Jack and the Beanstalk, but it took a special ear to understand her dialect as she repeated: beans, Jack, fee, fi, fo, fum, giant, goose, gold. Mary waited on the bed, holding the baby in her arms.

"Good morning, darling!" she said with a smile for Gracie. "I'm so happy you're here. And so is your brother!"

Gracie gasped at the baby that had been inside of her mother's belly...that was now in her mother's arms. "Baby!" she squealed and, mimicking how many people reacted to her, as Matthew brought her closer to see him, Gracie let out an "Awwww."

Matthew sat on the bed beside Mary with Gracie in his lap. "This is your brother."

Gracie reached out a tentative finger and touched his nose. Mary and Matthew allowed it and Gracie smiled brilliantly. "Me?" she asked Mary. "Gracie do it?" she added (another of her current favorite phrases).

"Would you like to hold him?" Mary asked. "You must be careful because he is so little, you see. Remember when Baby was very little and needed your help?" Gracie nodded seriously. "Well, we have to take care of him and be very gentle because he is so little, just like Maggie when you first held her."

"Maggie," Gracie repeated. "Gracie do it. Maggie." In other words: Are you going to let me hold him or not? because I've held Maggie on more than one occasion, you know.

"Here you go, darling." Mary laid the baby in the lap of their daughter, who still sat in Matthew's lap. Matthew's arms came up to help so Gracie could enjoy the illusion of holding her brother. Gracie watched her brother quietly for a moment and Mary and Matthew watched the two of them. Mary so badly wanted for Gracie to love her brother, for all their children to get along, to never have the regrets she felt over her relationship with Edith.

Slowly, as if she were waiting for one of her parents to prevent it, Gracie leaned forward and touched her lips to the baby's. He opened his eyes. "Blue," she gasped. "Hello," she told him cheerfully with a note of tenderness neither Matthew nor Mary had ever heard her use. "Hello, Jack."

Matthew and Mary looked at one another.

"We haven't named him yet, Gracie Girl," Matthew explained.

Gracie shook her head, never taking her eyes off of her brother. To his credit, her brother never took his eyes off of her either. She leaned down and rubbed his nose with her nose, gently as Mama had asked. "Jack," she whispered to him. "Jack. You. Love you, Jack."

Mary laughed. "Grace, we haven't picked a name for him yet..."

Grace looked at her mother through narrowed eyes and raised one eyebrow. "Gracie do it," she retorted.

Then she looked down at the baby and repeated in that tender, crooning tone: "Hello, my Jack."


The four of them spent the early morning together in bed. They could not have left if they had tried since Gracie refused to relinquish "Jack." But she had been awakened very early, so eventually her eyes began to droop, and Mary told her that she would feed the baby–Jack! Gracie corrected stubbornly–and that she would see her brother very soon.

But as Mary began to feed him, she looked down at his face, his blue eyes open and watchful. He had cheeks like Grace and she wondered if he would have a dimple. His chin was Mary's, his eyes Matthew's. And yet one day, he would be a boy and then a man, all his own. Mary began to tear up without meaning to as the baby suckled. One day he would come to her with scraped knees and one day Matthew would teach him how to ride a bicycle but before that there would be first steps and the first tooth and first words. Who will you be? she wondered, looking at him. One tear fell onto his blanket as Matthew returned.

He sat beside her. "Maybe Gracie is right. Maybe we should name him 'John.'" They both looked down at his face, his dark inky eyelashes blinking as he began to grow sleepy, his fist curled on Mary's breast. "The family can call him Jack."

She smiled and looked up at Matthew. "How many times have we read her that story?"

"Millions," he laughed.

But suddenly Mary wasn't laughing. She was weeping, looking down at the baby and smiling and then taking Matthew's hand. "Oh, Matthew. Adults can be so dense sometimes."

He wiped her tears with the pads of his thumbs. "How do you mean?" he asked.

"Her favorite story is Jack and the Beanstalk," Mary smiled brilliantly at the baby. "Jack is the hero, you know. Jack is her hero. He's all she talks about some days. And she looked at her brother and she called him Jack. She called him the name of her most beloved hero."

Matthew was silent. The moment felt sacred, with the baby's mouth leaving Mary's breast, his eyes fluttering shut as he sighed his way into sleep, and one must be silent during sacred moments. "Jack," he repeated, testing it on his tongue as he looked at his son. Like Mary, he wondered: Who will you be? And at the same time, part of the answer came unerringly to both Mary and Matthew. "He is Jack."

"He is," she repeated. "Jack Thomas Crawley."

From that moment on, their son had a name that could not be changed because it was simply who he was.

What they had created in a bed in New York, something so perfect and lovely, beyond what two foolish people in pastel colored outfits at a Garden Party could have imagined or deserved, finally had a name.

And his name was Jack.


A/N: Please, please, please...after this long awaited event...let me (and Faeyero) know what you think! It's been fifty seven chapters in the making! xo, LDI