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It's fire, it's freedom, it's flooding open

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Mrs. Hughes was just about to head to bed. She had just finished making her rounds and said her goodnights to Mr. Carson when she heard a slight knocking at the back-entrance door. Placing down her rag, she made her way towards the door and pulled it open to reveal a handsome man in his twenties. The man was leaning heavily on a stick and as her eyes travelled to his face, she realised that the scars around his eyes were probably caused by some sort of gas that had blinded him.

“Hello? May I help you.”

The man seems to start at the sound of her voice and he regained his posture, “My cab driver told me so, but I’m at the back-door to Downton Abbey correct?”

Mrs. Hughes nodded before realising he wouldn’t see it, “Yes, this is us, how can I help?”

“I’ve been traveling for a while and I’m on the search for a certain someone and I’ve been told they work here?”

Before Mrs. Hughes could ask him who he was looking for, Mr. Carson had peeked his head out of his office, “Mrs. Hughes, is something the matter? Who’s that?”

The man at the door shuffled nervously, “I can come back in the morning if you’d like? I just had no idea where I am and no idea where I am to stay…” Mrs. Hughes turned back towards the door and held it open wider.

“Oh no of course not, please come in, if you’re looking for someone who supposedly works here then I’m sure her ladyship won’t mind if you stay the night.”

“Mrs. Hughes! We don’t even know who this man is, we can’t just let him inside.” The man grinned softly before holding his hand out, the hand facing towards neither of the people in front of him but Mrs. Hughes moved towards it and took it.

“I’m terribly sorry, I’m Edward Courtenay sir. I hope you don’t mind the intrusion, I’m just in search of someone.” Mr. Carson sighed and nodded his head letting Mrs. Hughes lead Edward through the hallway into the servant’s hall, sitting him down.

“I’ll go fetch Daisy to get you some tea and then we can talk about who you’ve come for.”
Edward nodded his thanks and Mrs. Hughes travelled upstairs into the servant’s quarters knocking softly on Daisy’s door.

When she came back downstairs, she came back with Daisy, Jimmy, Alfred, Mr. Bates, Anna and Mrs. Patmore following at her heels, all very curious at who had appeared at the door in the late of the night.

Daisy set about to make some tea for Edward and the rest of the group sat around him all asking their questions on who he was, not one of them being able to get the question in on who he was looking for. They were all chatting happily, Edward laughing at something Jimmy said when Thomas came down the stairs. He grumbled unhappily about how he couldn’t get a winks sleep with all this noise coming from downstairs, and as he made his way into the wide doorway he rubs his eyes “What can a man do to- “

Thomas stopped abruptly and everyone went silent and flicked their puzzled gazes over to him as he fell silent. Thomas had gone pale and his voiced shook as he spoke,

“Edward?! Edward Courtenay?!”

Edward’s head turned towards the sound of Thomas’s voice and he stood up abruptly, a huge grin splitting his face.

“Thomas! Thomas, I’ve found you!”

Edward was making his way around the table towards Thomas when the latter snapped out of his daze and Thomas rushed towards Edward, engulfing the shorter man in a tight hug. He buried his nose of the crook of the lieutenant’s neck and Thomas breathed happily, feeling the tension running out of his shoulders.

“You came back…”

Edward hugged him tighter, both men oblivious to the rest of the staff watching them both with shocked expressions. “Thomas, I told you I’d find you when I was to get out. I promised you.” Thomas pulled away from Edward and gripped his shoulders grinning widely.

Mrs Hughes interrupted them both and stood up, “Mr. Barrow… Mr. Courtenay? What’s going on here.”

Thomas and Edward both turned and faced her both men grinning happily, Thomas’s arm thrown over the shorter man’s shoulders and Edwards arm snuck around and gripping Thomas’s waist.

“This is the man I was searching for ma’am. Thomas helped me through a really rough time when I came back from the war. I had to be discharged to Farley Hill and away from Thomas so I promised him I would come back and find him.”

Mr. Carson suddenly stood up sending all the staff scattering up as they stood around him, “Well that’s enough excitement for the night, I’m heading off to bed, I’ll expect to see you in the morning Mr. Courtenay…”

With that statement Mr. Carson headed upstairs, the rest of the staff following behind as they said their goodnights to Edward but not Thomas. Mrs. Hughes came forward and startled both men out of their staring contest.

“Mr. Courtenay, would you be okay to stay in Thomas’s quarters for the night and in the morning, we can get everything settled out?”

Edward nodded happily, “Of course ma’am, I’ll be no trouble.”

Mrs. Hughes tutted and started heading upstairs, “Goodnight then boys.” Thomas and Edward said their goodnights to her and they started heading up the stairs, Thomas carefully leading Edwards towards his room. When they made it inside, both men sat down on the edge of the only bed in the room.

“I can’t believe you’re actually here, I’ve waited forever for you.” Edward placed his palm against Thomas’s cheek. “They didn’t say goodnight to you? Are you not at high in rank that they wouldn’t be bothered in knowing you?”

Thomas sighed unhappily and stood up pulling back the covers and helping Edward into some of Thomas’s comfortable pyjamas.

“I’m afraid I’m not very well-liked around here, and well I deserve it, I’m a horrible person I know but sometimes I would feel it would be nice to have a friend. Well, Jimmy is my friend, I think? I don’t know actually, they’ve all given me an especially cold-shoulder after what happened before…”

“What happened before?” Edward got on the bed and cuddled up to Thomas’s side, Thomas reaching down and running his hands through Edwards wavy hair.

“I’ll tell you in the morning, let’s get some sleep. Now that you’re here we have forever together.”

Edward hummed happily and Thomas pulled up the covers and reached dover and switched his lamp off.

“Goodnight Edward, I’m so glad you’re here now.”

“Me too Thomas, me too.”