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Prompt 10: Them’s The Breaks

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“D’ya wanna go to the pictures wiv me again Ivy?” Alfred swooned.

“Why would she?” Jimmy countered, “When she could go with a real man.”

Ivy tittered at being the centre of their attention again and Daisy gave a long-suffering sigh, busying herself with the endless and thankless job of making puff pastry.

Roll, fold, turn, repeat.

Alfred made a show of looking around, confused; “Don’t see any real men round ‘ere.”

Jimmy narrowed his eyes. “What are you implying’?”

“Nuthin’ what’s not true,” he leaned down into Jimmy’s space and said, “no real men ta be found.”

“Guess you’d know,” Jimmy spat, squaring up to Alfred, “takes one to know one.”

Daisy closed her eyes; roll, fold, turn, repeat. Don’t think about how everyone preferred Ivy. Don’t think about the way it made her chest ache. Don’t think about how no-one would notice if she spontaneously combusted in the kitchen.

Except Mrs Patmore would probably notice that, if only to comment on the mess.

Roll, fold, turn, repeat.

“You two aren’t fighting over me, are you?” Ivy twittered, knowing full well they were and loving every second of it.

“Oh Jimmy wouldn’t fight over a girl,” Alfred said.

“Alfred only wants you so you can teach him to cook,” Jimmy spat back, “he fancies a life as a kitchen maid.” And he gave a mocking little courtesy. Alfred’s face went redder than usual.

“Come on Ivy, who d’ya prefer?” Alfred gave what he probably thought was a winning smile and took Ivy’s hand.

Roll, fold, turn, repeat.

“Well...” Ivy teased.

“You can’t prefer that great oaf,” Jimmy sidled up to Ivy and took her other hand.

Perhaps they’d do everyone a favour and tear her in two.

“Maybe I need more convincing,” Ivy flirted.

Daisy finally slammed the block of pastry down like a judge’s gavel. “Can I convince you to do some work for once?”

“You’re just jealous,” Ivy said, “no one wants to take you to the pictures.”

“That’s not true,” Mr Barrow interrupted, appearing as if from nowhere, as he so often seemed to. He’d probably been lurking in the corridor, eavesdropping. Jimmy dropped Ivy’s hand like it had burned him and he exchanged a look with the under-butler that Daisy couldn’t read.

I’d love to take you to the pictures Daisy,” Mr Barrow continued. “How about tomorrow evening? I’m sure I can fix it with Mr Carson.”

Daisy was certain Mr Barrow wasn’t interested in her in that way, but it was nice to see the smug smile disappear from Ivy’s face.

“That’d be lovely Mr Barrow,” Daisy smiled, “thank you.”

He gave her a knowing nod.

“Alfred, Ivy, James,” Mr Barrow continued, and Jimmy flinched at the under-butler’s use of his proper name, “haven’t you got work to be getting on with?”

Ivy returned to the potatoes she was supposed to be peeling, Alfred scurried away and Daisy took on the puff pastry with new vigour.

Roll, fold, turn, repeat.

“Mr Barrow, can I have a word?” Jimmy said, contrite.

Mr Barrow inclined his head towards the pantry - Daisy pretended to be engrossed in her task but watched out the corner of her eye as the footman and under-butler snuck into the pantry.

Together.

And closed the door.

It was odd, but then she’d never really understood what had happened between Mr Barrow and Jimmy. They’d been friends, then they’d fallen out over summat and even Mrs Patmore wouldn’t explain it to her, no matter how much she’d asked. Then they were back to being best mates all of a sudden and now they were practically inseparable. Curious, she drifted over to the pantry - it was noisy in the kitchen but if she strained her ears she could just about hear the conversation inside.

“You’re not angry at me are you?” a muffled voice that was undeniably Jimmy said.

“No, but you shouldn’t carry on like that with Ivy.” Mr Barrow replied.

“You know it don’t mean anything, it’s just to get at Alfred. And it’s a good cover story, if, y’know, anyone got suspicious.”

Daisy frowned - a cover story? For what?

“You’re not really going to take Daisy to the pictures are you?” Jimmy added.

“Yes, I am,” Mr Barrow replied. “Why, are you jealous?”

“As if,” Jimmy huffed.

“Daisy’s a nice girl who’s had her heart broken, she deserves a bit of a pick-me-up,” Thomas said, “I know what it feels like to have your heart broken by some careless boy.”

“You know I’m sorry about that,” Jimmy mumbled.

“I know.”

“I’ll make it up to you later.”

“Hmm.”

And it sounded for all the world like they were kissing.

Mr Barrow and Jimmy.

Kissing.

In the pantry.

Daisy’s hand shot up to her mouth - it all suddenly made sense now - how Mrs Patmore had tried to explain that Thomas was a troubled soul and that he wasn’t a ladies man, and how she’d warned Ivy off Jimmy, saying he wasn’t interested in her.

Because Mr Barrow and Jimmy were sweethearts.

She giggled and went back to her pastry - roll, fold, turn, repeat. Daisy would freely admit she didn’t know much about the world, but her short marriage to William and the wonderful way it had bought Mr Mason and herself together, like the father she’d never had - well, it had taught her that all love was good, no matter if it wasn’t what the world told you was good.

Everyone deserved love, even not-so-nasty-anymore under-butlers and vain, flirty footmen.

A few minutes later Jimmy made his escape from the pantry, followed shortly after by Mr Barrow.

“Mr Barrow,” Daisy said, “thank you for so kindly offerin’ to take me to the pictures, but,” she looked around the kitchen but Ivy was daydreaming and not paying them any mind, “I wouldn’t be upset if you wanted to take Jimmy instead.” And she gave him a knowing smile.

Mr Barrow’s face went white then flushed red.

“It’s alright Mr Barrow,” Daisy continued, “your secret’s safe with me. One good turn deserves another, don’t it?”

And she went back to her pastry; roll, fold, turn, repeat.