Thomas Barrow, Jimmy Kent, Downton Abbey
Title: The Diary
Warning: Major character death

This is for Flippy's playing card challenge Week 2 on Tumblr. The cards I drew are at the end.

John Bates stopped Anna in the hallway.

"I found this when they were cleaning out Thomas's room."  He held out a dog-eared book bound in black leather.  "I glanced inside and it seems to be a diary.  I just don't know what to do with it."

Anna took the book and opened the front cover.  "Is it full?"  She rifled through the pages, finding that only a few near the end were blank.  "Odd, I never took Thomas to be someone who would keep a diary. "  She turned back to the front and began reading.

"I don't think you should, do you."  John reached over and closed the cover.

"I suppose not, but I was just curious what Thomas would write about.  Can you imagine him plotting and planning in his little black book.  The secrets it must hold."  She paused.  "But you're right, it's private even now.  Perhaps Jimmy should have it."

"Jimmy?" John asked.  "Why Jimmy?"

"Have you forgotten that they were best friends and who else is there to give it to?  He had no family.  Would you let His Lordship have it?  He would probably just throw it out."  She handed it back to John.  "No, give it to Jimmy.  I saw him heading into the boot room a few minutes ago.

John walked down the hall and glanced into the boot room.  Jimmy has standing at the table, just staring at the shoes in front of him.

"Jimmy, it's not up to you to polish those.  Get one of the hallboys."

When Jimmy turned to face him, his face was drawn and his eyes were red.  "I ... I wasn't going to.  I just came in here because ..."  He stopped.  "To be honest, I don't know why I came in here, Mr. Bates."  He started to walk towards the door, but John stopped him as he passed.

"I found this in Thomas's room."  John held up the book.  "Anna thought that you should have it.  It's a diary from what we can tell."

Jimmy took the book and turned it over and over in his hands, looking at it as if he somehow expected it to speak to him.

"Did you read it?"

"Just a few words on the first page."

"Thank you."  Jimmy tucked the book under his arm and left without saying anything else.


Later that night Jimmy sat in bed, back propped against his pillows.  When he balanced the book on his knees it fell open naturally to a page that Thomas had obviously reread several times.  It was the day Jimmy arrived at Downton.

"He said his name was Jimmy Kent.  Afraid I made a bloody fool of myself.  Thirty-five and acting like one of those silly maids.  Hope he gets the position; he'd make a nice change from that red-headed oaf."

Jimmy smiled, his first real smile in almost a week, as he turned back to the first page. Thomas didn't write in the diary every day, sometimes he would go weeks without an entry.  Jimmy had a hard time deciding how he determined what to write about. Some of the things were obviously important; some seemed just random observations.  

Over the next few nights Jimmy read the diary from cover to cover and in the process learnt more about Thomas than he ever expected to know, things that even as his friend he never suspected.  I should have if I had been a real friend.  Quite often his life appeared unhappy and unfulfilled.  At times it seemed like the world around him was about to crush him, but he always fought back, refusing to give in, refusing to let others define him.  He never let any of it stop him from wanting better. 

The most difficult part for Jimmy to read was the aftermath of the kiss and the year following it  But what he did notice was that Thomas's sadness disappeared when he wrote about him.  Three quarters of the way though the book, one entry hit him so hard he felt like he couldn't breathe. Thomas had been writing about a trip they had made to Ripon and the day spent walking and talking.

"I think I loved him from that first day he walked into the servants' hall.  And I've never stopped loving him.  If all we're to be is friends, then I'll take that.  I'm just sorry he'll never know otherwise, because if I were to tell him he would likely never understand."

That's not true.  I would have, but you had no way of knowing because I was afraid to give you a chance to say anything.

The final entry was the day before Thomas went to York.   "Jimmy's birthday next week.   I'm going to find something nice for him tomorrow."

Jimmy closed the book, tears streaming down his face.

Thomas never came back from York.  It took three days of inquiries for the Crawleys to find out why.  His body had been found in a side alley; his watch and billfold were missing. His throat had been cut.  They sent Jimmy to identify him.

~~ End ~~
I drew:
2 of diamonds
Drama or Tragedy; diary or 10 quid
2 of clubs
John Bates
7 of clubs
a servant's bedroom