To see his wife cry was a rare thing indeed. One could almost consider it a privilege, she would not let her guard down so freely around just anyone after all, if it weren't such a heart wrenching display. The fine drops trickled down her cheeks in silence, light reflecting off of them as though they were multifaceted jewels; diamonds of the highest calibre, rare and precious. And in a way, that was what they were, though Alexis felt no joy upon seeing them. These jewels were agonising to behold, a lesser man, a less enamoured man, would've fled at the first sight of Frances breaking down into tears. After all, the day his wife fell would surely be the saddest day in the history of England, quite possibly even the world. (Certainly his own world would shatter around him should any true harm befall her.) His dear lady deserved to stand tall and proud, a captivating pillar of fortitude and strength that hid a ruthless mind and a razor sharp wit and further still, buried so far no one would even presume it was there, an endless sea of love that made him every bit as enthralled with her as the day they had met.
But right at that instant she was stripped of all of it. Her strength for once failing her and the barriers around her heart crumbled to dust. Right here and now, his wife sat on his bed, his Frannie. Not Lady Midford, Marchioness of Scotney but Frances Midford, sister of Vincent Phantomhive who was mourning her brother's untimely demise.
Alexis would not pretend to understand precisely how she felt, his own siblings were very much alive and he'd never been quite as close to them as Frances had been to Vincent. But he too could feel the loss, his usual jovial smile had been all but entirely eradicated from his face. Grief dredging away any of the happiness he'd been feeling at the prospect of celebrating his nephews' birthday. They were gone now. The twins. Rachel. Vincent. Taken from them by a force of nature, too far away to receive any aid. And more than likely entirely unaware that such an event would occur, Vincent was too clever by half to let such a thing happen, had he been forewarned of it.
And now he was left with a hole in his heart and a quietly weeping wife.
She would not, he knew, speak a word of this come morning. They would pretend that the momentary lapse in control was merely an illusion, a falsely implanted memory. This grief was for his eyes alone. In that way he was honoured but it would not do for him to let her weep any longer.
With uncertainty in his tread, Alexis made his way from the door over to where the forlorn figure sat and dropped to his knees in front of her, akin to a worshipper at the temple of some ancient goddess. She turned to face him, pale cheeks slightly flushed from the amount of tears she'd shed. Her piercing blue gaze met his inquisitively, causing a small flutter in his heart; even crying she was the single most magnificent woman he'd ever laid eyes upon. He reached out, taking her delicate hand in his larger ones; holding it, rubbing reassuring circles into her skin as though attempting to shoot comfort straight through it and into her veins. He smiled.
Her gaze softened almost imperceptibly, the faintest hint of a smile appearing on her face even in spite of the heartbreak behind her eyes. In that single, perfect moment, the two understood one another perfectly. There was no need for words, or grand dramatic gestures as one would read in those frightful novels some women adored; simply the love and adoration they both felt for one another. The kind comfort of her husband practically bleeding into Frances' soul, warming her far more than any fire could and in a way that was uniquely Alexis. He just hoped it would be enough to help her.
Alexis was well aware that the pain wouldn't fade in an instant simply because he happened to be there but whatever he could do to help, he would. That was his duty as a husband, though even if it weren't, he would still do much the same. And if all she wanted was for him to be there for her, then there he would be. Strong and steady as a tower made of diamonds. She was his world after all, she deserved such unwavering devotion.
He brought her hand to his mouth, placing a kiss upon the soft skin reverently, lips scarcely grazing the back of it, and smiled as he heard the slightest of hitches in her breathing. She shifted slightly and he leaned into the touch as her other hand came to rest upon his cheek. He looked up at her. His lady.
Her sorrow was still painted on her face as though rendered there by the finest of artists but amidst it all there was a smile. A genuine smile. Soft and kind looking in a way she would never allow anyone outside of her own family to see.
He couldn't help his own actions; as though possessed by some spirit or the other he found himself rising to press his lips to hers, pouring into this one small moment all of the love that he found within himself. Soft lips meeting soft lips in that familiar way they had met so many times before over the years. That they would continue to meet. Alexis would never grow tired of the feeling. Frances reciprocated in kind and then pulled away reluctantly, an odd amusement on her face; silently asking him if he could truly not help himself around her. His answering smile was all the response she needed. He loved her. Of course he couldn't.
She shook her head and began dabbing at her tear stained cheeks with her handkerchief, the moment of sadness passing as quickly as it had arrived. Not leaving entirely. Never that. Not after such a tragedy; much as he would, she too would bear the heavy weight of the Phantomhives' passing, though far more strongly than he ever could.
Tomorrow, she would return to the fierce Lady Midford, he mused as he sat down beside her and pulled her close to his side, letting her place her head upon his shoulder. His hand came up automatically to stroke at her hair soothingly, taking as much comfort in her presence as she was in his. It would all be alright. Perhaps not today or even in a year but eventually it would. Being strong and moving on was important, he knew. But for now at least, in the sanctity of their room, away from prying eyes that longed to catch his wife off guard and from the gaze of their children, neither of whom seemed to truly grasp what had even come to pass; she could let it all go. Every ounce of pain she felt within her and she would, he knew, because she was safe here. He would be there with her, always, guarding her as ferociously as any knight worth his salt should.