A/N: Happy Birthday, C. You have always been one of the sweetest, most positive people I've met here and it's only fitting you're the only person I've ever written a birthday story for. I am so glad to call you a friend now.
P.S. This is unbeta-ed Graceverse. It will eventually be added to the other Grace drabbles but it skips ahead of where those are so for now it is stand alone. Don't worry; you will catch on. It was weird to write in past tense again but I decided to go with it because that's how Grace was originally written. It was fun to revisit this world...I really hope I've done it justice. Let me know.
Where Babies Come From
"Mmm," Mary moaned from beneath the bundle of covers. "Matthew, must you?"
He heard the smile in her voice, along with the sleep, as his hands crept beneath the layers of blankets and the silk of her champagne colored negligee (a particular favorite of his recently) to the smoothness of her skin. "I must. I must."
"But it's so early," she complained, though she turned in his embrace, wrapping her arms around his neck. She enjoyed the fake complaining nearly as much as his arms coming around her, as dependable as an alarm clock. She nuzzled his cheek. "And you need a shave."
"I need something else more," he whispered, brushing his nose against hers before he kissed her, the two of them sinking into the pillows. He nibbled on her bottom lip until he felt her toes curl against his calf, making him smile.
"You're very smug, you know," she informed him, her hands sliding into the luxury of his hair.
"Not yet," he replied, covering her breasts with his hands while her eyelids fluttered closed and her legs fell open for him to slide between them. She moaned when she felt his arousal against her stomach. "But I'm about to be."
"Papa." Gracie barged into their room without knocking. "Why are you on top of Mama?"
Mary raised the back of her hand to her forehead. "Gracie, darling. Haven't we talked about knocking?"
"Yes. I am sorry I forgot to knock," she parroted from the doorway, a perfunctory apology at best. They were working on it. "But why is Papa on top of you?"
"I'm not on top of her anymore," Matthew said quietly between his teeth. "Come here, darling girl. Let's have a cuddle before I have to meet Grandpapa to go over the estate."
"Yes, please! A cuddle!" She marched over to Matthew's side of the bed. "Jack woke me up this morning. He bangs his rattle against his bed and then laughs. He makes up silly songs." She rolled her eyes, looking exactly like her mother. "It's rather annoying."
"I should go and get him," Mary replied, standing and yawning and reaching for her robe. "Maybe we'll have a short lie in before Papa has to go."
As she left the room, she heard Grace ask Matthew: "Papa, hasn't she been very tired lately?"
"Good morning, my beautiful boy!" Mary sang as she entered Jack's room.
He smiled toothily at her and let out his usual greeting for her, "Ma!" While Gracie had been hyper verbal, Jack was content with a handful of words, spoken at loud volumes. He preferred anything physical–bear hugs and wrestling, climbing outlawed stairs, finding his way on top of Matthew's desk–which constantly kept Mary on her toes. She once found him climbing Matthew's bookcase after turning her back for two seconds. He'd made it halfway to the ceiling. To have two precocious children (and yet precocious in two very different ways) could be exhausting. And yet, even as Mary snuggled Jack (who had, in fact, been banging a rattle from his babyhood against the wood of the crib he was quickly out growing out of) into the crook of his neck, Mary had to admit she was a bit more tired than normal.
"Ma!" he cried like a wild little thing and hit her (accidentally she hoped) on the her ear.
"Careful, Jack," she warned. "How about a snuggle with Papa and Gracie?"
"Bay," Jack demanded.
"I'm sure Baby is still asleep," Mary murmured pressing a kiss to his forehead, brushing his dark hair off his forehead.
"Bay!" he cried loudly but with affection, the blue eyes of his father sharp. When he was born, people tried to tell her that babies eyes could change, that all are born blue. She only raised her eyebrow at them, daring them to say anything more.
At the sound of her name, there was a skittering of dog nails on the stairs as Baby bounded up them. "Bay no sweep," Jack told her owlishly. "Bay come."
"Yes," she smiled at him and pressed kisses to his face until he giggled, walking back towards the master bedroom, Baby just ahead of them, limping only slightly from the injury which ultimately saved Mary's life. Gracie taught her younger brother many things; the first of those things was that Baby was their best friend.
"Everyone's here!" Gracie patted the bed for Baby to jump up but the dog still struggled a bit and Matthew had to help her but the act was a well coordinated one by now.
Mary surveyed the space on the bed leftover for herself and their son. "You know, I predicted this quandary," she noted dryly to Matthew who only grinned at her.
"What shall we have for breakfast?" Mary asked as she snuggled into the bed with Jack who flung himself at his father. "I have a terrible craving for bacon."
Matthew hummed in the back of his throat while avoiding Mary's eyes. "What?" she asked. "I do have a terrible craving for bacon." Matthew hummed again.
"Bacon comes from pigs," Gracie informed them. "And chicken comes from chickens."
"That's right," Matthew praised her and ran a hand down her curls which now reached the middle of her back. The three of them–Matthew, Gracie, and Baby Jack–were mused from sleep, wrinkled, and snuggled together and Mary felt a feeling of love rise up inside of her.
But suddenly something else was rising up inside of her.
"Pardon me for a moment." She rushed to stand, barely hearing Gracie ask if bacon comes from pigs and chicken comes from chickens, where do babies come from, and made her way to the bathroom and before she knew it, vomited into the bathtub. She emptied her stomach–which really had nothing in it–before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. She squeezed her eyes shut so not to see the mess she made in the tub and fell back to a sitting position where she could lean her clammy face against her knees.
Jack clambered off the bed with Matthew trying to catch up. "Uh oh," Jack murmured. "Ma. Uh oh."
"Uh oh," she whispered, looking up at Matthew who had Gracie hooked around his hip.
"Mama?" Gracie asked. "Are you having another baby?"
"Bay?" Jack asked and sure enough, Baby came rushing into the bathroom to lick Mary's face.
"Not, Baby," Gracie corrected gently. She was a good big sister. "But a baby. Mama is always having them."
Mary managed to laugh against her drawn up knees.
"Why don't you take your brother and play with Baby? Maybe Iz is up?" Matthew suggested. The nicknames, to Granny's consternation, of Iz and Vi stuck, especially due to Jack's penchant for single syllables.
"All right," Gracie agreed, scooting down her father's body and taking Jack by the hand. Baby dutifully followed her charges.
Matthew leaned down to sit next to his wife, wrapping his arm around her so she could place her coldly sweating face to his neck. "I think we better call Doctor George."
"You do, do you?" Matthew knew that tone very well. He imagined that if she felt better, she would scramble up and one eyebrow would be raised. But she remained resting against him, a testament to how awful she felt.
"I'm rather glad you were sick," Mathew murmured into her hair. "I was on the verge of having to answer Gracie's question of where babies come from. Hopefully, she's forgotten about it by now."
Mary laughed weakly. "But I can't be pregnant."
"You can't?" he asked, patiently. Sometimes she hated how patient he could be.
She did some calculations in her head, counted on her fingers. "Well, technically, I suppose I could be pregnant...but I'm not."
"And how did you come to that conclusion?" He pressed a kiss to her hair.
"I refuse to be pregnant for the entirety of our marriage. It's ridiculous. We're like rabbits," she complained.
He laughed and soon she was giggling. "I don't mind being like rabbits." He paused. "I'd like to kiss you now only–"
"Right," she replied and laughed some more. She leaned back to look at his face, the wide smile, the eager eyes. He wanted another baby. She did too. "I think we ought to call Doctor George."
"What a brilliant suggestion!" She raised her eyebrow at him.
While Grace always found baths soothing even since she was tiny, and Matthew nervously undertook the task with Mary's help, Jack found them invigorating. Everyone was a target of his splashing, as he clapped his hands on top of the few inches of water, and giggled madly, his cheeks round and pink. "Mama," Gracie asked from her seat nearby, already dressed in her nightgown. "Did I do that when I was a baby?"
"You'll always be my baby," Mary told her, pushing up her soaked sleeves even further past her elbows. "But no, you never splashed like Jack–"
"Good," Matthew said with relief as he entered the bathroom, taking off his jacket. "I didn't miss bedtime." He pressed a kiss to Gracie's rosebud mouth which she upturned for him and climbed into his arms.
"I was just going to tell Mama that I'm not a baby anymore," Gracie informed him. Her wet curls were combed back from her face but still, Matthew used the excuse to push her dark hair behind her ear. It was difficult to imagine that at one point this little girl wasn't in his life, that he didn't meet her on her actual birthday, but on a park bench over half eaten animal crackers and lion roars.
"Well, you'll always be my baby," Matthew told her, gently pinching her nose.
She giggled and threw her head back dramatically. "That's what Mama said!"
Matthew leaned down to kiss the top of Mary's head, which somehow, also was wet from Jack's antics. "That's because Mama is very smart. Hello, Jack," he murmured to his son.
"Oh, I see you're staying a safe distance from him," Mary laughed. "Was your day very long? I'm sorry everything was pushed back."
"Mary," he censured. It had been a matter of debate between them, if he would go to the doctor's with her. Since Doctor George was working in Ripon that day and not London, Matthew saw no reason for him not go with her. Mary saw no reason for his day not to be interrupted. We don't even know for sure, she told him. To which he responded, I'm coming. (A few years of marriage to Mary had taught him some new ways to win arguments with her.)
"Pa!" Jack splashed and with dexterity Mary expertly grabbed a towel and wrapped him up in it.
"Bath time is over for you, baby boy," she murmured into his dark hair.
"Papa, will you read to me while Mama puts Jack to sleep?" Gracie asked Matthew, nuzzling into his shoulder and trying to wrap his hair around her finger.
"Of course, I will," Matthew told her sweetly, his eyes twinkling at his daughter.
At their feet, holding Jack, Mary teared up.
Damn hormones, she sniffed.
She rocked Jack, relishing their time together. It was one of the only times he could be counted on to be still or close to it. He truly still was her baby, cuddling into her and playing with the end of her braid, while she told him stories–Adventures of Baby–and his eyes slowly closed. She loved to watch him fight sleep off, as if it was a mortal enemy, how just as his eyelashes brushed his cheeks, he would blink his eyes open like an owl. She pressed a kiss to his downy head once he finally slept and placed him in his crib, again noticing that he was outgrowing it rather quickly, which she supposed, touching her stomach, might be for the best. Still, her eyes misted a bit at the thought of another child outgrowing the crib.
She walked down the hall towards the rest of her family. "And did you love me, from the very first time you saw me?" Mary heard Gracie asked sleepily. It was a new area of fascination for her. Why did you name me Gracie? Did I cry? Did you love me the first time you saw me? At first Mary and Matthew agonized over this new favorite topic but they soon realized that no lying was necessary. They need only to tell the truth.
Mary watched them from the doorway, Matthew tucking Gracie into her bed, touching a finger to her nose. "From the very first moment I saw you," he whispered as her eyes began to close. "The very first moment, I loved you."
By the time, Matthew made his way to Mary at the doorway, tears were slipping down her cheeks. "You are," she whispered, "the loveliest man." She leaned up on her tiptoes to ghost her mouth over his. "And I'm only crying–"
"Because of the hormones," he replied, grasping her by the elbows so he could lift her closer. He turned his his head to nip at her jaw, the side of mouth.
"Maybe we should take this somewhere else besides our daughter's room," she murmured, slipping two of her fingers between the buttons of his shirt, before deciding to forgo that plan altogether and began unbuttoning instead.
"I see those hormones are working in my favor, too," he grinned at her, kicking their door closed behind them and then laughing at her.
"What?" she said. "Do I have something on my face?"
No," he laughed more, taking her hands and holding them at her sides. "You're soaked."
It was true, the silk of her robe, the sleeves, her torso were quite wet. "Your son," she told him, raising her eyebrow.
"They're always mine when they've done something–"
He stopped immediately because Mary untied the knot at her waist and slipped the silk robe from her shoulders. Her fingers went to the straps of her negligee. "You were saying?"
His head banged against the door as he gulped. Mary still tended to be a bit more conservative when it came to nudity. "Nothing." The negligee fell to the floor, a pool of silk at her feet. She took a step closer to him, pressing her naked body to his, her mouth finding his throat, his arms sliding over the smoothness of her skin. "What's gotten into you?" he asked breathlessly, as she basically tore his shirt from his shoulders. She stop, her hands on the neckline of his undershirt. Her eyes lowered to her belly. "Right," he laughed hoarsely, lifting his arms so she could remove the next layer. Immediately, her hands went to the buckle of his belt.
"I want you," she whispered, hotly into his ear, and just like that he switched their positions–her back against the door while she pushed his pants and the rest of his things to the floor. He dragged her up, cupping her bottom and with one hand, his hand completely entangled in her hair as they kissed and kissed. He walked them backward to the bed where they fell with a graceful oof.
She pushed the hair back from his face, pressing her lips to her jaw and then finally to his mouth, sucking on his bottom lip until he ground out a curse, and grasped her hips. "I love you." She wasn't sure if she thought it or said it. I love you. I love you. I love you. They rolled over, pulling themselves further up on the bed by the sheets. It was always new to them and yet familiar, like the most beautiful piece of music played again and again.
He slid inside of her and she gasped against the cords of his throat, her nails biting into his back. He cursed in pleasure, taking her breasts in her hands as she leaned her head back. He pressed open mouthed kisses to her chest, taking her nipple into her mouth while she cried out again. "Matthew," she panted. Meanwhile he shifted her hips, changed the angle, pumping inside of her with enthusiasm until she cried out one last time, her hands sliding bonelessly from his back, and his body shuddering to a stop on top of her.
"I love you." This time she knew she said it aloud, however much she was dying for a glass of water.
"And I love you."
Naked between the sheets, she giggled against his chest. "I think I can count the number of times I've seen you completely naked with the lights on," he said as he handed her their shared glass of water.
"I'm a terrible wife," she said dramatically before explaining. "Well first we were newlyweds and with just a wink from you I was pregnant with Jack and was hugely pregnant and then I had a body which borne two babies–"
"My two babies," he whispered, leaning down to press a kiss to her belly over the sheet. She ruffled his hair. "With another on the way."
"I can hardly believe it," she shook her head in shock.
"Really? You can hardly believe it?" He pointed at their clothes, left in a mass by the door.
She laughed again, covering her face. "We're insatiable."
"Maybe my wife is," he conceded. "You know we'll need more space."
"I hadn't thought about it."
"Things are a little tight as is," Matthew began and Mary shifted to look at him. She knew that tone. "In fact, I spoke to your father–"
"You told him? We agreed to wait awhile."
"No, not today," he told her, rubbing her arms to soothe. "We've talked previously, hypothetically."
Mary raised her eyebrow. "Hypothetically? You and Papa talked about our future hypothetical children?"
"He's crazy for his grandchildren. They're all he talks about, you know that," Matthew pressed his forehead to hers. "Anyway, no one is using the Grantham House. We'd be closer to the Dower House and Baby would have room to play."
"Oh yes, my first thought is of Baby," she replied sarcastically though she smiled. "I never thought I would say so but I would want your mother to come with us, if she wants. She'd be lonely by herself and she keeps me sane with the children. And then the children could be near Iz and Vi. And of course, there's Baby."
They laughed together, their naked bodies brushing.
"Just think, Mary. Gracie, Jack, another baby, Baby, and us, all snuggled up together in this bed."
"We're going to need bigger bed," she told him quite seriously before snickering.
A/N: Okay. Grace fans...did I do okay?