So, to quench my boredom while waiting for the next chapter of T&P, dear Rachel Smith Cobleigh suggested that I turn my boredom into art. It's nothing special, just something to pass the time.
Mary doesn't notice them at first, but when she does, they scare her. She feels goose bumps across her body as she runs her fingertips across the: two small flesh marks, bites, that lay just above her collarbone– They must have been there a while, a few weeks, maybe months. They don't look new...at least they don't feel new.
"How long have they been there?" Anna asks, switching off the small torch and placing it on her kitchen table.
Mary shakes her head, unsure.
"When was your last time?" Anna sits down and pushes her friend a mug of tea.
God, a long time. Mary racks her brain. Six months, a year, perhaps.
When Mary remains silent, Anna asks another question. "Do you remember who it was?"
The rim of Mary's mug stops at her lips, and she lowers it to wrap both hands around it for heat. Of course I remember.
In fact, Mary can replay the whole night/morning in her head: every sigh, moan, touch, scream, stroke, and sentence spoken. His dark hair, the rough beard that left red patches on her skin, his body–sculpted by gods for a god–the rich tone of his voice, the growl when he pounced on her, the sharpness of those blue eyes. The mussed sheets, the clothes strewn across the floor, the dull stinging on her palms from where she gripped the headboard and the slacks of the bed, every angle that he made her body bend into.
Anna's voice brought her back to the present and she shook her head.
"No." You liar, Mary.
Anna shrugs, placing a hand on Mary's knee. "If they get bigger or become more painful, get them checked out."
Mary nods weakly, taking one last big gulp of the warm tea, before placing it on Anna's table.
"Thank you, Anna. Really." She smiles, pressing a kiss to her friend's cheek and putting on her coat as she rises from the table.
Mary escapes down the hall and closes the door of Anna's flat with a gentle thud, before leaning against the wall outside and exhaling in a rush. She scrubs her hands over her face.
She reaches up past the neck of her t-shirt and presses two fingers to the marks. "These will heal, won't they?"
Half an hour later, it's John who finds her curled up in the corridor in a foetal position, sobbing.
When she's finally back at her flat an hour after that, she stands in her living room in a state of awful indecision. Her thumb hovers over his phone number, debating whether to approach him with an accusation when they haven't communicated in such a long time. She runs her fingers through her hair in agitation.
Man up, Crawley, The little voice in her head tells her.
Drawing in a deep breath, she presses her thumb on his number. The point of no return.
"Matthew, we need to talk."
"Okay. What's wrong?"
"Can you come over?"
"Sure. What, now?" She hears the surprise in his voice.
Within twenty minutes, they're stood only a metre apart. She didn't know that a grey woollen jumper and black leggings could make her feel so bare, but as she stands before him, she feels exposed. By contrast, he looks composed and successful, as though he'd just come off work when she'd called. He's dressed in a black suit and trousers, the top button of his shirt undone and his tie loosened. Just the sight of him is arousing her.
"So," he asks, shrugging off his coat and placing it over the back of a chair. "What's wrong?"
She pulls down the neck of her jumper and points at the marks.
Matthew's eyebrows rise. "Ah. I see."
Mary freezes. "What aren't you telling me?"
Matthew sighs, rubbing his forehead with his knuckle as he grimaces. "Mary, what I'm going to tell you might scare you."
"Scare me? Matthew, you're scaring me now." She wrings her hands nervously.
He nods in understanding and crosses the distance between them, placing his hands on her waist. When she doesn't resist–How could she? All she wants to do is melt against him!–he slowly draws her against his chest. Her fear wars with her desire and she stands stiffly in his arms, wanting but unsure. She keeps her hands resting lightly on his back, although holding him tighter seems so very appealing.
"You must understand that I had no choice." His voice is a familiar low rumble and he strokes a hand over her hair, making her shiver in pleasure and the hope of comfort and rest, finally. Her eyes close briefly and then she forces them open.
Come on, Crawley!
"No choice?" Mary's grip tightens against the cool cotton of his shirt.
Matthew frowns and pulls back to meet her eyes. "You don't remember?"
Matthew sighs, then takes her hand in his and leads her to the sofa.
"Mary, three months ago you went to a mental hospital as part of your working placement and you didn't come home for four days. I was sent to look for you, but I was met with something rather..." he pauses and looks away, "...unexpected."
It's Mary's turn to frown. "What are you talking about?"
Matthew exhales sharply and his grip on her tightens. "You."
Mary gasps, her eyes widening. "Me?"
Matthew swallows. "You were screaming at me, climbing the walls and ceilings, throwing everything at me whenever you had the chance–" At this, his forefinger brushes against a fairly large scar beside his ear."It was like something out of the Omen. When the time came, it took four of us to restrain you-"
"Who were us?" Mary asks anxiously.
"Me, John, Anthony, and your father," he says, looking at her with caution in his eyes. "Anyway, we took you to North Manchester General, we had you sedated by my Mum and then you started fitting–"
Mary held her hand up for him to stop. "Wait. Are you saying I was possessed?"
Matthew nods uncomfortably, looking away from her with a frown. "Without a doubt."
Mary grips his hand tightly, urging him to carry on.
"You started fitting and Mum told one of us to bite you, Anthony fainted within seconds - for a werewolf, he's rather squeamish, your father said he couldn't hurt you and John was too busy holding you to the bed. I really didn't want to, but like I said I had no choice." Mary begins to feel tears prick at her eyes.
"You mean that you gave me these marks?" Her fingers fly to brush against them again and then she winces away.
"Yes." Matthew's face is pained.
Mary swallows. "Does this mean you're a vampire too?"
Matthew produces a small smile. "Yes, it does."
"Are you kidding me?"
Matthew shakes his head with a grin. "No, I'm not. In fact, when I bit you, Mum had to stop me from drinking too much of your blood."
Mary's eyes widened. "Does this mean–"
"Yes, you're a vampire now, too."
For a moment, Mary senses something click in her brain; a silence hangs in the air, she realises that she must be staring at him and he, her.
Matthew cups her jaw and brings their lips together, his first movements gentle and tentative, but Mary is having none of that. She pushes his blazer down off his shoulders and throws it to the floor, his tie and shirt following shortly thereafter, and Mary runs her hands across his bare chest with a predatory smile.
Mmm. Just as I remember him...
Matthew chuckles and bends suddenly, swooping her up into his arms. She gives a laugh deep in her chest and continues kissing him as he carries her into the bedroom and drops her unceremoniously on the bed. She rights herself and lies there, propped up on her elbows and grinning wickedly in anticipation of watching him strip off the rest of his clothing.
Grinning, and with a ravenous look in his eyes, he kicks off his shoes and makes quick work of his trousers, boxers, and socks, crawling over her. He pushes up her woollen jumper and the t-shirt under it, tugging it up and off her body as she sits up, only too happy to help. He gets his fingers inside the waistband of her leggings and starts to tug it down–but her gentle hand stops him.
His sharp blue eyes meet hers, suddenly confused, and he immediately draws his hand away in concern. She finds his consideration endearing and it only arouses her more.
"What is it?" he asks.
Mary arches up, her hands pulling at the back of his neck, her lips gently grazing the scar by his ear.
"Bite me," she whispers.
Matthew's lips are curled into a smirk when she draws away, the ravenous look in his eyes now back in full force, and he pushes Mary down into the pillow. She watches him in awe, feeling a bolt of arousal tinged with the most lovely shiver of fear as he tilts his head back and unsheathes his fangs. His blue eyes are now rimmed with a hungry, lustful red. Suddenly, Mary feels like a lamb to the slaughter, but this is Matthew, the man who has saved her and turned her. She turns her head to the side, exposing her neck, and hums–growls low in her throat, really–as she braces herself for–
She gives a strangled moan of pleasure as his fangs pierce her neck and a jolt of arousal shoots straight to her groin along with the sweet pain of his penetration. She weaves her fingers into his hair, keeping him in place as he drinks from her. She feels lightheaded, tingling, hungry for more, and she moans again, writhing. Matthew withdraws gently, licking the wound and kissing it, numbing the pain and leaving only the pleasure. She sighs with relief as his head moves down towards the marks he left on her collarbone all those months ago and he opens them up again. His ministrations now will begin to heal them, she knows.
She whimpers as he draws fresh blood from the wounds and leaves her head spinning. She is so dizzy and aroused that she frees her hands from his hair and lifts them up to grip the headboard with desperate strength. She laughs with joy. Oh yes, I remember this, too...
Matthew raises his head, chuckling and leaning on his forearms as he hovers over her. She grins up at him.
"Bite me again," she commands.
So he does, and he leaves marks where she would blush when speaking of it later, when they would make love, slowly and tenderly, and he would whisper in her ear how they would live and love for a long, long time.
Big thank you Rachel Smith Cobleigh for the prompt;
All things Downton belong to Julian Fellowes.
Thanks for being a gracious reader.