Based on a prompt from broadwaybaggins for a Matthew from Downton meets Emma Swan of Storybrooke drabble. I knew this was coming. Because I had mentioned how much fun and hilarity could ensue. And what is there were other suitors of Lady Mary around at the same time and they all had an Emma encounter? How would each handle it? Seeing as broadwaybaggins and Lala-kate have a lovely interplay of crossover Hook Lady Mary drabbles going on, I didn't want to stop into that and ruin it with all these gentlemen existing AU like, and they each have their own sections wonderfully plotted out. So I'll just steal the premise, as it were, with Lady Mary having vanished and spin this out to see just how many gentlemen (*cough*) might eventually appear.
He paced the room one more time, hands raking through his hair as he again went over every possibility. Nothing made sense; Mary was just gone. Vanished. She had been here, outside Crawley House one moment, and the next, when he turned back to talk to her, gone. And yet it was worse for Lavinia. She had been sitting right next to Mary, had cried out when, mid-sentence, Mary vanished in front of her.
Lavinia still hadn't recovered. She had been shaking and trembling, insisting it happened just as she said, working herself into deeper and deeper hysterics. Even now, his mother sat at her bedside, watching over her drugged sleep as they all searched for answers.
He was left to pace, to try and make sense of something that had no sense to it. They had scoured every corner of the house, the village, trackers were searching the estate, but somehow he knew she wasn't there to be found. Whatever kind of madness this was, it felt all too real. Real but with a piece missing: Mary.
A strange green light flashed outside, briefly illuminating his bedroom as the floorboards under his feet trembled with the immediate roll of thunder. Confused, he turned to the window. He thought it had been clear tonight. No it was clear, light from a nearly full moon streaming silver over the top of trees outside in the garden. But the chorus of dogs braying from neighboring houses meant he hadn't imagined it.
He slid the window open, leaning out slightly to listen. He heard a bin rattle in the kitchen yard, some animal foraging for a scrap. Perhaps it was just a random flash of lightening, another bit of the unexplainable after all that had happened today.
The clear curse in a woman's voice that floated up to him was no trick of the imagination. He caught his breath. Mary! It had to be her, she was back.
He flew down the stairs two at a time, tearing through the back hall into the kitchen and throwing open the door to the yard. He skidded to a stop in the middle of the cobbles, glancing around, checking the shadows. "Mary?"
Silence greeted him. He turned around again, checking every corner again. He was going to go as mad as Lavinia. But he knew, he just knew someone was here and it had to be her.
Sighing, he turned back to the kitchen door and then froze, catching sight of the figure trying to hide behind the vine-covered drain pipe.
"Mary?" He took a step forward reaching out a hand. "Mary, it's Matthew. It's alright; you're safe now." God, she must be terrified, whatever had happened, she could be disoriented, she could be —
Not Mary. Moonlight glinted off of long blonde hair spilling out below a knit cap.
"Yeah, sorry, not Mary." The figure, clearly a woman, though she was wearing some kind of tight riding pant, stepped fully into the dim light. "But I'm taking it this Mary is possibly missing?"
The broad accent of her words jarred him, caused his brain to hesitate a second before understanding what she was saying. "What? Who are you? What are you doing out here?"
She was holding her hands up in a silent plea, and he words were slow and calm. "My name is Emma. I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing here myself, so if you could help me and tell me exactly where I am, maybe we can both make some progress."
No, he was going mad. Clearly, there was some kind of mental disease, something contagious going around. He was trapped in it, Lavinia too, and maybe that meant Mary wasn't missing at all. If he was sick, then he would just have to wake up, right? He started to turn to the open kitchen door, but stumbled.
A hand caught his arm, strong, but feminine. He looked down to where she clasped him, her fingers curving around him in a gentle yet firm grip. He glanced back to her face. She seemed to understand every thought racing through his head.
"You're not going mad. This is really happening, okay? Just help me out. Where am I?"
He could feel the heat of her hand through his shirtsleeve, warmth and something else coursing up his arm, spreading throughout his body. His breath came easier, the fog, the frantic fear began to clear a bit from his mind. He looked at this woman's face again, this Emma. He had no idea who she was, or why she was dressed as she was, but she was clean, not some vagrant. Maybe she could help. He swallowed, searching for his voice again.
"Crawley House." He cleared his throat again, words coming out steadier now. "This is Crawley House. My cousin Mary, Lady Mary, has gone missing. Have you seen her?"
Emma shook her head. "No, I'm sorry I haven't, but I'm going to help you find her," she said, her expression mirroring the quiet calm of her voice, a plea for him to believe her. "I have a feeling it might be my fault — our fault — she's gone."
He started to asker her what she meant by it being her fault, but she cut him off.
"So Crawley House is where exactly? Are we talking Enchanted Kingdom?"
"Enchanted Kingdom?" No, maybe she was the one who was mad. What kind of questions were these? The sense of calm flowed through him once more, pushing away the panic that had started to stir again. He was compelled to answer her, to believe her, but he couldn't figure out why. "No, this Downtown. In Yorkshire."
"And I'm guessing from your accent we are talking Yorkshire as in England."
He nodded mutely, watching her thoughts spin in dark eyes that hinted green. As crazy as this all was, he knew she wasn't mad.
"Right. So here is the big question you're going to have to help me with, and please just humor me and answer it. When are we?"