Title: The Day Mary Carson Tripped

Author: TartanLioness

Summary: Mary Carson trips.

Disclaimer: Don't own any of the characters in this. No copyright infringement intended.

Author's Notes: This was all Nerweniel's fault. But I love her really. Here's looking at you kid.

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Mary Carson was not a frail woman by anyone's standards; in fact, the white-haired, old lady was stronger than most other 74-year-olds. And not only was she physically strong, she also had an iron-will and a glare that could scare the toughest of men. Still, all the physical and mental strength in the world could not always prevent one from tripping, although Mary Carson did think it silly to trip over one's own feet – especially when walking next to the striking Ralph de Bricassart, attractive and unobtainable as ever.

But when Ralph de Bricassart's arms shot out to catch her and he held her in his secure grip, close enough to his body for her to feel the warmth, it suddenly didn't seem as silly – and Mary Carson briefly wondered why she hadn't had the idea months ago. Still, no matter. She was here now, in his arms, and she couldn't care less how she had finally managed.

She struggled to recollect her footing as well as calm her heartbeat as his arms tightened around her and her hands gripped his forearms to steady herself – and perhaps to prove that the whole situation was real and not just another of her dreams.

Mary Carson was not entirely inexperienced in affairs of the heart; she had after all been married for several years – but it had been a long time since she had last been enveloped in a man's strong, secure arms and even longer since she had felt her heart flutter at the mere sight of him. Ralph de Bricassart gave all that back to her and she loved and hated him in equal measures for bringing it back.

Ralph de Bricassart was not a weak man by anyone's standards: in fact, everyone in his congregation thought him strong and admired his calm certainty. But Ralph de Bricassart knew that underneath his priestly façade, he was weak; weak and a damned coward. He had chosen to hide beneath his profession, beneath his strict, pious uniform, rather than admit the increasingly worrying feelings he had for the woman who was now in his arms. Mary Carson had with great vigour thrown himself at him at every opportunity and instead of lying and telling her directly that he wasn't interested, or for that matter just forgetting about his vows and telling her everything he felt truthfully, he had hidden behind his profession as a priest, allowing himself not to make the decision that would either break her heart – and his right along – or leave him missing his God.

But now Mary Carson was in Ralph de Bricassart's arms and neither was in any hurry to let the other go. Ralph de Bricassart unconsciously pulled her closer to him, holding the small woman tight in his arms. Mary Carson merely leaned into his grip, letting go of his arms and placing her delicate hands on his chest. She looked up at him and his green eyes finally seemed clear to her; clear of all reserve and cowardice and full of everything she wanted to see.

Ralph de Bricassart closed his eyes painfully when Mary Carson – who had long since caught her balance – rested her cheek against his chest. She wasn't quite tall enough to fit under his chin, but that didn't matter. He bent his neck and rested his cheek against her soft, white hair and let himself forget for a few moments that he was a priest. Her subtle perfume nearly overwhelmed him and he groaned.

Not entirely sure she wanted to know, Mary Carson quietly asked, "What is the matter, Ralph?" She pulled back slightly, worried that she'd see reproach mixed with his ever-present, ever-annoying forgiveness in his eyes. She saw nothing of the sort.

"Your perfume," he whispered.

Mary Carson nearly giggled. "Don't you like my perfume?"

Ralph de Bricassart closed his eyes, nodding. "I'm cock-eyed on it."

When Mary Carson's lips met Ralph de Bricassart's, vengeful gods and broken vows were the furthest things from both their minds.

The End.