A/N: So, months later we FINALLY finish this epilogue as promised! Wooooo! We should say that in the meantime we've written a lot of smut. And we mean a lot. (Castle AU: coming probably-not-soon to a paper bag near you...) Last chapter was innocent. This... really isn't. You have been warned!

Having said that, enjoy! Let it be a fluffy and happy and romantic balm to all this S02 angst! :)


EPILOGUE

Mary woke to total silence. She could feel warm sun on her face and resisted opening her eyes to it; she felt so relaxed and comfortable. Shifting her legs slightly, she brushed against something: a foot. Matthew's foot. She pressed her eyes more tightly shut even as her lips curved into a happy smile. Then she became aware of other sensations. That she was completely naked in bed, which never happened. That his hand rested possessively on her hip. That she could feel his steady, deep breathing rustling the hairs on the back of her neck. Memories came back too, of sighs and moans in the dark and the touch of skin on skin. She felt a fluttery heat flare up in the pit of her stomach at the recollection of the previous night and she shifted a little more, rolling onto her back, her husband's hand now lying across her stomach.

She opened her eyes now and stared at the unfamiliar ceiling, seeing her new room for the first time in daylight. It was smaller to her room at home – at Downton rather – but less cavernous, more cheerful. She felt she could get used to that. Her gaze trailed down from the ceiling to the walls, the furniture and the windows with the shut curtains, through the gap in which a steady stream of sunlight passed illuminating the dust motes in the air and landing finally on the bed. She turned her head and drew in a breath.

Matthew slept soundly. His mouth was slightly open and his face was completely relaxed. Mary leaned up on one elbow and traced all his features with his eyes with breathless concentration, relishing this private moment to observe him. She almost touched him to repeat her journey across across his face with her fingers but held back at the last minute. She did not want to wake him. She looked below his face to the slight stubble on his chin that had appeared overnight and at his exposed neck and the one shoulder and top of his torso that was visible over the sheets, taking in their precise colour and the shaping of his skin, seemingly both unfamiliar and achingly familiar.

She felt she ought to feel embarrassed at this point, remembering what they had done, but she was not. It was amazing really how quickly human nature accepted a change in situation. Mary felt far too peaceful and content to consider embarrassment. She sighed happily and lay back down, wondering vaguely what time it was and when she – no, they – would be brought tea. Mary did blush at the thoughts that conjured up and she shook her head with a smile. Dear Matthew. Then, as she realised that there were no servants about and no tea would be forthcoming, she had an idea. Before she could change her mind and pick flaws in her plan, she swung herself silently out of bed and stood up. She shivered and looked around for something to wrap herself in. She was then strangely moved to see her own silk dressing gown already unpacked and hanging on a hook on the door, next to Matthew's, and her slippers neatly placed next to his in front of the chest of drawers. She paused in the middle of the room to admire this cosy, domestic arrangement. It felt foolish to be so touched by the sight of two pairs of slippers, but she was, and she could not care. Then she almost tripped over her corset, abandoned on the floor and her hand went to cover her mouth as she remembered. Her cheeks flared with colour. Was everybody's wedding night like hers? She could not imagine it was though frankly she would rather not think about the intimate details of any body else's marriage in that way.

She stepped over her corset and Matthew's tie and jacket, pulled the dressing gown round herself and stepped into her slippers. At the door she hesitated and looked back at the bed. Still Matthew slept soundly. An ache of love rose up in her that was almost painful and she returned to his side, leaned down and softly pressed her lips to his before she knew what she doing. Then, before she lost her nerve, she left the room and quietly closed the door behind her.

Mary found her way to the kitchen easily enough and could not understand why the layout of the house had been a problem the previous night. She cast her eyes round it in the daylight. What had Matthew done? She padded to the range where the kettle still stood on the hobs. She picked it up, surprised at how heavy it was. She emptied it into a bucket by the sink and her eye fell on the neatly marked tea jar on the shelf above. How many bags? She really had no idea, nor whether she should remove the tea from the bag first. She shrugged, put three in the kettle and then added water and waited for it to boil on the hob, relighting it with the match left out from the previous night, and only narrowly escaping burning her fingers.

While it boiled, she found two clean cups and saucers and placed them on a tray. What to do about milk? After looking in a few obvious places and failing to find any, she saw the jug lying on its side on the table where they had knocked it the previous evening. There was a splash of milk on the table but the jug's rim was curved and when she picked it up there was still a little left. She poured half into one cup and half into the other. It was not really enough but she hoped it would do. It would have to for she could find no other milk. She removed the boiled tea from the heat and wondered how long she ought to leave it before pouring. She sighed and leaned against the table. Matthew had made it seem so simple! Mary did so much want to do this for him.

She strolled to the kitchen door that looked out onto the back garden. She could not find a key to open it but she amused herself with peering out for several minutes and watching a blackbird peck at the grass. Once it had flown away she considered that the tea must surely have steeped for long enough and she poured it out into the two cups, gripping the heavy kettle with both hands and clenching her jaw as a little spilled onto one of the saucers. Well, she would have that one.

It looked rather dark, Mary reflected dubiously, and smelled quite powerful. Perhaps she had let it brew for too long. It was a great shame there was not more milk! Still, all the more reason to take it to him quickly before it got cold as well.

She picked up the tray and walked towards the door very slowly, unused to carry anything of this sort. Then she realised she would need to put the tray down to open the door and was obliged to return to the table, open the door and then start again. It was very frustrating. Navigating the corridor and the stairs seemed to take hours of frowning concentration and by the time she reached the bedroom door again, quite a considerable amount of the tea had sploshed out onto the saucers and tray. Still, she did not give up, and rested the tray on the chest in the hall as she gently opened the door, picked up the tray again, pushed the door completely open with her foot and plastered a hopeful smile onto her face in case he had woken up in her absence.

Matthew awoke naturally, and peacefully. He felt utterly and wonderfully lethargic. Slowly, his eyes fluttered open, and he looked slowly around him, blinking the sleep from his eyes. Something felt different, but he was not quite sure what... Pushing himself up slightly, he saw that the pillow next to him lay dinted and flattened, as if... His eyes drifted closed as he remembered. Sitting up a little more, his eyes widened as he saw their clothes scattered with abandon upon the floor. His breath caught in his throat as he began to remember more vividly. But... A gentle frown crossed his face. Where was she? He was sure he remembered falling asleep with her curled against him, and he thought he could remember a kiss.. Or had he dreamed that? He passed his hand over his face, rubbing his eyes gently. He felt suddenly very alone; strange, considering that he had woken up alone every morning of his life prior to now. But now, he missed her. Why had she left? Before his thoughts could trouble him any more, the door suddenly swung open, and his eyes snapped up. Standing in the doorway, with an overly bright smile on her face was Mary with... a tray. Of what looked like tea! His face lit up. Smiling luxuriantly, he allowed his eyes to wander over her, enchanted by her loose hair, curled and tumbling over her shoulders, and the way her silken gown fluttered over her body. He shuddered a little as he recalled just how that body had felt, writhing softly beneath him. He cleared his throat slightly.

"Good morning," he said, almost shyly.

He was awake. Very awake. And sitting up so that his entire bare chest was presented to her view, the bedclothes having fallen away from him. Mary's lips parted slightly at the sight of how broad it was, and the light fair hairs over it, and the memory of what it felt like beneath her hands. She found herself breathing more quickly and her hands began to tremble so that the tea cups rattled against their saucers. When he spoke, however, her eyes raised immediately to meet his and she felt colour flood her cheeks. She swallowed.

"Good morning, Matthew," she said in a matter of fact tone to try to conceal his effect on her and immediately turned away to put down the tray. She picked up the two cups, wishing her hands would steady themselves and walked back to the bed. She dared to meet his eyes again and was forced to stop by the power of his gaze on her.

She licked her lips and then said more nervously, "Mrs. Bird is not here so... so I made tea."

As she made her way over to the bed and stood nervously by it, Matthew smiled at her in utter adoration.

"Oh Mary, you darling," he said softly. "How thoughtful of you! Here."

He shuffled backwards quickly against the pillows, ready to take the tea from her. To his consternation, his haste caused the sheets to fall away even more, exposing him entirely to her view, and he blushed furiously as he clutched them back up around his waist. He stared at her in mild embarrassment, his lips parted slightly. It took a moment for him to realise that really – considering what they had done together, what they had shared – embarrassment seemed rather a silly thing to feel. Still, though, he was very aware that last night it had been dark, and they had been rather too occupied to actually have seen all that much… Coughing slightly, and having made sure that the sheets were secure, he held his hands out.

"Pass the cups to me so you can sit down. Thank you, darling."

Mary stared, her eyes widening and one of the cups of tea tilting dangerously to one side as she forgot to pay attention to what she was doing. Her heart began to beat faster and she shifted from one foot to another as desire began to coil in her belly again. Then he covered himself again and she blushed even harder and quickly handed over a half full cup of murky, luke warm tea, splashing a little more onto the blanket as she did so, before sitting on her side of the bed, putting her cup down on bedside table and leaning back against the pillow next to him. She looked at him hopefully, her cheeks still red.

"I hope it is not too bad. I am afraid you have much more practice than I do in making tea!"

Matthew's eyes shifted between her and the cup of distinctly unappetising tea in his hands. He felt very aware of her eyes upon him. He stared at it a moment longer, licking his lips nervously.

"I'm sure it will be just the thing!" he murmured cheerfully.

Tentatively, he raised the cup to his lips as more tea dripped from the bottom of it. He paused - yes, she was still watching him nervously. He smiled reassuringly at her before taking a sip. As soon as it passed his lips, he knew it was bad. In fact, it was possibly the worst cup of tea he'd tasted in his life. His eyes closed, and he held it in his mouth for a second, not quite daring to swallow yet. Eventually he forced himself to, and desperately held back a grimace as the strong, lukewarm liquid trickled down his throat. He blinked several times, licking his lips again before turning his head to look at her, determinedly plastering a smile to his face.

"It was - so kind of you to think of, Mary!"

He desperately wondered if he really had to drink the rest of it. She was looking so hopefully at him... He took a deep breath, before taking the entire lot in one, abominable swig - well, there was only half a cup there. He gasped as he swallowed it, placing the cup and saucer down on the bedside cabinet with a trembling hands causing the china to rattle before turning back to her.

"Thank you!"

His lips twitched with the effort of maintaining a smile as he was terribly aware of the pugnent taste in his mouth. Where on earth had she found that milk?

Mary watched him with increasing worry. She knew him well enough to know when he was faking enthusiasm and his smile was definitely strained. She met it with an apologetic one of her own.

"I'm afraid you think it was terrible! Was it really that bad?"

Without waiting for a reply she picked up her own cup (it really did look terrible) and raised it to her lips. She took a tentative sip and almost spat it out. She hastily replaced the cup and wiped her hand across her mouth as she forced herself to swallow.

"Pah!" she exclaimed in a very unladylike fashion and turned to him in horror and shame. "Oh, Matthew, dearest Matthew, how dreadful! Whyever did you drink it?" She placed a hand on his upper arm as she spoke. "I'm truly sorry. I shouldn't have bothered."

Her seeming horror at her own tea spurred an enormous burst of affection in Matthew, and he couldn't help a broad smile. He rubbed her hand on his arm softly in apology.

"I'll be honest my love, I've had better cups of tea in my time. But, it was still very, very good of you to go to the trouble of making it!" He leaned forward and kissed her gently. "Thank you, I mean it."

It was the first time he had kissed her in daylight since - She closed her eyes and leaned into it, cupping his face and gently stroking his cheek with her thumb. She made no effort to deepen the kiss, however, revelling in the simple fact of their being there, together, and being able to do this. She was also very sorry about the tea.

Matthew felt such an exquisite happiness at the simple intimacy of their situation that he actually chuckled against her lips, a tiny laugh of delight. He suddenly felt very, very aware of the fact that he was entirely naked, sitting in bed with his absolutely adored wife beside him, indulging in soft, sweet kisses. And in that moment he no longer cared about his undressed state, felt no shame; for they were happy, and it was right. He drew back to look at her, feeling a strange sense of privilege at the license to see her like this – sleep-ruffled, untidy, undressed, not made up or preened or polished yet as everyone else saw her – and she had never seemed more beautiful. It was almost enough to rid her terrible attempt at tea from his memory. Almost...

Mary leaned back against her pillow, looking deeply at him as her thumb continued its gentle caress. Her eyes softened with affection and she enjoyed knowing that he was watching her too. Finally she sighed gently.

"I wish I had not left you this morning, and so unproductively too."

His smile dropped the smallest fraction as he looked down, studying the sheets somewhere between them. His hand rested lightly on her thigh, and he gave a soft, reassuring squeeze as he spoke. "Well. The thought was there, darling. I do appreciate that." He looked up at her again, raising an eyebrow. "Perhaps it would be best to leave it to Mrs. Bird in future, then I can savour the pleasure of my tea as well as waking up next to my wife.." His lips twitched gently into a fond smile. "I expect it sounds terribly silly, but - I missed you when I woke!"

She saw the effort he was making and bit her lip while he wasn't looking. A few strands of hair tumbled over her shoulders and her stomach flipped as he squeezed her thigh at the great intimacy of it. She raised her eyes to his again.

"Then in future Mrs. Bird shall manage the tea and I - I shall have you!"

Her eyes darkened and she leaned forward and kissed him with more intent, tugging his shoulder a little closer towards her. Perhaps she could make it up to him.

Matthew's eyebrows rose sharply at her sudden determination, and he fell willingly against her. He threw his hands up against the bedhead to steady himself. Feeling more stable now, he kissed her back more firmly, smiling against her lips, his pulse quickening.

The feeling of Matthew's sudden submission to her was delicious and fueled her growing desire. She shifted a little in order to sit up more comfortably and put both her arms round him, tracing patterns on his bare back as she pulled him as close to her as she could in this position.

His sigh of delight was lost in her mouth, and he found himself gripping the bedhead a little tighter. His head swam with desire; he didn't know what had happened to the sheets protecting his modesty as he had twisted to face her, shifting pleasurably - but he realised, with a little tremor, that he absolutely didn't care. He dropped one hand to curl around the back of her head, his fingers delving and twisting into her hair as he held her to him.

In the cool light of day Mary felt even greater tremours of pleasure at knowing what she was doing and not having half her mind paralysed with nerves and fear. Instead she only felt love, pleasure and a hopeful anticipation. Pamuk was dead for good. With a little mew as his hands tangled in her loose hair, she slid her hands round from his back to his chest and gave it a slight push.

Matthew gasped sharply as he fell backwards. His legs were twisted uncomfortably under him and he quickly untangled them, til he was lying back propped up on his elbows. His lips curled into a sly smile of anticipation, his breath coming in shallow pants as he looked breathlessly up at her.

Mary lent over him, breathing quickly, and returned his smile with one equally as mischievous. Much as she was starting to enjoy relinquishing her power to him, it was not something she was used to and somehow this felt more natural. Her long hair tickled his chest and she rest her palms flat against it, feeling to her delight the way his heart beat rapidly under them. She leaned further forward, the dressing gown gaping for the ties had loosened since she had returned to bed, and pressed a kiss to his lips.

"I think," she murmured against them, "that I shall not make any more tea. It is not one of my talents!"

Everything about her was making him feel utterly, wonderfully delirious. The morning sunlight bathed her, giving her almost the vision of a halo as she leaned against him, and he swallowed hard as his eyes roved hungrily over her. He groaned as she kissed him, her breath as she spoke tickling his lips.

"No!" he gasped. "I - I think you have vastly superior skills in other areas!"

Trembling with the delight of their intimacy, more knowing and confident this time, he raised his hands as much as he was able and slipped them around her bare waist, pushing aside her dressing gown. He let out a soft, appreciative moan as her body was revealed to him for the first time in proper light. He let himself fall onto his back as he wrapped his arms fully around her waist, dragging her down on top of him, kissing her fiercely and shuddering at the feel of her skin against his.

Mary collapsed on top of him, her legs automatically tangling with his and shivering at the feel of bare skin touching bare skin. More intoxicating even than that was the sight of him when she pulled back to raised herself on her elbows: hair mussed, eyes dark, lips parted and swollen from her kisses. He looked completely undone and lethargic and her eyes softened momentarily. Her husband. And this morning he really was her husband in a way he had not been last night. She felt a sudden burst of heat pass through her at the recollection of all that they had done and she gradually lowered herself back over him, sliding her hands up to frame his face and slip into his hair. She hesitated an inch over his lips, their warm breaths mingling, and then she smiled happily into his eyes and kissed him firmly, slowly exploring his mouth, tasting and relearning him in the morning. Her hands cupped his face completely and stroked over his cheeks and hair and eyes, mirroring the rhythm of her moments against his mouth.

As his eyes drifted heavily closed, Matthew's head began to swim. He felt himself slipping, sliding into delirium at the combination of her weight, her warmth pressing down on him, her deep, searching kiss, her hands on his face. He wanted so much to keep his head, to grasp every movement and sensation and treasure it but he was fast sinking into a blissful, heady whirl of pure sensation, only heightened by the soaring, pounding love in his heart. As he responded to her kiss in kind, tentatively flicking his tongue past her lips then deeper, firmer, searching hers, his hands deliberately rose and pushed the flimsy silk of her dressing gown over her shoulders, bunching it in his hand as he slid it down her back, baring her to him, shifting pleasurably under her as he did so.

Mary sighed, opening her mouth to him and wriggled a little over him as the dressing gown was discarded. In the back of her mind was the realisation that they were both completely naked and that it was light. She was almost surprised that her reaction to this was only to squirm with even more heady intent against him, as if her movements could appease the growing ache.

Now that she was entirely uncovered - though really it was only a slight difference, it felt so important, so vital - Matthew expelled a long, low groan of contentment and pleasure from deep within his chest that was lost somewhere between their open mouths, lips and tongues sliding against each other over and over. He wrapped his arms tight around her, feeling her heart race against him, burning at every point their skin was pressed together... It seemed all-encompassing.

Her head swam. Every point of contact between them seemed to prickle and spark and every time he moved his hand over her back it left a trail of heat causing her to arch into him. Her mouth slipped from his lips and she kissed its corner before moving across his face, wet, hot kisses that were almost licks, before she settled on his neck, on the point just above his collar bone. There was something about being able to show her love for him in this way, her love and her apology for his awakening this morning that was more potent than anything she could have imagined. Adventurously, she gave his neck a little suck and felt his pulse jump out under her.

Matthew gasped as her mouth scorched across his skin. Everything within him tingled, pulsed, cried out for more. His hands that had been pressing warmly all over her slender back now gripped a little tighter, nails digging into her marble skin slightly as the strength of his passion swept him away. He rolled suddenly, taking her with him until he was pressing down on her from above.

Mary gasped loudly as first she felt his nails on her back, not as painful as it should have been, and then she found herself on her back, underneath him. Her heart began to pound even harder. It felt so right. Her eyes shot open and met his.

"Matthew!" she cried with a shaky laugh in surprise at his actions. She loved him so much in that moment. She could not conceive how much.

At her soft exclamation, Matthew gazed at her, his hair a mess and his eyes wide and blinking, as though he were not quite sure what he had done. He smiled shakily, breathless.

"Oh! Sorry, I... Oh my darling, I love you."

His voice was low and husky with arousal. And then his eyes clouded over, flickered down and he kissed her again, lips attaching firmly to her neck as he began to shift and writhe against her. He wanted her; more than that he needed her, his body craved her in every part with a strength that denied belief. Again, he murmured, "I love you," his breath and lips hot against her damp skin.

As he spoke, her hand clasped his face again, stroked his cheek with wordless reciprocation. Then, as he began to kiss her neck and explore her, she tilted her head back, glad of the softness of the pillow. She stared up at the canopy of the bed, its patterns somehow merging with the patterns of his hands on her body, even as her own fingers tangled in his hair and skimmed over his shoulders and upper back, roaming restlessly. Her need for him was growing, ever increasing, and it was hard to lie still. She recognized the feelings now, what she had felt last night before he had – She ran one foot along his leg, eventually hooking hers over his, trying constantly for a greater closeness and intimacy.

As Matthew's desire intensified, his hands began to search her naked torso, learning her in the golden glow of daylight. He marvelled in breathless delight as his palms grazed the smooth, tight skin of her abdomen, the gentle curve of her breasts, soft and yielding under his touch... He awkwardly bent his head and watched as his hand travelled over her, skimming every contour. He couldn't... It was too much. A fire burnt within him, arousal so strong that he ached, a dull, pulsing throb that only grew with every passing moment. Her breathing became heavier and more laboured the more attentions he paid to her till her breaths were more gasps than anything else.

After pressing a hard, searing kiss to her lips, Matthew raised his eyes desperately, filled with love and longing, to hers.

"Mary, my love… Please... Are you - can I?"

When he spoke, she lowered her eyes with drugged heaviness to his and smiled suddenly, brightly at his concern and how utterly unnecessary it was. But she liked it that he asked. She reached out for his hand and threaded their fingers together before bringing their joined hands back down to her side.

"I.." Her voice was a husky shadow of its usual, controlled self.

"Dearest Matthew... Am I not your wife?" she managed to say and her lips twitched affectionately, before she raised her head slightly off the pillow to press her lips again against his.

Matthew's eyes fluttered closed a moment as she kissed him softly, so tenderly, a beautiful contrast in rhythm to what their bodies were aching to do.

"Yes," he chuckled fondly, allowing his mind to hold and treasure that thought and all that it signified. "Yes, you are..."

With his fingers threaded through hers he grasped her sides, softly caressing even as he gripped to steady himself. It still felt too intimate, too wonderful... He kissed her again, drinking her in, savouring the taste and the pressure of her lips as he positioned himself over her and finally, finally… eased into her tight warmth, moaning softly into her mouth as he did so. Now, her body was no longer foreign to him... It was deliciously familiar; and he started at once to move gently within her, more sure than last night, more certain.

Last night had been a blur. She felt so much more aware of everything now. She could feel every movement, every tingling, jarring sensation and welcomed it, moving in response to meet every thrust from him. The heat built up between them and Mary hooked her free arm round his neck and pulled his head down, burying her face in his neck and muffling her gasps that were turning into deeper, more heartfelt moans in his skin.

Matthew allowed himself to be held and pulled down by her, teeth grazing her shoulder has he sank into the glorious sea of sensation. Slowly at first, he tried, tested, explored; shifting his hips at different angles and different speeds and gasping in pleasure at every single movement. His hands stroked tenderly over her face as he found their rhythm, building into it, always building... Gradually, lost in the heady bliss of it, his pace increased from his hips shifting, to rocking, to thrusting, to pounding, until he was lost in a dizzying whirlpool of pleasure that reached every inch of him. At every slam of his hips a grunted gasp tore from his lips, building in volume, everything building, drowning him in the utter and overwhelming intoxication of it.

Mary responded as she had not done, could not have done the night before. What had been mews then were now moans. Her hands roamed all over his body, caressing, squeezing, her nails digging into his back as her hips lifted fearlessly to meet him. It was natural, right that it should be so. There was no shame, no disgrace, only him and her, husband and wife making love to each other. The force of his thrusts lifted her back almost off the bed and she bit down on his shoulder with more force as she felt all her limbs gripped by an almost unbearable tension. She shook uncontrollably under him, her eyes squeezed shut. She could not even tell whether what she was feeling was pain or the most exquisite pleasure.

A raw yelp tore from Matthew's throat as her teeth sunk into his shoulder, louder than he would have dared had he even been thinking about it at all. To cry out, such, though; to give voice to their passion and make it known, only seemed to heighten the depth of intimacy between them. Nothing would he hold back from her, it was not to be ashamed of, and as he thrust into her again, feeling her buckle and shake under him at the force of it, he cried out again. His wife, his beautiful, pulsing wife was under him and he suddenly wanted to see her. Maintaining with difficulty the hard rock of his hips against her, he somehow managed to push himself up a little higher onto his hands and looked down at her. Her eyes were tight shut and her mouth open - almost a look of pain, except he knew that it wasn't - her entire body shook with his force, and it was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. He groaned as he tried to maintain himself, tried to watch her still in her ecstasy that he knew he had caused, but his arms were trembling with the effort of it.

Mary had not thought that anything could increase the tension within her, but the sound of Matthew's gutteral cries made her shaking turn to spasms and as he pulled his head away from her suddenly she opened her eyes wide as her breath caught in her throat. He was looking down at her, his blue eyes clouded and dark and piercing straight to her soul. Overwhelmed by pure feeling and love she stared deeply at him as for a moment everything seemed to stop, including her own heartbeat before with a wordless cry of her own ripped from her throat she convulsed around him, her arms locking round him.

The sight of her beneath him, the intensity with which her eyes met his, her instinctive cry of pleasure and the way every part of her suddenly tightened around him threw Matthew hurtling over the edge of ecstasy. His whole body shuddered and jerked, and he bent his head, gritted his teeth, tried desperately to cling on to some semblance of control but he was lost in her. Every thread of coiled tension deep within him was releasing in shuddering waves and he suddenly lost all strength in his muscles, collapsing delightedly into her arms.

It seemed to last for so long - him and her - and them - all fragmenting and disjoining into bliss. She could make no rational sense of it. Finally, several moments (seconds? minutes? hours?) later she opened her eyes again, limp, hot, heavy, spent. His face was buried in her shoulder and she slowly uncramped her arms from round his back and tremblingly smoothed his skin in wonderment. She was not quite sure what had happened.

As she slowly uncurled from him, Matthew grinned lazily into her shoulder. He could feel a warm flush spread all through his body. Somehow – incredible though it seemed – he felt an even fuller satisfaction than he had the night before, even though at the time he could never have comprehended that it could possibly be better. It was a glorious feeling. He pressed his lips to her shoulder, then pushed himself up a little to look at her, trembling slightly with the effort. Her cheeks were flushed pink, her eyes barely focussed… Never had she looked so beautiful.

Mary shuddered helplessly again as he kissed her shoulder and tried to meet his eyes. He loomed above her. He was her everything and she could not even care about the enormity of her adoration for him. She reached one leaden hand to trace along his cheek before it fell again to her side. It was an effort even to smile but she tried anyway, a fluttering, trembling upwards turn of her lips.

Her faint trace of a smile, so utterly endearing after… what they had just done, filled Matthew with such an overwhelming ache of love that there was nothing he could do but kiss her; a deep, languid kiss that pervaded every sense. His thumb stroked idly over her hot cheek, and he smiled against her lips. "I love you very, very much, you know…" he murmured softly.

She closed her eyes again and sank into his kiss though she was too lethargic to do anything more than simply press her lips back against his.

"Dearest..." she breathed against his mouth in response, hardly even vocalising the words.

He leaned back a little, eyes sparkling with affection as he smiled fondly at her utterly undone state. "Mm?" he prompted, tracing his finger over her lips and gazing at how they wrinkled softly with the pressure of his touch.

He was swimming into focus now and she smiled back at him and licked her lips, gently nipping at his finger, before trying to form more coherent words. There was only one idea was in her head and it was several delirious moments later, after stroking his back, smiling tenderly and eventually allowing her heartbeat to slow back to normal that she was able to speak with a spark in her eyes.

"We have..." She slid her hand up his back to tangle in his damp hair again. "We have the rest of our lives!"

She felt she had only just realised it. This was the beginning. They would be together, they could do this every day for the rest of their lives! She could not get her head round the prospect of so much happiness.

A slow, delicious smile crept over his face as her words sunk in. His heart, which had just about calmed, started to thud again in his chest as he considered a lifetime of mornings with Mary. A lifetime of mornings, evenings, nights, in which they could do as they pleased without shame or fear... She was so entirely his, would always be his, and he would be hers.

"What a lovely thought," was all he could eventually manage.

Feeling had properly returned now and she was able to run one foot gently up and down his leg, relishing the wonderful opportunity to do so. All her earlier insecurity and shyness had disappeared. She felt more completely his wife than she had done at any point until now. Smiling (she could not help it) more mischievously at his understated response, she murmured, "I love you," her eyes saying it far more eloquently than any words.

Matthew's heart leapt in his chest at her words. He knew it, of course, how on earth could he doubt it now, if ever he had! But she was so rarely outright with it, that when she was, he treasured it all the more. He gazed at her, meeting the depth in her eyes, for what felt like an eternity. They had their whole lives, years and decades of this and each other to look forward to... But, more immediately, they had today. Their first day of marriage. What a wonderful thought, it was. He brushed his finger affectionately over her nose, and shifted his weight off to her side, keeping an arm warmly over her stomach.

"What shall we do today, darling?"

She curled into him, already missing that more profound closeness. She tucked her hands between them and let her fingers lightly play on his chest. She laughed softly but raising her eyes darkly to his replied, "What shall we do... why, Matthew, what do you suppose it is customary for a recently married couple to do the day after their wedding?"

Matthew chuckled deeply, and pressed a kiss to her forehead.

"I think, my dear, that we can do whatever at all we like - therein lying the beauty of marriage - don't you think?" As he spoke, his fingers traced idle circles over her waist and hips.

"Well, I have always enjoyed doing what I want!"

She shivered at the feel of his touch on her pleasantly warm and glowing skin. She felt so good. She smoothed her hand up and down his chest - she could not stop touching him!

Matthew couldn't help a sharp intake of breath as her palm skimmed over his torso. His fingers tightened on her waist, and he shifted even closer, until they lay nose to nose. He loved being this close to her. His eyes glinted darkly.

"I think I shall enjoy you doing what you want, too, darling..."

He kissed her, then twisted around to look at the clock on the bedside cabinet. It was later than he'd thought, and the teacup sitting beside the clock reminded him sharply of what he had missed that morning (though he certainly could not complain at the manner of rousing himself he'd discovered in its stead!). He rolled back to Mary, and leant up on his elbow, grinning affectionately.

"As for what I want - before anything else, Mary dear, I'm afraid I must insist on a proper cup of tea!"

Her cheeks flamed but she only smiled ruefully.

"Oh, my darling."

Then she leaned up on her elbow opposite him and tilted her head to one side as she asked with a kind of demure mischief, "Perhaps this time I will watch you with greater attention while you make it!"

His breath caught slightly as she looked at him, and murmured, "I think perhaps you should..."

With a contented sigh he rose to his feet, and held out his hand to assist Mary up. After taking a moment to wrap his arms warmly around her in a brief embrace, he crossed the room to where his dressing gown hung on the back of the door, blushing as he felt her gaze on his back. He was going to make tea for himself and his wife. Mary. Taking into account how they had already passed the morning so far... That, followed by a decent cup of tea, seemed a quite perfect way to begin married life.

THE END


MATTHEW/MARY/TEA OT3. That is all.

We'd love to hear your comments if you enjoyed it. :)

Silvestria & OrangeShipper