A/N: So I was saving this for Monday, but under persuasion and due to my own lack of patience I'm posting now and writing something else for mmmonday!

This idea was sparked a while back after a conversation with Eolivet who challenged me to write smut in this situation... Then driving home on Thurs I was thinking how great it'd be to include a line from the book Counting the Stars, of which there is a clip online of Dan Stevens reading aloud which is just... *SIGH* (Google video search it. It's worth it.), and wondering if I could get Matthew to say it, and suddenly this all just popped in. Thanks to Silverduck for beta-ing!

You'll all be glad to know that I have just about crawled out of my paper bag, though only to dive headfirst into and permanently reside in the gutter. My apologies... Incidentally, thank you so much for you absolutely lovely and encouraging comments on A Day at the Races - I wouldn't have had the confidence to write this without them! Thank you!

Enjoy! :)


Refreshment

The words were all blurring into each other. His head felt thick and fuzzy. Glancing at the small clock on his desk, he realised it was past midnight – and he still had half this case paper to read and sign off. A yawn crept up on him, and he gave in to it... Stretching his arms up then pushing his elbows back, feeling his back click satisfyingly, before bending his head and rubbing his eyes to clear them. Blinking rapidly he tried once more to read the same paragraph he'd tried to read four times already, but he quickly realised it just wasn't going to happen. With a small, tired sigh he shunted his chair back a little way, stretching his legs deliciously underneath the desk.

"Tired, dearest?"

Matthew twisted in his chair, leaning his arms upon the back and smiled, bleary-eyed, at her. She was curled onto the armchair in the corner, in her nightdress with a book. It was their custom when he was working late, sometimes – Mary thought rather than reading alone downstairs, she might just as well sit with him and read – the other's silent presence alone was enough to content them. She always readied herself for bed, first – to save Anna waiting up as well – and found the situation more comfortable anyway.

"Yes, I am rather."

Mary smiled affectionately at her husband, closing her book softly and resting it in her lap.

"Are you nearly finished, at least?"

"Not really," he glanced ruefully back at the papers spread over his desk. "I think… You must go to bed, darling, don't keep yourself up any longer. I'll have some tea to keep me going."

"Mrs Bird isn't here, Matthew…"

He sighed, rubbing his hand across his eyes. Of course she wasn't. Mrs Patmore's eyesight had relapsed considerably over the last month or so, and once again she'd been sent down to London for treatment. Matthew wondered how many times Lord Grantham would extend the service… In any case, it meant that for the moment Mrs Bird had been requisitioned to the abbey, and they were without a resident cook for moments such as these.

"Oh, it's no matter, I'll make it myself. The change of scene for a minute or two will be quite welcome, actually." With that, he pushed himself up with a brisk smile and tapped his hands against his thighs, trying to stir himself a little.

"Yes. I'll join you, I think – I may as well keep you company a while! I'm quite alright." She smiled and stood, placing her book on the chair before curling her arms around his, padding quietly out of the room with him.

The household was silent. The last of the servants had retired an hour or so ago, the children were sound asleep… It was so peaceful. It was so rare for them to have any time like this – together, alone, undisturbed.

Stepping into the kitchen, Mary let go of Matthew's arm and rubbed her upper arms briskly. The kitchen was cold. She perched on the edge of the table while Matthew crossed to the stove – it had stood quiet and unlit for two days now with Mrs Bird's absence.

"This is going to take a while, I think…" Matthew muttered as he fussed with it. His sleeves were already rolled up as he'd been working; Mary admired him, lips curving into an appreciative smile at the way his waistcoat stretched taut across his shoulders as he set the water to boil.

"Oh, no matter," she murmured quietly.

With the water on the hob, Matthew wiped his hands on his trousers and turned around to face her, smiling warmly. His hair had flopped across his forehead slightly, she noticed. A warm, happy feeling spread through her suddenly as the sight of him, here, like this, suddenly brought a memory flooding back to her.

"Matthew, do you remember the night we were married?" Her hands folded into her lap, her heart fluttering as she thought about that night and how terribly nervous they were, and how silly it had made them.

"Of course," he murmured, crossing to her and resting his hands lightly on her thighs, thumbs stroking softly and unconsciously.

"And you wanted tea, so we came in here and you made it? How ridiculous it was of us! Tea, on our wedding night!"

Matthew chuckled fondly. Yes, he remembered. He leaned forwards and pressed his lips softly to hers.

"As I recall, darling, it was you who mentioned tea first… And I soon realised how misplaced my priorities were, didn't I?"

"Yes, you did…"

She smiled against his lips at the memory, draping her arms around his neck and leaning into his kiss. That night… He, and this room, so unfamiliar to her then – so new and terrifying – and now so reassuring and known. Now, she was familiar with every single inch of him… Almost more familiar with him than with herself, she thought sometimes.

Whilst the memory of their wedding night was proving wistful and pleasantly nostalgic to Mary, the thought of it was having a slightly more marked effect on Matthew. Oh, how he had loved her that night… Discovering her, slowly, shyly, enthralled and entranced by her… Making her completely and entirely his. The thrill and excitement of knowing her that first time…

A shiver ran through him; he kissed her a little deeper. His tongue glanced into her mouth, a quiet hum of pleasure sounding low in his throat as she responded. As her fingers slid into his hair, his own hands grazed up her thighs, up her sides, coming up to clasp her face tenderly. He shuffled closer to the table, tried to at least, but her knees were in the way… All the while continuing to kiss her soundly, his hands tracked down again and slowly tugged up the hem of her nightdress; she twisted to face him fully to make it easier for him. Her nightdress was around her thighs, now – that was enough. Gently, he nudged her knees apart and stepped between them, slipping his hands around to her hips and pulling her closer to the edge of the table, to him, until they were as close as they could be, pressing against each other.

Mary gasped softly into his mouth. She could just feel him against her, knowing without even realising it that he wanted her. Oh, and she loved it when he wanted her… Her eyes shut a little tighter as she kissed him with a greater urgency, shifting between slow and sensuous and quicker and demanding. Every taste of his tongue sent flickers of desire through her, every tilt of his head, every warm breath against her skin, stirred the heat within her. Her hands moved instinctively to his waistcoat, ridding him swiftly of it, thrills shooting through her as he frantically aided her in freeing his arms from it, never breaking his lips from hers. His tie quickly joined his waistcoat on the floor.

As her fingers moved to work on his shirt, he suddenly grasped her wrist, staying her hand. He pulled back a fraction, eyes meeting hers darkly, glittering with arousal and promise. Her breath came out in quick pants, she tried to meet his eyes steadily but her gaze kept flickering to the top of his chest that was just revealed… As her eyes roved greedily over him, Matthew suddenly wasn't sure why he'd stopped her. For a moment it had been too much, he'd wanted to stop, take it in, savour it… Keeping his gaze fixed upon her, he released her hand and watched her intensely as she slowly, breathtakingly undid his shirt. He shrugged out of it, gasping lightly as her hands slid over his bare skin, over his chest and around to his back, pulling him firmly towards her once more.

Some fraction of Matthew's mind was aware of the water still on the boil… The stove had barely been on a minute or so, they had time enough… His lips blazed a path to her ear, down to her neck, as his hands brushed down over her breasts; he grinned against her skin as he felt her body convulse at the touch. His hands brushed over them again, pinched gently, caressed firmly… The added friction of her nightdress under his hands against her sensitised skin sent ripples of desire through her. He moaned softly as he felt her hands clutch at his back… Her response to him never ceased to delight and entrance him.

His hands slid back down to her hips, grasping her; it wasn't enough. He made a soft pleading sound, too far beyond words, but she understood. As she pushed herself up slightly, raising herself a fraction, he took hold of her nightdress and tugged the hem from under her, allowing him to pull it off over her head with well-practised ease. Mary's breath caught in her throat, relishing in his open stare, welcoming it.

A look of incomprehensible love, appreciation, desire, need, passed over Matthew's face, his eyes hooding over slightly as he drank her in. With a soft murmur of appreciation he kissed her, firmly, sweetly, before pushing her shoulders gently and easing her back to lie upon the table. Lips parted slightly, Mary meekly lay back, gazing at him with complete trust and love before biting her lip gently in anticipation. She couldn't breathe, she was almost sure he must see her heart pounding in her chest… Her eyes rolled up and closed, waiting, body trembling, aching and yearning for him to touch her, somewhere, anywhere.

Matthew simply stood for a moment, taking her all in, stretched out before him ready and eager – for him. His hands touched her thighs lightly, running up and down, skimming over her skin – then he bent his legs to crouch before her. His lips curled into a smile; the table was just the right height. Gently, he ran his hands down the underside of her thighs to her knees, hooking under them and lifting slightly so that her heels rested on his shoulders... There.

He could immediately sense in the way her body stiffened that she knew what he was going to do. He moistened his lips, barely daring to breathe. Shuffling slightly closer to her, he reached up with one hand and grasped her hip gently to steady himself as he leaned forwards. His other hand reached out – one finger – tracing so lightly down her that he was barely touching, then circling tenderly over the spot he'd discovered long ago that drove her wild. He felt her spasm, hips already shuddering slightly under his touch. He heard her low moan of pleasure. His finger trailed down, pausing there… He moved closer, expelling a soft, warm breath against her, smirking as he felt her shiver and gasp. With a luxuriant air of self-indulgence, Matthew's eyes hooded over as he boldly licked her, grunting quietly in appreciation as she filled his every sense. Her taste, her intoxicating scent, the way she felt under his tongue and lips, the soft sounds of her pleasure…

Quiet, desperate whimpers escaped her lips with every breath. Her fingers clutched helplessly at the rough wood of the table, toes curling as she felt his mouth upon her. Her eyes screwed shut, blotting out all else but the wondrous sensation of it, ever tinged and enhanced by the realisation that it was him doing this to her, pleasuring her, loving her, taunting and fulfilling her… With her head lolled back on the flat table, she could not see him; the feel of it was only heightened by this. Her back arched and her hips bucked against his mouth, she could feel his tongue sliding across her, again and again, his lips working over her… Oh, it was unbearable and exquisite and unthinkable…

Gradually she became aware of another sensation, mirroring the movements of his mouth… Circling, stroking… His fingers, she realised. It was too much; her breath was tight in her chest, blood rushing in her ears, waiting, tensing… She hissed a long sigh of release as they slipped into her, twisting and caressing deeply within. Her hips jerked more, quite beyond her control; she could feel his fingers digging into her hip to hold her against him… The sensations clashed and mixed together, indistinguishable points of pleasure, sending waves of bliss washing over her, building and building until… Her heart lurched, breath stopped, it all spilled over and flooded and crashed down around her, lost in a dizzying rush of torturous pleasure. She writhed and bucked against him, crying out; she clamped her own hand over her mouth to stifle the sound. He would not stop, the waves would not stop; it was wonderful and unbearable and impossible but oh, so wonderful…

Gasping in sweet air, her chest heaving, her body slowly relaxed despite the occasional residual tremor shivering through her. Matthew was grinning like a cat, his lips and nose still buried against her, savouring her sweetness. Reluctantly he slipped his fingers out, wiping them against her thigh, taking one last leisurely taste of her before hooking her feet off his shoulders and standing up labouredly. His beautiful, beautiful wife… He gazed down at her with such love, eyes tracing over her chest and her flushed cheeks, her arms and fingers and hair, all of her. He leaned over her and placed a tender kiss in the centre of her chest, trailing down to her stomach, before easing forward and softly pressing his lips to hers. She smiled against his lips, feeling full of the most delicious lethargy. Sighing softly as he stood again, her eyes fluttered slowly open, meeting his warm, tender gaze.

Looking down at her, spent, pleasured and satisfied – by him – filled him with a burst of such utter love. His hands traced soft, tantalising patterns on her thighs.

"Oh my darling," he murmured quietly. His deep, rich voice washed over her. "My beautiful girl…"

"Matthew… Dear Matthew…" she whispered, coherent speech still slightly beyond her. She blinked pleadingly at him. Her hands reached for his, and she grasped them, pulling herself to a sitting position. Her eyes sparkled at him, before they closed as she leaned forwards and kissed him. Her hands slipped around his waist and she grazed his lips with her teeth and tongue, swiftly building in intensity.

Matthew groaned softly into her mouth, becoming increasingly aware once more of his own desire. Mary gripped his hips and pushed against him… He knew she was ready for him and oh, how he loved her. His hands clasped around the back of her head, delving into her hair, combing through it as he kissed her deeply, still more deeply, shifting against her and clutching her hair as need throbbed through him. He pulled back sharply; he couldn't wait any longer. Eyes glittering darkly, he pushed her gently down again, causing her to gasp softly.

A sudden whistle crashed him to reality; the water was boiled. Grunting softly in frustration, he crossed to the stove and switched it off – what did he care for tea now! – before resuming his position between her legs. Hastily he undid his trousers, pushing them and his underwear down so they dropped around his ankles, releasing him to her.

With eyes fixed intensely upon hers, he traced his hands over her stomach and down her thighs, as she hooked her legs around his hips. Swallowing thickly, he sighed in the deepest pleasure as he eased into her… His sigh turned into a groan as he held himself there, filling her completely and revelling in the sensation. He could feel her, tense, around him.

He grasped the edge of the table and started to move gently against her. Slowly, leisurely… Almost out and then all the way back in, every movement sending fresh pulses of building heat through him.

Mary bit her lip, forcing her eyes to remain open and watch him above her. She adored him so utterly, welcomed him and loved him and submitted to him, relishing in his dominance. And he watched her, laid out bare to him… He leaned forwards and laid his hands on her, roaming over her slender frame, his eyes treasuring her as he moved within her. As the desire swirling deep within him built, he quickened a fraction, gasping as her hips rose to meet him, again and again. Instinct swiftly overtook all other considerations. As the force of his thrusts increased his head began to swim, he was so encompassed by her… Blindly his hands reached for hers; their fingers entwined and he clutched her, their hands bracing together as they rocked against one another. Fresh pangs of desire were flitting through Mary, as he filled her and completed her, every movement a loving caress.

There was nothing in Matthew's perception any more but her, and him, and them. His breath expelled in ragged, audible gasps as he slammed against her, over and over, his eyes no longer able to remain open. His hands clutched hers tighter. He was on fire, he was stretched taut ready to snap, about to explode…

He cried out and lurched forwards, hips jerking erratically against her as he fell apart, everything snapping and releasing and exploding in the most blissful, incomprehensible way. Mary felt him release and shatter, moaning softly at the intoxicating feel of it – that he was losing himself in her; so intimate, so loving, so unthinkably wonderful.

Still riding the waves of his delight, Matthew pulled her up by her hands and enfolded her in his arms, clutching her to him as he gasped into her shoulder. She fell against his torso, kissing his chest and his neck and clasping the back of his head as he slowly recovered. Tremors rocked them; little aftershocks of pleasure, catching them unawares and making them catch their breath. They held each other for a long time, hot, damp skin against hot, damp skin, reclaiming their senses together.

"Matthew… My dear love…" Mary whispered quietly.

"Yes, darling?" His voice was low and trembling.

"I think… I think I could just manage a cup of tea, now, dearest." She pressed a warm, loving kiss to his shoulder, pulling back gently and blinking at him with wide, satiated eyes. He brought his hand to her face, thumb stroking lightly across her cheek. Tenderly he kissed her, languidly, opening his mouth to her. He simply couldn't get enough of her, not ever. Eventually he leaned back, still contentedly within her embrace.

"Yes," he smiled. "I seem to remember that being the reason we came down, after all! You distracted me, Mary." His eyebrow rose in mock reproach, though it was negated by his fond smile.

"I think, Matthew dear, you distracted yourself quite well enough." She was really far too pleasantly exhausted for coherent conversation.

"Perhaps so, darling, but if I did it was only because you provided too tempting a distraction…" His fingers combed slowly through her hair as he spoke.

"I do apologise, dearest!" She blinked at him in mock apology. "Perhaps it was a mistake of mine to keep you company while you made your tea…"

"If it was a mistake, it's one I hope you'll repeat," he murmured deeply, before pressing his lips to hers for a brief, tender moment.

Her lips curved into a mischievous smile.

"Maybe I will…" Her eyes sparkled at Matthew's flushed cheeks and at how she could see the skin of his throat flutter with his pulse. "Though," she quickly added, "I fear Mrs Bird may object to her kitchen table being appropriated in such a manner…"

Matthew chuckled as he bent to pull his trousers back up.

"Ah, I think you may be right." He moved to the stove to address their continued lack of tea. "In which case, darling, it may have to remain our mistake… Though one I can't truthfully say I'm sorry for."

"No," Mary said as she slipped to her feet, picking up her nightdress and pulling it back over her head. She padded softly over to him, wrapping her arms around his waist from behind and laying her cheek against his shoulder. "Nor I."

Fin


A/N: Well, there we are! Thank you for reading.. I do apologise! (I'm still paranoid about the smut writing..) I'd love to know what you thought, reviews will be most welcome! Thank you!

Oh, and - if you CAN'T remember Matthew and Mary's Fluffiverse wedding night - go and read For Better! Co-written by Silvestria and myself under the pen-name Of Sandwiches and Sea-Monsters! :)