A/N: Don't you all just miss S01? Banter, denial, hate!flirting... Those were the days. This is the AU sequel to Storm in a Tea-cup. You don't have to read that first - basically it's set after the flower show, Matthew and Mary argue some more and misunderstand each other over tea at Crawley House and Mary storms out. In that fic, Matthew doesn't follow her. In this, exactly what you wish had happened happens and he does... If you read that story first then the build up to this is EVEN BETTER so we really think you should, but it's not obligatory to enjoy this!
First posted on the MMMondayMadness LJ community quite a long time ago...
Grabbing her things roughly, Matthew pushed open the door. She had not got far yet.
"Mary!" he shouted after her, unable to disguise the frustration in his voice. A part of him would really rather just fling them at her.
Mary had walked swiftly away, pouring all her repressed anger and frustration into her strides and her fists balled at her sides. She simply had to get away from that house and Matthew before she did or said something she regretted. When she heard his voice behind her something inside of her twisted and she stopped in her tracks, closing her eyes briefly in pain, as she realised he had followed her. Then she hardened her heart. There was no point in rehashing the argument. She started to walk again without turning around.
She had heard him. It was obvious. And she chose to walk away. Matthew begain to boil with fury. How dare she rebuff him so rudely! He had invited her in, and she had insulted him and flounced off with not even a word to him, and was now ignoring him. He was nearly physically shaking with anger as he took long, determined strides towards her. He didn't know why he followed her, he wasn't even sure he could bear to look at her, but he seemed to be possessed, unable to stand by and let her leave after such behaviour.
He swiftly caught up to her and grasped her elbow sharply. "Mary." His low voice simmered with barely surpressed rage.
She gasped as he grabbed her, too caught up in her own simmering feelings to have perceived his approach behind her. She spun on the spot to glare at him, her eyes widening at the fury she saw in his eyes. She had never seen him like this and it was becoming harder to control her own feelings. How dare he look at her like that? She wanted to shake him, slap him, mark him in some way, make him understand; though understand what, she could not imagine.
"Let go of me, Matthew!" she almost hissed at him. It was becoming really very hard to maintain her own control.
Glaring angrily at her, for a second he actually tightened his grip on her elbow, determined that he did not want to appear as though he were giving in. After a charged moment had passed, he snatched his hand away.
"You know, Mary," his lips barely moved as he spat the words out, "it is very rude to leave without saying goodbye to your host." He didn't know what he wanted her to say. He just wanted her to realise how furious he was, how he would not stand to let her treat him in such a way.
Mary's jaw dropped momentarily in shock at what he chose to say before she pulled herself together again. She could not understand what she had done to make him so angry. He had been quite happy to insult her casually in the most inane way before but what had she done to him?
"I said goodbye to your mother, and if she is displeased with my manners then I would hope she would tell me so herself! I would hate to be accused of ill-breeding to a woman as respectable as Cousin Isobel!" She managed to make it sound like an insult though she really had no intention of attacking Isobel, for whom she did feel genuinely sorry, after what had happened.
Matthew's lips set into a hard line at her words. It took him a moment or two to regroup enough to be able to reply, "I did not speak of my mother." His eyes continued to frostily challenge her.
Her anger had to be dispelled somewhere, so she went onto the offensive, as so often happened with Edith, though she hated Matthew seeing her like this, and that acknowledgement only made her feel more resentful.
"Then of whom?" she retorted sarcastically. "Surely not of yourself! I was brought up to believe hosts did not insult their guests and then preach to them. But perhaps things are different in Manchester!"
Her words hit Matthew like a slap around the face.
"They are indeed!" If she referred to what he believed, he was displeasingly stunned that her attitude could have caused his inadvertent words to rile her so. He leaned forwards, his eyes narrowing as he hissed at her, "In Manchester, people are not so ridiculously self-absorbed as to take offense at their good deeds being spoken of to others!"
She opened her mouth in disbelief and could not help a brief, mirthless and scornful laugh. "Self-absorbed? Listen to yourself! At least in Downton we do not consider taking a concern in the affairs of those less fortunate as something to be marvelled at!"
"Forgive me if you took my enquiring to my mother after an old lady you'd visited to be marvelling! You overestimate my opinion of you if you thought it such!"
He raised his eyebrows, his voice taking on an unpleasantly (even seeming so to him) scornful tone. He did not know where it came from, and would never have dreamed of speaking to a lady in such a manner before, but she wrenched it from him.
"And yes!" His voice raised, ringing strange in his own ears. "I do call it self-absorbed! That you should care so much about what others might think, that they might discover that the great and haughty Lady Mary Crawley might justhave a small bone of good-nature buried deep within her cold soul!"
For a second Mary was too shocked to reply. She had stepped away from him as he raged at her, almost physically pushed back by his vehemence. Now there was an awful silence and all she could hear was the painful beating of her heart.
"Well!" she exlaimed eventually, staring at him in horror and something deeper and sadder than horror. "I shall not overestimate your opinion of me again! You have made your feelings abundently clear." She was quite unable to look away from him, drawn compulsively to the situation as she might be to a road accident. "I only wish I had never apologised for my behaviour at the dinner now!" she bit off. "I really cannot see the point of it."
Matthew took a step back, having quite shocked himself even. He was appalled at his own behaviour, and was desperately trying not to realise what it truly was that had driven him to it. He stood simply staring at her for a moment, his eyes wide with hatred at the both of them and frustration for his inability to speak rationally to her. He closed his mouth, lowering his head slightly as he peered at her with greater consideration than a moment ago, having collected his thoughts a little.
"Do you know why it angers me so much, Mary?" he asked simply, his voice a little calmer now, though he did not feel it.
She stared back, distrusting his calm as much as his anger. She shook her head, replying in a similiar, bitter tone. "I cannot imagine, Matthew. But please feel at liberty to remain silent. I am not sure I care to have my behaviour dissected any more today!"
He pursed his lips angrily. "I only wished to say," his harsh, low voice shook dangerously, "that it upsets me greatly that you should want to hide that side of yourself. It seems such a terrible waste of your character." He did not know why on earth he was saying these things; he didn't seem to know anything about himself in regards to her anymore.
Mary was no longer able to rationalize what was happening. She stepped forward frowning in frustrated confusion.
"You come out here, you grab my elbow-" (her eyes flickered down to his hand) "you insult me most dreadfully, you raise your voice against me, and why? Because you would rather I broadcast my charity abroad like the worst kind of self-satisfied, condescending prig? Good God, Matthew, that's absurd! I do what I do - why should you care?"
"Oh for pity's sake, Mary! Did I say that I should like you to broadcast it?" He found his voice rising in frustration once more. "I meant you should not be ashamed of it, that is a very different matter! Why must you twist everything I say!" He took a small steps towards her, drawing his breath in sharply as he realised how close it brought him; yet he did not back away. He gestured furiously but uselessly. "I don't know why I should care!" he flung the words at her, nearly shouting in frustration at himself as well as her. "But I do! And it maddens me that I do, but there you have it!" He let his arm drop, his chest heaving from his sudden outburst.
Feeling somewhat bared and exposed, eyeing her warily for her reaction, he suddenly remembered that he held her belongings still. He looked down at her coat and basket over his arm, her hat in his hand, and seemed to wilt a little. His voice much lower, in an unconcious attempt to deflect from himself, he held his arm out in her direction.
"Here," he muttered quietly. "These are the reason I followed you." He could not quite meet her eyes now.
For a moment he was out of control and he spoke the truth. Mary saw that and it almost stopped her heart. Without mentally processing it, she understand that he was angry with himself as much as she was with herself. It did not lessen her anger towards him but it brought other feelings to the fore as well, feelings she would rather deny. Swallowing and stepping towards him warily, she took her hat from his hand and put it on her head, her eyes never leaving his and then took her coat and shrugged it on, not bothering to do up the buttons. The basket though, she hesitated over. It felt too symbolic.
"What else would you like to know then?" she said, less angrily than before though still in quite a hard tone. "Perhaps I should reassure you that I do not mistreat the servants, and add that contrary to what you seem to think, it bothers me a great deal that my tenants-" it was a real slip and she corrected herself with more frustration, "that my father's tenants are well housed." She glared at him with less fury and more desire to simply impress her point on him.
He watched her, frowning warily. It seemed utterly ridiculous, but her words struck a chord in him somewhere. Though she had spoken flippantly, she had spoken the truth, he sensed. But her words, and her slip, still managed to rile him.
"You think I have a very low opinion of you, don't you?" his voice took on a sharp, unpleasant edge again. "I never imagined you to be so cold as you would apparently have everyone think!" His expression hardened. "And if you care so much for your father's tenants, it baffles me that you should so evidently wish me to fail! For like it or not, Mary, I am their future. I did not ask for this position, and God knows I know you hate me for it, but what should you like me to do about it?"
Mary felt herself grow more uncomfortable as he spoke. There was a dangerous aspect to his voice that made her feel strangely on edge. Her hand had grasped the basket just along from his but at the end of his speech she was so shocked that she did not pull it away but her eyes lept to his face in wide-eyed amazement.
"I don't want you to fail!" Why would he think that? At least, not since the very first months after his arrival. "What would be gained by that?"
Matthew blinked, frowning in confusion. "I don't know, Mary!" He flung his arms in frustration. "I know that you resent me for it though - you look positively pained every time your father is pleased with something I have done!"
Having failed to hold the basket tightly enough, when Matthew let go, she dropped it, and ignored it. She opened and shut her mouth several times before spluttering, "Yes! Because he never looks at me that way! You're not his son, Matthew, but he wishes you were! I can see that perfectly clearly- and it hurts! Would it kill you to be a little less successful?"
Having spoken, she realised what she had said and retreated in vulnerable surprise at herself. She looked away from him, her eyes racing around every aspect of the ground and nearby road that was not him.
Staring in shocked disbelief at her, Matthew was deeply pained by her words. "Mary, how can you say that?" His blood began to boil once more, his voice rising with a dangerous tremor. "Do you honestly think he would not rather it could pass to you? Do you not think that I would be thrown over in but a moment if it were possible!" He stepped towards her again, his hands clenching by his sides. "And as for this ridiculous notion, you would rather that I endeavour less than my best, risking everything that your father has worked so hard to uphold, for the sake of your pride?" He shook his head in sharp disappointment at her.
Mary shook her head, retreating even more, though she physically stood her ground, almost trembling in front of him.
"You're wrong," she replied in a near whisper. "You're wrong, Matthew. He never wanted to contend the entail. I know - I understand that it cannot be broken, that it never could have been, but he never once - he never once wanted to try."
Her voice caught on the last phrase and she bitterly hated herself for it and for saying it at all. She had had no intention of speaking so openly. In fact, considering the way Matthew had behaved towards her, she had no idea why she was doing so. It was an odd compulsion. It was not even a need to defend herself, for that should have resulted in more anger, but she knew that her situation was hopeless. Perhaps if he understand, he would leave her alone.
Matthew drew in his breath sharply at the vulnerability she displayed in her reply. Suddenly, he felt incredibly sorry for her, and his anger seemed to dissipate, replaced by pity.
"Mary..." His voice lowered, gentler now. He tentatively reached out to her, though not quite touching her. "You have a poor opinion of your father, also, if you believe that indicates anything of his regard for you. He knew it was futile, and that is the end of it. Could you not trust that he would already have sought a way out of it?"
Somehow his gentleness was worse. Despite her speech seeming to suggest it, she did not want his pity.
"There is no way out of it!" she replied, firing up again though once more the frustration was not really directed at him but at the situation as a whole, theirs currently and more generally as well. "I went from being the future mistress of my home to merely someone who could only look on as it passed away from me! You're not the only one whose life changed forever when poor Patrick died!"
"I know that, Mary, and believe me I am sorry for it!" His voice rose once again in response to the accusation in her tone. "What would you have me do though?" He flung his words bitterly. "Would you rather I rejected the inheritance that has passed to me and left? Or would you rather I do the best that I damn well can and learn to keep the estate safe when it falls to me? Tell me, which of those would you rather I do?"
It was on the tip of her tongue to simply say that he should just take her to the cottages as he had originally suggested, but of course she did not. She only shot back, "The latter, of course!" which ended up sounding as if she was going to say something more but she did not, only staring at him in a frowning frustration that she could no longer verbally express.
He found himself quite stunned by her straightforward exclamation. He did not know what answer he had expected from his outburst, but it was not that. He stood, staring defiantly back at her, his heart pounding.
"At least we agree on something then, it seems!" he snapped ungallantly.
"I could change my mind if you preferred!" Mary retorted drily without thinking, and then managed to look taken aback at herself, though still she simply stood there meeting his gaze, however oddly he looked at her. It was a strange moment for wit.
His eyes narrowed angrily at her flippancy. His mouth pulled almost into a sneer as he snapped back, "Think as you like, Mary, and do as you wish. It seems I can do nothing right by you whatever the case!"
She found her breath come faster as once again she managed to anger him and his anger riled her in turn. "You've not really been trying very hard though, have you?" She ought to stop needling him but he seemed to take everything the wrong way and she had run out of ways to deflect the situation.
"And you feel yourself qualified to comment on my efforts, do you?" he threw back at her, his words practically dripping with angry contempt. "It seems an impossible task to please you no matther how hard I try! I could blithey agree with your every whim if you prefer, but I hardly think you'd find that satisfying!" She made him so angry! What right did she have to comment on how he tried so desperately to create a good opinion of himself to her!
Mary's eyes flashed as she felt something stab through her. She drew in the air sharply. "No, not very satisfying at all... But you admit you are trying!"
She supposed she ought to have known that considering his behaviour at the dinner. Oh, she had known at some level but hearing it in his own words was, well ... satisfying.
A frown flashed across Matthew's face at her smug remark, as it rendered him speechless. He stared at her closely, trying to read what was in her mind. He could not put his finger on it, but something felt to have shifted suddenly in the atmosphere. His eyes searched hers; he did not know what he hoped to find in them. His heart began to pound in his chest, and he felt the blood rise in his cheeks. What was this he was feeling? He was angry, so angry at her, but his anger was tinged with something deeper, something that terrified him.
She had not expected silence from him. The satisfaction drained away, leaving her feeling empty and on edge. His stance had subtly shifted and her eyes roamed over his face, wondering at him, as her hands at her side clutched and released at her coat, in an effort to relieve the tension she was feeling. The space and silence between them seemed stifling and she was finding it harder to breathe. She had no idea what she could possibly say and her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth.
Matthew swallowed hard, breathing heavily. His eyes flickered over her face cautiously, a feeling of panic rising in his chest. His lips parted a fraction, and he drew in a sharp breath. What was going through her mind? Why did he care? Everything around him slowly seemed to fade from his consciousness but her.
Mary was thinking absolutely nothing. There seemed to be a roaring in her ears blocking out all thoughts, all considerations save for the man in front of her. She was not even aware of standing upright. With a sharp movement she shook her head as if to try to rid herself of her blindness but it did not work. Her eyes were drawn back to his in a panic and he seemed to loom over her - had she moved or had he or was it only an illusion? and she opened her mouth to say his name in a warning, but no sound managed to come out.
She seemed to have imperceptibly come closer to him, and he to her. It was as though he were being pulled towards her by a force quite outside of himself. As he saw her lips part, a sharp flash of absolute need shot through him from head to toe. His eyes fixed singularly upon her lips, and before he knew what was happening, he was kissing her, clutching her fiercely to him, crushing his lips to hers in desperate frustration.
"Oh!" cried Mary silently as she fell against him. She could not say whether she had moved against him or he had pulled her, but she was in his arms and her own clutched at his shoulders moulding herself against him, and she kissed him fiercely, as she had not thought she could. Her head swam and she was unable to distinguish the need that had flared up in her the instant his lips had touched hers from her continuous desire to brand and hurtfully mark him that she had felt all afternoon.
Matthew let out a soft moan of passion and fury, muffled by her lips, as he responded fiercely. Pangs of intense desire flashed through him, mingling with the rage and frustration he felt at the mere thought of her. His hands slipped to clasp around the back of her neck, and he could not resist scratching his nails against her skin as he clutched her more desperately to him.
At the feeling of his nails on her skin she shuddered and tore her lips away from him, staring wildly into his eyes. What on earth were they doing? Matthew gasped slightly as she tore away for a second, searching her eyes for any hint of regret or remorse but there was none, and frankly he did not care about ought else but the feel of her against him.
Mary's hesitation only lasted a second. The desire to touch him and assuage the fire in her was too great. She pulled him down to her again, her hands fisting in his hair and round his neck. He willingly yielded to her pull, desire swirling almost unbearably in his core. A ragged gasp tore from his throat as he kissed her desperately, biting her lower lip gently and gripping her waist so hard he feared he might bruise her.
It was not enough - it was too much! She felt entirely undone by him and the sensations he invoked. She felt she could not let go. She wrapped both her arms round him and clung closer to him and in that moment he was her world and though consciously she could never have said it, then she wished he could know it. She moaned into his mouth and bit back, wanting him to feel it as much as her.
A strangled gasp tore from Matthew's throat as she bit his lip hard. He pulled back a second and looked into her eyes with such shock and raw need that he could hardly comprehend it himself. His mind having ceased to function rationally a long time ago, he slipped his hands around the back of her neck and pulled her back to him almost ferociously, simulatenously loving and hating her.
Every time their lips parted, Mary sucked in a deep, shuddering breath, her eyes meeting his, both seeing him and not seeing him before she surrendered herself to him again - a strange surrender that was not surrender at all, but a battle for domination that she was quite determined to win. As he pulled her back towards him she fisted her hands into his hair, almost tugging on it. She was determined that he should be truly aware of her in every way, and triumph mixed in with desire rose up within her as she felt that he was, and she did not lessen the intensity and ferocity of her response to him.
Physically trembling at the intensity of her response, Matthew pressed himself against her unrelentingly, determined to crush out any inch of space between them. The pressure of his body forced her backwards, until nearby tree halted their progress. He grunted in satisfaction as he slammed her against it, knocking the breath out of him as he continued his assault on her lips.
If her aim had been to get a reaction from him then she could tell she had succeeded. Pressed up between the unrelenting tree trunk (or whatever it was - she had no idea) and Matthew's trembling, warm body, she squirmed against him, craving a greater, impossible closeness, arching her neck to bring her face closer to his. She responded desperately, as her hands clutched and tugged at his hair, shoulders, arms and waist.
Her movement sent pangs of desire shooting through Matthew to his core. He pressed himself as closely to her as he could, it simply not being enough. He tilted his head, deepening the kiss almost unbearably, his lips absolutely raw from the pressure of it. A quiet groan escaped him but was lost in her mouth. He grasped her hands, pressing them against the trunk as if to trap her there.
Mary objected as her hands were wrenched from their exploration of Matthew's back and pressed back against the tree. Still, it brought his body ever more closely pressed against hers so it was not all bad. Trying to mirror that closeness with her hands, she turned her palm over and entwined her fingers with his, as tightly as she could. Twisting her head to respond to his deep, exploratory kiss, she caught his lip between his teeth and bit harder than she intended as another stab of desire shot through her.
Matthew let out a small yelp of pain, tasting blood. Though the sensation served only to strengthen his desire, the shock of it caused his body to jerk away from her involuntarily. Suddenly extremely aware of what they had just been doing, he stared at her in a state of shock, his mouth open and lips shining and swollen from hers. He didn't notice that their hands were still entwined.
Mary stared right back at him in amazement, chest rising and falling, tingling and feeling warm all over. She could not yet see him as Matthew, only as the cause of the rush of sensations she still felt pounding in her veins. She clung to his fingers as a last connection to him. She had had no idea, no idea at all, that it could be like this. As she started to come to herself, she realised why he had pulled away and, parting her lips only a little further than they already were, said in a voice that was not her own - deeper and hoarser, "I hurt you. I'm sorry." She could only stare.
Matthew's chest heaved as he breathed raggedly, feeling entirely out of control. He swallowed, licking his lips, not knowing whether he wanted to cherish or rid himself of the remnants of her. Unable to form any coherent response, he continued to stare warily, shaking his head. "No... No. It is no matter." Unconsciously, his hands clutched hers tighter. His entire being seemed to tremble.
His hair was mussed, his cheeks flushed, his lips swollen, his breathing shallow. She had done this and he was the most wonderful thing she had ever seen. Her eyes flicked all over his face and neck and blushed to see his pulse jump. The instinct to lean forward and kiss it was overpowering. She sucked in a cold breath and tried to control the urge. It was Matthew! And she - she didn't even know what she thought or felt anymore.
The faint blush of exertion tinging Mary's cheeks made Matthew's heart leap. He didn't know or care whether it was from desire or shame, but it was beautiful. Wild thoughts and emotions tumbled through his brain, and he trembled slightly as he tried to process them.
"Mary..." His voice sounded ragged and strained in his ears. "I - I don't..." He felt that something should be said, only he had no idea what it should be.
Her eyes jumped back to his as he spoke even as the sound of his voice and its strangeness terrified her. She was grateful for the tree behind her supporting her as her knees now began to tremble in delayed shock. She swallowed.
"No," she replied softly with a very faint, nervous smile, "I don't either."
Relief seemed to sweep through him at her hint of a smile. Blinking nervously, he lowered his eyes, surprised to see that he still held her hands. He wondered if maybe he should let them go, but couldn't quite bring himself to. He looked back up at her, allowing his eyes briefly to roam over her flushed features, taking in every ounce of her that he could.
He spoke tremulously. "I feel that I must apologise, cousin Mary." His eyes pleaded with her; he didn't know what for. He hated the effect she had on him. He would never, ever have even contemplated such wild behaviour... And yet strangely, he found himself unable to care.
What his words were saying was contradicted by his eyes. Mary's eyebrows knit together in a frown. She understood his apology. What they had done was impossible, ridiculous, quite out of the question, inconceivable - and yet had happened. She was trying desperately to feel sorry but she could not. She felt too wonderful and no more wanted to release his hand than cut off her own, so for a moment longer she was weak and did not move. But how could she apologise for something she did not feel sorry about and which she did not believe he did either? It was a terrifying thought and she could not consider it.
"Yes. I feel I ought to too," she said after a long pause, still frowning.
Matthew's eyes narrowed a fraction. She felt she ought to apologise? Could he take that to mean that she did not regret what they had done? He did not dare to ask her. Her kiss, and its devastatingly potent effect on him, terrified him. It should not have happened. It must not happen again. A pang of regret flitted through him at the realisation.
"Yes." he said simply, his eyes dropping from her gaze. Reluctantly, he allowed his fingers to release their desperate clutch on her hands, shuddering as her fingers slid through his as the last electric contact was lost.
As he spoke and released her hand in a slow motion that was more of a caress than anything else, Mary pressed her eyes closed and lowered her head, shuddering with the loss of this final connection between them. Instantly she felt cooler, aware of her unbuttoned coat. She shivered once and presently opened her eyes, but still stared at the ground, now that they had parted, unable to meet his eyes or look anywhere near him. Eventually she slowly moved her fingers up to do up her coat over her breast but her fingers trembled so much that she fumbled over each button, her blush growing more and more pronounced as irritation with her failure to perform this simple task under his eyes mingled with her embarrassment.
Not knowing quite how he should be feeling, Matthew too stared at the ground, unwilling to trust himself to look at her again. How on earth had he allowed himself to lose control so? Blood pounded through his veins, feeling warm all over from the rush of desire still, but it was tinged with a cold fear at his lack of control when it came to her. He stood awkwardly, unsure of how to proceed. What precisely was one supposed to say to a lady to whom one had no attachment, yet had just kissed so fiercely and wonderfully?
It seemed that hours of ringing, heavy silence must have passed in which Mary did up every single one of the buttons on her coat, during which time she managed to finally get her breathing under control and stand up without the support of the tree. Eventually her hands fell back to her side and there was no excuse.
"I should-" It still came out in that peculiar voice. She cleared her throat, the noise sounding overly harsh in the stillness. She glanced at him and quickly away. "I should return home. It must be almost time to dress for dinner!" What an inane thing to say. She pursed her lips. "Will you pass my basket, please, Matthew?" She was not going to stoop for it in front of him! Anyway, she was not sure her legs would support her if she did.
His eyebrows rose slightly at her request. To speak of dressing for dinner, and passing baskets, after what had just passed between them! Still, he could hardly think of anything better to say. Never taking his eyes from hers, he stooped to retrieve her basket and held it out.
"Mary," his voice sounded strangely affected. He paused, unsure of how to continue. "You... You know that I..."
He trailed off, hoping that she would understand the intimation behind his inadequate words. That he cared for her. That he was entranced, obsessed, under a spell by her. It was ridiculous, it was impossible, but there it was. His eyes locked onto hers, trying to convey what he was unable to put into words.
Even though afterwards she would realise with frustration that she had absolutely no idea at all what he was trying to say, in that moment Mary felt deep in her heart that she understood. She met his eyes tentatively, unable to avoid it any longer and just nodded once. She found herself unable to speak. As she gazed at him, she reached out and took the basket, her hand accidentally brushing his, sending a shock of electricity through her entire body. Her eyes widened and she pulled her hand and the basket back sharply, side stepping away from him and the tree. Her heart pounded in fear and longing and she turned quickly, shaking her head as much at herself as at him. She quickly took two steps backwards, looking at him with a lingering, intense stare and turning to walk away, breaking the eye-contact only at the very last minute. Her knuckles clutching the basket were white.
Matthew stared after her for a moment, attempting in vain to calm himself after the brief skim of her fingers had sent fresh waves of desire through him. He swallowed hard. This was utterly ridiculous. It was Mary, he couldn't, she wouldn't ever... Wouldn't she? He didn't know what to think any more. Pale faced, his breathing still shallow and ragged, he tore his eyes away and turned back.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed this little break from S02 angst! :-)