For full explanation, please see my author's notes at the start of Locked In!

Tumblr challenge number two. This one came from foooolintherain, and this was the prompt that she provided me with: "I see this first shot of series 3 in my head. The camera starts on her shoes as she walks. We tilt up/moving on the steady cam to reveal her face. She looks stressed. Then all of sudden a hand reaches out and pulls her through a door. GO." This is what I came up with.


Stress relief.

She let the door shut behind her, not caring if it slammed loudly. She clutched at her gloves before raising one hand to rub her forehead, not that it did anything to ease the dull ache that had settled itself in her skull. She shut her eyes for a moment and sighed. She needed a lie down. The wedding hadn't even happened yet and she already wanted it to be over. If it wasn't Mama fussing, it was Granny providing her pearls of wisdom, or Isobel giving her input. Even her father had something to say. The whole thing was draining.

She was pulled out of her reverie by a hand closing around her wrist and pulling her into the library. Stumbling slightly she fell into the waiting arms of…

"Matthew! What are you doing?" She smiled as he pulled her closely to him, searching his blue eyes for signs of the mischief he clearly had in mind. He said nothing, instead bending his head to place soft, teasing kisses along her jaw. She instantly relaxed against him, sliding her hands into his hair, her gloves falling to the floor.

"Sorry my dear, what were you saying?" He pulled back and kissed her on the nose, smiling as her eyes fluttered open, and her hands dropped to rest on his shoulders.

"Oh…nothing. What are you doing in here?" She frowned. He had temporarily distracted her from her headache, but now it had returned, worse than before.

"I asked your father if I could borrow a book and slipped in when he joined you in the drawing room. To tell you the truth, all of the wedding talk was getting a bit much! I thought they'd at least give it a rest over dinner!" He smiled but she didn't return it, instead arching an eyebrow at him.

"Yes, well how fortunate that you could escape dear. How lucky that all you have to do is turn up." She pulled away from him completely and stooped to collect her gloves, the pain in her head making her feel quite sick now. He knew then that he had said the worst thing possible. He could escape. He was at work while she was caught in the middle of the three elder Crawley women. He reached for her hand.

"I'm sorry darling, I didn't think. Are you quite well?" he frowned as he suddenly noticed how pale she was, and how she seemed to be…almost trying to ignore some sort of pain.

"I have a headache that's all," she squeezed her eyes shut, the pain overtaking everything else. She let him lead her to a settee and gratefully sank onto the soft cushions.

"You're not…ill are you?" He was filled with panic at what an illness could mean, and was still standing, ready to go fetch someone else.

"No. I strongly suspect that it will disappear after the wedding is out of the way," she smiled wryly at him as he sat himself next to her.

"Ah," he smiled, an idea occurring to him. "Turn around."

"What? Why?"

"Trust me," she did, of course she did. He was always so sincere, how could she not? She nodded once and shifted herself round on the seat, now facing away from him. She felt his hands rest on her almost-bare shoulders and gasped at the contact, his hands feeling much warmer against her skin than she was sure they normally did. His thumbs lightly rubbed her shoulder blades and she sighed, leaning into his caress. "Just relax darling," he murmured into her ear, pressing his lips lightly against her neck. She shivered and he smiled.

She didn't know what he was doing, but it felt wonderful. His hands were rubbing the muscles at the top of her back, and every so often he was pressing tender kisses to her neck. She couldn't help the soft sighs and moans that his touch caused. She felt so relaxed, and yet so alert at the same time. Every nerve was on edge, and yet… Her head tilted to the right and she leaned back, finding herself resting against him. He was closer than she thought he was… He was so warm and solid, her anchor in the current storm of wedding chaos.

He was still smiling as he watched her become more and more relaxed; the tilt of the head, the drop of the shoulders. He guessed that it had probably been a while since she had actually slept well. Feeling daring, he leaned forward and gently grazed his teeth along her ear, closing his eyes as she let out a low moan. He trailed his mouth back along her neck…her shoulders…the pale skin of her back that was visible above her dress… She blindly reached out a hand...and grabbed…his thigh, squeezing hard as she felt his teeth against her shoulder…and his hands stroke up and down her arms and over the front of her shoulders…

They were both so caught up that they forgot they were in the library…and had left the door open…and that anyone could walk in… They were getting married in a week, what did propriety matter now? Except that it did still matter. As if both realising this at the same time, they pulled away and she turned to face him, a pink hue colouring her cheeks, her brown eyes sparkling. She definitely looked better than she had earlier.

"How do you feel darling?" He smiled broadly, and felt his heart swell when she returned it and took his hand, fingers rubbing his knuckles, almost unconsciously.

"Wonderful. Thank you. My headache is quite gone," their eyes were locked, and they were still sat very, very close…

"Well, should you need a little stress relief again darling, you only have to ask," he leaned in and kissed her, sweetly this time, it would be too easy to get carried away again. "We should probably go and join the others." She nodded, and accepted the hand offered as he stood, pulling her again into his arms and just embracing her for a moment. The excitement flooded them at the same time…in a week they wouldn't have to worry about this, but until then... He kissed her cheek and laced his fingers through hers, ready to face reality once more.


Thanks for reading, any feedback is always appreciated!