A/N: I wrote this quite a while ago, for a challenge by Foooolintherain on twitter, who wondered what Mary actually said to Matthew regarding Pamuk. Anyway, this morning I've rewatched the Christmas Special (SO MANY FEELS I CAN'T EVEN) and remembered about it, and thought I'd post!
On an aside note, I know I've written three one-shots this week (Broken Car, Broken Heart; Shadows and Kisses; and Books and Bedposts if you've missed them!) - and while it might not seem it from my prolificness, I've had a horribly busy week at work so didn't have time to reply to reviews - I'm terribly sorry, but rest assured that I appreciated every single one - you're incredibly kind!
And with that, here's this - a missing scene from the CS. Enjoy!
Heart to Heart
"Even so… please tell me."
He looked at her with such an honest, earnest sincerity that Mary knew in an instant - just as she had in the hospital, when every effort he could muster had begged her - that she must, now, tell him. It was hopeless to imagine that she might not, and… a part of her did want him to know. It was about time, after all.
With a resigned turn of her head, she closed her eyes a moment to gather the strength, then took his arm as she led him away from the remaining searchers. They walked back towards the house, leaves and twigs crunching under their steps as Matthew waited.
"You see, he knows something," she finally said. No, that was not enough, it would not do. Of course not. Another sigh. "He knows - a story. About me, that if it were widely known would produce shame and such a scandal as you cannot imagine. If I marry him, it remains unpublished."
Matthew was shocked, she could tell in the slight purse of his lips, but he bore it well.
"I see. But, a story - if it's only that, a story -"
"You know there are such things as true stories, Matthew!"
He nodded. "Is it so very terrible?" he asked quietly. For potential scandal to centre on Mary… He could not imagine it. What could she have done? She must not be at fault, he was sure, some sort of misunderstanding…
"Yes," she shrugged. Matthew did not press her again, and for a while they walked still in silence, till they reached the edge of the woodlands. Behind them, quiet shouts and lights still pierced the darkness. The weight on her shoulders screamed, begged for release - to the one person she trusted the most in the world, the one person she cared for the most in the world, the beacon of brightness, always there… until this. Then he would be gone; of that she was certain.
All she could do to ready herself was suck in a deep, steadying breath. Her hand on his arm tingled as she anticipated him tugging it away in disgust. Calmly, staring at the ground before her feet, she asked, "Do you remember the time a Turkish diplomat stayed here, with Evelyn Napier? We went on a hunt. I flirted terribly with him at dinner."
"Yes, I think so," Matthew laughed nervously at her description of that dinner. Yes, he remembered that. "I think it was only a few months after I arrived here… You mean the gentleman who died?"
"That's the one!" Releasing his arm, Mary rubbed her hands over her own, shivering slightly with nerves as much as the cold. Matthew continued to watch her, carefully, patiently. She knew she was about to shatter every illusion he'd ever had of her, and it hurt. Her voice seemed to burn in her throat. "The fact is, I - was with him. When he died."
"You - what?"
Matthew's face twisted in confusion and disbelief, and Mary suddenly realised what that had sounded like. She stopped and held her hands up as if in defence.
"Oh - heavens that makes it sound like I - well, I suppose in a way I wonder if I did!"
A short, harsh laugh left her lips at the horrific absurdity of it. She'd never looked at it like that before.
Darkness clouded over Matthew, oppressively, as he continued to stare at her. She was changing before his eyes. If she was admitting - but that didn't make sense, Mary couldn't - he didn't understand.
"What on earth are you saying, Mary?" he rasped. His expression begged honesty, clarity… No more games.
Her eyes widened helplessly. This was it. And when she inevitably spoke, her voice sounded distant, clearer, calmer than she'd expected in all the times she'd imagined this moment.
"He was - he was in my bed, when he died. In my arms."
Time seemed to slow as Matthew's eyes burned into her with a terrifying hold. Confusion clouded his gaze, his mind refusing to see, to accept, to understand. The darkness deepened, closing over him, sickness swirling in his gut.
"But… why - what was he doing in your -"
"Oh, what do you think we were doing, Matthew!" she cried, suddenly exasperated. She needed him to see, for heavens sake surely she didn't have to spell it out for him! She couldn't! Breathlessly, she flung her arms and whispered fiercely at him, "That night, he came to my room, and into my bed. No, I didn't ask him, but neither did I refuse him - and we were together. We were together and he - cried out, and - then he was dead, and that is all of it! And Richard Carlisle knows it, and holds the power to destroy me with it or save me from it. Which is why I must marry him now! Do you see at last?"
All this spilled out in a rush, almost an attack, and as soon as it was over she wilted helplessly, shivering at the sudden cold in the night air and the distance between them.
Matthew looked sick. And she didn't blame him. He felt sick, physically flinched as she flung the truth at him, his expression twisting into something of a grimace as the ramifications spiralled in his mind. Pain and confusion had crippled him, and he looked desperately at her for a moment… his lips parting to speak, but no words would come.
He shook his head, and turned away from her, taking a few slow steps as if the distance might clear his mind. Mary's eyes closed in resignation.
For a long time, there was silence. He stared, blankly, at the house rising in front of him, without seeing it. He could see… her, the Turk's hands on her, and hers on him… their bodies writhing together in her bed, and -
He swallowed, shook his head again. Took another step away. His eyes lowered to the ground, as numbness slowly dulled the anguish, though his mind continued to race. And when Mary spoke again, her small, sad, desperate voice lanced like fire into his heart.
"Say something… Even if it's only goodbye."
A/N: There we are! I must say, that I enormously admire Fellowes' decision to NOT include this conversation in the CS - Matthew's reaction, and how they go from there, is really the most important thing. That would almost have been spoiled to see the actual confession. But it's fun to play around with and imagine, anyway!
That said, I hope you found this a plausible likelihood for it - I know I've written so many of them now! But I'd love to know what you thought. Thanks so much for reading! :)