A/N: After all that excitement with the leaked photos of the Series 3 wedding and car driving fluff, I just had to write this. Starts shortly before the wedding, Mary and Matthew's last engagement days. Then the WEDDING and – ahem – after (hence the rating for later chaps) Might send them off to a lovely honeymoon in the end...we'll see what happens inside my head as more S3 stuff leaks.
The title is from the song 'Oh Promise me that someday you and I' which was a popular Edwardian wedding song – It gained wonderfully silly notoriety in Anne of Green Gables – The Sequel.
Comments, criticism etc. would make my day! Enjoy!
Promise me that Someday You and I...
Chapter I – An early wedding present
Matthew had been at work in the office when the note from the great house came in.
'Take the afternoon off. Something important came up. Call in after luncheon. - Lord Grantham.'
Matthew sighed and put the card aside. He could brave all this wedding preparation business happily, if only Mary was here to endure it with him. He already saw himself squished on an ottoman between her mother and his own, discussing flower arrangements and guest lists (which they had already revised four times in the past two weeks), while Mary went through yet another dress fitting in London.
Had it not been for this case of inheritence feud he was currently working on, he could have gone with her. Possibly for the first time in his life, Matthew cursed his job. He knew it was silly to miss Mary so much after only a few days of absence, especially when he thought back to the years of war, where he had barely seen her at all. Since their engagement in January, however, it seemed impossible to spend a single day without her.
A quick glance at his father's pocket watch told him that it was nearly luncheon, so he put on his jacket and left the small stuffy office room.
„Mr. Carter, I'll be absent for the rest of the day. I sifted through most of the widow's report. It doesn't strike me as reliable, though."
The elder solicitor, John Carter, looked up from his desk when his younger colleague came in. A Crawley. Oh, how they had all laughed when the lad had come to his office eight years ago, to apply for the job.
Why in heaven's name would the heir to the Grantham estate wish to work for a living? They had all wondered so, thinking it would only be a matter of months until they would have to find a replacement for the boy, once he had settled into the sweet idle life at Downton.
Over the years, however, Matthew Crawley had made himself quite indispensable to the law firm and Carter had grown quite fond of him as a person as well.
„Yes, yes. I was afraid so." replied he. „Taking the afternoon off then? More wedding preparations, I assume." Carter said, smiling.
Matthew grimaced. „Looks like it. Lord Grantham sent me a note, anyways, so I'm heading up there now. Have a good day." He put on his hat and closed the door.
At sixty-eight years, Carter would probably not see the day when Matthew was to be called by the title of Earl, but he liked to imagine that his children and grandchildren would proudly tell everyone: 'Our Grandfather had Lord Grantham work for him when he was young!' Carter chuckled softly as he watched the future Earl drive past his window on his rusty old bicycle.
The day was quite nice to be outside and Matthew enjoyed the familiar ride up to the grand house, relishing in the warm summer breeze that carried the floral scents of an English summer and sped him up when it came from behind, letting him fly to his destination.
If only Mary was there.
With a sigh he dismounted and leaned his trusty vehicle against the front facade of the Abbey. Before he got a chance to ring the bell, Robert came rushing out, looking alarmingly excited. „There you are. I've been waiting for you!" he cried and clapped Matthew encouragingly on the shoulder.
„Sorry. I came as soon as I got your note." Matthew said growing even more confused when Robert steered him away from the house towards the garage.
Cole, the new chauffeur, Thomas, Carson and a stranger in a suit were waiting outside, all congregated around something large and shapeless, hidden well under a stiff white cover. „... just got finished last month. It's the newest model and quite well equipped." The stranger told them eagerly.
„Mr. Pinkerton, we're ready. Show us, please." Robert said. Upon this order, the men lifted the covers to reaveal a shining dark-blue automobile underneath.
Matthew stared at it in pleasant surprise for a moment before he turned to Robert with a smile. „It's beautiful. I didn't know you wanted to get a new car." he remarked, looking back at the vehicle.
Robert chuckled. „Oh, it's not for us. Matthew, this is your wedding present. Yours and Mary's!"
Finally Robert got the desired reaction out of his heir. Matthew's chin fell down and his light blue eyes went wide.
He looked from the car back to Robert and back to the car. „Wedding..present?" he spluttered, blood shooting into his cheeks and neck.
„This is... really... but Robert...this is too much. A car! God, I mean, it's obviously...but, Robert..." Matthew was at a loss for words and Robert laughed out loud now.
„My dear boy, nothing is too much for my daughter and her husband." he assured him. Matthew was not convinced. „No, no. This is too much." he protested, taking a deep breath to calm himself.
Robert frowned. „Don't you like it?" he wondered.
Matthew shook his head. „I'm sorry, it's not that I don't appreciate what you want to do...it's just that there is no need!" Matthew explained more gently. The last thing he wanted was to hurt Robert's feelings.
„Lord Grantham, if I could make a suggestion." Mr. Pinkerton piped up. „Perhaps Mr. Crawley will change his mind if he went for a test drive?"
Matthew's eyebrows shot up into the clear blue sky. „Which brings us to the next problem. I don't drive. Neither does Mary." he argued, wishing that he was alone with Robert, so he could explain himself better. The other men stared daggers at him, clearly judging his rude refusal of such a kind present.
How could Matthew admit it in front of them...that the present, though undoubtedly kind, was also hurting his pride somehow. He knew that he would get all of Robert's money and property one day, but until then he had always been proud of paying his own way. If Mary wanted a car in the future, he could safe money to buy it himself.
„I can see that this surprise is a bit of a shock, perhaps we should discuss it inside." Robert suggested to Matthew's infinite relief. Sometimes he wondered if Mary had taught her father how to read him like a book.
„Carson, could we get some refreshments?" Robert added, then turned to Pinkerton who looked a tad surly.
„Forgive me, Lord Grantham. Shall I take it with me again..for now?" The small pudgy man pointed a sausage finger at the car. Robert shook his head. „No. Please, leave it...for now."
Inside the library, Carson served cold lemonade, which Matthew glugged down gratefully. He felt rather hot after that display outside.
„Again, I am sorry for putting up a fuss." he apologized to Robert. „The thing is...I just can't accept such a huge gift. Not from you." He held up a hand seeing Robert's mouth open in argument.
„That came out wrong. It's just that...one day you'll give me all of this..." Matthew threw his arm out, indicating all the splendour of the magnificent house they were sitting in.
„Not to mention Cora's money." He went on with a slight shake of his head. Part of him would always feel guilty for his luck with the entail.
Then he met Robert's eye directly.
„Most importantly..." Matthew took a deep breath. „...you have given me Mary and that is...I could never thank you enough for bringing her into this world and into my life!" His voice caught a little at the his last words. With some effort he swallowed, trying to get a grip on himself as Robert saw him blush. Of course he knew how much Matthew loved his eldest daughter, but they rarely discussed the topic openly.
„So you see, every other gift I receive from you will always be too much!" Matthew muttered at last, oddly relieved now that he got these feelings off his chest.
Carson had stopped arranging a platter of sandwiches on a side table and stared at Matthew, an expression of gentle affection on the old butler's face.
„Matthew, I..." Robert did not know what to reply to such a speech. „You're welcome." he said simply after a moment of contemplation. If he had not loved Matthew already like the son he never had, he did now.
Matthew nodded, wishing again that Mary would just be bloody well here with him right now.
As if he could read his thoughts again, Robert cleared his throat. „Well...I had originally planned on showing the present to you and Mary at the same time. Alas, she's still with Rosamund." he concluded as he sat down, accepting a sandwich offered by Carson.
Matthew cocked an eyebrow. „I know." he growled into his lemonade, sounding almost comically forlorn.
Out of nowhere, Robert shot up and paced to the unlit fireplace.
„Here's an idea. She must be due back on Friday, so why don't you try and learn how to drive this car." he nodded towards the window „Then pick her up from the train station and Mary can decide whether to keep it or not!"
Robert already knew that he had won the argument once he saw the cogs in Matthew's brain working. He was clearly torn, unwilling to accept the extravagant present for himself, but he would never deprive Mary of it, if it pleased her.
„Well, that sounds quite...fair." Matthew agreed at last, smiling crookedly at his future father-in-law.
He would do it for Mary.
Thus, it was settled. Matthew would take driving lessons with Cole and Mr. Pinkerton from tomorrow until Friday, every afternoon when he got off from work.
As he headed home, treading into the pedals of his creaky old bicycle, Matthew imagined the look on Mary's face when he came to collect her at the station.
How he would stand there, leaning against the shiny new car, all dressed up in a dashing new driving suit. Mary was not easily impressed, he knew that. But her sisters had been smitten with motorists like Branson and Sir Anthony, so perhaps Mary would be equally unable to resist the charms of a man in a fast car...
Matthew grinned, feeling quite foolish for having such juvenile fantasies. And yet he could not shake the image of Mary's beautiful features glowing with adoration and pride when she sat next to him in their car as he sped her casually down the road to their future home. Matthew's heart surged despite himself.
Friday could not come soon enough...