A/N: A very short ficlet I wrote and posted on Tumblr yesterday, so sharing it here now for anyone who didn't catch it there!

It's unapologetic, heartwarming fluff. Simple as. (After being fairly angsted-out by OCITE!) Hope you enjoy! :)


Hardly Soon Enough

"Are you quite sure, darling?" Matthew whispered as he stood behind Mary in front of the mirror, his arms curling warmly and protectively around her waist.

"Mm," she nodded, leaning back into his embrace. She felt so safe here, so loved, in his arms… and she couldn't have any doubt. "I think it's been our own little secret for quite long enough, don't you think? It's probably time to share it."

He smiled, pressing his lips to her neck. "Probably. If you think you can bear the interfering enthusiasm of our mothers."

She laughed. "I hope that my mother, and Granny, at least, will have exhausted themselves of it with Sybil when she was here for the wedding!"

"One can only hope," Matthew murmured against her warm skin, kissing delicately where her pulse fluttered against his lips. "But my mother has yet to experience that leisure… Well, if you're sure then."

"I am," she insisted happily, then sighed with a little laugh. "Anyway, darling, I don't suppose we'll be able to keep it a secret for much longer, even if we wanted to!"

Their hands clasped together over her belly, that still hid so well the promise of their child. Invisible yet to the world, unknown, to anyone beyond the two of them and, well, Doctor Clarkson…

She turned in his arms, and kissed him leisurely, her arms draping around his neck. He cradled her delicately in his embrace, angling his head to meet her lips more sweetly, more closely as they parted at his gentle encouragement. "I'm worried they'll think it's very soon," she whispered, though the fear was belied by her giddy smile and sparkling eyes.

"My darling, I have waited eight years for this. It's – hardly soon enough."

Mary grinned helplessly into his kiss as his words and his very voice warmed her right through.

As they travelled to the Abbey with Isobel, Matthew sat happily with his fingers laced through Mary's resting lightly on his thigh. No-one had dared to tell them whether it was improper to do so, and they would not have cared in any case.

Upon arrival they went into the drawing room. Mary's heart still thrilled to be announced as "Mr and Lady Mary Crawley," her name following her husband's; and she wondered happily if she would ever tire of it. Even more so when they would all be announced as 'Mr and Lady Mary Crawley' and Miss… or Master… well, whatever name they would decide upon!

Her family greeted them all with their usual enthusiasm, and Mary was pleased to notice that Evelyn had joined them, there not being very long to go until his wedding to Edith.

"Mary, darling, you're looking very well!" Cora smiled and kissed her daughter's cheek. Violet shifted in her chair, appraising her eldest granddaughter who remained closely by her husband's side. They were newlyweds, still, she supposed. His hand remained possessively upon her lower back, Violet noticed, as if he were worried she might flutter away if he were to let her.

"Hmm, positively glowing, my dear!" she agreed.

"Well, I…" Mary shrugged, her face lighting up with a smile. "I – suppose I am feeling very well!"

Robert laughed warmly, as they settled down into seats.

"And why wouldn't you be," he smiled. "Unless of course, Mrs Bird's cooking were to disagree with you, but you seem well settled to that!"

"I had wondered," Isobel frowned suddenly. Mary and Matthew both turned to her, with wide eyes. Matthew's mother shook her head slightly. "You have seemed a little off colour, my dear, just lately."

"Oh – no, I – Mrs Bird's cooking is perfectly delicious," Mary insisted, but her tone was distracted. She turned to Matthew, tugging lightly at his jacket. "In fact, I – well –"

Matthew hadn't sat down, yet, and cleared his throat, taking up from where his wife had trailed off.

"Thank you for noticing, Mother," he raised an eyebrow at her, "but if Mary has been a little – off colour, well – it isn't that." They'd both hoped that her sickness had gone unnoticed, though he supposed the servants talked to each other, and… well, it hardly mattered now!

He shuffled on his feet, eyes sparkling as he felt rather than saw Mary's encouraging smile. "You see, the thing is – Mary did go and see Doctor Clarkson, about two weeks ago, and there is no need at all to worry."

They knew; he realised it in their expectant faces as soon as the words left his lips. He smiled broadly, reaching down to place his hand on Mary's shoulder where she perched in the chair beside him, stroking fondly at her neck.

"Matthew," Robert encouraged him, as the young man seemed to have quite forgotten to properly finish what he was saying. Cora joined in, having picked up on his intimation as well.

"Mary, can you – possibly mean –"

Matthew grinned helplessly. "Yes. I'm very pleased to tell you that Mary and I will – be parents. We're expecting a child," he said in a rush of breathless happiness.

Any proper sort of reply was lost in Cora's excited squeal as she rushed to her daughter, and so did Edith, clutching her sister's hand tightly and smiling with excitement. Mary shooed Matthew away from his protective stance; just as well considering he was consumed in a fierce handshake by Robert, and a friendly pat on the back from Evelyn. His mother sought him next, embracing him tightly.

"My darling boy," she beamed at him, taking his hands.

"Mother…"

"I wondered, you know," she teased him. He sighed, and chuckled. Of course she had wondered.

"You never said so," he replied fondly.

"No, well. It was your place to tell it, and I supposed you wouldn't want me to interfere!"

"Quite so, Mother… Thank you." He hugged her again.

"Well, my dears," Violet shuffled over and took Matthew's hand, then kissed Mary on the cheek. "I must congratulate you on your – expectant arrival, and – how very prompt of you!"

"Granny!" Mary exclaimed, looking pleadingly at Matthew.

"Well, Cousin Violet –"

"Start as you mean to go on, is what my mother once said to me. It seems you needed no such advice!" Her tone was very fond, and she smiled with it, though that did little to help the newlywed's blushes.

"Mama," Robert cautioned her fondly. "I think we've overwhelmed them quite enough."

"Of course," Cora soothed, helping Mary to her feet as she said, "Shall we go through?"

Her support was soon replaced by Matthew, and Mary took his arm gratefully as they went into the dining room.

"You see," she whispered, laughing softly into his ear. "I knew Granny would –"

"Let them, darling," he hushed her affectionately, stroking his hand over hers. "She's hardly wrong, is she!"

"Well…"

Matthew turned and smiled at his wife, his eyes sparkling darkly, lips quirking into a gently, but definitely alluring smirk.

"Start as we mean to go on, indeed. I quite agree, don't you?"

Mary very definitely did agree, as she flushed with desire at the promise in his glittering blue eyes. They had started their marriage very… enthusiastically… and she certainly hoped that he meant to continue in such a manner!

"I do," she whispered, and he kissed her cheek. Her hand covered her belly as they sat down, and… she was perfectly, perfectly happy, glowing with excitement for her husband and their child.

Fin


A/N: There we are! I very much hope you enjoyed it, and of course would love to know what you thought - I so appreciate your feedback! Thank you so much for reading. :)