This was a request/prompt from smndolphin, that I have hopefully turned into some suitably fluffy prose! Because sometimes we just need a bit more fluff in our lives!
Going Out For Dinner.
"I shan't be joining you for dinner tonight," Mary announced suddenly, fixing her gaze on the plate in front of her. Robert looked at her, noticing the pink flush creep up her neck and the small smile that she was trying to hide.
"And why is that?" He tried to sound stern, really he did, even just to tease her, but she was just so happy that he couldn't manage it. She looked round and met his gaze shyly.
"Isobel has invited me to dine with her and Matthew at Crawley House. Is that alright?" Her face split into a large grin; she just couldn't help it…the wedding was only weeks away!
"Of course, what time do you want the car ordering?"
"Isobel said half-past seven. Is Granny coming tonight?"
"No, so it will just be me, your mama and Edith," they both turned to look at Edith, who had been watching the exchange, catching Mary's eye as her elder sister mouthed 'sorry' at her, smiling and shrugging, knowing that it was something she was going to have to get used to after the wedding.
Mary took a deep breath as she stepped inside, smiling at Molesley before she turned to let him take her coat, smoothing down her dress as she followed him. In a few weeks, this would be her house…her home, and Molesley would be the butler, and she would be without Carson. Yet, strange as it all was, she did not feel as anxious as she had…before, when the plan was to move to Haxby. She shook her head; it did not do to dwell on that.
"Lady Mary," Molesley announced to the occupants of the sitting room, who both stood on seeing her. Matthew's face lit up and he crossed the room, and kissed her softly on the cheek, before taking her hand and leading her in to the room.
"Thank you for inviting me," she smiled at Isobel nervously. It was one thing to have afternoon tea, it was quite another to be there for dinner.
"Of course dear, after all, you'll be living here soon enough," Isobel beamed back, noticing that neither her son nor his fiancée had released the other's hand as they had sat down.
"I hope we didn't cause any problems by inviting you tonight," Matthew turned to her, meeting her gaze.
"No not at all. I'm glad to be here. Very glad," his thumb was gently stroking over the back of her gloved knuckles and it was most distracting. Their eyes locked, momentarily forgetting that Isobel was still there as they smiled and shifted slightly closer. Just at that moment, Molesley announced that dinner was ready and that they could go through. Isobel thanked him and stood, leaving the room with a smile directed at her son.
"I'm glad you're here too," he stood with a smile, holding out his hand to help her stand. Though they both knew she was perfectly capable of doing it without his assistance, he delighted in offering her his arm anyway, simply because he could. He lightly pressed his lips to hers, smiling as she leaned in to him, before pulling away quickly. "We should go in, or mother will start to wonder where we are!" She nodded and let him lead her through to the dining room.
They ate and talked and laughed, and Mary felt relaxed in a way that she did not at the big house; it was less formal, and she was enjoying herself. This is how it's going to be, she thought. This is going to be my life. The thought both excited and comforted her in equal measure, and as she reached for her glass, she let her fingers brush against Matthew's, catching his eye and sharing a secret smile with him. Isobel took a sip of her own wine and observed the young couple as their hands accidentally-on-purpose touched (again), and they got lost in each other's gaze before turning back to her, cheeks slightly pink and eyes sparkling.
"I'm going to go to bed. Mary, my dear, it has been a pleasure," Isobel announced after the last of the plates and cups had been cleared, standing and beaming at her future daughter-in-law.
"I've had a wonderful evening, and the food was delicious, thank you," she smiled back, warm and genuine, for she meant it.
"What time is the car collecting you?" Matthew sat back in his chair, but reached for her hand, their fingers lacing together.
"Eleven. What time is it now?"
"Just after ten," he glanced at the small clock on the sideboard. "Would you like to retire to the sitting room? I daresay it's a bit more comfortable!" He spoke quickly, suddenly nervous. They were alone, for a little while at least, and neither knew quite how to act. At the big house, they had snatched moments before and after dinner; five or ten minutes discretely given by the family. Even when she visited his office, it was different to this. Both were struck with the awareness that in a number of weeks, Mary wouldn't be leaving after dinner and they'd be going up to the bedroom, to bed. Together.
"Yes, I'd like that," she let him lead her through the house again, feeling awkward and shy as she dwelled on her realisation.
He sat down and pulled her to him, loosely draping an arm around her shoulders, his fingers gently stroking against the nape of her neck and lightly twirling the stray wisps of hair that had escaped from the elegant knot. She sighed and moulded herself against him, her hand resting on his thigh. They both sat, warm and comfortable, and perfectly content, watching the fire as it flickered and cast its soft orange glow around the cosy room.
Feeling a surge of affection, he turned slightly and pressed his lips to her forehead, bringing his other hand to her arm, lightly tracing his fingers up to her shoulder and back down. She shivered and pressed even closer to him, tilting her head and kissing the first place she could reach…his neck, just above his collar. He hummed in contentment and turned to look at her properly, searching her eyes, letting his gaze drift over her face, before lingering on her lips which were curved into the gentlest of smiles…
"Mary…" He trailed off, deciding instead to lean in and brush his lips against hers, before kissing her properly, both letting out a soft moan at the contact, turning their bodies to face each other as their arms wrapped around each other. They kissed slowly and deeply, exploring and tasting, as they held each other close, hands gripping against silk and sliding into hair as they slowly reclined against the cushions. How long they were like that, they didn't know, but suddenly there was a gentle tapping on the door. They sprang apart and stood, smoothing their hair and clothes.
"Yes?" Matthew's voice was hoarse and he coughed before repeating himself. Molesley appeared, looking faintly embarrassed.
"Sorry to…ah interrupt sir, but the car for Lady Mary is here," he nodded his head and exited quickly. Matthew moved back to Mary and rested his hands on her hips, pulling her towards him and nuzzling her neck.
"I wish you didn't have to leave," he murmured, kissing along her jaw.
"I know darling. But there's only a few more weeks," she gasped as his teeth grazed her ear.
"I wish you could come up with me," he continued, as if he hadn't heard her, still kissing her neck.
"To sleep?" She answered with a light, teasing tone.
"Eventually," he whispered in her ear, his voice vibrating through her. She bit her lip and clutched at him as a thousand different images raced through her brain. Oh, how she wished she could stay… It was a far more enticing prospect than not being able to see him again for another two days… But…
"Excuse me sir, the car is still waiting," Molesley called through the door.
"I have to go," she caressed his cheek, and leaned up to kiss him once, twice, and a third time, just to make sure, of what she didn't know, just that she couldn't bear the thought of leaving him, of not touching him. He walked her through to the hall where Molesley was waiting with her coat.
"Goodnight Mary," he beamed, leaning in to kiss her again, ignoring the coughing and blushes of his servant.
"Goodnight Matthew," she reluctantly pulled away and walked towards the front door. "Thank you for dinner," she flashed him her brightest smile, her eyes full of promises, and as he shut the door after her, he wondered how on earth he was going to last the next few weeks.
Thank you for reading! Any feedback is always appreciated!