A/N: Angst? What angst? Let's have some gratuitous sexytimes instead. That may sound flippant but was entirely my thinking!
This is a little scenario that's been a purely indulgent little daydream in my mind for ages, and when I once mentioned it to Pemonynen she duly insisted that I write it, and even helped me out by prompting the scenario for me.
It's set within ATiL's universe, sometime after the epilogue and before Recognition :)
As I said, gratuitous sexytimes... enjoy! :)
Not To Be Seen
He was stiff, his back rigid, beginning to ache. His old uniform forced the posture, less so from the worn, starched fibres than the mindset it inevitably shaped in him. He had to sit up straighter, his shoulders broader, head higher. He couldn't help but feel pride in the garment, now consigned with great relief to the depths of his wardrobe for all but one day of the year… the same that he had worn to arrive home when he met his second daughter and Mary had been singing, the same that had been shipped back alongside his battered, broken body when he'd been wounded, the same that he'd worn freshly pressed when peace had been declared on the world.
Really, considering all the memories the very uniform held, Matthew supposed he couldn't blame Mary for wanting one decent photograph of them together as he wore it, now that they were fully in peace, fully settled as the Earl and his Countess, as father and mother to their children, and happy. The old thing deserved a happier memory than so many he had borne in it.
The olive-green uniform made him bear himself, he supposed, in the same way as ladies' corsets did them in a more physical, unforgiving way. Ironic, he thought, glancing down at his wife whom he knew to be without one, today, in her silk floral-patterned blouse, the same she had worn during that concert and that less than an hour later he'd divested her of in thoughtless pleasure.
From his vantage point perched on the arm of the armchair behind her, he looked down and stared wistfully at the smooth, gentle curve of skin where her neck met her shoulder, and the wisps of her dark hair that clung to it, having escaped the constricting pins of her swept-up style.
A gentle breath of a sigh escaped his lips.
"Ah – I beg your pardon, Lord Grantham, eyes this way if you please…"
Startled, he blinked and looked up at the stern, impatient eyes of the photographer.
"Of course, I'm sorry… Do continue," he mumbled, trying not to smile as he saw Mary's fingers twitch knowingly where they rested on the forward arm of the chair.
The flash of the bulb went off, white, blinding, and Matthew stiffened instinctively. His heart raced faster but then he felt Mary's hand gently on his knee, his eyes blinked to clear his vision, and he was back with her… in their drawing room, in their house… safe.
"See, darling," she murmured as she stood up and brushed a kiss to his cheek. "That's all, and it wasn't so hard…"
He raised an eyebrow, wondering about that, as his wife graciously thanked the photographer and arranged another appointment with him to see the print.
The irritable (but admittedly very good) photographer left, and a few moments later Carson reappeared in the drawing room, where the Countess had now settled at the small writing desk and the Earl was standing pensively by the fireplace.
"Pardon me," the butler said, "but Mrs. Patmore wondered if Lord Downton and his sisters will be requiring dinner this evening –"
"Thank you, Carson, no," Mary looked up and smiled. "They're having far too much fun with their Granny Bel, I imagine, and I believe they'll be well enough fed at Crawley House."
"I see. Thank you, your Ladyship." He bowed his head and turned around, before Matthew interrupted him.
"Just one thing, Carson –"
He turned. "Yes, my Lord?"
Matthew licked his lips. "Would you please ensure that Lady Grantham and I are not disturbed for the next ten – no, fifteen minutes? Under no circumstances, thank you – without exception."
If the butler frowned at all, it was imperceptible. There was something about the set of the Earl's features that had soon taught Carson not to question these things. It was an expression that begged no qualification.
"…Of course. Please excuse me, then, your Lordship. I'll be sure to see to it."
The two men shared a nod, the butler left, the door closed, and they were alone. Mary glanced up and arched an eyebrow.
"Not to be disturbed?" she teased gently, lips curving into a smile. "My, that sounds rather serious. What is possibly so important?"
Matthew barely smiled, and yet she felt the full force of that gentle quirk at the side of his lips, her heart thudding in her chest.
"You are," he said deeply, and pulled her to her feet to silence her questioning with a searing kiss. They didn't have long.
"But – darling," his wife gasped, her hands starting to push and, then, just stroke at his chest. "Only fifteen minutes, you can't mean –"
"Oh, but I do."
His fingers gently grasped her hands, tugging her along with him, still kissing her, that spot on her neck he'd admired, until they reached the settee and he eased her down. His back bent uncomfortably, he didn't care, he kissed her still… lips sucking at her own, teeth nipping softly, as he slid to his knees before her. Her hands were in his hair, now, as she met his the depth of his desire with her tongue stroking against his, arousal spearing in her belly as his hands slipped up her skirt. Oh, but he meant to be quick… and she gasped as he tugged her hips forward so that she slid a little way down, near enough now for him to…
She groaned in protest as he drew back from the intensity of their kiss. But the protest was swallowed in the loss of her breath as he eased her foot up to his shoulder, his thumb hooked into the warm silk between her thighs to pull it aside and then… his mouth…
Her hand clamped over her mouth to stifle the helpless scream as his lips closed intimately upon her, then his tongue, flicking over, then lapping quickly, his every ounce of concentration focussed entirely on her pleasure. She didn't even realise how insistently her hips bucked up against his mouth until his fingers gripped them, and stilled them.
It was too intense, too erotic, too fast… and she moaned against her palm, eyes screwed shut, her free hand fisted into his thick hair as his head moved against her grasp. God, she loved him, and the pure ecstasy of his mouth against that place of her that was entirely his spelt his own love more eloquently than his simple, beautiful words could.
She felt his groan, hot against her, his tongue that slipped relentlessly against her shuddering body, his lips that closed and sucked just gently enough until she snapped and arched the entire length of her back, stiffening in helpless, consuming bliss.
He slowed, and kissed her once more, then one more gentle lick, and one last kiss as he simply could not resist, before he tenderly arranged that covering silk back into place and lovingly pulled her skirt back down over her silk-clad legs.
"Oh, my love…" she breathed weakly, dropping her hand as her eyes fluttered open to see his darling, adoring face in front of hers. She wriggled to sit up a little straighter (her stated, exhausted body protested), and took his face in her hands. His smile was so dear, so delighted to have given her such pleasure, and a fond grin graced her lips as her thumb wiped over his, moist and shining from her ecstasy. "That was –" She couldn't find the words.
"–Absolutely my pleasure," he finished softly for her, and accepted her thankful kiss with tender grace.
"But," she breathed, her brow creasing to a little frown as her forehead touched his. "Darling, we've not time –"
"It's perfectly alright." He kissed her again, lightly, and eased up to his feet. "You can owe it to me later."
"Well, I'd –"
As her hand reached to show him just the briefest sign of her affection, it snapped back to her lap just in time before the door swung open with a clatter to reveal Violet, glaring in a most unimpressed manner at being told to wait to see them.
"Carson told me you were not to be seen," she bit sharply in greeting. "How ridiculous to make the poor man hold to such a promise when who knows what might –"
As the Dowager Countess ranted on about what unforeseeable tragedy may be occurring and in need of their immediate attention while they closeted themselves privately away (in this case, there was no such tragedy), Matthew leaned to his wife who'd stood beside him and whispered quickly into her ear.
"As I said, darling… Later."
A/N: Thank you so much for reading, I do hope you enjoyed it! It felt very odd writing ATiL without the children, but they were never too far from mind... and it was just where I'd always envisaged this, so I hope you'll forgive me! Thank you!