Mary was hard to write. This is my attempt to write her- in my head she didn't like anything I had to offer...
Credit goes to my friend Erin for giving me this idea.
Also, thank you all for all the reviews! You guys are wonderful and I couldn't do it without you. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Downton Abbey. But I do own chewing gum. That's about the same thing. Right?
...Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too low lest his wings touch the waves and get wet,
and not too high lest the sun melt the wax.
But Icarus, overwhelmed by the thrill of flying, did not heed his father's warning,
and flew too close to the sun...
the wax in his wings melted and he fell into the sea.
Unlike her sisters, Mary didn't like the fairytales that the governesses, Cora or Robert attempted to read to her. From a precocious young age, she'd already asserted her refusal with an emphatic "no" and if that didn't work, there was no telling what she would do.
No, Mary Crawley was not the sort of girl who enjoyed fairytales. She wasn't like Sybil, who relished the time spent listening, or Edith, who submitted because she wanted to do what was "proper". Mary didn't like the idea that fairytales always had some sort of moral, some sort of happy ending. Be a good child and you will always triumph. Be a patient child, you will get what you want. Mary didn't like it. She would rather do what was required of her at the time to get her way. She would much rather forge her own destiny, do what was needed, not what was right.
So Mary forewent the fairytales, but she was drawn to something else instead- classic myths. She devoured tales of Athena, of Zeus, of Midas and his golden touch. Mary learned myths of Perseus, of Hercules, of Medusa. The stories of Jason and his Argonauts, of Hades and Persephone, and the classics of the Iliad and the Trojan War captivated Mary's attention.
"They're so much more realistic, Papa," seven year old Mary said in response to her father's puzzled stare one day when he walked into his library to find her curled up reading the Iliad. "Imagine, real people leading real lives!"
Well, that had led to Lord Grantham actually having to explain what myths were.
Nevertheless, Mary preferred reading myths and classics to fairytales. Her favorite quickly became the story of Daedalus and Icarus. The story of the two trapped prisoners in the tower quickly took shape in Mary's mind, paralleling her situation as eldest daughter, trapped in an arranged marriage with Patrick in order to secure her inheritance and stay at Downton forever.
Mary often longed to be like Icarus, to have the freedom the impetuous youth did as he took flight above the sea and tasted freedom for the very first time. She wanted to fly, to be free, to be impulsive- things the eldest daughter did not have the privilege to enjoy fully. She tried to justify it, but it almost sounded cruel to her when she tasted the freedom Patrick's death offered- is it so cruel, she asked herself, to be so happy when a man dies on a tragic accident? For freedom was something not easily gotten- the Americans and the French were key exhibits of that.
Then there was the question: Who next? Things did not change at Downton. The eldest still found herself trapped in a tower, unable to try, unable to fly, unable to live.
The question evolved: How do I fly? And so Mary began to try and put on her wings. Pamuk was her first real taste of freedom- the feeling of adrenaline, the rush of passion, the giddy feeling and the empty bottom of her stomach as she relished the adventure, felt the exhilaration course through her veins. It wasn't right, but she needed it.
But Icarus fell from his height because of pride, and so did Mary. Pride comes before a fall, milady, Anna had cautioned once very early on in their relationship during one of Mary's tantrums. Mary dutifully took the fall, came to terms with the ambassador's sudden death, and dealt with it the way she was taught to. But still she did not change. The taste of freedom was too tempting to forget; Mary had tasted the fruit of Eden, the sensation of flight and the feeling of the sun as it beat down on her fragile, fragile wings. She needed it, craved it.
So she did not change a jot, choosing instead to try and forge her own path. Matthew came; Mary turned away in pride, inwardly declaring her desire to be independent. To the eldest daughter of the household, Matthew offered not the freedom Pamuk did. It was what was right, but Mary did not need it.
It was not until she lost Matthew that Mary realized how far she had fallen; her wings had given out again, the fragile things broken and burned by the heat of the blazing sun. This time, it stung. There was no ambassador she could hide; this time Mary turned away broken and regretful at the chances she had missed.
Icarus fell and drowned, and Mary bitterly drew the parallel of how she felt like she was drowning in her own mistakes, pride, and remorse.
When she returned to the library one day, she bumped into Branson, who was strolling out with books under his arm. "My apologies, milady," the chauffer said pleasantly, doffing his cap as he walked past- Mary vaguely remembered her father mentioning how the chauffer loved to read. She bent to pick up the book Branson had dropped on his way out, and was surprised to find that it was the same book of Greek myths she had so loved as a child.
She reread Daedalus and Icarus's story once more, and this time she began to consciously see herself in Icarus. How she had soared, made her mistakes, and then fallen. How she had refused to heed the advice of her father, her mother, her grandmother, even Matthew himself. And Mary wept that day, for she wondered if it was too late to surface, if she could find her wings once more, or if she was destined to stay drowned with Daedalus circling, trying to find her.
The war came, and Mary found herself too busy trying to keep Matthew's spirits afloat as well as navigate her relationship with Carlisle. She felt conflicted with the both of them: with Carlisle, she felt suffocated, trapped in a tower. With Matthew, she felt liberated, free, happy- the way she had always longed for. She longed for the freedom of Icarus's wings again, but every time she looked at Matthew she was reminded of her fall, of her pride.
It was not pride that tethered her to Carlisle; it was shame.
So when she finally broke it off with Carlisle, she felt a weight slide off her back. Mary was once again a prisoner, but a prisoner of her own tower of memories and thoughts, not Richard Carlisle's nor anyone else. Mary walked away, knowing that her wings were not completely healed- she would never be able to take the heights she had soared to before- but it was a start. She would not drown.
And then it all changed when Matthew got down on one knee and took her hand in his. Mary Crawley was once more betrothed, but this time to a man of her own choosing, to a man who would make her deliriously happy. Despite all odds, Icarus had risen out of the sea. It was the idea that they myth could be retold that had captivated her all along. Her wings were healed; she was free. And with Matthew by her side, she felt as though she could finally begin to escape the prison that had held her so long, and finally she would be able to fly without fear of the sun melting her wings.
It wasn't how the story was supposed to go- but then, stories could always be retold.
A little twist from how the previous two stories went, yeah? Maybe? Uh...
As always, reviews and thoughts are welcome! Thank you to all who reviewed again, you guys are so sweet!