A/N: Thank you so much for the support. Thank you for the continued Highclere Awards and even the runner ups. Really. Really. Really. I know you are all excited at the prospect of the baby. If you noticed, I didn't write any of you back and that is because...well, this chapter. The prospect of a pregnancy as an unmarried woman (engaged or not)...Needs to be dealt with. I'd already written the two letters in this chapter when a good friend reminded me of this. I told the friend no need because...well...here you are...


Chapter Forty Two

She used her mother's last name in London, even though she was certain it couldn't be true. Although she appreciated Anna's concern and trusted her implicitly, the exhaustion and even the recent sickness in and queasy stomach could be blamed entirely on the stress of deciding what to do about Matthew while returning to Downton and more recently, when the symptoms became more prominent, the anger at Papa. Still, even though she didn't believe it, she used her mother's name because even engaged, she wasn't married and she could not be pregnant. Lady Mary Crawley, unmarried, could not be pregnant.

But Mary Levinson could be. She was. In fact, she was. Mary left the building as if nothing happened, returning to Aunt Rosamund's that night and eating dinner, marveling at the shopping she accomplished for the wedding. It was only once she wore her nightgown she allowed herself to press her hands to her flat belly and hope. Lady Mary Crawley, unmarried, could not be pregnant but she was. She was.

Equal parts terror and hope created a lump in her throat. What would she do? Or she supposed, she should be asking: what would they do? Which led to: how would she tell Matthew? Would he be happy? Was she happy? When did they make this baby? The first time–in Ireland–or later in Liverpool? Because the timeline very much mattered. Would this baby be born one month early or two? Would this baby be born at all? Was her body capable of caring for it (him or her, she supposed)? She still doubted...She still wondered. If she had been stronger, during the accident, would she have a little girl or boy with Mack's dimples now?

And the questions kept coming.

Thinking about all these things gave her a headache. There were no happily ever after. Mary, of all people, knew that. She loved Mack and lost him and the pain of that...Well, she barely survived it. And yet, if she never loved Mack, she would never be able to love Matthew the way she does now. If Matthew had chosen her instead of Lavinia, they would not love each other the way they are able to now. And what kind of man would Matthew be? Wracked with guilt, choosing love over honor? Who knew better than Mary that even the burgeoning joy at the idea of becoming a mother (a mother!) would be as complicated as the rest of their story?

Even as a child, Mary never believed in fairy tales.

She loved Matthew and yet that love required her to do difficult things. The night before she left for London she wrote Mackenzie's family...She owed them that.

...I want you to know, I need you to know, I loved Mackenzie. I would have gone on happily and faithfully loving him for the rest of our lives, if not for the accident. I loved him so much that for a time I wished we both died together. It would have been preferable to me, such was my pain.

When I met him, I was only a girl (although I thought differently at the time). I would not be the woman I am now without loving your son. It's important to me that you know this. He taught me how to smile and laugh. He taught me how to love openly and bravely–because to love is a brave thing. He showed me that I am a brave woman, or I have the capacity to be. Now, I am trying to be brave again.

Matthew Crawley asked me to marry him and after much thought and time, I accepted. I love Matthew too. I could leave that part out of this letter but Mack also taught me honesty. Matthew makes me happy and I know Mack would want that for me.

Please know I will always hold your family in the highest esteem and yes, love, even before you took me in for that year. Your family helped to heal me. Without all of you, I don't know where I would be. It's no wonder Mack grew to be the man he was with you as his family.

I thought you should hear this news from me. This is one of the most difficult letters I've ever written. I still miss Mack–his laugh and dimples, and especially the way he could make anyone, even me, smile.

Most Sincerely,

Mary

It was one of the hardest letters she would ever write, even more difficult than some she wrote Matthew when she left for America. And in...an undetermined number of months...would she write them another difficult letter?

Could she even do it? Grow a baby and give birth? She didn't know. She felt sick and so from Aunt Rosamund's house she began a letter to Sybil, the best mother she knew, with no idea what she should say, what her hand would write across the page.

Dearest Sybil,

By now, you have, of course, received the telegram announcing my engagement to Matthew. It is such a long time coming and yet I cannot regret the years we spent apart because I am different, changed. You know this better than most. I believe I can be a good wife to him, that we will be partners, that like you and Tom, we can be a good team. And I love him.

I am happy. I don't discount that. But it is an adult sort of happiness. Fairy tales are for children and you know I never believed in them anyway. Life can be so much more difficult and that used to scare me (yes, even me). After Mackenzie died, I wanted to die. And then I only wanted to hide, to protect myself. I never wanted to love anyone or anything again because then I could be hurt. And yet, that isn't really living, is it? Mack would want me to be happy. I am sure of it. I want to be happy.

Matthew, happiness, a partner to weather the storm with–all of it was right in front of me. And I was a coward for a long time. I finally stopped being a coward. I can finally admit how much I love him. I am finally willing to be happy again.

Now, as I write this, I am terrified again. I'm writing this from Aunt Rosamund's because I needed to see a doctor in London. I'm pregnant.

I stared at that sentence for minutes. I only just found out today. Matthew doesn't yet, of course. What will I say? How can I explain the terror and joy I feel? What will we do–engaged but unmarried? I never expected this. It took so long with Mack and then I lost the baby without knowing. Poor darling. I didn't even know we shared the same body, even for such a short time. I didn't get to grieve him or her the way he or she deserved. And I don't blame you and I don't blame Granny or Matthew or anyone. Even if I would have known, I wouldn't have been able to properly grieve Mackenzie or the baby. I think I know that now.

Now, there is another baby growing inside me and there are only two clear thoughts I have–through the thousands of questions and fears. First, I want my sister. Secondly, how long before I lose this baby?

I know it's horrible and this letter is full of melancholy. All I want is my baby sister, the nurse, the mother of three, to hold me in her arms and say whatever it is that I need to hear now because even I don't know what those words are. And what will Matthew say? What can I expect of him when I just admitted that I don't know what I need to hear? And what will I say to him? I'm afraid of his possible joy, his happiness, his worry. I'm afraid of his feelings when my own are such a mess.

And yet, I think...I know I love our baby.

I love you, darling,

Mary


Now, standing in Matthew's arms, Mary's feelings are no less layered. His embrace loosens but he still holds hers lightly, slack with shock.

"Mary," he whispers, face ashen. "Are you...certain?"

She tries to be patient–something that is not easy for her–but it is only fair. "Yes," she replies shortly. "That's why I went to London." She still waits for him to say the words she needs to hear–the words she doesn't know herself. Maybe that isn't right; maybe that isn't fair either but her emotions are not black and white. She cannot categorize her feelings as she is normally able to do.

"You knew? How could you...You didn't tell me the day we were together." He takes a step back from her, his eyes hurt. "You lied to me."

She shakes her head vehemently. If she was a different kind of woman, she might go forward, her hands clasped in front of her, begging him to understand. But she is not that woman. "No, I didn't. I honestly thought I was ill over things with my father, over things being so unsettled since we came back. I only really went to appease Anna."

"Anna?" He runs a shaky hand over his face.

Mary steps towards him. Maybe she is that kind of woman after all. "Don't worry about Anna. We can trust her."

"I'm not worried about Anna," he snaps. "You told Anna but not me and when we were together, and you're telling me you are going to London for wedding business, you're asking me to trust you. How am I supposed to do that?"

"Matthew. Maybe I made a mistake," she admits. "Maybe I didn't. I don't know," she adds a bit desperately. She swallows. "But there's a baby." Holding her hands to her belly, she whispers it again: "There's a baby." But she can't meet his eyes. "And we aren't married. And I don't know when this baby–it could have been in Liverpool, it could have been a month before that. I was humiliated there, in London. And the thought of our child bearing the burden of our mistake–"

He grips her shoulders now. "It wasn't a mistake. Don't say that." He hugs her close.

She's mortified to sniffle against his neck. "I don't mean it like that. I only mean...How can you say it wasn't a mistake when we aren't married and there's a baby. And you're angry."

He leans back to look at her. "I'm angry that you were alone. I'm angry that you didn't trust me–"

"No! It wasn't that," she interrupts, insisting. "I just...I didn't believe...that this was even possible." Now she takes a step back. "I didn't want you to...Oh, who knows what we're supposed to to feel in this situation? Worry because we aren't married? Excited because I know you want children? And either way not knowing for sure until I saw a doctor?"

"How did you know?" When she looked up at him blankly, he continued. "How did you know that I want children? We never spoke about it specifically, only the idea of family."

"Oh, Matthew," she cries. "Your eyes–in Ireland–even before we...You would be holding one of the babies or playing with Dec and then you would look at me with all this softness, this need. You aren't very adept at hiding your feelings." She smiles but she can't help but let some sadness show through. "But you were very clear in Ireland, about not wanting to get me pregnant since we weren't married–"

"Mary." Matthew steps forward and cups her face in his hands. "I love you. I do...And yes, I want children with you. As for the timing of things...You and I of all people know that life rarely works out the way we imagine in our heads."

"And if we were to be married tomorrow? And the baby comes eight months later, or worse seven months before that." She gulps and pulls away from him. "And it isn't as if we can be married tomorrow anyway."

He pulls at his hair in frustration. "What do you want me to say? What would make you feel better?"

She raises her voice. "I don't know! But you're obviously not saying it. I'm staying at Granny's; you should know that. I'm tired. I don't want to talk anymore."

"Mary." He stiffens. "I may not be adept at hiding my feelings but you are. Don't shut me out."

She wants to cry unexplainably. Fairy tales aren't real. She knows this. He knows this. Will love ever be enough? "I'm not," she insists wearily, suddenly exhausted. "I don't know what to say. You don't know what to say. That's reality right now." Her stomach grumbles. "And right now, this baby is either hungry or I'm going to be ill. That's also reality right now. So I should go."

Her face, pale and a bit green, struggles not to give away how terribly let down she feels as she reaches forward to give the stunned Matthew a kiss on the cheek. She pauses, just for a moment, to see if he will stop her from leaving. He doesn't.


She wakes slowly, sluggishly, as she has for a few weeks now and suddenly realizes that someone is holding her hand. She smiles before she opens her eyes. "Matthew."

He presses his lips to her palm. "I'm sorry. Can we start over?"

She opens her eyes and turns her head to smile at him. "Can't we always?"

He grins at her, pressing her hand to his face. "Always." He touches her flat belly. "I love you. We're going to be a family. And married as soon as possible"

She covers her hand with her own. "And the rest?"

"I love you. Trust me."

She realizes she does.


A/N: Yes, things are complicated because a baby, engaged or not, is a big deal. But you know, it's Matthew and Mary. So unlike the series...it will work out. There are six chapters left. So if you are reading, if your are out there, have mercy on this story.