Chapter 1

Although Mary and Matthew were now happily married and settled into their new life away from their families, they were temporarily back at Downton, as their new house had been severely damaged in a thunder storm. They had taken this opportunity to come back home until their house had been repaired and to give their few servants - a cook, a maid and a butler - an extended holiday. They couldn't live in their house and Mary had been feeling homesick from Downton anyway after spending her whole life in that house, with those family members, with those servants and with the many many quarrels. She truly missed her old life, no matter how good her new one was. Although she and Matthew had visited Downton often since they'd moved out for family suppers and shooting parties she had not actually stayed in the house overnight until now. She was glad of it. She had missed not only the house itself, but her arguments with Violet, her chats with Anna and the atmosphere of the day that she had forgotten about.

The family were having a normal family meal, but everyone was there – Mary and Matthew, Tom and a heavily pregnant Sybil who'd made the trek from Ireland to be nearer to home to have the baby, Edith, Robert and Cora, Aunt Rosamund, Isobel and Violet. The ladies had gone into the drawing room whilst Robert, Matthew and Tom stayed in the dining room and conversed about how their family was completely overpowered by women who always got the last say in just about everything and had the men wrapped up so tightly it was impossible to get out. Robert had warmed to Tom, and although he wasn't completely comfortable talking to him as an equal he was trying not to show it, but of course Matthew was there to ease the pain a little.

Meanwhile in the drawing room Mary was being unusually quiet, but that didn't seem to matter as she wasn't really in a conversation with anyone anyway. Isobel and Violet were having an argument, but nobody took any notice as it was such an everyday thing now. Rosamund, Cora and Edith were all talking to Sybil about her new life in Ireland and her pregnancy. Mary was there, listening to their conversation, but not joining in. Nobody was taking any notice of her so she slipped away silently, so as not to be noticed. On her way out she walked passed Carson, "Ah, Carson, could you tell Anna I'll be needing her upstairs?"

"Of course Milady," Carson replied, as a professional butler should, but he couldn't help wondering why Mary was going up so early. He and Mary were awfully close – almost like friends – when she was a young girl running around the servants hall. He wondered if she was okay, but he knew he had to keep his questions to himself. Mary ventured up the stairs and entered her room without a sound and sat on the bed waiting for Anna to arrive. She could've started to undress herself, but she cherished the time she spent with Anna now.

Once Anna had arrived Mary stood up so that Anna could help her undress. She didn't say anything to her old link to downstairs, but smiled on her entry. Anna noticed Mary's solitude, "Are you feeling alright Milady, you're being awfully quiet this evening?"

"I just don't feel well. I ache all over including a head ache and stomach ache," Mary was always willing to tell Anna when something wasn't quite right. She knew she could trust Anna more than she could trust her own family – with the exception of Matthew; Mary trusted him with her life.

There was silence and then, "Will Mr. Crawley be up soon Lady Mary?"

"I don't think so. He doesn't know I'm up here. I left the drawing room before he had come through. I'm not even sure the rest of the women know I'm gone," she paused and then, "I've missed being able to talk to you Anna. You were always so kind to me, and then I just left. I never even said goodbye properly. I'm sorry, Anna, I should've done, and I regret it."

"Not to worry Milady, but thank you. You and Sybil not being here has meant I've had more spare time to deal with other things. Actually now that you and Sybil are back for a while I've remembered what it was like, and I've discovered that I much prefer working for you and having no spare time than only having to dress Edith and having spare time all day."

"Well if you'd like some more responsibilities I'm sure I could talk mama into giving you something. Maybe I could mention it to Mrs. Hughes as well?"

"Thank you, Milady, that would be wonderful."

"I'll talk to her tomorrow when I feel better and see what she says."

"Thank you Milady," Anna finished getting Mary ready and left for her to get some rest. "Goodnight Lady Mary."

"Goodnight Anna."

Matthew arrived upstairs after discovering Mary was not in the drawing room. Matthew walked around to Mary's side of the bed as she was on her side facing away from the door and crouched down to kiss her forehead. She opened her eyes and smiled at her husband. She was clearly tired, but she was willing to stay awake a little longer for him. He stroked her hair and asked, "Are you feeling alright darling? You came upstairs frightfully early. Is everything okay?"

"I just feel under the weather. I'm not up to listening to Granny and your mother argue about something as trivial as last time. I ache all over and have a head and stomach ache."

"Perhaps we should get Doctor Clarkson out? I'll contact him in the morning," he leaned in to kiss Mary.

"I really don't need a doctor, Matthew. I'll be fine with some rest."

"That's what you said last time you were like this and you had the flu. I'll go downstairs to tell everyone you won't be coming down, because they worry an awful lot about you, and then I'll be back up," he kissed her again and wandered downstairs to tell her worrisome family that she wasn't going to come down. "...And I'm afraid I'm rather tired too, so I think I'll go and join her if you don't mind."

Then came a chorus of "Goodnight", "Night Matthew", "Look after her" from the family. As he returned up the stairs to his wife he saw Mr. Carson, "Could you possibly tell Bates that I won't be needing him tonight?"

"Certainly Mr. Crawley."

"Thank you," Matthew said as he continued to his room where Mary lay already under the spell of sleep. He silently got himself changed and slipped into bed, kissing his wife before falling asleep embracing her.

Please review. Constructive criticism is appreciated. I'm not sure where this is going, so I want to find out what's going to happen as much as you do!