Collection: written for the 2012 Het Big Bang Collection

Rating: Mature (explicit)
Summary: Modern day AU story. Matthew Crawley runs a successful landscaping business. Lord and Lady Grantham still reside at Downton Abbey, though Lady Mary has her own place at Grantham Park. When Mary is stuck in a tricky situation the day before hosting a very posh party, Matthew comes to her rescue. Unfortunately their first meeting does not go smoothly. Matthew is determined to win Mary over and the two eventually form a close friendship that turns to love. The road is, as usual with these two, filled with some bumps, and various skeletons in the closet.

Special thank you to the lovely Tambear for catching missing commas, odd grammar and offering excellent suggestions & advice!


Chapter 2

Matthew cursed as he hauled the grocery bags inside. Some cock-up at work had forced him to stay later in the office than he had planned. Mary would be there in less than an hour. Putting the bags on top of the island in the kitchen he hit the button on his answering machine that was blinking, listening to his messages while putting the groceries away.

"Matthew, it's your mother. Please let me know when you are available to visit Downton Abbey. Cora called again, asking when we're coming."

Matthew chuckled, thinking about what his mother would say if she knew who he was cooking dinner for tonight.

"Oi, boss…

Matthew listened through a message from Danny and one from his best mate Andrew. He almost dropped his wine glass when a familiar voice filled the kitchen.

"Matthew, it's Lavinia. You really must return my call. If not I will come over there."

"Bollocks!" he muttered as he realized that he had never called her back.

"Hello Matthew…"

Matthew jumped at the sound of Mary's voice on the machine. He stepped closer and sipped his glass of Pinot while listening to the sweet sound of her voice.

"… so since I'm already close by I thought that perhaps I could come over a bit earlier. I know it's not a very fashionable thing to do, but we're friends, right?"

He listened to her message again, this time paying attention to the time she had called. Picking up the phone he started to punch in her number.

"Mary? Hello, it's Matthew. I just got home. Of course you can come over. As long as you don't mind watching me cook."

She laughed on the other end and promised to be there in about fifteen minutes. Hanging up Matthew decided to take a quick shower.

His hair slightly damp, dressed in jeans and a white shirt that was open in the neck and sleeves rolled up Matthew looked relaxed and casual as he greeted Mary. She smiled and held his gaze as she stepped closer, brushing her lips against his in a soft kiss.

"Hello," she whispered, her breath ghosting over his lips.

Matthew wrapped his arms around her and picked her up as he firmly pressed their lips together. She curled her arms around his neck as she laughed against his mouth. He put her down and took her hand leading her into the kitchen.

"Have a seat," he said and pulled out one of the bar stools for her.

Mary eased up on the soft leather, humming at the surprising comfort. "Thank you."

"A glass of wine? Beer?"

She eyed the wine bottle, nodding in recognition as she read the label. "A glass of wine, please."

He poured her a glass and pushed it closer to her. Raising his glass to her he toasted her.

"To my delightful dinner guest who is not only stunningly beautiful, but also amazingly brave."

Mary laughed and raised her glass. "To my handsome host, Lord Howard."

Matthew made a face. "Who? You invited someone else? Do I have a competitor? I'll kick his arse."

Mary had to put her glass down not to spill her wine as she laughed. "God, Matthew, you're too funny."

He walked around the island and curled his fingers around her neck, stroking gently over the nape of her neck as he kissed her softly.

"Your only assignment tonight, my lady," he mumbled against her lips. "is to make sure that the chef's wine glass is always full and to look beautiful, thereby inspiring a beautiful creation."

Mary gasped and he deepened the kiss, stroking his tongue over hers, tasting the expensive wine they had shared. With a last peck on her lips he stepped back, winking at her. Mary giggled and sipped her wine as she watched him continue his prep work.

Matthew soon had the kitchen smelling fantastic. Mary got up and walked over, putting her arm around his waist, peeking into the pot. He smiled at her, pulling her closer.

"Is that all that's left?" she said and her eyebrows shot up.

"Sure is."


"Mushrooms are mostly water," he explained as he added some herbs to the dish.

He stirred the pasta before steering Mary back to her seat.

"I'm starting to think that you don't trust me," she huffed.

"Not at all," he promised with a quick smile over his shoulder. "I just don't want you to get hurt. I'm about to move pots and pans from here to there and it could be dangerous for you to be too close."

She nodded. Picking up her glass she walked over to the table that he had set earlier. She lit the candles and straightened a napkin. A small flower arrangement sat in the middle of the table.

"Did you make this?"

"What's that?"

"The flowers," she clarified. "It's one of yours, isn't it?"

"It is. William made it. I think he did a decent job with it considering that I just hired him."

Mary nodded. "He sure did."

"I probably shouldn't have threatened to fire him if you didn't like it," he muttered as he drained the pasta.

"You didn't?" she gasped. He grinned and winked at her. "Matthew!"

Matthew just laughed. Turning his back at her, he started to plate their dinners.

"Mary, would you mind getting the salad from the fridge?"

Mary put down her wine and opened the fridge. It only took her a second to spot the salad bowl and she carefully grabbed it before closing the door again.

"You can put it over here and I'll dress it," Matthew said quickly.

She watched as he pulled off the plastic wrap and started to toss the salad.

"Magic dressing?" she teased.

"It's my little secret. I put the vinaigrette in the bottom and then add the salad. All that's left to do is tossing it."

"How very clever of you."

She placed a lingering kiss on his cheek and grabbed the salad bowl. He followed her with their plates. Putting them down, he pulled out her chair for her, before sitting down. She looked up and smiled at him.

"I hope you like it," he said, suddenly feeling a little worried that she would not.

"It smells wonderful."

After dinner, which had turned out to be just as delicious as it smelled, they had moved to the living room. Music played in the background as they spoke softly, enjoying the rest of the wine. When Matthew held out his hand to Mary she eagerly took it, allowing him to pull her close until she was stretched out on the sofa with his arms around her.

"I like this," she whispered.

"You feel wonderful," he mumbled against her temple.

"I can't believe that I've only known you for about ten days."

"Perhaps we have known each other before?" he joked. "In a past life."

"Maybe you courted me in Victorian England?" she fired back. "Asking my father for his permission to marry me."

"Or perhaps you married someone else, thereby breaking my heart?"

"You've watched too many movies," she said with an amused chuckle. "You're making it sound like something right out of the Forsyte Saga."

Matthew laughed and looked down at her. She smiled at him and he leaned in for a kiss. Moving a little he managed to stretch out next to her on the sofa. Their legs intertwined naturally and he pressed closer to her. She whimpered a little and tugged at his hair when he cupped her buttocks, pulling her even closer.

"Matthew," she gasped.

"It's all right," he assured her. "I just want to feel you against me."

She looked away, her brow furrowed a little. "I'm not very good at it," she whispered.

"What do you mean?"


His eyebrows shot up. "I find that hard to believe. The way I'm reacting to you right now… well, just the thought of if we were naked."

Mary did not laugh, and he instantly regretted his words. He stroked her cheek and made her look at him.

"I just don't want you to be disappointed," she said with a heavy sigh.

"I promise I won't," he assured her. He rubbed his thumb over her lower lip. "Tell me about it. Get it out. I promise that it will be all right."

"I can't," she whispered. "I'm not good at talking about these things."

"Do you like it?"

She shrugged. "It's all right."

"It should be better than all right," he said and pulled her closer. "Your body should burn with desire and you should feel like you would die would you not be allowed release."

Mary laughed a little nervously. "It's never been like that," she admitted softly.

"Never?" She shook her head. "When and if we make love, I promise you that I will not stop until you are seeing stars and screaming in ecstasy."

"Matthew!" she gasped, her cheeks pink.

"You may hold me to it. In fact, I give you permission to dump me and post naked pictures of me online if I fail to do that."

Mary smiled and touched his cheek. "You're too good, Matthew."

"Please tell me, Mary," he said seriously. "If we're going to take this anywhere, I want you to know that you can be completely honest and open with me, and that it will never come back to hurt you."

"Thank you."

"I want you to tell me, because I don't want to hurt you in any way, or push you before you're ready."

"Close your eyes," she whispered.


"I can't tell you if you're looking at me," she said embarrassed.

Matthew smiled and held her gaze. He kissed her softly and then closed his eyes, placing his hand over them.

"Thank you," he said softly.

"What for?"

"For trusting me. No matter what you are comfortable telling me, thank you for doing so," he said honestly.

Mary was silent for a long moment before she started to speak in a soft voice. "My past boyfriends seem to have had some sort of idea about me that I am much more experienced and adventurous than I actually am."

"Did they expect you to lead?"

"I'm not sure. Not Richard, for sure. Richard was always in control."

"So what went wrong?" he coaxed her when she turned silent again.

"Richard said that I was cold," she whispered. Matthew stroked her back to comfort her and she smiled at the sweet gesture. "Sometimes I would get so anxious about it that my body just froze. When he touched me I would jerk away, too sensitive to be touched. I never became quite aroused enough and it just felt uncomfortable."

"Shitty bastard," Matthew muttered.

"It's all right, Matthew," she said quickly.

"No it isn't. It doesn't sound like it was your fault at all. It sounds like he was just an arsehole who would not take his time to make sure that you were comfortable."

"Perhaps, or perhaps we were just not compatible sexual."

"Why do you say that?"

"I think that perhaps he was too big for me," she whispered.

Matthew weighed his words carefully. He knew that he was not on the small side, and he did not want to add to her worries in any way. "I think that if you partner just takes his time to make sure that you're aroused, you will always fit."

"But it hurt," she whispered. "Not always, but sometimes, especially when he entered me from behind."

Mary made a strangled sound and covered her face with her hands. Matthew opened his eyes and pulled her closer.

"Shh, it's all right, Mary. I promise I will never hurt you."

She pressed her face against his chest. "He would push inside so deeply he hit something inside. It hurt."

Matthew nodded as he finally understood. "I know what you mean. You need to figure out that together."

"Can we not talk about this anymore?" she whispered. "It's in the past anyway."

"Thank you for telling me."

She smiled a little and burrowed closer to him. "Are you sure that you're still interested in exploring this, whatever it is?"

"Absolutely!" he exclaimed, shocked at her question. He tilted her face up and kissed her firmly. "In fact I would like you to stay here tonight."

"Matthew," her eyes widened a little in shock.

He could feel her tense in his arms and he shook his head. "I only want to sleep next to you. To hold you and watch you fall asleep wearing my softest old t-shirt."

Mary giggled and gently whacked his chest. "Is that the best you can offer me? Your ratty old t-shirt?"

"Would one of my silk shirts be more to your liking, my lady?"

Mary made a face at him. "Perhaps I'll just sleep in my underwear?"

"Yeah, maybe not," he said and ran his hands through his hair. "I'm not sure I could handle that."

Mary kissed him softy, making a little tutting noise. He laughed and rolled over so she was on top of him. She grinned down at him. He cupped her face and she kissed his palm.

"You make me feel safe, Matthew," she confessed.

"Good. Now up with you. I have an early meeting tomorrow."

Mary laughed and rolled off him.

Mary lay stiffly next to him in bed. Matthew placed his hand on her stomach and she jumped.

"Roll over on your stomach," he said softly. She did and he pulled the covers down. "Tell me if you feel uncomfortable, or if you don't like it."

Matthew slowly moved his hands over Mary's back, gently smoothing her hair away. His old t-shirt felt warm and soft though he knew without a doubt that her skin would be even more so. She hummed happily as he gently squeezed her shoulders and then worked his hands down her back, stroking and kneading her muscles.

"Mmm," she purred when he pressed the heel of his hand against a tense muscle.

"I'm going to touch your legs now," he said casually and moved to kneel between her feet, stroking the entire length of her legs.

Mary gasped and he stilled his hands. She relaxed again and he continued to stroke her legs. He could feel her relax and when she was like putty under his hands he stretched out next to her, pulling her against him as he spooned behind her. He kissed her shoulder.

"Sleep now."

Mary sighed and burrowed deeper into the pillow. A moment later she was asleep, holding Matthew's hand against her stomach.

It became obvious that Matthew was good for Mary. Whenever she would revert to her old behavior he would just chuckle softly and pull her close, kissing her face until she started laughing. Even Tom started to warm up to Mary, much due to Matthew's help.

Matthew could see how serious Sybil and Tom were, and he was not surprised when Tom confessed one evening that he was going to ask Sybil to marry him. Matthew had patted his back and grinned at the idea.

"I just don't know if she'll say yes," Tom said and took a swig of his beer. "I know that Mary has tried to convince Sybil that I'm only after her money." He looked at Matthew. "I'm not, you know. I love her. I really do."

"I know, mate. Don't worry about Mary. I'll speak to her. She's just looking out for her baby sister, that's all. She likes you."

Tom made a face, clearly not convinced.

Mary had in fact been livid when she heard about the proposal. She had obsessed about it for hours, not even stopping once they were in bed together. He had finally glued his lips to hers in order to stop her from talking.

"Matthew! Have you even been listening?" she snapped.

"Of course I have, but you've been saying the same thing for the last couple of hours. You're starting to sound like a broken record, darling."

Mary glared at him. "I'm worried about Sybil."

"I know you are, but can't you see how happy she is? How happy he makes her?"

"Now, yes, but what about the future?"

"No one can know that," he said sadly, instantly reminded about Lavinia.

Mary turned and looked at him, noticing his faraway look. "I'm sorry."

He nodded. She put her head on his shoulder and he pulled her closer.

"I'm glad that you're talking to me about it, truly I am," he said after a long moment of silence. "I want you to know that you can always talk to me about anything."

"I know," she whispered. "Matthew?"


"Why do you put up with me?"

He just stared at her. "What in the world do you mean? I'm in love with you."

"Why? I'm not nice, I'm frigid and I complain a lot."

"You're not frigid," he said and rolled his eyes. "You're a very warm woman, Mary, with a big heart. Complain away as much as you like, I don't care."

"I can't cook," she muttered.

"But you can eat," he said cheerfully.

She laughed and rested her chin on his chest. "We've been together for almost three months and we haven't had sex yet. Doesn't that make you worry?"

He cupped her face. "No. I want you madly, but not until you're ready."

She sighed and closed her eyes. He stroked her cheeks and mapped her beautiful face.

"This is nice," she purred.

"Do you like oral sex?"

The question was spoken softly, but it still made her jump. She swallowed and met his clear blue eyes.

"Not in particular," she whispered.

"What if it only meant receiving?" he pushed on.

"I guess," she said a little hesitantly. "I like it better than the rest."


Mary frowned. "Why?"

"I just wanted to know. I happen to enjoy doing that."

Mary took a deep breath and her nostrils flared a little. "I see."

"And I think I would really, really enjoy doing that to you."

His eyes were still closed and she watched him intently. To her surprise she felt a flutter of excitement in her stomach. He stroked her back and she felt it grow.

"And I think I'll really enjoy tasting your breasts, and your nipples. I'm sure the side of your breast is as soft as a baby's cheek."

Mary moved a little above him and bit her lip as she felt her body react to him. His hand moved again and she felt his fingers skim against the outside of her breast. She gasped and his fingers stilled but did not move away. When she said nothing he moved one finger very gently over the soft roundness of her breast.

"Matthew," she whispered.

His eyes opened and they just looked at each other for a moment.

"Will you let me touch you?" he asked. "You don't have to touch me in any way. I don't expect you to. I just want to show you what it can feel like for you."

She took a deep breath and nodded slowly. When he started to ease her shirt up she sat up and he pulled it off her.

"You're beautiful, Mary," he said in awe as he took in the sight of her.

Matthew gently cupped her breasts and stroked his fingers over the soft flesh. Mary closed her eyes and leaned her head back. He kept his touch light and avoided her nipples. After a moment he stroked down her sides and across her stomach. Her eyes opened when he slipped his hands inside her panties, cupping her buttocks. Without a word she eased up on her knees, holding on to his arms for support.

He pushed the silky garment over her hips and she eased down on the bed next to him, allowing him to slip them off the rest of the way. He sat next to her just gazing down at her.


Mary smiled and nodded her consent. She still jumped when he caressed her thigh. He smiled at her and kept his caress light. When he pressed his lips against her stomach she shivered from the touch and her hand tangled in his golden locks.


Delighted by her response Matthew kept stroking and kissing her stomach and the top of her thighs. When she tugged a little at his hair he kissed his way up towards her chest. She whimpered when he pressed a soft kiss on the side of her breast.

"God Mary, your skin taste like summer." She giggled and he looked up at her. "How do you feel?"

"Good," she whispered.

"Do you want me to stop?"

She shook her head. "No."

He grinned at her and kissed her firmly, stroking his tongue against hers. His hand still rested against her breast and he moved the pad of his thumb over the nipple. To his delight she pushed up against his hand, while filling his mouth with her moans.

Matthew stroked and rubbed her nipple while kissing her. Mary sighed and squirmed under him. Releasing her lips he kissed the other nipple. She whimpered and then gasped when he took it in his mouth, sucking very gently.

"Oh God!"

Matthew could not believe how right it felt love her like this. It just felt as if they fit. Mary's legs moved against his and he pulled her leg up over his hip. She gasped and pushed up against him. Moving his hand slowly over the back of her thigh he stroked her buttocks, delighting when his fingers skimmed over evidence of her arousal coating her inner thigh.

"Mary," he groaned against her breast.

She whimpered and pulled him up for a kiss. Their mouths clashed together in a frantic kiss. He stroked over her slick folds and she gasped, her eyes wide.


"I told you darling, there's nothing wrong with you."

She smiled and looked away. He stroked over her again and she bit her lip. When he started to move she opened her eyes again and he held her gaze as he settled between her legs. He gently pushed her legs open wider and smiled.

"You're absolutely beautiful," he said. She gasped as his breath ghosted over her intimately. "Mary, if it becomes too much, just say so or push my head away. Promise?"


He kissed the side of her glistening folds, sucking very gently. She sighed and smiled. He ran his tongue along the edge of her folds, tasting her and familiarizing himself with her. She touched his hand and he intertwined his fingers with hers.

When he stroked the entire length of her she groaned and pushed up until her buttocks rose off the bed. He slipped his hand under her, holding her against him.

"Oh Matthew," she gasped. "So good."

He swirled his tongue over her, lapping gently. Rubbing his finger against her opening he eased inside her a little. She immediately clamped down on him. He pulled away and looked up at her.

"It's just my finger, Mary. It won't hurt. I promise."

She inhaled deeply and he felt her relax. "Slowly," she whispered.

He nodded and eased his finger inside her as slowly as he possibly could.

"God you feel so good."

She giggled and squirmed a little when he started to rub inside her. Touching his lips and tongue to her again he started to build her up. She whimpered and shivered.

"Matthew. Oh God!"

He flicked his tongue a little faster over her and her fingers tightened around his. A moment later she cried out and jerked under him. Her body squeezed his finger so hard. Pressing his mouth against her he stroked her through her release. A final little cry escaped and then she became completely still on the bed. Matthew kissed the inside of her thigh as he slowly pulled his finger free. She shivered a little.

Pulling her into his arms he held her protectively as she calmed down. He knew that it had been an intense experience for her and he was more than willing to give her all the time she needed to calm down. He kissed her head and stroked her back while whispering soothing little nonsense.

"Thank you," she finally whispered against his chest.

"How do you feel?" he asked concerned.

"Wiped out," she said and laughed. "Dear God, Matthew." She looked up at him. "You're amazingly good at that."

He chuckled and kissed her. She hummed against his lips.

"I was right you know," he teased. "You are lovely to make love to."

Mary blushed and looked down. He touched her chin and they looked at each other.

"You taste like me," she said and her eyes twinkled mischievously.

"I do!" He laughed happily and pulled her closer.

"I feel guilty about feeling so good," she said with a heavy sigh.

"Please don't," he said and stroked her cheek. "I loved doing that to you."

"It was quite obvious," she teased. "Thank you." She kissed him again. "I've never really liked doing it," she confessed.

"And you don't have to," he promised.

"Perhaps you can let me try sometime? Maybe it will be different with you?"

"Of course." He touched her lips. "If you don't like it, you will just stop. Promise?"

She nodded. "Do you want me to do it now?" she whispered.

He could tell that the though bothered her and he shook his head. She sighed, clearly relieved. He held her close and ran his fingers through her hair.

"Let's sleep. I know I'll have lovely dreams."

Mary chuckled and nodded. "Thank you."

The third time Matthew made love to Mary without pushing for anything more, she finally relaxed completely and just allowed herself to enjoy the experience. When he held her afterwards she tentatively stroked over his shoulders and down his back. He smiled at her as she mapped his body. When she slipped her hands inside his boxers he nodded and together they worked them off him. She sat up next to him. Her hand on his hip tensed a little at the sight of him. He gently covered it and their eyes met.

"You're bigger than Richard," she whispered. "Not as long, but thicker."

"I suspected as much," he said and stroked her cheek. "I will be very careful."

She nodded. He smiled as she straddled his legs, sighing happily at the feeling of her soft thighs moving against his. When she wrapped her fingers around him his eyes rolled back in his head and he groaned.

"God Mary, that feels incredible. Don't do anything else, just that."

Mary giggled at the sound of his pleasure. None of her previous boyfriends had been this pleased with her touch. She knew they had enjoyed it, but only as a way to prepare for more intimate pleasures. Inching back a little she kept stroking him while very gently cupping his sack in her hand. He moaned and she could feel him growing in her hand. When he did not say anything or ask her to do something else she relaxed and instead focused completely on his pleasure. As she did so, she studied his penis more closely. She came to the quick conclusion that she had truly never done that before. He felt soft against her palm. Keeping up the stroking she leaned down and kissed his stomach.


Mary laughed at Matthew's reaction to her lips and hair touching him. Looking down she noticed that her hair had fallen over him and it must tickle, but clearly not in an unpleasant way. Testing out this new discovery she swept her long hair over him. She bit her lip at the response from him.

"Sweet mother of God! Are you trying to kill me Mary?"

"Do you like it?" she asked, even though she knew the answer. She just needed to hear him say it.

"It's torture in the best kind of way," he grunted and his hips pushed up as much as was possible with her straddled across his legs.

"I want to try, Matthew," she whispered.

His eyes opened and he stared at her. She looked almost scared and he stroked her hand.

"I'd like that very much, but only if you want to. If it doesn't feel right to you, please don't." She nodded. "May I watch?" he whispered.

Mary blushed furiously and bit her lip. It never occurred to her that he wanted to. Deciding that it would not make much difference, she nodded.

Matthew held his breath as she leaned down. His jaws clenched when he felt her warm breath against him. Then her warm, wet tongue stroked over him and he could not hold back his cry any longer. He threw his head back as he felt her lips close around him and slowly move over him. His eyes were closed so tightly now and he felt tears burn behind his eyelids. He made a sobbing sound and fumbled until he could touch her hair, stroking over it very gently.

"My God," he gasped. "Mary!"

Mary froze for a second when she felt his hand in her hair, anticipating a push that never came. When he just tenderly touched her hair she relaxed again and stroked her tongue over him. Matthew just tasted clean and… well, like Matthew. She almost laughed at the though. Of course he tasted like Matthew! Freed from performance pressure and demands, Mary embraced the feeling of power she had in this moment, giving or withholding his pleasure. At the same time she acknowledged that she honestly did not think of it as having power over him, only of how much pleasure she was free to give him.

Matthew grabbed a fistful of the sheet in his other hand and gasped as she took a little more of him in her mouth before letting him slide out just as slowly. Her rhythm was steady now and her hand moved over the rest of him, while her other one stroked his fingers. It was so good he wanted to cry. Feeling his release surge to the surface he gasped and tugged at her hand.

"God Mary, I'm gonna come."

Her head shot up and he gasped again as the cool air in the room touched him most intimately. She kept moving her hand over him. He forced his eyes open and watched her smiling face. Just as he flew over the edge he felt her press her lips against him and he howled out his release.

Mary wiped her mouth and face on the sheet before tenderly wiping him clean. She smiled as she stretched out on top of him, careful not to press to hard on his now sensitive member. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her tenderly.

"Thank you. God Mary, thank you so much," he mumbled against her lips.

"So you liked it?" she asked.

He saw the worry and insecurity in her eyes and smiled fondly at her. "I really did," he promised her. "It was fantastic! When I felt your lips on me again just as I came... Dear God! What made you even think of doing that?"

Mary laughed and nuzzled his neck. "I just thought that it might feel nice. It's so soft, and I think that my lips are pretty soft too."

"They are," he assured her as he ran his finger along her lower lip. He tilted her head up. "Was it all right for you?"

She nodded. "I actually enjoyed it," she said sincerely. "I never have before. Thank you for letting me do it my way."

"Always," he said in a soft whisper and stroked her cheek. "You know, when I make love to you, I get aroused. Did you…"

Mary blushed and squirmed a little. "I think I did," she whispered.

He pulled her up and cupped her soft folds, gently pressing his fingers against her. She whimpered when he touched her.

"God Mary, you're really wet." Mary blushed and bit her lip. Matthew tugged her up a bit closer. "Move up and kneel with your legs on either side of my head," he said.

"Matthew!" she exclaimed, eyes wide in shock.

"You'll like it. I promise."

Mary's brows furrowed but she slowly moved and allowed him to position her the way he wanted her. She fumbled for the headboard when he cupped her buttocks, pulling her down against his mouth. She actually screamed when he stroked over her.

"Oh God, oh God, oh God…"

Matthew sucked and licked, teasing her and bringing her closer. When she stared to move against his mouth he let go of her buttocks and cupped her breast, teasing the nipple. Her legs squeezed around his head and he sucked her little spot into his mouth, flicking his tongue over it, then dipped his tongue inside her. When he entered her with first one, then two fingers she pushed against him, whimpering and sighing.

"Come for me, Mary," he gasped against her.

Mary shook at the sound of his voice. She closed her eyes and focused on his mouth and fingers that were bringing her so much pleasure.

"So close," she whimpered. "Matthew!"

Matthew's ears were ringing as she cried out her release. He pulled her down, rubbing her and trying to prolong her release. She hung her head, her hair framing her face as she gasped for air. He eased her down and watched her face, his fingers still inside her. Feeling her body flutter around them he flicked his tongue over her again. Her eyes flew open and she cried out, her fingers instantly grabbing his hair. Less than a minute later she cried out in her second release.

Matthew held her as she whimpered and gasped. He stroked her now damp hair, kissing her forehead, her eyes, cheeks and lips.

"I've never… I didn't know I could," she finally gasped.

"Mary, sweetheart," he said and smiled at her. "This is just the beginning."

She laughed and snuggled closer to him, feeling completely safe and secure.

"Mum," Matthew said casually as he topped off her wine. "How do you feel about Mary coming with us when we drive up to Downton this weekend?"

"Mary? As in Mary Crawley?" Isobel asked surprised.

"Yes. We've actually become very good friends since I started tending to her garden."

"I am so glad to hear that, Matthew," Isobel said cheerfully. "And of course I don't mind. It will be nice."

"Excellent. I'll pick her up first and then we'll pick you up on the way."

Isobel nodded. She watched her son, noticing how easily he spoke of Mary. Friends, hm? She smiled to herself as she decided to find out more about the exact nature of this so called friendship.

Mary smiled as she met Matthew's eyes in the rearview mirror. Isobel was chatting away about the excitement of visiting Downton.

"I've heard that there are some historical buildings in the area. Churches in particular. Is that right, Mary?"

"I believe so. Old churches have never been my thing really," Mary said with an apologetic smile. "You might want to tour Downton. The building is very old and there are a lot of antiques and paintings and such. There's also a Greek temple on the grounds. It's often requested for wedding photo shoots."

"That sounds lovely, doesn't it, Matthew?" Isobel said with an excited laugh.

"I'm sure that Edith would be happy to give you a tour. She's the history buff in the family. That and art."

"Oh? I will speak with her then," Isobel said and smiled at Mary.

"Will Sybil and Tom be there?"

Mary met Matthew's eyes in the mirror again. "Yes, I believe so. I think that Papa has recovered from the shock of learning that his youngest daughter is marrying a bartender."

Matthew burst out laughing. "Tom is working on his MA in English, so I'm sure that he will not be a bartender forever. Though I must say that I for one am excited about having a bartender in the family. Finally someone who can make some decent drinks for a change."

Mary huffed from the back seat. "How was I supposed to know that simple syrup and maple syrup are not the same thing?" she muttered.

Matthew burst out laughing. "It's all right, darling."

Mary's eyes widened at the endearment and she glanced at Isobel. Isobel was looking at her son and then turned her head and looked Mary in the eyes.

"Matthew? Mary? Is there something you haven't told me?"

"Mum…" Matthew said in a warning tone.

Mary gently touched his shoulder. "It's all right, Matthew. Please tell her."

"Yes, Matthew, please tell me," Isobel said and made a face at her son.

"Mary and I have been seeing each other for a while now," he said softly and glanced at Mary in the mirror.

"How long exactly are we talking?"

"About three months or so," he mumbled.

"Three months?" she exclaimed. "And when exactly were you planning on bringing your girlfriend home to meet your mother, Matthew?"

Mary chuckled at the look on his face. "We were going to tell everyone at dinner tonight," she said softly.

"It's not as if you haven't met before," Matthew muttered and took the exit for Ripon and Downton. "All right, Mary, I need you to give me directions from here. Your mother was a bit vague on the phone."

Mary told him and soon they were heading down the long driveway to the estate.

"Slow down a little Matthew," Mary said when she realized how close they were. "I want you to get a good look of the house as it comes into full view in a moment.

Matthew and Isobel gasped at the sight of Downton Abbey.

"Goodness, it's majestic," Isobel whispered.

"It sure is," Matthew muttered and put the car in gear, continuing up to the house. "I almost feel as if we should be arriving in a horse drawn carriage."

"We can later if you like," Mary said with a chuckle. "We still have the old carriages in the stables and Papa has more than a dozen horses."

"Does he now?" Matthew muttered.

Matthew looked a little worried as he was ushered down the hallway towards his room which apparently was far away from Mary's. She waved to him and he returned her smile before following the young man carrying his weekend bag.

"I hope that you'll be comfortable here, my lord," Stephen said and smiled at Matthew.

"Please, call me Matthew. No one calls me lord."

"You will find that everyone here will," Stephen said a little hesitant, clearly uncomfortable not using the title.

Matthew patted the young man's shoulder. "If it makes you feel better, please feel free to, but don't get upset if I mutter and grumble about it. I don't particularly care for it."

Stephen chuckled and nodded. "Thank you, my lord. Will that be all, my lord?"

"Yes, thank you Stephen."

The young man was almost at the door when Matthew called him back. "Stephen, how do I get back downstairs?"

Stephen smiled and explained it to him. Matthew thanked him again and the door closed behind the footman. Matthew turned around, inspecting the room. It was very nice, and very old.

It only took Matthew a few minutes to unpack. The routine task eased his mind. He jumped when there was a knock on his door.

"Come in."

Mary's smiling face greeted him as the door opened.

"So this is where you're hiding," she teased.

He crossed the floor and pulled her into an embrace, covering her lips with his in a soft kiss.

"Thank god you found me," he muttered. "I feel like I'm in the prison wing."

"You're in the bachelors' quarters, darling."


"Perhaps once we tell my parents that you would care to join me in my room tonight?" she teased with a flirty smile.

"Perhaps I will."

Matthew pulled her down on the bed and soon the two were lost in gentle touches and soft kisses. Another knock on the door made them break apart with a disappointed sigh.

"Mary? Matthew?"

"Come in Sybil."

Sybil quickly entered with Tom in tow. "I knew I would find you here!" she said cheerfully and sat down on the foot of the bed.

The afternoon had been spent with Sybil and Tom, discovering the house and the gardens. Mary had introduced Matthew to her horse, Diamond, who clearly disliked Matthew from the start, trying to take a chunk out of his jacket. The others laughed as Matthew screamed like a girl when the horse pushed him. Mary's explanation that Diamond was only looking for a treat did not have Matthew convinced.

The four eventually split up to get changed for dinner. Even though it was only family, it was to be a somewhat formal event since Mary's grandmother, the Dowager Countess, was expected. Matthew worried about meeting her, having listened to Mary and Sybil tell stories about Granny's sharp tongue.

He sat on his bed for a moment thinking about the evening and how to tell Mary's parents. He almost felt as if he had been doing something wrong by dating Mary without asking for her father's permission first. He chuckled at the silly thought. It was after all 2012, not 1912.

"Matthew?" Mary said as she opened the door.

Matthey got up and walked over to her. She gave him a once over and straightened his tie a little and then stroked her hands over his shoulders.

"You look very smart," she finally asserted and kissed him.

"You look incredible," he said in awe at the sight of her in her beautiful dress.

Mary slowly turned around. "You really like it?"

He nodded and took her hand as the two left his room to head downstairs.

"So you are our not so poor relative?" Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess said and gave Matthew a close scrutiny.

"I guess I am," he said with a half smile. "I'm very pleased to meet you, Lady Grantham."

"I'm sure you are, Lord Howard." Matthew tried not to wince at the sharpness of her tone. "I hear that my granddaughter is very fond of you."

Matthew chuckled and nodded. "I'm very fond of her too."

"Any fool can see that," she muttered and headed over towards Mary.

Matthew watched out for her cane, certain that she would not hesitate to use it on him if she felt a need to. Mary smirked at him and his eyes narrowed at the teasing smile.

"So, you survived meeting Granny," Sybil whispered next to him.

"Barely," he sighed. "I don't think she likes me very much."

"On the contrary, she likes you a lot. If not, you would've been dismissed right away."

Matthew's eyes widened at her comment. "Oh dear, she's headed towards Tom now. You better go save him."

Sybil gasped and quickly set off in her boyfriend's direction. Matthew walked over to Mary.

"You weren't joking about your Granny," he whispered.

"You're a brave man, Matthew. I'm sure you can handle an old lady," she teased.

"She's not just any little old lady," he muttered.

Over dinner it became clear that Violet and Isobel Crawley were both strong-willed ladies and not necessarily batting for the same team. Matthew worried for a moment that the two might come to blows over the current healthcare situation and the upcoming election.

"Matthew, Isobel," Robert said and smiled at them. "We are so pleased to finally have you here at Downton. It feels like the family is finally complete."

"It sure does," Cora said with a fond smile at Matthew.

"Thank you, Robert," Isobel said cheerfully.

"Robert?" Violet muttered. "I was not aware of that we were on first name basis yet."

"Mama," Robert said with a smile. "I know that you don't like the fact that we're no longer living in Victorian or Edwardian England, but the fact remains that we're family and it's a new millennium. Surely we can afford to set titles aside and embrace our long lost relatives?"

Her mouth tightened in a displeased frown but she did not argue his point.

"Mama, Papa," Mary said and looked at Matthew.

"Yes Mary?" Robert smiled at her.

"Robert, Cora," Matthew interrupted. "Mary and I have something to share with the family."

"Oh?" Robert's eyebrows shot up.

Violet huffed and rolled her eyes. Matthew took Mary's hand and smiled fondly at her.

"Mary and I have been seeing each other for a while now. We wanted to see how things worked out before announcing it officially to the family."

"Seeing?" Cora exclaimed in clear excitement. "Romantically?"

"Yes, Mama."

"Oh my darling, this is wonderful news," Cora said and beamed at Mary.

Matthew watched Lord Grantham intently. Robert's face was unreadable as he stared Matthew down.

"And what exactly are your intentions, Matthew?"

"Um, well…" Matthew stuttered in response to the question that had been delivered like the crack of a whip.

"Papa," Mary sighed and rolled her eyes. "I know you're not serious. Will you please not scare Matthew half to death?"

Robert burst out laughing. "But the look on his face was quite worth it," he said cheerfully.

Matthew made a face at Mary's father who only laughed harder.

"Am I to take this as you approve?" he teased.

"Of course, my boy," Robert said and laughed again.

"Let's go in the drawing room where we can all be more comfortable," Cora suggested.

The party broke up and spilled out of the room under a lot of chatter and laughter. Robert put his arm around Matthew's shoulders and grinned at him.

"I suppose that you would want to sleep in my daughter's room tonight?"

"Um," Matthew's face turned a deeper shade of pink.

"It's quite all right, Matthew," he said and patted Matthew's shoulder. "I'll have Stephen move your things."

"Thank you, Robert. I love her very much, you know."

Robert chuckled and then stepped over to his wife, offering her his arm as they continued into the drawing room.

Matthew turned onto his side and smiled at Mary. "So how close is your parents' room? Next door?"

"Absolutely not! Matthew, honestly, would you want to sleep next door to your parents?" Mary shuddered at the thought.

"I guess not," he said and made a face. "What about Sybil and Edith?"

"There's a large common room between my room and Edith's. It was once a nursery, but we have since modernized it into an entertainment room. Sybil's bedroom is further down the hall, though I suspect that she's already in Tom's room by now."

"I'm sure you're right," he said and chuckled. "So we're pretty much alone here then?"

"I guess," she said and shrugged. "Are you afraid of ghosts, darling?"

"Of course not." Matthew pulled Mary closer and took her hand, playing with her fingers as he gathered his thought. "I was thinking, Mary…"


"Last time we were together, you seemed to really enjoy it, and I know I certainly did," he said and met her eyes. "We've been together at my place and yours. As comfortable as they are, they still hold some power as yours or mine. This place," he gestured to the room they were in. "Has no such power. We're equals here. Mary, will you allow me to make love to you?"

"Oh Matthew," she whispered and stroked his cheek. "That's such a sweet thing to say."

"If it doesn't work out, then it's no big deal. We'll be leaving in two days and will be back home. If it does, well, then it doesn't matter. Of course if you feel odd about doing it in your parents' house, I understand."

She smiled a little hesitantly. "I really want to Matthew, but I'm still worried that I'll disappoint you."

"You can't, darling," he assured her.

Mary nodded and kissed him softly. He eased her down and stroked her body, delighting in the feel of her. It had been almost a week since he had last seen her and he had missed her something terrible. Mary sighed happily when he stroked her nipples and he kept playing with her breasts. When he stroked the soft inside of her thigh, her legs opened in a welcoming invitation and he moved his hand higher until he felt her essence coat his fingers. He moaned against her lips at the feel of her. Caressing her soft folds he eased his fingers inside her. Feeling no objection from her he set a slow pace as he stroked her. Mary whimpered and moved with him.

"Matthew," she gasped. "It feels so good."

"Please Mary; say that you want me to make love to you."

"I do," she whispered and cupped his cheek.

He nodded and kissed her before moving closer to her. As he started to push her legs up he felt her tense and she shook her head.

"What's wrong?"

"Please, don't," she whispered.

"Don't what?" he asked confused.

"Don't move my legs like that. Richard used to do that, and it always made me feel trapped as I could do nothing but lie there."

He let go of her and nodded. "Then you move your legs how you want them, darling," he said with a smile.

Mary nodded and pulled her knees up. Matthew rubbed himself against her a few times, before slowly pushing against her. He held her gaze as he lowered himself between her legs. Mary bit her lip and then gasped at the feeling of him

"Matthew," she whimpered.

He stopped and met her eyes. "Are you uncomfortable?"

She shook her head. "It feels really good."

He grinned and continued to ease inside her. When he was finally entirely inside her he held still and raised an eyebrow.

"And now?"

"We fit," she said and smiled.

Matthew laughed and started to ease out. She whimpered and he could tell that she enjoyed the feeling. He continued to move slowly as they got used to each other. As they found their rhythm, Mary curled her legs around him.

"Oh Mary," he gasped.

"More," she whispered.

He picked up the pace and she cried out softly and her legs tightened around him. Matthew leaned down and kissed her, delighting in her fierce response. A moment later he felt her move against him and he moved faster. She was whimpering and shivering in his arms. He angled himself better in order to hit the right spots with every stroke and she started to pulse around him.

"I'm almost there," she gasped.

He grunted as he forced his release back aiming to share it with her. Making sure that he stroked against her with every move he moved faster and deeper. She clutched him closer and bucked against him as her body tightened around him. The room was filled with her little screams of passion and it was all it took to send him over. He cried out as he joined her.

His arms started to shake as he tried to hold himself up above her and he rolled over on his side with her in his arms. They were both panting, gasping for air. Matthew stroked her hair away from her face and hoped that she would open her eyes.

"Mary?" he whispered. "Are you all right?"

She nodded. "Yes," she whispered.

When Mary opened her eyes a few tears escaped and he stared at her in shock. "Did I hurt you?"

She laughed and shook her head. "Of course not. I'm just so happy. I never thought that it could be like this."

He sighed in relief as he wrapped his arms around her, kissing the top of her head. "I love you Mary, and I promise you that it will be like this from now on, if not even better."

Mary laughed and turned her face up for a kiss. "I love you too, Matthey Crawley, so very, very much."