Happy Downton Day to everyone that can watch tonight! I had an idea for this after last week's episode, and it's just a missing scene that I think might have happened after dinner on Edith's wedding day. It's been buzzing around my head all week and I just felt like I *had* to write it. Thanks to Orangeshipper for giving me the necessary prod into writing it.
To Have and To Hold
The beads of Mary's necklace clattered against the dresser as she dropped it onto the polished wood, turning as the door clicked behind her and smiling faintly as Matthew entered and sank onto one of the armchairs.
"There you are. Were you with Tom?" Matthew nodded as he unfastened his jacket and waistcoat, noticing the flicker in her eyes as she watched him.
"Yes, we were having a drink in the library. I think your father must have gone up to bed." Mary nodded and stooped to unbuckle her shoes.
"Are you going to go through and ring for Molesley?" She tilted her head as she removed her earrings, letting them drop to the dresser too.
"No, I told him I could manage tonight, and sent him back with Mother. Do you want me to go so you can ring for Anna?"
"Oh, no. I said I'd be alright. They still need to put away some of the presents I think." Matthew nodded before speaking again, shrugging out of his jacket and kicking off his shoes, tapping his fingers against his knees.
"How is Edith?"
"I don't know; she still doesn't want to see me, or Sybil. Mama's with her though. Sybil's dreadfully upset by it all. It can't be good for the baby, I'm sure." Mary frowned as she turned away from him and started to remove the pins from her hair.
"Tom said as much, but you mustn't take it personally my darling, neither of you should," he spoke softly after a moment, watching her as her long dark hair tumbled over her shoulders, before pushing himself up and going to stand behind her, his hands taking over from hers, fingers gently brushing through each lock of hair that unravelled, meeting her gaze in the mirror with a smile as he gently urged her to sit down and slowly started to plait her hair, enjoying the task he had perfected but been unable to do since they had returned from their honeymoon. Once he'd finished and tied the ribbon to secure the braid, he pulled her up to stand and wrapped his arms around her waist, resting his chin on her shoulder, smiling as her hands dropped to clasp his. He pressed a soft kiss to her neck and felt her lean into his embrace.
"I'm trying not to take it personally, but you didn't see her." Mary sighed, enjoying the feel of his arms around her, glad of the easy intimacy that existed between them again after they had resolved things earlier that day. He made a noise of sympathy and kissed her neck again. They stayed like that for several minutes, letting their eyes close as their fingers laced together without thought.
"Whatever she said was said because she's been hurt. I'm going to go and get changed. I'll be back in a few minutes," Matthew murmured against her skin with another kiss before reluctantly pulling away, gathering his things together and opening the door that joined the bedroom and dressing room.
Mary reached to unfasten her dress and smiled faintly as she caught sight of the bed in the other room just before the door closed. A bed that had not been used once since they had been married; well, not for sleeping in anyway. And then it struck her. Whatever had passed between them in these past weeks, however much they had fought and argued; they still shared the same bed. Since their wedding, they hadn't spent a night apart. Even when the tension between them had been almost suffocating after they had flung increasingly more bitter words at each other, Matthew had never once left the room, and she had never asked him to. And she realised that she wouldn't have wanted him to go. However angry she had been, she liked knowing that he was there, liked feeling the bed dip as he climbed in, liked the warmth that radiated from him… Even though it had only been a few short months, Mary couldn't bring herself to imagine falling asleep or waking up without Matthew at her side now. And then she thought of Edith. Her poor sister who had had that taken from her in one of the cruellest ways imaginable before she'd even had a chance to experience it, and her heart ached with sadness.
Hey eyes filled with tears as she sat on the edge of the bed and thought of the good wishes she had bestowed on her sister – mere minutes before Sir Anthony had left the church – and how they must sound to Edith now. How hollow and bitter and mocking, ringing in her ears and taunting her as they did to Mary.
"Mary, are you alright?" She turned to see Matthew stood in the doorway, now dressed in his pyjamas, and looked down to see that she had somehow changed into her nightdress without even thinking about it, her hands clutching at the pale material.
"I was just thinking about Edith." His expression softened and he crossed the room and sat next to her, taking one of her hands in his as his other arm wrapped around her shoulder, pulling her to him.
"She'll be alright, you know." Mary nodded, keeping her gaze on their hands, letting the comfortable silence envelop them.
"Did you really think that I wasn't going to turn up, on our wedding day, I mean?" She said suddenly, looking up and finding him closer than she expected him to be. He chuckled softly and licked his lips before answering.
"I must confess my darling, that I did, for a little while. I wasn't completely certain until the organ started." He paused as she nodded. "Did you ever think that I wouldn't turn up, or that I'd…leave you?"
"No." Mary smiled then, a broad genuine grin that made Matthew want to kiss her, so he did. A wonderful slow kiss that heated quickly and left them breathless as they pulled apart and rested their foreheads together. They stayed like that for several minutes, enjoying the closeness and heat from each other until Mary kissed his cheek softly and whispered that perhaps it was time for bed.
Once under the blankets and in the cover of darkness, Mary curled against Matthew, her head nestled on his shoulder, her arm round his chest, legs tangled together comfortably as his hands lightly stroked over her back, both drifting towards a deep slumber.
"I am grateful, you know." Her soft voice broke through the silence and Matthew turned suddenly, pressing his lips to her head as she shifted closer to him.
"I do, but let's not talk about that now. We've done enough of that over the past few weeks. It's done, and we shall say no more about it."
"No, I don't mean that. Well, of course I am grateful for that, but I meant that…I'm grateful for you." Mary lifted her head and saw the glint of his eyes in the dark room, moving her hand to caress his cheek. He smiled and leaned to kiss her, understanding her without having to ask.
"Thank you darling. I love you," he whispered as she settled back against him, her breathing becoming slow and steady as she fell into a deep sleep. Musing for a moment as his eyes drifted shut; Matthew smiled to himself and held his wife even closer to him, her warm weight comforting and familiar against him. After everything, they had each other, even if they had forgotten it for a while, and whatever else would be thrown at them, they would face it together.
Thank you so much for reading! Any feedback is always gratefully received!