A/N: I had this idea a little while ago and have only recently started to write it up. It is, as usual, a modern-day fic, and very fluffy.
"Alright. Time to go." Matthew declared as the credits rolled, turning the DVD player off with the remote.
Mary had been in the mood for something light-hearted and girly to counter her difficult day at work, whereas Matthew had wanted something intellectually stimulating. They compromised (or, more accurately, Matthew compromised), and Mary dug out her copy of Legally Blonde. But now the popcorn was down to its last dregs, and Matthew needed to head home if he was going to get a decent night's sleep.
"Already?" Mary asked, sitting up from her position draped over Matthew. "But it's only-" She paused to look at her phone. "…midnight." She finished sheepishly. Where had the time gone? It seemed like only an hour ago that her boyfriend had come over to her parents' house for an early dinner with her.
"Precisely." Matthew smiled, gently pushing Mary's legs off of his. "I need to wake up at 7am to get to Derby in time for Josh's wedding."
"I still think Josh is blindly running into this marriage." Mary said matter-of-factly. "Everyone knows that Ella's been flaunting herself around town and giving her number out to random men."
Matthew raised an eyebrow at his girlfriend amusedly. "Don't think that you can change the subject and make me stay here longer." He smirked, noticing that Mary had already re-situated her legs over his lap.
"That's not what I was doing! I'm merely looking out for the well-being of your friend. Excuse me for expressing a little concern." Mary said defensively, but relented at Matthew's completely unconvinced countenance.
"You must think I'm really stupid." Matthew glared at her playfully.
"Well, I did persuade you to watch Legally Blonde by telling you that it would help sharpen your legal skills." Mary pointed out smugly. Deep down, she knew that Matthew never believed her spurious justifications for her choice in films or outings, but he couldn't resist giving into her and letting her have her own way. And she adored him for it.
"It did teach me a thing or two about perms." Matthew joked, leaning in for his goodbye kiss. He'd intended to have a quick peck, but Mary had other ideas; she grabbed the collar of his jersey shirt and pulled him so he was half on top of her, skilfully using her lips and tongue to deepen the kiss. She'd probably be seeing him tomorrow evening, yet it proved difficult to say goodbye to him.
"Mmm. Mary." Matthew mumbled around her lips, in between sighs at the feelings she was creating within him. He felt her shift, and a moment later her leg began to slide against his. Before he reached the point of no-return, he broke away, eliciting sounds of protest from a disgruntled Mary. "Darling, as much as I'd love to stay and continue- and believe me, I do-" Matthew stated honestly, breathing deeply to try and temper the excitement that had been building inside him. "I really should go." His face was full of apology as he looked down at Mary's crestfallen face. Objectively, it was silly for her to be so reluctant to part when they were seeing each other on an almost daily basis, but he felt the same way. It seemed that the longer their relationship went on, the more difficult it was to be apart, even for a day.
"I know." Mary sighed resignedly, stroking her hand down the front of his shirt. "You need a good night's sleep."
"I do." He paused. "Well…I'm going now…" Matthew couldn't make himself move now that the prospect of actually leaving was before him. He leaned down for another kiss, deciding that the last one ended too abruptly for it to qualify as a proper goodbye kiss.
"I'll see you tomorrow then?" Mary asked hopefully, once Matthew pulled away.
"Definitely." Matthew assured her with a smile. "Alright then…bye." He kissed her again- and then once more, softly.
"Bye." Mary replied, smiling inwardly at how sweet he was. She watched as Matthew slowly removed his arms from their natural place around her and stood up, practically dragging his feet towards the hallway outside the living room.
Suddenly, Matthew had a light-bulb moment. "You know," he stopped before he reached the doorway, "wouldn't it be easier if we just…" He trailed off.
"If we just what?" Mary asked, confused. Matthew had begun his sentence confidently but now he appeared hesitant and bashful. He cleared his throat nervously.
Mary's eyes grew wide. They'd been together for about six months now, and it was by far the most loving and committed relationship either of them had been in, but the notion of living with a man was still a very foreign and daunting one to Mary. She certainly hadn't expected the topic to come up only half a year into their relationship, so was rather taken aback by Matthew's suggestion.
"Erm…" She began, uncharacteristically unsure of what to say. "Isn't that quite a…serious proposition?" She picked at the fabric of the sofa self-consciously.
"I suppose…" Matthew said cautiously, worried that he'd scared her. "But we are serious. Aren't we?" He asked anxiously, feeling much better at the patronising look Mary gave him in response.
"Of course we're serious. But it's something we should think about properly. It's not a good idea to rush into this simply because we want to spend a bit more time together." Matthew nodded in agreement at her sensible statement. "There's a lot to discuss. We'd need to think about where we'd live, for starters." Mary laughed lightly, stopping when she noticed Matthew frown.
"What are you talking about? We'd live at mine, surely?" He asked rhetorically. Mary still lived at home with her parents and sisters- there was no way he'd move himself in with all of them, at risk of encountering them at awkward moments, no matter how big the house was!
Mary shifted her gaze. "That would be the most logical solution…" She said diplomatically.
"But not your preferred solution?" Matthew cottoned on to her reluctant tone. Mary was usually very direct with him- and with everyone else- so any reticence on her part to speak the truth almost certainly meant it would be something vaguely insulting.
"Darling, your flat is fine if it's just for one person. And it's large enough for me to sleep over every now and then, but it's hardly suitable for the both of us to live in. Can you imagine us squished together in your single bed every night?" Mary omitted one major factor behind her reasoning that Matthew's flat was inadequate- her absurdly high-maintenance nature. Matthew didn't even have a dishwasher, let alone a house-keeper, for crying out loud.
"When we went to Edinburgh we stayed in that hotel with the ludicrously large bed and we only took up a third of it." Matthew recalled with a fond smile. Mary had a habit of half-lying on top of him as they slept, with her head on his chest. It had taken him a while to get used to being immobilised during the night, but now it felt wrong to sleep in any other way.
"Yes, but it would be nice to have the space if we needed it." Mary reasoned.
"You mean it would be nice for you to have more duvet to steal?" Matthew dead-panned.
"I do not-" Mary stopped herself and sighed. "We're not having this discussion again, Matthew." She said dismissively, not seeing the point in rehearsing the same arguments for the thousandth time.
"I'll take that as an indication of concession." Matthew retorted with a smirk. "Though I think there's a bigger issue to settle before we try and hammer out the correct bed size - will your parents be alright with this? I know moving in with someone before marriage isn't really the 'done' thing in your family."
Mary grew warm with his considerateness. Most men would run a mile from her relatively archaic family values, but Matthew never ceased to be understanding. "They'll be fine." She reassured him. "I'm almost 25 now, and it's not like they don't know you or trust you. Plus, after what's been going on with Sybil and Edith, I think anything passes as the 'done' thing in our family now." She said wryly, causing Matthew to laugh.
Sybil had unfortunately had a pregnancy scare a few weeks previously; without telling anybody, she'd bought and taken a pregnancy test, which had turned out to be positive. In her panic to rush to Tom's flat, she'd not thought to conceal the test from the roaming gaze of her eagle-eyed mother. Cora had found it in one of the bathrooms and swiftly confronted both Sybil and Mary about it. Sybil admitted it was hers and defiantly defended her right to keep the baby if she and Tom both wished, prompting a large-scale row about her irresponsibility. The blow-up needn't have happened, however; a trip to the doctor confirmed that the test had been a false positive, and Sybil was not with child. A week later, it was Edith's turn to cause shock and outrage in the family by being found cavorting in bed with one of her father's former colleagues- a man more than double her age. The housemaid had the misfortune of walking into one of the guest bedrooms, believing it was unoccupied, to prepare it for one of the guests who would be staying after Robert and Cora's dinner party. She'd screamed upon finding Edith under the covers with a fairly unshapely middle-aged man, alerting all the guests downstairs to Edith's misbehaviour. Poor Edith was still living with the embarrassment. Since then, Mary had gained the unlikely title of 'most well-behaved daughter' in the Crawley household. Her parents attributed this solely to Matthew's influence, obviously.
"But regardless of what they think, and putting all the other little issues aside," Mary continued, taking hold of Matthew's hand as he stood in front of where she remained seated on the sofa, "moving in together is a big leap to take. You know how strongly I feel about you, but I just don't know if we're ready for it." She said apologetically. While Mary suspected that his suggestion had been a rash one which he hadn't spent time mulling over, she didn't want him to think she was rejecting him.
"That's almost exactly what you said when I put forward the idea of us going on holiday." Matthew pointed out, recalling the conversation which had taken place six weeks into their relationship.
"Let's go away together." Matthew whispered happily, his hands smoothing over his girlfriend's back as he pulled her closer.
Mary's head snapped up from its resting place on Matthew's chest. "Why?" She asked breathlessly.
"Because," Matthew chuckled fondly, "I want to spend time with you. I want to know what it's like to wake up with you, eat with you, lay in bed with you…" Matthew trailed off, burying his head in the crook where her neck meets her shoulder.
"But we do all of that already."
"Yes we do, but not all in the same day…" Matthew's deep, dreamy voice reverberated against her skin. He began placing tender kisses along her throat, which he'd quickly learned was a sensitive spot for her.
Mary would normally have insisted they take time to consider this thoroughly, but at that moment the feel of Matthew's lips on her bare skin was too intoxicating for rational thought. She gently pulled his head up to meet hers, taking advantage of his parted lips to kiss him deeply for several minutes.
"Where?" She breathed once they'd broken apart.
Matthew gazed up at her, his eyes drowsy from the kiss. "Where what?" He whispered as his lips began kissing along her chin and jaw; now that he had permission to kiss and touch her as he liked, he was unable to stop himself.
"Where shall we go?" Mary smiled into his hair as her fingers delved into it, happy that her kisses could drug him to the point of memory-loss. She felt Matthew grin against her neck before he raised his head to look at her.
"Wherever you want to go." He beamed, bursting with joy that she'd agreed.
"And as I recall, you were the one who ended up trying to extend the trip." Matthew concluded triumphantly.
"Yes, alright, fine." Mary rolled her eyes at his smugness. "But this is a very different proposition- it's not just a temporary sojourn in a comfortable hotel somewhere. It's permanent, and a very significant juncture in a relationship. It's what people do when they're considering marriage; and I don't think I'm being presumptuous in saying that we're definitely not ready for marriage yet." Mary stroked her fingers against Matthew's to make sure he knew that she didn't mean to be harsh. Being with him had taught her to consider other people's feelings when she spoke. She didn't always remember to do so, or couldn't always help blurting out her opinions, but she tried to mitigate their potential harmfulness as much as she could.
Matthew nodded. He had thought about living with Mary even before this evening- he was madly in love with her and wanted to be with her as much as possible, so naturally the idea had popped into his mind- but he'd imagined cohabitation as something that would occur later down the line, maybe after a year or so of dating. He didn't want to compare the two relationships, as they were so different, but he and Lavinia had been together for two years and had never even considered moving in together. It was, as Mary said, an important and symbolic step which shouldn't be taken lightly. What had he been thinking, suggesting such a thing merely because he was greedy for her kisses?
"You're right." He said, leaning down to kiss the top of her head. "This is a topic for discussion at a later date." He smiled, and Mary smiled back, both pleased with themselves for being so sensible.
"Matthew?" Mary gently prodded Matthew's stomach with her foot. Her legs were stretched out along the sofa, her feet resting on his thigh as he sat and checked through some forms.
"Hmm?" Matthew hummed, not looking up from his papers.
"If I cheated on you, would you forgive me?" He heard Mary's voice say, and his head snapped up with such force that he was sure he'd suffered from whiplash.
"What?" He asked, his voice high-pitched with panic, until he noticed Mary's mischievous expression.
"It's just a theoretical question, Matthew." Mary grinned, and Matthew let out a sigh of relief. The woman he called his girlfriend certainly knew how to get his emotions going, in good ways and bad. But it kept him on his toes, and he did enjoy it.
"No. That's the short answer." Matthew replied, smoothing out the paper which he'd inadvertently crumpled in his fists upon hearing Mary's question.
"What's the long answer?" Mary asked curiously.
Matthew looked up into the middle-distance, pondering. "I don't think there is a long answer, actually. Just 'no'." He said seriously, but smiled as Mary giggled.
"Who are you imagining as the person I cheat on you with, though?"
Matthew turned to her with a frown. As well-matched as they were, it was still a challenge to keep up with her lines of questioning. "I don't know- nobody in particular, just some guy." He shrugged, growing more puzzled at Mary's knowing smile.
"Exactly." She said victoriously. "You presume that I'd go for another man. But what if I cheated on you with a woman?" She tested.
"Well I think it's fair enough for me to presume that it would be a man, given that you're heterosexual." Matthew dead-panned, his fingers lightly tickling the sole of her feet so that she squealed and recoiled. He did so enjoy being teased by her, but it was an equal pleasure to tease her back. "So if you cheated on me with a woman, I'd know it didn't mean anything."
"So if I cheated on you with a man, I'd be old news, but if it was a woman then it would be fine? That's a bit of a double-standard, isn't it, Matthew?" Mary's voice was the epitome of innocent curiosity, but Matthew could easily detect the goading undertone.
Matthew narrowed his eyes at her, annoyed that he'd let her call him out. "I don't think it's fair of you to guilt-trip me when only last week you were compiling your list of the top five celebrities you'd like to sleep with."
"It was only a joke! And it was all Sybil's idea- I was just playing along." Mary defended herself. It had been rather endearing and entertaining to see Matthew grow irrationally jealous at the thought of her with Ryan Gosling.
"Alright." Matthew said curtly, his jaw set as he turned back to his paperwork. Mary had to stifle a laugh at his blatant irritation that she may find other men attractive, even if on a totally superficial level.
"Oh, darling, you know I don't think any of those celebrities are as gorgeous as you are." She cooed in an overly saccharine tone, shifting on the sofa so she could lean forward and kiss his cheek.
"Good." Matthew replied. He knew she was teasing him but it nevertheless felt nice to hear her express her attraction for him.
Mary stroked his face lovingly before sitting back and picking up a magazine to conceal her grin. The idea of living with Matthew and having more little things to bicker over was becoming increasingly appealing.
A/N: I intended this to be a one-shot but it was getting quite long so I thought I'd leave it as this, for now at least. I hope you enjoyed that bit of silliness. Let me know your thoughts and if you'd like it to be a longer story, please! xxx