Surprise! As much as it feels like it, no this fic is not dead. It is just … difficult for me to wade into canon MM and go from the tiny hints we have in S3E1 to our contentedly marrieds in S3E2. How were the issues and memories that haunted and interfered in their relationship handled, what emotions were racing through each as they settled into sudden familiar intimacy on a physical level? Perfectionist!Writer angsts over this for, what a year between chapters?

But anyway, here we are, on the air date of S5 and I want to let you know I have not forgotten of this crazy idea of mine to chronicle some of their honey moon and the growth of their relationship into a married couple. Trust me, I think about it too much at times! So with an extremely nervous and anxious heart that feels the pressure to give you all the story you want, here we go….

Drifting into consciousness, he felt the warmth of her against him, a weight on his chest. He smiled, eyes still closed, drinking in the scent of her, of them, that seemed to permeate everything. Blinking slowly, he took in the creeping light of dawn that was beginning to toss halos of rose and gold around the heavy drapes. Eyes drifting down, he nearly laughed at the sight of her, chin resting on her crossed hands across his chest, watching him with an inscrutable smile.

"You look far too pleased with yourself," he murmured.

Her brows lifted, and she snuggled her body tighter against his. He could feel every inch of her, breasts pressed against his chest, legs snaking through his, the heat of her nestled happily on his thigh. Her eyes sparkled at him warmly.

"I don't know about pleased with myself, but I am pleased," she purred, a surge of pleasure shooting through him as he felt the echo of her voice vibrate against his chest.

"Mmm, you aren't the only one." He couldn't stop himself from stroking down her sides, making himself drunk with the silk of her skin under his fingers, memorizing curves that were already emblazoned on his soul. She was part of him, more so than he ever thought possible, and he still was both dazed by it, yet feeling as though it had always been.

She turned her head, soft cheek now pressing against him, warm breath teasing him as she let out of soft sigh as her fingers began to play in circles across his chest as she nestled herself against him more completely. He yawned, stretched slightly, then pulled her closer, his hand coming up to play with her tousled hair.

"I think you've worn me out."

She shot him a glance, her smile definitely growing larger. She settled her chin back on a hand to face him again.

"Did I now? All my doing?"

"Most definitely."

He watched her eyes, the flash of emotions in them, but mostly her clear happiness. He stroked the hair back from her cheek, tucking it behind her ear, and his other hand slipped to caress her upper back. Happiness. Joy. Love. Things he had not seen enough of in her eyes for too many years. How clear it all was, how much he had held her back, what he had cost in her. He wondered for a moment if his pride hadn't gotten in the way years before, or his stubbornness in the past one, if he would have had the pleasure to see this change, this dazzling intimate side of her that much sooner. He couldn't rework the past, he reminded himself, trailing a finger across her lips, lips which were bruised to a deep rose in the morning. It was here now, pressed against him, wrapped around him body and soul, and that was all that mattered.

"Would you like me to ring for the tea tray?"

His hand continued its lazy path up and down her back, learning again the sway at her waist, the curve of her hip. "Mmm, not just yet."

She chuckled. "Really?"

"What? Lady Mary Crawley, what are you thinking?"

She laughed aloud now. "Probably the same thing you are, Mr. Matthew Crawley," she said, sliding herself up him slightly to reach his mouth for a teasing kiss.

Hands again at her waist, he squeezed slightly, causing her to jump and laugh against him as she tried to escape his grasp. She shimmed down his torso, and he had to stifle a groan as she brushed across his growing arousal.

He heard her breath catch, and then a low chuckle. Cheeks were rapidly pinkening, she met his eyes.

"Worn out, are you?"

He felt an answering warmth in his own cheeks as he tugged at her, encouraging her to settle herself once more atop him.

"Well, as much as one can be with you wrapped around me, that is."

She arched a brow at him, but he could see that mischievous glint still in her gaze. She leaned forward, lips hovering over his, the warmth of her breath causing his pulse to leap.

"Perhaps you had better rest then," she whispered, lips barely brushing against his. She was stroking a hand down his chest, coming back to play over a spot that made him jump and catch his breath. "And if I'm distracting…"

He felt her start to shift and he tightened his hold on her, hand coming up to catch hers that was playing across his nipple.

"Don't you dare," he growled before he finally caught her lips with his. No longer teasing, she answered him back with a kiss as dark and passionate as his, the length of her body moving slowly to caress him with the warm satin of her skin.

Mouths and tongues occupied with tasting, seeking, and wordless declaration, their joined hands softened, fingers laced together, and she tugged against him, palm and thumb seeking once more to continue her exploration of him, taking his hand with her. Every breath and heartbeat under her touch was caressed, a sweeping circle seeking lower to his abdomen, until he groaned against her, pulling away to gasp for air.

"Mary." It was all he could manage as he looked into her eyes so intent and serious on him as her fingers slipped from his, free to trace a path of their own, lower. She traced the outline of his lips with her tongue as she gently brushed the back of her fingers across the length of him, and his eyes squeezed shut as he tried to swallow back a profanity drawn forth by the violent thrum of pleasure that surged through him.

His breath caught as her palm traced more firmly against him, fingers curling around him, all movement and a dance of gentle strokes both delicate and firm, tugging at him, her breath was a warm unsteady rhythm against his throat. Voiceless, he struggled to make some sound, to beg her to stop this insanity she was driving him into, but spots danced in front of his eyes and he was lost, held down in chains of rippling ecstasy that she was weaving over him with each stroke of her hand. Her hand. That slender, delicate hand of hers wrapped around him where no other hand besides his own had touched. The thought alone was enough to send him over the edge, but the feel of it, her exploration, her eagerness, had him undone and he didn't want it to ever end. Silk, heat, love, desire all of it wrapped around him, pulling him closer and closer.

He somehow managed to catch her hand once more, unfurling her fingers to lace them again with his as he sucked in a ragged gasp of air. Squeezing her hand, he pressed it firm against him as more ragged gasps were sucked in. He blinked, vision returning, and he took in her gaze as she hovered over him, watching him closely, a timid question in her bold look. Catching one more breath, he leaned up to kiss her, softly and fully, reaching up to cradle her head to his, as he fell back against the pillows again.

"You are dangerous," he managed to pant.

He watched the confused look that flickered across her face for a second as she hesitated before returning the gentle squeeze of his hand. Dipping her head to hover her lips against his once more, she murmured against him, "And here I thought I was being nice."

He groaned, releasing her hand to grab her hips, shifting her to straddle him fully. "A little too nice," he bit at her lip as his hips pressed up against her, the pressure and weight and heat of her easing the immediacy of his need.

She gasped and wiggled against him, hip meeting his. "I didn't think —," her voice was ragged now, and she muffled an exclamation against his lips before managing to carry on, "— that was possible?"

Her head tilted back, allowing him access to her throat as her hips continued to swirl against his. "Then perfectly nice," his words peppering the wet swirls of his tongue as she hummed in delight. "As nice as nice can be."

The only response to his words were a sigh and the wet glide of her against him as she shifted again. Thrusting his hips up against her, sliding himself more firmly against her, he watched her slight gasp as a flash of wanton desire shifted for a moment in her eyes. The aching burn of need and desire deep in his belly flared as he watched her face, her head bowing to brush near his. Reaching out to steady her hips as she continued to rock against him, his fingers pressing into the softness of her curves.

"Look at me." He was wasn't sure where those words came from and her movement hitched for a moment and she shook her head confused, glancing away. Letting out a muffled cry of pleasure as he lifted once more against her, encouraging that rhythm they had found, she pressed her face into his neck. He trailed fingers up her side and to her breast, feeling her shiver under their touch as he caressed her more firmly, across her belly and up to seek out nipples pebbled with need, feeling her shiver under their touch. He felt more than heard her mewling sighs of delight as she jerked in a more frantic pace against him, gliding, seeking, meeting each movement of his with a need that caused the heat of his own straining desire to burn further up his torso, tightening his breath into gasps that matched hers.

She lifted her face suddenly, her eyes opening to stare into his with a look of such utter passion it nearly undid him. Her mouth was a rosy circle of delight, and every emotion, every single feeling she stirred in him that couldn't be put into words was met there in her gaze. Hot breaths mingled and exchanged wants and promises bound up in sighs and gasps. Her hands dug into his shoulders as his stroked and cradled her, etching vows of trust within their grasp, that this was theirs and theirs alone.

She trembled, grasping for him more firmly, and he watched her shuddering release above him, her body moving wildly against his, and he fought to hold back his own rush to join her. In that split second she froze there above him, he knew what her love for him looked like, every precious moment wasted, every touch and word she had wanted to give him, every touch they shared, every glance that was missed. All of it was there in her eyes, poured out to him in the ecstasy of her face before she collapsed against him, breath blazing against his neck as she sighed out his name.

Fingers steadily massaging up and down her back, his grasping breath was unsteady as he fought the sting of emotion that burned behind his eyes, pressed against his chest, burned in the physical need of his body.

He wrapped his arms tighter around her, lips pressing into her hair, nearly chuckling as he heard her gasp a breathy, "Goodness!"

Lifting her face up to his, he brushed a whispering kiss against her still open mouth. "Nice?" he asked.

The caress of her laugh was quickly followed by her own mouth against his, lips and tongue dragging a path across his as if the taste of him would revive her.

"Nice?" she gasped against him, the word rolling away from her as if she were trying to understand what it meant. "Nice. Oh my, nice…" Her lips were now hungry against his, and he inhaled every bit of her, her still lingering pleasure as her body occasionally shuddered against his.

Humming an answering chuckle, he continued their kiss as he caressed down her sides, feeling the frantic pounding of her heart against his chest slowly begin to ease. The smoldering burn in his belly of his own need was an aching pressure, and his hands roamed lower across her back, over the curve of her bottom as she nibbled at the curve of his lower lip. Fingers reaching out to grip and lift hips, she moaned into his mouth as he moved under her, pushing against the core of her, slowly sliding into her warmth. She exhaled an aching, "Yes," as she sank onto him, and with a shaky breath he began to rock them both, gently finding his way deeper into her, thought leaving him as she encompassed him with heat and movement.

Hands pressed against his shoulders, she arched up over him, watching him with each rise and fall of their hips. Her expression changed as he pushed deeper into her, a groan escaping his lips. He forced himself to focus on her eyes again and the secrets that flashed across them, anything to keep himself from falling past that cliff. The pressure was stronger now, causing him to pant as he rocked his hips to match her rolling motion above. Her face was full of wonder, delight, desire as she held his gaze. He couldn't resist it anymore, the push, the pull of her, and he curled up to wrap his arms around her, pressing his lips against the base of her throat.

"Oh, God!" he whispered, his control breaking away, fingers digging into her hips, urging them both faster. All he could do was chant her name in a wild erotic prayer against the moist skin of her neck. Fingers dug into smooth flesh, leaving trails of want against backs slick with sweat. She was cradling him now, fingers tangling into his hair to hold him to her even tighter, whimpering out a cry that echoed his. Grunting out his release, he tried to hold on to that moment when his pleasure burst and filled every limb, every piece of him. He could taste it, smell it, and it was Mary, his Mary, her neck against his lips, the silk and grace of her in his arms.

Collapsing back unto the pillows with a shuddering groan, he pulled her with him, holding her to him as the last sparks and tingles coursed through him. She was kissing him softly, her hand tracing across his cheeks as she breathed in his pleasure much as he had earlier. Where the electric force of his release had filled him, it was now being replaced with the heavy weight of contentment, warmth pressing him down deeper in the bed, even as he murmured against her lips, "I love you."

She purred above him, trailing a line of kisses up his jaw and to his temple. Even as the dizzying spin of sleep was reaching up to claim him, he felt her fingers comb through his hair. He wanted to tell her more, so much more, but the shifting vertigo in his head stole his strength. He fell away, lost in the thought that they were still wrapped around each other. He was sure she was gently telling him something, the timbre of her voice echoing in his ear, but he couldn't make out the words as he slipped into helpless slumber.

Curled on one hip, her fingers played along the edge of her tea cup as she watched him sleep, wanting so much to trace paths across his skin instead. Eyes had to memorize lines and angles, features softened in sleep as she leaned her head against the headboard, the breakfast tray set at the foot of the bed, as she was too distracted to have any appetite at the moment.

The clear sunshine of dawn had softened now to a palest gray overcast, the one set of curtains she had drawn back letting a soft light into the room, leaving her with her thoughts and reflections, feeling as if her legs were unsteady on this shifted sand on which she stood. Too much had tumbled her over herself from yesterday to now, emotions long ignored were cracked open, scattered like bits of glass among the rippling tides of excitement, contentment, disbelief. Somehow each breath she drew felt new and different; she was still the same, and yet not.

My lover.

How naive those words had been in her misunderstood attempt at maturity so long ago. She had wanted to shock, to recast herself from a vulnerable girl trapped by misguided curiosity, to that of a woman who had made a choice, had known everything.

Only now did she realize she had never really known anything beyond the most basic physical act. She hadn't known intimacy or a true lover's touch. She had given form to something that never was, had hidden from the truths of an act that held anything but love.

Last night as she fell into learning a new language, discovered what it was to delight in naked skin pressing against her own naked skin, bared souls colliding and embracing, where words held so little power when there were touches and kisses and tastes to be exchanged, savored, and taken in. Breath and effort and desire wound together and became something different, and sounds pulled from her only sang of joy. The way bodies sliding together felt, sounded, the coming together and pulling away could fill all the senses at once, both a great symphony and silence of perfection. Both of their unvoiced voices had merged between and around them, weaving a new mantle of familiarity unexpected but instantly cherished.

Only now did she understand what it was to have a lover.

Instead of that word being a cold hard reminder of a folly, it made the tender ache of her body at the juncture of her thighs throb with an ache that was an arousing reminder, not a sharp pain of shame and fear. The ache there now made her long for more, stirred those tendrils of want and need again, becoming a very part of her skin and soul. She wanted to push that physical tenderness even further, to explore what seemed a near endless possibility of learning of herself, of him. Even now as he shifted in his sleep, she wanted to curl herself back around him, to shut out everything else, the doubts of herself, the fears and ghosts that had been drawn in to tangle their way through every moment they had been together. Part of her doubted this honeymoon, this room, this bed was all real, that she wasn't instead still sitting stiffly in the shadows of the Downton hospital, hand lightly covering his as she counted the seconds between each of his breaths, terrified the next one would never come.

That hand she had held was flung up on the pillow beside his head, the other across his bare chest as it rose and fell with a much gentler rhythm. She gave in to restless fingers and traced over his exposed palm on the pillow — she'd only studied the back of the hand in the hospital. Softer, paler skin was exposed now, crossed with lines that held a mysterious map as complex as their own relationship, crossing, breaking apart, crossing again. As her fingers curved over his, she remembered what secrets those she caressed had stroked out of her last night, this morning. Would it always be like this, once the outside world pushed in again and this time was nothing more than the first blush of excitement and discovery, of passionate needs finally sated? Silently chiding herself, she shoved down those thoughts, those worries that wanted to creep in and take hold far too soon. Instead, she moved to brush mussed hair back from his forehead, again lost in how it could look so thick and yet feel so soft like silk.

Blue eyes were looking up at her with a drowsy smile as her hand moved away, and she had to chuckle. "I didn't mean to wake you."

"Hmm," he sighed, stretching slightly before he gave a sharp wince that twisted his expression for a minute. Brow creased as he hissed in a breath, he seemed to struggle to shift slightly on the mattress.

"Matthew, what is it?" Her pulse had taken a panicked leap at his first twinge, already recognizing something in his expression she didn't want to remember.

He hesitated before shaking his head, farcing a smile across his face as he used his elbows to move himself closer to her side. "It's nothing, just some … stiffness."

She was leaning towards the tray, putting down her cup, ready to call for Anna, anyone.

"Why don't I believe you?" Her voice was harsher then she intended, but that fear seemed to have a good grip on her. His back. Her blood was running icy cold as she cursed herself for being so focused on her own sexual pleasure that she had never thought ….

His hand on her wrist stilled her as she moved to spring out of bed. "Mary."

She had to take a moment to compose herself, schooling in her expression before she looked at him. "Stiffness or numbness, Matthew?" she asked quietly.

He sighed. "Numbness, and it happens from time to time." She arched a brow at him, challenging his statement. "When I sleep wrong or have been too active."

His voice trailed off at that, and she closed her eyes in shame.

"Mary," it was a murmur this time, accompanied by the back of his hand reaching up to stroke over her ribs, the side of her breast. The combination of his touch and the way it shifted the silk of her nightgown against her skin made those tendrils of desire in her spark to life again.

She shook her head, letting out a sigh, before opening her eyes and glancing down at him, his expression one of pleading forgiveness, no line of pain or discomfort visible on his brow.

Her lips twitched as she tried not to smile at his utterly besotted gaze. "Yes?"

A wide grin spread across his face as he turned his head to try and kiss her hip, fingers plucking at the delicate peach fabric covering her.

"Is there any tea left for me?"

There was no holding in her laugh at that, but she watched him seriously again for a moment.

"Of course there is. And," she hesitated, biting her lip. "You're sure your back is okay?"

Pursing his lips ruefully, he looked away from her.

"Yes, I just have to … coddle it a bit, I suppose, possibly some ice and then a hot water bottle when I get up." He glanced back up at her. "But I'm rather parched right now."

She rolled her eyes, moving to fill his cup on the tray, adding the single cube of sugar and slight bit of cream before handing it to him.

Propped on his elbow now, and slightly moving his feet under the sheet he grinned. "You know how I take it."

"After so many years? I'm not blind you know."

He gulped down nearly half the cup. "No, but you are covered up now," his gaze flicked along her as she sat back against the headboard. "Rather disappointing to wake up to."

"I'll make note that you have found the morning after your wedding night disappointing." She gave him a knowing look.

"And I'll deny that until my dying day," he challenged, fingers tickling her covered thigh. "It is the nightgown I find disappointing at this moment."

She simply arched a brow at his statement, and he shook his head with a groan.

"I really have no graceful way out of this, do I?" he huffed, cheeks slightly pink.

"No, I don't think you do."

Draining his cup, he handed it back to her, rubbing his hand across his eyes.

"Can I start again? Because you look lovely this morning, darling, you truly do." Her chuckle as she settled back into the pillows once more seemed to encourage him. "This color," his fingers began to trace a path over the silk covering her thigh, circling at her hip before daring to pass the lightest of caresses under the curve of her breast. "You are radiant in it," he breathed with a husky murmur, leaning in to dare a kiss against her ribs, nose brushing the underside of her breast."

Hands sank into his hair neither pulling him away nor keeping him there.

"I suppose I can make note instead that you are fresh in the morning, Mr. Crawley." Truthfully her toes had started to curl from his touch and she wished they could be as fresh as he was making her feel.

She yelped as he nibbled at her breast, quickly covering the spot with an apologetic kiss before sinking back down into the mattress beside her. "That, darling, I will not deny."

Those blue eyes sparkled at her, and she twined her fingers with his as the quiet embrace of this new familiarity settled in around them. He squeezed her hand, and she smiled, letting all those other worries, those fears and ghosts fade into the shadows for just a moment. This was their new reality if they wanted it, and how long had it been dreamed by each of them, but never truly imagined. She hadn't completely expected this, the constant tug to touch, to tease with suggestions that were far from hollow. Once again, she wasn't quite sure of what this was, who she was now at this moment, but it felt a bit more secure when she realized he shared the same thoughts.

Still, she had to get control of herself slightly. "Was there anything you wanted to do in town before we leave?"

He grinned, tugging her hand once more until he could brush her knuckles over his lips as he smiled up at her. "I have two or three things in mind."

She chuckled, letting a finger uncurl to trace the outline of his mouth.

"I said, 'in town,' not in bed."

"Who said anything about being in bed?" The glint to his darkening eyes was downright wicked, and she had to turn away as she felt her cheeks beginning to burn. His playful — or not so playful — words suddenly had her imagination again running wild in ways that were far from appropriate. Or maybe they were now in marriage? She wasn't sure, but she was certain nothing of their suggestive imaginings would be possible in a house with servants. Which was likely a good thing.

Shaking her head, she took in a deep breath to pull herself away from distractions she shouldn't encourage.

"Continue with that line of thought Mr. Crawley, and neither of us will be able to walk after a day or two of this honeymoon you are imagining."

She glanced at him as he chuckled, but she caught the dark shadow that passed across his gaze, the slight wince to his face, and she knew she had danced too close to a tender, or perhaps numb, subject.

"Speaking of which," her voice was soft now, and her hand that he had kissed was now cupping his face, thumb stroking across his face. "I don't think any activities should be ventured today."

"Actually," his hand reached up to lazily brush against her ribs again, and she was in danger of melting at the familiarity and perfect simpleness of his touch. "We have reservations for dinner at Élysee tonight. There is an orchestra performing for dancing. I hadn't booked anything for the theatre before, but we can if you would like."

She arched her brows. "Are you up for dancing?"

"I will be if it is with you." He caught her hand to place a kiss on her palm again. "And to convince you," he put an odd emphasis on the word convince, "I will even follow your nursing orders of rest today. Will that satisfy you?"

"Possibly," but she slid down slightly so she could drop a kiss on his forehead. "I would be more satisfied if I knew where exactly we depart for in a few days. And something more than, 'the Continent'."

He grinned at her. "I don't know. I think I enjoy surprises where you are involved."

"If I don't find out where we are going, there may be no more surprises for you where I am involved."

He poked at her ribs at that, and she laughed, jumping away from his hand slightly.

"You play dirty, Mary Crawley."

She arched her brows at him, shifting her hand in his loose grip to curl her fingers around a single one of his suggestively, "I play to win."


She scooted down on the mattress to stretch out along his side. "From a practical standpoint Matthew, I would like to know if a bit of shopping is needed before we left."

"Anna had a run down of items to pack and knowledge of where we are going. I should probably get her a gift for resisting your attempts to pull the locale out of her," he mused, pulling her in closer against his shoulder, hand settling lightly at her waist.

She made a small sound of annoyance at his words. "Just don't tell me you were serious about my needing a swimming costume."

"Of course I was serious," he laughed, dropping a kiss against her temple. "I wouldn't have put it on there otherwise."

She pulled away from him with a look of astonishment. "Matthew, I do not go sea bathing. Ever."

"I have a feeling you will on your honeymoon," he chuckled. "Have you seriously never been?"

She wrinkled her brow. "Well, perhaps once when I was a child, but even then." She flashed back to a torturous holiday they had gone on with Nanny, the humiliation of the hems of her skirt gathered up at each side so that her special wading bloomers that covered her nearly to her ankles were exposed. She had dutifully walked out until the waves of the cold ocean slapped with stinging iciness on her shins, sodden fabric now clinging to her legs and chilling her all the more. Only Sybil had let out of shriek of delight, tugging immediately from Nanny's grasp and running straight into the waves, ignoring Nanny's shouts as she was drenched up to the neck, amazing them all as she, nothing more than a skinny little five year old stood up to each smack of the surf. Edith had simply stood at Mary's side, petulantly whining she was cold and that the seaweed felt slimy against her ankles, yet she had done nothing to avoid the water or strands of kelp green that drifted in on the occasional wave. Even now Mary's feet felt cold as she remembered enduring the discomfort of wet and sodden bathing slippers for the rest of the afternoon.

Matthew chuckled. "Trust me, you are going sea bathing on your honeymoon. So you are right, you do get to do some shopping before we leave." He looked at her with a gaze somehow both mock-stern and totally smitten, and she knew there was no brooking any argument with him on the subject.

She eyed him carefully. "Where exactly will we be having this wet adventure? It had better be warm if you are forcing me to wade out in the sea."

He sighed, tossing a hand in the air with resignation. "Very well, southern France. Cannes, to be exact."

"France?" His choice surprised her, knowing how he tended to avoid any mention of the country, war wounds all too visible in his shadows when he did. As much as she had once mentioned wanting to visit Paris again and travel to mountains and coastlines she had yet to see, she never would have imagined him making this choice. She stroked a soft hand across his cheek again, "Are you sure?"

"Quite. I've been busy making the reservations." He smiled as she gave him an exasperated look at his avoiding what she was really asking. His voice softened, "And yes, I am sure. I … I would like to create some new memories to be associated with France. Ones with you, of different places. Something filled with happiness."

She nodded, unable to move any words pass the lump in her throat.

When she was finally able to clear her voice, she leaned down to kiss him softly on the lips, pulling back slightly to hold his gaze as she murmured warm words against him. "Then for you, I will learn to sea bathe."

Thoughts? Feedback? Would love to hear them!