Upon entering their luxurious London hotel suite, Mary gasped. "Oh, darling, it's beautiful!"
Matthew smirked at her. "I wanted to spoil you rotten. I know. It's very un-middle class of me." he said, making Mary laugh.
"Will that be all, sir?" asked the baggage handler.
"Yes, thank you." said Matthew, handing him a generous tip.
Matthew anxiously waited for the door latch to close, before he walked over to his wife, who was gazing out the window, looking upon the city lights. He slipped his arms around her waist, his lips kissing her hair.
"Mrs. Crawley," he whispered. "We're alone." He breathed in the intoxicating fragrance of her perfume. "Can I admit that I've been consumed with thoughts of this moment all day? Even at the most inappropriate moments."
"I may have some silly smirk in all our wedding photographs. And I don't remember one word anyone said to me at our reception."
Mary stepped away from him, gently tapping his arm. "You going to have to wait a few more minutes. I have to go freshen up."
"No, don't go." He said, pulling her closer.
"Darling, we wouldn't want all the money spent on my trousseau to go to waste. Don't worry. I assure you it will be well worth the wait."
She gave him a little timid smile and walked away, closing the dressing room door behind her.
He closed his eyes, let out a deep breath and swallowed, trying to calm his nervousness.
The last two months, Matthew loved to tease Mary and make her blush about their future married life together. He never said anything crude, for he was a gentleman…just the mischievous hint here or there of what was to come…anything to make her laugh or smile. Since the moment they became engaged, both of them thought continuously of this day…this evening. And now it was here.
After unpacking his pajama and robe, he quickly changed. The thought of her walking in on him taking his clothes off still seemed foreign and uncomfortable. He felt awkward of what to do with himself. He didn't want to embarrass her. He resigned himself to sitting on the bed and taking deep breaths.
A few minutes later, Mary slowly emerged from her dressing room. Matthew stopped breathing at the very sight of her. It was the first time he had seen her with her hair down, her chestnut waves cascading over her shoulders. He also had never seen her in a lacy negligee. The thin silk fabric skimmed over her body, giving a glimpse of what was underneath.
"You look…like an angel." He said breathlessly.
Mary shyly lowered her eyes to the floor, for once, not knowing how to respond to his apparent adoration. Matthew smiled when he saw that she was nervous too. And vulnerable. And he loved her all the more for it. For this was the true Mary - the side of her that only he saw – no bravado, no witty retort, no snide remark.
He stood up and approached her, gently taking her hands in his. She was still unable to look at him in the eye. As he brought her hands to his lips, softly kissing her fingers, she closed her eyes and let out a frustrated sigh.
Noticing her furrowed brow, Matthew grew concerned. "Mary? What is it? What's wrong?"
"I'm….oh, it's completely ridiculous! I just….I don't want to disappoint you!"
"Don't you see? I feel like I already have. Because of…because I'm not….and just because of what happened years ago doesn't mean I know what I'm doing at this moment, if you were expecting otherwise. Because you should know I'm at a complete loss!"
Her insecurities getting the better of her, she winced, "I'm sorry, darling. I'm ruining this moment. I didn't…"
"You're not." He interrupted.
"I'm a complete bundle of nerves!"
He took her hand and placed it over his rapidly beating heart.
"Mary, you're not the only one." He sighed. "Come here."
In an attempt to soothe her, he took her in his arms, placing his hand on her head as she rested it against on his shoulder, gently rocking her back and forth.
"Mary," he whispered, "what is in the past is just that. It's not that I don't care about what happened…I'd be lying if I said otherwise. But not for the reasons you think. Don't mistake me, if I had known back then what had happened, I would have wanted to tear him limb from limb… but I care a great deal more about how it affected you. I care that you were deeply hurt, that you had to suffer for years afterwards. That others wretchedly used it against you. I care more that I couldn't shield you from pain. And I hate myself for not protecting you when I could have."
"You didn't know…"
Matthew continued with emphasis."Mary, do not think for one second, that it ruins anything about the beauty of this moment. Because it doesn't."
Feeling her physical tension begin to release, Matthew smiled and continued.
"Do you know when I first fell in love with you? It was the moment we first met, when you despised me on sight."
Mary chuckled into his shoulder, "I didn't despise you."
"Oh, I beg to differ. Those dark, blazing eyes instantly seared my soul. I will never forget it. Not only had I successfully humiliated myself by insulting Lord Grantham's eldest daughter, but she also just happened to be the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I winced about it for months afterwards, torturing myself, thinking I never stood a chance. Oh, I had a mad, unrequited crush on you for a very, very long time. I couldn't help it. The powerful combination of that chestnut hair, alabaster skin, those perfect, pink lips, that exquisite jaw line and collarbone. Your grace and elegance. Your wit. Your fierceness. Your intelligence. The elusive and enigmatic Lady Mary. God, I wanted you….and after all these years, I have never stopped loving you or wanting you . The only thing that has changed is the intensity of my feelings, which is so much more. It may have gone unspoken for a long time. I may have fruitlessly attempted to hide it and deny it, although others who could plainly see the truth. And darling, now that we're finally together, I could not be happier or prouder than to be your husband. I love you, Mary. I can't even begin to tell you how happy you've made me. My only wish is to make you feel the same."
"Stop talking and kiss me."
He laughed, taking her face in his hands and gave her the tenderest of kisses, then slowly wrapped his arms around her, in a far more intimate way that he never had before. Their expressions of physical affection before this were always loving, yet chaste. And now…there was no chaperone present; no need for reserve, no social convention to adhere to. He kissed her for the first time, not as a gentleman, but as a lover; deeply and with passion. He nuzzled against her neck, where his lips had never ventured before…brushing against her soft skin and grazed her shoulder, as his hands tensely gripped her back. Mary felt every nerve of her body stand on end and her knees began to buckle beneath her.
With one arm on her back, Matthew swooped down, scoped underneath her knees and picked her up and carried her to the bed. Laying her down and gazing upon her, he had to take a breath. Here was his Mary…his beloved, beautiful Mary lying before him, his wife. As much as he was filled with desire for her, he felt he must be patient and cautious. Mary, sensing him waiting for permission to venture further, gently took his hand and placed over her beating heart, allowing him to touch her breast for the first time.
Matthew gulped, "Oh, Mary." He whispered.
He could feel his arousal grow within him. His eyes followed his fingers as he continued to explore, gliding his hand over the silk of her gown, caressing the shape of her breast, her stomach, her hipbone, and her thigh. Mary returning the gesture caused him to shudder. He took her hand, stopping her.
"My darling, be careful." He chuckled. She looked at him quizzically.
"Don't misunderstand me, your touch is wonderful…in fact, a little too wonderful."
"I don't understand." Mary admitted, slightly embarrassed.
Matthew was stymied as to how to explain. "My darling, if you touch me like that, it will…um… it will happen…too soon."
Mary still didn't understand him wanting to stifle his arousal.
He leaned in and kissed her. "My dear, just trust me. Let me lead."
He took her in his arms, leaning his body weight into her, giving her a deep, open mouth kiss.
After several minutes of deep, passionate necking, and rolling around on the bed, his hand tugged at the skirt of her nightgown, easing it up over her thighs. She sat up on the bed, causing Matthew to wonder if he did something wrong.
"Mary, did I…?"
"Shhhh…" She put her finger to his lips. She stood up beside the bed, never taking her eyes off him. She then slowly slipped her nightgown over her head, letting it fall to the floor and stood before him.
Matthew looked up at her in wonderment, bewitched at the first sight of her naked body. His mouth agape, for several seconds, he was rendered speechless.
"You're….you're a goddess!", he finally whispered.
As his trembling hands reached for her, Mary felt shivers down her spine, feeling the heat from his palms, tracing the curve of her waist, one resting on her hip bone, the other cupping the small of her back. He slowly leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on the softness of her belly, and rested his cheek against her, trying to collect himself. Mary's fingers brushed through his hair.
He gazed up at her and softly chuckled. "Oh, how many times I've imagined this naked body and still I'm not at all prepared for this moment."
"You've fantasized about me?" she slyly asked.
"Only for the past eight years." Matthew said, making Mary laugh.
Matthew pulled her down on to the bed, bringing her body down over him and rolled her onto her back. He hastily tore his robe off, and Mary began clumsily ripping at the buttons of his pajamas. Her urgency aroused him even more.
After his pajama top was successfully off, he brushed his bare chest against her breasts, the first feeling of skin on skin was incredible. His lips and hands explored her entire body and it's gloriousness.
"God, you're so beautiful!" He groaned.
Matthew was filled with wonder, and Mary was writhing with pleasure. As his fingers brushed against the warmth of her womanhood for the first time, Mary gasped with delight.
"Do you like that?" he whispered in her ear, grinning.
"Yes!" she said breathlessly. "Take me, Matthew."
He slipped off his pajama bottoms and lay beside her, completely naked, and put his arms around her. As he gazed into her eyes, he could see that she trusted him. She adored him. She wanted him.
As he moved on top of her, he bashfully whispered, "Darling, you'll have to show me."
She guided him with her hand, and as he gently entered her, the feel of her warmth, her wetness was so overpowering, that he was afraid he'd lose control then and there. He had never felt such physical ecstasy. At the same time, he was acutely concerned with hurting her. With every slow push of his hips against her, the ecstasy grew even stronger.
He admitted breathlessly, "Darling, I'm not going to be able to last long."
"It's all right, my love."
When finally the time came that he couldn't control himself any longer, several intense waves of euphoria overcame him and he cried out.
Matthew withdrew himself, lowered himself and buried his head against Mary's shoulder and neck, panting, trying to catch his breath.
Mary, overwhelmed by the intimacy they shared, began to cry.
"Darling, did I hurt you?'
"No." said Mary, unable to collect herself.
"Mary, if I hurt you, please let me know."
"No, it's not that. I…I just…never thought this could ever happen. For so long, I prepared myself for not having you. Of never being able to love you. Of you never loving me."
"Mary!" exclaimed Matthew, catching her with a soft, tender, lingering kiss. His intense blue eyes looked deep in hers, welling with tears.
"You are a part of me. Body and soul. Nothing and no one could destroy my love for you. No misunderstanding, no war, no distance, no time, no person. Nothing."
And with that, he rolled onto his back, taking her with him, her head leaned against his shoulder, her hand on his chest. It wasn't long before both were sound asleep, exhausted from their long day, the sheer anticipation of their first time making love…of finally healing old wounds, past hurts with their warm embrace. Of starting their married life together with a clean slate.