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10 October 2011 @ 02:15 am
fic: morning glow, matthew/mary  
Title: Morning Glow
Author: Ellyrianna
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Pairing(s): Matthew/Mary
Rating: R
Summary: Lavinia's in London, Isobel's in France, and Matthew, blinded in battle, is recuperating in Crawley House when he receives a midnight visitor. No spoilers; just speculative series two wish-fulfillment.




Isobel was still in France. Even with Matthew blighted, blinded, Isobel remained on the front, where she was needed. Matthew had insisted. He couldn’t stand being fussed over. Molesley and Mrs. Byrd were too much as it was; the addition of his mother was unendurable. He sent her back, alternately plying her with assurances that he was fine and sternly reminding her that she had talents that were desperately needed. Guilty, chastened, heartbroken for her poor blinded boy, she retreated.

Lavinia was in London, making up her mind. She swore she would still marry him, promised him it fiercely in letters that Molesley read to him, and yet the trains came in day in and day out and she was never on them. She was trying to decide if it was worth it. Maybe she was concerned he would not be the same person he was when he had proposed. She would be right.

He laid awake nights, blinking up at nothing, touching his face and feeling where the light of the fire landed on his cheeks. He could feel its warmth, smell its smoke, but could not see its light. It was an interesting puzzle. He liked to think that his sight was just out of reach, hovering somewhere close. If he could but reach out and grasp it –

The stairs creaked. Crawley House was old, respectable, and his servants kept it perfectly, but the stairs and doors still creaked. He struggled to sit up in bed, fumbled his hand to the nightstand, where he knew Molesley’s bell waited. Perhaps it was the valet himself, even, just looking in, late at night and worried for the man he’d dressed and smoothed and cared for these four years.

His hand grasped the bell, but his bedroom door cracked and opened before he could ring it. The footfalls were too light, and the door opened too silently, for his intruder to be anyone dangerous to him. He swallowed and restrained himself instinctively from smoothing back his hair.

“This is most unwise,” he said softly.

Mary made a sound, one of many in her patented arsenal of derisive clucks and murmurs that cut women and silenced men. There was a quiet click as she closed the door behind her, and then the scraping legs of the chair beside his bed as she took her seat.

“Someone’s got to look after you,” she said.

“It’s well past midnight.”

Matthew clenched his hands into fists to keep himself from smoothing at his rumpled pajamas. How humiliating, for her to see him this way. Bad enough she had come to him in the hospital; now she sat beside him while he lay, scarred, unseeing, half-engaged. “If anyone knew of your presence here…”

“Nobody shall,” she said simply, as if it were a passing fancy, as if her reputation wouldn’t be ruined by the mere suggestion she had walked by herself late at night to town and slipped into his home, his mother gone away and the servants sequestered ‘til morning. She always did have a way of seeing her desires as superior to rules and proprieties. “Besides, it’s not as if I’d woken you.”

“Mary,” Matthew said, but he could think of nothing else to tell her.

The mattress suddenly dipped, and the chair legs scraped once more on the wooden floor as Mary stood and sat down again beside him. His whole body seized as she put her palm against his cheek, and, for once, he felt her soft, unblemished skin against his own. She was not wearing gloves. He shivered and gently took her hand, set it aside.

“You must leave,” he said, trying again. “I’ll ring Molesley, have him call up to the house and get Branson down here. You mustn’t’ve walked down here by yourself at any rate, and it’s even worse now you’re here. Let me –“

She took the hand he reached out for the bell gently in her own, and her grip was, unsurprisingly, as firm as steel.

“Nothing could be worse,” she said, “than what I endured through this. Nothing at all.”

He felt her lean in, smelled her breath, warm and not unpleasant, moving against his face. In a distant land, on a separate Earth, he was laughing at her selfishness through it all: of course nothing could be worse than the pain she endured. Nothing like the pain of the gas that had robbed him of his sight, nor the scars he bore because of it.

But that was not the world in which he was living. That was a strange, foreign place, one where Mary was not holding his hand and breathing gently and coming into his home so late at night. He blinked even though no picture could clear or come to him, licked his lips, which were dry as bone. He desperately wanted to know what she looked like at this moment. Her voice was calm, but she could have been crying; Mary, so contrary, the best at hiding her emotions, could have been sitting not a hair’s breadth from him, and she could have been crying. Was she? He felt he was in a dream.

“How is your hair? How is it done?” he asked, his throat closing, his voice choking. It was the most idiotic comment in the world, and he instantly felt like a fool. Who would say that? Of all things, why would that be what he managed to get out? He was absolutely ridiculous.

But she just made that sound again, that soft sound that seemed to say, I know just what you’re thinking, or, I understand. The hand she held, the one she had prevented from ringing Molesley’s bell, she took and brought to her face. She laid his fingers against her cheek, and all his skin broke out in gooseflesh. Her face, her angular, hard, impassive face, laid soft and bare beneath his touch. He rubbed his thumb over her cheekbone, and then his fingers slid to her neck. He touched her hair, closed his eyes, remembered it dark and lustrous, pinned in snaking coils and elaborate knots against the back of her head. Now it hung loose. He trailed his hand through it, found it tapered off to an end tied in a ribbon. Mary wore a ribbon in her hair. Like a girl, she wore a ribbon in her hair. Matthew laughed, and choked, and did not want to cry.

She kissed him then, silencing the phantom words he had been struggling to say, and he burned with embarrassment to feel the tear that escaped him when she did. Mary was not crying. She did not taste like salt or sadness. Her hands cupped his face, her forehead grazed his, and he tangled his hand in her hair and pulled her close. He knew he should push her aside, should stumble to his feet and pull her bodily out of the house if he had to. He knew he should ring for Molesley. He knew Lavinia was in London, still pretending to decide even when she’d made up her mind, and that everyone up at the Big House was contentedly asleep.

Her mouth broke from his for a moment, and he whispered against her lips, “Did you truly want to be with me? All of this time?”

One of Mary’s hands stroked back through his hair, and her other she rested flat against his breastbone. His heart pumped agonizingly fast in his chest, struggling to reach her palm through his skin and his nightshirt. He wrapped an arm around her waist by instinct, pulling her close, afraid to hear a negative response even though it had been he who asked the question. He wanted her. He wanted her near him. He always had.

“Every minute,” she said, and kissed him again. “Every, every minute.”

He reached out for her again and found her waiting. He kissed her in the blackness in which he lived and kept one arm round her waist, kept her pulled flush against him, even as she struggled to push aside the blanket under which he lay, to open up the buttons of his nightclothes. He gasped when he felt her skirt, which to his hands felt like eyelet cotton, like a nightdress, lift enough that her bare leg was able to graze his.

He forced himself to break from her, to hiss to her, “Stop this, stop, you can’t – we can’t –“

“I have never been one to obey when I am told I cannot do something,” she said, and her voice was quite steady, her hands quite firm. He couldn’t see but he could feel, could feel his fingernails digging into the smooth flesh of her shoulder because her nightgown had come loose and slipped partially aside, could feel her maneuvering herself into his lap, could feel her tightness and heat as he suddenly, unexpectedly filled her.

He gasped loudly, improperly. It was all most improper.

“Mary,” he said, and that was all he could seem to say.

She braced her hands on the headboard behind him and he wrapped his arms around her, his nails finding purchase in the soft, unmarred skin of her back, his forehead, slippery with sweat, pressed against hers. He didn’t stop to wonder what made her so assertive, or so informed. She clenched her muscles around him and it was all he could do not to throw her down onto the mattress and fulfill every idle dream that had plagued him since his arrival in this house.

“You walked here in your nightdress?” he asked through clenched teeth.

She rolled her hips over his. He groaned and kept his eyes closed, knowing it made no difference, but imagining that it was helpful in retaining some semblance of control. They couldn’t do this. None of this was possible. She couldn’t have come here in nothing but a white cotton robe, her hair tied in a ribbon. She couldn’t be in his bed, with him, with him.

“I did,” she said, and for the first time he detected a quaver in her voice.

He swallowed hard, imagining it, seeing in his mind’s eye the way he could no longer see in his true life. He saw her, purely white against the darkness of the night, drifting like a dream along the gravel road, the soft spring winds billowing her dress out behind her. What she wore to sleep, what touched her body every night while he was away, while he longed to be in her bed beside her.

“And you weren’t frightened? Coming here on your own, in the dark?”

“Frightened? Of that?” He could practically see her rolling her eyes, the sentiment was so strong in her voice. “I suffered through far worse in your time away.”

There had been a few innocent kisses and fumblings in his youth in Manchester, usually with schoolgirls behind barns on his way home from lessons. He had been much too proper, much too concerned with education and soliciting and looking after his mother, to find time to do much else. He and Lavinia had had a few stolen moments before his various departures, but they had always been unsatisfying, furtive and full of fear. Nearly all had ended with her sobbing in his arms as she told him how terrified she was of losing him.

Until he lost his sight, that was. Then she was merely terrified of being married to a blind, battered man with a title and a houseful of unkind relations who would forever be embittered toward her that she stole him from their precious prize of a first born.

Matthew shoved all thoughts of Lavinia aside as he felt Mary struggling to pull his nightshirt off of him with his arms wrapped round her as they were. He assisted her in tossing it aside, and then secured his hands on her hips, thrusting with a vigor he had worried he would never possess after waking up in his battalion’s hospital unit and being unable to see. He took control of it all from her, bearing one hand down against the mattress to give him better leverage, then wrapping his free arm about her waist to keep her firmly in place. Mary’s lips crashed down against his again, and he returned her kiss with fervor, with insatiable desire and trust and love, and love, and love. Always it had been there. Every, every minute.

When he came it was loudly, which he would later recognize as a terrible mistake but which, in the moment, felt like a release of all of the pain and longing and love that had been tormenting him, whether silently or loudly, invisibly or impossibly. It had been there since he left Mary crying at the garden party the day Lord Grantham received the telegram that would indirectly be the cause of his losing his sight, and with her teeth pulling at his bottom lip and her knees planted on either side of him, with his sweat drying cold on his chest and her hair a tangled mess in his hand, Matthew felt it all drain out of him.

Neither of them spoke for several prolonged minutes. They regained their breath and their composure, although Matthew kept one arm firmly on Mary’s waist, refusing to let her climb off of him and away and leave him. He found that he was terrified that she would tell him this was merely a moment. He was irrationally, inconceivably afraid that she would tell him in her very Mary way not to believe a word of what she had said, and that this was merely a passing whim, and that nothing would ever come of it, Cousin Matthew.

“You’re going to marry me,” he said. His voice was trembling. It was not a question. “You are.”

Two slender fingers stroked his cheek. “You have a fiancée.”

“Yes,” he said. “You.”

Amused, she replied, “You will earn yourself a poor reputation, breaking an engagement like this.”

He could see her smile in his mind, that wry twist of her mouth, and he laughed. He could just see it so clearly. It was as if he were looking at her, as if the firelight flickering warm against his bare skin were illuminating Mary sitting astride him, her hair a mess, her white skin luminescent, her same dry smile sitting prim and pretty beneath her deep, dark eyes.

He kissed her and she kissed him back, leaning into him, laying her hand against his chest.

“You have to leave,” he said eventually. “I will be up to the house in the morning to speak with your father.”

“How very proper of you, Mister Crawley,” she said.

She climbed off of him then, kneeling briefly on the bed and fussing with his sheets before her weight disappeared from the mattress entirely and she stood beside it. He heard her nightdress rustle as she straightened it as best she could. He slid his legs over the side and got to his feet, staggering briefly as he gained his balance. Mary grasped his arm in alarm.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

Matthew buttoned his pants and meant to do the same for his shirt, and then remembered it was tossed aside somewhere. “I mean to walk you home. You cannot go back alone at this hour.”

“I’m sure I’ll manage,” she said. “What help would you be anyway? It would take twice the time, you stumbling round in the dark, and then you’d have to walk back here alone – and just how would you manage that?”

It was a good point. When she gently pressed him, he sat back down on the edge of his bed.

“I admit,” he said quietly, “I am afraid to let you leave. It all seems quite unreal. If I let you go, will you spurn me when I see you next?”

She sat down beside him and held his hand, lacing her fingers with his. He heard sadness in her reply. “You’ve every right to hold that worry. It’s my own fault for instilling it in you. Please, if you can, trust in me. I meant everything I said to you. I will always mean it.”

Some silence passed between them once more, and then Matthew said, “You must stay until it is light, then. I cannot bear the thought of you going back out into the darkness by yourself in such a way as you are now. Stay until dawn. Anna can help you get back inside.”

Mary murmured her assent and consented to let Matthew pull her back into bed. Curled up around her, Matthew breathed in the smell of hair: sweat and perfume and the cool scent of new spring, through which she had walked to get to him.

She had come a long way, by herself in the dark in the dead of night, but he knew he would go much further for her.
 
 
listening to: Something Beautiful -- Alexi Murdoch
 
 
 
MJ: downtonmaidenjedi on October 10th, 2011 07:19 am (UTC)
I really needed this after tonight's episode!!! Thank you for sharing.
Ellyellyrianna on October 10th, 2011 01:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It was definitely stress release after this episode; I can't take these longing gazes much more!
Courtney: spaced: we're a couplemushfromnewsies on October 10th, 2011 08:46 am (UTC)
I loved this, thank you so much! Aww, I love them...

BTW, I know you said no spoilers, but I had seen these potentially seriously spoilerific pictures tonight and suddenly they made a lot more sense when I started reading this. Augh I hope he is not permanently blinded in the show -- THEN HOW WILL HE MAINTAIN THE ESTATE?!! Oh DOWNTON.
Elly: (downton) matthew/mary; no golden ringellyrianna on October 10th, 2011 01:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading! I love them so much, it's seriously ridiculous. It takes a very special couple to get me to write fanfic these days, haha.

I saw the pictures too, and they ~inspired~ me, but in reality I've no idea what's wrong with Matthew, and I think knowing as everyone does that series 2 takes place during WWI with Matthew in the trenches should lend to an enormous amount of injured!Matthew spec fic, so I hoped it really wasn't too spoilery.

Being the hurt/comfort whore that I am, I think I would secretly love it if he was blinded in the show. Hahahaha ohh God I'm going to hell.
7gifts7gifts on October 10th, 2011 01:01 pm (UTC)
This is much more realistic than last night's episode. I'm glad Matthew and William were not hurt but the singing was beyond cheesy.

I enjoyed reading Matthew's musings and how alive he became when Mary came to him.
Elly: (downton) matthew/mary; no golden ringellyrianna on October 10th, 2011 01:51 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, the realism factor actually worried me a lot...I mean this is SO far out of our Downton canon. But then I decided after being tortured with 4 episodes where neither of them expresses their feelings and just gaze longingly, some rules could be broken.

BTW, I LOVE your Dan/Blair icon! They're the only reason to watch Gossip Girl these days.
7gifts7gifts on October 10th, 2011 03:08 pm (UTC)
imho your fic is more realistic than canon at the moment. I thought I was the only one tortured by the longing looks yet no action. The scene were Matthew returned was the perfect moment for them to express their feelings, Mary hugging Matthew would have sufficed. Don't get me started on Sybil/Branson .

Thank you. I can't take credit for the Dan/Blair icon someone made it for me. Dan/Blair are precious aren't they? I haven't been watching Season 5, after last seasons last 4 episodes I'm too scared to watch.

PS: I hope you are inspired to write more Matthew/Mary fics.
Ellyellyrianna on October 10th, 2011 03:34 pm (UTC)
Yes, I was dying for her to run across the room and just throw her arms around him. Her desire to do so was so palpable I could practically see it happening. Then, of course, all we get is just the two of them staring at each other some more. We viewers need something, a kiss, a hug, SOMETHING. They need to touch. They need to do something. Sybil/Branson I've never had much patience for; now it's just bordering on annoying.

The first two episodes are actually chock-full of Dan/Blair moments! They're by far the best relationship on the show. You should watch just their scenes in season 5; it's worth it.

And thank you!! If this season continues to frustrate me, I may just do that :)
7gifts7gifts on October 10th, 2011 03:56 pm (UTC)
Then, of course, all we get is just the two of them staring at each other some more.

Don't forget the singing that was reminiscent of Sound of Music. Sound of Music is one of my favourite films but including a scene similar to Captain Von Trapp joining Maria in singing Edelweiss was really cheesy!


Thanks, I will check out the Dan/Blair moments on youtube.
Galactica's CAG: Downton | Matthew and Marynasirid on October 10th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for sharing this fic with us! After last night's episode I need them to express their feelings and this fic is a beautiful way to wait until Mary and Matthew decide to admit that they still love each other.

Elly: (downton) matthew/mary; no golden ringellyrianna on October 10th, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading, and for your kind comments! I was really feeling the frustration after last night's episode and needed to release it in some way. What I wouldn't do for a Matthew/Mary confession scene, let alone a sex one! Hah :) I doubt we'll ever get that in canon, though.
ena: da ▹ you mean a great dealirelands on October 10th, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
Oh my god, this is so beautifully written! Everything about it just killlled me. “You’re going to marry me,” he said. His voice was trembling. It was not a question. “You are.” I was done by this point, honestly. RIP promisethis 1992-2011. hahahaha. Great job on this! :) x
Ellyellyrianna on October 10th, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
Oh my God, this is so sweet! Thank you so much for reading.
ariadneoariadneo on October 10th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is simply gorgeous. I love that she walks all the way to visit him, I love how they come together, and I love how he is still sweetly concerned about her and her reputation. It's fitting and yet it broke my heart his uncertainty and fear that if he lets her go, she will spurn him again and I trust Mary will spend the rest of her life making sure he never has such reason to worry again. And oh that last line - just beautiful.

Thank you for sharing such a lovely, lovely piece. I really hope you will be inspired to write more, and soon.
Elly: (downton) mary; and in the darkellyrianna on October 10th, 2011 11:53 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to leave this lovely comment! I really enjoyed writing this, it was such good catharsis, and I think I might write a part two :) Thanks for the encouragement!
✎ robinrobin_aloha on October 11th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
ooh i loved and i made this blog address to my favorites!
the story is what i need to happen on TV (oh i'm not so sure about the hot s- scene... but the emotional exchange between these two must be on TV)!!
hope there's more and more to come. ;)

hmm i wonder how long she in nightgown walked from abbey to crawley's house.
sometimes i think it would be perfect if there is some kinda map of downton abbey and their surrounding.
Elly: (downton) mary; and in the darkellyrianna on October 11th, 2011 01:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much! I've written a part two, which I hope to post eventually; I hope you'll like it!

Yeah, a map would really be helpful! I estimated about a mile but who knows?
just_a_dram: downton mary/matthew1just_a_dram on October 11th, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
I just love this. It's sad and lovely and hopeful. In short--quite perfect.

She always did have a way of seeing her desires as superior to rules and proprieties.

What marvelous Mary characterization.

Thank you for sharing!
Elly: (downton) matthew/mary; no golden ringellyrianna on October 12th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading both parts, and commenting twice! It's just too sweet. I also love your icon! I'm dying for a good one of them kissing but I've not yet seen one that's quite struck my fancy.
(Deleted comment)
Elly: (downton) mary; mary mary quite contraryellyrianna on October 12th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC)
Thank you very much for reading!
braindiva: Mary Matthew Downton Abbeybraindiva on October 24th, 2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
I saw that you linked to your fic on ONTD. That was a great read. Well done. :)
Elly: (downton) mary; and in the darkellyrianna on October 24th, 2011 06:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for reading and commenting on both! That's so sweet :) I'm glad you liked them!
Celtic Flickaceltic_flicka on September 18th, 2012 11:36 pm (UTC)
This is gorgeous! Hot and romantic and the voices are perfect.
Elly: (downton) matthew/mary; no golden ringellyrianna on September 18th, 2012 11:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading both of these! I'm glad they felt in character.
Celtic Flicka: hot stuffceltic_flicka on September 19th, 2012 01:11 am (UTC)
Most of the good M/M fics are rather chaste, so I appreciate that with this one, you managed to Go There and still keep it in line with the characters and the show. Did I mention hot? :)
Elly: (dowonton) mary; bride of unquiet thingsellyrianna on September 19th, 2012 01:45 am (UTC)
Ahhh, that's such a nice compliment! Thank you! I was definitely, uh, sexually frustrated with the two of them last season. I guess it manifested itself pretty clearly here!