Hello - Dipping my toe in the post-s4 water. I started writing this soon after the Christmas special, and frankly I'm tired of looking at it. So I'm posting it! I've found striking a balance between mourning!Mary and this Mary, moving on, a bit difficult. I've found writing Mary with these still quite undeveloped suitors difficult, too. But I love her so, I want good and interesting things for her, and I don't want to lose this character, nor do I want to abandon writing about her. So, I tried this, and I won't make apologies for everything it's not - Not very interesting, not very well thought out, not very good. But, I liked trying to get into this mindset, and I liked amending some of Tony's s4 flaws by writing this. I say this often, but I don't have a real suitor preference - There is just more material written for Charles Blake, so I like to try writing for Tony. Anyway, I'm going to stop making excuses and just post it lol. By the end I was just sick of it, so it just rather cuts off, but I don't...care...lol. Thanks for sticking with me, and for the Highclere Award votes - I did get runner up in a category lol :)
Let battle commence, Mary had said, but it was less of a duel than those words might have suggested, for the long, warm summer carried on much the same as the year before had. Perhaps there was something knowing between all of them, some higher stakes, but both men treated her well, like it wasn't a bit of a courtship battle, and she just continued to enjoy their company.
Truthfully, when she had said it, had smiled at Charles, dawn upon them, her legs and feet tired from dancing the night away at Rose's ball, she had really meant it for him. The newly discovered fact that Charles was, essentially, one of them, as she might consider it, had changed things for her and made him even more appealing since they first met. Yes, Mary was ready for Charles to court, to step into her life more, and for Tony to perhaps fade out, if that was what they were meant for, and she indeed had eyes for Charles, anew and interested.
Mary enjoyed a challenge, and they had their disagreements, but she found she learned things from Charles Blake, about the estates, about the economy, and even if he didn't believe these grand houses could last, she had insight, suddenly, and he was to thank. And now she knew he was made of the same stuff as she, aristocrat whether he liked it or not, so if they were to spend their lives together it wouldn't be a matter of compromising morals to keep Downton afloat, or his own estate once he inherited – For he could only want for the livelihood of himself and his family, his property, so she saw them on near even ground for the first time. Yes, perhaps Charles believed the great would fall sooner than later, but he had the knowledge and the wherewithal to steer them through the rougher times if they partnered together.
It might be easy, she thought, to learn more about him, to invite him in, to fall in love with him, even. So, for the remainder of the summer Mary thought Charles was her best prospect, her lifeline to the next path that waited. She enjoyed time with him, easy and pleasant, not without spars and jabs, but less prickly than their first meetings. There were picnics, and laughs, and a kiss that she thought of with gentle affection. Mary liked to see him flounder a bit afterwards, defiant edges smoothed as he stood blushing in front of her, lips inviting again.
But then came Tony, back again as he seemed to do, just when Mary counted him out, wondered if he got lost and may not find his way, he returned. It was just as summer was leaving them, that he returned – As George's birthday neared, two years old he would be…and so too the anniversary of Matthew's death.
Charles was traveling; the last of his business before winter, and Mary needed a breather. For as bright as life was turning, her old one loomed like the blackest plume, and sometimes she ached with it all, especially as September came and she thought of all the familiar things of that month, from that year in which he died.
She remembered the crisp air that signaled autumn was soon ahead, and how thankful she was for it whilst hot all the time when heavily pregnant with George, and how Matthew would let open a window in any room that he could. When that wasn't enough they would take walks and he would smile lovingly even as she sank her toes into the cool grass, the wind playing with the damp tendrils of hair at her neck, that he brushed away to kiss, promising how soon their little one would arrive and it would all be so worth it.
Mary wondered if anything was worth it, at her darkest, when the loom of two years broke her heart instead of filling it with joy of how George was growing so. She found it easiest to keep these things private, to deal with the waves of sadness on her own, and she oft kept quiet of her heartache and loss with Charles. It just didn't seem how they worked, for he was as practical as she, and it was a difficult thing to broach, an uncomfortable topic, and they weren't quite there. Mary didn't know if Charles had ever felt sadness as profoundly as that, if he could understand her internal struggle with it all, and she felt fit to burst. She didn't want to jeopardize what could be her future by focusing on what was her past, one that haunted her fiercely, and it was a practice in balance that she had not yet mastered. Mary had indeed invited Charles in, but kept an arm's length between them on matters such as that.
And then there was Tony. Tony with such a gentle heart, Tony who was persistent to a fault, Tony who sat and told her that Charles was one of her own, wasn't an enemy after all, and weakened his own chances with her by doing so…levelled the playing field, and perhaps tilted it out of his favour altogether by telling Mary what he had about Charles. He was so sincere that he couldn't fight for her heart on what he considered a dishonest playing field.
"You've returned," Mary said brightly the morning of his arrival, as they found each other on the staircase, a meeting place of sorts for them.
"I hope you don't mind. "
"Tony, truly – We're past that, I welcome you, of course."
"Sorry," He said sheepish, looking to his hands as if he wished there was something to clench in them. "Still getting familiar with regular Downton visits."
"Well – Do. I'm glad to see you. It's been some time, I wondered if you galloped off and got married, or sailed to America."
"No, I'm afraid not – What of you?"
"Definitely not." She smiled, teeth against her bottom lip, and they descended the steps together.
"It's funny, though, because we hadn't seen each other for something like…a decade and a half? But now just a couple of months feel long."
"I've been used to you around," Mary shrugged, casual, wondering what his plans were, if he was just passing through.
"And have you been getting used to one Charles Blake?" Tony inquired, but not in a snide way, not one that dripped with jealousy or contempt like might have done whilst they were all in London.
"Hmm," Was Mary's only response, and they stood near the foyer, a pale blue sky the backdrop to the morning.
"Are you rested? What are your plans?" She asked, after a beat of silence.
"I'm quite well, thank you. I came upon Lord Grantham on the train last week from London, on my way to visit friends nearby, and he invited me to stop in on my way back – I gather you're having a grand dinner of sorts?"
"Oh, marvelous. I wasn't sure if you were just passing through or not. Yes, a dinner…end of season convening. It was Sybbie's birthday recently, and George's birthday soon, so…cause for celebration there, too."
"I'm glad I accepted, then." Tony said, and Mary watched as he glanced around the hall, early light of the morning filtering through in such a way that there was something very divine about it all, shimmering sunlight through the windows, glinting off the tapestry. He smiled as their eyes met.
"As am I." Mary replied, warmly, her nagging troubles forgotten in the moment, for seeing Tony again was always nice, always a reminder of his physical attributes, and his shy charm.
Oh, certainly Charles was handsome, a smile to die for and a wave of dark hair that matched his eyes, a kindness in his face that took the edge off of his harsher arguments. Charles had lines that hugged his mouth, whereas Tony had deep creases around his eyes, where he smiled from, more than his lips. Dark curly hair and two freckles on his left cheek were her favourite things about him, Mary thought, and this particular visit Tony was tanned and his hair a little disheveled, perhaps in need of a trim. He looked well-worn from the summertime and nearly relaxed, although Mary perceived something unsettled about him, too.
"Well, would you like a walk? Or have you any commitments?" Mary asked, after a silence that lingered too long, and she wasn't sure if he was keen on spending time with her, although why else would he accept her Papa's invite? It seemed the distance of the last couple months was quite intentional, now that he was here and things were nearly awkward – More so than even after his spontaneous proposal the year before.
"I'm quite free," He laughed, wringing his hands. "If you've got time for it – sure, a walk."
Mary gathered a light coat and hat, whilst Tony forewent a hat, as he often did, and they set out.
"I didn't mean to twist your arm, if you'd rather find Tom or someone…" Mary said, as the silence persisted, although the warmth of the morning and the pleasant breeze distracted her from whatever he might be thinking.
"I hope I'm not coming across like that. I'm happy to spend time with you; I just didn't want to push in on your day." Tony offered sincerely, and Mary looked up sharply at his word choice, thinking it funny she had once said something similar, under such different circumstances.
"Let's begin again, because there's nothing you're intruding upon. How was the rest of your season?" Mary guided the conversation, a bit annoyed by his discomfort, and nearly wanting to enjoy the rest of the morning on her own.
"Grand, actually. I got out of London again, spent a lot of time on horseback – By the water a bit, as well." Tony smiled, and it was nice to see.
"I see that, you look like a wind-lashed sailor." Mary remarked and there was something alluring about it, something she wasn't used to within her class divide – A man with a suntan and rugged hands, but it suited Tony well.
"There's something second nature about the sea after all of those years in the Royal Navy, but still difficult to not be on edge." Tony pondered, and sometimes Mary forgot of the atrocities of war, because life had been so chaotic ever since…of course there were men out there who had seen unimaginable things, and of course this was something both Tony and Charles dealt with. It was strange to imagine, just as it was when she tried to think of Matthew at the front.
"Well that makes perfect sense, I think."
"What of you, the rest of your summer?" The conversation flowed nicely now, for which Mary was glad because in Tony she found a confidant, someone to run away with and whisper secrets and worries, as uncharacteristic that was of her.
"Very nice, thank you." Mary offered, not wanting to delve into details or tease him about Charles – She felt on such steady ground with Tony, from the beginning, and whilst the summer was a time she gained even ground with Charles…it was something she took for granted with Tony, and enjoyed. It was easy between them, as friends if nothing else.
"Charles is doing things right, I see." Tony said, not as unwilling as Mary to bring up the more uncomfortable topics.
"What do you mean?" She sighed, her pace increasing as she felt trapped in the slow walk and the slow conversation – It seemed there was a point they needed to get to, and she just wanted to move past it.
"Well, how I should have done things." Tony ambled on a step or two behind her, and Mary rolled her eyes, out of his line of vision. Maybe she felt impatient with him because she had felt somewhat settled these last few weeks, free of the topic of oh which suitor will it be, and of whom is winning the battle – But she supposed Tony must still be anticipating something, a change of heart, or a declaration and she tried to understand his perspective.
"Is this why you're being quiet?" She kept the bite from her tone, and softened it as he caught up and her hat fluttered in the wind, and from Tony's place she was quite the vision to behold, swept up in the breeze, kissed by the gentle morning sun.
"I'm so glad I'm here, and to see you, but I must apologise for how things were when we first reacquainted. I was selfish, Mary, and more reckless than impulsive."
"Tony, it's more than a year ago now-," She interrupted, shaking her head, wishing they had reached resolution sooner, wishing she knew which resolution she even longed for.
"I suppose that's the thing. I'm still spending time with you…and I realize how foolish it was of me. I thought I could save us both from a spot of misery by proposing like I did, never taking into consideration perhaps you didn't need saved from anything."
"I appreciate it, Tony." Mary said sincerely, although her memories of that time were fuzzy, blurred with grief, only just wearing lavender when he showed up on a train and asked her to marry him.
How ridiculous it had seemed, even if she considered it seriously at the time, because she was still very married to Matthew six months after his death, and yes, reflecting on it, it had been foolish of Tony to propose at such a time. But he was so well intended, so soft-hearted that it had been easy to see him again, despite that.
"I was a desperate man and that's not a good look on anybody. I'd all but signed my life away when I met you again, and wasn't brave enough to be on my own if I turned Mabel down. I regret how it all happened, but I don't regret that I took the leap I did."
"So, you regret proposing, but there were genuine feelings behind it?"
"Of course there were. You blew me away, I was greedy and thought such a chance of a life we'd have together, but it was all there in how you captivated me so." He waxed poetic and Mary didn't roll her eyes now, wondering too of the chance of life they might have, or the chance with Charles, and of the one lost with Matthew.
"Oh, Tony." There was so very much to think about.
"I've realized it, and staying away seemed a wise decision. Especially if you've found happiness elsewhere, I don't begrudge that a bit. I can't help that I'm so drawn to you, though, Mary." They had walked past the familiar bench and tree, down the slope of the grounds away from the house, and they were a well-dressed, contrasting pair to the green of the lawn, and the flowers that bowed in the wind, soon to decay in the autumn.
"You sound quite defeated, but you must know I'm not happy? Not how you're imagining. I've been with Charles lately, but some days I'm quite sad." Mary stopped walking, stood on higher ground than Tony, and she looked down at him slightly, appreciating the angles of his face, the strength of his jaw, the unfamiliarity of such dark brows, and curly hair.
Well, unfamiliar in one way, but a call back to her childhood in another. He was far enough from Matthew that she saw nothing of her dead husband in him, but she did see summer days on the estate as a girl, time spent with Tony's Grandmother, and her sisters, dear Sybil, oh…
"Sounds like me, to tell you the truth."
"Isn't that just it? You understand…nearly from the start you have, because you've faced it, too. I valued you lending your ear to me, and I hope you will again." Her voice rose, polished and courteous, her own way of pleading with him not to turn his back on her now.
"Most certainly, Mary." Tony said, and he was meek looking, brows knit, and such a sensitive expression on his face that she might have laughed, had she not known he felt it all so strongly.
"You like getting away from London, mmm?" Mary began walking again, aimless, her tone light now, trying to bring him up from the depths he always seemed so deep within.
"I do, it's where my sadness lies."
"Mine lies here but I don't leave it, do I?" Mary countered, putting a hand on her hat to save it from the wind.
"Well, no, your sadness, of course, but your successes, too. Your son, your estate – It must be a bit of a battle of good and bad."
"That's exactly what it is." Mary breathed, for in Downton she saw her future, she saw her legacy, but so too she saw ghosts round every corner, battles to save the estate, and uncertainty aplenty.
"If your estate was in good standing, would your father's death hurt less?" Mary pondered, unfamiliar with losing a parent, but she thought it would seem more natural, be an easier grief than that of a young sister and husband. A parent, well, that was just the way of life, was it not? Of course it was tragic, and she scolded herself silently to think of it in such a detached way, she only wished her family was whole, and that she understood any of it. So senseless, it all seemed, even two years on.
"I don't think that, but at least I could carry the torch with a bit of pride. I'm an old bachelor living in the dower house, hardly doing well by my father's name."
"My, Tony, with the theatrics – You're only a bachelor by choice, not because you're undesirable."
"You think me desirable?" Tony flirted, and Mary did roll her eyes this time, adjusting her hat and casting a side eye to take in his grin, his crinkly eyes showing the expression.
"I said you weren't undesirable, which can still be a long way from desirable."
"Ruthless, Lady Mary."
They laughed, and then walked on in silence, far more comfortable than the beginning of their excursion. The wind tousled Tony's smoothed hair, and carried with it the faint woodsy smell of his cologne, and cigars from his coat. Mary felt warm, and nearly comforted.
"I like you," Mary began, as they approached a pair of great tree stumps, where great trees themselves had stood. She arranged herself on the uneven surface, crossing her ankles beneath her skirt, and she looked up at him with a tilted head and appraising brow. "Because you talk with me about all things, even the sad ones."
"Is that the only reason?"
"You were the first person to dance with me again after Matthew," She reflected, her voice soft, her mind a year away, or maybe ten…
"I'm glad you agreed to."
"You were going to sack Green just by my word." She thought of all Tony had said and done to help her since he had returned, since she had reemerged among the living – He was foolhardy, eager maybe, but kind, and supportive. He told her about Charles, he had been glad for her when she decided, slowly, finally, that she would live again, a full, true life.
"I believed you. I want to know you."
"I think you do know me, Tony, I can say that." Mary offered, and he sat on the opposite stump, unbuttoning his coat as he did, broad and lean beneath his suit.
Tony's hand, big and warm, grasped her fingers resting on her knee, and she squeezed them in return.
"George will be two." She felt sure they'd come to an understanding of sorts, even for the moment, and so too she felt the bubbling within of suppressed emotion, of the sadness that had tormented her these days descending into autumn.
"He's a strapping little chap." His thumb skimmed across her hand, the first time she had felt it whilst her own was ungloved, and it was rough but soothing.
"The day after his birthday is two years since Matthew died. That's longer than we were even married." The words wooshed from her before she could stop them, and they surprised her as she said them, for of course she knew but it was a sad fact, a cruel one, and she frowned at herself, her neck flexing as she tried to breathe.
"You just gave me chills," Tony muttered, concern etched deep in his features, but Mary kept her gaze downcast. "I'm sorry, Mary."
"Yes, everyone's sorry. It's stupid that it's on my mind all the time." Truthfully, she felt muddled – She lived in the present but she could feel violent tugs of her mind pulling her back to the past, and she could never get far enough to forget for very long.
"You know it's not that. It would be stupid if it weren't."
Mary sighed, bothered, uncomfortable, heat prickling across her neck, her arms itching under the coat. She wanted to climb from her own skin, for it was such a strange life now, a struggle to move forward, to understand what was to come next. She didn't know what was to come next! Maybe she would die alone, maybe she should just live for George, and the grand house and it seemed so much simpler than letting someone else in. Damned Matthew, she thought, he had invaded her heart and soul, and she was left like this, flailing and cold, but soft and undefended.
She reflected on what she had said before, to her Granny, to Tony, that if she had not loved Matthew as she had, and had not felt his love for her, she would still be whole without him. But of course, he changed her, she let go and fell in love and lost her barriers, lost the protection of her heart. It might take all her lifelong to feel whole again because of it.
"I think it's just the anniversary nearing," Mary said finally, claiming her hand from his and wiping her brow. "I feel fine most days."
"Remember what you said? You will have a life again. You will, Mary, and you deserve to."
"I do believe that," Mary agreed, for of course there were times she wanted companionship, and she wanted a hand to hold, and someone with whom to share her bed. She missed intimacy, and couldn't imagine going her whole life without it again. Yes, she would live, she would, after this dark anniversary passed, for she felt so alight with Charles, and Tony, even, that she knew it was just a lapse, just a moment in which Matthew loomed too closely and she couldn't see beyond him. But most days were bright, and focused, and she was thankful for that relief, finally. The relief of seeing a future form again, of enjoying the attentions of men, and the changing of the times. "I do, but…I'll just never get over it."
"How could you expect to?" Tony said, and reflected in his dark eyes was the tragedy Mary knew that she carried – It indeed did make an impression, and startled those around her.
"Hmm." She sighed, and then breathed deeply the fragrant air of seasons changing.
She ached all the way to her core, tattered and frail, but she knew she wouldn't always feel so bad. Mary meant it when she said there was life for her again, another one to build. Certainly, as unimaginable as it was, at times, to move on without Matthew, it could be even more unimaginable to consider stagnating in this sad present, also without him. She could dwell, or she could live, but each way he was gone, and what a dark liberation that was.
But she dreamed of being loved again, and she dreamed of a secure future, stability for her son, and a kind man to share her life with, second best, second choice, of course, but a man nonetheless. She would have a life, she would build a glorious future for Downton, she might marry again, and George would grow smart and proper – Matthew would be there, too, and it was just a fact of it all…moving on, healing, but with him so close beside them.
She supposed the thick sadness that had been alongside her as autumn came had much to do with how happy she had been during the Season. So normal and bright, she felt, and then to come home, and remember him so clearly, to be struck with the notion it had been two years since she buried him…there was a guilt mingling with the sadness, the worry she had been too happy, had been too close to forgetting him, although of course she never would, she never could. She was laughing and dancing with men in London, and Matthew was rotting in the ground – It made sense that guilt crept in with all of her emotions.
During the happy, warm summer months Mary had also changed her wedding rings from her left hand, to her right. It was a strange thing, for she never thought she'd be used to wearing them at all, but now she missed them on her ring finger, especially as the phantom sensation lingered, and she was always surprised to see them moved. She felt them there, even though they switched, and much like Matthew was to her, now – A phantom, almost there, but never the same. He lingered on, she felt him and loved him, but he was gone, dead in the ground two years ago that autumn. Her beautiful, precious wedding rings now symbolized something much different, and it was a sign of her moving forward, but it was also a depressing reminder to carry with her.
She bore the rings as a mark of a widow, now, and whilst to the world it signaled she had accepted his death, it was such an unhappy thing to deal with, to know. She was married, she had lost everything in him, oh, and the rings were the darkest gift to her. Mary could never be completely without the golden ringed reminders, however, for even as sad as it was, they were a part of their marriage, a part of him, placed gently onto her finger that sunny spring morning at the church.
"Are you quite fine?" Tony asked softly, and although he sat beside her as she pondered quietly, as she explored the tenderest of her emotions…she did not think him intrusive, no, instead patient and considerate.
"Quite. I feel steady," Mary paused, reconsidered, and shared a small smile with the dark-haired man at her side. "It might not seem it, but I just think a little bit…and feel steady again."
"It does seem it, you're the steadiest. If you're ever not, though, Mary, I'll always lend an ear."
"I know you will." The breeze blew through again and it carried with it such a distinct feeling of change that Mary's skin prickled with goosepimples, despite the otherwise warm day. Cold, sunless, winter days would be upon them in a couple of months, and she would make it through this time. Frail and tattered she may be, but she was strength and determination above the pain. "I thank you for it, truly, Tony."
She did thank him; she did appreciate him, a comfort, and a presence that was so easy, though Mary knew he struggled with his good intentions and his want for her. He tried not to sound too eager when offering a shoulder to cry on, but indeed if her closeness could benefit him, she was sure he wouldn't mind. Sometimes it was written so plainly on his face, that she could laugh – His pinched expression, compassionate, but nearly bursting to beg her to move on, and do so with him. More often than not, though, he put her feelings before his own, and he was nice to have around for that – He listened so well, he understood, and felt so deeply.
"I might say yes if Charles proposes." Mary offered, honestly, although beyond that she didn't know where they'd live, or how it would work, but just to consider that, a proposal, yes, she might accept.
"Might you?" His voice was deep, but it broke and Mary trained her eyes forward, uncomfortable with whatever might be brewing in his dark eyes, nestled in the expressive creases that cradled them.
"It just seems natural, as of now, the next step…"
"The next step for all of us, I'm sure." He agreed, half-heartedly but even so.
"I might say yes to you, too, Tony." Mary shrugged, and if she herself was frustrated with this ongoing triangle, then she was sure both men were, too.
"Oh," His cheeks coloured suddenly, and Mary's eyes narrowed with affection as she looked at him. "I'm glad to hear that."
"It's not fair to say." Mary argued, rather up for a disagreement, a battle over their respective hearts, because how could he possibly think it fair of her? How could he happily sit and listen that he was just one of two men she might marry again, someday, knowing full well if her husband was alive, she would want neither of them? Yes, Tony could do well to argue with her more, put up a bit of a fight, and not sit back and breathlessly declare his luck just to be in her presence. He wanted her, he might even still love her, and it was always on the tip of his tongue, but he was never about to throw down for a battle.
"I don't mind." He said, and of course he didn't, and Mary sighed, both annoyed and flattered.
"You'd rather be dangled along than cut loose?" She baited him again, an eyebrow rose, and he hesitated for a moment, lips moving wordlessly. Perhaps he wouldn't say it, but that moment he faltered told Mary that, no, he wouldn't prefer to be dangled along.
"I don't think it as harsh as that. But of the two options, yes, I'll take that one."
"What's stopping you from asking again, right now?" Mary pushed on, and her tone was high, attempting casual.
"I don't want you to say yes just because I asked again first. It shouldn't be pressed upon you before you're ready. Not…again, not after I already did that to you."
"Maybe it should be pressed upon me, I can't lead you on forever."
"But it's up to you, to decide, and I don't think…I could ask like I should, on one knee and everything, because you need to make it naturally, but know that it's out there – Always, always on the table."
"That's big of you, Tony." And Mary's eyes fluttered closed, as she dared to wonder of a life with him, as simple and pleasant as this.
"It's not very hard…I want to marry you, I do, Mary, and you've been a bloom of sunshine in my life."
She laughed shortly, smiling despite it all. There weren't many people who would consider her that, and she felt like Tony did understand her, did so in a way that only Matthew ever did – Matthew loved her, he thought her so nice while no one else ever could.
"I don't think I've ever been described quite like that."
"Well, I see it." He grinned, and it was all intense, overwhelming, and very finite, but a light-hearted edge stayed with them that morning. Perhaps they could be happy together, perhaps Tony would shed some of his darkness and burdens, and Mary could do so, too – Oh, could they help each other live again?
"That's why I might say yes to you – You can see sunshine in the darkest, cloudiest day."
"Sometimes I'm the darkest, cloudiest day."
"Yes, sometimes you are. Sometimes am I." They held hands again, Mary's heart leaping in a wondrous sort of way, and this time they linked fingers, knees touched as they leaned close. It was the intimate sort of moments that she missed, and that she enjoyed so with Tony. They slipped into a familiar intimacy, whispers and hands held, and it would be a nice thing to get used to. She wanted to kiss him again, it had been quite long since their first one, and she wanted to remind herself of his pouted lips, warm breath, and curly hair, to feel his heart skip against her fingertips.
Very softly, in one of those whispers that they shared, Tony told her that he loved her, again and still, and Mary held his hand tightly, awash in goosepimples again as she tingled pleasantly, her eyelids heavy with contentment in that moment.
Perhaps she knew her future much more certainly than she thought she did…perhaps it was time to decide. She didn't feel excitement like she did when she dreamed of her life with Matthew, years gone now, but she didn't feel dread, she didn't feel drenched in death anymore…Mary felt open to possibilities, and a grand possibility sat right beside her.