This little bit of fluff was written for Patsan's M/M Celebration Day a wonderful new holiday! It is a one shot set in neither TML or BR but a quirky universe of its own... where Edith is the narrator! Enjoy and happy M/M celebration day!
Edith Crawley sat on a bench not far from the house. She had brought a book to read since the weather was absolutely glorious that afternoon. It was sunny and warm, but there was a nice breeze to the stifling air. However, her mind would not let her concentrate. She almost couldn't believe it, but her eyes had seen Mary now countless days fib about where she was going. Her sister would say to Carson or Papa that she was going out yes, but she wasn't telling the whole truth. It had started only by a coincidence that Edith had even noticed this unusual pattern. She wanted to feel that there was some hope that she and Mary could build a better relationship. But everything with Mary always took so much time and so much work.
The coincidence that had first brought Mary's alarming business to her attention was when she had spied her sister in Ripon, when she said she was only going to the village. Edith had driven herself on impulse into the nearby town feeling she had been cooped up at the Abbey. It felt amazing to have something she could do herself, driving a car was still something she completely relished as an achievement. But before she could try and get Mary's attention she had disappeared. At first she had even wondered if it had been Mary. So, the next day when Mary said she was going for tea with Isobel, Edith had followed her in the car. Mary had not gone to Isobel's but had instead gone into Ripon again. She saw her make purchases for baby George, which was innocent enough. So, why had she lied? Edith could not make head nor tail about it. And yet every day it seemed Mary found a way to visit Ripon. Sometimes she even brought George, without the nanny. It was highly irregular, and Matthew knew nothing of these secret visits.
Edith felt it was her obligation to her sister as well as her desire to prevent any grief for her brother in law to continue observing this strange situation. The family's reputation and honor was at stake. Edith was grateful for the support that Matthew had shown her. She felt it was a duel obligation to both of them. And to the future of Downton after all, it concerned her nephew too.
She thought of the words, "Love and position," which she had teased Mary on her wedding day. If there was nothing to hide about her travels into Ripon, why was she keeping them a secret? Why was she lying? It seemed impossible, but Edith began to wonder about Mary's movements. Could she be having an affair? Could she be in trouble? Mary had never accepted help in the past; of course she was comfortable sneaking around.
She felt almost ashamed of her sister that she would risk so many with her strange travels. Edith had tried inviting Sybil and Tom to join her on a ride into Ripon on several occasions, but they had declined. She couldn't tell them she was monitoring Mary, not yet. But then finally one day they did agree to join her. She had hoped their company would provide a strictly objective point of view if anything were to happen. However, on this day Edith could find no trace of Mary or her plans or if she had lied about going into Ripon. Perhaps her elder sister was aware of having been followed.
Edith felt puzzled and more than a little annoyed. She did not want to catch Mary at anything; they were beyond the squabbles of their youth after all. However, she could not trust that Mary's motives were pure in her travels to Ripon. Edith wondered about her surveillance skills. As a journalist she needed to improve her sensibilities, it was publish or perish; a woman's voice could be a novelty, but she wanted to prove it was a necessity.
But, more than anything Edith allowed herself this activity because it distracted her from her own woefully melancholy moods. Nothing had come easy to her regarding love, and yet Mary seem obvious to her happy family. Sometimes she wanted to confront her sister simply because it was so obvious that she had a husband that absolutely adored her. She wasn't proud of the envy she felt. And yet Edith had seen that Mary rarely seemed to reciprocate any token of affection the same way as he did. Perhaps she identified with Matthew; perhaps they had that much in common at least. They both wanted to love openly and had both been hurt. It was Matthew, not Mary that always volunteered an antidote about George for the family to hear. And it was Matthew that spoke nostalgically.
On the surface it appeared a happy marriage, but she knew her sister. Edith closed her eyes, don't spoil it Mary; she thought keenly.
After almost a week of Mary's odd trips, Edith felt she was alas no closer to understanding their meaning. She told herself she would not write to her editor, nor return to London unless she could unravel this little mystery. If only she could understand her elder sister. Then perhaps she could take on the rest of the world. It was a Tuesday around noon when Edith watched Mary inform Carson she was going on an errand to Ripon for her husband. This was the provincial last straw. Edith once again strengthened her resolve and followed her sister.
In Ripon Edith was surprised that Mary first went into a bakery and came out with several purchases. She then proceeded back to the family car where she removed a rather large picnic basket. The family chauffeur offered to assist her, but Mary brushed off his insistence. What happened next was never something Edith would have thought her sister would attempt. With a blanket on one arm and the basket in the other she proceeded into a nearby park. Mary found an old oak tree, and after setting down her basket, she then proceeded to spread out the blanket. She fussed with the material smoothing every individual wrinkle out. Edith had never seen her sister do anything quite so domestic before. Once she was satisfied with the blanket she then opened the basket and laid out a picnic lunch, obviously she was expecting someone.
Edith could feel a sad constriction in her heart as she watched her sister's happy movements. She felt no vindication or victory. Mary smiled as her fingers fiddled with her locket; she opened it and stared at the portraits. Edith knew one was of George, and the other was from her wedding day. Her sister's expression was transcendent for a brief moment before she resumed her dignified glance and perfect posture.
Before she could form her very next thought, everything changed. And Edith realized how wrong she had been. She almost had to laugh at her assumptions, for something's never change; and yet her sister had. Mary was innocent of all of the charges she had forced in conjecture. For it was Matthew that appeared and walked into Mary's picnic scene. Her sister looked quite shocked at his arrival, but she understood the playful acting all of a sudden. The ruse was simply a bit of fun. And the way she kissed him left Edith feeling more than a little embarrassed. It all made sense. Matthew of course worked in Ripon. She cursed her own assumptions about her sister. For the way, the husband and wife continued to kiss was quite indecent for a public park in the middle of the day. Mary did enjoy playing games after all, and she had a found a new one. Edith blushed as she walked away from the happy scene. It was the best possible outcome she realized. This was a happy ending, concealed in a new beginning.
The next day as she sat outside with her book she was able to concentrate and absorb all of the rich plot and characters journeys. Mary smiled at her as she approached pushing George's pram. Edith was surprised when she sat next to her on the bench.
"The Age of Innocence," Mary said looking at Edith's book. "That is one of Matthew's favorites, did he loan it to you?"
"Yes," was all Edith could say. She noticed the way Mary said his name. There was a subtle reverence about it that she hadn't picked up on earlier.
"Matthew of course he would like a novel about a young successful lawyer," Mary said as she stared at her held a rattle in one hand while staring at his mother.
"He said the author is the first woman to ever win a Pulitzer Prize," Edith said as she returned her sister's smile.
"Matthew is taking us to the National Gallery in London," Mary said turning the pram slightly. "There is a painting there that supposedly inspired this new favorite novel."
Edith smiled at her sister, Mary's jovial mood was ill contained; and perhaps this was what had seemed to suspicious.
"Are you turning your writing towards literature now?" Mary asked with a dare. "Perhaps detective stories?" She smiled broadly, and her eyebrows rose at the implication.
"I'd be no good at that," she responded with a nervous chuckle. "I'd better stick to what I know, easier to keep the facts straight."
"Quite right," Mary said as she turned her attention away from her sister and back to her son. He tried to mimic her expression of the raised eyebrow and gurgled.
"Hello," Matthew called as he approached. He doffed his hat politely because looking away from his sister-in-law. His smile made the bright sunshine seem dim as he stared at his wife and child.
"This young gentleman and I have much to discuss," he said peering into the pram. "Would you care to chaperon us?" Matthew asked as he extended his arm for Mary to take. She stood without delay, however her eyebrows rose as Matthew pushed the pram.
Edith's smile grew as she observed her sister. As this family walked away, for once she didn't mind having been completely wrong.
Thanks for reading!