- Oh is it really necessary? – Mary asked her husband letting a mourn come out of her mouth. – I wish you could stay home for longer than a week.
- I am afraid it is, Darling. – Richard answered the question with a sad look on his face while walking towards her wife who was sitting in the opposite corner of the room.
-I shall miss you terrible then.
Mary smiled to him and took his hand when offered. The truth was that she couldn't care less of how much time her not-so-loved husband would stay at Haxby with her. She had other plans in mind instead of actually miss him.
Since their marriage she had played the part of the perfect wife, the one every gentleman would dream of, but that amazing women was far away from her true self. Richard's profession would demand a lot of time from him and since they agreed in establish residence in the country his travels to London became more and more frequent. At first those trips would take only half a day but ,with the growth of the demand, the time had quickly increased to a week or so.
- I'll be staying for a week and no more, as if everything goes right. I hope your parents can open their place in the city once more.- the lady shook his head as too agree before hearing his old suggestion – Are you sure you won't like to come with me this time?
- I am, sorry. You know how much I hate travelling around when I have other things to do here. – his face showed comprehension so she continued- Besides, Granny is expecting me to tea at her house on tuesday and I could never dissapoint her.
Lies. That is what all of those were. The dowager countess would be out at a friend's house during the whole week so no tea party was planned and Mary loved going to London no matter what, she just hated doing it with him.
As a matter of fact Richard was not a bad person, not at all. During their engagement the couple faced some storms that were easily forgotten with the marriage. He was extremely respectful to his wife and never ever forced her to do something she was not in agreement. He waited patiently until she was ready to fulfill her duties of the Institution and even acted as if the whole Pamuk story hadn't happened.
The problem was Mary and entirely hers. She was not in love with her husband and actually never had been. Her heart belonged to another man but the fitness of the situation demanded her feelings to be hidden in the bottom of her internal ocean. As if to complicate even more she knew her desires were the same to his and could easily besatisfied.
- Well then, I am leaving in the six hour train. We can telephone each other so to keep up with the news. – Richard leaned towards his wife and kissed her gently before taking a step backwards. – I'm going up to bed, good night my darling.
- Sleep well and have a safe journey. I'll count the hours for us to meet again. – her smile encouraged him to give her another kiss before leaving but her gaze was set on something else.
As soon as he left the place Mary stood up and picked the pen and the paper from above the nearest table. Her writing was fast and the excitment she was feeling could barely be expressed in words. She knew she couldn't send it until her husband was gone but still... just to put the invitation down was already enough. She had a lover. The mere fact of being able to see him made the taste of the secret good enough to be revealed anytime soon.
Out for the week. Will catch the first train. Come at noon.
Mary woke before Richard the next day but since she had no interested on seeing him leaving she decided to remain quiet until everything was clear. Once she felt as it was safe she decided to ring the bell so the morning arrangements could be done and the servents could be released for the next two days. The letter was posted early which meant that the addressee would be on time. That was the way things took place once her husband was away. Mary couldn't keep the servents from seeing – or hearing – anything meanwhile she couldn't risk her marriage and reputation. That so the only way to solve it was to give all of the staff some days off so they could have privacy to enjoy all sort of things that was wanted.
By the time all was arranged there was only one hour left until his arrival. The house was empty which gave her freedom to plan their day and to mentally organize what was needed. Her heart beats were out of control and every minute that passed made her breath more and more unstable. She missed him so very much and the possibility of being reunited again gave her chills. His kisses were to her like sweets to a children – you can't have it at anytime but you always wants it – and were so addictive she was convinced it was somehow poisoned.
It was not even ten passed twelve when the front door bell rang in a high noise. Mary walked as fast as she could to answer it but before actually opening it she took a deep breathe. The moment she saw his perfect smile directed to her she feel as if the ground had dissapeared and his strong arms would have to hold her to prevent the fell. His eyes locking in hers created na invisible coonnection that made it seem like the whole world was no longer there. They were together at last.
- Oh Matthew darling, you have no Idea how much I longed for you. – the man standing on the door took her hand and pulled her close before kissing her passionately.
It took a long time before they were able to stop the physical contact but once it was done he entered the house and acted as if it was him own. After all Matthew had been at Haxby so many times – all of them but one entirely in secret – and him and Mary liked to explore new spots where fun could be made. Consequently he probably knew the place better than the actual owner.
- Me too my love. I'm so sorry it took such a long time for us to meet again. Last time Richard was gone Lavinia was taken ill so I couldn't just leave her there on her own. – he looked down for a brief moment and Mary could sight sorrow in his expression but decided to let it go. – You are centainly apart of the circumstances so I refuse to go deeper on it. Anyway, I'm here now so shall we enjoy it?
Mary knew what was the situation the man was reffering to. She knew it so well it still caused her some pain to remember. It's never easy to see the person you love living a life with someone else but usually she could endure the burden. Unfortunately during that short time it seemed like every hope had finally been destroyed.
It was not more than two months ever since. Matthew sent her a letter inviting her family – which meant Richard and her – to a special dinner in his and Lavinia's home. She knew something good had happened and that Mama and Papa would also be there but she'd never be prepared for the news that were to come.
Lavinia was pregnant. With Matthew's child. They were to have the probable heir of Downton. They had finally fulfilled the duties of the marriage. They were a happy little family.
It broke her. She was married at the time, obviously, and so was Matthew but still it didn't feel right. A year before, at his wedding with Lavinia, Mary stood still with a smile on her face while she saw the man of her life swearing vows to another woman. She was hurt but she knew this obstacle could be ignored by them. Six months later, on her own magical day, she saw his face in the middle of the crowd wishing her the best wishes of all. Nothing had changed still between them.
Both of the marriages were consummated but their silently agreement would bring peace to Mary and Matthew. She knew how to control the pregnancy and was doing what was needed to it whilst Matthew claimed to be also doing his part. They wanted children and both knew but deep inside they wished to wait a little more to see if nothing would change in their respective relationship. Divorce was not an option for neither, of course, but maybe another possibility could come up, after all there was no rush...
Therefore the news shared on that day was not a good one, not for Mary. She tried her best to appear surprised and excited, an act that was only partially true. She was sure surprised but that feeling led to a big that night she refused every attempt of Richard to come near and ended up alone in her bedroom crying herself to sleep.
Unfortunately or not, only two weeks later another information was shared with the Crawleys, Lavinia had suffered a spontaneous miscarriage and was needing medical assistance. Mary knew Matthew was probably devastated but it was hard to find some time alone to both of them to even talk about it even though Richard had left town many times during the stormed time.
The terrible accident brought everything back to the beginning and somehow calmed down Mary's heart. She knew that it was only a matter of time until something troubles their arrangement one more time, but still, all she wanted was to be with him as much as possible and as intimate as possible. Despite all the problems, all their past and even the possible events that were to take place she could only think on one answer to the question made.
- Definitely. I'm entirely yours.