It rains on the morning of her wedding, just as Granny agreed with her that it would, and Mary Crawley is impossibly glad. Everything is grey, and Edith tells her that Mrs. Hudson is in fits attempting to keep the main floors dry.
In her room, Mary laughs at having bent the weather to her will.
There is a last, desperate row about the gown, which is blue. Edith wrings her hands by the door and Anna watches the rug and tries to hold the offending gown at a contrite angle; Mama sits at Mary's dressing table with her lips pinched tighter than her corset and asks Mary to just think of what people will say.
"Mama," she says, "Truly, I cannot wait to hear."
The main hall has not seemed so long since Mary was a child and would run the length of it in her stocking feet, breathless and giggling and momentarily free of her grasping governess. It seems to take a terribly long time to cross the soft red aisle that cuts across the marble like a tongue waiting to swallow her whole, but that may be because Papa is dragging his feet.
Or perhaps it is Mary's feet that protest; it is hard to tell.
Sir Richard's hands are cold through her delicate gloves, and colder still when she draws off the left to let him place his ring on her finger. Beside her own, his hands are callused and ruddy, and Mary feels his grip tighten-- slightly, so slightly-- as he promises to hold and to cherish, to keep her, keep her, keep her...
The recieving line is endless, and even as her cheeks tremble with the effort of her smile, Mary wishes it would never end. Granny tells her that her dress is lovely and Mary thanks her, neither of them breaking face. Isobel leans in to kiss and starts to speak, but Sir Richard leans across her and hands the other Mrs. Crawley down the line before any unfortunate words are spoken. Her husband's eyes roam the crowd for an interloper that Mary knows will not appear; Matthew wrote with his apologies a week ago, but Mary decided not to disappoint Sir Richard with the news of his absence.
At the dinner in their honor, Mr. Carson waits on them himself. His presence is a warmth on her left side, and for the first time all that dreary day, Mary's throat tightens. She drinks every glass of the meticulously selected spirits he sets before her and eats very little. "Are you well, Mrs. Carlisle?" Sir Richard asks, lightly. "Impossibly well, Sir Richard," she says, and she thinks (but can't be sure, because of course, it's Carson) that the butler beside her sighs.
They do not spend their first night together at Downton; Mary had thought they would, but Sir Richard wouldn't hear of it. "A new start in our new home," he said. "I insist." Granny's nose is lifted so high up in the air that she all but gives her best wishes to the ceiling of the entranceway as they make their goodbyes, and it only occurs to Mary later that this may have been intentional. Mama's lips are papery on her cheek, but her eyes are damp; Papa seems to have aged ten years over the day. "Goodbye Mary, child," he says, and the broken lines around her father's eyes flicker before her own as Sir Richard leads her through the rain into the carriage.
There is no staff to meet them at the new place, only one girl, perhaps from the village, to lay the fire and the bed. Sir Richard leads Mary into the grand and nearly empty master bedroom; there is no ladies' maid to help Mary undress, and no screen or doorway for her to stand behind and ready for bed. The sparking fire is brings the only light in the room.
"There is no electricity just yet," Sir Richard tells her as he begins to unbutton his starched white shirt.
Mary tries to avoid it, but in the end her husband, wearing only his trousers, has to help her out of her gown as she stands rigidly by the fire. The maze of hooks and buttons are too delicate for his fingers, and he tears the silk, though-- Mary thinks--not on purpose. Mary manages her nightgown on her own and tries very hard not to hesitate as she slips off her undergarments beneath the soft fold of the white muslin.
She leaves them on the bare, cold floor, next to the silky puddle of her wedding gown.
As in so many things, Sir Richard takes charge of the next bit of business. Not very much is required of Mary. She lies back as he leans into her, and there is pain but not terribly much and she knows that he is thinking of the conquring Turkish ambassador to whom he owes his prize and part of her wants to tell him that that is perfectly ridiculous as Mr. Pamuk died years ago and certainly he never quite did this to her, but she realizes that she is biting her lip terribly hard and decides to let Sir Richard think what he likes.
"Goodnight, Mary," Sir Richard says afterward.
"Goodnight, Sir Richard," she replies.
Her husband sleeps, or she supposes he does. Mary lies awake and listens to the rain.