Call for your smelling salts, fellow Downton Abbey enthusiasts! A lucky few of us have peered into the future and, propriety be damned, seen glimpses of Season 3 before its official PBS premiere on January 6. It saddens both my heart and loins to report that in this newest Downton era, even the steamiest plots have gone cold as Mrs. Patmore's lunchtime ham. After two seasons of will-they-or-won't-they tension, we are finally offered a peek of a certain couple in bed together… and it is like watching two loaves of bread under a blanket.
Frustrated, I knew where to turn. *Holds Internet to bosom, caresses its curly mop of hair.* Since 50 Shades of Grey went supernova, even the publishing world has come to (somewhat) respect erotic fanfic, so don't give me that Dowager Countess judgey face. Just fill those teacups with Earl Grey — and perhaps a soupcon of gin? — and enjoy this guide to some of the finest and lustiest Downton Abbey fanfic out there.
Here's to the tension release we've so valiantly earned by delving into yet another season of sexually repressed afternoon teas(es).
In which Mary is ravished by ChubbyCheeks Matthew in a damn castle: "Consequences of the Castle"
She responded to his nod with almost panic and her fingers ghosted to the front, fiddling with the buckle, trying not to think. She was too close to him! She could not - should not - she was a lady! Yet somehow as half her mind rebelled against what she was doing and the other half was taken over by the feel of his lips on her neck and the cold air on her exposed legs (good grief, her legs were exposed! How unutterably demeaning!), somehow it was done and the buckle free. She pressed her cheek against his, her eyes staring suddenly staring out behind him across the circular chamber and out onto the headland. She noticed, stupidly, irrelevantly, that the low sun in the dark sky was causing all the colours to appear with peculiar intensity -
Matthew groaned softly as he felt the sudden freedom she'd released. His breath was coming in increasingly shallow gasps, every sensation heightened deliciously by the cool wind blowing around them. Briefly his eyes fluttered closed in unrestrained pleasure before he kissed his way eagerly back to her lips. A building sense of urgency was pooling in him, desperate to feel her against him and around him. With a quiet moan into her mouth, his hands slipped underneath her dress and skirted around her hips. His fingers skimmed over the cool silk covering her, savouring her, before he relented and pushed down the flimsy garment. That done, he gripped earnestly at her hips, his nails digging into her intoxicatingly soft skin…
In which Mary is married to that sleazy media mogul and he has CANCER and yet she pursues ChubbyCheeks Matthew on the side anyway: "Home Is Where The Heart Is"
She pulled back a little to look into his face. She smiled sadly, putting a hand to his cheek. He didn't dare move. "...We could have been so happy, you and I. If I'd just confessed everything and told you how much I loved you, you'd have gone off to war a married man, married to me, and none of this would be happening-"
And then his lips were on hers and he was pulling her fiercely towards him, pressing their bodies together. Her hands were in his hair, her nails gently trailing behind his ear and his tongue was in her mouth. He tasted – God, he tasted of Matthew and all her clouded, drunken musings were replaced by that old aching desire for him and he returned it in kind. They'd never kissed like this, having only shared the curious kisses of a young romance. No, this was the kiss of two adults, both knowing their way around a bedroom, but never having shared passion of this kind. It felt so right, until it felt so wrong and Mary needed air and the dimming affects of the alcohol soon brought clarity to her mind. Her husband was dying and she was -
The sob into his mouth caused Matthew to break away immediately. He ran a hand through his hair.
"Oh God, Mary, I'm sorry...I just, I didn't...Mary!"
But she didn't give him any time to explain, running from the room, knowing the guilt would follow her into the hall…
In which it's modern day and Mary is "an Oxbridge reject with a past" and Anna is her roommate and my mind is BLOWN: "University Challenge"
"Matthew Crawley wants to be friends on facebook," read out Anna over her shoulder. "Ooh, he's a bit of alright! A relation of yours?"
Sometimes Mary wished she could swap surnames with Anna. If she were called 'Smith' nobody would keep making this stupid connection between them just for having the same name. It was already old.
"No. He was proposing the debate last night – won it too, worst luck. We sat next to each other at dinner."
She accepted the friend request and immediately clicked on his profile. A Church of England high school in Manchester (just what she might have imagined), five years at Corpus Christi College, Oxford (how long was a classics degree?), they both liked Yes Minister and Queen, Gwen Dawson was a mutual friend, he was in a relationship with Lavinia Swire... She clicked on Lavinia's profile. Most of it was hidden, but she could see her picture – an attractive red head in a floral print dress and sunglasses with her arm round Matthew taken on the Acropolis in Athens. Mary pulled a face. So she might be a nerd, but she was a hot nerd. Of course she was.
"So," began Anna in that speculative tone of voice that always suggested trouble, "shame about the girlfriend!"
Mary shrugged with disinterest. "I really don't care."
"You're far prettier than her anyway."
"Well, yes, but I didn't like him much anyway."
"Whatever you say," replied Anna with a grin…
In which Edith *Brianna rolls eyes* gets some attention from Sir Anthony even though I wish she'd just get on her tractor and ride it far, far away from me: "Rare"
Just how weak and foolish was he, he wondered, that he could stand here in front of her, wanting to give her exactly what she was asking for? Because he knew he should be severing this relationship for her sake.
God help him, he wanted to touch her. His fingertips fairly itched with it. Not because he was in love with her, although that could happen, he knew, far too easily.
Anthony wanted to caress and console and encourage this woman who seemed to have become too used to the shadows that her sisters cast. He wanted her to know he did not, would not, ever forget that she was a woman. She should never feel that she was invisible, or anything less than the others were.
But he didn't touch her. Despite the deepening pull he felt, he didn't even move any closer. And he hated himself for not being able to find the words to reassure her.
All at once she jammed her hands into the pockets of her light coat as if to signal an end to the awkward conversation, or as if to signal he was safe from any continued advances.
As she felt a jittery sort of panic take her, she turned and walked for the nearest bit of farm equipment, determined to pretend that it suddenly occupied her interest…
In which Sybil and Tom "Chauffeur" Branson get their own fully-developed goo-goo eyes romantical story: "Lost Time"
She was there for a reason. He didn't know what it was, but she must have one. She had never come to the garage so late at night, so close to dinner, and never in her evening dress. He had seen her in finery before, but it was usually covered, at least in part, by a coat or shawl. She had worn a shawl here, but had discarded it on a sawhorse, as it was an intemperately mild night and the garage was stuffy and warm. He ruefully noted that the temperature of his own blood was several degrees above normal.
He couldn't stop staring at her. Of course, he had seen posh women before, but on her, all that finery seemed designed to make his mind go there. The tidy strips of silk holding back her hair begged to be unwrapped. The satin sash that draped lazily across her hip begged to be lifted. The path of jewels cascading down her chest begged to be followed. What would it be like, he wondered, if he lived a life where the seminal event of his day was sitting across the dinner table and admiring her? At this moment- this moment only- he was horribly jealous of every man who held that privilege. But what drove him to distraction was the fact that she seemed completely unaware of the effect she was having on him. Either she didn't realize how beautiful she was or she didn't care.
In this moment, there was nothing he wouldn't do, wouldn't give, if she would kiss him, let him get closer to her…
In which Carson and Mrs. Hughes (?!) secretly married (?!?!) in 1914 (?!?!?!): "Store Cupboard"
She extracted the store cupboard key from the others and turned it in the lock. As she entered the door, she started, "Mr. Carson, are you sure..."
She never got the chance to finish the sentence.
Charles shut the door soundly behind him and grabbed her about the waist, turning her into his arms. Leaning heavily against the door, he fervently sought her lips with his own. Forget telling her how he felt. He would surely show her. Propriety be damned.
Elsie was stunned. Most pleasantly stunned. She lost herself in his passion easily and quite readily, uncharacteristically giving in and letting him take over.
This is what she knew could exist with Charles Carson. She hardly let herself get lost in the dream of it, for dreams were impractical, but her heart knew of the potential. She always knew it was there.
This is what she never would have had with Joe Burns. As kind, gentle and hard-working of a man as he was, she didn't have the same passion for him as what had grown in her heart for Charles. She knew that he was the only one that could ever claim her, if he dared, but had consigned herself to a life of his simple companionship.
This was better. Much better.
There are also many stories about Bates. But none performing the obvious action that you're all thinking about and all of them bore me.
So enjoy the rest of season three as it unfolds and you and I simultaneously guzzle it down because we know better and yet can't help ourselves. And then, when it's all over and we're still feeling unsatisfied… I'll meet you in the DTA fanfic reviews section. Teacup of gin, anyone?
Brianna Goldberg is a writer and producer from Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @b_goldberg or find out more about her work at www.briannagoldberg.com