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The Grecian Folly Series.

Part One: An Accidental Folly.

It was an accident. One minute she had been standing in the kitchen at their home in New Haven, watching her husband playing with their children, then the next she was in midst of Grecian ruins.

At least, that is her surroundings at first appeared to be. However as she came to terms with the fact that she seemed to have time-walked without intending to, Diana realised that what she was standing within was not as old as Ancient Greece. The Doric columns and distressed stonework was a copy of what someone may find in that country and only dated as far back as the Georgians.

Her gaze turned from the folly to the countryside surrounding it. She caught sight of a stately home situated some distance away. A large baroque palace with grand embellishments, lots of tall sash windows, scrollwork and square towers that reminded her of Hardwick Hall, a house she knew of, though not visited then, from her last journey into England's past.

She turned from looking at the grand old house to the grounds before it, the Repton or Brown landscaped gardens that lay between it and the folly. There was a group of people gathered around a white cloth laid table that was set for lunch, those who lived in the house and their liveried servants. Some children played nearby. The fashion worn by all indicated that she had travelled back to the second decade of the twentieth century.

Diana focused her gaze on the adults of the party, trying to figure out why she had been drawn to go back in time to this particular place. She caught sight of someone whom she was not expecting to see, yet upon reflection should have done, for he was whom she had first focused on when she started time walking, before moving on to other distinguishing features of the destination when he travelled with her. His features were easily distinguishable at this distance and intimately known to her.

He was standing by the table, dressed in the fashion of a gentleman of leisure from the times, tailored pants, a waistcoat and shirt. His hair was full black and cut to the fashion. He seemed unchanged from when she had last set eyes on him, but she knew he had to be a century younger at least.

He stood next to another dark haired figure, a woman in the fashion of the era too. Her features were elegant and sharply defined. Despite her reserved stance she seemed relaxed in her surroundings. Despite his similar guarded reserve, perhaps because he was hiding his true nature, Matthew's arm was around her, she moved hers to stroke the bare patch of skin revealed by his partially undone shirt beneath his waistcoat. Their body language spoke of familiarity and intimacy.

She wondered if the woman was one of the human women he had spoken of when they were first together at her Aunts house in Madison.

At that moment he clasped the woman's hand and looked towards the Grecian folly. Diana turned her curiosity away from the scene and conjured a spell to get herself back to her time. Her husband would be wondering where she was, worried and anxious. She would be able to ask him further about what she had seen when she returned.

Part 2: The Blonde Woman in Outlandish Clothes.

Lady Mary Crawley looked up from the meal that was being laid out on the table, casting her gaze about the grounds of her home, when she caught sight of a figure standing in the midst of the Grecian folly.

It was a woman, dressed in outlandish clothes, trousers made of a material she had never set eyes on before, and a loose shirt. Her blonde hair was tied back in a braid, some strands flying away due to the gentle breeze. She seemed to be taking in sight of Mary and those around her, the children, her sister, brother in law, her parents.

And her husband. As Mary continued to take in the direction of the woman's gaze, she realised that the woman was looking mainly at her husband. Henry's focus was elsewhere, watching the children as they played, unaware of his distant admirer.

Mary concentrated on the woman's facial expression, trying to determine why she was gazing at Henry. She seemed to know him, from where Mary did not know, as the woman was unfamiliar to her. Henry had not mentioned a previous dalliance from before they met, courted and married. He was no stranger to intimacy, yet it was accepted and to be expected that men knew more about the pleasures of the flesh than women. Nor was she, brief as though her first marriage had been, she had learned far more from it than the first encounter she endured with the turkish guest that nearly ended in scandal. Only her previous marriage was known to Henry however, she had seen no need to relate that moment from her past, for it had no bearing on her second marriage like propriety and society dictate it should with her first.

She had seen women take an interest in him, he was an attractive man with a keen intellect. But she had not seen any who acted familiarly with him, or knew him as intimately as she did. Yet this woman standing in the folly seemed to. Mary wondered if she should alert the rest of company present to the woman's trespass, or go up to the folly and confront her. She knew however that the distance from where she stood and the folly was too great. By the time she reached it, the woman could be gone.

Mary turned to her husband, stroking the bare patch of chest revealed from his partially undone shirt beneath his waistcoat. Henry turned his gaze from the children to her, waiting for her to speak.

"Don't alert anyone else, just look up. There's a woman standing within the folly," she said to him softly.

He took hold of her caressing hand and raised his head to look at the woman. His fingers started to stroke her skin, then abruptly froze as he took in the woman's gaze. Mary watched his expression as he watched the distant figure. He seemed puzzled, as if he was trying to work something out. Or perhaps recall something.

Suddenly the woman disappeared, and her husband seemed to breathe again.

"Did you know her?" Mary asked, wondering how it was that the woman had managed to disappear from their sight. She must have ran away, allowing the Doric columns to conceal her escape.

"No," Henry replied. "I do not."

His answer was truthful, yet from that moment and in the years to come, Mary would often wonder what the woman's answer would have been if she had asked her that same question.

And if a part of Henry wished that he did.

Part 3: A Rare Witch Sighting.

He could sense a witch in the vicinity. Not nearby, but upon the estate somewhere. He could hear her heart, her blood as it ran through her veins. He focused on the sound, slowly scanning his surroundings until he located her.

She was standing in the midst of the Grecian folly, by one of the fake Doric columns. Her figure was slim and attired in a fashion that was completely alien to this century, along with those before it. Her blonde braided hair hung messily away from her face. As he took her features, he realised that she was staring at him. As if she knew him. How was that possible when he was sure that he did not know her.

Yet, as he took in her scent, a vague familiarity came. Willow sap, Chamomile, Honey, Frankincense, Lady's Mantle. Ancient things which he thought he had forgotten. He recalled capturing such scents at his house in Woodstock once. Blackfriars too. He had spoken of such to his friends at the time, who tried their best to persuade him that he had smelled nothing of the sort, except the fragrance of fleshly laundered linen and cloth.

He still wondered why his friends had tried so hard to convince him otherwise, even though the events were now centuries past. He had stopped asking soon afterwards, despite continuing to pick up the scent in his homes and at Sept Tours. Here at Downton was one of the few places that he had not smelt them. Those scents were replaced by those of his wife, Lady Mary Crawley.

He loved Mary. Not as fiercely as he had loved Blanca and Lukas, but with a devotion that was entwined with caution, a care from the days when the women he loved had been put in harms way, either through his failure to protect them, or his inability to control his blood rage. He did not crave her, an important distinction and what he hoped would protect her from sharing the same fate of the others, suffering an unnatural and untimely death. He had not told her of his true nature, keeping it hidden from every member of her family, thankful for the deer that roamed free on her father's estate, which he hunted when he felt a need.

His life at Downton was an exercise in control, as he hid away his diet and appetite, learned to control the nausea that came from eating as humans do, hunting only when he felt that he would be undetected by his wife's family and the servants. His family background crafted from the help of an old friend, his true heritage hidden scattered across the world and hopefully somewhat ignorant of how he currently lived.

At times he chafed at the extreme discipline which he exerted on himself and felt the need to get away for a time. Fortunately he had an believable excuse. Though a gentleman, this was the century where one had need of an occupation to fund an estate which those in government threatened to take away through resentment and hypocrisy. Before he met Mary he had been racing cars. He gave it up soon after they married, the sight of a friend dying during one of the races he cited as one of the reasons he had lost the desire to participate. Another had been when he learned of the circumstances in which her first husband died, the previous existence of whom causing him to drop his first name, something he rarely did when he assumed a new identity. A third motive had been that there would come a point when spectators and team members would start to wonder at his extraordinary ability to survive crashes and the bodily stresses endured in such a profession.

The career which he took up afterwards was still connected to racing cars. Now he fixed them, along with other vehicles in the shop owned by him and his brother in law, who had once been a chauffeur before he married the youngest Crawley girl. Mary's sister had died in childbirth, but the daughter survived and together they lived at Downton along with Mary, his stepson, her parents and himself.

So whenever he tired of hiding his true nature, he would claim a distant race meet which he had to attend. Mary bore his absence well, her duties as mistress of her father's estate and guardian of what her son would inherit occupying her in his absence. He missed her too, not as much as he had missed Blanca and Luka, yet with still with the emotion of a devoted husband. He knew he would mourn for Mary when the time came to part from her, though he hoped that he would not be forced to fake his death as he did for other identities. Mary had already suffered the passing of one husband. He saw how deeply that had affected her, knew how much the death of his wife affected him. He would not wish that fate on her and would do all that he could to avoid it, short of killing her.

How the end of this relationship occurred mattered to him, for it was as much as one of devotion as it was an exercise to see whether it was possible for him to have someone he loved, without being a danger to them.

A hand began caressing the bare patch of skin revealed by his partially undone shirt, beneath his waistcoat. For a moment he thought it was the witch, then he recollected that Mary was standing beside him. He turned to her.

"Don't alert anyone else, just look up. There's a woman standing within the folly," she said to him softly.

He took hold of her caressing hand and raised his head to look at the woman. He started to stroke Mary's skin, then froze.

She was still looking at him, the blonde witch standing in the midst of the Grecian folly. He returned the gesture, taking in her features as he tried to recall if he had seen her before. Certainly he would remember sensing that power which she held within her, a power he had rarely encountered. He did not have many occasions to interact with witches, the natural prejudice and disgust they held for vampires, behaviour which his kind returned.

Her lips were moving now, she seemed to be chanting something. He focused on her mouth, trying to decipher the words.

With a knot of....

Before he could catch anything more, the witch disappeared. He let out a breath, aware of Mary's touch not far from his heart. It would not do for her to notice that the lengthy stillness of that organ.

"Do you know her?" Mary asked.

"No," he replied. "I do not."

But a part of him wished that he did.