|Charge of the Light Brigade
Author: Darling Summers PM
"Half a league, half a league, half a league onward, all in the valley of Death rode the six hundred." A story of another generation in the Society. SybilxGeorgeRated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy/Hurt/Comfort - George B. - Chapters: 2 - Words: 2,665 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 03-18-11 - Published: 11-26-10 - id: 6505983
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This is a post for Project PULL, as set up by Bookaholic711, in which you post a piece of at least 1,000 words in length, every Friday fortnight. Dedicated to the reviewers of 'Daisies'- t97, Mbali97, As If You Cared, Loony-1995 and Angelmail :)
Charge of the Light Brigade
The distant wail of a siren, followed by a series of muted explosions, permeated the thick walls of the Masterson's farmhouse, and Lavinia Clamworthy winced.
"I hope they're staying clear of the houses," she voiced her thoughts aloud. Hescombe had been evacuated in favour of using it as an army training base, due to its close proximity to the sea and a coastline that closely resembled that of the Normandy beaches where they were planning to invade. Many of the town's inhabitants had been scattered across England, and in some cases, Ireland, in the relocation that followed, but the Mastersons offered the use of their farm to house the Society members in the near vicinity. It was imperative that, in these times, the Society stuck together.
John Clamworthy, Lavinia's husband, took her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. Many people had made haste in their marriages with the threat of the war looming over them.
"It's okay, pet. They're sure to compensate for any damage-" Lavinia blanched, and he hurriedly corrected himself, "-but our house is so far from the beach that nothing could happen." Their eight-month-old son, Mack, who was entertaining himself with an abandoned shopping bag, gurgled in amusement at his mother's distress over their house.
"I don't know if there'll be anything left of poor old Shaker Row, once they're done with it," Sybil Brewer lamented, reaching across the table to retrieve the patterned blue and white china sugar bowl. "It's quite a pity. That house has been in the family for generations."
"There's always Lionheart Lodge," George reminded her gently, and Sybil made a face.
"Ugh. I always loved to visit Aunt Suzanna, but there's always been something a bit creepy about that house. It's so lonely- just out in the middle of nowhere."
"I know what you mean, Syb," Godiva, her younger sister, vehemently agreed. "It's like one of those creepy old mansions in horror stories- all those winding staircases and huge, draughty bedrooms. I always expected a dragon to leap out of the closet, or something." Francis Brock, who had been sitting in an armchair by the range, feigning sleep, opened his eyes and raised an eyebrow in mock disapproval.
"And what, exactly, is wrong with dragons, Iva?" he teased, and she rolled her eyes.
"Oh, it wasn't the dragons I was scared of. I was just terrified that a certain, extremely infuriating dragon companion would come out after it, and irritate me to no end until I agreed to go out with him." Sybil held back a laugh at Godiva's audacity, but George had no such reserves. He let out a roar of laughter and clapped his sister in law on the back.
"Nice one, Iva! You've got the right idea- keep that one in his place!" Sybil placed a hand on George's arm and a heavy sense of melancholy crept past her defences. It was moments like this that she would miss when he was gone- laughing together, with their friends gathered around them, without a care in the world. That carefree atmosphere, for her, at least, had drained from the room with this realization.
"George, I'm feeling quite tired. I'm going to go to bed," she murmured into his ear, leaning in towards him. He took in her expression, and gave her a concerned, questioning look, but she shook her head quietly. "Later," she whispered. George pushed back his chair from the table, and took her by the hand.
"Right, we're going to take our leave now. Long day tomorrow," he announced. "Goodnight, everyone." These pleasantries dealt with, he led her up the stairs to the bedroom that they had been assigned. It was sparsely decorated, but Sybil had furnished every available surface with the numerous silver photo frames she collected, each containing a golden snapshot of the time they had together.
A million of these photographs couldn't buy her another year with him; that much was certain.
George closed the door behind them and took a seat on the bed beside her, the metal springs giving a creak of protest with the added burden of weight.
"Now, Syb," he said softly, rubbing circles on the exposed skin of her arm. "What's wrong?" She struggled to hold back the flood of tears rising inside her. "You can tell me anything- you know that." A single tear fell from her eye and slid down her cheek, and he pulled her into a hug. That did it- the tears flowed freely from her eyes in loud, wracking sobs.
"What am I going to do without you?" she managed to get out through her tears. "Why can't you stay with me forever?" With her head on his chest, she could not see his expression, but she felt him sigh.
"I wish I could, darling," he whispered. "I really wish I could. But I'm doing this to protect you- to protect the family we're going to have." His gaze fell to the gentle curve of her stomach. "It's for the two of you I'm doing it." Sybil turned her face towards him, and their eyes met.
"I'll miss you," she said quietly as he wiped the tears from her eyes. "You'd better come back safely."
"You can count on that," he promised, before pulling a box out from underneath the bed. "Here- I got these for you. I was going to give them to you for our anniversary, but…" He trailed off. "Just open it." Sybil pulled open the ribbon with trembling hands, and lifted the lid from the large white box, and gasped.
"It's beautiful," she whispered, running a careful finger across the powerful muscles carved into the bronze bear that lay on a bed of starched white chiffon. "A Great Bear- your companion."
"Take it out of the box- there's something under it," he told her, and she did as he instructed, lifting the bear as if it had been made of fragile glass rather than heavy bronze and placing it on the chest of drawers. Underneath the layers of white lay a second figurine- a creamy marble sculpture of her own companion, the white horse of the waves, each froth of foam lovingly crafted into place. George guided her hands to the underside of the statue. There, engraved in the stone in a slanting, curved script, were the simple words;
My darling Sybil,
All my love,
Another tear fell and landed on the white marble, but slid off the polished surface. She placed it beside the bear on the chest of drawers- she would never separate the two.
Sybil held her husband at arm's length, committing every detail to memory, before enclosing him in a tight hug.
"Be safe," she whispered. "I wish that you didn't have to go." Her dark, abundant, flyaway hair was charged with static, and strands of it clung to George's jumper, as if they were trying to prevent him from leaving.
Farewells were being said all over England, with the arrival of the dreaded call-up papers on young men's doorsteps, but nothing could be compared to the parting of Sybil Lionheart and George Brewer.
In the tiny, unremarkable harbour town of Hescombe, a completely different war was being fought.
A/N: I'm pondering as to whether or not to continue this- drop off a review to help me to decide, please?