|The Journey to Happiness
Author: ScarletCourt PM
How do Sybil and Tom get from a failed elopement to Lord Grantham's blessing and eventually married in Dublin? Interweaves with the scenes we see in S2E07 and S2E08 and eventually the C/S. Warning: Spoilers for S3! Runner-up in the January 2013 Highclere Awards in the Progress - Multi-Chapter category.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Sybil C. & T. Branson - Chapters: 44 - Words: 180,047 - Reviews: 384 - Favs: 76 - Follows: 103 - Updated: 09-06-12 - Published: 12-23-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7666512
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: This chapter came out a little longer than I had originally intended but too short to cut into two. Enjoy! Thanks very much for the reviews I received for the last chapter. I love hearing your thoughts on the story. Many thanks to my patient betas, Tripp3235 and mswainwright.
Disclaimer: Not mine. All Downton Abbey characters belong to Julian Fellowes and ITV. I'm just playing with them.
The first stop they made in the village was to the Grantham Arms where he retrieved his article and a pencil while she waited downstairs. They then walked to a nearby park where Sybil read it and made some specific comments in pencil. After reading it to the end, Sybil said, "I feel that you've done an excellent job explaining what we've heard of the treaty so far, but I'm not sure the part about how the treaty applies to the common worker is something you think will occur or something you would like to see occurring."
"I'm trying to state that the treaty should affect the common worker in this manner," said Tom.
"From what I read, that's not clear enough," said Sybil. "Parts of it sound more like the direction you'd like to see the treaty reforms applied, like here and here." Sybil pointed to the passages to which she was referring.
"All right. I can rewrite those parts," said Tom. This was his favorite part of writing an article where they would discuss it. Sybil always noticed details he had missed and gave her frank opinion of the piece. "I also need you to do me a favour."
"Of course," said Sybil. "How did you want me to help?"
Just then, Tom felt a raindrop, then another, then another.
Sybil quickly gave him the article, which Tom put in the breast pocket of his suit jacket to keep from getting wet and said, "Let's get to the Grantham Arms quickly and we can continue the discussion there."
By the time they sat down at a table near the fireplace and ordered some tea, there was a downpour outside, but between Sybil's hat and coat and Tom's cap and jacket, they were both able to keep from getting very wet. Fortunately for the books Sybil brought from the Downton library, the satchel she chose was heavy enough to keep them dry.
"I hope that my hat isn't ruined," said Sybil as she shook out her hat. "I abhor getting hats wet. I should have thought of bringing my umbrella, but I was so eager to see you that it didn't cross my mind. I hope that this lets up by the dressing gong. Pratt took Papa to Leeds this morning for a meeting with Cousin Hugh and won't be back until dinner, so I can't call for the car. I suppose I could call for Edith in an emergency, but I'd rather not."
"If we have to, I'll buy you an umbrella in the village so you can get home," said Tom. "How is Mr. Pratt enjoying his new position? He's been eyeing it since the war started."
"As far as I'm aware, he's not the new chauffeur," said Sybil. "There's been no mention since you left. However, as the only member of the staff who knows how to drive, he has taken over your driving duties for the time being."
"I hope that whoever eventually takes over will spend the time listening to the engines," said Tom. "Mr. Pratt knows the basics, but the majority of his experience is as a coachmen. He never listens to what the car tells him and only makes the necessary adjustments once the problem can no longer be ignored. The Renault's never going to last in his hands."
"It's not your worry any more," said Sybil with a smile.
"I suppose," said Tom. "I just hate seeing a car being mistreated."
"So, what was the favour you need me to do for you?" asked Sybil as Tom took out his article again.
Their tea arrives at this juncture. As Tom started to make his cup, he said, "I was wondering if you might be willing to make copies of the article once I've done the rewrite. I want to send them off to the monthly circulars before we leave and even with the amount of time on my hands I don't think I can make the number of copies I need in time."
"That shouldn't be a problem," said Sybil. "There's very little happening between now and the funeral on Monday. You know you needn't ask it as a favour. I would have done it if I knew you needed help."
"I didn't want to impose and I didn't want to interfere with your packing," said Tom. "That reminds me." Tom takes a small piece of paper from his breast pocket. "I looked into the train schedule. There's a ten o'clock train that should get us into Liverpool by mid-afternoon. That should give us plenty of time to find accommodations and settle in. I didn't think you wanted to go on the milk train."
"I could go on the milk train," said Sybil. "But I wouldn't be able to say proper good byes to my family. Though they don't approve of us, I still want to say my good byes. Who knows when I'll see them next?"
"I understand," said Tom as he reach for her hand. "They will come around. I know it."
"May be some day," said Sybil somewhat sad. Trying not to dwell on the things she cannot change, she asked, "Do you have a novel I can read while you rewrite the article? Since I can't leave you to go for a walk in this rain, I thought I'd keep myself occupied with a book."
"I'm afraid that my fiction collection is rather thin," said Tom sheepishly. "Not sure you'd like them. Besides, I'd rather spend time with you. I haven't seen you since Tuesday."
"Look, Tom," said Sybil. "If you'd like me to help you copy out your article and send it off before we leave, it might be best if you finish it off today so that I can start the copying tonight. After the funeral, I will be spending my time packing. Besides I will be right here, reading, and remember starting on Wednesday, we'll be together."
"You're right," said Tom. "I'll revise the article before I have to walk you home. I will warn you that I have only two books of fiction in my meagre collection. They are Dracula and Dubliners."
"Papa has Dracula in the Downton library," said Sybil wrinkling her nose. "It's not my cup of tea. What is Dubliners about?"
"It's a collection of short stories depicting Irish middle class life by a new Irish writer called James Joyce," said Tom. "My sister, Niamh, sent it a few years ago for my twenty-fifth birthday. She felt that a quarter of a century should be marked with a gift."
"She's the one that's in service," asked Sybil.
"Yes, she's been in service longer than I have," said Tom. "Worked her way up from housemaid to assistant housekeeper." Sybil could hear pride in Tom's description of his sister's advancements.
"She's the next oldest one from you, right?" asked Sybil trying to get her bearings on his family.
"That's right," said Tom. "She's right between Ciaran and I, and two years less a month older than I am. So did you want me to bring that book down?"
"Yes, please," said Sybil. "Sounds rather interesting."
"I'll go get it, more writing paper and a pen now then. I'll be right back," said Tom as he got up and went upstairs.
Sybil stirred her tea while she waited for Tom. She glanced at the article Tom was rewriting and she thought how industrious he was to draft an article while he waited for her to be ready to leave. Most men she knew would have idled their time away but not Tom. Thinking back to her entire acquaintance with him, she realized that he had always been industrious. He was always tinkering with one of the cars, helping with the household or garden staff, catching up on the news, attending political rallies, or writing articles for publication. He was always busy, working toward a goal and that was one of the things that had attracted her to him.
It was then that Tom returned with the book and she proceeded to read while he rewrote his article. Occasionally, she'd glance up from her book to watch him surreptitiously. Eventually, they ordered lunch and they discussed various stories in Dubliners as well as how his rewrite was going. After lunch they resumed their individual activities and ordered more tea in order to keep the table. A couple of hours after lunch, Tom finished his rewrite and Sybil did another edit. By the time Tom had to walk Sybil back to Downton, the rain had stopped and Tom had made two copies of the article so that Sybil could start making copies that evening.
When Tom walked Sybil up to the front doors of Downton, he stopped and gave her a kiss. "I guess I'll see you on Sunday afternoon. Call me if anything changes."
"I will," said Sybil as she walked up the steps and let go of his hand.
Tom watched her walk inside and close the doors before he started his walk back to the village.
After dinner on Friday night, when Sybil went to check on her mother and give her medicine, Lady Grantham was sitting up in bed alone and reading. Edith had been nursing their mother while Sybil was out, so it was now her turn.
"How are you feeling, Mama?" asked Sybil when put down the small tray on the bedside table.
"Much better, darling, though still a little tired," said the Countess as she put down the book.
"You should ask O'Brien to read to you, Mama," said Sybil with a smile. "Where is she?
"I sent her down to have her dinner," said the Countess. "She's been with me all day. Besides, I've slept so much that my back aches and I'm tired of staring at the canopy."
"Well, I have some aspirin here to help with the aches," said Sybil as she handed her mother some pills. "You should rest more."
After she swallowed the pills, the Countess said, "Why don't you sit with me a little? I've been so sick that I've not had a chance to talk to you since your announcement."
Sybil had been dreading this. She was utterly tired of having to defend her decision to every one of her family, but still she smiled at her mother and sat on the chair that O'Brien used. "What would you like to know, Mama?"
"You are aware that your life will be very diff-" the Countess started.
"Mama-" Sybil sat up in her chair.
The Countess held out her hand and said, "No, please hear me out."
Sybil acquiesced with a nod and settled back down in her chair.
The Countess started again. "I just wanted you to know that even with money from your marriage settlement, you will be the wife of a journalist, which will be very different life from the one you're used to here at Downton. Likely you'll have a servant or possibly two, but you will have to do the rest. You will never been invited to any of the other great houses again and you will never be able to be a guiding influence in society that you would if you were to marry well. Are you sure of your choice, my darling? Because there's no going back and if you're not absolutely sure, could Branson not go on his own to Dublin and you follow once he's settled?"
"Mama," said Sybil as she looked at her mother. "I've had a long time to consider this and I am sure of my choice. I don't need a great house to be happy and I can be a guiding influence with my work and my politics, which Tom supports. I want to be useful and feel tired at the end of the day having done more than just planned a garden party."
"But you could be more of a guiding influence if you were to marry a peer or a son of a peer," said the Countess.
"All the men I danced with in my season before the war are dead," said Sybil as she felt her anger rising. "The ones that escape harm are likely ones who didn't do their patriotic duty. I don't want to find someone else when I'm sure of my choice."
At this juncture, O'Brien entered the bedroom. "I'm sorry, milady. I didn't know Lady Sybil was here with you."
Before the Countess could say anything, Sybil got up and said, "That's all right, O'Brien. Mama and I are done now."
Sybil picked up the small tray on the bedside table and left the room.
Saturday passed quickly for both Tom and Sybil. Tom spent it copying the article five times and writing out the letters to the twenty-one publishers of the monthly circulars to which he wanted to submit the article. Sybil spent it checking on her mother occasionally, though with O'Brien there, Sybil was unable engage her in much conversation, and copying out the article fifteen times. By the fifteenth copy, Sybil knew the article by heart and dearly wished that there was some way to make copies without having to do it by hand. However, she felt useful and if it meant that they could recover the cost of Tom's stay at the Grantham Arms while he waited for her, then it was worth the effort.
Though they both attended church in the village the next morning, they sat in different parts and were only able to share the occasional glance throughout the service. After having luncheon alone, Tom waited for Sybil to arrive with newspaper in hand in the dining room of the Grantham Arms as he was tired of staring at the walls of his room and he couldn't go out for a walk lest he missed her. As he was reading news of the peace treaty in Versailles, someone dropped something on the table in front of him, startling him. Putting the paper down, he saw a manila envelope on the table in front of him and Sybil pulling out the chair to the left of him. "Would you like some tea?" Tom asked looking up.
"Yes, please," said Sybil sighing as she sat down. "Sorry I'm late."
Tom waved at the barkeep and pointed to his tea before consulting his pocket watch. She was only ten minutes late. So engrossed in the article, he hadn't noticed. "Is everything all right?"
Sybil leveled a look of weary frustration at him before saying, "I'm getting deja vu, now!"
"What happened?" asked Tom as he reached for her right hand. When she flinched, he became concerned.
Pulling her hand away, she flexed it and said, "That's from making the copies of the article you wanted, but that's not what I was referring to."
Tom reached over and took her hand again to massage it tenderly. "I'm so sorry to have caused you pain from copying it out so many times."
"Don't worry about it," said Sybil as she enjoyed Tom's ministrations. "I'll take some aspirin later. The copying is done and you can send the submissions off before the funeral tomorrow."
"Thank you," said Tom as he continued to work on her hand discretely. "So if it's not the article that caused you frustration, what did?"
"My family," said Sybil with a sigh. Sybil's tea was brought over at this juncture.
"What have they done now?" asked Tom as Sybil reached for her tea.
"Well," said Sybil as she rolled her eyes and made her tea. "Mama has now started asking me all the same questions that Papa, Mary, Edith and Granny have been asking all week."
"Look, love," said Tom. "I know it's frustrating, but we'll be leaving for Dublin in three days and you won't have to deal with the badgering any more."
"I suppose you're right," said Sybil. "I should be able to manage until we leave. I just wished that they didn't spend my last few days at home making me defend my decision."
"I'm sorry that your last days at home aren't more pleasant," said Tom. Hoping to lift her mood, Tom continued after a small pause, "I was thinking after we have our tea, we should go for a walk. The sun is out finally, so we should take advantage."
"Let's do that," said Sybil with a smile. She was determined not to be downcast by her family.
As they left the Grantham Arms for their walk, Sybil said, "Oh I almost forgot. Papa announced at luncheon that Bates and Anna were married on Friday afternoon in Ripon by special license. There had been whispers about it around the house all yesterday. I guess Papa wanted to stop the rumours."
"That's wonderful news," said Tom, who liked them both. "Mr. Bates and Anna must be very happy. Will they both be staying at Downton?"
"Papa mentioned that a cottage will be provided for them as soon as one is available," said Sybil. "But there's no mention that Anna was planning to leave. I don't see why women are expected to leave service once they are married. I could see once a child has arrived, but even then, I feel that it ought to be a choice."
"There's a belief that in exchange for a salary and room and board, that someone in service is obligated to focus only on those they serve, and hence marriage would interfere with that focus," said Tom. "In turn, those whom they serve are then obligated to look after the servants after their retirement from service provided that they have no other plans. Obviously I don't believe in that adage, but it's fairly common in service."
"However, until children arrived, I don't see why both the husband and wife couldn't work," said Sybil. "Your devotion to your employer shouldn't interfere with your devotion to your spouse, so long as you were working for the same hours as before."
"Well, I won't dispute you there since I believe in the same thing as you," said Tom. "However, that's how Downton and most great houses are run."
There was a small pause in the conversation before Sybil said as she ducked her head, "Something I've been meaning to ask you, but hadn't gotten the courage until now."
"You know you can ask me anything," said Tom a little concerned what this question might be. He squeezed the hand at his elbow for reassurance.
Sybil looked up at Tom, smiled and asked, "Why did you go into service? Your skills could have been better used at a motor depot with a lot more variety and chances for advancement."
Tom returned her smile when he realized she just wanted to understand his choices and said, "Because after working at a depot in Dublin for a couple of years after my apprenticeship, I realized I didn't want to work on motor cars for the rest of my life and being in service offered me room and board which gave me more time for politics and writing and the wages in service also allowed me to send some money home to help with Cathleen's and Connor's education. Besides, I enjoy driving and while in a depot you get to work on a variety of cars, you didn't get to drive them nearly as much."
"I didn't know you preferred to drive than to tinker with the motor," said Sybil with a small smile.
"Actually, I like to hear the sound of a well-tuned engine," said Tom. "It's a pleasure to drive a car that's well-tuned, but if you don't watch it, a car can get out of tune rather quickly. Like that Crossley for instance." Tom points to one of the cars on the road that just passed them. "One of the pistons isn't fully expanding during the combustion cycle either because of an obstruction or one of the joints isn't properly greased, you can hear it. Obviously, the person maintaining that car doesn't care so long as it runs, but if you don't fix some problems quickly, it can become a bigger problem in the long run that can be costly to fix."
Sybil smiled but said nothing. She liked hearing Tom speak passionately about any topic, but she had little to contribute when he spoke about a car.
"I'm sorry," said Tom. "I shouldn't go on and on about an engine. I know you see that as Lady Edith's territory."
"I don't mind," said Sybil, still smiling. "I like it when when you wax poetic about any subject. It shows that you care about those things, even if they are not under your control."
Not swayed by Sybil's politeness, Tom changed the subject and asked, "Since you brought up a related subject, there's something I've wanted to ask you. Would you have objections if we were to continue to help with Connor's education from my salary? Cathleen graduated last year so we don't have to worry about her any more. I've been helping since he was accepted in an independent school in first class. He's currently in the third year of secondary school. It means another three years of funding."
"Tom, whatever you earn is your-," started Sybil.
"No, Sybil," said Tom interrupting as he stopped them to turn to look at her. "Whatever we earn from now on is our money. As my wife, you will have access to my savings and to my earnings. We must discuss and agree on how we want to spend it."
Though Granny had drilled the art of the hard bargain into Sybil and her sisters, Sybil had never managed more than a few pounds before. Her governess never taught household accounts because that was the purpose of your husband's man of business. A little wild-eyed at the prospect, Sybil thought a little and said, "If you've been supporting him thus far, I feel that we should continue to do so. It would be rather cruel to pull support now when he's so close to completing his education. Even if it means we have to economize at little until I find a job."
"I'm glad to hear that," said Tom. "Connor is a bright lad. It would have been a shame if he were to lose our support at this juncture. He deserves the best education the family can afford."
"Since we're on the topic of money, I don't know how much savings you have," said Sybil. "But I was wondering if there's enough to offer something to your mother and your brother and sister-in-law to offset the cost of having us stay with them. I don't want to be a burden."
"There's enough," said Tom. "Though I will warn you that likely my mother won't accept money for staying with her."
"I still have to make the offer," said Sybil. "I don't want to give the impression that I expect to be fed and housed like some sort of princess. I want to contribute while I'm there."
"Very well," said Tom. Wanting to talk about less weighty matters, Tom asked, "Have you started choosing the mementos you want to bring from Downton with you?"
"I have," said Sybil as she looked at the road beneath her feet. "Though if I were to take them all, they would require a suitcase of their own, so I have to narrow them down in the next two days."
"Shall I tell you about my rules for packing?" asked Tom. "I use them to help me decide what to bring."
"Do," said Sybil. "I'm very interested to hear your insight on narrowing down the items to bring."
Looking at Sybil, Tom said, "I always ask myself three questions. Will I use it at least once every other week? Does it remind me of more than one person or place? Is it unique to the place I am leaving? If the answer is no more than one of these questions, then it's not even under consideration. For example, I never bring letter paper from home. It's usually one of the first items I buy along with ink when I arrive at my destination."
"Would you bring a fountain pen with you?" asked Sybil genuinely curious.
"Only if the pen was a gift," said Tom. "And I would empty the reservoir prior to packing. Ink makes a mess when it leaks."
They continued to discuss what were appropriate items to bring until it was time for Tom to walk her back to Downton. After some discussion on the walk back, it was agreed that they would meet after the funeral was over.
A/N2: The next chapter will start out after Lord Grantham gives them his blessing. I'd love to hear what you think of this chapter good or bad, so please do review. :)