|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: Now they are off to sort out the church. Thanks so very much for all the reviews, etc., I received since I last posted. I always love hearing from my readers about the story good or bad. Please feel free to point out typos or grammatical errors. Sometimes no matter how hard you or your betas look, something gets missed. :) As always, many thanks to my ever patient betas, Tripp3235 and mswainwright (in absentia due to her busy schedule for this chapter - entirely my fault for not getting this chapter to her early enough).
Disclaimer: Not mine. All Downton Abbey characters belong to Julian Fellowes and ITV. I'm just playing with them.
When Tom arrived the next morning, Sybil was going over something at the table with Mrs. Branson.
"Good morning," said Sybil when she saw him.
"Good morning," said Tom before he came over to kiss her cheek since she was busy.
"Did you bring the bread and bully beef with you?" asked Sybil.
Tom holds up the bag he carried with him.
"I'll make the sandwiches when we're done here," said Sybil looking up.
"No, that's fine," said Tom. "I'll make it while you're busy. Then we can head out once you're ready."
Tom and his mother exchange good mornings before she went back to discussing something with Sybil.
As Tom was slicing the bread, Cathleen came into the main area and asked, "So you're off to a picnic this afternoon. I would love to go on one."
Mrs. Branson spoke up without looking up, "Cathleen, leave Tom to have a day with Sybil. There'll be plenty of time for picnics this summer and you promised me you'd stay home today to help with the spring cleaning."
"Yes, Ma." said Cathleen. "Tom, could you at least make me a sandwich?" Cathleen had missed Tom in the years he had worked in Yorkshire and was immensely glad that he had returned.
Tom looked at her and said, "There's enough for everyone for lunch, so you can make it closer to lunch to keep the bread fresh." He still could not believe the ten year old sister he left behind was now nearly seventeen. Tom always had a soft spot for Cathleen. After Da passed away, Tom spent almost all of his spare time with her as his older siblings were all working and in Niamh's case, already out of the house. Ma was too busy looking after Connor who was just a baby and working to keep a roof over their heads. Tom offered to quit school and start working, but his mother would have none of it, so he did the next best thing which was take care of Cathleen.
"Thanks, Tom," said Cathleen with a smile.
Tom smiled back at her and said, "Sybil, do you have the blanket ready?"
"Yes, it's by the front door."
After about ten more minutes, Mrs. Branson spoke up as she finished writing, "Well, that's plenty for you to think about for now."
"Is there anything else I can do before we go?" asked Sybil.
"No," said Mrs. Branson. "You probably want to get there early in case there's a wedding today."
"I forgot to ask earlier, Ma," said Tom. "When are Niamh's half days off?"
"She has every other Thursday. Let me look at a calendar." After Mrs. Branson counted the weeks out, she said, "She'll have the first, and third Thursday in June free."
"I guess also the second last Thursday in May, too, then?" asked Tom as he looked at Sybil.
"You aren't planning on marrying in May are you?" asked Mrs. Branson, slightly horrified. "Marry in May and rue the day."
"My grandmother has that saying as well," said Sybil. "But why will we rue the day if we married in May? I just want to understand."
"Well, it is very unlucky to marry in May," said Mrs. Branson. "The last couple I heard of who married in May died the following winter. It's just not done. As well, we can't have things organized before the first of June."
Sybil gave Tom a look and Tom said, "We'll marry in June if it fits into the church's schedule." Looking at Sybil, Tom asked, "Are you ready?"
"Let me get my pocketbook and hat," said Sybil as she walked to her room to get her things.
As they walked out the door, Tom asked, "So what was Ma talking to you about just now?"
"She was showing me her weekly dinner plans and how to stock a pantry," said Sybil. "It's a continuation from the lesson in grocery shopping yesterday. I don't know how I will learn everything I need to know before we marry, when it's taken two days so far on food alone."
"Don't worry," said Tom with a reassuring smile. "I can help with a few other things. Having grown up in this house, I know a thing or two about keeping house."
The ride to the church took fifteen minutes and there were several quaint buildings nestled in a small glade in the country just outside Rathgar. There was no activity on the property which meant that there wasn't a wedding after all this morning. After Tom paid the fare, he gave Sybil his arm.
Sybil took Tom's arm, looked at the church itself and smiled. This quaint village church with ivy climbing all over the brick was where they will be married. Tom looked at her and asked, "What do you think? Is it grand enough for the youngest daughter of the Earl of Grantham?"
"It's lovely," said Sybil as she took in the view. "You know I don't care for grandeur. It's enough that we will be married here soon with our families looking on."
"Why don't we go inside then?" asked Tom. "The sooner we can be done here, the sooner we will have the rest of the day to ourselves."
When they entered the door to the church, they could see an open door to a small office on the right of the front entrance way. As they walked toward the office, a young woman came out and asked, "How may I help you?"
"We're here to see the pastor about getting married at this church," said Tom as he took off his cap.
"Wait here and let me see where Pastor Whelan is."
"Of course," said Tom with a smile.
The young woman reappeared a few minutes later and said, "Pastor Whelan was working on his garden, he will see you shortly once he has cleaned up."
"Thank you," said Tom.
After about five minutes, a white-haired, small middle-aged man with a religious collar walked up to them with his hand extended. "I'm Pastor Sean Whelan. I understand that you would like to be married," said the man in such a thick Irish brogue that Sybil almost had trouble understanding him.
Tom takes the Pastor's hand and shakes it. "Yes, I'm Tom Branson and this is my fiancée, Sybil Crawley."
"Ah yes," said Pastor Whelan. "Your mother, Mrs. Rose Branson, came to see me a few weeks ago. Come this way to my office where we can discuss it."
When they were settled in the chairs in front of the Pastor's desk, Tom asked, "How much did my mother explain to you?
"Let me get my notes out," said Pastor Whelan as he pulled a notebook out of a drawer. Putting on a pair of glasses that were lying on top of some papers on the desk, he consulted a few pages. "Here it is. Your mother mentioned that you had been working in Yorkshire for the last few years and had met a young lady whom would you would like to marry in Ireland. She had also mentioned that the young lady's family was not in favour of this union which was why it was taking place here."
At this stage, Sybil spoke up, "Well, initially, my parents were not in favor of the idea, but they have since given their blessing and will be attending."
"I see," said Pastor Whelan as he looked up at them. "If that is the case, is there a reason still to marry here?"
This time Tom spoke up, "I have a job offer in Dublin at the end of the month and had received it prior to her parents' blessing and now that we're here, we'd like to be married as soon as possible."
"Ah, yes," said the Pastor. "Of course and since we don't have a residency requirement here at Rathgar Christian Church. That was the reason for your choice of venue."
"To be blunt, yes," said Tom. "However, if the sermons are to our liking, there's no reason why we wouldn't return in the future."
"Of course," said Pastor Whelan. "Now in order for you to be wed, the banns are to be read three consecutive Sundays prior to the date. Are you against marrying in May?"
"We are not," said Tom. "But my mother is and since Sybil is staying with her until we are married, it would be best if we were to comply with her wishes."
"Yes, I see," said Pastor Whelan. "Did you have a particular day in June in mind?"
"We were considering the first Thursday in June to fit into my family's schedule," said Tom. "It will need to be later in the afternoon to allow for attendees who wish to work that day."
"So we are looking at a late afternoon service on Thursday, June 5th. Let me consult the church calendar." Pastor Whelan looked at a different book and said, "Yes, the church is available that day. I presume you will want to use the church hall for the wedding breakfast afterward, yes?"
"Yes, if it is available," said Tom.
"Yes. Very well. Let me put that into the calendar as well." After he wrote something else down in the church calendar, Pastor Whelan said, "With a June 5th wedding, we would need to read the banns out on May 18, May 25 and June 1. As well, we would like it if you could attend services every Sunday until then. I would understand if you would want to attend Easter Sunday services at your home parish tomorrow, but I would expect to see you in our pews every Sunday after until June 5th."
Looking at Sybil who gave a slight nod, Tom said, "Yes, we can do that. There is one other thing we need to discuss."
"Yes?" said the pastor as he looked at them over his reading glasses.
"Well, um," said Tom. "With the situation in Ireland, that is to say um. The banns um"
Sybil interjected at this point, "What Tom is trying to say is that I am the daughter of the seventh Earl of Grantham and with the situation here in Ireland, we have not been using my title in our introductions. Since I worked as a nurse in the war, people have just assumed that I am titleless. We would like to keep it that way since I consider it nonsense and we don't want to bring trouble upon ourselves. Tom's immediate family knows but that's as far as it has gone. What we would like to know is when the banns are read will we have to use my title in it?"
"Legally, I believe we would have to use it as you are known in Yorkshire as Lady Sybil Crawley," said Pastor Whelan as he sat up straighter. "However, as you say, it can cause trouble. Let me look into the situation between now and when the banns have to be read and I'll see if there's some way around it and still keep it legal."
"Thank you," said Sybil. "It's all we're asking."
"Now could I get your full names please?" asked the pastor.
"Tom Quinlan Branson and Sybil Patricia Crawley," said Tom.
"What parishes do you each belong?"
"I'm from Parish of Dublin and Sybil is from the Parish of Grantham in Yorkshire," said Tom as he looked at Sybil.
"And your occupation, Mr. Branson?"
"My past or my future occupation?" asked Tom. "I'm in the midst of changing my occupation."
"I would say past occupation," said the Pastor as he paused in his writing. "As that would be what your occupation would have been known as and the purpose of the banns is to determine if someone in your past recognizes you and can determine whether they know of an impediment to the marriage."
"Then chauffeur," said Tom as he glanced at Sybil.
"I will also require Nurse Crawley's father's name," said the pastor.
"Robert Crawley," said Sybil.
"And I suppose that his occupation is a peer."
"He was an officer in the army when he was younger to fight the Boers," said Sybil as she looked anxiously.
"Is that a well-known fact?" asked Pastor Whelan.
"No," said Sybil somewhat deflated. "My father doesn't like to talk about his war experiences."
"I believe that this is all for now," said the pastor. "I will need to meet with you both closer to the wedding to discuss the ceremony, which we can do after one of the services on Sunday, likely the Sunday when the second banns are read. We will require a deposit of £2 the week prior to the first reading of the banns. The cost of the marriage service is £6 and the cost for the use of the hall is £10. Payable the week prior to the wedding. Is that agreeable?"
"Yes, of course," said Tom as he looked at Sybil who nodded. "We can work with that schedule."
"Very well, Mr. Branson and Nurse Crawley," said Pastor Whelan as he extended his hand out to shake. "We will see you a week this Sunday."
As Tom shook the Pastor's hand, he said, "Thank you, Pastor Whelan."
"Yes, Thank you very much, Pastor," said Sybil as she shook his hand as well.
"I bid you a good day," said the Pastor as he stood and smiled at them as he started to sit down again.
As they move to leave the office, Tom said, "Good day."
"How does that spot look?" asked Tom as he and Sybil are walking down a path in the park about a ten minute walk from the church. As Tom promised, the park wasn't very crowded and there were many secluded spots ideal for a picnic.
"That looks good," said Sybil. The slightly elevated spot looked rather cosy underneath a large tree with some rock outcropping nearby to give them some privacy.
"Let me climb up first and then I'll help you up," said Tom as he gave her the sack with the blanket and food. "You can hand me the sack before I help you up."
Soon, the two were up on the small patch of grass just about the size of a blanket and Tom proceeded to spread out the blanket. Once Sybil sat down, she pulled out the sandwiches Tom made and the bottled drinks they had purchase on their way to the church. Tom took off his cap before taking one of the remaining sandwiches.
After taking a couple of bites of her sandwich, Sybil said, "I should write to my family tonight. In the hustle and bustle of the last two days, I've not done so, but now that we've set our wedding day, I think it's good time to let them know we've arrived safely."
"Do you think they will all come?" asked Tom after he swallowed his food.
"I know that Papa, Mama and Edith will come," said Sybil as she looked at him. "Though Mary said she would, I don't know whether she will. When I said goodbye to her the night before we left, she seemed distant."
"Perhaps she's unhappy with her lot in life," said Tom before he took another bite.
"Perhaps," said Sybil. "Sir Richard seems rather cold to me."
"He's an interesting fellow," said Tom. "He rarely spoke to the other passengers when I drove him, which is rather unusual for guests of your family, but when it came to Lady Mary, he always tried to engage her in a conversation, which she never seemed interested in keeping going and I know your sister can converse with anyone on nearly any subject."
"Yes," said Sybil. "When she wants to. We were all taught to do so by our governess, though she always found my ability to be less than that of my sisters."
"I don't know," said Tom. "I think you're reasonably good at conversation." Tom gave her a smile. "I never found our conversations to be lacking."
Sybil looked to the ground with a shy smile and said, "That's because the topics we discuss are always interesting. I'm not sure I'd be as good at discussing farming with Sir Anthony Strallen."
"I've spoken to Sir Anthony several times before the war when I brought his car back to him at the end of an evening," said Tom after he swallowed his food. "He's remarkably knowledgeable about world politics as well as engines of all kinds and very affable. I'd imagine that he would be happy to talk your ear off on any of those topics and you'd just have to smile and nod."
Looking up at Tom, Sybil said, "Perhaps. Still I don't see what Mary sees in Sir Richard. I suppose we'll be invited to their wedding, which Mary had mentioned months prior that it was to take place in July. However, with what the Spanish flu has wrought, there may be some changes in plan especially since the family will be attending ours in June. Would we be able to attend a wedding in July in Yorkshire?"
"It would all depend on what our jobs entailed," said Tom frankly. "If we start jobs now, it's not the best idea to take time off to travel so soon afterward. At worst, I suppose you could start a job afterward and go on your own. I'm sure that your family wouldn't miss me."
"I would miss you," protested Sybil as she looked at him.
"Why don't we worry about it when we know it will happen?" said Tom. "By then, we both might be able to go. Your sister's been engaged to him for almost a year and a half now with no set date. I can't imagine that her wedding can be arranged that quickly."
"I suppose," said Sybil.
After they had eaten, Tom said, "Why don't you come sit here beside me? Since we have a little privacy, I'd like to hold you closer."
When Sybil sat down beside him after taking her hat off, Tom put his arm around her shoulder and she leaned her head on his. "This is more like it," said Tom with a smile.
"You know, we could probably picnic here every Sunday after church, if the weather holds," said Sybil as she looked up at Tom. "We could spend the afternoon here. Just the two of us, even after we're married."
"I like how you think," said Tom as he leaned in to kiss her. As the kiss deepened, Sybil's hand came up to touch Tom's cheek and she turned to be more comfortable. As she did this, Tom free hand pulled at her waist to bring her closer to him and as he moved his hand up her side, he skimmed the side of her breast, which sent a pleasant shock through her and she moved her hands to the back of Tom's neck in order to pull him closer. In doing this, Tom was unable to hold them up so he gently lowered them down onto the blanket where they continued to kiss and explore with their hands. Soon Sybil was running her hands through his hair messing his immaculate crop and he was running his hands up and down her sides. They continued like this for quite a while until Tom accidentally let his hands roam over and cup her behind and he quickly broke the kiss.
"I'm sorry," said Tom huskily as he looked at Sybil beneath him. "I shouldn't have done that."
"Don't be. I'm not sorry," said Sybil, her eyes dilated in arousal. Looking into his eyes, she said "I trust you to be gentleman and I don't see why two people who are about to be married in less than seven weeks wouldn't want to spend the afternoon kissing away while they had the chance."
At this juncture, Tom sat up and pulled Sybil to sit up as well. "See this is the problem," said Tom as he ran his fingers through his hair to tidy it up slightly. "You trust me more than I trust me. I don't want to take more liberties than I have been given though I am sorely tempted."
"But would you not stop if I said so?" asked Sybil, disappointed that their pleasurable activities for the afternoon had likely come to an end.
"Of course I would," said Tom. "But I fear that you would not tell me to stop when I ought."
Suddenly shy, Sybil looked down and said, "There may be more truth in that than you realize. I find myself wanting more than our agreement to do nothing but kiss before we are married, but at the same time I want to keep our agreement because it is right. I'm sorry to be so contradictory, but what my head wants and what my heart desires are two different things."
"Let me make a suggestion" said Tom. "Perhaps it would be best if we picnic here in the future that whatever we do, that at least one of us remains upright? I think it becomes dangerous when we are both lying down."
"Agreed," said Sybil as a blush crept up her cheeks. While what they had been doing while lying down on the blanket was dangerous, Sybil had to admit to herself that she did like it immensely.
Putting his cap back on, Tom said, "I think it best if we concluded the picnic for today. After what happened, I don't quite trust us here right now."
"You're probably right," said Sybil as she fiddled with her hair before she put her hat back on. "Though I hope that doesn't mean we'll head back to your mother's right away?"
"No," said Tom as he packed up their garbage. "I think a nice walk through the park is the best course of action for now."
A/N2: I hope that I managed to get the cost of a wedding close enough. I did use a site that calculated worth in 1919 called www dot measuringworth dot com, but would have liked a reference somewhere about the cost of a wedding in Ireland then. Anyway, I'd love to hear what you think of this chapter good or bad, so please do review. :)