|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: Thank you for all the reviews, etc., since the last chapter was posted. All of it is, as always, greatly appreciated. I value every single one. Thanks to those who may have reviewed for the first time. I hope that you choose to review again.
Just a reminder that with the new review system, if you have reviewed before with a name, it would be lovely if you would indicate who you are so I know. It's much harder to distinguish who reviewed when it's all listed as guest. :) Thank you to Duchess who did just that.
I also wanted to share that the lovely confessor_meggy on FanForum made a beautiful trailer/video for this story. :D You can find the link to it on my profile. You must go and take a look. I was so surprised at how many scenes she was able to incorporate into it. Thank you so much meggy, you are so awesome! :)
I want to especially thank my wonderful betas: Tripp3235, mswainwright (in absentia for this chapter due to her busy schedule) and _livingfree (on Twitter) (in absentia for this chapter due to school work). Without these wonderful people, who listen to me gripe and have the patience to slog through chapter after chapter despite their busy lives, the quality of every aspect of this story would be much poorer indeed! :)
To provide a time reference for the weekly readers, we pick up in this chapter the morning of May 29, 1919.
Disclaimer: Not mine. All Downton Abbey characters belong to Julian Fellowes and ITV. I'm just playing with them.
When the knock on the door came a little after ten the next morning, Sybil was just pinning her hat on her head. When the second knock came, Mrs. Branson asked, "Did you want me to get the door, Sybil dear?"
Sybil called out while she took one last look at the image in the mirror. "No, I'll get it."
Opening the door revealed Edith.
"Edith!" said Sybil, pulling her startled sister into a hug.
When Edith regained her senses, she said, "Sybil, so this is where you're staying."
"Yes, would you like to meet Tom's mother?" asked Sybil. "She's just at the table working."
"Not if it's not too much bother." Edith smiled.
"No bother at all," said Sybil, pulling Edith in and closing and locking the door again. "Mrs. Branson, you won't believe who has come to take me?"
Mrs. Branson rose from the table to go meet her visitor.
"Mrs. Branson, this is my sister, Lady Edith Crawley," said Sybil, leading Edith to the end of the entrance hall. "Edith, this is Tom's mother, Mrs. Rose Branson."
"How do you do, Lady Edith?" said Mrs. Branson. "Please pardon my appearance and welcome to Ireland."
"Mrs. Branson, thank you," said Edith, looking around. "You have a lovely home here. I see that my sister is looking well, which must in part be attributed to her stay at your home."
"Thank you very much," said Mrs. Branson. "Would you care to stay for some tea?"
"Thank you for the offer, but no," said Edith, smiling. "My sister is waiting at the hotel for me to bring Sybil there. We are engaged to dine here on Saturday, so I will take you up on your hospitality then."
"Yes, of course," said Mrs. Branson. "Lovely to meet you, Lady Edith."
"And you as well, Mrs. Branson," said Edith with a nod of the head. "Until Saturday."
Mrs. Branson nodded to Edith, and Edith and Sybil made their way to the door. Sybil turned as they crossed the threshold. "No need to wait up for me, Mrs. Branson. I have my key and can let myself in."
"Very well," said Mrs. Branson, following them to the door. "Have a lovely time with your sisters." Mrs. Branson then locked up after them.
When both Sybil and Edith were ensconced in the cab, the driver drove off.
"You must tell me how the voyage went," said Sybil. "Did you enjoy it?"
"The train ride was lovely," said Edith. "I think the last time I took a train in that direction was when we went to visit our grandparents in New York. Anna and I arrived in Holyhead by late afternoon and met up with Mary at the hotel. The sea voyage over was rather rough. It's a good thing that Mama wasn't with us. She would have spent all her time below decks. You know how Mama dislikes sea travel. The rough seas would not have done her any-" Seeing Sybil in distress, Edith reached over and brought Sybil closer and immediately added, "I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. I shouldn't have brought Mama up."
Sybil dabbed at her eyes with the handkerchief. "No, I need to focus on the fact that both you and Mary are here. I won't cry over this at my own wedding."
"Still, I'm sorry." Edith looked at Sybil sympathetically.
Putting her handkerchief away, Sybil asked, "How is Mary? I only heard from her once when she was at Hylands."
"Same as always," said Edith, rolling her eyes. "Self-absorbed. Complaining about everyone and everything. The first thing she said when she stepped off the ship was how dreary the grey skies are in Ireland. As if the Irish had anything to do with the weather."
"How are you enjoying Ireland?" asked Sybil, changing the topic.
"It's lovely," said Edith. "I've always wanted to travel but with no reason to do so. Mama and Granny are always saying that I could travel with my husband when I'm married." Edith winced when she finished the sentence, but seeing that Sybil didn't tear up this time, she continued. "Is there a reason why I couldn't do so myself?"
"What about our invitation for you to visit Ireland later on in the summer?" asked Sybil.
"What about your job?" Edith countered.
"It doesn't start until September," said Sybil. "Our home isn't Downton, but you would have your own room. Tom and I would cook and you wouldn't have to wash and clean. I would love it if you were to visit us from mid-August to September."
"Won't Tom mind?" asked Edith.
Sybil laughed. "He was the one who suggested it."
"Well, then," said Edith, more confident that she wasn't putting Sybil out. "I'll definitely consider it."
"Good," said Sybil. "I'll talk to Mary, while she's here for the wedding. She can help you convince Mama and Papa. Speaking of wedding, there's something I wanted to ask you but it didn't feel right putting it on paper. Would you consider being one of my bridesmaids?"
"Of course, I would," said Edith with a smile. "But I have no dress."
"Mrs. Branson designed some matching bridesmaids dresses with my wedding gown," said Sybil. "She can alter it to your liking and if we can find a seamstress who can devote her time to it alone, we should have it ready in a week."
"Who else have you asked to be your bridesmaid?" asked Edith.
"Tom's sister Cathleen," said Sybil. "She's a few years younger than I am and I was thinking of asking Mary as well."
"Does Tom's sister have a dress?" asked Edith.
"Yes, Mrs. Branson designed it to match my gown, same as the ones for you and Mary," said Sybil. "We finished it just last night."
"I don't know, Sybil," said Edith. "I'm not sure that Tom's mother would know what we like."
"Edith, you haven't seen the gown and the matching dresses that she designed," said Sybil. "It rivals one of Madame Swann's creations."
"Really?" said Edith with a tone of incredulity.
Sybil pulled out some papers from her pocketbook. "Look at these dresses."
Edith took the first page from her and her eyes widened in shock. It was one of the most beautiful wedding gowns that Edith had ever seen and the design suited Sybil's personality perfectly. "Tom's mother designed this?"
"And the finished product looks exactly like it," said Sybil proudly. Pointing to another dress on a separate page. "Here's the one she designed for you."
Edith had to consciously close her mouth after seeing the dress Mrs. Branson had designed for her. It was exquisite. "What did she design for Mary and Miss Branson?"
Sybil pulled out the drawings for the other dresses and Edith was shocked at how the design for Mary would suit her so well. "How did she know what we would like?"
"I described to her what you and Mary looked like and some of your personality and she created these," said Sybil. "Isn't she talented?"
"Wait until Mary sees these," said Edith gleefully. "She'll be in for a surprise."
Sybil smiled with pride at Mrs. Branson's talents.
After a few quiet moments, Sybil put the papers back in her pocketbook. Edith then asked, "How have you been Sybil?"
Sybil sighed. "Better before I received Mama's letter, but we won't talk about that."
"Are you happy aside from the letter?" asked Edith.
"Aren't you frightened of being in a new country with no friends or family?"
"I'm not frightened because I will have a family," said Sybil with a smile. "I have Tom and his family. I've come to know his mother and his sister, Cathleen, very well. I also hope to make friends when I start working and when I get involved in the suffrage movement again. There's something you should understand. Though we are not yet married, Tom is my family now and wherever he and our future children are, is where I belong. I could never feel lonely or frightened wherever he is."
"I do hope that I'll have your conviction some day," said Edith wistfully.
Sybil looked at her sister. "With the right person, you will get courage just from being with them."
"Are you saying that you and Tom have ... ?" asked Edith, wide-eyed.
"No," said Sybil with a sigh. "We're waiting until we're married before we consummate our union. What I mean is that I derive courage from seeing him, talking to him, being close to him. He gives me the strength to be a better person, a more patient person. I want to live up to his expectations and that gives me the courage to do the right thing. Also, he encourages me when I have doubts and that too helps me from being frightened here in my new home."
"I hope that someday I'll find someone like you have," said Edith, happy for her sister.
"I'm sure you will." Sybil took Edith's hand and squeezed it.
"Look Edith," said Sybil, pointing out the street tram. "That's the tram I took to get to my interview a couple of weeks ago."
"You take public transportation by yourself?" asked Edith.
"Yes, how else am I supposed to get where I need to go when it's halfway across the city?" asked Sybil. "Tom's salary wouldn't cover the cost of operating a motorcar and living in Dublin, never mind the cost of purchasing one. It's not all bad. I can reach most places in Dublin using public transportation and I generally can find someone friendly for directions."
"Can't you use the stipend that Papa is sending to cover something like that?" asked Edith. Sybil's stipend was common knowledge among the immediate family.
"The stipend that Papa sends wouldn't come close to covering it," said Sybil. "Besides, we're saving it up for when the children come and I won't be able to work as much as before."
"Tell me more about your job," asked Edith." Your letter said that you would be working at a clinic Monday to Saturday and that the doctor knew Matthew's father."
"Yes, I'll be working as a junior nurse at the Langford Clinic for Women," said Sybil. "The doctor leading the clinic is a Dr. Sarah Byrne, who received her medical degree from York Medical School. She's apparently met Dr. Clarkson at a symposium and she was Matthew's father's personal assistant when he was a guest lecturer at York Medical School."
"How coincidental." Edith remarked.
"Isn't it?" said Sybil with a smile. "I hope to get to know her better once I start work there in September. They are sending all the nurses to a training course at the end of July."
"In Dublin or elsewhere?" asked Edith.
"Trinity College, here in Dublin."
"You mean the university?" asked Edith.
"How lucky for you," said Edith wistfully. "You get to work and go to university."
Sybil thought it best to change the subject. "I've been meaning to ask, but how is Bates's trial going?"
Looking out the window, Edith replied, "They haven't had a trial yet."
The conversation then moved onto how Bates and Anna were doing as well as the rest of the household staff.
When they got out of the cab and Edith paid the driver, Sybil looked up at the hotel where her sisters were staying. It was a modern building with a brick exterior and it was the size of Downton. Though she had lived most of her life in a house this size, a month spent in Dublin made her realize how privileged she was to be able to grow up in such an environment.
"We're in the suite on the top floor," said Edith. "Mama never changed the reservations. Did you want to stay with us while we're here? We have the room."
"No, not yet," said Sybil. "I still have a number of things to do to get the flat ready before next Thursday and it's easier to go from Mrs. Branson's to the flat."
"As you wish." As they walked through the lobby, Edith added, "We ascend in an lift."
Looking at her sister, Sybil said, "Just like when we were in America."
"Yes," said Edith. "Though I doubt that you'll spend an afternoon going up and down on it."
"Not after the punishment I got from the governess," said Sybil laughing. "I had to write, 'I will not ride up and down the lift by myself,' a thousand times. I think it took me a week to finish the last of it."
"You nearly missed the trip to the Bronx Zoo," said Edith.
"But Papa let me go after I cried through dinner the night before," said Sybil, recalling the memory.
"You always got what you want from Papa when we were young," said Edith.
"Papa was always fair then," said Sybil wistfully when she entered the lift with Edith.
"No," said Edith. "You just knew how to make Papa feel unjustified with continuing his plan." Turning to the lift operator, Edith added, "Top floor, please."
"I remember threatening to run away," said Sybil with a giggle.
"At least you were consistent," said Edith. "That was always your ploy, regardless of whatever happened, you would threaten to run away."
"It worked, didn't it?" asked Sybil.
"Well, you finally did try it," said Edith in reference to Sybil and Tom's failed elopement.
"I did, didn't I?" said Sybil with the realization that she did just that.
"Well until Mary got Anna and me to follow you and Tom." Edith smiled.
"I'm glad you did," said Sybil. "I'm much happier that we did it this way."
The lift dinged and the operator said, "Eighth floor."
"Thank you," said Edith and Sybil. The operator lifted his cap to them as they exited.
There was only one door on this floor. Edith turned to look at Sybil and asked, "Are you ready to see Mary?"
Sybil nodded and Edith took her key and put it into the keyhole.
When Edith opened the door and she and Sybil walked into the suite, Mary was looking out one of the windows of the enormous suite. It had a sitting area near the size of the drawing room at Downton with a dining room on the right side from the entrance to the suite. Large windows were evenly spaced on both sides of the room extending only to where the doors to the bedrooms were situated on the far side. The scene from the windows stretched for miles as you could see a large part of Dublin when you stood in the middle of the room. Anna emerged from one of the doors on the far side and took Edith and Sybil's hats, gloves and jackets.
"Anna, how are you?" asked Sybil, gently.
"As well as can be, milady," said Anna with a small smile.
"I'm glad to hear it," said Sybil.
Anna nodded and took away their things.
"Mary!" said Sybil after Anna took her jacket. Edith headed back to her room to tidy up.
Mary turned and walked toward Sybil. They met halfway between and Sybil pulled Mary into a hug. "I'm so glad that you're here."
"It's good to see you, Sybil," said Mary when Sybil released her. Looking at Sybil, Mary continued. "You're looking well. Dublin must agree with you."
"It does," said Sybil. "How was the journey? Edith said that the seas were rough."
"Nothing we couldn't manage and with it only being four hours from Holyhead, it was tolerable," said Mary, leading them to one of the sofas. "Mama mentioned that you went through Liverpool."
"It was easier for us with less connections, even if it meant a longer sea journey," said Sybil, sitting down. "How are you, Mary? I only heard from you once, which isn't like you."
Mary smiled to alleviate her sister's worries. "Everything is just excellent. I had a lovely time at Hylands with the Gooches and then I saw Richard in London when I was staying at Aunt Rosamund's."
"How is Aunt Rosamund?" asked Sybil.
"Lonely as ever," said Mary. "Though she has a new friend, Lord Hepworth?" When Sybil shrugged, Mary continued. "Apparently, Granny knew his father."
"How is Sir Richard?" asked Sybil.
"Busy," said Mary. "He was to come up to Hylands for the Armistice and Demobilization Dance, but had to cancel at the last minute. Enough about me. Tell me more about your wedding."
"Well, it's at Rathgar Christian Church as I told Mama," said Sybil. "We've already discussed the ceremony with Pastor Whelan. There's to be two processionals, one for the bridesmaids and one for the bride and a recessional. There are two bible readings and a poem. There's Tom's brother, who is the best man. Tom's niece who's the flower girl." Sybil paused, unsure of whether this was the time to ask Mary to be her bridesmaid, but decided to move forward as they would need time to make the dress. "I was wondering if you would be one of my bridesmaids. I've asked Tom's sister, Cathleen, and Edith just now on the ride here."
"Of course," said Mary, "But I don't have a dress."
"Tom's mother designed bridesmaids dresses for the three of you," said Sybil, searching for her pocketbook. "Let me show you the drawings."
Pulling the drawings out, Sybil handed the one with Mary's dress over to her. "What do you think of yours?" Sybil pointed to the drawing on the bottom right.
Looking them over, Mary said, "This is very fashionable. May I see your dress?"
"Here," said Sybil, passing the page with her wedding dress on it. "It looks exactly like it when Mrs. Branson and I made it."
Mary was unable to entirely hide her surprise when she saw the drawing for Sybil's dress. "You and Mrs. Branson made this? Since you arrived in Dublin?"
"Don't look so surprised Mary," said Sybil. "Mrs. Branson is very good at this."
"What of Edith's dress?" asked Mary, unable to take her eyes off of the drawing of Sybil's wedding gown.
"This is Edith's," said Sybil, handing over another page.
"What is mine?" asked Edith, who just came out of her bedroom.
"Your bridesmaid dress that Mrs. Branson drew," said Sybil, looking over at Edith.
"Isn't it lovely, Mary?" asked Edith.
Mary looked at the drawing of Edith's dress. "Yes, and quite elegant. I daresay that she knows how to dress you better than you do."
"And this is Cathleen's dress," said Sybil, cutting off any response from Edith.
Mary looked at the design for Cathleen's dress. "How did she know what would suit us?"
"I asked the same question." Edith sat down beside Sybil. "Apparently, Sybil described us to her and she came up with these ideas on her own. Quite the talent wouldn't you say?"
"Quite indeed," said Mary. "But how are we to get these designs to dresses before next Thursday?"
Looking at her sisters, Sybil spoke up. "According to Tom's mother, if we can find two seamstresses, who can focus on just the individual dresses from now until next Thursday, it can be done. Remember Madame Swann used to be able to make our dresses in a week."
"I don't see a flower girl dress in these drawings," said Mary. "I thought you said that you had one."
"We do," said Sybil. "But we just decided on Sunday to have her in the wedding party. She'll be wearing her Sunday best."
Mary looked at the designs and spoke as she thought. "Anna, Can you call the concierge for an appointment with a dressmaker who can make dresses within a week? Sybil, if you can get Mrs. Branson to design the flower girl dress before the appointment, we can include her dress on the order. Mama gave me extra funds to cover last minute details and I think we can consider this to be last minute details."
"Yes, milady," said Anna before going to the telephone.
"Thank you, Mary," said Sybil. "I'm sure that Mairin will be very happy for Brigid to get a dress for the wedding."
"What else did Mama owe you?" asked Mary. "She gave me a list, but she asked me to check if anything was missed."
"Mama was responsible for the wedding breakfast, luncheon with Tom on Saturday and she was suppose to host a dinner with Tom's family on Sunday, but I guess that won't come to pass now that she's not here."
"Nonsense," said Mary. "We will still do it all."
"Yes, this suite is large enough to host a dinner since Mama, Papa and Granny aren't here." Edith added.
"Granny was planning to come?" asked Sybil, blanching at the news.
Edith looked at Mary and Mary said gently, "Yes, Granny had been planning to attend until Papa put his foot down and said he wasn't coming."
"I'm sorry," said Edith. "I thought you knew."
"No, Mama never mentioned," said Sybil in a small voice. With some effort, Sybil was able to keep the tears from falling. "So there isn't any urgent business to attend to in London?"
Edith and Mary looked at one another and Mary said, "Papa and Mama are both in London now but we don't know whether it is for the season or urgent business. Papa did leave before Mama, but Mama did not follow until after we had left. I wasn't home for much of the time, so I'm not sure what happened exactly."
Edith spoke up. "Mama and Papa had quite a few rows while Mary was at Hylands. Often they wouldn't speak to one another at meals. Papa even slept in his dressing room for a few nights. Mama asked me not to mention these things in my letters to you. I think she was hoping to change Papa's mind, which was why she waited for so long before telling you."
"But Papa seemed to have accepted my choice by the time I Ieft for Dublin. He even shook Tom's hand. What changed?" asked Sybil, still baffled her father's change in tune.
"I'm not sure," said Edith. "He went on a business trip to York soon after you left and after his return was when the arguments between him and Mama started. That's as much as I know."
"Thank you, both," said Sybil.
"Perhaps you can tell us more about the wedding," said Mary, changing the subject. "What about the flowers and decorations for the church?"
"One of Tom's relatives who works at a flower shop is providing the flowers at a discount," said Sybil. "Which reminds me that I need to send a note to confirm the other two bridesmaids bouquets."
"Can't you call?" asked Edith. At the same time, Mary said, "Flowers at a discount?"
"Yes, at a discount because Tom and I don't believe in paying more than we have to and the relative graciously offered." Sybil glanced at Mary before turning to Edith. "I can call, but I don't know the number," said Sybil. "Mrs. Branson doesn't have a telephone so I didn't write down their number."
"Do you know the name of the shop?" asked Mary, picking up the other thread of conversation.
"Yes, it's Moran Flowers on Moran Road."
"Anna, could you call the concierge and ask him to confirm two bridesmaids bouquets for Sybil Crawley at Moran Flowers on Moran Road for the wedding on June 5th?"
"Yes, milady," said Anna before heading to the telephone.
"Please tell us more about the flowers," asked Mary.
"They are in season flowers, which is part of the discount," said Sybil. "We'll have lilacs and violets, irises, buttercups if they are early. It really depends on what is in bloom, but I expect it to be lovely."
"Did you not want roses and carnations and lilies?" asked Edith, surprised by the list of flowers.
"We don't need hothouse flowers," said Sybil, looking at her sister. "I expect the in-season flowers will be lovely."
"Any other decorations for the church?" asked Mary.
"Why don't I show you the church tomorrow afternoon?" asked Sybil. "And then you can get a sense of what's needed still after I describe it."
"Can we visit the church in the morning?" asked Edith. "Mama got a box for a play at the Abbey Theatre for tomorrow night and you'll want to be well rested for that."
"But I don't have anything to wear to a play," said Sybil. "I left all my finery behind."
"We brought one of your dresses for just such an occasion," said Mary. "So you need not worry."
"Anna, were you able to get the concierge to confirm the bouquets?" said Mary, looking at Anna who had been hovering while the sisters conversed.
"Yes, milady," said Anna. "The concierge was also able to get an appointment for five o'clock this afternoon with a Madame White on Killeen and luncheon will be served shortly."
"Excellent," said Mary. "Thank you, Anna." Mary then turned to her sisters. "Did you want to freshen up for luncheon, Sybil? You can use one of the spare rooms. We can continue the rest of the discussion over lunch."
"Yes, that would be lovely," said Sybil.
"Actually," said Mary. "Did you want to stay with us until the wedding? We have the room."
"Thank you, Mary, but no," said Sybil. "I still have a number of things to attend to at the flat and it's so much easier to get there from Mrs. Branson's. Also, I promised to walk Tom to work every morning and it's easier if I'm living at his mother's."
"As you wish," said Mary. "Just know that we have room and would welcome you at any point during the week and you know you ought to be married from the bride's home."
"Thank you for the offer," said Sybil. "Let me discuss it with Mrs. Branson and Tom and let you know."
The sisters then parted to freshen up for luncheon.
A/N2: The sisters have met up again and have made some plans. I hope that I've gotten Edith and Mary's voice right.
As always, please feel free to point out any typos and grammatical errors. Sometimes no matter how hard you or your betas look, these things get missed. As always, I'd love to hear what you think of this chapter good or bad, so please do review. :)