|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 those who did just that.
I want to especially thank my wonderful betas: Tripp3235, mswainwright 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 afternoon of May 29, 1919.
Disclaimer: Not mine. All Downton Abbey characters belong to Julian Fellowes and ITV. I'm just playing with them.
During luncheon, it was decided that after a visit to Mrs. Branson to see whether she could come up with a drawing of a dress for Brigid, the sisters would visit Tom and Sybil's flat. Edith had asked a lot of questions to get a sense of what they wanted as a wedding gift and Mary had expressed a wish to see it, so Sybil decided to take them there for the afternoon before the visit to Madame White. She knew that Tom was very tidy, so she had no concerns about the state of the flat for a surprise visit.
After lunch as they were getting ready for their outing to the flat, Anna came up to them with the news that the concierge had obtained two appointments for Friday afternoon: one for a photographer and a second one for a caterer.
"Thank you, Anna," said Mary, putting her gloves on.
Anna nodded and went to get dinner clothes readied.
"A photographer?" asked Sybil, picking up her pocketbook. "There is no need."
"Mama made me promise to engage a photographer," said Mary. "It's a promise I intend to keep. Besides, you never know, you may wish to show your children a picture of your wedding some day."
"Very well," said Sybil, pulling on her gloves. "Let's head to Mrs. Branson first."
The three sisters then exited the suite.
While her sisters waited in the motor, Sybil ran up to Mrs. Branson's for a drawing of Brigid's dress. Mrs. Branson was in the kitchen chopping some vegetables for dinner and stirring a pot occasionally.
"Hello there. Back so soon?" asked Mrs. Branson when she saw Sybil.
"Actually, I came up to get the wedding dress and Cathleen's bridesmaid's dress," said Sybil while she went into the room she shared with Cathleen to get the dresses hanging behind the door. "My sisters' are getting their bridesmaids dresses made based on your drawings. We have an appointment with a Madame White at five o'clock and I thought it best to bring my dress and Cathleen's dress with us to match colours and materials."
"Madame White? On Killeen Street?" asked Mrs. Branson.
"Yes, I believe so." Sybil called out from the room.
"I knew her when she was Miss Caitlin Hayes about thirty five years ago now," said Mrs. Branson, dropping some meat into the pot. "She's very talented. Tell her I said hello. She would know me by my maiden name."
"I will," said Sybil as she held the dresses in her arms. "Also, do you think you could come up with a drawing for Brigid's dress and her measurements before five o'clock? My sister, Mary, offered to have a dress made for her. I doubt that Mairin would be able to take her to Madame White's at five o'clock and with a week left before the wedding, I think it best if we have her measurements with us when we go there."
"That's very kind of her," said Mrs. Branson, washing her hands. "Actually, I have her measurements and a drawing of a dress. I promised that I would make her a dress for her birthday in July and I took them on Easter Sunday. Let me copy the measurements for you and augment the drawing to suit the wedding, once I dry my hands. Can you stir the pot for me while I do that?"
"Of course," said Sybil, laying the dresses carefully down on the table before going over to stir the pot.
After ten minutes, Mrs. Branson returned with a drawing and a list of Brigid's measurements. "Here you are."
"Thank you, Mrs. Branson," said Sybil, taking the papers from Mrs. Branson.
Mrs. Branson took over the stirring from Sybil. "I hope you're having a good time with your sisters."
"I am," said Sybil, picking up the dresses. "They've told me the news from Downton and we've sorted a few things out."
"I'm glad," said Mrs. Branson. "Maybe, we'll see you tonight."
Sybil nodded, leaving the flat with the dresses and the papers.
By three o'clock, they had made their leisurely way to the flat. As they walked up the third flight of stairs, Edith said, "I didn't think that this building had this many floors."
When Sybil opened the door to the flat, it was immaculate as always. The afternoon light streamed in from the windows reflecting a tinge of blue onto the ceiling of the main room to cheer it up even more.
"Here we are," said Sybil proudly. "Our home for at least the next year."
"At least the next year?" asked Edith.
"Yes, we signed a year contract so that we could get a discount on the listed rent. We won't need anything bigger until at least then. I put the bargaining skills Granny taught us to good use."
"As you can see, we have a table and chairs in the main room. We hope to get a sofa or chairs for in the front of the fireplace after we're married and all the gifts sorted out. In the kitchen is the new pantry and work tables from Cousin Isobel and Matthew. I would offer you both some tea but we haven't started the coal delivery yet."
Edith walked to the table to examine it. "Where did you find mahogany in Ireland?"
"We purchased it from two sisters whose mother brought it with her from America when she married their father," said Sybil. "There's also a desk in the second bedroom made with the same wood."
"Used furniture," said Mary. "How quaint!"
"I think it's lovely," said Edith. "I always loved the mahogany furniture at Grandmama's."
"You would," said Mary under her breath, so only Edith would hear.
Ignoring Mary, Edith asked, pointing at the wall for the second bedroom, "Why are there glass blocks here?"
"Where the flat is situated, there isn't an outside window for that room," said Sybil. "To give the bedroom some light but to provide privacy, the builders added a few glass blocks."
Walking up to her older sister, Sybil asked, "What do you think of my new home?"
"It looks very cheery with the paint colours," said Mary, smiling politely.
"We picked them together, Tom and I," said Sybil. "Tom's younger brother and sister and his mother all helped us paint it."
"Indeed," said Mary. "Are there plans to add enhancements to bring out the colours?"
"I'm hoping to put up a stenciled border at the top over the summer with Cathleen's help to brighten it up a little," said Sybil. "But we don't want to spend too much on these walls as we don't know when we would need to move."
Walking over to the door to the master bedroom, Sybil said, "You should come and look at the bed and the curtains that I purchased. We used Granny's gift to furnish the bedroom and we have a nicer bedroom than we would otherwise."
Her sisters followed Sybil into the bedroom and were quite surprised and relieved at the quality of the furniture their sister had procured with the money. "What other pieces will there be?" asked Edith.
"There are two nightstands which will go on that side of the bed, a dresser with a mirror that will go against this wall, a wardrobe that will go into that corner and a chest of drawers which will go here," said Sybil, pointing out the locations. "We were even able to get curtains that match the bedspread."
"This is rather fine furniture for your home," said Mary, examining the detailed work on the bed.
"It is, but we wanted something that would last," said Sybil, smiling.
"You mentioned in the ride over that you had a list of gifts I could look at," said Mary.
"Of course," said Sybil. "It's in the second bedroom. Let me go get it."
When Sybil walked from one bedroom to the other, Edith asked, "What's that building over there?"
Looking over to where Edith was pointing, Sybil said, "That's Christ Church Cathedral. We can see it because we're one storey higher on this street than the other streets."
"How picturesque!" said Mary, giving Edith a look.
Sybil returned to Mary with the list that she and Tom had drawn up as they opened the gifts. "Here it is. I've been noting the ones for which I've written Thank You notes."
"Could I take it with me?" said Mary. "I want to look at it later to get a better sense of what you still may need. Mama tasked me to purchase something suitable for your home."
"It's my only copy, Mary."
"I won't lose it and I promise to give it back to you tomorrow," said Mary. "Oh before I forget, what would be a good time for the hotel to deliver the crates we brought to you?"
"I have to be here on Monday for the delivery of the rest of the bedroom furniture, so any time on Monday is fine," said Sybil. "How many crates are there?"
"Monday it is," said Mary. "I believe there are three small crates. Shall we go for tea?"
As the sisters left the flat, Sybil thought that her sisters were more polite than she would have expected from them.
When they arrived at Madame White's at five o'clock, they were shown into a private fitting room where they took the dresses from Sybil and hung them up. Within a couple of minutes, a woman in her late fifties entered into the room. "Good afternoon. I'm Madame White. I understand that you are looking to have a couple of bridesmaid's dresses and a flower girl dress made for next Thursday."
Mary stood up. "Good Afternoon. I'm Mary Crawley from Yorkshire. My sister, Sybil, is getting married next Thursday in Dublin at Rathgar Christian and we arrived yesterday. She has just asked my sister and I to be her bridesmaids along with one of her fiancé's sisters. Her wedding dress and her fiance's sister's dress have both already been made and we'd like to compliment them with two bridesmaid's dresses and a flower girl dress using the drawings we have here."
Madame White took the drawings from Mary and walked over to the dresses that were hung up. "I'm surprised that you did not go back to the dressmaker who made these dresses for you."
Sybil spoke up at this juncture. "My future mother-in-law, my fiance's sister and I made these dresses together and unfortunately, we won't have the time in the last week to make three other dresses."
Madame White examined the dresses closely. "I see. I must compliment whoever designed the dresses. They are simple and yet elegant. Very classic and meant to flatter your figure."
"It was my future mother-in-law," said Sybil. "I understand you may have known her by her maiden name, Rose Quinlan."
"I did," said Madame White in surprise. "I worked with her over thirty years ago before she married her chap. Branson?"
"Yes," said Sybil. "I'm marrying her son, Tom, next Thursday."
"Indeed," said Madame White. "Her stitching was always excellent and she had an eye for design."
Mary spoke up at this juncture. "So, Madame White, can the three dresses be done in time?"
"Absolutely, Miss Crawley," said Madame White when she seem to finally remember her customer.
"Excellent," said Mary, smiling politely.
Turning to the drawings in her hand, Madame White said, "I take it that this is your dress." Madame White waved one of the pages at Mary.
"Yes," said Mary.
"Which means this other adult dress must be for you," said Madame White looking at Edith.
"Yes," said Edith.
"You also mentioned that there's a flower girl dress, but I don't see a flower girl," said Madame White, peering over her glasses to look at Mary.
"She's Mrs. Branson's oldest granddaughter and a little young to be out at this hour. I have her measurements here." said Sybil, handing Madame White a slip of paper.
Madame White looked at the paper. "Good. I will need the three girls back here on Tuesday morning at ten for the final fitting. You can leave these other dresses here until then?"
"Yes, of course," said Sybil.
Looking at her assistant, Madame White said, "Cara, please arrange for these two girls to be measured and look to see if we have the bolt that matches this material here or if it's at the warehouse."
After Cara called for two girls to measure Mary and Edith, Madame White said to Sybil, "Please tell Rose Branson that if she is interested in work, that she can always come see me. I pay premium prices for excellent piece work. If she was interested in working here, I might be interested in some of her design work. I didn't realize that she was working again or I would have looked her up."
"I will," said Sybil.
By the time Sybil was dropped off at Mrs. Branson's, it was very late. Sybil was surprised when she saw Mrs. Branson sitting up on the sofa waiting for her with some darning.
"Good evening, Mrs. Branson," said Sybil. "You didn't have to wait up for me."
"Wasn't so much waiting up as I couldn't sleep. Thought I'd have some warm milk," said Mrs. Branson. "How was your day with your sisters?"
"It was lovely," said Sybil. "We reminisced about our childhood at dinner. They are only here for one week and I will miss them when they are gone."
"Have you been away from your family for an extended time before?"
"Only when I went on my auxiliary nurse training for two months," said Sybil with a smile, remembering Tom's declaration when he dropped her off.
"Did you feel alone then?" asked Mrs. Branson.
"I did," said Sybil. "I'd never been away from home and both my parents for an extended time before, but I don't feel that here with Tom and your family," said Sybil before dropping eye contact and adding, "In fact there are days when I miss him more now than I missed my family during the training."
"Isn't that how you should feel as a soon-to-be bride?" asked Mrs. Branson gently, knowing that Sybil rarely shared her feelings with anyone.
"I suppose," said Sybil. "Did Tom stop by after work? He said that he might."
"No, he must have gone straight home," said Mrs. Branson. "I do hope he had a good supper."
"I hope he's not working too hard," said Sybil.
"I'm sure he knows his limits," said Mrs. Branson.
Sybil paused before saying, "My sisters have asked that I move to the hotel so that I can be married from the bride's home as it were."
"That makes sense," said Mrs. Branson, unsure of Sybil's feelings on the matter. "When will that be?"
"They suggested tomorrow as we will be going to see a play at the Abbey Theatre, but I was able to put them off until Tuesday," said Sybil. "The rest of the bedroom furniture is being delivered first thing on Monday morning and I didn't see the point of having to take a cab across town to be there for it. I hope you don't mind."
"No, not at all," said Mrs. Branson. "In fact, we'll miss you all the more come Tuesday. Cathleen commented tonight that supper was so quiet without you and Tom. I guess we'll have to get used to that again when you're married."
"Thank you," said Sybil. "That's very kind of you to say so. I will miss living here where I learned so much from all of you."
"We are very happy to have helped you in any way," said Mrs. Branson.
"Oh, before I forget, my sisters wish to convey that despite my parents' absence that the family is still invited to dine at the hotel on Sunday," said Sybil, unable to look directly at Mrs. Branson. "They will provide transportation for the entire family from this address."
"Please tell her that on behalf of the entire family, we will be more than happy to accept and that we look forward to dining with them again on Sunday," said Mrs. Branson.
"I'm will," said Sybil.
After a short pause, Mrs. Branson asked, "I was wondering how the visit to Madame White went?"
"Quite well," said Sybil. "She will need Brigid there with my sisters for the final fitting on Tuesday morning. Do you think Mairin will be able to go with her?"
"I don't think so since she's still feeding Deirdre, but we'll arrange something," said Mrs. Branson. "Don't you worry."
"Madame White also said that if you ever wanted to do piece work that she pays a premium," said Sybil.
"So she does remember me," said Mrs. Branson, amused.
"Yes, she does," said Sybil. "And she complimented you on your designs and said that if you were interested in working at her shop that she'd be interested in your design work as well."
"Did she now?" asked Mrs. Branson. "That's very kind of her since she was always better at that than I was."
"If you can spare the time," said Sybil, thinking aloud. "Perhaps you can take Brigid to the fitting on Tuesday morning."
"Now that's an idea," said Mrs. Branson. "I'll talk to Mairin when she's here for dinner on Saturday. By the way, you can mention to your family that dinner will be served at half past seven, but that we will be able to receive them from seven o'clock onward."
"I'll let them know," said Sybil as she tried to stifle a yawn.
"Well, I'm done here," said Mrs. Branson. "You might want to head to bed yourself if you want to see Tom tomorrow morning."
"That's a good idea," said Sybil as she rose from the sofa. "Goodnight, Mrs. Branson."
"Good night, Sybil dear."
A/N2: The first day with the sisters together is over. Mary and Edith have seen the flat and the dresses have been arranged. Next up is a visit to the church and some other details like arranging the wedding breakfast and the photographer.
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. Also, please feel free to point out cultural misnomers or anachronisms, I live in Canada and I know that our terms are often different than those in the UK. As always, I'd love to hear what you think of this chapter good or bad, so please do review. :)