|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.
My apologies to those who provided a signed review. I have been bogged down by my paying job this week and have not been able to send a thank you yet. I'm planning to do that tomorrow. :) I would also like to apologize for the lack of Tom in the last chapter that a number of reviewers brought up. Obviously I didn't notice and neither did my betas. I think that you have a point and I'm considering rewriting the last chapter at some point in the future to include a scene with Tom.
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 morning of May 30, 1919.
Disclaimer: Not mine. All Downton Abbey characters belong to Julian Fellowes and ITV. I'm just playing with them.
The next morning found Sybil and her sisters at Rathgar Christian Church. Edith had mentioned the quaintness of the church when she saw it nestled amongst the trees.
When they arrived at the church office, the church secretary said, "I'm sorry, but Pastor Whelan is out visiting parishioners today. Perhaps I can show you what you would like to see?"
"Yes, please, Miss Wilson," said Sybil. "I believe my sisters would like to see the church itself and the church hall where we will be having the wedding breakfast."
"Very well," said Miss Wilson, taking out a set of keys and then she got up from behind her desk. "Follow me."
Sybil and her sisters followed the secretary into the church where Sybil pointed out where the flowers she had ordered were going and where everyone was suppose to stand and sit. Meanwhile, Edith took notes for Mary and Sybil wondered whether her mother left instructions to add to the flowers and decorations.
When they got to the church hall, Mary and Edith discussed things between them and Edith took meticulous notes even asking Miss Wilson the size of the hall and the kitchen attached. Sybil merely smiled.
When they returned to the church office, Miss Wilson said, "If you need to coordinate the deliveries, etc., you can either call me or have the delivery persons call me." Handing Mary a piece of paper, Miss Wilson continued, "Here is the telephone number for the church. Miss Brady or I are in the office every day of the week during business hours. Both of us will be here the day of the wedding."
"Excellent, Miss Wilson," said Mary. "I'll be in touch after we meet with the caterers this afternoon."
They returned to the hotel by late morning and after a light lunch, the photographer arrived at the hotel to discuss what was wanted in terms of photographs. He was expected to arrive during the ceremony to set up in a small room in the church hall and be available for an hour afterward to take all pictures of the wedding.
After a short break, the caterer arrived with samples of various foods on their menus direct from their kitchens. While it wasn't exactly Mrs Patmore's cooking, it was excellent and quite suitable for a wedding. Since their mother wasn't in Dublin, Mary let Sybil pick the menu. When it came to the wedding cake, Sybil asked if she could take a sample of the Irish fruitcake they had on offer to Tom. She wanted his opinion on whether to choose that or something more ordinary for their wedding cake. Mary wondered whether her mother would be as easy with her own upcoming wedding breakfast, but knowing her mother, she highly doubted it.
That evening, the sisters attended a play at the Abbey Theatre. Having procured a box when reservations were made for Dublin by their mother, it minimized their contact with other theatre goers. Sybil offered to go to procure refreshments for their party but Mary and Edith wanted to stretch their legs so they all went together. As soon as they were out of the box, Sybil asked Mary, "Will you help Edith persuade Papa to allow her to visit Tom and me in August?"
"Edith visit Dublin on her own?" asked Mary, eyebrows raised in surprise. "You want me to convince Papa?"
"Yes, Tom and I would love to have her as a guest for a couple of weeks," said Sybil. "I start work in September and I don't know how long it will be before we visit Downton. Besides Edith wants to visit, don't you?"
"I do," said Edith, with a smile. "Would you help?
"Where would you stay?" asked Mary, wondering how this venture would work out.
"In our second bedroom." Sybil answered for Edith. "We'll get a bed for her. She won't have to cook or clean. Tom and I will manage that. We send out the washing once a week, so that won't be an issue either. So long as she packs clothes that don't require help to put on, she should be fine."
"Your husband wouldn't mind?" asked Mary.
"Why should he?" said Sybil. "He suggested it."
"I see," said Mary. "Let me think about it."
"Thank you," said Sybil.
As they entered the entrance hall where the other theatre goers were, Sybil was surprised to see Dr. Byrne dressed very elegantly in a blue evening gown speaking with a group of ladies near the refreshment bar. When Dr. Byrne saw Sybil, she left her friends and came to speak to her.
"Nurse Crawley," said Dr. Byrne. "How lovely to see you here at the Abbey Theatre."
"Dr. Byrne," said Sybil. "May I introduce you to my sisters, Mary Crawley and Edith Crawley. Dr. Byrne is the lead doctor at the clinic where I will be working starting in September."
"How do you do, Dr. Byrne?" said Mary with a nod of her head. Edith nodded at the doctor as well.
"Lady Mary, Lady Edith," said Dr Byrne in a half whisper.
Mary and Edith were taken aback by this mode of address here in public. "How?" asked Edith.
"I deduced it during my interview with Nurse Crawley," said Dr. Byrne as she nodded to Sybil. "Did she not tell you?"
"Mary, Edith, you will recall that Dr. Byrne earned her medical degree at York Medical School," said Sybil.
"Of course," said Edith. "Sybil had mentioned that you knew our late cousin, Dr. Reginald Crawley."
"Indeed I did," said Dr. Byrne. "I was his student assistant when he was a guest lecturer at York Medical in my first year there."
"Sadly, we did not have the pleasure," said Mary, keeping up her part of the conversation. "However, we are quite familiar with his widow and their son, Mr. Matthew Crawley."
"I exchange Christmas cards with Mrs. Crawley," said Dr. Byrne, smiling. "She is an inveterate writer."
"Dr. Byrne, would you care to join us in our box for the second half?" asked Mary. "My sister and I would be interested in getting to know you better as you will be leading the clinic where Sybil will be working. Our parents would think us remiss if we did not invite you."
"I'd be delighted," said Dr Byrne. "Let me tell my party where I will be."
"Of course," said Mary.
As Dr. Byrne moved back to the ladies with whom she had been conversing earlier, Sybil said, "Mary, you really didn't have to invite Dr. Byrne."
"No," said Mary. "Mama has been rather worried about your new life. She asked me to find out more about where you will be working and this is an excellent opportunity."
"Has she been worried?" asked Sybil.
"Indeed," said Mary, looking earnestly at her youngest sister. "What mother would not be worried about her daughter starting a new life in a new country?"
It was at this moment that the service lad was ready to carry their refreshments to their box and Dr Byrne returned to their side.
After they settled into their box, Edith asked, "How does someone from Ireland end up in a medical school in Yorkshire?"
"I did apply to medical schools here in Ireland, and was accepted but none provided the partial scholarship I required," said Dr. Byrne, sighing. "My mentor, Dr Fintan Rynd, suggested that I apply in the rest of the United Kingdom before trying on the continent. York offered me a full scholarship almost immediately."
"Did you enjoy your time in Yorkshire?" asked Mary.
"I did, but when I completed my studies, I longed to return home and practice here," said Dr. Byrne. "My first position was in the Duchy of Langford which eventually led me to leading the Langford Clinic for Women."
"Will there be sufficient interest in the clinic if it only treats women's issues?" asked Edith, who thought Dr. Byrne to be a brave woman.
"I believe so," said Dr Byrne. "The clinic operates on an endowment from the Duke of Langford, so the patients only pay a nominal fee. Our policy is not harsh against men, we merely focus on women's issues. For example, if a man was bleeding to death on our doorstep, we would not turn him away, but we would try to stabilize him before we transferred him to another facility."
"What of children?" asked Edith.
"Our plan is to evaluate children who come in with their mothers up to the age of one year," said Dr. Byrne. "Once the child is older, we will ask the mother to bring them to the general clinic down the street."
"You have quite a set of ideas," said Mary.
"I believe that women would feel more comfortable discussing their issues with someone at a clinic for women," said Dr Byrne. "I've often found that doctors tend to dismiss female complaints which then leads the woman to dismiss her issues herself until it is too late."
At that moment the lights dimmed to indicate that the second half was about to start. Everyone took their seats and Dr. Byrne sat on the empty seat beside Sybil.
When the play ended, Dr Byrne thanked the sisters for inviting her in their box for the second half of the play and told Sybil that she looked forward to seeing her at the training course in July.
Once they were in the cab to take them back to the hotel, Mary commented. "A clinic for women. Can you imagine what Granny would say?"
"But Granny wouldn't understand," said Sybil. "Wouldn't you prefer to talk to a woman about any female complaints you may have?"
"I don't know about you, Mary, but I would," said Edith. "Granny on the other hand would probably say that women do not share their complaints with anyone and 'we merely bear the burden in silence.'"
"You're probably right," said Mary. "But remember Granny is in her seventies. Would you be as spry as she is at that age?"
"Still, you have admire Dr. Byrne's courage for starting a women's clinic," said Sybil to cut any comments from Edith off.
"I hope that it is successful," said Mary. "I can foresee it being devoid of patients if something were to go wrong with a delivery."
"Dr. Byrne expects maternal deaths to go down with the strict protocol on hygiene at the clinic," said Sybil. "She received an endowment from the Duke of Langford to create the clinic in memory of his wife who died of childbed fever."
"I wonder if Papa knows him," asked Mary. "After all, there are twenty-eight Irish peer representatives in the House of Lords."
"I've never heard him mentioned," said Edith. "But that doesn't mean anything. He rarely spoke of his time in the House of Lords."
Seeing that Sybil had her hand over her mouth, Mary asked, "Is everything all right, darling?"
Sybil blinked back a few tears. "I just realized that without Papa, I don't have anyone to walk me down the aisle. I didn't even think of it until now."
"Does Tom not have an uncle or someone who can do that?" asked Edith, who had been wondering since Papa left for London before she and Mary left.
"No," said Sybil. "We've spent most of our time at his mother's and his elder brother is already the best man."
"Besides," said Mary. "It ought to be some from our family."
"That leaves just you and me," said Edith. "And we're already bridesmaids."
"Perhaps Tom or Pastor Whelan will have some ideas," said Sybil quickly. "There no point in crying over spilt milk. Papa isn't here and he didn't want to be. There's nothing that can be done about it."
Edith glanced at Mary before looking at Sybil. "We're here and we wouldn't have missed it for the world."
"Thank you," said Sybil, plastering a smile on her face. "I am grateful that you're both here. Perhaps we can discuss a different topic. How were the fashions in London when you were there last week?"
To humour their sister, Mary and Edith discussed the latest fashions until the cab arrived at the hotel and Mary and Edith exited. When they said their goodnights, Mary said, "We'll see you and Mr. Branson for lunch tomorrow. Where did you want me to send a cab to?"
"No need, Mary. Tom and I will find our own way here," said Sybil. "I haven't seen much of him in the last few days and I wanted to learn more bus routes around Dublin."
"How delightful!" said Mary in a tone that sounded otherwise. "Very well! We'll see you at noon."
Sybil nodded before she sat back on the chair in the cab when it moved it again to drop Sybil off at Mrs. Branson's.
When Tom packed up his desk for the night, he noticed there was a book lying in the tray where he kept his drafts. It wasn't there when he put his last draft in that tray just before he ate his dinner. Pulling it out, it was a well-worn book, The Perfumed Garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui: A Manual of Arabian Erotology(1886), translated by Sir Richard Burton. In it was a note in a handwriting he didn't recognize.
I hope that you will find use for this book in your upcoming nuptials. It has been passed through many hands as only a thousand were printed by the Kama Shastra Society. All that I ask is that when you've finished with it to pass it along to someone who would appreciate it as you will have as it was passed along to me, as I pass it along to you.
Tom looked at the table of contents and his eyes widened when he realized what type of book it was. He had read about Sir Richard Burton, the Anglo-Irish explorer, as a boy, but he didn't know the explorer also translated this subject matter. Putting the book down, Tom walked to the door of his office and looked down both sides of the corridor and it was empty as expected. Mr. Gallagher had told Tom, when he left just after eight, he was the last one in this row of offices. Tom knew that a few of the correspondents were still in and out of the newsroom and the production department was still working, but this section was empty. However, it could have been placed in his tray any time from seven onward, when there were still quite a few people at the office.
Realizing that he wasn't going to solve this mystery tonight, Tom finished tidying his desk for the weekend. Tucking the book inside some papers he was taking home, Tom took one last look at his office and headed home.
The next morning Sybil woke up extra early to make breakfast for Tom and herself to bring to their flat. They had seen so little of one another that when her sisters asked her to bring Tom to the hotel on Saturday for lunch, they decided that Sybil would bring breakfast for the two of them to the flat so that they could have some time alone together. She even used the dewar flask they received as a gift to bring some hot tea with milk.
When she arrived at the flat, Tom was just combing his hair in the bathroom and had already dressed and made the bed. After placing the basket of hot food on the table that Tom had set with some cups and utensils, she went to watch him. After a quick kiss, he went back to his task and Sybil leaned on the doorway to watch him work on his part. How handsome he is. Six more days and I'll be able to watch him do this for the rest of my life.
"How was the theatre last night?" asked Tom, looking at Sybil through the mirror. "The theatre critic was saying that the Abbey isn't as great under Robinson as it was in its heyday."
"It was an old Shaw play that I had seen in my first season in London, The Music Cure," said Sybil as she watched him. "I enjoyed it. We saw Dr Byrne at the theatre. Mary invited her to our box for the second half."
"How did Dr. Byrne mix with your sisters?"
"They asked quite a number of questions of Dr. Byrne," said Sybil, looking down at the floor. "They seemed genuinely interested."
Tom finished with his hair at this point, turned around and pulled Sybil closer to him. He looked into her eyes. "I've missed you."
"I missed you, too," said Sybil, placing her arms about his neck.
Tom then leaned in to kiss Sybil. He had intended it to just be a longer kiss, but as his lips touched hers, he realized how much he missed her and that brought an urgency that he had not anticipated. The urgency of the contact then pushed her against the door frame of the bathroom. Tom quickly deepened the kiss and Sybil's tongue sought his to feel the connection more acutely. His hands wandered up and down her back and eventually he clutched her backside and pulled her body against his. He desperately wanted her to feel what she did to him. Meanwhile, her fingers were running through the neat hair on the back of his head that he had just combed. Since Tuesday evening, they had their limited time together when she walked him to the office after breakfast, but there was no real privacy to truly share their connection.
After a few minutes, Tom moved his kisses down her jaw and to her neck. The milky white skin there always tantalized him. "Oh Tom," sighed Sybil, which just urged Tom on. Just as he was near the point of no return, Tom pulled back to look into Sybil's eyes for permission. What he could see was the longing in them mixed with anticipation. If it was a week later, he would have taken her into their bedroom and made sweet love to her on a lazy Saturday morning, but it wasn't, so he paused just for a moment to reconsider his actions, but it was long enough for Tom to realize that they had almost breached convention again, so he slowed his breathing as much as possible. "As much as I want us to know one another in every way right now, I think it best if we eat our breakfast before it gets too cold. What do you think?"
Sybil lowered her head and blushed. "That's probably a good idea."
As they sat down, Tom changed the topic. "So when do we have to be at the hotel?"
Sybil passed Tom the dewar flask. "Mary wants us there by noon so we have plenty of time to look for a ring." She then passed his covered plate from the basket while he poured out the tea and then took hers.
"Well, it still might take an hour," said Tom, handing Sybil her tea. "They are across town. Did they say why they wanted me to have luncheon with them?"
"No, but I presume that they are interested in seeing us together," said Sybil while she cut her food. "At least that's what Mary implied last night. I'm sure that if are other financial details from my parents that they would want to include you in the discussion. You can count on being asked about your position at the paper. I showed them your latest column, 'Why the Dáil Éireann should send more than just a letter to the Paris Peace Conference,' and even Mary seemed impressed with your power of persuasion."
"My impressing Lady Mary, now that's an accomplishment," said Tom with a smile. "Have you sorted out why she only wrote to you once?"
Sybil looked up at him. "No, Mary hasn't been very forthcoming about her own business, but I'm hopeful that when I move to the hotel on Tuesday that I'll be able to find some time to talk to her."
"I was just thinking did you want to look at rings before or after luncheon with your sisters?" asked Tom. "I know that Ma has forbidden you to return until later in the afternoon and today is likely the last real bit of time that we'll have before the wedding. With the following week's column barely drafted, I'm likely to have to work late all of next week."
"And since I'll be moving to the hotel on Tuesday, I won't even see you until the wedding after I drop you off at the office," Sybil finished for him.
"I'll miss you," said Tom. "But after that we won't be parted by choice."
Sybil looked at Tom with a smile. "I can't wait."
Tom then reached over the table for her hand and squeezed it. After sharing a long loving look, Tom asked, "So what do you think of this idea? We spend a little time riding the buses and trams of Dublin in the morning and wind our way to the hotel and then after luncheon, we go looking for your ring before going back to Ma's?"
"Shouldn't we spend the whole day looking for the ring?" asked Sybil. "We haven't found anything in more than six weeks that we've been here."
"Ma mentioned yesterday morning that she has a solution for the ring if we can't find something and I'd like to spend the last full day alone with you before the wedding without having to spend it all searching high and low for a ring," said Tom. "I've missed you."
Unable to resist his pleading, Sybil acquiesced. "Very well, let's finish our breakfast and clean up and then we can go."
Sybil and Tom hurriedly eat the rest of their breakfast and they make fast work of the dirty dishes.
A/N2: So most of the wedding is now arranged, the sisters met Dr. Byrne at the theatre and our dynamic duo is going to tour Dublin on public transportation. :) Next up is the luncheon, a final search for the ring and getting ready for the dinner at Mrs. Branson's.
I would like to point out that The Perfume Garden book that Tom received from A Friend was for pippilongstocking who was on the Sybil/Tom thread on the FanForum Couples Board last fall and was worried that S/T would become a staid married couple, popping out a kid every couple of years. That manual should keep things steamy/spicy for a few years yet. ;)
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. :)