Ever since Branson had told Sybil in the car a few weeks ago that he'd signed up and he was leaving, he couldn't look her straight in the eye. Of course he wanted to; how he'd wanted to lose himself in her deep sky blue eyes, but he knew he couldn't bear to see the disappointment in her soul. She was almost in tears by the time they'd arrived back and he'd never seen her so gloomy. Journeys alone with her since then had been deathly silent apart from the polite thank you every now and again. He could still sense her gaze on him in the wing mirror out of the corner of his eye, but he couldn't bring himself to smile back and face the heartache. In any case, he assumed that's what she would have wanted. Silence. She probably thought him an idiot that he was flirting with someone so much higher above him in his lowly working class. He tried not to bother himself too much with the question of whether she felt the same as connection between them, but rather how on earth he was going to say goodbye.
It was a question that had been tossing and turning in his mind all through that last night at Downton; he couldn't sleep a wink and he too closely resembled a panda that next morning. He splashed some water on his face, got dressed in an ordinary suit, packed his things and left his uniform hanging in the wardrobe. As he made his way over to the servant's quarter's he spotted the new chauffeur making his way over to the garage to bring round the car. Would Sybil enjoy her journeys with the new man as much as she enjoyed theirs? Does she always flirt with the chauffeur and has she always done that? Was he just one in a long line of chauffeurs to have fallen for her sweet smile, her beautiful face and her heart stopping voice? The worst feeling of jealousy began to build in his gut as he made his way into the servant's quarters. From there he met Thomas and William who were also leaving today, and they chatted together as they walked upstairs and out onto the drive. All the staff and the family had lined up outside to wish them goodbye and God speed, but the whole world stopped as his eyes rested on Sybil and her miserable expression as she kept her vision straight ahead of her.
Sybil knew she couldn't keep this façade up much longer; she so desperately wanted to know why all of a sudden he'd become all cold towards her, but she knew it wasn't "proper" to ask such a personal question to someone who should be no more personal to her than any of the other members of staff. She gave in to her emotions and she glanced up at his face as he was making his way along the line. He turned his face away from her as soon as he noticed that she was looking at him, and he returned to shaking hands and saying goodbye to the members of staff. To Mrs Patmore, To Daisy, to Ethel, to O'Brien, to Anna, to Bates, to Mrs Hughes, to Mr Carson…to Sybil. He froze in his tracks at the sight of Sybil standing there in line with staff and family. He bowed to her, looking up and trying to not make eye contact, but it was no good, he couldn't try any more. He caught her vision and in that one moment, he saw all the fear in her eyes that he had for what seemed like such a long time been trying to avoid. The despair, the heartbreak, the hopelessness of the whole situation between them. But it answered one question; he wasn't just another chauffeur to her. As they shook each other's hands, he felt a small piece of paper slide into his palm and he discreetly tucked it into his right pocket. He looked at her for the last time before moving onto Lady Edith and Mary, Lady Grantham and his Lordship. Once he'd made his way down the line, he hopped into the back of the car and that was it. No going back now. He pulled out the paper and read the words, Write to me!
How could he resist that? It filled him with such hope, knowing that whenever the war would get too much, he could always escape in the words of the lady he loved.
Just another bit of Sybil/Branson fluff i thought i'd write! Got a bit of insperation after hearing some of the spoilers for series 2 on the special Downton Abbey programme on BBC Radio 5Live. Don't mean to advertise, but i've made a video called "Forever Yours" about these two and it's on youtube now so take a lookie if you want!