A character study on three of the sisters from their own points of view, I suppose! Written for my friend Erin because she really wanted a Downton Abbey fanfic. :)
I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: If I own Highclere Castle, do I own Downton Abbey? No? Well, it was worth a shot.
One day, he heard children on the river bank exclaim: "Look at that young swan! He's the finest of them all!"
And he almost burst with happiness.
Being the youngest was never much of a problem for Sybil Crawley.
When she was ten, her governess came in panting, obviously hot and bothered by having scoured the entire estate looking for her. "Milady!" she had gasped, rushing over to Sybil, who had been serenely sitting in the window seat overlooking the gardens with a book in hand. "Milady, where have you been?"
"Reading." Sybil swung her legs off the window seat. "I'm sorry, were you looking for me long?"
"Was I-" Her governess drew herself up to all five feet two inches, only managing to be slightly taller than Sybil at exactly five feet. "I was indeed, milady! Please don't rush off like that. Your sisters never gave me so much trouble, wandering off into the corners of who knows where!"
"Well," was Sybil's patient answer, "I'm not my sisters then, am I?"
Her favorite fairytale was The Ugly Duckling. Robert often jokingly blamed Cora for this, as she was the one who had first read the story to Sybil when her youngest was preparing for bed; but it was Cora who reminded him just as jokingly that he was the one who continued to read the story to Sybil long after Cora had stopped. Neither of them could have imagined the implication a simple story about a tiny duckling would have on their youngest.
Even at six, the theme of being different and of being something that society disapproved of resonated within Sybil. She loved the duckling, even going so far as to beg Cora to let her have a pet duck of her own, and how she would cherish it. Cora, however, gently brushed her daughter off, only saying, "It's only a story, Sybil dear, nobody ever really gets pushed away like that." And even at six, Sybil was already vowing to look for the ducklings in life so she would never make the mistake of degrading them.
Being the youngest, Sybil was in danger of always being overshadowed by her sisters. Mary, of course, was devastatingly charming and in many cases, beautiful. It was difficult not to notice how young men stared whenever she walked into the room. Edith was just as beautiful, if not more reserved, and she was by virtue older than Sybil. That fact alone commanded attention. By tradition Mary would be married first, then Edith- Sybil would come last.
Sybil, however, was a girl born in a different era, a mind adapted to change. She saw not her older, and therefore more powerful sisters- she saw them all as equals, and as such bore not the resentment Edith had towards Mary or the envy Mary hid from Edith. She truly and honestly believed that they could become more than who they were, more than pieces of the furniture.
More than anything, Sybil grabbed at the idealistic notion of her fairytale that she could become something, someone, bigger, worthier, someone capable of beginning a new life, free from the constraints of the upper class.
Later in life, Robert would turn to Cora the night of his youngest's perceived betrayal: "It's your fault," he grumbled angrily, "you're the one who introduced her to that blasted fairytale and now she has all these ridiculous notions in her head…"
So when Sybil finally entwined her fingers with Tom Branson's, her wedding band adorning her left hand, she couldn't help but grin at the thought that floated through her head: Well, well, the duckling's finally turned into a swan.
No, the duckling had never really had a problem with being the youngest. All she had to do was find a way to grow into something everyone thought she was not destined to be.
As always, reviews and thoughts are welcome. :)