It was the morning after the wedding. Edith had got out of bed and had breakfast in the dining room at Downton, like a good spinster should. Keeping a stiff upper lip, answering "I'm fine" to all inquiries about how she felt. Reading the morning papers. She was done crying, at least she thought so.
When breakfast was finished she was back in her room, a pen in hand and writing papers before her. She was trying to figure out what had really happened in church the day before. Getting through the details. What Anthony had said and why he had done what he had done. So she tried to put it all down in writing, as she used to when she wanted to sort things up.
Edith: Good afternoon! (Whispering, with an unsteady voice)
Anthony: Good afternoon, my sweet one! (Also whispering)
That was the start, and so far so good. She had been so happy she could hardly speak, and she hadn't noticed anything special with him. Maybe he had looked a little nervous, but he had smiled at her and she was fairly sure there was love in his eyes when he uttered those words. He liked to call her little endearing things like that, and she so enjoyed hearing them.
What happened next? Oh yes!
Travis: Dearly beloved...
Anthony: I can't do this.
She didn't understand what he was saying at the time, but it was all crystal clear in her memory. Her brain had registered without taking it in, and now she could replay it in her mind like it was happening again. She knew most other people didn't have this kind of memory, at least Mary and Sybil didn't have it when they were small, they never remembered what people were saying. Edith wondered if it was a curse or a blessing, remembering things right down to the details like this. When she was little, she never had problems learning things by heart, but it had been harder to use the things she had learned.
What next? Yes!
Anthony (to Papa): I can't do it. You know it's wrong, you told me so yourself, several times.
What did that mean? Now that she saw it written down, she understood something she hadn't yesterday. Papa had told Anthony he wasn't good enough for Edith. Yet again! Several times! Oh, how could he! After all the problem she had had persuading Anthony how much he meant to her, how good he was for her.
And the big problem with Anthony being older was that he thought he needed her parents approval to marry her. Like it was when he grew up. That was the only real problem about him being older, in fact. He was such a modern man in all other respects, his estate was the most modern and well kept she knew of, and he always was up to date with what happened in the world.
Papa: My dear chap...
Anthony: No. I never should have let it get this far. I should have stopped it long ago. I tried to stop it.
Edith: What are you saying? I don't understand what you are saying.
Well she understood now. He thought she had pushed him. And she knew she had. Because she loved him so much. And because she knew he loved her. Well, she had thought she knew that he loved her but didn't think he had any right to her.
He wasn't really accusing her when he said this, only saying he hadn't been able to resist her. Which was quite endearing, in a way.
He had looked around, and lowered his voice again, he didn't want all those people to hear him.
Anthony: (whispering) Edith! I can't let you throw away your life like this.
Edith: (taking his hand in hers) What do you mean? We are so happy, aren't we? We are going to be so terribly, terribly happy.
Anthony: (still whispering) But you are going to be happy! I pray that you are. But only if you don't waste yourself on me.
Well, this was really devastating. And to think she had run all that way from church to her home fearing that he didn't love her! When it was so, so obvious he loved her much too much! If only...
Papa: Anthony, it is too late for this.
Well, at least Papa was trying to talk Anthony into getting through with the wedding, even if he hadn't supported it before.
Travis: Might I suggest we all take a step back...
Granny (coming forwards): No, let him go, let him go. You know he is right. Don't stop him doing the only sensible thing he's come up with in months.
Anthony: Thank you lady Grantham.
He had said that in his normal voice, peculiarly enough. He was thanking Granny for interfering! Why? Because he didn't think he would have the strength to get away from Edith otherwise?
Edith: But Granny...
Granny: No, no it's over my dear. Don't drag it out. Wish him well and let him go.
Edith: I can't.
Anthony: (whispering again) Goodbye my dearest darling! May God bless you! Always!
And then he turned around and left the church without even looking back! And her heart broke more for every step he took away from her.
What did all this mean? Well, some things were obvious, after all. He did love her. He loved her so very much. Which really was the most important thing. Because he was the only man ever to have loved her.
The "always" made her worry. He was obviously planning never to see her again. What was he planning to do? After all they were neighbours, they were bound to bump into each other sooner or later, if he stayed here. She had a terrible vision of him getting out a rope and... no she didn't even dare to finish that thought. And she suddenly knew he wasn't going to kill himself, because he would know that would leave her so devastated she couldn't get on with her life ever again. Leaving her at the altar was bad, but killing himself would make his whole sacrifice come to nought. She would never be happy with anything else or anyone else if he killed himself because of her. So at least she knew he would live.
She thought of going to his place, telling him he was all wrong from beginning to end, but what would that help? Even if she was able to persuade him again, she wouldn't be happy on her next wedding day. She would never trust him to get through with it, and neither would anyone else.
A new wedding would never be like the beginning of the one she had had. She had been so happy. Come to think of it, he had given her that happy morning! Better remember that and not how unhappy she got later on! And Mama had called her beautiful! The first time ever. Well, the first time ever that she remembered, at least. Not helpful, but beautiful! And she had felt she really was, she even thought she looked very much better in her bridal gown than Mary had in hers. But then again Mary had got her man, and she hadn't.
The only thing she could do now was to try to comfort Anthony, to make him feel a little better about himself. And the only way to do that now was to get on with her life. Hearing about that might make him feel his sacrifice was worth while, however misguided it was. So she had to find herself something useful to do.
At the end of all that conversation in church, she wrote on the paper:
"He loves me. He loves me so much he gave up his whole life for me. All his friends, all his social reputation. No one will remember the sweet, wonderful Anthony that he is and has always been. All he ever will be remembered for is walking out of our wedding. It was so wrong of him, but I know it hurt him much more than it hurt me."
After a few minutes of deep thought she added:
"I love him, but he loves me very much more than i love him."
Then she locked all those papers in her drawer.
She cried one last time. But she didn't cry for the same reason as yesterday. She didn't cry because she felt unloved. She cried for him. Because she was sure now that no woman on earth had ever been loved so much by a man as she was loved by Anthony.
And that was what would make her stronger. Being loved by the nicest man on earth. Not being tested, as her mother had said, but knowing that he really, really loved her.
AN: I think Edith is based on JF:s maiden aunt. Mary is partly based on his wife. So I don't think we can expect Edith ever to be happily married to anyone. Or the Mary storyline to be very interesting.
Robert Bathurst has said in an interview that 3:3 was his last episode. But maybe that is a smoke screen as well?
Well, at least this Edith/Anthony-development has cured me of my Downton obsession. There will be one or perhaps two more chapters of this story, I think it needs an Anthony chapter. And a few more chapters of my AU story 'Good afternoon, my sweet one'. After that I will stop writing fan fiction. And I may even be able to stop seeing the remaining episodes on the internet, and wait till they come in my country. Which I guess the producers think is a good thing.
And I think I need to say yet again that I like Edith/Anthony together despite of their age difference, NOT because of it. And please don't try to make me change my mind, because I wont. I think it's their personalities that work so well together, not their age. I think Edith would fall in love with someone with Anthony's personality and interests (and looks and height), no matter what his age.
But it seems that people in relationships with people far from their own ages are the ones who really don't think that 'age is just a number'. And it also seems they are the only ones in favour of Edith/Anthony, which to me is a little sad.
You are of course all of you, entitled to your own opinions!