It's been three months since their escape from Ireland. Three long months. And Downton never felt like home for Tom, not even when the danger to be injured, jailed, or killed was real. But this morning, as Sybil was moving and moaning under him, it did. Yes, it did feel like home because he knew now that home was where the loves of his life were.
His wife and now his one month old daughter who was sleeping in her cradle not so far away.
Kissing his lover to muffle her cry of pleasure, he quickened his pace to reach his own peak. It's been so long since their last time together. But this morning, he didn't think it was possible for him to be happier. He was making love to his beautiful wife while their child was sleeping peacefully.
In the aftermath of their lovemaking, as they were both breathing heavily and still joined, they missed to hear the loud voices and protest cries coming from downstairs and they both jumped when the door of their room opened suddenly. Not understanding what was going on, they looked with utterly bewildered eyes two men wearing brown coats burst in followed by some members of the Crawley's house.
"What the hell…" stammered Tom, pulling on the sheet to cover their naked bodies.
Trying to understand what it was all about, he missed the hiccups of indignation coming from a large part of his family in law except from Matthew who would have find the whole situation rather comical if it had not been so serious .
"Yes", he answered hesitantly, feeling Sybil's arms tightening around him.
"You're under arrest for the Drungore Castle's fire. Come with us… please", added the man remembering where he was.
"Get up now, and come with us", said the other man, louder.
Tom stared at them a few seconds then, his mind seeming to register the events, turned his head to Sybil and saw the tears forming in her eyes. They both thought they were safe here in Downton but apparently, they were wrong. And they both know that if he did follow these guys, there was a big chance for them to never see each other again.
But for now, he couldn't see how not to comply so he rolled on his back and, after rubbing his face to completely awakening himself, he sighed:
"Can we have some minutes of intimacy, please?" He asked the men while trying to avoid the heavy looks of reproach launched at him by a silent family.
The two policemen consulted together and threw a brief look towards the window. Using the force in front of this aristocratic family would be useless except to feed a possible controversial. This criminal will pay later for what he did. The road was long up to Ireland and who knew what could happen on the way.
With a cold voice, the most unpleasant guy said:
"Alright. Five minutes. And don't try to run away. We've got men stationed downstairs."
Tom nodded and, while everybody was leaving the room silently, he took Sybil in his arms.
"I don't want you to follow them, she moaned between tears".
"I don't have a choice. I'm so sorry my love."
"I can't let you go. Not now. Not ever. I thought my father had it all sorted out ".
"Seems like the minister changed his mind and…"
He couldn't finish his phrase because of loud knocks against the door.
"Hurry up," bawled one of the men.
Tom withdrew himself from Sybil's embrace and got up. He hastily gathered a few clothes and began getting dressed while trying to ignore the bearing eyes of his wife on him.
"I have to go. I think I already have humiliated your family enough. I'd rather not to drag this more than necessary."
"Don't say such stupid things, Darling," cried Sybil, climbing out of bed." You didn't humiliate anyone."
"Really? "Breathed Tom in her neck as her still naked body just threw itself in his arms.
They hugged a few seconds before some new knocks could be heard.
"Should we come in to pick you up?"
"I'm coming", answered Tom with weariness.
"No…"struggled Sybil, clutching to him like if her life depended on him…and it did.
"I love you", he breathed in her neck before catching her arms to force her to let him go.
"You know what it means if you do follow them", said Sybil while slipping on her dressing gown to cover herself.
Tom who was heading to his daughter's crib to take her stopped in his track and, without looking back to his wife, said in a defeated voice:
"Yes", he breathed looking down. We'll probably never be together again.
He leaned towards his daughter that this entire bustle had awakened and took her in his arms. He fussed over her a few moments, murmuring Irish's words that only she could hear before turning at last to Sybil who was now silently crying.
"Whatever's happening, I want you both to be happy. Don't cry on me."
"How can you ask me that?" Retorted Sybil, shaking her head.
"Please", said Tom imploring her with his eyes." I won't be able to endure what awaits me if I know you're unhappy. I know I hurt you and I can't go back or erase what I did. I didn't realize that my acts had also consequences for you. So, please, let me ask you to try to be happy and to forget me."
"Oh Tom !"
Sybil threw herself again in his arms as he was about to open the door and they hugged a last time, their daughter trapped between them.
"It's time", said Tom before leaning toward Sybil for one last kiss. "I love you."
They put all they had in this last kiss. Their doubts, their hopes and above all, their love. Then, after a last embrace, Tom leaned back and let his free hand slip on his wife's cheek to wipe her tears without noticing his own flowing freely.
Then, he turned back to the door, took a big breath and opened it, knowing that from this instant, his life no longer had meaning and that he was going to the unknown. He stepped in the corridor, his daughter still coiled against him and holding his wife's hand with his free one. The first thing he noticed was his family in law that was standing upright, stoic, not showing any feeling except the humiliation visible in Lord Grantham's bearing. He only managed a few steps before the two men posted themselves in front of him to block his way.
"We have to handcuff you. Please, give the baby away."
"Is it really necessary? I won't run away."
"Sorry, we have well precise orders."
Tom stared at the man and understood with the grin that draw on his mouth's corner that he was everything but sorry. Not seeing any other way than to resign himself, he nodded, kissed his daughter's head and turned toward Sybil.
"I love you", he said giving her their daughter.
"I love you more than everything", she answered, taking her daughter and raising up to kiss her husband's lips.
A sob pierced the silence behind them and, while the men handcuffed him, Tom turned to see that it was Edith who Matthew was trying to comfort, an arm around her shoulders under the disapproving look of Mary. His own eyes crossed with his brother in law's ones and, after a silent exchange and a light nod from Matthew, Tom turned again to follow the men who were ordering him to go on. He knew that Matthew would take care of his family and protect them against the Grantham's hold if that became necessary. They had a long conversation a few weeks ago in case things would turn bad.
The long silent and astonish procession headed toward the hallway. First, there were the two policemen followed by a handcuffed Branson who was moving with his head law to avoid disapproving glares from the employees of the house who were gathered in the lobby to attend his ultimate humiliation. He already could imagine Carson showing him like an example to avoid such a shame again at Downton. "You need to remain at your rank," he could hear. Behind them, were the Crawley who were trying to keep straight faces despite the situation.
When they at last reached the front steps, Tom blinked a few times because of the outside bright light. Two more men were waiting for them close to a vehicle and, as Tom stopped a moment on top of the steps to turn one last time toward his wife, he was pushed brutally in his back by one of his guardian.
"Go on, we don't have all the day."
Tom felt his feet gave away under him and he rushed down the stairs despite himself while trying to keep his balance with his handcuffed hands.
"You don't need to be brutal", said Sybil with indignation while joining her husband downstairs.
Holding their daughter against her, she threw her free arm around his neck and kissed him fully on the mouth, not caring about the knowledge if her family would be shocked or not. After all, she didn't know when or if she would see him again. Tom replied fiercely to her kiss but their farewell was promptly shortened by the taller man who caught Sybil's arm and pulled her out from her husband with virulence.
"Back down Young Lady", he scolded.
The difference of corpulence and the suddenness of the gesture made Sybil stumble backwards but, fortunately for her, Matthew stopped her fall by slipping behind her. Tom felt something snap in him and couldn't contain his anger.
"Don't touch my wife", he threatened taking a step to the man.
"Or what? "He snickered.
Tom's blood boiled and he rushed with his lowered head toward the man who retorted by stretching his fist. It crashed into Tom's face and sent him to the ground. Matthew took a step forward to help his brother in law to rise but Mary held him back by his arm.
"Don't move", she ordered through tight teeth.
"Come on, get up you bastard", said the man pulling Branson to a standing position without any consideration.
Tom felt the taste of blood filling his mouth and his jaws were hurting like hell but he knew that was probably nothing compared to what awaited him.
"Climb in there!" Continued the man, pushing him in the vehicle.
And while the bar doors closed on him, Tom dared at last to look up at the people gathered in front of the house or rather to his wife which silent tears broke his heart. He was aware for having ruined everything but especially for not having been able to keep at his words. He promised her to devote every waking minute of his life to her happiness and everything was showing he failed.
The vehicle started up with a big rumble and drive off. Tom rushed against the rear doors where there was a little opening with bars and he clung at it, putting all his forces at keeping his eyes on the woman he loved and that he was abandoning with his daughter.
"I love you, My Love", he cried desperately. "I love you. I'm so sorry…"
His voice became very faint in the immensity of Downton's park as the vehicle drove away and Sybil just stared her husband's figure which was disappearing little by little from her view, enable to move. She felt completely emptied, not in the present time, as if her mind was elsewhere…it was as if someone just took away from her a part of herself.
"Sybil, she heard her mother called."
But she didn't answer. She didn't want to talk to anybody. She just wanted to stay here with her daughter against her chest and look at the road that just took her husband away, hoping to see the vehicle come back, to see these men bring him back saying that it was a mistake. She stared at the ribbon of mud, believing that if she thought about it hard enough, it would happen. But in vain…
"Sybil", she heard again.
It was her father this time and, as a magical trick, the sound of his voice seemed to shake her out of her numb state. His voice was like a hard wake up. She remembered he was supposed to have taken care of everything, that he said they were safe as long as they remained at Downton. She even argued with Tom about it, insisting to stay while he only wished to go back to Ireland to pursue his fight. And nevertheless, today, her husband just had been cruelly taken away from her.
The hand he put down on her shoulder to have her attention completely waked her and she turned abruptly to face her father, her eyes shining with anger.
"Don't touch me!" She said through squeezed teeth.
Startled by her reaction, Lord Grantham took a step back.
"You did nothing", she scolded…"You said nothing. No", she corrected herself while pointing at her family with her finger which was watching her with dismay. "YOU did nothing, YOU said nothing. You just let them and now…"
A new wave of sobs overwhelmed her and, without waiting one more second, she quickly run up the front steps and rushed in the house.