Before and After (1/4)
I'm feeling: working
Title: Before and After
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Summary: Sybil and Tom's thoughts before and after they tell their family of their plans to marry.
Author's Notes: I've had this fic on my computer for quite a while now but I really, really wanted to finish another fic I had going before posting this but the muse on that one is being incredibly uncooperative. Then I was watching 2x08 yet again and decided I can't be bothered waiting :P
"Sybil dear, are you alright? You've hardly eaten anything."
Sybil looked up as her mother spoke. "I'm fine, Mama, I think I might have had more to eat at lunch than usual," she lied.
Thankfully her mother accepted the explanation without question, moving quickly onto discussing wedding plans with Lavinia.
Sybil knew she should eat but her stomach was so full of butterflies it didn't feel like it had room for anything else. She snuck another glance at the clock, wondering how Tom felt right now. No matter what she was feeling she had no doubt he was a thousand times worse. For all that he was ridiculously full of himself sometimes, he'd still been completely shocked at her bold plan.
"So, you just want me to come bursting into the drawing room after dinner and announce I intend to marry you?" he asked, a polishing cloth lying long forgotten on the hood of the car between them.
"I'll do the actual telling," she assured him hurriedly, she knew he'd be calm if she asked but she couldn't blame him for thinking it unfair their marriage wouldn't be accepted because of his status and didn't want to risk him going off on one of his speeches about inequality. No matter how much she agreed with them and loved him and his passion for it, there was a time and a place.
"I want you to be there. I'm not sure I could manage myself," she added quietly. She had thought about it, but she just knew she wouldn't be able to do it if she was alone. She was still surprised by how much stronger she felt when he was by her side.
"Oh, sweetheart," he sighed, coming around the car to embrace her, "Of course I'll be there, you know you could ask me to come to the moon with you and I wouldn't hesitate. I was just a bit... surprised. We're really doing this, aren't we?"
She had giggled at the look of excitement on his face and pulled him into a kiss. "We really are," she promised him.
"Sybil, my dear, are you quite sure you're alright?" Her grandmother asked, pulling her back to the dinner table. "You look like you're not here at all."
She searched hurriedly for a lie her grandmother would accept. "Oh, I suppose with the war over and life getting back to normal this wedding just makes me think."
"Oh, my dear," Violet sighed, looking sympathetic, "you mustn't worry, your turn is coming."
Sooner than you think, Sybil couldn't help biting back the comment and glancing at the clock again. It was a pointless action, he wasn't coming in until after dinner, she still had plenty of time.
She saw Mary looking at her sharply out of the corner of her eye, of course she and Edith knew what had their sister so apprehensive but thankfully they'd both kept their promise not to say anything until Sybil and Tom were ready.
She didn't touch her dessert, she rather thought by that time it might come right back up. Thankfully no one commented, and all too soon they were going through into the drawing room.
"Are you absolutely sure?" Only her upbringing prevented Sybil from rolling her eyes or screaming in frustration at her sister's hissed question. "There's still time, excuse yourself and go find him and tell him not to come in," Mary suggested, holding her back as the other women went into the drawing room.
"Why would I do that?" Sybil asked, pulling her arms from her sister's grasp, "I want him to come. I want to tell them. We don't want to hide anymore."
And oh, Lord wasn't that the truth? She hated the secrecy, from the moment she'd realised that she wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of her life with that foolish, infuriating, wonderful and loving man she had wanted to tell everyone. Sneaking around these last few weeks had been torture. Where Mary could bring a man she barely liked to dinner because he had money, Sybil was forced to steal kisses in the garage with the man she loved because he was "only" a chauffeur.
Mary sighed and Sybil didn't bother waiting to hear if she had anything else to add. Her sister would do anything to keep her life of money and titles. She had rejected the man she loved, and who loved her, because he was in danger of losing his inheritance. And now she was marrying one she didn't even seem to like, because he had money and could offer her a house full of servants.
What did she know of following your heart? Sybil thought harshly. What did she know of accepting a man who promised to devote every second of his life to her happiness over one who could offer her jewels and servants and perhaps, if he had time, a passing affection?
She sat next to Edith, who gave her a small smile of encouragement which surprised Sybil so much Carson had to ask twice if she wanted any wine.
Matthew and her father came through relatively quickly and the clock ticked on.
Any second now.
A few more minutes passed during which Sybil didn't hear a single word of anything that was being discussed. Thankfully no one seemed to want her opinion on anything anyway, and Sybil was struck by how different it was with Tom. With him she could interrupt without fear of reprimand. With him she could talk about anything she wanted with someone who not only was willing to listen and wouldn't chide her on thinking about subjects not appropriate for young ladies but who valued her input and treated her like her thoughts mattered.
Where was he? Was he lost? He didn't know the house very well. Maybe he'd been stopped by another servant. A chauffeur had no business wandering around the main house. Especially out of uniform.
Was that clock getting louder or was it just her?
The door opened and Sybil felt her heart leap in her chest, she had planned to stand up and meet him straight away but her legs felt weak for a moment and then Tom was already in the room. His eyes meet hers for a moment and she couldn't help feeling so proud of him, her chest felt so full and she really didn't think she could have loved him more than in that moment.
Dimly she heard her father's confused inquiry and watched as her chauffeur stood before Lord Grantham, meeting his confused look with a defiant one.
A/N: Next up: Tom's thoughts as he makes his way to the drawing room.
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