Five Times Sybil Wore Their Dress (And One Last Time)
I'm feeling: sad
Title: Five Times Sybil Wore Their Dress (And One Last Time)
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Characters: Sybil Crawley, Tom Branson
Summary: "You were wearing that the first time we kissed."
Author's Notes: Spoilers for 3x05. Un-betaed. And I am of course referring to this dress.
"You are coming to the dance, aren't you?"
Sybil looked up from her textbook at her roommate's question.
"Everyone is," Susan continued, "and I don't want to go alone."
"If everyone's going you'll hardly be alone," Sybil pointed out, but she smiled as she said it.
"So you will come?"
"I suppose," she relented, she did have the lovely black and gold dress Mary had made her bring, it would be a pity if it never came out of her suitcase.
"Good," Susan said with satisfaction. "I don't think it's doing you good, you know, spending every waking minute with your nose in that book."
"I promise to devote every waking minute to your happiness."
"Are you alright?" Susan asked, frowning at her sudden change in expression.
"Oh, yes. It's nothing," Sybil lied, pushing the memory from her mind.
She had promised herself she would not think of it, not for another month, until she saw him next.
Tonight she would put on her nice dress and attend the party with her friend and smile and laugh and have a good time.
And she certainly wouldn't spend the entire night wondering if Branson danced.
"Besides the money, you mean?" Her aunt asked her as she and Sybil whispered in a most un-ladylike fashion about Mary's newest suitor and what on Earth she saw in him.
"It must be more than that," Sybil insisted.
"For you," Rosamund said with a smile that bordered on a smirk, "not necessarily for her."
Sybil found herself examining Sir Richard closely over dinner, desperate to see what Mary had when she'd invited him to their house and into her life. He was rich, certainly, but he didn't seem to have much else it the way of truly redeeming qualities.
It would be more than that for her, Sybil didn't just imagine it, she knew without a shadow of a doubt she would never be able to marry a man she had no feelings for.
Suddenly Sir Richard turned his head to meet her eyes and Sybil looked down, embarrassed to be caught staring and looked down at her black dress, pretending the gold pattern was the most fascinating thing she had ever seen. It was the same one she had taken to her nursing training she remembered. A fine dress as that soldier had said.
She wondered if she would have clothes like this married to Branson.
The thought came so without warning she almost jumped. Married to Branson? No, if she married Branson. No, but even that made it sound like she was considering it.
She wondered if, in the years to come, she would ever be able to tell her sister of the role she had played in her decision.
She could only imagine it, the look on Mary's face when Sybil confessed it had been her who had finally made her youngest sister realise that her heart did, and always would, lie with the chauffeur and that if she didn't act she woulod regret it as long as she lived.
It had been the look on Mary's face tonight though, as Matthew and Lavinia had announced their plans, that had finally convinced her. Sybil knew her sister too well to be fooled by her façade. Mary had let Matthew go, and now she was faced with the consequences of her actions.
Sybil was determined she would not let Tom go.
She didn't even bother to change, walking straight to the garage the second she could slip away, the black dress hiding her against the night, the gold patterns barely visible until she stepped in to the low light of the garage.
She felt her heart pound as he smiled casually at her and folded up his newspaper.
He has no idea, she thought, before walking towards him to change his life.
She would need all her strength for tonight, she knew.
It was going to be hard, so hard. But in the end she knew a life without Tom in it was one she did not want to live.
She wondered how he was feeling, he'd been his usual confident self that morning when they'd made their plans but she could see the nervousness running through him.
"I'll cope, love," he'd assured her when she'd pointed it out and she had so loved the sound of his voice forming the endearments meant only for her ears. "I'm losing a job, you're risking more."
"But gaining everything I've ever wanted," she had told him, knowing without a doubt it was the truth.
Her eyes feel on the black and gold dress she had worn that first night she had finally given him the answer he had waited two years to hear. She hadn't been able to wear it since without thinking of him, not that that was a bad thing, but the memory it usually brought back was far from those considered appropriate for young Ladies.
His hands sliding over the fabric, his lips on hers, the feeling that together, they truly could take on the world...
Yes, she pulled the dress out of the wardrobe. This was definitely the one she wanted to wear tonight.
Goodness, had she ever really liked him?
Tom had asked last night and though his tone was of amusement rather than concern she had thought seriously about her answer.
She had only really found out he was keen on her after Imogen had whispered to her after tea one afternoon that he was eagerly awaiting her first season.
"Larry?" she remembered giggling in shock, recalling the young boy she had once pushed in the mud for insulting her sister. That had been when they were six and she supposed grown somewhat she didn't find him half bad but as a suitor? She hadn't been sure how she felt about the idea.
He had been the first man she had been aware of showing an interest in her and she had felt flattered. In the end though, she wasn't sure it she had ever really been keen on him or the idea that she was capable of attracting the sort of attention she knew was the whole point of the Season.
In the end, of course, it didn't matter at all what she had thought back then, because what she thought now was that Tom Branson was the most wonderful man she had ever known and that she was so very lucky to be his wife.
She also thought she really ought to decide what to wear tonight.
Most of her old dresses wouldn't fit her expanding stomach anymore but Anna, bless her, had selected several that would and after looking over them there really was only one option.
She always thought of it as his dress.
"You were wearing that the first time we kissed," he would say each and every time he saw her in it.
"Yes," she always agreed, "and I'm wearing it this time too." Then he would pull her close and they would add to the memories it held.
The thought made her smile as she rang for Anna to help her into it, already thinking of making more tonight.
& One Last Time.
He'd only asked this one thing, and still Lord Grantham had almost denied him.
He hadn't heard the actual words the man had used, 'not really appropriate' may have been said, but he had heard Lady Grantham's cool interruption of her husband and her calm reminder that Tom was entitled to at least this one decision regarding his wife's farewell.
Matthew had accompanied him to the funeral home, to see her. Tom hadn't had words to express his gratitude at the support the other man had given him so freely the past few days. He had agreed to wait outside though.
Tom wanted to be alone this last time.
She looks as if she had simply fallen asleep, no hint of her violent passing visible on her now peaceful face, any injuries her pale body had sustained during her seizures now covered with the dress he had requested she be laid to rest in.
"You were wearing that the first time we kissed," he reminds her, but this time there's no smile, no laughing reply, no new kiss to follow.
He places a hand over her silent heart, fingers brushing the gold patterns swirling through the black.
"I guess it's your turn to wait now, my darling."