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Fic: Questions

December 6th, 2012 (09:17 pm)

Title: Questions
Fandom: Downton Abbey
Characters: Tom Branson, Sybil Branson
Summary: Sybil and Tom's daughter has some questions when she's informed she will soon have a younger sibling. 3x05 AU.
Author’s Notes: For yankeecountess who gave me a Tumblr prompt of Sybil and Tom's daughter having questions when informed she'll be a big sister. However, this isn't exactly the prompt, because I just did not know how to write that in conversation form (I mean, I learnt early on but still, it was from a book), but I hope you like what I came up with. There's another note at the bottom too.

--

At first it seemed to go well.

"A baby? Like Eddie?" Saoirse Branson's nose wrinkled as she frowned at her parents.

"Well, yes, but Edward's your cousin, this is going to be your little brother or sister," her Da explained.

"But a baby?"

"Yes, a baby," her mother told her. "In about nine months."

"Will it be boring like Eddie? He doesn't do anything."

Sybil hid a smile as Tom laughed.

"Eddie's very young," she told her daughter, "you used to be that small once too. He'll grow though, like you did."

Saoirse sat in silence for a few moments before nodding. "Okay, can we go see Granmama now?"

--

From then things seemed to continue nicely.

Saoirse decided she would rather like to be a big sister and it soon became her favourite topic of conversation.

"When the baby's bigger we can play hide-and-go-seek together," she told her Uncle Matthew. "It's much funner with kids, Da's too big, I always find him easy."

"Mama's teaching me how to play songs on the piano that make babies sleep," she informed her great-grandmother, "so if the baby cries like Eddie I can make her sleepy."

"I think I want a baby sister," she said to her grandfather, the Earl, "because then we can share dresses."

"I know babies don't eat cake," she babbled on to Daisy when she snuck downstairs (again). "But I want to make one for its birthday. We can eat it for him. I don't think he'd mind."

"I want it to be a boy," Aunty Edith was told, when she visited from London, "because I do like playing with the boys at school more."

"Were you ever as small as a baby, Alfred?" The footman did an impressive job of keeping his face as serious as the young girl's. "Da says everyone was but you're really big. I don't think I'd mind if he grows big like you in the end."

Thankfully Saoirse's questions remained fairly innocent for the first few months, trailing off after two or so when she realised nine months was an awfully long time, especially for a young child.

There were many things she didn't ask too, for which her parents were thankful.

She didn't ask about the specialist who came from London, she didn't know it was strange that Mama visited the doctor every week and she didn't think to inquire why she was staying at Downton more often or why her parents looked extra tired and spoke in hushed tones when they thought she couldn't hear.

She had a vague sort of knowledge that her mother had been ill when she had been born but her mind made no connection between that and this, a fact for which her parents remained ever grateful.

--

Unfortunately, around the sixth month, Saoirse had a startling epiphany for which neither of her parents had thought to prepare.

"Feel it!" Sybil squealed, grabbing her sister's hand and placing it on her swollen stomach.

"I've felt it, Sybil," Mary laughed, "from both sides. I really- oh!" She pulled her hand away with a gasp. "That one was strong."

"She's strong," Tom said, with obvious pride in his voice.

"He is," Sybil agreed,

"Is everything alright, love?" Tom asked, drawing the adults' attention though the question was directed at the youngest occupant of the sitting room.

Saoirse had stopped playing with her stuffed doll and was staring at her mother with a strange expression on her face. She frowned and pointed to Sybil's rounded stomach, asking slowly. "Is that where the baby is?"

"Of course," Sybil told her, slightly confused.

"The baby's inside you?" Saoirse asked in shock, her eyes going wide and her mouth dropping open as the dots connected in her mind.

"Yes, darling," Tom told her, "that's where babies come from."

Had they ever told her that? Surely they had mentioned it- though, come to think of it, Sybil realised, they had been so caught up in tests and making sure everything was going well with this one they might not have gone far beyond 'you're going to have a sibling'.

"I… but-" Saoirse looked from one adult to another, confusion written all over her face. "How did it get inside Mama?"

Lord Grantham choked on his drink and looked truly scandalised while everyone else fought not to laugh at Sybil and Tom's suddenly terrified faces.

"It's in your tummy- did you eat it?"

"No, dear," Sybil assured her daughter, over the sudden laughter of the other adults, "I didn't." She bit the inside of her cheek to stop her own laugh that threatened to bubble up, continuing once she was sure she wouldn't giggle. "It's not really in my tummy, not the same place my food is anyway."

"I think I might go join your mother," her father said suddenly, clearly afraid of where this conversation was leading and knowing without a shadow of a doubt his youngest would carry it through as far as she saw fit.

"We should go check Edward," Mary suggested.

"Yes, goodnight," Matthew agreed abruptly, looking more amused than scandalised as the pair followed Lord Grantham's lead and departed quickly.

Sybil smiled before turning back to her curious daughter. "See, dear, babies don't just appear in the garden looking like Eddie. They have to grow first, and they grow in their mother's tummies."

"Before they're born?" Saoirse asked, frowning.

"Yes." Sybil nodded. "Do you remember how we told you months ago the baby was coming but it wouldn't be here for a while? This is where it's living until it's ready to meet us." She picked up Saoirse's little hand and put it on her bump.

"But how does it get in your tummy? And why does it have to grow in there, you said Eddie was still growing and he's not in someone's tummy."

"Well, babies grow after they're born too," Sybil told her, deliberately answering only the last question. "Or else there wouldn't be adults would there?"

"Oh," Saoirse said in a small voice, nodding. "Can babies grow in their Da's tummies before they're born too?"

"No, love, they can't." Tom said- his sole contribution to the conversation thus far, unless 'looking uncomfortable' counted as a contribution, though after Saoirse's last words he looked more like he was trying to fight down his own laughter.

Sybil shook her head and gave him an annoyed look. Anyone would have thought he'd been the one raised in the stiff upper class when it was considered inappropriate to even let anyone see a hint of a bump. Of course, as a nurse, she was far more used to discussing things like this with other people.

But honestly.

She pinched him.

"Ow! Sybil!" Sybil simply gave him a look and Tom shifted uncomfortably before turning back to their daughter. "See, love," he started, "it takes both a man and a woman to make a baby."

"But Peter doesn't have a Da, and his Mama just had another baby."

"Yes." Tom looked a little panicked at that, clearly not expecting that turn in the discussion. "but- well-"

"Ms. Wright's baby still has a Da, she just not married to him," Sybil interjected, even though that really seemed to be a conversation for another time. "All babies take both a man and woman to get into their mother's tummy and then they grow in there for nine months before coming out and growing some more."

"Did I ever live in your tummy?"

"Yes, you did," Sybil told her, unable to resist smiling she said it.

"And Da put me in your tummy?"

Tom made a noise between a chocked gasp and a laugh and Sybil gathered he was going to go back to being useless again.

"Yes, he did." She hesitated then, trying to figure how to continue.

Saoirse nodded then gave a small sigh. "I'm tired," she told them suddenly.

If Tom hadn't already been sitting he would have collapsed in relief.

--

"That went better than I expected," Sybil said later, as they readied for bed in their Downton bedroom where they often stayed on Sundays after dinner. "Though Papa's face!" She laughed at the memory.

"I couldn't believe it when she said she was tired." Tom smiled back but he was far too aware of how short-lived their respite would be to enjoy the awkwardness Saoirse's questions had caused his aristocratic in-laws.

"She is going to have more questions tomorrow, you know," he warned his wife. "When she's rested and remembers. Much more. She's going to ask how- she's going to want details," he added, his face visibly paling at the thought, "I'm not ready to explain… all that to our daughter."

"Well what age did you find all that out?" Sybil asked, mimicking his whispered euphemism with a smirk.

"I don't know." Tom shrugged, climbing into the bed. "My aunts were always having babies and my older cousins couldn't have cared less how young I was, they just told us to prove they knew."

"And you turned out alright, didn't you?" Sybil pointed out.

Tom only frowned, clearly sensing his (inevitable) defeat in the discussion and not wanting to hurry it along.

Sybil sighed as she slipped out of her dressing gown and lay it over the chair. "Saoirse's at the age now where she's young enough that she'll accept it as just another fact of life and move on. In fact, I think it would be worse to wait. Did I ever tell you about Granny's second cousin?" Sybil laughed before continuing with a smile, "The day before her wedding someone sat her down and explained all that to her and she found the whole thing so disgusting she cancelled the wedding there and then and died a spinster."

Tom couldn't help the loud laughed that escaped him at that tale, quickly calming himself so as not to wake their daughter next door. "That didn't happen."

"Granny would disagree," Sybil replied, getting into bed and taking her usual place under his arm.

"So you want to tell her?" Tom sighed after a while, "Details and all?"

"She'll find out sooner or later," Sybil pointed out, "it's one of the fundamental facts of life. You know how much I disagree with the concept of ignorance-equals-innocence. Especially with women."

Her husband nodded. "We'll only tell her that though," he said, "that it's how children are made, not…"

"Yes," Sybil agreed, suddenly looking slightly worried. "We'll leave the other part until she's much, much older."

"I'm thinking forty," Tom suggested, "fifty, perhaps?"

Sybil giggled, and rolled over to turn out the lamp. "Go to sleep, Tom," she ordered, "we've got an important job to do tomorrow."

--

A/N: So Saoirse's sudden realisation about where the baby is based on a story my Mum loves to tell about how she first found out why women get bigger when they're pregnant- unfortunately all she got in reply to 'how did it get there?' was "god put it there' until she was about 12 (from a video at school). My grandparents weren't really the type to talk… about anything :P

Also, the story about the woman who got the sex talk and cancelled her wedding straight away is apparently true- I got it from The World of Downton Abbey book.

Comments

Posted by: leobrat (leobrat)
Posted at: December 6th, 2012 10:59 am (UTC)
Send Me Away With The Words Of A Love So

Oh, this was TOO heartbreakingly lovely. What a wonderful, happy world they could have had...

Posted by: The female version of Rob Gordon (freaky_nea)
Posted at: December 9th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
bosshoss: the scientist

That was really lovely! I'm all for fix it fics! <3

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