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: Wow, super-late at posting the rest of this to LJ, it's been on FF.net for a while already. But I'm here now so better late than never :P.
Tom got lost.
Sybil had explained to him carefully exactly where the drawing room was but he hadn't been in the main body of the house many times before and it was unbelievably big. Her directions started from the library, they'd both agreed that would be the easiest way as Tom already knew how to get there from the servants' quarters and there was too much of a chance he'd get stopped if he went in the front door or through the kitchen entrance that the footmen used.
In fact he'd only been through the front door once in all his years at Downton, on the worst night of his life, in his haste to get Sybil's sister to Crawley House.
Though the night of the count may have a rival in this one soon, he thought, trying to orientate himself. As deliriously happy as he was that Sybil had finally accepted him, and her own feelings, and that she had decided the job offer he'd received that morning meant they didn't have to hide anymore, he was not looking forward to this confrontation.
And he had no doubt that was the right word for what was about to happen. He hated the hiding, he didn't care who knew he loved Sybil Crawley, but he knew quite a few of other people would.
"I could go to Dublin first," he'd offered later that day, even after they had discussed when he should come up to the house.
"No," Sybil sighed in exasperation, "I don't need more time to think, I expected this from my sisters but not from you!"
Oh, why couldn't he keep his mouth shut?
"I thought you wanted to tell them," Sybil sighed, crossing her arms and fixing him with an accusing glare. "You said you wanted them to know and that even if they didn't accept us, you'd accept them. Did you not mean that?"
"I know I said those things and I believe them I really do but now-" now that we're actually doing this I know they'll say things that will hurt you and I can't bear to think of doing anything that would cause you pain.
"Could it hurt, to take some more time to think if this is what you really want?" If I'm what you really want?
"You sound like Mary," Sybil cried, stepping away from him and folding her arms, "you insist I do love you for months and then when I finally agree I'll come with you, you suddenly change your tune."
Because she hadn't said it yet, he had but she hadn't, and rather suddenly, when they were finally going through with it all, he was starting to doubt himself.
"Please don't be mad at me for saying these things," he begged her, "if all you want me for is to be your ticket to another place then I will take you wherever you want to go and I will do so gladly but don't marry me unless you truly want to because I don't think I could survive that."
She was in his arms before he'd finished, burying her face in his chest and pulling him close. "I'm sorry," she said softly, "I am so sorry if I've made you feel that way."
"I love you," he told her, holding her close, "you know that but- please," he said softly, "please be sure."
"If I'd wanted only to travel that's all I would have asked," she whispered, even though they were alone, "but I want more, I want you. I know I haven't said... Can you wait? Just a little longer?"
"I'd wait forever," he promised her, meaning every word. She may not have said it yet, but she had made her feelings clear at least and he felt guilty for doubting them.
After that he hadn't gotten any more work done but he'd been involved in far more pleasant activities. Besides, he was getting fired later that night anyway, what did it matter if the Renault wasn't completely spotless?
The sound of footsteps startled him back to the present and he quickly jumped into a side room that seemed to have an absurd amount of vases in it for some reason. Carson passed by without even a glance and Tom noticed the clean glasses and full decanter of wine on his tray and headed in the same direction.
Unfortunately, he had been a bit too cautious in staying far enough behind Carson that he wasn't seen and only a few moments later he had lost the Butler.
Although, was that the bust Sybil had told him was down the hall from the drawing room? And there was the painting of Lord Grantham's great-grandfather. Good, now he knew where he was. He hoped.
So, was it left and two doors down or was it past two doors then left?
He jumped a mile but when he spun around it was only Anna there and he knew she wasn't going to give them away. Not that it really mattered now. "I'm here to-"
"I know," she cut him off, then beckoned for him to follow her. She led him down a hall before stopping in front of a pair of ornate double doors that looked very similar to the ones Sybil had described to him.
"They're all in there," she told him, "good luck."
"Think I'm going to need more than that," he said quietly, turning towards the door, surprised no one inside could hear him already, surely his heart was pounding loudly enough to be heard on the other side?
Anna just gave a little smile and disappeared down the hall, leaving him standing there, in a suit that probably cost less than the handle on the door in front of him.
He could hear them inside, Lord Grantham was speaking but Tom wasn't listening to whatever he was saying. He took a deep breath and set his shoulders, he wasn't going to falter. No matter what. Sybil always asked how he could be so sure of everything but the truth is he wasn't, not when he was alone. But if he went in and faced them feeling any other way right now... well, he wouldn't go in at all.
Before he could think anymore he opened the door and stepped in.
He was slightly surprised to see Mr. Matthew and Miss Swire there, Sybil hadn't mentioned they were coming and he felt a bit sorry for them for a moment, this was probably going to be awkward for them but he could hardly back out now.
Everyone was looking at him in confusion, save the Crawley sisters, two of whom were looking at him like he was there to burn down their house and one, the only one whose thoughts really mattered was looking at him with such an expression of love that Tom almost forgot where he was and why he was feeling so nervous.
"Yes?" Lord Grantham's voice pulled Tom's attention from Sybil.
Suddenly Tom felt a wave of calm sweep over him, he met the other man's eyes, not flinching and simply thinking of Sybil and the way she had looked at him when he walked in. What was there to be afraid of when he had her there with him?
He had no idea how to start but Sybil had asked him to come and now he was here. So why not start with that?
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