but look it's sybil!

4

“She is so beautiful.”

2

Bouncy bouncy Sybbie.

8

“Yes.” (x)

4

Tom heading out the door.

In the library.

Sybbie and George in the Christmas Special.

She’s too cute.

anonymous asked:

Cora tries to persuade Robert not to go on war, please? xx

Well, I’ve already written one a bit like that (that I can’t find at the moment to link) so I wrote one slightly different. Robert is home from the Boer War at Christmas.


Ribbons and tags were strewn about the room, giggles bounced about the walls, golden firelight danced over the features of her children, but Cora stared at him.

Robert.

Robert.

When she’d asked if he could come, when she’d written and begged - oh, she had nearly begged - for him to come home for Sybil’s fourth birthday, for Christmas, to spend just the New Year with them before going back again, she hadn’t known. He had time, she thought, he deserved time home; he hadn’t been home in months, and months, and months.

But she hadn’t known he’d be like this. She had no idea he would be like this.

Robert sat stiffly on the red sofa. A too-tall glass of whiskey balanced on his knee. His features, aged and hardened, seemed foreign to her now, as if he’d borrowed them from that place in Africa and left his own behind. Cora watched him as he stared out into the middle distance of Christmas night; she watched as her thinner, stranger, distant husband took a sip of his whiskey, and then as he closed his eyes for a long moment, too long, in the midst of the unwrapping and laughing and memories his family made.

“Mama.”

Cora turned, quickly, and painted a smile for her daughter, Mary, who leaned close to her ear. “Yes, darling?”

“Carson’s brought him up.”

Cora moved her eyes to Violet across the room, who nodded at the large box that Carson had placed on the floor. She shifted her gaze to Edith then, grinning rosy-cheeked, who tugged at baby Sybil’s hand, and then back again to Mary, oh Mary, who looked at her father with an unmistakable hope in her eyes.

Cora, swallowed, and she touched Mary’s tummy, her back, shaking her slightly. Her daughter’s dark eyes floated to hers, and Cora smiled again.

“Would you like to ask him?” she whispered.

Mary answered with a small grin.

“Papa?”

The room grew quieter, but did not fall quiet; Marmaduke and Rosamund exchanged a happy glance still talking, Mama lifted her chin at Mary’s voice turning back to ask Carson something else, and Edith pulled Sybil nearer, her youngest daughter’s lips tight with the suppression of a laugh.  

“Papa?” Mary tried again, but there was still no response from Robert.

Cora watched him remain still, though it was evident he’d heard. She turned her attention to the box, which shuddered and moved, Sybil squeaking excitedly, Mama touching its lid and looking intently at Cora.

So she pressed a hand to Mary’s arm, and called Robert’s name.

“Robert, darling there’s -”

“Oh, for God’s sake, Cora! Can’t it bloody-well wait!”

The room stilled.

It halted abruptly in its tasks.

All the talking and unwrapping and laughing, all the joy of Christmas, it all stopped, and every eye went to him.

“Give me a bloody moment.” He growled inside his chest, the low sound loud, so very loud, in the now very quiet room. “Just one bloody moment to myself.”

She was aware of everyone around her. She was aware that Mary stared, her mouth slightly agape, that Edith had stepped closer to Marmaduke, that Sybil had relinquished Edith’s hand in stead for Mama’s skirts. She was aware that they’d all noticed, they’d all been shocked…that all their eyes had drifted to her.

But she could not look back at them.

No.

She could only see Robert; her eyes only searched him, and she held her breath when he pressed hard at the bridge of his nose.

The box they’d brought in for him, that they wanted him to open, shook, and Mama, very slowly, bent over and wordlessly removed the lid, the golden puppy tumbling out and into the discarded paper.

Not even the girls smiled.

No one moved.

No one, that is, but Robert, who let out a long, hard breath.

She watched as he opened his mouth and closed it again, watched as he shook his head and rubbed his face with his free hand. She watched as he brought his eyes to hers, and then frowned.  

Her heart, oh her heart, it felt as if it was tearing slowly, bleeding.

His eyes blinked away, to their daughters, their girls who stood quietly and stared at him.

When he tried to speak, his voice wavered. ”What’s this then?“ The words were meant to bounce, but they did not. The girls remained stiff, the cadence of his speech mirroring their joyless features.

No one seemed to respond. No one seemed to make a sound. The only noises in the space were the sound of crackling fire and the crinkling of paper that the puppy trampled.

It was a long silence, a very long silence, until, at last, Robert stood.

“I’m sorry.” He dropped his glass to the side table. Whiskey spilled over the side. “I’m sorry.”

Cora stood, her bleeding heart pounding, a burn building angrily in the bridge of her nose.

“Robert.”

He was moving now. He was leaving out of the library, shadows of firey flames leapt at his back.

She could hear Mama as she followed him out, but she didn’t turn around. She didn’t turn to see her girls’ faces, didn’t turn to Rosamund’s pleading, “Cora, let him go.” She didn’t turn around to any of that, she only followed him out.

“Robert.”

He was trudging through the hall, as if he was panicked, as if he couldn’t quite run and yet walking was not nearly fast enough.

“Robert, stop.”

He was on the stairs and she picked up her skirts, moving more quickly.

“Rob-“

“I should not have come.” He spun on the stairs, and he looked down at her. “I should not have come home. Not yet. Not when my men are there, Cora. Don’t you understand?”

Tears stung at her eyes, she blinked hard, she shook her head.

He rubbed at his face. “It was not fair of me to come -“

“You’ve not been home in a year, Robert,” she managed to whisper. “It is fair. You are being fair.”

She watched as he frowned deeply, as he shook his head, and then…oh, then…as he choked back a sob.

She couldn’t breathe. She only stared, her eyes filling with tears, blurring the dim candlelight around her. Around them.

Sobbing. Rough, coarse sobs. His shoulders shook.

And Cora…she held out a trembling hand to him.

She touched him, and he responded. Not by speech - no words - but by the strength of his embrace. He wrapped his arms so tightly around her, he buried his nose in her hair, and he held her. On the bottom of the stairs, he held her close to him, so close, and cried.

"My darling,” she heard herself say. Her fingers caught at the wrinkles in his coat, and she gripped him tightly. “Oh, my darling.”