“So what do we know about this guy?” Sybil asked Gwen as they traveled up the lift on their way to Thomas’ flat.
Gwen shrugged her shoulders. “Hardly anything, but you know how Thomas is; he rarely says anything about his boyfriends, and he rarely introduces them to us!”
Sybil sighed and leaned back against the lift. “I suppose we should be ‘grateful’ that he deemed us worthy to meet this one.”
Gwen snorted at that, before laughing along with Sybil as the lift’s doors opened. They walked down the familiar corridor to Thomas’ flat and knocked on the door, waiting for their friend to open it. However, it wasn’t Thomas who opened the door, but a broad-shouldered stranger with the most breathtaking blue eyes Sybil had ever seen.
The man smiled at them, although he seemed to do a double-take when he looked at Sybil. “Hi,” he murmured, his eyes never leaving hers.
Gwen glanced back and forth between the two. “Hi!” she answered, grinning as the stranger seemed to snap his head in her direction. “I’m Gwen and this is Sybil, and you must be–”
“Oh, sorry,” the man blushed but smiled, before extending a hand to Gwen. “I’m Tom.”
Gwen shook his hand. “Nice to meet you,” she answered, before turning and looking at Sybil who still appeared to be gawking. Gwen purposefully gave her friend a nudge with her shoulder, which seemed to do the trick with waking Sybil from whatever trance she was in.
“Yes!” she all but burst, before closing her eyes and silently groaning in embarrassment. “Yes, very nice to meet you,” she returned, shaking his hand somewhat awkwardly, and feeling her insides melt just a little at his smile.
“Please, come in,” he murmured, stepping aside. “I’ll let Thomas know you’re here.”
Gwen looked over at Sybil with raised eyebrows. “I don’t remember Thomas ever mentioning a name…or the fact that his new bloke of his is Irish…” she assessed Tom’s arse as he walked away and nodded her head approvingly. “Well done, Thomas, well done.”
Sybil groaned and shook her head. Gwen looked at her and raised an eyebrow in question. “What, you don’t think he has a nice arse?”
“Of course he does!” Sybil blushed as she realized what she had just said. “But…we shouldn’t…ogle…his boyfriend,” she mumbled. Nor should she fixate or swoon over the gay Irishman, because…well, for obvious reasons.
“Are you alright?” Gwen asked, looking at Sybil with a mixture of confusion and concern.
“Fine,” she muttered, putting on a smile as their friend came around the corner. “Well there you are,” Thomas held his arms out in greeting. “Lovely to see you both as always.”
“And you as well,” Sybil replied, hugging her friend.
“It always is,” he cheekily answered, before turning over his shoulder. “Tom! Bring out that wine I set to chill about an hour ago!” He turned back to Sybil and there was no mistaking the mischievous grin on his face. “So…what do you think?”
Sybil blushed deeply at his question. She looked at Gwen then back at Thomas. “Um…he seems nice?”
Thomas threw his head back and laughed. “Queen of the understatement,” he chuckled.
Tom reentered then, holding several glasses and the newly opened wine bottle. Sybil smiled kindly back at him as he handed her a glass, trying her best not to stare (or fantasize) as she caught a lovely glimpse of his muscular forearms. Stop it, she told herself. The man was unavailable for multiple reasons, least of which being that she wasn’t his type in the slightest.
“So Tom,” Thomas took his wine and sat down on a nearby sofa. “Tell the ladies about yourself.”
Tom glanced at Thomas, then back at Gwen and Sybil and it wasn’t missed by Sybil how much he was also blushing. “Uh…well, I’m a writer–” he began.
“Oh! Anything we might know?” Gwen asked keenly.
Tom chuckled as he nervously ran a hand over the back of his neck. “Well, that depends. Do you read Irish history and politics?”
Gwen’s face fell. “Can’t say that I do…but Sybil does!” she said with a grin. Sybil looked stunned by Gwen’s words. “Alright, perhaps not Irish history, per se, but she does follow politics.”
Tom looked back at Sybil, and again she felt her insides melt at the smile he offered. “Really?”
“Yeah she does,” Thomas muttered. “Bleeding heart leftie she is; the black sheep of her family.”
Sybil glared at Thomas, but forced a smile at Tom. “Guilty as charged,” she sheepishly admitted.
“Me too,” Tom revealed, smiling kindly. Oh blast him and his smiles! Why couldn’t Thomas boyfriend be…less remarkable?
Thomas sighed and glanced at his watch. “Where on earth is he?”
Gwen and Sybil looked at their friend in confusion. “He?”
Thomas nodded. “Edward; I mean he rung me and told me that his train was running late, but this is ridiculous.”
Sybil and Gwen exchanged a look of confusion. “Who is…Edward?”
Thomas frowned. “Um, the very reason to why I invited you over?
Sybil’s eyes widened at his words. “But…but I thought…?” she looked at Tom and then back at Thomas, and it was then that both men seemed to realize what she was saying.
“You thought TOM was my boyfriend!?” Thomas sputtered, looking rather disgusted. “Please, give me some credit–”
“Oi, I’m right here,” Tom snarled.
Thomas shook his head. “Besides being disgustingly straight, he’s not tall enough for me–”
“And you know I’m not one for muscles…unlike you, Sybil,” he added, with a devilish grin.
Sybil’s face flamed, but she held her tongue and looked back at Tom who was chuckling and grinning back at her, in a rather adorable, sheepish way.
Gwen still looked confused. “So…Tom is just–?”
“Jesus,” Thomas groaned. “He’s just a friend! What, gay men can’t have straight male friends?”
Both Sybil and Gwen looked down, embarrassed.
“Well, in our defense, you never told us Edward’s name, you just invited us over to meet your boyfriend and here’s this handsome man opening the door–”
“Ahhh, so the truth comes out at last,” Thomas chuckled in wicked amusement. “You know Tom, Sybil is single–and vice versa, Sybil.”
Sybil and Tom both groaned, their faces the color of traffic lights. Gwen simply eased herself back and sipped her wine, a cheeky grin spreading across her face as she winked at Sybil. “So, I guess you don’t have to feel guilty for ogling his arse.”
hello! I don't know if you're feeling up to it, but I thought I'd send you a prompt for a possible drabble, and that's "THRESHOLD" :o)
Happy Birthday Sharon! And thank you for organizing the Sybil/Tom week! I know i didn’t gest to participate as a writer but it was fun to read all the good stuff popping every day on my dash.
This is what I wrote for your prompt. I’m not very proud of it and I feel a little bit rusty but I couldn’t do better. Sorry for that. A big thank you to @zipgoesamillion for the beta.
A very tired Sybil Crawley and Tom Branson entered the little Inn placed on the side of the road. It was already late into the night and they were lucky to have found somewhere to take a little break on their way to Gretna Green. They had first thought they would get there straight away but they soon realized it wouldn’t happen.
A grumpy innkeeper “welcomed” them and Tom asked for a room for his wife and himself with the steadiest voice he could manage so as not to look suspicious.
The innkeeper only nodded and Tom glanced briefly at Sybil who was standing slightly behind him, seeing that she was as uncomfortable as him with their lie.
“What name do I need to register?” asked the man, startling Tom.
Tom opened his mouth, ready to say Branson, when Sybil’s voice sang from behind him.
“Darcy,” she said, taking a step forward and entwining her arm with Tom’s. “Tom and Sybil Darcy, we just got married.”
She tried not to cringe at her choice of name but that was the first one that came to her mind. At her side, Tom stopped to breathe, dreading the man’s reaction.
“I see,” he simply said while shaking his head.
They were clearly not fooling him. He raised an eyebrow.
“Darcy? It’s not very Irish,” he said, nodding his head toward Tom.
Apparently, Tom’s brogue had not passed unseen.
“I’m only Irish by my mam,” Tom heard himself answer. “She married a man from York’.”
Sybil lightly squeezed his arm, showing her appreciation at his prompt answer as the innkeeper was rolling his eyes, clearly not buying it but seeming not to bother with who they really were as long as it was good for his business. He turned the register to Tom for him to sign it (who almost signed his real name before quickly realizing his mistake) while reaching for the key on the board behind him.
“I’ll show you to the room,” he said finally, gesturing to them to follow. “You’re lucky. My best room is available. There’s nothing too nice for newlyweds.”
Tom and Sybil breathed an unsteady “Thank You” and followed the man up the stairs.
It was a short walk and they soon stopped in front of a door that the innkeeper opened before giving Tom the key.
“Here you go. Have a good night.”
Tom thanked him and started to enter the room with Sybil on his heels but the arm of the man promptly stopped their progression.
“It’s bad luck,” he said.
“Excuse me?” asked Tom, looking at Sybil who looked as stunned as him.
“You need to take the girl in your arms to pass the threshold. Or it is bad luck,” confirmed the man.
“Oh,” said Tom. “Yes, you’re right.” He put Sybil’s suitcase on the floor and turned to her. “Sorry Sweetheart, I think I’m exhausted by the excitement of the day.”
He smiled at her and she felt her cheeks redden at his words. But, before she could say anything, she was lifted from the floor and nestled into his arms. She couldn’t contain a light squeal that made him chucked and she, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, slid her arm around his neck. Except when they kissed for the first time earlier in the garage, it was the first time they had been so closed and both their bodies were tingling all over.
With Sybil in his arms, Tom turned to the man who was eyeing them.
“Have a good night and thank you.”
Without waiting for an answer, he pushed the suitcase in front of him with a foot, entered the room and managed to close the door with his foot again while keeping Sybil in his arms. The door closed with a loud noise and they were soon enveloped in silence.
“You can put me down, now,” said Sybil.
“Shhh,” breathed Tom and she raised a surprised eyebrow to him before realizing he was trying to… hear something.
So she kept quiet, not at all bothered by being so close to him and she finally heard the loud steps of their innkeeper who was walking away down the stairs.
“He’s gone,” Tom murmured after a while as a conspirator.
“He is,” confirmed Sybil while trying to move in Tom’s arms to free herself. “So now, maybe you can put…”
“Don’t you dare do it!”” exclaimed Tom while holding her tighter to him to prevent her from reaching the floor.
“Why? Are you planning on sleeping that way? Because, you may find the night very long…”
“You know, we’re not married, yet,” said Tom, not even noticing her remark. “And I don’t want to take any chances. I’m Irish after all and as an Irishman, I’m quite serious about superstitions. So…”
With Sybil still in his arms, he opened the door again and, after checking the hallway to be sure they were alone, he got out and finally put Sybil down.
“There. Now, we have undone the custom. We’re good for the real day. The next time we enter a room with me holding you in my arms will be on our wedding night.”
Sybil blinked at him then threw herself into his arms, reaching for his face before starting to kiss him until they both were out of breath.
“I love you, Mr Darcy,” she said with a big smile, looking into his eyes.
“Yes…about that…” laughed Tom, reaching for her hand.
He pulled her after him and they rushed into the room, hand in hand, the door closing with another loud noise but this time, for the last time until daybreak.
A celebration of all things romantic with the Bransons! And each day will have a special “theme”!
Wednesday, June 7–HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, TOM & SYBIL! Celebrate the Bransons’ “official” wedding anniversary!
Thursday, June 8–”HISTORICAL ROMANCE” Pick your favorite historical setting–Edwardian, Roaring 20′s, Regency, Victorian, Tudor, Medieval–whatever the historical setting, make it romantic!
Friday, June 9–”CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE” A special day for lovers of “Modern AU”!
Saturday, June 10–”ROMANTIC SUSPENSE” Angst, action, with a dash of mystery!
Sunday, June 11–”ROMANTIC COMEDY” Tickle the funny bone and woo with laughter
Monday, June 12--”ROCK THE AU! THEME-DAY ROMANCE” June’s theme is “Rock the WW2 AU!”
Tuesday, June 13–FREE DAY! Any romantic setting/rating of your choosing!
Prompts will be offered at the month’s beginning. Stories, drabbles, picsets, fanart, any way to get creative and celebrate the wonderful and unique romance that is Tom and Sybil! SO MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND JOIN US!
Anna Smith and John Bates have been friends since childhood. As they both leave to attend university their futures threaten pull them in separate directions. But will a wild night redefine their relationship?
Tom Branson is one of the stage’s most celebrated actors. And Lady Sybil Crawley is one of his greatest admirers.
But Sybil doesn’t just admire him for his acting–she admires him for who he is–a man who rose up out of poverty and followed his heart in seeing his dream come true. That’s exactly what she wants to do–take the stage and perform for all the world to see!
But women are forbidden to do so, so she’ll have to dress up and play the part of Simon Crawley. Soon “Simon” is rising in the ranks, playing the part of women because he seems so “realistic”. Tom is also impressed by “Simon’s” acting…and can’t help but find “Simon’s” portrayals of Shakespeare’s heroines to be quite…breathtaking.
Then, the company receives an order from the Queen herself, to perform one of her favorites, “Twelfth Night”, with “Simon” playing the role of Viola, and Tom playing Orsino. Rehearsals become a bit too heated, especially during Viola and Orsino’s love scenes. Tom struggles with understanding his attraction to the fair “Simon”, while Sybil struggles with the question of how much longer she can play this role without breaking BOTH their hearts…
Romance on screen is decidedly unfashionable. We’re pretty good at depicting sex and relationships, desire and rejection, but there is almost no role for non-sexualized love. This is consistent with us living in an age with a total absence of subtext, where almost anything can be said and there is little time to be anything other than direct. How satisfying it is then, in an era of extremely complex relationships, of texting and a wide exposure to sex in almost every part of life, to watch the slow burn and simple unravelling of a good old-fashioned romance.
Tom held his gun aloft as he peered around the corner, keeping his eyes open for any muscled goons that might appear in the corridor. “I hope you’re nearly finished with that,” he muttered under his breath, his eyes not leaving the hallway for a second.
No response, which meant she was concentrating.
He glanced up at one of the corridor’s security cameras. He hoped Gwen had done her bit in hacking into the building’s security system, otherwise those muscled goons would be upon them in the next twenty seconds.
“Sybil…” he hissed. “Tick tock, tick tock…”
“Keep your knickers on,” he heard her mutter, and then a distinct *click* filled the space around them. Only then did Tom tear his eyes away to look at his pleased wife, who was still on her knees and tucking her hairpin back into the messy bun atop her head. The door, whose lock she had been picking, swung open.
“Should I be worried at how good you are with that?”
Sybil rolled her eyes. “It amazes me that a man like Larry Grey, who can afford the most complex of security systems, doesn’t bother to spend it on a silly lock.”
“Lucky for us,” Tom muttered, giving the hallway one last glance.
“Please,” Sybil rose up and dusted her legs off. “I yearn for a challenge, something where I can really put my skills to use–OH! TOM!”
He chuckled low, before making a shushing sound. Without warning, he had scooped Sybil up and proceeded to carry her over the threshold as groom would carry his bride.
“What are you doing? Put me down!”
Tom ignored her. “We never really got a proper honeymoon, you know.”
Sybil groaned and rolled her eyes while she squirmed in his arms. “We’re not really married, you know.”
“We’re not?” Tom asked. “You mean that wasn’t you standing in a white gown, saying ‘I do’ before a priest just a week ago?”
Sybil glared at him. “You know that was done for a job.”
“Huh…” Tom proceeded to carry her further into the room, and without warning, promptly deposited her on a waiting bed. “So…how do you explain what happened later that evening? Or the following morning?”
Sybil’s groan became a moan as she felt Tom’s lips on her neck, his teeth nipping her in that one place that drover her crazy. “Just…part of…the job…” she panted, her body writhing beneath his own, her hands already making work of his belt.
“Ah, I forget, you’re very good at ‘under cover’,” he chuckled, before lifting his head to meet her lips in a hot, desperate kiss. He didn’t believe her for a second, that she had married him just for the sake of their work. The attraction between them had been nothing short of hot since the moment they had been assigned to work together. And while he had yet to tell her this, the truth was…he had meant those vows. “To love, honor, and cherish, till death do they part…” He had meant every single one of them.
“Tom…” Sybil moaned his name, but unlike earlier, it wasn’t done in a pleasurable manner. Quite the opposite, as he felt her body go stiff beneath his.
Someone’s in the room…
Sybil clutched his hand and drew it to her thigh, where she kept her own gun hidden beneath her skirt. Her other hand, which was on his back, was sliding beneath his waistband, where his gun rested. They looked into each other’s eyes and gave one another a silent nod, before grabbing hold of the other’s respective weapon and pointing and aiming them at their intruder.
The light came on, and Tom and Sybil paled at the sight of the person sitting in a chair, just across from them.
“GRANNY!?” Sybil gasped, blushing deeply and looking down at her undone blouse.
Violet Crawley pursed her lips and gave each of them a disapproving glance. “I had expected more from my two best agents,” she sighed. “It seems you have thrown over your assignment for simple bed-sport.”
There was nothing “simple” about being in a bed with Sybil, but Tom chose to hold hsi tongue on that issue. And then it hit him. “You’re ‘V’!?” Violet Crawley was “V”, their handler?
Violet lifted a haughty eyebrow. “For a pair of spies, you aren’t very bright it would seem.” She then fixed her flabbergasted granddaughter a hard look. “Now…what’s this I hear about you two being ‘married’?”
This June, keep calm and carry on with Tom and Sybil as we “ROCK THE 1940′s/WW2 AU!”
Back by popular demand! Re-imagine Downton Abbey and the Bransons during the second world war and the years that followed. Whether they’re on the front lines or the home front, whether they’re older adults with their grown children serving, or their younger selves caught in the midst of this chaotic era, whatever your muse creates, share it through stories, drabbles, picsets, and fanart.
AND DON’T FORGET! Sybil x Tom Romance Week is coming soon! And Monday, June 12 is especially dedicated to this month’s rock the AU theme!