What I want for Edith in S6 (aka a super long headcanon)
What I want for Edith in Series 6, isn’t for her to fall in love again. I don’t want her to pine after somebody new and have it work out. I don’t want it to all work out perfectly for her or Marigold.
Because in the 1920s, the newspaper industry grows. The Sketch’s reader-base expands beyond high society and the aristocrats. Under Edith’s watch, it will shift away from royalty, and towards a new form of aristocracy - sports heroes and movie stars, as cities rooted for their home teams and people rush to fill the new palatial cinemas and gigantic sports stadiums.
And her grandmother will raise a judgemental eyebrow, and Mary will crack jokes about how she’s turned into a new form of spinster. But Aunt Rosamund scoffs at the dinner table, and reassures her niece that newspapers are the future, and she’ll smile nostalgically as she remembers her Marmaduke. They’re in an era with large-scale use of automobiles, telephones, motion pictures, electricity, unprecedented industrial growth, accelerated consumer demand and aspirations. There have been significant changes in lifestyle and culture and they must adapt because their way of life is not sustainable.
And then the inevitable will happen. Black Thursday. The stock market will crash. The family will be hit with great losses, but they’ll still fare much better than others due to Mary and Tom’s reforms.
But at this point, Edith won’t even really be at Downton anymore. She’ll be living in London almost exclusively. While factories close and old dynasties fall, the newspaper remains stronger than ever. They’ve moved from one publication a week, to two… and now, with more people reading newpapers than ever before, Edith will be busier than ever.
Overshadowed by much bigger, more relevant news of once prominent families losing their dignity, the fact that Marigold is her daughter will barely make the rounds in London.
They don’t go back to Downton that often. But when they do, Marigold and George do not get along at all. When he is 10, and she is 9, he tells her that she was a mistake. In the heat of the fight, Marigold retaliates: “At least my mother can stand the sight of me.”
Edith will find him crying in the garden, in the same spot she used go (still goes sometimes.) She dries his eyes, tells him that despite being away a lot Mary does love him. She is not the cold monster she pretends to be.
(But she’ll never admit this to Mary.)
When Marigold is 11, she will arrive from school to her mother’s choked sobs that are drowning out the radio. A man called Hitler will become the Chancellor of Germany. Marigold won’t understand why this news matters, but she still circles her arms around her mother.
And when Edith calms down, Marigold will silently hands her a handkerchief.
It’s only when Marigold is 13, when Edith sits her down and says, “I think you’re old enough to know” does that strange night from so long ago starts to make sense.
The day will come when Edith gets a frantic phone call and the presses are on fire because they are at war with Germany again.
And George, still a child in her eyes, will don a uniform and be shipped away. Marigold will tear up. give him a massive hug. “Come back in one piece,” she’ll tell him before he gets on the train. Before she is sent away kicking and screaming to live with her grandparents in the countryside.
Edith will stay in London because she has work to do. She has a business to run and a public to keep informed. (And a stash of forged documents she’s protecting).
In 1940, Marigold will turn 18 and there is nothing Edith can do to stop her from coming back to London. The skies are on fire, and Edith will yell and scream until her face is red and her throat is sore. But Marigold will refuse to go back to Yorkshire. She’ll stand her ground and tell her mother to shove it. This is happening. The man who killed her father is killing millions more. This is her contribution. She’s going to Bletchley Park whether her mother likes it or not.
“But clerical work, Marigold?” Edith will exclaim, utterly exasperated. “There are other ways to contribute to the war effort!”
“This is my choice, mama. You don’t have to like it.”
Edith won’t like it, but she respects it nonetheless.
When the war ends, Marigold and her mother will celebrate with the rest of the world. They’ll cry tears of relief and they’ll dance in the streets.
They will hold a toast in honour of Michael and George.
In the years following the war Edith will occasionally wonder about Marigold’s wartime clerical job because there’s something about it that just doesn’t make any sense. Edith knows that there is something her daughter isn’t telling her. But Edith won’t push, because she has her own secrets.
(Years later, when her joints are sore and her hair is grey, somebody will hear a rumour and ask to interview her. She’ll refuse.
“You think I helped Jewish refugees by smuggling passports?” she’ll laugh in his face. “That’s ridiculous!”
For the rest of her life, she will maintain that those rumours were nonsense.)
Sometime after the war, Marigold will meet a nice chap with a bit of a limp and she’ll fall madly in love. They are both so young and have seen and lost so much. They decide to live for today. They are married almost immediately.
Edith will tell her grandchildren stories of an age gone by. Of a time before electricity and radios and this new “Punk” music trend. She’ll them about how scandalous jazz music was at first, and their poor brains won’t be able to comprehend it. She’ll tell them about the time her sister wore pants for the first time, her Irish revolutionary brother-in-law, about all the times her and Mary argued over silly things.
And maybe somewhere in between all of this, Edith will find somebody she’ll love and who will love her. But she’ll be happy either way.
I don’t want something good to happen to Edith. I want Edith to do something good.