Sybil entered the bedroom from the kitchen at the sound of her name. “Yes, darling?” She couldn’t but smile at the sight of her husband surrounded by their daughters, Saoirse and Sybbie simply fascinated by their baby sister, the newest addition to the Branson family.
“Maybe it’s time that we go back to using…?”
Sybil blushed and Tom chuckled. He did have a point. Three daughters in five years was…rather busy. Not to mention things were picking up with their individual careers. Tom was writing again, this time for a paper in York. Sybil was now the head nurse at the Downton Cottage Hospital, and was considering taking over the duties of regional midwife (once little Maggie was a few months older). Maybe they should accept the offer from Kieran’s eldest to come and live with them for a while to help with the children?
Sybil turned her attention to Saoirse. “Isis is sick,” the little girl’s lower lip wobbled. “Can you make her better?”
Sybil sighed and looked back at Tom who shared a similar expression. Isis wasn’t as young as she used to be, and Sybil had noticed how the dog wasn’t moving very quickly, and seemed to spend more time in the little wood shed next to the house, where she had made a bit of home for herself after she became a permanent resident with the Bransons. Perhaps the time was coming when Sybil and Tom would have to teach their girls the harsh but inevitable lesson that death was a part of life?
“Please, Mummy? Please go and check on her?” Saoirse practically wailed, tugging on her mother’s hand. “She was whimpering earlier, what if she’s in pain?”
“Saoirse…” Tom sighed her name, but Sybil held up her hand.
“It’s alright,” she assured him, putting on a brave smile, before taking her daughter’s hand. “Alright, we’ll go look,” she promised her, and deciding to give Tom a little peace with Maggie, called for Sybbie to take her other hand and join her. Sybbie happily did so, toddling along with her mother and older sister (whom she hero-worshipped). The three went out the kitchen door and headed towards the wood shed, though Sybil’s footsteps slowed at the strange sound that was coming from inside.
“Oh Mummy, listen to her!” Saoirse practically wailed, and realizing something was wrong, Sybbie began to cry, and before Sybil could stop them, both daughters had let go and were rushing to the shed.
“WAIT!” Sybil cried, and hurried after them, preparing herself for a scream.
And there was a scream…though it was not of sadness or horror.
“MUMMY! MUMMY! MUMMY!” Saoirse and Sybbie came barreling out of the shed and grabbed hold of their mother’s hands and pulling her inside. Sybil was confused but it suddenly became clear as their lay Isis…and three whimpering, nursing miniatures.
“PUPPIES!” Saoirse gasped.
“Lil’ Isis,” Sybbie babbled.
“CAN WE KEEP THEM, MUMMY? PLEASE? PLEASE? PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE?"
"One…” Sybbie counted. “Two…” It wasn’t missed by Sybil how their middle daughter was also pointing at herself and her sister, and by the time she counted the third puppy, pointed towards the house.
Isis truly was a Branson; just like Sybil, she had three children as well.
Tom sounded frantic, standing at the door of the cottage, having heard their children’s cries. Sybil poked her head out of the shed and made a motion with her hand for him to join her. He was still holding Maggie, but the look on her face must have assured him everything was alright.
“DA!” Saoirse gasped upon seeing her father. “Isis had puppies!”
Tom’s eyes widened at the sight. The mother Labrador in question simply lay there, looking both tired and rather proud at herself and her little yellow brood.
“I had no idea she was pregnant!” Sybil hissed into Tom’s ear.
“You’re a nurse, love, not a vet,” her husband chuckled.
“Mummy? Da?” Saoirse looked at them both expectantly and a little impatiently, still waiting for their answer.
“Three!” Sybbie exclaimed, pointing again at herself, Saoirse, and now Maggie who had awoken and was trying to turn her head to see what all the commotion was about.
Tom and Sybil exchanged a look, a silent conversation passing between them, before with a sigh, Tom handed Maggie to her mother and giving Sybil’s shoulder a squeeze. “Better write to Kieran,” he announced. “We’ll need Aiofe’s help now more than ever with three girls and three dogs.”
the ratings for scream are super low and if there’s any chance at getting screamed renewed for a season 3 we gotta spread the word and get more people watching the show , this fandom is so small because not a lot of people watch the show. get your friends, family, neighbors, aliens , cats, dog, etc. anyone you know to watch the show, we gotta get these ratings up
“…And then the Ghost of the 2nd Earl JUMPED OUT OF THE CLOSET!”
Marigold gave a screech and buried her little face against her cousin’s shoulder. Sybbie gave an annoyed look to her other cousin as she attempted to soothe poor Marigold. “It’s alright, George is just telling stories.”
“It’s true!” George insisted. “The 2nd Earl haunts Downton!” he grinned wickedly and made a menacing motion with his fingers. “And likes to scare little girls—!”
“Well he’s not scaring me!” Sybbie insisted. “I ain’t scared of no ghosts!”
George rolled his eyes and opened his mouth to say more, but the nursery door opened then, causing all three children to gasp, before sighing with relief at the sight of their mothers.
“Why are you still awake?” Mary asked, her question pointedly at her son.
“It’s All Hallow’s Eve, Mama!” George explained. “Sybbie told us—”
“Another ‘Irish tradition’?” Mary turned to her baby sister who was kissing her daughter’s cheek.
“It’s not as if it’s unique to just Ireland,” Sybil insisted. “Why, the celebration descends from the ancient Celts, so it more than likely began in Britain, up in Scotland—”
“Save me the history lesson,” Mary groaned, kissing her son on the brow and then urging him to get under his blankets and go to sleep.
As for Marigold, she whimpered a bit and clung to Edith, who seemed reluctant to leave her. “I’ll keep her safe, Auntie Edith!” Sybbie promised, noticing her cousin’s distress. Sybil smiled proudly at her daughter, and Edith looked grateful.
“Come along!” Mary urged. “Our husbands are probably wondering what’s keeping us.”
Another shadow illuminated the doorway just then, causing the three children and their mothers to gasp, and then groan as Sybbie squealed, “Daddy!”
“What are you doing up here?” Mary asked. “I thought the three of you would be waiting downstairs—”
“Matthew and Bertie are,” Tom explained, winking at Edith who was blushing still at the reminder that she was now a married woman as well. “But I had to sneak a kiss myself, otherwise I’d be jealous of Sybil the whole night!”
Both Sybil and Sybbie giggled and Sybbie held out her arms for her father, who stepped in and did just that, smothering sloppy Branson kisses on her cheeks, before tucking her into bed. He then turned and gave a rather sloppy kiss to his wife, earning groans of disgust from the children, though Sybbie was used to it.
“Is the party up here now?” came another voice from the door.
“It might as well be,” Mary groaned, before smiling at her husband and new brother-in-law who were now entering the nursery.
Both men went to their respective children, giving each a kiss on the brow before murmuring “goodnight”, and Marigold seemed to brighten considerably after this (she was very fond of Bertie).
“George is telling them ghost stories,” Sybil whispered to Matthew.
“Ah, I see,” Matthew gave his son a stern look. “I hope you’re not trying to frighten your cousins and give them nightmares…”
“No, Papa, it’s just All Hallow’s Eve, and Sybbie said—”
“So this is your fault?” Tom asked his daughter, before giving her a little wink to show he wasn’t serious.
“George says the ghost of the 2nd Earl haunts Downton.”
“George…” Mary groaned before turning to the rest. “Children, there are no such things as ghosts.”
“But there such thing as a dragon, which is what your grandmother will become if we’re late,” Bertie observed to his wife.
“True,” Mary confirmed, agreeing with him. “Alright, all of you get some sleep—good night!”
The children murmured their goodnights once again and watched as their parents exited the nursery. However, before the Bransons left, Tom did whisper into his daughter’s ear, the special blessing her Irish grandmother had taught her to scare away anything that tried to frighten her. With nothing but the soft, orange glow of the fire burning in the fireplace, the children were left alone.
Quiet filled the nursery then…though George swore he heard something making a “thumping” sound. He sat up in bed and looked over at his cousins. “Do you hear…?”
Marigold gave a little squeal and leapt out of bed, before flying into Sybbie’s. “It’s the ghost of the 2nd Earl!” she screeched.
“Don’t be silly,” Sybbie assured her, before turning to George. They heard the sound again, and George swallowed the lump in his throat—it was coming from UNDERNEATH HIS BED!
Sybbie glared at the bed, ignoring the petrified expression on her cousin’s face, and shouted the blessing her father had whispered to her in the language of their homeland, and the thumping suddenly came to a stop.
They all waited, holding their breath…
“It’s gone…” George whispered.
“Can I stay with you?” Marigold whimpered, looking up at Sybbie with large, imploring eyes. Sybbie just smiled and kissed her cousin’s forehead, before pulling the blankets up around them.
“Maybe I should join you?” George offered, trying to sound braver than he felt. “Just to protect you girls.”
Sybbie rolled her eyes, wondering what her mother would make of that if she heard George, but knew all too well that it was his back-handed way of admitting he was scared. “Fine,” she sighed, scooting over and making room. Soon, all three cousins were huddled together in Sybbie’s bed, the blankets pulled up to their chins, and after a moment, they were all soon asleep.
A few hours later, when the party had ended, Robert (or “Donk” as he was now known to all his grandchildren) decided to peek in and see them. Sybil accompanied him, and when they reached the nursery, she gave a groan and a sigh at the sight of them together in bed. “Just as I had feared, I think the ghost stories got to them.”
Robert frowned. “Why are they all in Sybbie’s bed?”
Sybil smiled proudly. “Well she is the oldest, so perhaps she’s also deemed the bravest?” She shut the door then, and proceeded to tell her father about the so-called “ghost of the 2nd Earl”, the story which George had been telling to spook his cousins.
Robert frowned. “There’s no ‘ghost of the 2nd Earl’.”
“If anything haunts that nursery, it would be Pharaoh!”
Sybil frowned. “What?”
“Don’t you remember? Pharaoh was always trying to get into that nursery when you and your sisters were children. He especially liked to get under Mary’s bed and she would complain about the loud sounds his tail made when thumping against the floorboards.”
“I honestly don’t remember, but maybe I was too young?”
“That might be…” he recalled. “Yes, you were barely a year old, when Edith and Mary got into a terrible fight—” Sybil rolled her eyes. “—because Mary tried to spook Edith by telling her there was a monster in the room that lived under her bed, but then Pharaoh got under Mary’s and frightened the both of them—”
“Perhaps Pharaoh’s ghost remains?” Sybil offered. “Thumping his tail under the bed of Mary’s son?”
Robert chuckled at that, though it was clear he didn’t believe it. Sybil, however, wasn’t entirely convinced. After living among the Irish, both in Dublin and now in Boston, she wasn’t as skeptical to tales of the supernatural as she might have been before marriage. Though of all the ghosts that were out there, the ghost of a friendly Labrador hiding under one’s bed was rather sweet.
Where Tom writes for an Irish Republican newspaper, and who enjoys tinkering and fixing cars for his neighbors and family, while Sybil is a working mother, serving as a nurse and starting to take some courses towards pursuing a career as a doctor. They have three children with a fourth on the way. And while there are times when things are hard and money is scarce, they continue to bet on each other, and life becomes more than just bearable. It’s wonderful.
Lord Robert of House Grantham is desperate to keep his stronghold of Downton secure, as well as his legacy. But now that his heir is dead, what will happen to the kingdom in the north?
Lady Mary is his eldest and believes herself to be the rightful heir. There are many who would align with her and declare her “Queen of the North”, including Lord Robert’s most trusted advisor, Ser Carson…though there is another who lays claim to Downton; a distant cousin of Lord Robert’s of the Crawley bannermen…Ser Matthew.
House Crawley shares a close connection with House Grantham, and Ser Matthew desires nothing but peace (or so he says). But can the soldier be trusted? Or is he simply interested in taking Downton from Mary’s grasp?
Meanwhile, enemies of Lord Robert look to use his second daughter, Lady Edith, as a means to undermine Lady Mary and declare HER the “Queen of the North”, hoping that the sister’s long-standing feud can be used to their advantage to tear House Grantham apart, and bring the North to its knees.
In a hope to avoid War, Lord Robert’s wife, Cora, sends their youngest, Lady Sybil, with Mistress Hughes as her chaperone, to serve as an envoy for House Grantham, but the bannermen of House Grey intercept her party, and take her captive.
Sybil meets Tom Branson, a slave of the Greys, who comes from the lands across the Emerald Sea, and who witnessed the slaughter of his family. Tom’s adopted sister, Gwen, escaped the slaughter and has spent the last four years gathering the surviving bannermen of House Branson, in hopes to free her brother and help him get his revenge on the Greys.
War brews on the horizon from all sorts of angles, within and around the realm of Downton. Who will rule? Who will die? Who will win this game of crowns and thrones?
They were close; for the first time since before the War, the House Team stood a chance at winning the bloody cricket match, and one could only hope that if they did, the Earl of Grantham would finally cease his relentless talk about the sport.
So far Tom had played rather decently, especially for someone who wasn’t familiar with the game. He had yet to use his "secret weapon”, though Isis stood off to the side, looking eager and ready to participate if the need arose.
The Village Team had stepped up to bat, and Tom was dismissed to that place on the field where only the most unlikely of hits would go (but if his pride was supposed to be wounded by this placement, it didn’t show). He turned his gaze away from the man at bat to the tent just to his left. Sitting on the blanket on the ground, holding a precious bundle in her arms and smiling back at him was the most beautiful woman there, though granted he was biased. He was also biased about the beautiful child that she held, that he had earlier come to see when she was being rocked in the arms of her aunt. Matthew had joked with him that more people had come to see Lord and Lady Grantham’s granddaughter than to watch a cricket match, and Tom couldn’t help but feel his chest swell with pride as he nodded his head in agreement.
Not far from where Sybil and Saoirse sat was Isis, though the Labrador was on her feet, looking ready if he simply nodded his head to go chasing after a loose ball, if she had the chance. She was glancing over at Sybil and Saoirse as well, looking ready to sweep in and protect her charges if needs be. Ah, how he loved that dog.
He shifted his eyes to Matthew, who had the position of bowler. “If you or anyone catches this…that’s it, the game is over and we’ve won!”
Tom nodded his head, though he doubted he would be put into such a position; after all, wasn’t that why he had been banished to this corner of the pitch?
“Hooray for Da!”
He turned his head at the sound of his wife’s voice, and grinned back at the beautiful sight of Sybil holding little Saorise up so she could see her father. Sybil smiled back and kissed the baby’s cheek, before murmuring her cheer again. “Go Da, Go!”
Tom laughed as Sybil took one of Saoirse’s tiny fists, the child’s fingers holding tight to her mother’s thumb, and lifted it up to look as if she were waving. “I’ll catch it for you, my love!” he vowed. Even Isis seemed to bark in agreement.
“Hush, Isis!” Robert bellowed from where he stood. “And Tom, pay attention!”
Tom groaned and rolled his eyes, something only his wife took notice of and giggled.
Dr. Clarkson had stepped forward, and everyone on the House Team groaned (the doctor was the Village Team’s best hitter). “I’ll be sure to send it your way, Mr. Branson!” Clarkson threatened. It was said in humor, but Tom couldn’t help but swallow as he imagined the ball sailing his way, and him making a fool of himself by falling backwards and landing on his arse for all the world to see. Maybe he should call in Isis to catch it for him?
But there was no further time to think; Matthew threw, Clarkson swung, and the thunder-like clap of the bat hitting the ball seemed to echo everywhere. Robert and several others gasped as the ball went soaring overhead…heading just as Clarkson had threatened, towards Tom.
Sybil gasped and everyone held their breath as they watched the ball fly…and Tom, without any further thought, leapt up, his hand outstretched…and caught it.
He caught it.
He caught it!
He…HE…had won the game!
“WELL DONE!” Matthew shouted, before the rest of the House Team started to cheer. The Village Team groaned, but it was drowned out by the exuberant cheers of Tom’s in-laws and former work colleagues, and Isis’ bark. Yes, the first to greet him in victory was none other than the dog, herself, knocking him down on his arse, no doubt ruining his cricket whites, but Tom didn’t care. He was still far too stunned that he had caught the bloody thing!
“Three cheers for Tom Branson!” Matthew shouted, and before Tom realized what was happening, Robert was upon him, grabbing him by the hand and hauling him up to his feet, before slapping a hand onto his shoulder, and shouting over the cheers, “well done son!”
Son? Tom looked at Sybil, and her own eyes were wide with surprise; clearly she had heard the exchange as well. But she simply grinned and bounced the babe in her arms, who was giggling and waving her tiny fists, joining in the merriment along with the rest of them.
Tom disentangled himself from his well-wishers and made his way over to his wife and daughter, kissing Sybil eagerly, before dropping his lips reverently to his daughter’s head.
“I think you’re public is demanding your attention,” Sybil laughed as the House Team, led by Robert, began to sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow…”
Tom waved a dismissive hand. “Let them wait,” he leaned in and kissed her again, while one hand stroked Saoirse’s cheek, and the other fell down to stroke the soft, furry head of the Downton Labrador who was gazing up at the Bransons with a special fondness that she only gave to them. “This is the only public I care about.”