the other branson

3

For gothamgirl28

“The Other Branson” a drabble series

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)

Spring, 1925

"Sybil…?”

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?

“Mummy?”

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.

“Sybil!?”

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.”

**manip by crystabelshalott

8

Screencap Meme - The Bransons + Touch Me

Requested by piperholmes

psa to scream fandom

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

Tom the old romantic...

Favorite moment of Sunday’s disaster: 


Tom asked Mary if she thinks love would have faded away with Matthew.

Mary: We weren’t married long enough, but I think it would have eventually. 

Tom (sounding scandalized): “Well I don’t!”


Our Tom believes in true love. He would not have grown over Sybil. He would have loved her forever. And I love him for it.

4

“The Other Branson” a drabble series

(1(2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

This was not how they had imagined it would be.

Both Tom and Sybil had always imagined that the birth of their child would be in Ireland, with Tom’s mother close by, ready to assist the doctor, as she had some experience helping various neighbors through the years with their births.  But instead, here they were, back at Downton again, living in exile from their beloved home, for the time being.

The last few days had been very tense.  It was clear that the baby would coming any day now.  Tom tried to stay calm, but found it difficult, especially when he watched Sybil’s face twist and contort in pain.  "The first signs of labor,” Dr. Clarkson had declared.  But the contractions were not close enough.  And this could last for several days.  Sybil, despite the pain she was feeling, tried to remain positive, bless her.  Tom would do what he could, from rubbing her back, to rubbing her belly while they laid down at night.  But more than anything, he wanted his wife to be relieved of this pain, and to hold their baby together at last.

And he wasn’t the only one keeping the midnight vigil.

Once again, Isis had taken residence in the Bransons bedroom, laying in a corner, but lifting her head whenever someone opened the door and approached.  Often she wouldn’t move; she would study the visitor, but normally it was either a family member, or someone on staff, and Isis knew all of them.

But there was a stranger whom Isis did not know…and to whom she refused to wag her tail in welcome for.

Lord Grantham had insisted on bringing in Sir Philip Tapsell, renowned obstetrician, to oversee the birth of Sybil’s child.  While the man had glowing credentials, there was something about him that Tom didn’t like…or perhaps that was because he found himself reading Isis’ mood too closely?

Lord Grantham’s dog seemed to love everyone, including Thomas and O'Brien–but Sir Philip…no, she seemed to stiffen when he entered the room, and she would watch him warily, and Tom swore at one point, he heard the dog growl.

“This is all perfectly normal!” Sir Philip had reassured the worried father, as he sat with Sybil, who seemed to be in even more pain than the previous days.  “Her body is simply preparing her for birth, that’s all.”

But Tom had doubts.  And Sybil didn’t seem so convinced by the renowned obstetrician’s reassurances, either.  “My head hurts,” she moaned at one point.

“Nothing to worry about, Lady Sybil.”

“But…but couldn’t it be a sign of–?”

“Lady Sybil, I assure you, I’ve delivered many children, including those of the Duchess of Truro—trust me, I know what I’m doing.”

Tom frowned and looked back at his wife, who was breathing deeply, trying to ride out the pain of her contractions.  “Love, what can I do?”

She glanced at Sir Philip who was in the corner, and then back at her husband.  “Tom…I…I…I’m worried.”

Fear coursed through him at her words.  “I’ll go get Dr. Clarkson,” he assured her, leaning forward to kiss her brow.

But Sir Philip had heard him and frowned and purposefully moved to block Tom’s exit.  “There’s no need for that, Mr. Branson, I assure you!”

“But Sybil–”

“She’s going through labor, her first labor, as well!  Yes, it hurts, but only for now.”

Tom didn’t like the way Sir Philip was dismissing his wife’s pain.  “No, Sybil has worked in a hospital, she’s not ignorant to these things, she’s–”

“Oh come now!”

Tom was startled by Sir Philip’s protest and looked over his shoulder to see that Isis had left her place in the room and had joined Sybil on the bed, looking sorrowfully up at her, whimpering as she groaned in pain. 

“Get that filthy mongrel out of here!”

“No…” Sybil softly protested, shaking her head and reaching out for Isis, whose nose was sniffing around her belly.

“Lady Sybil, I must insist–”

“Leave her be!” Tom snarled.  “Both of them!  Can’t you see that she’s giving her comfort?”

Sir Philip rolled his eyes.  “An animal has no place in a birthing room!"  He moved then to grab Isis by her collar and haul her out, but the dog did something Tom had never seen it do–she bared her teeth and let out a deep growl of warning, startling Sir Philip so much, that the man practically stumbled backwards.

"Good heavens!  The animal is mad and clearly putting your wife at risk!”

Tom shook his head in disagreement.  “No, if anything she’s protecting her,” he murmured, looking at the Labrador with pride.

Sir Philip frowned.  “Remove this animal at once, Mr. Branson.”

Tom lifted his eyes to the man and felt his jaw go rigid.  “I will not,” he refused.

“Oh for heaven’s sake!” Sir Philip changed tactics and moved towards Sybil, his hands nearly touching her belly, but Isis was faster.  Her growl became a snarl and she lashed out, her teeth snapping at the knighted doctor’s hands.

“GOOD GOD!” Sir Philip fell backwards, clutching his hand to his chest.  Isis continued snarling, her sneer never wavering as she hovered over Sybil, fierce and protective.

“Good girl,” Tom murmured to the Labrador.

Sir Philip scrambled to his feet, his eyes flying back and forth between Tom and Isis.  “If this is how I am to be treated…then GOOD DAY TO YOU!” he angrily spat, before turning and fleeing the room before Isis chased after him.

Dr. Clarkson entered the room a few minutes later, and Isis was a completely different dog; no growling, no biting, but she did plant herself outside the door, as if keeping watch and making sure no one disturbed the family physician.

Sybil was rushed to the hospital just in time; a few hours later, thanks to an emergency surgery, she delivered a beautiful and healthy baby girl. 

Tom held the child against his chest, kissing her soft, downy head, while Sybil slept and recovered in a nearby bed, her life safe now as well.  He owed everything to that dog; they all did.

To be continued…

tammyteresa64-deactivated201610  asked:

Ok :) two with separate or together. "I ain't scared of no ghosts" and "I am the one hiding under your bed" :) thanks xo

(thanks to repmet for the gif!)

“…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.”

“Sybbie!”

“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…

Nothing.

“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’.”

“Exactly, Papa.”

“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.

4

kayjag appreciation post!

3

“The Other Branson” a drabble series

(1)

She was restless.  Tom groaned and rolled over onto his back, turning his head slightly towards Sybil’s pillow, opening his eyes just barely and despite the darkness around them, taking note of how much she was fidgeting. 

"What’s wrong love?” he sleepily asked, his hand automatically moving towards her swollen belly.  “Is the baby fussing?”

Sybil groaned.  “No…not that,” she groggily sighed.

Tom yawned and started to sit up.  “Is it your back?  Do you need me to rub it?”

Sybil shook her head and turned to look at him…a somewhat guilty expression covering her lovely face. “No, it’s not that…” she mumbled, nibbling her bottom lip as she looked up at him.

Tom groaned.  He knew that look all too well.

“What do you want this time?” he asked, sitting up fully now.

Sybil gave him a sweet smile.  “Nothing too elaborate, I promise.”

“Right, so not fish and chips then?”

“Oh Lord, are you ever going to let that go?”

He shook his head.  “It was pouring rain, and almost midnight, but you kept begging, saying that the shop around the corner was open late on Fridays–”

“Yes, yes, yes, you’re already the world’s greatest husband,” Sybil groaned.

Tom nodded his head in agreement.  “And the most handsome,” he added with a cheeky grin.

“And the most infuriating!” Sybil swatted his arm.

Tom chuckled and caught her hand, giving it a kiss.  “And what would milady like this time?”

Sybil poked her tongue out at him, but still answered his question.  “Marmalade and a glass of milk, please.”

Tom looked at her with a furrowed brow.  “And…would you be liking some toast to go with your marmalade, milady?”

Sybil looked at him pointedly.  “Did I mention toast?”

Tom sighed and shook his head, mumbling something under his breath about “pregnant women”, before swinging his legs over the side of the bed and putting them down on the floor–

“GAH!” he gasped, his feet drawing back quickly as if they had been burned.

Sybil sat up.  “What!?  What is it?  Did you hurt yourself?”

Tom didn’t answer, instead he reached over and felt for the lamp cord, pulling on it…and groaning as his eyes met the large brown ones of his father-in-law’s dog.

“We have an intruder,” he muttered, trying to get his heart rate to return to normal.

Sybil scrambled across the bed to peer over the edge and see what he was talking about.  “Isis!” she gasped.  “How on earth…?”

Tom shook his head, completely baffled by it all as well.  “I shut that door, I swore I did!”

“Perhaps she was hiding under the bed?” Sybil suggested.

Tom groaned and finally rose to his feet.  “Why this sudden interest in our room?”

Sybil couldn’t help but grin.  “Maybe it’s not the room but the man sleeping in it?”

Tom looked back at her as if she were mad.  “That doesn’t make any sense!”

“Oh really?  You mean even when you were still working here, she didn’t come into the Servant’s Hall and whimper when she realized her favorite Irishman wasn’t about?”

Tom gave her a look, but Sybil only grinned back and winked at him.  “I do think she likes you, Tom.”

“Maybe it’s not me?  Maybe it’s you?” he challenged.

Sybil pondered this for a moment, her hand rising to rest on her belly.  “Maybe it’s the baby?” she suggested.  And as if on cue, Isis did lift her head towards the bed then.

Tom frowned.  “Are you suggesting that your father’s dog has a special kinship with our unborn child?”

Sybil shrugged her shoulders, before settling back down on against her pillows.  “Stranger things have happened,” she sighed, patting his side of the bed.  “Come back to bed.”

Tom looked confused.  “I thought you wanted some marmalade?”

Sybil yawned and shook her head.  “No, the craving has gone; maybe Isis had something to do with it?”

Tom rolled his eyes at the suggestion.  “If my mother could hear you talk, she’d think it was some sort of superstition…and she’s probably believe it, too!”

He joined her, careful not to step on the dog who once again settled down on the floor and closed her eyes, just as Sybil snuggled herself against his side.  Instinctively, his hand fell to Sybil’s stomach, taking note that the baby seemed to be sleeping peacefully as well.  Now that he thought about it…he did recall how earlier that day, while they were having tea in the library, Sybil had been groaning about the child kicking quite a bit…but then a few minutes later, Robert and the dog entered…and Sybil’s grimaces and complaints vanished, and she looked both relieved, but also happy and relaxed!

No…it wasn’t possible. 

…Was it?

To be continued…

3

“The Other Branson” a drabble series

(for broadwaybaggins)

He was tired, and after the long journey they had endured (not to mention the bothersome dinner), Tom truly didn’t feel like socializing more than he had to.  So when the opportunity presented itself, he retreated as soon as possible to his and Sybil’s bedroom, hoping to find some peace at long last, though he doubted that would be truly possible while they were staying under this roof.

Alfred had just been in, and while Tom liked the tall footman and knew he was just doing his job, but at the same time, he refused to accept Alfred’s offer of “help” in dressing or undressing himself, especially since he had been doing that for the past almost 30 years of his life.  He and Alfred had a brief talk, and then seeing as there was nothing left to do, Alfred left…though apparently, he had left something, or rather someone behind.

Not that Tom was aware that this someone had managed to enter the room.  In fact, it wasn’t until he heard movement in the corridor just outside the bedroom, and had swung his feet from off the bed to go and open the door (after all those years of waiting of her, he knew the sound of Sybil’s footsteps by heart)–that he realized the furry thing his bare feet had come into contact with WAS NOT the plush rug that covered a majority of the bedroom floor…but something living and breathing.

“Isis!” Tom gasped, startled by the dog’s presence.  “How the bloody hell–” he stopped and shook his head.  The door was looking up at him with those big, brown eyes of hers, eyes that every staff member in the Servant’s Hall knew by heart, because on more than one occasion the Labrador would sneak into the kitchens, hoping for a scrap or two from a kindly hand.  And with those eyes of hers, she often won.  “God, you gave me a fright,” Tom muttered, running a hand through his hair and over his face in an effort to calm himself.  He was on edge, this was place putting him on edge, and Isis’ surprise appearance didn’t help. 

“Come on,” he groaned, careful not to step on her again, and rose to his feet.  The dog watched him as he moved across the room towards the door…but she made no move to get up and follow.  “Come on!” Tom called out to her, his hand on the doorknob.

She didn’t move.  In fact, she lowered her head again to the floor, her brown eyes starting to close.

“Oh no, you can’t stay in here,” Tom shook his head.  “His Lordship thinks I stole his daughter from him; he won’t accept me ‘stealing’ his dog too.”

Isis’ response was a thump of her tail, before closing her eyes completely.

Great, just what he needed; a rebellious dog.  “You don’t want to be in here, trust me,” Tom tried to coax.  “While Sybil is sweet, I certainly will not make good company, so come on…time to go back downstairs, back to his Lordship…”

Isis’ belly rose as if she were snoring.

Tom rolled his eyes.  “Isis…come on,” he tried to sound stern.  “Come on, get up!  Come on!” He opened the door then, “Leave!”

“I beg your pardon!?”

Tom whipped his head around and felt the blood drain from his face, before suddenly coming back and blushing with embarrassment as he met his father-in-law’s eyes.  Lord Grantham was standing right there in the corridor, just outside the door, and Sybil was between them.  Tom’s throat suddenly went dry, and his eyes flicked back and forth from the disapproving sneer of his Lordship, and Sybil’s poor attempt at trying to keep her laughter at bay.

“I…” Tom swallowed.  “It’s Isis,” he explained, gesturing towards the dog.  His Lordship frowned at seeing the Labrador lying there on the carpet near the bed.  “She snuck in,” Tom continued to explain.  “I think she must have followed Alfred when he came in–”

“Isis, come!” Robert barked, and while the dog did lift her head at the voice, she didn’t make a move to go. 

Robert’s frown deepened.  “Isis,” he started to growl.

The dog let out a sorrowful whimper.

“Oh Papa, let her stay,” Sybil attempted to reason.  “She’s clearly comfortable–”

“Isis!” Robert harshly called.  “Come–NOW!”

The dog whimpered one more time, but she did not disobey further.  She rose up and with her head hanging low (and no wag whatsoever to her tail) she walked out of the room, like a prisoner going to her jail cell.  While there was a part of him that was relieved the dog had finally left, Tom couldn’t help but admit he did feel a little sorry for the animal as well.

“Goodnight,” Robert muttered to Sybil, turning and without another glance, walking back from where he had come, Isis following close by, but her head still drooped in defeat.

“I don’t see what the harm was in letting her stay,” Sybil sighed, moving into the room and rising up on her tip toes to brush her lips against her husband’s cheek.  She moved to the vanity then and started taking off her jewelry, murmuring all the while about the conversations that had taken place in the drawing room after Tom had left, but when she glanced over her shoulder, expecting to see him sitting on the bed…she was surprised to see that he was still standing in the open doorway…and looking off in the direction where her father, and Isis, and gone.

“Tom?”

He shook his head and turned back.  “What?”

Sybil bit her lip, though she couldn’t help but feel her lips curl into a smile.  “Is everything alright?”

His face was burning again.  “Fine, just fine,” he mumbled, shutting the door and locking it. 

“Are you sure?” she asked, unable to hide her smile.  “Because I could always ask–”

“Don’t even think about it,” he groaned, before collapsing on the bed at last.

To be continued…

3

“The Other Branson” a drabble series

(1(2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

So glad everyone is enjoying these!  The last two especially :oP  Now get ready for some cute Isis/Baby Branson moments

for gothamgirl28

The Branson baby had many admirers, from the scowling butler who couldn’t help but smile when the opportunity arose and he got to hold her, to the equally scowling dowager countess, who surprised everyone on the day she and mother were granted leave from the hospital, and asked to hold the child.  Yet none of them, with the exception of her parents, admired the child more than his Lordship’s Labrador. 

To everyone around the house, little miss Soairse Branson was a beautiful little girl.  To Isis, she was a rather strange looking puppy.  That if that mattered, the dog didn’t show it; she would watch the child like a hawk, follow wherever she went around the house, sit near the closest person who was holding her, looking anxious and ready to leap forward and rescue the babe should trouble befall.

If Robert was worried about losing Isis to the Bransons before, there was no hope for him now.  No, it was clear to everyone that the dog’s loyalties had completely transferred over to the youngest member of the Downton household.  If Isis wasn’t an honorary Branson before, she certainly was now, because just as Sybil had once boldly declared that she would not give up the man to whom she was now married to (and proudly), so too had Isis (in her own way) also made such a declaration for Soairse.

Both Tom and Sybil were quite adamant about wanting to raise their daughter themselves, in other words, keep her cradle in their bedroom, change her and feed her as they would do back in Dublin, and only rely on the help of a nanny every so often.  Though even that was questionable, when it was clear that Isis was more than willing to step in and perform the job (as best a dog could).  Never was this more obvious, than on the afternoon Sybil had returned from the hospital, having gone to speak with Dr. Clarkson about the possibility of coming back in a few months time to work as a nurse there.  She had left Soairse in her husband’s care, but was surprised upon her return to find him in the Downton garage, tinkering at one of her father’s cars, as he had done once upon a time.

"Fancy finding you here, Branson,” she teased at the sight of him.

Tom lifted his head and grinned, quickly wiping the oil from his hands with a rag.  “How may I be of service to you, milady?”

Sybil giggled and then did something she hadn’t done all those years ago, which was wrap her arms around the chauffeur’s strong shoulders and pull him in for a kiss.  Tom smiled against her lips and returned the kiss, but all too soon it ended and Sybil was looking up at him anxiously.  “Where’s Soairse?”

“Don’t worry, her Auntie Mary and Uncle Matthew are looking after her,” Tom assured, rubbing his hands down Sybil’s arms.  She had adapted to the role of mother very quickly, and hated to be parted from her little girl for very long.

Sybil nodded her head, blushing at her anxiety, but Tom kissed her brow, and being finished with his work, took her hand and the two of them went back inside–only to soon discover upon entering, that Mary and Matthew were in the drawing room having tea…and not with Soairse.

“Nanny is with her,” Mary informed them, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.  And to her it was, and perhaps it would have been for Sybil too if she had remained in that world and accepted it, but after the freedoms she had experienced, now more than ever, Sybil was anxious to get upstairs and see her daughter.  Tom had to jog to keep up.

Yet when they entered their room, it wasn’t Nanny with whom they found in their daughter’s company…but Isis, who looked just as tuckered out as Soairse did, her warm, soft head resting atop the child’s little chest.

“Oh Tom…” Sybil whispered, gazing at the sight and feeling her heart swell.

Tom smiled and squeezed his wife’s hand.  “Was this the ‘nanny’ to whom your sister meant?” he chuckled.

As if on cue, a woman came around the corner and gasped.  “Oh!  Beggin’ your pardon milady, sir; I was just fetching something from the nursery, and…well, the dear little miss was asleep and his Lordship’s dog was with her, and we all know how gentle she is, and I was only gone for a moment, honestly–”

“It’s alright,” Sybil assured the woman.  “And we’ll take it from here, thank you.”

Nanny gave a little curtsey and Tom and Sybil returned their gazes to the sleeping dog and child, their own arms wrapping around each other as they took in the sight.

“Two Bransons for the price of one,” Tom chuckled, before kissing his wife’s brow once more.

Sybil smiled and leaned into the kiss.  “And two 'mothers’ for Soairse,” she added. 

To be continued…

6
“The Other Branson” a drabble series(1(2) (3) (4) (5)

He hated himself. He shouldn’t be there, not without her.  What was it that Sybil had said to him once?  "If I return to Downton then only as a couple; as a happy couple or not at all.” He didn’t think it was possible to love her any more, but when she had said those words to him, his heart literally melted.  She would not go back without him, she would not leave him behind, she would not give him up.  And nor would he, yet…he had.  Here he was, back at the place where he had met her, where he had fallen in love with her, where he had waited for her, where they had first kissed and then stood side by side before her family, without shame or regret, declaring to everyone around them that they loved each other and were going to be married.  But she wasn’t there.  He had come back, alone, and he hated himself for it. Yes, it was part of the plan, yes they had agreed to do this if anything should happen, that he would go ahead of her, but he hated it, and tonight his father-in-law shamed him before the world, and Tom couldn’t blame the man, because he was ashamed.  He felt like a coward, like a pitiful excuse for a human being, and now here he sat, in their room–THEIR room…and he would be forced to sleep in that bed without her. Oh God, where was she?  Where was she sleeping?  Was she at his mother’s?  His sister’s?  Was she still in Ireland?  Was she in Liverpool at his brother’s?  Was she on that boat, traveling by herself?  Had the police stopped her?  Questioned her?  Oh God, she was strong, she was brave, but if anything happened to her, to her and the baby, he would never, could never– Tom looked down as he felt a nudge on his knee.  His vision was blurred by the tears that clouded his eyes, but despite them and despite the agony that was filling his heart, he did smile at the kind, brown eyes of the Labrador that looked up at him, trying in her own way to provide him with some comfort.  “You may be the only friend I have right now,” Tom murmured to the dog.  He let his hand stroke her head, and Isis licked his palm in response.  Tom felt his eyes cloud again, but he whispered a soft, “thank you”, and eventually managed to ease himself down on the bed, his hand continuing to stroke the dog, who continued to every so often, lick his palm in reassurance. The next day, Tom paced back and forth in the library.  He had heard from Matthew that Sybil was in England, that she had made it over and that she was on her way to Downton.  He wanted to take a car and drive to wherever she could be, but Matthew had urged him to wait and stay–Robert was in London, speaking on his behalf, trying to convince the authorities to let him stay.  If he left the village, let alone the house, he could be arrested and deported back.  Feeling utterly helpless, he paced up and down the corridors, looking out the window whenever he could.  He wasn’t the only one keeping vigil.  Isis was there too, also looking out the window, her head resting on a cushion that Tom had placed for her, noticing how she was resting her head against the pane. Suddenly, the dog raised her head, and Tom froze.  Sybil? Isis let out a loud bark, and jumped to her feet, scrambling down from her spot and running out of the room, barking all the way.  Tom went to the window, but he didn’t see anything, except…wait…was that…a car? She was there…she had to be!  He rushed out of the library, following Isis’ frantic barks, and as soon as he entered the Hall, he gasped, his hand going to his chest as his eyes locked with hers, steady and strong and beautiful as always… “Oh thank God!” he cried, the tears coming instantly.  He rushed forward and Sybil did the same, meeting him halfway, their bodies crashing into one another, clinging to each other, holding the other so tight, never letting them go.  Isis continued to bark, but to Tom’s ears it was a happy sound, one filled with welcome and assurance.  He kissed her then, deeply, and she returned the kiss with the same relieved passion that he felt.  “I’m so sorry,” he managed to stammer when their lips parted at last, his hands running over her face, her hair, her shoulders, need assurance that yes, this wasn’t a dream, she was there, they were together, as they always should be. “Ssshhh, it’s alright,” she assured him, her own hands gripping his shoulders, running up and down his arms.  She leaned up again and kissed him, and Tom didn’t hesitate to respond.  He could hear footsteps around, people coming to see the commotion.  Were they her sisters?  Her mother?  Other members of staff?  He didn’t know, nor did he really care.  When they broke apart again, Sybil took his hands, and without saying a word to anyone else, led him away, and Tom followed; he didn’t ask where or why, because knew.  It was what they both needed. They retreated to their room and locked the door behind them, spending the next hour and a half by themselves, recommitting all those vows they had made to each other and expressing their love in every intimate way a couple could. Isis patiently stood outside, ever the faithful guard dog.

To be continued…
3

“The Other Branson” a drabble series

(1(2) (3)

"Ah feck,” Tom swore under his breath.  They were late–late for the wedding, and he was Matthew’s best man.  After everything he had done the last few days in helping to make sure that Matthew and Mary walked down the aisle, and finally managing to gain some peace between himself and his father-in-law, he didn’t want to mess that all up now by showing up late.

But he couldn’t find his bloody hat!

“Syb!  Have you seen my…” Tom entered their room, pausing for a moment to appreciate the vision of his wife in her lovely new, blue frock that she and his mother had help create while they were still in Dublin.  Sybil turned and looked at him, surprised to see him there, but blushing at the way he gazed at her, her hands instinctively moving down her belly and caressing the bump that was their child. 

“You…you look breath-taking,” he whispered, momentarily forgetting the reason he had come back upstairs.

Sybil’s blush deepened even more.  “Thank you,” she answered, before letting her own eyes move over him.  “And you look very…” she swallowed, feeling that all too familiar ache coil up inside her as she gazed at her husband, the morning coat fitting him perfectly (and showing off the masculine breadth of his shoulders). 

Tom swallowed as well, seeing his wife’s desire, and under any other circumstance, he would have disregarded the reason he had initially entered the room, and indulge the both of them in what they craved most…but the sound of the church bells in the distance brought him back to reality (unwillingly).

“I thought you would be at the church by now?” she asked.  “Don’t you need to fetch Matthew?”

Tom groaned.  “Aye, but I can’t find my hat!” He couldn’t help but roll his eyes at that.  “It’s a stupid accessory if you ask me; we won’t be wearing them indoors, yet it’s a necessity, apparently, to have it.”

Sybil frowned, trying to remember when she had last seen it.  “Would Alfred have it perhaps?  He was pressing your suit–”

Tom shook his head.  “No, I had gathered everything last night before we went to bed…but…but it’s not up here, or at least it wasn’t when I was dressing earlier, while you were visiting Mary…”

“Perhaps one of the housemaids moved it?  Where did you leave it in the room?”

Tom made a gesture towards the wardrobe.  “I had placed the hat on the chair over there–”

He stopped speaking and Sybil turned to look and see why…and immediately began giggling at the sight that greeted them.  “Well…there’s your answer,” she grinned, as their eyes locked on the Labrador who seemed to be grinning up at them…the hat somewhat askew on her head.

“How in the world…?” Tom asked, gazing at Isis in confusion…though like Sybil, he too couldn’t help but grin at the sight.

Sybil’s giggles only grew.  “I don’t know, but she does look rather dabber, don’t you think?”

“She looks a great deal better than I do,” he muttered, reaching down and removing the hat from the dog’s head, though he was still smiling, especially as Isis wagged her tail, her panting making it look like she was smiling in approval at him.

“I think she begs to differ,” Sybil giggled.

Tom looked at his wife with a crooked smile.  “She would take your side, wouldn’t she?”

“We girls must stick together,” Sybil replied, poking her tongue out at her husband, blushing and grinning as he gave a little growl at the gesture.

“To be continued, Mrs. Branson,” he vowed.

Sybil shivered and nodded her own head in approval at his promise.  “Yes, please.”

Tom groaned and forced himself out of the room before he truly did give in and indulge in the very thing he wanted to be doing in that moment…which was his beautiful wife.

The sound of padded paws moving beside him caused Tom to look down and see that he wasn’t alone in his journey.  “Oh why not,” he muttered, grinning at the dog, quickening his pace just a little, and laughing as Isis gave a happy bark and proceeded to speed up her own pace, keeping up with Tom’s stride as they exited the house towards the village church.

To be continued…

3

“The Other Branson” a drabble series

(1(2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9)

for broadwaybaggins (happy birthday!)

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.

“Tom!”

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.”

3

“The Other Branson” a drabble series

(1(2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)

For anyone who needs some cheering up this weekend :o)

It’s called "compromise”, though Tom felt like he had been emotionally blackmailed into saying “yes” to his father-in-law’s demand that he play cricket.  But in the end, it was the only way to convince the man to drop his displeasure (at least vocally) about his first grandchild being baptized Catholic.  Never mind that he didn’t know how to play; Robert seemed to look over that little detail.  In fact, it was very odd, since for the first time since he and Sybil had announced their intentions to marry, Robert Crawley not only seemed at peace in the presence of Tom Branson, but acted as if he even LIKED him!  “If I had known it would be that easy, I would have played cricket years ago,” he had muttered to his wife one evening.

They were getting on as parents.  Isis continued to serve as their “canine nanny”; she was inseparable when it came to Saoirse.  The dog used to sleep on the floor on Tom’s side of the bed, but now she had taken a permanent position by Saoirse’s cradle, and seemed to sense when the baby was upset even before Saoirse started wailing, so Sybil became very intune to the dog’s reactions.  It was getting to the point where it was downright unusual if Isis decided to part from Saoirse’s side, which was why Sybil was a little surprised when she entered her room one sunny afternoon to nurse her daughter, and found that the dog wasn’t there.

“I think she went outside to observe Mr. Branson and Mr. Crawley,” the nanny explained, handing the child to her mother before taking her leave.  Sybil shrugged her shoulders at this information, thanked the woman, and then settled down into her rocking chair by the window, undoing her blouse and feeding her daughter. 

“Almost!” came a man’s voice from outside.  Sybil recognized it right away as belonging to her brother-in-law.  She pushed the curtains back just slightly to see, and smiled at the sight that greeted her.

Down on the lawn stood her husband, holding a cricket bat, with Matthew in front him.  Matthew would throw his arm back and bowl the ball, and Tom would attempt to swing at it, coming close, but not quite getting there just yet.  Yet despite his near misses, her husband didn’t seem upset or even frustrated.  Yes he was rolling his eyes and groaning, but he was smiling and laughing as well, and Sybil wondered if that was because of the banter the two of them were sharing (she couldn’t quite hear it, but whatever it was that they were saying, they were certainly having a good chuckle about it) or if it had to do with the third member of their little party, her father’s Labrador, who was sitting off to the side, trying to be sit and be on her very best behavior, though it was obvious for all to see that she desperately wanted to get into the fray grab the ball for herself.

“I don’t trust that dog,” Matthew bellowed to Tom, eying Isis warily as she tensed when he bowled the ball once more, as if she were getting ready to grab it in her jaws and take off with it down the lawn.

Tom chuckled.  “She’s my secret weapon,” he chuckled.  “She’s just waiting for the right moment.”

“Oh really?” Matthew asked.  “Just remember that you’re playing for the House Team!”

“Don’t remind me,” Tom groaned.  “My father is no doubt rolling in his grave.  Though with the way I’m swinging, you might want me on the Village Team.”

“Nice try,” Matthew said dryly, before taking the ball and preparing to throw it.  “Alright Tom…this is it, this is the one!”

Sybil held her breath as she watched, silently whispering over and over in her head, “you can do it, darling!  You can do it!”

The ball left Matthew’s fingers and soared towards her husband.  Tom’s eyes narrowed as they focused in all the ball and Sybil gasped as he swung the bat…and the distinct cracking sound echoed throughout the grounds as it made contact with the ball.  “Oh well done!” Sybil cried, though no one save her daughter was present to hear her.

The ball, while struck, did not travel very far.  But that didn’t matter, because that was when Tom’s “secret weapon” came into play.

Like a flash, Isis darted towards the ball, and before Matthew could grab it, the dog snatched it up in her jaws, and took off with it, just as Matthew had feared, while Tom did his “victory run”, as if he had struck the ball far, far away.

“That’s cheating!” Matthew cried.

“How?” Tom laughed.  “Where in the rules of cricket does it say anything about dogs?”

Matthew groaned and then took off after the Labrador, who was running around in circles, clearly delighted that the future Earl of Grantham was hot on her heels.  Sybil couldn’t help but laugh as she watched the display, and her eyes fell again to her husband, who must have sensed he was being watched, because he turned and looked up at her, grinning widely and holding the bat aloft.

“Did you see that, love?” he called out to her, and Sybil laughed and nodded her head. 

Once again, Tom was proving that it was always wise to bet on him.  Bet on him…and his unexpected partner in crime.  Oh those poor men in the Village Team; they wouldn’t know what hit them come Saturday.

To be continued…

3
“The Other Branson” a drabble series

(1(2)

Oh she was livid.  After helping her poor husband upstairs and (with Alfred’s help) getting him out of his shoes, clothes, and into his pajamas, she marched back downstairs to give Larry Grey such a large piece of her mind, that he would choke on it!

However, Larry had oh so "conveniently” slipped away before she could make her reappearance, and so Sybil was still fuming when she marched back upstairs, ignoring her family’s questions as she went, because she needed to be with her husband right now, and he needed her.

Only when she entered the room, she found that someone else was providing him with their company.

“Isis!” she gasped, seeing the door not only in the room…but on the bed?

Yes, the Labrador had not only (again) managed to sneak into their room, but this time, she was up on the bed next to Tom…whose arm was slung over the door, his face buried in the pillow, and from what she could tell, he was snoring.

“Oh Tom…” she sighed out of sympathy, not for the first time feeling a stab of guilt for not immediately coming to his defense when they were downstairs and the truth was discovered that Larry had drugged him.  Isis lifted her head and met Sybil’s gaze, and the two females seemed to have a moment of understanding, despite the fact that they were completely different species.

Isis then lowered her head to the bed, and Sybil couldn’t help but smile as she watched Tom burrow closer.  Her smile soon became a giggle as she heard him mumble in his sleepy state, “Ssssssssssybil…ssssssoft…”

He was running his hand up and down Isis’ belly, and based on the look on the dog’s face, she was clearly loving it.  Sybil sighed and shook her head, the anger dissipated for the time being, and she began to make herself ready for bed, changing out of her clothes and putting on her nightgown.

The dog never once moved. 

Oh dear, Sybil thought to herself.  Isis was clearly quite comfortable, there, nestled in the arms of her husband.  In some ways, she didn’t have the heart to make the dog move, but in other ways, she very much wanted to crawl into bed next to Tom and wrap her own arms around him.

Isis lifted her head and once again met Sybil’s gaze…and without being asked, did manage to “scoot” over slightly, as if making some room for Sybil.

“Very good of you to let me into my own bed,” Sybil muttered to the dog, though she couldn’t help but smile…though it was almost impossible to contain her laughter as she watched the way Tom pulled the dog closer to him.

“Donnnnnnn’t gooooo…” he mumbled.

Sybil bit her lip, trying to contain her laughter.  “I’m not going anywhere, darling,” she promised, reaching out to stroke his hand, which was clasped against Isis’ belly.

Tom smiled in his sleep, and then proceeded to bury his face against Isis’ furry neck.  “Mmmmmm…Ssssssssssybil…”

“Oh dear,” Sybil sighed, glancing at her husband and then at the dog between them.  Isis craned her own neck then towards Tom…until her muzzle was facing him…and without further ado, proceeded to lap at his cheeks and nose.

“Sssssssstop,” Tom mumbled, though there was a smile on his lips.  “Tiiiiiiiiickles.”

Sybil’s hand went to cover her mouth to keep her laughter from filling the room.  As for Isis, she continued to lick Tom’s face.

Tom’s grin only grew.  “Kissssssssssssss me my darlin’,” he moaned, and Sybil’s eyes went wide and she sucked in a breath, her hand over her mouth as he proceeded to lean in towards the dog, opening his mouth as he had done many times with her when they kissed…only to receive Isis’ sloppy tongue on his lips.

That seemed to sober him up.

Tom’s eyes suddenly flew open…and for several heartbeats he stared back into the brown eyes of her father’s Labrador, realization slowly starting to dawn on him, until…

“ISIS!” he groaned, moving away so quickly he nearly fell off the bed.

“Careful, Tom!” Sybil called out, reaching over to take hold of his hand.

Isis simply looked confused.

“What…what is she…?” Tom sputtered.

“She was simply providing you with some company, that’s all,” Sybil answered matter-of-factly.

Tom stared back at her in horror, and then looked at the dog once more.  “Oh God, was she here this whole time?”

Sybil bit her lip, though she couldn’t help but laugh.  “Yes, she was a very good guard dog; I thought I would have to wrestle her for my spot on the bed, though,” she leaned down and whispered then, “I think she has a crush on you.”

“Enough,” Tom groaned, his head pounding, no doubt due to the drugs (but also the embarrassment he was feeling at kissing the dog and calling her “Sybil”)

Isis whimpered and looked at Sybil then, but Sybil sighed and made a gesture with her head.  “Come on,” and the dog reluctantly rose and hopped down off the bed altogether, though she then proceeded to make herself comfortable on the floor.

“No offense to your sister…or Matthew…but I can’t wait to go back to Dublin,” he mumbled as he drew himself closer to his wife.

Sybil smiled, brushing some strands of hair away from his eyes, her hand finding his and linking their fingers together as they rested atop her belly.  “Admit it, though…” Sybil murmured, leaning her head down so her lips could kiss his forehead.  “You’ll miss Isis.”

Tom snorted, but he didn’t answer with a direct “no”, either.  To this, Sybil smiled, her eyes moving across the room to where Isis lay, looking back at them longingly, clearly wanting to once again, join the Bransons in bed.

“Well, I think it’s safe to say that she’ll miss you, darling; not that I can blame her, of course.”

To be continued…

3

HEY EVERYONE! Remember this little series?  Well my good friend gothamgirl28 said she needed some cheering up, and she does love this series, SO THANKS TO HER, here is another drabble :oD

I do try to keep this somewhat “linear”, so you may need to go back and “refresh” your memories to recall all that has happened thus far…

“The Other Branson” a drabble series

(1(2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10)

Sybil took a deep breath, her eyes moving skyward and hoping the good Lord was listening to her right now, before turning the doorknob and entering the Downton library.  "Papa?” she called out, her hands moving behind her back in an innocent gesture as she entered the room.  “May I have a word?”

Robert Crawley was at his desk, as per usual, and didn’t bother to lift his head.  “Of course…” he murmured, his eyes still on the letter before him.  Sybil hoped it was good news, based on what she was about to tell him.

“Papa…you know how Tom and I…have discussed moving out?”

Robert snorted, but didn’t add further comment.  As far as Sybil was concerned, that was a good thing.

A month ago had been the glorious cricket match, when the House Team had won for the first time in ages, thanks in large part to Tom’s participation in the game.  During the weeks that followed, a stranger who didn’t know any better would never have suspected that once upon a time, the Earl of Grantham despised his Irish son-in-law.  It was during this time of “positive feeling” that the Bransons decided to broach the subject of their little family moving out, and into the village.  There was a cottage, between the church and the Grantham Arms, that they thought would be perfect, not to mention it was near a park where Saoirse could play, once she started walking.  And the Bransons longed for their freedom again, though this they did not mention to her parents.  And while Robert huffed and Cora moaned, in the end, the Crawleys (reluctantly) accepted the news, especially since, as Tom had reminded Sybil, they couldn’t very well stop them even if they wanted to.

The positive feeling began to subside then, but with the exception of some sour looks and the occasional “snort”, Robert Crawley didn’t fight the Bransons further on this “ridiculous need to live in a shack”, as he had once muttered to his mother when I thought no one was listening.

However, Sybil had a feeling he would not be so “magnanimous” about this.

“…As you know, Papa, Isis…has become rather…” there was no other way to put this.  “Well…she’s rather become ‘attached’ to us…I mean she follows Tom whenever he walks about the estate, she sleeps in our room, and she adores Saoirse; why, I can’t remember the last time I walked into our room or the nursery and didn’t find her lying beside her crib–”

“No.”

Sybil looked at her father with wide eyes.  “No?”

Robert lifted his head at last.  “I know what you’re trying to ask, but the answer is 'no’.  Isis is my dog, Sybil, and while yes, I will admit she does seem to have a fondness for all of you, she is staying here and that’s that.”

Sybil sighed.  “…Alright.”

Robert lifted his head again, frowning in confusion.  “Alright?"  Apparently he had been expecting an argument.

Sybil simply nodded her head.  "We’ll just have to let Isis decide.”

Robert was still looking confused as his daughter left the library.  What on earth did she mean by that?

He soon found out.  A fortnight later, the Bransons had finally moved into their cottage, and when goodbyes were uttered, Isis made it quite obvious she did not like this arrangement.  She whimpered, she cried, she pawed at the door of the now empty room that the Bransons had kept while staying at Downton.  It was driving Cora mad, and she told Robert, “DO SOMETHING!"  Robert hated to admit it, but it was becoming quite clear that his daughter was right; Isis had truly become (as much as he hated to admit it)…a Branson.

"Man steals my daughter and now takes my dog,” Robert muttered under his breath.

A week after the Bransons had moved out, Robert took Isis to their cottage…and was surprised to be greeted at the door by his son-in-law, who looked very, very tired.  In the background, Saoirse could be heard, screaming her head off.

“Alright,” Robert sighed.  “You win; she won’t go for walks unless it’s to the village because she thinks we’re going to see you.  She hardly eats, and she won’t stop whimpering.”

Tom looked down at the dog, and then closed his eyes and murmured,“thank God."  He turned then and a few seconds later, returned with the screaming child, who immediately ceased her tears when she saw the Labrador.

For the first time in weeks, Isis began to wag her tail in earnest.

"Amazing,” Robert murmured, looking back and forth between his granddaughter and the dog.

“Saoirse hasn’t stopped crying since she saw her,” Tom groaned. 

“You know, this all could have been avoided if you chose to stay,” Robert muttered.

Tom ignored him, which was probably for the best, Robert later mused.  He knew his daughter, and her husband; they were stubborn people…just like him.  And they were determined to live their lives as they wished.  Ah well, at least they were staying in the village.

“I don’t think I’ll have to make the same threat as I made the last time.”

Tom looked up at Robert in confusion.  “Threat?”

Robert nodded, looking back at Isis.  “If you mistreat her–”

“Right, right,” Tom muttered.

That night, both the Bransons and the Crawleys, and especially Isis and Saoirse, had a very pleasant night’s sleep.