Twelve leaves from a budding love-tree – Second letter


Sybil/Tom Secret Valentine Exchange : my present to obessivewritingdisorder after her prompt: “a series of love letters between Tom and Sybil”.Find part 1 hereTwelve leaves from a budding love-treePart 2: Second letterAs soon as she saw the envelope, she knew whom the mail she had just received came from. Not because of the postmark revealing it had been posted in Downton – half the people she knew and who would correspond with her lived in Downton. Not because she recognised the handwriting – it was one she did not remember having ever seen before.No. It was because of the way she was referred to in the heading. The mail was not addressed to Lady Sybil Crawley. Instead, it read:"Nurse Crawley York Hospital – Nursing school York, North Yorkshire” Downton, 24th December 1916 Milady, Be sure that I believe you when you say you didn’t mean to hurt me. I know there is nothing in you that would want to hurt anyone, you are far too kind-hearted for that. Please ease your mind and soul about that.Since the day I dropped you in York, I’ve been worried you wouldn’t want to talk to me ever again, apart from ordering a car ride. Your letter came then as some sort of a soothing relief. I assure you I did not want to upset you, to disturb you. I am sorry I did, though.I presume I’m also supposed to tell you I regret telling you what I did that day, to apologise and to say I am sorry I did. But it would be a lie.I can’t get myself to regret any word I said back then, and the more I think about it, the more I know I would repeat those all over again. I’ve been hiding this from you for too long, been hiding how I feel and keeping it sealed inside me far too much and for far too long. I just had to tell you.And probably the time was not right, or maybe there would never have been any right time for that, maybe you would have preferred me to never tell you, to keep the facade of the obedient emotionless servant and never say anything… But I did. And now you know. And I can’t unsay it. I wouldn’t want to, anyway. In fact, and to be totally honest, I’ve never been prouder of anything in my life than I am of finally finding the courage to talk to you.The only thing there is to regret is that it made you upset, and I’m sorry about that. Only about that. As for the rest, I won’t take back what I said. I will even repeat it here: you’re different from the others, you know we are all equal; I believe you are able to grasp the kind of life you would really want to live, and the changing times happening right now will place it within your reach, if only you are brave enough to dare jump a bit and seize it. And I trust you are.You have already begun to reach to it, come to think of it: you are not only learning how to devote your time to tend to wounded soldiers, you are indeed learning to work: and that is a whole new world opening up to you. You could have a job, a profession and not just an occupation, something to feel proud of, just like your cousin Mr Crawley. I trust you.Maybe your family would not approve of your choices, but I am sure they love you far too much to fall out with you, at least not for long, even if they disagree.You may think I’m telling you this to convince you to also accept me, and maybe you are right, after all. But I am certain that you are not going to be happy if you just go on living like you did until now – which was certainly a very happy childhood, but I am sure you don’t want to remain a child forever. And you are too different from your parents to live the same life as theirs, or the one Lady Mary seeks. Don’t read me wrong, I don’t mean any disrespect to Lady Mary, but I just don’t picture you being truly happy as just some sort of “mistress of the manor”. And your happiness is what is most important to me. What matters most. I have no way to prove you that, so I can just pray that you believe me. Please believe me! The only thing I can do is to repeat over and over again that I’m willing to devote my life to your happiness.The offer still stands. It did not escape my notice that you didn’t give any straight answer to it, neither that very day nor in your letter. I’ll wait for it.I understand you need time. I’m willing to wait.I will come fetch you on the day you finish your training – unless His Lordship has any other plan for me by then – and you will find me waiting for you.Yours sincerely, T. BransonPost-Scriptum: I nearly forgot, tonight is Christmas Eve! The first you will spend away from your family. I know how lonely it feels, not being able to be with your beloved ones on that Holy Night. I have spent those last Christmases thinking of a family reunited in a Dubliner flat. I know you will get this letter after Christmas, but still, I wanted to tell you that this year, I will not only be thinking of them, but also of you. I couldn’t help myself, even if I wanted to. I wish you a merry Christmas, Lady Sybil.Fandom: Downton Abbey
Genre : Romance, Humour, Fluff, Angst
Characters: Sybil Crawley, Tom Branson
Synopsis: Sybil/Tom Secret Valentine Exchange : my present to obessivewritingdisorder after her prompt: “a series of love letters between Tom and Sybil” (during the time they kept their courting / relationship secret). Will be a 12-part fic.

.As soon as she saw the envelope, she knew whom the mail she had just received came from. Not because of the postmark revealing it had been posted in Downton – half the people she knew and who would correspond with her lived in Downton. Not because she recognised the handwriting – it was one she did not remember having ever seen before.

No. It was because of the way she was referred to in the heading. The mail was not addressed to Lady Sybil Crawley. Instead, it read:

« Nurse Crawley
York Hospital – Nursing school
York, North Yorkshire”

Downton, 24th December 1916


Milady,


Be sure that I believe you when you say you didn’t mean to hurt me. I know there is nothing in you that would want to hurt anyone, you are far too kind-hearted for that. Please ease your mind and soul about that.

Since the day I dropped you in York, I’ve been worried you wouldn’t want to talk to me ever again, apart from ordering a car ride. Your letter came then as some sort of a soothing relief.

I assure you I did not want to upset you, to disturb you. I am sorry I did, though.

I presume I’m also supposed to tell you I regret telling you what I did that day, to apologise and to say I am sorry I did. But it would be a lie.

I can’t get myself to regret any word I said back then, and the more I think about it, the more I know I would repeat those all over again. I’ve been hiding this from you for too long, been hiding how I feel and keeping it sealed inside me far too much and for far too long. I just had to tell you.

And probably the time was not right, or maybe there would never have been any right time for that, maybe you would have preferred me to never tell you, to keep the facade of the obedient emotionless servant and never say anything…

But I did. And now you know. And I can’t unsay it. I wouldn’t want to, anyway. In fact, and to be totally honest, I’ve never been prouder of anything in my life than I am of finally finding the courage to talk to you.

The only thing there is to regret is that it made you upset, and I’m sorry about that. Only about that. As for the rest, I won’t take back what I said. I will even repeat it here: you’re different from the others, you know we are all equal; I believe you are able to grasp the kind of life you would really want to live, and the changing times happening right now will place it within your reach, if only you are brave enough to dare jump a bit and seize it. And I trust you are.

You have already begun to reach to it, come to think of it: you are not only learning how to devote your time to tend to wounded soldiers, you are indeed learning to work: and that is a whole new world opening up to you. You could have a job, a profession and not just an occupation, something to feel proud of, just like your cousin Mr Crawley. I trust you.

Maybe your family would not approve of your choices, but I am sure they love you far too much to fall out with you, at least not for long, even if they disagree.

You may think I’m telling you this to convince you to also accept me, and maybe you are right, after all. But I am certain that you are not going to be happy if you just go on living like you did until now – which was certainly a very happy childhood, but I am sure you don’t want to remain a child forever. And you are too different from your parents to live the same life as theirs, or the one Lady Mary seeks. Don’t read me wrong, I don’t mean any disrespect to Lady Mary, but I just don’t picture you being truly happy as just some sort of “mistress of the manor”.

 And your happiness is what is most important to me. What matters most. I have no way to prove you that, so I can just pray that you believe me. Please believe me! The only thing I can do is to repeat over and over again that I’m willing to devote my life to your happiness.

The offer still stands. It did not escape my notice that you didn’t give any straight answer to it, neither that very day nor in your letter. I’ll wait for it.

I understand you need time. I’m willing to wait.

I will come fetch you on the day you finish your training – unless His Lordship has any other plan for me by then – and you will find me waiting for you.

Yours sincerely,


T. Branson

Post-Scriptum: I nearly forgot, tonight is Christmas Eve! The first you will spend away from your family. I know how lonely it feels, not being able to be with your beloved ones on that Holy Night. I have spent those last Christmases thinking of a family reunited in a Dubliner flat. I know you will get this letter after Christmas, but still, I wanted to tell you that this year, I will not only be thinking of them, but also of you. I couldn’t help myself, even if I wanted to. I wish you a merry Christmas, Lady Sybil.

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