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All of Us Happy

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"How is she?" Matthew asked when Mary found him outside. He was standing on the lawn, the sun casting a golden glow on him. Mary briefly marveled at his handsome features before coming to stand by his side.

"Not good, I'm afraid," she uttered softly. "She's terribly cut up." Edith hadn't wanted to even look at her and Sybil... Sybil pregnant, Mary probably pregnant...

"And no wonder."

It wasn't often that Mary touched her husband where anyone could see them but she took his hand, needing its weight. "She was so ready to be happy," she said, thinking of the way Edith had seemed to glow in her wedding dress. All of us married... all of us happy.

Poor Edith. It was a sentiment usually spoken with derision by her, whereas the rest of the family said it with pity. This time, however, Mary meant it. She did truly feel sorry for her sister. What happened this afternoon was horrible.

Mary wondered what it might have been like, had she simply held her tongue at the garden party all those years ago. Would any of this have happened? Would Sir Anthony have married her back then, before he injured his arm? Or would this whole mess have occurred anyway?

Either way, it seemed Edith had her heart broken twice by Sir Anthony.

"I know I'm not always very nice to her," said Mary, which she knew was already an understatement— her being kind to Edith was an anomaly— "but I never would have wished this on her."

"Of course you wouldn't." Matthew's hand gripped hers. "You love her, really. You may not always like her or get along with her, but you do love her."

Mary nodded. That was just it. How well he understood her. She let Matthew lead her over to the bench by the tree, grateful that she could sit down and have a moment to themselves under the shade of the tree. The house was likely in uproar as the servants tried to take care of things before Edith came downstairs again... though given the state she was in, Mary doubted it would be any time soon.

When they were seated, Mary didn't move away as Matthew's arm came to hesitantly wrap around her. She had needed to be a pillar of strength earlier after Sybil broke down into tears once Edith turned them away. Sybil didn't cry easily but the poor dear felt these things so dreadfully and being pregnant didn't make it any better. Mary couldn't even bring herself to be angry at Edith for making Sybil cry, knowing that it was her suffering the most.

Mary wasn't suffering. Mary was perfectly happy with her life and though she had felt a sting at being turned away when she was trying to help for once, it was easier for her to understand. Still, she was troubled.

Seeming to sense something was amiss, Matthew asked, "What are you thinking?"

"You do know I was always going to show up to our wedding, didn't you?" For some reason that comment that she uttered at the alter haunted her now. "I wouldn't have left you in the lurch like that."

"I know." Understanding what she was getting at, he added, "I was only teasing you, my darling. I always knew you'd show." He hesitated. "In my defense, there had been talk the night before of calling it off."

Mary sighed. "I didn't mean that. I wasn't teasing you then, I'll grant you that, but I didn't mean it. Not really." She turned to him. "If we'd have called the wedding off that night, I think we still would have married. Maybe it would have taken us several more years, but I think we would have found our way back to one another."

"I do, too." Matthew smiled, that lovely smile she adored so much, the smile that dislodged any negative feelings inside her. "If being married has convinced me of anything, it's that you and I were always meant to be together."

"We are," she said softly. Maybe she hadn't always thought so, especially not at the start, but now she couldn't imagine an existence without Matthew by her side. He was like the other, better half of her soul. She did love him so terribly much... "Besides," Mary said, needing to lighten things after that weighty admission, "I knew I could wear you down on the matter of Mr. Swire's money if it came to it."

"Oh?" He was amused. "And how were you so confident?"

"It's rather simple. I always get my own way."

Matthew laughed, pulling her a bit closer to him. It gave her a thrill, as though they were breaking the rules, even though it was hardly anything improper and they were a married couple. Everything was permitted now and yet it still felt so foreign and new, being so affectionate with one another. "Speaking of that, I already told Robert."

"Have you?"

"I know we said we would wait until after Edith..." he trailed off, not needing to say anything more, "but I thought the rest of the family could do with some cheering up. Your father certainly did. He wants to tell everyone later at dinner."

Mary nodded, approving wholeheartedly. "And I take it he's pleased?"

"It took a bit of persuading, actually," said Matthew. "He said he wouldn't accept it unless I agreed to be co-owner of the estate."

Her mouth fell open. "Did he really? Did you accept?"

"Since it was the only way to save Downton and spare me from your wrath, I most certainly did." He was grinning, eyes twinkling mirthfully.

"Oh, my darling!" In an uncharacteristic display of her affection, Mary pressed a swift kiss to her cheek. Matthew let out a laugh as Mary said, "How wonderful for you!"

"I don't think there will be much celebrating tonight," said Matthew, though he seemed pleased by her overjoyed reaction. "But I do hope it brightens things up." A slow smile. "Unless..."

"Unless what?"

"Unless you would like to celebrate later, just us two?"

Mary smiled back at him. She liked to tease him often, asking if that was the only thing on his mind, though she knew she was often just as bad. "Certainly. As an owner of the estate now, it's in your best interests to do your duty to Downton and provide it with its heir." That is, if they didn't have their heir already... Mary probably pregnant. There had been no signs yet but it was still early days, so she was trying not to worry.

"Perhaps," admitted Matthew, "but I've never been a creature of duty. I only ever do these things because I want to." Mary resisted the urge to shiver. "And I very much want to."

"You'll make me blush," she said, but she loved knowing that Matthew wanted her. It was something she never took for granted. Figuring there was no harm in celebrating this accomplishment now, Mary leaned forward again to capture his lips in a kiss.

It was easy, to forget the misery of the day, when you were with someone you loved so very much.

Perhaps it was silly but Sybil kept finding herself breaking down into tears. She didn't cry easily, not normally, but these pregnancy hormones were making it hard to restrain herself.

No matter how many times she wept, Tom still hadn't grown used to the sight of it. No matter if it was over something reasonable like the stress of trying to figure out where they would put a baby in their small Dublin flat or as trivial as spilling a drop of tea onto the tablecloth, he still dropped everything to try and soothe her, which was precisely what he was doing now.

"She was just so unhappy," she told him, her mouth moving against the material of his shirt. They were laying in bed together, his arms wrapped around her and tears leaking from her eyes. She had been in the middle of changing when she suddenly remembered the tormented, tortured look on Edith's face and burst into tears for the second time that day. "I just wanted to help her."

"She's not angry with you, darlin'."

Sybil shook her head. "You didn't see her. She— She ordered Mary and I out. Because we're both married... because of the baby." She blinked. "I'm not upset with her. I know it must be hard— but how are we supposed to face her?"

She felt his lips descend to the top of her head. "I'm sure that by tomorrow Edith will feel plenty of remorse for throwing you out. It wasn't personal... it's only because she's so hurt right now."

Sybil nodded. She hadn't been able to believe it when Sir Anthony said, "I can't do this." It seemed like some horrid, cruel joke... but it had happened. He ran away and left Edith behind, humiliated and miserable.

It wasn't fair to her. Edith had never been lucky in love. Today had seemed like the end of that; no more would she read letters from Downton and turn to Tom with a frown and recite the family mantra of, Poor Edith when she detected the faint strains of jealousy at Mary and Matthew's wedding preparations or being ignored by the gentlemen invited over for dinners.

Sybil didn't understand it. Maybe she was simply biased as Edith's sister, but she couldn't comprehend why things had never panned out. After all, she was incredibly clever and helpful, always eager to be of use during the war. Sybil may have been able to sterilize wounds and empty bedpans but Edith was the one able to raise the soldier's spirits by playing the piano for them and fetching the right book. She was pretty as well; she knew Mary was praised as the family beauty but Sybil remembered always being envious of Edith's hair when she was younger, wishing she had hair in that same shade.

"He's a bastard."

Tom's pronouncement took Sybil out of her melancholy thoughts. A laugh escaped her without volition and she clapped a hand to her mouth as she sat up to meet his eye. "Tom!" She exclaimed, aiming for something scolding but unable to manage it. After crying on and off all day, it felt good to finally laugh.

Her husband grinned. "Sorry," he said, not sounding particularly apologetic, "but I've been thinking it all afternoon and it just came out now."

"I suppose he rather behaved like one, didn't he?" Sybil agreed. Truthfully she hasn't spared many thoughts for Sir Anthony, too concerned with Edith and her woe. "But I don't think he intended to hurt her." He kept on about not wanting her to throw away her life or wasting her youth on him. It was, to Sybil's estimation, a feeble excuse, but he had truly looked pained.

"Yes, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

"I don't think he'll go to Hell for it," Sybil said, glancing up at him through her eyelashes.

Before marrying Tom, she'd never given much thought to her own theological beliefs. She mainly went through the motions of church and traditions. She believed in God, of course, and usually said prayers for those dearest to her; she even remembered praying for Tom to be spared when he'd been called up to the Front. However, it wasn't until after moving to Ireland she had confronted her own thoughts head-on, especially when she realized there were certain areas where her beliefs did not wholly align with her husband's. They'd married in a Catholic church with the ceremony required because it was more important to him than to her, and their baby would be Catholic as well; nevertheless, Sybil didn't intend upon converting, despite her near weekly attendance to the church they married in. Sybil couldn't possibly see how one way was better than another, as long as one loved God, so denomination mattered little to her.

Tom wasn't bothered by her seeming antipathy to it all; in fact, he rather enjoyed talking to her about it all and having rousing conversations and debates. It was like the early days of their friendship, sneaking down to the garage in order to discuss the suffragettes, only now they were side by side in their bed or on opposite ends of the kitchen table. It wasn't until marrying him that Sybil realized how long she truly had been in love with him.

"Well, I don't, either. It's not up to me to judge so I'm not going to make any guesses," said Tom. "I'm just saying that it was a cowardly move, waiting until the last moment. He could have told her at any other time and spared her the humiliation."

Sybil nodded, laying her head back down on her chest. She wouldn't deny that. Today, more than ever, had reaffirmed her long held suspicions she was among the luckiest of women (and certainly the luckiest of her sisters) when it came to love. She wouldn't go so far as to claim their life or romance hadn't some issues along the way, but she never once had cause to doubt Tom's love or willingness to be with her.

She knew some of Anthony's concerns had been stoked by her family. Edith mentioned in one of her letters how Papa had bullied Anthony into pausing their courtship only a few months ago and Granny had encouraged her to let him flee the church. Sybil wasn't about to say withstanding such efforts was easy by any means and she was all the more proud of herself and Tom to not caving to them.

How unfair it was, that Sybil had someone to hold her and comfort her, when Edith had no one. Mama could try to help but it wasn't as if she could empathize... Mary, maybe, considering Matthew's engagement to Lavinia, but Edith didn't want to see her, either.

And Sybil... well, she was lucky enough not to know anything of heartbreak.

Sybil maneuvered herself so she could face Tom. "I'm so glad I have you," she told him truthfully. She wasn't sure if he knew just how much she loved him; with the environment she had grown up in, speaking her feelings and being honest about affection didn't always come easily. She had made an effort, though, to always be honest with him.

The smile she was rewarded with warmed her heart. Tom kissed the top of her head again. "And I'm glad I have you. So, so glad."

The chimes of the grandfather clock told Edith it was half past eleven. She rolled over onto her side. Even though she felt exhausted, she still hadn't been able to sleep. The scene kept replaying itself over and over again in her head. The organ playing the wedding march, her arm linked with her father's, Mr. Travis, Anthony, I can't do it, I can't let you throw away your life, let him go, Edith...

She wondered what it was about her that made her repel men. Edith knew that she wasn't considered to be as beautiful as Mary or Sybil but she knew she had other merits that would make her attractive to the opposite sex. She thought Sir Anthony had seen them; obviously she had been mistaken.

He talked about her not wanting to waste her life, about not wanting her to take care of him. She knew everyone thought he was too old for her but shouldn't that have been her choice to make? And it wasn't as if there was anyone else. During the war, countless officers were in and out of the house and none of them had spared her a second look, at least not in that way.

She wanted to hate him, for putting her through it, for making her get her hopes up. Edith had been so confident that this was it, that she would finally be happy, just Sybil and Mary were with Tom and Matthew... only to have to start over.

But she couldn't hate him. There was no anger in her now; maybe at first, but she had directed that at Mary and Sybil instead of Anthony. When she had seen them, she was reminded of everything she wouldn't have and had lashed out in her grief. Instead, what she felt was a deep, gaping sadness. It had always been her greatest fear to end up as the daughter stuck at home to care for Mama and Papa in their old age, that she would be the maiden aunt, a childless spinster... and now that fear seemed like it was destined to be reality.

Too tired to even cry, Edith buried her face into her pillow. Somewhere in this house, her sisters were with their husbands— maybe a little letdown and feeling sorry for her, but otherwise blissfully happy.

And she would be alone.