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The year is 1916 and the war is raging throughout Europe, leaving the men fighting for their lives and the women manning the home front. The war has touched Downton deeply and now the Crawley family and their servants are feeling the ramifications. The days of frolicking in the sun and living the life of luxury are over and hardships and turmoil are affecting each and every one of them. Come along and join in – there are main characters still free and plenty of others too. We’re happy to let you fill in the story so far but we’re now running an AU of Series 2. Enjoy!
FIRST FORUM DRABBLE CHALLENGE!
Member No.: 12
Joined: 17-March 11
Sybil/Ethel – “Stay away from him!”
She heard her first.
“Has Mr Branson worked ‘ere long?” she’d heard her ask, her tone dripping with a deeper meaning. Lady Sybil had listened as one of the maids answered Ethel’s question.
“I think Mr Branson’s right clever, he knows about everythin’!”
Sybil’s heart had pounded a little as she watched the new maid walk along the corridor, piles of sheets stacked in her arms, laughing and chatting merrily to Lily about Tom Branson – her Tom Branson. She felt a stab of jealousy that this pretty new maid could spend time in Tom’s company, that she was allowed to talk to him at breakfast, at dinner or whenever she chose.
She saw it next.
Gazing out of her bedroom window she saw the car parked below, Branson stood at the bonnet, polishing some imaginary scuff.
She saw the red haired maid approach with a smile and hand him some papers, she saw him smile back. She saw how Ethel lingered longer than necessary, how she said something to him and laughed at his response. She saw that glow.
Sybil’s fist tightened into a ball and she swept her fist along her dressing table, sending her lotions and perfumes scattering.
It happened again.
She watched at Ethel stood at his side near the garage, saw how he idly chatted with her, saw how she offered him a doe-eyed look and rested her hand upon his arm.
It was becoming more than she could bear.
Sybil knew the maids would be making the beds, knew that this new, up-start maid would be there and she was determined to know her rival. Approaching her own bedroom, she heard the low voices of the maids as they worked, she heard her blunt, northern accent above all the others.
“Don’t yer think ‘e looks fine in ‘is uniform?” she was saying. “I think a man looks nothin’ wi’out a uniform! And I reckon he likes me, he said ‘e liked my hair and I told him he was a cheeky man for even looking at me like that, but he does look at me…have you noticed how ‘e looks at me? I think ‘e’s lovely, ‘is accent makes me go all weak….I like an Irish accent...don’t you like ‘is accent? And he can drive….always a good sign, shows ‘e’s clever….”
“Stop going on about him, Ethel!” Anna’s annoyed voice replied. “You need to calm down, yer’ll be in trouble before the month’s out!”
“Does ‘e ‘ave anyone special?” Ethel asked, completely ignoring Anna’s tone.
That was it, she could take no more. How dare she talk about him in this forward, wanton way?
Stalking into the room, her head held high, Sybil faced her rival full on.
“Yes he does!” she exclaimed. “He has me, he’s mine! SO STAY AWAY FROM HIM!”
Satisfied by Ethel and Anna’s stunned faces, Sybil straightened out her dress and marched back out of the room. Tom Branson was hers and no-one; no-one would take him from her.
Next: Molesley/O’Brien – Fatal Attraction
Member No.: 3
Joined: 16-March 11
Oh dude, best prompt ever. I wanted to write something funny but I'm afraid it's a bit angsty.
O'Brien/Molesley, fatal attraction.
Mr Joseph Molesley, to Sarah’s mind, looked the sort of man who would go down without too much of a fight – in her opinion Mr Pamuk hadn’t looked much healthier to begin with – but somehow he was one of the few men left who wasn’t limping, armless, deaf, mute or half-mad with shell shock. And so when Crawley House had been overtaken with soldiers and their skeleton staff forced to move to the big house with Mrs Crawley, Sarah had made up her mind that Molesley, whilst far from the man of a girl’s dreams, would do for the time being. Besides, Thomas was gone and she could do with someone to talk to.
He came to her room, after two bloody weeks of cajoling him – honestly, some bleedin’ people really did have some daft ideas about propriety – and Sarah had to admit, it had been far from a disappointment. Could have been better of course but she was yet to meet the man that couldn’t stand a bit of improvement somewhere. Molesley would do.
Three months passed and Sarah, for the first time in a good long while, allowed herself to thaw slightly. Only slightly mind and only thaw at any rate. She wasn’t about to go and fall in love with him after all. He, on the other hand and much to Sarah’s chagrin, seemed to have different ideas and being a bit of a romantic, had tried to propose marriage several times before being soundly told to shut up talking nonsense and kiss her.
She knows that she’s his second choice and it doesn’t really bother her, in fact, she finds it quite funny that the sainted Anna has tied herself down with Bates, and the whispers about an ex-wife lurking in the background reached Sarah’s ears before they did anyone else’s, when the Head Housemaid might have had Molesley. He certainly wasn’t bloody perfect but at least he was straightforward and Sarah like that quality in a man. It helped her too that Molesley seemed to feel a bit guilty over ever looking at Anna and over-compensated, she’d never been bought so much chocolate in her life and if she didn’t have soldiers to pass it onto she’d be fat as Patmore by now.
It’s not just the chocolate though. There were many things he gave her that Sarah tried not to think about too much: he calmed her temper, made her think a bit clearer. Things seemed a bit more straightforward and less bleak when he looked at her sometimes and it was a feeling she enjoyed, not being above admitting it was due to him. She didn’t love him though.
He goes when conscription comes in – he’s just, justbloody young enough to have to go and she can’t help but think it’s somehow his own daft fault that he wasn’t born nine months earlier and she hates Anna more than she ever did because Bates gets to stay behind and it's not fucking fair! She knew what would happen before it does and one measly bleedin’ month before armistice is declared he gets killed. Mrs Crawley has to be the one to tell her because she wasn’t his wife and no one thought it worth telling anyone but wives that their men were dead.
To begin with she tells herself it’ll be easy because she didn’t love him, but damn him, the treacherous bugger had gone and wheedled his way in and it was killing her now.
Next prompt: Cora and Mrs Hughes, "We'll need to make some cutbacks m'lady."
Member No.: 48
Joined: 7-April 11
Cora and Mrs. Hughes - We'll need to make some cutbacks
Cora Crawley, sixth Countess of Grantham, was knitting stockings.
Heaven help her, but there she was, doing her best to aid the war effort with what minimal skills she possessed, and growing increasingly exasperated with her constant need to unravel the pitiful attempts and cut away the knotted and ruined threads.
How utterly wasteful, she rebuked herself. And in a time where we really can’t afford to waste anything, she added, thinking back to the conversation with her housekeeper earlier that morning.
“We’ll need to make some cutbacks, m’lady.”
“Cutbacks?” Cora had asked, alarmed. “We’re already rationing meat, sugar, dairy…what more could there possibly be?”
Mrs. Hughes offered a small and weak smile.
Cora tried to contain the slight twinge of bitterness at the recollection. Her home requisitioned as a convalescence hospital, wounded soldiers filtering in and out, recuperating, recovering, and sometimes dying; yet even without that, which she really did not begrudge, Cora still felt she had sacrificed quite enough already to the dreadful chaos consuming the globe.
She snipped at another frayed thread of yarn.
Mary, pining after a love who threw himself head first into the duty and honor of the front, hopeless enough to engage herself to an unscrupulous and much older businessman.
Edith, hardly ever at home these days, running around the estate and its environs in a desperate attempt to fill the vacancy left by hundreds of young men, no time to find the love and companionship she secretly yearned for.
Sybil, in turns filled with elation at her newfound career in nursing and despair at the images of horror it wrought, spouting political ideology that sounded more and more like their radical chauffeur’s every day.
Her own husband, distracted over his commission to home and headquarters, more concerned with what he is not doing than what he is doing, abdicating responsibility and worry of family affairs onto Cora’s weary shoulders.
Cora sighed loudly, and her inattention to the scissors resulted in a slight nick on her palm and a sharp wince of pain.
“Are you allright, m’lady?” O’Brien cried, rushing towards her.
“Look at you! You’re bleeding!” O’Brien didn’t ask permission before forcefully removing the knitting needles form Cora’s hands. “We can finish that up later. Here, let me wrap your hand in this towel.”
Dear O’Brien. Always so protective, Cora thought warmly, happy that there was at least one thing the carnage of worldwide conflict had not been able to cut away.
I was inspired by some of the press pack info about Cora and O'Brien.
Next: Edith and Sybil - learning to drive
Member No.: 2
Joined: 15-March 11
Edith and Sybil - learning to drive
They’re just driving lessons, she reasons, and she’s busy saving people’s lives, but it’s the first time she’s truly jealous of Edith.
Sybil’s days are full of death, of pain, of the hopelessness that comes with war, but Edith spends her days with him. Oh, it’s entirely innocent of course. Edith would never lower herself to flirt with the help – she and Mary have that in common at least, if nothing else – and Sybil tells herself that she shouldn’t either, because Papa would be awfully disappointed. But Papa isn’t here and Mama’s practically a ghost, and the way Tom Branson smiles at her...she shouldn’t even care if he was a mudlark. At least he would be her mudlark!
But it’s Edith he sits beside, day after day, with his hand on hers and their bodies shuffled close.
They’re just driving lessons. But they’d be so much more to her.
Prompt: Carson, O'Brien, "those left behind"
"I know that I've done you wrong, but you're hard to please.
When your faith is gone, and when you can't believe...
I'm on my hands and knees."
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