"The Uninvited Guest" part 6
(a DA 3x03 rewrite)

"Edith, you need to stop pacing; you’re getting your train dusty!" Sybil tried to reason and keep her sister calm.

"What’s taking them so long?" Edith muttered to her little sister. "Our photograph didn’t take nearly as long as this!"

After Tom had told them that the three Crawley brothers-in-law needed a moment of their own, Edith and her sisters waited outside the church for several long minutes, before Mary muttered how she couldn’t stand the wind for another moment, and slipped inside.  Edith and Sybil couldn’t help but agree with their older sister, and so they too slipped inside, keeping to the very back of the church narthex, away from any prying eyes, so long as they kept quiet.

However, despite Sybil’s best efforts with trying to keep her sister calm and patient, Edith was growing more and more agitated the longer they waited.  It got to the point that Mary muttered that she would go and see if she could find “the boys” to hurry them up with whatever brotherly bonding they felt needed to be done.

"He’s left me…"

Sybil whirled around and stared up at her sister in shock at the words Edith had uttered.  “What!?”

Edith’s lip trembled, her eyes began to fill with tears.  “That’s it, isn’t it?  He’s gone; he’s gone and Tom and Matthew are trying to think of a way to say something without embarrassing me, but…but what’s the point if he’s gone?”

"Oh Edith, no!  No, no, I’m sure it’s nothing like that—"

"Oh Sybil, you weren’t here when all the nonsense started," Edith sniffled.  "Granny and Papa; they tried so hard to discourage the two of us!  They thought him ‘too old’," she shook her head in disgust.  "Grandmama was able to convince Papa otherwise, but you know how easily swayed Papa can be if Granny has the chance to sink her claws into him!"

Sybil closed her eyes and took a deep breath, partially to keep herself calm from this news Edith was telling her about their family’s possible interference with Edith and Sir Anthony’s happiness…and because those aches she had been feeling earlier were starting to become sharper and stronger.

"Sir Anthony loves you," Sybil stated firmly.  "It’s obvious from the way he gazes at you!  I remember how the two of you danced at Mary and Matthew’s wedding," she smiled.  "You both looked so happy!  And I believe you make him feel a great deal younger…as if…well, as if you’ve given him a new vitality on life!"

Edith gasped and stared at her sister in shock and amazement.  “He said something like that to me…” she whispered, recalling how not so long ago, he had leaned down towards her, and murmured in her ear those words that had filled her heart with such joy: “You have given me back my life…”  She thought he was going to kiss her, but oddly, those words were sweeter than any kiss ever could be.  Did Sir Anthony know that he had done the same for her?  After so many years of living in the shadow of her two beautiful, dark-haired sisters, of being considered the eternal spinster time and time again…he had given her hope?  That he had given her back her life too?

Sybil smiled.  “Well there, you see?  Nothing to worry about; I’m sure everything is fine.”

Edith nibbled her bottom lip and tried to take several calming breaths.  At least her brothers were with him and not her father or grandmother.  She loved Matthew and Tom; she loved her sisters too, very much (yes, even Mary), but she loved having brothers at last, and both Matthew and Tom were everything she could have ever hoped for in loving, supportive brothers.  If Sir Anthony was having doubts as a result of her father’s and grandmother’s bullying, she knew that Matthew and Tom would set things right.  Or at the very least, they would do what they could to look out for her.

Her attentions were pulled back to her sister who let out a little hiss.  Sybil was rubbing her lower back with one hand, while the other leaned against the wall. 

"Sybil?" Edith asked, concern in her voice.  "Are you alright?"

Sybil forced a smile and nodded.  “I’m fine, just…my lower back; it’s all this standing,” she explained, trying to make light of the pain she was feeling, but Edith wasn’t buying it. 

"Perhaps you should go and sit down?"

"Oh I will, soon; when Mary gets back with word, I’ll do just that, I promise," Sybil reassured, still trying to look calm and collected for her sister.

Edith still wasn’t convinced, but before she could say another word, the very sister to whom Sybil had mentioned appeared, gasping as if she had been running, but looking happy and relieved.  “They’re coming,” she reassured.

Edith gasped and reached out to take Mary’s hand.  “All of them?”

"Of course!" Mary smiled.  If her older sister had been worried as Edith had been earlier, she didn’t show it.  "They were all laughing when I found them; muttering something about ‘being mad because they have married Crawley girls’," she rolled her eyes, but both Sybil and Edith shared in her laughter.

Edith blushed and looked down at the flowers in her hands.  “Well…almost married, in my case…” she murmured.

Just then their father appeared, looking irritated about how late things were running, but rather relieved as well.  “Alright, whatever that was about, apparently it’s all settled,” he muttered, before turning to his daughters and smiling.  “Edith my dear,” he said, offering his arm to his middle daughter.  “It’s time…”

To Be Continued…

(click here to read part one, part two, part three, part four, part five)