Our Beautiful Fantastic
An Unremarkable Cottage
Her cottage was small and tidy, nestled between two larger Georgian style homes and tucked away in some nameless London suburb where flora and fauna thrived and everything seemed possible.
Sybil Crawley, and all that concerned her, had somehow cultivated an inherent neatness ever since she was a little girl. Her obsession with order ranged from the way her billowing shirts were meticulously ironed, to how she insisted upon serving her food...always pickled and presented in strict rows and never ever ever touching the plates edges.
Many of the children she had grown up with (Larry Grey, for instance) had once teased her mercilessly for her quirky eccentricities. However, Sybil had always been rather upbeat and accepting of herself and of what her mother oftentimes referred to affectionately as her many 'Sybil-isms'.
All in all, there were only three things about Sybil that remained eternally wild.
These three exceptions went against her greatest efforts for order; her untameable shoulder length curls, her horrendously overgrown garden and her vivid imagination.
Sybil was going to write and illustrate a book one day. She was determined of it!
"Today, I'm going to make a difference", the twenty six year old brunette said determinedly, eyeing herself in the mirror of the vanity opposite her bed.
It had been her daily mantra since, well...since forever.
Outside Sybil's small and unremarkable cottage was an equally unremarkable English morning.
The clouds were grey and the streets were doused in a greasy layer of rainwater, it was the perfect weather for writing. She could almost hear the comforting 'clickity-click' of her old Remington typewriter.
Sybil rose, as she always did, at precisely two and half minutes past eight.
Momentarily (for she could never look at it for much longer), Sybil glanced through the pristine lace curtains of her bedroom window to the disaster that had become her back garden.
Her rosy complexion drained at the sight.
Had those filthy weeds and nettles always been growing THAT close to the otherwise spotless window pane all this time!
Even though Sybil knew deep down that her reaction was melodramatic and more than a little bit silly, her heart picked up it's pace at the thought of those ghastly brambles growing closer and closer to her while she lay asleep in bed-completely oblivious to their ongoing invasion.
Her palms grew sweaty...'Horrid things.'
It was the picture of nature's personal anarchy, as though Sybil had let grow her very own Dante-esque hell surrounding her home.
The knee high grass, the ferocious armies of brown prickly briars, the muddy earth and the wild flowers that seemed to crack through the old concrete veranda in the most inopportune of places.
The plants' faces stretched up in search of whatever dregs of sunlight they could scavenge.
The sight reminded Sybil of the untameable wilderness that had surrounded Rapunzel's tower in the fairy-tales that her older sister Mary had read to her every night when she was little...it had been one of the very few stories that she had never warmed to growing up.
The thought of all that wilderness and all that chaos had never failed to fill her with dread.
Sybil didn't know where it came from-her fear that is. The bizarre phobia had always been an integral part of her. (It could probably be classified as another of her many Sybil-isms.)
Ever since she could remember, Sybil had always had a paralysing fear of flora and fauna.
Even looking at them made her blood run cold.
Their knife-like briars and too perfect petals brought her back to a memory that she couldn't quite grasp at anymore. It's undefined edges had a certain hazy quality, like an old film that had been badly damaged. It's contents were always just beyond her reach.
Sybil knew it had something to do with the grounds at Downton (that was one of the many reasons why she didn't go there anymore).
Irritably, the aspiring writer forced her thoughts to change direction and instead purposefully decided to focus on getting ready for work.
After all, that memory-whatever it was- was something that she would rather not dwell upon anyway.
Yes, I know I shouldn't be starting ANOTHER multichapter before I have finished my other one but I couldn't resist.
This is based off of 'This Beautiful Fantastic', it's a really lovely film starring Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Wilkinson, Andrew Scott and Jeremy Irvine. I would definitely recommend it!
Let me know what you think and if you want me to continue this or just focus on my Victorian AU 'I'll Be Out There Somewhere'. I may have to alternate between working on them, so let me know what you think.
Anyways, I hope you all had a lovely weekend and I hope you have a great week.
Our Beautiful Fantastic: Chapter 1
An Unremarkable Street
With a wide rimmed Joycean style boater, billowing culottes and a pair of pastel coloured ballet flats; Sybil Crawley began locking up her house, stepping out on to the street outside it.
She glanced over her shoulder to the kitchen window of the house belonging to her next door neighbour. As was usual when she looked at the old Georgian house, a curious feeling that someone was watching her through the old fashioned old net curtains suddenly overcame her.
But Sybil quickly shook it off as just being the disapproving eyes of her cantankerous neighbour. Although they had never officially met in person (and not for a lack of trying on Sybil's part who had genuinely tried to make his acquaintance two years ago when she first moved in), she had always had a distinct feeling that the older gentleman who lived beside her didn't like her very much.
(Mr Carson, she believed his name was)
Carefully she checked and doubled checked the security of her locked door, as cautious as cautious could be. She check the door handle...one, twice three times. Good. She checked the small panes of glass just to make sure they were sturdy...one, twice, three times. Good.
Three times, that was the charm.
Sybil hoisted her leather messenger bag up on to her shoulder (it had been a gift from her eldest sister back in the days when she was going to become a journalist rather than a writer ), before taking off down the street to where she caught the number 49 every morning to 'Mrs Hughes Emporium for Borrowing Books'.
She worked there...for the time being anyway while she was working on her new story ideas.
Sybil slipped on a pair of earphones, settling into her seat on the bus. It was the same one she had sat in everyday for the past two years...three rows back and beside the window. Rather then to give her the full view of everything as she passed it by, she chose her own specific seat becuase it made it all the easier to look outside and daydream...
Three was the charm.
Contentedly she listened, not to music as most would expect when spotting a young woman with ear phones in, but to the radio...the Irish radio to be exact.
An Nuacht Anois le Raidió na Gaeltachta.
It was surprisingly soothing to listen to.
The logical part of Sybil knew there wasn't much point in learning Irish. It was, after all, a scarcely used language in everyday life outside of a few small areas along the west coast of Ireland. However, for some reason beyond her she'd always found something rather appealing and beautiful about it, as though it were something Sybil had always been meant to learn.
After about fifteen minutes or so, the bus rolled to a halt across the road from Mrs Hughes's Library. Sybil got up from her seat, smiled her sincere thanks to the bus driver (a man about her own age by the name of William Mason) and made her way, across the street, to where she knew the displeased frown of her employer would be waiting.
She was exactly seven and a half minutes late, just like she always was.
An Unremarkable Library
"I'm ever so sorry, Mrs Hughes."
Elsie Hughes sighed deeply, more than accustomed to the tardiness of her young employee.
"If you truly were sorry then you wouldn't be late every day, would you Sybil?", she retorted in response, but there was no malice in her voice. After all, Sybil had been more than proved herself an asset for the business...especially considering how good she was when catering for the younger customers and their parents.
"Just do get a move on, will you."
Sybil flushed slightly, joining the older lady behind the counter and began sorting the children's books. "Of course, Mrs Hughes. I'm sorry."
"A letter came for you by the way, dear."
Mrs Hughes handed Sybil over quite an official looking envelope with a concerned frown. Annoyed as she may be with her behaviour from time to time, they were quite fond of one another. Theirs was a friendship that had already spanned years.
Without any further ado, Sybil tore off the crisp white envelope to reveal the thick parchment of the letter inside...a letter from her landlord apparently.
We regret to inform you that several complaints have been made in relation to the continuity of your tenancy. It has come to our attention that the property's surrounding gardens have not been sufficiently attended to during the course of the last two years. This is a direct breach of your lease agreement.
If the situation is not rectified by the end of the month, we shall have no choice but to serve you with your notice for eviction.
Carter and Co.
Glancing up at Mrs Hughes, Sybil's face went deathly pale.
She couldn't help but think with dread of the tangled thickets of thorns, the dishevelled flower beds, the wiry lawns and the knotted boughs of the ragged hawthorns with their branches drooping dankly.
What on earth was she going to do!
Our Beautiful Fantastic: Chapter 2
An Unremarkable House
It is often said that when a gardener begins breathing life into the landscape of his or her own garden, they are giving shape to their Garden of Eden—a vision of their individual slice of heaven.
For Charlie Carson, the garden that he and Alice had spent the earliest years of their marriage designing, reworking and perfecting was, in short, his own small haven.
Whenever the changeable English weather permitted, he made a point of breakfasting out in the air, surrounded by his beloved greenery and blossoms. They were the only living reminders he had of his late wife, their colourful hues acting as tangible proof that the twenty years that they had been together had not been a dream. It was soothing, sitting there amongst the geraniums, fuchsias, heliotropes, chrysanthemums, dahlias, Michaelmas daisies and lumps of lavender. He sipped on his morning tea upon the spongy lawn.
If only Branson would bloody well hurry up and serve breakfast then Charles Carson's morning would have been perfect! Was some bacon, sausages, eggs and black pudding really too much to ask for!
Carson sighed heavily, frustratedly. To distract himself from the behaviour of his young Irish chief, he found his eyes drawn to the anarchy in the garden (if such a disaster still deserved to be called such a thing) at the other side of his fence.
If there was one thing that annoyed Carson more than Branson's tardiness, it was the heedless young woman with the silly hats who lived next door...Sybil Crawley, he knew her name was.
A large apple tree stood at the "garden's" centre, it's bark was unhealthy looking and teeming with some sort of creeping mildew. The tree bore apples, of a sort, for some even had a pinkish blush, but they were otherwise covered in brown spots...and thus, inedible.
The sight made Carson shudder dramatically at the carelessness of the young lady who occupied the house next to his. Who did she think she was, neglecting the gifts of nature in such an abhorrent and ungrateful way?
Just then a plate of food was settled in front of him; two perfectly crispy slices of bacon, a grilled tomato, a piece of toast and a poached egg. Carson inspected the food critically for a moment before frowning up at the already exasperated younger man, regarding him without even a single word of thanks.
Wordlessly, Carson's large bushy eyebrows came together as he fixed Tom Branson with an unamused frown.
"Well, what's wrong with it?", Tom asked, barely suppressing an eye roll at the antics of the cankerous older man.
As he did several times a day, Tom found himself wondering why he didn't just quite his job working as Old Charlie Carson skivvy but the thought of his two little girls who had only just started school quickly put things in back perspective again.
He sighed deeply, just about managing to reign back in what his mother had always called 'the Branson temper'.
"It's the feckin' pudding, isn't it?", Tom asked flatly.
Despite the curmudgeonly older man's behaviour, Tom truly did give a damn about his employer's welfare...even if it was unlikely that the feeling was mutual.
"For God's sake, Mr Carson. Remember what the doctor said about your diet! I'm not walking out here with Siobhan and Niamh some morning to see you doubled over with a heart attack!"
Carson smiled briefly, and rather uncharacteristically, at the mention of the twins.
He totally ignored Tom's protests about his food choices. After all, having a say on his lifestyle choices hadn't been part of the job description. The deal was that he, Carson, told Tom what he wanted and he expected his wishes to be honoured regardless of the younger man's opinions.
He wordlessly, and rather petulantly, handed Tom back the plate for his breakfast to be rectified.
"How are the girls?", Carson asked, changing the subject. "I hope they're getting on well at school."
Tom couldn't help but smile slightly. Carson's affection for Niamh and Siobhan was one of the very few things that convinced Tom that the older man had a heart at all!
So he took the plate from Carson, opting to seek out black pudding with a reduced fat content the next time he got lumped with doing the grocery shopping on his evening off.
The girls would have fun helping him with that. Kids, after all, seemed to turn even the most mundane of things into an adventure.
"Aye, that they are."
A/N: Hiya guys! I hope you are all good today. Thank you all so much for your support on the last chapter. I would really really love to hear what you thought of this one!
I hope you all have a great day!
Our Beautiful Fantastic: Chapter 3
An Unremarkable House
In her opinion, Charlie Carson looked a great deal more smug that he ought to.
Elsie Hughes flushed angrily, folding both of her arms over her chest in disapproval. She glared openly and unabashedly at the heavy eyebrowed gentleman sitting opposite her.
The Scots woman's temper was like TNT, once the sparks started to sizzle there was very little time to duck and cover.
She did her best not dwell upon how there had once been a time when she had considered him a dear friend. However, somewhere along the way—especially since Alice's death—Charlie Carson had become someone Mrs Hughes no longer recognised.
He had become grumpy and cantankerous, totally lacking the warmth and humility that she knew her childhood best friend had fallen in love with him for.
She sighed deeply in frustration.
How could Charlie Carson, the man whom she'd known for decades be so inconsiderate? He may be an impossible man from time to time, but she knew him not to be a cruel or compassionless one. Mrs Hughes was disappointed in him...and she knew Alice would be too if she were still with them.
"That poor girl. You should be ashamed of yourself!", she accused, her Scottish brogue thickening.
While Sybil Crawley was not in anyway related to her by blood, Mrs Hughes still felt a strong urge to defend the interests of the younger woman whom she had been a steadfast friend and defender of since her own days up in Yorkshire.
Despite the years that had gone by, a part of Mrs Hughes still saw Sybil Crawley as the kind and bright eyed child, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a penchant for mischief. Even now, she fondly recalled how Sybil would oftentimes sneak down to the kitchens to avoid the daily tirades of her and her sisters' nanny.
Those were the days before Mrs Hughes had left her post as the house keeper of Downton Abbey—the Crawley family's ancestral home. It had been around the same time that Alice had been diagnosed with cancer.
In the years that followed, Mrs Hughes hadn't seen sight nor hide of any member of The Crawley household until Sybil, once again, crossed her path. This time the girl, or rather woman, was looking for a job to support her while she pursued a career that her rather conservative family had deemed quite unsuitable and rather 'unorthodox'.
The Crawleys were a upstanding brood of solicitors, politicians and charity directors. They didn't pursue things so fanciful as art, novel writing or poetry.
Mrs Hughes continued on in Sybil's defence, undeterred by Carson's evident disinterest and indifference."We both know damn well who was behind that blasted solicitor's letter. There'll be no fooling me, Mr Carson. I'll tell you that. "
Unmoved, Carson shrugged nonchalantly. He was a proud and pig-headed man, Mrs Hughes had always known that, but this was another level of self assured stubbornness.
He stared at her unblinkingly, his lips slightly pursed.
"It's not I who should be ashamed, Mrs Hughes. Her garden is a crime against nature", he said decidedly, as though such a statement, delivered with such conviction, was sufficient to render the matter settled. "Silly girl", he mumbled gruffly, almost bitterly to himself.
Mrs Hughes frowned, her voice going quieter but not losing any measure at all of its original steel. In her eyes was a scarcely masked melancholy. "This isn't you, Charlie. We both know that."
Carson glared openly at her. "Do we, Mrs Hughes?", he replied, challenging her. His calm and emotionless voice made her question if she had ever really known him at all. It sounded empty, worn and tired. "Do we really?"
"I know this isn't what Alice would have wanted for you."
"How do you know what she would have wanted for me. You don't even know me...not anymore."
Shaking her head, Mrs Hughes sighed deeply. While she knew that she would not be so easily defeated, Mrs Hughes was more than aware that this was not likely an argument that she would win via a shouting match.
Besides, a part of her did agree with Mr Carson.
There was no point in denying how a distance had grown between them since Alice's death, and while they should have relied on one another—as friends should—for support... instead they had become nothing short of strangers.
"Sadly Charlie, I think that may be true."