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Fic: Flowers in the Ashes

Title: Flowers in the Ashes
Author: lost_spook
Rating: All ages
Word Count: 1020
Characters/Pairings: Sylbil Crawley, Evangeline Eliott
Notes/Warnings: None.
Summary: Sybil Crawley makes a new acquaintance. (Crossover with Downton Abbey, written for a prompt in a meme.)


London, 1919.

Sybil was supposed to be walking in the Park with Edith, but her sister had stopped to sit on a bench, and so Sybil carried on alone – though not entirely out of Edith’s sight, of course. One still had to observe the proprieties, although Sybil increasingly wondered why and felt frustrated again at the stupidity and articifiality of society.

After the War, after the work she had done, after what had happened to everyone, she had expected more changes, or at least not to find so much of the old world creeping back in and closing down on her. She didn’t want that, and this visit to town had only served to emphasis how much so. She didn’t yet follow the rest of that thought, as if she were somehow more likely to be caught out thinking of Branson – Tom – out in the Park rather than in the privacy of her room. She shook herself, and then looked around her. At least it was a nice day, she thought, and that was when she noticed the girl.

She wasn’t all that much younger than Sybil, though probably only about sixteen or seventeen at the most, dark-haired and very pretty, and she was standing alone nearby, biting her lip in visible indecision and hugging a notepad and pencils to her.

Sybil moved forwards, and gave her a smile. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help noticing – you do look a bit lost. Is everything all right?”

“Oh!” the girl said and started, her attention clearly having been elsewhere. She dropped the sketchbook and half the pencils, and then hastily bent down, trying to retrieve them. “Sorry! It’s kind of you, but I’m not lost – well, that is, I know where I am, but I can’t see my sister and my aunt any more.”

“You’ve mislaid them?” asked Sybil, even as the girl stopped to snatch at a runaway page from the sketchbook. Sybil managed to catch it for her. It was a pattern created using a leaf motif, and cleverly done, too. “Oh, I say, that’s very good!”

The girl blushed bright red, and took it back with an embarrassed thank you.

“Anyway, your sister and your aunt –?”

“Well,” said the girl, and then gave Sybil a sheepish look. “You see, I was with them, and then I stopped to draw that, and – well, I expect they thought I was still with them and I suppose I should have looked to see where they went. But they can’t be very far, can they? Bea wouldn’t leave without me.”

Sybil smiled. “I expect you’re right. We’ll look for them together, shall we? I’m Sybil Crawley. And I must say, you seem to be dreadfully clever at sketching.”

“Thank you,” said the girl, sounding surprised. “I’d really like to think so. But that was just a design – for something my sister and I were talking about. We make all our own clothes, you see – we like doing it.”

“I think it’s marvellous,” said Sybil. “May I have a look at the others?”

She nodded. “Oh, and I’m Evie,” she said, handing the sketchbook over and losing another pencil in the process. Then she paused and screwed up her face. “Miss Evangeline Eliott, I should say.”

“Oh, these do look good,” said Sybil, still examining Evie’s drawings. She gave her another smile. “Even I can see that. Maybe you’ll be a famous artist one day.”

Evie took the papers back from her and pulled a face. “Oh, I’d love that. I want to go to art school badly, but I don’t suppose Father will ever hear of it. That is –” She coloured at the indiscretion.

“He wants to protect you, I’m sure,” said Sybil, gracefully covering her confusion. “They will do it, won’t they? I worked as a nurse in the War, and I loved it, but now – everybody thinks I should be happy to go back to trying to look decorative at terribly tedious parties.”

Evie gave a quick grin. “I wouldn’t mind being allowed to go to parties, though,” she confessed.

“I’m sure you will be one day,” said Sybil. “Now, stand still and let’s see if we can see your missing people.”

“Oh, Bea will be angry,” said Evie. “Aunt Lydia will say things, and lecture about how we’ve never had any –” She seemed to realise that wasn’t very tactful, either, and stopped and blushed again. “I really should have been more careful.”

Sybil patted her on the arm. “Don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll just be pleased to have found you.”

Evie said nothing, but her expression spoke volumes of doubt on the matter. Then her face cleared suddenly, and she caught at Sybil’s sleeve. “Oh, there they are! I can see Bea’s blue hat, and – oh dear – that dreadful old-fashioned purple thing that –” She bit her lip and turned red again. “You’ve been very kind,” she said to Sybil with sudden and rather belated primness. “Thank you ever so much, Miss Crawley.”

“I’ll see you back to them,” said Sybil. “Is your Aunt Lydia very concerned about – well, the proprieties and that sort of thing?”

“Well, yes,” said Evie, honesty winning out. “She’s awfully stuffy. We didn’t want to come at all, but it meant we could come to town for the afternoon, and, of course, you have to be polite to relatives, don’t you?”

Sybil smiled. “Well, in that case, I think I can smooth things over with her for you.”

Evie gave her a quizzical look.

“Oh, I do mean it. You’ll see,” said Sybil, who would rather not reveal her status until she had to. She’d enjoyed talking to Evie without that coming between them. The girl had obvious talent, even if she had obstacles of her own to overcome. But things were going to change, Sybil thought, and she determined to herself that she would be part of that, one way or another. She wouldn’t simply sit around and wait for it to happen. And, she thought, she also hoped very much that Evie would get her chance to be part of it, too.