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Her First Clutch.

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She hopped the wall and was safe before the dragons blech reached the door which was flung off its hinges and across the lawn. Sybil counted to sixty before she peeked over the wall. The dragon pens were quite, the dragons must still be alive, the explosion wasn't big enough for dragon death. Picking up the door as she headed back Sybil cautiously she poked her head round the door frame. Dewdrop Mabelline Talonthrust the first, was keening in his pen behind the mess fence while, Darkbane Spindelclaw the sixth was flapping about the rafters. Sybil slipped the door back onto its hinges and went to check on the nest. Darkbane the mother cried out as Sybil stepped closer to the hatching pen, she dived down and onto her clutch covering them with her leathery wings. She hissed as Sybil approached.
"Now don't be silly." Sybil snapped knowing that the dragon had already used up the last of her flame. She grabbed Darkbane by the tail and pulled up so that the dragon dangled on her front legs. Sybil counted quickly.
"One... two... three. All present and correct." She chirped putting the mother gently back onto her nest and patting her jovially on the head. Darkbane hissed at her. Sybil sighed and left the new mother to her sitting and went to check on the expectant mother. Quickbreeze Twineklbud Ronda was lying serenely on the heated tiles of her pen apparently unmoved by the chaos going on around her.
"Alright, young lady lets see how it's going." Sybil sighed she removed her gloves and patted the Quickbreeze spiny back. The dragon opened one eye and considered Sybil carefully, then decided she was too gravid to move, and let Sybil roll her onto her side.
"You are getting big." Sybil mused feeling the Dragons stomach . Sybil sat back on her haunches and mused. It felt like a big clutch, maybe four. This was Quickbreezes first clutch it could be tricky. Her thoughts were interrupted by a tap on the door.
"Lady Sybil, Lady Sinta sent me to fetch you. It's time to change for the ball." Sophie her ladies maid told her. Sybil sighed and padded back to the house.

When Sybil reached her room the dress was awaiting her, like a hairy black spider in the bathtub. She sighed deeply, the dress wasn't black, if it was it might be interesting, no this dress, this time, was pink with Lavander flower on the front. It took an hour to get Sybil into the dress. First, there was the underwear, the corset, the underskirt, the vest, the bustle, the petticoats, then the dress itself. While Sybil's hair was being done Lady Sinta came to check on her. Sybil's hair was cut short almost to the scalp, this was for two reasons, one: Her hobby of Dragon rearing hand taught her long ago that long hair was very flammable. Two: it was the fashion among those with money in Ank-Morpork to wear oversized and flamboyant wigs, some even with live animals in, or imps trained to play tiny instruments. Sybil chooses the simpler style, no live animals just flowers and short enough to get through doors without ducking.
"Sybil dear, are you nearly ready, let us have a look at you." Lady Sinta cooed, being a married woman in her mid forty's she had opted for a light gold dress with a modest bustle and no wig, simply her own hair styled up. Sybil fully painted and wigged to the nines, stood up and turned for Sinta who clapped approvingly. "You look stunning darlink," She said. Sybil smiled, Sinta had been living in Ank-Morpork for at least ten years now she had moved her from Psuedopolis just after marrying Lord Ramkin, and had almost lost her ascent, but it popped up ever now and again, especially when she was excited. "Do you like the dress? It fits alright?" She asked fussing with the bust Sybils dress, trying to contain Sybils ever rebellious cleavage.
"It's beautiful, thank you Sinta," Sybil reassured her carefully sitting back down.
"I know you are not a big fan of pink, but this was the only dress they had on hand which would fit you I'm afraid. Next time you will come with me and we will have them make you something special in a colour you want." Sinta continued. She rummaged through Sybil's jewellery box.
"Would you like the pearl necklace or the gold one?" She asked.
"Could I have the silver 'S' with the pearls," Sybil asked putting on her pearl earrings. Sinta found the necklace and fastened it for Sybil.
"I heard a crash earlier, is everything okay?" Sinta asked carefully.
"Yes, just Darkbane getting a little over protective of her clutch," Sybil said breezily. Sinta made a worried face at her, Sybil's dangerous hobby worried her. "It was fine Sinta just a little steam to blow off," Sybil reassured her sweetly.
"Well, let us not think of that tonight. Tonight it is all about having fun and meeting nice new people." Sitna chirped.
"Of course." Sybil laughed.

Chapter Text

Sybil was bored, she stood at the corner of the ballroom and watched the dancers twirl about. At least there was campaign she picked up another glass from a passing waiter.
"That's your third. We haven't had dinner yet." a voice in her ear said.
"Evening Havelock." Sybil sighed not bothering to look around. She never saw Havelock approach, he always just appeared, quite worrying since he was one of the brightest assains out there.
"That is a lovely dress, Sybil," Havelock tried to small talk. He usually failed something to do with the tone of his voice or his unnervingly blue eyes.
"and that is a lovely suite Havelock it's very..." Sybil started
"It's black Sybil, it's a plane unspectacular black suite that serves my needs perfectly." Havelock finished for her. Sybil smiled at him, she liked talking to someone so forward. "Who are the men in uniform," Havelock asked pointing to a group of about four men huddled around Lord Ramkin.
"The are from Überwald some higher-ups from one of Daddies old friends battalions, they are staying with us I think," Sybil said sipping her drink.
"You think?" Havelock asked raising an eyebrow at her.
"People come and go from the house all the time, it's none of my business." Sybil signed "Anyway they arrived today that's what's this ball is for welcoming them." She added to show she wasn't completely uninformed.
"That is a poor excuse for inflicting this upon us." Havelock signed. Sybil laughed. "Downey has been asking round about you," Havelock added taking a champagne glass from a waiter but not drinking it, he just watched the bubbles. "Asking about potential suitors and things of that manner, would you be interested if he made a move?" he asked vaguely smiling at Sybil. Sybil frowned at him.
"Havelock, see this face," She made a face, "this is the face I use when words can not describe the true disgust I feel." She explained.
"Rust has been asking about you as well," Havelock added. Sybil made the face again.
"I understand." Havelock smiled.
"However, Havelock, if you danced with me my life would be compleat." Sybil joked finishing her drink.
"I highly doubt that but I am willing to try." Havelock signed he put down his untouched Champaign and let Sybil lead him out onto the dance floor.


Chapter Text

Sybil was bored again, Havelock had disappeared as was his way, the dinner had been and gone. Sybil managed to eat as much as she could without seeming piggish or busting her corset. From across the room, her Father laughed heartily. Lord Rankin's laugh could be used as a homing beacon. Sina caught her eye and gave her an "are you doing alright?" look. Sybil smiled and nodded and returned to people watching.
She studied the newcomers closely. They all wore the same mustard yellow dress uniform which suited some of them more then others. One of the younger officers whose uniform fitted him very nicely was talking to a couple of Sybil's old school mates. In the Überwald army, because of a sudden and almost devastating out brake of tetanus among the ranks, shaving equipment was banned and facial hair became mandatory. The Officer Sybil watched was a red head, his beard was rather impressive but neat and darker brownish red than his hair, that was slicked back neatly. He was dwarfed by the ladies he talked to, who's wigs made them both over seven foot tall. Unlike his fellow soldiers who were almost uniformly thin, tall and dark, this one was squat and filled out his uniform. He looked like he played rugby or wrestled at school. If compared to any animal it would be a bear or a bear cub. As she watched the two women excused themselves and moved on. The bear officer clicked his heels and bowed to them, he waited for the ladies to leave before secretly bending down and picking up something Sybil couldn't see and tucking it was into his lapel. Sybil turned her actions to the rest of the room, she was so deep into her observation of Lord Sillaci whispering to Lady Millan that she didn't notice the Bear officer until he was standing beside her. He clicked his heels and bowed to her.
"die Adelige Ramkin." He chirped. His face under the beard was hansome enough, he had a nose like a marble statue and rosy cheeks speckled with freckles.
"You have the advantage of me, Mr?" Sybil asked politely bowing her head to the Bear Officer who clicked his heels and bowed again.
"Captain Bohr, die Adelige," He announced holding out a paw to Sybil.
"It's Sybil please." Sybil smiled shaking his hand. He pulled it up to his lips and kissed it. They went silent, he faltered a couple of times before saying.
"Forgwive me die Adelige, I read Moporkina better then I speak," he explained saying each word carefully.
"You're Morpokina is better than my Überwaldish," Sybil laughed she realised he was still holding her hand, she pulled away.
"I vas told, you sing in Dawafish Wery Vell," Captain Bohr said, returning to the natural soldier stance, hand behind his back, head up, chest out.
"Who told you that?" Sybil asked she could feel herself starting to blush.
"Herr Ramkin," Captain Bohr explained. "I hoped Ve Vill have a demonstration later, ya?" he asked cheerfully.
"No, I don't think we will," Sybil said quickly. Bohr frowned. "How are you enjoying Ank-Morpork?" Sybil changed the subject.
"It is wery interesting, at home people see the uniform and they say, come have some food ve have plenty of room at the table. Here they say, Come in have a drink Vith us there is lots to go round," Bohr explained
"That's Ank-morepork hospitality," Sybil explained proudly.
"Then next morning you vake up in the street, Vithout your Uniform or money." Bohr finished.
"That is defiantly Ank-morepork hospitality." Sybil laughed. Captain Bohr laughed too. "what was it you picked up my I ask." She added trying to keep the conversation going. Captain Bohr gave her a conspiratory look and pulled back his lapel as if he was trying to sell her fake watches. On the inside of his lapel was a line of pin mostly the normal silver head ones but two had ceramic coloured heads.
"I found thiz, colour-head remmintom number three. They only make a hundred in thiz shade of yellow. I have picked up a couple for my collection. You cannot find these back home." he explained clearly trying to contain his excitement. "Do not tell the others ya? They vill make fun ya?" he added replacing his lapel and placing his finger to his lips. Sybil as a fellow Anorak smiled and nodded.
"you're safe with me." she chuckled.
"May Ve, dance die Adelige?" He asked offering his arm. Sybil considered it carefully. It was fine dancing with Havelock, they had known each other a long time and neither of them was brilliant dancers. Although Havelock had the grace and light-footedness of an Assassin he lacked the actual interest in dancing. Sybil had the grace of a ballerina elephant, her family was bread for strong bones and sturdiness, not grace. Captain Bohr was waiting still holding out his arm. Captain was such a dashing title and he filled the uniform so nicely.
"Of course and it's Sybil please," Sybil said taking his arm. He led them to the dance floor.
"Sybil, and I am Cobus."

Chapter Text

Sybil was in the corner again but this time, she was smiling. Her dance with Captain Bohr had been nice. Sybil had managed not to step on his feet and because of her height most people who danced with Sybil tended to get an eye full. However, Cobus had managed to keep his head above water so that they could have a conversation which hadn't dried up. Bohr, Cobus she corrected herself had told her about pin collecting and about his home. She however on the recommendation of her etiquette teacher reframed from talking about dragons. The dance hand ended, Sybil excused herself and scurried back to her corner. She had enjoyed the dance but she could feel judgemental looks on the back of her neck, and she might be paranoid but she thought she heard a laugh.
"I have information," Havelock announced appearing at her elbow. Sybil, so deep in her thoughts, jumped. "Was I interrupting?" Havelock laughed dryly.
"No, I was just thinking. You have information?" Sybil said quickly.
"Thinking, about a dashing young captain?" Havelock smirked.
"You have information?" Sybil prompted.
"The six Officers here are all of the Überwald mounted division, Lead by your Colonel Schwinghammer Knight of The Furn and tenth lord of Bad Schüschein and your father's old school friend and his Son the Young Lord Schwinghammer (captian). He also brought with him his Lieutenant Colonel Lord Beyersdorf, Lord Dunst another captain, Lord Wetterman yet another captain, and the dashing Captian Bohr," Havelock finished sarcastically.
"Not a lord?" Sybil asked picking up a glass of champagne for each of them.
"No, he seemed to have become a captain by being good at what he does not by being related to other people," Havelock smirked. He took a small sip of this champagne Sybil had handed to him and smiled knowingly as Captian Bohr waved at Sybil from across the room. Sybil waved back timidly and turned away.
"Playing hard to get doesn't work in real life," Havelock pointed out waving to Bohr as well.
"Hush," Sybil snapped, "I've just met the man,"
"Every great romance starts with a conversation," Havelock joked.
"And most of them end terribly," Sybil snapped blushing vividly.
"What was that book I caught you reading?" Havelock pondered.
"Stop," Sybil warned.
"Love in the regiments, by S,M Darkly, the one with the captain with his shirt open on the cover," Havelock ignored Sybil's warning.
"If you bothered to read that book you would know it isn't a love story I can imitate," Sybil laughed.
"I'm sure you can find aspects of it to recreate," Havelock smiled knowingly. Sybil coughed and blushed again, from across the room she caught Cobus's eye again, she waved timidly. Captain was such a dashing title.

Chapter Text

Cobus wondered to what he hoped was the kitchen, he had already foud the library, the servants privy, the coat cupboard and a stable. The food at the ball had been insufficient but very rich, his stomach switched between hunger and indigestion. He reached the kitchen only to find someone had beaten him to the pantry.
"You boy Vhat are you doing?" he snapped. Sybil looked up from her pantry raiding and glared at him. "Lady Sybil I am sorry..." Cobus stuttered clicking his heels and bowing his head. Sybil was wearing an old pair of mens riding britches tucked into Green rubber boots and a thick blue jumper, which looked like it had been handed down several times. She also wasn't wearing any wig, or makeup her face was smeared with soot.
"Can I help you? Captain," She asked.
"I vas... Um..." Cobus flustered.
"You was hoping to sneak something from the larder?" Sybil asked smiling knowingly. Cobus nodded sadly. Sybil stepped aside. "I have an understanding with Cook, anything on the top four shelves are off limits, all the leftovers or things she won't use this week are on the last two shelves, that we can have, I use to sneak down here a lot as a child," Sybil explained.
"Vhy are you down here now?" Cobus asked.
"Because Quickbreeze is showing signs of laying her clutch tonight," Sybil explained. Cobus raised an eyebrow.
"Quickbreeze?" he asked, Sybil smiled.

Two cups of tea and about a hour later and Sybil was still talking about dragons.
"You have been studying them very closely," Cobus interjected, he had been struggling to understand her for some parts of the conversation, she became excited and her talking sped up.
"Well, somone has too." Sybil laughed taking a sip of her tea. "Of course, their anatomy is still very much a mystery to us, but if you wish to study it all you have to do is wait and examine what's left on the walls." She explained Cobus laughed nervously unsure if she was joking, but she was smiling at him so he guesses she was.
"Here," Sybil added pulling a battered notebook out of her big jumper. "I have been recording all my observations, I think that maybe they can rearrange their organs when needed," Sybil explained handing him the book. Cobus looked at the intricate drawing and regretted it.
"Vhy vould they do that?" Cobus asked handing her back the book.
"I'm not sure yet maybe..." Sybil began but was cut off by a whistling sound from outside. Sybil sprung up and jogged across the lawn followed by Cobus. He found her in the Dragon kennels hunched over a pen. A silver dragon was squatted over a little fire pit making whistling sounds.
"It's her first clutch and I think she's got five eggs, the biggest clutch I've ever raised was three," Sybil explained quietly as Cobus knelt next to her. The heat in the kennels was stifling and so was the smell. Cobus watched Sybils as she took hot coals from the furnish pouring them onto the coal nest the Dragon had made, then restocked furnish with new coals. She was constantly moving, checking thermometers and the dragon, fetching more coals. Finally, she rejoined Cobus on the floor, the Dragon had turned from silver to pink.
"Not long now," Sybil said excitedly. The Dragons whistling went up an octave and Sybil sprung up pulling Cobus with her.
"Run... Go, go, go, go," She hissed pushing Cobus out of the door. They ran across the grass as the whistling reached almost ear bleeding pitch. They were half way back to the kitchen when the whistling changed pitch, Sybil skidded, leaving a groove in the grass, and changed directions without losing momentum. She sprinted past Cobus past who wasn't as agile as Sybil, he managed to stop himself without falling over and started a gentle jog back kennels. Carefully he poked his head round the door to see Sybil sitting on the floor smiling at a now quite dragon.
"Six eggs, all safely laid and mother doing fine." She beamed, wiping away a tear.
"I must say this is them most interesting birth I have ever Vitnessed." Cobus wheezed. Sybil let out a long hearty laugh.

Chapter Text

The next day Sybil was being subjected to another party. This time it was a spring garden party. All the guests milled about Ramkin Halls grounds wearing pastel coloured dresses and suits strolling from conservatory to gazebo drinking, laughing and staying clear of the dragon sheds. The Überwald party was easy enough to spot, only the commanding officer had the luxury of a spring party suite, the others had to make do with their dress uniform. The mustered yellow jackets glowed admits the pastels.
“His father was a thatcher,” Havelock said behind her. Sybil jumped and almost spilt rose water down her lavender dress.
“What?” She snapped turning to Havelock and adjusting her powder blue wig, a primrose fell out of it.
“The young Captain Bohr. His father was a Thatcher his mother took in laundry and sewing as an actual seamstress.” Havelock explained unmoved. He had tried to get into the spirit of the occasion by wearing grey instead of his usual unimpressive black. He looked like someone had tried to bleach him.
“Is this a hobby for you?” Sybil snapped turning away from Havelock and making her way back to the refreshment table.
“I am good at finding out information,” Havelock answered following.
“Why are you spying on Captain Bohr,” Sybil asked helping herself to mini quiche.
“Because you like him.” Havelock gave her a slight smile which was practically a grin from him. Sybil nearly choked on her quiche and tried to brush the accusation away. Before she could correct Havelock properly a Mustered dot had broken away from the group it had been talking to and made its way towards Sybil.
“die, Adelige Sybil, good day.” Captain Bohr chirped clicking his heels and bowing.
“Captain Bohr,” Sybil muttered feeling herself go red under Havelock's smug gaze.
“This is Lord Vetinari, Lord Vetinari this is Captain Bohr,” She made the introductions as etiquette dictated but could not bring herself to look Havelock in the eye.
“I have herd a lot about you,” Havelock said shaking Bohr’s hand. Bohr shook it politely but wasted no time in turning back to Sybil.
“I almost did not recognise you Vith out soot over your face.” He muttered. This was the conversation opening he had been working on all morning, but like all sentences which are over thought, it had sounded better in his head. “By Vhich I mean you look Wery beautiful today.” he saved himself.
Sybil felt herself go from a colour scheme matching pink to a vivid and clashing red.
“Soot?” Havelock fished, censing a story to embarrass Sybil later. Bohr who had almost forgotten Havelock was there flushed and tied to elaborate with out imputing Sybil's honour in any way. He was still new to this upper-class etiquette minefield.
“die Adelige Sybil vas kind enough to show me her Dragon pet the other night.” He explained.
“Oh did she?” Havelock slightly smiled.
“Yes there vas a young mother dragon, it was all Wery educational.” Bohr continued feeling like he was on firm ground with his conversation.
“Oh, I suspect it was.” Havelock was grinning now his top teeth were almost showing. “Oh look there is lord Rust I must speak to him, don’t let me detain you two any longer.” Havelock bowed to the pair and glided away. Sybil wondered if he really did have to speak to Rust or if he was planning something else, although it was Havelock he was always planning something. Sybil feeling uncomfortable next to the mini quiches suggest they took a stroll the fish pond designed by B.S Johnson. They slowly walked the grounds at a respectable distance, the conversation never slowing. They talked about his work and what he wised to do after the army, her dragons, books they had read, plays they have seen, and when they reached the pond they talked of that. The pond in question was more of a canal which made its way though the middle of the Ramkin estate. They paused on a pretty little, wooden bridge with awning covered in Ivy and climbing flowers, and gazed down at the water. A frog swam past as Sybil asked him about his family, he answered that his Father was a thatcher and his mother was a seamstress.
“But vhen I told other people I got strange looks, one even laughed.” He added. Sybil pursued her lips and tried not to blush too much.
“It’z because they are not aristocracy, yes?” Bohr asked misreading Sybil's face.
“Maybe to a certain extent, but a few people here come from humble backgrounds. Havelock, for example, wasn’t lorded until last year.” Sybil said helpfully. Bohr’s brow knitted in confusion.
“It’s just that seamstress is used as a euphemism here.” She explained hoping to any god who was watching that he would catch on. He didn’t so, her face redder than a red thing, she explained.
“Iy!” it was less of a word more of a primal sound that emanated from Bohr, he hid his face in his hands lent on the railing of the bridge. After a moment his regained his composer.
“That...” he said rubbing his eyes and temples tiredly. “That actually explains a lot.” He sighed he gave his temples another frustrated rub then turned his eyes to Sybil, still leaning on the rail. “I am sorry, die Adelige Sybil but... I am no good at being an aristocracy, there are too many holes for me to fall.” He said honestly. Free of all his stiffness and more solid stance he had a slight belly, his shoulders softened and even his face lost its edge. Sybil was sure she had a cuddly bear in her room that looked just like him. Apparently free of his etiquette obligations he turned fully to look at her leaning nonchalantly on the rail with his elbow. “I just keep making mistakes. I called Herr Sillancie Sir instead of Your grace, I offered a cigarette to a couple of ladies Vho gave me a look as if I vas offering... I do not know a dead cat or something, I vas just trying to be nice, and I am sure your friend Vetinari was making fun of me.”
“He has that effect on people.” Sybil agreed.
“I... I am sorry, die Adelige.” He sighed picking himself up and adjusting himself back into his respectable army stance. He started to excuse himself.
“If you’re having a bit a bother I can help.” Sybil interrupted him hurriedly, not wanting to end their conversation just yet. “First of all we can drop all this die Adelige, it’s just Sybil.” She said smiling and knotting her fingers together nervously.
“And I am Cobus.”
“Cobus.” Sybil couldn’t help but smile. Cobus stepped forward and kissed her. The quickly stolen kiss which left Sybil blushing vividly. She looked around them, the ivy and climbing plants hid them from the rest of the party, their chatter a mere rumbling in the distance, a cool breeze drifted off the water stroking her burning cheeks, and somewhere a cricket started to chirp. So she kissed him, he deepened the kiss, gently moving his hand to her cheeks cupping her face in his hands and soothingly running his thumbs over her burning skin. She pulled away first, they stood gazing at each other his hands still cupping her face tenderly.
“Well,” Sybil mumbled after a moment she removed his hands and brought them down holding them for a moment before giving them back to him and taking a step back. “We should rejoin the other guests.” She said squaring her shoulders and averting her eyes from his gaze. Cobus took a moment to program his brain into her way of thinking and nodded. The upper crust was a strange mix of promiscuousness and ridged starchiness, they skipped between the two like dragon flies. One moment a dowager dutchess who's name he didn’t know was running her hand up his leg, another moment Sybil was blushing and going cold over a sweet little kiss. He straightened his back and offered her his arm, to his delight she took it. They slowly made their way back to the guests in silence.
“If you are free,” Sybil said just before they were in ear shot of anyone else. “I would love it if you could join me for a mid-night snack later. I’ll be sitting up with the dragons again,” She mumbled unable to look him in the eye. Cobus grinned.
“die Adelige,” He said because they were now back amongst the other guests. “Nothing Vould make me happier.”

Chapter Text

The Überwald parties leaving ball was in full swing, Lord Ramkin had spared no expense in giving his guests a good send off. Pigs where being roasted, peacocks had been carefully butchered, cooked then put back together again so they looked alive, the whine flowed freely. Sybil sat alone in the library. She hadn’t been crying, she was too sensible for that. She just needed to be alone away from the noise and the strange way the stuffed peacock was looking at her. The past month had sped by so quickly. Sybil and Cobus had spent dinners exchanging fleeting glances, afternoon walking primly in the garden politely conversing about the weather, secret midnight snacks together filled with laughter, and kisses stolen when they had a brief moment alone. She heard the door of the library open she stood and smiled bravely to meet who ever entered. Cobus smiled back at her.
“I have been vondering vhere you had gone. You have been Hiding,” he said stepping inside and closing the door behind him. Sybil’s stomach turned slightly. Even when they had been having midnight snacks they had never been truly Alone there was always a servant or other person, if not in earshot in shouting distance. But the Library was on the other side of the manor to the ball room where all the servants energies were focused. That was why Sybil had chosen the Library for her, defiantly not crying, solitary musing. Now she was Alone with Cobus.
“Are you happy?” he was asking her stepping forwards and taking her face in his hands. She smiled, she was happy, at least a different happy to what she useably was, not bored for one thing. She had even gone with Sinta to the dress makers, their efforts were the emerald green silk dress she wore tonight. She couldn’t answer Cobus though, she weakly nodded, trying to smile.
“This is not good bye forever, Yah?” Cobus asked running his hands down her cheeks slowly down her neck and on to her bear shoulders. Sybil started to wonder if the off the shoulder style was a good idea, it looked so pretty on thinner girls but Sybil was douting if it was the same for her or if she looked like a half-squeezed tube of paint. Oblivious to her inner struggle Cobus kissed her, taking advantage of their solitude, he drew out the kiss, running his hand back up her neck he pulled her to him. His other hand he slinked round her waist and held her in place, pressing his chest next her hers. Sybil didn’t even think of pulling away she held him closer and clutched at his shoulders as if testing he was real. Cobus was the one to pull away this time, her not letting her go but simply pulling his head back to look into her eyes.
“I vill come back and I vill marry you if you vill have me.” He whispered. Sybil couldn’t speak, she nodded almost desperately holding on to him. Cobus laughed and kissed her again, letting his hands glide over the green silk.
“And of course I had no Idea the chap was a genius when I brought the paining I just like the way the teeth followed you round the room.” The door had opened and Lord Rankin's voice boomed into the room. The lovers had enough time to let each other go and turn to Lord Ramkin and Commander Shwinghammer who had walked in. All laughter and conversation from lord Ramkin stopped when he saw his little girl pink and breathless, alone in a dark room with a young lad in uniform.
“What the Bloody Hell is this.” He barked.
“Daddy, please.” Sybil started but was cut off by her Father pointing accusingly at Cobus and bellowing. “Is this how you repay my hospitality boy, trying to seduce my little girl, like the greasy snake you are!” he didn’t need to charge at Cobus his voice alone could have felled trees. Cobus took a few steps back.
“Daddy please no one was trying to seduce anyone.” Sybil cried. Cobus could have corrected her but not being stupid or suicidal he kept his mouth shut. “we were just talking.” Sybil continued picking at her cuticles.
“about!?” Ramkin ordered.
“Herr Ramkin...” Cobus spoke up, like the one hiker who is convinced the best way to confront a charging bear is head on, he ploughed forward with the speech he had hoped to give a later date. A date when he was richer and when Lord Ramkin hadn’t had quite so much to drink. “Herr Ramkin, Sybil is the most Vonderful, voman I have ever met and there is no force on the Disc Vich Vould keep me from her” Cobus silently cursed how many ‘W’ sounds in his speech but he still trudged on. “Please, Herr I beg of you for her hand in marriage.” He finished, he though he did it right under the circumstances. He had been reading an etiquette book, the chapter had been quite clear that you ask the fathers permission first. But then he had found Sybil and they had kissed and it just slipped out then Ramkin had blundered in and he was now thinking on his feet. Sybil was gazing at him in awe and wonder and his commanding officer was glaring at him in shock. Rankin's gaze, however, was boring into him, if looks could kill they would be drawing chalk outlines around what little would be left of Cobus right about now. “Now I know she is above me,” Cobus added.
“You are Bloody right!” Ramkin roared, “you think I would consider giving my little girl up to a... Seamstresses son, you bloody, cheeky, sausage eater.”
“Daddy!” Sybil started but Cobus put his hand on her gently, He was a good Captain he was a good solider, he could handle being shouted at, be insulted and still keep calm enough to think clearly.
“Yes that may be true, but I have a promising career ahead of me. I am a good captain one of the best. Yah?” this Yah was directed at his commanding office who agreed meekly. “I vorked hard to get Vhere I am. I Vould put no less effort into making myself Vorthy of your daughter.” He finished. Rankin looked from the offensive youth to his daughter saw the love in her eyes. His heart melted.
“No. That is final.” He barked and marched out the room.
“Daddy!” Sybil cried and rushed after him.

Sinta searching for her husband and step-daughter heard the noise and came running up the hallway in time to see Ramkin fly into his study followed by Sybil and one of the Überwald boys. She bumped into Ramekins old friend Shwiringhammer who explained what happened. Squaring her jaw she pushed open the study door only to be confronted with a wall of sound. Rankin was pacing up and down barking out orders. Words like “this isn’t up for discussion” and “I know what’s best.” were spewing out of his mouth. Sybil was trying to plead with him, her polite delicate demeanour fighting with her natural instinct to scream and beat her chest. The boy was trying his best to get a word in but failing.
“What is going on?” Sinta shouted. She knew from Shwringhammer but she wanted to hear it from them. Sybil so angry she was shaking explained things.
“Now that’s not fair!” Rankin shouted when she was done. “He has no linage, no prospects, no money. He’s a nice, smart boy I’ll grant you but he’s not going to make anything else of himself.” He explained he lit a cigar and took a long, long drag.
“That is unfair. I have already explained myself to you. I have ambitions. I Vill be more than just a captain.” Cobus barked pointing an amusing finger at Ramkin.
“It doesn’t matter if he was a privet, Daddy,” Sybil announced, taking Cobus’s hand before Ramkin snapped it off. “We love each other.” She added quietly. Cobus gave her a kiss on the forehead.
“You don’t know that,” Ramkin sighed. “you’ve only know each other a month, He’s a social climber, a gold digger Sybil. I can’t let this happen.”
“Let us take a breath.” Sinta stepped in before Sybil or the boy made a noble jester. “Nothing is going to happen straight away and nothing is set in stone. Young man, how much longer are you going to be in the army.” She asked Cobus sweetly.
“Two more years die Adelige.” Cobus said bowing slightly to Sinta who now had the power in the room.
“There you see. It would be impractical to decide anything until Captain Bohr has finished his service. This will allow the children to continued their relationship, give Captain Bohr time to prove himself and at the end of the two years, if they still wish to marry, we can give them our blessing.” Sinta explained as if she was explaining to a child how the universe works. Lord Rankin's eyes blazed.
“Just give them two years.” Sinta begged.
“Fine.” Ramkin Muttered. “two years.”

Chapter Text

"Dearest Cobus." Sybil wrote. She reread Cobus's last letter and smiled.
"You speak of your most recent promotion as if it's a surprise but nothing is more understandable. I'm sure you will fit into the calvary, like a glove. You speak of horses almost as highly as you speak of pins. I remember how well you connected with my dragons, you have a way with animals, perhaps that is why we get along so well. It is also no surprise to me that his Lord Otto has taken a shine to you. The Otto family all sound lovely people. I am happy you are making such great friends. I know of the Otto family, or at least I know of their pedigree stallions, Daddy once paid a king's ransom to own one.
Do not fret so about the dinner parties. Smile and everyone will simply melt over you. I did. I am packed and ready. Sinta and I will be leaving for Psuedopolis in a week. Sinta is very excited to show me where she grew up and then we head for Überwald. We will together in a but Skestober. I can not be more pleased.

Love Sybil.

P.S I have included some Pins for your collection, they are the new additions Pointer."

She sealed the envelope with her personal stamp. It had been a slow six months. Despite all the parties, social gathering and balls her Father had been dragging her too. He kept introducing her to Lord this, Commander that, some of them about her age others well into their sixties, but all of them, in her father's eyes, were a better prospect then Cobus. However, she kept up her letters to him and he always returned them as promptly as the post would allow. She waited eagerly each morning to see the grubby, well travels and on one occasion wolf eaten, letter at the breakfast table. The trip had been Sinta idea, Sybil hadn't been outside of Ank-Morpork since she left school, and Sinta had alway wanted to take her to Psuedopolis. It was also a good excuse to visit Cobus, she missed seeing his face, she stayed away some nights wondering if he still had the beard. She was walking to hand the letter to a footman when the butler came rushing up to her without any of his usual grace. Before she could ask what was wrong he blurted it out.
"Lady Sybil, you need to come now. Your Father collapsed while riding, The doctors are with him now," he explained quickly.
Sybil dropped her letter and letting the butler take her arm she ran to her father.

"Dearest Cobus." Sybil wrote.
"I know it's been a long time since my last letter for that i am so sorry. However Daddy is doing better, but I still can not leave him. He frets so when Sinta or I leave him and he is still not well enough to travel. His speech is getting better but he still struggles to carry a conversation. The doctor says he may never regain the feeling in the side but he keeps positive. I was so happy to hear about your good luck. Lord Otto is very kind and I'm sure he's not making a mistake putting so much faith in you. I am hearing very good things about the new Stallions from the Otto ranch and they are more sort after than ever here.
Please write me soon I miss you.

Love Sybil"

Chapter Text

Sybil closed the study door behind her and took a deep breath it was almost three in the morning and the last of the guests had finally left. She supposed Daddy would have been pleased about that, less pleased about the twelve crates of sparkling wine and four caskets of brandy, but it wasn't as if he needed them now.
"Well," Sinta said as she shuffled into the study after Sybil. "That all went quite well, considering," She tried to smile, which normally gave her a pleasant glow but now only brought out how haggard she looked this morning. "I think some tea is called for," Sinta added weakly, as she made her way towards the bell.
"I think I'll just go to bed," Sybil said quickly. Her step-Mother nodded and rubbed her eyes weakly.
"You're right my dear," Sinta mumbled. Sybil gave her a brief hug and wondered up to her room. Unsure what to do with herself, Sybil changed from her black dress into her warmest, fluffiest pyjamas and sat at her desk. It had been a strange day. Although days like this were never to be considered normal unless you were constantly unlucky. Sybil had not cried, that wasn't how it's done. She hadn't cried while following the coffin to the moralism, or then the pallbearers had emerged from the tomb and sealed it behind them. Of course, there was so many people wanted to pass on their condolences, her Father had been such a good man cut down in is prime and oh my is that venison? and it that brandy from Quirm been opened? Sybil exhausted but could not sleep picked up her pen.
"Dearest Cobus,"

Chapter Text

The seagulls screeched overhead as seagulls tend to do. The winter in Ank-Morpork had been grey and foggy but now, Sybil sat on the balcony in warm Psuedopolis sun, watching the ships out to at sea. Across the table, Sinta sat reading through her pile of invitations.
"So many of my old friends are so excited to meet you," She told Sybil who smiled. They had arrived in Psuedoplis a few days ago, on the first leg of what Sinta was calling, "Our grand adventure. First, a fortnight in Psuedoplis, then a jaunt through the RamTops and onto Überwald which Sybil was most excited about. Cobus was in Bonk, or at least on the outskirts of it. From what she had read in the guidebooks and in his letters there was wild mountains and snowy forests, it all seemed so romantic. She had packed her green off the shoulder dress. She had written to Cobus with the addresses of where they would be staying at each stage of the trip, there had not been a response until this morning. Sybil played with the letter before opening it with one smooth slice of her butter knife.

"Dear Sybil,
I am so sorry..."

That was all Sybil remembered, that and her name was Sonja and she was one of Lord Otto's daughters. In her haste to remove the letter from her sight, she crumpled it into her copy of the History of Koom Vally and slammed the book shut.
"Sybil is something wrong dear?" Sinta asked her spoon of cereal halfway to her lips. Sybil stood up abruptly and upset the teapot. "Sybil, Darling whatever is the matter?" Sinta cried picking her letters out of the spilt tea.
"I think," Sybil managed, she wasn't crying but there was a lump in her throat. "I think we should stay on here a little longer. You keep saying how much you wanted to show me your home, we really shouldn't rush." Sybil explained did not look Sinta in the eye but examined her fingernails closely.
"Sybil?" Sinta asked.
"I'm just fine," Sybil snapped she composed herself the last thing she wanted was to be cruel to Sinta. "Then maybe we should go to Quirm, it would be nice to visit there again and maybe the Dutchess of Quirm would be good enough to show me her kennels. We have been exchanging letters for quite some time now and she has always said if I was in the aria I should pop in. That really would be good, she is one of the most prestigious dragon breeders out there and it would be so very educational." Sybil smiled brightly, she wasn't crying, it was the bright sun making her eyes water slightly.
"If you say so dear," Sinta said, she was wise enough not to asked, "what about Überwald?"
"I think... I think I will take a little siesta before we head out to the gardens, it's a beautiful day for it," Sybil added collecting her books and letters.
"If you are not feeling up to it today," Sinta started but Sybil waved her concern away.
"I'm right as rain," She smiled.

Chapter Text

Sybil covered her eyes from the blazing sun and surveyed her work.
"Isn't it wonderful?" she called to Sinta as she bounded up the stairs to join her on the patio looking over the gardens.
"It's very impressive darling," Sinta said a little unsure.
Sybil looked over the new dragon sheds proudly, five years of planning and work was finally coming to fruition. After Quirm Sybil had been inspired. She returned home, hid the ghastly letter in one of the lesser-read library books and set about designing her new dragon sheds. It really had been a busy five years, she had joined the Sunshine sanctuary community and found the place in shambles, the pens were in a terrible condition the dragons sadly in worst. Of course, the head of the community had been more than happy to accept her help, he had organically suggested a detonation of three thousand dollars but received a fully loaded Sybil as well, he was quite shocked. Nothing was more daunting than Sybil Ramkin on a mission. There was talk of leaflets. She sat opposite Sinta at the table and started to pour some tea.
"The re-enforced walls are done and the roof has been redone in this wonderful thing called corrugated Iron. It's strong but flexible and lite perfect in case of accidents," Sybil chirped cutting two slices of cake and placing one in front of Sinta.
"Are you sure it's safe?" Sinta asked giving Sybil a kind look.
"No, but nothing much about dragons is," Sybil smiled spearing a large chunk of cake with her fork. She saw Sinta's face and patted her hand sweetly. "It's as safe as it can be," She assured her.
"We should wait for your father before we start," Sinta said giving Sybil a slightly scolding look. Sybil careful lowered her fork before saying kindly.
"He won't be joining us Sinta, there isn't any need to wait,"
Sinta considered this and nodded she picked up her tea and started to sip delicately. Sybil caught the eye of the ladies maid standing behind Sinta and silently dared the girl to say anything. The girl's face probably reflected Sybils own. Sinta put down her teacup and stared thoughtfully at the patterned table cloth. Slowly she raised her hand to her eyes and hid her face as the realisation hit her.
"Come on old girl, there's no need for that," Sybil cooed and rushed around the table to embrace the quietly weeping Sinta. "It's alright,"

Chapter Text

"It's defiantly a... interesting read," Mr Smith head of the guild of engravers said.
"Well it's about time this was really looked into, there is simply so little available information on the subject," Sybil said pouring herself and Mr Smith another cup of tea. This made Mr Smith nervous, even if he was now head of the engravers guild, he was still what he would call, a son of the soil. Even if that soil was now covered in the finest Klatchian rugs. And having a Lady of so highly born as Lady Ramkin pouring him tea seemed disruptive to the natural order. Surely there should be some kind of servant to do the serving it was in the name, but no there had been one elderly butler who had shown him to the sitting room and that was it. Lady Sybil smiled at him and poured a third cup of tea which she took to an older lady sitting in a by the window she thanked Sybil for the tea and returned to her window gazing.
"The thing is Mr Smith as Swamp Dragons become a more popular pet, people are going to need access to this information," Sybil was saying returning to her seat.
"You have a point there," Mr Smith agreed with her because not agreeing with her did not seem like an option at this point. "I have asked an Artist associate of mine to join us today to discuss the illustrations," He added not sipping his tea because he was above all things a paranoid man, the world of the engraver was surprisingly cutthroat. You either developed a deep suspicion for all those around you or ended up flattened on page six. After a few moments of unpleasant conversation about black throat and gas-bladder, the elderly Buttler showed in a new victim.
"Lady Ramkin this is baronet Weavers he is the illustrator for some of our most prestigious titles."
"Come on Stanly old man, you make it sound so boring, I've also illustrated some of their less prestigious titles," baronet Weavers laughed, he held his hand out for Sybil to shake. "Lady Ramkin, I believe we met briefly at one of Bundy's things last spring," He added.
"Oh yes I think I remember, Bundy was very eager to introduce me to his artist friend. I haven't really had time to socialise recently," Sybil said she cleared her throat embarrassed. She insisted he took a seat and poured him some tea, he drank it gratefully.
"Well, of course, you've been too busy studying what makes dragons tick, much more interesting than those ghastly things Bundy hosts," The Baronet laughed, Sybil, loved the way he said Dragons, with all the emphasis on the first syllable, DRAG-ons.
"I do have some sketches here, lady Ramkin" (RAM-kin) "based on the descriptions in your writings but I must confess dragon anatomy is not my field of expertise," He said pulling a pile of paper from his bag.
"No Sir, because it's mine," Sybil said briskly. The Baronet laughed warmly. He was a tall man, taller than Sybil which rarely happened, with a face which was mostly nose. He was also dressed well, his artist's eye had told him the deep burgundy trousers would look good with the dark green waistcoat and against all odds he was right. Sybil looked over the drawings which were surprising detailed despite being drawn from descriptions. "These are wonderful sir. There are one or two details in need of correction," She said. "The gallbladder this representation of Mineral build-up would be a more crystal like in appearance," Sybil explained.
"Perhaps, the best way forward would be to show me examples," the Baronet said. Sybil raised an eyebrow.
"It's not very pleasant Sir," She explained carefully. The Baronet laughed.
"Lady Ramkin, I have illustrated for everything from flower guides to medical journals, I even once painted Lady Constantine portrait. I am used to not very pleasant," he explained cheerfully.
Sybil laughed causing the Baronet to smiled.
"Very well Sir on your head be it," she giggled.
"Of course and if I might be so bold, perhaps you could call me Rupert," he said.
"Only if you call me Sybil," The two shared a moment smiling at each other which was interrupted by Mr Smith clapping his hands in a business like way.
"The diseases of the dragons is a go!"

Chapter Text

Sybil wished Sinta good night before she joined the party already in full swing downstairs. It was silly really, holding an engagement party. They were really meant for young couples not two people past thirty, but it was what one does and one needed to keep up appearances. Rupert's mother was really the driving force behind the party. She, a small woman with a sharp face, who had been more than delighted when her son had introduced his long-awaited and exceedingly rich, fiancee. Soon Sybil found herself being proudly paraded around Ank-Morpork by the Lady Weavers or as in tonight found herself hostess under Lady Weaver's supervision who took deep joy in discussing the improvements she would make to the manor after the marriage. Rupert was passive in all of this, he was overall a passive man. Not uninterested or cold but calm and not easily angered, he was gentle, warm-hearted and a joy to talk to. Sybil often wondered if Daddy would have approved of Rupert, he was a well-educated man with an acceptable but inferior Titel from a respectable family. Not an overly wealthy family but money wasn't an issue. But Rupert wasn't really what Daddy would have called a MAN. Rupert took little joy in blood sports or any sports, his interest lay more in the artistic and the academic. Although Rupert did enjoy a drink, he knew his wines and knew the proper way to drink brandy, which her father would have appreciated.

Stopping in the hallway to check herself in a mirror Sybil listened to the chatter of voices. It was rather nice for the house to be filled with music and laughter again, the hadn't held a party since before Daddy had his stroke. Happy that she looked acceptable, she headed towards the ballroom where the guests were. Turning a corner she almost jumped when she saw Rupert and his friend, Jonathan Sniper a member of Rupert's artistic circle, talking at the end of the corridor. Neither of them saw her or looked up from their quiet conversation. Sybil started towards them, not bothering to call out she did not need to make herself noticed, it simply came naturally. She had only taken a couple of steps when something about the two men made her stop. They were standing close together, Rupert was animated or as animated as one can be while whispering. Mr Sniper just listened his eyes pointed towards his shoes. There was a lull in the conversation and Rupert with a worried look on his brow reached out and touched the tips of Mr Snipers fingers. Sybil stopped, quickly she turned, fled down the hall and into the library. When she was sure neither of the men had followed her, she sat down, took a deep breath and thought.

If asked Sybil would admit that she was not an observant person when it came to people. The delicacy of social and romantic interaction tended to go over her head.To Sybil euphemism and innuendo were like the good silver only brought out on special occasions and then she really didn't see the point when there was perfectly good steel tableware. Of course, she had heard rumours that men and woman did that sort of thing. Lord Vellessie, for example, was often described as "an elegant man" although she had never fully understood what they meant. Then there was Lady Tenor and her nice lady companion, hell, even Sybil had been described as "Keeps her hands in her pockets," when they thought she couldn't hear them. But I really wasn't something one discussed openly and Sybil herself didn't take notice of any of this because it really wasn't her business. But even Sybil with her emotional blinkers had noticed a varying variety of pitying looks when she had announced her's and Rupert's engagement. Was this the reason for them, the ones giving them were people better at picking up on the signals. Of course, on the other hand, did it really matter? Plenty of married couples lasted years without half of the mutual respect and friendship she and Rupert shared. He was a kind, gentle man. A man who she enjoyed long conversations with, he had quickly become one of her dearest friends. She wanted that in a husband but she also (although she would never admit to this) wanted a little more than conversations. Still, marriages with a kind of understanding have worked in the past, but they also burned spectacularly, Lady Vellessie's drinking problem was becoming hard to politely ignore. Sybil sat biting her thumb, until a footman entered, informing her that she was being missed by the guest.
"I'm sure that's not true," Sybil sighed, putting on her smartest smile, she joined the party.

Chapter Text

Rupert stared down at the ring in the palm of his hand and back up at Sybil sitting across the tea set.
"I don't understand," He said eventually. Sybil didn't fully understand herself but unassertiveness didn't become her so she bit down her worries and smiled brightly.
"I feel maybe it's for the best," She said pouring more tea, neither of their cups was empty but she needed something to do with her hands.
"How is it?" Rupert snapped.
"It's... the Dragon pens and the shows, I'm not sure..." Sybil began.
"No one is asking you to sacrifice your dragons," Rupert interrupted, Sybil could have corrected him, his mother had dropped numerous and unsubtle hints about the dragon pens. "In fact, it's good you for you to have hobbies," Rupert added, he picked up his tea cup and slumped back into his chair. Sybils' heart broke a little at how comfortable he was here and how nice it was having him here too. She also excused him the use of the description hobbies Dragons were most defiantly not a hobby. She felt her resolution folding and herself caving in.
"Don't be silly, old girl." She told herself. "You have thought long and hard and this is the best for both of us,"
Out loud she said.
"There is also Sinta, her health really isn't what it was. She needs so much attention now, and she doesn't feel comfortable with the nurses," Sybil continued. She hated herself for using Sinta for an excuse it really was a rotten thing to do but Sybil was panicking at this point. Although there was a little truth to it.
"I love Sinta!" Rupert blurted out sitting up straight.
Sybil winced a little. She knew that wasn't true, or at least only half true. She knew Rupert bore no ill-will towards Sinta, he wasn't a curl or thoughtless man, but she doubted he loved her, he didn't know her, not the Sinta Sybil knew. It really was hard for Sinta to remember new faces these days, now she was forgetting the familiar ones. Sybil took a deep breath, pressed her hands together, she squeezed her eyes shut, and made a silent wish for this to be easier. When her head stopped spinning she opened her eyes and looked up at Rupert. He was gazing at her with concern. He did seem to care about her.
"The truth is, I don't think you are the right man for me," Sybil let out a shaking breath. Rupert sat back bemused. "I know you've always talked about Quirm and all the fine Museums there. Perhaps you and your friend Mr Sniper could go, perfectly understandable way to clear your head," Sybil said a little too brightly. Some form of realisation dawned on Rupert.
"Sybil I..." He started but it was Sybil's turn to interrupt him.
"I don't think we need to say anymore. I just hope that we can remain friends." Sybil said honestly. Rupert nodded quickly.
"Of course. I think I understand," He replied earnestly. As etiquette required Sybil stood to see him out, at the library door Rupert stopped and turned to her the ring clutched in his hand. "I never wanted to hurt anyone you know. But I am getting too old to be a bachelor anymore and people do talk, and getting married is the done thing isn't it? I thought if I found a woman I enjoyed spending time with it would make life easier," He admitted sadly. Sybil laughed warmly.
"I think we both know you would get so very bored with an easy life," She leant forward and kissed his cheek. "Take care of yourself,"

Years later the Rouge, Quirms' most prestigious art gallery, was celebrating the opening of an expedition of their most popular artist latest collection. Rupert smiled as some art enthusiasts looked over his latest work. Towards the end of the night, the galleries curator approached him, ranting about how wonderful the evening was going on about the painting that had already been sold and so on and so forth.
"Oh and this also arrived, from our benefactor in Ank-Morpork" He added before he flitted off to sell another painting. Rupert smiled at the pink envelope with curved neat handwriting, from his Favourite financier.

Chapter Text

The lamps in the garishly pink drawing room had not been lit. Sybil placed her candle on the coffee table and sat on the plush sofa, stared into the distance. Not many mourners had attended that day's event which had been a quiet sombre occasion. Sinta despite being a friendly and easily likeable woman she hadn't been popular like Daddy had been. Sybil took a deep breath and meditated. The last few years had faded slowly away. Sinta became less and less, until her heavy laboured breathing stop and Sinta was gone. Sybil had held her hand.

Sybil got up and helped herself to a glass of port, from the drinks cabinet, cleverly disguised as Great A'tuin. The house was empty, the staff had dwindled to one elderly butler and a maid who came in twice a week to do the dusting. Sybil only used a couple of rooms now, the mansion was lousy with dust sheets and mothballs, ghosts and dust bunnies. Sybil finished her port and reached to refill her glass, in the dark, she misjudged the distance and knocked the port decanter over. It rolled off the shelf and smashed on the floor. Sybil stared down at the shattered glass. A scream so primal, so unexpected that Sybil almost doubted it was her, rang around the sitting room. Sybil cried, ugly, breathless tears, still standing by the open cabinet, her empty glass held tenuously in her grasp. Sybil didn't know how long she cried for after the first few undignified sobs, she dissolved into a steady flow of tears until she felts dried out and her head felt like it was being squeezed. Leaving the port soaking into the Klatchean rug, Sybil fumbled her way back to the sofa and sat breathing slowly and calmly. The house was silent, there was no wind rustling the curtains or feet creaking the floorboards. What she could hear was the distant whistling from the dragon sheds. They sounded agitated, of course, they were it was well past feeding time. Sybil cursed about losing track of the time. Taking a deep breath slow breath she squared her jaw and stiffened her upper lip.

"Don't worry you people!" She called out towards the sheds. She stood up and smoothed down her dress, wiping away the last of the silly tears on her sleeve. "Mummy's here,"

Chapter Text

"Come on man!" Sybil grunted the sweat dripping down her face. Lord Mountjoy Grayscale Talonthrust III of Ank who had been casually been sniffing straw in one corner of the pen, turned his head looked her over lazily, then deciding she wasn't worth it lay down and fell to sleep. Sybil sat back on her haunches, pushed up her visor and wiped her brow with her already soot covered handkerchief. Above Sybil, Lord Mountjoy's intended mate flew in circles making preening noises, they only had a small window until she came out of heat, and she turned back from unconditionally friendly back to possibly murderous. Sybil had tried everything she knew to get this dragon interested, food, a nice warm pen, pheromones, more food. Nothing seemed to get his fires burning.  

"I didn't think," She said glaring angerly at the snoring dragon. "I didn't think that a red-blooded male like you would need this much persuasion," Determined Sybil lowered her visor, got to her feet and picked up the recumbent dragon. Lord Mountjoy blearily opened his eyes and licked his lips apparently unmoved by the sudden change in altitude. Sybil cursed, Lord Mountjoy was one of the bigger species and a greedy bugger to boot. With some difficult manoeuvring, Sybil managed to hold him out at arms-length, her muscles protesting, her arms shaking with the effort. "Come on man, just get up there and think of Ank!" She ordered and let go. This was when the dragons survival instincts should have kicked in and Lord Mountjoy should have started to flap his wings. None of these things happened and Lord Mountjoy landed with a thud on the straw. When there was no bang, Sybil peered over the wall she had vaulted over and glared at the dragon who was licking himself.

"Listen, my man," Sybil hissed leaning over the wall so that her mask and the dragons face were almost touching. "You are a Stud, start pulling your weight around here and get Studding or its the chop for you." She threatened. Lord Mountjoy gave her mask a friendly lick and curled up into a ball. Sybil sighed heavily, her empty threat had fallen on deaf ears once more. Suddenly Lord Mountjoy looked up, so did the dragons in the neighbouring pens. Together they started to whistle excitedly looking towards the house.  

"What is with you people?" She asked and listened there was a faint suggestion of ringing. "Somone at the door?" she looked up at the calendar, the Coal man came on Thursdays, unless she had forgotten a payment it was unlikely to be him and she rarely got visitors these days. "Calm down people it's not Coal day." She told the whistling mass around her. Not bothering to remove any of her fireproof-gear she made her way to the front door. She was just about to enter the kitchen when there was a knock on the side gate. "Ah," Sybil sighed, "it must be the coal man".

Sybil pushed up the heavy latch and pulled open the gate with a flourish. She had not meant to be dramatic about it but it was a heavy gate and she misjudged how much force was needed, so the gate slammed against the wall. The Watchman on the other side of the gate took a step back.

"Not the coal man then," Sybil thought. Sybil looked the watchmen over as he stared at her dumbfounded. He was roughly her age, she assumed he could have been a healthy sixty or a knackered forty. His uniform was tattered but she vaguely recognised him as a night watchman, what the night-watch needed with her during the day, she didn't know. The Watchman was slowly backing away from her as if she was a bear. He was shorter than her but most people are. His body was wiry similar to a wild hare and like a wild hare, he looked ready to flee. Sybil grabbed him by the arm before he could bolt and said the first thing that came to her mind.

"Ah good man. Do you know anything about mating?"