A/N: Written for the 2011 April Showers Drabblethon at the Day_by_Drabble LJ community.

Driving Lessons

During the drive back from the village a storm rolls in, but it's not the muddy road or lack of visibility due to the rain pelting down on the windscreen that forces Branson to slow the car to a creep. It's the car in front of them, and Sybil, mindful of the mirror in which her reflection is plainly visible to the chauffeur, tries not to show her amusement at Branson as he mutters in irritation at the other driver.

"Might as well be driving a horse and carriage, if he's not going to bother to use the bloody gas pedal. Er…" He scratches the back of his neck, a gesture which fascinates Sybil for being at once self-conscious and yet entirely open, revealing a level of feeling to her that none of the other servants, not even Gwen, would to her . "I beg your pardon, m'lady. I get that frustrated when the traffic's jammed up like this."

"Don't worry, Branson, I am in no hurry to return home." She glances up to meet his eyes in the mirror, and smiles at him. "We can pretend we are simply enjoying a leisurely drive together."

"I won't have to pretend to enjoy that, m'lady."

Branson's words are innocuous enough, but they have a strange effect on Sybil, and she finds herself dropping her gaze as a bashful half-laugh escapes her lips. A dart of her eyes back to Branson shows him to be looking rather uncomfortable at her reaction, so she feigns interest in the offending driver up ahead of them.

"Oh!" she cries, leaning forward to peer between the gap in the two front seats through the rain-spattered windscreen. "I do believe that's Edith!"

"Your sister?"

"And Sir Anthony Strallan. He's always coming 'round to ask her to go for a spin."

"Don't know as I'd call it a spin, exactly, if he always drives like this."

This time Sybil cannot stifle her laughter. "He'd never do for Mary, as Father hoped, but he's perfectly suited to Edith because he's…" Sybil searches for the appropriate words.

"A tedious driver?" Branson supplies, grinning up at the mirror.

"Very kind." Sybil's returning smile belies the shake of her head.

She wants to add, And Lord knows how Edith needs someone to be kind to her, but that would be overstepping the bounds she wishes were not in place between her and Branson. Between her and any man, really.

Once again her gaze finds his in the mirror, and Sybil is startled to see that Branson's eyes seem to reveal similar thoughts to hers, that there is such a conversation, such a friendship to be had, if only he were not the chauffeur and she were not the daughter of his employer. He might ask her what sort of man would do for her.

Sitting up a little straighter in the back seat, Sybil makes up her mind to tell him, anyway.


"Yes, m'lady?"

"Some time, when it's not raining and we're not stuck behind Sir Anthony, would you take me for a proper drive? As fast as you dare?"

He grins, a bit like a mischievous schoolboy, Sybil thinks. "Hasn't your father ever warned you about boys in fast cars?"

"No. What about them?"

Branson shakes his head, as if chiding himself. "It's nothing, Lady Sybil, forgive me. Yes, the next dry day when Sir Anthony's spinning on some other road, you and I will put the speedometer through its paces."

"I can hardly wait." Sybil smiles as she leans back in her seat not so much with anticipation of the promised drive with Branson as with pleasure in her own accomplishment, the breadth of which she is not certain she fully understands.