Little Sister

By comlodge

Spike seldom thought of the sister he had loved and lost, as a human. It had been so long ago and he'd been barely a teenager when she had been taken from them. Brain fever, the doctor had said when he came to apply the leeches and lotions that were the height of medical practice. William had been sent to the apothecary to fetch some of the powders the doctor had used. He had been close to his sister. They'd spent many hours together in the nursery, before he had been sent away to school at the age of twelve.

He'd been at school when Emily fell ill. So many Londoners died from the perpetual smog that hung over the city through winter. Coupled with the weather it was an indiscriminate killer. The rough medical practices of the day meant many people of all classes suffered and died. These days she would have been given antibiotics and perhaps she would have survived. But then invalids were put to bed in an overheated room with closed windows and curtains. Leeches were applied and heated glass bowls along with mustard plasters and various tinctures made up in water.

By the time William had been able to get back from school, Emily was very ill. He was barely allowed in her room and he had watched from the sidelines as nanny and his mother had bustled about with bowls and cloths, the servants carrying armloads of wood into the room to stoke the fire. His father had been grey faced when he came into the room to tell him his sister had passed away. A pall settled over the house for the longest time.
He guessed that is why he felt as he did for Dawn. She reminded him of his younger sister. Oh, not the same temperament that's for sure. His sister, Emily, had been a proper young lady, as the times had dictated. Dressed in miles of petticoats and crinolines, always gloved and hatted when visiting friends and family either at home or out. Always chaperoned.

They'd shared the same nanny, who was also Emily's tutor as was the style in those days. Girls were never educated outside the home, if at all, in those times. Fortunately, their parents wanted every advantage for their children and Emily learnt to read and write from a very early age. William had helped her with her letters, a task he'd taken great pleasure in. He had read to her since she was a babe.

She was already learning the piano before she fell ill. She was quite accomplished even though she was so young. She'd a natural talent. Like William she had a gift for the arts. Mother was so proud of her needle work. That someone so young with such tiny hands could set the needle flying as she worked and she'd had a great talent for mixing and matching colours in her sampler work. She would have made some lucky gentlemen a most suitable match.

No, Spike thought, Dawn certainly did not have the same temperament as Emily. He snorted at the thought of Dawn in long skirts, sitting demurely by a fireplace with a sewing hoop in her hands listening quietly whilst her elders conversed amongst themselves. No, Dawn was nothing like Emily and yet she was. She looked up to Spike. She sought his advice, listened to his stories with a rapt attentiveness. She babbled in his ear, telling him of her day, her worries, her plans. She hugged him and grabbed his hand when she was excited.

Yeah. She was a lot like Emily and she'd squeezed herself into his cold, dead heart. Just for herself.