Toys in the Attic
Summary: Drusilla's Journal for 1860, the year she was turned, turns up in an old trunk full of her favorite dresses.
A/N: Many thanks to stir_of_echoes for the initial read through and concrit when this was first written and to hesadevil for her wonderful beta reading.
Chapters: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 Complete
The back room of the little antique shop was a hive of quiet activity. It was here that the delicate cutwork tablecloths and fragile, lacy dresses were cleaned and repaired; here that the dusty chests and boxes of auction finds were cautiously unpacked (Ella was terrified of the spiders that sometimes lurked inside and always alert for the moths that could do untold damage to her precious stock); here that treasures were unearthed and gloated over—the billowing shirts so beloved of her customers in the film and theatre trade, the dresses which had adorned many a film set and red carpet, the linens and cottons which decorated the finest tables in the county and the occasional heirloom quilt, its colours still fresh after years in hiding.
Ella loved it all! Loved the task of bringing the past back to life with her delicate stitching and starching and pressing. Loved her skill in restoring these priceless pieces of cloth, soaking yellowed lace in milk and rinsing it till, creamy white once more, it was ready to be pinned into shape on flat drying boards. Loved placing her finds on display in the little shop. Loved phoning her contacts and telling them that she had found exactly what they had been searching for.
Today, as she looked at the heavy leather-and-wood trunk which Sam had found in his latest trawl through the auction rooms, she felt the familiar thrill of anticipation. Would the fabrics inside be spotted with mould and stained with damp? Would the moths have destroyed whatever lay hidden inside? She tried to guess at the contents by estimating the age of the trunk, but it could have been from almost any era, it gave away no secrets. It could hold frock coats and fripperies from two hundred years ago, or it could be the contents of a 1950's airing cupboard. Well, only one way to find out. With shaking fingers she undid the tarnished brass clasps and raised the heavy lid.
Her first thought was one of disappointment as she drew out a rich, red Empire waisted velvet dress. The workmanship was exquisite, the fabric superb, but the garment was undoubtedly modern. Oh well, she had friends who dealt in second-hand clothing and since this was unquestionably a couture garment she should be able to sell it on easily enough. She searched further. More dresses all of the same vaguely period romantic style, in rich reds and black, and one of fine white lace. The remnants of some touring theatre's wardrobe perhaps? She looked at the white lace confection more closely and drew back as she saw the rusty red stains which dotted the sleeves and bodice. Blood? Or possibly the stage blood known as Kensington gore? Either way it was going to be murder to get those marks out.
The next find was a tightly waisted 1950's skirt and matching top, Italian! Becoming more excited she delved further, bringing forth beaded confections from the thirties and twenties, hobble skirts from the early years of the last century. My God the trunk was a treasure trove, a collection perhaps? But no, collections were usually folded and swathed in acid free tissue paper, not placed willy nilly in a trunk and abandoned. She recognised jet bugle beads of the Victorian era, and, incongruous here, a man's shirt, waistcoat and cravat, heavily stained at the neck, beyond repair. Why had they been preserved?
Long, pearl-buttoned gloves, pin-tucked nightgowns, fans and crushed bonnets and, in the folds of a sweeping velvet cloak (which alone would repay the price of the entire trunk) a doll, a Victorian doll dressed in tattered finery. Ella drew the tiny object out and gasped, the doll's face was ruined, its eyes poked out! With a little cry she dropped it then shuddered, reproached herself for her folly and returned to her task. Nothing much left now. Some Chinese slippers, a pair of dancing shoes, a babies' christening robe, boned corsets, long legged, lace-edged drawers and a yellowed newspaper dated 1880, its headline telling of unexplained killings in London. This last she put aside to read and show to Simon who was a dealer in antique books.
She turned to the pile of clothing and began to sort, checking for damage on the beadwork, ripped linings frayed edges, the inevitable mud splashes on the long skirts. As she shook out the cloak she felt something heavy in the pocket and discovered a small, leather bound notebook, something else for Simon perhaps? Opening the cover she saw that it was filled with the faded spidery script of a bygone age. She selected a page at random and began to read:
I have been seeing again, I have tried and tried not to and Mother will be so very angry with me but I cannot stop.