“I’ve never had a woman aboard before,”he said, walking around the cabin and absentmindedly playing with whatever he came across. “Indeed, from memory, I was specifically warned against it. However, you have apparently been doing a good job patching up my crew, and so the plan of leaving you next time we reach port was discarded. Also, Scrubs would have slit my throat as I slept. So, you stay. Agreed?” He looked to her.
“Swell, swell.” He resumed fiddling with the many objects the room was filled with. There were candles that barely lit a room full of beautiful and rare objects. Dove herself was struggling to concentrate as he continued to talk.
“So you’re one of my crew now. Well. The rules are that you can take whatever you please- funnily enough, people tend to steal less when they know they can have what they want. Besides, we’re pirates, so we get into our fair share of trouble for taking what isn’t ours. But here, aboard my ship, we share. You’re allowed in here too-” he gestured about him- “and there’s a lock on the door, although I’d personally prefer not to be locked out myself.” They both smiled and Dove nodded her acceptance of the conditions.
“Sorry it took me so long to invite you down. I suppose I just wasn’t sure what I’d do when you actually came. That’s really all I wanted to say though, so you are free to go.”
Dove nodded and turned to leave. She, as happened many times each day, had something to say but not the words to say it. She quickly turned around and kissed him on the cheek. He put a hand to touch where her lips had met his skin, surprised.
“You’re welcome.” They smiled again. She left.
Dove soon became a normal part of the crew. Scrubs had warned of the consequences of anyone who dared advance on her without her consent, and the men were quite certain he could deliver, despite his shuffled hobble around the ship. There then came the day when Dove experienced what the pirates spent every day waiting for. The cry came- a passing ship. All of a sudden the lazy scene sprang to life, every man scuttling to perform his role. Masks were donned and Dove shepherded downstairs, to wait for the men to return. They were ready. She was content to leave them to it. Blake emerged, brandishing his pistol and cutlass, and led them by swinging over to the other ship. All the could be heard from below was the cry of “take their bread, take their gold, but do not take their lives!” And with that, a peace overcame the girl and she sat on her bed to anticipate the amount of injuries that would be sustained.
It was much sooner than she expected, however, when she heard the clump of boots on the wooden stairs. She stood to greet the man coming down below, but took a step back when she realised she did not recognise him. Her back hit the wall and he smiled at her, but not the friendly smile of her Captain. He was well dressed, and clean, but his smile made her feel as if he were covered in slime. Before she had fully comprehended his intentions, he lunged for her and pulled her to the ground. She hit wildly at him, and he pinned her arms above her with one hand.
“It’s always better when they fight,” he growled into her ear, his breath hot and wet.
She writhed and struggled, but he was too strong and she tried to conjure a scream but her lips, dry and disobedient, refused to obey her. As she resigned to what was about to happen, the mans head jerked back. He yelped like a puppy as he was held up by his hair. The captain looked down at him with disgust and pulled him up the stairs, not meeting Doves eye.
He threw him onto the deck as the men swung back to their own ship.
“I caught this man below with Dove.” There was an uproar. Dove emerged from the depths of the ship. The men held up their weapons, some bloodied already.
“He was going to defile our Dove.” The men shouted louder, stamping and clanging their swords.
“What do we do to men who want to hurt our Dove?” The captain shouted to his men, as he pulled out his pistol. The men went silent. Scrubs stepped forwards.
“Take their bread, take their gold, but do not take their lives.”
The other men repeated after him, and the captain looked around at them, his eyes settling on Dove. She averted her eyes to the floor and shuffled her feet.
“What do we do, Dove?” He asked, his voice now little more than a whisper.
She looked to Scrubs. “Do not take their lives,” he translated her thoughts for everyone to hear. The Captain faced the man, lying on the ground.
“Today, you know forgiveness. We’ll drop you at the next port.” And he turned to go to his cabin. The man stood and deftly lunged at the captain.
“I’ll take no pirates mercy!” He cried as his blade glinted in the sun. Seamlessly, Blake turned around and shot him between the eyes, then continued down below to his cabin. Nobody moved for a few minutes, before everyone wordlessly returned to their duties. Two men picked up the body and threw it overboard as Dove stood, her feet cemented to the deck and a tear hanging from her eyelashes.
As time continued, there were more sieges. No one spoke about Doves first siege- indeed, the Captain did not talk to Dove anymore at all, and she made a habit of avoiding him if she could. The men moved like clockwork most days, with the Captain emerging only to lead the men when needed. Pirates cannot only take, however, they must have contact with land at some point, so there was a point where they came to land. Blake came out to dictate when the men had to come back and what their duties were, the men greedy to find women and drink for a night. The Captain too, disappeared off into the dusk, while Dove decided to stay back with Scrubs. They talked as the elderly pirate told her his story, and how he came to be aboard the ship. She curled up next to him as he rested an arm around her shoulders and got lost in reminiscence. Soon, they were both asleep.
Dove awoke to quiet groans that were slightly different from the gentle creaks of the boat. Careful not to disturb Scrubs as he snored, she went to the top deck and there found the Captain, a large gash bleeding into his shirt. He was trying to hold himself together, but was as pale as a ghost. She quickly gathered some bandages and salt water and began attending to his wound. He tried to stay quiet as she worked, but when she touched his skin with a swab of alcohol, he gasped and grabbed her shoulder. She took his hand and held it, looking deep into his eyes, waiting for his grip to relax slightly. Placing his hand back on her shoulder, he chuckled with a wince. “You should have seen the other guy.” She smiled and he smiled in return. She worked as quickly as she could, wrapping him up tightly and carefully, then attempting to help him back to his cabin. He walked stiffly, but deftly and as she lay him gently on the bed, he grabbed her hand and pulled her to sit on the bed beside her. She obliged and he held her hand in his.
“I’m sorry for what I did, Dove,” he whispered eventually. She shook her head gently and put her hand over theirs. He smiled sadly. “I didn’t want that for you. I thought I could protect you, but I thought I only had to worry about my own men. How could I be so wrong?” He looked at her and cupped her chin with his other hand. “I’m sorry, Dove”, his voice barely audible. She breathed in, trying to predict his next move. He looked away, and she breathed out. He kissed her. Her eyes flew open in surprise.
She relaxed. They closed. She leaned in. He kissed her deeper.