[The Siren’s Call II]
The horizon was a brilliant blue on blue where the lighter sky met the darker ocean, no trace of land or ship. The ship raced steadily across the waves in the brisk wind, strong enough to give them speed, but not strong enough for the rolling waves to truly be a nuisance. Still, Fenris clung to the mast, unused to the odd swaying of the crow’s nest, wary of being taken off guard. Isabela showed no such compulsions where she stood; leaning over the edge, face in the wind and a smile that went from here to the horizon.
“This is what freedom is, Fenris, this is what I was talking about.”
The elf did not lose his frown, but he let go of the mast, echoing her stance, trying to understand what she was talking about.
“Look,” she laughed, placing an arm around his shoulders, ignoring the slight stiffening it caused. “There is nothing out there but us, and the ship, and up here I can feel it all. This is me. My body. This ship. These sails. The creaking of her hull. I can feel how she leans into the wind, the shifting waves, and the smell of the ocean. No chains. No walls. No boundaries. On land I am a whore, a drunkard and a duelist, here I am a queen. Always a captain though,” she added with a smirk.
They had spent the night talking, reluctantly, haltingly, the pair of them unused to sharing. They hoarded their feelings like beggars hoarded coppers, but now in the daylight it all seemed like a dream. Looking at her, Fenris could not imagine her as a young girl, sold off to be a wife before she was ready. He could not imagine her being trapped by anything or anybody; she had broken her chains so thoroughly he could not even see the marks.
Except sometimes. At night. When the smile faded.
She knew he would not tell anybody.
“I see water and the sky, but no freedom,” he rasped, more puzzled than annoyed. “I’ve been on a ship before; it has nothing to do with being free for me.” Cramped holds. Unwashed bodies. Denarius escaping, leaving him behind. Not free. Thrown away.
“That is because you’ve just been a passenger silly,” Isabela laughed, the wind tearing at her hair, the sunlight casting reflections in her jewelry. “You’ve been dragged through life by one boat or the other, but you’ve never really sailed. Other people have held your rudder, but…” Her eyes flashed teasingly, the joke dirty but her intentions pure. “…I intend to teach you how to sail.”
Fenris was quiet for a moment, watching her face, willing himself to find faults and causes for anger. To rile against the world and stalk off, finding refuge in a dark corner somewhere. But there were no corners or cobwebs up here in the sky, just the swaying mast and a dark-skinned, curvy woman with a smile like the sun. He looked up, into the glaring heavens, shadowing his eyes.
“I think I would like that very much.”