Thump! A step forward. Thump! Another step. Thump! Alfred slowly advanced to his doom. He had lost everything. He was wanted for treason. He had abandoned his home and family to follow a single call. He wanted nothing more than freedom and now he was standing in the confinement of heavy chains, approaching little by little to the weathered wood of the gallows.
‘For the act of Piracy or being associated with those known as pirates, you are hereby sentenced to hang by the neck until dead.’
Alfred looked up from the dirty cobblestone to the soldier standing in the clean read coat at the edge of the square. He glared at the man though it wasn’t his fault that he was chosen to read the orders. He tightened his grip on the small item held between his shackled hands, a ring. The ring, bestowed upon him by his Captain, brought him what little comfort he could find in this moment. He never quite understood why he got that particular piece of jewellery in the first place but he cherished it. When he was arrested he hid the ring in his mouth not wanting to be accused of stealing through it probably had been, just not by him.
Alfred bit his lip slightly. If he closed his eyes he could see the reason why he cherished it so.
The orange flames licked up at the black inky sky. Screams echoed over the clashing swords and the ring of gunshots. Alfred has seen his captain climb aboard another ship in the harbour, one too pretty to pass by without checking. Little did he know the English were waiting. They appeared out of the dark, guns at the ready. Before Alfred knew it the ship was a flame, slowly sinking into the sea with his captain still aboard. Everything seemed to slow. There was no way that the captain could escape such a blaze as he heard screams from those in official red as they burned. He was so shocked he almost forgot to stay away from the English. He ran through the burning town, seeing his crewmates slowly being overtaken or dead. He turned a corner and felt a sharp pain from the butt of a gun at the back of his head. He crumpled to the ground and everything went black.
Alfred’s head throbbed at the memory while his eyes pricked at the thought of the captain. Pirates didn’t cry though; instead he thought of what the captain would do in his situation. The captain would have never been involved in such a mess. He would laugh at the English and use some clever means to escape. Alfred smiled and did something that shocked the whole square, soldier and pirate alike. He started to laugh. Quietly at first, but then growing ever louder with words thrown in here and there; soon it formed into a song.
‘Yo ho, all together. Hoist the colours high. Heave ho, thief and beggar. Never shall we die,’ Alfred sang. Soon the rest of the misfits and captors joined in, singing a song they all knew so well.
One odd soldier stepped closer and Alfred took in a breath to continue despite the reprimanding he was sure to get.
‘’Ello poppet,’ the soldier said with a devilish grin. Alfred blinked and looked closely at the man. Beneath the fine looking red coat he saw a mother of pearl pistol and a well used sword. Peeking out from under the hat were a few shiny earrings and rings adorned the fingers that gripped the musket. And what met Alfred’s seas of blue were two shining emeralds adorned with thick black eyeliner.
‘C-captain?’ he stuttered. ‘I guess this means I won’t die? Or am I already dead?’
‘If we’re dead then I want a refund on Heaven. Tortuga is better than this,’ the captain replied. ‘I think it’s time for us to take out leave.’ Alfred grinned and nodded as the other looked around.
A nearby commander noticed the questionable behaviour. ‘Oi you there, don’t socialize with the prisoners!’
The Captain smirked and turned. ‘So sorry sir, I was merely making sure this prisoner was properly shackled.’ The commander frowned, sensing some underlying words but unable to clasp them. He looked closely and seemed to catch those subtle inconsistencies.
‘You’re not....’ By the time that had slipped from the commander’s lips, the pair reached the gallows and the Captain saw their chance. He had slipped a key into Alfred’s hands earlier and now he whirled around, quickly pulling the commander’s sword and tossing it to the other while drawing his own. Jumping to the wooden platform and with a flourish of his hat, he bowed mockingly to the soldiers aiming at him.
‘Captain Arthur Kirkland, at your service.’ He smirked as he came back up and threw the red coat into the crowding soldiers, jumping into the masses. ‘Time to go Al!’ Alfred swung his sword at one soldier then quickly ran after Arthur with the stupidest, most childish grin.
They could hear orders being yelled behind them but they didn’t care now; they were free. Alfred grinned widely as he trailed Arthur. How could he have ever believed that Arthur, his Captain, was dead? He had been considering the possibility for a while but now he grasped the understanding that Arthur had disappeared. A hand shot out from a nearby path, grabbing Alfred by the wrist. Alfred was about to raise his sword when his eyes met green. Arthur placed a finger to his lips and met his eyes, commanding silence. He heard the quick footsteps of the soldiers coming down the pathway. Alfred then pressed closer to Arthur, shielding him against the tree they were using as cover. If Alfred had not been looking the other direction he would have seen Arthur’s eyes widen slightly.
The footsteps faded and Alfred moved away. Both of them immediately missed the other’s warmth but neither voiced it. ‘I think we’re safe fer the moment,’ Alfred said. Arthur nodded and looked around. He had a rendezvous set up to get back to the ship soon. ‘Thank ye Captain.’
Arthur looked up at the other. ‘For what?’
‘Fer saving me sir.’
Arthur placed a hand on Alfred’s shoulder. ‘Thank that song you’re always singing. I recognized you when you sang. The brig does little for your good looks.’
Alfred smiled and rolled his eyes, remembering the few fights he had gotten himself into while in holding; he was now sporting some lovely bruises that blended with all the dirt. ‘Yo ho Captain.’
‘Arthur.’ Alfred blinked, looking confused. ‘Call me Arthur. I came to save you and you’ve proven yourself. You can call me anything you want.’
'Wow Capt- I mean Artie! I’m honoured!’ Alfred exclaimed. Arthur twitched at the nickname, not utterly sure if he enjoyed its presence.
‘Don’t get a big head now. We need to leave of the Britannia will leave without us,’ Arthur said rolling his eyes. He started out through the trees, heading towards the beach. Alfred followed happily. As he was gesturing widely, explaining one of his many fights, the sun cast out a glimpse of gold. Arthur caught a glimpse at Alfred’s hand and noted the familiar gold ring with the blue and green gems sparkling side by side. ‘How in the world did you manage to keep this?’
Alfred looked down, a very light pink dusting his cheeks. ‘I hid it. I didn't want anyone ta take it away.’ He paused for a moment. ‘It means a lot ta me. Ye gave it ta me.’ Arthur blinked, looking at the other. He turned towards the sea, not wanting his face to be seen.
‘I’m glad you kept it.’ They walked in silence for a time, both thinking about the other. When they arrived at the beach, Arthur shielded his eyes looking for his prized ship. When he saw her sitting off in a cove his face broke into an arrogant grin. Alfred watched him for a moment before smiling as well.
‘Well Artie, looks like we made it. Now whatta we do?’ Alfred leaned an arm over Arthur’s shoulders.
Arthur looked up into eyes the colour of the sky. ‘Now we do whatever the hell we want. Pirates, love. Pirates.’