A crisp sea breeze blew the ringlets back from Hermione's face as she stood on the deck of the ship, waving stoically at those gathered on the docks to see them off. Her mother had been too distraught to stay and as this whole expedition had been her father's idea, he hadn't wasted any time on "foolish, sentimental gestures." So she waved at the children in the crowd instead, determined not to cry as her beloved homeland slipped further and further away from her.
Miss Hermione Granger was not a crier.
She remained on deck long after most of the other passengers, waiting until the shoreline was a mere speck in the distance. Only then did she return to her cabin, stopping to check on her companion as she did so. Miss Lavender Brown was a silly thing, and though Hermione wasn't enamored with the girl, she nevertheless felt a bit of sympathy for Lavender's seasickness. Hermione refreshed her companion's cool cloths and promised to check back later, then she escaped the tiny space and its odious stench. She repressed a snort when she realized that she'd become Lavender's companion rather than the other way around. She had argued with her father over having a companion in the first place—after all, she was on her way to meet her betrothed; what trouble could she truly get into on a ship? The entire voyage to the Americas was only slated to take two months, less if the winds were favorable. Her greatest concern was not that she would be ruined for marriage, but that her mind would become ruined from inactivity during the journey.
Sighing as she dug in her small trunk for something to read, Hermione wondered what her parents were doing at this very moment. Most likely her mother had taken to her bed, and her father had excused himself to his horticultural society club. She loved them both dearly, but her father—well, he had never quite known what to do with a daughter, particularly not one that actually wished to use her brain for intellectual pursuits rather than pursuit of the latest fashions. He loved her, of course he did; but marrying her off to a well-to-do tradesman in America was hardly the course she would have chosen for herself. And her father really ought to have known better.
She uncovered her stash of books in the bottom of her trunk and scanned the titles, trying to decide which would help soothe her most. But it was no use. Hermione realized that even if she did pick out a book, she wouldn't be able to settle down, not tonight. And besides—she'd packed her trunk with as many books as possible, but they wouldn't last the whole voyage if she didn't ration her reading. The thought made her heart constrict moreso even than leaving England. Limited reading material—yet another sin to lay at her father's feet.
Despite the lateness of the hour, Hermione decided to head aboveboard and take in some air. Perhaps a walk around the deck would help to calm her anxiety so she might sleep. She wrapped another shawl around her shoulders in case it was cool, then made her way to the stairs. As soon as she neared the deck, the fresh sea air reached her nose and she felt herself relax. Stepping fully onto the upper deck, Hermione paced over to the railing, looking out at the endless expanse of dark blue ocean. In the twilight, she could almost imagine they were flying, so seamless was the transition from air to water. The only difference was the way the wind whipped up the surface of the water.
She inhaled deeply, letting the sounds and smells wash over her. Oddly enough, she felt very much at home on the ship's deck as the massive vessel sliced through the night. All thoughts of a walk abandoned, Hermione rested her elbows on the rail and simply imagined that the ship was taking her somewhere exotic, somewhere of her own choosing. Anywhere, really, aside from where she was actually headed.
She wasn't sure how much time had passed, but eventually she noted a change in her surroundings. The wind whipped harder at her hair and dress, the boat bobbed up and down more drastically, and the air began to smell of oncoming rain. In fact—yes, there it was again—she watched as lightning split the sky off in the distance. A storm was headed their way, but instead of feeling frightened, Hermione felt as though the very elements were coursing through her veins. As the wind continued to pick up and the lightning grew more frequent, extreme anticipation stole over her. She felt jittery and powerful at the same time. It was most peculiar.
Intellectually, she was busy cataloging all of her body's reactions. Emotionally, however, she just knew that she felt alive and capable of anything in this moment, and she quieted her academic thoughts as she tried to just experience the thrill. When lightning struck again nearby and she heard the loud boom accompanying it, she laughed with sheer joy. She was so caught up in the feral beauty of the storm that she didn't immediately register the dangerous rocking of the boat.
"Ma'am!" A deckhand grabbed her arm, pulling her attention back. "You need t'get below. Captain's orders!"
"Thank you. I will in just a moment." She started to turn away but the boy grabbed her again, this time shaking her arm insistently.
"You don' understand! We've been hit! You have'ta get to your cabin!"
"What?" Hermione's eyes darted back out to sea, searching for a rocky outcropping or some other obstacle, but she saw nothing. "What do you mean, hit?"
"They only barely caught us, but we're no match for 'em, speedwise. They'll fire again if they catch up—better get away from the deck!"
"They who?!" Hermione demanded, but the boy was gone, running off to help secure the sails. She saw a group of men standing on the other side of the boat, so she hurried over, hoping to discover just what was going on. When she reached them, they were all gazing over the side of the ship, so Hermione leaned over the railing and looked as well. What she saw made her feel sick. A hole the size of her head now graced the once-pristine planking, and while it wasn't beneath the waves, there was still a fair amount of water making its way in. Her exhilaration turned quickly to dread.
"Excuse me!" Hermione called to the men. "What happened? Who hit us?"
But before anyone could answer, another loud blast sounded—Hermione now realized she had mistaken the first one for thunder—and in the next second, another hole appeared in the ship's side. Hermione grabbed onto the railing with all her strength to avoid being thrown back. As the shocks receded, Hermione straightened and stared at the vessel now approaching them, her eyes wide. And she answered her own question.
A/N: This is sort of inspired by the opening of Pirates of the Caribbean, when the weather changes and the pirates arrive. And also partly inspired by my love of standing outside when a storm is brewing! I don't really know how long this will end up but I hope you enjoy regardless. I always love a good historical fiction/pirate romance!
As ever, I am not JK Rowling nor any one of the creators of PotC.