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7 - Mercurial Impressions

Ben's heart is hammering against his ability to think rationally and he can't breathe.

"'M 'onna be s'ck..." He moans as he looks down through the little trapdoor, at the deck of the ship that seems far too far away. They'd come up before breakfast and now Harry has told him the only way to get lunch - or anything, really - is to climb back down.

Harry gives him an unimpressed look. "Really, princess? You can't stand up but you can find the energy to be sick?"

There's something about the scorn in Harry's voice that makes Ben want to curl up and cry. Since he's currently already curled up and he'd already cried in front of Harry only hours before, he chooses to simply close his eyes and pretend the sound of the ocean is just the water feature his mother had insisted on keeping in his room.

"Mhm... y'r 'ight," Ben mumbles, his voice slightly muffled by the fact that his head is pressing into his knees, "'m 'onna jus' feel s'ck..."

There's a scoff and then the trapdoor closes again, suggesting that either Harry had jumped out or has decided against getting food. Neither of those makes sense to Ben but he doesn't want to move in case the mast topples and they both fall so he stays silent, hoping the situation will somehow fix itself before it can get worse and he officially becomes the worst kind of king to ever exist.

Silence reigns in the crow's nest until Harry sits down opposite Ben and sighs. "You have to go down at some point."

"I have a week, right?" Ben looks up just to see Harry's reaction in case he misses anything but finds himself squinting at the bright sun, his eyes rapidly blinking to try and adjust.

"You can't stay up here for a week," Harry argues, folding his arms and frowning.

"Why not?" Ben asks, pulling his legs closer and hugging his knees harder, "In fact, it'd be good for you as well, right? You won't have to worry about me..."

Harry rolls his eyes. "I don't worry about you anyway."

That stings. It wouldn't usually have bothered Ben at all but, right now, there's nobody else who seems to worry about him - he figures that if anyone from Auradon was going to come and find him, they would have done something by now - so knowing that even Harry has given up on him stings. The whole of Auradon, or rather, anyone who was aware of the royal decisions, had started to look for Mal the second she'd left but Ben's been here for several days - he thinks - and there's no sign of anything so he can't help being disheartened.

"Harry?" he asks quietly as he shuts his eyes again, letting his head fall back onto his knees.

"What is it, princess?"

Ben bites his lip for an entire minute of silence before asking: "How long have I been here?"

A small, thoughtful frown flickers over Harry's face before he settles with saying: "About a week, I reckon. Not that I'm any good at telling time, I'm pretty useless when it comes to stuff like that."

"What?" Ben can't manage a more intelligent response; that's the last thing he'd expected Harry to say.

When Harry doesn't reply but there's a shuffling that suggests he's stood up again and has probably turned around to look out to the sea, Ben clears his throat and pushes his panic down. He pulls his head up and, thankfully, it doesn't take as long to adjust to the light this time before he can say: "You're not useless."

Harry's laugh is more like a bitter bark. "I can't even count."

"Good thing you're not a mathematics teacher, right?" Ben laughs, but his voice betrays his uncertainty and he barely has time to blink before Harry is knelt down in front of him with venom in his glare.

"Are you mocking me?"

"I didn't mean to!" Ben practically squeaks, his face reddening.

Harry's eyes narrow but his gaze flickers between Ben's eyes and he seems to find what he'd been looking for. His voice is far softer than the suspicion in his beautifully endless blue eyes - not that Ben had been staring at them because, in his opinion, they're more celestial than the sky, no, of course not - when he says: "I know, princess, I know."

"I'm sorry," Ben offers, calming down enough to notice how Harry's eyes are almost the same colour as the sky above them right now. He then adds, "And, anyway, you don't need numbers to know when the sun goes down, do you?"

"No, but you need numbers to know how many times the sun has gone down since your arrival, princess." Harry raises an eyebrow, leaning back, apparently deciding he'd rather continue their conversation whilst sat down.

Ben blushes. "Right, of course. Sorry."

He slowly stretches out his legs a little, wincing when his muscles complain, and lets his head lean back on the edge of the crow's nest. Which is exactly when the world shakes. Hit with a spike of fear once again, Ben shrieks and blindly throws his arms out, more than surprised when he actually hits something, someone.

"Woah, steady on." Harry had apparently moved forward just in time to steady Ben, who's just about ready to cry again.

"I don't think I like heights," Ben mumbles, not even sure if he's actually saying anything because all he can hear is his quickened heartbeat.

The smile on Harry's face is both amused and bashful before he replies: "It's not exactly a brilliant first experience to make your judgement upon though."

Ben nods, then frowns. "You might not be a great mathematics teacher but I bet you'd fit right into the role of an English teacher..."

"Thanks, princess," Harry chuckles, letting go of Harry only when the world stabilises once again. There's a genuine beam on his face and Ben can't help wishing he'd learned how to develop a photographic memory so he could keep that image in his mind forever and- woah, what?

"Do you like pancakes?" Ben asks, the question jumping from his mouth in a desperate attempt to shift his focus from the way he can't stop thinking about Harry to something, anything else.


"No?" Ben echoes, now completely confused.

Harry laughs. "No, because we don't have them here and, as a pirate, you have to dislike everything you don't know about if you want to stay alive long enough to find out more."

That can't be a happy way of living, Ben thinks as he bites his lip, then stops himself from doing so because he remembers his parents telling him not to ruin his facial features, and then bites it again because they're not here and nobody needs to take a photo of him right now anyway.

"Are you hungry?" Harry asks after a moment.

Ben blinks. "What?"

He's met with a yet another perfectly arched eyebrow. "You asked about pancakes before attempting to eat your lips. Classic signs of hunger."

"Remind me never to learn psychology from you either," Ben laughs, happy to then see a smile on Harry's face too.

"I'd like to see you try and beat me in psychology, princess." Harry's voice is almost a challenge and Ben would be scared had he not been a part of the conversation beforehand.

"Oh, it's a challenge, captain."

Harry's eyebrows furrow in pleasant confusion. "Captain?"

Once again, Ben blushes. He opens his mouth to say something that might make him sound intelligent but then Harry shifts and suddenly his head is perfectly aligned with the sun, its rays creating a golden halo around him, and Ben is so mesmerised that he almost forgets to breathe altogether.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you're looking pretty lovestruck, princess."

The colour on his face now darker than a sinking sunset, Ben shrugs, then, against his better judgement, salutes and gives Harry a small smile. "Aye aye, captain."

In a crazy turn of events, Harry goes pink. Ben just admires the way the flush on his cheeks contrasts with the dark grey around his eyes. At least, he admires it until Harry coughs pointedly, at which point Ben wants a nearby cloud to fall, engulf him and save him of the embarrassment that comes from being caught staring, especially when you're caught by the person you were staring at.

"Uh... You have something on your face..." Ben mutters uselessly.

"It's called make-up, princess, get over it." If Ben was standing up, he'd probably be pushed over by the sheer force of defensive attitude in that sentence.

"I can't, Captain, you're too tall for me to do that," he says instead of trying to redeem himself. Luckily, it works and Harry chuckles lightly, the tension in his expression morphing into amusement and what might just be admiration.

After a while, Harry stands up again and looks out to the sea, dutifully doing his job. This gives Ben the opportunity to watch the pirate, to watch the way he taps rhythms with his feet and fingers, to watch the way his hair gently ripples with the breeze, and to watch the way he manages to effortlessly be the single most enchanting person to ever exist. Ben gets lost in the sight of Harry and he's sure that, if things had been different and he wasn't alternating between being intimidated and being in awe, he would have let Harry be his captain without a second thought.

Happy pride month, I hope you guys are having a good month! Love you :)

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