Chapter 41

Clenched fists sat in my stomach, wringing back and forth continuously. Two days of sleep demanded sustenance to fight off the lingering effects of unconsciousness. I swayed, lethargic, down the halls towards the kitchen.

I had done something childish, something cruel, and I shuddered to think of the repercussions that would surely come. Captain would not force me to a doctor, that I could be sure of. He himself held a disdain for outsiders, the League he had accepted only for the greater good. I believe they have helped him tremendously with his trust distrust for outsiders. Yet I know, he would not force any treatment on me. He respected me enough to let me choose.

Henry. I could only imagine what Henry would do. Beg me? Give in? Unleash Hyde to try and persuade me? A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth. Nothing would drive him to that, the thought alone was absurd. His eyes though, would I see the turmoil I had caused in them? Would Henry show defeat, or would I see Hyde rage? I knew Henry could not perform. Performing on one he is close to would be against the rules. Doctors cannot perform on ones they are close too. Even if Henry could distance himself from the situation, it would be too dangerous.

The door to the kitchen was ajar, but the room was bare. I was grateful I had yet to meet another on the trek, my mind too cluttered and my body too heavy to humor another. I open the closest cabinet and dig past the canisters in the forefront. Raised on my toes, I reach for the jars of smoked meat stored in the back. With the square tin secure in my hand, I close the cabinet and pull myself onto the stone counter top.

Crossing my legs I open the tin and set in on the dried strips of flesh. Chewing the hard chunks mercilessly, my stomach begins to settle, and the fists slowly loosen. I tap my foot sideways into the counter top, staring at a grease spot on the wall.

They had told me I had been sleeping for two days, which meant we would soon arrive in Germany to release the scientists and their families. I would miss the little boy, Edwin. He was charming little thing. I had hoped to get to know his mother, a female whom was near my own age. I had wanted to know her point of view. Her upbringing, how she came to be married. Her pregnancies, her trials, what she did with her days. Was she happy, or did she despair?

I had eaten half the tin of meat, and was still reaching for another piece. I imagined my stomach would be as big as a hot air balloon by the time I was done. My throat was aching from so much swallowing, but I continued to eat.

"Do you plan to become as fat as a spoiled English lady?"

Prabir leaned against the door frame, staring at me. I could not bring myself to fight him, and stared at him instead, resigned. I reached for the lid beside me on the counter and pressed it onto its body. I shifted to the right and opened the cabinet, setting the tin in the front.

Prabir walked in front of me, and I stared at my cloth covered knees and sighed out of my nose. Captain must have told him.

"I haven't told Maitreya, yet."

I nodded, if Captain had told Prabir, it was because he was unsure how Maitreya would handle the news. I was not sure how he would handle it either.

"I take it you wanted Henry to perform the surgery?"

I nodded again. He seemed to know me quite well. It made sense, his lover was my closest friend and I was his superior. He had used the information to blackmail me, of course he could figure things out now.

"I knew you would. Captain Nemo was hoping you wouldn't be such a stubborn mule, but I knew better."

My eyes snapped up to meet his in defiance. Captian would never call me a stubborn mule, and I was ready to fight before I saw him smiling.

"There you are."

I covered my eyes with my hand. Smiled. Frowned. His arms snaked around me and held me close. The moments passed by. I shivered as I pulled myself together, comforted by my surprising ally.

When I could pull away, I smiled at him softly in thanks. He regarded me with serious eyes.

"Captain Nemo is a great man. Losing him would be a great deterrence to the world, to everyone who knows him. Yet he would give his life in a moment, to protect those he is loyal too, those he loves."

He took a step back and stared at me intensely.

"If you plan to take your life, that is your choice, but who are you dying for?"

He gave a shallow bow and walked out of the room. I watched him go and sighed again. Comparing me to the man I idolized, the man I wished to surpass. Prabir knew me too well for comfort, no wonder he had so easily manipulated me. That man makes a scary enemy, thank goodness he was on my side now.

My stomach was knotting again, and I slid from the counter. Henry came to mind, but I did not trust myself to stand before him. I decided I would like to see Edwin. I went to the back of the kitchen, and opened a lower cabinet. I crawled into the back and opened the bag of taffy. If Edwin ever saw the kitchens stash his eyes would explode from his head.

I backed out of the cabinet, and pocketed the candy before heading out towards the German wing. As I got closer I noticed that some of the Germans had began venturing from their room. When they saw me, reactions were mixed. Scared at being caught, or grateful. They spoke happily in German, and all I could do was smile back and nod on my way. When I made it to the hall I realized I was not sure which room Edwin and his family had been placed in. I decided to just move down the hall and hope to get lucky.

"LADY!"

Edwin's voice carried through the hall after my third lap. I saw him pulling his mother along, behind them an older man carried their baby. Their cheeks were flushed, and I wondered if they had been on the roof. Were we submerged or charging? I had not been neglecting my Lady. I silently promised to pay more attention to her.

"Hello, Marina!" Elizabeth said, as Edwin stopped pulling her and attached himself to my legs. She leaned forward and kissed my cheek. I was not expecting it, and did not kiss back. She laughed after looking at my face, and I felt a hand in my pocket.

"Mutti, yummies!" Edwin cried happily, showing Elizabeth in triumph.

"Edwin!" she cried in shock, before speak quickly in German. I laughed and pulled another out, squatting down. I held it in front of his face and he reached out for it. I pulled it out of his reach and gave him a chastising look. He frowned, and looked at his mother, before he looked back and me and mumbled, "Pwease."

I smiled and handed him the treat. He took it happily as his mother shook her head with a laugh. The man behind her guffawed. She smiled at him, then started.

"Oh, Marina, this is my husband, Carolus!"

I stood and smiled, reaching out my hand. He said something in German as Elizabeth took Anna from him. He took my hand and shook it.

"We were just on the roof, it's much warmer now," Elizabeth said happily. She began to move down the hall, "Come to the room with us."

Carolus scooped up Edwin to his squealing delight and nodded me forward. I smiled and followed after Elizabeth. She opened a door to the left and let me walk through. It was quaint with a large bed for them to share. She motioned for me to sit on the bed and began to chat happily, involving me with questions I could nod or shake for. Her husband played with Edwin on the floor with a wooden duck and periodically I threw Edwin pieces of candy to try and catch. When he father, who didn't speak English caught them, he would tease him mercilessly with his height. This caused Elizabeth to chastise him, which ended in Edwin getting the taffy and laughter one way or another.

Sitting there with them, I realized what a family could be like. Elizabeth didn't seem unhappy at all. In fact, she looked at her balding husband with loving eyes, even when she tried to be stern. Anna cooed in Elizabeth's arms and her mother brought her to her face and gave her butterfly kisses. I watched them with a smile, warmed by their happiness. Elizabeth turned to me and smiled, "Do you want to hold her? I can't imagine you've had much practice being on this ship full of men! I can't believe you're not married yet," she giggled.

I stared at her in shock, then at Anna's chubby cheeks. Slowly, I nodded and held out my arms awkwardly.

"Just make sure you support her head, her little neck isn't strong enough to do it on her own yet," she said.

I nodded and Anna was slowly placed in my arms, her tiny body following the curve and her head resting in the middle of my upper arm. I was tense, and she squirmed a little. My eyes grew huge and I looked at Elizabeth for help. She was laughing at me, as was Carolus.

"Don't worry, Marina, she wont bite."

I took deep breaths through my nose and eventually my body relaxed. Anna was falling asleep, and her eyes were half lidded. Such a delicate, beautiful little girl she was. Making sure she was supported against my chest, I took my right arm out from under her and brushed a little lock of hair. Her skin was so soft and smooth, and her hair finer than silk. I smiled at her, at the miracle that I held a child in my arms.

"Makes you want your very own, doesn't it?" Elizabeth said. Her smiled was so kind and sincere, I couldn't help the disbelieving laugh that escaped me. Smiling, I nodded, grateful for this moment of peace that had nothing to do with death.