~*~

Ernst was very bored. As bored as any nine-year-old boy could get. His mother didn't want to deal with him, and his father was away in Berlin on business. The others weren't outside, as it was very overcast. Ernst almost sullenly walked the streets of the small village, looking for something to do.

He heard voices coming from a shack near the woods. He knew curiosity killed the cat, but Ernst most definitely was not a cat, so he followed the voices until he saw Ilse and Hanschen. Ilse was dressed in a pair of black pants and a white blouse, complete with a red bandana around her neck. Hanschen was wearing a black skirt over a petticoat along with a red blouse corset-type shirt pulled tight over his broadening chest and tied in the back with black cord. Ilse was tying a red ribbon around his head, and he was protesting the whole get-up quite profusely.

"I'm telling you, you'll be the fright of all the pirates out there," the young girl said, smiling as she finished the bow and was placing it on the side of the blonde boy's head. Ernst couldn't take his eyes of the older boy. It was kind of inappropriate, the way Ernst was staring.

"But no one else is going to play with us, Ilse!" Hanschen whined, "I can't believe I'm letting you do this!"

"We have to be ready just in case Captain Wendla and her First Mate Moritz do come out to play…" Ilse said, "I know that they'll be out later, and we must be ready!"

"I'll… I'll play with you while you wait…" Ernst finally said from the doorway.

Ilse spun and smiled, "Ernst!" she called, coming over to take his hand.

Hanschen crossed his arms. He had never actually had a chance to meet the small, black-haired boy, so he was a little put off by his sudden interest in their little game.

"What do you want to be, Ernst? I'm Captain Wendla and First Mate Moritz's rival, Captain Ilse. Melchior is the evil sea monster that we team up with to fight, and Hanschen has agreed to be the Pirate Queen, who we must pay homage to in order to get anywhere in the pirating life…"

Ernst looked at the box of costumes warily, noticing the clothes that Wendla, Moritz, and Melchior would wear. The only costume that was left was a short green dress and some wings made out of rice paper and drawn on with paint and a little glitter.

"I think the only thing I can be is a Faery…" Ernst replied, he didn't want Hanschen to look at him as he said his one and only role in the game.

"That's boring, Ernst. But you can be… The Pirate Queen's little friend and helper, the Faery Princess, roped into helping the immortal Goddess of the Sea, that's Hanschen's other name, by your father because of a bet she has with the other Sea Gods! The mermaids, is what they really are, I mean to say," Ilse mused.

The two boys simply listened to Ilse as she ranted, telling them stories of their characters. She helped Ernst into the green dress, and then into the wings. She found a stick outside the shack and tied a little red ribbon to it, and handed it to the little boy.

"There! We're ready for the high seas!" she called.

"Are we just focusing on you, then?" Hanschen asked.

"Yes, Hanschen! A special, one-day-only peek into the inner life of Captain Ilse and her struggles against the Pirate Queen and the Faery Princess! You guys don't like me as much… I'm the bad-guy, but I'm trying to get you guys to give me another chance at a ship and the high-seas… ready? I'm on my island!"

Hanschen looked at Ernst, who shrugged, "Better go with it, Fraulein," Ernst replied, getting into character. He gently took the older boy's hand, "Mistress, Captain Ilse has requested an audience with you…"

Hanschen allowed the younger male to lead him to Ilse's 'island,' regally gracing the young girl with his rather girlish presence.

"Oh, mighty Pirate Queen!" Ilse called, bowing low, "Thank you for gracing me with your presence!"

Hanschen nodded, "You have been very bad these past few weeks. I'm surprised you are still alive…"

"Yes, well, I've been trying to show you how good I can be, even without the seas beneath me. I haven't cursed Captain Wendla or her crew in the two weeks I've been ship wrecked! Won't you grant me passage on the seas again?" Ilse nearly begged.

Hanschen turned to Ernst, "How do you see this, my friend?"

"Well… she hasn't really angered the other Sea Gods, and I would know if she had… you know how Daddy gets…" Ernst replied.

Hanschen nodded, "All right… I think you are allowed back on the seas… if you can complete seven tasks set out for you…"

Ilse face-palmed in character, but saluted to the cross-dressing boy, "Aye-aye, my Pirate Queen!"

"All right… you must find seven jeweled eggs in seven locations, each one more dangerous than the last. You must first…" Ernst listened as Hanschen's imagination finally ran wild. He had a nice voice, and even better was that way Hanschen used his hands to explain each task to the young girl in front of him. Ernst would've liked to hold those hands… to steady them as they almost spoke with Hanschen's mouth. Ernst wasn't sure if he should have been thinking of a boy this way… but he didn't really care right now.

Ilse finally saluted, and ran off into the woods to go gather the seven jeweled eggs. Ernst betted that they were going to be colorful rocks or something, but he laughed, "What shall we do in the meantime, milady?"

"Get out of these clothes and run away silently before she gets back," Hanschen hissed, grabbing Ernst's small hand and leading him back into the dress-up shack. They helped each other out of their girlish get-ups and back into their normal clothes.

"… Would you like to come over to my house for some tea?" Ernst asked as they exited the tiny shack. He didn't want to say good-bye to the one formally known as the Pirate Queen just yet.

Hanschen smiled a mysterious smile and nodded, "Lead the way, Princess…"

~*~

Author's Notes: Bonjour, mon amis! Just a quick note: for anyone who cares, I see the OBC when I write, so Hanschen is Jon B. Wright, Ernst is Gideon Glick, etc.

That is all.

~Ana~