So I wanted to try my hand at a 100 challenge project, this time for Leviathan. I love the series; Deryn and Alek are fun characters to get into. I'm using a random word generator; the first was "Swimming". So this came from that.
Rated for some non-explicit mention of bathing in a hot spring. Don't go getting your knickers in a bunch.
The song is "Annachie Gordon", a traditional Scottish folk song from the 1820's. There are several beautiful version of the song out; look it up if you'd like something to listen to while you read. Its worth it; it almost makes me cry.
Please enjoy, critique is appreciated!
Theme 1: Swimming
Der Singende Mädchen
Alek wondered why Dylan was so private. After all, they had known each other for very nearly a year; Alek had shown him all of his secrets. Why was Dylan so protective of his own? Alek was an archduke, a damned Emperor, and yet Dylan said nothing.
By the time the Leviathan arrived in Japan, the Austrian heir had determined that he'd do whatever it took to get the Scot to open up to him. He didn't care if he had to have Bovril follow and harass the boy across the entire island nation, it would happen.
He was unsure what to do, though. All throughout his childhood, Alek had never really had many friends. The children of cooks, maids, and other various employees could only provide so much companionship for a child of Alek's lineage (at least, that was what Count Volger had always told him). Relationships with people his age had been few and far between and Alek was by no means skilled at such things. How was he to get Dylan to spill his guts? For the most intelligent teenager on the ship, the poor boy really was people-stupid.
Upon their arrival in Japan, the archduke and his entourage were treated like kings, as well as the crew of the Leviathan, who brought news of the war in Europe. Their stay was to be short; just long enough to ensure pleasant relations between Great Britain and her allies and Japan, restock the ship, and take off for San Francisco, California. By the last night, Alek still had not made any progress with Dylan.
He couldn't sleep that night. The fact that he'd made so little progress irked him terribly and he couldn't understand why he couldn't figure Dylan out. It just wasn't fair…! He knew all about Alek, why couldn't Alek know everything about him?
At half past eleven that night, Alek tossed the covers off of him. There was no way he could possibly sleep; maybe he needed a nice walk in the moonlight to help him recover from his defeat.
Somehow, the boy managed to slip out off the airship unseen and headed towards the bath house nearby. He felt like rolling up his pants and putting his feet in the bath; it was relaxing. Maybe it would help. His rubber-soled shoes were strangely quiet against the stone path and he kept his hands in his pockets, a posture unbecoming of an archduke, but one necessary should someone glimpse him.
Upon approaching the hot spring, he could hear a voice, a single voice, in the darkness. It was faint at first, but grew stronger as he grew closer. A woman's voice. A deep, mature sounding voice, singing in English with… a Scottish accent…?
He came closer to the bath, though all reason was screaming at him to turn and return to the ship. Ignoring sense, he stepped into the enclosure around the spring, trying to see through the thick steam on the chilly evening.
Faintly, he could make out the silhouette of a young woman, slender but not completely without a figure. She stood in the water, draped in a man's button-down shirt, washing scandalously short hair, and singing in a ringing voice that echoed throughout the enclosure softly.
"Buchan, it's bonny, oh and there lives my love
My heart it lies on him, it will not remove
It will not remove for all that I have done
Oh never will I forget my love Annachie
For Annachie Gordon, oh he's bonny and he's braw
He'd entice any woman that ever him saw
He'd entice any woman and so he has done me
Oh never will I forget my love Annachie."
Alek knew it was improper, but he disregarded the royal side of him temporarily to listen. She had an enchanting power in her voice. Passion. Emotion.
"Down came her father, standing on the floor
Saying Jeanie you're trying the tricks of a whore
You care nothing for a man who cares so very much for thee
You must marry with Lord Salton and leave Young Annachie
For Annachie Gordon he's only but a man
Although he may be pretty but where are all his lands
Salton's lands are broad and his towers they stand high
You must marry with Lord Salton and forget young Annachie."
She turned and Alek almost gasped aloud, quickly ducking behind the fence with his eyes clenched shut and a face just as red as a tomato. He stayed there for a moment more, listening intently as she continued. So she hadn't noticed him; that was good.
"With Annachie Gordon, I'd beg for my bread
Before that I'd marry Salton with gold to my head
With gold to my head and with gowns fringed to the knee
Oh I'll die if I don't get me love Annachie
And you that are my parents oh to church you may me bring
Ah but unto Lord Salton Oh I'll never bear a son
A son or a daughter oh I'll never bow my knee
And I'll die if I don't get me love Annachie."
Sheer curiosity forced him to peek around the fence once more; he was relieved when he saw that the steam from the bath and the darkness together prevented him from seeing anything too clearly. She kept singing with the same passion he'd heard before, perhaps with even more.
"When Jeanie was married and from church she was brought home
And she and her maidens so merry should have been
When she and her maidens so merry should have been
Oh she's gone to a chamber and she's crying all alone ."
He couldn't help but think that perhaps she had experienced this kind of heartbreak to be able to sing the song so well, with so much sentiment in her voice. His heart broke for her just thinking about it.
"'Come to bed now Jeanie, oh my honey and my sweet
For to style you my mistress it would not be meet.'
'Be it mistress or Jeanie it's all the same to me
For it's in your bed Lord Salton I never shall be.'
And up and spoke her father and he's spoken with renown;
'All you who are her maidens won't you loosen off her gown?'
But she fell down in a swoon, so low down by their knees
Saying 'Look on for I'm dying for my love Annachie'."
At this point, the woman—no, girl, he realized belatedly, she couldn't be terribly older than he was—paused for a moment in the song, then took a shuddering breath and continued. She was softer than before, but with more intensity. Her hands were open at her sides and she gazed upwards towards the half-moon waning in the sky.
"The day that Jeanie married was the day that Jeanie died
That's the day that young Annachie come rolling from the tide
And down came her maidens and they're wringing of their hands
Saying, 'Woe to you Annachie for staying from the sands
So long from the land and so long upon the flood
Oh they've married your Jeanie and now she is dead'.
"'All you that are her maidens won't you take me by the hand
Won't you lead me to the chamber that my love lies in?'
And he's kissed her cold lips until his heart turned to stone
And he's died in the chamber where his true love lay in."
Alek slid away, the last notes of the song ringing in his head. Such a beautiful song, such a sad song, such a beautiful girl, beautiful voice, beautiful picture in his mind's eye… He would have to ask Dylan to help him draw such a scene; he wanted to remember it forever and ever.
Sleep came easily to him that night, imagining the lovely girl in the hot spring and her equally lovely voice.
Deryn awoke late the next morning, earning a dreadful scolding from Mr. Rigby and several dirty looks from other crewmen. She felt guilty, but at the same time, didn't at all; that late-night bath was necessary. She was sick of smelling like she'd rolled in a pile of clart. It was unpleasant, and though she may have hated it, she was still a lady after all. Ladies didn't go months without baths, regardless of whether or not they were posing as a boy.
She rubbed her eyes sleepily and dropped down beside Alek for lunch, a plate set in front of her loaded with potatoes and pot roast, quite the hearty meal. "'Lo," she said to him tiredly, picking up a fork and sticking a pile of potato into her mouth.
"Hello," he told her politely, watching her for a moment, then blushing profusely.
"What's wrong with you?" she asked, cocking an eyebrow. "You look right embarrassed."
"Well… Erm… I… I am…"
"Over what? Have I done something?"
"No, not you… I just…"
Deryn rolled her eyes. "Barkin' spiders, Alek, just come out with it, hm?"
He looked flustered. "F-fine!" One hand supported his head on the table while the other ran through his auburn hair. "I-I need your assistance."
"Drawing. I need your expertise."
She frowned. "Well, sure, but why do you—?"
Alek cut her off, his green eyes penetrating her blue eyes. Don't blush too much, Deryn, she told herself. "It's a private matter best not discussed here."
"Would you meet me in the old egg room tonight, say around eight, once your duties are finished?"
And not another word was said until that evening.
"Alek, what's this all about?" Deryn stood in the former egg room, hands on her hips with her drawing supplies scattered about at her feet.
"I need to draw something, get it all on paper."
"What is it you need to draw?"
Deryn felt her heart break a little bit inside. "A girl?"
"Yes. The most beautiful girl in the world."
"…well, I suppose I'll help you."
Reviews are appreciated...!