Pirate Captain Arthur Kirkland burned down ships, stole treasure and attacked towns. He knew how to do that pretty well. Did he know how to raise a child? The answer would be a big, fat NO.
The Englishman encountered the child while conducting an attack on a ship. He was a ruthless man who would kill anyone who dared obstruct his path. However, he would never hurt a child, and if he had known this ship had a child on board he would never have targeted it.
He found the little boy cowering away from the crew behind a barrel. The boy had fair hair with a stubborn strand that seemed to defy gravity by standing up straight, and his eyes were as blue as the sky itself. His cheeks were rosy and tear-streaked and his lips puffed out in a cute little pout. He wore a white nightgown with a red bow around the collar and in his hands he clutched a stuffed toy in the form of a white bunny. Even though he would never ever say this out loud, Arthur thought the child looked adorable.
For the first time in his life he felt guilty. As mentioned before, Arthur would never harm a child and causing the boy distress made his heart heavy. So, he approached the boy and offered him his hand. The soft side of the captain that the crew had never seen before was starting to show.
"Come with me," Arthur said gently. The boy only sniffled and clutched on to the bunny plush tighter. Arthur let a small smile creep on to his lips, "There is no need to be afraid. I am very sorry for what you have just seen but I promise I will look after you from now on."
The pirate's gentle tone was enough to convince the boy. He approached slowly and took hold of Arthur's outstretched hand in his own and allowed the man to lead him closer. Arthur then scooped him into his arms and held him close then looked over at his crew, "Don't question it. Get back to the ship!"
The crew did as they were told and the small boy buried his face into the fabric of Arthur's coat. The pirate smiled, "Do you have a name?"
"I...I don't know," the boy sniffled and looked up at him with those watery blue eyes. Arthur nodded and began to walk back to his own ship with the child.
"Very well," Arthur stated, "I shall name you Alfred," The boy tested the sound and smiled a little.
"I like it..." he said snuggled into Arthur's chest once more. The pirate nodded and let that tiny smile creep onto his lips once more.
"Welcome to your new home, Alfred."
And it was then that the previous question was revisited. Did Arthur Kirkland, a notorious pirate, know how to raise a child? And the answer, as stated previously, was still no.
The crew thought this would be very interesting.
It would be very interesting indeed.
Arthur didn't know the first thing about children and his crew certainly didn't. The one thing that Arthur learnt about the boy was that he was always hungry. No matter what he brought him, he would eat like he hadn't eaten for days and a few hours later he would demand more. The chef would constantly be working to make sure the boy was fed properly.
When he wasn't eating, Arthur noticed that Alfred liked to nap. The pirate noticed this was the case when Arthur was carrying him. Alfred would yawn widely and cuddle up to the fabric of Arthur's coat or shirt (depending on where he was at the time) and fall asleep. Sometimes Arthur found this slightly bothersome when he was needed to help out- the boy had a habit of clinging while he slept, and Arthur noticed that he a vice grip. If anyone tried to release that grip, Alfred would wake up and cry his little heart out until he was left alone to rest.
Alfred demanded stories before he slept for the night. Not just any stories, though. Arthur had to make them up. They always had to be about heroes who saved the day. Arthur was getting rather bored of making up stories about heroes and once or twice he had tried to convince Alfred to listen to him read one of his novels. The small boy allowed him once but only two minutes into the story, he whined about it being boring so Arthur had no choice but to conjure up a story from his imagination.
Another thing about Alfred that Arthur learnt was that he was very demanding. He always wanted attention and when he wasn't getting it, he would cry, whine and wail until he finally did. Arthur once grew annoyed and locked the boy in his cabin but his cries could be heard from the deck so Arthur had no choice but to let him out. Once he gained Arthur's full and undivided attention, the boy was as sweet as can be.
He was talkative- very talkative. He would talk all day about thing of no significant importance. To Alfred, they were greatest topics in the world. To Arthur, they were the mundane and boring and sometimes he wished the boy would shut up. When trying to work, he would sit Alfred on his lap and let him talk about everything and anything. Luckily, he appreciated that Arthur had to work on their routes so he didn't complain about the slight lack of attention towards him. It was when someone else took Arthur's attention Alfred would cry at the top of his lungs and claim that Arthur was his and he wasn't going to share.
Arthur found looking after Alfred very challenging and very stressful. When the boy woke up with nightmares, it could take hours for him to fall asleep. That meant that Arthur would have to stay awake with him until he fell asleep again and then in the morning, his mood would be terrible due to the lack of sleep.
Deep down though, Arthur found the boy absolutely adorable but he wasn't going to tell anyone that. He had a reputation to uphold.
But despite all the hardships Alfred brought with him, Arthur found he enjoyed the boy's company. After a hard day on deck Alfred was there with a hug and a wet kiss on his cheek. He would smile and pat his head. Sometimes actions were better than words.
It wasn't long after Arthur 'adopted' him that Alfred asked, "What do I call you?"
Arthur frowned and looked at the boy in his arms. Alfred looked at him with curious blue eyes as he waited for the answer.
"What do you mean?" the pirate asked. They were currently sitting in Arthur's (and now Alfred's) sleeping quarters and the boy sat on his lap while Arthur looked at his maps.
"Are you my daddy?" Alfred asked. Arthur looked shocked.
"Heavens no!" he laughed, "How about... a big brother?"
"Big brother Arthur!" Alfred exclaimed loudly and snuggled his face in Arthur's chest. Arthur nodded and patted the boy's golden hair and smiled, "Yes... I think that fits quite nicely."
"I love big brother!" Alfred giggled and looked up at Arthur once again. Those eyes held nothing less that adoration and admiration.
"I'm glad, love," the pirate replied, "I'm very glad."
Alfred beamed at him and Arthur smiled back.
"I don't like that one!"
"Alfred... there isn't much left. You have to eat this or you'll be hungry."
The boy directed his head away from the food Arthur had brought him and the pirate fought against the anger rising inside of him. He knew that Alfred ate a lot... but he would only eat what he liked.
And unfortunately... vegetables were not on the boy's menu.
"Please Alfred..." Arthur tried once again but the small child shook his head once again.
"Big brother knows I don't like them!" he stated and gave Arthur a defiant look. It would seem that the boy was stubborn too. Whether or not he was like that to begin with or he picked it up from Arthur was something the Englishman didn't know. But what he did know was that the fight against him was starting to get tiresome.
"Alfred, I'm not going to tell you again," he said firmly but Alfred pouted. His patience finally worn out, Arthur stood up and Alfred could tell that he was angry.
"Fine, have it your way! Don't eat it and see if I care! You're not having anything else and you're not coming out until you eat every single last morsel on that plate! I cannot afford to let food go to waste!" he walked towards the door leaving a very tearful Alfred and his dinner, "You will do as I say," he said before he slammed the door and locked it behind him. He heard a small sob come from the other side and he knew he had been too harsh... but he walked away and left Alfred alone.
However an hour later, he unlocked the door and was met by a small figure hugging his leg and sobbing loudly, "I promise I'll be good!"
Arthur looked down and sighed. He pried Alfred off his leg and picked him up. Alfred wrapped his small arms around Arthur's neck and continued to cry hard. Arthur rubbed his back soothingly and said softly, "I'm very sorry Alfred... I did not mean to shout."
"I did as I was told," Alfred hiccupped, "I ate it..."
Arthur looked over at the empty plate and guilt bubbled up within him once again. He sighed and placed a small kiss on top of Alfred's blond hair, "I know, and thank you... but I am very sorry."
"It's okay... I was bad for not listening..." Alfred said and finally wiped his eyes on his sleeve. Arthur managed a small smile. He walked over to the bed and sat down, placing Alfred on his lap. He let the boy cling and he stroked his hair lightly.
"I know, but you must understand... I have never looked after someone as young as you. I am still learning... so you must forgive me..."
Alfred looked up at him and gave him a watery smile, "I guess I do... but only if big brother tells me another story."
Arthur nodded, "Of course."
From that moment on, the relationship between Alfred and Arthur was stronger than ever before.
Years past and Alfred was now seven. Arthur had learnt how to look after a small boy and he thought he had done a pretty good job. That was until Alfred started to grow up.
He became mischievous. He would run around the deck, causing a disturbance and he would constantly annoy the other crew members. He would always succeed in giving Arthur a heart attack when he decided to lean over the side of the ship and look at the sea.
"Alfred! Get away from there right now!" Arthur shouted. He felt the panic rise in his chest as he watched the boy lean over the side of the ship. When he saw Alfred wasn't listening, the pirate walked towards him and grabbed hold of his shirt and pulled him back. Alfred let slip a small noise of surprised and he looked up at Arthur with a curious expression.
"Don't do that!" Arthur said sternly. Alfred blinked then when he realised what Arthur meant, he fiddled with the hem of his shirt and looked down. He always hated being scolded by the pirate; it always made him feel terrible.
"Sorry..." he said quietly and Arthur nodded. He patted Alfred's golden hair and let a small smile grace his lips. Sometimes he wondered if he spoiled the boy too much.
"It's all right, just please be careful," he said and Alfred nodded quickly.
"I promise," he said and smiled brightly once again.
"Good boy, now get lost," Arthur said and gave Alfred a little shove and with that the boy ran around the deck once more.
Alfred always promised to listen, and he always promised to be good when he had been told off. But as usual, half an hour later, Arthur was shouting at him for something or other.
Looking after a child really was hard work.
Alfred didn't only disobey Arthur during the day, but he always disobeyed him during the night too. It always took all the pirates effort to get Alfred ready for bed, especially when he needed a bath. The boy hated baths and he did everything in his power to avoid having one. Usually the argument would end with Arthur dragging the boy down the hall and pretty much chucking him into the tub... and that was on a good day.
The seven year old wouldn't make the bathing process easy either. He would splash and get the place soaked. He would annoy Arthur to the point where the pirate may very well explode. The crew pitied their captain but they didn't offer to help. The boy's behaviour for them was ten times worse than it was with Arthur. They wouldn't stand a chance against him.
When Alfred was clean, it was then a battle for Arthur to calm the usually hyperactive boy and get him settled for bed. Alfred still demanded stories, and they still had to be about heroes but his imagination had grown over the years and now the stories had to be more adventurous and more daring. A simple 'once upon a time there lived a brave hero and one day he had to travel to a far away land to rescue a princess, and when he did they lived happily ever after. The end' wouldn't suffice anymore. So Arthur had to make up stories and if they weren't good enough, Alfred would whine and complain until the pirate came up with something better.
The stories usually worked, because when Arthur was finished Alfred would be in his own little world, being the hero he claimed he was and battling evil beings and whatnot. Arthur, at that point, knew that he wouldn't have to deal with Alfred until the morning so he would bid him goodnight and leave his room. The only time he would see Alfred after that would be if the boy had nightmares.
Alfred had a crippling fear of ghosts and when he was scared, any creak the ship made or any strange sound he heard would set him off. He would hurry to Arthur's room and cry about there being a ghost in his room and it apparently wanted to eat him so Arthur would have to keep the boy with him all night. And if he couldn't sleep, the pirate would have to stay up all night with him.
When he thought about it... Alfred hadn't really grown up.
One night, Arthur was reading a book when he heard the door to his cabin open. He saw Alfred's tear streaked face and he immediately set his book aside and held his arms out. The boy hurried to his caretaker and buried his face in his shirt and sniffled.
"It's all right..." Arthur soothed as he rubbed his back gently, "It was just a dream."
Alfred shook his head and the pirate thought he was being stubborn. When he opened his mouth to speak, Alfred looked up at him and a terror in his eyes that Arthur had never seen before shone brightly and as clear as ever. Something was seriously wrong.
"I-I saw them..." Alfred said shakily as he tried to control his trembling. He clutched on to Arthur's shirt and more tears slipped from the blue eyes.
"Who did you see?" he asked carefully. He didn't want to startle the boy further by demanding.
"Th-their ship..." he replied, "I-I was looking out my window a-and I saw them..."
"Who did you see Alfred?" Arthur asked again, removing the boy off his lap. Alfred whined and reached for him again but Arthur moved before he could. He quickly grabbed his sword and gun and walked to the door.
"I-I saw—" Alfred was cut off by an almighty bang. The ship rocked under the force of the blow and before either of them could comprehend what was happening, the ship took another blow. Arthur knew immediately what the boy had seen and as he quickly moved to the door, he looked at Alfred and said firmly, "Stay here and do not come out. I mean it Alfred, stay here!" with that, he was gone and before he closed the door he heard Alfred's helpless sob.
Arthur walked down the hall as quickly and as silently as he could. When he reached the deck, the fight had already started. Arthur didn't recognise the captain of the attacking ship so he figured that someone new wanted to make an enemy out of him. He smirked; they were either really brave or incredibly stupid. Arthur chose the latter.
Arthur may have softened a little because of Alfred but he was still the fearsome pirate he was before the boy entered his life. Withdrawing his sword, he stabbed the pirate who tried to attack him from the side. Swiftly, he withdrew the sword from the man's body and walked through the chaos that was his deck. He killed anyone that got in his way.
The enemy tried attacking him from all angles, but Arthur was able to defend himself with ease. He easily managed to disarm his opponents and take them out and he had no problems with doing so. This was his ship and anyone who tried to steal from him paid with their lives. He made sure of it every time.
He ordered his crew to leave no one alive. He worked his way through the destruction and before he knew it, he was face to face with the captain of the enemy ship. He smirked cruelly at Arthur and before the Englishman knew what happened the captain attacked. Arthur quickly managed to dodge but he couldn't deny that his opponent was good.
Arthur defended when necessary but found that he was never quick enough to attack. The other captain would always beat him to it and before Arthur knew it, he was backing up to the ship's railings.
"I thought you would be better than this!" the other captain taunted, "It would seem the boy has made you soft."
"That is not true," Arthur hissed and blocked an attack, "The boy has nothing to do with it."
"So it's true, you do have a boy. Did you take him in out of pity, or did you just want something to play with?" the captain laughed loudly and stepped forward in another attack. Arthur's eyes flashed with anger and he blocked the upcoming attack harshly and stepped forward in an attack. He swiped the sword in offence and the captain defended. Arthur chose this moment to strike again and the other captain was a little slow. Arthur managed to slash a deep cut in the man's arm and he let his guard down for just a moment. The man snarled at him and began furiously swiping and attacking with his sword, just so he could get a hit.
Arthur defended as best he could, "You will not talk about him in that way!"
"It would seem you are sensitive towards him. Have you really grown to love him that much?"
"Why are you here?" Arthur demanded. He twisted his sword and disarmed the other captain. His eyes glowed, defiant, "You honestly think you can steal from me?"
"Yes," the captain answered simply and before Arthur could stop him he felt pain shoot through his head. There was movement behind him, and a member of the enemy crew revealed himself. His hands were bloody and Arthur knew what had happened.
He sank to his knees and stayed awake long enough to see them leaving with his greatest treasure.
They had taken Alfred and Arthur's world went black as he fell into unconsciousness.
Arthur awoke with a start. What had happened? He tried to lift his head but it felt heavy against the pillow. He turned it slightly and blinked away the morning sunlight and he raised a hand to have it come into contact with what felt like a makeshift bandage. He groaned and he then realised that he was not alone in the room.
"You're awake," his first mate said with a sigh of relief, "I was beginning to worry."
"What happened?" Arthur asked and he tried to sit up again. He succeeded this time and he looked at the first mate for answers.
"The ship was attacked, captain," he said and he handed the British man a cup of water. He took it gratefully and the memories of the previous night came flooding back. The attack, the cruel smirk of the enemy captain... Alfred's terrified cries as they took him away—
"Alfred," he said in a panic, "Where is he? He was taken, he—"
"Captain, please be calm..." the first mate said firmly, "Alfred is fine. We got him back before they managed to take him off the ship. Needless to say the boy was terrified and he kept asking for you but he was in no fit state to see you... and you him."
"But he is not harmed?"
"Shaken, yes... but not harmed."
Relief hit Arthur like a wave and he sighed loudly. He took a few breaths and guilt soon followed that relief. He was unable to protect him... he had failed as big brother.
He held his head for a moment and the first mate knew what was happening. He gave his captain a reassuring pat on the shoulder and said, "I know what you are thinking—"
"I would like to see him," Arthur interrupted. It was not a request, more of a demand and the first mate forgot what he was going to say and he left the room quickly. Arthur was left with his thoughts for a few moments.
He was told that Alfred was all right... but he wouldn't believe it until he saw for himself. He remembered every last detail of the night's events and the guilt bubbled up again in the pit of his stomach. He knew Alfred was terrified by what was happening and he could have done more to protect him from harm. He sighed again and looked up at the ceiling.
The door opened again and a few moments later, small arms wrapped themselves around Arthur's neck and he felt wet against his skin. Alfred was crying again and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He said nothing and rubbed the boy's back lightly in a reassuring manner.
"Hus, don't cry... everything is all right now."
"I'm sorry... it's my fault!" Alfred sniffled and he looked at the pirate. Arthur studied him for any cuts and bruises and he was relieved to see that the first mate had not been lying.
"Never," he said firmly and wiped away the tears, "You are not to blame... I... I should have been looking after you."
"You did!" Alfred insisted, "You've looked after me all my life!"
"But I failed to do so last night. Had I have protected you properly you never would have been subjected to that terrifying ordeal..."
"Brother... I'm not hurt... you are," Alfred said reached out to pat Arthur's hair gently.
"But you could have been hurt too... possibly more. I'm sorry..."
Alfred hugged him again and cuddled up to him as close as he could. Arthur wrapped his arms around him and the boy felt safe in his embrace. Arthur caught him smiling and a smile of his own crept on to his face.
"We're both all right..." he said and Alfred looked up at him. His smile widened and nodded in agreement.
"Yeah," he said and hugged Arthur a little tighter.
"I promise I will protect you," he vowed as Alfred moved off his lap and lay beside him.
"'Kay," he smiled cutely and looked up at Arthur, "I know you hurt your head and stuff... but can you tell me a story?"
Arthur smiled, "Of course."
"Alfred! How many times do I have to tell you?" Arthur shouted from his position on the other side of the deck. Alfred leaned away from the railings and looked at Arthur with a smile.
"I just wanted to see the ocean!"
"You can see it from there. If I catch you leaning over the side again, I'll make you scrub the deck!"
Alfred stuck his tongue out behind Arthur's back and hurried over to him. He tugged on his sleeve and held on to his hand with a smile. The pirate looked down at him with a stormy expression but Alfred kept that smile of his and the angry expression soon disappeared. His fingers closed around the small hand in his own and with his free hand he continued to steer the ship.
"Love you, brother!" Alfred grinned happily and took hold of the wheel too. Arthur couldn't help but smile.
"I love you too."
He thought back to what the enemy captain had said about Alfred making him soft. He shook his head a little and the small smile stayed in place.
Yeah... maybe he had made him soft. Just a little bit.
Edit: Fixed mistakes :3 (14/11/11)