November 2, 1996
Ahiru paused in her storytelling to take a sip of her tea as her eyes closed, thinking back to that tragic night so long ago.
By now, the members of their audience were either silently crying or looked as if they were about to. And no one could blame them, after hearing such a heart-wrenching tale. Even Cat had gone through half a dozen boxes of tissues already.
Save for Mytho, they'd all come looking for sunken treasure and instead, they'd found out what was even more valuable than any gem in the world—life and love. To know what had truly happened on that legendary ship, to hear Fakir and Ahiru's untold story was just extraordinary beyond words.
Fakir placed a hand on Ahiru's shoulder, and then she looked at him and nodded, silently giving him permission to continue their story.
"Fifteen hundred people went into the sea when Titanic sank from under us," said Fakir. "There were twenty boats floating nearby and only one came back. One. Seven people were saved from the water, including Ahiru and myself. Seven out of fifteen hundred. Afterward, the seven hundred people in the boat had nothing to do but wait. Wait to die, wait to live, wait for an absolution that would never come."
I'll never forget that day…
April 15, 1912
Dawn rose, marking a new day and the start of the new life the survivors of the Titanic would be forced to lead after such a terrible night. Ahiru's head was on Fakir's shoulder and he had his arms wrapped tightly around her as she clutched his forearm. They were cuddled together under two thick blankets and were trying to keep warm.
They had yet to let go of each other and no one could blame them. While their hearts were heavy with pain over the tragedies of the previous night, they were grateful beyond words to still have one another and they had no intention of parting ever again.
They were taken onboard the Carpathia and were given food and hot cups of tea. They sat huddled together on the lower deck of the ship. Onboard, it was a sad sight. Some had lived, but even more had perished. Everyone was either mourning their losses, or silently rejoicing in the survival of their loved ones as well as themselves.
Fakir felt fairly awake, but he could tell Ahiru didn't feel the same. She looked quite tired and kept yawning.
"Ahiru?" he said, as he placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Go to sleep," said Fakir, gently. "You're exhausted. We won't reach New York until nightfall. You can rest. I'll keep watch for a while."
Ahiru must've been very tired, because she didn't protest or argue. Rather, she just nodded and then curled up with her head on Fakir's shoulder. "But you have to promise you'll sleep soon. You're tired too."
"I promise," said Fakir. "Sleep, idiot."
"Alright." Ahiru's eyes fluttered shut and then she fell asleep, holding Fakir's hand in hers. Fakir gently stroked Ahiru's auburn hair with his other hand as she slept; smiling at how relaxed and peaceful she looked.
Fakir tensed, however, when he saw Kraehe out of the corner of his eye. She'd descended from the upper deck and appeared to be looking for someone. Quickly, Fakir pulled the hood of his coat up and made sure both he and Ahiru were concealed from Kraehe's sight with blankets. Ahiru had saved his life when she'd stopped him from jumping and gotten him out of a wretched life. Now, he had to protect her. Who knew what would happen if Kraehe found Ahiru and Fakir had survived the sinking of Titanic? Fakir breathed a sigh of relief when Kraehe looked disappointed and returned to the upper deck. They were free. Feeling safe, Fakir allowed himself to succumb to the sleep his body so craved.
Neither Ahiru nor Fakir knew that brief moment would be the last time they'd cross paths with Kraehe Crow ever again. She would become a very wealthy woman after marrying a rich young man and inheriting her millions from her father. But Kraehe's life would be quite unhappy. She'd be widowed young, and after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, she would become best friends with her late husband's pistol and her children would squander the remainder of her fortune in a legal battle fighting over who it should go to.
It was raining and after dark when the Carpathia docked in New York City.The city's lights glowed in the night and the Statue of Liberty never looked more beautiful than it did before. Fakir arranged for a cab to arrive to take them to Ahiru's Aunt Edel's, who'd been informed of the situation thanks to a telegram that the Carpathia's crewmen were kind enough to send at Ahiru's request, and they were waiting patiently for their ride.
"Isn't it beautiful, Fakir?" asked Ahiru, as she gazed at the Statue of Liberty.
"Yes, you are," said Fakir, smiling as Ahiru blushed.
Just then, one of the ship's crewmen came up to them, carrying a black umbrella, pen and a clipboard.
"Can I take your names, please, sir, miss?" asked a crewman.
"Fakir Penn and Ahiru Swan," lied Fakir, as Ahiru nodded in agreement.
They'd already discussed it and believed it to be for the best. No one needs to know that Fakir Knight and Ahiru Duck survived the sinking of the ship. If Kraehe thinks we're gone, she won't come looking for us and neither will my father. We'll be free. Forsaking one's name was just a small price to pay for one's freedom. Later, they would be married and Ahiru would become Mrs. Penn, so that was all settled.
Right their cab arrived and the three of them left for Edel's home. It was the start of a new beginning for them all.
November 2, 1996
Fakir gently rubbed his wife's hand and she covered his hand with her own. She smiled softly before she continued the story.
"Soon after that, we arrived at my Aunt Edel's and we married shortly afterward. We lived with my aunt until we got off our feet and were able to buy a place of our own. I became a prima ballerina and eventually even managed my own ballet academy while Fakir became a famous author of fantastic stories. He even wrote scripts for movies. We made quite a name for ourselves. We did everything we talked about while on Titanic and lived everyday of our lives to their fullest," said Ahiru, smiling.
"After a few years, we finally settled down and raised a fine son and two beautiful daughters, who live good lives and raised families of their own. Our luck continued to bloom. We were poor at times, but we were happy and have been nothing but blessed these past eighty-four years. Blessed to be alive and blessed to be together and have such a wonderful family," said Fakir. He sighed. "If Ahiru hadn't been there on Titanic, I don't know what I would've done. She saved me in every way that a person can be saved."
"Then it's a blessing you met each other," said Mytho, as he wiped away his tears.
"Yes," said Ahiru. "If our journey on the Titanic taught us anything, it was that life is a gift and one not to be taken for granted. It should be cherished and lived to its fullest."
Everyone nodded at this, fully agreeing.
Just then, the clock chimed ten o'clock, reminding them of the late hour.
"And now, I think it's time Ahiru and I got some rest. It's been quite a day," said Fakir.
No one hesitated to help the elderly couple to their room. They were treated with great respect and admiration, as they so deserved.
The night was dark and slightly brisk, but Rue didn't really notice nor care, as she stood alone in a quiet corner on the deck of the boat thinking about the story that she'd heard that day, among other things.
Rue didn't quite know how she felt at the moment. Conflicted, was probably the best word. I came here to find treasure, but I was looking in the wrong place. For three years, she'd worked so hard to find the diamond while working on her dancing career, only to find something even more precious. Her whole life had changed in a single day. Fakir and Ahiru's story had touched her heart in so many ways. She didn't know what to do anymore.
Just then, Mytho came up to her. "Are you alright, Rue?"
"I'm fine," she said.
"I'm sorry you didn't find the diamond," said Mytho, sympathetically. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
"No, but thank you, anyway," said Rue. She sighed. "I don't know what I'm going to do now. I've spent so long thinking of little else but Titanic and my dancing career, and now I find that I wasn't looking for what I thought I was." I think I found something else entirely.
"And did you find it?" asked Mytho.
"I believe I did," said Rue.
Mytho nodded, knowingly and then looked a little nervous. "Rue, I know we've only just met, but would you like to join me for dinner and a movie tomorrow night?"
Rue couldn't help but smile as she happily nodded. "I would love to," she said. "Care to join me for a drink?"
"Of course," said Mytho. He took her hand and the two of them went to the ship's galley. It seemed that a beautiful love was blooming.
Unseen by others, Fakir and Ahiru slowly walked to the stern of the ship. They were dressed only in their pajamas and they wore no shoes. Their steps were shaky yet determined as they reached their destination and then they looked over the railing.
"Are you ready, Fakir?" asked Ahiru.
"Yes," said Fakir.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out the pendant, the legendary Prince's Heart diamond, which had been found in Fakir's coat pocket by accident. It had been in their possession for eighty-four years and now, it was time to return it.
During the eighty-four years they'd spent together, the hardest part of being poor before their finances had improved was being so filthy rich. But whenever the couple had thought of selling it, they'd thought of Kraehe and they'd managed just fine without her in their lives. Now, they were finally placing the Prince's Heart where it was supposed to be.
Ahiru covered Fakir's hands with her own before he let go, sending the gem back into the sea where it belonged.
Fakir squeezed her hand as they went back to their room and went to sleep, curled up at each other's side, as they had been every night for the past eighty-four years.
As they slept, time seemed to go back and they found themselves back on the Titanic. Ahiru walked along the hall and was greatly welcomed by old faces she hadn't seen in so long. She was sixteen again, young and beautiful, and was wearing a fine white and gold gown as she walked up the grand staircase.
Fakir looked seventeen again and was as young and as handsome as ever in his fine black suit. He smiled as he took Ahiru's hand and then pulled her into a tender kiss as everyone around them applauded and cheered them on. Maybe it was a dream and maybe it wasn't, but one thing was for certain, they had never let go and they would be together forever. They had done as they'd promised each other, they'd lived.