Title: A Midnight Engagement
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 8 December 2009
Fandom: D.E.B.S./Pirates of the Carribean
Word Count: 4028
Summary: A daring raid undertaken at midnight leads to an unexpected encounter.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW09
Disclaimer: All characters belong to their respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.
Beta: Many thanks to the lovely Athena for beta-ing.
Amy pushed the wooden door gently, trying to open it without letting it creak - what she was doing was very naughty and she wasn't planning on getting caught. She poked her candle-holder through and tentatively followed. The flickering illumination played over her, revealing her figure in the dark like a half-finished sketch: an impression of her plain white, full-length cotton and lace nightgown; her blonde hair in disarray from restless sleep, hastily corralled with a black ribbon; her bright blue eyes and her happy expression of nervous excitement, not far from bubbling over into giggles. Usually, when adults were about, she wore an aspect of angelic innocence. She appeared now how she was; a mischievous six-year old on the make.
She tip-toed over to the bed and pressed softly upon the quilted lump within. "Janet!" she whispered as loud as she dared. There was no immediate reaction. "Janet, wake up, sleepyhead!" She started poking, and Janet woke abruptly with a cry and threw her quilt over Amy in pure instinct, snuffing her candle. "Calm down, it's only me," she declared, muffled, trying to quell the young girl's sounds of alarm as she discarded the bedlinen. A slightly reassured voice came out of the darkness. "Miss? Is it you? What time is it?"
"Yes, it's me. Wait a minute, you've put my candle out!" Amy replied. She knew there'd be some matches on the bedside dresser so she started feeling about. Her hand fell on what felt like a teddy bear, then another teddy bear, and then a teddy bear... in a cardigan. It was the teddy bear next to that one which held the sought-after matches in his paws. After a little fiddling and fumbling, Amy re-lit her candle. The blossoming light revealed an anxious girl in a pink nightgown sitting up on the bed, all pigtails and wide eyes. Amy smiled warmly at her. Officially Janet was her chambermaid, but really she was her best friend.
The girl rubbed the sleep from her eyes and inquired, "Do you need help with something, Miss?"
"I've told you countless times, " Amy sighed with a familiar refrain, "Call me Amy, silly!"
"Uh, yes, Miss Amy," the girl answered with the customary reply. They giggled together until Amy shushed them both with a finger to the lips.
"Listen closely. We are going to plunder the pantry for biscuits."
"B-but, what if we get into trouble?"
"Oh, we're far too clever for that!" Amy scoffed, waving the candle about, "We'll be pirates, and pirates never get caught."
"Pirates?" Janet hugged a pillow to herself. "I thought only men could be pirates."
Amy's laugh tinkled lightly. "Oh, you're such a nautical inept, Janet, darling."
"I don't know about nautical things, Miss - I'm a good girl!"
"Silly!" Amy reached for her hand and pulled her out of bed. "If there are no girl pirates, then we'll be the first ones! Are you with me?"
"Of course I am!" affirmed Janet, becoming excited, casting her pillow aside. Despite her hesitancy, she was really quite a plucky girl, something Amy very much appreciated.
"Great! Let's go!"
Moments later, the two girls descended the curving staircase into the main hall. Amy led the way holding her candle aloft with Janet one step behind, clutching her friend's nightgown. The mansion was still and eerie; Caribbean starlight covered the chamber, a tapestry of gems over the wide posterior windows. Two young girls set against the night. They placed their bare feet carefully down each step. In their imagination the space had become a darkened cavern filled with hidden dangers and deadly booby-traps. It wasn't much of a leap; the hall echoed with the slightest noise, and shadows jumped and shimmied from the edge of the candle's light as they bravely moved forward. So it was a genuine shock when Amy stepped on the cat's tail. Or more, accurately, she took a step and a noise like the screech of the damned assaulted them. Amy fell back onto Janet, who cried out in alarm and swiftly had her friend's hand cover her mouth. The startled girls lay on the stairs clinging to each other for comfort.
"It's the cat! It's okay, we're fine, it's just the cat..." Amy whispered. "Janet, darling, we're safe." The girl nodded, her wide eyes staring up at her, frightened but not panicking, so Amy lifted her hand.
"I'm sorry," Janet murmured, "I didn't mean to cry out like that."
Amy shook her head. "Never you mind, Pirates are allowed to cry out in the face of danger. They're very expressive that way. Just more arrrr and rather less wah in the future. We're not little girls from Ealing."
"Yes, were are, Miss."
"Well, yes, quite. Not tonight though. Tonight we pillage and plunder!"
The kitchen was still and quiet, a patchwork of shadow and dim light. Its silver utensils gleamed out of the gloom like ghostly spectres, monitoring the girls' ingress. They entered cautiously, and despite Janet's silent protest, Amy blew out her candle. There was enough light to see and she knew the cook slept in the next room. She most certainly did not want to awaken her. The house cook was a very large, very scary woman, known for her prowess with a rolling pin and an intolerance of little girls stealing her biscuits. Extra sneakiness was required this close to their goal, and there it sat before them on the counter-top: a rotund clay pot, seemingly bulging its sides with biscuit-y goodness, just out of little-girl reach. No trouble for two little girls however. Janet kneeled at the base of the counter, allowing Amy to climb up and perch on her shoulders.
"Be careful, Miss!" whispered Janet, and she was promptly shushed by her mistress. The crouching girl wobbled slightly for a moment and Amy had to clutch the edge of the counter to keep her balance.
"Hey, keep it steady down there, will you?"
"And stop calling me that... actually, don't talk at all, this is difficult."
There was no response to that. Janet was such an obedient girl. Amy decided to give her extra biscuits for being such a good friend. She reached up and ran her fingers over the rough side of the jar all the way to the top and the handle of the lid. The time for delicious biscuits had very nearly arrived. Amy lifted the lid with one hand and, dipping in with the other to snatch the loot, she found herself grabbing somebody else's hand! She flinched at the warm contact. The mysterious hand leaped away from her grasp, and she dropped the lid in astonishment. She ducked quickly to catch it before it clattered to the ground, losing her balance and falling hard onto the floor, all the breath knocked out of her, yet with the clay top clutched safely to her chest. The two girls lay on the floor like rolled dice, breathing at each other in relief.
Amy, still spooked, wondered who the stranger on the other side could be. There had certainly been a distinct clatter from beyond. She handed the lid to Janet and slowly inched her way around the counter on all fours, nervously brushing errant locks of hair away from her face. She could see a shape beyond the counter emerging and she gasped as a soft beam of moonlight suddenly revealed it to be another little girl. A dark girl in a silk nightgown with long, coal-black hair and sparkling chocolate eyes, totally contrasting her own fair features. Yet where Amy was startled, the other girl appeared to be intrigued.
"Who are you?" she squeaked.
"I am Lucinda Elena Adalia Esperanza Reynolds," the strange girl replied with an air of composed grace.
A slightly scruffy little boy appeared next to her. "Or you could just call her Lucy!"
"Quiet you," the dark girl ordered, but with an amused undertone. "This is my servant," she told Amy.
"Sebastian Caruso Daniels at your service, my ladies," he said with a nod of the head, since it was rather difficult to bow on all fours.
"Call him Scud," Lucy said, poking her tongue at him, "And you are?"
"Oh, right, yes... I'm Amelia Bradshaw and this is my friend Jeanette Leigh... erm, Amy and Janet."
They all took turns shaking hands, still on their hands and knees, a proper tête-à-tête at midnight on the floor of the darkened pantry.
"Are you here for the biscuits too?" inquired Amy.
Lucy waved her hand airily. "We were passing and I felt like some refreshment, you know how it is..."
"Oh, sure, hehehe," giggled Amy.
Lucy looked askance for a moment and hummed softly. "You're the Governor's daughter?" she asked, watching Amy closely as she nodded, "Your father was kind enough to offer us a place to stay for the night. Our ship ran into trouble... I suppose we arrived past your bedtime..."
"Hey, I go to bed when I like!"
Lucy smiled slowly. "And you eat cookies when you like?"
"I..." started Amy before Janet pushed past her, "Yeah, we do!" the pigtailed girl uttered.
Lucy's smile spread like a lantern catching alight and rising into a full flame. "Then I have a plan!"
Amy wobbled atop her chambermaid once more and tried to steady herself against the clay jar. She bit her bottom lip in concentration and placed a hand on either side of the round container. Hands brushed over her own and she flinched slightly, then Lucy's face emerged from the other side, looking around the jar. "Hey, are you all ready to go?" Amy nodded, bracing herself against the clay, she locked hands with Lucy and thus their arms encircled their prize. Lucy counted to three and on the mark, as one, they lifted it from either side of the counter, only an inch off the surface but it would do. "Stage two," Lucy whispered, "in three... two... one... now."
Scud and Janet moved crablike to the side, supporting their mistresses and the jar of biscuits clutched between them, in quite remarkable synchronisation. Inch by inch they edged to the end of the counter. Balancing was difficult for Amy and Lucy, especially with their heavy burden, and there were several near accidents, yet eventually clear air was reached. Stage three was activated with another countdown, whereby the treasure chest of biscuits was lowered to the floor. A dull clunk sounded as it rested on the tiles. The children grinned and hurrahed in whispers. "The day is ours," declared Amy. Soon a merry picnic had been established with biscuits for all. Laughter and delightful conversation flowed, though subdued to hushed tones by the fear of being discovered. The occasional nervous glance was given to the side door where the cook slept, but it did make it all awfully exciting.
Accepting yet another biscuit, Lucy sighed wistfully. "We may never have met at all, you know. As I understand it, we are to leave early this morning,"
"I'm ever so glad we did!" Amy beamed. She truly meant it. There was something about Lucy; a sense of excitement, of new worlds, and the feel of a kindred spirit.
"Yes, indeed!" Janet assented with a playful punch to Scud. Lucy smiled in agreement and Scud handed about another round of biscuits with a smirk.
Janet and Scud got along very well, constantly whispering aside to each other and giggling. Amy couldn't help but notice them glance over at herself and Lucy whenever they laughed the most. She scooched up closer to Lucy.
"What do you think they're talking about?" she asked her, "It all seems highly suspicious to me."
Lucy appraised the two. Scud appeared to be miming putting curlers in hair, much to Janet's amusement. Lucy's eyes widened. She realised he must be telling her about the Spanish Royal Ball and Lucy's tragic curly hair incident! She gasped at Amy. "I think they're talking about us - making fun of us!"
"Oh - the cheek of them!" Amy crossed her arms and Lucy followed suit.
Lucy cleared her throat pointedly, "Ahem!"
They both glared disapprovingly at their servants. Janet and Scud went silent at the attention, colouring red. Then they glanced at each other and burst into fresh laughter. Lucy and Amy exchanged looks - that confirmed all of their suspicions!
"Quiet!" Amy said, a finger over her lips. "We're on a pirate raid for biscuits, you can't make so much noise!"
"Ha!" Lucy got to her feet, straightened out her nightgown carefully and tossed her hair from her eyes. "You two aren't pirates. You're criminals, stealing cookies." She stood proud. "I want to be a real pirate!"
Amy snorted. "Pirates are criminals, dummy."
"Oh, they are? Whoops..." she looked doubtful for a moment and then brightened. "Well, I'll still be one anyway, but I won't steal."
"That's just silly. All pirates steal," Janet declared.
"No, pirates just need to not do what they are told to do," said Lucy, seriously. "That's what makes a pirate."
Amy glowed with the idea. "You'd make a great pirate, Lucy! I know it!"
"Thank you, my Lady," Lucy said and bowed with a flourish. "Maybe one day, since you're the Governor's daughter, I can kidnap you and show you my ship."
"Oh, you two!" Scud rolled his eyes. "What we really need is some milk."
"Ooh, I'll get some!" Janet hopped up and made her way to the icebox. She grabbed the handle and pulled it open, whereupon the bottle of milk - which had been placed precariously against the door of the fridge as a makeshift booby-trap - tumbled to the floor and smashed with a thunderous report, spreading cool milk and shattered glass across the tiles. They all froze in place, waiting and hoping that it really hadn't been as loud as it had sounded, like a cannon shot at close quarters. A clattering came from the adjacent room - they must have awakened the cook! Amy hurried and snatched Janet's arm, and hauled her away. The cook would emerge between them and the door into the hall, so there was only one thing to do.
"Quick, everyone. In the closets!" Amy whispered urgently, and they all tumbled in, drawing the door closed just as the cook burst through into the kitchen.
"Ah, a little mouse stealing the biscuits again?" the large woman bellowed. Her dressing gown flapped open and trailed across the tiles, soaking up milk and tinkling broken glass. She yanked a rolling pin from a tin like a sword from its scabbard. "Ugh! Just wait till I find you, little mouse."
The children huddled together in the closet trying not to breath, but Lucy, who had been peering through the keyhole, couldn't resist whispering into Amy's ear. "Does she have to work at being horrible and terrifying, or does it come naturally?" Amy had to clamp a hand to her mouth to contain her giggles.
The cook prowled with an animal instinct for the hunt. She couldn't abide children. Hence, she put all of her protective maternal instincts into her baked goods. God help any and all children who stole her biscuits. The milk trap indicated their presence to her in the same way a snapped branch in the forest speaks to a woodsman. She cast about, searching, her gaze resting upon the row of five closets that lined the side wall. She chuckled and moved to the first in line. She threw it open with a crash, and along the way, down in the fifth closet, the children flinched at the sound. The cook sniggered.
"It's only a matter of time till I find you, mousey mouse."
Amy grimaced, unsure as Janet clutched her hand tightly. Scud put a hand on her shoulder and smiled nervously. Lucy looked downwards, contemplative. Suddenly, she raised her head and smiled, taking Amy's hand.
"Promise me you won't reveal yourself."
Amy blinked. "What? But I--"
"Promise!" Lucy demanded, her face set as she peered earnestly into blue eyes.
"I promise." Amy started to well up. "But you can't..."
Another closet crashed open, shaking the whole structure.
"It's up to you to get Janet and Scud to safety. You know it'll be worse for them." Lucy looked at Amy expectantly, who nodded with resolve. Lucy stepped forward and kissed the blonde girl's cheek. "It'll all be worth it to have met you, Amy." She turned quickly, opened the door and stepped through to stand before the surprised cook. She pushed the door shut behind her and called out in the loudest voice she could muster. "Aye, here I am, ye lily-livered, alehouse landlubber!"
The cook gaped. Within the closet, Amy gasped, Janet thought she'd misheard and Scud snorted as quietly as he could. Lucy stared down her foe, which was difficult with her being two foot shorter.
"Arrrrrr!" she added.
The cook recovered and growled in reply, starting forward. "Why, you little thief... Come here, you!"
Lucy ran, leading the cook away from her friends. "Blast yer eyes, I'm no thief! I be the dread pirate, Lucy Diamond!"
Amy wanted to applaud and jump up and down but restrained herself to simply hugging Janet, a fortunate act as the poor girl was about to faint from nerves.
"You little wretch!" the cook shouted, starting off in pursuit. "There'll be no Pirates in this house!"
The bold little girl skipped with glee into the main hall and turned to let her pursuer catch up. "Yer been sayin' that for nigh on two hunner' years, matey, and ya ain't rid o' us yet!"
Amy took her chance and led her two charges out of the closet and across the kitchen to the exit where they paused, crouching. She placed a restraining hand on each of her companions. The cook was only a few steps beyond. The house was waking up to the commotion, with candles being lit and more servants emerging to join in the chase.
Lucy caught sight of Amy standing just beyond the door frame and smiled but quickly looked away. "Th' day yer sees th' last o' the jolly roger'll be the end o' yer own civilization, ya pack o' milquetoast swabbies!" She bounded up the stairs, followed by several irate house staff.
Seeing the way was clear, with all eyes focused on the whirling girl pirate, Amy dashed across the room with Janet and Scud in tow and found refuge under the main staircase. They all hid in the shadows, but Amy couldn't resist peeking to see Lucy's progress. The girl was the most surprising thing she'd ever seen in her life. Where did she come up with the outrageous things she said?
'Pirate Reynolds' had reached the first floor but was in imminent danger of being snatched up by the cook. She made it to a cabinet set against the wall and seized a bouquet of flowers from a vase, employing them as a rapier and laying about with a fury. This was fortunate as the cook was frightfully allergic to blooms - they set off her hay fever, and she backed off sneezing. Unfortunately, Lucy was being surrounded on all sides, with more staff coming from the side doors.
"Arrr, you'll ne'er get ye hands on me booty!" she yelled, ever defiant. She crossed over to the banister, clasped a hanging curtain and leaped over the railing, then slid down gracefully to the lower level. She landed smoothly, casually tossed away her makeshift rope and called up. "Yarr, you wine-bibbin' leadfoot swabbies, ya'll ne'er lay hands on Lucy Diamond!"
The servants all yelled in dismay and frustration at being outwitted by a little girl. They tumbled down the stairs after her as she scarpered off into the morning room. Once the servants had passed, the three fugitives darted up the flight of stairs, almost home free. Here they had to split up, Scud to the left and the girls to the right. The house was in an uproar at this stage with the crashing of furniture, crockery, dogs barking, and adults yelling. Scud paused to say farewell and gave Janet a kiss on the cheek before running off to his room. The girl was stunned and had to be dragged off by Amy through the side door, finally achieving the safety of their rooms. Young Miss Bradshaw leaned back against the door, closed her eyes and sighed a long sigh. Then she smiled a blissful smile and laughed with delight.
"Gosh! That was exciting!" Her eyes sparkled. Beside her, Janet was still dazed, with a lost expression and a hand to her cheek. Amy regarded her with fondness, and the girl abruptly gasped.
"I'll say! I've never been kissed by a boy before... oh my!"
"Come on," Amy said, taking her by the hand, "Let's get you to bed, silly." She fidgeted with her nightgown as she led her friend to her bedroom. She was eager to check on Lucy but she wanted to ensure Janet was out of harm's way. Once the girl was safely tucked in to her bed with her favorite teddy bear, Amy took a biscuit out of her pocket and handed it over. "Here you are, this is the last biscuit. I snatched it at the last moment. You deserve it for being such a faithful friend, Janet darling."
"Oh, Amy, thank you!"
"Now make sure you dispose of the evidence quickly and don't leave any crumbs lying about!"
"Oh, yes, Miss."
Amy sighed and kissed her brow softly. "Well, that was never going to last, I suppose. Goodnight, silly."
She tiptoed back towards the hall and opened the door a little to peek through. Lucy had finally been apprehended! She'd been thrown over the shoulder of a burly man and she certainly wasn't happy about it.
"Unhand me, ye blasted jack-a-nape!" she demanded, beating on the man's back with her tiny fists. He marched up the stairs with his rowdy prisoner, unyielding, turning off to the left at the top of the stairs.
Amy half-stepped through the door and Lucy spotted her, blooming into a dazzling smile and blowing her a kiss goodbye. Amy waved and returned the kiss. She mouthed the words, "My hero!" and pretended to swoon, to the laughing delight of Lucy as she disappeared around the corner. The blonde felt a strong urge to damn everyone's eyes and go find her new friend, but then she heard footsteps approaching and she remembered she was a little girl at the mercy of adults, so she drew the door closed and hurried off to her own bed.
Amy lay wrapped in soft linen, slowly drifting into slumber. The moon shimmered through the open curtains and illuminated her bedchamber with an eerie light, transforming her familiar surroundings into a strange, tinted land. She gazed at the bright orb, which seemed to have just passed its fullest phase, and thought of Lucy, wondering if she'd ever see that amazing girl again. Maybe she could sneak out and visit her? Maybe bring her some biscuits. Amy giggled to herself, then sighed. She felt bad for Lucy and whatever punishment she had to face. All on her account. Well, frankly, it wasn't all her fault, really. Lucy would have been there regardless, ha!
Amy was still exhilarated by the events of the night and she wanted to stay awake, to think of a scheme to save Lucy and plan daring new raids. Yet the lateness of the hour and the excitement of her adventures combined to make her feel sluggish, her breathing to become more steady, long and slow. Her eyes began to close gently, her thoughts folding into dreams. In her childish imagination, it didn't occur to her that they might not meet again. Someone as alive and brilliant as Lucy couldn't possibly just disappear forever. Lucy Diamond, she'd named herself. Lucy Diamond. One day - she'd promised - one day she would kidnap her and show her a true pirate ship, and they would sail the seas and claim unknown lands and have all the biscuits they could ever want.