Chapter 1: Captivity
The first two days on board the ship was the worst in Ann's life. She felt ill the moment they left port in Liverpool and steered to the open sea. Locking herself in a cramped cabin that was assigned to her for a trip, she kept a bucket close in case her seasickness would strike again. Hardly eating anything Ann was regretting the decision of taking this long and exhausting journey. Her misery lasted for two days before James would go below the deck with a meal as usual and finally convinced her to leave claustrophobic space she had locked herself in. It was better on the outside. Feeling the wind on her face and seeing endless water improved her state. Seasickness seemed to fade with every day she spent on the ship. Even food became, if not tasty, then at least edible.
It was the end of the first week of her travel. The weather was terrible, waves to high to stay up on deck, dizziness striking almost everyone on the ship, thunders somewhere in a distant, hard to say how far from them and of course, no land visible anywhere. Ann again started to worry she could not make this journey alive. Nevertheless, it was too late for being anxious. She could only pray at this point. And that was exactly what she was doing, even though the crew tried to comfort all of the passengers, explaining there really wasn't anything to worry about.
The was tiring for everyone, including Ann, still locked in her cabin, praying. And when the ocean finally started to calm down, she fell asleep.
She was awakened with the loud rumble that shook the ship strong enough for Ann to fall on the ground. And then it happened again. And then... Then there was just incoherent clamor and the sound of a lot of people running. Ann held onto her bible the closest thing there, still laying on the wooden floor, not even aware of tears that appeared in her eyes. She was sobbing silently when doors to her cabin opened with force.
'And what do we have here?' A man standing in the door wasn't anyone from the crew. Ann was sure he wasn't a passenger too. He was smiling with his toothless grin, looking at her with something very unpleasant in his eyes. Then, to Ann's horror, he reached to his belt and started unbuttoning his trousers. She was rescued by another strike that crashed the ship. The man said something, but it was too loud for Ann to understand. The next thing she knew, she was being dragged by the stranger on the deck. The ocean seemed to be surprisingly calm now, the mist covering the landscape. She could see some other travelers, all shaken to the bone, lost, trembling. Then she started to realize who that man was, who other men on the deck were, shouting and pointing with their pistols. The ship she was on was being kidnaped by the pirates.
Ann looked around petrified but the help wasn't anywhere near to be seen. Would anyone even know what had happened to her? Would anybody look for her? Probably no. Everyone was so relieved when she had decided to accept Mr. Ainsworth. Her family just wanted to get rid of her and when they finally did, they wouldn't bother anymore. She was always just an invalid. Nothing important, no one to reckon with, just the keeper of their money. That was all they had cared for. She knew. She wasn't stupid. Now, with her mysterious death on the ocean, all her assets would be inherited by someone else. There was really no reason to be worried about her anymore. What a relief to everybody. Maby Elisabeth would truly grief over her. However, she had her own family to take care of now, she couldn't spend too much time crying over her doomed, little sister. And apart from her Ann didn't expect the family to be really distressed with her missing. One less problem to worry about.
She stopped her tears still holding the Bible. Looking around she spotted James. Thought that he was alive cheered her a bit. He was the only truly familiar person on the ship, the only one she had now. The sight of him was strangely comforting but in circumstances, they found themselves, she wasn't able to think too much about it. Ann tried to get nearer to him but her movement was instantly spotted by one of the pirates. His strong hands grabbed her from the deck and before she knew what was happening she was dragged to the side of the ship. Her struggling didn't help. She was sure they were going to throw her away in the cold water. Unnecessary and inconvenient as always, just as her tribe saw her. She closed her eyes holding back her sobs, clutching on the book in her hand. If it was going to end this way, she would not give anyone the satisfaction of seeing her crying in her last seconds of life. She would keep at least that much of her dignity. At least she would try. But it wasn't easy. The fear growing inside her was stronger with every second and she knew she couldn't win this battle. She felt the tears running on her cheeks. Ann knew she wasn't brave, she was just fooling herself trying to convince herself she could find more courage than there was ever in her. But there never was any of it in her life.
Awaiting a certain death she gasped with surprise when instead of cold water she was again on the hard, wooden ground. Ann opened her moisty eyes to see she was on the ship. A different one, that she was sure. Sails above her seemed a bit neglected.
'Stay here, little bird' unfamiliar, raspy voice told her and even if she wanted to, she wouldn't know, what else she could do. She felt more alone than ever in her entire life. With no James in her sight, all she had was the Bible on which she clenched her fingers tightly.
There was a brief moment of peace before someone took an interest in her again. First, she heard, then she saw heavy, dirty, brown buts in front of her nose. She looked up to see the ugliest and scariest face she ever had seen. A scar was covering half of the man's left cheek, his nose was red and swollen, but the worst was his eyes, they were so blue that almost white, unpleasant, cruel. Ann trembled trying to get as far from the man as possible. He didn't seem to notice, licking his dry lips and smiling loathsomely. 'Put all below the deck. And this one' he came closer, catching her chin, forcing to look into his terrifying eyes 'and this one lets put somewhere close' his husky laugh get from her lungs a silent sob.
Again she was dragged somewhere, she didn't know where. She was put in some smelly room with barrels and ropes. She heard the doors being locked and then she was alone. Finally, she allowed herself to cry aloud and hard, covering her face with shaking hands. Everything that could go bad went even worse. She was captured by pirates and that was just the beginning. She still could hear this hideous laugh that surely didn't presage anything good. She didn't want to even consider what it could mean for her. Clenching her jaw she let tears run down her face.
'Don't cry now'. A sudden voice was hoarse and definitely belonged to women. Ann looked around surprised and then she realized she wasn't in the cabin alone. There was someone else. Someone chained to the wall, with her wrists in shackles pined slightly above her head. She, however, wasn't dressed as a lady should be. With white, a bit dirty shirt with few top buttons unfastened, loose waistcoat, high buts, and clinging trousers she looked more like a man. Her long hair was ragged, her lower lip split and there was a bruise around her right eye. She looked so wretched and yet somehow managed to seem strong and confident.
'They haven't even started yet' her voice wasn't pleasant and her words made Ann shiver.
'What do you mean?' she asked faintly. The woman chuckled with no real joy in her tone.
'They will not be nice much longer' her gaze was fixed on Ann, studying her from head to toe before she continued. 'Not for such a pretty thing that you are'. The woman licked her cracked lips and then smiled. Ann hadn't seen such a beautiful smile before in her life. There was everything in it - understanding, compassion, support, and strength. And Ann smiled back, weakly and shyly but somehow also comforted.
'I'm Ann.' Her voice was a bit stronger. 'Ann Walker'.
'A pleasure to meet you, Ann.' Even restrained the woman seemed to be in charge of everything that was happening around her. Strong, confident and so engaging, Ann couldn't stop looking at her with pure fascination, for few solacing seconds forgetting about her tragic situation and about her fear. 'I'm Anne Lister. I would gladly shake hands but...' with that, she glanced at her chained wrists and pulled at her restrains lightly. When she looked again at Ann there was another wide smile on her face. And Ann smiled back with confidence.
Chapter 2: The spike
Ann discovers more about Anne. And some of what she learns unsettles her but there is no time for further questions.
TW: rape attempt and sexual abuse
They talked for a long time. Ann knew already that the other Anne was a captain of a ship named Icarus to 'remind her to not get too near the sun' as the woman explained. She had a younger sister and cared deeply about her elderly aunt. Anne was also interested in the biology of the human body.
'It's the most fascinating thing - the brain. How incredible is that we can think, that we can express those thoughts, create words to describe them, we can dream. Imagine, everything hidden in this ugly, unimpressive organ inside every one of us. All the decisions you made, all the ideas you came up with, all people you had fallen in love with - all of it appeared one day right there, under your skull. Isn't it just astonishing?'
Ann couldn't tell. She was way too captivated with sparks in Anne's eyes and her smile that lighted up her swollen face, and loose hair that kept falling into her mouth, and her shackled wrists that tried to gesture while the woman was speaking. Chains rang every time, serely reminding of poor circumstances they found themselves in.
'Have you ever seen it?' Ann finally found her voice.
'What? The brain? I have. Several opportunities, not worthy of mentioning.' Ann wouldn't agree but didn't have a chance to argue. 'Why are you here, Ann?' Piercing eyes found hers and watched her with the attention she hadn't known from her previous life.
'I... ugh' she looked around confused. How could she forget? 'I was on my way to get married' she whispered.
'Married?' There was a shock in Anne's voice. 'Oh. I'm terribly sorry then for your ruined wedding.'
Ann only shook her head. 'It was ruined anyway.' She had no idea why she was saying it. She was too scared to admit it to herself alone and now, in front of this strange woman, she was articulating all her worries and regrets.
'Ruined? I'm sure you would make a remarkable bride. And your spouse must be an outstanding fella.'
'I wouldn't!' Ann twisted her face in disgust. 'And he is not outstanding.' She almost spat the last word.
'Why marry him then?' Anne seemed honestly surprised and it made Ann even more angry for the reason she couldn't name. It was ridiculous she was irritated now, telling her story to a person she didn't even know. Why was she so upset with the opinion Anne might have about her? It shouldn't matter. But somehow it did.
'I don't know. It was something I was supposed to do.' As she had said it, it sounded bitter.
'Supposed to?' There was still disbelief in Anne's voice. 'Weren't you independent? Having your assets?'
Ann felt defeated. Defending her decision to marry Ainsworth was hard enough without Anne's forwarding questions.
'It's not... When one is seen as fragile, as needing special care, it is not easy to decide about oneself. I couldn't be happy, so maybe at least I would make him happy and then with time I would be a bit happy too. And, and then maybe my family wouldn't look at me like I was too uncertain to have an opinion on myself.'
There was silence for a moment.
'You are running from your family into committing yourself to the man you don't even like?'. Ann could only nod tacitly and not say how foolishly it sounded in Anne's lips. 'Don't you really have anyone who would care for you, Ann? Does your family care about something else than money and appearances?'
'They don't care only about money and appearances! They do care about me!'
'Do they now? They certainly didn't care enough to protect you from marrying someone you clearly don't want to marry. They even let you go on this trip alone.'
'Captain of the ship is a cousin of my brother-in-law.'
'They are still letting you marry that man.'
'It's not their fault that I'm the odd one. An Invalid.' There, she said it finally. She was beaten the moment this discussion had started. There was no way she could hide anything from Anne's observant eyes. Her questions were all too shrewd to avoid the truth that had to come to light at last. They were locked together, there was no way of escaping this place, but Ann was now sure that if Anne only had an opportunity, she would flee. They certainly, however, ended their pleasant talk for good and Ann didn't expect the woman would try another one in the future.
'You don't seem invalid to me' was all Anne's answer and at the same time, the least expected.
'I... Uhm...' Ann didn't have time to reply. The doors opened loudly. The toothless pirate Ann had met before was smiling at her with an unpleasant grin.
'Hello, little bird. Our captain sends his regards' he put a bucket of water on the ground and throw bread at Ann. 'Eat and then wash. The captain is eager to meet you.' He laughed. Ann stood petrified, hardly being able to swallow.
'Hello, little ogre' chained and bruised Anne somehow was able not only to mock the pirate but also fluster the big man. 'No bread for me?'
He hit her. Hard. Anne spat with blood. She smiled wryly. The toothless reached to his belt. The movement Ann knew too well. 'I'll give you something to fill your ugly mug.' It happened very quickly. One moment the man was unbuttoning his trousers, the second he was bent in half, holding his groin.
'I don't think so.' Anne was still smiling with the same, sardonic grin.
'You'll see, bitch. When I'm done with you, you'll be begging, you'll...!'
'If you touch me, your captain won't be very happy. Are you sure you want to risk your jewels that much? And do you have the faintest idea, what Rawson would do to you?' She wasn't smiling anymore. Her eyes glinted dangerously when she lowered her voice.
Pirate only spat on her before he turned to the exit. 'Get ready, little bird, you will not be able to move for a long time once we all have our share of you' he said before leaving, still holding his groin.
Ann fell on her knees sobbing. It couldn't be happening to her. Not like that. She didn't deserve this. She felt so weak, so incapable at the moment. She tried to throw up, but her stomach was empty, so she only gagged loudly, losing her breath for a while. There were more spasms of cry and unsuccess attempts to vomit. She was lost in her distress and hopelessness, deaf and blind for everything around her it took her time to realize, someone was calling her name.
'Ann, please, look at me.' There was a new tone to Anne's voice. She seemed concerned and Ann was sure she even heard compassion. 'Ann, please, I need you to focus now. It is important. Ann, please, breath, look at me. Keep looking at me. Inhale. Exhale. That's right. Look at me, Ann, breath with me. In and out. You are brave, Ann, you are strong. Look at me.'
It was helping. Anne's steady voice and her dark, calm eyes. Ann crawled closer to the other woman not able to look anywhere but at her. She was afraid as soon as she would take her eyes off her, panic would strike again. She was breathing. In. And out. In. Out. Just as Anne had told her to. She needed to be close to someone who could make her feel safe. And the only person that could do this right now was a beaten woman chained below the deck of a pirate ship. Ann kneeled so close their thighs were touching.
'Breath, Ann' she reminded her.
'Don't talk, just breath. You have to calm down, Ann. Breath with me. Listen to me. Breath with me, Ann. Slowly.' Ann focused on a calming voice and steady breath. With every exhale she was leaning closer to Anne's heaving chest. When she was close enough to feel the texture of the woman's shirt she closed her eyes and laid her head above Anne's breast. She could hear her heart. Strong and steady beat, just like her breathing. Anne twisted her head so that she could cover Ann's in a struggle of a handless hug. They stayed like this until Ann raised to look at the other woman. She could saw a warm smile on her face and it gave her confidence and strength to stand up and pick bread from the floor. She then came back to sitting next to the chained prisoner. They were quiet when Ann plucked bread and fed Anne with it before she ate her, smaller part.
'Thank you' Anne was first to break the silence.
'I should be the one thanking you, Anne.'
'No, don't.' She shook her head distressed. 'I wish I could do more, Ann, but...'
'You did enough.' Ann interrupted her with a gentle smile.
'No, listen to me Ann, it is important. In my left boot, in the upper, you'll find a spike. Take it out.' Ann was surprised both with Anne's words and her suddenly solemn tone. 'Do it, Ann, there is not much time.' Ann moved to her calves, searching with her fingers for something stiff. There wasn't much light in the cabin they were locked in. Just enough to see a bit more than only shapes but not too many details. However, Ann finally found the spike and took it from Anne's shoe. She looked then at the woman with a question in her eyes.
'Hide it somewhere in your dress where you can easily reach it. And when he tries to touch you... No, Ann, look at me, it is important. When he will try to touch you, you stab him. But you must be very careful. He can't be too far and you have to aim in soft spots on his body. Ears, eyes, neck but only from the front.'
'You want me to' Ann lowered her voice 'kill him?!'
'No, Ann, I want you to protect yourself. I wish there was another way but right now it is all I can do.'
'But what when someone comes in, what if they will find me with his...'
'They won't. No one will interrupt a captain during his' Anne contorted 'fun.'
'But after?' Ann couldn't even find the right words to express what she felt, to articulate her doubts. She didn't have an idea of how they came from calming her to talking about a murder. The strangest, however, was Anne's behavior, such matter of fact, Ann had to wonder if it was the first time she was considering killing somebody. Even if the captain was a bad man and intended to hurt her in the worst possible way, Ann didn't know if she could find it in her to stab him with the spike. Her palms started to sweat.
'Don't worry about after. Promise me you will stay there and you will not, under any circumstances, leave his cabin.'
'There is only one man in his cabin, Ann. There are many more of them outside of it. And all of them want the same thing from you. You are not sure you can handle one, don't try with dozen.'
'Good. Whether you stab him or not, don't leave his cabin.' Ann only nodded, hiding a cold spike in her sleeve. 'And be brave, Ann. It' won't last much longer.'
The reassuring smile spread on Anne's face before the doors were opened again.
'Captain will see you now, m'lady' The toothless pirate bowed mockingly in front of her and then unceremoniously grabbed her and took away. She tried to get away but was too weak. The last thing she saw before she was dragged from the cabin was Anne's face full of concern and, what shocked Ann, pure rage.
Chapter 3: Blood in the water
Both of them need to get free. And both of them need someone to save them.
I had to write my thesis for a change and couldn't post it sooner. But your support and all your comments are amazing and thank you all for them so, so much ♥♥♥
TW: attempt of rape, sexual assault, a bit of blood
I promise the next chapter won't have those. Probably. And that I will try to write it sooner, because I can't think about anything else right now anyway. I'm useless and I fell for a woman that died 180 years ago. Do not judge me, please.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
That was the most frustrating thing - the waiting. Anne hated waiting. She wasn't made for inaction and stillness. She was known for her constant motion, for her rush, for never having enough time to rest. Being in a hurry was a natural state for her. It was irritating to be chained in one place, forced to wait for a rescue like some sort of incapable, fragile princess. And she was none of that. She couldn't stand her being dependent on anyone's mercy. But this time she had to and it was the most frustrating thing.
Except one more pretty, little thing that crept into her mind with a slight smile of Ann's Walker. She wasn't very nice to the girl at the beginning. But on her behalf, she was frustrated and sore from sitting in this uncomfortable position for the last two days. She never should have taken it on the silly girl that suddenly appeared in the cabin. She had regretted it as soon, as she looked at Ann. Horror and pain all painted on her delicate face, the loss visible in her tear-filled eyes. Anne immediately felt an urge to feel them with sparks of laughter. There was something in the girl that made Anne wanting to comfort her despite the hopeless position she found herself in.
She was aware of what was going to happen to the poor girl. And she couldn't do anything about it. That was the only thing that frustrated her more than waiting. She growled. It was like blasphemy, the hideous captain of this sleazy ship touching someone as pure and angelic as Ann Walker. The adorable girl didn't deserve her faith. A short conversation they had was enough for Anne to know it for sure. There was, however, nothing she could do. She gave her the only weapon she had, hoping it would be enough. Ann only had to last few more minutes. And she will be able to finally move. Help her. She waited long enough. Surely.
Ann tried to fight at first but she soon gave up on that. She was terrified and couldn't believe it was happening to her. How was she supposed to survive it? She couldn't even name it in her mind. The metal spike in her sleeve was a cold reminder of the promise of rescue. But it was getting warmer with every second and Ann was close to crying again. No one seemed to care about the state she was in. Hardly able to walk, petrified she barely could follow the pirate. His dirty fingers were digging painfully in her arm. She felt tears on her cheeks.
By the time they were in front of the captain's cabin, she was shaking visibly. Pale white she forgot even how to breathe. Then the doors opened and she was again standing in front of the man with terrifyingly white eyes. He smiled at her with hunger. If not for a pirate who was still holding her, she would collapse under that gaze. She felt dizzy, sick like she was about to vomit. She tried to catch a breath but she couldn't. She was suffocating with her panic attack.
"Now, now, little bird. Till now I've only heard I'm breathtaking," he laughed and it was the vilest and most empty sound Ann had ever heard in her life. She cringed but there was no place she could run away to. She was pulled inside the cabin. It was dark, musty and cold. She managed to regain her composure. It took all her strength, but she was breathing again.
Ann heard the sound of the door locking. She closed her eyes, her lower lips trembling.
"Oh, don't cry, pretty bird," heavy boots were the only sound except for his voice that Ann could hear. With the ring of the glass, she opened her eyes surprised. Captain was sitting on his bed, with a bottle in his hand. When he opened it the scent of alcohol hit Ann.
"Have you ever been with a man before?"
She shook her head not able to force her lips to open.
"Will you scream?" He smirked. "I like when you scream."
Ann didn't have an answer for that. She was only watching him, struggling not to lose her breath again. He drank more alcohol and patted his knee.
"Come here, bird."
Ann didn't move both mortified and petrified.
"You will do as I say willingly or I will force you. And it won't be pleasant."
There was something vicious in his eyes and Ann didn't, even for a second, doubted his threat. She took five shaky steps. She was standing in front of him now, her mouth completely dry, her skin pale.
And she did, giving a silent sob.
"You will cry louder soon," he grinned again drinking alcohol that, telling by the scent, had to be rum. His hand held her by a hip. He put the bottle near to her lips. "Drink with me, pretty bird."
Ann didn't have a choice. She took a big sip. And then she had to caught when burning liquid flew down her throat. She gagged, spilling the rum all over her dress.
He was laughing. She was crying.
His hands were suddenly all over her. His head bowed. His lips sucked her dress, drinking the rum sinking into the silk. And then he bit her on her breast. It hurt. It was humiliating. It was above all wrong.
Everything happened so fast that later she couldn't remember how it had started. The moment he bit her, her right hand raised and the metal spike slid from her sleeve. She struck him hard, on the neck. And again. Blood rushed from two wounds, streaming on her hand and wet dress. She fell on the floor when the man stood shakingly. Spike bowled on the floor, disappearing. Breathing hard he was covering holes in his neck, trying to stop the blood with his palm. She didn't kill him. Of course, she failed. What did she even expect? He was only wounded. She gored him from behind.
"You whore," he bared his teeth. He took a cutlass and looked at her with rage. "You'll regret it."
She was trying to crawl as far from him as she could. Slipping on rum and blood she tried the only thing that she had left. She cried out for help. And he laughed.
She heard the door open again and a familiar silhouette entered the cabin.
"Washington. Finally." She didn't hide the relief in her voice.
"Sorry, captain. It took a bit longer than we anticipated," he smiled apologetically.
"Take off those shackles for God's sake," she groaned not finding any more patience within herself. Soon she was free, rubbing her sore wrists.
"They were hard on you, captain, wouldn't they?" He was looking at blood under her nose, bruise around her eye.
"I'm fine," her assurance wasn't very convincing since she had to grab Washington's hand to steady herself when she got up. But he didn't say anything. And Anne was soon standing on her own. "There's something I have to fetch before we leave."
"Captian, you didn't--?" He was puzzled.
"No, not that. I did. It's something else," she shook her head and both of her hands finally able to gesture while speaking. "Someone else."
"Someone? Captain are you--"
"Yes, I'm sure. Go! I'll join you shortly."
"Captain, the plan-- You know, if they find out--"
"I know, Washington. It is my plan, to begin with. That is why when I tell you there is something else I need to take care of, you can be sure I exactly know, what I'm doing. The risk is minimal. And even if they catch me, there is no reason to suspect it was all a setup. Now, do as I command and don't waste more of my time."
"And give me your cutlass."
"Cutlass, Washington, I will need it."
"Of course, good luck, captain," with that he left the cabin.
Anne only nodded.
His laugh was cut short with slamming of the doors when someone opened them with force.
"Jack," he snarled and the name sounded like a curse.
"Well, good to see you too, but I guess, I will be going. Nonetheless, thank you for your hospitality," the female voice was familiar to Ann. She could swear she had heard it not a long time ago. But she was too shocked at the moment to recognize it.
Captain, however, didn't have that problem. He tried to attack the stranger, but his opponent was faster. Two, clean cuts sent him on his knees. With a quick motion, an intruder slit defenseless pirate's throat.
Ann watched the whole scene happening voiceless.
"Ann, are you alright?" The intruder came closer to her.
"Don't touch me," she muttered faintly.
"Ann, it's me."
"Anne?" She opened her eyes wide. It was impossible, wasn't it? Was she dreaming?
She dropped her sword on the ground and cupped Ann's face.
"Are you hurt?"
"What? No. Why--"
"Is it your blood?" She sounded so soft, so caring, Ann found herself again forgetting about horrors happening to her recently. She focused on warm palms on her cheeks and calm voice.
"No, it's not," Ann whispered. She leaned to the touch seeking comfort.
"Good. We have to go, Ann. Now."
Ann opened her eyes she didn't even realize were closed.
"Just-- just don't leave me," she heard herself saying, too overwhelmed with everything that had happened to control herself anymore. But Anne only smiled gently and took her hand. Her hold was tight and encouraging. She lifted her up. Ann had to catch her arm to steady herself, her knees still weak. That was when she realized Anne was a bit taller. And she looked at her with a warm smile, patiently waiting for her to be ready to go. And then she pulled her with her thorough the ship.
They had to keep quiet while creeping down to the stern. Anne hadn't said a word. She was, however, squeezing Ann's hand reassuringly every now and then. Ann needed that to ground her in a reality. She felt dizzy, surreal even. Like everything was just a sick dream she couldn't awaken herself from. Her body was moving without her intention and she felt like an intruder inside her own head. She was separated from reality. Anne's grip on her hand was the only thing keeping her in time and space. She followed silently, focused on Anne's hair escaping her ruined, low ponytail and on her warm palm holding her hand.
When they stopped, Ann couldn't tell for how long they were creeping.
"You must take off your dress," Anne whispered taking off her shoes.
'What? Why?" She furrowed her brow.
"We have to swim," Anne explained silently. "Your dress will soak and pull you down."
There was a moment of silence.
"Alright," she answered finally, her voice shaking.
"Do you need help?"
Anne looked at her with caution. Since she let go of her hand, she hadn't touched her, keeping her distance.
Only then Anne came closer. Her hands very fast and efficiently helped her to get rid of the dress that was thrown to the black ocean. Ann felt goosebumps raising when the cold air of the night touched her skin.
"And corset too," Anne whispered behind her.
"W-why?" She shivered from cold. It was because of the cold wind, right?
"You need to breath."
Ann nodded, turning her back to Anne who undid her corset with surprising proficiency.
"Ladies first," Anne drew her hand in an offer of help with climbing on the railing.
"You are a lady too," Ann snapped but took her hand nonetheless.
Anne's chuckle was a deep, pleasant sound.
"No-one called me a lady for a very long time," she admitted. "Try to land on your feet. Otherwise, it might hurt."
Just then Ann looked down. They were much higher than she thought they could be.
"You're going to be fine," Anne must have sensed her insecurity.
"I- I can't swim." How didn't she think of it before?
"It's alright. I can. I'm pretty good at it actually and I will be right behind you."
But Ann knew, there was no way she would jump into the black, probably cold ocean. And that was another thing that Anne must have magically sensed.
"Just don't scream," she said with a devilish grin on her face and then, she pushed her into the dark, rough water.
Don't you think that it is funny, that in the song we have "Jack-the-lass" and a pirate sword is called cutlass? And in general, Anne Lister holding something that is called cutlass sounds iconic. My mind is trying to come up with a clever, Anne-Lister-style joke about it, but fails miserably. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯