Terror remembered her first Arctic expedition.
The second she stepped foot on English soil upon returning from that hellish journey, battered and beaten by the ice and gales, she vowed to never return there again.
Yet here she was, years later, trapped in ice that showed no signs of melting. That was the life of a Royal Navy ship; you had to go where you’re needed, no matter how you felt about the situation.
She had been with her captain the whole morning as he drank his emotions away. He was asleep now, sitting at his desk with a half-full glass of whiskey still in his hand and surrounded by several empty glasses.
They say a ship is like a mother to her captain. Indeed, Terror was like a mother to Crozier, whose company was the only one he seemed to tolerate on this expedition.
But while Terror did care for her captain, she desperately needed to see someone in particular.
Terror gave her captain a light pat on the shoulder before getting up and making her way to the upper deck.
In the distance she could see the faint silhouette of another ship. She stared at it longingly for a few moments until she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see her captain of the foretop, Henry Peglar.
“Ah, Mr. Peglar.”
“Miss Terror. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“No, no. It’s alright. I was just lost in thought. Did you need something?”
“Yes, actually…” he pulled a book out of his coat and handed it to Terror. “Could you return this to Mr. Bridgens, please? When you visit Erebus next?”
“Of course.” she smiled fondly and took the book from him. She could see a piece of paper between a couple of the pages. A love letter, no doubt. How sweet. Terror secretly wanted to invite Peglar to come with her, but she knew that he would decline. He could not be as open about his relationship with John like Terror was with Erebus.
“I’m actually going to visit her now. Take care, Mr. Peglar.” And with that, she made her way off the ship and began the long trek towards Erebus.
When she finally reached her beloved companion vessel, she couldn’t feel her legs. It was a painful feeling, but Terror didn’t care. This was usually how Terror was when she arrived to see Erebus, nearly half frozen and falling over in the snow. However, it was all worth it to Terror, just so she could see her beloved Erebus.
Erebus was in her cabin, sitting in front of the fireplace, wrapped in a blanket. There was a light knock at the door. Erebus knew who it was; she didn’t have to say anything. Her face seemed to light up as Terror slid the door open.
“How’s your leg?” asked Terror, closing the door behind her.
“It’s doing better, I suppose.”
Upon sitting down next to her, Erebus immediately snuggled up to Terror, wrapping her arms around her and resting her head on her shoulder. Terror gave a light chuckle and embraced the other woman, kissing the top of her head.
“You’re really warm.” sighed Erebus.
“Are you sure about that, Ere?” Terror’s legs still felt numb; she wasn’t even sure that they would return to normal.
“Yes.” Erebus sounded so confident that Terror could not help but laugh. She kissed Erebus’ nose and they sat in silence for a few minutes, holding each other.
It was Erebus who broke the silence. “We’ll get out of here, right, Terror?”
Terror didn’t answer. She honestly wasn’t sure. Sure, she had survived the Back expedition, returning to England barely in one piece. And she and Erebus both survived the Ross Expedition, despite their collision and the bad weather.
It seemed different this time, though. Something was after them, Terror felt. Something was trying to make sure they didn’t return, that they all died in this icy hell.
But she couldn’t say that to Erebus.
“I don’t know.” she finally said.
They were silent again for a while. Once more, Erebus was the first to speak.
“Even if we don’t, all that matters is that we’re together, right?”
Terror laughed lightly, lifting Erebus’ head so she could gaze into her eyes.
“Yes, of course it does.”
She gently kissed her lover’s lips, which were cold and cracked from the frosty air. Erebus sighed contentedly and rested her head on Terror’s shoulder again.
“If we are to die, I only wish that we are by each other’s sides.”
“That’s sappy, Terror.” giggled Erebus.
“It’s true, though!” She nuzzled Erebus’ hair, laughing along with her.
Their laughter gradually faded out as they sat in front of the fire, cradling each other in their arms. They would stay like that for a good long while, at least until they were needed.