Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Peter Kirkland makes an astonishing discovery in a safe inside the wreck of the Titanic
A/N: I know a lot of stories have been done like this, but I'm doing my version of it anyway. I own nothing.
Anneliese Héderváry- Nyo! Austria
Peter Kirkland- Sealand
Wynona Martin- Wy
Marcello Vargas- Seborga
Bruno Héderváry- Kugelmugel
Vladimir Popescu - Romania
"Bring it over here!" Peter Kirkland grinned at sight of the old safe as it was lifted out of the Atlantic Ocean. After years of searching through the wreckage of the Titanic, he had finally found the Heart of the Ocean. It was a rather famous diamond necklace that sunk along with the ship and finding it would bring anyone fame along with wealth after it was sold. His friends Wynona and Marcello ran up behind him, just as excited as he was. The three of them had been working on finding the necklace for three years and today all their hard work would soon pay off.
When Peter had found out that a distant relative of his had died on board the Titanic, the topic of the ship and its passengers' stories intrigued him even more. What were the lives like of the passengers before the ship? And what were their lives like after? As he expanded his research, he found others who had had family on the ship which was how he had met Wynona and Marcello. Wynona's great grandfather had worked in the boiler room while Marcello's great uncle had been a 3rd class passenger. The necklace had also stirred up his interest and lead to him finding out that there was a possibility of it still being in the wreckage.
"I'm telling you, today's the day." Peter said, turning to Marcello.
"You say that everyday, you crazy bastardo. What makes you so sure about that?" He asked, a large grin spread across his face.
"I can feel it." He replied.
"And what if its not there?" Wynona asked. "That safe is the biggest lead we have, you know. Almost everything we've worked on is ridding on it."
"I know, I know. Honestly, you could have a little more faith in me, Wy." Peter gave her a small nudged.
Once it was set down, a welder was used to cut the door open, leaving the workers of the ship cheering, knowing that their hard work was about to be paid off. Peter knelt down beside it and began pulling out what was inside. All that was pulled out were several soaked pounds, leaving an almost mud-like texture on his skin. There was a thin slot that the necklace could have possibly fit into, but his face fell as he pulled out a notebook rather than a necklace. Setting it down, he reached his hands in the safe one more time before admitting to everyone and more importantly, himself, that the necklace wasn't there.
"Shit." Peter muttered under his breath. It was as though he had had cold water thrown onto him. All of his research was for nothing. Three years of hard work was down the drain.
"For all we know, it could be anywhere in the suite. We still have the mother's room to look through too. It'll take a little more time, but we'll find it, Peter. It's not impossible." Wynona had knelt down beside him and picked up the notebook. "The partners will want to talk to you. I'll go finish cleaning what we've found so far. Some of it could be useful."
Peter went back into his office and reluctantly picked up the satellite phone, hearing shouting on the other end.
Music filled the nearly empty recreation room as Bruno Héderváry walked in to find his great grandmother at the piano. It wasn't unusual to find her there. She had been a well known pianist about 25 years prior and had shown her children, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren how to play. It wasn't until the death of her husband did she allow herself to be placed in a home. Her first few days had been hard, but over time with visits from her family and the allowed use of the piano, she had been able to adjust. At 101, Anneliese Héderváry found that she had outlived her husband, both of her children, and one grandchild and it pained her to no end. She sought comfort in the fact that she still had living family members.
"Morning Gran." Bruno greeted as he pulled up a chair next to her. The music stopped playing and she turned to face him. She smiled and kissed both of his cheeks before taking him in. At the age of twenty three, Bruno had started to follow along in great-grandmother's passion for the piano and was starting out doing private shows. She let her hand stray to his hair and filded with one of the braids in distaste. He had long, light blond, almost white hair that was tied back into two braids and had refused any of her complaints of how he should cut it.
"Here I was thinking that you had finally gotten a haircut." She smiled softly. "I'm surprised to see you. I thought you said you were coming next week."
"I decided to surprise you." He replied. "What were you playing?"
"Who knows. Half the time I find myself just playing whatever pops into my mind." She replied, smiling slightly. "I think I'll take a break for now since you're here."
"How about I play something for you instead." Bruno offered. She moved over so that he could sit down.
"How's your mother? Is she well?"
"She's doing good. She wanted to be here herself, but something came up back home, so she sent me ahead." He answered as he sat down next to her. "She sends her best though."
Bruno had just started playing Chopin Waltz No. 7 when the T.V. in the background was turned on. They did a good job of just ignoring it until the announcer spoke once more.
'There's no denying that the subject of Titanic has been a topic of interest for several years. I've been planning this expedition for the last three years and so far, we've recovered some amazing things that show that there's more to the passengers that had traveled on the ship."
"Gran, are you alright?" Bruno looked over at his grandmother who was watching the T.V. with wonder in her eyes.
"Mr. Kirkland, some say you're nothing more than a thief with a rather large agenda." The T.V. news reporter was saying. "What is your response to these comments?"
"I'm merely trying to preserve a piece of history." The man replied. "You look at those who found King Tut's tomb and they aren't called grave robbers. I have museum workers here that a fully trained to make sure whatever we find in the wreckage is preserved and catalogued properly." The camera panned to what was on the table. "Earlier today, my team uncovered this drawing and we manged to clean it up and keep it intact up here in the lab."
The camera showed a portrait of a young woman who was nude and was laying across a divan. The artist had captured her facial features quite well. There was a mole located on the right side of her mouth and she had long, dark hair that was strewn across the pillow. What drew Anneliese's eyes the most however was the necklace that was around the woman's neck.
"Bruno?" She looked over towards him. "Would you be a dear and get me a phone?"
Peter was watching the subs go into the water and was about to get in the other one when Marcello came up behind him, out of breath.
"Pete, I've got someone of the phone for you." He held out the satellite phone, breathing heavily.
"Just take a message. I've got to go pilot the sub and see if we can find the necklace in another room." He pushed the phone out of his face and started walking away. Marcello followed after him.
You're going to want to take this call." Peter glared at him for a moment before taking the phone. "You're gonna want to speak up, she's a little old."
He wasn't sure what to expect on the other line, but soft-spoken woman surprised him and he had to move away from the noise in order to hear her voice clearly.
"What can I do for you Mrs. ?" He looked towards Marcello from confirmation.
"Héderváry." Marcello told him. "Anneliese Héderváry." Peter nodded before going back to the phone.
"I was wondering if you've found the heart of the ocean yet, Mr. Kirkland." Her voice sounded cheerful. Peter's eyes widened as he looked over to see Marcello smirking at him.
'Told you so.' He mouthed.
"You've got my attention now, Mrs. Héderváry. Do you know who the woman in the picture is?" There was a pause. Peter tapped his fingers on the railing, waiting for his response.
"I do actually. That woman in the picture was me."
"I managed do a little research and found that she used to be a part-time actress back in the 1920s along with having written and preformed a few musical pieces. Not to mention she was quite the donna bella when she was younger." Marcello pulled up an old picture of Anneliese Héderváry that he had managed to find. Peter looked between the drawing and the photograph and was surprised to see how well her features matched the picture. Whoever had drawn her clearly knew what they were doing. "Of course she's got nothing you." Marcello directed this last part towards Wynona who was cleaning off the other objects that had been found in the room.
"Thanks Marci, that means a lot coming from you." She replied sarcastically. "Mrs. Héderváry's arriving today on the helicopter, so go get her room ready."
When Anneliese had arrived on the ship, it took nearly an hour for her to get settled in. It appeared as though she had brought everything she owned and was taking great care to place them accordingly in her room. Soon she was wheeled over to where the lab was by Bruno. Bruno's mother had been rather reluctant about letting Anneliese go to the ship, but Bruno had promised that he'd keep an eye on her and had gone with her.
"This is Bruno, my great-grandson. He helps take care of me." Anneliese smiled at up at Bruno.
"It's nice to meet you both." Peter extended a hand toward her, which she took, then a hand towards Bruno who looked at it for a moment before taking it. He was suspicious of the man, who wasn't much older than he was, in front of him.
"I'll catch you up on what we know of the necklace so far." Peter went over to a cabinet and looked through the top drawer before pulling out a file and opening it. "Popescu had bought the necklace for his fiancée Anneliese Edelstein, which was you." Peter read off the paper and looked at the woman sitting in front of him. "After it sank along with the Titanic, he filed a claim for it, but came up empty handed from what I learned. If what you say is true, then you are now my new best friend." He joked. Anneliese smiled. "I can show you a few items we managed to recover from your room."
She was lead over to a table that had a few broken trinkets. Her hand grazed over an old hair comb that she had worn to a hand mirror. She picked it up carefully as though it would break at the slightest sharp movement and turned it over. In her reflection, she saw her now gray hair and the lines on her face.
"The reflection's changed a little." Anne said, setting it down. Bruno looked at what was on the table. His great grandmother had never really talked much about her life before meeting his great grandfather. All he knew was that she had manged to live the way she wanted before she had settled down. He looked at the portrait, admiring the handiwork of it over all. It was hard to see his great-grandmother as anything other than old, but the proof was in the drawing.
"Are you sure you're ready?" Bruno asked her, putting a hand over her's. She nodded.
"I have to. I've never really told anyone about this. Your great-grandfather only knew a little bit, never the whole story." Anneliese answered. "Now wheel me over to the monitor. I want to see the ship."
Bruno nodded before rolling her over to the where the the wreckage of the ship was on display. She slowly got up and placed a hand on monitor as the screen showed the helm of the ship. She closed her eyes and for a brief moment it felt as if the sea breeze was on her face. The moment was interrupted when she heard footsteps behind her. She turned to see a young woman in a pink smock for some odd reason coming in followed by a young man holding a few files.
"Mrs. Héderváry, it's nice to finally meet you." Wynona walked over to her and extended her hand. "Wynona Martin. I was in charge of preserving what was found in your room." Anneliese gave her a slight smile before taking her hand.
"I must say you did an excellent job. The picture looks almost the same as when I last saw it." She replied.
"And you are?" Wynona had turned to Bruno.
"Bruno. I'm her great-grandson." He held out his hand for her to take which she did.
Anneliese sat back down in her wheelchair. Bruno turned her chair around to face everyone else in the room. "I'm sure you're all eager to know about the Heart of the Ocean." She said.
"How about you start at the beginning?" Marcello said from where he was standing in the corner. "That's the whole point of this expedition, isn't it? To know what the lives of the passengers were like."
"Why don't we just start with what you remember." Peter suggested as he turned the camera on before sitting down. "Tell me Anneliese. Tell us about what your life was like before Titanic." He paused for a moment. "And how it changed you."
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
It took longer than I thought to update the story, but I like the way this chapter turned out.
Monika Beilschmidt - Nyo! Germany
Aleksandar Dragov - Bulgaria
"I was born in Salzburg, Austria in 1895." She spoke softly. "The Edelstein family was very prominent and growing up, I was constantly reminded of that by my mother. Some of my earliest memories aren't of my parents, but the nanny that had been hired to take care of me. My mother could see that I preferred the nanny over her and eventually fired her out of jealously." Anneliese glanced over at the screen, showing the wreckage. "I was raised to be the perfect daughter. Obedient, graceful and polite. As I grew older, my days were spent with piano lessons and tutors. My whole life was planned out. Find a husband, have a family, and die. Everything was set in place for me until my father died when I was fourteen."
She thought about the day that the police had come to their home. She remembered her mother's scream and how her maid had held her. Anneliese had remained silent in her chair, simply nodding to men at the door before helping tend to her mother. After that day, her mother pulled herself together, especially learning how he was found.
"On his death certificate it says that he had had a heart attack while driving upstate. What I later found out was that it had happened while he was with his mistress. After his death, Mother met with lawyers and the banks to find that he lost nearly all of our fortune due his gambling and keeping his mistress. She managed to sell some property we had and my father's things. The news of our misfortune hadn't spread thankfully and Mother was able to use our name to keep us in. Our name was all we had left that was worth any value and my mother used it well. She spent her time trying to find me a husband, someone who was fabulously wealthy and that's when we met Vladimir Popescu."
Anneliese could remember one of the first times that she had met him. It had been two years since her father's death and her mother had taken them to some charity function in Vienna. It was one of the several 'accidental run-ins' that her mother had staged with the man who was nearly twice age. She could see underneath his hat he had shaggy, strawberry blond hair and that he happened to have a small fang on the left side of his mouth. He wore a red hat and a coat to match over black trousers and black boots. At thirty years old, Vladimir owned several textile mills and forges in Eastern Europe and had moved a few over to the United States to help build more railroads and expand his family's business. Naturally, he was a perfect suitor.
However the more she had gotten to know Vladimir, the more she realized how possessive he can be. He treated her as though she was a shiny trophy rather than a human being. Even when he had proposed to her, it had been on full display in front of several of his colleagues and their wives, as well as his father, not to mention that she barely got a word in before ring was slipped on her finger. Whenever they had gone out together, he showed her off like a prized horse. Her mother however didn't seem to care in the slightest, only glad that she had found her daughter a man to marry.
"Vladimir was kind to my mother and I, but I didn't love him. He was nearly 13 years older than me, and simply needed to find a wife before he received his full inheritance." She said. "We weren't suppose to travel on the Titanic at all, but Vladimir had pulled some strings and got us all tickets aboard. We planned to marry at his estate in New York before he moved us West to oversee his business's expansion."
She looked over at Bruno and smiled softly. She knew that he had gotten his eyes from her, but it was the color of his hair that caused her to go silent for a moment.
"Even after all these years, I still wonder what would have happened if he had never bought those tickets? The likely answer is that I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't have been able to live my life the way I did."
April 10th, 1912
Anneliese studied her white and purple outfit in the mirror before pinning half her hair back away from her face and finished adjusting her white coat over her dress. Out of the corner of her eye she could see the ship in the distance. Her hotel wasn't that far from the docks, but it was far enough that her mother could sleep soundly without having to worry about seeing any 'scoundrels' in the streets. When she had deemed herself presentable, she turned fully to look out the window to see Titanic's four large funnels stood proudly among the clear blue sky with steam spewing out from them. While the ship looked beautiful, she knew what it was taking her to. Anneliese sat in the window bay, swept up in her own thoughts and was startled when she heard the door open up from behind her.
"Ms. Edelstein, your mother needs you downstairs. The car is waiting." The young maid said hurriedly as she grabbed the rest of the bags in the room.
"Thank you, Helga." She replied before grabbing her hat and leaving her hotel room.
Anneliese had spent the last week traveling from Salzburg to Southampton in order to travel on the Titanic. Vladimir had decided that the best way to travel to America would be on the newest, grandest ship in world and had managed to pull several strings to get them on board. They had the car waiting for them downstairs and Anneliese was practically sprinting until her mother scolded her for running across the lobby. She climbed into the backseat and the door shut behind her. As they drove to the docks, she looked out the window wistfully, wishing that she could be anywhere else. Due their delayed purchase in tickets, they ended up having to drive straight up to the ship rather than go through the terminal like her mother wished. She looked over to her mother who was keeping her gaze straight ahead.
Cora Edelstein was a proud woman to say the least. At 46 years old, it could be seen by the lines in her face that the world was starting to take its toll on her. The first 10 years of her marriage had been spent trying to produce an heir, only to have two miscarriages. Naturally when her daughter had finally been born and it was realized that she could no longer have anymore children, she spent all the time and money she could to make sure that her daughter was well off, setting a dowry in place. Of course that had been ruined when her husband's dirty secrets came out of the shadows after his death. Finding Vladimir was a miracle and she damn well was going to make sure that Anneliese married him.
Thankfully for Anneliese, Vladimir was in the car behind them along with his valet, Aleksandar Dragov. The man was slightly taller than Vladimir with dark hair and a fair complexion. He never seemed to be without the stoic expression on his face since the day he was introduced to the Edelsteins.
The car soon began go slow and the driver began honking to get people to move out of the way. Her mother looked around in distaste at crowd, which was mainly made up of third-class passengers. Eventually they got close enough to the ship and the driver came over to open the door. Anneliese extended her gloved hand and stepped out. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the sunlight as she peered up at the ship.
"It doesn't look bigger then the Mauretania, so I don't understand the fuss over it." Anneliese commented, knowing that it would get some kind of rise from her fiancé.
"I'll have you know that it's over a hundred feet longer than Mauretania, and far more luxurious." Vladimir told her as though he was speaking to a child. The Romanian held his hand out for Anneliese's mother, Mrs. Edelstein, to take as she got out of the car. "Your daughter is far too difficult to impress, Cora."
"So this is the ship they say is unsinkable." Mrs. Edelstein mused.
"It is unsinkable. God himself wouldn't be able to sink it." He chuckled as he began to escort them towards the gang plank.
"Sir, you can't leave your bags there! You have to check your bags at the terminal-" The porter was cut off when Vladimir held out a crisp five dollar bill. At the sight of the money, the man straightened up.
"I put my faith in you good man." He handed it towards the porter who took it and nodded. "See to my man here." He gestured to Dragov who was standing behind him.
Vladimir took a look at his watch. "Ladies, I believe we must start boarding." He held out his arm for Anneliese to take, which she did reluctantly, along with her mother and led both of them towards the ship. It's black hull seemed to loom over her the closer they got. As they walked up the gang plank, she looked up and felt small to the large ship, almost like ant.
'It was known as the ship of dreams to everyone else. To me, it was a glimpse into the hell I'd soon be forced to live through, with my chains in the form of an engagement ring.'
"Welcome to Titanic, Miss." A man nodded slightly in greeting as they came through the door. Outside she could hear steam horns signaling She took in the sight around her. It certainly didn't look as though they were in a ship at all, but a luxury hotel. Such beauty could almost make her forget who she was here with.
"It's wonderful, is not?" Vladimir looked over to her, giving her a polite smile as his grip tightened possessively on her arm.
"Of course." She gave him a small smile in return. Almost.
'On the outside, I was calm and collected, looking like everything a well brought up girl should be. Inside, I was screaming.'
Several blocks away at a bustling pub, there was a 4-player poker game taking place and the stakes were high. Siblings Gilbert and Monika Beilschmidt were playing against two burly Swedes, Eilert and Olaf, who had decided to put their third-class tickets for the Titanic on the line. This caused Gilbert to smirk, slightly surprised. If they were putting their tickets on the line, then they had nothing left of value. He turned to his younger sister.
"I say we play." He said, keeping his voice low so that only she could hear him. "I could go back to America for a while."
"You're insane. We are not betting all we have on tickets, Gilbert!" Monika hissed back. "Don't be stupid." Though he was the older one, she knew that if she wasn't there to hold him back, half the time they wouldn't have enough to eat.
At first glance, they didn't appear to look like related at all. With Gilbert's pale skin and red eyes and his sister's blond hair and blue eyes, the two couldn't look more different. However it was clear by their behavior that they were siblings. Both had a habit of keeping their belongings organized and their clothing clean of any stains despite their constant movement. Up close they had the same nose as well as the same pout which is what Gilbert was currently sporting.
"All we have is practically nothing." Gilbert replied, grinning like a fool. "When you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose." He turned back to two men who were looking at their own cards. They looked over to him and saw that his eyes betrayed nothing. Out in the distance, they could hear the ship's whistle signaling a final warning. Monika took a quick glance at her cards.
"It's the moment of truth." Gilbert said, glancing around the table. "Someone's life is about to change."
Everyone except Gilbert put their cards down. Olaf threw away his cards in disgust while Monika glared at Gilbert revealing that her cards were no good as well. However Eilert was smirking as he set his cards down.
"Uh oh...two pair..." Gilbert sighed before turning to his sister. "I'm sorry, Moni."
"You son of a bitch! You lost all of our money?" Monika glared at him and punched him in the arm. Gilbert chuckled.
"I'm afraid that we won't be heading back to Germany anytime soon, because we're going to America!" He shouted before practically jumped out of his seat and slammed his cards down revealing that he had a full house.
The table exploded into shouting into a mixture of Swedish, German and English. Monika jumped, shouting and hugged Gilbert tightly before they began jumping up and down in excitement.
"Wir gehen nach Amerika! Wir gehen nach Amerika!" They shouted as the Swedes began shouting at one another in their native tongue. Monika began grabbing their winnings and pushing them in their bags while Olaf grabbed Gilbert by the front of his shirt.
"No hard feelings, right?" Gilbert gave him a slight shrug with a large smile on his face. The man holding him glared at him before moving to punch Eilert in the face. With the loosened grip, Gilbert got out of his grasp and grabbed the tickets. He glanced at the clock.
"Shit, we have five minutes!" He grabbed Monika's hand and they tore off down the street.
As they grew closer to the docks, the crowds grew thicker and they had to push past people if they wanted to get anywhere near the ship. Monika's grip on her brother's hand tightened as she took a glance up at the ship. It looked majestic against the blue sky with steam and smoke spewing out of the funnels. Gilbert looked at the inspection queue, but it had already cleared up. He pulled her along to the nearest gang plank as it began to pull away from the ship.
"Hey, wait!" Gilbert shouted as they ran up the gang plank. The officer at the door stopped the plank as they ran up out of breath. "We've got-" He took a breath. "Tickets." He held the tickets out in front of him and the officer took them to be inspected
"You've both been through the inspection queue, yes?" The officer asked, glancing up at them, eyeing them suspiciously.
"Of course we have!" Gilbert lied smoothly, grinning widely. The man looked between the pair and the tickets before allowing them entry into the ship. They looked down at the room number that had been printed on the ticket and quickly went down the corridors, exploring and trying to find their room.
"That bastard kept us there longer than he should have!" Lovino scowled as he led himself and his younger brother down the crowded corridor. The pair had just boarded the ship after going through the inspection queue where a man had accidentally stepped on Lovino's foot without apologizing and he had gone off on him. The health officers there had given him a more thorough inspection before letting the pair go on their way.
"I told you to to keep your temper under control." Feliciano chided him, though he was laughing. He and his brother had been sent money by their grandfather to come to America and with that money Lovino had gotten them third-class tickets to travel on the Titanic.
When they had finally gotten to their rooms, Lovino was surprised to see how big the room was. Sure there were four beds, two on the bottom and two on the top, but it was clean. Of course they were among the first passengers to use the room as their roommates hadn't arrived just yet. They took the right side of the room and Lovino placed his things on the top bunk while his brother claimed the one underneath.
"Keep an eye on your things. I don't want the bastards we'll be rooming with to take anything." Lovino scowled.
"I doubt you have anything I want." A voice drawled from behind him. Both brothers turned to see a man dressed in rumpled clothing, carrying a knit bag over his shoulder leaning against the door frame. His hair was nearly white and he could see that his eyes had a red glint in them. Pushing past him was a blond young woman, who had a more serious look about her.
"Gilbert, stop it." The girl scowled, placing her things on the top bunk. "I expect to see this still here when I return." She turned her attention to the two brothers, one of whom was giving her an odd stare. "In case you have any ideas, I've got some clothes, a book, and a knife I like to keep reserved for those that touch my things."
"Si, si, bella. We won't touch anything." Feliciano reassured her, grinning widely. She gave him an odd look before grabbing Gilbert's things and placing them on the bottom bunk. "I'm Feliciano." He held his hand out towards her, which she took.
"Monika Beilschmidt." She replied, shaking his hand before turning back to Gilbert who was still by the doorway.
"Come on. We should head up on deck to watch the ship sail off." Gilbert grabbed her hand and quickly pulled her out of the room.
Feliciano stood there for a few moments before going back to unpack his things. He wanted to go up as well, but knew that Lovino would complain about all the people up on deck and that going alone meant that he would have a hard time getting back. He knew he could be a little spacey at times and going up with Lovino meant that he'd find his way back more easily or get lost with company.
When Gilbert and Monika finally made it up to the side of the ship, it had already taken off, but it was still close enough to the docks that they could see people waving. As the ship sailed off, Gilbert pulled his sister closer and kissed the top of her head. She squirmed slightly, not use to be held for so long.
"Gilbert, come on." She whined slightly, trying to pull away.
"Let me have this." Gilbert laughed. "Besides we need to work out how what we're gonna do when we reach New York."
"We'll find a way to get by." Monika replied, giving up trying to get out of his grip. "We always do."
Wir gehen nach Amerika! - We're going to America!
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
I figured I'd come back to this eventually. Now that I've got the story worked out in my head, it should be easier to write
Upon arriving to their stateroom, Anneliese was taken away with how beautiful it was. From what Vladimir had told them about the room, it was dubbed the 'Millionaire Suite'. It had two bedrooms, a large sitting room, a bath, WC, wardrobe room and private 50-foot promenade deck. Her eyes immediately fell towards the piano in the room. As she walked over to it, she removed the white glove off of her hand to feel the ivory keys beneath her fingers. Lightly pressing down on the keys, she almost forgot where she was and who she was with until she was shaken out of her thoughts by her mother.
"Anneliese, stop that. We are not here just so you can stay in the room and play all day." Cora scowled as she led her daughter away from the piano. "I believe that your room will be over here. Excuse me, sir? I'll need that over there." She released her and walked away, instructing the stewards on where to place her belongings while her maid followed quickly behind her in case her assistance was needed. Anneliese turned her attention to the luggage that was brought in.
"Do be careful with that. I'm rather fond of it." She said, directing the man that was holding the violin case. She didn't play it as much as the piano, but violin music had always drew her in. As it was set on the table, she went over and opened it to make sure that everything was in it's place.
"I still don't know why you wanted it. It's a waste of money, not to mention that your mother nearly had a fit when it arrived." Vladimir commented as he came in from the deck.
"Just because I prefer the piano, does not mean that I cannot have other musical interests." She replied. She glanced down at it again, satisfied with what she saw and closed the lid tightly.
"At least it was cheap." He replied, pulling out a folded slip of paper and handing it to her. As she reached to take it, Vladimir took her hand, pulling her close. "In one month, what's mine shall be yours." He flashed her a charming smile. "I want you to have the combination to the safe should you feel the need to keep anything important in there." He pressed the piece of paper into her hand and turned his attention to the porter wheeling in the safe. "Put it in the wardrobe." Vladimir instructed as he let go of her and followed the man.
Anneliese reopened the violin case and slipped the paper underneath the instrument before closing it back up and going into her room. Her maid Helga was already unpacking her clothes and hanging them up in the wardrobe, taking in the sight around her.
The room contained a vanity, a large poster bed in the corner, wardrobe and small table with four chairs. Light came streaming in from the windows, showing the deck and beyond that the endless blue ocean. She set down her violin case and looked through the window. The view was certainly beautiful. She had never really seen the ocean before, only once when her family had decided to take a trip to Venice, but even then she wasn't able to go out an enjoy the water without her mother fussing over her hair or her clothes.
"It just smells so new, Miss Eldestein." Anneliese turned her attention to Helga who had come in to unpack the bags. "As though it was built just for us." Helga exclaimed as she stowed away the violin case. "When I crawl beneath the sheets tonight, to think that I'll be the first person." She smiled over at Anneliese who gave her a small smile in return.
"And when I crawl beneath the sheets, I'll still be the first." Vladimir's voice came from the doorway. She saw Helga turn slightly red and begin to busy herself with the violin case. Vladimir walked over to Anneliese and rested his hands on her shoulder. She didn't turn around and ignored the grip he had on her. "The first and only. Forever." He had leaned in so that his lips were only a brush away from the shell of her ear. Anneliese tensed up, turning her head away from him. This was to be her life.
'When we docked in France later that evening, a woman by the name of Amelia F. Jones came on board. Her brother had invested in a maple syrup company a year and a half earlier, which took off, making the family quite wealthy. According to Mother, she was considered to be 'New Money' in the new world and it was better to keep a polite distance than to be considered an associate of her's. The next day we had made our final stop and heading out to sea, nothing but ocean ahead of us.'
"What if we get into trouble? Are you even sure we're allowed up this far?" Monika questioned as her brother dragged her up to the front of the ship. Once the frenzy of boarding passengers had died down, Gilbert had taken it upon himself to lead his sister on deck to get the full experience.
"You get to see where we've been, but you haven't seen where we're going yet." He pointed out as they got closer. The front of the ship showed nothing but the ocean and sky and the closer they got, the easier it was to pretend that they didn't have the ship beneath their feet, rather they were flying. It was enough to make her speechless as she stood close to the railing.
"If it wasn't so cold right here, I don't think I would mind being here until dinner." She finally said.
"If you look all the way out there, you can see the Statue of Liberty." He looked back at her with a wide grin on his face. "Very small of course, but something tells me that it won't seem that way pretty soon."
"You're ridiculous." She laughed as he put an arm around her.
"I take I'll be leaving first?" Francis was the first to break the comfortable silence. He glanced over at his lover and smirked, already knowing the answer.
"Of course you will." Arthur muttered as he pulled away from his grasp and sat up. "Considering its my room after all, I wouldn't expect anything less." He turned away from the blond and got up to start getting dressed.
"We could have simply gotten a room to share. There were plenty to choose from before we sold tickets. I should know, I designed this ship." Francis commented as he sat up and kissed his shoulder. Arthur bit his lip as he felt his lips move up his neck, finally gathering the strength to stop him. He was a bit flustered as he continued pulling on his clothes. Once his trousers were fastened, he leaned over to grab his shirt which had been discarded on the floor in their haste. Sitting back on the edge of the bed, Arthur began buttoning his shirt back up, thankful that there were no missing buttons he would have to sew back on later. After all, it was one of his favorites.
"You know very well why we did not to do that. We both agreed its best to keep our distance from one another." The Englishman ran his hand through his messy hair when he had finished before leaning against the headboard
"And tell me how that's working out for you, mon chér." Francis smirked before leaning over and kissing him softly. "Managing Director of the White Star Line and you can't seem to control yourself when you're around me." He looked at him for a few moments before getting up again and returning to getting dressed.
"Remind me again why I spend my time with you? Because I always seem to forget." Arthur said watching him from the bed. Whenever they managed to steal away moments like these, Arthur always liked watching as Francis pulled himself back together after tearing each other apart. The necktie that had been discarded without care was now being expertly tied up, back around his neck. The dress shirt that had been practically ripped off in a haste was now being buttoned back into place, covering the marks that Arthur had left on his back. He allowed his eyes to trail down his body before looking back up to see a grin on Francis's face.
"You can barely keep your eyes off of me. It's been that way since we've started this all. I remember the first meeting we had together, you kept watching me, glancing over at me. At first I thought I had something on my shirt or in my teeth." Francis gave him a knowing grin as he glanced in the mirror to see Arthur in the bed behind him. "It wasn't until we had a few drinks afterwards that I understood why."
"You flatter yourself, you bloody frog." Arthur retorted, getting up to finish dressing. "You were purposely drawing in everyone's attention and you know it." He went to join him in the mirror, doing his own necktie. He then felt two strong arms wrap around his waist and a chaste kiss on his neck. Arthur closed his eyes in content as he leaned into him and felt his stubble brush against his own cheek. He opened his eyes when he heard Francis's voice.
"I'm heading down to the Engine room to check on how things are running. I'll meet you in the Palm Court in about an hour for lunch. I just want to make sure that everything is running smoothly down below." Francis told him as he looked at them in the mirror. Green met blue and a silent exchange was made between the two men. The words were there of course, but neither wanted to be the first to utter them. Not when the moments of peace they shared could be taken away so easily.
"Don't be late." Arthur cleared his throat as he moved out of the embrace reluctantly. "I'd like to not have to explain your late absence to our guests, Mr. Bonnefoy." He turned around so that he was facing the taller man with a look of superiority on his face which caused Francis to smile.
"Of course, Monsieur Kirkland." He allowed his accent to become more prominent, knowing that it would prick a nerve with the Englishman. From the glint of slight annoyance in Arthur's eyes, Francis could see he succeeded. He grabbed a dark green vest from the chair next to the vanity and examined it for a moment before tossing it over to Arthur. "I believe this one is yours."
"Two days on this ship and think I've finally had the chance to get my sea legs." Amelia Jones laughed before taking a sip of her drink.
Much to Cora Eldestein's displeasure, the young American had decided to spend lunch with them. Rather than come off as completely rude, Mrs. Eldestein managed to keep herself composed as she sat across from the young woman.
"She's the largest moving object ever made by man." Arthur chuckled. "Of course we have our master shipbuilder, Bonnefoy, here to thank for that." He gestured to the handsome blond Frenchman to his left who merely nodded in reply. "His design is the reason we are all here today on this glorious ship. He designed her from the keel plates up."
"While I might have come up with the design plan, the idea was Monsieur Kirkland's. He envisioned a ship so grand in both size and luxury, it could not be challenged." Francis spoke modestly, giving Arthur a small glance. "Together we have managed to build her into solid reality."
"One thing I want to know, Mister Kirkland, is why every ship in the world seems to be called a 'she'." Amelia chuckled softly. "Is it because men believe that women have big sterns and need to be weighed in tonnage?" A laugh went around the table, except from Cora who took a sip of wine.
By the time the waiter came, Anneliese had settled in comfortably with the American, talking to her about where her travels had taken her.
"Amsterdam and Paris were lovely, but Mattie had to leave before we even got half-way through our trip. He had to go back home a few weeks ago, apparently there were several meetings that he couldn't escape." Amelia sighed. "So I told him that I would finish it for the both of us. He worries about my safety, he even had a man watching over me for a little while. The only reason I found out was because he stood out. He's Japanese, you see." She explained. "I finally managed to leave him at the docks, the only reason he agreed was because he knew that I was headed home and he couldn't get a ticket."
"I think I've only ever been to Paris once before when I was younger. I can't remember much, but I know it was beautiful. Vladimir has his valet act as his own bodyguard. I think I would have been terrified if a man I didn't know began following me." Anneliese commented. "He didn't get into any kind of trouble, did he?"
"There was one time when Mr. Honda was stopped in a store in Paris where I was shopping. I had to intervene to prevent him from being taken to jail." She replied with a slight smile. "Afterwards I made a deal to keep the incident quiet from my brother."
"And what would the lady like?" Anneliese turned to see that there was waiter between her and Vladimir looking at her expectantly. It seemed that she hadn't been paying attention to her surroundings as nearly everyone else at the table had ordered.
"We'll be having the the lamb. Rare with mint." Vladmir answered for her before the waiter nodded and moved on. "You like the lamb, don't you, darling?" Anneliese could only give him a tight-lipped smile before turning over her menu to the waiter.
"Will you be cutting her meat for her as well or do you think she'll be able to handle it?" Amelia asked with a smile before turning to Arthur. "So tell me, Mr. Kirkland, who came up with the name 'Titanic?' Was it you or Monsieur Bonnefoy?"
"Yes it was me. I had wanted to convey the size as well as the stability and luxury." Arthur answered. "Though Monsieur Bonnefoy did get to have final approval."
"I think we both know that I would not have had it any other way." Francis replied, glancing at him.
"Do either of you know of Dr. Freud? His ideas about the male preoccupation with size may be of interest to you, Mr. Kirkland." Anneliese quipped, keeping her head tall. Arthur turned red while Francis and Amelia concealed their snickers. Vladimir looked more displeased than anything else, but it paled in comparison to her mother's face.
"Anneliese!" Her mother whispered harshly. "What has gotten into you?"
"Do excuse me." Anneliese pushed her seat back before getting up and walking away toward the deck with her head held high. Amelia managed to hold onto a laugh as she spoke once more.
"She's certainly a pistol, Vlad. Are you sure you can handle her?" She asked giving the Romanian a teasing smile.
"Whoever taught you gave you a good starting base." Feliciano said as he and Gilbert were exchanging artwork. Breakfast had just ended and Lovino had decided to go back up on deck, claiming that the smell was giving him a headache, but was a little more than displeased when Feliciano had invited their cabin mates to join them. He seated himself a little bit away from them, still wanting to be alone while Monika had settled in with tattered book.
"It was some woman in Berlin taught me about six years ago. Maria I think her name was. I figured that if I learned enough, it could be another way to earn some money." Gilbert replied. "I think I've managed to come up with my own style since then, but it's not perfect. Monika and I travel around a lot, so I get to see and sketch all kinds of things."
"It's just you and your sister then?" Feliciano asked, looking between them. Gilbert nodded as Monika looked up.
"Our parents died when we were younger and we were looked after by our grandfather. He died a few years ago, so now it's just us." Monika pause, clutching her book closer against her. Gilbert remained silent before going back to what he was last working on. "Is there any other family besides you and Lovino?" She asked after a moment.
"Si." Feliciano smiled brightly. "Nonno lives in America already. My grandfather." He clarified for her as he saw a look of confusion on her face. Monika nodded and continued on. "He sent money for Lovino and I to come and work for him. Our parents are back in our village in Italy. My mama gave birth to our little brother a few weeks ago. They named him Marcello. Marcello Vargas. Once we get settled in America, we'll be able to send money for them to come live with us and we'll be together again." He showed her some of the letters he had gotten from his grandfather as well as the picture he managed to get of his family. Monika could see that their mother was sitting and holding a small bundle in her arms with her husband behind her and Lovino and Feliciano on either side of him.
"You both seem to take after your father." She commented, handing him back the picture carefully. "You must miss them all terribly."
"Si, I do." He nodded before stowing the picture away carefully.
"I can't stand these damn dogs coming down here to take a shit." Lovino spat as he looked over at the porter who was currently walking at least five dogs along the deck. The people around them didn't look too pleased either.
"They're just reminding us of our place in the world, that's all." Gilbert replied with a grin on his face.
"Like we could forget." He shot back.
Gilbert let out a short laugh before looking around the deck. There were plenty of children running around, their mothers and father either watching or caught up in other discussions. If he looked up, he could see the first class passengers walking along their own deck, not even giving third class a second look. It was then that he saw her. Gilbert couldn't keep himself from staring at the girl. For lack of a better word, she was beautiful. One of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. Her dark hair was pulled back, leaving him with a perfect view of her face. He could even tell that there was a mole on the right side of her face, below her lips. She was a vision in yellow, leaning against the railing with her eyes closed, looking as though she was dreaming of some far off place. His hand began moving on its own accord, sketching a quick drawing of the girl. Gilbert would glance from the picture to the girl, hoping to God that she wouldn't leave anytime soon.
"Gilbert, don't be ridiculous. You and I both know that if you go anywhere near her, she'll have you sent down to brig." His sister chided as she turned away from him to look across the water.
"Uh huh." Gilbert only nodded as he continued to watch the girl. Her gaze was kept on the horizon, though it became unsettled as she realized that she was being watched. Anneliese looked to see a man with incredibly pale skin and hair sketching something and looking back towards her. It took him a moment to see that she was now looking at him instead. For a brief moment she looked right at him before turning away slightly, only to look back a moment later. Unfortunately, it was ruined when a man who looked to be a bit older than her came up and grabbed her arm. She had jerked away and from what Gilbert could see, they argued before the girl had gone away with the man going after her.
"You'll have better chance to make a pig fly than to get near the likes of her." Lovino commented. "Those rich bastards are untouchable."
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
At dinner Anneliese was unusually silent, refusing to make conversation with anyone. Her mother kept giving her seething looks when the others weren't looking and Vladimir had seemed to have completely forgotten that she was there at all. She kept staring at her plate, ignoring the chatter happening all around her. It wasn't as if the people in her world ever had something new to say. It the same every night, the same mindless chatter and narrow thoughts. At a young age Anneliese couldn't wait to be apart of it. All the events and parties her mother had organized at their estate looked so grand to her as a child. She and Vash used to sneak underneath the tables at the top of the stairs and watch through the thin table cloth at the women dressed elegantly with their fine jewelry and the men in their tuxedos. That world lost its appeal as Anneliese grew into it.
"I'm sorry, may I be excused? I'm afraid I don't feel very well, and I'd hate to " She looked her mother who reluctantly nodded. She got up and made her general excuses about being faint and walked away from the table with her head held high. She didn't falter once as she walked, even politely nodding to an officer as she passed by. A wave of relief rushed over her when she saw the stateroom was empty. Placing the key on the table, she headed to her room.
When Anneliese got into her bedroom, she took a look in the mirror. She didn't see herself, but rather the person that had been thrusted upon her. She was wearing a costume, playing the role of the obedient fiancée. That wasn't what she wanted, but nobody ever seemed to listen or even remotely care. She messed with her necklace, another gift from Vladimir, for a moment before ripping it off her neck, sending the pearls flying. Anneliese ignored the rolling pearls as she began undoing her hair as quickly as she could. She paused for a moment, noticing the glint coming from the ring and looked at it. Her heart felt as though it was about to burst out of her chest, she was breathing so hard. Only one thought plagued her mind: she felt as though she was in a cage, confined forever to Vladimir. The ring on her finger was a sure sign of it. Throwing the hair piece that she had taken out to the ground, she turned on her heel and ran out of her room. Sprinting down the hallway, she almost didn't realize that she was crying until she ran back out into the cool night air. She continued running along the deck, pushing past an older couple quite roughly and ignoring their cry of surprise. Anneliese knew she must have looked like mad woman, disheveled dark hair flying behind her, but for once she didn't care. The farther she was away from that world, the better.
As the edge of the ship grew nearer, her heart was pounding. There was no where else to go, nowhere else to run. Not on a ship. Especially not one in the middle of the ocean. The wind was cold on her face, much colder than the wind she had felt in the day. She stopped at the railing, gripping it tightly as she looked down into the dark, murky water. It was far down, but still so close. The more she looked down, the more inviting the dark waters seemed. After a moment, she couldn't even feel the cold wind on her face. Anneliese froze for a moment before putting her foot on the railing. Climbing over it seemed to happen as her body was being controlled by something else. She hiked up her dress as she climbed over. Upon getting her footing, she turned around, the ship to the back of her. She felt like a backwards figurehead as she allowed her self to lean forward slightly. Just as her hand was beginning to loosen -
"Wait!" A man's voice came from behind her, pulling her out of her thoughts. She pulled herself back to the ship, and turned her head best she could to see who had spoken.
All Gilbert had wanted was some time alone to enjoy the ship. There was no denying that it was crowded downstairs, and he needed a smoke in peace without the Italians in his room complaining about the smell. Despite Monika trying to get him to stay out of trouble, he had sneaked upstairs. Thankfully none of the porters had noticed him as he walked along the deck. When he got towards the end of the ship, he found a rather comfortable bench to lie on. He watched the stars, taking a drag from his cigarette every so often. Gilbert was soon drawn out his thoughts as he heard someone run past him. He sat up to see a girl in a black and red dress going towards the railing, dark hair flying behind her. It clicked in his mind of what she was about to do and he quickly got up and followed her. He had gotten there in time as she was on the other side. A little further than he'd like her to be, but still on the ship.
"Don't you dare come any closer!" Anneliese shouted in frustration. It took a moment for her eyes to focus. She saw a man standing a few feet behind her. His clothes had certainly seen better days and it was clear to see his pale blond hair and pale skin. He almost seemed to glow, though she couldn't see him that well through her tears.
"It's easy." Gilbert took a hesitant step towards her with his hands in the air, one of which was holding a lit cigarette. "Just give me your hand and I'll pull you back over."
"No! I mean it. I'll let go." Her voice was wavering as she glanced back out towards the sea.
"You won't do it." His voice seemed to change tones as he spoke, almost as if it was a challenge. That made her more angry than ever. Who the hell did he think he was?
"And what do you mean no I won't? You do not tell me what I will and will not do." She glared at him before turning back to the water. It didn't seem as inviting as before.
"You would have done it by now." He risked a few more steps, but stopped as he saw her wipe her eyes. "Besides I can't leave. I'm involved now. If you let go then I'll have to jump in after."
"Don't be absurd. You'll be killed." Anneliese turned back to man to see him removing his jacket and placing it on the floor next to him. He then bent down to undo his shoes. "The fall alone could kill you."
"And if it doesn't, then I can swim. I've been told I'm a good swimmer. Besides, I know the fall will hurt, but I'm more concerned about the water being so cold." Gilbert glanced over after he got one of his shoes off to find her watching him. Inwardly he smiled as he saw her hand tighten on the railing and pulling herself as close to the ship as possible. His words were starting to get to her and the reality of where she is is sinking it fully.
"How cold?" Anneliese finally asked him after a moment.
"Freezing." He answered bluntly. "Maybe a few degrees over, but none the less freezing." He continued as he removed his other shoe. "You seem like you have more means to travel than most people. Ever been to Russia?" She shook her head. "They've got the coldest winters you've ever experienced. A few years back my grandfather took me and my sister ice fishing on a lake outside of St. Petersburg. Ice fishing is when-"
"I know what it is!" She shot back in slight annoyance.
"With the way you're dressed, you seem more like an indoor girl." He merely chuckled. "While I was there I ended up falling through some thin ice and water that cold, like the water below us, hits you like a speeding train. It's as though thousands of knives are stabbing you all over and you can't breathe. You can't think because all that you feel is the pain." Gilbert slowly walked closer until he was at the railing. Her back was still to him, but she kept glancing between him and the water. "Which is also why I'm not gonna enjoy jumping in to get you, but it doesn't seem like I'll have much choice."
"You're crazy." She finally said after a few moments. "Utterly insane."
"With all due respect frau, I'm not the one hanging off the back of a ship." He held his hand out to take her's. "You don't want to do this."
Anneliese turned her head so that she could see him better. He was giving her a small smile, trying to calm her. His shirt was rumpled up, but still looked well taken care of now that she had a better chance to look. She looked at the hand he was offering to her and suddenly she found herself reaching around to grab on. He held onto her firmly as she turned around so that she was facing him. Up close she could see that his eyes were red which surprised her slightly. It wasn't off putting though.
"Gilbert Beilschmidt." He introduced himself. Now that he could see her face in the light, her could see some of the tear streaks on her pale cheeks. Her dark hair was undone and seemed to be flying all around her and her eyes were dark shade of violet, filled with pain that seemed to draw him in. Almost the look of someone that had given up. She looked younger than he expected, almost the same age as his younger sister.
"Anneliese." She breathed out. "Anneliese Edelstein."
"I can still see it now. That calm expression he gave me, keeping his grip tight so that I wouldn't fall. I've never seen that look before from anyone. It was almost a look of understanding."
She glanced back behind her. The height was terrifying now that she had decided to live and all she wanted to do was get back on the other side, feet planted firmly on the deck. As she began to climb over the railing she felt her dress get in the way, but it was too late. Her foot slipped and she fell fast, letting out an ear-shattering shriek.
"Shit!" Gilbert's grip tightened as he quickly threw out his other hand to grab her. "I've got you! I won't let go!" He braced himself on the railing, trying to pull her up enough so that she could get a hold of something.
Meanwhile Anneliese was crying out, desperately climbing against the smooth hull in order to find footing. Gilbert grabbed whatever he could of her as he slowly pulled her back up. She had a grip on one of the railings, but it was too low to attempt to swing herself back up. Her screams grew louder and began to alert the officers on board.
"You've got to pull yourself up!" Gilbert's grip was iron-clad. "You can do it!" She managed to nod as she managed to grab a higher railing. She swung her foot up catching it on the deck. She managed to grab the second railing and pull herself up further. With one last tug from Gilbert, she was over the railing and they were both sent tumbling onto the deck. He could feel that he was on top of her and could hear her sobbing. Before he was able to help her up, he saw a man in a uniform running up to them. Behind him were a few seamen who had been on watch with him.
"What's all this?" He looked from the sobbing first class lady lying on the floor to the shaggy steerage man on top of her. Instantly his mind clicked to the worst scenario. "Fetch the master at arms." He commanded to one of the seamen as they pulled Gilbert off of her roughly. He was held with his hands behind his back and watched as one of the other men helped the girl, Anneliese he remembers her saying, up and got her a blanket. He could see now that her dress had been torn as well as one of her stockings being ripped. Gilbert cursed under his breath. He knew what it must have looked like now. The only person who actually knew that he was innocent didn't seem like she'd be of much help.
When Anneliese had heard the man, she tried to speak, but the words couldn't come out. She kept trying to tell the man that Gilbert hadn't done anything wrong, but she felt as though she could barely breathe.
"H-h-h-e. . ." She attempted to speak, but her voice seemed to be lost. Bursting into tears once more, she pulled the blanket tighter around herself. Meanwhile, Gilbert was being handcuffed.
As the Master at Arms was summoned, so was Vladimir. Right behind him like a loyal dog was Dragov. Immediately Vladimir descended on Gilbert like a bat, grabbing him by the front of his shirt. It was clear to see the anger in his violet eyes.
"What the hell makes you think that you can place your filthy hands on my fiancée?" He spat, his voice laced with venom. Gilbert attempted to glance over at Anneliese to see her still huddled on the bench. He mentally cursed knowing that if she didn't say anything soon, it wouldn't end well for him. "Look at me, bastard!"
"Vlad, stop it!" Anneliese shouted. All the men turned to look at her in surprise as she had not been able to utter a word. She quickly got between Gilbert and Vladimir. "It was accident!" She grabbed his hand that had been placed on Gilbert's shirt in an attempt to soften the grip. Thankfully, Vladimir let go of him.
"What do you mean by accident?" He was still glaring at Gilbert who was looking at the dark haired young woman in surprise.
"It was stupid really. I decided to come out for some air and I was leaning over the railing, causing me to slip. I had wanted to see the propellers in the water and I leaned over too far and slipped." She glanced over at Gilbert, making eye contact with him. "If Herr Beilschmidt hadn't been there, I might have fallen off the ship. He almost fell himself trying to pull me back up." As the other seamen muttered among themselves about how women and machinery shouldn't mix, the Master at Arms grabbed Gilbert roughly by the arm.
"Was that the way of it?" He scowled. Gilbert glanced over at Anneliese who had been pushed back behind Vladimir and Dragov. Her eyes were wide with fear as she silently pleaded with him to say yes.
"Yes sir." Gilbert replied, turning his attention back to the man. Now they had a secret together. He was uncuffed and allowed to grab his jacket. He took another glance at Anneliese as she was being led away. She had looked back at him as well before turning to Vladimir.
"Perhaps you should give him something for saving your fiancée." She told Vladimir, causing him to stop in his tracks. It was the least she could do after making him lie for her.
"Of course, of course." Vladimir motioned over to Dragov. "I think a twenty should do the trick." He kept his voice low, but evidently, it did not work as Anneliese's expression changed.
"Is that what the going-rate is for saving the woman you love?" She asked lightly. Gilbert smiled slightly, seeing how uncomfortable he made the man. Vladimir regarded him for a moment before finally approaching him in an attempt to intimidate him.
"Perhaps you can join us up in first class tomorrow evening for dinner. I'm sure our table would love to hear all about your heroic tale." Vladimir smirked. Gilbert nodded, though he was looking at Anneliese.
"Count me in." He answered. Satisfied with his response, the couple left as well as the Master of Arms. However the man that had been with Vladimir remained, giving Gilbert an almost accusing look. He ignored it as he sat down to put his shoes back on before glancing up to see him light a cigarette. The one he had before going to the girl's aid had been the last one he had on him and after what just happened, he needed a smoke.
"Mind if I bum one off you?" He asked as he stood up. Dragov was silent as he handed over one and lit it for him. He dropped his own on the deck before stepping on it and rubbing it into the deck with his foot.
"You''ll want to tie those unless you plan to trip over yourself." He glanced down at Gilbert's untied shoes. "I find it strange that the young lady fell so quickly, yet you still had time to remove your shoes and jacket." His words were cold and he turned on his heel and walked away from him. He watched him for a few moments before fixing his laces and pulling his jacket closer around his body. The bench he had been laying on earlier didn't look as inviting as before, and neither did the chill wind which lead Gilbert to walking back down below deck.
By the time Gilbert had gotten back to the room, only his sister was in there reading a book on her bed. When she had noticed that he had come back in, she sat up, letting her legs dangle over the side of her bed.
"I thought you'd be up on D deck with your little friend." Gilbert leaned against the wall, keeping his tone light. A smirk came to his face when he saw her face turn red. "We could still go if you were waiting on me."
"He tried to convince me to go with him, but I wanted to stay here tonight. Besides we share the room with them, it's not a crime to want to spend time away." She replied, glancing over at him. "Where have you been? You left the dining saloon rather quickly."
"Decided I'd get some fresh air. It smells better at night without everyone crowding the deck like cattle." Gilbert answered as he took off his jacket. He debated on whether or not to tell her about the invitation he had been given. He didn't want her to worry, but he didn't want to hide anything. "I actually ended up helping some first-class girl. She nearly fell overboard and I pulled her up. Her fiancé even invited me to dinner. In first class, I might add." Gilbert chuckled as he took off his shoes.
"Wait, what? What do you mean a girl almost fell?" Monika asked him, setting down her book next to her. She looked over at him in disbelief and confusion. "How you nearly fall overboard on accident?" Gilbert paused for a moment before looking back up at her.
"I'll tell you, but you can't tell anyone else, alright?" He asked her. She nodded and he continued on. "It was that girl I saw earlier today. She was on the other side of the railing ready to let go. I managed to talk her down, but she slipped trying to climb back over. I helped pull her up and we fell. Unfortunately for me, I was on top of her by accident when the damn porters finally came. She finally spoke up after I basically had my life threatened which is why tomorrow you'll be missing me around dinner time."
"Gilbert, you don't even have a suit. What are you thinking, getting mixed up in all this?" Monika asked. "You don't even know these people, why would you agree to eat with them?"
"I just want to make sure she's alright. The girl nearly died. She's looks to be about your age and she was ready to throw herself from the ship. Don't give me that look." He told her as Monika silently judged him. "I'll go for a little while, make sure she's going to be fine and leave. That's all I'm going to do, I promise. Besides, when will I ever get the chance to dine in first class?" Gilbert added with a slight grin on his face.
Monika stared at him for a few moments, not knowing what to say.
"Look, I promise I won't get involved more than I already am." He told her.
Fine, fine." She replied, moving back to take her book. "I believe you."
"Good, because I'd rather not have you bugging me anymore about this. It's just dinner." He sat down on the bottom bed before laying down and letting his thoughts get away from him. Anneliese Edelstein was still on his mind. The look he had seen in her eyes wouldn't leave him. The look of desperation, fear. Despite his better judgement, he wanted to know why she felt compelled to go onto the other side of that railing. It was none of his business, but he believed that by pulling her back up, he had made it so.
Anneliese had come back to her room to find her maid Helga was waiting for her. Understanding that Anneliese didn't feel like speaking about what had happened, Helga helped get her ready for bed, avoiding the topic. She was thankful for this as she wasn't sure what she would have told her mother if she had had to face her after what had happened.
"A nice warm bath should do you some good, Miss." She said, leading her to the bathroom. Anneliese merely nodded, moving without really thinking about it. When Helga had left her alone, she stared at the wall, sitting in the hot, soapy bath water. She thought of what that man, Gilbert his name was, had said about the cold water. Standing on the other side of railing, the thought of how cold the water was never came to her mind. She had been too wrapped up in her own thoughts to think about what jumping off the ship would mean. Her marriage to Vladimir would certainly be off considering she'd be at the bottom of the ocean. Though Vladimir might demand that the ship stop so that she could be found. Her mother . . . would be left alone, having no other means of support. She felt tears prick her eyes. She had been selfish by going over that railing, hurting her mother and had made a complete fool out of herself.
Yet . . . there was something about it that felt like a cage. Everything about her life was planned out, it had been from the moment she was born.
Once Anneliese was in her nightgown, she sent Helga away despite her protests. She sat down at the vanity and looked at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were still slightly red from crying earlier and her hair was a tangled mess.
'So vain.' She thought to herself as she grabbed the brush. 'You nearly kill yourself and all you're thinking about is how you look.'
'Look at your eyes.' Another voice perked up. 'Something's changed and you know it.'
Anneliese had been looking in the mirror, but she wasn't looking hard enough. Her eyes were tinged red, yes, but there was something different. Only an hour ago she had been seeing into a pair of desperate, trapped, lonely eyes. God knows that must have been what Mr. Beilschmidt had seen.
'He saw you.' The voice pressed on. 'He saw you.' It kept repeating.
Of all the people that were supposed to care about her, it had been a stranger that saw her pain. A complete stranger.
She froze for a moment, looking at herself in the mirror. She had nothing to be upset about. Growing up, she had been given everything she ever wanted, had chances that most others weren't able to get by being able to have personal tutors, piano lessons, riding lessons, and wearing the finest clothes. There wasn't a day that went by where she hadn't been fed. Anneliese never had to lift a finger and felt that she had no reason to complain at all about her life. It was a life that many wished to achieve, one that many envied.
Anneliese resumed brushing her hair until she noticed a glint coming from her hand. She looked down at her ring and sighed. Marrying Vladimir was a smart decision, possibly the right one. Of course it had been her mother who gave her the option of becoming a wife or a penniless beggar. As she removed the ring and placed it carefully on the vanity, she heard a knock at the door.
"Come in." Anneliese called over her shoulder as she resumed brushing her hair. The door opened and she glanced over in the mirror to see Vladimir come inside, holding something behind his back.
"I know you've been a bit melancholy these last few days and I won't pretend to know why, though I have my suspicions." His voice sounded tender, almost understanding. Almost. He strolled over to her vanity and rested a hand on her shoulder. He looked as though he was talking to a child in distress rather than his fiancée. "What I can tell you is that this move to America will only be for a little while, for business. I know you must miss Austria terribly."
"Right. I suppose you're right. I am going to miss my home, but I know that whatever business you have in America is important enough to move the wedding there." She replied quietly as she continued brushing her hair. Vladimir watched her for a moment.
"I wanted to save this until the engagement gala next week, but I think tonight will do just fine." He got down on on knee next to her so that they would be nearly eye level and handed her the velvet box that he had been holding. She took it and opened it slowly. A small gasp escaped her lips as she looked down at the necklace. It's silver chain reflected the candle light in the room and in the center was a marvelous blue stone.
"Is this a-"
"Diamond. 56 carats." Vladimir smiled, flashing his sharp canine teeth. He stood up and took the necklace out of the box. He helped place it around her neck, grazing his fingers across her neck. "It was worn by Louis the Sixteenth. They call it Le Coeur de la Mer."
"The Heart of the Ocean." She gazed at it in the mirror, lightly touching it as though it could break at any moment. "Vlad, its . . . overwhelming." Anneliese kept her toned steady. The necklace was certainly heavy, feeling almost like a collar. She could see Vladimir looking at the pair of them in mirror, acting as though they were royalty.
"Prehaps it can serve as a reminder of my feelings for you." He knelt down beside her, taking her hand is. "There isn't anything that I couldn't give to you. Nothing I will deny you if you would not deny me." His fingers lightly caressed her neck. "Open your heart to me."
She looked in the mirror to see that his expression was one that she had never seen before. His emotions were unguarded for the first time that she had known him. The mirror showed a perfect couple, both high in status and elegant in looks, seemingly in love, but deep down she knew the truth. The dreamy image was just that. An image.
"I can still feel the weight of it. The necklace was like a dog collar closing around my throat. Of course I knew he only got it to reflect the light back onto himself. The diamond was cold, a heart of ice." Anne placed as hand over her chest as though remembering where it had hung. "If any of you could have felt it. . ."
"That's the idea, my dear." Peter smiled slightly. He took a glance at his watch and sighed. It had been hours and they still weren't up to the night of the sinking. He looked over at Wyona and Marcello who sitting on the otherside of Bruno. Both of them seemed to be sharing his thoughts.
"Let me see if I got this right." Marcello said as he stood up and began pacing. "You decided that you were going to kill yourself by jumping off the ship?" He broke out into laughter, causing him to receive a glare from Peter, Bruno and for some reason a shoe thrown at him by Wyona. "What? All she had to do was wait two more days!"
Anne was laughing along with him much to Bruno's relief. He hadn't seen her smile that much in a long time. Peter was also glad to see that she hadn't been upset at Marcello's comment and decided to attempt to press on.
"Anne, what did Popescu do with the diamond after that?" He asked her.
"I'm afraid I'm feeling a bit tired, Mr. Kirkland." She yawned slightly.
I'm taking her to rest." Bruno said as he quickly went to wheel her out of the room.
"But what about safe? Who else had access? What about Dragov?" Peter as as he followed behind them. He couldn't stop now. Not when he had confirmation that the Heart of the Ocean had indeed been kept in the safe. Bruno shot him a look before they left the room.
"How are you feeling, Gran?" He asked her softly as he rolled her to her room. He knew that he would have to speak to Peter about all this. For God's sake, the woman was a hundred and here he was trying to get her to remember something that happened a lifetime ago.
"Just tired is all." She yawned. "I think a night's rest should do me some good."
A few minutes later they had made it back to her room and he helped get her ready for bed. Before she had been taken to the nursing home, he and his mother had spent time helping take care of her despite her protests. It wasn't until she had to start walking with a cane did she finally allow their help. The only time he left the room was when she changed into her night dress and he helped her into the bed.
"Bruno, mein Schatzi." Anne said as he went to the door. "I meant to tell you eventually." His hand had been on the knob when he heard her voice. He sighed and turned around to face her.
"When? In some letter you planned to leave after you passed?" He sounded tense and she couldn't blame him. "I've seen the name Beilschmidt before, Gran. In one of your albums."
"I've told you that had been my name before I got married." She said. "When I first came here, I had a choice to make. I could be the obedient daughter and find my mother or I could finally make a decision on my own. I took his last name because it had been his. It was one of the last things I had of him. It's not fair what I'm doing to you, but I need to tell this my own way and in my own time."
"Fine." He said after a moment. "I'll be back tomorrow morning to help get you ready. Get plenty of sleep." Before she could say anything else, He left the room knowing that she was able to reach the light by her bed.
Bruno walked out onto the deck of ship and over to the railing. From what he was told, they were practically on top of the Titanic. He hardly believed that his great-grandmother had been on the infamous ship. He knew that she had come America when she was young and met her husband within the first year, but other than that, he never knew about her wealthy background or the man that supposedly changed her life. There were some stories that he remembered her telling him, but there was never a mention of Beilschmidt.
"Bruno, good! I've been looking for you!" He heard Peter's voice behind him and groaned in annoyance. Now that his grandmother wasn't in earshot, there was no telling what he would hear from the man. He turned to see Peter coming up to him.
"Anne is in bed right now. I want her to get some rest before you continue to interrogate her about your precious necklace tomorrow." Bruno scowled.
"Bruno, you've got to understand something. I've put nearly my entire life into finding out about Titanic's passengers as well as the Heart Of the Ocean. Everything I have is tied up in this thing. Hell, I even lost my girlfriend over this hunt." He ran a hand through his unruly blond hair as he leaned his back against the railing. "Whatever is locked in her memory is what I need." He held out his hand towards him, palm up as though it was cupping something.
"What the hell is it supposed to be?" Bruno asked, glancing at his hand.
"When I finally get the chance to hold it in my own hands, that's the shape its going to make. I'm not leaving here without it. It's going too slow. I need you to try and get her t-"
"Look." Bruno cut him off in annoyance. He didn't like that she had kept that part of her life from him, but he'd be damned if he allowed some 'treasure hunter' to work the answer out of her. "Up until now I had no idea that she was ever on that ship. If you want to know where your precious diamond necklace is, she is the best hope you have. Let her do it her own way." With that, he turned on his heel and went back inside.
Peter groaned in annoyance before turning around to face the water. The partners wouldn't be happy. They were already behind on schedule even before they received Anne's call and the hand was on the plug. Any moment now he expected to have Wyona or Marcello run to him with the phone that would end his career.
"Here." Marcello had come up next to him, holding a bottle of Jack Daniels. "You probably need this more than me." He cracked a smile as he pushed the bottle into Peter's awaiting hand. He took a long swig from it before handing it back.
"Seven years. Seven years I've been working on this and now its coming to a dead end. So far we know as much as we did before Mrs. Héderváry showed up. We've spent the better part of the last few weeks on this ship with nothing to show for it. I'm sorry I wasted your time." He sighed, turning to his friend.
"You're acting like you brought me here against my will. Last I checked it was my idea to look for the Heart of the Ocean." Marcello chuckled. "Though I nearly wrote it off, you were the one who insisted we do some digging around." He gave Peter a light nudge.
"You and Wy said it was impossible to find. Of course I had to prove you wrong." Peter replied, smiling back. "You remember the first time we sent the subs with the rovers down into the ship."
"I course I do. I'm the one who actually drove those damn things while you recorded it." He chuckled, taking a sip from the bottle. He paused for a moment before speaking again. "Do you remember what one of the first things we saw down there?"
Peter nodded slowly. When they had sent the subs down into the ship, they had came upon the Grand Staircase. They had guessed that in the chaos of it all, a little girl had brought her doll along with her. In shuffle and sinking of the ship, it somehow made its way to the top of the stairs, with just the face.
"I actually thought that somehow the freezing water had preserved the bodies." Peter said quietly. It had taken a few moments to see that it was just a doll, and it was a funny thought later on, but it still haunted him. It was something like that that truly perked his interest in Titanic. The necklace however was a major perk. About four years back he had been going through a few claims that had been filed after the sinking. It was under the name Popescu and was in a file that was rather small. After some digging around, he found that the file linked to a bank in Switzerland and it was for the Heart of the Ocean. Apparently it had been purchased by Popescu while he was in France a week before he sailed on the Titanic. When there wasn't any sign of it having been recovered, Peter knew he wanted to be the one to find it and had dedicated the last three years attempting to find it.
"I think that if that were true, we would have run into a few by now." Marcello chuckled slightly, trying to brighten the mood. "We both knew we were going to start seeing some heavy stuff down on that ship. That's the whole reason we dived into this. Besides, I think we found out some interesting stuff already, especially about your ancestor."
"Yeah, Managing Director of the White Star Line, Arthur James Kirkland. You know my older brother was named after him. Looks a bit like him as well from what we've seen , its almost uncanny." Peter knew all about him while growing up. The youngest of five siblings and the noted 'Black Sheep' of the family, he had quickly rose to the position of director at the young age of thirty and began working the idea of the Titanic when he was thirty-three. "We hardly know anything about your's though other than the fact that he was a third class passenger."
"My grandfather never really knew much about him to begin with either. He was only a few months old when his older brothers sailed on Titanic." Marcello said, finishing off the bottle in his hand. "One of them managed to come and see him when they had been able to afford a ticket back to Italy."
"I see we're reminiscing again." Wyona appeared on the other side of Peter, smiling slightly. "Though I don't think it's about something happy considering what I heard. I think we should all head to get some sleep. Tomorrow could be a long day." She rested a hand on Peter's arm before taking the bottle away from Marcello. "And you didn't save any of it for me."
"Next time get out here quicker." Marcello smirked before taking it back and heading inside.
"Promise me that you won't take the sub down tonight. I know its going slower with Mrs. Héderváry than you expected, but it's a better lead than we expected. It's from someone that was actually there. Isn't that what you wanted?" She asked Peter, turning her attention towards him.
"Of course, but-"
"'But' what? You can't tell me that you've changed you're whole attitude about this. The necklace is an interesting side project, but the whole reason we've decided to do this is because of the untold stories. That's what we're getting right now." She told him. "Remember that. I'll see you in the morning."
Peter watched her walk away before turning back towards the dark ocean. She was right, that he knew, but all the time and money they put into finding the necklace couldn't be for nothing. He had come this far already and he couldn't just give up now. He had to be patient.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Nyo! Finland - Tina Väinämöinen
Nyo! Sweden - Bernadette Oxenstierna
Netherlands - Lars De Vries
Belgium - Emma De Vries
Peter had hardly slept the night before, deciding to go over a few notes despite Wyona's poor attempts to get him to bed. The next best thing for her to do for him was make coffee. Unfortunately that meant having to practically wrestle the coffee pot from him when she wanted to pour her own cup as he had insisted hoarding the pot for himself. She was just about to throw her cup at him before Marcello managed to break them up before things got too out of hand.
"Any other time I'd let you two duel over it, but we've got a lot to get through." He pointed out, sounding almost like a responsible adult. "Plus I don't have enough film so I can watch it later in case Pete does something stupid." He grinned. Wyona rolled her eyes before she poured her own cup.
"Grab anything else you might need if you get hungry or thirsty. I think today is going to be a long one as well." She called over her shoulder as she left the kitchen. Peter merely nodded before grabbing a muffin and following after with Marcello trailing behind him, reading off what they knew so far.
"Popescu gave it to her, practically threw it at her like candy. If it was kept in the safe, we would have found it by now." He was telling him, though it did nothing to help with Peter's mood.
"It would all be over if I just ask her where she last remembered seeing the damn thing. This process is taking too long." He scowled as they entered the control room.
"You're the one who insisted in the first place that hearing first-hand stories was our first priority as well as finding any old relics." Marcello pointed out. "We've managed to find both in one tiny old lady. I agreed because you knew what this meant to me too. My great-great uncles were third-class passengers, and while I know there's a fat chance of hearing other stories about them, I'm still holding out. That's why we started this." He told him, sitting across from him. "Now that there's more money involved, we should let her continue her story. That diamond isn't going anywhere, especially if it turns out to be sitting at the bottom of the ocean."
"Marcello's right." Wyona interjected, standing in the doorway. "In this case at least. We can hold out for another day. Besides, after you went public with the whole 'I'm finding the Heart of the Ocean and nothing can stop me' bit, we aren't exactly too popular."
"Fine." Peter sounded frustrated, though he managed to compose himself somewhat so that he wouldn't lash out.
Bruno hadn't been able to sleep as much as he wanted to last night, though he couldn't stop thinking about what had occurred the previous day.
"Morning, Gran." Bruno smiled softly as he stood in the doorway. He could be upset another time, just not now. Despite his great-grandmother's sharp mind, he knew that if Kirkland decided to press her further before she was ready, he'd have to step in to get him to back off. So far, it seemed that the only people with any tact on this ship were his companions.
"Morning." Anne had gotten dressed herself this morning rather quickly, and was looking at her pictures. There were many of them, sometimes alone, sometimes with family, a family that she had created. She was holding one in her hands, her wedding photo from what Bruno could see of it when she finally set it down. "Bruno," She started, unsure of what else to say. Last night hadn't exactly been left on a good note.
"You don't have to explain yourself to me." He interrupted her. "I've got no idea how hard this is for you, but the least I can do is make sure that Kirkland doesn't give you a hard time." Bruno glanced between her and the photo. "Will you be alright today?" He asked her after a moment. Anne nodded slightly.
"I will, don't worry." She gave him a soft smile. "We'd head to the control room before he sends someone after us."
After helping her into her wheelchair, Bruno wheeled her through the hallways with ease. Her room was thankfully on the same level as the control room and it took little time to get there. Right away he could see the facade that Peter was putting on for them, but he decided to say nothing about it. If he tried to push, Bruno would make it clear where he stood in all this.
"I'm glad to hear that you both managed to sleep well." Peter flashed a brief smile before turning on the tape recorder once more. He nodded to Wynoa who turned the camera back on as well. "Last night, we had gotten up to where you first wore the necklace. What happened after that?" It took him a few moments to come up with the right words so that he didn't appear to be pushing her. Bruno looked pleased with this and sat down across from Anne, giving her a reassuring smile. It was all the comfort that she needed in order to continue on.
'The next day, Saturday, I remember thinking how the sunlight felt on my skin. As if I hadn't felt the sun in years. I still remember the dark thought I had: if I had jumped off or slipped, I wouldn't have been there to feel it.'
"You're mad, absolutely mad.' Anneliese thought to herself as she walked along the deck after breakfast. The night before she had found herself lying awake, thinking of Gilbert. What he had said, what he had done and what he knew. Perhaps going to him just this once would help her to clear the air about why she had been on the other side of the railing. She walked with a purpose and ignored the stares that she had gotten when she had unlatched one of the gates to go down into the third-class area.
Thankfully she didn't have to ask any of the porters for help to find her way and managed to find the third-class general room. As Anneliese walked into the room, she felt suddenly self-conscious and out of place among the rest of third class passengers. It was loud for one thing. Mothers with their babies were out in the open, feeding them, bouncing them on their laps. Men were smoking and playing cards with one another. Children were running around and it took her a moment to realize that they were chasing a rat. She quickly shuffled away, nearly bumping into a younger girl who was now gazing in awe at this princess. Anneliese mumbled an apology as she backed away, trying to scan the room for Gilbert. Silence had fallen as her presence became known. She managed to spot him towards the wall, sitting with three other people. Taking a deep breath, she walked over towards him. Lovino had been the one to notice her first, his jaw dropping slightly as he gave Gilbert a quick slap on the arm.
"Shit, she came down." He exclaimed, keeping his voice low. Gilbert turned around quickly, almost falling off his seat in the process. He had expected one of them to come down and fetch him, but he hadn't expected to see her, especially so soon after what had happened the previous night.
"Hello, Gilbert." Her voice was quiet and her eyes focused on him alone, not wanting to lose her nerve. The people he was with, a blond girl about her age and two other men, well boys really, were watching in disbelief. Monika hadn't had the chance to get a full look at the girl like Gilbert had. She was certainly beautiful and held herself with a certain air of nobility.
"Hello again." Gilbert had stood up, quickly wiping his hand on his trousers, not wanting them to seem dirty to her. Lovino snickered at his awkwardness, seemingly enjoying this. Monika and Feliciano pretended that they weren't paying attention, but were holding onto their every word.
"I uh . . ." She trailed off, glancing around. The activity that had originally been silenced by her presence had slowly started up again, but that didn't mean that there weren't any eyes on them. "Is there anyway that we can speak in private?" She asked him hopefully.
"Yeah." He scratched the back of his head. "Yes, of course." He motioned her to take the lead and she nodded before walking ahead of him. He grabbed his sketchbook and looked back at Monika who was gesturing for him to follow her. It wasn't as if this happened everyday and as weary as she was, she wanted to see how this would go.
They walked up to the first-class deck side by side in complete silence. She had had an entire speech planned out in her head, but when it came to it, she couldn't seem to find the right words. Once they had made it back to the first-class section, Anneliese was able to find her voice now that they were on her territory.
"It took me all morning to get up the nerve to talk to you. I wanted to thank you for what you did for me last night," Anneliese started. "And I know that I am certainly in your debt as you've kept your discretion, Mr. Beilschmidt,"
"Gilbert." He said. "And you're welcome Anne." He shortened her name slightly, feeling it roll off his tongue more naturally. He could see how flustered she was getting and decided to stay silent to let her speak without being pressured. She hadn't minded when he shortened her name. It reminded her of Vash who called her that when they were children.
"I know what you must be thinking." She started again, feeling her voice raise a little. Anneliese still felt foolish that he had seen her in such a state. "Poor little rich girl. What would she know about misery when she's had everything handed to her." It took her a moment to see that Gilbert had stopped walking and was staring after her.
"That's not what I was thinking at all." He leaned against the railing, watching her carefully. Anneliese stepped closer to him, resting her arm on top of the railing. Looking into his eyes, she could see no malice, only the kindness that she had experienced the night before. He was sincere. "I was thinking; What could have hurt this girl so bad that she thought that there'd be no way out."
"It was everything." Anneliese felt the tension leave her shoulders as she spoke her ultimate truth, the one that she had never been able to confide in someone with until now. "It wasthem, it was their whole world that I'm trapped in like an insect in amber." Gilbert didn't interrupt, sensing that she was just getting started. "I had to get away, I had to just run. Run far away and suddenly I was at the back rail, not even this ship was big enough to get away from them. I didn't even really think about, I got over the railing, furious and thought 'I'll show them. They'll be sorry!"
"They would have been sorry, alright." He finally said, trying to lighten the mood a little. "You would have been dead, frau." He met her gaze and she felt her face turn red in embarrassment.
"I'm a complete and utter fool." She hid her face in her hands. What must he think of her now that he's heard everything?
"That vampire last night, is he one of them?" Gilbert asked her with genuine interest.
"Vampire?" Anneliese let out a small laugh, trying to contain herself. "Vladimir. He is them." She held out her hand to show the ring on her finger. The diamond was rather sizable and probably one of the most expensive things he had seen in his life.
"You would have gone straight to the bottom with this rock." Gilbert chuckled which caused her to laugh once more. He was surprised at how easy the conversation would be and knew he didn't want it to end soon. "Why not call it off if it makes you this unhappy?" Her smiled faltered.
"It's not that simple. When you get a glimpse into my world tonight, you'll see exactly why, believe me." Anneliese replied, feeling her face heat up in embarrassment once more."The girl I saw you sitting with, she's your sister?" She asked, wanting to change the subject.
"Ja, she is." Gilbert answered. Anneliese didn't know why she felt relieved at his answer. The ring on her finger said it all. She was taken. "Do you have any siblings?"
"No. Only child, I'm afraid. My mother couldn't have any more after me." She explained to him as they saw some chairs open up. She lead him over to a pair and sat down. "What's this?" She gestured to his sketchbook, having not noticed it before.
"Just some drawings, nothing too important." Gilbert answered, resting it on his lap. He ignored the looks he was getting from her fellow first-class passengers. As long as she was there to defend him, he knew that he'd be alright.
"May I?" Anneliese asked him curiously as she reached for it. He nodded, pressing it gently into her hands.
"I started a few years back to earn some extra money for me and Monika. They aren't great, but occasionally people will buy one." He told her as she began to look.
She opened it up carefully to see a rough sketch of a man sleeping on a bench. It was unlike any kind of art that she had been exposed to and the expressions that Gilbert had been able to capture intrigued her to look further. They all appeared to be drawn from life. Some more than others. The third picture was that of a nude woman. This caused her face to turn red and she glanced around to make sure that no one else could see. Gilbert on the other hand, was thoroughly amused to see her attempt at acting like an adult about the image.
"They're very good." She was genuine in her compliment, Once she was able to look past the nudity, she could see the expressiveness of their hands and eyes and it looked too intimate to be a simple portrait. "These were drawn from life?" She asked him, though she already knew the answer.
"Ja. That's one good thing about Paris. Plenty of girls willing to take their clothes off." He said, managing a soft smile as he watched her study one in particular.
"You've used this girl several times." Anneliese pointed out. The young woman was certainly beautiful, young, though probably still older than she was. In this one she had a lovely flower drawn in her hair. "I think you must have had a love affair."
"Just with her hands." Gilbert laughed, feeling his face warm up. It was the truth no matter what she or Monika tried to make otherwise. "Liz had beautiful hands, you couldn't blame me for wanting to get them from every angle I could."
"I think you have a gift, Gilbert." She paused. "You see people." 'You saw me.' Another voice her head spoke. 'Saw me when no one else did.'
"Well I see you." He told her as he took the sketchbook back. At that moment, he could see the carefree person she could be if she wasn't caged down. How she could be so much more than she was expected to be,
"And tell me, what is it you see?" Anneliese asked him with a teasing smile as she sat up straighter. Gilbert studied her for a few moments before he finally spoke again.
"You wouldn't have let go."
Despite being on a technical vacation, Arthur still had business on his mind. He wanted this ship to be a huge success, for both his and Francis's sake. Its size was grand, everything it had to offer was update with modern standards of the day. They had already grabbed the front pages of several newspapers by the size alone, but they would eventually need something new to print. These concerns were expressed to the ship's Captain, Ivan Braginski that morning over a cup of tea. The man had been sailing for a few years now and he could safely say that guiding the Titanic through its maiden voyage would be the pinnacle of his career.
"What about the last four boilers?' Arthur asked him, an idea popping into his head. "Have they been lit yet?"
"No, they haven't. We are making excellent time as it is." Ivan answered before setting his cup down. He stood up a bit straighter, looking Arthur down. Though Arthur was a little intimidated at the Captain's size, he never wavered. "I do not wish to push the engines until they have been properly run in, da?"
"Of course, it's completely up to you to decide what is best, but you can't deny that it would be glorious to get there Tuesday night and surprise them all." He replied, smiling widely. "I'm certain that the partners of the White Star Line would be pleased to here this as well. I'm sure that a good word from both myself and Monsieur Bonnefoy would help them to look even more favorably upon you."
Silence fell between them as Ivan considered Arthur's offer. Part of him said to press further about not wanting to push the ship before she was ready. After all, it wasn't Arthur who was behind the wheel of the ship.
"And what does Monsieur Bonnefoy say about your idea, Mr. Kirkland? He's the one who designed the ship we are currently traveling on, surely he must have an opinion of you wanting to control the speed." He retorted, enjoying the brief annoyance that crossed Arthur's face.
"Monsieur Bonnefoy agrees with me actually." He could convince him that speeding up the ship was the right thing to do if they wanted to further their cement in history. He just had to do it before Ivan got the chance to speak to Frances alone. "He was in the boiler room just yesterday and from what he's told me, things are running smoothly and it might not even hurt to light the last boilers if we need to."
He and Ivan looked at one another for a moment. He leaned over to grab his cup to take a long sip. From Arthur's tone, Ivan knew that there would definitely be money involved. A bonus might do him some good after all. He would be able to send more to his sisters as they relied on him for their well-being.
"I suppose it wouldn't hurt." He finally agreed. "I'll have word sent down to have them lit."
By late-afternoon, she and Gilbert had walked around the entire ship about three times. Lunch had come and gone and she found it easy to ignore her growling stomach. Gilbert found himself completely under her spell, wanting to hear nothing else but her voice and her laugh.
"I suppose it would be my mother's worst nightmare if I threw it all away to live poor and free in a garret." Anneliese laughed softly.
"You wouldn't last two days, princess." Gilbert taunted playfully. "There's no hot water and hardly any caviar."
"I suppose it's a good thing that I hate caviar with a passion. I never did care for it much." She retorted with a smile. "I've heard of moving picture actresses. They're getting very popular in America. If I can't play music anymore, I suppose it could be my last resort."
"What kind of instruments do you play?" He asked her as they reached where they had started once more.
"Violin." She answered. "And piano, though my mother doesn't like that I play for some reason. My tutor had insisted that I learn to play something, which cause my mother to give in." They were now shoulder to shoulder as they leaned against the railing, watching the sun slowly start to go down. "And what about you? Where do your travels take you and your sister?"
"All over Germany and France. After our grandfather died, we headed towards the docks. Sometimes I sell my sketches there for a few pennies. Me and Monika would have cheap beer sometimes, one time we even managed to ride a horse right in the surf."
"That sounds amazing." Anneliese was in awe. "In America, I'm sure they have all those things as well. Say we'll go to a beach, do everything that you were able to do with Monika, even if we only ever talk about it."
"Alright, we're going. You'll have to ride like a man, none of that side-saddle stuff. You've got to get the real experience." Gilbert told her with a large grin on his face.
"How scandalous! You'll have to show me." She replied.
"Sure. If you like." Her smiled grew as her eyes met his. "I think I would very much." She looked back out to the horizon. "Teach me to spit too." Anneliese added with a small laugh. "Like a man, I mean. Why should they be the only ones able to." It was a ridiculous thought, one that her mother would certainly not approve of. In any other case, the mere notion of spitting, especially out in the open like they were, was disgusting to her. But she knew that it would disgust her mother more.
"Your fancy tutors never taught you that?" Gilbert asked her sarcastically. "It's easy, you just have to learn from the master." She watched in amusement as he spat, seeing it arch out towards the water. He then turns to her with the grin that seemed to make her heart melt a little as well bring color to her pale cheeks. "Now it's your turn."
Anneliese glanced around to make sure that no one was walking by before facing the railing once more. She attempted to imitate Gilbert's movements only to end up with a pathetic bit of foamy spittle that ran down her chin. Her face grew more red at her failed attempt as she wiped it away quickly.
"That was pitiful, frau." He laughed good-naturedly which caused her to relax a little more. "Here, like this," Gilbert adjusted his stance as though having balance was the most important factor in spitting. "You got to hawk it down, then roll it on your tongue, up to the front, take a big breath, then," He paused to show her what he was doing before spitting once more. This one went a little further than the last. "You see the range I got?"
"Well, Gilbert, maybe this time I'll be able to go farther than you." Anneliese challenged him with a smirk on her lips.
It took two more tries to come close to Gilbert's distance. He coached her through each time, both of them breaking out into fits of laughter. They were getting several odd looks from the other first-class passengers walking by, but they paid them no mind, only focusing on each other. When she finally looked towards him, her face paled as she saw her mother and Amelia Jones watching the both of them. From the look on her mother's face, it was easy to tell that they had been standing there for some time. Immediately, Anneliese composed herself, wiping away any leftover residue from her chin.
"Mother," This got Gilbert's attention as he quickly turned to see an older dark haired woman who was clearly Anneliese's mother and her younger, blonde companion. He scratched the back of his head, unaware of the spit still on his chin. "May I introduce Gilbert Beilschmidt."
"Charmed, I'm sure." Cora's tone was cool, her gaze like steel. Amelia, on the other hand, had an amused smile on her face and motioned wiping her chin so that Gilbert could see. He had looked at her oddly for a moment before realizing her intention and quickly wiped the spit away.
'The others were curious about the man who had saved my life. I suppose they wanted to get a good at him for themselves to see if their judgement was right. My mother looked at him like a dangerous insect. One that must be squashed quickly.'
"Well, Gilbert, it sounds like you're a good man to have around in a sticky spot -" Amelia was interrupted as dinner was announced by a Bulger. She rolled her eyes in annoyance. "I'll never understand why they insist on announcing dinner like it's a damn cavalry charge." She mused. Cora looked as though she was about to say something about Amelia's language when Anneliese interjected before she could get a word out.
"Shall we go dress, mother?" She linked arms with her mother who tightened her grip as they began to walk away, leaving Gilbert and Amelia behind. It wasn't until they had made it back to their room that the thought of Gilbert not having the proper clothes for dinner occurred to her and she very much doubted that her mother or Vlad would allow him to borrow a suit.
Gilbert watched as she left, not wanting their time alone to be cut short. However, he was drawn out of these thoughts by Amelia who had been trying to get his attention.
"You know that you're about to head into the shark infested waters, yes?" Amelia had stated more than asked. "What were you planning to wear?" She looked at his worn trousers, shirt and suspenders. "Because I'm certain that if you go in that, they'll eat you alive."
Gilbert paused. Monika had mentioned that he didn't have a suit and he'd certainly be turned away if showed up looking how he did right now.
"I've got no idea." He finally answered.
"I figured that would be the answer. Come with me." Amelia replied, her smile returning. He hesitated for a moment. He knew that these people could be nasty when they wanted to be, but from what Anneliese had mentioned about her earlier, she seemed nice enough.
Gilbert couldn't ignore the stares that they were both getting as she went to take out the key to her room. She wasn't much older than him by a few years, and from the way it sounded, she was traveling alone. Of course it didn't look right, but Amelia didn't seem to care at all.
"You look to be the same size as my older brother. He left some of his clothes with me to bring home and I'm sure he won't mind if I lend them out for a night." She was telling him as she lead him to her room. He stopped short of the door, feeling more comfortable in the parlor, which was about four times the size of the stateroom he was sharing with his sister, Lovino and Feliciano. There was a clear view of the ocean from the windows which Gilbert walked over to. He had heard that some of the first-class passengers had their own decks, but it seemed that Amelia hadn't gotten it. He felt entirely out of place in the stateroom and that was with one person. He could imagine how it would be surrounded by all of them.
"I can just wait out here -" He started, feeling his face heat up. He had already embarrassed himself once today, no need to continue the pattern.
"Nonsense, it's alright. If it makes you more comfortable, I can lay everything out for you and help you with the finishing touches?" She popped her head out of her room, with a slight smile on her face. Gilbert couldn't help but smile back.
"Alright. Thank you again, Miss Jones." He wanted maintain a sense of dignity with her, but it shattered as he heard her chuckle.
"We're not surrounded by the rest of those snobs, you can call me Amelia." She was used to being forward, it was one of the traits her brother reprimanded her for, but she didn't seem to care too much.
"Alright." He said hesitantly. "Thank you, Amelia."
Originally, he thought putting on the suit would be simple. Pants, shirt, jacket, tie. Easy, right? It turns out that after the shirt, there were a few other things to put on in order to be deemed fit for dinner. Amelia ended up helping him with the bow tie as he couldn't figure out how to tie it properly without having it look uneven. The cufflinks were nearly impossible to get without help and his hair was a different story all together.
"Don't feel too bad about needing help getting dressed. All these first-class men have valets to dress them, so they must be hopeless as well." Amelia chuckled softly. "Instead of a valet, you get me."
"Thank you again for this." Gilbert replied. He was grateful, and didn't know how he could repay her.
"If I'm being honest, I'm doing this mostly for myself. Cora's expressions give me entertainment and with you there, I'm sure we're both in for a show." She told him with a short laugh as she stepped back in order to admire her work. "Besides, you seem like a good fellow. I know you'll want to sit with your little friend Anneliese, but if you aren't able to, I'm your next best chance. I've had a year to learn how to learn the ropes. Now, I'll meet you down there. I'm afraid it takes me a little longer to get ready."
Gilbert walked across the deck with his head held high, remembering the directions that Amelia had given him. The suit thankfully wasn't tight, but her brother was taller than he was, so they had had to make sure with what they had. As he approached the door, the steward opened it for him.
"Good evening, sir." He greeted him as Gilbert passed through. He nodded in response before heading in.
Immediately Gilbert is stunned. Overhead is a glass dome with a crystal chandelier in the center. From where he stood, he could see the large clock with two angels carved around it. He studied only briefly before he began to descend the staircase. There were plenty of people milling around before dinner started, men dressed in fine suits similar to Gilbert's and women in floor length dresses with their elaborate hairstyles and jewelry. Several men nodded in greeting and he nodded back, keeping it simple. He almost felt like a spy of sorts. He had started to lean against a pole next to the stairs before noticing that the men were standing up straight with one hand at the small of their backs. He quickly stood up straight in order to imitate them.
Vladimir came downstairs with Cora on his arm. He could recognize him easily from the night before, only he looked more composed than the man that had been shouting at him. Vladimir nodded at him, not recognizing him right away. Gilbert nodded back, feeling amused though it quickly faded as he looked up higher to see Anneliese.
She was wearing a red and black dress, similar to the one the night before, though he knew that couldn't be the case. Her hair was pulled back from her face and he could see a small mole on right side of her face more clearly. Her eyes seemed to light up as she saw him and he realized that he was staring. Gilbert took a quick glance around to see how the other men were greeting the women and he quickly imitated the gentlemen's stance while she extended a gloved hand out towards him. He takes it, kissing the back of her fingers. Anneliese could feel her face heat up, and found it hard to look away from him. His hair had been slicked back and it seemed that Amelia had made him look like a perfect gentlemen.
"I was worried about what you'd wear. I should have thought about it sooner." She finally spoke, breaking the silence between them.
"It looks like Amelia's brother left some clothes with her. Just my luck." Gilbert grinned widely before extending his arm towards her. She took it and together they descended the staircase together. As they grew closer, he could see Vladimir and her mother waiting. Inwardly, he smirked seeing their expressions when they saw him.
"Vlad, surely you remember Herr Beilschmidt." Anneliese looked almost proud to be introducing Gilbert to them. Vlad managed to compose himself with a fake smile.
"Beilschmidt! I hardly recognized you." He looked him up and down, sizing him up. "You could almost pass for a gentlemen." Cora chuckled softly as they continued heading down to the dining room. Gilbert merely nodded in return before he and Anneliese followed after him. He wouldn't let anything either of them said get to him. That's what they wanted and he wouldn't give them that satisfaction.
Amelia joined them only moments later in a dark beaded dress with a smile on her face.
"There ain't nothing to it, Gilbert." Amelia said as she took his other arm. The three of them walked into the dining saloon and she knew the real challenge had begun. "Dress like a pallbearer and keep your nose up. Remember, the only thing they respect is money, so just act like you've got a lot of it and you're in the club." She gave him a reassuring smile and Anneliese gently squeezed his hand. He could do this. He'd just need a lot of help.
"That's Lars De Vries." Anneliese said as they walked by. She kept her voice low enough so that only Gilbert could hear her. "Richest man on the ship. His sister came along with him as well. She's my age and in a delicate condition. Apparently her husband was caught cheating on her last month. Rumor has it, it was with his valet. Quite the scandal." She looked around the room once more. "Over there, there's Lady Tina Väinämöinen and Lady Bernadette Oxenstierna. They designs naughty lingerie, among their many talents. Very popular among the royals I hear." Amelia had let go, promising to meet them at the table before going to greet a friend.
"Lars, Emma, I'd like you to meet Herr Beilschmidt." Anneliese introduced him with a smile on her face. Lars held his hand out for Gilbert to take which he did.
"Good to meet you. Are you of the Berlin Beilschmidts?" Lars asked him curiously.
"Frankfurt Beilschmidts." Gilbert confirmed as they let go of each others hands. Lars nodded in response as though he had heard of them before. While they had been speaking, Emma had taken the chance to speak with Anneliese.
"It's a pity we're both spoken for already." She sighed. Anneliese could only nod before she lead Gilbert through the rest of the room. Music was playing softly from the band and when she glanced back, she could see her mother and Vlad behind them. Gilbert kept his head held high. It was a little nerve wracking to be there surrounded by all these types of people, but the one person that kept him anchored was Anne.
'He must have nervous, but he never faltered. With that suit, they must have assumed that he was one of them. New money maybe, but still a member of the club. Mother of course, could always be counted on.'
"I hear that the accommodations in steerage are excellent on this ship, what you do think, Herr Beilschimdt?" Cora asked him with a smug smile on her face as she moved to take a sip of her drink. She didn't like the look of this man, especially the way his was eyeing her daughter, who seemed rather content in his presence. At their table was also Amelia, Lady Bernadette Oxenstierna, Lady Tina Väinämöinen, Arthur Kirkland and Francis Bonnefoy who seemed more interested in his notebook than the conversation taking place.
"The best I've seen actually." Gilbert's smile didn't waver. He seemed to be relishing in her mother's displeasure of having him here. "Hardly any rats." He glanced over at Anneliese who gave him an encouraging smile before showing him to take his napkin off the table and onto his lap. Amelia was to his left while Lady Väinämöinen was to his right. She was incredibly sweet compared to her partner who remained stoic.
"Herr Beilschmidt is joining us from third-class. He was of some assistance to my fiancée last night." Vladimir stated clearly before turning towards Gilbert. "This is foie gras. It's goose liver." He said it slowly as though he was speaking to a child. Gilbert was itching to give a snarky retort back, but he managed to restrain himself. Whispers were exchanged, making Gilbert the subject of furtive glances.
"How do you take your caviar, sir?" A waiter had come up behind Gilbert and asked him, holding the tray out expectantly. Vladimir swooped in.
"A soupcon of lemon for him." He looked at Gilbert with a smug look on his face. "It helps to improve the flavor which I think you'll find to be excellent."
"Actually, no caviar for me, thanks." Gilbert smirked. His eyes briefly went to Anneliese before looking back toward Vlad. "Never did care for it much."
"And where is it you live, Herr Beilschmidt?" Cora asked him, feigning genuine interest.
"Right now, it's the RMS Titanic. After that, God's good humor." He added with a short laugh. He reached to grab one of the many forks as the salad was served. Amelia quickly signaled to him to grab the right one.
"That rootless existence is appealing to you?" Cora challenged. Gilbert paused for a moment, considering her statement.
"Yes." He finally answered. "It's a big world we live and I want my sister and me to see as much of it as we can. My grandfather was always talking about taking us to America and when he died, I thought that dream might be put on hold. It was just me and my sister Monika and we've been together through everything. I promised to take her to America and I've finally been granted the luck to do just that. I didn't just wait around for it to fall into my lap. We've come a long way from Germany. You never know what hand you'll get dealt next. Just the other night we were keeping warm underneath a bridge, and now we're both here, on the finest ship in the world and I'm able to dine with you fine people." He lifted up his drink in a toast. "You've got to take life as it comes at you. To make each day count."
There is silence across the table as everyone seemed to be entranced as he spoke. Amelia is the first to break the silence.
"Well said, Gilbert." She grinned widely, raising her glass in a salute.
"Here, here." Arthur said, raising his glass as well.
"To making it count." Anneliese raised her glass. Nearly everyone except her mother and Vlad had joined in. Cora was thoroughly displeased and decided to press him further.
How is it you have means to travel?"
"I work of course." Gilbert answered as though it should be obvious. "I take whatever odd jobs I can to make sure me and my sister have enough to eat. Tramp steamers and such. I won my ticket on Titanic through a lucky hand in poker." He glanced at Anneliese. "A very lucky hand."
"All life is a game of luck." Lady Oxenstierna replied, nodding slightly.
"A man makes his own luck, Bernadette." Vlad replied before taking a sip of his drink. Anneliese smiled at Gilbert before turning back to her own food. It was then that she noticed that Monsieur Bonnefoy had been completely engrossed in his notebook.
"Whenever I've seen you around the ship, you always seem to be writing something down. I thought this trip was a chance to get away from work." Anneliese said good-naturedly.
"I know every rivet in her. I can't help but find improvements that could be made." Francis replied with a sheepish smile.
"His blood and soul is in this ship. She's mine on paper, but in the eyes of God, she belongs to Monsieur Bonnefoy." The look exchanged between the two could have easily be detected as more than just colleagues, but no one was really paying them any attention. Anneliese however, turned a blind eye.
"Your ship is wonder, Monsieur Bonnefoy." She complimented him.
"Merci, Anneliese." Francis replied before setting his notebook aside.
Lady Väinämöinen had gotten up as well as Francis, leaving Anneliese a chance to talk more directly to Gilbert. He was enjoying his time here, but as the men began to get up, he knew that the time was coming to an end. He had managed to get a pencil and paper from Amelia and wrote something down quickly before folding the piece of paper carefully.
"Next it'll be brandies in the Smoking Room where they retreat into a cloud of smoke and congratulate each other on being maters of the universe." She rolled her eyes and Gilbert chuckled slightly.
"Are you coming, Beilschmidt? You don't want to stay out here all night with the women." Lars asked him as he and Vladimir were saying their good nights to their respective women.
"I'm heading back." Gilbert answered. Amelia allowed him to keep the suit for which he was grateful for, so he could simply head down without worry. However, he wouldn't go until Vladimir left.
"It's probably best. It'll be about business and politics that wouldn't interest you. Good of you to come." Gilbert could easily tell that Vladimir was glad that he wouldn't have to see him again. He then turned to Anneliese.
"Do you have to go so soon?" Anneliese mentally cursed herself at how desperate she sounded at that moment. The last few weeks had been nothing but a grim reminder of her future. Even if she already knew that she wouldn't see Gilbert after they got off the ship, it couldn't hurt to spend a few more moments together while she still had the chance.
"I've got to go back with the other peasants, I'm afraid." He answered with a slight smile on his face as he leaned over to take her hand. As he kissed the back of it, he pressed a tiny, folded piece of paper into her hands. He winked before letting go and walking away from the table. Anneliese watched as he left before moving her hands underneath the table. After taking a quick glance at her mother who was chattering away with her friends, she opened it.
'Make it count. Meet me at the clock.'
Making an excuse to go back to the room was easy. Once she had claimed to be tired, she had politely excused herself from the table. Her mother had allowed it, fully trusting that her daughter would be able to return to their room on her own. Little did she knew that Anneliese was heading back up to the A-Deck. She had immediately known which clock to which the note referred to and she could only hope that he hadn't decided that he didn't want to wait anymore. As she reached the bottom of the steps, she sighed in relief when she saw the back of his pale blond head. He was turned away from her, giving her the chance to collect herself.
As she got closer, Gilbert could sense someone coming behind him and turned as the clock struck. He smiled widely upon seeing her which caused her to smile as well. It was a real one that reached her eyes. Gilbert knew very well He would have waited all night for her if that's what it took. Part of him had doubted if she'd even be able to get away from those people, even for a few hours, but it quickly melted away.
"Want to go to a real party?"