"So… I always thought pirates were completely ruthless and mean and stuff."
Mabel told Dipper, leaned over the taffrail, almost like a kid about to fall to the sea, but her feet were safe on the wooden floor. She gazed at the blue ocean, enjoying the cool gentle breeze that brushed her hair away and made her long skirt dance. The young pirate crossed his arms, looking at the horizon as well because there was nothing left to do. Both had just come back up after having lunch at the galley.
"Are you saying we're a bunch of softies just because we're treating you well?" Dipper asked bored and annoyed at the same time. His ego was a bit hurt by her comment.
"Not at wall. All I'm saying is that you look normal people. You could have hurt me; you could have left me locked in a tiny room bound and without how to break out. Or even worse."
"Why would we do that? We're in the middle of the sea, it's not like you could escape."
"You know what I mean." She shrugged straightening herself to look up at him, leaving her hands still on the wood of the taffrail that surrounded the whole main deck.
"If you had this idea of us, then why did you comply in coming in the first place?"
"I knew the minute I laid my eyes on you that you wouldn't hurt me." She revealed. "What I didn't expect was to see so much kindness in almost all of you. Especially the Captain, though he hides it very well."
"He is a good man. One of the best I know. But don't be fooled. You won't like to be in his black list, he can be quite merciless with his enemies. And be careful, you're quite close to it."
"To what? His black list? What did I ever do to him?"
"It's not you. It's your father. The King is in the top of the list. But then again, probably every pirate is in the King's black list, so we're even, I guess."
"But he doesn't have a grudge on me. At least, not that I noticed when he was teaching me how to navigate earlier."
"He did that?"
"Nothing. It's just that it took me a while to make him teach me how to use the helm. Even though I begged him to let me. I guess he does have a soft spot for girls, after all."
"Who knows, maybe he just wanted to be sure you'd be ready for it?"
"Maybe. I was only 10 back then anyway."
"You knew the captain so young?" She asked curiously.
"Even younger. He's my father."
"Oh. You never told me before."
"As far as I'm concerned, I don't have to tell you about my family, Mabel. You're still our victim, after all, remember? You might have come willingly, but I did kidnap you."
"Details. But you could have told me. Though now I see some resemblance on both of you…"
Some resemblance? Dipper thought to himself feeling one of his eyebrows rising. Everyone says we do look alike a lot, thank you very much…
Then, she looked back to contemplate the nothingness of blue sky and water in every direction. There is until Mabel spoke again.
"So… did the captain already kill someone?"
"Of course. He's been a pirate for a long time now. Over 14 years, I believe. He gained some friends and enemies along the way. And lost some too, if you catch my drift. But that's what we have to do sometimes to survive. Though unlike most pirates around the realm, we don't like to kill for fun or for no reason. We don't like to screw somebody's life out of nothing. We're not jerks." Dipper said crossing his arms "But we're not dummies either. We go get what we want and we do what it needs to be done for that. We're selfish and greedy. So don't be deceived. We can turn from side to side if we can get something from it."
"Really? But you're honest too. And at least a little bit caring. So you have a good heart. And I don't think money can buy you from something you believe."
"Maybe not, however I don't have a problem in trample over somebody to get what I want. And so does the rest of the crew."
She made a soft and small smile.
"Well, that's obvious, otherwise you'd all probably be dead by now."
And once again, that princess surprised Dipper. How could she always do the exact opposite of what he imagined? He was absolutely sure she'd be scared or reluctant to be around them after that, because what he said was not a lie. He'd do that; he'd trample people's wishes or feelings if it leads him to what he wanted. Though she saw he wouldn't do this if he absolutely didn't have to and that's what prevented her from getting scared or apprehensive.
"And you know what? I think that while most pirates wants to be known by their mercilessness and power, your captain wants to be known by collecting treasures and being wealthy."
"Well, you're right about that." He concluded as he realized she was pretty much quick on reading people.
"By the way, why are we going north?"
"How do you know we're going north? You don't have a compass, do you?"
"I'm not stupid. I know the sun rise in the east and that's there. The west is the other way, so ahead is north and behind us is south." She finished pointing with her thumb behind her. Her tone was still jokingly, with a smile that just wouldn't leave her face. "Stop underestimating me, I'm not stupid."
"You're right. I'm sorry. It's just that you're just so… different than what I had imagined…" He admitted.
"Of course I am. I'm Mabel. There's no one else in the world like me." She said proudly spreading her arms for dramatic emphasis, making him laugh just a little. Then, she decided to sit on the taffrail again, leaving him with his hands in the air as if he was ready to catch her. "But, what did you mean exactly?"
Dipper sighed, turning to support his arms by her side, and then he supported his chin on his right hand. She started swinging her legs.
"It's just that I thought you'd be more like… I don't know, I guess I imagined you'd be nagging at everything, you wouldn't want to put commoner's clothes, you'd be whining to go back home, you'd want to use fancy clothes and stuff… And I definitely didn't imagine you'd want to be kidnaped in the first place."
"Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm afraid you got the wrong girl, then. If you wanted someone like that you should have gotten my cousin, Pacifica Northwest. I could bet everything I own in the castle she'd be acting exactly as you described if she was in my place. She doesn't have the adventurous spirit that I have."
"Hell, no! I don't think I could stand it for too long. Maybe we got the right girl, after all."
"Awn, that was so sweet. I feel flattered." Mabel said in a teasing tone, leaning back to look at him. He had a mocking-like smile.
"I only said that because you're being less of a pain than I thought. And if you fall into the ocean I'm gonna laugh at you, got it?"
"Or, maybe I'll take you down with me."
"You always have something to say, don't you?"
"Of course." She shrugged happily and then she leaned a bit more towards the sea, as if she was pretending to fall. And she was right in her assumptions. "You tried to catch me." Mabel pointed out feeling herself being embraced by his right arm while he was holding himself in place with the left arm firmly at the taffrail. There was concern in his dazzling chestnut eyes. "I thought you were supposed to only laugh at me."
It took him two seconds to realize she wasn't really about to fall, in fact, the princess was just playing with him. His concern quickly turned to irritation and he pretended to let her fall, by releasing the right arm on her back. Mabel yelped as she felt the support loosen up and gravity started to make her way down towards the waters, but it last only a fraction of second because she quickly held onto him at the same time he placed his hand back to support her.
"Don't do that again or I'll let you fall for real."
Mabel gulped feeling her heart pound aggressively against her chest for the startle of almost falling. Unable to speak at the moment, she just nodded in agreement, tightening the grip on the back of his shirt and vest. Clearing her throat, she finally managed to look away from his hypnotizing eyes. But before she could totally look away from him, she couldn't help but notice how he looked handsome with the light of the twilight shining on him. The sun was already starting to set.
"Could you help me get inside the ship, now?"
He didn't say anything else; he just pulled her inside so she could stand on her feet on the main deck. She looked up at him, he wasn't so much taller than her; the previous day, when she was wearing high heels, they were practically the same height. But now she was using commoner's boots and it didn't have high heels.
"But I was right. I knew you wouldn't let me fall."
"Just don't do stupid stuff like that again. Do you hear me?"
"Okay. I got." She answered by the time some people of the crew started climbing up, some of them, she noticed, had instruments with them. "You guys can play those?"
"Some lived as musicians and troubadours before joining piracy and they play once in a while after chores."
"That's so nice!" She said happily, clapping her hands exited and observing them starting to play some music to break the disturbing silence of the evening in the middle of the ocean. She hasn't notice until that moment how quiet it could be with nothing else around the ship making noises, it was awfully silent. "I want to dance!"
"You have the whole deck for yourself." He shrugged carelessly, not expecting her to take it for real.
But of course, she had to do the exact opposite of what he imagined. He remembered himself to think the opposite the next time. She most definitely wasn't a stereotyped royal princess. As she started to mindlessly dance around the deck as she always wanted, without any formalities, etiquettes, rules and other boring stuff, the musicians started to feel appreciated and their songs came more and more exited, with an energy that could be contagious to everyone at the main deck. Everyone stopped what they were doing to appreciate the music. And then, Mabel started to call people to dance as well.
First, it was with her good friend Wendy, who was already clapping her hands to the rhythm of the song and then she pushed her boyfriend Robbie to go along. Robbie was reluctant, crossing his arms in denial and obviously glaring at the princess, but Wendy made him concentrate on her and little by little he let himself enjoy the moment. And then, Mabel pulled in more people from their places to just dance along with the music. It got to a point where other pirates downstairs started to climb to join them.
Mabel gestured for Dipper to do the same, but he refused, so embarrassed he was. She rolled her eyes and stopped in front of him, grabbing his hands.
"Come on. Have some fun with us!"
"I'm not like you, I'm not used to this and I don't even know how to begin this thing anyway…" He told her. Dipper needed plans and schemes, something to tell him exactly what to do step by step.
"And you think I know? If my father saw me now he'd bore me to death with a lecture about how a princess shouldn't behave like this. Just let yourself be free. Feel the rhythm and just flow with it."
"Easy for you to say, you're spontaneous…" He said, secretly admiring that trait of hers, maybe with a tiny bit of jealousy.
"Then let me help you. Spin me." She pulled him to the middle of the deck, and he clumsy and awkwardly started to spin her.
With the sound of the instruments, also came the clapping hands and taps on the floor underneath the pirates' boots. Observing it all from the sterncastle was the Captain, who couldn't help but smile and tap his foot with the rhythm as he navigated the helm. Soos sauntered up next to him.
"Do you want to go there for a while, Captain?" He asked happily.
"No, it's okay. I'm having enough fun just watching them. I'm glad they're all happy like that. She's a special girl, don't you think?"
"Indeed, Sir. I never thought I'd see everyone so moved like that without at least enough rum to fill the ocean."
The captain laughed at his friend's exaggeration. "It's good to see Dipper finally acting like a normal teen instead of a responsible old man. Sometimes this kid worries me too much…"
"And she looks happy too. They look happy together. "
"Yeah. Too bad she can't stay."
"Now go knock yourself out, Soos. Enjoy the calm before the storm."
"Don't you want to go as well, Sir?"
"I want to. But I don't."
"Just go, Soos. It's okay." The chubby man shrugged, confused, but complied and went back down, leaving his captain to heavily sigh to himself.
"See? I told you she was not that bad." Mabel heard Wendy's voice not too far away from her, but apparently, neither she nor Robbie realized the princess could hear them. And why should they? The music and the clapping were loud enough to interrupt someone's thoughts.
"Yeah, yeah. I still don't like her."
"Come on, Robbie, you don't even know her."
"I don't need to. As long as I get my part of the ransom I'll be happy."
Mabel froze. Ransom? What ransom? Whose ransom? And then it hit her like an uncontrolled carriage. It was her ransom. Of course, why else would pirates kidnap me? She thought to herself, suddenly embarrassed for not realizing it at first. She felt her cheeks suddenly get hotter as she became mortified by how foolish she had been... In a way she rarely ever been in her entire life.
Her heart sank and for a moment the world around her started to spin, only she wasn't doing it this time. It was hard to breathe as she realized something important. "I'm not free." She mumbled under her breath. And she felt stupid; really stupid.
She knew it should have been that, they were in it for money and she was the daughter of the most important and richest man of the kingdom. Deep down, she knew it was a ransom; she was just ignoring that crucial little detail. And that made her even angrier with herself. How could she just forget and ignore something so important?
For a moment, she felt as the world was moving slower, she couldn't even hear the music or the noise the pirates made to accompany the rhythm. It was like nothing else existed for that little moment, and she just wanted to hide herself inside a hole in shame.
She tried to smile. But she couldn't. She just needed to get away from all these people for a little while, not only to hide in shame and regret, but also so she could cry just a little bit. Mabel looked at Dipper in front of her, he noticed how tense she suddenly got and was studying her with a raised eyebrow.
"I-I'm not feeling very well, it's better if I just go back to my room." She excused herself and went back to her temporary chamber.
She still couldn't believe how naïve she had been. Her breathing was as quick as the pounding heart beating against her chest and she could even feel her chocolate brown eyes getting wetter the moment she turned to leave. This was a ransom, and the most normal thing to happen was that they'd eventually give her back to the King for money, regardless of what she wanted. And she most certainly did not want to go.
The truth was that Mabel never wanted to be a princess; she never wanted the responsibilities or the fanciness of everything. All she wanted was to be free and see the world; she had barely left the walls of the castle her entire life. For 16 years, she felt like a prisoner. And now that she thought she was free, she realized she would go back to her cage anyway.
She felt herself walking towards the window of the accommodations after closing the doors behind her. There was nothing but open sea in sight. Sighing sadly, she barely noticed the door being opened.
"You should knock before you just barge in, you know. I could be changing or something…"
"You'd have locked the door, like I told you should. We are pirates, if you haven't noticed. We're not really known for good form and polite manners." Dipper said with a mocking undertone.
"I noticed." Her voice was very low and gloomy.
"Wait, that's it? No smart comebacks, no jokes? Nothing?" He crossed his arms; there was a beautiful half smile on his lips. She tried to smile and fake away her fears, but the pain was just too strong. So she turned around pretending to look at something very important out of the hatch window that just couldn't pass by without her constant watch, however, there was nothing but blue waters. "Okay, that's it. The captain ordered me to take care of you and even though I don't want it, that's what I'm gonna do. You're not yourself, are you sick or something after all that rain? If you are just tell us so we can find a doctor for you."
"So you're concerned for me?" She dared to turn and look at him.
"Wha- Of course not!" He managed not to blush, or at least not too much. He was young and inexperienced in dealing with girls, especially one so as beautiful like as Mabel. "It's just that you have to be in one piece so we can get our money."
"Oh. Of course. I understand…" She mumbled looking out the window.
"So, are you sick or not? What's wrong with you?" Dipper asked stepping a bit closer, his arms still crossed. "You were fine just seconds ago."
"No it's not." He held her by the arm and made her turn to look at him once again. "You can tell me."
Mabel sighed and swallowed, almost not being able to look away from the intense chestnut brown round pools of his eyes. The dim light of the moon came from right behind her illuminating his face and even though she was full of sorrow, she couldn't help but notice how handsome he was. It took her a while before she managed to look away.
"It's just… I don't… Whatever you do just please…" He raised an eyebrow as if inviting her to continue, but he didn't dare speak since it seemed already too hard for her to say. Her voice came out choking. "Please don't send me back."
That took Dipper by surprise. This girl kept surprising him over and over again, he was sure she'd ask to go back, not the opposite.
"Y-you… Don't you want to go back to your home? To your family? Your father?"
"Just… Please don't make me go." She said, feeling silent tears finally snapping from her wet eyes and slide down her cheeks, but luckily, it was dark enough to hide it. And indeed, he didn't get to see it properly.
But he did notice something was off. He didn't really know how he could tell; he just could, though he highly suspected it was something to do with her choking voice. There was an urgency and despair in her tone that made him wonder what happened to her there to make her so afraid.
And even though he liked to stick to the plans and he wanted to receive the money from his first ransom, a part inside him was screaming to heed her pleas. And even though he was a pirate, he couldn't just doom a girl's life. He couldn't bring himself to turn her down.
"I… I won't…" He suddenly found his hand behind her waist pulling her closer. He didn't intend to hold her, not at all; it was as much of a surprise for her as it was for him. "I won't."
And then Dipper realized he found himself in trouble. In big trouble. How could he convince his father not to get the ransom, now?