Chapter 2 : Unsinkable
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The good bye between the two of us and Jared's family was short and quick, barely enough time to be proper - we should have come earlier, made our good byes a little longer, hugged a little harder. But Jared was too excited, wanted so much to get on that ship and start his new life as his own man. His mother's kiss just scraped our cheeks, his father's hand barely shook our own and young Anthony preferred to stand back and sulk, not finding the situation fair at all.
I wish I'd been able to successfully coerce the boy into allowing that last hug. The last thing I remember is the tiny smile and the quiet good bye he gave us.
Jared took the smile as our cue, promised we would write and Anthony would know all about the Titanic and America, and then he dragged me away. One of the staff had carried our bags to the ship, they'd be on their way to our room, so all we had to do was run.
And run we did; from the docks, onto the ship and up to the most magnificent deck I had ever seen. It was the only one I'd seen, but I was convinced there would never be a ship like it. We ran until our sides ached and our breathing was shallow, almost painful. But we did not care. Jared pushed his way through the crowds, until he found a space big enough for the two of us to stand, and he waved, the enthusiasm of each and every person, including himself, too infectious to ignore. We were grinning like mad men, shouting our goodbyes to anyone who would listen, until the ship had set sail and the dock was nothing more than a distant memory.
April 10th, 1912.
The room we were given was modest compared to many we had passed, which not only housed families but their staff as well. Ours was more than enough for the two of us, with two separate bedrooms and a fine living area, but unless one were to sleep on the sofa, there was not enough room for anyone else. It was perfect, though. We looked through everything we could find, tested the comfort of each other's beds to decide who would get what, then we left our bags unpacked by our doors and explored the ship.
It really was magnificent; I knew as soon as we stepped out onto the first class deck and looked around that we would not see it all that day. That was fine by us, it would keep us entertained until we reached New York.
The wind was mild, the sun warm enough for us to keep our overcoats off, but not so warm for the coats from our suits to join them. Most of the Titanic's passengers were Muggles, I had not seen a single wizard except for Jared until the next day, so we had made sure to wear clothes that allowed us to blend in; no one stared at us oddly. But as I watched others move around the ship, I was sure that they were equally mesmerized by its beauty and size and would not have noticed if we had worn wizard robes.
It was nearing dinner when we stopped. Having looked through the first class lounge, the dinner hall and had the occasional talk with a few of the passengers, we had ended up back on the deck, on the other end of the ship. When Jared leaned further enough over, because only he was daring enough to do so, he could see the large, white lettering spell 'Liverpool', though not the name 'Titanic'.
The wind had grown harsher by this time, the sun beginning to hide behind the horizon, and I had to wrap my arms around myself to attempt to keep warm; I thought to use a warming charm, but cast it away in case Muggles came by. Having the same thought I as did, Jared suggested going inside and getting ready for dinner.
Then he saw her and the cold was nonexistent to him.
I didn't and would never have denied her beauty, but she did not compare to a warm room in my eyes and I almost insisted that he leave her be and go inside. I stopped myself in fear of her hearing me and thinking me rude; she made her way to us the moment she laid eyes on my friend.
She was also in first class, of that I had no doubt; her dress was red, reminding me immediately of blood, and looked soft like silk. It was something the young ladies would wear at home, if they were attending a formal dinner. It reminded everyone of a person's social standing; I was instantly wary of her and what she would think of me. People would have to look twice, but some could usually tell that I did not come from a wealthy family - Jared's clothes were a tad big and my hands were rough from work.
If she ever noticed, she did not say.
"All alone, miss?" he asked her with a smile. On the outside, it looked polite, innocent, but if you ever knew Jared as well as I did, you'd see the gleam in his eyes; he liked strong girls, girls who could handle adventure and wouldn't think him worthy of her after a night. He was testing her.
She smiled back and stepped closer. "I do not need an escort for fresh air. They know where I am, that will do."
Her answered made up his mind and he held his hand out to her. When she touched his with her own, he brought her knuckles to his lips and placed a gentle kiss against her skin.
"My name is Jared Nott, this is my brother Nathan."
I nodded my head in greeting, prompting her to do the same. Her dark hair fell out of place, a strand covering part of her face, and she pushed it back behind her ear. I did not take her hand, only because Jared had not let go. I did not bother to tell her that people called me Nate, that my mother only ever called me Nathan when I was in trouble; my shivering would have become noticeable if I had opened my mouth, they would have heard my teeth bang together.
Being greeted as his brother was something he always did, but hearing it still brought a smile to my face. It made our bond feel real to me, like we were brothers. I still wish I had returned it as often as he did.
"I am Marian Barnes," she replied, her eyes only on Jared. I was invisible in that moment; I would not have minded so much if I weren't so cold. The reminder had me dropping my smile instantly.
I cleared my throat, surprised to see that I had actually gotten his attention. "If you are okay here, I am going to prepare for dinner."
It wasn't a lie, even if it wasn't what I had intended to say, and Jared nodded, watching me apologetically. I felt horrible, despite not saying a single harsh word; I didn't want him to feel as though he had to follow me, I didn't want to stop him from enjoying himself.
"Yes, we're going to dinner," he told her. "Would you care to join us?"
Her smile grew wider, lighting up her face until her brown eyes seemed to sparkle - although, looking back, it could have been the lights on deck - and making her look even prettier than before. She said yes, her want for fresh air forgotten, and he held out his arm for her to take. They talked amongst themselves, about what, I do not know; I was forgotten, but once we were indoors and I was able to warm myself properly, I was perfectly content to walk behind them until we reached the corridor that would take us to our rooms.
"I'll find you," he promised her and kissed her hand, then we watched her walk away.
The moment she turned the corner, leaving our line of sight, Jared clapped his hand on my shoulder and guided the way back.
"I love this ship, Nate." He laughed. He did not let go of me until we'd stepped inside our room. We grabbed our backs and entered our bedrooms. I dressed quickly, picking a new outfit that Lady Nott had had tailored to fit me for this trip. It was a tuxedo - trousers, a shirt, a waistcoat and a coat - soft silks that molded my body perfectly. I finished the outfit with a white bow tie, Jared would help tie that.
It was what one would expect to wear to a formal dinner and I certainly looked the part of a wealthy passenger. I felt like a fraud. At home, people knew me and my background, knew that I was considered family to the Notts but not one. They did not treat me badly, but there was a silent agreement that I was from a different world, not just in social class but in blood status as well, being a Halfblood.
There was no blood status among Muggles, but social class was important and I was essentially lying.
"Are you ready, Nate?" Jared asked as he stepped into my room. I gestured to my tie and he fixed it for me. "Perfect," he grinned, proud of his work.
"I don't know about this," I confided in him quietly. "I don't fit in here."
"These clothes were a going away present, they are not who you are. They do not mean you have to pretend," Jared promised me, understanding my hesitation immediately. "It is only dinner, Nate. We will not see these people in a few days, so if they do not like you we will just leave."
"Where will we eat?" I asked with a frown, though the corners of my mouth threatened to curl upwards and he noticed. He succeeded in reassuring me; I was grateful and he was proud.
"I have my ways," he replied with a wink. "We should go. Miss Marian is waiting for me."
"I won't keep you. But next time, you talk to her outside, I am going to leave you," I said, as though I was serious. We both knew that I wouldn't.
April 10th, 1912.
We found Marian Barnes in a small group close to the staircase that led to dinner. She was in a similar dress, black this time, and her hair was tied up, keeping everything in place. She had her arm hooked through and older man's, loosely holding onto his elbow. Jared looked confused for a moment, his eyes narrowed just so, but said nothing. He wasn't the type to jump to conclusions and if you looked close enough, you could see the resemblance between them; both had the same dark hair and brown eyes.
Marian saw us when she turned slightly and she gave Jared that same wide smile. He couldn't help but return it.
"Father, these are the men I was telling you about," she said once we reached the bottom of the stairs. "Father, this is Jared and Nathan Nott. Jared, Nathan, this is my father, Edward Barnes."
"A pleasure, Sir," Jared replied, holding out a hand to shake. I did the same a moment later. I ignored the feeling building in my stomach that came with the name she gave me.
He watched us for a moment before asking about our family. Despite being a Muggle, it wasn't a surprise that he knew the name; the estate the Notts own was once part of a magical village, but over time the wizards left and the Muggles came. Nott Manor stayed. The name may have been all he knew, but it was all he needed; with estates come land and money.
Marian moved to take Jared's arm while he and her father talked; he spoke honestly, happy to talk about his parents, his brother, of my mother and I. I could tell that Mr. Barnes didn't care for me as much once he knew, but it didn't bother me, and Marian was almost fascinated by the fact that we were so close. At the dinner table, she sat between us. We kept to our own group, the three of us, preferring to talk about childhood memories and what we would do in New York, then listen to politics. It was only when they turned the conversation to the ship that I made the decision to join in.
"We're in safe hands on board the Titanic," an older man, early fifties if I had to guess, boasted, banging his hand against the table. "Large, luxurious and unsinkable."
"You believe this is unsinkable?" I asked, not truly realizing that I had spoken my thoughts until everyone was staring at me.
"You do not, boy?" the man said back, his eyes boring into me from across the table.
Jared whispered to me to let the matter go, but being called a 'boy', having the insinuation that I couldn't possibly know what I was talking about due to my age thrown at me, broke through all desires to be polite and keep quiet.
"No, I do not," I replied, countering his words calmly. "I agree that it's size and luxury make it an impressive ship, but it is a ship like any other, made of some type of metal, is it not? Metal is not unbreakable and the icebergs are stronger than you may assume. Titanic is not unsinkable, but I have faith in the crew; they'll make the journey as safe as possible."
No one spoke for a while and once I calmed, I knew that I had overstepped some sort of line. I couldn't bring myself to feel guilty, though; they were putting more faith in the machine than in the people who had to maintain it, which scared me a little. I also needed to prove that I was able to hold my own, like a man, whether it brought positive or negative consequences.
Eventually, Jared chuckled awkwardly and addressed the group. "Nate is somewhat superstitious, he tends to believe that if you say something, the opposite will happen. But he's quite right, don't you think? The crew will keep us safe."
"Quite," Mr. Barnes murmured and everyone went back to their own conversations; the men went to politics, the women went to fashion, we went back to family.
"Nate tells amazing stories," Jared said. "Anthony is fascinated by them."
"Anthony is your youngest brother," Marian reminded herself, including me, knowing that was three months younger than Jared. We nodded. "You call him Ant."
"Because he's very small for his age," I explained.
The old man didn't look at me again. It was the only time I saw him, I never got to tell him how right I was.
A/N: It's been so long since I posted the first chapter, and for that I apologize, but I completely lost all inspiration when other ideas took over. I'm hoping this list will help bring it back, since it's only going to be four/five chapters.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please let me know what you think. :)
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