Mermaids, Part 2: Diana

Mermaids

Fandom: Rule of Rose

Summary: Diana and Jennifer are forced into a tentative partnership when the airship experiences mechanical difficulties.

Part 2: Diana

As a long time member of the upper echelon of the Red Crayon Aristocrats, Diana was not accustomed to being trod upon by anybody, let alone a miserable peon like the new girl.

Her lip curled as Jennifer continued mindlessly on her path, apparently unbothered by the prospect of collision. Her hands moved to her hips, a threatening pose she’d been working on to help better intimidate the underlings, but the foolish girl wasn’t paying mind enough to notice.

Stupid, filthy wretch. If she wrinkles my new dress, I’ll skin her alive.

Certainly she could move, but who was this creature to force anything upon her? She was the Duchess of the Red Rose — the other brats moved (ran, really, positively fled) for her. And yet here was Jennifer, as dirty and repulsive as that awful dog she kept sneaking into the orphanage and apparently only half as smart, ready to walk right over her.

This would have be corrected.

She waited, indignant disbelief turning to impatient, hungry anger (yes, Jennifer was going to suffer for this, she was going to learn a most valuable lesson) as she waited for Jennifer to plow right into her (stupid worthless slow) but before the girl could fulfill her destiny, the airship

(is safe, has been tested extensively, there is no need to worry, there is no need)

reeled hard.

Was that — normal? The airship was old, older than any of its passengers; surely these little… hiccups… happened from time to time?

Would Meg know?

She forgot about Jennifer, then, her thoughts shifting to the small girl bearing the title of Baroness. Always with her nose in a book. Even if she didn’t know, she would know where to look.

The ship lurched again, violently this time.

Diana stumbled sideways and lost her balance, crashing into the railing. She turned her attention to the frigid isolation of the night sky, where they hung suspended among the stars.

Something’s wrong.

Her stomach felt backwards somehow, small and tight and full of tiny fluttering wings.

Something was very wrong, indeed.

“Diana?” Jennifer’s voice sounded strange in the new calm that had filled the soundless, empty hall. “Are you okay?”

Diana tore her gaze away from the window and turned in the direction where Jennifer had been standing before the incident.

Not there.

“Diana?”

Diana gasped when she felt something brush lightly against her.

“Are you mad?” She hissed, snatching her hand away. She refused to allow Jennifer to comfort her, to witness any weakness or vulnerability that she herself wasn’t the cause of. Her fear began to abate as the ship stabilized and resumed its lazy, aimless pace. An eerie tranquility began to settle over the hallway, and Diana was quick to compose herself.

“What are you doing up here in the First Class Guest Sector?” She demanded, trying vainly to smooth her dress. Upon further examination, she discovered a small tear under the arm where she’d hit the rail. The sight of it made her want to scream. She’d waited so long for that frail little ninny Clara to outgrow it, and now this. “You don’t belong here.”

“I was… I was looking for a butterfly,” Jennifer said. Pitiful. Just pitiful.

“Well, there’s nothing up here but me,” she snapped. She turned back to the window, the endless black sea that enveloped them seeming both terrible and exciting, now that the ship was back on good behavior. “Go look in the cargo bay or somewhere else. I don’t have time to babysit you right now.”

“Have you found one yet?” Jennifer persisted, hovering at Diana’s side. Her own wide, green eyes were fixed on the dark sky, her face pale and gray with naked fear. Diana couldn’t stand the sight of her.

“Yes, of course,” Diana lied. “Not everyone in this forsaken place has difficulty with simple tasks, like you.”

Jennifer’s little rosebud mouth turned down at the corners. Not that there was anything particularly unusual about that, either. Jennifer rarely smiled anymore.

Why can’t she just go bother Eleanor or something? Can’t she see I’m busy?

Why was Jennifer so determined to be irritating? Diana sighed. Everything had changed once she’d arrived, and none of it had gotten any better. Chaos seemed to follow Jennifer wherever she went and infected everyone she came across.

As if to prove Diana’s theory, the airship groaned loud and metallic. Diana braced herself for another tussle, but the airship remained steady, even as it complained.

“Something’s wrong,” Jennifer whispered, unwittingly echoing Diana’s thoughts from earlier.

“Yes,” Diana sniffed. “You’re here.”

Jennifer shook her head slowly, an act that incensed Diana; how dare this little nothing argue with her? Even Eleanor didn’t have the audacity to defy her.

“Listen, you –”

The airship whined and moaned again, and this time it did move, lolling onto its side, pitching the girls against the mercifully thick glass of the windows. Before either of them could get their bearings, the ship righted itself, toppling them both to the floor.

“Get off of me –” Diana began, trying to crawl out from under Jennifer without doing anymore damage to her dress or her dignity. “Honestly, Jennifer, you’re –”

“Attention, everyone, this is your Captain speaking.”

Both Duchess and peon froze, still tangled together in a heap on the floor.

“We seem to be experiencing some technical difficulties at the moment, but please remain calm.”

“Who is that?” Jennifer asked, but Diana could only shake her head wordlessly. She’d never heard that voice before in her life.

“However, the airship will be on lock down until further notice. Thank you for your cooperation.”

“Lock down?” Jennifer repeated, helplessly. Again, Diana didn’t have to answer; a loud click told them all they needed to know about their situation.

They were locked in the First Class Guest Sector.

Alone.

Together.

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