A/N: This is an excerpt from a story I'm writing, but I'm pretty sure it can hold it's own. All you have to know, really, is that the three characters mentioned are pirates/sailors around the late 18th century. Both Astrid and Roland are British, and Hernan, obviously, is a Spaniard. That's about it. I hope you like it!

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She Loves Him

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Roland's POV

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Hernán and Astrid lie beside each other on the maintop, her body turned towards his and he facing the cloudless night sky. His hands are folded across his chest as he stares off into the stars while Astrid squeaks and talks and giggles by his right ear. I wonder if he hears her or not, especially since she is so close to him. He never fails to respond or react to her silly babblings, but the focus of his eyes clearly isn't her. I'd call that rude if I didn't know any better, but I do. Hernán will not look at her because he doesn't have to. He knows what she looks like and he knows she's there, right beside him, comforted so easily in her insecure body every time he smiles or chuckles at a comment she's made. He knows that he loves her—as a friend. That's what makes him appear so nonchalant and at ease. What he doesn't know is that my sister is absolutely and unconditionally smitten by him. That's why she won't take her big blue eyes away from his fine, freckled face. In the possibility that he may never love her back, Astrid has already made up for that possible loss every time she looks at him. It will make her glad to possess such trivial memories of him, even if the fondness will never be returned.

Astrid makes a joke that causes the Spaniard to sputter out a laugh, and while he's distracted with giddy laughter, she reaches over (unable to resist) and grabs his hand. His laughter instantly ebbs when he feels her fingers entwined with his, and he must (he has no choice now) finally return her deep, thoughtful stare.

He looks at her gently, touched yet vaguely disturbed by her open act of affection. She leans in closer to him, misinterpreting the softness in his light brown eyes for something else, something that I'm not sure he wants or is ready for.

"Qué estás haciendo?" he asks her, slowly revealing his confusion in a calm, but serious tone.

Astrid is unprepared for his question. She thought her love was welcome, and her mouth works to respond quickly without seeming flustered.

"No sé," she answers weakly, using his native tongue instead of her own. She is infatuated with every aspect of him, even his language.

Her eyes move south, any hint or pain of rejection in her wide blue orbs hidden under apologetic eyelids. She cannot look at Hernán's countenance any longer lest she find a clear expression of the absence of love he holds for her.

Hernán observes her for a moment, reading her embarrassment all too well, but his furrowed eyebrows ease during his scrutiny. I'm surprised that he is still holding her hand.

"If your hands were cold, you could have told me," he says blithely, shifting in English—the tongue of the girl who so obviously cannot live without him, even as a friend.

He brings her hand close to his lips, blowing a warm breath onto her white skin before lightly kissing the back of her quivering palm. Astrid is shaking. I don't think she has ever been so nervous in her life, so unsure of herself; and my dear sister has faced many encounters, but she was lucky in her meetings with men. Many became besotted with her only after a few interactions, but never—never—has Astrid had to confront a man whom she had loved first and whose actions portrayed his affections as uncertain: are they platonic or amorous?

She smiles timidly, grateful and accepting of the kiss, but unsure about whether or not she should be embarrassed or elated by it; but it's clear that she no longer feels ashamed of showing her love. She soon has her head resting against Hernán's shoulder, and he has moved his arm to hold lightly, yet securely, to her waist, her hand resting over his.

Maybe he does love her. Maybe he always had his eyes looking at the stars because he was just waiting; he wanted it, maybe, but he understood the importance of taking his time and to be sure of himself before he committed to something he would never dare break or hurt. But Astrid, impatient girl, couldn't waste another moment making silly wishes on silly stars. The greatest source of light and happiness in her life was already lying down beside her; all she had to do was reach out and seize it, and she did that the moment she grabbed Hernán's hand.

Her eyelashes bat upwards as she looks up at him, and he angles his head down to the side to give her his attention, his chin nearly resting atop her messy brown curls. She smiles as her eyes dart toward my direction, and she says something to Hernán, something so soft that I can't hear what she's saying, but the Spaniard's ensuing laughter moves me to believe that she had mentioned me in some way.Silly Roland, she must think. Silly brother always watching me. Always making sure I don't make a bad choice.

And she's right. Although I've called her stupid and dubbed her thick in the skull, she knows my manner too well, and I'll tell her this:Astrid, this is the last man you will be with. And no, you are not making a bad choice. In fact, I think you're making the best decision you've ever made in your life.

I smile in her direction, making a slight tip of my hat to her to convey my approval of whatever the hell she thinks I think she's doing. She only giggles and takes further comfort in the arms of her Dago.

They do love each other. They do love each other despite their insistence on their relationship being simply friendship. But everyone on the bloody ship knows that's not true. We've all been waiting for the day those two make it official. The ironic thing is that they already have. They just won't admit it aloud. But I don't think they need to exchange those apparent proclamations. There is absolutely no need, and they'd be wasting their breath. There are more productive ways to manifest their admiration; they know that. That's why they're lying snug together on the maintop, whispering endearments to each other under the sparkling night sky.