‘There Was A Wealthy Merchant.’
By Dave Turner.
Disclaimer: I do not own BtVS or the song that this fic is based around. I write these stories for fun not profit.
Crossover: None, almost a song fic but not. Inspired by a folk song.
Spelling and Grammar: Written in glorious English-English! English idioms are used through-out this fic. Spelling and grammar is English.
Timeline: Set in 1588.
Words: Many and various.
Summary: Buffy was not the first Slayer who wanted a normal life.
‘There Was A Wealthy Merchant.’By Dave Turner.London, May, 1588.There was a wealthy merchant,
In London he did dwell.
He had a beautiful daughter,
The truth to you I’ll tell.
The serving wench picked her way along the narrow alleyway by the light of a guttering lantern. It was late and the girl should have been home safe in bed hours ago, however, the sailors in port preparing to face the Spanish fleet wanted more beer. So, she’d had to work later than she normally did.
Lifting the lantern high with one hand and hitching up her skirts with the other, she tried to avoid the worst of the filth that covered the cobbles making them slick and slippery. She never noticed the shadow move until the man stood in front of her. The girl screamed in terror as she saw the man’s distorted face, yellow eyes and sharp fangs. She dropped her lantern then fell to her knees to pray and beg for mercy.
The man laughed at her and moved towards where she knelt, the moonlight glinted off his fangs; his fine clothes all besmirched with grave dirt, he stank of corruption and death. He grabbed hold of the girl’s shoulders to pull her to her feet and bring his fangs in reach of her neck. Before he could fore-fill his evil plan there was a soft ‘twang’ from further down the alley.
The Vampire looked down in surprise at the cloth-yard-shaft that’d sprouted from his chest. As if by magic the Vampire turned to dust, still with a look of surprise on his evil countenance, and settled on the ground at the girl’s feet.
“Well done Maggie!” cried a woman’s voice from out of the darkness, “I thought the begging and praying was particularly convincing!”
“Thank-you Miss Anne,” the girl stooped to retrieve her lantern then turned to face the young woman who stepped from out of the shadows.
The woman addressed as ‘Miss Anne’ smiled at her young helper as she leant on her longbow.
“’Tis a pity that girls aren’t allowed to work in the theatre,” Anne observed, “for I’d wager you’d make more than you can as a serving girl.”
“But Miss,” replied the girl as she relit her candle with flint and steel, “girls can work in the theatre…as long as they’re flat on their backs!”
Both young women laughed at the old joke, and the injustice of the world.
“Do you want me to walk the rest of the way home with you?” Anne asked concerned for the young girl’s safety.
“No, thank-you kindly Miss,” smiled Maggie as she turned to continue her journey, “I’ll be right.”
“Here!” called Anne as she flicked a silver threepence to the girl, “For a job well done.”
Maggie caught the coin and thrust it in the pocket of her apron before running off into the night.
Anne stood for a moment letting her new found senses roam, she could feel no other ‘Leeches’ or indeed any other Creatures of the Night, she smiled to herself.
“It’s alright Master Thomas,” she called into the stygian night, “you can come out now.”
A few yards away a shadow moved and Master Thomas Harris stepped into a shaft of moonlight.
Master Thomas was a man of middling height a little stooped from his forty or so years as a Master Tailor. His hair was grey, almost white, but he still had most of his own teeth in his mouth. He was Mistress Anne’s ‘Watcher’; he tried to insist that Anne call him ‘Master Watcher’. This, of course, made Anne want to call him Master Thomas even more. This annoyed him all the more as he had ideas about improving his position in life. He liked to think himself privy to all the decisions made by the great men who ran the Council of Watchers for the Queen; when he was in fact little more than their servant.
However, apart from these few flaws he was a kindly man who, if truth was known, loved her almost as much as her father did. He also owned a large workshop where Anne could practice her fighting skills; store her weapons and the boy’s clothes she habitually wore when she was on the hunt.
“I wish you would not consort with these low persons,” he stomped his way over to where Anne stood.
“Low persons, you say?” Anne searched in the muck for her arrow, “Maggie is a sweet girl and a useful ally. She risks her all to help us; you’d do well to follow her example.”
Thomas huffed and muttered darkly to himself about headstrong young women who just because they were The Slayer thought they could fly in the face of all that were right and proper.
Anne picked up her arrow and inspected it for damage. Since she had become the slayer she found that she could see almost as well in the dark as she did in the day. Even without the strength and the speed her slayer heritage gave her. This one ‘skill’ alone would be worth a King’s ransom in a world lit only by candles.
“What o’clock is it?” she asked unstringing her longbow.
The weapon had been made especially for her and she knew of no man who was strong enough to string it.
“Must be near midnight,” Master Thomas sniffed the night air like a hound.
“Come,” Anne called as she strode off into the dark, “we must away to your house; that I may change into my womanly clothes.”
“Mistress Anne,” Thomas followed the hurrying young woman out onto a main street that was slightly better lit by the moon, “I have known you for no more than three months, and in that time I’ve come to know when you are lying to me!”
“What gave me away?” mock concern tinged her voice as she glanced over her shoulder.
“It’s when you start to talk all courtly, like they do in one of those ‘round-house’ nasties you’re so fond of!” Thomas tried to hide the smile that played around his lips.
“Oh! Woe is me!” cried Anne placing her hand on her forehead and faining distress, “I am undone!” she giggled, “Alright you’ve caught me out…I’m off to see my darling Jack, if you must know.”
Thomas tutted and muttered as the two hurried along the street. Slayers had no business consorting with young men. It was bad enough that she still lived in her father’s house, or so he had been told.
“The Slayer should not concern herself with such things,” he lectured, “in fact she should…”
“Why?” Demanded Anne coming to a sudden stop and turning to face Thomas.
Thomas spluttered to a halt in mid lecture.
“Why?” he hesitated as he tried to gather his thoughts, “Why, you ask? Be-because it has always been thus!” he announced haughtily as if that simple statement answered everything.
Anne eyed her mentor sceptically for a moment before turning and continuing her progress toward Master Thomas’s shop; she was not convinced.0=0=0=0
Once back at Master Thomas’ workshop Anne quickly ran into the small back room she used for changing and stripped off her men’s clothes and struggled into her dress. It was not one of her good dresses, but one that she wore when helping her father with his accounts. It was a dark brown colour and made of the good wool cloth her father imported from Flanders. She brushed out her long auburn hair and called to Master Thomas.
“Master Thomas would you be so kind as to lace up my dress?” Anne eyed herself in the fragment of mirror that rested on a shelf over the table where her dress had lain.
She pinched her checks to give them some colour. The old man cautiously poked his head around the door and then walked across the room to where she stood. He picked up the laces and started to pull them tight as Anne hung on to the table. In the short time he’d been her Watcher he had become quite proficient in helping her dress after a hunt.
“What would your father say if he found out about this Jack fellow?” Thomas heaved on the laces manfully as he spoke.
“We’ll never know because he’ll never find out,” explained Anne as she felt her bodice get tighter around her chest and stomach, she waved her hand to signal Thomas to stop.
“Not from my lips!” exclaimed Thomas tying off the laces and hiding the ends down the back of Anne’s dress, “That would lead to all kinds of mischief.”
“Indeed,” Anne slipped a slim wooden stake down her bodice between her breasts, “Like, what does an old man like you do with a respectable young woman like myself at this time of night?”
“If only I was twenty years younger,” Thomas shook his head sadly.
“You’d still be too old for me!” Anne leant towards her Watcher and kissed him lightly on the check, “Until tomorrow.” There was a swish of material as she passed Thomas by and then she was gone.
Thomas put his hand to his cheek where she had kissed him, and wondered as he always did, ‘How does she vanish like that?’0=0=0=0
Twenty-one year old Jack Howard was the eldest son of Captain Henry Howard who owned and commanded ‘The Great Peter’, a merchant sloop. In more peaceful times The Great Peter would carry cargos of raw wool from England to Flanders, and then bring loads of wool cloth back to London. However, with England expecting a Spanish invasion almost daily the ship and crew had been taken into the Queen’s service and was being fitted out for war.
Jack and Anne had met as their fathers often did business together. They had quickly fallen in love and Anne was eager to marry her true love. Jack, however, said it would not be fitting to marry until he could provide for her in the manner to which she was accustomed. He saw the coming war as an opportunity for fame, and more importantly fortune. One good prize could set them up for life, Jack for all of his swaggering, sea-dog ways was at heart a responsible young man, more suited to trade than war.
Anne hid in the shadows of the stables behind the White Hart Inn. If her father ever found out what she did at night he would most likely die of shame. Anne watched closely as the man of her dreams exited from the rear of the Inn. He stood for a moment staring into the darkness; he whistled a sailor’s call.
“Jack!” She called from the darkness, and ran to his waiting arms.