(1940-07-27) Three by the Sea: Part II
Details for Three by the Sea: Part II
Summary: Amber, Alicia and Sierra's day by the sea is interrupted by a startling turn of events when a Muggle dogfight occurs offshore.
Date: 1940/07/27
Location: Hampshire Coastline
Related: Three By the Sea: Part I

After a lovely cruise down the river from the Rowle estate, Amber, her younger sister Alicia and her friend, Sierra have dropped anchor just off a small spit of land on the coast. The Selkie bobs gaily, held in place by her taught anchor line, and to the south beyond her, there is nothing but the vast blue expanse of ocean. The inland shoreline is roughly littered with pale rocks and boulders that have tumbled down over the ages from the low cliff face behind them. The bright noontime sunlight casts interesting shadows over the coarse landscape, and the air fills with the persistent calls of shorebirds from far and near.
The girls have enjoyed a lovely dip in the deliciously cool ocean; and, as Sierra suggested earlier, it was indeed a good way to work up an appetite. "Anyone else hungry?" Amber asks abruptly, calling out over the splashing waves.

"Starving," Sierra responds - the earlier encounter with the plane driven from her mind by having a fun, splashing, and frolicking time with the other two girls. "Can we get the food to the shore - or are we eating on the boat?" she asks - starting towards the boat either way with smooth, confident strokes, her head held above the water.

Alicia popped out of the water, taking a moment to blink the water from her eyes as she shook her hair out. Alicia was wearing a one-piece swimsuit she made sure to have ready when she knew they were going boating. "I suppose I could eat something," Alicia affirmed in her own little way as she started to doggy-paddle back towards the boat, "I don't know if we could get our food to the shore or not. What say you, Captain?"

Hefting herself back onto the Selkie with a little effort, Amber wobbles a bit unsteadily on her feet. Whenever one has been in the water for a time, gravity has a strange effect. In answer to the girls' questions, she pauses briefly with her hands akimbo as she thinks. Then, the idea comes to her: "I say! We can use the life preserver! You girls stay down there and I'll hand things down. We'll manage."
Scurrying along the deck, Amber quickly fetches the life ring and tosses it down to Sierra and Alicia. It takes quite a bit of finagling on everyone's part to manage the operation, but she is soon trying her best to hand the large, heavy hamper down to the other two in the water. This might not be the wisest course of action, but hey - this is an adventure.

Sierra holds onto the life preserver with one hand, treading water while Amber passes down the basket. She eyes the basket as it's coming down - carefully position the ring directly beneath it. "I hope the basket balanced well!" she calls up to her friend, as its weight starts to settle onto the ring. She uses both hands to keep it steady, as she treads water only with her legs now. It's a rather precarious position. "…we're going to have to get this past the surf, you realize!"

Alicia clicked her tongue quietly. Sometimes one wished one could be an adult just so she could use levitation spells for this situation. Still, Alicia managed to get hold of the preserver and hold it in place, as well as the basket. "How much were you expecting us to eat?!" Alicia commented, half-jokingly.

"I know!" Amber exclaims in response to Sierra's remark. "But what's the fun in taking the easy way? No risk - no gain!" And no fun, apparently, from her point of view.
The girl jumps from the deck and splashes back into the water again to join the others as quickly as possible. Swimming over, she grabs hold of an empty space on the make-shift raft with one hand and they begin their perilous journey to the craggy shore.
"Wasn't my doing!" Amber objects, grinning. "You know how cook is. She heard we were going out for the day, and she decided to pack us down with food enough for an army.

The going is slow, and the surf makes things very difficult for the girls as they haul their precious cargo inland. At one point, a larger wave shoves them from behind toward the shallows, seemingly telling the trio to hurry up and get out of the way.

"I should have brou-" Sierra beings - but ends up spluttering as some water splashes into her mouth. She spits it out before continuing, "My broom." But she's left it back at the Rowle's home. After all - brooms were too risky here, where Muggle eyes could see. With Amber in the water - keeping the basket steady was easier. Both of the older girls were very capable swimmers, and confident in the water. She keeps two hands on the basket - and grabs a firm hold of it as her feet started to find purchase beneath her, and the surf began to grow exponentially rougher. "I think we've got it!" she declares hopefully.

Alicia wished she had her broom as well, but for different reasons. Zipping over the water on broom would have been simply marvelous, even for a somewhat skittish bookworm like Alicia. "I sure hope so," Alicia chimed in after Sierra. Still, Alicia put her all into helping move their makeshift transport, ready to take a big breather once they finally get to shore.

Fortunately for all concerned - and the picnic basket - they finally reach the shore. It was a tiring task, but well worthwhile. There is something to be said for being forced to use one's head, rather than magic to sort out a situation. Equally fortunate is the fact that the sun has swung around in such a way as to cast shadows from the cliff face and onto the shore in places. They are able to find a likely spot in short order that is protected from the sun, and slightly cooler. Now, they can begin to unpack their lunch.
A veritable banquet lays inside the wicker basket. Everything from cold ham, sausage rolls, boiled eggs, pickles and fresh fruit, to pastries, custard tarts and cold ginger beer are to be found within. And, seeing as how cook managed to wrap things so nicely, scarcely any seawater has managed to wet anything substantially.
Amber helps to sort out the plates, cutlery and so forth before taking her own share and perching happily atop a flat rock to eat.

Sierra settles in beside her friend - and starts to eat with a healthy appetite, starting with some of the pastries, but leaving them half-finished as her attention shifts to the pickles and sausage rolls. "I'm going to have to see if your cook'll give me some pointers," Sierra remarks between mouthfuls. "Think I could coax her away - and into life in a wagon?" she asks, before letting out a laugh. It's not a likely prospect.

Alicia had took a few moments to catch her breath when she got onto the shore. If she wasn't hungry before, she sure was now. Alicia got into a cross-legged position and sat and ate. "Maybe if we tell her it's just for a weekend," Alicia said in a conspiring tone in between eating and dabbing her lips with her napkin. Prim and proper, as always. "At least the basket will be easier to cart back later," Alicia observed.

Amber giggles, deeply amused at the idea of tricking the poor Cook into joining up with the traveler's caravan for a brief stint. Poor woman. She's been with the family since before Amber can remember, and has put up with the antics of the Rowle children for years. She must have the patience of a saint.
"I dunno," she says between mouthfuls, "Maybe. Or we can just spend a day in the kitchen this week getting underfoot…"
The girl's words trail off unexpectedly. That strange buzzing sound fills the sky again. At first, the sound is faint and sporadic, occasionally drifting in and out on the wind. But, all too soon, it grows closer and clearer until a great black shadow races over the water offshore, near to the girls. The shadow is quickly followed by the plane that cast it.
"What the…" Amber goes wide-eyed and jumps to her feet, startled by the too-close-for-comfort spectacle. "He's flying the shoreline!"

What's even more startling is the fact that there seem to be engines filling the sky from all directions, echoing against the rock face and coming closer all the time.

"This… isn't good," Sierra remarks, her eyes going to the boat off the shore. Nothing for it, though. They'd have to leave it there. "Com'on - maybe we should get closer to the cliffs for cover," she urges the other girls, leaving her food where it is as she climbs to her feet. Her hand goes into the pocket of her clothes to grip her wand as she retreats. If those planes drop anything… "Com'on, Alicia," she says tensely. After all - Amber can look after herself, but the younger girl… well, she'd only had a year of Hogwarts, yet!

Alicia looks around a touch confused. "Oh, the Muggle flying things," Alicia says. At first she doesn't seem too concerned… until she hears more and more noise and realizes the tense mood from those more learned in the Muggle situation than she. Alicia rose to her feet and followed after Sierra, assuming Amber would join them. "They aren't going to bother /us/, are they?" Alicia asked, concerned as she started to look left and right worriedly.

"I don't know," Amber answers her sister's question with a genuine hint of fear in her voice. Her eyes dart to the Selkie: "My boat!" She cries in dismay. If anything happens to her, she'll… she'll throw a bloody rock at the next plane that flies that close again, that's what!
Clenching her fists, the dark-haired girl suffers a moment of indecision before following Sierra's lead. They have to be responsible for Alicia's sake; and, her sister is worth more than any old boat.

Suddenly, it's as though the sky has become swarmed with hornets - great, ugly hornets with bulls-eyes and stripes painted on. Most appear from behind the veil of deceptive candy-floss clouds, while the rest roar toward them from inland. Some fly low, while others climb higher - and still others move into formations.

As the girls seek shelter, a new sound faintly punctures the air, high above the ocean: Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat!

"What is that?" Amber cries. At that moment, by sheer chance, she spots a dark patch behind a boulder. "There's a cave, Sierra! Run!"

"Oh - wow," Sierra breathes, as the RAF planes also roar into view. It's enough to cause her to pause in her tracks, looking up at the dog fight - only to have the sound of her own name break the temporary trance. Right! They have a first year to look after! "Alicia, get under cover!" she urges. She draws her wand now, but keeps it pointed down at the ground, as she runs for the cave - keeping Alicia ahead of her and glancing over her shoulder at times at the planes, and the boat.

Alicia was looking up at the sky as she moved ahead of Sierra. The loud and strange noise caused Alicia to jump a little. She did not need to be told twice to get to cover. Alicia holds her hands over her head — not knowing that such a cover would be useless against bullets — and makes a mad dash for the cave. There truly is no rest for her today! "Oh, why today!" Alicia whined as she ran.

Into the cold, clammy interior of the cave, the three girls dive. It is dark inside - dark, damp and chilly enough that one might even see their own breath if the lighting were better. They are safe enough within the mouth of the tide-carved cavern, thankfully; and their position affords them a view of the Selkie, still carelessly bobbing in the waves, along with the all-out battle taking place in the sky.
Gripping Sierra's arm, Amber asks fearfully: "What's going on? What are they doing?" She really doesn't know, and she's scared.

From inside the cave, Sierra can see bullets striking the ocean - some splashing into the water about twelve yards offshore. She lets out a shudder. "It's the British planes, and the Germans," she explains. "The ones with the round marks on their wings - they're ours. The Germans are- umm. Well, they've been sinking ships in the channel." She hastens to add, "But there's no reason they'd go after a boat like the Selkie! There's no sense to it! They want cargo ships, and bigger passenger ships, and the like! Ships that move under engines, and carry lots of things! Not little pleasure boats."

Alicia held herself and shivered a little in the chilly air. "W-Well why are they fighting here?" Alicia asked, trying her best to stay collected and logical even though she is absolutely horrified of the idea of a muggle battle going on above their very heads. She chewed her lip for a bit before looking at Sierra and whispering, "They aren't going to find us, are they?"

Amber sees the bullets kick up the water, too. Despite their distance, she's horrified. She doesn't need to understand the mechanics of what's happening outside to know that they could be in danger if they were outside. Thank Merlin for the cavern.
If she was horrified before, Amber's feelings redouble when Sierra explains the German tactics. However, a look of relief washes over her upon hearing that a little thimble like the Selkie would be of no interest. "N-no, I don't think they can find us here." She answers Alicia, unnerved by the roaring engines and rattling gunfire echoing ominously inside of the cave. "Surely they can't."

Of course, the Germans pay no mind to the Selkie. Any gunfire that finds purchase in the water below is merely the result of missed shots directed at the RAF. Planes swoop terrifyingly low over the ocean waves, far too near the shore for comfort. The acrobatics performed by the pilots are both mesmerizing and alarming; and, within five minutes or so, the German planes appear to be driven back from the mainland and over the ocean. Black smoke trails begin to cross the skies as various aeroplanes take damage.

"It's sort of like watching dragons fight. At least, how I imagine it'd be…" Amber says tensely.

Alicia held herself and shivered a little in the chilly air. "W-Well why are they fighting here?" Alicia asked, trying her best to stay collected and logical even though she is absolutely horrified of the idea of a muggle battle going on so close at hand. She chewed her lip for a bit before looking at Sierra and whispering, "They aren't going to find us, are they?"

"They're going too fast - and they're too big to get in our tiny cave," Sierra says with as much reassurance as she can muster. Just wait until she tells Colton about this one. "Besides - they wouldn't be interested in us, even if they could see us." That wouldn't stop them from getting injured by mistake, though. As she watches the fight, she tries to go over any spells that might be able to help them. They could use the Bubblehead charm if the planes dropped any gas - but why would they on an empty beach? "Do you think deflection can stop a bullet?" she asks uncertainly.

Alicia nodded her head slowly. "Yes. Just like dragons fighting…" Alicia said before adding, under her breath, "except hopefully they don't think to eat us." Alicia had taken to absent mindedly running a hand through her hair, as if trying to reassure herself. Alicia turned to look down the cave, trying to let her eyes adjust to see what else is around, or maybe if there's a safer place. "It's so close to our home, though," Alicia grumbled quietly to herself.

"They haven't actually come inland, though," Amber replies nervously, placing a reassuring hand on her sister's shoulder. "The German ones never came past the shore. Ours… they're driving them back now." An uneasy little smile shows for a fleeting second at this remark. She may not understand the dynamics of the situation, but it's easy to tell that the "good guys" are winning.
The planes continue to move further out over the channel, and Amber says to Sierra: "Hopefully we won't have to find out. I think it'll be safe, soon."

"Yeah, hopefully," Sierra agrees. But she keeps her wand in her hand, anyways. Abruptly, she cups her hand to her mouth and shouts, "GET 'EM, BOYS!" Can they hear her over the roar of their engines? Certainly not. But the action makes her feel a bit better. "SHOOT 'EM DOWN!"

Alicia took a deep breath and tried to calm down as her older sister assured her. Alicia was a touch gullible, some would say more than a touch, and decided to trust Amber's word on that one. It was better than the alternative. "D-Don't yell!" Alicia hissed at Sierra, waving her hands in a 'stop' motion, "We're supposed to be laying low!"

Without thinking, Amber takes a cue from Sierra and yells weakly: "Yeah! Knock 'em outta the sky!" She's not accustomed to that sort of enthusiasm and shouting. Clearly, she needs more exposure to Quidditch.
Alicia's admonishment causes Amber to slap her hand over her mouth. She hadn't thought of that. However, upon doing so, her eyes catch sight of something rather dreadful. Almost as if on cue from their shouting, the wing of a German plane bursts into flames mid-air and spirals out of control. It plummets, doubling back toward the land until crashing into the ocean. The impact causes a plume of water and smoke to rise from the waves, a hundred or so feet from the spit of land they rounded earlier to reach the cove.

"Did we do that?" Amber asks in a tiny voice.

"No - they can't hear us!" Sierra answers - she's at the very mouth of the cave no - peering out into the light, and up at the planes. "Did it have the circles or the crosses?" she asks urgently. "Oh, hell, is there a RAF boy in the water?" Could they go out there with their boat and check? Not until the planes are gone, surely.

Alicia let out a yelp when she saw the plane burst into flames. "O-Oh… that looks bad," Alicia said as she noticed Sierra was creeping close to the exit. "Sierra!" Alicia hissed quietly as she reached out a hand, although it was more of a gesture as she just out of reach to try and snatch Sierra back and probably lacked the strength to do so, "You're going to get hurt if you go out too far!"

Also panicked by Sierra's sudden thrust into the sunlight, Amber reaches out to grab her friend and tug at her arm to pull her back into the cave: "It wasn't ours! I saw it - it was the bars. I promise." She wouldn't just say it to make her come back. The realization that a man may well have died out there in the water begins to come over her. "It was the other side… he's dead. Isn't he?" She asks, suddenly backing up into the darkness again and hugging her arms around herself. "How horrible…"
From that moment on, the dogfight seems to do nothing but continue to drift out to sea, leaving the shoreline in eerie silence afterward.

"You're sure?" Sierra asks urgently, reluctantly letting Amber draw her back into the cave - her eyes scanning the sky for the sign of a chute. "…Yes. Probably dead," she says - though she doesn't sound completely convinced. "And if it was a German - better that way. As much as I hate to say it. But if our RAF boys don't keep this island safe… we'll have German boots on the ground."

Alicia let out a little sigh of relief as Sierra was being brought back into the cave and the fighting was drifting away. Alicia went rather quiet after hearing that someone had died. She sort of busied herself looking down at her feet and chewing her lip. The whole thing was quite awful in the eyes of the young girl.

The coast - quite literally - appears to be clear. And soon, it seems that the girls will be safe to leave their shelter. Anxious to see about the Selkie, Amber is in a hurry to leave. However, much to her surprise, the puttering sound of a motorboat begins to draw near. No, there are several motors!
"You hear that?" She asks pensively of the other girls.

It isn't long before the reason becomes clear. Other locals nearby must have surely witnessed the battle off the shore, and the crash of the plane. Now, with the fighting done, several fishermen are running their boats out into the water to search near the place where wreckage might be found. Of the three boats that appear around the spit of land, the smallest takes a sharp turn and enters the cove. The man aboard spots The Selkie, seemingly abandoned. "Ahoy, Selkie!" He calls out, sounding concerned.

"Ahoy!" Amber calls out reflexively, now waving her arm and running into view.

Sierra shoves her wand back into her pocket as Muggle boats arrive on the scene - and sticks close to her pureblooded friend as she runs out to greet the fishermen. "Ahoy!" she echoes as well - her gaze going to the boat, and then to some of the marks on the sand from the stray bullets - then back to the boat once again. "A German went down!" she calls out. "Were all of our aeroplanes alright?"

Alicia slowly emerged from the cave, but sheepishly hung back near the entrance. Alicia was relieved some to see other people, local people. "Ahoy," Alicia let out, although her voice was much less loud. She was still looking around suspiciously, as if expecting planes to come back at any moment. "Well the boat is still up," Alicia said as an aside.

"We'll know when all the noses are counted as the boys come home." The elderly man calls back. The tide has become rather deep during their time in hiding, and the much smaller boat is able to draw close to the shallows near the shore. "Do you require any assistance? We found your vessel and feared the owner might be a casualty. But, you all seem to be hale and hardy." He observes.
Sierra may well be the only one of the trio to understand that this man must be a member of what is known as the Home Guard. A veteran of The Great War, judging by his old fashioned uniform.

"Oh, yes sir, please. We'd appreciate it if you could take us back to our boat so we can get home!" Amber replies, deeply relieved.

"Major Phineas Carpenter, late of his majesty's service." He introduces himself. "And glad to be of service to you all. However," he frowns, "It's bad business for three young girls messing about on a boat by themselves. Don't you have any guardian with you?"

"Oh, well, Amber is a very capable sailor, sir," Sierra answers - an Irish accent coloring her voice as it always does, as she hurriedly shoves things back into the basket and hefts it. "And I'm quite used to looking after myself. But we better get Alicia back!" She glances back towards the other girl, adding encouragingly, "It's alright now, Alicia. Honest! Our boys chased them off and they won't be back soon!"

Alicia forced herself to smile a little, just to show that everything is okay. "Yeah… I think going home is a good idea," Alicia said with a sage nod as she moved to help Sierra with the basket — although Sierra mostly had it on her own, which meant Alicia mostly watched her work. The youngest girl decided to let Amber talk to the sailors and answer their questions. They seemed to speak the same lingo.

The Major - although a genuinely kind man - is of the old school of thought, and appalled by the notion. However, he assists them into his smaller boat like a gentleman; and, once they are settled in, they back out into the water, and spin the prow toward The Selkie.
Drawing the boat alongside, the Major cuts the engine and holds her steady beside the bigger boat. Once more, with his kindly assistance, they board their own beautiful boat. The last thing (of course) is the picnic basket, which he hands up to them with a shake of his head. "I dare say your father won't stand for any more jaunts like this down to the sea. Keep inland, m'dears. At least till the Jerries aren't fighting over the coast like they have been these last couple of weeks." He admonishes them, sternly.
For her part, Amber appears to be rather quiet and humbled; and, she casts a shame-faced glance at Sierra and Alicia before murmuring a simple: "Yes, sir,” in reply.

"Sorry to cause you any trouble, sir," Sierra adds in, after they heft the basket up into place. "And thank you for the ride," she adds. Her gaze drifts away for a moment - back in the direction the planes had gone - then she looks to Amber for commands. "How do I do these sails again?" she asks her friend in a lowered voice.

Alicia also offered a bow and a little apology, before lifting a hand to wave goodbye at the sailors. Although she knows Amber and possibly Sierra weren't enthused by being talked down to, Alicia was glad to see some adults around. It was reassuring. The youngest girl went back to the anchor and took up her post again. "I'm just glad one of those plane things didn't fall on us," Alicia said. She was going to have a lot to write about in her diary that night.

"Well, I'll be dashed," the Major exclaims, abruptly. Shouts have risen from beyond the little cove where the other boats have gathered. "By the looks of things, our fallen Jerry is a live one." He announces, staring off at the commotion. And, indeed, it would seem that an exceptionally soggy German pilot has been fished out of the brine - miraculously alive - but now a prisoner of the crown.
Pausing, the old gentleman salutes the girls and adds: "No trouble at all. But, mind what I told you! Keep off the coast until this fighting blows over." He admonishes once more. Then, firing up his engine and speeding away to join the other vessels.

"Here, I'll show you," Amber answers Sierra, watching the men absently as the Major speeds away. To her sister, she replies: "Me, too… Oh, Alicia, start hauling up our anchor. It's just the crank there." A pause, and the girl begins sorting out the ropes. They all will have a great deal to think about, tonight.
"Well," Amber adds at length, finally managing a smile, "No need to be gloomy. We had an adventure, alright. I said we would! We're all in one piece, the Selkie is safe, our boys pushed back the Germans, and the pilot… Nobody got killed, after all."

"I'll have to tell Colton all about this," Sierra agrees, as she's tying off a rope. "And Finley'll curse that he wasn't here!" She rolls her eyes and laughs. "I'll feel a bit better if we get up that river, though."

Alicia blinked a bit as they fished out a pilot. How could someone be alive after all of that? Suddenly, falling from a broom seemed much less daunting. Alicia shook herself back to reality and started working on the anchor, pulling it back up. "Nobody got killed," Alicia agreed quietly as she sat down and let out a loud sigh, one of those 'it's been a long day' sighs.

The trip back up the river is an uneventful one, and the girls arrive safely at the dock by evening. Naturally, they cannot avoid telling the tale of the day.
Knowing full well that she'll receive pretty stiff consequences for taking The Selkie much further than she was given permission to do, Amber admits her disobedience. The punishment is harsh, but well-deserved. No sailing on the Selkie for a month; and, no more trips to the shore until further notice. It is a lesson learned in a big way. The remainder of Sierra's visit to the Rowles will be confined to the safety of the estate.

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