Where I Belong: The Solution to Pocahontas II

by Jen South

I had finally found where I belonged.  I was going home.  And next to me
was a man who would give up what he had always wanted to be with me.  I had
seen great things.  I had helped to stop a war against my people.  I had
done things that no one in my tribe had even dreamed to do before. 
Everything I had set out to do, I had done.  My people would be proud.  My
father would be proud.  Who knew?  My name might even be remembered in the
songs of my people long after I was dead and dust.  What woman could ask
for more than what I had?
So why was my chest so achingly empty?
Rolfe stood next to me, an arm around my waist as we watched the ocean
waves slid by in continuous marching rows.   Though with my mouth I called
him "John", in my heart I could not.  "John" was a name that caused a
different face to rise in my mind.  And it was not good to think long upon
that other face.  I turned away then, not liking the turmoil that had
nothing to do with seasickness that rolled inside me.
"Are you all right, Pocahontas?"
Rolfe asked it, concerned for me.  I smiled at him, light and easy.  He did
not notice that I did not answer.  Often he treated me as if I were the
finely thin spun glass I had seen  in many of the homes in England.  Though
it was good to be cared for, I was not sure I enjoyed the delicate way he
handled me.  And what was inside me, I could not share with him anyway.  I
did not know if there was anyone I could share it with.  I did not know if
I understood it myself.
I just knew it had started as I had watched his ship leave.
His ship.  John Smith's ship.  The Rogue.  I had not seen him since I had
said my good bye.  I'm sure his preparations had kept him busy for he had
wanted to sail as soon as possible.  And there was nothing between us to
say anyway.  I was glad not to have seen him while I waited for our ship,
the George, to be ready to sail.  But I had been on the docks that day. 
Fool.  Unable to stay away.  She had looked beautiful, wide sails full with
the wind as she had practically danced from the harbor, John's masterful
hand on her wheel.  Bound for far off places and wide adventures.  He had
wished me happiness.  I knew that he had found his.
I looked at Rolfe then.  He turned, caught my glance and flashed me a
white smile.  
"Looking forward to being home again?" he asked.
"Yes" I smiled softly at him, tucking a blowing strand of hair behind me
ear.  It would be so very good to be home again.  But part of me missed
England.  So strange, so foreign, and yet so exciting too.  I belonged with
my people.  But I would always feel the tug on my heart at the mention of
"London".  Perhaps I was becoming too white.
Melancholy thoughts!  I shook my head at myself, forcing a smile to my lips
as I sat down on the deck.  Flit settled protectively onto my shoulder. 
Somehow, of all my animals friends, Flit was the one who sensed my soul. 
Percy, perfectly comfortable in the familiar surrounding of a ship's
heaving deck, pranced over to sit leaned against me while I scratched his
head.  Meeko was invisible, miserable with seasickness somewhere, hidden
away where he would be least jostled.  I felt sorry for him, but it made me
smile too.  Especially when I was sure I did not imagine the slightly smug
look on Percy's face.
Rolfe turned, leaned against the ship's railing as he faced me.  The
strange cloth bow at his throat moved in the wind like seaweed in the
"I must say, I'm looking forward to seeing Virginia again."
"Yes?" I asked and he smiled.
"Not as much as you are, I'm sure, but, yes, Pocahontas, I am.  I have
several ideas rolling around in my head that I would like the chance to try
"What will you do?" Curious, I leaned forward.  He shook his head with a
"Not yet, Pocahontas.  I want to see if it will work first."
"Then ask me.  I will tell you."
He smiled.
"It's my surprise.  Trust me.  If my ideas work they could change Jamestown
"What about my people?  What will your idea do to them?"
"Don't be so suspicious" he chided.  "Surely you know you can trust me to
keep their interests in mind."
I bowed my head in concession.
"Of course, I trust you.  I am curious.  That is all."
Again he smiled, taking my hand to draw me to my feet and into his arms.
"You must know by now that I'd never do anything to hurt you."
I nodded, rested my head against his shoulder.
"I know."
For I did.  Rolfe would never hurt me.  He would always be there for me.  I
would never sit home late into the night wondering if he was still alive. 
Where I lived, he would live.  Time and adventure would not part us.  
I would never be told he was dead and not know if it were true or not.
He would write letters to me.
I drew back from him then, looking back at the ocean that stretched out all
around us like some great wide grassy plain.  I stiffened then, tipped my
face into the wind and inhaled deep.  Worried suddenly, I glanced back at
him.  He watched me with concerned eyes.
"What is it?" he asked and I answered.
"I smell a storm in the wind."
Concerned himself now, he turned to face into the wind before glancing at
the sailors who manned our ship.  I saw nervous fear in the way they moved,
in their steps as they secured the ship.
My prediction was true for soon dark ominous clouds swept across our sky
and the sea turned white with foaming waves.  At home I would have welcomed
such a storm, dashed out into the forest to be the first to feel its wild
touch.  But here, with no ground that was ground beneath my feet,
surrounded by nothing that would hold me steady should I fall, I found
myself shivering as the storm devoured the sky and announced its presence
with thunder that shook me to my bones.  Rolfe put his arm around me as I
rose from stooping to catch up Percy.
"Come below, Pocahontas" he instructed and I let him take me to the
captain's cabin.  By the time we reached it, the deck beneath us was
heaving far too heavily for me to remain standing and I landed heavily on
the bed as I sat.  Rolfe clung to the wood rails set in the wall and stayed
standing.  Flit curled close to my ear and somehow Meeko found his way to
us, even more miserable and bedraggled than I had seen him before.
I cannot say how long the storm lasted.  I only know that it grew so bad
that I feared I would crush Flit if I fell wrong.  I know that I heard the
sailors' voices even through the anger of the storm and there was a great
fear  in them.  I know I watched Rolfe's face grow steadily tighter as his
frown drew deeper.  And I know I heard the ship's wood creaking and
cracking in ways it should not have.  I did not fear death so much.  It was
just the manner it would come for me.  And I did not like the thought of it
coming in the middle of the ocean with no hope of escape.  I did not like
the thought of being carried down into the chill of its thick waters to
tangle with weeds and dead men.  Flit pressed close to my cheek and hummed
and I found comfort and warmth in his small voice.
Finally the storm calmed.  I heard it rumbling away like a grumpy old bear,
kicking up a few last flashes of sky fire as it left.  I went above decks
then though Rolfe would have had me stay below longer for safety.  Even
though I had only sailed once before I knew that things were bad when I saw
what the storm had done.  One of the tall tree masts was gone completely
and it looked as if we did not have much left of the sails that had not
been torn clear and passed into the depths of the storm.  I was just
leaning over a broken rail to look at all the wood that floated on the
waves around us when I heard one of the sailors give a cry and I heard a
great pain in his voice as if life had betrayed him.  I looked in the
direction he had his hand pointed and saw, of all things, the sails of a
ship on the horizon.  Rolfe was next to me and he named the danger before I
recognized it.
The crew of our ship moved almost as hurriedly as the storm had but even I
knew there was no way to set our ship under sail with anything resembling
speed before the quickly approaching ship reached us.  Rolfe caught my arm.
"Pocahontas, you must go below."
I met his eyes with mine.  I could think of nothing worse than being below
decks at this moment.  To hide like a squaw while my wigwam burned around
me.  Waiting for the enemy warriors to find me and drag me back up into the
sun.  I shook my head.
"I will not go."
His eyes widened in shock before they hardened.
"I insist."
I slowly blinked once at him, disliking this side of him that I saw so
rarely.  I was a chief's daughter, not a child to be ordered about and
"Insist all you like.  I will not go."
A cannon shot splashed into the water near our ship's nose then, ending our
conversation.  I set Meeko on the deck, untying my mother's necklace from
about my throat before handing it into his paws.  He understood and
disappeared almost like magic, my necklace safe in his crafty keeping. 
Rolfe looked at me strangely but said nothing.  I moved to stand at the
railing to watch the other ship approach.  Most of the crew had already
given up their race with time and the damage and now they joined me.  I
felt as if we stood watching fate approach on wide, white wings.  Rolfe
came to stand next to me and I saw that he wore his sword though he did not
draw it.  Our ship and crew were in no condition to defend ourselves.
There was something almost arrogant about the graceful way the pirate's
ship slid up to rub against the abused wood of ours as lines snaked across
to secure the two together.  I saw very little difference between their
sailors and ours, except that ours looked more ragged.
"Bastards hid in the storm's edge.  Just waiting for a ship to limp its
way out."  It was Rolfe's voice and I glanced up at him, feeling strangely
detached.  A sailor from the other ship walked up to stop in front of us
and my eyes met his.  His eyes were hard, the way the eyes are in a man
lost in his own hatred.  Some things jumped race without concern to skin
color or customs.
"Eh, boys" he called to his friends, reaching out to catch a strand of my
dark hair in his fingers.  "Look what we have here."
Rolfe stepped forward, protest on his lips but their looks stopped him.  It
was good, I did not want him to be hurt over something as foolish as an
imagined slight to me.  Some of the pirates came to join the first one
while others continued stripping the sailors and small amount of passengers
of their valuables.  More of them searched below decks, carrying away our
"Got anything for us, pretty?" the first sailor asked me.
"Yes" I nodded, stepping forward so my eyes were level with his.  A grin
that had nothing to do with anything good slid across his face.  "I have
words for you."  I told him.  Watched as his face began to draw together. 
"Next time, you should raid a Spanish ship.  The English ones only carry
settlers and farming equipment."
He scowled at me and I heard the way his companions snickered.  Rolfe
looked as if he could not chose between shock, laugher, or horror.
"Sharp tongued wench."
I shrugged.
"Sharp mind" I agreed.  "It is necessary when dealing with white men."
The sailor devesting Rolfe of his goods chuckled out loud.
I saw the way Rolfe looked at me but I felt like smiling.  It was good to
speak openly and frankly again.  English court was not new to me in the way
that they hid their meanings in words like negotiators for a trading party,
but it was good to speak like myself again.
"I like her" the pirate next to Rolfe stated.
"Thank you" I gave him a slight smile.
"Maybe we should bring her with us" the first pirate suggested and his
meaning was entirely different from the other sailor's.  
"Sorry boys, she's already spoken for."
The voice cut easily across the water and we all turned to its source.  But
I knew that voice.  Better than I knew my own and somehow I was not
surprised to find the Rogue coursing into position next to the pirate's
ship.  Everyone else was.  The sound of cannons roared loud across the sky
for the second time that day and the pirate's ship shuddered.  Pandimonia
reigned onboard both our ships as pirates scrambled, spoils left abandoned
on the deck.
I moved quickly to the side, stepping away from the ugly pirate who's eyes
shone with an empty darkness.  I heard his voice, raw on the name as he
growled it to himself.
The lines typing our ship to theirs were quickly cut and they spun about in
the breeze, sails billowing wide as they tacked to turn away from the
Rogue's guns.  Those cannons spoke again and found their mark.  The Rogue
glided up to settle to a rest next to our ship and her captain swung across
on the rigging to land on our deck, straightening as he turned to watch the
pirates depart, their ship listing badly to the side.
"You should go after them" Rolfe protested, stepping forward.
John Smith, captain of the Rogue and hero of the day, turned to glance at
him.  His blue eyes moved past Rolfe, found mine.  My breath came hard in
my chest suddenly.
"No sense to it" John stated casually, eyes on me despite what he said. 
"Does more damage to a pirate to wreck his ship.  Makes him have to decide
between quitting or spending all his money on repairing it.  Most just take
the money and run."  He moved then, walked past Rolfe to stand in front of
me.  His callused skin was warm on mine as he took my hands in his.  Blue
eyes that were too deep met and held mine.
"You all right?"
His voice was soft and I heard things in it that had no place being there. 
I drew back from him, shook my head as I slid my hands out of his.  I was
not ready for this.  I was not ready for him.  Not ready to see him again. 
Not ready to deal with all he drew up inside me.  Not ready to have to say
"wingappo"  again only to have to say "anath".  Good bye.
Rolfe stepped forward.
"What are you doing here?"  His voice was not unkind.  He and John had
developed something of a liking for each other, though I think that as long
as I stood in the way it would never be a true friendship.  John turned to
look at him.  There was mischief in his eyes but he only shrugged casually
and grinned wide.
"Just happened to be passing through."
"Lucky for us then" Rolfe answered with a smile.
John gave an easy shrug.
"Anything to help."
"Captain Smith" the captain of our ship, a mild man compared to the other
captains I had met in my life approached us and John turned away.  I took
the opportunity to find my way back to the captain's cabin.  Rolfe did not
notice me go and for that I was glad.  I wanted time to myself.  Time to
steady myself.  
The cabin was a mess, scattered with dropped goods and hurriedly searched
chests.  I saw that the pirates had not had time to carry away the chest
that the captain kept the passengers' valuables in and I was glad for it. 
The people I had seen that traveled to Jamestown aboard ships like this one
seemed to have very little compared to what I had seen most people having
in London.  Even if the little that they had seemed to me to be more than
they needed.  I leaned down, picked up a blanket that had been tossed
carelessly aside in the search for richer plunder.
He said it so low, the way he always did, dipping in tonality on its
syllables.  I turned to find John standing in the low doorway, leaning
forward, one arm across its lintel as he looked at me with his sky blue
eyes.  I saw concern on his face, in his eyes and braced myself against
what it did to me.
"Yes?" I answered.
"Where's your mother's necklace?" he asked softly.  My hand flew to my
throat in reaction before I remembered.
"Meeko has it.  He was keeping it safe for me while the pirates were here."
John's face broke into a grin then.
"Clever" he teased and I found myself smiling back at him.
"Yes." I agreed happily and he laughed.
It was Rolfe's voice, rounding out the middle of my name with his strangely
rounded vowels.  
"I am here" I called and John stepped to the side so Rolfe could enter and
take my hands in his.  He came straight to his point.
"I'm afraid the ship is starting to sink, my dear.  No need for panic" he
quickly asserted.  "It's just that we're going to have to move over to
Captain Smith's ship."  He passed a glance John's way in recognition and
John gave a disinterested nod in return.  
"Yes?" Rolfe asked and John looked at me in question.  How difficult to
have so many men with the same name.  Even though I was not sure which I
had called when I had said the name.  I looked at John Smith.
"You are going to Virginia?"  I was sure that he had not been before.  John
broke into a wide grin and tipped his head in acknowledgment.
"I am now."
And I sensed another storm on the horizon that had nothing to do with the

That night I was restless.  I was a light sleeper to begin with.  With all
that had happened, sleep would not come to me and so I finally pushed back
the blanket that covered me and sat up.  I was in John's room.  He was the
captain and there had been no other option.  Everyone had insisted it was
where I should be.  Everyone but John who had let everyone else do all the
assuming and then followed me into his cabin after they were done.  It had
been strange, surrounded by what I knew was him while he stood in front of
me, watching me with those eyes that said so much more than his words. 
When he had softly asked if I would rather sleep somewhere else, I had
found that I suddenly did not want to.  Stubbornness was my only excuse. 
At least the only one I was prepared to admit to myself.
So I sat up and glanced around at the room that was already so much John's.
Sparse without being barren.  My people too packed up and moved from place
to place often.  I recognized the signs of someone who was a wanderer.  His
rifle and sword hung against the far wall, as much reminders of his past
life as useful things.  I sat in his narrow bed with Percy and Meeko taking
up more than their fair share of it with their sprawled forms.  Flit dozed
on the ink pen that rested at a cocky angle on the scratched desk that took
up most of the rest of the room.  A single wooden chest, looking out of
place in its newness crammed against the foot of the bed and the ship's
wall.  And books and maps carefully secured in corners.  I leaned over,
balanced myself on an arm as I brushed my fingers along one of the spines
of one of those books.
I could not read.  It frustrated my curiosity.  It was not that I did not
wish to, or that I was not capable of learning.  It was simply that I had
never had anyone to teach me.  I walked a fine line with the settlers of
Jamestown.  Most of them trusted me and more than a few of the men who had
arrived with John on the first ship loved me.  After what we had been
through together it would have been impossible not to love and be loved. 
But each time a new ship entered our waters, it emptied new people onto our
shore.  And these new people did not trust me or mine.  I was all that
stood between the two halves of my heart and stopped bloodshed sometimes. 
To do that I had to appear strong.  The weakness of not being able to
understand the settlers' marks on paper was not something I could have
known.  And more than a few of my people thought me too white in my
thinking already.  Gently, I lifted the book down and set it into my lap,
tucking hair behind my ear before I lit the lamp that dangled near the head
of my bed.  It's light pooled golden around me, as gold as John's hair, and
in its warmth I opened the thick book, running hungry fingers down its tiny
marching black markings.  I turned the page and several folded papers slid
out and onto the covers next to me.  Curious, I lifted one, opened it.  I
could not read so I was not intruding on John's privacy by looking. 
Strangely flowing markings ran in a row, started another and then cut
suddenly off.  The next paper I unfolded was much the same, though the
markings were not the same.  
All the pages were the same.  Begun and stopped.  Different marks except
the same marks always started the page, set up and apart from the rest.   I
ran my fingers over the first word, looked longingly at the pen quill Flit
rested on.  To be able to speak to someone even if I was not with them.  To
be able to read their words no matter how far from me they were.  My heart
allowed me to speak English, but I could not understand their markings.
There was a soft knock at my door and I turned to look, calling a quiet
invitation.  The door pushed open and John entered the room as softly as
the night air.
"Saw your light" he explained before his eyes fell to find the open book
with its scattered papers across my blankets.   I watched his eyebrows fall
low and he looked at me again.
"Did you read them?" he asked.  I shook my head.
"I cannot read."  To John it was not a hard confession.  He gave me a soft
"Well, we've got some time.  Maybe I'll teach you."
I smiled wide at that.
"Oh, John, I would so like to learn."
His eyes held mine.
"It's good to hear you say my name again."
I did not know how to answer that.  He walked over to me then and I watched
his hands move as he gathered the papers up, folding them carefully as he
collected them.  He gently reached over and took the one I had been holding
from my hands, turning it to glance at the writing.  His face changed,
tightened, and without raising his face he looked at me with his eyes. 
Their light color was deep as the night sky and the lamplight softened his
features the way I had seen moonlight touch him many times before.  He
sighed then and gave me a crooked grin as he sat down on the edge of the
bed next to me and unfolded the papers, setting them between us.
"They're letters, Pocahontas.  The ones I never sent you.  My books are
stuffed with them"  he told me, voice low as he picked one up.  "Dear
Pocahontas" he read, "Don't worry.  I'm fine."  He tossed it aside with a
snort, reached for the next one.  "Pocahontas, It's funny the way things
happen sometimes."  He rolled his eyes at me and tossed that one aside as
well with a depreciating smile that faded as he picked up another. 
"Dearest Pocahontas,  It seems something's come up and I won't be back any
time soon.  Apparently, the king's not too fond of me."  He looked at me,
shook his head before picking up the next one.  His eyes changed when he
saw its writings.  "My love.  I'm afraid something's happened and I don't
know when I'll be able to come to you again."  His eyes met mine and he
read the rest of the letter from memory.  "I'm not sure I will be able to
come to you again.  Wait for me?"  His eyes held mine for a long time and
then his hand fisted, crushing the letter as he looked away, out the window
to the drifting sea beyond.  
"What was I supposed to tell you?  Write to you?  Did I ask you wait? 
Knowing that if I was caught, I'd be hanged and you'd never even know.  Did
I let you go?  See you in another man's arms?  Who would I trust to bring
the letter to you in the first place?  Everyone who could have helped was
being watched too closely by Ratcliff''s men for me to even get close to
them, much less explain how important it was that a letter reach the New
World."  He shagged a hand through his hair and looked back at me, brows
low as he spoke.  
"I kept waiting for inspiration.  But it never came.  And the longer I
waited, the harder it got to find the right words.  You haunted my
thoughts, my dreams at night.  But even in my dreams I couldn't find the
words."  He gestured toward the other books and gave me a half smile.  "The
letters go down hill from here.  Because I have to start apologizing  in
them.  Which means I had to try to explain why I hadn't written sooner. 
Which led me right back to my original problem."  He took my hand in his
where it rested on the book, twined his fingers through mine.  His touch
was warm, steady as his eyes met mine.  
"I'm sorry, Pocahontas."  He shook his head.  "This isn't my excuse.  I
don't have an excuse.  But I wasn't lying to you when I said that I thought
of you every day.  And I wasn't lying when I said that I must have started
a hundred letters.  Come to think of it" he added with a crooked smile, "I
don't even think I'm exaggerating with that number.  I spent more money
than I had buying paper I always just ended up throwing away."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"What would I say to you, Pocahontas?  I don't have a good reason for not
writing."  Wryly, he added:   "And with everything that was happening, we
didn't exactly have the time to sit down and have a long talk either."
"You are right" I told him softly, watched as his smile relaxed the lines
of his face.
"Forgive me?" he asked in his low voice, half teasing, half serious.  It
made me smile.
"Yes, John Smith, I forgive you for not sending my letters."  My mood and
words were light but as I said them something inside my chest suddenly
lifted and I felt a great lightness inside myself.  My smile widened and
softened.  John's eyes changed at that and he suddenly drew my fingers to
his lips, pressed a kiss against them before he stood quickly and walked to
the door.  His hand fell on the handle but he paused, his head bowed for a
moment before he looked back at me with a crooked smile and shook his head
at me.
"Sometimes, I think you must be a personal angel God's sent to watch over
me, Pocahontas."  And then he turned the handle and walked back out into
the night, shutting the door softly behind him.
I stared at that closed door for a very long time, pages that were meant
for me but never sent scattered across the covers of my bed.  The candle
melted low and gutted out before I could bring myself to look away.

To be Continued...

Back to Pocahontas Fan Fiction!:
Back to Pocahontas' Enchanted Village!: