Alek rubbed his eyes, sitting himself upright. He had nearly fallen asleep in his chair.
The fire crackled nicely in front of him, drowsiness threatening to take over again. He stood and stretched, then headed out the door of his quarters. Someone ran into him just then, nrealy sending him flying.
"Watch it! - Oh! Sorry Dad!" the young boy ran to Alek and hugged him. Alek laughed and ruffled the boy's hair.
"Where exactly are you headed off to in such a rush, Jaspert Volger?" Alek asked, holding the boys shoulders.
"Out to the courtyard. Master Klopp told me he would let me take a few steps around in the runabout today!"
Alek studied his son's excited face. He looked so much like his mother, sharp fine features and bright blue eyes, but dark hair like his father. His eyes sparked with excitement, and his smile was as charming as anything.
"Alright, get along now. Remember, you've got a few lessons this evening with Dr. Barlow tonight"
Little Jaspert sighed, looking annoyed. "Shes so tiresome, dad. Can't it wait until tomorrow?"
Alek shook his head. "No, she's only agreed to tutor you for a year, and we must stuff your head full of Darwinist facts before she goes. Oh stop that face, you know you enjoy her lessons."
The boy smiled. "Yes, it's all very fascinating. But I prefer Master Klopp's lessons. He doesn;t make me read out of a book. But I really can't wait until Mum teaches me how to pilot that flying thing she's got!"
"Next year, my boy. You'll be ten. and we promised you that you could start flying then. But not a minute sooner." Alek added, seeing the boy's expression. "Now, get along to Master Klopp, he doesn't like to be kept waiting." Jaspert scampered off down the hallway and Alek turned to continue to the living quarters.
Deryn was there, pouring over a huge book. She looked up as he entered, smiling widely.
"Oy! I was wondering when you'd get off your bum."
Alek grinned and took a seat next to her, taking her hand. She had not changed a bit in the last nine years, hair still short and sandy, eyes young a bright. Alek rested his hand on her stomach, feeling thegrowing bump of his second child. The both of them were hoping for a girl, as Jaspert was proving to be quite enough of an example of raising a boy. Hopefully littel Sophie would come into the world in just under four month's time.
A few months after they were married, Deryn got the news of her brother's tragic death. He was still serving aboard the Minotaur, but they had been attacked by a rouge ship, loosing many men, one of them Jaspert. In his honor, they named their son after him. According to Deryn, little Jaspert was very similar to her brother in his mannerisms, bouncy and troublemaking, but Alek had only met him once at their wedding, not having enoug htime to truly know the man. But her took her word for it; little Jaspert was much more wild than Alek had ever been growing up.
Alek felt something soft brush his hand, and turned to see Bovril climbing up the chair. The creature was getting on in years now, it's coat much less lusturous and full as it had once been. The creature slowly made itself comfortable on Alek's lap.
"Well, hello Boril" Alek said.
"Good evening, Aleksandar" the creature replied. Bovril had become much more sociable in it's old age. He stroked the creature's fur, and it settled into his lap.
Deryn reached up and ran a hand through Alek's hair, twirling it in her fingers. He leaned in and kissed her cheek, resting his forehead on her. He sighed, smiling and closing his eyes. She was the best thing he could have ever dreamed of.
It hadn't taken Alek very long to get the law passed that Royalty could marry someone of more common decent. Deryn was a decorated officer after all, giving her a better standing than some. The British military had not revoked that from her after they had been notified that she was alive and female. She had done a great deed, and they didn't let a silly thing like gender take that away from her. The had even asked her to return to the Leviathan when it was properly equipped to go on another voyage, but she declined, choosing Alek over all else. And Alek made sure that his children would have the same rights as a normal decendant of the Hapsburgs, unlike what had happened to himself.
Volger had done quite a lot before Alek had returned, pretty much ending the war and leaving just loose ends to tie up. He broke their alliance with Germany, but they stayed loyal to the treaty Volger had offered. Britan took Germany's place, with a little persuasion from Dr. Barlow. Russia stayed true to Britan through the war, and tied with Austria as well. Nothing had gone wrong in nearly ten years, adn he was certain nothing would for years to come.
Things were finally perfect in Alek's book, and that was enough for him.