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It was not love at first sight for Hector Barbossa. This was a good thing, considering he didn't believe is such nonsensical, emotional bunk. It started with a begrudging respect for Elizabeth's defiance in the face of being kidnapped by his crew of undead pirates. The fury he saw in her when his first mate had delivered her a vicious and unwarranted blow had more than piqued his interest in this woman-girl. She had been little more than a child at the time. Of age yes, but of little life experience. She had dealt with the strangeness and danger of her situation admirably, using her wiles to achieve her ends. And not just the feminine ones. The girl had a vicious and clever streak a mile long, one that even Barbossa could respect.

He had always seen himself as the hero of the story. When he had sailed to Isla de Muerte to break the curse, it was with a mind to marry the untamed Elizabeth and claim her as his own. Things had not gone according to plan that day, but whenever did they? Even then he could not claim to have fallen in love with her. She certainly intrigued him.... attracted him.... caused a stirring in his stomach and loins, particularly in the silk gown the colour of old blood that suited her so well. But love? It had been years since that word had even crossed his mind and he'd not necessarily been amenable to its presence in his life then.

Maybe it had been the look of shock and hint of regret in her eyes when Jack had pulled the trigger on that fatal shot after the whelp had mingled his Turner blood with the cursed Aztec coins. In that moment, he could almost fool himself into believing she didn't want him dead...

The memories between his inopportune death and even more unlikely resurrection by Calypso were hazy at best and wildly traumatic at worst. He remembered that the first thing he could consciously recognise was the sound of Elizabeth's voice from a distance. Elizabeth's voice in heated argument with her boy and Jack, as well as Tia Dalma. Barbossa remembered the look of shock on the crew’s face when he had been well enough to descend the stairs and inquire as to the whereabouts of the ship he called home. He thought he could ascertain a hint of a smile on Elizabeth's face as she processed who was standing before her. That might have been the moment, something stabbed through the carefully constructed facade he had built around his heart. Then again, maybe it had been the first time she had beat him in a duel.

Between Jack's death by the Kraken and the subsequent rescuing of said scurrilous waste of skin, Elizabeth had recognised her inadequacy at defending herself and had demanded instruction from the crew in the finer points of handling a cutlass. Will had all but refused point blank to show her even the most rudimentary of skills. Most of the crew had become the synchronized mast inspection team when she had gone man to man, asking for instruction. Finally, Barbossa had rolled his eyes, tossed her one of his lesser used cutlasses and set about teaching the girl to handle a weapon.

“There's no sense in ye goin' on this excursion if ye not be ready t' defend yerself. Give me your best stance.” he said upon their first 'lesson'.

Elizabeth did her best to copy what she had observed her crewmates doing during the various altercations she had been party to. Barbossa nodded approvingly, only correcting her slightly with the flat of his own blade against the insides of her calves.

She was a quick study and picked up on the basics faster than he had when he had learned as a boy. Soon she was engaging him daily in challenging duels across the deck, her sun bleached locks flying about her head, underneath the worn tricorn she insisted on wearing.

The day she first beat him, she had overpowered him with a particularly well timed parry, knocking him on his ass. Barbossa found the tip of her sword pressing against his adam's apple with Elizabeth towering over him. His chapped lips twisted into a grin as he felt a bead of blood swell underneath the sharp tip of her cutlass, trickling down his throat and staining his collar. Elizabeth was breathing heavily and grinning enthusiastically as she withdrew the sword and sheathed it in her baldric.

She had stood there for a moment, staring down at him. He'd stared back, speechless for a moment as a thousand things happened in his mind at once. His chest felt compressed and simultaneously full to bursting. Elizabeth reached down, grabbed his hand and helped him haul himself to his feet.

“Are you alright?” she asked, eyes flickering to the cut on his throat.

“'M fine, Miss Swann. Ye did a masterful job. Pity be to th' poor fool what gets on yer bad side.” he fingered the clotting wound in his skin.

He still had the scar when he died for the second time.

 

---------------------------------

He had finally admitted to himself that he might be in love with Elizabeth Swann when she had been set upon by Sao Feng's henchman. Though he knew she was more than capable of taking care of herself, his instinct was to go to her rescue. This was so vastly out of character for him that something had to be terribly wrong with his head.

“Particularly a woman.... alone.” the Asian pirate had said lasciviously, his eyes undressing the woman before him.

“What makes you think she's alone?” growled Barbossa, emerging from the shadows where he had been keeping an eye on her.

She had snapped that she didn't need help, which he knew. Nevertheless....

 

That particular endeavor had seen them fight alongside each other against the entire East India Trading company as well as the cursed crew of the Flying Dutchman. Barbossa had not felt so alive, nor as young as when she stood back to back with him, each fending off assailants, occasionally using one another for leverage against their foes.

They had stood beside each other at the Brethren Court, trying to hash out exactly how to convince the bickering horde to join them in their efforts against the East India Trading. Elizabeth, despite her young years and comparative inexperience, stood as his equal and an equal to each of the Pirate Lords. She showed no fear, no hesitation, no compunction as she found herself made King and set forth their marching orders.

As the various Lords set off to prepare their vessels for the forthcoming battle, Elizabeth found herself almost alone with Barbossa in the meeting room. She stood in front of the globe and gazed at the large expanses of ocean, interrupted by continents and islands. She traced a finger over the shape of England.

“Do ye ever wish ye'd jus' returned? Woulda kept ye out o' this fray.” Barbossa inquired from his position, reclined in an ornate armchair behind her.

She turned, her fingers trailing off the globe as she fixed him with an indescribable look.

“No.” she said simply.

Elizabeth looked out of one of the portholes of the wrecked ship, the moon shone down on an armada of different ships from all over the world and of all different sizes. The on board lanterns twinkled like the stars above as a cool breeze found its way into the cabin, bringing with it the smell of salt and sea.

“Why would anyone chose that life?” she murmured quietly.

With those words, the slow burn that had silently smoldered in his chest ignited flames so strong it was all he could do not to fall to his knees before her.

“Would you chose that life, Captain Barbossa?” Elizabeth asked.

He climbed to his feet, leaning heavily on the armrest of the chair to push himself up. His bad leg had been particularly troublesome as of late.

“Nay, lass.” Barbossa replied finally, making his way to gaze out of the porthole. “'Tis no life better for me than to be here. With me crew and.... with me King.” he rubbed at his sore leg. “Though t' be fair, a man of my years be foolish not to think of makin' plans t' make his later years more..... restful.” he finished diplomatically.

Without looking around, he felt her beside him; she was close enough that he could smell her. After months of being surrounded by sweating pirates and no access to clean, fresh water for bathing, Elizabeth had taken advantage of Sao Feng's 'hospitality' and bathed in water scented with exotic oils. Barbossa's fingers twitched involuntarily, wanting nothing more than to wrap around her waist and hold her close.

“Thank you for all you have done, Captain Barbossa.” she said quietly.

He turned, there was now barely a foot of space between them. Barbossa took a half step forward, subconsciously closing the distance.

“I'm here t' further me own selfish cause, Miss Swann. T'isn't all out of the goodness of me own black heart that I helped ye get here.” he replied with a smirk.

Elizabeth's lips twitched up in a corresponding smirk.

“No... I don't suppose it was. All the same....”

Her eyes travelled over his throat and found the scar she herself had put there not so long ago. It was no longer red, but it stood out amidst the grime and stubble, a subtle reminder of her own strength and ability.

Unbeknownst to her, the fingers of her left hand were outstretched and almost touching the mark on his throat. This meant their bodies were nearly in contact.

“Elizabeth...” he murmured, heat and a hint of apprisal in his voice.

And she was touching him. Possibly the first time she had willingly touched him of her own volition. Her small, slim fingers were softer than his but had become calloused from months of manual labor and newly learned swordplay. Barbossa could almost feel his heart stop at the touch. That fire he'd been fighting threatened to consume him then and there, taking her with it.

“Lass.”

Unbidden, his gloved hand reached out to rest upon her trim waist, pulling her in while pressing her back against the wall. He took it as a good sign she didn't pull away. And then there was a kiss. Elizabeth let out a small, soft moan of surprise as their lips met, hard. Her free hand came up to bunch in the fabric of his waistcoat, though to pull him tighter in, not to push him away. This kiss was nothing like the kisses she and Will had shared. Passionate though those were, there was something in this kiss that both thrilled and frightened her. Promises were made in each of his movements that she had never realised were an option. His lips were not soft and supple like Will's; his were chapped and tasted of the salt of the sea.

“H-Hector...”

She said his name. The first time ever. His heart leapt at the sound and he wanted nothing more than to make her his, there and then.

“Lass-” he breathed, his voice thick with want.

She let out a tiny, wordless cry and pushed against his chest with her palms. And then she'd gone, leaving nothing but the taste of her on his lips. The fire in his chest raged and howled until there was nothing left of his heart but cinders.

*&^%^&*

He followed her into battle. Not altogether willingly at the start, but when she threw his own words back at him, using his own rallying cry to bolster the courage and fortitude of the Black Pearl's crew as well as that of the entire Brethren Court armada. It was then he'd given up any pretense of not doing her bidding.

Barbossa had been pleased to see her holding her own against her foes, both Trading Company and supernaturally enhanced fish person. Her teeth were bared in a grin of exhilaration as she dodged, parried, and slashed, easily out matching her enemies as she fought back to back with the crew and with Turner. Unstoppable as she was beautiful, powerful as she was lithe. When he heard her call out his name, he had to admit his old heart leapt a bit, until he realised what it was she wanted from him. But, like so many other things, he accepted his responsibility and did as she requested; marrying her to the whelp, in between trying not to be skewered by a preternaturally deformed eel pirate.

The battle raged on, the two ships found themselves locked together. And then it ended as suddenly as it had begun. Pintel and Ragetti loosed a chain shot to separate the locked masts. Soaked through and exhausted, he piloted the ship away from the maelstrom and toward the distant East India Trading Company armada, pausing to reclaim Jack, the more important Jack the monkey, and the most important Elizabeth Turner. Barbossa hauled Elizabeth up the ladder and was more than a little surprised when she sagged limply against him, resting her face against his sodden shoulder. She'd gained and lost her husband in the space of an hour, if not less. He held onto her awkwardly while she regained her composure before she allowed herself to be handed off to Gibbs.

Their spirits lifted for the briefest of moments as the Flying Dutchman once more appeared from beneath the waves; all of the detritus and decay Davy Jones had wrought upon the ship and its crew with his bitterness and hatred of Calypso falling away before their very eyes. Will Turner stood at the helm, his youth to be preserved as long as he did his duty honourably and diligently. Together, the Pearl and the Dutchman took on Cutler Beckett's flagship, easily taking the man by surprise and dispatching with him.

And then was Elizabeth Turner's hasty and unplanned honeymoon, sent off by a shipload of dirty pirates.

“Mrs Turner.” Barbossa said softly, the words souring in his mouth as he gave her a slight nod.

Her lips twitched up into a momentary smile before she continued down the line of her friends to her chariot. One of two dinghies that had seen fit to survive their recent battle. She was carried to shore by the motions of her own hands on the oars. On that beach, she met her lifelong love and now husband. In the privacy of the deserted island's palm trees and sand, they learned each other's bodies and consummated their impromptu marriage.

When several hours had passed, long after the flash of green at sunset that signalled Turner's departure from the physical plane, Elizabeth had not returned to the ship, some of the crew began to get a bit uneasy. Quite apart from being both a Captain in her own right as well as now undisputed King of the Brethren Court, Elizabeth Swann nee' Turner had become too far ingrained to some for her absence to go unnoticed.

“'M’ just sayin' it isn' right.” Gibbs was grumbling. “Leavin' a lady alone like that-”

“Mrs Turner be more'n capable o' takin' care o' herself.” Barbossa interrupted irritably; it frequently irked him how much those of his sex underestimated the capabilities of women in general and indeed seemed to regard them as a separate and incapable species.

Gibbs glowered at him.

“But I'd be lyin' if I said I weren' a bit unnerved.” he finished, sweeping off his hat with a sigh and walking toward the only other dinghy. “Would ye be up to chasin' after yon maiden, Jack?” Barbossa asked over his shoulder to the dozing Jack Sparrow.

“Bugg'roff.” Sparrow grumbled, waving his fingers in a 'shoo' motion. “Had quite a long day m'self. Flew 'er over here and rescued 'er, didn' I?”

Barbossa rolled his eyes and instructed Gibbs and Pintel to hoist the dinghy over the side.

Minutes later he found himself pulling for shore, not altogether certain what he would find there or how he would deal with it anyway. The stars were out and there was naught but moonlight casting its sheen onto the black water around him. The lantern on the bow of the dinghy and a similar lantern on shore was the only indication of which direction he should go.

“Bloody fool...” he murmured at himself. “What d'ye think yer gonna accomplish anyway?”

The bottom of the boat scraped against rocks and sand and he jumped out, hauling it half out of the water and securing the bow rope to a nearby boulder. Barbossa surveyed his surroundings, starting to walk towards the flickering light of the lantern. Eventually he found her, seated in the dunegrass a little ways back from the lantern. She was huddled in on herself, arms wrapped around her shins as she rested her chin on her knees. Her half open eyes were fixed out to sea and she didn't seem to notice him approach.

“Miss Sw-Er Mrs Turner?” he said gently, not wishing to startle her.

Elizabeth didn't respond so he tried again.

“Elizabeth?”

Slowly, her eyes focused on him. She didn't seem to recognise him at first. Recognition dawned and she gave a grim smile that did not extend to her eyes.

“Captain. What are you doing here?” her tone was hollow.

He eased himself down stiffly next to her, stretching out his damaged leg in front of him. He rubbed at it distractedly.

“Been hours since yer... husband left. Crew were beginning t' get worried about ye'.”

“Hours.... It hasn't been years?” she asked faintly.

Her pain was evident and it seemed to leach into Barbossa's own chest.

“Nay lass, unfortunately it hasn't.”

Elizabeth's breathing quickened, becoming almost frantic.

“Ten years. I have to wait ten years to see him again. So much can happen in ten years.” she said, grief tearing at every word.

“Aye, I know that t' be sure.” he agreed, twisting so he was closer to her.

She suddenly grabbed him but the front of his shirt, thrusting her face in his. Tears streamed down her high cheeks and she was hyperventilating.

“How can I do this!? Why should I do this?! How can I live half a life waiting for a man who will only be there for one day every ten years?! It's not fair! I can't do this, it's not a life!? What am I going to do?!”

Barbossa awkwardly wrapped his arm around her and without further hesitation, she sagged fully against him, sobbing into his shoulder, the release of all the stress and emotion making her cling to him like a drowning man to driftwood.

“Half a life is no life at all...” she hiccupped, face still buried in his coat.

“Ye need not remind me, lass. I were there once meself. Remember though, yer lad must wait ten years as well. Ten years is a terrible long time to be parted from the one you love. Ye’ll make it, though. Yer strong enough.”

She said nothing, but Barbossa could feel her tears soaking his shirt. Tentatively, he stroked her hair until her breathing seemed to slow to a steady, even pace. It seemed she had fallen asleep. Barbossa sat quietly in the cool sand of the beach, listening to the lap of the waves against the shore and the breathing of the girl in his arms. He gazed up at the vast expanse of black sky above him, twinkling with stars. Her small frame fit easily into his arms; he leaned back against a sand dune, Elizabeth curled into his arms and the warmth of her body radiating into him as the hours passed. Eventually, he nodded off, the brim of his hat tipping downward and hiding both of their faces.

When she awoke with a deep intake of breath the following morning, Elizabeth did not immediately think it was Will's arms in which she was held. Strangely, this didn't seem to be a problem. Barbossa's breathing was still slow and deep, so she assumed he was still asleep. She could her his heartbeat under her ear and the sound seemed to keep her grounded for the moment. The years of loneliness that stretched out before her could be temporarily forgotten as long as she could stretch this particular moment out into infinity. With a slight discomfited smile, she noticed two things. One; she had wrapped an arm around Barbossa's waist. Two, she was comfortably entwined in the aforementioned pirates arms as if they hadn’t spent the last several years attempting to kill one another. She played idly with a frayed bit of knotwork on his coat, waiting for him to awaken.

“Ye awake then, Mrs Turner?” his low, gravelly voice inquired.

She almost started.

“Yes.” she replied quietly, making no move to break their contact. “Yes, I’m awake.

It seemed there was going to be no discussion of their intimate contact. Indeed, even as Barbossa began to discuss making their way back to the Pearl she could feel his calloused fingers tightening against her waist.

“We'll go back shortly.” she said quietly, seemingly loathe to dislodge herself from her current position and the comfort he was giving her.

They remained entwined for a while longer, the sun fully rising and glinting off the crystalline waves that lapped gently at the shore.

“Where will you go after this?” she asked quietly.

He paused momentarily, his thumb idly rubbing against the sun warmed skin of her upper arm.

“I suppose back to Tortuga for a spell... Crew'd definitely benefit from a few days spent....”

“Carousing?” he could hear the smile in her voice.

“Aye. To be puttin' it delicately.”

The air seemed to change and he could almost feel her withdrawing into herself.

“I'll need to find a place to stay... until...”

He nodded, fingers squeezing her arm convulsively.

“We'll find ye a port, wherever ye want Mrs Turner.”

“'Mrs Turner'....” she repeated dully.

She shifted, stretching her legs and untangling herself from his arms and climbing to her feet. Her slight form was silhouetted against the morning light and he felt his heart clench. The loss of her body against him felt like a physical blow, but he didn't have the vocabulary to explain the feeling. He too climbed stiffly to his feet, grumbling about his sore back. Wordlessly, the two climbed into their respective skiffs and rowed separately back to where the Black Pearl was anchored. Neither spoke to the other for the rest of the voyage back to civilisation; Elizabeth only briefly conveying to him that she would like to try for an island en route to Tortuga where she might be able to find lodging and work.

It was nearly dusk when the Black Pearl was finally moored at the dock in a bay on Anguilla. Barbossa stood at the railing, looking blindly at the swells of the grassy hills upon which a small town had grown. Elizabeth appeared from below decks, her small chest of belongings in hand and her baldric still slung over one shoulder. She had changed from her warrior's garb into a simple linen skirt and bodice over what he recognised as one of his old shirts. She seemed to notice him smirking at her.

“Didn't think you'd mind. I know for a fact it's been ages since you even changed your shirt.”

It was the first thing she'd said to him in days. He merely nodded, then glanced at Mullroy and Murtogg, who carried between them a medium sized chest that seemed particularly heavy.

“Yer share o' the loot.” he said simply, turning away in hopes of concealing the conflict evident on his weathered face.

Elizabeth frowned.

“What loot?”

The old pirate captain didn't answer, merely gazed out into nothingness. A cold emptiness had descended into his chest the closer they'd gotten to parting ways with the King of the Pirates.

“Iffin ye don't mind, Miss. This chest be a mite heavy.” Murtogg said apologetically, shifting his weight.

Barbossa didn't react as Elizabeth said her goodbyes to the crew. Jack, surprisingly, gave her a brief but genuine hug completely free from lasciviousness.

“You be well, Elizabeth Turner.” he said with a characteristic gold toothed grin. “To be sure it's sad we could never work out-”

“And should you ever need a hand, you know we'll be about.” Gibbs spoke up, interrupting Jack with a sharp kick to the back of his leg, preventing Jack from heading down an inappropriate conversational lane.

She gave the old sea dog a hug and turned to Barbossa who still had his back to her.

“Thank you, Captain. For everything you've done for me.”

The head beneath the ridiculously plumaged hat nodded and Elizabeth realized that was all she was going to get out of him. With an unexpected sense of sadness, she went down the gangplank followed by the ex navy men. She didn't trust herself to look back at the ship and crew that had become the home and family she would never have picked for herself, but had become as tightly ingrained in her being as the shape of her face or the colour of her hair. As she came into view on the dock, Barbossa turned his back to the rail and limped back up to the wheelhouse. Before she was even off the dock, he called out orders to his crew.

“Weigh anchor and cast off all lines! We make for Tortuga.”

A mighty cheer went up from the crew, who then set about following his instructions and making ready to sail.

“Was mighty magnanimous of you to be giving her your share of the treasure. Whatever will you do in the interim, I wonder?” Jack said from behind him.

Barbossa narrowed his eyes at the insolent be-dreadlocked pirate.

“I’ve got enough put by to keep m’self comfortable for a while.”

“Why didn't you tell her that was your treasure.” Jack prodded.

“'Twasn't important.”

Jack sauntered over, leaning irritatingly close to Barbossa.

“Mate, we're pirates.” the dreadlocked pirate said. “All treasure is important.”

Barbossa ignored him, feeling the ship beneath him lurch in the way he knew meant the anchor had been pulled up and was prepared to sail.

“Not all treasure is silver and gold.” he murmured, Jack the monkey leaping onto his shoulder from a nearby railing, chittering and winding himself around his master’s neck like a sentient scarf.

*&^%$%^&*

Elizabeth had to admit to being a little hurt by the fact the Black Pearl had begun making ready before she had even had the chance to disappear from view. Murtogg and Mullroy had gotten her set up with a conveniently available horse and wagon, owned by a skinny man in a straw hat. The two had loaded her chests aboard the wagon before doffing their caps to her and hightailing it back to the Pearl before it had the chance to leave without them.

Now she was alone. Sitting on a bed in an inn that overlooked the bay. The sense of loss was terrible. Father gone, husband gone, now the crew that she had led into battle was also gone. Barbossa's gone too. A voice in her head reminded her. That ship had sailed, in more ways than one.

She hefted the heavy chest he'd left her onto the small rickety bed and unlocked it with the key Mullroy had pressed into her hand. Lifting the lid, she found her breath caught in her throat. It was full to bursting with rubies, dubloons, and various other valuables. It was surely enough to buy the island, much less keep her well cared for for the foreseeable future. Carefully, she shut and locked the lid, putting it on the floor and pushing it back against the wall underneath the bed. She would make a plan tomorrow. For now, sleep beckoned her and promised respite from both exhaustion and sadness.

*&^%$%^&*

Elizabeth was no fool. A woman alone with a chest full of gold was a woman in danger. Despite the presence of the razor sharp jian sword, she knew she had to be careful. The money in the chest was more than enough to buy a home, would probably be more than enough to buy the entire island. She formulated a plan whereby she would work for the innkeeper of the small, dirty, ill kept pub and inn overlooking the bay before eventually convincing him to sell up to her, despite the fact she was a single woman alone.

Her wiles meant that she had achieved this end within a mere few months, the man's greed such that he took only a medium sized purse of doubloons and a sparse handful of rubies to give over ownership to Elizabeth. She immediately set about bettering her new home and money maker, hiring a few trustworthy men from the town to extend and expand the buildings on the property, even setting up a blacksmith's shop against the hoped for day that Will would return to her side.

*&^%$%^&*