Chapter 1: Chapter One
Elizabeth waits on the beach long past the time the green light fades from the horizon, but eventually, she has to turn away.
Will won’t come back for another ten years, and she has a heart to care for.
She looks around the island the Pearl left her at. Small, and seemingly abandoned, with a higher perch, but mostly sandy beaches.
She walks over the place where she and Will had made love just an hour ago—sandy, and barely covered by the dunes, the two of them so desperate to get their hands on each other—and walks to the top of the cliff.
The horizon seems to stretch forever.
She digs, then, using hand and sword and oar, making a small hole on top of the cliff, where she can hide her husband’s heart for now.
She’s going back amongst pirates, after all.
Shipwreck Cove isn’t too far, even as it grows darker after sunset, even in a longboat.
The Pearl has left her. She shouldn’t be surprised, but a hot flash of anger fills her anyway. First Will, now Jack and Barbossa.
They’re pirates, and the sea calls to them like nothing else. Adventure and open air is in all their bloods, and those who fall behind get left behind. Elizabeth knows this.
But she cannot help but feel that it isn’t that she so much fell behind as was purposefully left behind.
“Captain Turner,” Teague says as she walks back into the meeting room, trailing a hand over the large globe.
“Captain Teague.” She studies him. “How fare our brethren, after the battle?”
“Well. Many have left, ready to return to the open ocean, free from the scourge of the East India Company.”
“Yes, and no thanks to them!” She steps forward, and she’s only somewhat mollified to find that, even wearing a ripped dress, with her hair loose and her feet bare, Teague steps back. She’s only somewhat settled, because she does not forgive or forget slights against her and hers. “You all protected your own skins when the fight got difficult.”
Teague gives her a smile that’s so painfully familiar. “Pirates, love.”
“No. No, that is not an excuse. This is the
. We are supposed to fight together.” She takes a steadying breath. “Beckett will never plague our way of life again, perhaps, but the Company still stands. We need to be prepared.”
“Can’t change nature, love. And pirates are just as they are.”
She takes a deep breath. “Am I still King, Captain Teague?”
He blinks at her. “Aye.”
“Then I believe I can change anything I’d like.”
Teague teaches her the Code, and Elizabeth reads the entire book, cover to cover. She studies the ships of the pirates remaining in Shipwreck Cove, learning how they differ from the ships she’s been on.
And, once a month has passed, she retreats to her little island—to their little island—and sits atop the cliff, her husband’s living heart beating steadily in the ground beneath her.
It’s been one month. One hundred and nineteen to go.
She waits for dawn, but doesn’t see the flash.
She then stands up and digs, having brought a shovel this time. When she gets the chest open, she removes the heart, her body thrumming with a feeling she can’t quite name, holding her husband’s heart in her hands.
It’s always belonged to you . She closes her eyes, feels it thrum, feels the proof that Will is, by some measure, alive despite everything.
Alive and hers. Always hers.
She opens her eyes once more, and deposits the heart in a small sack, carefully sewn by her to cradle the beating organ, to rest beneath her dress, between her breasts, leaving her and Will pressed heart-to-heart, always.
She reburies the chest, in case some enterprising pirate comes looking, and heads down to the beach.
The Empress has waited for her.
Whatever they think of her—and she’s not naive enough to think it’s especially positive—Sao Feng named her Captain, and they are leery of committing mutiny against the Pirate King, wife of the Captain of the Dutchman . They wait.
Tomorrow, she will leave Shipwreck Cove behind, and be at sea once more. The East India Company is getting above itself once more, and she must lead by example in how she expects such a situation to be handled.
Tai Huang has spent the day getting the ship ready to sail. Part of her thinks Tai Huang should be Captain, but then she remembers that she’s a pirate and a king, beside. She is Captain, and there’s no sense apologizing for it.
As the sun sets on her last night in Shipwreck cove, she wanders out into the water, bottle in hand, safely sealed with wax. Her skirt floats around her, her bare toes sink into the sand.
She kisses the bottle. “For you, my love,” she whispers, then holds it to her chest, where two hearts beat, like such an act can lead the bottle to its destination, before tossing it into the sea, letting the slow tide lead it away.
“Sending notes for pretty Will?”
Elizabeth jumps, not just because there is a voice in the dark but because she knows that voice . And Tia Dalma—Calypso, whatever—cannot be here.
“Where are you?”
Sure enough, where the moonlight should cast Elizabeth’s reflection into the water, Tia Dalma smiles back, wide and secretive. “Captain.” Her smile, if anything, grows wider.
“What do I call you?” The reflection, clearer than any Elizabeth has seen, clearer than the slow tide would ever allow, grins back at her.
“You know my name, Captain.”
“Calypso. What do you want with me?”
“You are chasing your husband. You cannot have him. One day on land, ten years at sea. That was the deal. You cannot break it.”
“I am hunting down the East India Company like the scourge on our seas they are,” Elizabeth corrects. She knows the deal, and she won’t be discussing it with Calypso.
Elizabeth doesn’t back down. She is the Pirate King, and even a sea goddess can see the saltwater in her blood.
Calypso relents with softening eyes. “Perhaps so, perhaps so. You will do it?”
“Protect the sea? Protect it from those who wish to own it, control it?”
Elizabeth suddenly feels a thrum in the air, the sticky, humid air buzzing in a way that has nothing to do with the insects. She swallows. “I will.”
Calypso’s smile widens, truly delighted. “A promise sealed, a promise kept. Good luck, Pirate King. I will be watching.”
And Elizabeth is left, watching her own muddied reflection once more.
The Empress sails the next day, and Elizabeth stands on the quarterdeck, eyes on the horizon, Calypso’s words ringing in her ears, and Will’s heart beating next to hers.
“Where to, Captain?”
Every night, Elizabeth throws a bottle the crew has emptied overboard, sealed with wax and with a letter pressed inside.
She never gets one back, but the way the sea bobs and the soft wind caresses her face, she thinks perhaps Calypso is showing her favor.
Her crew lands in Tortuga, looking for supplies and information. Elizabeth sets her crew to procure food and bottles, then strides into the taverns for information.
Gone are the days where she disguised herself as a man to be here. Elizabeth Swann Turner is the Pirate King, and any man here who wants to cross blades with her is welcome to try.
The tavern quiets as she enters, just for a brief moment, and the crowd parts for her. Her boots echo throughout the silent tavern, as they all wait with baited breath for her to find her target.
He smiles at her, that wicked smile that had once scared her out of her wits. “Mistress Turner.”
“Captain Turner, actually,” she corrects, with some amount of forcefulness.
“That’s a mite confusing, seeing as there’s two of ya, now.”
“I’m sure you’ll figure it out. If you’re really confused, Lord Turner or King Turner will settle just fine.”
He laughs, loud and disruptive, and once again the tavern goes quiet for a moment.
“Why’re you here, then,
Turner? Did we not leave you on a nice spot of land?”
“Aye, you did. It’s not the first time you’ve marooned me, Barbossa.”
“T’not a marroonin’ if we leave you with a boat, missy.”
Elizabeth settles deeper into her seat, and props her hat on the table. “I see you kept the Pearl .”
“What of him?”
“Where did you leave him?”
“Here,” he says, taking a drink of his wine. “If he left Tortuga, it was of his own accord, and I care not why or when.”
Jack is… Jack is someone she can track down, later, she supposes. If he’s off in the world, it’s really no business of hers.
“I’m after the East India Company.”
“Why’s that, missy? We have ended their control.”
“They’re after our last free ports, Barbossa. They’re taking what we have left.”
“Then we’ll make new ports. We’re pirates, Captain Turner . We adapt.”
“There won’t be new ports left. Not if we don’t push back.”
Barbossa studies her for a minute. Elizabeth keeps her head high, her eyes staring into his. Below the table, her fist curls.
At long last, he nods. “What do you need?”
“Information. And a second ship.”
“ My ship—”
“I think you’ll find that, as King , they are all my ship .”
The air is heavy between them. “I didn’t vote for ye.”
“You’ll find that that doesn’t make much of a difference, with Kings.”
“Mayhap I should have, though. Just think, that fine lady from the governor’s mansion, a snarling, demanding pirate, beneath it all.”
The air is heavy again, the silence oppressive. Barbossa blinks first. “Alright, Captain. You’ll have your information, and the Black Pearl is yours to command.”
So they set sail for a free port the Company has been making moves towards, the Empress and the Black Pearl side by side.
“You trust them?” Tai Huang asks her one evening.
She smiles. “No. But I don’t trust you much, either. We’ll be alright.”
When they close in on the East India ship, full of spoils stolen from pirates, Elizabeth tightens her sword belt, grabs her pistol and hat, and holds Will’s heart closer to her chest, just for a moment.
“Come to me,” she whispers, then goes on deck, eyes focused on the ship approaching.
“Hold steady!” She calls, sparing a quick look for the Pearl . She needn’t have bothered. She doesn’t trust Barbossa, not a whit, but she does know he can handle a ship at war.
She has the cannons ready, but she’s ordered them not to fire, not if it can be helped. She wants what’s on that ship. She wants their charts, their ledger, their Captain, and it does no good to her if it’s all left to her husband’s care.
They board, with her in the lead. Tai Huang stays back to keep the ship steady, and to take her command, should she fall to her husband’s embrace early.
She has no plans to fall, though, as she cuts through sailors and soldiers alike, pushing bodies overboard to the sea.
Come to me, my love .
The Captain, coward that he is, hides in his cabin, so when she flings the doors open, he has nowhere left to run.
“Give me every scrap of information you have on the Company’s plans, every letter, every chart, every heading, every ledger and order, and you may survive today.” To make sure he fully understands her point, she aims her pistol at his head.
His eyes drift to his desk, and Elizabeth keeps her pistol leveled at his head as she walks over. “What’s in your hold?”
“Gold. A fair bit. Spices. Rum.”
“And where are you sailing for, Captain?” She glances over his maps. “No, I see where. What business does the Company have here?”
“We’re establishing a new port. For—”
“For trading slaves,” Elizabeth follows, horror bubbling in her gut, clogging her throat. It’s there in front of her, as she leafs through his papers, all in black and white. “You monster.”
“It’s good business.”
She can’t help it; she shoots him, clean through the center of his head.
Some of her men burst in when they hear the pistol shot. By the sounds of things, the fighting outside is over. “You, take every piece of paper, journal, ledger, and map back to the Empress ,” she commands, gathering herself. Her hands shake as she stows her pistol, so she takes a deep breath to steady herself before pointing to the next sailor. “You, lead our crew to raid the hold. Share equally with the crew of the Pearl. And you…this body needs to go overboard.”
Together, they drag the Captain’s body to the edge, and pitch him over the side. “For the Dutchman ,” she whispers, intently watching the sea.
She’s not disappointed. The ship rises from the sea, and, perhaps it’s her imagination, but she rather thinks the heart against her breast beats faster in time with her own.
He’s hanging over the side, holding a rope and leaning towards her, despite the gulf of sea between them. “Elizabeth?”
He swings over, landing on his feet before her. He looks good, whole and healthy, windswept and alive , so alive no one who didn’t know the story would ever guess.
He pulls her into his arms, kisses her breathless. He must feel his heart against his empty breastbone, because he pulls away, eyebrow raised and mouth open to ask, but she gives him a look to quell the thought. Not here. Not in front of pirates.
“What are you doing here?”
“The East India Company is setting up ports, to aid their reaching of the colonies with slaves,” she says heavily. “I… they must be stopped.”
“Elizabeth, this isn’t your fight,” he says, gripping her arms a hair too tight, pleading in his eyes.
She remembers who she was, once. The girl who would have given in to that, very likely. But she has seen too much, done too much. There has been too much back-stabbing and betrayal—a not insignificant amount of it her own—for her to go back.
So she holds her head high, her chin tilted up, and her lips set. “Then what is? I’m still their King, Will.”
He exhales sharply. “I…”
She rests her hand over his empty chest. “You didn’t marry me thinking I was anything else.”
They could have gotten married in Port Royal, with fine china and a beautiful gown, and music and dancing. But Fate had always had a different plan for them. Pirates, through and through, the Captains Turner, and Will should know that as well as her.
He hesitates a second, but then smiles and ducks his head, nose running along her neck. “My King,” he murmurs.
Just when his lips ghost over her skin, a whisper, a shiver down her spine, Bootstrap cuts them off from the Dutchman . “Captain.”
Will flinches away. “I’ve already spent too long. I… Elizabeth, I need to do my job.”
She gives him the best smile she can muster, under the circumstances. “I know. Crew,” she says louder, “Check the bodies. Make sure they’re all dead. Wouldn’t want Captain Turner to have to make two trips today.”
Will smiles at her, and she turns away to do just what she commanded.
She nudges the closest body onto its back, sees the guts spilling forth, and promptly vomits.
Will’s with her in second, rubbing her back as she makes a mess of the deck. “You’re fine, you’re fine,” he mutters, and she’s sure he speaks the truth, but it doesn’t much feel like it. “What set you off?”
“Many a sturdy lass see the sight of blood and lose her lunch when she’s expectin’.”
Elizabeth whirls. She hadn’t even heard Barbossa come on deck, although she supposes she wouldn’t. “What?”
“Are you… Elizabeth, could we be…”
She does the math. Two months and some days have passed now, and, yes, no sign of her courses in that time.
“Will…” She breathes, hands going to her stomach, both hearts beating rapidly against her breast. “Will, I think… I think we’re having a baby.”
Will picks her up and spins her, once, before setting her down and pulling her close, two heartbeats pressed between them as he kisses her breathless once more.
Will moans but pulls away, hands lingering. “If I stay too much longer, Calypso might consider me to be deserting my duty,” he murmurs. “Elizabeth. Stay safe. Go back to Shipwreck Cove. Please.”
She hesitates, but apparently the look in his eyes can still soften her heart sometimes. She nods. “I will.”
He kisses her again. “Tell them… tell them their father loves them and their mother to no end.”
She smiles tremulously. “I’ll keep an eye on the horizon.”
Will nods, and turns away to the bodies.
“Best be going, Captain Turner,” Barbossa murmurs. “You seem to have places to be.”
Out of Will’s direct line of sight, her heart resolves itself once again. “How can I, Barbossa? The East India Company—”
“Is this not why King’s have armies?” He interrupts, already ushering her to where the Empress has pulled up alongside.
She raises an eyebrow even as she crosses over. “You wouldn’t fight if I didn’t make you.”
“Aye, but you are making me.”
“I won’t be there.”
He gives a look back at Will. “No pirate is foolish enough to disobey their King. Not when they know what waits on the other side if they do.”
Will is compelled to be fair and take all souls to their final destination, lest he suffer the same fate as Jones. She doesn’t mention this to Barbossa.
“Very well, Captain,” she says. “You’ll report to me in Shipwreck Cove.”
He smiles. “Aye, Captain.” With that, he turns away, crossing the ship back to the Pearl .
Elizabeth directs the Empress back to Shipwreck Cove. Under the stars, sitting up top, she lets her hands rest on her stomach and her eyes drift closed, feeling the two hearts beat in unison. She’s not able to feel the third beat yet, but she knows it’s in there. “I don’t know anything about being a mother.”
The baby, of course, doesn’t respond. The baby doesn’t do anything yet, has yet to do a single thing to announce their presence other than make her vomit.
“I can’t imagine pirates make good parents, least of all Pirate Kings,” she murmurs, stroking her hand over her stomach. “But at least I know no one will ever dare harm you.”
The next day, she approaches Tai Huang. “When we get back to Shipwreck Cove, I’ll be staying behind,” she tells him. “And at that point, the Empress is yours until I call on her again.”
He stares at her a moment. “Yes, Captain.”
“Treat her well for me, will you?”
True to her word, Elizabeth lets Tai Huang depart with her ship and her crew, leaving her naught but her sword and her stolen information.
And her kingship, she reminds herself. Ship or no ship, she will always be King.
“Captain Turner,” Teague says, welcoming her back to the meeting chamber. “Welcome home.”
She deposits her armfuls of stolen information on the table, and then walks around, taking a look at the relics of a thousand years of the sea.
“What’s our first task?”
She considers the information in front of her, but then considers the babe in her belly, only slightly more obvious now.
“I need a home,” she says, and ignores how the words taste like ash in her mouth.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
Warnings for a canon level of violence, and also not super graphic but not glossed over childbirth. They do discuss the slave trade.
Elizabeth is fully aware that her being a mother, considering she is the primary guardian and has no desire to leave pirating behind, is maybe not the best choice. She does not care.
Shipwreck Cove is no place to raise a baby. The island Elizabeth still thinks of as belonging to her and Will, however, will do well enough.
It’s calm, with no dangerous wildlife and no history of bad storms. It’s accessible by sea, and not a long way from Shipwreck Cove.
Perhaps more importantly, it is the first place Will will look for her, in nine years, eight months.
Pirates build her house. They build her a lighthouse, in fact, perhaps because pirates can do nothing but think of the sea. They use old wood from the wrecked ships of Shipwreck Cove, and rocks worn smooth by the sea, and while Elizabeth argues with Teague about marshalling pirate forces against the East India Company’s expansion of the slave trade, a house goes up.
Barbossa reports in to her when her belly has become noticeable to even a casual observer, and he brings her a tea for the sickness. She accepts it gratefully, along with his news.
“The trouble is, there’s more of them than there are of us,” Barbossa says, eating an apple from her table. “Always will be, now, ‘pirate’ being a dying breed.”
“It doesn’t have to be,” she says sharply, although she has to acknowledge the truth of it. The world isn’t what it was. The Company, the Royal Navy, are just bigger.
“You’re the King of a small band of survivors, Captain Turner. Best accept it now.”
“We can’t let them get away with this.”
“Aye. And your orders?”
She hesitates. Every potential move means death. Death for them, or for the captured slaves, or for the sailors for the Company.
“Take the ships,” she says eventually, having no better solution. “Save as many as you can. Bring them home, if they wish. Or give them the ship.”
He studies her face. “We are but just one ship, Captain.”
“With the Empress you are two. And I… I can call on more.” It will never be enough, and she knows it.
Then again, Elizabeth Swann Turner knows a thing or two about fighting when the odds are stacked against her.
“We do what we can,” she says at last. “And no one can ask more than that.”
Eight weeks after she moves into her new home—drafty, lonely, and empty, but evidently hers, now—Jack arrives in Shipwreck Cove with a ship that barely deserves to be called such, and a fine wooden cradle.
“How did you know?” She asks, trailing a hand over the smooth wood, pushing it so it rocks gently.
“Word gets around,” Jack says, striding around her new home, as if looking for the exits. Or hidden treasure, perhaps. Maybe even her husband’s heart.
It beats steadily against her breast. She doesn’t think Jack would go after it. Not after he gave up his chance once already for Will. But then again, Jack can be a desperate man, sometimes.
“Besides, a babe of the Pirate King and the Captain of the Dutchman ? Word gets around about that. People are quite eager to see what the little spawn turns out to be.”
Elizabeth grips her now quite visible stomach. “Is that what people think?” She rubs her belly. “Have I… Jack, have I put some terrible destiny on this child?”
“It’s a child, love,” he says, coming around to stand near her. “I’m no expert, but far as I’m concerned, a child is a child. Everything else comes later.”
She nods, a touch shakily, and moves to sit down. “I don’t… I don’t think I’ll be a good mother,” she confesses, words she’d only ever say to Jack. Never to Teague, or Tai Huang, or Barbossa, and certainly never to Will.
Will is…Will is relying on her to be normal . To be this baby’s parent, to be the one with one foot still on land. Will needs her to be strong.
Jack’s never needed that. Not from her.
“In my experience, pirates rarely are good parents,” Jack admits. “But mayhap you’ll be the best of us yet again, aye?”
“What do I do, Jack?”
He rubs her shoulder, and part of her wants to buck him off while the other part welcomes the touch. It’s been so long since anyone touched her. The last was Will, on the deck of the East India Company’s ship, and that was different than this, but this is welcome nevertheless.
People don’t touch Kings. Or perhaps they don’t touch other men’s wives; she’s not quite sure of the truth, but either way, she’s left to stand alone.
Except for Jack. Somehow, always, except for Jack.
“You do what people have been doing for thousands of years, Lizzie,” he murmurs. “Pirates and Kings and everyone else alike. You do what you can.”
She closes her eyes, and takes a deep, shaky breath. “Thank you, Jack.”
He moves away, perhaps sensing the moment is over, and sits down at her table. “Anytime, love. Well, figuratively speaking. I, of course, will not be here at any time, because I have a ship to find.”
She smiles. “For what it’s worth, Jack. I’m rooting for you.”
“Is that the support of my King I hear?”
“No. Just your friend.”
“Well. That will do well enough. And when I have my ship back, I’ll come by, and you and me and your babe will go on many an adventure.”
It feels like her heart is in her throat once more. “Jack, I… I can’t.”
“You can’t imagine the little spawn will be the first brat at sea. Why, when I was a boy…” He shakes his head, clearly unwilling to relive the tale. “Either way. The sea misses you, Lizzie.”
“The sea… what?”
“You’re a pirate through and through, saltwater in your blood and you can’t deny it. You’re meant to be at sea.”
“I have duties here.”
“Then I guess you best resolve them before I get back.”
Jack stays a week. He makes noises about going after the Pearl the whole time, but doesn’t hasten to move. Maybe it’s the terrible ship he sailed up in and piss-poor crew that puts him off. Maybe he’s a man who’s lost his ship often enough that he’s finally learned the value of patience. Maybe it’s something else.
After their talk in her kitchen, though, Elizabeth is reminded that she is a King , and she has a job to do. “Jack.”
“Yes?” He’s mending sail. It won’t help his ship much, but she supposes it has to be done, so she sits down with him and takes up the other end.
“When you claim a ship—”
“ —It’s the Pearl or nothing, love—”
“When you claim a ship, you must come back.”
“‘Course. I promised, didn’t I?”
“Your promises mean nothing to me, Captain Sparrow.” She says it without heat, with the hint of a smile, even. She’s not bitter, not when she’s betrayed him right back. “You need to come back, not because we have grand adventures to undertake. I have a job for you.” He opens his mouth, but she cuts him off. “This time, I am speaking as your King.”
He’s silent for a moment, mouth still open, before he sits up a little more formally. “Aye, Captain Turner.”
He leaves the next morning, and she pretends it doesn’t ache.
Elizabeth is big enough that everything hurts. Her back, her ankles, her organs, her breasts. All comfortable positions have ceased to exist, and her temper has grown shorter.
She wishes for her husband something awful, as she lies awake in their—always their, never just hers —bed. She never tells him quite like this in her letters, of course. She’ll tell him she misses him, that she loves him, but in the pretty words of a thousand years’ worth of sailors’ wives.
She never tells him about the raw, deep ache, the thought that maybe it’s her own heart that’s gone missing, even as she feels the double, steady beat. That being pregnant is miserable and lonely, and not something she should have ever been asked to go through alone. That she loves Will with every fiber of her being, and will never stop, but that sometimes, she can’t help the resentment.
She deserves a husband who is here, who holds her and chases the pain and loneliness away, who supports her and is nervous and excited for their baby right alongside her. But fate has denied her that. Denied Will that. And it aches.
It’s in the misty hours between midnight and dawn, and Elizabeth already threw her letter into the sea for the day, but she walks down to the water anyways, slipping into the shallows until the soft waves are enough to allow her to lean back and let them carry her weight.
She moans, allowing the midnight air to carry away the noise, allowing the sea to know her pleasure, to take her burden.
She floats there, under the moonlight, for what might be hours before the voice interrupts her. “You don’t visit me anymore.”
Elizabeth tries to hide her jump, but fails. “Calypso,” she manages, looking around, finding the goddess once more in a too-perfect vision of her own reflection. “What do you—what do you mean?”
“Pirate King, who made me a promise, spends her days on land, ignoring the sea she is bound to.”
“I… I am organizing the pirates to stop the East India Company. I’m keeping my vow, Calypso. Stopping those who would use you for ill.”
Calypso raises an eyebrow. “You know nothing, from your gilded perch, here.”
Elizabeth bites her lip to refrain from talking about how far Shipwreck Cove and her lighthouse are from a gilded anything, and stares at the reflection instead. “What would you have me do? I’m not in position to raise a sword, right now.”
Elizabeth doesn’t think it’s in her imagination, how the water caresses her swollen belly. “Hmm. Perhaps your Will was not the only one with a touch of destiny, hm?”
“What do you know about my child?”
“I know they are of two parents bound to the sea, promises made, but one promise not kept .”
Elizabeth swallows, placing her hands on her stomach, as if she can protect the babe from the ocean so recently supporting it. “I can’t fix the problem. Not on my own.”
“A good King sees a problem up close, and at a distance.”
“What does that mean?”
“Do you know the story of Death and his lover?”
Elizabeth frowns. Yes, she knows that one. “Yes, he kidnaps her, and—”
“Pah,” Calypso dismisses, shaking her head. “Mortals ruin every story. Tell me, King. What were the terms?”
Elizabeth thinks about it for a minute. “Six months in the underworld. Six months at home.”
Calypso gives her her wide, toothy grin. “Yes. So, tell me. Will you do it? Will you abide the terms, keep your promise?”
It’s not a question Elizabeth can say no to, she already knows. She’s made her promise already. “What, leave now?”
“Witty Jack is closer than you think,” she says. “Besides, if you go now, maybe the father can see his baby born.”
Elizabeth’s heart skips a beat, an uncomfortable feeling when the one right next to it keeps on beating steadily. “You’d let him? You—you’d let him?”
“Much can happen, at the will of the sea.”
Calypso disappears at that, leaving Elizabeth with nothing but the moonlight.
True to Calypso’s word, Jack is back within the fortnight, and he brings the Black Pearl .
“Alright, love?” He asks, smile in full force as he leans over the side, seemingly having forgiven her somewhere along his journey.
She musters a smile for him. “Welcome back.”
“Now, Captain Turner, I hear you have a job for me?”
“Permission to come aboard?”
“Kings don’t ask permission, love.”
“Well, Captain Sparrow, I’d love to join you, but I’m not getting up the rope like this.”
“Oh, aye.” He scrambles away from his perch, and soon enough drops the gangplank for her, helping her aboard. “‘Bout to pop, eh?”
She raises an eyebrow. “Captain Sparrow, I’m not sure that’s something you should be commenting on.”
“It is if you’re gonna have a baby on my ship, Lizzie love.”
“Another month, maybe,” she offers.
Less, actually, but she’s heard first babies are often late. Still, her child seems to be as restless as the sea, twisting with the tides and ready to move.
“Well, I look forward to meeting the little princeling.”
She smiles as she settles on the stairs to the quarterdeck. She’ll need help getting up from here, but it feels good to sit, even after standing for such a short time.
“What do you know about the East India Company?”
He goes still for a moment. “I try to ignore them and hope the favor will be returned.”
“Jack. The day I met you, I saw the brand on your arm.”
“They don’t take kindly to pirates.”
“What’d you steal from them, Jack?”
“Nothing,” he says roughly, after a moment, looking off at the horizon instead of at her. “‘Cause people aren’t cargo, and people can’t be stolen.”
The wind feels like it stills for a minute, and she truly looks at him, looks at the man he hides beneath the pirate. “I aim to burn the East India Company to the ground, Jack. And stop their trade of human flesh.”
His lips twist into a wry smile. “I quite thought I was done sailing towards certain death for you.”
She waits, with bated breath, wondering if she’ll have to make it an order, exercise her power as King again.
Jack pulls out his compass and offers it to her. “What’s our heading, then, Captain Turner?”
The compass points them towards East India Company ships, but it turns out Jack is a better font of information than any ship she could take.
He tells her about islands taken by former slaves, and captains who escaped slavery. He doesn’t promise they will stand by her side in this fight, and she supposes that that’s fair enough. She might be King. Perhaps she could order them to fight, but she feels an illness at the thought that has nothing to do with the baby.
At any rate, Jack promises he knows where to find them, so they can have a conversation.
Jack’s been out of the trade with the Company for almost fifteen years, but he tells her what he can. Shipping lanes, ports of interest, every scrap of information Jack can give her makes it into her ledger, so she can review it later.
“Why’re you doing this?” Jack asks her one night, taking his turn at the wheel while she studies the stars.
“Someone has to protect the sea.”
Jack looks at the sea, mostly calm around them but still ready and able to take a man into her unfathomable depths. “I think she can take care of herself.”
The wind picks up slightly, ruffling Elizabeth’s loose hair, playing at her skirt. “I’m the Pirate King, Jack. You charged me with protecting our way of life, and I aim to do it.”
He’s silent at that, and they both enjoy the cool, salty air.
William Henry Turner is born in a storm bad enough to lash the ship, to make her creak and rock as Elizabeth screams and swears in the Captain’s cabin.
Jack Sparrow and Joshamee Gibbs serve as her midwives, and she might deign to feel a certain way about that once she finishes screaming as she’s ripped apart.
Jack lets her squeeze his hand, a gesture which is only slightly tarnished by his inability to stop running his mouth.
“Jack,” she gasps, when she can get a word around his continued attempts to motivate her, “Jack, shut your mouth. Because the only thing I want more than this baby out of me is my husband here, and right this minute I’m not opposed to running you through to make that happen.”
Jack gulps and wisely keeps his mouth shut, and Elizabeth bites her lip before letting the scream out as the next contraction hits.
“Soon, Captain,” Gibbs promises. Elizabeth doesn’t ask how he knows this, what his qualifications are. She’s quite sure she doesn’t want to know.
She squeezes her eyes shut as she screams again, and wishes Will were here to tell her this, here to hold her and wipe her brow, to await their child with her. Calypso promised .
Only she didn’t, because she’s a goddess and doesn’t make promises. In fact, does she not mislead mortals as easily as breathing? Isn’t that the nature of the sea?
All she gets is his heart beating alongside hers, his calm, steady beat trying to calm her racing, strained heart, for all the good it’s doing.
If her next scream is particularly loud, no one says anything.
“I see the head, Miss Swann,” Gibbs announces. She doesn’t have the breath nor the attention to correct him, just squeezes Jack’s hand until her own fingers hurt, and pushes.
Her screams are nearly drowned out by the baby’s, and only then do her tears join in the mix. She sobs as she finishes delivering, with Jack at her side, doing his best to wipe her tears with filthy hands, as Gibbs takes care of her baby.
Her sobs die down when Gibbs hands her her son. Her son. She looks at him, eyes screwed tight as he wails, and she leans her head close, resting her forehead on his tiny little head, with only a tuft of wispy hair. “Hello, William.”
His cries gentle, and she brings him to her breast, still sweat-soaked and heaving slightly, but evidently William doesn’t care. He latches on, and she gasps at the feeling before looking at the audience she still has.
“William Henry,” she murmurs, running one finger over the downy head.
“A fine name for a fine lad. I’ll tell the crew.” Gibbs leaves them, clearly shaky but determined.
She cannot blame him, not after what he did tonight.
It’s only then, with the baby suckling and quieted, that she can hear the wind outside.
The storm no doubt lashes this ship, cruel and unkind as any at sea, but the wind feels like a gentle caress. Like a welcome, she imagines, for little William.
Like encouragement, perhaps.
“Captain Turner, come quick!”
Elizabeth would retort that she’s not up for going anywhere quick, not when she gave birth not twelve hours before, but Gibbs wouldn’t call her for something idle. Jack apparently agrees, and helps her close a robe and then walk out of the room, baby swaddled in her arms.
Dawn has just broken, the sun fighting the clouds that still give them the faintest mist of rain, a burnt-out reminder of the night before. The Black Pearl evidently held up well, as it should, under the strain of the storm, and Elizabeth is glad to see it.
But what she is more glad to see is the ship sailing towards them. The Dutchman , in the dawn glow, cutting through the water like the ghost ship it is.
“There be a wreck, off our starboard,” Gibbs says. “Storm took them, God rest their souls.”
He’s not close, and he’s not coming for the Pearl . The captain of the Dutchman has a duty, after all, and they are not his duty. Still, he hears her, and turns to her.
She holds the swaddled bundle up, just enough for keen eyes to see.
Will shouts something to his crew, and the Dutchman pulls closer.
Not close enough to board, not even close enough for a real conversation. She swallows, because she well knows the duties of the captain of the Dutchman , even if she hates them.
“Our son,” she says, hoping the wind will carry her words. “We have a son.”
She doesn’t hear anymore, but that’s alright. She can see it in his eyes, hear it in that one word.
“I love you.”
The Pearl and the Dutchman sail opposite ways, and Elizabeth doesn’t stop watching until they are well out of sight.
Hours later, when William is asleep under the mostly watchful eye of Jack, she sneaks back on deck to drop a bottle into the sea once more.
His name is William Henry Turner. He has your mouth.
When William wakes up to be fed a few hours later, Elizabeth sits by the window, letting them be bathed in moonlight as she bares her breast and lets her little boy eat.
Cooing softly at him, she strokes a finger down his nose—also his father’s, no doubt—and across his lips, causing him to scrunch up his face and make her laugh.
She can’t remember the last time she laughed.
He opens his eyes and stares at her, and Elizabeth can’t help but stare back.
Because that looks like her wispy light hair, and his father’s mouth and nose, and perhaps her ears. But the eyes—
She and Will both have dark eyes. But not William. Maybe his eyes will darken with time, but right now, they are as grey as a stormy sea, and just as deep and fathomless.
For the first time, she receives a return on one of her bottles.
They haul it up during the day, and Jack seems to know to turn it over to her without opening it.
She unseals the bottle greedily, ripping the note out, running her hands across the paper like it’s his skin, like she can touch him through his words.
Call him Henry. I think there have been enough Williams.
I love you always.
She holds the note to her chest, and Jack gives her privacy to pretend she isn’t crying.
Henry is two weeks old the first time they make port with him.
Elizabeth disembarks with him, wearing a mostly clean skirt and shirt, her boots finally fitting over her swollen ankles once more. She uses a length of cloth to bind the baby to her chest.
She still carries her sword and pistol, because she will defend her son to the death.
Jack makes introductions, bringing her to one of the islands he told her about, the home of several Captains who might aid their cause.
She negotiates and persuades, and when Henry wakes up fussy, she feeds him right there, as they continue their conversation, her head held high and eyes steady.
She won’t apologize for who she is.
It turns out, she doesn’t need to. She might be a King because Jack saw her as a means to an end, but she’s better than that. She’s a King because she knows how to lead, and she has a mission right now.
“And what of the next thing you ask of us, Pirate King?” one demands.
“I have one goal,” she says. “Keep the seas free. That’s all, I swear.”
It seems to be enough.
As they leave port, the winds blow slow and sweet around them. It puts wind in their sails, but it almost feels like a caress.
Calypso , Elizabeth thinks. Calypso, who came through after all, who in her mercy allowed Will to see his son, who delivered her message and his back. Calypso, who favors her for some reason.
The breeze ruffles her hair, pushes her back, brings a smile to her face.
Then Henry makes a noise, his sweet little laugh mixing with the breeze, and Elizabeth hears it for the first time, the soft cooing in the breeze, and her heart freezes, unsure if Calypso is here for her or for the baby.
Jack is a better guardian than anyone would ever expect to her son. More than once, she’s found him asleep still holding the babe, after she temporarily left him in Jack’s care.
Jack holds the baby so she can eat in peace, and then they switch so she can feed Henry while he eats. “If I ask you to fight, will you?”
He doesn’t answer for a second. “I’ve fought more than one battle on your behalf already, Lizzie.”
“That’s not an answer, Jack.”
“Yes. I would.”
Part of her wants to ask why, but most of her doesn’t want to know. “Tai Huang has the Empress . Barbossa is…”
“Don’t worry, love, I left him a ship.”
She shrugs. “Point is, we have friends out there. We can protect our seas. But I need you, Jack.”
“I’ve heard that before.”
“Jack.” She doesn’t mean it to come out as sharp as it does, but it’s enough to make Henry fuss a bit. She soothes him, running gentle fingers down his back, and he goes back to sucking. “I need you. I trust you.”
“Some would say that’s stupid of you.”
It certainly is, because Jack might sell her out as soon as look at her. Except he never really has. He always comes back.
“I’m comfortable with my choice,” she manages. “Will you stand with us?”
“And where be you in this? Bringing your son into a battle?”
She bites her lip, and looks down at the baby, so innocent and pure, eyes still grey as the sea. “You said to me once, I would do the best I could, and no one would ask more of me.”
Jack studies her a moment. Then he smiles. “The Pearl is yours to command, Captain Turner.”
When Henry becomes particularly fussy, when neither milk nor changing will soothe him, when neither singing nor the waves will send him to sleep, she holds him close to her breast and lets the duel hearts lull him quiet.
“Your father and I are always here for you,” she whispers, letting her body sway with the rock of the waves, letting her steady heartbeat, in perfect time with her husband’s, soothe her son.
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
Years are passing.
Warning for some violence, about canon level.
Before the Black Pearl draws up on any East India Company shift, the crew draws straws, to see who will stay behind in the captain’s cabin with the baby.
The act is conducted with great solemnity, and everyone knows the consequences should they fail. Everyone knows Elizabeth would run a man through without hesitation for her son, and that there will be no mercy for them in death.
It’s not fair to them, to put that on them. It’s not fair to her son, to put him in that position, not when he doesn’t know any better. But she’s a King, and a pirate, and neither Kings nor pirates are known for being fair.
Taking ships is never a challenge, not with their new friends across the sea. After more than a month of this, ships begin to run up white flags before they can fire a single shot.
“Shame, that,” Jack says, lounging back against the rail of the Pearl . “It’s like they’re not even trying anymore.”
She doesn’t have to look over to know how he doesn’t mean it, that his eyes are on the ship and the conversations going out there. Some of the people emerging from the hold haven’t seen sunlight in too long.
“We’re wearing them down.”
Jack snorts, and looks over to where she is once more holding her son, bouncing him lightly. “They can’t be killed, Lizzie. They’re too big.”
“All they care about is money. We make this unprofitable for them, and they’ll give up.”
“Aye, and then they’ll find a new route, a new port.”
“Then we’ll stop that too.”
It’s silent for a minute, until the East India ship, now under a new captain elected from the captives, cuts ties and heads off.
“Where to, Captain Turner?”
The Dutchman rises in the distance, coming for the bodies still bobbing in the water. Elizabeth watches with barely concealed joy, her heartbeat picking up.
Henry notices, making an inquisitive noise. She kisses his head and holds him so he can see. “Your father has arrived,” she whispers to him. “Look at him.”
In point of fact, they can barely see Will. But Henry makes a cooing noise regardless, and she bounces him as they watch until the Dutchman is gone once more, off to continue its duty.
“Heading?” Jack repeats.
Elizabeth doesn’t turn to him, just stays with her baby in her arms, watching the horizon where her husband once was.
She feels her baby, her little Henry, in her arms, feels how he’s grown, how he’s changed. Five months, nearly, now. Five months ago she’d screamed and been torn apart, and has this little wonder to show for it.
But that means it’s time. That she must leave the East India Company to Jack and the others, because she made a promise.
“Take me to Shipwreck Cove.”
“How is it that this place falls apart when I’m not here?” She asks Teague, looking over the papers he has for her, Henry sleeping peacefully against her chest.
“We’re pirates. Not known much for organization.”
“Right.” She begins to leaf through the mess. “Well, that stops here.”
Calypso was right, to ask this of her. Six months at sea, being in the fight, and six months at land, seeing the big picture. It’s exhausting work being the King, but Elizabeth pushes through.
Pirates come to visit her, as is their due, and they report their various misdeeds. Elizabeth finds herself settling disputes that would previously be settled with gunfire and swords and marooning. Truthfully, they sometimes still are, but she can’t win every battle.
She also rallies forces against the East India Company, and collects any scrap of information she can find on them, and doles out the information to those who need it.
She establishes free ports, and makes sure the bribes are paid to keep them free, giving pirates a few last safe places.
Teague watches her with a sort of bemused frown, most of the time. “We’re pirates.”
“Mhm,” she says, as she scratches a letter out, absently petting Henry’s back with her free hand, hoping he’ll sleep just a few moments longer.
She looks up. “I think you’ll find that things changed when I was elected King, Captain Teague.” She finishes her sentence, but then returns her attention to him. “When I met Cutler Beckett, he told me the realm had changed. As much of a bloody ass as that man was, he wasn’t wrong.”
“Pirates don’t change, love.”
“They might have to, Captain Teague.”
He leaves her to write her letter, but the troubled look doesn’t leave his face.
Henry takes his first steps toddling on the beach beneath their lighthouse, his grabby little hands grasped firmly in hers until she lets go, until she lets him try it for himself.
He falls into the sea foam coming up as the tide comes in, and when she hurries over to him, he’s laughing.
She can’t help but smile too, even as she thinks Will should have been here for this moment.
Jack comes back to them two weeks before Elizabeth will be ready to leave again. She makes him wait, although she doesn’t explain the promises she made to Calypso.
Finally, she packs her and Henry’s meager belongings and boards the
. “Where are we off to, Captain Sparrow?”
He grins. “What d’you know about the Fountain of Youth?”
They don’t find it, but part of her thinks that that’s half the fun.
Henry’s first words happen at sea on that trip, on the way to a third supposed location of the fountain, leaving their third East India ship burning in their wake, the Dutchman disappearing on the horizon as they watch. “Mamamamama, dadadada.”
Her heart wedges itself in her throat. She has to swallow it down, swallow it back into place. “Yes, that’s your father,” she manages a moment later. “He loves you very much, Henry.”
Jack brings her back to Shipwreck Cove when she asks, a shrewd look in his eyes.
“Next time you see me, love, I’ll be immortal.”
“Of course, Jack.”
He looks at Henry. “I’ll see you in six months, little Princeling.”
Elizabeth opens her mouth to correct him, but finds she can’t. The pirate Prince, son of a King and Death himself.
Henry reaches out and touches Jack’s face, and she doesn’t think she imagines Jack’s flinch.
They all start to call him Princeling, and not a single one of them means it mockingly, not even those who can barely show respect to her as their King.
And when Henry simply watches them with those cold, sea-storm grey eyes, she thinks she understands.
“Mama, where’s Father?”
Her heart skips a beat. It does that too often, and it always feels like the only thing that makes it start beating again is Will’s steady heart prompting it along.
She knew this question would come at some point, she knew and she prepared her answer, and yet it feels so much harder in the moment.
She pulls him closer into her arms, at the top of the cliff watching the horizon. “He’s at sea,” she murmurs into his ear. “He’s at sea, ferrying the souls of the dead.”
She bites her lip. “Because someone has to,” she decides. “Because your father is a good man. A man who does his duty. But,” she kisses his cheek, softly, “We’re very lucky. Because sometimes we see him while we’re at sea, yes?”
She can’t see his face, with him in her lap, but she knows his little frown. “But I want him here. Like you are.”
“I know, my love. But once every ten years, he can come ashore. We’ll get a whole day with him here, I promise.”
The frown doesn’t lessen, and she cannot blame him. It’s a terrible burden to lay on a child.
“Can I free him?” He asks. “Save him?”
She closes her eyes. Her son spends too much time with pirates, with Teague and Barbossa and Jack and Tai Huang and their crews, and the dozen other pirates who lurk around Shipwreck Cove at any given time. They’ve put ideas in his head, told him stories.
“No, love. Someone has to help those souls. Your father has a duty.”
“Someone else could do it,” he points out, with all the reasonableness of a small child. A pirate child, maybe. A pirate child who is greedy to take what he believes to be his.
Her heart seizes yet again. Henry doesn’t doesn’t understand, doesn’t know that would kill his father.
Will’s heart beats against hers, and she relaxes. You must stab the heart to kill the Captain, and no one will touch the heart while she still breathes.
She pulls Henry back a little firmer into her. “Let’s buck up, Henry. Your father—he has his duty. And we have ours.”
“What’s our duty?”
There are many things she could say. She protects the heart, she raises a child, she fights against the scourge of East India Company and their ilk.
“Your Mama is a King,” she settles on whispering to him, nose tickling his little cheeks as she talks. “Your Mama is a King and you, my love, are my little Prince.”
When Henry is five, they’ve temporarily cut into the East India Company’s trade once more, so Jack declares it a day of rest between Elizabeth sending them after slaver ships, sending them to this port and that, and points them to Tortuga instead, insisting his compass can get him there, as he wants nothing more than a good rum and a good role in the hay.
She glares at him, for saying such things in front of her son, but then notices that he doesn’t withdraw his compass once in the act of navigating them to Tortuga.
Tortuga is no place for Henry, so Elizabeth keeps them both busy mending sail while Jack and the others gallivant on dry land. Henry’s stitches are clumsy and charming, and Elizabeth spends as much time watching him as she does sewing.
She cannot reconcile how old her son has gotten. Ten years once sounded like an interminably long time, and every day without Will does ache. But with Henry, ten years is eaten up, disappearing.
Darkness falls, and the island grows rowdy. Henry doesn’t seem to notice, or at least doesn’t ask. He curls up on her lap, and lets the sea breeze and her heartbeats lull him to sleep.
Jack arrives back far earlier than she would have expected. He told his crew they’d sail with the midday tide tomorrow, and yet here he is, before midnight, even.
She moves out from under Henry, then uses her jacket as a pillow for him so she can stand and greet Jack. “Nothing to catch your fancy?” She asks, not sure if she wants the sordid answer, but happy for conversation regardless.
He swaggers around the deck, a slight hesitancy in his step disappearing within moments. “I do hate to be a disappointment,” he drawls, “but I had to inform them my first and only love is the sea.”
He goes over to the rail and sits on it, looking out over the horizon. When he pats the spot beside him, she walks over and joins him, sitting together in perfect silence.
She thinks about Jack, about how she’s actually only ever seen angry, fed-up women slap him, and nothing more. How he leered and implied but never pushed, and she smiles softly.
“Did you get the rum, then?”
She bumps his shoulder. “Did we not have rum on our ship, Captain Sparrow?”
“ My ship has plenty of rum, love, and will be even better stocked by morning.”
“I imagine. Is that why we came, then? To stock up on rum?”
“We came because sometimes a man needs a change of pace. And besides, never has a more wretched hive of scum accumulated in the Caribbean. Never know what you might find.”
She catches on, then. Leave it to Jack, she supposes. “And what might you have found, Captain Sparrow?”
He turns away from the horizon just enough to flash her that blinding, infuriating smile, and produces a map.
They don’t find the rumored Fountain of Youth then either, but they do give it their all.
Instead, what they do find is Spanish privateers. They’re the faster ship, but Elizabeth hates to admit that they’re taken by surprise, and the wind is not on their side to get them out of range of the canons.
So with her heart seemingly in her throat, she pushes Henry into the hold, hides him behind crates and instructs him to keep silent. He’s a young boy, but perhaps something in her eyes tells him to listen, because he nods, and she has to pray it's enough as she runs off.
The fight is bloody and brutal, and Elizabeth’s sword is dripping blood by the time they take the ship. She’s bleeding too, from a cut on her shoulder and one above her eye, a quick knick from a sword that will likely scar.
Well, she supposes that’s good. She was a very pretty governor’s daughter, and that’s who Will fell in love with, but she’s a Pirate King now and she should perhaps look the part, just a little bit.
She looks at the bodies aboard the Pearl , looks at the men who have not gone to raid the pirvateer’s ship getting ready to toss the bodies overboard.
“No, wait.” They do, because of course they do, because this is Jack’s ship but everyone knows that you don’t cross Elizabeth Turner.
She rushes back to the hold, and calls for Henry until he emerges, slow and with tear-tracked cheeks.
He’s not crying anymore, though, and a gentle kiss to his soft little curls soothes him. “It’s done?”
His quiet little voice makes her ache, so she kisses him again. “Done. Come up top with me, hm?”
When they arrive, the Dutchman is rising from the sea, she tries to keep her son focused on that, pointing and whispering to him about his father, but she knows he sees the bodies.
It can’t be helped. She has a pirate Prince for a son, and they’ve been at war since he was a baby. Since before he was even conceived, really. He is going to know war.
But he’ll also know her love, soft kisses on his brow and the steady, lulling sound of a heart that beats mostly for him. And if she has her way, he’ll know his father.
Will appears in the deck as if from thin air, seemingly melting out of the ship itself. Jack makes a face at that, but Elizabeth can hardly bother to pay attention as she sends her son to greet his father.
Will catches him as he runs, picks him up and buries his face in Henry’s neck. She smiles, watching the scene, before heading over herself.
Will looks up to look at her, takes in the cut on her forehead, lingering for only a minute before he takes in the rest of her. “I only have a minute.”
She draws closer, until she can wrap her arms around them both. “That’s fine.”
It’s not fine, it’s not fine and it’s not fair, and the greedy pirate in her demands more, demands she make him stay, hang the system, hang the world, hang Calypso.
But she’s a king. A Pirate King, yes, but a king, and she understands duty well enough.
Will kisses Henry’s cheek, burying his face close to his son’s. “I have a job to do, lad.”
Elizabeth’s heart aches at the whine, but she takes the boy from Will, pulling him away. He’s getting too big for her to carry, but she manages it.
He watches his father meet the souls of the deceased. They cannot see it, not in the way Will seemingly can, but he pulls souls from bodies and sends them to the Dutchman .
Henry makes a noise when Will gets to the last body, and it’s not hard to see why. Even Elizabeth, long since desensitized to the violence of the sea and pirates, winces at the gruesome display.
She cannot say too much, though. After all, she’s pretty sure she killed him.
Will hears Henry’s little noise and looks up to give Elizabeth a look, but she hardens her eyes and stares back.
Will isn’t here . He’s not here and perhaps that is not his fault, but either way he has not been here and he does not get to judge her parenting decisions. She strokes Henry’s hair and allows him to hide his face in her shoulder. “You’re fine,” she murmurs, still not looking away from Will.
Henry brings his hand to her chest, using the double heartbeats to soothe himself while Will finishes the work.
“I have to go.”
Henry lifts his head even as he doesn’t move his hand. He frowns. “I don’t want you to.”
Will strides forward and kisses Henry’s forehead, cupping his little cheek and pausing there a moment, inhaling. “Look to the horizon, lad,” he murmurs. “And one day, I’ll come back to you.”
“Yes,” Will says, and he breaks away from Henry just long enough to kiss her once, desperate and longing, before he melts away.
She and Henry are both left leaning towards the empty space, seeking what they can’t have.
Elizabeth is glad Henry got to see Will, even for just a few moments. She’s glad her son knows his father, knows the man he is, instead of just knowing a story.
Still, seeing Will so close, being able to touch him, taste him, and to lose him once more, causes an ache she did not expect.
It’s as if her heart hurts, and Will’s steady beating cannot soothe her. She doesn’t understand why , not when she was under no illusions, not when she knows Will’s duty. Not when he’s bound to the sea, to the Dutchman , for eternity.
She stays in bed for three days. Not very becoming of a Pirate King, perhaps. Maybe the pirates say something. Maybe they judge her.
She can’t find it in her to care.
Henry snuggles up at her side every night, and Jack brings her food. For most of the day, she’s left alone.
On the evening of the third day, she emerges from the captain’s cabin onto the deck, feeling slightly steadier even if part of her still feels like it was ripped away.
Which is ridiculous, because Will is the one with a piece of him carved out. But sometimes, it feels like her own heart was carved out and given to Will as he sailed away, even as it beats contrarily in her chest.
When she emerges, the sun is disappearing over the horizon, but for once the horizon is not what catches her attention.
No, it’s Jack and Henry on deck, mock fighting with two pieces of wood. “That’s it, little Princeling. Cross your foot, and—Aye, there you are. And now?”
Henry obediently crosses and then lunges, and Jack does not have to work very hard to dodge her son’s clumsy attempt. Still, she sees the look of concentration across Henry’s brow, and her breath catches. Something else he gets from her.
“What’s going on here?” She asks, stepping down the stairs, walking closer.
Jack pats Henry’s head. “Aye, practice that. Again.” Then he walks over to her. “He wanted to learn. Seemed to think it might be useful.”
She doesn’t have to defend her choices, but unlike with anyone else, it doesn’t sound like Jack is placing judgement on her. “An’ I thought, well. Someone might as well teach him right. Teach him to cheat, and the like.”
“I cheat just fine,” Elizabeth manages, watching Henry lunge again. He’s growing quicker, more confident, more steady.
Jack looks her over, then studies her son, and that wide grin splits his face. “Think he’ll be sending pirates to Davy Jones with a kiss?”
She swats him, but he just laughs. With her nose in the air, she grabs the piece of wood from Jack’s hand, and strides over to her son, stepping perfectly into his space. “Show me,” she instructs, and he does.
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
Time continues to pass. Calypso has demands to make.
Every year when she first gets back to Shipwreck Cove and every year before she leaves once more, she goes down to the ocean in the dark of night and allows herself to wade deep, feeling the tide rushing around her, pulling at her legs, far stronger than it would be normally inside the cove.
She and Henry spend a fair amount of time in the water, actually, while they are living in their little lighthouse home. Henry loves the sea so much, loved splashing around as a toddler, loves exploring and swimming as he gets older. He talks about their time at sea incessantly, and it makes something she can’t quite name catch in her throat.
Her son, she thinks, is a pirate, all the way down to his bones.
But, despite all their time in the ocean, Calypso never comes to visit when Henry is present. No, she waits for Elizabeth to be alone, the moon to be bright, and the tide to be gentle.
“How goes the Pirate King?”
Elizabeth doesn’t even flinch anymore. It has been too many years of this, after all.
She doesn’t bother looking at Calypso either, instead letting herself float on her back under the moonlight, her thin skirts stuck tight to her legs but not dragging her down. She can hear Calypso regardless. “The Pirate King is well, Calypso. We’re protecting the seas.”
“Aye, six months on land, six at sea, all in the service of me,” Calypso nods. “Tell me, Pirate King, does it make you happy?”
Elizabeth closes her eyes. Does it make her happy ? Does anything make her happy, has anything made her happy in so long?
She has moments. Moments with Henry, moments at sea, even sometimes moments with Jack. Moments when she can see her husband, just over the horizon. But those are moments where she can forget, just for a moment.
“I’ve no complaints,” she settles on.
Calypso chuckles. “Liar,” she taunts. “Pirate King, you’re a filthy pirate liar.”
Elizabeth doesn’t say anything, not for a moment. “I have wishes, but no complaints,” she settles on, as diplomatic as is left in her.
Calypso hums. “Maybe, maybe. Tell me, Pirate King. Did you enjoy seeing your husband?”
She shudders, thinking of Will’s brief visit on the Pearl , just moments for her and Henry, duty pulling him away. “It was… it was difficult.” Best not lie to the sea, she thinks. Fools do so and end up drowned, because there are no secrets between a pirate and the sea.
“Pah. You had a chance because I gave it to you. In my mercy , mortal.”
She picks her head up, and realizes she has floated a fair way from shore. Suppressing a shiver, she begins to swim inward, even as tide tugs at her ankles. Some mercy , she thinks.
But Calypso lets her go when so many others have been swept out and dragged under, so perhaps there is a touch of mercy after all.
Jack spends three months with them at Shipwreck Cove. He docks the Pearl , doesn’t explain a single thing, and steadfastly refuses to leave.
It normally wouldn’t be a concern. Shipwreck Cove is, after all, a haven for wayward pirates, a home for those who have no home but the sea, who have been forced out of everywhere else.
But Jack makes a general nuisance of himself within days, even if he practices sword fighting with Henry, even if he has a somewhat contentious understanding with Teague.
“Captain Sparrow, does your ship need repair?” She asks, arms crossed.
“Eh? No, no. The Pearl is, as always, the most magnificent vessel afloat. Really, the finest ship to ever sail these waters, and—”
“Captain Sparrow,” she interrupts, feeling the headache building, “then why are you here ?”
He stops, blinks. “Am I to understand I am not welcomed by my King?”
“Every pirate is welcome at Shipwreck Cove, but Captain Jack Sparrow hardly makes his home on dry land.”
“Well, in point of fact, I am, in fact, still sleeping upon my ship, so therefore you will notice I haven’t quite made my home on dry land.”
She doesn’t bother to respond, just stares him down. “Might’a found myself a spot of trouble,” he admits. “Crossed someone I shouldn’t. Someone with bigger canons than the Pearl .”
“Are you bringing trouble to my shore, Captain?”
“Would that be anything new, Captain Turner?”
She smiles at him, her first genuine smile in days. “Make yourself useful while you’re here, Jack.”
Jack takes her order to mean that he should tell Henry every pirate story he knows, every one Teague hasn’t yet gotten to. A part of her wants to be angry. The sensible English daughter part, perhaps.
But she remembers a little girl, singing pirate songs in front of a burning ship, and stealing pirate treasure from a little boy.
And she can’t bring herself to mind.
She wades deep, deep enough to let the water envelop her to her chest, letting the waves join the beating at her breast.
“Hello, Pirate King.”
She closes her eyes. “I have a name, you know. No one seems to use it anymore.” No one but Will, at any rate. But didn’t she herself demand this? Demand the respect she was due, as a captain and a King?
“Such is the lonely life of those who rule,” Calypso says, echoing her own thoughts. “You come to visit me again.”
“It’s almost time for us to go to sea.”
“Aye. When the sun rises, you are free of this land, and bound to the sea, yes?”
Calypso lets the silence fester for a moment. “You are angry.”
Elizabeth hesitates. “When you… assigned me this task. I thought I’d get to see my husband.”
“You see him. You send sailors to their deaths, and you see him.”
“You know what I mean. I thought I’d be with him.”
“Your husband has a duty.”
“Then why’d you let me go?”
“You have a duty as well.”
Elizabeth bites her lip, but then lets herself speak her mind, the ocean and the hearts a steady, encouraging thrum at her breast. “It’s cruel.”
The tide pulls at her, suddenly, sharp and demanding. “Is the sea cruel ?” Calypso demands, voice deepening, resonating across the cove.
Elizabeth swallows. “Yes,” she whispers. Yes, the sea is cruel. It demands and it takes and it punishes without mercy, without hesitation.
But it is also freedom and pure, unaltered life in a way Elizabeth has never seen, never felt, anywhere else.
Calypso laughs. “I know your
, Pirate King. You need me.”
Elizabeth swallows. “Yes,” she whispers again, because that is also true.
When Henry is seven, he spends every spare moment at the water. Elizabeth cannot truly complain. Her son was born at sea, after all, and raised on tales of the sea with a family made of pirates.
He brings her fish, too, and sometimes shells and sea glass, which she smiles and displays at Court.
He’s growing like a weed, and Elizabeth has had to remind herself of long-ago sewing lessons to keep him clothed. In the past years, the most she’s stitched has been sails, perhaps a messy seam here or there.
It doesn’t look good, but it hardly matters, because Henry ruins every garment with sand and seawater.
She wonders what her father would think of his grandson, the boy with scraggly hair and dirt on his face, stained clothes and too-grey, too-deep eyes. Who sword fights with pirates and climbs the rigging like he was born doing so, who tells tales of the sea and sings pirate shanties.
She doesn’t think of her father often. She hasn’t seen him since that moment they were given beyond the horizon, and, before that, since her disastrous almost-wedding day. It’s been years and years, and she’s built a life far away from Port Royal and the governor’s daughter.
Still, though, there’s a spot left in her for missing him.
Maudlin thoughts plaguing her mind, she walks carefully down to the shoreline, sand sinking beneath her toes, gentle breeze rustling her skirt and hair. She manages a smile, and tilts her head back to feel the sea air.
She hears Henry before she sees him, hears him babbling away in the water and frowns. While there are always pirates at Shipwreck Cove, none of them are welcome on their little island.
She comes past the last of the dunes and finds Henry completely alone, knee-deep in the water and telling what appears to be quite an elaborate story.
Something makes her hair stand on end, a delicate tick pushing at her spine. Her hand drifts to her sword, but she doesn’t draw it. There’s nothing to draw it on.
“Henry! Henry, come to dinner!”
Henry looks up at her, says something more, and then makes his way out of the water to her, taking her hand when he gets close.
“Who were you talking to?” She asks as they walk back to their lighthouse.
The prickling on her spine doesn’t go away, but she tries to fight it. After all, Henry has grown up with every conceivable pirate story, and a mother who still occasionally throws bottles into the sea’s waiting grasp. It’s natural for him, surely, to think of the sea in such a way.
She leans against the wall in the courtroom of the Brethren Court, arms folded across her chest as she watches her son argue with Captain Teague.
“But you said—”
She hides her chuckle at his petulant little face, but Teague manages to keep his own face straight. “Aye, lad, I know my stories better than you. But we’ve looked long and hard for generations. It can’t be found.”
Henry’s brow furrows, tight and controlled and
so much like her
with it. “Maybe you just didn’t look hard enough.”
“What makes you so sure the treasure exists?”
“Won’t know until I look.”
Teague looks up at her, now letting the smile grace his face. “That’s a fine pirate you’ve got here, Captain Turner.”
“Yes,” she says, voice a little far away as she sees her son in a new light for the first time, not a baby anymore, not even really a little boy any longer. A pirate , she thinks, greedy, conniving, clever, grasping parts and all. And a pirate Prince, at that. “Yes, I know.”
Elizabeth sinks into the sea once more, letting the waves take her.
She doesn’t know why she keeps coming back, but she goes every six months, just the same.
“Hello, Pirate King.”
“Hello, Calypso. How is the sea?”
Calypso hums for a second. “I am satisfied.”
Elizabeth closes her eyes. “Word is they’re establishing new slave ship routes to the colonies. The British are at war again, and rumor reaching me is they’re pressing sailors into service.”
“Mmm, and you are off to sea to right these wrongs?”
“Yes.” The waves push around her, gently but steadily, and Elizabeth takes it for the gratitude it is.
Maybe acknowledgement is a better word. The sea is not known for showing gratitude.
“You do your duty. Tell me, Pirate King: will you always do your duty to me?”
Elizabeth makes eye contact with where her reflection should be, with Calypso. “Until the day I die.” Maybe she’ll get a sword run through her. Perhaps she’ll live to old age. She only knows one thing: she will die, and it will be at sea.
Calypso does not appear to like this answer. “You pirates, all the same,” she says. “You praise me and you curse me, hate me for what I do, but you need me , yes? You need me.”
Elizabeth lets the salty sea air caress her skin, because it’s true. Because the sea offered her freedom and hope, and despite everything else, she has never regretted it. “Yes.”
“Choose, Pirate King. Choose between your William and the sea. Who do you choose?” The winds and tides pick up, but Elizabeth plants her toes in the sand and stands her ground.
“No,” she whispers, shaking her head. “I won’t. I won’t choose that.” The steady beat against her chest says Will , but the tides inexorably pulls her in.
“Why not?” Calypso demands, voice raising. “Choose. Your heart or your duty.”
She closes her eyes and shakes her head again. “I won’t. I won’t choose, because they’re the same.”
The fact is, Elizabeth did not know what love was, what it could be, until she had been to sea. Until she and Will went to sea together. She fell in love twice then, two loves tugging her between them.
Her piracy almost forced her and Will apart, but no more. Her love for Will almost bound her to the land, but never again. She stands in the middle. She loves both.
The air goes very, very still for a moment. Then Calypso makes a humming noise, and that is all.
The tide releases her legs, and when Elizabeth dares to look down, only her own reflection stares back at her.
Barbossa arrives in Shipwreck Cove with the Pearl .
She raises an eyebrow, even as Henry scrambles on board the ship without her say-so. He knows the
well after all, was born and raised on her deck, and treats the ship as much like a home as their lighthouse. “Do I want to know?”
“Don’t worry, Captain Turner. I left him a ship,” Barbossa says, wicked smile and all.
She laughs. “May we come aboard?”
“Aye, and I’d be insulted if you didn’t.”
She smiles, and boards, following her son.
“Where are we headed?” Henry asks, standing not far off from Barbossa, watching him carefully work.
“Ask your mother for our heading, young Pirate Prince, for she dictates where we go and who we fight.”
“So it’s to be a fight, then?” Henry asks.
Barbossa sighs. “Aye, boy, it almost always is.”
Henry just keeps watching him work, and then approaches the wheel. “Show me,” he says quietly, putting his own still-small hands on the wooden wheel, and looking up at the Captain.
Elizabeth watches from the rail, but doesn’t interrupt as Henry absorbs every instruction the surly old Captain has for him.
Later that night, she and Barbossa sit on the quarterdeck, under the wide swath of stars and a gentle night breeze.
“Truth be told, I was worried my King would mayhap take offense to this,” Barbossa says, breaking their quiet contemplation and gesturing around the ship.
She looks at him sharply. “I don’t take sides between you and Jack.”
The look he gives her simultaneously makes her want to curl up and plant herself and stare him down. She doesn’t , she doesn’t take sides in their decades-long rivalry, she treasures both of them.
But she does. Barbossa is a good man, beneath it all, she’s discovered. He married her, fought beside her. She won’t ever forget.
But Jack… Jack was her first taste of freedom, her first guide into this world, an anchor point. A poor anchor point, given his turbulent nature, it’s true, but an anchor point nonetheless.
Jack and her don’t share a heart, like she and Will do, but perhaps they share just a tiny bit of a soul.
“The Pirate King remains neutral,” she settles on.
“Mhm. And where does the woman stand? Captain Turner?”
“On the matters of a ship? She is neutral too.”
“And on other matters?”
“What other matters might you be referring to, Captain Barbossa?” She says it like a dare, daring him to push past his welcome, to say something too forward.
Perhaps she wants him to, after all. No one crosses lines with the Pirate King, anymore.
“When the ten years are up, will the deal be fulfilled and the Captain of the
find waiting for him a faithful wife?”
It is blunt. Perhaps it is not as blunt as it could be, but it is blunt nonetheless. She would usually find such a remark unmentionably unwelcome. Perhaps she would kill for such a remark.
From Barbossa, though, she just smiles. Thinks of Jack staring at the horizon, compass in hand, telling her his only love is the sea. Thinks of the still-beating heart against her chest, reminding her of her husband’s constant love, beating in time with hers every moment of her long wait, her constant companion and reassurance that her love is returned.
Thinks of how Barbossa doesn’t know that Jack is no real competition, and never has been. The only true competition for Elizabeth has always been the sea.
Thinks of how she and Jack don’t love each other, not like that. They love the same lady though, the same seas and the same freedom, and that is truly what binds them so.
Elizabeth spoke true when she told Calypso she would never choose, though.
“The only ones I love as much as Will are Henry and the sea,” she says after a moment. “I’ll be there, waiting. I keep my promises, Barbossa.”
He raises an eyebrow at her, but just shrugs after a moment. “Well, good. Wasn’t quite prepared to live under a merciless god of death once more.”
Barbossa brings out a flask, which Elizabeth gratefully takes a gulp of, before staring up at the night sky.
Will left her so long ago, on the shores of an island to start a new life. She has not strayed, she would not stray, but she wonders what he thinks of what she has become. What she has done, what she has made of herself.
She shakes it off. She accepted Will becoming the Dutchman’s captain, this so-called god of death. He will just have to learn to live with having a Pirate King for a wife.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
Ten years at sea, one day on land.
“It’s today, Mama?”
She smooths her little boy’s hair—not such a little boy anymore, really, far too grown and perhaps wise beyond his years—and then straightens his jacket, one of the few items of clothing he hasn’t managed to completely ruin yet. “Yes, love. Your father is coming home today.”
One day on shore, ten years at sea. Will, for the first time, will get more than a moment with his son. At least until sunset.
She turns her head so her son doesn’t see it in her eyes, the grief and the injustice and the unfairness of it all.
Today is not a day for that, though. Today is a day to celebrate, to treasure.
Tomorrow . Tomorrow, she can rail against it, be miserable, hurt. But today is for Will and for Henry and for her.
It’s not yet light, but the sun will rise soon and they need to get going. “Ready?”
Henry hums an affirmative, jamming his hat onto his head and ruining her work on his hair. He hums as they leave, and then breaks out into soft singing as they reach the cliff’s edge.
Henry doesn’t know it, but buried beneath his feet is the chest thought to contain his father's heart.
From up here, they can see the distant horizon with perfect clarity, and Henry’s eyes are glued to the spot even as he continues to sing.
Finally, finally , the green light bursts over the horizon, and Elizabeth’s heart leaps and her hands tremble.
Henry beside her gasps, because he’s seen the Dutchman rise a dozen times, he’s heard the stories, but it’s entirely different seeing this . Seeing the Dutchman come home.
They stay on the cliff’s edge so they can watch, until the ship draws close enough that they can actually see Will. Without a word spoken, the race to the beach to meet him there when he makes it ashore.
Henry takes off into the surf, bare feet splashing as he runs to his father. Will scoops up their son, and soon enough Elizabeth has joined them too, holding Henry between them.
The salt air tastes sweeter, the water against their feet feels warmer. Maybe it’s Elizabeth’s imagination, maybe she’s simply lost in Will’s kiss.
But part of it feels like a small gift from Calypso. Perhaps it’s foolish—Calypso doesn’t like people, she does not give, she is not generous—but Elizabeth feels it nonetheless.
Well, she’s a Pirate King, and she’ll take it all the same.
Will finally sets Henry down when he begins to squirm, but doesn’t stop watching him, seemingly drinking in the sight.
Henry runs ahead of them back to the house, only stopping to check that they’re following when he reaches the end of the sand. They are following, albeit at a much more sedated pace. Will takes her hand, and something settles back into place inside of her, having those rough blacksmith hand’s hold hers once more.
Not that her hands are particularly smooth anymore, either, with over a decade of working ships and wielding swords. Sometimes, that governor’s daughter, with the pretty dresses and corsets so tight she couldn’t breathe, with unblemished skin and smooth hands, with no weapon besides her mouth, sometimes, that girl feels so far away Elizabeth cannot even properly imagine her anymore.
But with the way Will looks at her, the way he holds her hand, she doesn’t think he minds much.
They step past the dunes, and Will stops for a moment. Elizabeth stops with him, watching him to figure out his concern. It takes her a minute to realize that this is where they made love for the first and only time, all those years ago.
A soft smile touches his face, a look that keeps Elizabeth silent lest she ruin it. “I’ve never loved anyone as much as you,” he whispers after a moment.
She kisses him softly, gently, cupping the back of his neck as he lets his fingertips skirt along her cheek.
Henry interrupts them, merciless with youth. “Come on, then! We’re supposed to have breakfast!” They turn to look at him, and Elizabeth summons a smile for him.
Henry takes off again, reasonably assured they’re following, and Will laughs. “He’s grown.”
“Babies tend to do that,” she teases, but Will shakes his head.
“No. No. He’s grown .”
“Not quite yet,” she murmurs, watching the spirited little boy at the top of the hill. “A few more years, Will.”
Grief crosses Will’s face. “By the next time I see him…” He trails off, doesn’t finish it. They have hours left today to mourn and be miserable. Now is not the time for that.
She brushes his shoulder with her own. “You’ll see us again, Will. It seems I cannot go to sea without sending a few souls your way.”
“Aye, you keep me busy,” he says, and something close enough to a smile has returned. “Tell me about him.”
She’s told him hundreds of things, all of them bobbing in little bottles across the Caribbean, across the world , but she says them again. “He loves the sea. Can’t keep himself clean, likes to learn. Clever about it, too. He likes stories, especially pirate stories. A bit mischievous.” She closes her eyes for a second as they keep walking, lets the breeze and Will’s gentle breathing wash over her. “He’s a pirate, Will.”
When she opens her eyes, he studies her thoughtfully, but he doesn’t look angry. Doesn’t say anything either, as they reach the little house on the top of the hill.
He smiles. “This certainly wasn’t here last time we were.”
“No,” she says. “For six months a year, it remains dark. But for the other six, we keep it lit and pirates know their King is at court.”
Will doesn’t seem to have a response for that, but thankfully Henry wants his food, so Will sits with him and lets him tell stories—about the sea, and his sword practice, and learning to sail, and the island they’re on and Shipwreck Cove and the treasure he wants to find—while Elizabeth gets the food.
“Can I go on your ship?”
Will keeps remarkably calm, but Elizabeth sees the way his hand twitches in time to the own tightening in her belly. “No, lad.”
“I’m a good sailor.”
“That, I don’t doubt. But the Flying Dutchman isn’t a normal ship, Henry. It’s for the dead.”
“You’re not dead,” Henry protests.
Will falters, for a second, but then takes Henry’s little hand and places it to his chest, where Elizabeth knows it is quiet and still. “Feel that? No heartbeat.”
Henry tilts his head. “You’re not a zombie, or a cursed pirate, like in the stories.”
“No, but I made a deal, Henry. I captain the ship of the dead, and no mortals can be on her decks, or we anger the sea.”
Henry finally deflates at that. “I don’t want to anger the sea,” he says, and something about it pricks at Elizabeth. It doesn’t sound like the caution she and so many others have drummed into him. It sounds…
It sounds like he’s talking about a person, but the sea is the sea, just an important concept and place to her son.
She lets it go, just in time to watch Henry place his hand to Will’s chest again. “You have none, but Mum has two.”
Will looks at her, those deep, dark eyes drawing her in like they have a thousand times before, having her step closer without a thought. “One of those was mine,” Will says, voice a touch deeper. “But it always belonged to your mother. She guards it close, now.” He lets Henry keep touching him, and strokes the boy’s hair with one hand. “After you eat, you should show me this swordplay you’ve been learning. I don’t know what your mother told you, but I’m quite good.”
Elizabeth finally remembers her task and manages to look away from her husband long enough to get food in front of Henry, who chews with his mouth open and keeps on talking. Will hangs on to every word, and Elizabeth can’t be bothered to scold him.
After Henry’s eaten and wiped his face, Will gets him to put his boots on—a task that usually takes much more persuasion from Elizabeth, but she supposed Will’s novelty has not yet worn thin—and lures him outside with the promise of testing his swordplay.
After being trained by Jack and Barbossa and Teague and herself, Henry is quite good for someone with short arms and legs and very little muscle mass to put behind his thrusts. He’s quick, and clever, and Will can’t seem to fight his smile as they practice.
Watching Will fight—even just pretend, even slowed down with their son—has always been enticing. She remembers walking through Port Royal to the blacksmith shop, pretending she couldn’t hear the whispers about the pirate captive in love with a blacksmith. She remembers Will fretting about her dress and her hair and her skin and her father and the whole town beside, but giving in to her as he so often did when she drew close, when she whispered in his ear. She remembers the lessons, his patience and his surprise with her cheating, and the stolen kisses after every practice, sweat-damp from work and the heat of the forge and exhilaration.
She wanted him to make her a sword, and he promised he would, one of her very own, made to fit her hand alone, balanced just for her. But they were arrested on their wedding day, and neither of them ever got to go back to those moments in the blacksmith’s shop.
She wonders, now, watching her husband play with their son, if they would have been happy. If either of them could have had that, if she could have been a blacksmith’s wife in Port Royal, and never gone to sea again.
They would have had this. They would have had this every day . Mister Brown would have died, or else Will and her would have bought out the business. She’s sure Will would have protested, but being the governor’s daughter would have been good for something. They would have lived in their little rooms with their boy, and Will would have taught him swordplay and blacksmithing alike.
They would have been happy , she knows it deep in her soul, but the thoughts of it don’t set off the deep yearning she expects.
They would have been happy, surely, but they are not those people. Not anymore.
She will feel differently once darkness falls, she is sure, but for now, watching Will and Henry, Elizabeth finds herself happy even in this life.
Will leaves Henry to practice his footing and walks over to his wife. He pulls her into an embrace, and she relaxes against him.
“He’s your son, through and through.”
“He looks more like you.”
Will shakes his head, mussing her hair with the motion. “It’s not about looks. It’s about… he fights like you. And the stories he tells…”
She laughs lightly. “I did have plenty of stories.”
“Pirates and ghosts and treasure,” Will agrees. “And to think anyone ever worried that I was the bad influence on you.”
She laughs, and pulls back enough to look into his eyes. “Will…”
She imagines most couples celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary are not as affectionate as them. Certainly her parents weren’t, for what little she remembers of her mother. Her parents were as gentle and affectionate as they knew how to be, but they were also formal, and reserved, in the way adults simply were.
She’s not twenty anymore. She’s thirty years old, and a married woman for a decade. She has lines on her face, now, and perhaps even a spot of grey or two in her hair.
She takes Will’s face in her hands and kisses him all the same, like it really is their second day as a married couple, like they’re young again.
Will of course is young. Unaging since the day they removed his heart, since the moment he came back to her as the captain of the Flying Dutchman .
Another thing lost, she supposes, seeing Will grow old with her, seeing the same lines around his own eyes, the same creeping greys.
It’s a loss she regrets, but not something she begrudges. She will take Will any way she can have him over dead. She always, always has known that to be true.
Will’s arms pull tight at her waist, refusing even an inch of air between them. “Ten years was worth it, for you,” he gasps against her mouth, and she kisses him again, silencing talk of the real world around them.
Henry interrupts, again, but she pulls away from Will with a smile. “Did I do it right?”
“Do it again,” Will instructs, hands still around her, as they watch their son demonstrate what he learned.
Henry does it again, and again, and a final time before he turns to them. “Soon I’ll be good enough to help Mum,” he announces.
“Help me how?”
“With the ships. With the ships you take down.”
She swallows, and the look Will gives her is vaguely accusing. “When you’re older,” she manages.
Thankfully, the moment passes. Little boys dream of death, of being soldiers or sailors or pirates before they fully understand the realities of such. It doesn’t matter that Henry’s father is who he is. Henry no more properly grasps death than any child.
Sure enough, soon Henry is hungry again, and his mind moves on. They go back to the lighthouse to eat, and Elizabeth realizes that Will has never seen the home—their home, it will always be their home regardless of circumstances—and sends Henry to take him on a tour.
Just having Will out of her sight proves to almost be too much, and she puts her hand over his heart to steady herself.
The lighthouse is not big, which explains why a few moments later, Will is behind her, one arm around her waist, the other hand over her own, over his heart. “What has you so deep in thought?”
She leans into his hold, a slow, small smile slipping over her face. “I’m happy you’re here.”
“And I’m happy to be here,” he returns, hand still over hers. He squeezes her hand lightly. “When I asked you to keep it safe, this isn’t quite what I envisioned.”
“No, I imagine it isn’t. But I have. Kept it safe, that is, all these years.”
He kisses her neck. “I never doubted, Elizabeth.”
And she has. Not by burying it and hoping she can outwit fools and pirates by hiding it, but by keeping it close and fighting to the very last breath to keep it safe.
“I always will.” It sits uneasily, if only slightly. She’ll die, one day. She’ll die and she’ll pass on to the next world, onto the Dutchman , and perhaps they should prepare for what will happen to it then.
But that moment is not now, not yet. She can wait, and she sinks into Will’s embrace to do exactly that, his heart beating steadily underneath their clasped hands.
Sunset is approaching fast, too fast, and the family wanders down to the beach, past the dunes but just short of the shoreline.
Will kneels down so he’s at Henry’s eye level, and produces the knife from his belt, the knife he’s carried since his first trip to the Dutchman . “This is for you,” he says softly, and Elizabeth stands back, watching the scene and letting the ache fill her. “It was my father’s, and his father’s before him. And now it’s yours.”
Henry takes the knife curiously, peering at the blade truthfully too big for his small hands. He handles it well, nevertheless.
“It’s gotten me out of trouble a fair number of times,” Will says, and his hand drifts to the scar still so prominent on his chest. “And I wager it’ll do the same for you.”
“Thank you,” Henry says, unusually subdued.
Will ruffles their boy’s hair and pulls together a smile. “Listen to your mother, aye? Only use it when she says so. At least ‘til you’re bigger.”
Henry nods solemnly. Then Will stands, and extends his hand for Henry to take, walking him just short of the water line. “I have someone I want you to meet.”
Sure enough, a boat is approaching. Elizabeth has been steadfastly refusing to look, knowing it signals how this is almost the end. But the rower is Bootstrap.
Bootstrap does not get out of the boat, does not join them on the beach. Will nudges Henry’s back. “That’s your grandfather, lad. Go say hello.”
Henry rushes into the water and clambers into the boat, already babbling away. Elizabeth watches for a minute, but turns when Will approaches her.
“So, this is it, then,” she says, and tries to keep the bitterness out of her voice.
“Nearly. Elizabeth, when will I see you again?”
Ten years . Ten years, until they get this again, until they’ll get moments like today. She swallows it down. “Every six months, I go to sea, and I’ll wager you’ll see me the first time the East India Company crosses my path, and my blade.”
“Every six months?” His eyes are shrewd, knowing. Too knowing. Where Will had once been trusting, now far more suspicion is left behind.
She hesitates, but she remembers too well where secrets between them can get them. The promises they made mean they must bear this burden together.
“Calypso came to me,” she says quietly, just for him. “A Pirate King spends six months on land, tending to the job. And six months at sea.”
“No,” she says shortly, because she will tell him but she won’t accept criticism. “No, Will. You’re not here, you don’t get to decide. This is—they made me King and I’ll do the job. It’s my duty, just as yours is the Dutchman .”
He opens his mouth, then closes it, and nods. “Alright. I—alright.” He manages a smile. “It’s been too long, Elizabeth.”
Growing bolder, she embraces him, pulls him close, and tilts her head up to stare challengingly into his eyes. “Captain Turner, do you love me?”
“Of course I do, Captain Turner.”
“And I you. And that’s all that matters, isn’t it?”
He kisses her in responses, a touch desperate but she feels it too.
The sun is beginning to sink.
They hear Henry’s splashing footsteps before he arrives, and have time to break apart. “Grandad says it’s time.” The words hang like an anchor between them all. Henry screws up his face. “I don’t want you to go.”
“No! I won’t let you go.” He plants himself before them, like he can prevent his father from moving past him.
“Henry, I have to.”
“No!” There are genuine tears leaking from his eyes now, and it’s been so long since he threw a tantrum like this.
Will looks at her with desperation, never having seen this before. “Henry, I must—”
“I won’t let you!”
“Henry,” she manages to say, manages to pull together a firmness when her heart is breaking. “You are a Pirate Prince, and you need to act like it. Your father has his duty, just as we have ours. Buck up, and act your age.”
Perhaps she’s too firm, because Henry looks at her as she betrayed him, mistrust and anger brewing in those storm grey eyes. But he doesn’t fight her. Whether it's because the seriousness of her words sink in or because he knows he can’t win, she doesn’t know.
It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that he does what she says, because Will needs to be back on that ship at sunset. The consequences of disobeying Calypso are something she refuses to suffer.
Will kneels down to Henry’s eye level again. “I can’t stay,” he says. “I made promises and I intend to keep them, Henry. But I love you. I promise you that too.”
Henry opens his mouth as if to retort, but a firm look from Elizabeth has him close it again and swallow back the words. “I love you too,” he manages a moment later.
Will stands, scooping Henry into his arms once again. He kisses his cheek, then buries his face in his neck, and Elizabeth feels her heart seize.
“Listen to your mother,” he murmurs, setting the boy down before pulling her close in one more long, desperate kiss.
Then he wades into the surf, and out to his father, where they row away.
They climb the cliff to watch the Dutchman disappear over the horizon, in the same spot from this morning, but now with heavy hearts.
Elizabeth can’t quite find it in herself to stand anymore, so she sits in the grass and invites Henry to climb into her lap, which he does without hesitation, the earlier offense seemingly forgotten in his sorrow. She wraps him tight in her arms, and bends her head over his as they watch his father disappear once more.
His small body shakes, but she doesn’t say anything this time. Just pets him and holds him, and lets him cry.
“It’ll be alright, my love,” she whispers, even when she’s not sure of it herself.
Hours later, when the stars are bright overhead, she coaxes them back to the lighthouse, and lets Henry climb into her bed.
They fall asleep there, both their hands carefully pressed to Will’s heart.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
Years continue to pass.
There's some mild violence going on in this chapter.
When the Pearl sails back into Shipwreck Cove, it’s Jack shouting down at them, and Elizabeth can’t help but shake her head.
“How’d you manage this?"
“Made him an offer he couldn’t refuse,” Jack says, stepping smartly onto the dock. “He always had bigger ambitions, Hector. He got them. I got the Pearl .”
“So, a fair trade then.”
“Square deal. Now, who is that lad standing over there? His ship forget him when they left?”
“That’s Henry, Jack.”
Jack double-takes, then shakes his head. “Can’t be. Too tall.”
Henry giggles, some of the boyish charm still retained even after the growth spurt, which is good for Elizabeth’s peace of mind.
Will had morosely predicted that Henry would be grown the next time he saw him, and Elizabeth is watching it come true.
“It’s me, Jack.”
Jack raises his brow and looks her son over. “Nope. The welp isn’t this big.”
Elizabeth rests her hand on Henry’s shoulder. “It’s been a while, Jack.”
“Evidently. You figure out how to use those long limbs yet, Princeling?” Jack’s smile turns slow and wicked. “Or will you trip over your own feet the first time we cross blades?”
Henry bristles, like most young people do when challenged. Elizabeth squeezes his shoulder gently. “Don’t pout,” she murmurs. “Show him what you can do.”
Henry draws his little sword, and Jack grins even wider.
Jack and Henry are both bruised, but grinning, Jack at last having conceded that Henry has grown into his longer limbs.
“How old’s he now?” Jack asks, poking around the Court. Elizabeth pays his actions no mind, knowing that there’s not much for him to find.
“Henry? Almost twelve.”
Jack whistles. “I remember the day he was born.”
“An unforgettable moment for us all, I’m sure.” She looks up at him. “Jack. What are you looking for?”
“Always wondered, you know.”
“Wondered what?” Her tone, considerably less warm than before, would make most pirates immediately change their attitude.
Not Jack, though. He just keeps poking through things, and Elizabeth feels cold. “What you did with it. It’s obvious he left it with you. Is it here? That charming little house of yours? Buried somewhere?”
“That’s not for you to know,” she says as evenly as she possibly can.
“I can keep a secret.”
“It’s easy to keep a secret when you’re dead.” Ice laces her words, and her hand drifts to her sword. She tries to not even think about the heart beating against her chest, lest she accidentally give something away.
“No way to talk to an old friend. Then again,” he steps closer to her this time. She keeps her grip on her sword. “You killed me once for your William.”
“I’ll do it again.”
He raises a brow. “I mean no harm, love.”
“So I should take this just to be, what? Curiosity?”
“I’m a curious man.”
“You’re a greedy man,” she corrects. He takes another step closer. “Jack. There are some things better left alone.”
“Perhaps,” he concedes. She doesn’t like the long, lingering look he gives her, but he steps back, and doesn’t bring it up again.
Elizabeth looks her son up and down, taking in the sweat on his brow, the heaving chest, the dripping sword, and, for the first time in over a decade, feels ill at the sight of blood.
He is so small .
He’s thirteen, yes. Practically a man, some would say. But he still fits in her arms, even if he’s grown past her nose, now.
He’s still her little boy, who misses his father and tells pirate stories and sings when he worries.
His hands shake, and Elizabeth wants to rush to him, wrap him up, but with his shaking hands and still protruding sword, he’s liable to stab her for her troubles. “Henry, love, put the sword down.”
He does, after a moment. “I… I had to, Mum, I had to…”
She approaches him now, takes his sword and drops it before wrapping him in her arms. “I know.”
She does know, has known for years and years what the cost of saving your own life might be. How it takes its toll, especially at first.
After a while, the ache dulls, and she hopes Henry never learns that truth.
She wants to hold him forever, hide him away, but she has to know. She pulls back enough to take his face in her hands, to make him look at her. “What are you even doing up here?”
His lip trembles for a moment, but he sounds steady enough when he answers. “I can’t hide away forever, Mum.”
He can. He should . She should make him, hide him away from this world she bore him into, from this life she cursed him to.
Being a Pirate King has its advantages and disadvantages, but never has she felt it more of the curse it is than with her son, bloodied sword below them.
She kisses the top of his head. “Henry,” she sighs, but doesn’t say anymore.
What could she say? That her son doesn’t need violence? That would be a flat-out lie. That she’ll protect him? He had to protect himself today, and she was too late. That they’re above this sort of thing? The dirty pirate in her would disagree.
“I’m okay,” he whispers, and she doubts very much that that’s true, but he’s holding himself together.
“Orders, Captain Turner?”
She moves her body between the voice and her son, as if right now she can protect him. As if Henry needs that right now.
Perhaps she just doesn’t want people to see him like this.
“Wait for the Dutchman .” It’s not her who says it, though, it’s Henry. She looks at him, but doesn’t belay the order.
She strokes Henry’s hair off his face. “Where’s your hat?” She murmurs.
“Dunno. Lost—lost it somewhere. In all the fighting.”
It’ll show up on deck, then. But perhaps they won’t find it, sending this sorry excuse for a ship to the bottom of the sea first.
“I don’t—I don’t regret it, Mum.”
“You saved your own life. Never regret that.”
He shakes his head. “No. I—no. That’s different. Even if I didn’t—that aside, I wanted to fight.” He looks at her, still having to tilt his head up, even if only slightly. “Someday, I’ll be Captain Turner too.”
It’s true, likely. Elizabeth feels it as incontrovertibly as the tides. “Well, that will confuse them, with three of us,” she says, managing a smile for him.
“I’ll get to see Father, when I…” Henry trails off, and Elizabeth feels her throat tighten.
Henry turns to watch for the Dutchman , and Elizabeth can do nothing but watch with him.
There’s a part of Shipwreck Cove that feels like home now.
It should, considering she’s lived there half the year for fifteen long years now. But at first it had felt like a waystation, a purgatory of sorts. Somewhere she was stuck, waiting for whatever would happen next.
Now, she knows her little lighthouse home like the back of her own hand. She knows the Court and the pirates who frequently haunt the place. She knows the ships that come and go, the tides, the bracing sea breezes.
For all the work she does—and she does do a fair amount, pirates, for all their talk about freedom and independence, require a fair deal of overseeing—it’s still a calm place.
She plants a garden by the lighthouse, nevermind that she has no idea how, nevermind that she’s gone half the year. The rains take care of the crops, and they seem to get along alright.
Some parts of her, sometimes, wonders about staying. About eating from her garden and living in her house, and waiting for her husband to come home.
But the sea always, inevitably, pulls her back in.
Henry makes himself useful on ships now. He was always useful, of course, for a child. But now he’s a man, almost, even if it makes her heart ache.
There are men younger than him at sea, Elizabeth knows. But those are desperate boys, who have no other option.
Despite her bringing him into this life, her son has other options. He could go back to England or Port Royal without too much difficulty. He could stay at Shipwreck Cove, or else stay coddled aboard the ship forever. No one would dare question her on it.
But Henry works with the determination of his father, the same look in his eye, the same set to his brow, and Elizabeth can’t even think of stopping him.
Elizabeth doesn’t think she’s seen a storm quite this bad since the one Henry was born into, the wailing, furious winds and lashing sea attacking the Pearl with a vigor they can barely withstand.
She’s running around, tying down cannons with the help of the crew, trying to make sure they come out this on the other side. Jack’s at the helm, she knows, and she hopes he can guide them true.
It goes on for hours, the ships rocking in the vicious waves, lightning cracking overhead. But eventually, they emerge on the other side, battered and very, very wet.
Exhausted but not willing to show it—she knows they all are, she knows they have work left to do, she needs to be an example—she walks over to Jack, still at the helm, all these hours later. She can at least let him see a little bit of her exhaustion.
“Alright, there, love?” He says, and if she didn’t know him so well she would think he was not in the least bit tired after their ordeal.
“Aiming high, I see,” he drawls, before turning to her. His mouth, clearly open to continue the banter, snaps shut.
“Well, that’s very interesting.”
She follows his gaze and looks down at where her shirt has apparently torn, sometime in the last several hours of frantic work.
And spilling out from the opening in her shirt is the cloth pouch she keeps Will’s heart in.
Maybe the average person wouldn’t process what it is. Perhaps the average pirate wouldn’t know, either. After all, who expects to see a woman wear a human heart around her neck, buried between her breast?
She bites her lip and fights to close her shirt calmly, rather than give Jack the satisfaction of her panic.
Still, despite her doing her best to cover it, Jack still reaches a hand out.
Her sword is at his throat before he can make contact. “Jack,” she says, with as much calmness as she can muster, “Think long and hard before you push.”
He tilts his head. “Would you kill me, Lizzie?”
“In a heartbeat,” she winces at her poor choice in words, but it just makes Jack smile.
“Of course. Always been willing to kill me for your William.”
She doesn’t flinch, because she refuses to regret her past. “Jack. I know you. I know your mind. You’re…” She struggles with it for a second, struggles to express how Jack sees the world as puzzle pieces to slot together, or perhaps a chess match where everyone and everything can be a potential future pawn. “If you’re looking for a bargaining chip, then keep looking. I promise you, this way only ends in pain.”
Jack leans in a little closer, completely ignoring the blade still to his neck. “Don’t forget, love. I already gave up my chance at that once. It was in my palm and I gave it to William. To you.”
He had, because she always knew Jack would do the right thing in the end, when there was absolutely no other move. He’d been taken by the Royal Navy for them, came back when the Kraken attacked for them, gave the heart to Will for them.
He’s still a conniving, greedy pirate, though.
She sheathes her sword and steps away from Jack. “As long as we understand each other,” she says.
His grin is positively shark-like. “Aye, love, we do. Now, may I suggest you go change? Unless you like giving everyone an eyeful, hm?”
Elizabeth refuses to blush, but she does go change nonetheless, settling the heart safely next to her own as she does so.
Jack doesn’t say anything about the heart for five days. Five days and nights, and Elizabeth thinks maybe they are in the clear. Maybe Jack has put it behind him, and they won’t have to mention it again.
She’s weary, of course, sleeping with her sword in her hand, keeping her distance from Jack around the ship, double and triple-checking that her shirts are well buttoned. Maybe she’ll always feel this way, now. Now that the heart has been threatened, however indirect the threat may have been.
Or maybe, with some time, Jack will prove himself to be the man she knows he can be.
Naturally, though, he waits until the dead of night to corner her. Elizabeth pulls the night shift on deck, and it’s silent except for the waves until Jack’s footfalls cut through.
“I won’t touch it, you know.” He sits beside her.
She raises an eyebrow. “If I thought you would, you’d be dead.”
He rests against the rail next to her, looking out to sea. “I’m a pirate, Captain Turner,” he says stiffly. “I’m a greedy, filthy pirate. I admit, treasure tempts me. But I made my choice. Guess I now live with it. Besides,” he says, turning so his back is resting against the rail instead, “You’ve already murdered me once for your William, and I’d like to keep your record there, if it’s all the same to you.”
She turns enough to study his face, but nods. “This secret lives and dies with us.”
“On my honor.”
He pauses for a moment, before conceding the point. “On me ship then. Good enough?”
“Good enough.” She reaches out, and they shake on it.
Her son is too old for these antics, for skipping out on chores, for missing dinner, for ruining his clothes being out in the sea.
He brings her fish sometimes, which is a decent consolation, but Elizabeth knows she raised her son with better manners than to forget when his mother made dinner.
She makes her way down to the shore, calling his name all the while. He doesn’t respond.
It’s clear why when she makes it to the shore. He’s a far way out, on the little sandbar that protects them. She sighs and wades into the water.
He’s speaking when she gets close, but she realizes after a moment that it’s not to her.
Her heartbeat picks up. This was adorable and acceptable in a child, but far less tolerable in a boy Henry’s size and age.
“Pirate King.” The voice makes Elizabeth freeze, then splash closer to Henry the second she finds herself able to move once again.
“What are you doing here?” She demands, because sure enough Calypso’s reflection is in the water, where her son’s shadow should be. “What business do you have with Henry?”
Calypso gives her that smile, and it sends tingles up Elizabeth’s spine. “Little Henry, almost grown,” she croons. “But always a child of the sea, hmm?”
Despite the warm Caribbean waters, Elizabeth feels bitingly cold. “No,” she whispers. “He’s not yours.”
“Touched by Calypso before he was born, he is mine.”
Elizabeth dashes her hand through the reflection, distorting the image into little ripples. It clearly doesn’t accomplish her goals, because Calypso just laughs. “You cannot hide from me, Pirate King.”
“Mum,” Henry says, entirely calm in a situation where Elizabeth cannot even imagine approaching calm. “Mum, it’s fine. She’s fine.”
“She’s not fine. She shouldn’t be around you.”
“Mum. I’ve been talking to her since… a long time now. Since I was a child.”
You’re still a child , Elizabeth wants to shout. He’s still her little boy—bigger than her now, and he has been for a year—and she doesn’t want the monsters and madness that chased his father and her to find him too.
He holds his chin up and sets his jaw, so much like her that she finds it in herself to ache at it, even as she still panics. “Mum. It’s okay.”
Nothing about this is okay. “Henry, come with me. Right now.”
If anything, his face becomes even more stubborn. “No.”
“Henry, I—dinner’s cold. It’s ready.”
He turns back to the water, where the ripples are starting to solidify back into Calypso’s image. “That’s okay.”
“I won’t save it,” she tries. A move that might have worked on Henry as a little boy, but certainly not on this man.
Sure enough, he doesn’t even look at her, just waves a hand. “I’ll be fine.”
So, with a heavy heart and feeling like she’s lost her son, Elizabeth trudges back to shore.
She does save him dinner, of course, cold as it is. She leaves it out for him, but like a coward unbecoming the title of Pirate King, she hides in her room from her son. She doesn’t know what to say to him.
Still, the house is small, so she hears him come in, and eat the food, and eventually go off to bed himself.
When his door shuts, she sneaks out of the house and down to the shore, where she wades into the water.
The moon is almost entirely hidden behind the clouds that have blown in, so she can’t see very well. But she knows, somewhere deep inside of herself, when Calypso comes to her. “What do you want with my son?”
Calypso tsks at her. “That boy is as much mine as yours.”
Elizabeth’s veins turn to ice. “No.”
“Who allowed you and William a day together? Who guided you at sea? Who sang to him as he was born, watched over him, called to him? That boy has been mine since the day he was born, Pirate King.”
“Leave Henry alone.”
“Henry is as much a part of the sea as you are. As your William is.”
Henry’s always loved the sea too much, always been a pirate’s son, a pirate himself. She’s always known that, loved and feared it in equal measure.
“What do you want with Henry? What… what will you do with him?”
Calypso laughs, but doesn’t answer, and when Elizabeth looks, she’s nowhere to be found.
Elizabeth sees her son in a whole new light. The way those eyes—still the color of the sea in a storm, just as deep and dangerous—latch onto people. The way the sea breezes seem to caress him, the way the water welcomes him. The way he’s just happier at sea.
“She doesn’t… Mum, she doesn’t hurt me,” he tries, about a week after Elizabeth finds out.
“What does she want with you?”
He shrugs. “Maybe she wants to make sure the next Pirate King is on her side. She’s nice to me, Mum. She used to sing to me, when I was small.”
She remembers those breezes and gentle waves, sounding like some sort of fanciful chorus to her ears. She closes her eyes.
Henry is a boy grown now. He’s too old for her to hide away, much as she’d like to. He’s too old for her to order around. “Just… be careful?” It sounds weak, even to her ears, and she hates it, a bit, but then again, every mother is weak for her children.
Henry hugs her, wraps her in his arms in a way she realizes with a jolt is a reversal of their prior embraces. He holds her close, and she latches on tight.
“Whatever you do, I’m still your Mother. Do you understand, Henry?”
He kisses her cheek. “I’ll never forget that. Could never forget you, Mum.”
Calypso’s words about Henry being part hers still ring in Elizabeth’s head, but she has to accept what Henry’s offering.
Henry doesn’t look out of place in the crew of the Black Pearl anymore. He stands as tall as them, almost as broad, significantly better fed than some. He’s strong enough to pull his weight and smart enough to stand with the Captain.
Part of her has always dreaded the day that Henry would leave her, that she would be left alone to wait for her husband and son to come grace her with their presence, but it’s not until she sees Henry on the Pearl this trip that she knows with a sinking heart that it’s come to pass.
Sure enough, when they bring her back to Shipwreck Cove, Henry doesn’t gather his possessions. He manages to look her in the eye, brow set with her own stubbornness, and says, “Mum. I’m not… I’m going to keep going. With Jack. Maybe we’ll find the Fountain this time.”
“It’s a story, Henry.”
His eyes show he’s not fooled. “Many things are stories. The Flying Dutchman . The Brethren Court. Calypso. We know stories can come true.”
She swallows, then nods. “So, you’re staying.”
“I’ll be alright. I promise.”
None of them can make that promise. The sea takes sailors all the time, because the sea is unmerciful and cruel.
But Calypso favors Henry. And despite those sea-grey eyes, she sees her own eyes looking back at her from her son. The desperation, the longing. The need .
She can’t tell him no. Not when she raised a pirate.
Instead, she pulls him close and hugs him fiercely, the two of them standing there, Will’s heart beating between them. “You come back to me, do you understand?”
She has to accept it. Has to hope he can keep it.
So she nods and disembarks and, for the first time since she discovered her pregnancy, is alone.
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
Persephone makes her choice.
Warning for self injury (non graphic) and human hearts.
Elizabeth lets herself sink into the waves. “Hello, Calypso.”
“You are ready to go to sea again.”
Elizabeth looks to her side and sees the image of Calypso smiling back at her. “I am.”
“Where is Henry?”
Elizabeth shudders a bit, still unable to accept Calypso’s obsession with her son. “I imagine you know better than I. He left here a month ago, almost.”
“Hmm. A better pirate than his mother, I’d think, yes?”
“He sees his father often.”
That makes Elizabeth react, even if she tries to control it.
“You miss your man.”
“Of course I do.”
“And you have been faithful, these many years now.”
“I’ve been faithful to Will since the day we first kissed. I love him.”
“Pretty Pirate King, it is a rare pirate indeed who keeps their promises.”
“I’m not some pretty Pirate King anymore,” Elizabeth says. She’s scarred now, more than just on her hands. And she’s old, eighteen years older than she was on her wedding night. “But I keep my promises to Will.”
“And to me?”
“Have I failed you yet, Calypso?”
Calypso’s smile widens. “A Pirate loyal to her love and the sea, hmm.”
A tide catches Elizabeth’s legs, but she doesn’t try to break free. It doesn’t pull particularly hard, and Calypso won’t let her drown, not now. “I told you. It’s the same promise.”
“You kept the promise I never could. The sea does not love , Captain Turner.”
Elizabeth knows that not to be true. “I love,” she says, instead of arguing.
“You do.” The voice is different, and Elizabeth turns to the reflection sharply. Instead of seeing the image of Calypso she is so used to, Tia Dalma as she was on the quest to the Locker, she sees herself looking back.
Her own face gives a smile she would never associate with herself. “You do not like it? But we are the same. Lovers of men bound to the sea. Made from the sea.”
Elizabeth wants to look away, but can’t seem to take her eyes off the almost-reflection. “What do you want?”
“Do you love your husband?” Calypso asks instead of answering.
“And the sea?”
“Will you serve me faithfully?”
“Yes.” She does not—cannot—hesitate. These answers have long been beaten into her bones, like a rock worn smooth by the sea.
“And what of the years that pass?” In the reflection, Elizabeth’s hand comes up to her face, even as her flesh and blood hand does not move. “Your age is showing, Pirate King.”
“I’ll serve you until I die.”
“And what then?”
“Then I’ll join my husband on the Dutchman, I suppose.”
Elizabeth’s image is already shaking her head. “I know your heart, Pirate King. You do not fear death.”
“You will move on. Dooming William to an eternity of duty, able to go to land once every ten years, with no one to return to.”
Elizabeth’s breath catches. She doesn’t fear death, but she’s long feared the repercussions of her death. Of who will protect the heart. “What—what do I do?”
The image fades back to Tia Dalma, with a hungry look in her eyes. “Will you serve faithfully? Your duty and your love? For eternity?”
“Yes, I—Yes. But—“
Calypso doesn’t give her time to interrupt. “Would you be my Pirate King, protector of the seas, able to sail at your husband’s side, for eternity?”
It’s not a question she can pretend to think about. There has only ever been one answer.
“If you want me to live forever, what do you want Henry for?”
Calypso snorts. “Our Henry has a bigger destiny than being a Pirate King, Captain Turner.”
Elizabeth expects that to worry her, to terrify her. Instead, she closes her eyes. “Promise me you’ll take care of him.”
The waves lap at her, a little warmer, a little more insistent. “That boy is my own, Pirate King. No harm shall come to him, not with the sea on his side. Now. Choose. I’ll only make this offer once.”
Elizabeth has been a Pirate King long enough that she steels herself and looks the goddess in the eye. “Tell me the terms.”
“Six months at sea, six months on land. Never to touch water on land, never to touch land at sea. Sail on the Dutchman , or with witty Jack or Barbossa or our pretty Henry, it matters not. Do your duty or risk my wrath.”
“I can… I can sail on the Dutchman? Truly, be with Will?”
“It has a cost.”
Calypso’s eyes stare into her own, and Elizabeth knows. “My heart.”
The reflection disappears, and Elizabeth is left standing in the middle of the bay, pulse racing.
Then, a wave pushes up against her hand, and floating in the water is a stone knife, clearly very old.
“Choose, Pirate King,” Calypso says, her voice coming from everywhere and nowhere.
Elizabeth takes the knife and closes her eyes. It’s not really a choice at all.
She wakes up on the sand of their little island, the surf rushing around her, her still beating heart on her own rib cage, perched next to where Will’s has rested for eighteen long years.
Next to her, somehow, is the chest meant to hold the heart of the Dutchman’s Captain.
Chest in hand, Elizabeth catches the first boat out of Shipwreck Cove. Once in the open seas, Elizabeth relaxes slightly, and manages to examine herself.
Her chest healed fast, faster than would have ever been possible if she were still mortal. The scar rests beneath Will’s heart, and it is strange to only have one heartbeat for the first time in almost two decades.
The chest is impractical, and an invitation for greedy pirates, even if most likely don’t know what this particular chest contains. Still, it feels wrong to wear her own heart around her neck, even if it would fit. It doesn’t belong to her anymore, after all.
The simplest, and easiest, solution is to get off this ship as fast as possible, then.
She still has a duty to Calypso, so she turns her ship towards fights Calypso would approve of. And Elizabeth has always found fights when she goes looking.
Surrounded by bodies, sword in one hand and ancient stone knife in the other, Elizabeth waits.
When the Dutchman breaks the horizon, Elizabeth sheathes her weapons and waits.
He doesn’t ask her where their son is; no doubt, Will has seen him more recently than her. He finishes his duty, and when he comes over to her, when he comes over to take a stolen moment like they have so many times before, she smiles and walks away from him, boarding the Dutchman with her little bag in tow.
“Elizabeth, you can’t—“
“Will,” she invites, leaning over the rail, beckoning him over. “Will.”
She doesn’t need more than that, never has, until he’s leaning over the rail of the conquered ship towards her, a sharp reversal of their earlier positions. She takes his hand and brings it to her chest. Her still and silent chest.
His breath catches, his eyes widen. “How…” He fades from one ship into the other, until at last they’re both on the deck of the Dutchman , until he’s holding her in his arms.
“I made a promise, Will,” she says. “To you, and to Calypso. And the sea has had mercy to allow me to keep both of them.” She breaks his hold and goes for the small white bag, handing it to him.
Inside he finds the chest, and inside he finds her heart, already wrapped in a little pouch. “It’s always belonged to you,” she murmurs. “Will you keep it safe for me?”
“Yes,” he whispers, already wrapping it around his neck so it lies against his chest, closing his eyes and feeling her heart beat where there has only been stillness for so long. “Yes,”
She takes the now-empty chest and throws it overboard, letting Calypso claim it. They don’t need it, don’t need to lock their hearts away.
“It’s all real?” Will asks. “You, here…”
She takes his hand and kisses it, closing her eyes. Blacksmith calluses and sailor’s calluses and hers, all hers, as familiar as anything. “I’m real, Will. This is real.”
He laughs, a little brokenly, but pulls her into a kiss just as the Dutchman disappears over the horizon.