My beloved cut my toe off while I slept.
I had watched the stain of that other man sink into him. The citrus and lavender scented stain had poisoned my Blackbeard. And I had to do something before he was lost completely, like a gangrenous leg facing the surgeon's axe.
'Edward better watch his fuckin' step.'
I had seen it then, pinned to the wall. The fire in his eyes, rekindled in an instant. He wasn't dead yet. They would have to try harder than that to domesticate the devil.
So that night, as I moaned, and whimpered into his hand tight against my mouth, so tight I could feel my teeth crack, I knew it even then. The toe was a small price to pay. I would've given him everything in that moment.
'Stop crying, it's just the pinky.' Then, insistent, angry, like I was that disobedient dog again, 'Open your fuckin' mouth now.'
I chewed the toe, felt the gristle pop between my molars, the toenail slip away and lodge inside my cheek. I felt the dirt cling to my tongue, the copper taste of the blood thick and coagulating already.
My eyes were watering so I couldn't see him, the pain shooting through my leg, the vice grip of his hand on my face, his other hand pinning me to the bed as he waited for me to swallow.
I did, loudly, licking the blood from my lips and tasting the grime of his hands, my Blackbeard. The candlelight illuminated his mad twinkling eyes that outshone Ursa Major over our heads. He'd painted his beard back on with boot polish but his teeth shone through like white fangs.
My breath was ragged against his palm, my life in his hands as it had been for as long as I cared to remember. This was living, this was life itself. Animals, outside the law.
"Y-yes, yes Blackbeard..." I submitted to him, and the world's order made sense again. The chaotic spinning clockwork of Stede Fucking Bonnet singing campfire songs and organising talent contests was over. My broken god was whole again, and my position clear at his feet.
And it had only cost me a toe. My service was unconditional, Blackbeard had always known that. No-one else could have pulled him out of the broken husk of Edward Teach, only I knew him like that. Only I would do anything for him.
Not Calico Jack.
Not that fop Bonnet.
I knew his heart. Not some image or daydream. The beating, molten heart in his ribcage. That was the heart of a beast. My king. I had watched over him as he slept, and he had killed hundreds, but never me.
I would hobble for the rest of my life, and if anyone found out why, they would know that it was for him. That I belonged to him.
And I would remember his gift, every second step I took.