"Christ, I can hear you thinking from over here. Can you take it down a few notches, maybe?"
Ed scoffed, glaring at Lucius, who simply shrugged in response. Yes, he was thinking, and pretty hard if you asked him--it wasn't every day you picked out a wedding ring for your hopefully husband-to-be, and the shitty vendor in the costal town they'd docked in wasn't doing him any favors. None, really.
"He's going to love whatever you pick," Lucius said. "You could propose with a piece of driftwood and we wouldn't hear the end of it."
"But I don't want it to be shitty." Ed stuffed his hands in his pockets. "This is Stede. I'm sure he's always imagined some big, romantic proposal. He didn't get that the first time, and now that he has someone he loves...I just want to make him happy."
"I think you already do," Lucius replied. "You're not the one writing his diary for him. And I've had to write some vulgar shit because of you."
"We should hurry, if you don't want him getting suspicious of why our restock is taking so long," Lucius suggested.
"As much as I love him, he's oblivious," Ed said. "He might get worried though, if I--we're late."
Lucius rolled his eyes as he looked back at the vendor's stall. None of the rings stood out at the second browsing. They were still flat and boring and completely unworthy of Stede--just plain gold and silver, nothing like the man he loved.
"Looking for someone special?" The merchant behind the stall asked.
"You could say that. My Stede, he's...he's unique, and a lunatic--just a really weird dude all around, but also really kind and caring and, well, sometimes smart. Sometimes." He chuckled fondly. "He deserves your best ring--one worthy of a true gentleman. Hell, it probably still won't be enough for him. No matter what, though, I'm making this proposal perfect, and I'm not letting a crappy stock of rings ruin that, alright?"
Concerned by his sudden intensity, the merchant pulled out a box from under the stall, setting it out and opening it carefully.
Inside, there were more polished, intricate rings. Some were decorated with sapphire, some with diamond, and a few others with ruby. Ed was immediately drawn to a silver one with a light blue tint and a beautiful diamond set deep in the center.
He didn't care if he had to steal it. That was the one.
"How much for this?" Ed asked, picking up the ring and examining it carefully. The thought of it on Stede's finger was almost too much to bear.
"Forty pounds," the merchant said.
"Deal." Ed quickly took the money out of his pocket and handed it to the vendor, quickly pocketing the ring for safe keeping.
Now was the hard part. Asking Stede.
As he and Lucius wandered the market and bought their final supplies, Ed worried. He had no doubts that Stede loved him now, but in ten years? Maybe not. He couldn't be sure if Stede wanted him that long. Sure, when he came back from Barbados he had promised he'd stay forever (well, as long as Ed wanted, but that was the same). Still, it could change.
"Done brooding?" Lucius asked as they made their way back to the ship, the bags from the restock heavy in both of their hands.
"I'm not brooding," he lied. "Just...nervous."
"At the risk of you pushing me off the ship again," the scribe said, "if you're worried about the proposal, you are absolutely insane."
"You're acting like you know he's going to say yes," Ed replied.
"That's because I know he's going to say yes."
Ed shook his head.
"Okay, fine. Even if he's one hundred percent guaranteed to agree, I still have the right to be worried about making it perfect," he said. "You know how he is--he'll want something spectacular and grand."
"Do I need to be your wingman again?" Lucius grinned.
"I never agreed to that term."
"Didn't need to. Now, did you have anything in mind?"
Ed bit his lip in thought. His first idea had just been to pull out a ring whenever, ask Stede if he wanted to marry him, then go from there. But he wanted to do something more, for both of their sake's.
So from there, he brainstormed from the romance novels he had read with Stede. He knew the basics: find a place that's special, get down on one knee, pull out the ring, give a romantic speech, then hope for the best. It mostly ended happily in the stories, but he still had his doubts in real life.
"St. Augustine," Ed said. "He took me out on that adventure however long ago, so I guess I could repay the favor. And propose to him and hope he doesn't hate me for it."
"He won't." Lucius glared at him. "That strange little man loves you very much."
Ed's heart did a flip.
"Should I tell Buttons to chart a course to St. Augustine?" Lucius asked.
"What will we tell Stede?" Ed asked.
"That we ran out of oranges again." Lucius grinned, taking the bag of oranges he was carrying and dumping it out behind a bush.
"What the fuck are you doing, man!" Ed yelled. "We payed good money for that!"
"All for the greater good."
Ed sighed as they finished the walk to the dock, heart beating with anticipation as he came up on The Revenge.
"Edward!" Stede leaned over the side of the ship, smiling and waving like a maniac.
He waved back before climbing up on the boat, Lucius behind him.
"How was the trip, my love?" Stede came up by his side, wrapping an arm around his waist and kissing his temple.
"I'd hardly call it a trip," Ed responded, leaning closer to his hopefully-husband. "But it went well."
"They were out of oranges, though," Lucius said.
"But they're in season right now!" Stede frowned.
"People just really like their oranges." Ed shrugged, resisting the urge to kiss a smile back onto Stede's face.
"Captain Teach thought we should stop in St. Augustine, since it's not too far away," Lucius said.
"Lovely idea!" Stede smiled softly at him. Ed smiled back, a flutter in his heart. He could look at that sight all day. "Buttons, would you chart a course to St. Augustine, please?"
"Aye, Captain," the first mate responded. "Should be there in a day or two."
"Wonderful!" The gentleman said. "I expect that you all can handle unloading the goods. I'll be in my cabin with Captain Teach."
Hand in hand, they walked into the captain's cabin together. Stede grabbed a bottle of rum, two glasses, and sat down on the chaise. Ed sat next to him, thighs pressed up against each other comfortably.
"So, is there any reason you chose St. Augustine?" Stede asked, pouring their drinks.
"Because we're out of oranges?" Ed responded nervously. He really hoped Stede wasn't catching on.
"Well, yes, darling, but..." His co-captain leaned closer to him. "We've come a long way since then, haven't we?"
"We really have," Ed breathed. "At least now I understand why you were trying to impress me."
Stede laughed softly.
"I still try to impress you, a bit," he said.
"You fascinate me every day, love." Ed put an arm around his shoulder. "There's no need to try."
Stede hummed in agreement, and they started drinking in comfortable silence, leaning against each other happily.
After a while, Ed decided to try his luck.
"You know, now that you mention it," he said, trying his best to stay calm, "we could go on another adventure together, while the crew gets the oranges."
"You'd like that?" Stede looked up at him hopefully. He laughed.
"Mate, I'd like doing anything as long as I was doing it with you," he said.
"What were you thinking?" The gentleman asked.
"We could explore the place some more," Ed replied. "You can show me some more bugs and plants and shit, and we'll just...spend the day together."
"That sounds wonderful, Ed," Stede said. "I can't wait."
Ed looked out the window of the nook their bed was tucked into. It was probably around three in the morning, but he couldn't sleep. It was the mixture of excitement, nerves, and love, if he had to guess.
He turned back to look at Stede, whose head was resting on his chest. He had a soft smile on his face, and his hand was resting on Ed's shoulder.
He couldn't help but imagine what it would look like in a few nights, the glistening ring on his finger.
Carefully, he glanced over to his boots by the door where the ring was hidden. It wouldn't be long before he was proposing, but he still found it hard to wait. Part of him wanted to wake Stede up and ask him then and there, but ultimately stopped himself.
Turning back to the man behind it all, Ed brought his hand up to Stede's head and carded through his hair. His co-captain made a little noise of content in his sleep, and he had to resist melting away.
"Adorable," he whispered. "So fucking adorable, and I love you for it."
Stede stayed alseep, as he expected. With Ed by his side, he seemed to be able to sleep through anything. He just hoped that in a dream somewhere, he could hear what he was saying.
But he'd hear it soon enough. He would be channeling all his love to put what he felt in to words--why he wanted to be Stede's so badly.
Part of him felt like it would be easy, like everything was with Stede. But then again, could the love he felt really but put into words?
He'd try his best.
Morning eventually rolled around, and Ed had definitely managed to fall asleep, his hair a mess as he came back to consciousness. It was quite a bit earlier than he'd normally wake up, and much earlier for Stede, so this was his chance to set up anything special.
And that's what he would do.
Being sure not to wake the sleeping man beside him, Ed carefully slipped out of bed. He went to the bathroom, tidied up, and came back, finding the ring still secure in his boot.
He got dressed--a light lavander shirt with dark pants and the black cravat--slipped the ring into his pocket, and went out to the deck.
The ship was docked, and Ed's heart beat with excitement. Just one step closer.
"Captain, it's a bit early for you to be up," Oluwande said, snapping him back to the present. "Is everything alright?"
Ed glanced at the few crew members who were still sleeping, then more importantly, to the ones who were awake.
"Can you keep a secret?" He asked.
"Of course," Oluwande responded.
"You know I can't," Lucius said, laying on a hammock with Black Pete, who was sound asleep.
"You know," Ed replied. "And if you tell--"
"I know, I know." Lucius put his hands up in defense.
"So?" Oluwande asked.
"We're not out of oranges," Ed explained awkwardly. "Well, we are, thanks to Lucius, but--not the point. I'm proposing to Stede today."
"Shit, really!" Olu exclaimed. The rest of the crew cheered, waking up anyone who wasn't already awake, who were whispered the news at their confusion.
"Hey!" Ed whispered-shouted. "No one better wake up Stede."
Everyone silently nodded.
"I want this to be special," Ed said. "Roach, can you make the orange cake?"
"Still out of oranges, Captain," the chef responded.
"Not really," Jim joined in. "I stored up a supply in case we ran out so we didn't have to go to damn St. Augustine again."
"Sorry," Ed said awkwardly.
Jim didn't give any indication of hearing him.
"They're below deck," they explained, getting up reluctantly. "I'll show you."
Roach and Jim disappeared below deck, and Ed silently thanked them for keeping that store.
"Okay, next," Ed said, clapping his hands together. "We need something romantic."
"Candles?" The Swede suggested.
"It's in a forest," Wee John responded. "Wouldn't it burn it down?"
"Candles that don't burn?" Buttons said.
"Wouldn't be much of a candle then," Olu replied.
"So maybe not candles," Ed said.
"You could get some fancy plates to eat on," Frenchie chimed in. "Stede has plenty of those."
"Now that's a good idea!" Ed grinned. "We could probably use a picnic blanket too--and a basket so nothing gets into the cake."
"Anything else, captain?" Olu asked.
"No, we just gotta get it set up. How long will the cake take?" Ed asked.
"Probably about thirty minutes," Lucius said. "Stede made me write about the recipie, and how quick it is. And how much you liked it, and how happy he was that you liked it. Never gonna be able to forget any of that."
Ed chuckled, very aware of the warm feeling in his chest.
"So now we wait," he said, trying not to give too much indication of his pining.
Anyways, Stede would probably sleep for an hour or so more, so they had time. And he'd set everything up perfectly.
Once the cake was done (a little over thirty minutes, unfortunately), Ed, Jim, and Lucius made the trip into the jungle.
"Fuck, it's hot," Ed mumbled, tripping over a tree root. They had been hiking for maybe thirty minutes--probably felt like longer, though.
"Wasn't this your idea?" Jim asked.
"Still really fucking hot." Ed loosed the cravat on his neck.
"That thing's like a wedding ring already," Lucius commented.
Ed wanted to say something snarky, but ended up smiling instead. Their first day together was certainly something to remember; once it came time to switch their clothing back, Stede noticed his love of the cravat, and insisted he keep wearing it. And he did. Even when he became the kraken again, because he still loved Stede.
"You alright, Captain?" Lucius asked.
"Just thinking 'bout Stede," he answered sheepishly.
"As if you think about anything else," Jim said.
They weren't wrong.
Eventually, after too much walking, the three of them came to a little clearing with beautiful flowers and a little creek. It was something out of a fairy tale, and perfect in Ed's eyes.
"Here," he said, pulling a branch away and stepping in.
Lucius took the covered platter and blanket he was holding and went to spread it on the ground.
Ed watched, excited to see Stede's reaction, before Jim snapped him out of his daydream.
"I don't like being back here very much," they said quietly to him, "but I'm happy for the both of you. I think soon, I'll do the same with Olu."
Ed smiled. It wasn't frequent Jim said anything sentimental, especially to him.
"If you need help getting set up," he said, "I owe you a favor."
Jim nodded as Lucius finished setting up, coming back to them at the entrance of the clearing.
"All ready?" The scribe asked.
Ed nodded, and they made their way back to the ship.
"Hey, Stede," Ed whispered, sitting at the edge of the bed and gently tapping his lover's shoulder. "Wake up, sweetheart."
Stede groaned, rolling over and opening his eyes. He smiled brightly upon coming to his senses.
"Ed." He looked up at him in awe. "Is it time for our adventure already?"
"Some of the crew's already left," he said. "Don't wanna waste the day."
Stede sat up, kissing him quickly before standing.
"Give me a moment to get ready, dear?" He asked.
"'Course," he said.
Stede grinned before disappearing into the bathroom. Ed took a deep breath, steadying himself for the day ahead of him.
He was still terrified--fear mixed with joy and love and excitement all at the same time. His heart was ready to beat out of his chest.
"You can do this," he whispered to himself, feeling the ring in his pocket. "You've done far scarier."
Still, this felt like it was the most important out of all those life or death situations.
After a few moments, Stede stepped out of the bathroom. He wore a dull, light yellow ensemble, golden curls styled beautifully. But he also looked anxious.
"Is everything alright, love?" Ed asked nervously. He hoped this wasn't Stede's reaction to figuring out his plan.
"Of course, my darling." His co-captain stepped up beside him, taking his hand and pulling him up. "Are we ready?"
Ed nodded, ignoring the looks he got from the crew as they made their way to the deck and then onto the dock.
"Isn't that outfit a bit fancy for hiking?" He asked as they walked to the trail hand in hand.
Stede blushed deeply.
"Yes well...I thought--I figured I'd make this a nice occasion," he stuttered. "It's not every day--only a few actually--that we get to do something like this."
"Are you sure you're okay, love?" Ed raised an eyebrow, worry settling in his chest. "You're acting strange. Well, stranger than normal."
Stede chuckled softly.
"I'm perfect, Edward." He smiled earnestly. "What about you? You seem a little on edge."
Ed cursed Stede's ability to see through him, even if he actually loved it.
"I'm...I have a surprise for you," he confessed. "Just a bit nervous that you won't like it."
Stede lit up.
"I'm going to love it, Ed," he said. "I love everything you do--everything about you."
Ed grinned. That was a good sign, as if he needed one.
They walked through the jungle for a little while longer, Stede pointing out his favorite plant species and some cool yet annoying insects. Ed's heart fluttered every time his co-captain got excited.
Eventually, they got to the clearing.
"Here it is," Ed said, stopping in his place.
Stede stopped with him, looking around with confusion.
"Ed, dearest?" He asked. "I'm sorry, but I don't know where it is."
"Don't worry, mate." He bent the branches back, revealing the little clearing with a picnic set up in the center.
"Ed!" Stede beamed. "You...you did this for me?"
"Who else, sweetheart?" He asked, placing a hand on the other man's back and leading him in. "You know I'd do anything for you."
"This is a lovely surprise," Stede said, taking in their surroundings with a smile on his face. "What's in the container?"
"Orange cake." Ed grinned back.
"I thought..." Stede looked to the cake and then back at him.
"That was a bit of a fuckery on my part. I wanted to get you out here, but I didn't want you to figure out...the other part of the surprise."
Ed laughed softly.
"Yeah, there's more." He smiled, gently taking the ring out of his pocket.
"Ed," Stede whispered breathlessly.
He kneeled onto one knee, grinning up at the blonde.
"It's no secret that you make me happy, Stede," he started. "Since I've met you, love, my life's been so much better--no more being bored, and no more wondering if any of it's worth it."
Stede started to tear up.
"I love you." Ed took his hands in his. "We've had our ups and downs, sure, but all of it was worth it, because I have everything now. I have you. And you...you're pretty great, even if you're a bit of a lunatic."
"But you're my lunatic," he continued. "And I'm your...I'm your Ed, and I want to be your Ed for the rest of our lives. So, Stede Bonnet, will you do the honor of marrying--"
Stede crashed to the ground, pressing their lips together like it was their last day on earth. Ed kissed back, his chest lighter and his mind racing.
They pulled apart, and Ed looked hopefully into his fiancé(?)'s eyes.
"Yes, of course, Edward," Stede breathed against his lips. "I...I actually..."
Before Ed could feel relieved, he burst out in laughter. Stede pulled out a ring of his own--golden with a beautiful red ruby.
"I think we're on the same page," the gentleman said with a crooked smile. "You just beat me to it."
"You're shitting me!" Ed grinned like a madman. "I...where'd you even have time to get a ring?"
"It's an old family heirloom," Stede explained, taking his hand and slipping it onto his finger. It felt perfect there--like it was its home. "It was Mary's, but when I told her about you, she thought it belonged somewhere else."
Ed felt tears well up in his own eyes.
"She was right," he choked out. "I want nothing more than to be your husband."
It felt so real as he said it, but not at all in a bad way.
"My husband," Stede whispered, "Edward Teach. Or would that be Edward Bonnet? Or Edward Bonnet-Teach?"
"I think I like the last one," he said. "Our names side by side is fitting, I think."
"Quite," Stede responded. "Now...can you put mine on?"
"Shit, forgot about that." Ed took his fiancé's hand, slipping the silver-sapphire ring onto his finger.
"Perfect." Stede kissed his forehead. "Just like you, Edward Bonnet-Teach."
"Or you, Stede Bonnet-Teach." Ed smiled. "So, how about an orange cake at our wedding?"
"Our wedding!" The gentleman exclaimed. "There's so much to do!"
"I'll be with you every step of the way," Ed said. "If you'll have me."
"I always will, darling. I love you more than anything."
"And I love you, Stede. Forever."
"Forever and ever."
Ed smiled once again. He never thought that this is what life would have in store for him, but now, sitting in the middle of the jungle with the man to be known as Stede Bonnet-Teach, he didn't want anything else.