Author: Laura H fried_flamingo
Chapter Rating: NC-17
Category: angst, AU
Disclaimer: The Mouse owns all.
Author's note: Thanks to all readers who've made it this far and special thanks to those of you who have taken the time to leave me feedback along the way. Now, the end is near...
Previous chapters here
Have I slept? she thought. Did I dream?
Elizabeth remembered torchlight, and shadowy forms glimpsed through a curtain of trailing vines. She remembered huddled figures shuffling from the deck in silence, while Jack stood on the shore speaking with a woman who wore rags tied in her hair.
Then arms had wrapped her in a blanket and the world had dimmed. She remembered no more.
Her eyes opened to a room bathed in candlelight, a room that existed in the dark recesses of her memory. For a moment, in between sleep and waking, Elizabeth heard the steady thump of a dagger being thrown into wood, over and over. She sprang from the bed, her mind still muddled by sleep, and glanced around the room. Shadows danced in the golden light and, by the door, a silhouetted figure lounged in a chair.
Something’s different, she thought, drowsily. It didn’t happen like this.
The figure rose and walked into the light.
“You’re here,” she said, unable to hide the relief in her tone.
“Where else would I be, love?” asked Jack, but she could offer no reply.
Fully awake now, Elizabeth surveyed her surroundings. Tia Dalma’s shack was much as she remembered it, though she had been there but once before and details had been hazy through her fog of grief and guilt. The same jars and bottles hung from the ceiling, their contents dried and rotted now. Cobwebs covered most surfaces, like fine shrouds, marking ten years of neglect.
Jack was regarding her carefully and Elizabeth wondered how long he’d sat there, watching over her as she slept. She took a breath and went to sit at the small wooden table. It’s surface was thick with dust and she smoothed her hand through it, revealing the gnarled wood below; if she looked closely, she could see the little pock marks in the grain, made by the point of Will’s knife.
He’ll never come back.
And there was the bold truth of it. She hadn’t allowed herself to believe it, even as she’d watched the sails of the Dutchman sink beneath the ocean, but now the certainty that Will was gone was as real as the wood beneath her fingers. There was no grief though, not this time. Things were as they were meant to be.
Thinking on Will’s destiny led her to think on her own. Elizabeth had no idea what was to become of her. With the Valioso gone, she had no ship. The Pearl was Jack’s now and, in all honesty, Elizabeth didn’t think that she would ever deserve to sail on her again. Jack, she was sure, would agree once he heard the truth of the story and, after all he had done for her, the truth was the least she owed him. “I’d be much obliged if you could drop me off in Tortuga, Captain Sparrow.”
I’ll tell him the truth soon, she thought. Not yet though, not quite yet.
“Yes, Tortuga,” she replied, with forced levity. “Where else would I go? If you’re concerned that I’ll be drinking myself back into the gutter as soon as you’ve disappeared over the horizon then let me assuage your fears. My head is clear now and I intend to keep it that way.”
“I’m glad to hear it, love,” said Jack, “but might I ask why you have me disappearing over the horizon so readily?”
Elizabeth shrugged and looked away. “If you are possessed of a need to have your fill of the island’s doxies, now that you’ve embraced your former philosophies and pursuits, then it’s none of my concern. My point, however, is that you needn’t feel any obligation towards me. I’m quite capable of looking after myself.”
“What is this, Lizzie?” asked Jack, his tone earnest. Still she couldn’t meet his eyes. “What are you doing?”
“I don’t know what you mean.” But her voice was a whisper.
“Do you know why I’m here? Do you think I’ve a mind to abandon you in some port?” Suddenly, he was by her chair, pulling her to her feet. “Sail with me, Lizzie! It’s what I should’ve asked of you nine years ago and I’m sorry. I’m sorry I left, I’m sorry I let you go, but I can make it right now. The Pearl’s still yours if you want her. Just come with me!”
“No, Jack,” Elizabeth replied, tears threatening. “No, I can’t. Everything’s changed now. You don’t know the things that have happened. If you did…”
“I know everything that matters! I know that I love you, Elizabeth, and I know that this…” To her horror, Jack grabbed her wrist and began pulling at the leather tied around it; the band that hid from the world what she really was.
“No! Jack, please! Please don’t!” Her voice was frantic. But it was too late. Her wrist was free and there it was; the ugly, puckered scar that marked her darkest hour.
“I know that this means we belong together,” finished Jack and he lifted his own arm, the sleeve falling back to reveal his own brand, one that mirrored her own. “P’s in a pod, love,” he said, laughing softly.
“How did you…?” she began and then realised. “Ragetti.”
And, suddenly, the weight was lifted. So long had it sat, heavy in her chest, that only now, in its absence, did Elizabeth realise how much it had dragged her down. All that time she’d spent hiding the shame of the past from the world and from herself, never had she dreamed that the burden could be, so easily, laid aside. Some roads must be walked, though, and Elizabeth knew that the time for regrets was over.
“They took everything, Jack, and made it rotten. I couldn’t even keep the promise I’d made to you.” She swallowed and bit her lip, but now that she'd liberated that part of herself, the words flowed freely and would not be stemmed. “It was what I’d held onto, the only thing that anchored me after you… after you left. And when I didn’t have that anymore, I didn’t have anything. With the Pearl gone, why would you ever return?”
Jack frowned and brushed his fingers through the strands of hair that framed her face. “For you, Lizzie. I should’ve come back for you. And if you broke a promise to me, ‘twas one I had no right to have you make. If there’s blame to be had here, then let it rest upon my shoulders.”
But Elizabeth shook her head. “There’s blame to be had, true enough, but it will rest at the bottom of the Cape Fear River. It wasn’t your fault, Jack. And it wasn’t mine.” It was the first time she’d said it out loud, but now she really understood that it was the truth. A wistful sigh escaped her. “Doesn’t stop me wishing it was different though.”
“Wishing’s a mug’s game, love. Doing, now that’s the trick.”
“So what should I do?”
“What should we do, Lizzie? That’s how it is from now on, savvy?”
At last, Elizabeth raised her eyes to meet Jack’s.
“Savvy,” she whispered, and wondered how she’d ever thought she could let him leave without her.
As soon as she said the word, Jack knew that neither of them would ever be lost again. Without ship, without sails, it wouldn’t matter; they were each others promise of freedom.
Jack leaned towards her, some power other than his own drawing him forward. He could feel her breath across his lips and, though he longed to taste her, he held the moment for just a second longer than was bearable, savouring the delicious ache of anticipation. Elizabeth let her fingers trail lightly across his neck, before coming to rest at the open collar of his shirt. Jack closed his eyes and shivered as her hand moved slowly across his skin.
With a deep growl, he sank forward and kissed her furiously; a kiss which Elizabeth returned with equal fervour. He felt her teeth tugging at his lips, her hands freeing his shirt from his breeches. Reluctantly, he dragged his mouth away from hers, letting her pull the shirt over his head and, when he was free, she threw herself upon him, savage and feral. Pushing him backwards against the wall of the shack, she trailed her lips over his chest and shoulders; her ardent kisses across his naked flesh were wild, like summer lightning, and Jack could feel himself harden.
Longing for her touch upon him, he grabbed her wrist, moving the palm of her hand towards his breeches and Elizabeth groaned at the feel of him through the rough fabric. Her kisses trailed downwards, divine fire over his stomach and lower still. Her fingers found the fastenings of his trousers and then he was free. When her mouth closed around him, it was almost more than he could bear and his head fell back, as he summoned all the control he possessed. “Oh God, Elizabeth…”
Exhilarating as this was for him, Jack knew that if he let her continue, she would send him over the edge before they had properly begun. “Easy, love, easy,” he whispered, hoarsely, though he felt himself tighten in anticipation of release. He pulled back, Elizabeth’s hand still encircling him. “Take it slow, Lizzie.”
But Elizabeth stood, stroking him with smooth, skilled movements, and kissed him, fiercely, savagely, making him shudder. Oh God, he was so close now. “Don’t want it slow,” she growled through bared teeth, her lips never leaving his, her hand working between them. “Want it now, Jack. Want you now.”
“Jack, this is right. It’s always been right. Don’t hold back.”
So be it.
Jack grabbed her arms, pushing her backwards, until she fell against the table. Her eyes widened, desire burning in their depths. Leaning towards her, Jack let his lips graze her ear, as he whispered, “Turn around.”
She gasped, softly, wickedly and did as he asked, bracing herself on the table, her hands marking trails through the dust. Jack ran his hand under her shirt, letting his fingers trail over the skin of her stomach and the mounds of her breasts. His other hand, he hooked into the waistband of her loose breeches, easing them down until she could step from them.
“Jack, please,” she breathed, as his hand travelled down over her stomach to press between her legs, his fingers moving until she groaned in ecstasy. Then, unable to wait a second longer, Jack pulled her hips back and thrust himself inside, crying out at the feel of her around him. Trying to prolong their union for as long as possible, he kept his rhythm slow, but then Elizabeth’s hands reached back, urging him to move faster and harder. Willingly, he obliged, for in that moment that there was nothing more perfect than the motion of their bodies together. He clung to her, his kisses falling on the sensitive skin of her back, tasting the sweat that glistened there, his fingers working frantically at her centre.
The sound of his name on her lips, over and over, drove tremors into his very soul, and he prayed he could hold on for just a little longer. Beneath his touch, her body shuddered violently and he felt her tighten around him, as she cried out wildly, an untamed creature in his embrace. And then, as she collapsed in his arms, he too felt the blissful surge of release.
But even then Jack didn’t let her go and he knew that he never would.
Stories, they say, unfold in a circle. As we begin, so must we end. This is true, almost.
We each have our story, both the legends we weave for ourselves and the tales we have no choice but to tell. And it is in the telling that we are changed.
The story spirals on, but the ends will never meet.
Look below. Watch the world as it turns. Watch the tides as they rise and fall.
Consider this a story in the making.
In a cove, on an island somewhere in the Aegean, sunlight glistens on a new dawn. The cove is already awake and, in some quarters, has yet to sleep. People swarm over the curved beach and the surrounding cliffs. Already, some call this place their home.
A wooden skeleton of docks and piers branch out into the cobalt water and ships are in constant transit through the cove’s narrow rocky mouth. For most the journey is far from over, but some ships will come here to die; their old bones will become part of this extraordinary landscape and they will give shelter to those who might seek refuge here.
The city is alive. Shipwreck Cove is growing once more.
Look closer. See the man and the woman who stand side by side in the bow of a mighty ship, its sails as black as the bottom of the ocean. The woman gazes across the thriving cove, as a monarch might survey her kingdom. The man watches the woman, as a painter might study his subject, his eyes following the elegant lines of her features, the subtle tilt of her chin, the gentle swell of her belly. Then he reaches out, his hand encircling her waist, and draws her close to him. She turns and smiles, an expression of contentment settling upon her face.
“Is Her Majesty happy?” asks the man, light glinting on the gold that adorns his smile.
“More than I ever thought I‘d be again,” she replies, kissing him lightly on the lips. “Is Her Majesty’s consort happy?”
“You know, Elizabeth, I think I’d prefer the term courtesan. It’s more in keeping with the duties me king seems to ask of me, more often than not,” he says, with a wink.
“Yes, Jack, and those so-called duties, which are obviously so tiresome to you, have left me as big as a whale and with ankles as thick as mizzen-masts.”
“Ah now Lizzie, I never said it was tiresome. On the contrary, love, I find nothing more pleasurable than pleasuring my monarch.” With light fingers, Jack brushes back from her face the hairs that the sea breeze has blown free from her plait. “And there isn’t an inch of you that isn’t beautiful, my love,” he whispers.
Elizabeth leans into him and they kiss, long and deep, and when they finally break, Jack has the look of a man intoxicated.
“I love you,” murmurs Elizabeth, her lips brushing his cheek. Jack has said it enough that she doesn’t need to hear it back, but he says it again anyway.
For a while they stand embracing, in the bow of the black ship, looking out across the new city as it breathes around them.
“Are we safe here, Jack?” asks Elizabeth, turning in his embrace and pulling his hands around her stomach. For a moment Jack is silent as he considers her question.
“If you mean the cove, Lizzie, then I’ve no answer to give you. They may find us and we may have a battle to fight again. But I make you this promise, love. While I have breath left in my body, you’re safe here.” And he tightens his arms around her. Elizabeth closes her eyes and feels his heart beat against her.
Draw back now. Let the story spiral on. For there is always a tale to be told, and it is in the telling that we are changed.