lay in his bunk, in the loft above Brown's blacksmith shop, curled in a
ball. The light of dawn crept through the cracks in the wall. Two weeks ago
this afternoon, he had kissed his beloved Elizabeth, on the ramparts of the
fort at Port Royal. All his dreams had come true. He was engaged to be
married to the beautiful governor's daughter, he was pardoned for his acts
of piracy, and he was soon to be granted the rank of master in his trade.
Nothing could be more perfect. If only he could sleep.
The forge-fires blazed up. Will worked the bellows. Heat blasted his face
and he recoiled from it. Then the young blacksmith pumped again and the
temperature of the hearth rose further. He had been commissioned to produce
several new sets of hinges, to replace those broken from their doors, during
the pirates' escapades around the town of Port Royal. This much heat wasn't
strictly necessary for the task at hand, but Will was a bit distracted.
Will needed to feel the flames today. He felt the drive building in him: to
scorch the backs of his hands, to fill his eyes with smoke, to find
something that would give him the solace and release he craved. It wasn't
sword-smithing, but hinges were needed, so hinges he made.
Pulling the bar from the fire and placing it atop the anvil, Will's mind
wandered back to that moment. When Elizabeth had stood at his side, and
declared where her heart truly lay.
No one had asked Will where his heart truly lay. It was obvious to everyone;
there was no need to ask. If he had been asked on that momentous day, surely
he would have answered "with Elizabeth, of course."
Will struck the bar with the full force of his arm. Sparks flew and metal
clanged. Will struck again. The bar deformed further. This was the spot,
right here, thought Will. This is where I reached for the unfamiliar hat.
And this is where his sword slapped the back of my hand.
Will struck again. The metal cracked in twain, and at just the wrong point,
making it useless for any hinges Will might hammer out today.
"Damn," the young man cursed. The forge-fires crackled and smoked, and Will
licked the small burns on the back of his hand, absently.
The clock in the foyer tocked and ticked the seconds past. Will had stood
here before, on other occasions. Never a comfortable place, the foyer. Then
she rounded the top of the stair.
"Will!" Elizabeth cried, delighted. "You're early!"
"Am I?" Will's grin was sheepish. Elizabeth's joy at the sight of him was
infectious, and made him feel off-kilter, nearly dizzy. "I didn't wish to
keep you waiting."
"Prompt arrival is a virtue." Governor Swann interjected, clearing his
throat. "One that deserves recognition and reward. Come, both of you. We'll
open a bottle of something, and toast your good grace, William."
Will blushed. His future father-in-law was tolerating him with better grace,
himself. Still the tension in the room was palpable, whenever the both of
them were present. Soon they were arrayed through the sitting room, stemware
in hand, filled with some expensive red import, awaiting the pleasure of the
mansion's cook. Will reflected that he'd drunk more wine in the past three
weeks than in his entire lifetime previous.
"The plans for the nuptials are proceeding apace, I trust?" Weatherby Swann
feigned interest well, with the voice of long practice at the social
"Oh, I, uh..." Will floundered along. "I suppose so, I mean...Elizabeth?"
Elizabeth clasped Will's nearby hand. Smooth on the rough. Pale on the
tanned. "Oh, Will," she exclaimed fondly. "I'll wager you don't even know
the date we've set!"
"I'm not a gambling man by nature," said Governor Swann, "but I doubt much
that anyone would place a bet on that score, my dear. I'll eat the
Commodore's wig if he does," but smiled in Will's direction to take the
sting from the statement. "Best to leave these sorts of things to the girls,
anyhow, eh my boy?"
"I do so know when I'm marrying!" protested Will. "I have six and a
half weeks left!"
An awkward silence fell. Tock. Tick. Tock.
"...until I join with my lovely bride, in wedded bliss!" Will recovered,
The remainder of the evening went about as well. Or as badly, whichever way
one wanted to view things. At least no one was ill-mannered enough to
suggest that Weatherby Swann actually attempt to consume Norrington's
The straw tick was no more scratchy than usual. The sounds of Master Brown's
snoring reverberated no more loudly. The smoke from the cheap lantern oil
and the forge-chimney's leak, which always filled the loft, was actually a
bit lessened this night. Still, sleep eluded Will. Again.
His usual insomnia cure no longer availed him, and he had found no
replacement. Dreaming of the possibilities to be had, in Elizabeth's arms,
embraced by those soft hands, touched by those generous lips...
The pirate had taken, no, stolen all those things away from him.
Given him the nip of golden teeth, the firm grasp of jagged, ragged
callouses, the ripple of muscled torso against his own.
Instead of the light and luscious scent of flowers and femininity bringing
him arousal and relief and thus on to slumber, his imagination was
commandeered by the stench of salt and sea and unwashed brigand.
Why had he not thought to leap off the parapet as well, not until it was far
too late, and the sails of not only the Black Pearl, but also the
Dauntless the following day, had passed around the point and off into
How could he rise, and face another day of hammering and heating at the
forge? How could he dance again through the polite conversation and
meaningless interactions with townsfolk he no longer understood or cared to
understand? How could he live this life, when he'd had another life, a
pirate's life, and tasted the joys there?
Yet somehow, once again, like every other morning, he managed to rise and
work the forge again. Hammer up. Hammer down. Bellows. Bellows. Bellows.
Hammer up. Hammer down. Was Elizabeth right? She had called Will a pirate.
Was that what he was now?
If he was a pirate, truly, could he marry her? Would that be fair to her?
Where did the honorable path lie? Certainly she deserved better than a
blacksmith's apprentice, but in that giddy life-and-death battle to save
themselves from Barbossa, they had each lost sight of that fact.
Hammer up. Hammer down. Bellows bellows bellows.
Will looked at the bar in his hand. What am I making? he wondered.
I don't even know what I'm trying to shape! Will flung the rod into the
quenching bucket, and steam hissed in billows around his head. The blaze of
the hearth underlit his face, and the pain of his heart stood stark upon it.
He set the hammer carefully down, in its usual place among the other tools
on the rack. His legs folded beneath him, suddenly, and he dropped to the
floor, to sit crosslegged, his palms cradling his face.
Only the donkey was there, to tell if William Turner cried.
Will startled up off the floor, at the sound of the approaching jangles and
creaks. The sound was a familiar one, one which always brought joy, but now
filled him with dread. The Governor's carriage, and likely bearing the
lovely Miss Elizabeth.
I love her. I still love her, Will told himself. I will always
He was waiting in the doorway of the smithy when the driver reined the
hackneys to a halt. Elizabeth's head poked from the coach window, and her
soft, pale hand appeared, bearing a swatch of paper.
"I've come to invite you to join us for dinner again, Will," she said
cheerfully. "I think that Father is really starting to warm up to you, and
we need to continue working towards that."
"Thank you." Will took the parchment from her hand. Such a luxury, he'd only
held paper half a dozen times, before he was engaged. The need to find her a
better match than himself was more apparent, every day. She was the
loveliest woman in Port Royal, the kindest, and the strongest. And her eyes
were the most beautiful in the world, most likely.
Not the most dangerous eyes in the world. Those belonged in another face,
and were rimmed in kohl. Will had fallen into those dark pits, fallen and
fallen, and showed no signs of having approached the bottom of the abyss,
"Will?" Elizabeth noticed his detachment. "Is there something amiss? You
will be able to attend, won't you?"
Will cleared his throat, awkwardly. "Hmmm, HMM. Oh, yes. Yes of course! You
may depend upon me." Will's smile was still a bit distant.
"I know you and Father aren't exacly close, Will," said Elizabeth, "but
please, try to show him a little of what I see in you. Show him why I chose
the blacksmith over the commodore. Can you try? For me?"
Will felt something in his torso shatter, like a ball of glass. Here he was,
standing before the finest woman in all of Port Royal, and he was still
thinking of that damned pirate. And she was begging for a little
consideration, a little effort on his part, to make their future marriage a
peaceful and happy one, with her family.
Will despised himself for it.
I will not think of him, Will demanded of himself. I will think
only of her. There is no need for this melancholy, this indulgence.
Yet still, in every moment in the smithy, he found reminders that led him
astray. Grasping a sword hilt...and his battle with Jack here...Jack
returning his sword, and asking if he could sail under the command of a
pirate...Jack asking if he could sheathe his sword...and then...doing
Will flung down the blade in his hands. He should go to the docks and just
leave. No, he should do the honorable thing, and marry Elizabeth. No, better
yet, he should go to dinner tonight at the Governor's mansion, and quietly
apologize to Elizabeth in private, for what he was about to do.
And then he should kill himself, to save Elizabeth the embarrassment of
having been jilted.
Make it look like murder by pirates. Yes. Yes, murdered by pirates is
good, thought Will.
Then she'd be free to marry Norrington, who also cared for her.
Commodore Norrington. An honorable man. One who wasn't obsessed with that
Somewhere, out on the sea, the Black Pearl chuckled to herself, and
her captain's cabin continued to rock.
"Will?" Elizabeth's head poked above the lip of the loft's flooring.
Will lie silent, unmoving.
"Will, you didn't arrive in time for supper at my home. I requested cook
make your favorite dumplings this evening." Elizabeth held her skirts
cradled in one arm, awkwardly ascending the ladder one-handed. Her head
rose, one bounce at a time, up the rungs. "Will? I was worried for you."
When she reached the landing, she said, "Are you ill? Are you injured?"
although she knew the answer to these queries.
In the depths of his despair, Will was unable to react or respond.
"Darling," Elizabeth approached Will's bed. It was unseemly for a woman to
approach a man in his bed this way, but Will's incapacity was sufficiently
like illness to avoid any appearance of impropriety, Elizabeth reasoned.
"It's alright. I understand."
"No." Will's voice was choked with emotion, and a single syllable was all he
Seating herself on the edge of his cot, Elizabeth placed a hand on his
shoulder. Will flinched and curled closer to the wall.
"No, truly. I do understand, darling." Elizabeth struggled for a way
to broach the topic. A young lady of gentle upbringing was rarely privy to
the sort of vocabulary one might use to describe Will's...dilemma.
She reached into the straw tick that formed a rude mattress beneath Will's
body, and drew out a handful of the bedding there. Rubbing the hay between
her fingers for a moment, she mustered her courage for what might lie ahead.
Then she lifted the prickly straw to her face.
Pushing on Will's uppermost shoulder, she forced him to roll onto his back,
to face her and receive her attentions. Still holding the straw to her chin,
she firmly kissed an astonished but malleable Will.
"Just pretend I'm Jack..." she murmured into his lips.