force can only go so far. It's a lesson Elizabeth learns early in her days
on the Pearl. Anamaria may not be as strong as most of the men, but
she's the only one Jack trusts at the helm but himself and her word is law
when it comes to the division of spoils.
Elizabeth trusts Anamaria without really knowing why. She's another woman on
the ship, true, but Anamaria's nothing like the women Elizabeth knew in Port
Royal. Anamaria is forthright, all her passions in her face and on her
tongue. She has no patience with dissembling and circumlocution. Perhaps
this is why Elizabeth trusts her, because Anamaria does not entirely trust
Elizabeth and she makes no bones about this fact.
Elizabeth's hands are soft and mostly white, rope burned, broken nailed,
covered in blisters that will soon be calluses. The splinter is buried deep
in the flesh of her left hand, intersecting her heart line. There's little
blood, but it hurts like the dickens and it's deep enough that it will bleed
when the wood's gone.
Will tries to get it out with his knife, his blacksmith's hands no different
for the weeks at sea, rough and marked with tiny white scars from the forge.
His hands are made for steel, for weapons, not this precise, delicate work.
His fumbling attempts only drive the splinter farther into her hand, the
stinging pain bringing tears to her eyes.
Anamaria exhales sharply and pushes him out of the way. Her hands are small,
smaller than Elizabeth's even, although they're as rough as Will's. And, of
course, they've never been lily white. Her dark skin doesn't show every mark
the way Elizabeth's does, although, like Will's, Anamaria's hands have a
scattering of small light scars.
She presses the point of her knife against Elizabeth's skin, and
inadvertently Elizabeth jerks away.
"Hold still." Anamaria's voice is hushed, her breath shallow, her movements
steady and slow. Elizabeth watches in fascination as the wood emerges, oh so
slowly, finding herself matching the rhythm of Anamaria's breath.
The splinter pops out and Anamaria scrapes her knife across Elizabeth's hand
one last time, driving a thin line of blood in front of the blade. "'zat got
Elizabeth nods, still caught up in the odd calm Anamaria has invoked. Blood
wells up in Elizabeth's palm, spills over onto both their sleeves. Anamaria
pulls away in surprise, then laughs at her own skittishness and Elizabeth
finds her own mouth quirking into a wry grin. Still laughing and shaking her
head, Anamaria pulls the scarf from her head and presses it against the cut,
holding Elizabeth's hand firmly in her own. When the blood stops soaking
through the cloth, Anamaria wraps it around Elizabeth's hand and ties it off
"No trouble t'all." Anamaria is grinning like an ally, like a conspirator,
like she knows something that Elizabeth's only just beginning to guess, and
Elizabeth holds her breath, waiting to discover what will happen next.