"Your brother has made his bed and now he must lie in it."
Elizabeth pretended to sleep. Through slitted lids, she saw her mother
fondle Papa's hand flirtatiously. "If you spoke to the King--"
"No! If it were only you and I, perhaps. But if the King should come
down on me as well, what would become of you, and of Elizabeth? We must
distance ourselves from Edward as much as possible and hope that no hint of
his treason taints us."
Her mother's only answer was a sob. The coach rattled on through the
Their first night aboard the Dauntless, Elizabeth snuck out of the
cabin, leaving her father in a poppy-scented slumber in his bunk.
The sky was a dizzying blaze of light, mirrored in the water; it seemed that
they were adrift on a sea of stars. The radiance made Elizabeth's eyes
water, or perhaps it was the thought of all they'd left behind.
She recalled her father's words, "Just the two of us now, Elizabeth, we must
be strong for one another," and dashed the tears from her eyes. Solitary and
brave in the cold starlight, she was ready for anything.
Engrossed in the story she was weaving for Will, twilight caught Elizabeth
by surprise. Through the loft window, a half-moon was rising in the indigo
"I must go; Father will be looking for me!"
Below them, Mr. Brown stirred, and Will touched his fingers to her mouth to
silence her. His hand smelled of smoke and leather and salt, and a queer,
lightheaded feeling came over Elizabeth. She gasped and he yanked his hand
She did not visit Will at the forge again, but for days, she licked her
lips, searching for the taste of his skin.
Elizabeth wasn't such an innocent that she didn't know what Barbossa meant.
A fate worse than death, some women called it, but what did that mean,
really? She had no doubt there were things worse than death (of late,
this had been impressed upon her), but was it likely that spreading your
legs for a man was one of them?
A woman -- any woman -- had only a few coins with which to barter, and
currently, Elizabeth's means were exceedingly limited. Surrender, compliance
with any number of humiliations, was a means to an end. If she survived, she
They had their wedding night without a wedding, in the Pearl's great
cabin, with the moon shining through the cracked stern windows. Elizabeth
was shameless, stripping off her filthy breeches and bloodstained shirt. It
was Will who hesitated, questioning her until she pushed him onto the bunk
and straddled him.
The sheets smelled like rum and oranges and Will smelled like powder and
smoke. He groaned when she slid onto him and she winced at the pain.
Somewhere, Jack was singing, slightly off key.
Will asked again, "Are you certain?"
It was too late to stop. "Yes," she lied. "Yes."
"Is it true?"
Jack was watching, cold-eyed, and her denial died on her lips.
The shocked look on Will's face was like a blow. She wished he would
hit her, or berate her, anything but this disillusioned silence.
Will looked up at the moon, misshapen in the mottled grey sky. When he
finally walked away, shaking his head, she wheeled on Jack. "You told him!"
"How was I to know you hadn't? I thought it was all honesty and plain
dealing between the two of you." He leaned in, whispering sweetly. "Tell me,
darling, is there anyone you haven't deceived?"
With Jack it was snide comments, culminating in a nasty explosion that
cleared the air. He didn't want Elizabeth to say she was sorry; once she
fought back, he was satisfied.
Will would hear neither explanations nor apologies. She privately vowed to
leave as soon as they returned to familiar waters, but Will jumped ship
before she had the opportunity.
She sat up all night, watching the distant shore. The moon, a pale arc
against the dawn sky, seemed to mock her hopes.
When they sailed without him, she couldn't have said whether what she felt
was sorrow or relief.
The lock released with a click, but Norrington didn't move. "Sparrow won't
be pleased. I've no desire to be a pawn in whatever game you're playing with
"It's got nothing to do with Jack."
He eyed the open door warily. "Why, then?"
"Consider it payment of a longstanding debt."
"Oh, yes, your one true love, rescued from the dastardly pirates. You did
renege on that bargain, didn't you?" He cocked an eyebrow. "Whatever
happened to Turner, anyway?"
Elizabeth inhaled sharply and resisted the urge to slap him. "That's none of
your concern. We're even, you understand? Square. Now go!"
Will found Elizabeth in a Tortuga tavern, leaned against Jack and
three-quarters drunk at half-past-noon. She sat up straight when she saw
him, and tugged at her ragged coat. Two years hadn't changed him, although
he sported a gold earring and a crescent-shaped scar high on one cheek.
He sat down beside her as if he'd never been gone, and in an exasperated
voice, he asked, "What kind of a woman are you?"
"The kind who comes out on top."
He grinned at this, lazy and inviting, and she felt herself moving to him,
like the moon to the tide.