The heat was unbearable, a humid, oppressive weight on Elizabeth's
skin, sticking her hair to her neck, making it impossible to get a breath.
The balcony doors stood open, but only a cursory breeze came in, barely
stirring the curtains. She turned her pillow over, attempting to find a cool
spot to rest her head, and thought about Will. She wondered what he was
doing now, far from Port Royal. Was he on the Black Pearl with Jack?
Or was he living on some island, perhaps working as a blacksmith? Did he
have a sweetheart? There was a sharp pang in Elizabeth's chest when she
thought that she'd never see him again, never even know if he were alive or
This was followed by a flood of guilt. She shouldn't be having these
thoughts. In three weeks, she'd be another man's wife. She'd done what she
had to do to save Will's life, and now she had to live with that. The
important thing was that Jack and Will had escaped. James had saved Will
twice over, once by going back for him on the Isla de Muerte and then again,
by calling off his men on the day of Jack's execution. James was a good man.
She owed it to him to try to love him. It wasn't fair to continue to moon
over a man she'd never see again. Firmly squelching the sense of betrayal
that arose at that thought, Elizabeth finally succumbed to sleep.
She dreamed of Will and awoke with tears in her eyes, unsure if the sound
she'd heard was real or a remnant from her dream.
There was a pirate sitting on her bed. Before she could scream, his hand was
over her mouth, and Will's voice was whispering, "Shhh."
Of course it was Will. How could she not have seen that immediately? Six
months had not changed him so much - his loose curls were a bit longer, his
dress more flamboyant (he'd certainly never worn a claret-colored coat and
knee high boots, not to mention a gold hoop in his ear, when he was an
apprentice blacksmith), but otherwise he looked no different. It was only a
trick of the moonlight that had given her the impression that it was Jack
Sparrow in her bedchamber.
Slowly, Will drew his hand across her face, swiping his thumb through the
tears on her cheeks. His hands were as rough as ever, but he smelled
entirely different, not of smoke and scorched metal, but of brine and rum
and sunlight. Despite the stifling heat, Elizabeth shivered.
Shocked and still surfacing from her dream, she felt as though she'd
forgotten how to speak. When she found her voice, she simply said, "Will,"
and his name was sweet on her tongue. She stopped, unsure of what to say
next. Nothing seemed adequate. She sat up in the bed, struggling to untangle
herself from the bedclothes. "Are you well? You look. . ."
"Like a pirate?" He flashed a cocky grin that again put Elizabeth in mind of
"Good. . .Like yourself." There was a hitch in her voice as she continued,
"I've missed you."
He cupped a hand behind her head, bringing her in close to him. "I've missed
Then his mouth was on hers, kissing her fiercely, eagerly. There was no
gentleness or diffidence, only sharp teeth and slick tongues and passion too
long thwarted. And she met him with that same passion, reveling in the
wildness. Whatever she'd imagined their first kiss would be, this was not
it. When he broke away, they were both breathing hard, and she could feel
the blood rising in her cheeks.
Elizabeth put her hand to her raw lips and attempted to compose herself.
Will's arms were still around her, holding her indecently close, and she was
suddenly aware of how her sweat-dampened shift clung to her body.
He buried his nose in her hair and inhaled deeply. "We came back for you."
The rasp of his voice made her ache for something she couldn't quite
"Did you mean what you said? Before you left?" She would not say the words
she'd repeated to herself a thousand times.
He pulled away and held her at arm's length, scrutinizing her. Sincerity was
stamped on his face, and for an instant, he was the earnest boy she'd grown
up with. "Do you doubt it?"
Before she could answer, he spoke again, the words rushing out, betraying an
uncertainty that he'd disguised until that moment. "Will you come with us?"
Odd fragments of memory flitted through Elizabeth's mind: Will disappearing
after Jack into the ocean; the relief on her father's face; James' resigned
eyes as he slipped the opal engagement ring onto her finger; Will bandaging
her hand with infinite care. In a moment she weighed her fiancÚs pain and
her father's grief and found them less than the hope in Will's eyes. Mutely,
she nodded, and his lips captured hers again.
In between kisses, Will was speaking urgently, and it took her a moment to
follow his words. "There's something you must know, before-"
Whatever it was, she didn't want to hear it. Her mind was made up, and the
last thing she wanted was something to skew the balance. She stopped his
words with another frenzied kiss.
"I need. . .Elizabeth-"
Jack Sparrow's slurring voice floated up through the open French doors,
laced with mild irritation. "It's nearly dawn. Is she comin' or not?"
Will jerked away with an exasperated noise, then shook his head in
frustration. Something snapped shut in his eyes. "Will you come? We sail
with the tide."
On the water, it was blessedly cool. Stars sparkled in the sky and the moon
laid out a shimmering path on the ocean. But the romance of their elopement
was somewhat marred by Jack Sparrow's smirking presence in the dinghy,
pointedly refusing to row.
When he spoke, his voice was inexplicably sullen. "So you came." His focus
shifted to Will, and the possessiveness in his gaze raised the hair on the
back of Elizabeth's neck. "You did give her the lay of the land,
right mate? Told her the whole story before she agreed to run away with
Will averted his eyes, looking out over the water. "Not exactly. There. .
Elizabeth jumped to his defense, pretending more confidence than she felt.
"He tried to tell me. I-"
Jack ignored her, still focused entirely on Will. "Seems to me you had
plenty of time to tell her all sorts of things. We had an accord, love.
Everything aboveboard, no skullduggery, remember?"
Irritation made Elizabeth's voice come out sharper than she'd intended.
"Will someone please tell me what you're talking about?"
"Not now. I'll tell you when we get back to the Pearl." More than
anything else, Will's dismissive tone took Elizabeth by surprise. He was not
entirely the man she had known, and that was frightening and intriguing in
equal measures. She felt certain it would all make sense once she'd learned
this secret that had Jack so irate.
But when they boarded the Pearl, Will shuffled her off to a cabin and
insisted that he was needed to sail the ship. "Sleep," he said, with
something of his old gentleness. "We'll talk after we've put Port Royal
Elizabeth was lost in dreams, plummeting into the depths, warm water
cradling her, salt water in her mouth like a kiss.
The unfamiliar hanging bed swung violently, waking her with a sudden panic.
Will, half on and half off, caught her before she fell to the floor. He
eased himself onto the bed and wrapped himself around her, steady and
She roused enough to give him a sleepy kiss before the movement rocked her
back to sleep, taking the memory of the kiss with her. Will's mouth tasted
of rum; rum and salt and gold. No -- that was someone else. But it was all
mixed up with the sand and the smoke and the leaping flames of the forge and
there was something important that she needed to remember, but it kept
slipping from her mind.
She nestled closer to Will, and in her dream, Jack whispered, "You can have
anything you want, provided you're willin' to pay the price."
She awoke to bright sunlight pouring into the cabin, and Will's arms still
tight around her. The reality of it was daunting. Her life had turned inside
out in a matter of a few hours, and there was no going back now. Then she
rolled over and looked into Will's eyes and all her doubts were consumed in
the joy shining there. He wrapped the laces of her shift around his fingers
and dragged her to him, and something hot and sweet coiled in her stomach.
She wanted more of those wild kisses, his hands on her body, the things her
governess had vaguely alluded to with obscure botanical metaphors and the
maids had whispered about when they didn't know she was listening. Her heart
was pounding a hectic beat. Then, in the moment before Will kissed her, he
stopped himself and passed his hand over his eyes.
"This is. . .Jack agreed to let you use his bed last night. The rest of the
crew sleeps together in the forecastle. We'll have to find somewhere for you
to bed down."
Elizabeth considered what Will had said and what he had carefully not
said. She remembered the taste of his mouth and the scent that had clung to
him when he came to bed, and recalled snatches of half-understood fort
gossip. With a flash of clarity, she knew, deep in her bones, what he'd
tried to tell her the night before. Gathering all her composure, Elizabeth
coolly asked, "And you, Will? Where do you sleep?"
He flushed deep red but his voice was even and forthright. "With Jack, of
course. I did try to tell you last night, Elizabeth."
Jack was in the crow's nest, his wild hair snapping in the wind. When
Elizabeth, dressed in a borrowed shirt and breeches, struggled up the
rigging to him, he bared his teeth at her in a parody of a smile.
"Will has explained to me. . ." She thought of Will's direct answers to her
questions, and blushed a bit at the images his explanation had put in her
head. ". . .how things are between the two of you."
"Gave you the full picture, did he?" Jack managed to infuse this statement
with every possible bit of innuendo.
Refusing to be needled, Elizabeth looked away from Jack, at the deck far
below. "Why did you come back for me?"
Jack tilted his head and held his hands out in a gesture of surrender.
"Because he wanted you. That's 'how things are between us,'" he
Elizabeth considered her words carefully. "Will said that you and he. .
.that he and I. . .that you agreed. . ."
"I'm not a man to limit myself, savvy?" Jack leered at her. "I won't ask of
Will what he can't expect of me." Jack's eyes narrowed in a piercing look.
"What're your expectations?"
"I won't force Will into Solomon's choice, if that's what you mean. I love
him and won't ask him to tear himself apart for me." Elizabeth noted with
satisfaction that Jack looked slightly taken aback by this. She continued in
a more vehement tone, "I gave him up to save him -- anything I can have of
him now is more than I ever expected." She gave Jack a version of his own
predatory grin. "But don't expect me to give him up again."
Surprisingly, some of the resentment in Jack's eyes faded, replaced with a
grudging respect. "So that's how it works then? Share and share alike?"
Elizabeth felt a hysterical giggle threatening to burst from her lips. "I
haven't the faintest idea how this works! This time yesterday I was taking
tea with James Norrington and discussing what color to paint the walls in
our new parlor. The world has turned upside down, since then."
Jack's laugh was almost sympathetic. "The world is what you make it, darlin'."
After a complicated, private negotiation with Will, Jack agreed to let them
have his cabin again that night. This time Will seemed to have no qualms
about following through on his promising kisses. With a delicious abandon,
he stripped her clothes, then kissed her, very deliberately, all over her
body. The more he touched and licked and nipped, the more she wanted. She
felt she would never get enough of this, of the fluttering kisses behind her
knees, his callused thumb rubbing over her nipples, and his tongue flicking
and darting over her skin. And almost as exciting was the yearning in his
voice when he said her name, and the way he moaned when she returned his
Finally, when she thought she'd snap like a string pulled too tight, he fit
himself between her legs with a confidence that made her wonder what else
he'd been up to these past six months. She braced herself for the pain she'd
been warned of.
With visible effort, Will halted. "I'm told it's unpleasant for a woman the
first time. I don't want to-"
"Shhh." And she pulled him down and into her and there was a sting,
but nothing like what she'd feared. And after that, it seemed they both knew
what to do.
It rapidly became clear that, no matter what Jack had said, he begrudged
Elizabeth's presence on his ship. He seemed ill inclined to assign her work
and sniped at her over the slightest thing. He delighted in provoking her,
making a point of manhandling Will, standing too close to him, touching his
hair, and grasping his arm needlessly. If there was even the semblance of
privacy, his touches verged on indecent, and always with one eye on
Elizabeth, a knowing smirk on his face as he watched her watch them.
The final straw came when Elizabeth accompanied them to a tavern for the
first time. With each round of drinks, Jack's advances on Will became harder
to ignore; what had at first been merely a friendly arm over the shoulder
gradually transformed into the most obvious fondling. Finally, Jack accosted
Will as he returned with a fresh tankard of ale, pushing him against the
wall and sloshing drink all over the floor.
He pressed the length of his body against Will's and held his mouth only a
hair's breadth from Will's lips, whispering what could only be lewd
suggestions from the way Will's eyes glazed over with barely contained lust.
Elizabeth was transfixed by the spectacle, watching with her mouth open,
wondering exactly how far Jack would take this game. When Will gasped out
Jack's name, Jack gave her a sly look that struck her like a knife to the
heart. Without stopping to think about what she was doing, she stood and
dumped her untouched tankard of ale on their heads. The tavern exploded into
applause and catcalls and she realized she'd only made the situation worse.
Nothing to do now but brazen it out, she supposed.
Will and Jack were sputtering and cursing and wiping their eyes with their
sleeves. "What was that for?" Will asked, his voice suddenly a good deal
"If you're going to molest one another, do us all the courtesy of going
somewhere less public!" Elizabeth spat out.
Jack brought his hands together. "An excellent suggestion, madam, I'll take
it on your advisement." And they stumbled off together to a private room,
leaving Elizabeth feeling that she'd won a Pyrrhic victory at best.
When she complained to Will the next day, he shrugged and said, "Take it up
At her confused look, Will set aside the navigational charts he was reading
and took her hand.
"Elizabeth, Jack's. . .intimacies don't bother me." His mouth quirked in a
private smile, and then he sighed. "I realize that this is difficult, but
things are different here than they were in Port Royal." He tapped the
rolled up charts against his leg thoughtfully. "It would make this easier if
you and Jack could find an amicable resolution." He averted his eyes, and
Elizabeth wondered if he was only now beginning to realize what a tangle
he'd pulled them all into. "I can not take sides between you - you must work
it out amongst yourselves."
Elizabeth imagined that Jack wanted nothing more than to know that he'd
gotten her goat. She'd given him satisfaction once, but she refused to do so
again. Instead, she must use his own tactics against him. That night, as
they sat on the deck drinking and dicing, she overcame her reticence and
plopped herself in Will's lap. Jack glowered at her a bit and pointedly laid
his hand on Will's thigh, idly tracing a figure eight pattern as he threw
the dice with his other hand. Will leaned back against the rail and made a
soft sound of amusement. Clearly he'd realized that he could only benefit
from this rivalry.
Jack won steadily, and every time he won, he kissed Will, "for luck" (here
on his own ship, he made no attempt to hide the nature of their friendship).
And every time Jack kissed Will, Elizabeth responded with a kiss of her own.
As usual on the Pearl there was a bottle of rum, and this time
Elizabeth drank along with Jack and Will. Soon, the kisses became more and
more outrageous, each trying to outdo the other until Will's mouth was
bruised and swollen, and his eyes were glassy.
Finally, the rest of the crew (having lost enough for one night) wandered
off to other diversions, leaving the three of them in relative privacy. Jack
stood, swaying slightly, and yanked Will to his feet, dumping Elizabeth from
his lap. Elizabeth had drunk enough that this was funny to her rather than
insulting and she collapsed on the deck in laughter.
Surprisingly, Jack offered her his hand (although no apology, of course) and
pulled her up. She would have fallen backwards when he let go of her hand,
except that Will caught her and put his arm around her.
Will put his other arm around Jack and looked around thoughtfully. "It's a
beautiful night. We could just sleep out here."
Jack smirked and kissed him thoroughly, running his hand down Will's throat
and chest and tweaking one of his nipples. Elizabeth tilted her head and
watched them, quite entranced by the needy sounds Will was making. It
occurred to her that Jack Sparrow cut quite a dashing figure. As if he knew
her thoughts, Jack opened his eyes and winked broadly at her.
Suddenly recalled to herself, Elizabeth said. "Now you owe me another kiss!"
Will gave her a calculating look, and it occurred to Elizabeth that perhaps
he wasn't as drunk as she was. "What say you collect this debt from the one
who incurred it?" And he pulled Elizabeth and Jack together, so that they
nearly smacked into each other.
A reckless urge to call Will's bluff and a desire to throw Jack off balance
combined to move Elizabeth forward to touch her lips to Jack's. But when she
would have pulled away, Jack's arm snaked around her, bringing the three of
them closer together, and his tongue darted into her mouth. Distantly,
Elizabeth thought, so this is where Will learned to kiss. It had the
same hungry, take-no-prisoners quality as Will's kisses, if anything Jack
was even more rapacious. Her knees felt weak and Elizabeth clung to Will's
coat for support. There was laughter in her ear just before Will's teeth
sank into her earlobe.
Jack broke away, with a smug look on his face, and Will said, "I'm losing
track, but I'm think you both owe me a kiss now."
Two mouths latched onto Will's and for a long moment the three of them
traded kisses, punctuated by soft moans and shuddering sighs. When Will
pulled them down onto the deck and placed Jack's hand on her breast,
Elizabeth thought that perhaps she should be shocked, but really, everything
that had happened since she'd come on board the Pearl was so far
outside her previous experiences that nothing surprised her any more.
A few days
later they docked in a small fishing village to take on provisions. Jack
immediately disappeared, telling no one where he was going. He returned from
his mysterious errand dragging a cowed looking priest behind him. When Jack
saw Will, he clapped him on the shoulder and said, "I brought you a
present!" Then he looked back at the priest and gestured at Will and
Elizabeth. "They're the ones I told you 'bout. They need to be married.
The priest took in Elizabeth's breeches and Jack's arm thrown around Will's
shoulders, and blinked slowly, his brow furrowing in confusion. Will's mouth
opened wide enough to admit a small army of flies, and Elizabeth was sure
her expression was a match for his.
Will squirmed away from Jack. "Wait, why are you doing this?"
"It's what you wanted, right, to marry your sweetheart? I figured this was
as good a time as any -- we're not likely to stumble across a priest again
any time soon."
So Elizabeth had her wedding day after all, with Jack and Anamaria to
witness her vows. And after Jack kissed the groom with an enthusiasm that
clearly scandalized the priest, Elizabeth kissed Jack's cheek and whispered
a quiet thank you in his ear.