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Trust and Honour, part 4 of 5

by The Stowaway

 

Fandom: PoTC    Rating: NC-17     Pairing: Jack/Will/Elizabeth/James    Full Header

 


 

Friday:

James woke before dawn to an empty bed. He stretched and yawned and rolled over into the hollowed covers still faintly warm with the scent of pirate.  Not gone long, then. He wondered, idly, what mischief Jack could get into at this hour, but gave it up as a hopeless task. Who could predict?  He stretched again and burrowed contentedly, suffused for the moment with well-being. He dozed.

Some time later, when dawn was pink in the sky and he was just shrugging into his coat, there came a knock at his chamber door and Will stuck his head in, grinning conspiratorially.  “Ah, good,” he said, “you’re dressed.  Come on, then. Hurry!”  And he took James by the arm and began to haul him toward the stairs.

“What is all this?” James tried to free his arm but Will stuck fast.

“We’re going fishing. Must step lively if we’re to catch the last of the morning rise.”

“But…”

“No time,” Will said, hustling him out the front door.

“Breakfast?” James asked.

“No time for that, either,” replied Will, dragging his disconcerted companion toward the stables. “I had Cook pack us a basket. It’s in here, with all our tackle,” he said, ushering James into the tack room.

“Will Turner, what are you about?” James demanded, shaking free at last and folding him arms. “I shan’t take another step until you tell me.”

Will grinned, unabashed. “Can we just say I have a sudden desire to fish and leave it at that?”

James glared at him. “You are very like Jack Sparrow, on occasion.”

“Thank you,” Will beamed.

“That was not a compliment. Now, if you please, what is going on?”

 “Alright, then, if you will have the truth with no bark on it,” Will shrugged, “I wish Elizabeth and Jack to fight and get it behind them, which they will not do if you and I are in the way.”

“You wish them to fight,” James was incredulous.

“I do,” Will nodded. “Good Lord, James, do you desire to live through another day like yesterday, with storm signals flying and everyone on edge?” James shuddered eloquently, and Will barked a laugh. “Nor I, I thank you. I would have peace in my house. And with those two, peace will only come after they settle accounts.”

James looked dubious. “Jack is in a dangerous mood, Will.”

“No more so than my wife,” Will chuckled. “Jack hasn’t crossed swords – metaphorically speaking, of course – with Elizabeth in some time. He is about to be surprised, I’ll wager. Don’t worry, my friend, I have no fears for either of them. They will settle their differences with no serious harm done on either side.”

Will handed him a rod and creel before taking up his own.  “Trust and honour, James, remember?”  He bent to retrieve the breakfast basket and led the way out the stable door and across the dew-frosted lawn toward the river.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the house, two pairs of eyes watched them go, Elizabeth from her dressing room and Jack from the library, whither his prowling had drawn him to indulge his sporadic taste for literature as a way of passing the time.  He grinned and went out into the hall.  No servants were in sight. With cat-like energy he sprang up the stairs and along the corridor to the Turners’ chamber door. There he paused a moment, listening, before slipping inside and closing the door quietly.

He found himself in a large pleasant room, richly furnished in the style of about ten years back.  The bed, of dark wood heavily carved, stood out from one wall, the brocade hangings drawn back. Over against the window were placed a pair of wing chairs and a small table. Before the other window, a delicate writing-desk.  The door to the dressing room was ajar and he could hear voices.

“Thank you, Betsy, that will be all.”

“Very good, ma’m,” came the reply. Jack ducked behind the hangings of the bed just as the dressing room door opened. Once the maid was gone, he slipped out of hiding to lock the door into the corridor behind her. With a smile not entirely pleasant, he turned and trod across the thick carpet.

Elizabeth sat, half turned away from him, at her dressing table. She was trimming her fingernails with a pair of tiny scissors and did not see him lounging in the doorway, arms crossed; the sardonic smile still in place. She was wearing a sprigged gown with a tiny ruffle at the low, square neckline and her hair was done up loosely, revealing the lovely line of her shoulder and neck as she looked down at her hands.

She was thinking of the night just past.

Returned to bed, she had clung to Will, trembling. He had been startled, even a little alarmed until she told him, in halting words, what she had seen through the library door. He had relaxed then, holding her close, rubbing her back soothingly and murmuring understanding in her ear. “Were you shocked?” he asked.

“I was,” she said, “but not in the way you think. Will, they love each other! To let that love end on the gibbet at Port Royal would be unbearably wrong.”

“So what do you think of your plan to help James, now, my dear?”

“Oh, I am more determined than ever. They are too stubborn and set in their ways (especially James) to help themselves. They need someone to show them the way out of this tangle.”

Will had chuckled fondly, “That someone, of course, is you?”

“And why not?” she asked, “I see the problem; I believe I see an answer to it. James is almost there; I have made him think, at least.  Jack, on the other hand…”  She fell silent a moment. “…is being vexing.” Will had laughed at that and she sighed. “Oh very well, he is being perfectly infuriating.”

“Have you considered, love,” Will said gently, “that Jack might be jealous of your influence with James?”

She was astonished. “Jealous? Great heavens, why? Surely Jack knows James loves him! After what I saw of them tonight, I can hardly believe he could doubt it.”

“Nevertheless.”

“I think you are mistaken. But, be that as it may, I shall make him see reason, Will, mark my words.”

“Consider them marked,” he said. And he had kissed her, neatly ending the conversation and giving her thoughts a more pleasurable turn.

Setting down the scissors, she picked up a chamois to buff her nails. Knowing a thing exists, she reflected, is altogether different than seeing that thing for oneself. She was still a little shaken by the force of what she had witnessed between Jack and James; it was so far beyond what she had imagined.  She felt almost shy of facing them, but she must.  Indeed, with James and Will gone fishing (and she didn’t doubt for a moment that it was Will’s doing, bless him) now was the perfect time to deal with Jack.  Alright, then, she thought, putting the chamois down, now for it, no putting it off. She took a last look in the mirror; biting her lips and pinching her cheeks for color; girding herself for battle.

“Lovely,” Jack said, startling her nearly out of her chair, “but then, you always are, Elizabeth, my sweet.”

She whirled to face him. “Jack! How long have you been standing there?”

“Since your maid left,” he showed teeth, “long enough to know you are up to something. It’s quite informative to watch you when you are thinking, you know.”

Elizabeth stood to face him, a little breathless from the fright he had given her but resolved not to show it. “And what, if you please, are you doing in my dressing room?” she asked, haughtily.

The glinting grin widened, but still didn’t reach his eyes, as he unfolded his arms and stood away from the doorframe. “Seizing the opportune moment so conveniently provided by your husband, madam.” He glided forward one step; another.

She locked her knees; stood her ground. He was trying to unnerve her, she knew; but she refused to let him see it was working. Still stalling, she said, “Captain Sparrow, this is most improper.  What if my maid comes back and finds you here?”

“Most improper,” he mocked, a flash of genuine amusement in those cold eyes. “In my opinion, Mrs. Turner, impropriety should be your middle name. And I took the simple precaution of locking the door; the servants will not be disturbing us.” Another step.

It was, she thought, like being stalked by a leopard; the unwavering gaze, the slow, implacable advance. Involuntarily, she backed a pace. This conversation was not proceeding as she had planned. Damn Jack for being difficult. She decided to change her tactics.

Steeling herself, she went to brush past him, but he moved quickly to block the door into the bedroom. “Jack, don’t be ridiculous! Let me pass.” She looked into the dark face so close to her own. For an instant, so quickly she was not sure she hadn’t imagined it, his eyes blazed at her with a mixture of anger and something else she couldn’t quite name. And then the mask was back in place. His smile grew hard.

“So you can run off and leave me all forlorn?” he drawled, “I think not.”

His jibe stiffened her spine. She raised her chin and smiled coolly, “I have no intention of leaving; I merely wished to sit down in comfort. In fact, I have been wanting a private chat with you, Jack, without interruptions. This, indeed, seems to be the opportune moment.”

Jack’s smile held real warmth this time, but no less mockery.  “That’s the spirit, love,” and he moved aside to let her pass, strolling after her to the chairs by the window.  “Chat away, I’m all ears.”

She sat down and waited while he did the same. Now that it came to it, she was at something of a loss as to how to begin in the face of his clear hostility.  “First, Jack, tell me why you wanted to talk to me.”

“Losing your nerve again?” A flash of malice. “Very well then, darling, I will come right to the point. What’s this all about, ay?  Just what sort of game are you playing?”

“It’s about James,” she said.

He nodded. “It most certainly is,” was all his reply.

“And it’s not a game.”

“Well, if it’s not a game, then it’s serious,” he said, “and for the life of me I can’t imagine what you think you will gain by it.”

“What I will gain….?  Jack, what on Earth do you mean by that?”

“Oh come now, darling, I am neither blind nor stupid. What are you up to? He’s besotted.”

She shook her head, aghast. “No, no, you are wrong. It is not what you think.”

“Is young Will not man enough for you, after all, that you must take James for a lover?” he taunted, “Or are you thinking of leaving him and becoming Mrs. Commodore, after all? You’ll catch cold at that, I assure you.”

“Jack! Stop it!” she cried, appalled at the turn this was taking. Will had been right; Jack was jealous. She leapt up and turned away, her hands over her ears. “I will not hear you.”

He surged out of his chair and grabbed her by the shoulders, spinning her round to face him. Taking her wrists in an ungentle grasp, he pulled her hands roughly down.

“By God, you will,” he growled harshly, “Why, Elizabeth?  Was it revenge? I’d had your Will and you took James to settle the score?”

“Don’t be idiotic! I am trying to help him, to help you both.” She cried, twisting her wrists to get free, but his grip tightened brutally.

“Help him? How? Why?” he demanded.

“Help both of you,” she said. “Because I love him.”

Jack’s eyes went bleak for a moment.  “You love him.”

“Yes, of course I love him, you fool!  Just as I love you.” She stopped as if she had bitten her tongue, flushed scarlet and turned her face away.  She hadn’t meant to let that slip. Damn Jack Sparrow, she thought, damn him. There was a pause.  Elizabeth wanted to sink through the floor. If he laughs, she thought, I will hit him.

Jack cleared his throat. “I fail to see,” he said deliberately, “how you think you are helping by fucking my James,” Her head whipped around, eyes wide with shock. “Yes, my James. (It’s time we spoke plainly, Elizabeth, if you please, just between us.) For he is mine, and none of yours. If you hurt him, you answer to me. He and I have managed our affairs quite neatly for over five years without your help. Why are you interfering now?”

“Because, you bloody, arrogant bastard,” she hissed, “your James is placed in an impossible situation, thanks to you and your foolhardy cat-and-mouse games. Did he tell you of his new orders?  No? I thought not.” She jerked her hands free and stalked over to the desk by the window and drew a folded paper from the drawer. “Read this. Father gave it me.” And she turned her back on him to look out the window.

The rustle of unfolding paper was followed by silence as he read.  Then, “I see.”

She turned, smiling grimly. “I’m sure you do. Once those orders are posted, Jack, you and the Pearl will have nowhere to hide.  Every Navy ship, every privateer will have but one goal – your capture. The hunt is up.”

Jack grinned toothily. “Well, love, this old fox has a few tricks left in him, as the hunters will see before long.”

“Oh, spare me the swagger and boast,” she snorted. “Plain speaking between us, remember?”

“Aye, lass,” he replied with another grin, “but it’s a part of me; bone deep. Too late to change now.” He held out his hand, “Alright, then, you’ve got my attention. Now come, sit down and tell me this helpful plan of yours.”  He held up an admonitory finger. “No promises, mind,” he added as she resumed her seat with a lift of her chin.

“Well,” she said, “my idea was to cause James to question his assumptions.” She glanced at Jack, who nodded.

“I’ve read the philosophers,” he said.

“I thought you might have,” Elizabeth said. “You hide your light, Jack, but you don’t entirely fool me, you know.  Now then, I have been trying to get James to think about what he truly desires. For one thing, he realizes that it’s no longer me that he wants. Nor Sarah-Ann, for that matter.” Jack looked a question. “She proposed to him last week.” He chuckled. “Nor any ‘fine woman.’”

“Does he now?” murmured Jack, clearly amused. “Dare I ask how you can know this?”

She slanted him a look. “That you have already guessed, but you become so surly at the thought that we will move on, if you please. Suffice it to say,” she added with a tiny smile, “the name he barely stopped himself from uttering at the crucial moment was not mine.”

“Fair enough,” he laughed. “Say no more. Next point?”

“He now looks askance on the idea of retiring to England to become a country squire.”

Jack looked startled. “Did he ever entertain such a notion?”

It was her turn to be amused.  “Of course he did. Persons of his class ‘always’ go home to England at the end of their service. Did you never discuss it?” she asked, expecting no answer.  Nor was she disappointed.  Jack sat mum, frowning a little and staring out the window. Presently he turned his attention back to her.

“Is there more?”

She nodded. “I have urged him to resign his commission.”

“You what?  Elizabeth,” Jack shook his head, “you’re mad, lass.”

“Don’t be too certain of that, Captain Sparrow,” she replied with a tight smile. “The Navy has behaved dishonourably toward him – you can see evidence of it in that paper; therefore, he can choose to free himself without shame. Whether he does so or not depends, I believe, upon you.”

“Explain yourself.”

“Piracy is all but finished; you and the Pearl are all that’s left. Sooner or later, they will take you and hang you.” He shrugged and she frowned at him. “Stop it, Jack. If James is forced to hang you it will destroy him. And think of my daughters, of Will …of me. And what of your crew?  Listen to me. The wild days are done and civilization has closed in. The Caribbean is not for you, not anymore. Go. Chase the horizon. Take him and go, Jack. For all our sakes.”

“‘Take him and go.’ Just like that, ay?  What makes you think he’d come with us?” Jack scowled, but she could see a glint in his eye, as the idea took hold.

“Have you ever asked him?” she replied.

“I haven’t,” he admitted. “Nor shall I.” He flung up a hand as she made an exasperated sound. “No, not another word. I have a notion.”  He grinned, “And you’ll just have to trust me to manage without your help.” She rolled her eyes and sighed.

He stood, taking her hand and drawing her up with him. “Now I’ve a question for you, since we’re in a truth-telling humor today. What do you get out of this, Elizabeth?”

“My husband,” she replied promptly, “heart-whole and safe at home; no longer tempted by the lure of the pirate life.” Baring her teeth in a diamond-hard echo of his own grin, she continued, “For he is mine, and none of yours, Jack Sparrow.”

He threw back his head and shouted with laughter.  “Touché, darling,” he said. “I’ll wager you’ve not told Will that part of it, have you?” He laughed again at the admission he read in her face. “What a pirate you’d have made. Ruthless, clever and beautiful; a potent combination.” Still smiling, he drew her into a warm hug, which she returned with interest.

They stood for a moment, each enjoying the rare pleasure of being in accord with the other, until Jack spoke again, his lips moving against her hair. “I’ve another question, love,” he murmured.

“Mmm?”

“Where’s my kiss?”

She pulled back far enough to look at him, laughing a little. “You never give up, do you?”

“Not until I get what I want,” he said, running his hands softly up her arms, “no more than you do. Peas in a pod, darling. Remember?”

She nodded, eyes steady on his.

“Let’s see now.” His hands left her shoulders to run up into the mass of golden brown hair and with a gentle flick that spoke of much experience, he loosened the pins that held it and brought it cascading around her shoulders. “There. More like my island girl.”

She blushed. “Jack! We agreed never to mention that.”

“Just between us what can it hurt? Rules change, love,” he said, “as the reasons for them change.”

“And what has changed?” she asked, a little breathlessly, to keep him talking.

“Why, our new fashion in truth-telling, of course. It’s all in the choices we make. Back there on the island, you chose to tell yourself you were bribing me to cooperate and I chose to let you think I believed you.”

Her hands flew to her face. “Oh! I was so very young.”

“Adorably so, love. And yet, very nearly as dangerous as you are today,” he grinned. “Truth was, you wanted a pirate and I wanted a girl.”

“It was a long time ago, Jack.”

“Aye, but I haven’t forgotten. Nor have you, it seems. Now, one more time; where’s my kiss?”

She looked at him for a moment, mouth serious, but with a telltale pulse fluttering in her throat. He stared back solemnly, his eyes daring her. She placed her hand on his chest and slid it very slowly up along his throat and around under his hair, long fingers light and cool on his neck. Raising herself slightly on her toes, she licked her lips and pressed them, half open, against his mouth.  He didn’t respond and she drew back, the beginnings of a puzzled frown on her brow. But then she caught the glint, hastily suppressed, in his eye and almost laughed. Perverse creature, she thought, we’ll just see about that. She settled back on her heels and brought her other hand up to tangle in his hair, drawing his head down to hers and running her tongue swiftly along the seam of his closed mouth.  She felt his lips twitch into the ghost of a grin and smiled to herself. Seizing his lower lip in her teeth, she nipped sharply and, on his ‘Ah’ of surprise, she plunged her tongue into his mouth. His came to meet hers and they stroked and glided and played languorously. His arms were around her and she melted into him, lost in the kiss.  When at last they came up for air, both were breathing quickly. They stood, foreheads pressed together, smiling a little. Then she leaned back in his embrace and met his eye.

“Satisfied?”

“What do you think?”

“I think you’re a greedy pirate.”

“Kindred spirits, my dear. And I think that’s just what you can’t resist about me.”

Elizabeth raised one eyebrow. “Convince me.”

Jack laughed silently. “Child,” he said, “did no one ever tell you to be careful what you wished for?”

“That sword cuts both ways, my friend.”

“Better and better.” He dipped one finger into her bodice – she shivered at the brush of his knuckle against her breast – and drew forth the laces of her gown. Undoing the knot with careful attention, he loosened them until he could slide the neck of the dress off her shoulders. Then, with a steady pull on the ruffled lace at her elbows, the gown slid down with a sigh of heavy silk to lie in waves about her feet. He took her hands as she stepped over it clad only in her shift.

“Neatly done,” she approved.

He kissed the backs of her hands, turned one over, and pressed his lips to the pulse that beat there.  Her eyes widened as the tip of his tongue drew fiery little arabesques on the tender skin. Slowly she raised his other hand, ran her tongue down his index finger, drew it into her mouth. She let it slide back out, slipping wetly past her lips against gentle suction, before taking it in again with the tiniest scrape of teeth. “That,” he whispered, and she was pleased to note his voice shook, “had better not be an empty promise.”

She wrapped her tongue around his finger once more and sucked hard as she let it go. “I might say the same.”

“Trust me,” a glinting grin, “Now, come here.” Pressed together, they stood, hip to hip and mouth to mouth; his hands resting on the swell of her hips, hers busy with the buttons of his breeches.  He kicked them away as they dropped. Gathering her shift in great handfuls, he pulled it up as she wriggled out of it.  His shirt was the last to go. “Finally.”

He led her to the bed, but when he would have laid her down, she pressed her body against his, until he was half-sitting. “Not just yet,” she smiled.  She wrapped one leg around his, urged his feet apart and stood between them. Still pressed against him, she sank; voluptuously rubbing her breasts against his chest, his belly, his groin; trailing kisses along the scarred and tattooed skin. On her knees, she took him in hand, cupping and stoking; feather-light, teasing touches.

“Elizabeth,” he whispered and she laughed, a tiny sound that puffed moist air, scalding hot, across the sensitive flesh. He shuddered.

She ran the very tip of her tongue along the length of him, prodding gently at the slit, savouring the salty musk. Taking just the head into her mouth, she laved it and let it slip free again. “Wench…” Jack growled. He cut off abruptly on a long sigh as she relented and took him in earnest. He leant on his arms, head fallen back, breath ragged. She closed her eyes, the better to relish the pleasure of it; texture, like rough silk, against her lips; weight upon her tongue, pressure against the back of her throat. Sucking hard, she drew back, stroking and probing. Quicker now, she took him again, lips tight around him; and back, and again. She moaned faintly and felt him leap against her tongue. Intent upon her own sensations and the ones she created in him, she worked him, with infinite care, nearer to the brink.  

After a timeless interval, she felt a touch upon her hair as he cupped her skull gently, fingers twitching. Pulling back, without letting him go, she opened her eyes and looked up. As their eyes met, he groaned and his fingers tightened. His legs were trembling with the effort of holding still and she was touched by his consideration. Deliberately, she let go of him, braced her hands against the bed and nodded. “You darling,” he breathed, and began to move. It didn’t take long, so close had she brought him, for him to spill himself with a groan down her throat. She swallowed eagerly, lapping him gently clean before letting him slip at last from her mouth.

She rose into his arms and Jack kissed her as he tumbled them both onto the bed. She landed half on top of him and raised herself to look down on his face. Her eyebrows rose. He chuckled and brushed his thumb lightly across her lips. “I am undone,” he murmured, “No need to ask where you learnt that, I suppose.”  It was her turn to laugh.

“I should think not,” she smiled. “Are we so alike, then?”

“In certain particulars,” he nodded. He tangled his fingers in the locks of her hair tickling his chest and grinned as he drew her mouth down to his. “Now,” he said, as he kissed her, “it’s my turn.”

Lithe as a cat, he slipped out from under her until she lay, face down on the cool linen, with him stretched out at her side.  He ran his thumb down her spine and she undulated at the touch with a pleased sound. With the flat of his palm he stroked upwards to her shoulders, parting her hair and leaning over to bite at the nape of her neck. She sighed. Rising to his knees, he kissed his way across her shoulder blades and slowly down her back, sucking gently at each vertebra in turn. At the small of her back, he paused, licking and then sucking hard. “Mmmmm….” she hummed with pleasure, “Jack…”

“Turn over,” he whispered. She did so, smiling up at him through half-closed eyes. She raised her arms above her head on the pillows and stretched like a cat. “That’s it, love,” he grinned, “get comfortable.  Better ‘n sand, innit?”

She giggled. “Don’t remind me! For days afterward I kept finding sand in the most awkward places... ahhhh!”  She gasped as his mouth closed on her nipple. “Jack…” She reached for him but he eluded her grasp.

Suddenly, he laid himself down on top of her, pinning her wrists with his hands and her legs with his own. “Still my turn,” he said, and he took her mouth with a concentrated intensity that left her breathless. Everything that was Jack, he put into the kiss; wild, reckless, sensual. Like others before her, she felt as if a hurricane had her in its grip. Raising his head, he smiled slowly. “There, now. You stay put.” She nodded. “Good,” he said.

Releasing her wrists, he turned his attention again to her breasts, kneading them gently and sucking first one and then the other. She arched into his touch, sighing. He worked his way from there down her body, licking and nipping at each curve and hollow, making a leisurely survey of every inch of her. As his thumbs smoothed over her hip bones and his tongue left her navel to wander further down, she stirred in anticipation. She felt him grin. “Patience, love.”

He knelt between her thighs, which parted eagerly at his touch. Sitting back, he took her ankle in his hand and folded her leg up toward her body, until he could bring her foot to his mouth. He nibbled lightly on her toes and pressed a kiss into the arch before moving up along her calf to the hollow behind her knee. From there, his lips traced a wandering path up the inside of her thigh, stopping just short of her hip.  She stirred again, only to hear him chuckle as he reached for her other ankle to begin the same unhurried exploration. “Tease,” she complained.

“Aye,” he said, between kisses, “Fair’s fair. Now hush.” He took his time, lingering over her foot; kissing each toe in turn, the arch, the instep, the ankle bone and so, slowly upward. He watched with amusement as her impatience grew; her eyes were closed, her brows a little drawn down, her lower lip caught in her teeth as she sighed.

At last, he let her leg fall back to the bed and ran his hands lightly up her thighs, running his thumbs over her hip bones once again, holding her still with one hand as he entered her with two fingers of the other. She arched her back, moaning as he stroked her, fingers curling; making her writhe. When he added a third finger, she cried out and her hips came up off the bed.

He stretched out between her legs and lapped gently with his tongue. Her breath went out in a shuddering gasp. Jack licked her again and again, teasing and flicking in wicked counterpoint to the pace set by his fingers, driving her closer to the edge. She whimpered, half out of her mind; trembling and panting; begging for release. At last his hand sped up; his tongue fell into the same rhythm and she screamed, muffling her cries against her arm.

Then he was there beside her, gathering her into his arms and she clung to him as little aftershocks of pleasure thrilled along her nerves. He rubbed her back and kissed her hair. She heard amusement in his voice when he said, “Who’s undone now, eh?”

She was shaken by a little gust of laughter. “Be careful what you ask for, isn’t that what you said? Jack, that was…”

Is,” he corrected her. She looked at him, puzzled. “We’re not done yet, love,” he chuckled, taking her hand and sliding it down his belly. Her eyes went wide.

Jack,” she gasped, as she encountered hardening flesh, “you are insatiable.”

“And you, darling, are inspiring.” One arm swept out to imply a bow and he smirked.

“Very gallant,” she snickered, “But since, as I suspect, you are inspired by anyone at all who shows the least flicker of interest, the compliment is somewhat lost upon me.”

Jack scowled, making her laugh outright. “Cruel, heartless wench, you are,” he grumbled, “and rude, as well.”

“Ah, but for all my faults,” she purred, stroking him, “I have two things in my favour: I am here and I am, ah… interested.”

Jack’s frown vanished. “Good points. Well, that’s alright, then,” he said briskly. “I shall have to make do.” He rolled on top of her and grinned. “Any port in a storm, ay?”

“Indeed.”

He settled between her legs and she angled her hips expectantly to meet him. After the briefest of fumbles, he entered her with a soft groan. She sighed happily and wrapped her legs around his waist. He braced himself on his arms as they began to move, she rising to meet his thrusts; each watching the other’s face, noting the shifts of expression as their excitement rose again.

Jack dipped down to kiss her and she bit at his tongue. His hair fell to either side of her face - trinkets jingling and brushing against her cheeks - creating a warm and moving darkness in which his eyes gleamed at her. “Good?” he asked.

She nodded, not trusting her voice. As he raised himself again, she clamped down, closing herself around him like a hand. His eyes rolled up into his head.

“You devil,” he gasped, back arching as his hips snapped forward. He sped up and she kept pace; clenching and releasing around him, making them both whimper.

Suddenly, Jack twisted against her and her legs, slipping sweatily, lost their grip on him. Never breaking stride, he clasped her ankles and raised them above her,  legs stretched high and wide, pounding into her with his full weight.

It was too much. Her head snapped back. “That’s it,” he growled, “come for me, love.” And she cried out in ecstasy; hands clutching at the sheets as she shook and gasped. She was barely conscious of it, when moments later his hoarse cry followed hers.

He collapsed beside her, breathing hard. “I’m getting too old for this,” he panted.

Elizabeth rolled over lazily and rested her head on his shoulder.  “Manifestly untrue,” she mumbled.

Jack chuckled. “At any rate, I’m too tired to argue the point.” He put his arm around her. “Time for a bit of a nap, eh love?”   She nodded, and they fell contentedly silent, but for the deep, even breaths of sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A couple of hours later, Will and James came strolling across the lawn. Will was talking with animation and gesturing widely with his fishing rod.  Conversation had turned, as seemed inevitable with them, to swords.  “No, really, James,” he said, “I still think it was a simple variant on the classic riposte for that attack; only somehow he led with his left foot.  By rights, he should have overbalanced, but, obviously, he did not.”  They were discussing Jack’s surprising performance of the day before.

James shook his head and smiled. “No, I don’t think so,” he said, “At least, it didn’t look that way to me. But then, he did catch me quite by surprise.”

“Well, at any rate,” Will replied, “I mean to see if I can’t wheedle the secret out of him today.”

“Good luck to you,” James laughed, “Jack dearly loves his secrets.”

Will chuckled. “Oh, that’s very true. We’ll see if his love of being mysterious is a match for his love of showing off.”

“Now, this ought to be interesting to watch.”

They had reached the house and were setting down their fishing tackle in the hall when Ward came out of the dining room. “Ah, Ward.”  Will handed him both creels. “These are for Cook,” he said, “with our compliments.”

The butler bowed.  “Very good, sir.  Mrs. Turner and Captain Sparrow are in the dining room. Luncheon is served.”

“We will join them, then. Thank you, Ward.”

Will cocked an amused eye at his companion as the butler carried their catch back to the kitchens. “They’re in the same room,” he said quietly, “that bodes well.”  He sniffed carefully. “And no gunpowder in the air. Nor yet sulphur and brimstone. What do you say? Shall we risk it?”

“Really, Turner, how you can jest about it is beyond me.”

Will shrugged and grinned. “What would you have me do?  Worry myself into an early grave? She and Jack were hardly likely to do each other any real harm. Although,” he rolled his eyes, “if you could have heard her last night, after we went upstairs, you might have doubted that. Furious, she was. And bloodthirsty. You would have thought her father was the pirate, instead of mine.”

James shook his head. “Let’s get it over with.”

Still grinning, Will led the way. He opened the dining room door, saying cheerfully, “Here are the truants, back again.”

Elizabeth turned, smiling, “Will, James, how lovely!” She presented her cheek for Will’s kiss as James bowed over her hand. “And you have shown your usual cleverness in returning just in time for a meal. Jack was wondering if we should send out a search party.”

Will laughed and clapped the pirate on the shoulder on his way to his chair. “No worries, Jack. Once the fish stopped biting, we went for a swim, that’s all. Wouldn’t dream of missing lunch.” He winked at his wife.

Jack looked dubious. “Wouldn’t dare to, is more like it, lad,” he sighed. “It’s my belief you live under the cat’s foot.” This with a wicked glance at Elizabeth, who wrinkled her nose at him before turning to James, who had just seated himself on her right hand.

“How was the fishing? Did you have good sport?”

“Very good, actually,” he replied, “Will sent our catch to your cook.”

“Ah, then, I shall look forward to having some of it at dinner.”

They busied themselves with their meal, and there was a short silence. James glanced at Elizabeth, who was smiling as she passed a dish to Jack. He noted with relief that Jack’s expression as he thanked her was perfectly pleasant. He allowed himself to relax slightly; the air did indeed seem to have cleared. Will caught his eye and raised his brows, in a silent “Well?” and James almost laughed at the somewhat smug “I told you so” look on the younger man’s face. As he turned back to his plate, he found Jack watching him with thoughtful eyes. He returned the regard steadily and, after a moment, Jack winked at him and returned to eating.

“Well, gentlemen” Elizabeth put down her fork, “and pirate,” with a little mocking nod at Jack, who raised his glass with a grin, “what shall we do this afternoon?”

“What did you have in mind, my dear?” Will asked.

“I was thinking of going for a ride,” she said “A lovely, long ride,” she added and burst out laughing at the look of pain on Jack’s face. 

Will and James chuckled. Jack’s eloquently expressed distaste for equestrian exercise was a never-failing source of amusement.

“Oh, come now, Jack,” she coaxed, “it’s not as bad as all that. Horses are not, whatever you might think, inventions of the devil.”

“You will never convince me of that,” Jack groaned. “Very well then, I propose a compromise. How about a lovely, short ride and we do something else with the rest of the afternoon?”

“I might agree to that,” Elizabeth said, “if the ‘something else’ were sufficiently amusing.”

“I know,” Will said, cunningly, “you could teach me that pass you used yesterday, Jack. Would that do, Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth considered, her eyes dancing. “Yes,” she said, finally, “that would be very amusing indeed.”

Jack glared at their gleeful expressions. “Trapped,” he growled, “and by as wicked a pair of children as I ever hope to see. Oh, very well; anything to avoid a ‘lovely, long ride’, I s’pose.”

Amid general laughter, she rose. “I won’t be a minute,” she said, and left them in order to change into her riding dress.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Elizabeth was just struggling to fasten her habit when the door opened to admit Will.

“Oh, bless you,” she said, as he deftly snugged the laces for her and tied them. “I forgot I gave Betsy an afternoon’s leave.”

Will put his arms around her and she leaned back against him for a moment.

“You were right,” she said.

“Of course I was,” he replied. “About what?”

“Jack. He was jealous.” She turned round in his arms and looked up at him. “And I didn’t see it.”

He smiled. “You say ‘was’; I take it you two understand each other, now?”

“Yes,” she nodded, “I think we do. We had an… interesting conversation.”  She told him what she and Jack had discussed. “Jack said he had an notion of how to resolve the problem,” she concluded, “but wouldn’t tell me what it was.”

“It sounds to me as if you can leave the rest to Jack,” Will said, “his ideas – crazy as they sometimes seem – have a way of working out in the end.”

Elizabeth nodded again. “I hope you are right; I cannot help but worry.”

“The important thing to me is that you and Jack are friends again.”

“Oh.” She blushed and looked down. “Yes, we are friends.” He grinned broadly, but pulled his face straight just as she raised her head to meet his eye. “In fact…” She stopped.

“In fact,” he supplied for her, “you succumbed to the irresistible Sparrow charm and you’re not quite sure how to tell me.”

Will,” her hands were pressed to her burning cheeks. “I was so angry with him. I never dreamed….” She drew a deep breath. “How did you guess?”

He pulled her close and kissed her. “I know you, wife, very well; and I know Jack… a little. A battle between the two of you was likely to end in only one way. Unless you tore each other to pieces first, of course.”

“And you don’t mind?”

“Well,” he said, “it depends upon what you mean by ‘mind’. If you wish to make a habit of these adventures; I will not take kindly to it.” She shook her head and he grinned. “I thought not. Remember, beloved; you are mine, and I do not share very willingly.”

Elizabeth chuckled. “My very words, come back to haunt me.”  She pulled his head down and kissed him. “I love you, Will Turner.”

“As well you should,” came the smug reply. “Now, come along; Jack is waiting with impatience for his lovely ride.” Laughing, they descended the stairs, arm in arm.

~~~~~~~~~~~

They did not, in fact, go far, despite the temptation to tease Jack by prolonging the ride. The day had gone breathlessly hot and calm, and they soon turned back, seeking the welcome shade of the terrace.

There, comfortably ensconced amidst the spoils of a raid on the library – books and a draughts board – and liberally supplied with refreshments, they settled down for a pleasant afternoon.

Will disappeared into the house and came back carrying swords. Jack, lounging at his ease – feet up and rum in hand – scowled and shook his head. “No, you damned, resty pup. Not now.”

But both Will and Elizabeth exclaimed at this, crying foul. “You promised, Jack. What about our bargain?”  Will insisted on his lesson; brushing aside Jack’s fluent and increasingly profane objections as mere nonsense. Even James raised his eyebrows.

“Honour of a pirate, Sparrow?” was all he said and Jack pretended not to hear, although, shortly afterwards, he agreed at last and got to his feet. “Oh very well, if I must; let’s get on with it.”

Will watched intently as Jack explained, and then demonstrated, the move, step by step. He cast one mischievous glance at James when it was revealed that Jack had indeed led with his left and returned his attention to his sword. They went over the sequence slowly until Will had it memorized; and then at speed, several times. Both he and Jack were sweating freely at that point and he did not object when the pirate called a halt.  “There you are, boy. You’ve got the moves. All you need now is practice. Satisfied?”

“Yes, indeed, I thank you,” Will replied, taking both swords and laying them carefully across an empty chair. “It’s a devilish tricky bit of swordplay. I wish I could have met this Monsieur Barzin of  yours, Jack.”

“I might have brought him to visit you,” Jack said, seating himself again and reaching for his glass, “were he not such dull company. Wouldn’t know what to with a good time if it tripped him up and sat on him, I swear. Which it almost did, come to think of it. Anamaria was, for reasons that passeth understanding, fascinated with the man.” He took a long drink, put his feet up and closed his eyes. “Well, he’s gone now. Perhaps another swordmaster will come your way one day, eh lad?”

Will took the glass of lemonade Elizabeth poured for him and drank thirstily. “I hope so,” he said.

James had picked up a book and was, to all appearances, absorbed in reading. Jack waved away all offers of entertainment; content, he said pointedly, to rest a bit after the riding and fencing he’d been subjected to on such a hot day. Will and Elizabeth laughed at him and sat down with the draughts board between them; and for a time there was silence.

As Elizabeth was setting out the pieces for their third game, Will looked over at Jack. The pirate was sipping his rum and gazing out to sea, lost in thought.

“Jack?”

“Eh?”

“What made you go to sea in the first place?”

Jack grinned. “Now, lad, that’d be telling.”

“Was it to see the world?” Will persisted.

“Well, I have seen a good bit,” Jack conceded, “what with one thing and another. And parts I’d like to see again, now that I think on it.  But that wasn’t the whole reason, no.”

“Freedom,” Elizabeth said, softly.

“Here’s to your good memory, lass.” Jack toasted her. “Still not the full tale, though.”

“What is it, then?” she asked.

He shook his head.

“I think I know,” Will said, after a short pause. “It’s the sea, isn’t it?”

“Aye, the Sea; every true sailor’s mistress.” Jack’s eyes turned once more to the horizon. “Once a man the Sea wants has sailed upon Her and felt the breath of the world beneath the keel, there is no going back to life on land.”

Elizabeth caught her breath; those were nearly the same words James had used the other night. She looked to see if James had heard. He had. His eyes were upon his book, but his expression was one of painful concentration.

“Not that She can’t be a damned uncomfortable paramour, at times, just like any woman,” Jack went on. “There’s not a one of Her lovers who, if he’s honest, doesn’t expect to die at Her hands someday. She’s like that Kali the heathens worship as a goddess in India; mother, lover and destroyer in one. Still, it’s a good life.”

“India!” Will exclaimed. “Have you been there, Jack?”

“I have,” Jack said. He reached up and touched the silver coin that dangled over his headscarf with a reminiscent smile. “Long ago.”

“What’s it like?”

“Like nothing you can imagine, lad. Ancient, teeming, fantastical; smelling of spices and rot. I’d like to see it again. And Madagascar, what’s more.” Jack put his feet on the ground and leant forward, elbows on knees, rolling his empty glass between his palms; eyes still on the ocean.

Elizabeth glanced again at James. His book had sunk, forgotten, to his knee and he, too, was staring out to sea.

“Do you think you will, Jack?” she asked, “See those places again, I mean.”

“Oh aye,” he grinned at her. “And sooner rather than later, maybe. The Pearl’s been restless for some time and she’s got me feeling it now, too.  The Caribbean’s gone small on us: confining. Like the horizon’s too close or summat.”

James raised a shaking hand to his mouth.

“How I wish I could go with you,” Will said, impulsively. Elizabeth held her breath.

“No you don’t, lad, not really.” Jack shook his head. “Not that I wouldn’t welcome your company, but the roving life is not for you. You had your chance and turned it down. Opportunity like that only comes to a man once, y’know.”

James shuddered and shut his eyes. He drew a gasping breath; grimacing as if in pain.

Will sighed and smiled ruefully. “You’re right, Jack.” He reached for Elizabeth’s hand. “I had to choose. And this,” he pressed a kiss into her palm, “is stronger than the Sea’s call.”

Jack nodded. “You followed your heart, son,” he said gently. “Can’t ask more than that of anyone.”

James’s eyes snapped open and he turned to look at Jack, and the expression on his face made Elizabeth’s throat close on sudden tears. Relief, wonder, and the beginnings of joy shone there; as if hope unlooked-for had appeared before him.

Jack’s eyes were steady on the horizon; he gave no sign that he was aware of the other man’s gaze.

Recollecting himself, James turned away and drew a deep, tremulous breath, fighting for composure. But, try as he might, he could not keep from smiling to himself.

Jack looked sidelong at Elizabeth and winked. The corner of his mouth twitched upward in a glinting grin.

Elizabeth, her heart swelling, looked from James to her husband. The former, in unconscious mimicry of Jack, was sitting with his elbows on his knees, staring into the distance. His brow was smooth – the worry and abstraction gone – and his eyes were clear. Will was watching Jack; a little, wistful smile on his face; but his hold on her hand was firm and she knew his choice had truly been made at last. She was content.

A little breeze sprang up, rustling the leafy canopy and bringing welcome respite from the heat. In moments, the breeze had grown stronger, with gusts that blew a book open upon the table and rattled the pages. There was a distant mutter of thunder. Looking east, the view of the plateau was obscured by rain that raced towards them as clouds boiled over the hills.

Everyone leapt into action, snatching up books and cushions – Will did not forget his precious swords – and dashing up the slope to the house. Laughing, they gained the verandah just as the first fat drops fell. From there they watched as the world disappeared behind a blowing curtain of rain that became heavier until even nearby objects were blurred by the downpour. Soon the wind, whipping the rain to where they stood under the wide roof, drove them indoors.
 

 

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