For all her education and reading, and her attempts to behave so worldly, Elizabeth is still in many ways very much an innocent; so she is fast coming to realise.
She dreamt of pirates, yes. But she never imagined that she would actually become embroiled in their schemes and plots.
She dreamt of wealth. But it was the inherited, respectable wealth of a governer's daughter, not the pillaged earnings of a buccaneer.
She dreamt of love, as every girl does. She imagined marrying the handsome local blacksmith, despite her father's mild disapproval, and living with him till the end of her days.
Never once did she dream that love, when she found it, would be like this. Her mind, more conditioned by the polite society of her childhood than she cared to admit, never came close to imagining this reality. Three of them; Jack, Will and her. So unconventional a relationship that the possibility never even occurred to her before the reality happened, and yet it was so very perfect.
She buries her face in Jack's hair, breathing him in as he traces her collarbone with his tongue. She can smell brine and smoke among the braids, as well as something else, something she is just on the verge of deciphering when – oh! Will finally frees her of the lacing of her bodice, and his clever craftsman's hands are caressing her flesh, and it's wonderful. It is Will, she realises, that last scent, it's Will. And then all thoughts of smells and scents are abandoned, and she gives herself wholly to sensation and feeling, and she was right, it is – they are – perfect.
Will is less naïve, and such a scenario had, on occasion, occurred to him, despite the offence it had caused his sense of propriety. He knew that Elizabeth loved him, knew it a surely as he knew he loved her, but at the same time he realised that she equally loved Jack.
To begin with, this situation had been a compromise; a way of keeping her as his Elizabeth. He never considered the idea that he would find the taste of Jack's weathered skin as sweet as – sweeter, sometimes, than Elizabeth's delicate porcelain. Although it is not so pale now; after days exposed to the sweltering Caribbean sun, Elizabeth's skin resembles less the porcelain cup than the milky, sweetened tea inside it, although the taste of it – that is altogether more earthy.
Jack, on the other hand; one might expect to taste the fermented sugar taste of rum on his skin, and true, on his lips and tongue Will often can. He leaves a slight and not entirely unpleasant aftertaste of alcohol on Elizabeth's sweet skin as they explore her together, a tantalising reminder of the unique dynamics of their relationship. But when it is Jack's turn to be explored by taste, it is the exotic flavours of saffron and cocoa Will thinks of as he traces his tongue across the whip scars that cover Jack's back. Exotic flavours that Will never expected to be privileged enough to taste, and thus it had never occurred to him to covet them. Now, cocoa is one of the most valuable commodities on the Pearl, and the cook is constantly scolding Will for stealing his precious spices.
Jack is by far the most knowledgeable of the three; it was he who first manoeuvred them into this situation. He likes to step back sometimes, to admire what he considers his greatest prize yet. Sometimes he regrets his actions slightly; intimate moments on deck, the two of them gazing towards distant land, Will's hand resting reassuringly on Lizzie's waist, anchoring her. Other times, he feels nothing but pride at having succeeded in releasing the two of them; times when Lizzie has abandoned all pretense of being anything but a sensual, lusty, beautiful woman. She places delicate kisses all over Will's body, and as Jack watches Will closes his eyes in painful arousal, one arm braced against the cabin wall to hold himself upright, and Jack is overcome by the thought that here, at least, he does not need to be a pirate.
He is used to following the code, to taking without asking, giving nothing back; here, he gives everything he has and receives twice that in return, and he still cannot quite believe it. Yes, he likes to watch, and observe, but it is never for long; Will will turn from the rail, arm outstretched to welcome him into their embrace, or Lizzie will turn that arch glance on him, a slight smile on her face that promises wicked, wonderful things to come. Watching, Jack knows, is rarely as good as the real thing, but with them he realises he can be content with either.
It was all very well, Gibbs mutters to himself as he knocks a third time at the Captain's door, that the three of them were happy; that was plain enough to see. But he – and the rest of the crew - did wish that it was a little less obvious to hear.