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The Cursed Pearl of the Caribbean

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Chapter 1: The Bearer of Grave News

Hermione ducked, a green beam passing over her head amidst the fighting going on all around her. She scrambled back to her feet, running to where Harry and Lord Voldemort were duelling.

They were on one of the higher hills surrounding the school she had been attending for the last seven years. Hogwarts was a burning mass of rubble. Flames lighting up the night sky, as if the fires of hell were trying to escape.

She almost reached them, stopping in fear when Voldemort raised his wand at her friend. A bright green aura surrounded Harry, and she felt her heart miss a beat. He stumbled but stayed upright, and the light bounced back, hitting Voldemort instead.

Hermione lowered her wand, watching the Dark Lord fall to the ground. The sickly green aura surrounding him dissipated, revealing the smoking remains of a cloak.

Harry staggered, falling to the ground and Hermione ran towards him in panic. She felt like she was running in slow motion.

The fighting all around her ceased. All the Death Eaters were staring at the prone body of their Lord in disbelief. Aurors and Order members were surrounding them, raising their wands. The smarter Death Eaters, realising they had lost the war, were already surrendering. The naïve Death Eaters were trying to run, getting shot down by spells from those giving chase. The few who had surrendered were gathering into one area of the grounds. The Aurors were going to take them to the Ministry of Magic before going to Azkaban. Some of these Death Eaters wouldn't even have a trial due to of some of the ghastly crimes they committed. Other members of the Order and Aurors were cleaning up the battlefield, checking the wounded, or covering up the fallen.

Hermione pushed her musings aside, more concerned for Harry's well-being. Reaching him, she dropped to her knees and took hold of his cold, clammy hand. Panic shot through her, but this was soon dispelled as Harry opened his eyes. Hermione let out a breath of relief.

He smiled at her, his emerald eyes glinting in the fire flickering from the nearby rubble. 'We did it,' he muttered, his voice weak. The toil from having to avoid so many spells had worn him out. Voldemort kept him moving a lot, ebbing away at his physical strength first. The advantage this gave Voldemort had backfired.

Hermione's eyes widened in astonishment when Harry's scar dimmed in prominence. Before the battle, his scar had started looking like a fresh wound. It was just a thin jagged line now. Hermione smiled, tracing the scar with a smile. 'You did, Harry. You saved us all,' she said, ruffling his hair.

Harry closed his eyes, relishing in the freedom he felt. After a moment he frowned, looking back at Hermione in worry. 'Where's Ron?' he asked, looking around for his red-haired best friend from his position on the ground.

Hermione shook her head, helping him to stand and holding onto him as he stumbled due to his enervation. She sighed, looking around the field as well. 'I don't know where he is,' Hermione said, trying to spot him amongst the lingering groups down the hill. 'I'm surprised he hasn't come to find us yet,' she added, confused and worried. An anxious frown creased Hermione's brow, and she got a better grip on Harry while making their way down the hill.

'He must be somewhere. I hope he isn't hurt,' Harry mumbled to her, and she nodded.

Shouting from behind them diverted their attention. Lucius Malfoy was getting dragged away by Aurors, but he wasn't going without a fight. They grabbed him, Disapparating with him to the Ministry. His shouts echoed in their wake before an uneasy silence settled once more. Harry and Hermione shared a glance, similar grins spreading across their mouths. Hermione shrugged before continuing to help him across the ruined grounds.

They neared the castle, intent on finding Ron, but a familiar voice stopped them in their tracks. They both turned with some struggle and stared in awe at the man standing before them. He looked as if he was not murdered the year before.

The old wizard smiled, his blue eyes twinkling behind his half-moon spectacles. 'I suppose you are wondering why and how I came to be here?' He mused, his tone cheerful. All they could do was nod back in answer, causing him to chuckle. 'That is something I don't quite know myself. One moment I knew nothing except peace, and then I found myself in the middle of a battle without my wand,' he answered, shrugging.

The teens stared at him in astonishment. Harry was muttering gibberish, having no idea what to say. Hermione was, for once in her life, completely speechless. The first to react was Harry, stumbling towards the old man and hugging him. 'It's good to see you, Professor Dumbledore,' he said with a smile, pulling back. Hermione followed his lead, giving the older man a hug and a small smile, still not sure what to say. She couldn't get over the fact he was here.

'Yes, yes, it is good to be back,' he told them, smiling.

Hermione finally found her voice. 'How…?' she questioned, shaking her head. 'Harry saw you die, Professor...' Hermione trailed off, looking up at him. She just hoped he wouldn't disappear again at any minute.

Dumbledore shook his head. 'I do not know what brought me back, but there are more pressing issues at hand though,' he told them. He received looks of bewilderment in response to this statement.

'Professor?' Harry questioned in anxiety, wondering what Dumbledore was insinuating.

Dumbledore smiled despondently. 'When I arrived, I stumbled over Mr Weasley. He is alive in the Hospital Wing,' he paused, becoming thoughtful. 'Or what remains of the Hospital Wing,' he corrected himself. He looked back at their apprehensive expressions. 'Harry, will you go and check on him? Poppy deduced his condition and saw to his wounds, so I expect he will be sleeping,' he requested of him with a smile.

Harry frowned at these words, wondering why he had not mentioned Hermione as well. Harry nodded up at Dumbledore. 'Yes, I'll go straight there now. Come on, 'Mione,' he said, taking Hermione's hand. Dumbledore's hand on his shoulder stopped him. 'Professor?' he asked in misunderstanding.

'I need Miss Granger's help, Harry. I will see to it that she joins you both immediately after I have spoken with her,' he explained. Harry nodded in understanding, giving Hermione a quick hug. He stumbled towards the mass of rubble that had once been the Great Hall of Hogwarts. It now lay in ruins due to the Ravenclaw Tower collapsing on top of it.

Hermione frowned, her eyes lingering on Harry while he struggled to climb over part of the collapsed wall. He disappeared into the castle soon after though. She turned back to Dumbledore. 'You want to speak with me?' she asked him, drawing his attention back to her.

'Correct Miss Granger. If you would follow me,' he told her, and she did, walking towards the ruined castle. They found a way in without much difficulty. Hermione looked around at the devastation, hardly recognising the place. Dumbledore sighed making Hermione look up at him. 'Well, I always did want to refurbish the place. Make it a little more upbeat, if you will,' he told her with a small smile, and she laughed a little.

Hermione followed him up the cracked marble staircase towards where the moving staircase was. They soon discovered that they had stopped moving for obvious reasons. Half of them had collapsed to the ground below. The ones remaining had stopped on the side they needed to get to, or had stopped in the middle. They were too far away to even jump across to them. Dumbledore took out his wand, pointing it at them. When they did not budge, he sighed and beckoned her to follow him around another way. They used the secret passageways instead to reach their destination which, unfortunately, took much longer.

After much tribulation, partly due to Peeves, they reached the Gargoyle Statue. It seemed to have lost one of its wings and was grasping it in pain. He looked up as they approached, his face scrunched up in agony. His eyes widened, and he moved out of the way, revealing the spiral staircase. Hermione frowned at the poor creature. 'Are you alright?' she asked it but received only a short nod in return.

She trailed Dumbledore onto the staircase. It began moving up towards a large oak door leading to Dumbledore's office.

Hermione's eyes were drawn to all the devices and instruments McGonagall had kept. She never had the heart to throw them away after Dumbledore's death, as a sort of memorial for him. The office was still intact as the rest of the castle was collapsing around it. Hermione didn't voice anything, watching Dumbledore with inquisitive eyes. He sat down in the chair behind his desk, letting out a sigh.

He looked up at her. 'Please take a seat, Miss Granger,' he offered, a plush chintz chair appearing before his desk.

She sat down in it. 'What is it you needed to talk to me about, sir?' she enquired, looking at him.

Dumbledore smiled grimly at her eagerness to get straight to the point. The smile faded, his countenance becoming solemn. 'I am sorry, but it is grave news I have to bear, Miss Granger,' he began. A troubled expression replaced her initial inquisitiveness. 'I am afraid that despite your attempts to keep your parents protected from Voldemort... he murdered them three nights ago,' he expounded, tears welling in his eyes.

Hermione found herself unable to digest this information and tears filled her eyes. She stared at Dumbledore in disbelief, and he looked back regretfully. There was silence between them as Dumbledore let her have a moment to lament for her loss.

The silence was only broken by her quiet, strangled sobs every now and again. After a short while, Dumbledore leaned forward onto the desk and touched her arm where she had hidden her face in them. She looked up at him in confusion, tears still lingering unshed in her eyes. 'How…?' she trailed off for a moment, choking out another sob before continuing. 'H-How d-did you know? You w-were dead,' she forced out through her strangled sobs. She tried to wipe away the remnants of her tears with little success as more came.

Dumbledore sighed. 'When Muggles that have given birth to magical children die, they end up where our kind goes. Does that make sense?' he explained, and she nodded. 'To describe it in detail would be far too complicated and confusing so I will not. It would take too long, and it would be unhealthy to try and teach you anything now,' he said. He received a slow nod and a slight frown in return.

Hermione sniffed, wiping away fresh tears. She stood up and looked at Dumbledore. 'Is there anything else, Professor?' she asked him miserably, her voice almost like a monotone as her heartache began to overcome her.

Dumbledore stood, giving her a small smile. He came around the desk, placing an arm around her. He walked her to the door. 'Just one more thing,' he told her, and she looked up at him, interest in her red, puffy eyes. 'I have always found that in dark times a good book can work wonders as a cure for the disheartened.' She frowned up at him. 'I believe you will find one in the library, Miss Granger,' he told her, his eyes twinkling. She nodded, not knowing what to make of this, but walked through the door he held open for her. She thanked him and went to get on the spiral staircase, but he called her back. 'Oh and Miss Granger?'

She turned to look at him. 'Yes, Professor?'

'Remember to stop in to see Mr Weasley before going to the library to check how he is doing. I am sure that Mr Potter will also be wondering about your whereabouts,' he told her. He gave her a small comforting smile, and she nodded without returning it.

Once the door closed, Hermione couldn't stop the flow of tears that overcame her. She leaned back against the door as she thought about her parents. Where had she gone wrong when she sent them away for their protection? Where had she failed in making sure they were as far away from England as possible? She shook these thoughts away, attempting to control her emotions. She didn't want Harry or Ron worrying about her, and she wasn't sure if she was ready to talk about it just yet to anyone.

She stepped onto the spiral staircase which took her down. She walked off it torpidly as it reached the bottom. She wiped away the fresh tears that made a trail down her pale cheeks. She felt helpless and numb. The knowledge of her murdered parents made her feel like she had a gaping hole where only they had filled it. She knew when she had sent them to Australia that she would never see them again. The spell she had used on them was far too powerful. No matter what counter spell they tried, it could never be undone. It was knowing they were alive and building their new lives that helped her get over her woe. She knew that one day, she might be able to see them and build a relationship with them again. Voldemort destroyed that hope.

How had he found them? She wondered, turning into a hallway that was destroyed. The ceiling at the end was collapsing, and she would need to use another route to the Hospital Wing. She turned, going down another corridor which was untouched save for a few cracks in the walls. She passed an open door, looking in the room only to see that the outside wall had collapsed. She walked over, looking out at the clear sky littered with stars. She sighed, tears welling in her eyes again.

She turned back, continuing to wander the empty, silent halls towards the Hospital Wing. Her footsteps were echoing around her cacophonously, and she looked up at the long hallway, the darkness and silence were foreboding. It was out of the ordinary for Hogwarts to be so vacant of life. There had always been someone wandering around, or the ghosts would be hovering. This night there was nothing but the sound of her echoing footfalls on the floor to greet her.

It took Hermione a long while to reach the Hospital Wing. She walked through the destroyed door, half of one of them hanging from its hinges.

Harry was bending low over Ron's bed, his head resting on his fists. She frowned at the sad, thoughtful expression on his face. She made her way over to him slowly so as not to startle him out of his musings.

He looked up at her as she looked down at Ron. He looked as though he was just sleeping. She caressed his pale cheek, taking a seat opposite Harry's. She took the redheads cold hand in hers. She glanced up at Harry who sighed, and she noticed the tears in his eyes. 'Harry?' she called to him in curiosity as she took in his slumped shoulders.

He looked up at her for a moment, before looking back at Ron. 'Madame Pomfrey can't understand what's happened to him,' he whispered to her. He took off his glasses, rubbing his eyes roughly with the heels of his hands to rid himself of his unshed tears. He replaced his glasses after a moment. 'She examined him with a spell. It showed about a 90% chance he won't wake up from whatever has put him in this state...' he paused, sighing again. 'He's in a coma,' he finished as more tears sprung to his eyes.

Hermione stared at him, tears stinging her own eyes. She looked down at her redheaded friend, squeezing his hand. 'Did she say what was going to happen? What she's going to do?' she questioned him, her voice cracking at the thought of Ron not waking up.

Harry nodded. 'They're moving him to St. Mungo's tomorrow morning. Madame Pomfrey thinks he needs to be under more professional care. They will be able to find out exactly what happened to him with a few tests,' he explained, and she nodded. There was silence between them for a moment as they looked at Ron. Harry looked up at her. 'What did Dumbledore want?' he enquired of her, and she looked up at him.

She shrugged. 'Not much, just referred me to a book in the library,' she half lied, not ready to talk about her parent's deaths.

Harry frowned, not quite believing her, but let it go for the moment. 'A book? Is that man for real? All Hogwarts is lying in ruins, and he tells you to read a book? If I didn't know he was mental before I would think he is now!' he chuckled, and she couldn't help smiling.

'Well you know Dumbledore, he's a little eccentric, but he means well,' she said. He nodded in agreement to this statement. They lapsed into silence once more until Harry stood up and stretched. Hermione looked up at him with a frown. 'Where are you going?'

He sighed. 'To get some shut-eye. I didn't sleep well last night. Don't worry, I'll only sleep for an hour or so, and then I'll come back,' he told her. 'Unless the Common Room got destroyed then I'll be back in a few.' He then turned on his heel without waiting for a response, walking out of the Hospital Wing.

Hermione frowned before looking back down at Ron. She stayed by his side for a little longer before she stood and leaned down to kiss Ron's forehead. She ran a hand through his hair before she left the Infirmary too. She stood outside in the hallway for a moment, contemplating on what to do. Dumbledore's earlier words about reading a book came back to her. Her eyebrows creased together in a frown remembering his cryptic message. She turned in the direction of the library as she was curious about what he had been speaking of.

From what she could make of what he had told her, there was a specific book in the library he wanted her to read. She wondered if it would be a book that could help her figure out what had happened to Ron. Maybe it would give her some insight on how to help him recover and wake up from his coma. Feeling a new sense of hope swell within her, she began making her way down to the library.

oOoOo

Hermione took a long time to reach the library. It had involved climbing over a lot of rubble. She finally found the cracked doors to the library, the wood splintered. She pushed them open, the top hinge breaking, causing one of the doors to swing towards her. She dodged to avoid it, moving into the room. She smiled as the smell of parchment and books washed over her. Her smile faded as a horrible feeling of solitude filled her. The library wasn't used by that many students unless they were just in to get a book. They would leave as hardly any of them sat in the library. It was usually welcoming nonetheless. Hermione never noticed how sinister it was when it was empty. Hermione pulled out her wand, lighting the lanterns floating above the tall bookshelves. Some of them had toppled over, many of the books strewn across the floor. The light seemed to make the place seem a little more comforting, and she felt a bit better.

Hermione walked into the large space cautiously. The door which was hanging off its hinge broke off onto the floor with an echoing BOOM. She grasped at her chest in fright, standing still for a moment to calm down from her scare. After calming her nerves, she walked further into the room. She looked at all the books on the floor and the ones still on the bookshelves that hadn't toppled over. Hermione made her way to the back of the library where the Potions and History books were. It was the place she always started first unless she needed a book in particular for homework. As she headed towards the History section, something curious and out of place caught her eye.

On the table, the one she always sat at to do her homework with the boys, was a medium sized leather bound book. It was dark brown, sitting in the centre of the table. Hermione became nervous and uncertain by this as it was not common to see a book left out. Madame Pince was protective of her books, always back on the bookshelves at all times when not in use by a student. She would always watch the students like a hawk when they were in use, so they were never damaged. That was not the point about why this troubled Hermione. The point was, the book looked as though it didn't belong in the library at all. Also, it was too perfectly placed in the exact centre of the table. She felt it was almost as if someone put it there on purpose. Someone wanted her to find it.

Dumbledore's words sprang to the forefront of her mind again. Hermione wondered if this happened to be the book he referred to. Wanting to be safe rather than sorry, Hermione took out her wand, whispering a spell over the book. The spell would distinguish whether it had a curse, hex, or jinx on it. After detecting nothing dangerous about the book, Hermione lowered her wand. She sat in her usual seat, staring at the book for a few moments contemplating on whether she should read it or not. With a slight frown, her curiosity got the better of her, and she reached out, sliding it towards her. She turned it over, looking at the bottom where there was something engraved. The writing had faded with time. She could just make out what it said through the stains covering the leather.

J.S. 10/07/1734

She stared at the engraved writing for a moment. She surmised it to be a date and the initials of the person who either owned the book or had written in it. She opened it, soon realising it was written by whoever J.S. was. It revealed a messy scrawl across the pages that was fading with age. The sides of the parchment were dog-eared and weather-worn. She frowned at the faded writing; it was not easy to read because of how aged it was. Hermione attempted it anyway, her eyes skimming the yellowed parchment on one page. She could only make out half of a single sentence which read:

"They left me marooned on that godforsaken island to die as I watched them sail away on my ship. Them Mutineers had best beware because..."

Hermione's frown deepened, finding similar sentences that she could read while leafing through it. They didn't make any sense to her though. She wondered why on earth Dumbledore would refer her to read such an inexplicable book. She hoped it would provide information to help Ron, but it looked more like the diary of an eccentric pirate. With a growl of disappointment, Hermione slammed the book down on the table. She stood to leave, her chair falling backwards with the movement, and a loud bang echoed around the empty room. It was not the chair that had her frozen to the spot in shock. She looked down at the book on the table which was back to sitting in the exact centre.

The book was quivering before it flipped open of its own accord, the leaves flipping through at a quick pace. It reminded Hermione of what Harry had told her about what Riddle's Diary had done before it showed him the past. Her heart fluttered like a trapped bird in a cage in panic when the book stopped at a particular page. It began emanating with a bright glow that engulfed the entire room. Shutting her eyes against the beam of light, Hermione felt nauseous. It was the same feeling of travelling through a Portkey at a fast pace. It stopped suddenly, and she splashed into the water.

Panic overcame her as she rushed to reach the surface of the water for air. She came up spluttering and spitting out the horrible salty sea water in disgust. She took in her surroundings wondering where she was. It was night time, and she looked up to see stars twinkling overhead. She looked around again for some land. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she spotted a large shadow in the distance. She hoped it was land so she could get out of the freezing water. She swam towards it, coming up to a wooden pier that held rowboats and other larger boats tied around it trimly. Hermione pulled herself up onto one of the boats with some difficulty and climbed onto the dock, her footsteps echoing on the wood. Shivering with the cold and unaware of where she was or why she was there, she walked along the pier. She came to a podium that had a closed black leather bound ledger sitting on it.

Hermione frowned in curiosity before reaching out a shaky hand to open it so she could find out where she was. Her eyes darted to the top of the book where, in big bold letters written in blue ink, was the title "PORT ROYAL HARBOUR". Her frown deepened having never heard of the place in her life, but it sounded so familiar at the same time. She shook her head before scanning through the names in the ledger. She came to a date at the bottom written in the same blue ink as the title. As she stared at it in utter shock, she blinked once, twice, and then fainted onto the pier.

The date written within the ledger was "15th March 1745".

Chapter Text

Chapter Two: Introducing the Leading Man

Hermione stirred in her sleep before waking, lying motionless with her eyes still closed. She had been expecting the cold hard wooden planks of the pier, but they were not present. Replacing it was a soft mattress and a feather pillow. She wondered if everything that happened the night previous had all been a nightmare. She opened her eyes, looking out of the far corner of her eyes. When the scarlet curtains hanging around her bed came into her line of sight, she began to believe it was a dream.

Hermione had the horrible feeling that someone was watching her. She reached under her pillow expecting to find her wand, but it was not there. She sat up in panic, picking the pillow up to look underneath. There was nothing but the white sheet staring back at her, and she frowned.

Her hand fell onto the duvet and moved her hands about to find they were not the same cotton material she knew. They were much softer…, like velvet mixed with silk. Hermione shrugged, not willing to complain. She was just confused about why they were different and where they had come from.

Then she wondered who found her in the library and put her to bed in the ruined castle. Deciding to search for Harry and ask him, she yawned. She reached for the curtain surrounding her bed, opening them to find the room draped in darkness. She looked on the bedside table, seeing an oil lamp. She stared at it for a moment wondering where her regular light was and why she had this one now. Then she came to the conclusion that during the war a lot of things were destroyed. She assumed Dumbledore had given her this for the time being.

Hermione shrugged again, reaching forward and turned the knob to give her some light. She closed her eyes, swinging her legs over the side of the bed. Slowly, Hermione put her feet on the ground expecting it to be cold. She was shocked to discover there was a carpet instead of the stone ground. She moved her feet along the fluffy carpet disbelievingly. She looked down, seeing in the light of the oil lamp that it was a fluffy white carpet. She smiled, Dumbledore had talked about refurbishments. She hadn't realised how far the eccentric old man would go, and this seemed to be what he had planned.

Then she noticed the garment she was wearing. It was a revealing nightgown leaving little to the imagination, particularly in the bodice. Hermione gasped, looking around for something to cover herself up with. She noticed a dressing gown hanging on the back of a chair in front of what she assumed was a vanity. She ran over and picked it up, wrapping it around her.

She stood in the dark room wondering who on earth dressed her in such ghastly garb. She concluded it had most likely been Harry, vowing to murder him when she got him in her immediate vicinity.

She managed to get a better look at the room, realising this was not the girl's dormitories. The curtains were much too large to be covering the much smaller church-like windows of the tower. There was only one bed for another thing, and she wondered if Dumbledore had given them their own rooms. Maybe the Gryffindor Tower was in ruins making it an unwise decision to stay in there at present.

Then she wondered why Dumbledore hadn't sent them home. Then again, Harry was an orphan, and because Voldemort had murdered his aunt and uncle, he had nowhere to go. It was understandable why he was still in Hogwarts. Though he could have gone back to Grimmauld Place or stayed with the Weasleys'. Plus, she was now an orphan too meaning she had nowhere to go. It also explained why she was still at the castle, but she shook those thoughts away as tears sprang to her eyes.

Her thoughts turned to Ron, praying that he was okay. She decided then that she would get dressed and visit him in St. Mungo's assuming he was already there.

Hermione took one more glance around the dark room, deciding it would be good to start by opening the curtains. She took a deep breath, opening them expecting to see the Hogwarts grounds. However, she was looking out on a different scene altogether. The grounds outside the window were beautiful, the gardens full of flowers in bloom. The sun was shining high in the sky. Hermione froze when she made out the pier she had fainted on the night before. Her heart skipped a beat, the writing in the ledger came back to her mind's eye like a harsh slap to the face. She had to grasp the window to stop herself from fainting again.

She had, somehow, ended up in the past.

Panicking, she turned to look at the room again, noticing her clothes which were neatly folded up on a chair by the bed. She made her way over to them, stumbling over the bottom of the dressing gown. She searched the pockets of her robes for her wand, finally finding it to her relief. She almost hugged it to her believing it to be her only saving grace. All worries of how she had gotten to the past in the first place flying out the window.

She paused for a moment, glancing down at her gown, and muttered a spell to make the garment less revealing and far more presentable. She stowed her wand away in a pocket of her dressing gown feeling safer knowing it was there. She considered putting her clothes on and going to find someone to ask where she was but thought better of it. In this time her clothes were outlandish, and she realised she would need to dress in clothes of this era so she wouldn't seem out of place.

Hermione walked to the door to open it when a knock startled her making her stop and stare at the door in fear. As she stood frozen to the spot, there was another louder knock. 'Can I come in?' came a male voice from the other side.

Hermione considered saying "no" for a moment but decided against it. 'Yes,' she answered instead.

A Fatherly gentleman wearing strange, but smart clothes walked in and, to her shock, pulled her into a hug. He pulled back, holding her at arm's length to look at her face. 'It is lovely to see you, though I did not expect you home until April. No matter,' he said smiling. He kissed her forehead, which had Hermione almost running in fear for her sanity.

Instead of running, she stared at him in confusion. 'I'm sorry?' she asked him in confusion.

The man frowned and tutted. 'Now, now, there's no time for your games this morning young Lady,' he told her. He motioned behind him for two maids to enter, one of which was carrying a plain white box. 'I bought you and your Sister gifts. I was going to send yours to the University, but it seems you were on the pier this morning, soaking wet and wearing strange clothes,' he explained to her. She stared back at him in disbelief. 'May I enquire about what happened to find you in such a situation?' he asked her.

Hermione stared at him in confusion wondering if this man was missing a few buttons. 'Um... what are you talking about? Who are you? I don't have a Sister,' she asked him in bewilderment.

The man frowned, looking at her thoughtfully. 'Hmmm, you must have hit your head harder than we thought. We will need to have that rechecked,' he told her, smiling at her brightly. 'We will worry more on that later though,' he said, taking the large white box from the maid. He handed it to her. 'Well, here you are.'

Hermione, unable to fathom what on earth was going on, took the box from him if only to be polite. She walked over to place it on the bed. She stared at it for a moment, as if it would jump up and attack her. She soon realised that the man was becoming impatient, and she opened it to reveal a beautiful emerald green dress within. She gasped at its beauty as she pulled it out, running her fingers across the expensive material. 'It's gorgeous,' she said, taking in the exquisite patterns and lace on the bodice and cuffs. She shook her head before folding it back up and placing it back into the box. 'I can't take this,' she whispered before turning back to him. 'I don't even know who you are. It would be rude of me to accept such a beautiful gown…' she trailed off, running her hand over the dress again.

The man's frown deepened as he looked at her. He came over to stand by her. 'I will have the doctor come in to check on you immediately I think. You seem to have completely lost your memory,' he said worriedly. He reached up, running his hand over the welt on the right side of her head. Hermione flinched, only just realising it was there. He shook his head and smiled at her again. 'In any case, I see no reason why I shouldn't dote upon my daughters,' he expressed to her. Hermione couldn't help but smile at that. He reminded her of her real Father. When this thought crossed her mind, she found it hard to stop the tears from welling in her eyes. The knowledge that she would never see him or her Mother again came back to her. As the man turned to the maids, she blinked back the tears before he could see them. He motioned towards the dress. 'Help her into it,' he ordered them. They curtsied to him, pulling her behind a screen in the corner of the room, one of them picking up the dress on the way.

'Um… wait, I don't think-' Hermione muttered towards him, but it fell on deaf ears as he cut over her.

'As I mentioned to your Sister, you could wear it to the ceremony that is taking place this morning up at the Fort.'

Hermione gasped as the maids tightened her corset. 'Ceremony? What kind of ceremony?' she struggled to ask, gasping for air.

'I don't suppose you remember James Norrington?' he asked her thoughtfully.

Hermione frowned as the name seemed to ring a bell, but she shook her head to rid herself of that thought. 'Um… no,' she answered instead.

He chuckled. 'I suppose you wouldn't even if your memory was intact. You were only ten when we made the crossing from England,' he explained. He sounded as if he were saying it more to himself rather than to her. 'Well, he is being promoted from Captain to Commodore today. If I can only surmise as true to gossip these days, I believe he is also going to propose to Elizabeth. Though, I only have my suspicions to go by,' he explained to her as she wondered who on earth Elizabeth was. A short moment of silence followed as the maids tied the back of her dress, pulling at the ribbons. She grabbed her chest, struggling to breathe before he spoke again. 'How is it coming?' he asked as the maids pulled the ribbons at the top tightening the dress even more.

'It's beautiful, but it would be even better if I could breathe,' she muttered, trying to take a deep breath.

'I've heard it's the latest fashion in London,' he answered with a smile, looking out the window.

'Women in London... must have taught themselves... not to breathe,' she gasped, clutching her chest.

A knock sounded at the door, interrupting them, and the man called them in. 'Milord, you have a visitor,' the Butler informed him. He then left again, closing the door behind him.

The man sighed. 'I am sorry, Cassandra, but I must greet this new visitor. I will see you shortly,' he said to her and confusion clouded her features again. She heard his footsteps retreat before the door opened and closed.

He just called me Cassandra. Who the heck is Cassandra? She thought. She pondered on why he had seemed so convinced that she was his daughter.

As the maids finished, they curtsied at her before leaving the room themselves. Hermione was free to explore the chamber a little more. The first thing she did was retrieve her wand from the dressing gown. She pointed it at herself to make the dress feel as though it wasn't suffocating her, and she took a deep breath in relief, stowing her wand up the sleeve of her dress and then began looking around the room.

As she walked over to the box on the bed, she noticed that at the bottom were a pair of green heels the same colour as her dress. She smiled before taking them out and slipping into them. For a moment she tried to get her balance, having only worn heels a few times. She then wandered around the beautiful room getting a proper look at it.

She walked over to the vanity, picking up the bottles of perfume and powders adorning the front. She looked in the mirror at her reflection, her honey brown eyes staring back at her. She stepped back to look at herself in full. She frowned at her bushy hair with disapproval as it seemed to be out of place while wearing such a gorgeous gown. She pulled out her wand, pointing it to her hair. She used a spell to tidy up her hair, leaving her with neat curls reaching the small of her back. She smiled before moving on to search the rest of the room.

Her eyes found a beautiful walnut finished bureau, where there were some pictures. Hermione, curious and unable to stop herself, walked over to examine them with interest. Her interest piqued as she picked up one that showed two beautiful girls. One of the girls was older than the other. What was astonishing to her was the younger of the two felt to her as though she were looking into a mirror. It dawned on her now why the man believed her to be his daughter. He must have genuinely believed she had amnesia, which was now far more understandable to her.

She looked at the older girl, assuming this was the Elizabeth he had mentioned. From the resemblance between the two girls, it was evident they were sisters. Hermione placed the picture back on the bureau. She wondered how long everyone would think that she was the daughter of a man she had never met before in her life. She ran a hand through her curls, deliberating on whether she should play along. Pretending that she was this Cassandra and that she did indeed have amnesia. Hermione wasn't too keen on this idea. She didn't want to keep up a farce, yet it saved her from explaining that she was a witch from the future if she used magic. She groaned in frustration as a soft knock at the door startled her from her thoughts.

She bid the person entry with reluctance and in walked the older girl from the picture. Hermione realised that the picture had done the woman no justice. She was much more beautiful in reality. The woman smiled at her, drawing her into a gentle hug which Hermione returned, but it felt awkward. 'How I have missed you, Cassandra. What happened to you? Father said soldiers found you fainted on the pier this morning,' she asked her, running a gentle hand down Hermione's hair.

Hermione averted her eyes, pondering on what to say. 'I don't know, to be honest. I don't remember anything,' she whispered in half-truth. She looked back up at the woman who was a bit taller than her. 'I don't even know who you are,' she added, looking at the startled woman in front of her.

Elizabeth or that is who she assumed this woman was, sighed, looking down at her. She pulled her into another hug, which Hermione didn't return. She wasn't accustomed to so much affection, not even from Harry or Ron, and she was a little startled. 'Father mentioned you had a fall and your memory is affected,' she told her, pulling away. Tears were brimming in her eyes. She blinked them away and smiled at her. 'I am sure it will come back to you soon,' she voiced to her as if she was trying to convince herself of this. She held out her arm as Hermione looked from her arm to her in confusion. 'Will you come with me down the stairs to meet Father?' she requested of her. Hermione smiled a little, taking her arm and feeling that she was going to like Elizabeth. They walked out of the room arm in arm, taking their time with the stairs so as not to trip over their dresses.

Down on the ground floor, they heard a discussion of some sort between two male voices. Elizabeth's Father and another younger, handsome man looked up at them as they approached. 'Oh, Elizabeth, Cassandra! You both look absolutely stunning!' Elizabeth's Father stated.

They were concentrating on making it down each step without falling towards them. Hermione glanced across at Elizabeth to see her eyes widen with delight. 'Will!' she cried cheerfully, letting go of Hermione's arm. She made her way down the stairs at a quicker pace, leaving Hermione to follow at her more sedated pace. Elizabeth reached the ground floor and gave Will a quick hug. 'It's so good to see you!' she said, pulling back and smiling at him. Hermione looked down, trying to concentrate on making her way down the stairs. For some reason, she could not keep her eyes off Will. Hermione noticed Will seemed to be having trouble breathing as he looked at Elizabeth. Elizabeth's smiled widened if that was possible. 'I had a dream about you last night,' she stated to him. Hermione stopped short about four steps up from the ground floor making a show of sorting her dress. She felt uncomfortable joining a conversation with three people she knew nothing about. Even if they did believe she was someone they knew.

'About me?' she heard Will ask her in surprise.

Elizabeth's Father was more uncomfortable with the direction this conversation to be going and shifted his feet. 'Yes, well, is that entirely proper for you to…' he started to ask her.

Elizabeth seemed to downright ignore him, her attention completely on Will. 'About the day we met, do you remember?' she asked him, the smile still present and her eyes shining.

'How could I forget, Miss Swann?' he answered, his tone polite. He gave her small smile, bowing his head.

She looked down for a moment before looking back at him. 'Will, how many times must I ask you to call me Elizabeth?' she enquired of him with the smile still alight on her face.

Hermione frowned, wondering if they had forgotten she was even there. It seemed to her that Will hadn't even seemed to notice she was there at all which she felt was rather impolite. She didn't think it her place to say anything on the matter. She couldn't help the small smile that reached her lips as he answered Elizabeth. 'At least once more, Miss Swann. As always,' he told her with a tiny smile.

Hermione looked at Elizabeth to see her reaction to this answer. The broad smile she was wearing a moment ago had faded at his words. She looked away to the ground feeling awkward. She looked up again to see the elder man smile at her and then at Elizabeth. 'There. See? At least the boy has a sense of propriety,' he affirmed with a smile. He looked at her and Hermione. 'Now, we really must be going,' he said, leaning down to pick up two parasols. He handed one to Elizabeth and the other one to Hermione who had stepped down two steps to reach it.

This action seemed to cause Will to look up from his musings, finally noticing her. Hermione knew from his reaction that he didn't notice her before. He was staring at her now, his mouth agape. For a moment, she felt uncomfortable at the attention, her cheeks blushing crimson.

Elizabeth looked at them for a moment before looking back at Will. 'Good day, Mr Turner,' Elizabeth said rather bitterly.

Will looked back at her as she gathered her skirts, striding past him, and his eyes widened. 'Good day, Miss Swann,' he called to her, not receiving any inclination that she heard him. He sighed before turning back to Hermione who was descending the remaining few steps. 'I was unaware you were back so soon from University, Miss Swann. I believe you were not expected until April, but it is lovely to have you back nonetheless,' he greeted her, inclining his head at her a little. 'I had heard a rather curious rumour that you have amnesia,' he added, frowning at her a little in concern.

Hermione smiled a little. 'I don't know what happened. I can't remember anything, to be honest,' she answered. She shook her head, her smile dropping from her face. She looked back up at him. 'Can you call me Cassandra, please? That Miss Swann title is sure to get me mixed up with Elizabeth,' she requested of him with a smile.

Will grinned slightly. 'Of course, Cassandra,' he said. Her eyes widened at how easy it had been for her to get him to call her by that name and not a title. She tuned back into him as he continued, 'It was a pleasure to see you again. I pray your memory returns to you,' he smiled at her, lifting her hand to his lips, and placing a kiss upon her knuckles.

Hermione blushed at this but smiled at him. 'It was lovely to see you, Mr Turner. Good day,' she responded before following Elizabeth and her 'Father' out of the Manor. She stood by a horse drawn carriage, waiting for Governor Swann and Elizabeth to get in. She looked back at the Manor to see Will standing at the door looking straight at her. She smiled, giving him a little wave before getting into the carriage, and watched him from out the window as it pulled away.

Will watched them go, his mind on Cassandra. She had looked far more beautiful than he remembered and he sighed, a small smile playing about his lips. 'Cassandra…' he whispered to himself before walking down the pebbled path towards the town.

In the carriage, Hermione sighed as she sat back against the cushy seats. She glanced over at Elizabeth who was staring out the window, her expression stony. Governor Swann coughed a little to gain her attention. 'Father?' she asked, raising her eyebrows.

He glowered at her. 'Dear, I do hope you demonstrate a bit more decorum in front of Commodore Norrington. After all, it is only through his efforts that Port Royal has become at all civilised,' he told her sternly. 

She looked away from him, glaring at the floor. Hermione shifted in her seat, uncomfortable with the level of tension within the carriage. She chose to focus on what was outside the window instead, taking in the town as they rode through it.

oOoOo

Out on the sea, the top of a billowing sail came into view from behind the rocky outcrop near to the promontory. On the landward face of the sail, high rigging was a man for whom the term 'swashbuckling rogue' is coined. The braids in his hair were adorned with all manner of different coloured beads, and a red bandana held them in place beneath his dark grey hat. Around his dark brown eyes, making them appear even darker, was black charcoal, and he had tanned skin from his adventures on the high seas. His goatee beard had braids with the same beads used in his hair, and to finish it off he had a moustache. The persona of this man right down to the clothes he was wearing all seemed to scream pirate.

Looking down, his facial expression changed to a frown of apprehension. He jumped from the rigging onto the body of the boat which was just a small fishing dory with a single sail. It was ploughing through the water, and he walked to the opposite side, picking up a bucket. Written in bold lettering on the side of the boat were the words: The Jolly Roger. The boat itself was leaking profusely, and he moved back to the side he had landed on. He proceeded to fill the bucket with the water, chucking it over the side back into the ocean.

As he threw another full bucket back into the sea, something caught his eye. He stood up dropping the bucket as he moved to stand at the side of the boat. The skeletal remains of three pirates, clad in Buccaneer rags, hung from nooses on gallows erected on a rocky promontory. A fourth unoccupied loop bore a sign: 'PIRATES YE BE WARNED'. The man gazed at it keen-eyed before taking off his hat, placing it on his chest to pay homage, and gave them a two-fingered salute in respect.

The man placed his hat back on his head, looking down to see the boat filling up faster. He made his way back over to the tiller and, using a single sheet to control the sail, bringing the boat around the promontory. The whole of Port Royal laid out before him. When the water reached his knees, he decided that there was no point in trying to salvage the sinking boat. He climbed back up onto the mast, and from his vantage point, he spotted the massive British Dreadnought dominating the bay. His attention was curiously diverted towards a different ship. A small, sleek vessel tied up at the Navy landing at the base of the cliffs below the Fort.

He grinned as he looked down, the base of the boat was now fully under the water. It was slowly creeping up the mast, but he wasn't worried. As he predicted, the water reached to about a metre from where he was standing on the mast. It pulled into the pier just as the bottom of the boat touched the floor of the ocean. It made stepping off the mast onto the dock at a convenient height, so he had no hassle in doing so.

The Harbour Master came to help him tie up the dory. 'If you're rolling scuppers in this tub, you're either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid,' he said, chuckling.

The man smirked. 'It's remarkable how often those two traits coincide,' he answered. He turned away from the Harbour Master, making his way up the dock. He strapped on his sword belt as he went. Besides the scabbard, it also carried a compass, pistol, and a small powder horn.

The Harbour Master thwarted his proud swagger, giving him a stern glare. 'Hey, hold up there, you,' he said. He turned back to him, wondering what on earth he could want now. 'It's a shilling to tie up your boat at the dock,' he enlightened him. The man looked back at him with raised eyebrows before looking back at the sunken vessel. The mast was peeking out from the water, and he turned back to the Harbour Master. 'And I will need to know your name,' he added, picking up the ledger from the podium, opening it to that day's date.

The man took a moment to contemplate on what he was going to do before rolling his eyes. He reached into his pocket, pulling out some coins. 'What do ye say to three shillings... and we forget the name?' He proposed, placing three shillings onto the ledger the Harbour Master was holding. The little boy next to him, raised his eyebrows at the man, impressed by his audacity.

The Harbour Master looked at him in surprise, considering the proposal by the man. He closed the ledger on the coins. 'Welcome to Port Royal, Mr Smith,' he greeted, stepping aside with a small smile to the man.

The man "Smith" smiled, giving him a half-salute as he passed them. He reached the podium, a feathered quill sitting in an inkwell. There was a space where the ledger would be had the Harbour Master not carried it down to the end of the pier. What caught "Smith's" attention though, was what was just next to the inkwell. There was a small brown leather pouch, and he picked it up, shaking it and revealing clinking sounds of coins within. He pocketed it before moving on. He looked around, and the vessel which had caught his keen eyes before came back into his line of view, and he grinned.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three: A Daring Escape

Hermione stood next to Elizabeth with a crowd of people, watching the ceremony with undisguised boredom. With choreographed precision, Governor Swann took the sword from its scabbard, where it lay in the presentation case. He slid the sword back into the scabbard and held it out to James Norrington who had dressed in full Navy uniform. Norrington grasped the scabbard above where Swann was holding it, drawing and flourishing it. He snapped the blade up in front of his face. Hermione stood on her tiptoes to see what was going on, noticing Swann pin a medal on Norrington's jacket before stepping back.

Norrington nodded, before turning smartly to nod at his fellow officers and the audience. They consisted of dignitaries, merchants, plantation owners, and their families. He flourished the sword once more, before returning it to its scabbard. Loud applause from the audience broke the silence and the backslapping of the Navy men. Hermione clapped along, before noticing that Elizabeth wasn't looking too well. She winced, discreetly trying to adjust the corset through the material of her dress while trying to hide her discomfort.

They finally announced Norrington as being Commodore, and the crowd disbanded. Hermione realised this gave her ample opportunity to sneak away from the Fort, and she had no hesitation in doing so either. She checked to see if Elizabeth was okay, for which she received a nod, before walking away towards the gate.

Two soldiers were guarding it, and they stopped her as she drew near to them. 'I was just coming over to inform you that my purse is missing. I think it's been stolen!' she lied, adopting a panicked tone. The guards nodded before rushing off into the Fort to look for the culprit. Hermione watched, feeling a little guilty by this as she hadn't taken a purse with her, to begin with. She knew she could get into trouble for wasting the guards' time.

Shrugging, she made her way out of the archway following the road down from the Fort, which led her close to the pier. Her eyes focused on a ship in the distance, a large beautiful ship that looked rather important. At a nearby dock, there was another ship with 'Interceptor' slanted across the rear in great bold silver lettering. She looked at the two guards on sentry duty who were taking advantage of what little shade there was on the docks. As she turned to leave, her eyes fell on a strange man sauntering over to the guards and the Interceptor, which was off-limits. Her curiosity got the better of her, and she followed, hiding behind a pillar as she listened to what was going on.

The two guards immediately became alerted as the man got closer, blocking his passage to the ship. 'This port is not accessible to civilians,' the thinner guard told him. He must have thought his tone was authoritative, but it wasn't.

The man raised his eyebrows at this. 'I'm terribly sorry. I didn't know. If I see one, I will inform you immediately,' he told them. He made to walk past them again but was thwarted in his attempt, which made Hermione smile slightly. The man looked up then, shielding his eyes from the sun as music drifted down from the Fort. He smiled at them. 'Apparently, there's some sort of high toned and fancy to do up at the fort, eh?' he asked and received no answer, so he continued. 'How could it be that two upstanding gentlemen, such as yourselves, did not merit an invitation?' he asked them.

The thinner guard frowned. 'Someone has to make sure this port stays barred to civilians,' he answered.

'It's a fine goal to be sure, but it seems to me that a…' the man shifted to his left, gesturing to the larger ship further out a sea, "ship like that…" he then turned, gesturing to the Interceptor, "…makes this one here a bit superfluous, really,' he said to them. Hermione smiled at his line of reasoning, which made sense.

The brawnier guard was the one to answer this time. 'Oh, the Dauntless is the authority in these waters, true enough, but there's no ship as can match the Interceptor for speed,' he informed him.

The man held his chin thoughtfully as he answered. 'I've heard of one, supposed to be very fast - nigh uncatchable…' he answered before pausing for what seemed like dramatic effect to Hermione. 'The Black Pearl,' he said, looking at both of them.

The brawny soldier scoffed at the name, laughing. 'Well…, there's no real ship as can match the Interceptor,' he answered stubbornly.

The other guard turned to him. 'The Black Pearl is a real ship,' he argued.

The brawny one shook his head. 'No, no it's not, Murtogg,' he argued back.

'Yes, it is, I've seen it,' the one called Murtogg argued.

'You've seen it?' the brawny one asked with a mocking tone.

'Yes,' Murtogg answered mulishly.

'You haven't seen it,' the other answered.

'Yes, I have, Mullroy,' Murtogg said obstinately.

Mullroy turned to him, giving him a serious look. 'You've seen a ship with black sails, that's crewed by the damned, and captained by a man so evil that Hell itself spat him back out?' he asked as if he were telling a ghost story. Hermione frowned at these words but rolled her eyes at their banter.

'No,' Murtogg answered with a smile.

'No,' Mullroy repeated as he looked at the man who smiled back briefly.

Murtogg turned back to his companion. 'But I have seen a ship with black sails.'

Hermione noticed that the strange man slipped onto the ship as they continued to banter. Mullroy turned back to him. 'Oh, and no ship that's not crewed by the damned, and captained by a man so evil that Hell itself spat him back out could possibly have black sails, therefore, couldn't possibly be any other ship than the Black Pearl. Is that what you're saying?' he asked his compatriot.

Murtogg nodded his head with a smile. 'No,' he answered.

'Like I said, there's no real ship as can match the Interceptor…' he trailed off, turning back to look at the man only to see that he wasn't there. They turned around, noticing that the man was standing at the wheel of the Interceptor examining the mechanism in awe.

Mullroy and Murtogg ran onto the ship. 'Hey! You! Get away from there,' Murtogg shouted as he pointed his gun at the man. The man looked at them with exaggerated innocent surprise, as they hurried up onto the gangplank. Hermione moved from her position behind the pillar to another one closer to the Interceptor.

'You don't have permission to be aboard there, mate,' Mullroy stated as he, too, pointed his gun.

The man held up his hands in what looked like a surrender. 'I'm sorry. It's just - it's such a pretty boat,' he said, and then he quickly corrected himself, 'Ship.'

Murtogg frowned at him, studying him suspiciously. 'What's your name?' he asked.

'Smith or Smithy, if you like,' the man answered, and Hermione frowned at the too familiar name.

'What's your purpose in Port Royal, Mr "Smith"?' Mullroy asked in a mocking tone. He didn't believe the man's name was "Smith" at all, and Hermione silently agreed with him, continuing to watch what was going on.

'Yeah and no lies,' Murtogg added.

Hermione looked at the man curiously as he sighed. 'Well, then, I confess,' he began, stepping away from the wheel. For the first time, Hermione could see him properly and thought him to be rather ruggedly handsome. 'It is my intention to commandeer one of these ships, pick up a crew in Tortuga, raid, pillage, plunder, and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out!' he told them, and Hermione couldn't help but laugh.

Murtogg frowned. 'I said no lies!' he said in slight frustration.

Mullroy frowned as well, looking at "Smith" in astonishment. 'I think he's telling the truth,' he said to Murtogg.

Murtogg shook his head. 'If he were telling the truth, he wouldn't have told us,' he argued, raising his gun again.

"Smith" smiled at this. 'Unless, of course, he knew you wouldn't believe the truth even if he told it to you,' he said to them, and they looked back in utter confusion. Hermione was trying her hardest not to burst into laughter as they began considering his point.

For a while, Murtogg and Mullroy sought to figure out if what "Smith" had told them was the truth or not. Somehow this seemed to lead to conversations about other inconsequential matters. "Smith" began telling them a tale about cannibals or something and Hermione tuned out, looking around for something to amuse her. Finding nothing, she opened her fan and began fanning herself.

She looked around the docks and at the different shaped boats, and finally saw something rather odd that also amused her at the same time. Down at one of the harbours she could just make out the top of a mast from a boat sticking out of the water. What amused her the most was that the mast was tied to the harbour like all the other boats and ships.

Hermione snapped back to reality as she caught the end of "Smith's" tale. '…and then they made me their chief,' he said just as a loud splash came from near the walls of the Fort. Something large had fallen in the water. Hermione moved away from her hiding place towards the Interceptor in curiosity. "Smith", Murtogg, and Mullroy looked over to where the splash had come from in curiosity.

'ELIZABETH!' came the shout from the Fort, and Hermione froze where she had almost made it onto the deck of the Interceptor.

"Smith" was the first to react, pushing Murtogg aside, and stared at the struggling figure in the water in shock. Hermione heard "Smith" sigh as he turned to his companions. 'Will you be saving her then?' he asked Mullroy.

'I can't swim,' came the answer as they watched a group of men picking their way down the cliffs. They were too far away to get to the figure in time.

"Smith" scowled knowing he had no choice, turning to the shocked Murtogg. 'Pride of the King's Navy you are,' he said sarcastically. He pulled his pistol from his sword belt, thrusting it at Murtogg. He handed his belt and jacket to Mullroy. 'Do not lose these,' he told them before diving into the water. Hermione ran to the end of the pier to watch, clasping her hands together in the hopes that Elizabeth would be all right. She saw "Smith" disappeared from her line of sight.

Just as he went, a huge ripple shot across the surface of the water. Hermione wondered what the hell that could have been just as "Smith" broke the surface swimming with Elizabeth's limp body. As she stood there, an offshore breeze picked up, and Hermione looked up towards the Fort as the clanking of metal from the British flag caught her attention, and then the wind died, and the flag stopped waving. Frowning, Hermione looked towards the ships where the sounds of wood and metal fittings banging against the masts had gone silent. Suddenly, the wind blew in harshly from the sea causing the lines to beat against each other ferociously.

Ignoring this strange occurrence in the wind pattern, Hermione turned her attention back to "Smith" who was still swimming back to the pier. She frowned when thick fog appeared at the water's edge near the cliff face. "Smith" struggled as he pulled Elizabeth to the shore, and Hermione gasped as they submerged for a few minutes. They appeared again, and he seemed to be swimming a lot quicker towards them.

Murtogg and Mullroy were at her side; only they were helping "Smith" with Elizabeth. "Smith" knelt on the pier exhausted as Hermione moved closer to them. 'Is she okay?' Hermione asked fearfully. The woman wasn't her Sister, but she was a caring person, and seeing things like this hurt her anyway, didn't matter who it was happening to, or whether she knew them or not.

'Step out of the way, miss,' Mullroy said, gently moving Hermione to the side.

Murtogg bent over Elizabeth. 'She's not breathing!" he shouted in panic, looking down at her with a hopeless expression on his face.

'Move!' "Smith" said, pushing him out of the way. Grabbing his knife, he cut the corset at the bottom before ripping it open and shoved it into Murtogg's hands as Elizabeth began to spit out water and gasp for breath.

'Never would have thought of that,' Mullroy admitted.

"Smith" looked up at him. 'Clearly, you've never been to Singapore,' he acknowledged. "Smith" flipped the knife, handing it hilt-first back to Murtogg, and turned to look at Elizabeth to see if she was alright, but something caught his eye. He picked up the medallion that was hanging around her neck and looked at it to her with wide, shocked eyes. 'Where did you get that?' he asked her slowly.

Before Elizabeth could answer, the blade of a sword appeared at "Smith's" throat. He looked up to see the new Commodore looking at him angrily. 'On your feet,' Norrington ordered as "Smith" got to his feet.

The position "Smith" was in, leaning over Elizabeth who had lost most of her clothes did not look right, nor did it do the man any favours. Hermione just hoped he wouldn't get accused of wrong doing when he had saved her.

Governor Swann reached the scene. 'Elizabeth. Are you alright?' He asked his eldest daughter and helped her to her feet while pulling Hermione over to them as well. He gave her a stern look because she had left the Fort.

'Yes, I'm fine,' Elizabeth answered him as he stripped off his jacket, draping it around her.

Governor Swann looked over at Murtogg who was still holding Elizabeth's corset. He dropped it instantly before pointing at "Smith". Governor Swann glared at him, and he shrugged nonchalantly. 'Shoot him!' the Governor ordered angrily.

Hermione went to say something like "Why? Isn't he just a regular person that just saved your daughter, and you want him dead?" but she held her tongue knowing that they would all think her strange saying that. Everyone still seemed to think she was also his daughter even if she did have "amnesia".

'Father!' Elizabeth shouted. Hermione let out a breath of relief as her "Sister" turned to Norrington. 'Commodore, do you really mean to kill my rescuer?' she asked him.

Norrington looked at "Smith" for a long moment as if studying him. He nodded back slowly not wanting to slice open his neck from the end of the blade resting under his chin. Norrington looked back at Elizabeth for a moment before pulling his sword back, and motioned for his soldiers to do the same as "Smith" did his “thank you” prayer to Elizabeth. Norrington stepped towards "Smith", holding out his hand. 'I believe thanks are in order,' he said, and "Smith" looked at his hand hesitantly for a moment before taking it. Norrington tightened his grip, pulling him towards him, and tore the sleeve up on "Smith's" arm exposing a "P" branded on his arm with a hot rod. Hermione looked at it wondering what it stood for, and Norrington was quick to answer her silent question. 'Had a clash with the East India Trading company, did we, pirate?' Norrington asked him pointedly. "Smith" closed his eyes like a kid who was caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar.

Hermione looked at him in shock, as the soldiers raised their weapons instantly. Governor Swann looked livid at these words. 'Hang him,' he said eyeing the pirate with undisguised disgust.

'Keep your guns on him, men,' Norrington told the soldiers and then turned to one that was next to him. 'Gillette, fetch some irons,' he ordered as the soldier went to do just that. Norrington lifted the sleeve of the pirate's shirt up higher, revealing a tattoo of a sparrow in flight across the water. 'Well, well… Jack Sparrow, isn't it?' he stated rather than asked though it seemed posed as a question.

Hermione found it difficult to keep an amused smile from her lips as Jack Sparrow answered. 'Captain Jack Sparrow, if you please, sir,' he replied.

Norrington raised his eyebrows, looking out at the bay. 'Well, I don't see your ship... "Captain",' he said, mocking him.

'I'm in the market, as it were,' Jack answered as if he were telling Norrington a secret.

'He said he'd come to commandeer one,' Murtogg explained from where he stood behind Jack.

'Told you he was telling the truth,' Mullroy told him, picking up Jack's effects. 'These are his, sir,' he said to Norrington, holding out Jack's pistol and belt.

Norrington picked up the gun, examining it before noting the powder horn on the belt. 'No additional shots, nor powder,' he looked at Jack as he said this, and received a small shrug in answer before he picked up the next item which was Jack's compass. Norrington opened it, and frowned in confusion as he looked at the reading, before trying to move it this way and that, keeping it parallel to the ground. He then looked at Jack with raised eyebrows. 'A compass that doesn't point north,' he said to chuckles from a few of the soldiers. Jack averted his eyes while Norrington unsheathed his sword next, and smiled at him mockingly. 'And I half expected it to be made of wood,' he said giving Jack a smirk as the pirate smiled back nervously. Norrington slid the sword back into the scabbard, looking at Jack. 'You are without a doubt the worst pirate I've ever heard of,' he said with slight disgust and a little arrogance.

Jack smiled, raising his hands as if waiting to say something amazing. 'But you have heard of me,' he said, and Hermione couldn't help the small snort that escaped her. Her smile dropped as Governor Swann gave her a stern look just as Gillette walked past them with shackles and approached Jack.

Hermione looked back as Jack got dragged over to the side and put in the shackles. Elizabeth walked forward, the jacket slipping off her shoulders. She seemed unconcerned, shrugging off her Father as he tried to place it back around her. 'Commodore, I really must protest!' Elizabeth shouted from behind her and Hermione agreed.

'Carefully, Lieutenant,' Norrington said ignoring Elizabeth.

Hermione stalked past him to stand in front of Jack. Her move surprised the soldiers, the Governor, Elizabeth, the Commodore, and Jack greatly. 'Does it matter if he's a pirate? No matter what he has done, he still saved Elizabeth. I reckon that should earn him at least a pardon for now,' she said a little angrily.

Norrington looked at her for a moment before sighing. 'One good deed is not enough to convert a man of a lifetime of wickedness,' he said firmly.

Hermione was about to retort, but Jack beat her to it. 'Though it seems enough to condemn him,' he put in.

Norrington glared at him. 'Indeed,' he answered through clenched teeth while Gillette snapped the manacles closed on Jack's wrists, moving away from him.

'Finally,' Hermione heard Jack say, and before she knew what was happening, he had grabbed the hand and wrist of the soldier holding the pistol. He yanked it out of his hands sending it flying into the water. Before anyone could react, he threw the manacle chain around Hermione's neck. He wasn't strangling her, but she felt a little uncomfortable standing up against him.

The soldiers drew their pistols again. 'No! Don't shoot! You might hit my daughter!' Governor Swann shouted.

Norrington realised that Jack was using Hermione as a shield, and one wrong move could lead to her getting shot. He raised a cautioning hand to his men to signal for them not to make any sudden moves.

'I knew you'd warm up to me,' Jack said to the soldiers before looking at Norrington. 'Commodore Norrington, my effects, please,' Jack said to him, before quickly adding. 'And my hat.' When Norrington hesitated, his fists balling in frustration, Jack tightened his hold on Hermione. 'Commodore!' he said, and Norrington took Jack's things off of Mullroy. Jack spun Hermione around to face him. 'Elizabeth,' he said, and then he paused for a moment. 'It is Elizabeth, isn't it?' Jack asked her as Hermione frowned, shaking her head.

'No, I'm Cassandra,' Hermione told him as if she were speaking to a child.

'Cassie-' She cut him off.

'Cassandra!' Hermione hissed. She hated nicknames even if it was a name that wasn't her own. If she was going to be adopting the name Cassandra for the length of time she was in the past she was not going to tolerate anything even close to a nickname.

Jack smirked. 'Cassandra, if you'd be so kind,' he said to her as she stared back defiantly. 'Come, come, dear. We don't have all day.' Hermione made to grab the pistol first, but Jack was quicker than her, snatching the gun out of her grasp before she could use it against him. She inwardly groaned, grabbing his belt, and he jerked her around, so she was facing him. He smiled at her as he lazily rested his chained hands around her neck. 'Now if you'd be very kind,' he said, his smile widening as she glared at him. She strapped his sword to his belt, tying it tightly. 'Easy on the goods, darling,' he said to her as she placed his hat on his head.

'You're vile,' Hermione said, but she couldn't help a tiny ghost of a smile from twitching at her lips.

'Sticks and stones, love. I saved your sister's life, you save mine, we're square,' he told her. He spun her back around so that she was facing Norrington, and the soldiers once more. 'Gentlemen, Milady's, you will always remember this as the day that you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow!' He shouted, pushing Hermione away, and Norrington caught her before she could fall. Jack turned around, kicking the belaying pin that released a cannon, and it pulled him up into the air where he swung around for a few moments before he landed on a gantry above their heads, grabbing another rope.

'Now, will you shoot him?' Governor Swann shouted to Norrington.

'Open fire!' Norrington shouted, and the soldiers all began shooting at Jack who let out a yell as the bullets sped past him. Jack twisted his chain around the rope, using it as a rope swing that took him down towards the beach. He ran over a bridge, waving his arms about as the soldiers continued to shoot at him and missed. 'On his heels,' Norrington ordered them, and the soldiers took chase of Jack. Norrington stopped next to Gillette. 'Gillette, Mr Sparrow has a dawn engagement with the gallows. I would hate for him to miss it,' he said, and Gillette nodded, leading a group of men in the direction Jack had run in. Norrington turned towards Hermione. 'Miss Swann, are you-' Norrington started to say, but Hermione cut him off.

'Yes, I'm all right, I'm fine! Go! Capture him!' she shouted, and Norrington looked at her, taken aback by her ire before wisely hurrying away.

Elizabeth rushed forward, hugging Hermione and causing the jacket to fall off again. Governor Swann picked it up, placing it around her shoulders again. 'Here, dear…, you should wear this,' he said as Elizabeth and Hermione rolled their eyes.

Elizabeth took the jacket, shivering in the cold air now that the adrenaline had worn off. She glanced out at the bay where a thick fog moved across the top of the water and wrapped the jacket around herself tighter. 'Thank you, Father…, and let that be the last of your fashion advice, please,' she whispered to him, and Hermione laughed, but they accepted his comforting embrace.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four: Bluff and Double Bluff; A Pirate Revolt

The fog crept through the streets, casting an eerie twilight pall. An armed search party moved along the road, glancing down an alley next to a small café. On the far side, another search party stopped, looking around the town square. They nodded to each other, continuing their search.

Jack waited a moment before dropping down from his hiding place beneath the eaves of a building, still wearing his manacles. He glanced around the town square, his eyes catching sight of a shop with barn doors, a pass-through set in the middle. Next to the building was a statue of a Blacksmith hammering a sword into shape, and above the shop was a sign with a black anvil.

Jack made sure it was safe, and ran towards the Blacksmith shop, slipping through the door, and looked around the room. There were no windows. The forge was dark, lit by lanterns to stave off the dimness. There were work-in-progress items scattered about: wagon wheels, wrought iron gates, pipes, and even a cannon was propped up against a wall with a large crack in it. As his eyes moved about the room, he noticed that every tool was in place; the workbench was neat and tidy.

Jack spun around, startled by a noise. In the corner sat a large man in a Blacksmith's apron snoring in the corner, and cradling a bottle. Jack sauntered over towards him, giving him a hard prod, but he did not stir. Jack studied him carefully for a moment before shouting out as loud as he could. The Blacksmith just snorted, dropped the bottle, and began snoring even louder. Satisfied that he was not going to be waking up anytime soon, Jack sheathed his sword. He moved over to where there was a Donkey geared up to work the mechanism. He walked towards the furnace in the middle of the room, pulling an iron rod from the fire. He turned and pressed it against the Donkey's hide. The Donkey let out a pained screech, moving quickly around in a circle making the mechanism work.

Smiling to himself, Jack tried to lodge the manacles in the mechanism with no success. He grabbed a short-handled sledge from its place on the wall and moved back to the glowing furnace. Taking a deep breath, he slowly held his right hand over the stove, so the chain dangled down into the embers until it began to glow. Jack was sweating, grimacing in pain. Once the chain was glowing he moved quickly, wrapping the chain around the nose of the closest anvil. He grabbed the sledge, bringing it down with a fast hard stroke on the glowing links, shattering one of them. Jack dropped the sledge, plunging his manacled hands into a bucket of dirty water. He sighed in relief as steam billowed up around him before pulling them out, and looked at his handy work with pride.

ooOoo

Hermione watched the events happening in the town as they sped past in a carriage. For a moment, she allowed herself to think of Harry and Ron, and wondered if time had stopped in the future while she was stuck in the past. Another thing she was curious about was what happened to the real Cassandra? Would she turn up? Hermione knew she would be in trouble if she did. She shook her head, not willing to think about the consequences of what would happen to her if that did happen. Her thoughts wandered back to Ron, pondering on whether the Healers had found a way to revive him, or if he would be stuck in his coma.

The carriage stopped to let another pass, and Hermione shook her morbid thoughts away hoping that everything in the future was all right. She wasn't sure if she would ever get back to the future and had the curious feeling that she had to be in this time, with these people. She pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind as soldiers in groups of up to 4-6 soldiers jogged past the carriage towards the town.

They were still searching for Jack Sparrow.

As soon as Norrington had issued the order to the soldiers to find the pirate, Governor Swann had ushered Elizabeth and Hermione to a carriage. Now they were on their way back to the manor, and Hermione wasn't thrilled with the prospect of being stuck in the estate. All the excitement was going on down in the town, and she had the sudden urge to jump out of the carriage when it had slowed down to let the soldiers pass. She shook her head, that would be a bad idea.

When they reached the manor, Governor Swann almost chased them inside before ordering them to go to their rooms and stay there. Elizabeth went without much of a fight, being tired from her ordeal today. Hermione refused to stay here when the excitement lay outside the protection of the manor.

It was about an hour before Hermione was able to escape her room and the manor. She ran as fast as someone could when wearing a dress and high-heeled shoes. She sprinted down the drive, hiding behind the carriage for a moment when two of the maids came out of the pantry and walked into the manor. Hermione ran down the rest of the drive, opening the gates, and running down to the town. She kept to the shadows and alleys as much as she could so the soldiers would not see her. She looked around the town trying to figure out where Jack could have disappeared to. The town itself was small and quaint leaving few hiding places. Jack was one of those types that seemed to stick out in a crowd more so than most.

She frowned, as she looked around, trying to spot that pirate's hat, but her eyes found Will instead, walking tiredly towards the Blacksmith's shop. She looked around and not seeing any soldiers nearby she called out to him. 'Will!' she shouted as quietly as she could, but he didn't seem to hear her. She cried a little louder, and he looked around, finally seeing her.

'Cassandra!?' he shouted back in astonishment. She made a shushing motion, beckoning him over to her. He frowned in bewilderment but walked over as she leaned against the wall in the narrow alley. Will squeezed in—there wasn't much room—and leaned against the opposite wall from her. 'Are you alright, Cassandra? I heard about what happened down by the pier,' he said while looking her over, checking for wounds.

'I'm fine, Will. I wasn't hurt at all,' she answered, waving off his concern.

Will nodded in relief, before frowning at her. 'What are you doing out of the manor without an escort?' he asked her curiously, though he didn't appear surprised in the least.

'I had to escape. I didn't like being cooped up in that stuffy room. All the excitement is down here,' she told him, averting her eyes from his.

Will let out a sigh. 'You know your Father will be furious when he realises you're gone. Especially after what happened today,' he said sternly, before grinning in amusement. 'I thought you would have grown out of running off when you went to University,' he said, his eyes gleaming.

'Pardon?' she asked as if she hadn't quite heard right. Moreover, she had no idea what he was talking about.

Will smiled at her, tilting his head to the left. 'Do you not remember, Cassandra?' he asked her, and at the small shake of her head, he sighed. 'You used to run away from the manor often. Then your family decided to return to England so you could finish school. You would come to the shop a lot when you were younger. We would talk, and we would have mock fights with the swords,' he told her with a wide smile. He shook his head, but then his eyes became sorrowful, and the smile faded. 'After you went back to England, I began to miss those times,' he revealed to her.

Taken aback, Hermione didn't quite know what to make of his statement. She did feel relieved knowing that the real Cassandra used to run away from the manor. It had been something of the norm for all the people that associated with her. Hermione felt a blush creeping onto her cheeks as she smiled at him shyly. 'I can't remember to be honest. If I could I'm sure I would miss them as well,' she whispered. She retained her charade, even though it made her feel uncomfortable to do so.

Will looked at her despondently. 'Ah, the unfortunate loss of memory,' he said before shaking his head. 'I wonder what happened to you?' he asked more to himself than her.

Hermione shrugged. 'I don't know,' she answered, looking at the ground.

For a moment, they stood in silence, considering what could have happened. Hermione knowing and Will having no idea. Eventually, he sighed. 'Come on, let's go to the shop,' he said, taking her hand, and leading her out of the alley.

ooOoo

Jack looked at his hand, flexing it and wincing at the blisters forming beneath the manacles, but his hands were now free. The sound of the wooden bar lifting and the latch of the door opening sent Jack into a slight panic. He dove for cover behind one of the workbenches and watched from cover as two people came in. He recognised the girl from the pier. 'Ah, Cassandra,' he whispered with a toothy grin.

Will frowned upon noticing the Donkey was turning the two wheels and jumped down from the platform to stop him, stroking his ears gently as Hermione came to stand next to him. 'Do you always leave him working like that?' Hermione asked curiously, looking at the Donkey.

Will glanced at her, shaking his head in the negative before taking off his jacket, throwing it onto a table. He moved over to where a balding man was sleeping in a chair snoring softly. 'Right where I left you,' he said with a small smile before turning back to Hermione. 'So, what do you-' he cut himself off as something caught his attention. He looked at the wall to see there was an empty peg where the sledge should have been hanging. It had moved from its place and was lying beside the anvil. Jack watched him from his hiding spot, and mentally kicked himself for not returning it to the wall.

'What is it?' Hermione asked as she walked over. Will had tensed up and was glancing around the shop suspiciously. Her eyes fell on the workbench next to the anvil, noticing a hat lying there looking out of place. 'This looks familiar,' she said, reaching out to pick it up, but the gentle tap of a sword on her hand stopped her. She looked up at the person responsible. 'Jack Sparrow,' she breathed, taking a small step back.

'Ah, Miss Cassandra, a pleasure to see you again so soon,' Jack said, bowing to her.

Will's eyes widened a little. 'You know him?' he asked Hermione as he began moving toward the sledge.

'We've met,' Hermione answered, shrugging her shoulders as if she wasn't too concerned. She did twist her hand around though, breathing a sigh of relief as she felt her wand press into her wrist.

'And here we are meeting again! Must be fate,' Jack said spreading his arms out. Will took that opportunity to grab for the sledge, but Jack slapped his hand with the sword, and Will jumped back.

Jack walked around the workbench, levelling the sword at Will, and backed him up towards the door. Will glared at him. 'You're the one they're hunting. The pirate,' he said, glancing at Hermione who was slowly moving towards the back of the room.

Jack tipped his head in acknowledgement, frowning as he regarded Will. 'You seem somewhat familiar. Have I threatened you before?' he asked curiously, moving towards him, and momentarily forgetting about Hermione.

Will glared at him. 'I make a point of avoiding familiarity with pirates,' he said heatedly.

Jack smirked. 'Ah, well, then it would be a shame to put a black mark on your record. So, if you'll excuse me…' he bowed as Hermione reached the grindstone where swords were resting in the honing guide. He turned from Will and was now looking down the end of a sword Hermione had grabbed. Jack tilted his head and smiled at her, before turning back towards Will. He had also retrieved a sword from one of the pillars and was pointing it at him. 'Do you think this wise, crossing blades with a pirate?' he asked, directing the question at Hermione more than Will.

Hermione lowered the sword but kept a firm grip on it. 'Probably not, but it's all I can think of doing at the moment,' she answered.

Will's eyes flashed angrily. 'You are the pirate that threatened Cassandra!' he roared, raising his sword higher.

'More like being forced to apply him with his equipment to avoid getting strangled,' Hermione put in, lowering her sword.

Jack smiled at her and then turned back to look at Will with an arched eyebrow. 'See, only a little. Not to mention I needed some way to escape, did I not? She was a perfect way out,' Jack said as Will, in his anger, swung his sword. It clashed with Jack's, and he turned so he could purposefully get in front of Hermione to protect her.

Will assumed an en garde position, and Jack couldn't help but appraise him. He felt a little disappointed that Will seemed to know what he was doing. Jack attacked then, and the two men stood in one place trading feints, thrusts, and parries with lightning speed. It was almost impossible to follow. Hermione lowered her sword, stepping back so she wouldn't get into the middle of it, or get hit. Will had no trouble matching Jack which impressed her.

'You know what you're doing; I'll give you that. Excellent form, but how's your footwork? If I step here…' Jack stepped to the side in an imaginary circle. One foot crossing over the other to his left and Will followed correctly. '…Very good. Now I step again,' he said, striking at Will a couple of times. Hermione realised that they were now precisely opposite of their initial positions. Jack had recognised this as well and saluted Will. 'Ta,' he said, bowing to him. He turned and ran towards the door, which was behind him, and sheathed his sword.

'Will!' Hermione shouted as Will registered this now with angry surprise. With a vicious overhand motion, he threw his sword, and it buried itself into the door just above the latch. It just missed Jack who looked at the sword in amazement. Hermione, remembering her wand, shot a sticking charm on it discreetly.

Jack growled and pulled on the latch, but it would not budge because the sword was now in the way. He rattled the lock and tried tugging on the sword a few times, but it was stuck in there. Mouthing a curse, Jack turned back to Will with a grin. 'That is a wonderful trick…, except, once again you are both between me and my way out,' he told them, looking from Will to Hermione. 'And now you have no weapon,' he added pointedly to Will, stepping back down off the platform. Eyes on Jack, Will sidestepped to his right, picking up a new sword that was burning in the furnace, the tip glowing. Jack slumped in dismay before leaping forward.

Hermione sat on the bench, watching Will and Jack duel. 'This is just ridiculous,' she murmured, shaking her sleeve to free the tip of her wand in case she needed it.

She watched their blades flash and ring as they clashed together. She stood in worry when Jack began swinging the chain still manacled to his left hand at Will's head. She felt relief when Will ducked it, but he was wide-eyed. Jack swung the chain around again, smashing it across Will's sword, which disarmed him. Will was not fazed as he turned, picking up another sword. Jack paused, becoming aware that the entire room had bladed weapons ranging from swords, knives, and boarding axes in all sizes and various stages of completion. Jack's eyes widened in fear before they began fighting again, moving around the room. 'Who makes all these?' Jack shouted out, looking around the room at all the weapons.

'I do! And I practice with them… three hours a day!' Will shouted back, striking at Jack.

'You need to find yourself a girl, mate!' Jack retorted, clashing swords with Will again. 'Or perhaps the reason you practice three hours a day is that you already found one, and are otherwise incapable of wooing said strumpet,' he smirked, looking at Hermione. He frowned in horror then, and looked back at Will. 'You're not a eunuch, are you?' he asked, looking down towards Will's groin.

Will, coiling even more with anger, swung his sword and hit Jack's hard enough to send him stumbling backwards. 'I practice three hours a day so that when I meet a pirate, I can kill it!' he shouted as they continued fighting once more.

Hermione looked on in slight fear as they continued to fight around her. 'Do you have to fight while I'm just standing here!' She shouted at them. They briefly stopped to look at her but continued right after that. Hermione shook her head, leaning against a table, but pulled her hand back as Jack jumped up on the table she was leaning on. Will ran past her, jumping up on the table as well.

Jack managed to disarm Will again with his chains. Will was furious now, he kicked a rack, causing a sword to fall into his hand. He then used his foot to bring his dropped sword up into the air, catching it. He attacked Jack, both blades flashing dangerously. Jack, feeling a little worried, parried with his sword, while trying to disarm one of the swords with his chains. He managed to wrap it around the sword, but Will was betting on this, and he twisted the handle of his guard through a link. Will thrust the sword up into the ceiling, and Jack's left manacled hand suspended from the ceiling, and he knew this was not good. He continued to parry using one hand, twisting and dodging around the furnace. Their swords were clashing together forming sparks.

Jack twisted to the side to avoid getting skewered, and a sudden idea popped into his head when his eyes caught sight of the bellows. Blowing a shower of sparks into Will's face, Jack grabbed the chain and hoisted himself up. Using his momentum, he swung and kicked Will, knocking him back. Using his full weight, he managed to yank the sword from the ceiling and picked up a nearby mallet. He hurled it at Will, hitting the Blacksmith on the wrist causing him to drop his sword again and he fell to the ground.

Will shook his head, and got to his feet as Jack aimed his pistol directly at his face. Hermione moved over to them, standing in front of the back exit. Will rubbed his wrist gingerly, glaring at Jack. 'You cheated,' he muttered darkly as his glare intensified.

Jack smirked at this as if to say, "what did you expect?". 'Pirate,' he said simply in answer as if this was the only excuse he needed. Banging came from the front door as the soldiers tried to get in upon hearing the commotion. Jack looked at the door in alarm, before taking a step forward only now realising that Hermione was blocking the back exit. 'Move away,' Jack warned her.

'No,' Hermione answered as Will came to stand next to her, his sword pointed at Jack threateningly.

Jack looked back at the door when a louder bang came from the other side. 'Please move,' he said again, almost pleadingly this time. He pointed the pistol at Hermione and then Will.

'No! I cannot just step aside and let you escape,' Will shouted defiantly.

Jack cocked his pistol, pointing it at Will for a long moment. To Hermione, it seemed as though he did not want to shoot at all. 'This shot is not meant for you,' he whispered cryptically with a sigh. He un-cocked the pistol surprising Will and Hermione who began reassessing the Pirate. Before they could say or do anything, there was a smash of broken glass, and Jack crumpled to the ground unconscious revealing Mr Brown standing behind him holding his broken bottle.

The front and back doors flew open, and soldiers filled the room heading over to them with guns trained on Jack. Norrington pushed through the throngs of soldiers, smiling upon seeing Jack on the ground. 'Excellent work, Mr Brown. You've assisted in the capture of a dangerous fugitive,' he praised, and Hermione frowned, squeezing Will's hand as he sighed. It always seemed that other people got praise for his accomplishments.

'Just doing my civic duty, sir,' Mr Brown slurred, still drunk even though he had been sleeping.

Jack let out a pained groan from the ground, and Norrington's smile widened. 'Well, I trust you will always remember this as the day that Captain Jack Sparrow almost escaped. Take him away,' Norrington ordered to the soldiers. They picked him up, carrying him out of the Blacksmith's.

Will watched them go, his hand tightening around Hermione's slightly. He looked back at Mr Brown who growled, taking in his broken bottle. 'That ratter broke my bottle!' he shouted before chucking it into the corner and shaking his head as if his world had come to an end.

Will smiled, shaking his head and Hermione giggled which caught Norrington's attention. He looked over, finally noticing Hermione, and he frowned. 'Miss Swann, what are you doing here?' he asked in a bored tone.

Hermione glanced at Will before looking back at Norrington. 'I…, uh…,' she tried, but could not get the words out.

Norrington sighed, shaking his head and turned to Will. 'Mr Turner, I trust you will escort her home this instant,' Norrington ordered Will before turning on his heel and walking out.

'Better do as he says,' Will muttered, putting his sword back. 'Come on,' he beckoned, leading her out of the shop and through the town towards the Governor's manor.

Chapter Text

Chapter Five: A Friendly Drink with an Old Acquaintance

The thick fog that started coming in from the ocean was now blanketing the entire bay and the town. The only structure visible from a distance was Fort Charles, high on the bluff like a tall ship sailing on a sea of grey. Above the Fort was a clear black sky sprinkled with stars. A waxing moon shone, giving both the Fort and the Fog an eerie glow.

As Hermione followed Will through the town, she took a moment to look around at all the shops and buildings. Their architect and brickwork were not around anymore in her time, and they were fascinating. Hermione stopped when a restaurant came into view. She looked through the window at the curious round tables and elegantly carved chairs. Will smiled at her, looking through the window himself. 'Whenever you had one of your escapades, and I was ordered to walk you home, I always used to take you in here for a drink and a chat,' he revealed. Hermione smiled at him, nodding slightly. She looked back at the restaurant, frowning as she felt a strange sense of recognition come over her. She placed a hand on her forehead in confusion, looking at Will with wide eyes. Will frowned at her in concern before taking her arm gently. 'Are you alright, Cassandra?' he asked, looking at her pale face.

Hermione averted her eyes, before looking back at him. 'Yes, I'm alright, but…' she trailed off, looking at the restaurant again. 'I feel as though I know this place,' she whispered more to herself than to him. That's impossible though. I've never been to this time, so how could I know this place? She thought in confusion, her frown deepening.

Will smiled at her words. 'Do you remember, Cassandra?' he asked her, excitement showing in his tone.

She shook her head, momentarily forgetting he was standing there. 'No, it's not possible,' she mumbled so quietly that even though Will tried to strain his ears to hear her, he still did not catch what she had said.

'I'm sorry, Cassandra, but what did you say?' he asked her, waiting for her to repeat what she said.

Hermione looked up at him, remembering he was still there. She felt relief that he had not heard what she said. 'It's nothing, Will, don't worry. Can we go in?' she asked him, putting on a smile to reassure him.

Will frowned at her uncertainly before mentally shrugging it off and smiled. 'Of course, we can. After you,' he offered charmingly, opening the door, and bowing her in. Hermione smiled at him when she passed, and he closed the door after them. He took her hand, leading her to one of the more secluded parts of the shop. He pulled out a chair for her, and she sat down gratefully, her heels were killing her. If Will hadn't been there, she would have charmed her shoes to be comfortable to walk in. She wished she'd thought of it that morning when she put them on. She returned Will's smile as he sat down across from her, handing her the menu with all the drinks listed.

Hermione frowned, looking at the strange names listed in the menu. None of them seemed familiar, and they looked foreign. She glanced up from the menu as the waiter stopped at their table and smiled politely. 'What will you have?' he asked, looking at them.

Will smiled and placed his menu down, linking his fingers together. 'The Crissclinde,' he answered confidently. The waiter wrote it down in his book before turning to Hermione. She stared back blankly having no idea what to order. Will, noticing her hesitation, placed his hand on hers gently, causing her to look at him. 'What is wrong?' he asked worriedly, as the waiter looked on in curiosity.

Hermione shook her head, gesturing to the menu. 'I have no idea what any of these drinks are,' she answered with a blush, before looking at the waiter. 'I'm sorry to trouble you,' she added as her blush deepened, and she looked down embarrassed.

The waiter chuckled. 'No trouble at all,' he assured her.

'Thank you,' Hermione answered with a smile before looking at Will. 'I can't remember what drink I used to have here,' she told him. She glanced back at the waiter who was patiently waiting for her order with a small smile on his face.

Will chuckled lightly. 'You were picky back in the day, and you never chose the same one each time. If I remember correctly…' he trailed off, looking at the menu again. After a moment he smiled at her. 'I think you particularly enjoyed the Lidniesse.'

'I'll take that,' she told the waiter who wrote it down in his book. Hermione placed her menu back on the table in front of her neatly.

The waiter smiled. 'Excellent choice, Ma'am,' he advised and scribbled something else in his book. 'One Crissclinde and one Lidniesse coming right up,' he confirmed before walking away to retrieve their order.

Hermione waited until he was out of earshot before speaking. 'I am so sorry, Will! That must have been really embarrassing for you,' she said.

He shook his head in the negative. 'Do not worry about it, Cassandra, it is okay. I am not embarrassed in the slightest, just a little amused by the whole ordeal. You losing your memory has been somewhat of a highlight to this dreary time,' he answered with a laugh, waving off her apology. Hermione couldn't help but smile.

Hermione raised her eyebrows at him. 'So, the loss of my memory is a joke to you, Will?' she asked good-humouredly.

Will's smile dropped, and he sobered instantly thinking he insulted her. 'No! No, of course, it isn't! It is a terrible thing to have happened! I just-' she cut him off.

'Will I'm joking!' she said quickly, shaking her head with a smile, and he returned her smile with relief.

The waiter returned with their drinks, setting them on the table. Hermione eyed Will's and her own with fascination. The colour of her drink was a dark green with a swirl of red on top that seemed to go straight through the middle of the liquid. It looked ghastly in her opinion, but it impressed her how cleverly they made it. Will's was a pale blue and looked a lot nicer than hers did. She looked back down at her own again, beginning to wish she had asked for the same thing.

Will took a sip of his drink before realising Hermione was staring at hers with dread. He tried to keep the smile off his face. 'Are you going to stare at it, or drink it?' he asked her in amusement.

Hermione's eyes snapped up to his, blushing upon realising she must have looked like a fool frowning at her drink. 'It looks ghastly,' she answered, looking back down at it.

Hermione looked back at him in surprise when he chuckled. 'Wow déjà vu,' he explained, shaking his head.

'How so?' she asked interestedly.

He crossed his arms, leaning forward a little. 'That is precisely the same thing you said the first time you ever ordered the Lidniesse,' he answered, nodding towards the drink in question. 'Then it turned out to be a favourite of yours,' he added. The mirth in his eyes became melancholy as if he remembered a time long past.

Hermione frowned at his expression but smiled at him to break the silence which came over them. 'Is it really?' She asked and placed the straw in her mouth, taking a sip of the green drink. She was overcome by the gorgeous taste of apples, raspberries, and cinnamon combined. She looked up at Will in shock having not expected it to be so lovely.

'It's nice, right?' he asked her with a grin.

She took another sip. 'It's good,' she replied with a smile, taking a long drink of the sweet cocktail. Hermione glanced back at him, gesturing to his drink. 'So what is yours like?' she enquired, and without a word, Will pushed his towards her. Hermione took a small sip, tasting blueberries and something else she couldn't place. 'What is that?' she asked, pushing it back towards him.

Will smiled. 'It is a blueberry cocktail with a hint of peach,' he answered before taking a drink himself.

'That's nice,' she told him, taking another drink of her own.

As she looked back at him, his attention seemed drawn to the window. She could just make out the stone parapets of the Fort and the pier. They were only slightly visible in the thick fog that seemed to have settled in abundance. Like a shark fin slicing through the water, the topmast of a ship came into view, the black sails billowing. Flying from the mast was a flag with a white Aztec skull.

She frowned as, out of nowhere, ripples formed suddenly on the surface of their drinks. They looked at each other in curiosity. Will stood, indicating for her to remain seated as a whistling sound split the air outside. A massive explosion sounded in the distance. He walked cautiously towards the window and peered out, catching sight of the Fort, which was on fire. One of the walls had collapsed. His eyes widened as he looked back at the ship that was moving closer towards the port. He could only see the Aztec flag before the cannon fire lit it up, revealing the frayed sails. It was a pirate ship; this much was certain to Will. He pulled back from the window as he bore witness to a shop across the street exploding.

Another whistle and a resounding boom shook the little restaurant as the wall of the parapet exploded. Hermione couldn't see the ship as the darkness seemed to cling to her, but the fog lit up around her with each boom of her guns. She was firing on both sides now, hammering both the Fort and the town.

Will, realising that they were not safe inside a building, ran back over to where Hermione was sitting in the corner with wide eyes. 'I need to get to my shop! Now! Come on!' he shouted in a slight panic as he grabbed her arm, and pulled her out of the shop behind him.

Hermione followed him in foreboding as she took in the carnage of the town. Streets, buildings, the docks, and the ships shattered and exploded beneath the onslaught. Everywhere, villagers were panicking, running for cover, and dodging flying debris as best as they could. Hermione began to think this was hell on earth; she just did not realise how correct she was in her assumption. Longboats emerged from the fog, carrying armed pirates. They looked on as the pirates swarmed from the boats, striking down the villagers and setting fire to the buildings.

They passed bodies of the fallen who were within range of the blasts and jumped over the debris of the buildings the cannon fire had devastated. Hermione gasped when she tripped over a body, falling to the ground. Will reached down and helped her back to her feet. 'What the hell is going on!?' she screamed, looking around at the massacre. Will was just about to answer, but the pirates swarmed into the town, killing the townsfolk, and throwing bombs at the buildings. 'Never mind! Let's go!' she shouted, running again towards the Blacksmiths.

They reached the shop, and Will pushed the doors open, pulling her in and bolted the door behind them. Hermione ran down the steps, grabbing one of the swords hanging from the machinery. Will ran over to her and attempted to take the sword from her. 'I will not let you fight,' he told her adamantly, managing to pry the sword from her.

Hermione shook her head, trying to regain the sword, but it was proving problematic as Will was stronger than she was. 'I will not wait here while you go out there and endanger your life!' she shouted irritably, pulling at the sword.

Will dropped the sword out of her reach, gently pushing her back against the wall. He held her arms down at her sides, efficiently trapping her so she couldn't fight him. 'No, I want you to stay here,' he whispered, wincing when the shouts and screams outside became louder.

'You have no say in the matter,' she retorted indignantly, trying to get free, but Will held firmly.

'I cannot allow it whether I have a say or not!' he shouted in fierce determination but calmed himself down. He touched her cheek with the back of his hand. 'I almost lost you once. I do not want that to happen again,' he whispered. His eyes held sorrow she felt she would never get an explanation about and she was curious now.

Hermione frowned up at him, stopping her struggle, 'What are you talking about?'

Will averted his eyes, pulling away from her. 'It doesn't matter,' he answered, grabbing the sword she took from the machinery. He began heading towards the bolted door, subconsciously reaching for a broading axe hanging on the wall. It was a comforting weight in his hands. He stopped for a moment, slipping it into his belt at the small of his back before grabbing some dirks. He afforded them a place in his belt as well before grabbing a second axe. He then continued towards the door and began unbolting it.

Hermione watched him for a moment, before running after him, grabbing his arm, which made him turn back to her. 'It does matter, Will. I can see it in your eyes,' she said gently. He looked away from her. 'Fine, if you don't want to tell me then okay. Just please don't leave me in here where there is more chance of them finding me. This place might get blown up while I'm in here,' she reasoned. He looked back at her thoughtfully which she took as a good sign, so she continued. 'The best chance of you protecting me is if I stay with you. Does that not make more sense?'

Will frowned for a moment, and she could tell he was having an internal battle with himself. Finally, he sighed in exasperation. 'Stay close,' he said to her, sliding the doors of the forge open and ran out. Hermione grabbed another sword before following him.

Will paused to wait for her as a one-armed pirate wearing a yellow bandana chased a woman down the street. Will backhanded the axe he was carrying square into the pirate's chest, a deadly blow. He nodded at Hermione, and they ran up the street. Hermione glanced at Will as they ran, discreetly pulling out her wand. She shot spells at the pirates, but only the stunner seemed to have any effect on them. It caused them to stumble backwards or fall, but they got to their feet again and continued. Hermione frowned and stared at her wand, wondering why it was not working. Growling in annoyance, she put her wand back in the sleeve of her dress. Now was not the best time to try to figure out why her wand wasn't working.

She followed Will through the town, opting to use the sword she grabbed instead. She swung it at the pirates, catching a few as she passed. Will threw his axe at a pirate who was chasing a group of villagers, and it embedded itself in his back making him fall. As they ran past, Hermione swooped down and pulled the axe from the pirates back.

Two pirates stopped them in their tracks, gruesome smiles upon their faces. Will looked at Hermione worriedly for a moment. Hermione nodded at him. 'You take the left one,' she said, and he hesitantly nodded before turning to fight the pirate. Hermione dodged the sword of the other pirate, attacking back with her sword and the axe she retrieved. The axe sliced the pirate's leg, making him fall to his knees. She swung around, gaining momentum, lodging the axe in the pirate's chest as Will stabbed the pirate he was fighting. The two pirates defeated, the two companions continued running. They stopped as something shot past them very fast with a resounding whistle into the building to their right which exploded. They dived to the ground to avoid the debris.

Will moved towards Hermione while she forced herself to sit up. He grabbed her just as the building collapsed and he used his body to shield her from the tumbling rubble. The dust cleared somewhat, and Hermione looked up at the sky through the gap in Will's arms. The rising smoke from the burning gallows and wooden rooftops obscured the moon. Cannon fire continued to rain down on the town and the Fort, but there were now two sets of booms as the Fort's cannons returned fire on the pirate ship.

Will released Hermione, helping her to her feet. 'Come on, we need to get to the Governor's Mansion,' he told her, and they continued running, momentarily free of the pirates. As the mansion came into view in the distance through the smoke, they could see figures moving away from it. It took them a moment to register one of them was Elizabeth. Two pirates forcefully dragged her towards the docks.

Elizabeth seemed to spot them, her eyes widening, 'Cassandra! Will!' she shouted at them.

'Elizabeth!' they shouted in unison, hurrying after the pirates to help her. One pirate stepped out in front of them from the shadows of a burning building. They registered that he was the same pirate Will had thrown the axe at earlier. The two of them shared a look of confusion as the pirate smiled and waved.

At their feet was a lit bomb, and Will grabbed Hermione around the waist just as the fuse reached the inside of the bomb, but it didn't explode. The pirate looked at it in confusion just as another one landed, and the pirate smiled again. 'Say goodbye,' he said as the fuse reached the inside of the bomb. The same thing happened, and the pirate growled.

Will and Hermione looked at each other as a cannon hit the building next to them. They stepped back as a sign that was hanging up came crashing down into the pirate, sending him flying into the building next to them. 'Goodbye,' Will muttered, and took Hermione's hand, pulling her towards where they had seen the pirates dragging Elizabeth away.

A pirate leapt out from the shadows, swinging a chain towards them dangerously. Will raised his sword in defence, stepping in front of Hermione to protect her. Will stepped back before taking in the pirate's appearance. He had one arm and was wearing a yellow bandana. He hesitated, looking on in confusion again. He had already killed this guy as well hadn't he? In his hesitation, another pirate sidled up to Hermione swinging a flaming torch, slamming her in the head with a bottle. Will stumbled when she hit the back of his legs, and his concern for Hermione distracted him from the pirates. He crumpled to the ground next to her as the pirate smacked him as well.

The pirates looked down at them, before the one that hit them lit another torch and handed it to the other one. Hooting with delight, they ran off in opposite directions, setting fires as they went.

On the ground, neither Hermione nor Will moved.

oOoOo

Up in the Fort, the imprisoned pirates in cells awaiting their execution dived out of the way as the wall exploded inward. Jack, who was in a cell by himself next to that one, pulled himself out from under the rubble. Moonlight spilt in through the gaping hole created by the cannonball. Beyond it, so close, yet so far was his freedom, but the gap centred on the other cell. The part of the wall in his cell which blew inward was too small for a man to slip through.

'Praise be!' one of the prisoners shouted as he and the other two scrambled through. He turned back to look at Jack before climbing through the gap. 'My sympathies, friend, you've no manner of luck at all!' he said as he followed his companions, descending the rocks beyond, and disappearing from Jack's view.

Jack was now alone as the cannon fire continued, occasionally hitting and shaking the Fort. He looked out into the hallway as a dog whimpered, cowering under a long bench, the key ring still dangling from his mouth. Jack clicked his tongue, sighing as he resigned himself to attempting another way out of his prison. Grabbing a bone from a skeleton in the corner, he reached out through the bars and tried to coax the dog towards him. 'Okay doggie, it's just you and me now. Come here, boy. Come here, Spot. Rover? Or is your name Fido?' he said, and at the last name, to his surprise, the dog crawled out from under the bench. Jack twirled the bone around to coax him closer. The dog inched closer, and Jack smiled in relief as the key ring was nearly within his reach. The dog's attention became drawn to the main door in the cell block, and he bristled and growled. He backed away from Jack's cell, whining. Jack frowned. 'What's the matter, boy?' he asked him, but the dog whined again and bolted through the bars into the other cell, and out through the breached wall, taking the keys with him.

Jack tried to get his head around the fact that his only hope of escape had just jumped out of the window, figuratively speaking, the door to the cell block burst open. A pair of pirates' descended the steps, and Jack recognised them as Koehler and Twigg. They looked around. 'This isn't the armoury,' Twigg muttered, kicking a stick the dog was chewing on earlier in the night.

They turned to leave, but Koehler spotted Jack who was still kneeling on the floor by the bars. He was still holding the bone limply in his hand. 'Well, well, look what we have here, Twigg,' he said in a strong Dutch accent, his tone laced with amusement. 'It's "Captain" Jack Sparrow,' he finished as Twigg turned towards the cell. 

Twigg grinned, and not too kindly, at Jack. 'Huh, last time I saw you, you were all alone on a God-forsaken island, shrinking into the distance. I had heard you'd gotten off, but I didn't believe it,' he said, looking Jack up and down with undisguised disgust.

'Did you sprout little wings and fly away?' Koehler laughed, and Twigg chuckled.

They took in the dingy cell Jack was kneeling on the floor in. 'His fortunes aren't improved much,' Twigg said thoughtfully, testing the bars to see how strong they were and the two laughed.

Jack was not amused at all. He stood up, stepping forward, so he was close to the bars, and this put him in a spill of moonlight. He was tight with fury. 'Worry about your own fortunes, gents. The lowest circle of hell is reserved for betrayers… and mutineers,' he answered calmly, but on the inside, he was boiling with anger. Not liking that, Twigg swore, and Koehler lashed out, grabbing Jack by the throat through the bars. Jack clutched at the pirate's wrist, but instead of the skin he was expecting, he looked down to see that where the moonlight was on the arm, Koehler's lower arm, wrist, and hand had become skeletal. Jack's eyes went wide, and he moved his hand from the skeletal arm in disgust. 'You are cursed!' Jack shouted in shock as Koehler sneered, shoving Jack backwards, hard. He stumbled but stayed standing as Koehler pulled his arm back, and it turned back to normal. Jack stared before realising. 'The stories are true then. That is interesting,' he muttered, his eyes lighting up at this new revelation.

Koehler turned, ushering Twigg towards the door, but looked back before he went up the stairs. 'You know nothing of hell,' he growled before running up the stairs after Twigg.

Jack looked back down at his hands before smirking. 'That is very interesting,' he muttered thoughtfully. He sighed and began looking for another way out of his prison.

Chapter Text

Chapter Six: A Crazy Masterful Plan

The Black Pearl sat in silence out in the sea. She was a tall galleon, her black sails looming high above her. At her bow was an ornately carved figurehead of a beautiful woman, her arm held high, and a small bird was taking wing from her outstretched hand. The fog that had ascended on the town was now beginning to dissipate, turning into a light mist. Through it, the Black Pearl rolled in the ocean, making for the scarlet glow of dawn.

Will kept his eyes closed. He felt as though someone had hit him over the head with a giant mallet when he slipped out of unconsciousness. His head was throbbing, and the bright sunlight streaming down on where he was lying was not helping. He splayed his hands, feeling the rough surface of cobbled stone beneath his fingertips. He opened his eyes wondering why he was lying outside in the first place. Then the events of the previous night came back to him like a harsh slap to the face. He sat up with a start and looked around for Cassandra.

The pain in his head was blinding, and he pressed a hand to his forehead as he became dizzy from the sudden movement. He looked down at a curious weight pinning his left arm in place. There he found Cassandra, having been knocked out herself. From the cold morning breeze coming off the ocean, and the climbing sun appearing above the horizon, Will realised it was dawn. He got the sinking feeling that Governor Swann was either going to be frantic with thinking the pirates kidnapped both his Daughters. Either that or he was going to be an angry Father thinking she hadn't returned from running away. When she did return, she would need to prepare for his fury.

Will sighed as he gently shook Cassandra. He couldn't help but smile as she mumbled something like "It wasn't me" before she opened her eyes. She looked up at him in confusion. Her eyes then widened, and she sat up, grabbing her head as he had done from the following pain and dizziness the action sprung.

'We need to get to the Governor's Mansion, Cassandra,' he said. She nodded, praying that last night they made a mistake and Elizabeth was safe at the mansion. As they stood, they took in the devastation of Port Royal. Burning and sunken ships dotted the harbour; buildings had been razed and were still smouldering. It was the aftermath of hell on earth.

They turned and began running up the path to the Governor's Mansion. Eventually, they were running through the smashed front doors. They looked around the foyer where furniture was toppled, and smashed ornaments were strewn on the marble floors. 'Miss Swann! Elizabeth!' Will shouted into the mansion, but only a terrible silence answered him. He spotted an overturned chair, and on the left where the doors to the library used to be, he could see fallen bookshelves. 'Governor Swann!?' he shouted out, but there was still no answer, and his heart leapt into his throat in fear.

Hermione felt tears come to her eyes. 'Elizabeth,' she whispered before turning on her heel to run down towards the pier. Will grabbed her arm, and she stared at him in disbelief. 'What are you doing, Will!? They've taken Elizabeth! We have to go after her!' she shouted at him as her tears spilt forth.

Will pulled her into his arms, stroking her hair as she cried. 'I know, Cassandra, but we cannot just grab a boat and go. We will need help,' he reasoned with her, pulling away and looked into her eyes. 'We need a plan before we sail off needlessly. We need a heading,' he explained, and she nodded, trying to calm down her emotions.

Her reactions to this plight were becoming frightening to her. These were people she barely knew, yet she felt a strong connection to them she could not explain. She wished Harry and Ron were with her, and then she would not feel so alone. A small sob escaped her again as she thought of them. She wished, with all her heart, she was with them laughing and joking down by the Black Lake like they used to. Or sitting in the courtyard reading while they talked about Quidditch and other such things that never interested her. Now, in the light of her predicament, she realised how precious the things they did or said were. She found herself wondering if she would ever see them again.

The emotions she was feeling now while in this time were unexpected, but they were real. She had no idea what was coming over her; it was not like her to act or think irrationally without planning first. It was almost as if someone else's emotions were taking over her body. For a moment she allowed herself to wonder if she was somehow transferred into Cassandra's body, and now she was living Cassandra's life. As the thought crossed her mind, she realised how ridiculous that notion was. Shaking her head to rid herself of those weird ideas, she allowed Will to lead her away from the Governor's Mansion.

It was a few minutes before she realised that Will was leading her towards the Fort. 'Why are we going to the Fort?' she asked him.

Will stopped and sighed; he knew she was not going to like his answer. 'That is where the Commodore will be, which means your Father is also likely to be there. He will be frantic about your whereabouts. I will speak to them about going and rescuing Elizabeth, but I must ask that you stay here and out of harm's way, Cassandra. I will not allow any more danger to come to you,' he told her firmly, pulling her along beside him.

Hermione pulled her hand from his angrily. 'I am not a child, William!' she hissed, and he stopped walking, not at all surprised at her outburst. 'I will not sit by while my Sister is in the company of pirates and is god-knows-where by now! I am going with you whether you like it or not!' she shouted, stomping past him and continuing up the hill.

Will sighed again as he ran to catch up with her. 'I do not like this, Cassandra,' he whispered, shaking his head.

Hermione growled, turning to him as her eyes flashed dangerously. 'I don't give a damn whether you like it or not, William! I am going! End of conversation,' she told him defiantly.

Will frowned, but decided he didn't want to anger her further. 'To stop this disagreement pursuing to worse levels, I will agree to let you come along. Your Father is an entirely different matter altogether. I do not see him allowing you come,' he advised, retaking her hand and they continued up the hill.

Hermione glanced at him with a frown as they walked. 'Who said anything about asking him? I, for one, do not intend on asking anyone for permission to do anything, nor do I need it. I am an adult; I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions. I am going after Elizabeth whether you come with me or not,' Hermione told him. He stopped walking and tugged her hand, looking at her with concern. Her face softened as did her voice as she continued. 'All I am asking is that you help me, Will. Please, don't leave me to do this on my own,' she requested quietly, and Will pulled her into the comfort of his arms.

'I would go with you whether you wanted me to or not. I care for you and Elizabeth, and I would see no harm come to either of you,' he told her sincerely, and Hermione smiled at him. Will smiled back and they continued up to the Fort.

When they reached the Fort, Will and Hermione barged past the guards and into the square where Norrington had his promotional ceremony. They stormed over to where the Commodore and the Governor were standing near to some cannons. A table was in front of them, covered in charts, maps and navigational equipment. Norrington seemed to be making some markings on the map as they approached. 'Commodore,' she called in as calm a voice as she could muster.

Governor Swann looked up then, his eyes widening. 'Cassandra!' he shouted in joy, rounding the table to her side and embracing her. Hermione returned it for a moment, somewhat awkwardly, before pushing him away as Will came to stand by her side.

She eyed the Commodore with undisguised anger. 'Those scoundrels that call themselves pirates took Elizabeth. I demand we go after them to rescue her!' She shouted, her voice quivering with rage. Most grown men would have cowered at her fury, which most of the soldiers did. The Governor looked at her in shock, and Norrington continued to make markings on the map. It was so large it draped over the table, and the far end was supported by a chair. His complete disregard to her request angered her further. She stormed over, snatching the quill out of the Commodore's hand to gasps of shock from those looking on.

Norrington finally looked up. 'Governor Swann, I expect better manners from your daughter,' he said in a bored tone. The Governor glowered at Hermione, but she kept her eyes on Norrington as he continued. 'But considering the situation, I think we can let this behaviour slide,' he sighed for a moment before looking at both of them. 'We are aware of the situation,' he confirmed to them. He took the quill back off Hermione and turned back to the map.

Will was getting pissed off, and he glared at the Commodore. 'You claim to care for Elizabeth, yet I see nothing getting done to go after her! We should hunt them down, and save her!' he shouted angrily.

Norrington glanced at him before looking back at the map. 'Mr Murtogg, remove Mr Turner from these premises. He has no authority to be here,' he ordered, and Murtogg went to grab Will, but Hermione rushed forward, pushing him away.

'Cassandra, have more respect!' Governor Swann said in shock, helping Murtogg back to his feet.

His words fell on deaf ears as Hermione glared at Norrington again. 'I overheard Jack Sparrow mentioning the Black Pearl. If I am not mistaken, that is the pirate ship that attacked Port Royal last night. If we speak to him and make a deal he may give us a lead to it,' she reasoned with him, trying to keep her anger in check.

'He only mentioned it really,' Mullroy put in from behind Will.

'It doesn't matter whether he mentioned it or not. The way he spoke of it made it sound as though he knew more than what he was letting on,' Hermione said rounding on him. He took a step back as if she was going to attack him as well.

Governor Swann shook his head. 'That pirate tried to kill you, Cassandra! We could never trust a word he said!' he said sternly, taking her arm.

'But we could strike a bargain-' Will began, but he was cut off.

'That may be so, but the pirates that invaded Port Royal left Sparrow in his cell, ergo they are not his allies. Besides, Sparrow is hardly trustworthy. He would more likely lead us to our deaths than to the pirates. We are establishing a course at the moment so if you do not mind, we will find a lead without interruptions,' Norrington said sternly.

Will let out an angry growl, slamming the boarding axe into the desk, straight through the map. 'That's not good enough!' he shouted.

Norrington was quick to react then. He pulled the axe from the map, handing it to Gillette before throwing a strong arm across Will's back. He led him towards the entrance to the Fort, beckoning for Murtogg to follow. 'Mr Turner, you are not a sailor nor are you a military man. You are a blacksmith. Leave this to the professionals who know what they are doing. Murtogg, remove Mr Turner from the Fort and escort Miss Swann back to her home,' he ordered him.

'No need, we'll see ourselves out. Thank you for nothing, Commodore. Come on, Will,' Hermione snarled, as Will set his face in resolve and followed her.

'Cassandra!' Governor Swann's warning followed through the door, but it once again fell on deaf ears as the two left the Fort.

Hermione leaned against the wall, huffing in frustration. 'So what now?' she asked him in desperation.

Will looked out towards the sea thoughtfully. When he turned back to answer her his eyes caught sight of the prison he knew Jack Sparrow was captive in. He clucked his tongue, before taking her hand. 'I think it's time we took matters into our own hands,' he explained, leading her towards the cell block.

'Will, isn't that treason?' she asked, realising what he was thinking of doing, but she made no move to stop him.

'I know, but we need help, and I believe he's the only one who will be able to give us that. Trust me,' he said, and she nodded.

oOoOo

Jack twirled the broken piece of bone in the lock. He had been at this for hours trying to pick the lock, wishing he had learned it when he had had the chance. He had already spent a good while trying to move one of the bars, but even with the damage from the cannonball, it would not budge. He pushed the bone in harder and twisted. He stopped when he heard the latch on the main door, and he saw the light streaming in as two sets of feet hurried down the steps. Jack lay down on his back on the floor of the cell, making himself look relaxed and unconcerned as the intruders marched up into the hall.

'Well, aren't I the popular one,' Jack muttered to himself as they came over to the bars.

Hermione almost laughed when she noticed the bone sticking out of the lock, but Will just shook his head. 'Sparrow!' Will called to him, and Jack smiled from where he was currently looking up at the ceiling.

'Aye?' he asked, placing his arms behind his head and looking up at them. His eyes lingered on Hermione for a moment before he looked at Will.

'You are familiar with the ship that was here last night. The Black Pearl, right?' Hermione asked him, her voice sounding desperate.

Jack lay back down nonchalantly. 'I've heard of it, Miss Swann,' he answered before looking back at her with a small grin. 'What of it?' he asked her.

'Where does it make berth?' Will asked him in as calm a manner he could as their last meeting came to his mind.

Jack sat up suddenly then, a grin on his features. 'Where does it make berth? Have you not heard the stories?' he asked them.

'If we had, do you think we would be asking?' Hermione bit out in her frustration.

Jack chuckled. 'Good point, Miss Swann,' he responded before lying back down and continued. 'Captain Barbossa and his crew of miscreant's sail from the dreaded Isla de Muerta. It's an island that cannot be found except…' He sat up and smiled, raising a hand with his index finger pointing to the ceiling, '…by those who already know where it is,' he finished dramatically.

'The ship's real enough. Thus, its anchorage must be a real place. Where is it?' Will asked, getting angry.

Jack studied his nails as if the exchange they were having meant nothing to him, and they were merely commenting on the weather. 'Why ask me?' he asked them, but his eyes were on Hermione as he said this.

'Because you're a pirate,' Hermione stated as if that was the most obvious answer in the world.

'And you both want to turn pirate yourselves, is that it?' Jack asked as he sat up completely, crossing his legs.

'Never!' Will said angrily and fiercely, grabbing the bars.

'They took my Sister,' Hermione revealed, looking at him almost pleadingly. She wondered if Jack would help them with this.

Jack raised his eyebrows then, looking at Will. 'Oh, so you have found another girl that happens to be your girl's Sister,' Jack said to Will with a smile, watching Hermione roll her eyes. 'I see. Well, if you're intending to brave all, hasten to her rescue, and so win fair lady's heart you'll have to do it alone, mate. I see no profit in it for me,' he answered, studying his nails again.

Hermione jumped as Will slammed his fist against the bars in frustration, while Jack looked at him in surprise at his outburst. Hermione watched as Will looked at the hinges on the door for a moment before he seemed to have come to a decision. 'I can get you out of here,' he told Jack, and Hermione grabbed his arm in shock.

'Is that wise?' she asked him.

'Trust me,' Will told her, and she nodded.

'How's that? The key's run off,' Jack answered, gesturing at the hole in the wall where the dog leapt out earlier.

'I helped build these cells. These are half pin barrel hinges,' he explained, walking over to the wall and picking up a bench. He carried it over, placing it at the bottom of the cell door. 'With the right leverage, and the proper application of strength… the door will lift free,' he finished as Jack eyed him with curiosity.

Jack frowned as he watched Will. It dawned on him that he was the spitting image of someone he knew in the past, but he wasn't quite sure yet. 'I know her name, but what's your name, boy?' Jack asked with curiosity.

'Will Turner,' he answered.

Jack's eyes lit up at this. 'That will be short for William, I imagine. Good, strong name. No doubt, named for your Father, eh?' Jack asked with a smile.

'Yes,' Will answered slowly with a frown.

'Uh-huh,' Jack answered as if the answer he got hadn't been that important, and then he stood up. 'Well, Mr Turner, I've changed me mind. If you spring me from this cell I swear on pain of death I shall take you to the Black Pearl and your other bonny lass,' he said. As he walked towards the cell bars, he winked at Hermione who could not help blushing. Jack grinned at this before looking at Will. 'Do we have an accord?' he asked, holding out his hand.

Will looked at him in suspicion knowing that was way too easy. The deal seemed far too good, but he steeled his resolve. He shook Jack's hand as Hermione stared on in disbelief. 'Agreed,' Will answered with a small smile.

'Agreed. Get me out,' Jack said, gesturing lifting something.

Hermione grabbed Will's arm, effectively stopping him. 'I'm not so sure this is a good idea,' she said as Jack rolled his eyes slightly.

'I have a feeling me, and you are not going to be getting along much on this little trip,' Jack said to her with a small grin.

'Why should I trust you?' she asked him curiously.

Jack smiled knowing he had already won. 'Because I can lead you to your troublesome Sister,' he answered. Will looked between them as if waiting for Hermione to give her acceptance to springing a convict out of jail.

Hermione huffed in slight annoyance before sighing and nodding for Will to continue. Making the bench his fulcrum, Will pushed down on it, which was hard work. The cell door rose before falling forward, crashing down on the bench. Will stepped back to avoid it hitting him. Jack stepped out of the cell, impressed by Will's strength as he took in the cell door. He moved over to the shelves along the wall. 

'Hurry. Someone will have heard that,' Will said urgently.

'Not without my effects,' Jack muttered, opening drawers in the desk, before moving over to some cupboards.

'We need to go!' Hermione hissed as she stood impatiently at the bottom of the stairs.

Jack finally found his pistol, sword belt, and his compass. He strapped on the belt and checked the shot in his gun before sheathing it. 'Why are you bothering with that?' Will asked curiously.

'My business, William,' came Jack's reply, before he followed them up the steps.

oOoOo

They stealthily made their way down to the docks, hiding on the beach underneath the bridge leading towards one of the larger piers. Jack shushed them, listening as soldiers ran about the pier ahead of them getting the Interceptor ready to leave Port Royal. As he explained his plan, Hermione looked at him in disbelief. 'We're going to steal a ship? Are you out of your mind!?' she shouted at him, not believing she agreed to put herself in this position by springing Jack from jail.

'Well if I weren't I wouldn't be thinking of doing it now, would I, love?' He answered with a smile. Hermione stared at him for a moment, which only caused his smile to widen. She looked away to hide the blush that appeared.

Will noticed this, frowning slightly, but shook it off. 'Which ship?' he asked, seeing Jack was looking at the Dauntless. 'That ship?' he asked in disbelief.

'Commandeer,' Jack corrected, glancing towards them. 'We're going to commandeer that ship. Nautical term,' he told them as if this was a regular everyday thing, and they were not about to break a ridiculous amount of laws.

Hermione frowned. 'It's still against the law,' she muttered as Will nodded in agreement.

Jack chuckled. 'So's breaking a man out of jail. Face it, both of you say you'll never be pirates, but you're already off to a rip-roaring start,' he told them smiling. 'My advice? Smile and enjoy it,' he added before sobering and turning back to look at them. 'One question about your business, boy, or there's no use going. This girl…' He said nodding at Hermione, '…how far are you willing to go to help her save her Sister?' he asked curiously.

'I'd die for her and Elizabeth,' Will said determinedly. Hermione couldn't help smiling at that.

Jack raised his eyebrows at this answer. 'Oh, good. No worries, then,' he responded with a smile before gesturing for them to follow his lead, and they made their way down to the beach. They hid underneath a rowboat just big enough for the three of them to fit under, and made their way to the shore, wading into the water. Jack led them to the pier where he sailed in on the Jolly Roger, and they surfaced next to where it was now repaired. There were four inches of water in the bottom, squatting low in the water, heeled to one side, and creaking on its lines. 'Ah, now there's a lovely sight!' Jack exclaimed, climbing into the boat. He helped Hermione in and then prepared to make way. Will climbed onto the pier, looking down at the boat with slight dread.

Hermione frowned. 'Will?' she asked him, but he just shook his head.

Not noticing anything, Jack continued speaking. 'I knew the harbour master wouldn't report her. Honest men are slaves to their conscience, and there's no predicting 'em, but you can always trust a dishonest man to stay that way…' He trailed off. He finally noticed Will was standing frozen on the dock, staring at the boat in dismay. 'Come aboard,' he said, but Will averted his eyes, looking out to sea.

He sighed. 'I haven't set foot off dry land since I was twelve when the ship I was on exploded,' he explained before indicating to the Jolly Roger. 'It's been a sound policy,' he finished, not making a move to step into the boat.

Jack rolled his eyes. 'No worries there. She's far more likely to rot out from under us,' he told him as Hermione looked at him with wide eyes. Jack just shook his head and gave her a small smile. She looked up at Will as he visibly steeled himself as he stepped into the boat like it was going to capsize with the slightest movement. Jack chuckled as he hoisted the sail. 'Besides, we are about to better our prospects considerably,' he told them, nodding towards the H.M.S. Dauntless, which was looming in the harbour. He smirked as he set off, and Hermione placed a comforting hand on Will's arm as he held onto the gunwales for dear life, his knuckles turning white.

They sailed through the water towards the Dauntless and Will looked at Jack with slight apprehension as they neared the much larger ship. 'This is either madness or brilliance,' Will muttered, his hands tightening on the gunwales. The boat creaked, and Hermione nodded her agreement with him.

'It's remarkable how often those two traits coincide,' Jack answered. He led them on until they reached the ship, pulling the boat to a neat halt beside the anchor. They used it to help them climb up onto the ship. Will helped Hermione climb up the back of the ship first and then pulled himself up as well until they finally reached the bridge. They looked down onto the main deck, realising there must have been a breakdown in discipline. About a dozen Navy sailors were playing dice. Will and Hermione noticed that Murtogg and Mullroy were among them. The three companions walked calmly down the steps where soldiers were mulling around. Jack brandished his pistol, Will unsheathed his sword, but Hermione stood behind them, her wand behind her back. Jack took the lead. 'Everyone stay calm! We are taking over the ship,' Jack shouted out in a casual tone as if this sort of predicament was completely ordinary.

'Aye! Avast!' Will shouted as he raised his sword, and the soldiers laughed at them. Jack turned to look at him as if to say, "don't ever do that again" but Will just shrugged as Hermione hid her face in amusement.

Jack turned back to the laughing sailors who were grinning and shaking their heads. Jack grinned along with them, but he kept his gun level with them. The Lieutenant, Gillette, stepped forward then, his grin dropping. 'You're serious about this,' he asked him in disbelief.

Jack raised his pistol across then, pointing it at Gillette's face. 'Dead serious,' he answered, his expression turning serious.

'This ship cannot be crewed by two men and a woman. You'll never make it out of the bay,' Gillette retorted while laughing at the absurdity of the situation.

Jack cocked his pistol, which he was still pointing at Gillette's nose. The Lieutenant's laughter died in his throat as he swallowed in slight fear. 'Son…, I'm Captain Jack Sparrow. Savvy?' Jack said as if this answered everything.

The crew guffawed again, and a couple of them moved forward, their hands on their swords. Gillette held up a hand to stop them. 'Sir, I'll not see any of my men killed or wounded in this foolish enterprise,' he said to Jack who nodded.

'Fine by me. We brought you a nice little boat, so you can all get back to shore, safe and sound,' he told him. Gillette shook his head in slight awe of what was happening.

The Lieutenant weighed his options for a moment, glancing at the gun pointing towards his face. He closed his eyes, giving a curt nod. 'Agreed. You have the momentary advantage, sir, but I will see you smile from the yardarm,' he told him, but Jack just laughed.

'As likely as not,' he answered with a grin before shouting back to his companions. 'Will, Cassandra, short up the anchor, we've got ourselves a ship!' Jack watched the sailors throw a rope ladder over the edge of the ship down towards the Jolly Roger. They latched it at the top so it would not fall as they were climbing down it. They made their way down the ladder, crowding onto the little boat. Will and Hermione pushed hard against the windlass to no avail… the anchor was just way too heavy for one man and a woman. Jack turned upon noticing this and looked at Gillette. 'A little help?' he asked almost sheepishly.

Gillette shrugged, rolling his eyes before gesturing to Murtogg and Mullroy to help Will and Hermione. The three men and Hermione threw their weight into the windlass, and it turned. Jack levelled his pistol on them the whole time making sure Gillette would not try anything to stop them.

Murtogg grunted, pushing at the windlass. 'I can't believe he's doing this,' he muttered to Mullroy.

Mullroy nodded. 'You didn't believe he was telling the truth, either,' he answered, receiving a shrug from his friend.

Gillette walked over, relieving Hermione from the windlass of her position in front of Will. She moved off to stand next to Jack tiredly, watching the four men turn it. It moved some more as Gillette looked over his shoulder at Will. 'Do you have any idea what you're doing, boy?' he asked him as they turned it another quarter.

'No,' came Will's honest reply. They managed to raise the anchor finally, and the last of the men climbed down into the Jolly Roger, sailing towards the Interceptor.

Jack and Will cranked a capstan, raising the forward jib sail. It luffed and billowed out, and the vast ship inched forward, pulled by just one sail, and Jack grinned. 'Looky there, mate! We're underway!' he said joyfully, and Will could not help but smile at the audacity of this pirate.

On the Interceptor, Norrington moved along the main deck, concentrating on a manifest. By his side was Governor Swann, who began looking around as if he could hear something, and looked out to sea. Glancing over he could make out the tiny Jolly Roger heading towards them. It was riding low in the water and overloaded with sailors. His eyes raised beyond that, to see the Dauntless sailing, albeit slowly, for open waters.

Norrington stopped walking upon realising that Governor Swann was no longer walking next to him, and he glanced out at the bay. Sure enough, the Dauntless was on the move, and he took out a brass telescope from his belt and opened it. He trained it on the main deck where he could see Will shaking one of the sails. 'Rash, Turner, too rash,' he muttered before spotting Jack at the wheel. He lowered the telescope. 'That is, without a doubt, the worst pirate I have ever seen,' he muttered, motioning for his men to make ready the Interceptor.

Back on the Dauntless, Hermione could hear the soldiers in the water shouting to the men on the Interceptor. She couldn't make out what they were saying though. She turned back, watching Will and Jack waving the ropes about, which was doing absolutely nothing. She looked back at the Interceptor as it moved towards them.

Will looked at Jack. 'Here they come,' he said, pointing at the sails of the Interceptor filling out. The ship cut through the water towards them.

Hermione looked at Jack in panic. He was leaning on the wheel, entirely at ease like this was just a typical day out on the open sea, and there was not much to do with the following wind. She looked back at the Interceptor. 'This is a terrible idea. I mean, look at all those soldiers!' Hermione said to them.

'So little faith, love,' Jack said to her, continuing to smile while looking at the approaching ship.

It was not long before Norrington's smaller ship came up alongside the slow-moving Dauntless. Upon inspection, the deck appeared to be empty. Norrington motioned for the soldiers to throw grappling hooks, drawing the two ships together. The soldiers swarmed across to the Dauntless. Norrington and Groves followed onto the ship. 'Search every cabin, every hold, down to the bilges,' Norrington commanded the soldiers.

Hermione watched Will swing across to the Interceptor on a rope. He grabbed an oar from one of the lifeboats, and hit the sentry there on the back of the head, knocking him out. Jack looked at her. 'Your turn,' he said with a smirk, and she shook her head. Jack rolled his eyes and sighed. 'Alright,' he muttered, before grabbing her about the waist. She held onto him tightly as they swung across to the Interceptor unseen. Jack held on to her tightly for a moment, while he looked into her eyes. 'See, that wasn't so scary now, was it, Cassandra?' he whispered and something about the way he said it made her weak at the knees. He let her go, sidling up behind another sentry, tackling him, and covering his mouth. 'Can you swim?' Jack asked him as the sentry struggled. 'Can. You. Swim?' Jack asked more forcefully, before removing his hand.

'Of course, sir. Like a fish. I grew up summers living in Dover, with my uncle-' the sentry was saying, but Jack cut him off before he got going with his story.

'Good,' Jack smiled before lifting the sentry up and threw him overboard. He nodded to Will who took out his axe and cut off the ropes to the grappling hooks linking the two ships together.

Jack jumped down, helping Will crank the capstan bars. They rose the foresail just as Norrington emerged from a gangway, noticing the ship beginning to move away. Norrington turned upon seeing this. 'Sailors, back to the Interceptor! Now!' Hermione heard Norrington shout, but the distance was already too great. Hermione closed her eyes as one brave sailor tried to swing across on a rope, but he fell short with a splash into the murky depths of the ocean.

'Thank you, Commodore, for getting us ready to make way. We'd have had a hard time of it by ourselves!' Jack shouted, saluting Norrington, and waving his hat at him.

Norrington watched from the Dauntless, seething at the audacity of Jack Sparrow. His order to Gillette was measured. 'Set top sails and clear up this mess,' Norrington ordered him.

'With the wind at quarter astern, we won't catch them,' Groves answered in confusion from where he was standing on his other side.

'We don't need to catch them, just get them in range of the long nines,' Norrington told him, descending the steps.

Gillette looked surprised at the order but relayed it nonetheless. 'Hands, come about. Run out the guns!' Gillette shouted to the sailors, before moving to stand next to Norrington.

Groves turned to Norrington. 'We open fire on our own ship, sir?' he asked curiously.

'I'd rather see her at the bottom of the ocean than in the hands of a pirate,' Norrington said, angrily watching the ship sail away.

The steersman turned the wheel, looking down in shock as the Dauntless didn't move one whit. He looked towards Norrington in dread. 'Captain, there's a problem,' he said as Norrington, Groves, and Gillette all faced him. He spun the wheel, which just went around and around with no signs of slowing. 'He's disabled the rudder chain, sir!' He explained as Norrington bowed his head in frustration.

The Interceptor dwindled with distance, and Gillette watched it go with some degree of admiration. He couldn't help, but smile. 'That's got to be the best pirate I've ever seen,' he said in slight awe. He glanced at the severely pissed off Commodore in amusement.

'So it would seem,' Norrington answered angrily. He reached out and stopped the spinning wheel, watching as the Interceptor made for the horizon. A slow dissolve, and with the passage of time, the ship disappeared, and the sky turned a deep twilight blue.

Back on the Interceptor Hermione looked at Jack in slight disbelief. 'I can't believe we did that,' she whispered in awe.

Jack smiled at her. 'Do you doubt my skills now?' he asked her and she shook her head as Will laughed. 'What can I say, I'm Captain Jack Sparrow,' he said. Hermione smiled genuinely for the first time since the idea of springing Jack from jail was established.

Chapter Text

Chapter Seven: The Appropriately Piratey Town of Tortuga

The Interceptor cut across the waves with Jack guiding the wheel. Will moved around on the deck tightening the lines before moving back astern. Hermione glanced at them for a moment, before looking out at the vast sea spanning as far as the eye could see. She wondered where the ever-elusive Captain Jack Sparrow was taking them. He had not made it clear to her or Will; he had only hinted on a town where they would find more pirates, stressing in not so many words, like himself. This made Hermione wonder if all pirates were like him, with a strange air of madness about them. Jack had failed to give them the name of this town.

Hermione sighed, gazing down into the deep dark murky depths of the ocean, lost in her thoughts. The ship sailed quickly across the surface despite having been manned by two men and one woman. Though she could do little to help having never known much about ships or boats. She never liked them much, but she did what she could without a single complaint. Jack hadn't mentioned anything about it even when she did something wrong. He would just grin before showing her how to do it.

Even Will had been confused by the commands Jack issued to him, and Hermione could not blame him. Jack was a strange individual indeed. Though for a pirate he seemed, to Hermione, quite well spoken, but also confusing. Those times when he spoke so fast, and the words seemed to merge into a blur.

She shook off her thoughts, and her gaze was drawn to Will as he sat down on the steps to the bridge. Her attention pulled back to where Jack was at the wheel, steering the ship to their destination. He looked down at her for a moment, a small smile appearing on his lips before he looked back out at the ocean. For a moment Hermione thought he looked almost like a normal person in those few seconds.

She continued to watch him while he looked at his compass, and she frowned. It eluded her how he could do this without a proper crew, let alone a compass Hermione had come to learn did not seem to work. The man was enshrouded in as much mystery as attractiveness. Even Hermione, who had always strived to go only for good guys, found herself drawn in and attracted to the bad boy aura Jack gave off.

Her eyes shifted back to Will where he sat sharpening his sword with a deep frown forming on his brow. He glanced up at her for a moment, before turning his eyes towards the silent Captain who seemed lost in thought himself. His eyes then found Hermione's again, and he shrugged, nonchalantly. There was a curious gleam in his eyes, and she guessed he was also wondering where Jack was taking them.

Hermione sighed, moving down to the front of the ship, her footsteps resounding on the deck. She knelt to remove the heels, feeling the relief instantly. She looked at her feet, wincing at the blisters, before picking them up, and carrying them with her towards the bow.

She stopped, sitting down on the deck, and pulled her wand from the sleeve of her dress, looking down at the long thin wooden stick with a frown. There did not appear to be anything wrong with it. Her frown deepened though when she remembered her spells had little effect on the pirates when they attacked Port Royal. She was quite tempted to send a jinx at Jack to see if it was a fluke that her wand had not worked in her time of need. She held herself back though, not keen on the idea of getting tossed overboard at any rate.

She stared at the smooth wood again; her mind trailed back to why it hadn't worked. Then she remembered the axe Will threw at one of them. Then later they saw the same pirate looking as though he never had an axe lodged in his back at all. She pondered on how that was possible. Are they immortal or something? She thought bemusedly, looking out at the ocean. That would be just like fate. Sending her to a time where immortal pirates were running around killing and pillaging wherever they deemed fit. Even with immortal pirates, Hermione thought her spells should still work against them. It seemed fate would never give her a moment's peace in life. Where she could just have a typical day without running head-first into a dangerous, possibly life-threatening, situation.

Hermione mentally shook those discomforting thoughts away. She concentrated for a moment, muttering a charm under her breath causing a white dove to fly from her wand. It headed away towards the east. She crawled across the wooden deck, looking over at Jack and Will. They didn't seem to notice, and she sighed in relief.

She moved back to her spot, leaning up against the mast. She pointed her wand at her shoes to make them feel as though they were flat shoes and stowed her wand back up the sleeve of her dress. She pulled her shoes back on, and she could feel the magic working through them. So, her wand was still in full working order, but this revelation did little to comfort her.

She turned, walking back up the deck towards the bridge. She walked up the steps, leaning against the railing on the opposite side from where Will was sharpening his sword with a whetstone. Looking at Jack, he smiled at her before looking back at his compass. She could not help the small smile that touched her lips before looking at Will who was frowning.

Jack spoke then, looking at Will briefly. 'For a man who's made an industry of avoiding boats, you're a quick study.'

Will continued to sharpen his sword, not looking up while he answered, 'I worked passage from England as a cabin boy.' Hermione listened curiously while Will spoke of his life when he lived with his Mother. He paused a moment, running the stone down his blade harshly before looking back at Jack. 'When I was a lad living in England, my Mother raised me by herself. After she died, I came out here… looking for my Father,' he finished, running the stone back down his sword again without looking as his eyes fixed on Jack.

'Is that so?' Jack asked, raising his eyebrows.

'You don't seem surprised by this,' Hermione muttered. Jack glanced at her but said nothing.

Will frowned at the pirate. 'My Father, William Turner,' he said and stood, walking closer to Jack. The pirate did not say anything, and Will had lost his patience for guile. 'At the prison, it was only after you learned my name that you agreed to help us. Since that's what we both wanted, I didn't press the matter. I'm not a simpleton, Jack. You knew my Father,' he said. Hermione shifted slightly wondering what would happen to Will should Jack become angry.

Jack glanced at him calmly, considering how to reply to that, before settling on truth. 'I knew him,' he answered, not denying it. 'Probably one of the few who knew him as William Turner,' he said, his lips twitching a little. He turned his gaze back to the sea.

'What do you mean?' Hermione asked quietly, glancing at Will who was looking a little confused.

'Everyone else just called him Bootstrap or Bootstrap Bill,' Jack answered without looking over at her.

'Bootstrap?' Hermione asked, her eyes widening in realisation. She looked at Will's expression as it darkened.

'Good man. Good pirate,' Jack answered with a smile to her before he turned back to Will. 'I swear you look just like him,' he added, smiling at him.

Will glared at him. 'It's not true. He was a merchant sailor. A good, respectable man who obeyed the law,' he said becoming angry.

Jack rolled his eyes. 'He was a bloody pirate, a scallywag,' he argued back, looking at him.

'He was not a pir-' Will began, but Jack cut him off, turning towards him laughing.

'You think your Father is the only man who ever lived the Glasgow life? Telling folk one thing, and then going off to do another? There is quite a few who come here, hoping to amass enough swag to ease the burdens of honest life. And they're all "merchant marines",' Jack told him, turning the wheel a bit.

Will looked back at him with a mixture of shock and anger. 'My Father did not think of my Mother, his family, as a burden!' he shouted.

Jack smiled at this. 'Sure, because he could always go pirating,' he answered, his smile widening. 

Will's eyes narrowed. 'My Father was not a pirate!' he shouted angrily brandishing his sword and levelling it at Jack.

Jack looked at him disbelievingly before sighing. Hermione sighed, rubbing her eyes tiredly. 'Not again,' she muttered referring to the sword fighting.

Jack glanced at her, a frown showing on his brow before looking at Will. 'Put it away, son,' Jack said in an almost bored manner. 'It's not worth you getting beat before we even start,' he said. Hermione slowly made to stop Will if he prepared to attack Jack. She wouldn't be able to stop it once they started without using magic, and she didn't want to do that.

'You wouldn't beat me. From what I've seen, pirates don't seem to follow the rules of engagement. In a fair fight, I'd kill you,' he told him, glaring at him.

Jack smiled, looking over at him. 'Then that's not much incentive for me to fight fair, then, is it?' Jack said with a smirk. He kicked a lever on a wench, spinning the wheel, and the sail boom whipped around slamming Will in the chest, swinging him out over the sea. Will's sword clattered onto the deck, and he held onto the yard for dear life as he dangled above the water. Jack then slipped a loop of rope around the wheel to stay the course, before picking up the sword. He poked at Will with it. Panicking, Will moved hand-over-hands away from the blade, to the end of the boom.

'Jack! What are you doing!? You could have thrown him overboard!' Hermione shouted, running towards the boom.

Jack grabbed her arm, pulling her back against him, one of his arms wrapped around her stomach, and held her in place so she could not fight against him. His other hand came up to caress her cheek, neck, and hair. 'I would only have left him in the water long enough for him to learn his lesson, Miss Swann. Now you could stand here quietly, and allow me to speak with Mr Turner, or you can join lover boy and hang there with him. I am sure it would be fun, I might try it myself one day,' Jack whispered almost caressingly in her ear, tightening his hold on her.

She turned her head, glaring up at him. 'You are a horrible pirate,' Hermione whispered back but found her gaze drawn to his lips. For a second he lowered his head towards her, but something stopped him.

'Cassandra don't tempt him to follow through with his threat!' Will shouted, clinging to the yard. 'And don't you dare harm her, Jack!' Will threatened, but it seemed meaningless because he wasn't exactly in the position to threaten anyone at the moment. He grasped the yard tightly, almost slipping off. 'Could you both stop talking, and get me off this thing!' he shouted, reaching his arm around the wood to try and get a better hold of it.

Hermione pulled away from Jack who looked slightly disappointed at the interruption. 'Would you get him down from there! He's going to fall!' Hermione shouted at Jack. She could feel a blush appearing on her cheeks at the thought of what almost happened.

Jack grinned at her, shrugging before looking back at Will. 'Now, as long as you're just hanging there, pay attention. The only rules that really matter are these – what a man can do, and what a man can't do. For instance, you can accept that your Father was a pirate and a good man, or you can't…' He paused as Will looked away. He wasn't interested in hearing more about his Father being a pirate. Jack continued anyway, '…but pirate is in your blood, boy, so you'll have to square with that someday. Now, me, for example, I can let you drown, but I can't bring this ship into Tortuga all by me onesie, and with this girl, savvy? So…' Jack pulled the rope off the wheel, and spun the boom back in, causing Will to drop to the deck on his back at Jack's feet. Jack held out the hilt of the sword, which Will took, but he glared at him, considering what he would do next. Jack looked down at him, regarding him coolly as he continued, '…can you sail under the command of a pirate? Or can you not?' he asked him.

Will nodded and Jack helped him to his feet, and the pirate watched him stride back to his spot on the deck. Sitting down, he resumed sharpening his sword while Hermione whispered to him, trying to see if he was okay. Jack felt relieved, looking down at his hands which were shaking, before retaking the wheel.

Will stopped with his sharpening, looking at Jack. 'Tortuga?' he asked, raising his eyebrows.

Jack looked at him blankly for a moment. 'Oh, did I forget to mention that?' He asked with a sheepish grin. Will stood from his spot on the deck, placing an arm around Hermione who was a little shaken by everything. 'Aye, Tortuga,' Jack confirmed, spinning the wheel suddenly. Hermione and Will ducked, not wanting to relive what happened a moment ago.

'And what is so special about this place?' Hermione asked, staggering to her feet. She faced Jack who froze at her question.

Jack spun to face her with raised eyebrows and widened eyes. 'Simply that it is Tortuga,' he answered with a smile.

'And why have you waited this long to tell us that is where we are going?' Will asked curiously, sitting back down with slight fatigue. The hit from the yard had winded him.

'Because if I suggested going there before leaving where we were then there was a possibility that you would not have left where we were, and then we would not be going where we are going, savvy?' Jack asked them. They looked back in confusion.

'Okay, but again, what is so special about this place? You said it like it was pirate heaven or something,' Hermione said, brushing herself off.

Jack tapped a finger to his chin. 'That's because it is,' he answered, and she frowned at him.

Will having missed what Hermione said asked. 'What is?'

Jack rolled his eyes and sighed. 'Tortuga,' he answered.

Will frowned. 'What?' he asked.

Jack growled in slight annoyance, which only amused Hermione and Will further. 'You will see it soon,' Jack answered, taking out his compass and opening it. The arrow spun quickly for a moment before stopping in a westward direction. Jack smiled before slipping it shut, and putting it back in his pocket.

oOoOo

It wasn't long before Jack steered them to the docks of a dark town. It was loud with music, gunshots, and sword fighting. A dank and dirty port, where the tides seemed to have swept together the sum of the Caribbean. Pirates, privateers, prostitutes, thieves, and drunkards. With its cantered, rotting docks, weather-beaten buildings, and an odd assortment of livestock running free: a donkey, chickens, etcetera, it was far less civilised than Port Royal.

The three companions tied the ship up securely before following the rather excited Jack towards the main town. Will and Hermione shared a glance as they kept close to Jack, and he grabbed her hand, holding onto it tightly. He didn't like having to take her to a place like this as he could already see this was not a respectable town like Port Royal. It was a place where there is no such thing as laws or authorities to keep the madness at bay.

Jack led them into the town, spreading his arms out wide as if he was returning to an old friend he left behind. He smiled at them. 'It is indeed a sad life that has never breathed deep this sweet, proliferous bouquet that is Tortuga, savvy? What do you think?' He asked them as behind him a pirate shot another one who was standing on a balcony. He fell to his death below, while the wench he was with grabbed the guy who shot him and started kissing him instead.

'It'll linger,' Will answered, looking around.

'It's lively and… welcoming,' Hermione said, glancing at Will with disgust for the town.

'I'll tell you mate…' Jack said turning to Will. '…if every town in the world were like this one, no man would ever feel unwanted,' he said. He turned to see a heavily made-up woman with red hair walking towards him. 'Scarlett!' he shouted with a smile, but she just looked back angrily, and slapped him. He turned to Will and Hermione who were looking at him with raised eyebrows. 'Not sure I deserved that,' he told them, turning back around to see another heavily made-up woman with blonde hair standing in front of him. 'Giselle!' he said in greeting, but it was with slight reluctance.

Giselle smiled sarcastically before motioning to Scarlett who had sauntered away angrily. 'Who was she!?' she asked sharply.

'What?' Jack asked confusedly, and she slapped him harder than Scarlett had. He turned back to the now amused Will and Hermione with a look of slight defeat on his face. He smiled guiltily. 'I may have deserved that,' he told them and they nodded.

'So, onto more important things-' Hermione started, but Jack cut her off.

'You saying my love life isn't important, love?' Jack asked her, raising his eyebrows, and looking her up and down as if admiring her figure.

Will glared at him as Hermione blushed deeply, but she continued as if he had not spoken. 'What are we doing here?' she asked him.

Jack clicked his tongue. 'We need a crew. We can manage the ship between islands, but the open sea is another matter-'

'Just do it quickly,' Will muttered darkly, cutting him off.

Jack rubbed his jaw with a slight frown. 'Don't worry. I've already got a Quartermaster,' he muttered before turning back to Hermione. 'Now to finish answering your question before dear William here interrupted me, love," he said, and Will rolled his eyes. Jack grinned. 'We are here to drink, be merry, and find a man named Gibbs before doing the first two,' he answered. He then led them over to the well in the middle of the town square. 'Now first things first, we will each fill a bucket with water,' he told them as if he were speaking to two children rather than adults.

'Why?' Will asked, taking the bucket Jack passed to him.

'Believe me; we'll need it. You will both know what to do when the opportunity arises,' Jack answered, filling his own.

Hermione and Will shrugged, filling their buckets before following Jack down a deserted alleyway. 'Now where are we going?' Will asked him, gripping Hermione's hand with his free hand.

'To find the said man I said we were going to find,' Jack answered. They exited the alley, coming to an open shelter used in farming to house pigs only to find that it was the pigsty. 'Here we are,' Jack told them. They both looked around him to see a chubby man sleeping on some hay with a half-empty bottle of light orange liquid grasped loosely in his hand. A pig was sniffing and snorting at him as it wandered around in the sty. Will looked at Jack with raised eyebrows, while Hermione looked at the man sleeping in the sty in disgust. Jack looked at them as if this was normal. 'He's had too much rum again,' Jack muttered in explanation. He put his bucket of water down, clasping his hands together excitedly. 'Allow me to introduce Gibbs!' he shouted happily only for Hermione and Will to eye him as though he were mad.

'If he were awake, I would not be at all surprised if he opted to introduce himself unless he cannot speak,' Will said, hinting for Jack to wake him up.

'You are correct, William, and yes he can speak. In fact, in his case, it's sometimes getting him to shut up that is the real challenge,' Jack answered. He picked up his bucket again, tossing the water over the unconscious man.

Gibbs sat up immediately. 'Curse you for breathing, you slack-jawed idiot!' he shouted before his eyes focussed properly on who woke him up. 'Mother's love! Jack! You should know better than to wake a man when he's sleeping. 'S bad luck,' he said with a smile.

Jack smiled, kneeling in front of Gibbs while placing the bucket back down. 'Ah, fortunately, I know how to counter it. The man who did the waking buys the man who was sleeping a drink. The man who was sleeping drinks it, while listening to a proposition from the man who did the waking,' Jack explained.

Gibbs took on a look of confusion as he tried to figure it out. Gibbs smiled after a couple of minutes and stood. 'Aye, that'll about do it,' he agreed as Will tossed the water from his bucket over him. 'Blast! I'm already awake!' Gibbs shouted at him.

Will glanced at Jack. 'That was for the smell,' he answered, dropping his bucket before moving to his right as Gibbs nodded in agreement to what he said.

He made to move out of the pigsty, but Hermione tossed her bucket of water at him. Gibbs stared at her in disbelief. 'What the hell was that for!?' he shouted at her.

Hermione smiled innocently. 'For shits and giggles,' she answered causing Will to look at her in shock, Jack to chuckle, and Gibbs to just shrug at her reasoning.

Gibbs looked back at her, his eyes widening slightly. 'Miss Swann?' he asked her and Hermione frowned. 'Don't you be remembering me? We shared a ship back from England near 12 years ago now,' he told her.

Hermione shook her head. 'No, I'm afraid I don't remember. I would have been six then, and it seems my memory is failing me. I don't remember many things from my past,' Hermione answered forlornly, concocting the same story again. It was getting old, and Hermione wished she could just tell them all the truth, but it was already far too late for that. If they found out the truth… she was not sure what would happen. She would most likely get burned at the stake for heresy. She was not sure if witch burnings were frequent in this era, and she did not particularly want to find out.

'Well that's a shame, but maybe for the best,' Gibbs answered. Hermione frowned back in confusion, wondering what he could have meant by those words.

oOoOo

They followed Jack back to the central town and down another alley to a secluded tavern with a cracked sign that read "The Faithful Bride". There was an emblem over the door which was a politically incorrect painting of a smiling woman holding a bouquet in her chained and manacled hands. It seemed to be one of those pubs that was situated for all those who already knew it was there but hidden from those who did not.

Jack pulled the door open, holding it while Gibbs, Hermione, and then Will walked in, passing a pretty Asian woman coming out. When she registered who was keeping the door open, she immediately slapped him, cursing something in Chinese. Jack backed away from her, and ducked into the pub, closing the door on the woman. He joined the group while rubbing his jaw. Hermione raised her eyebrows at him in amusement but did not comment. Jack took a moment to look around; he hated coming into pubs like this one. Populating it was the higher class of the scum, and they tended to treat everyone like dirt.

Luckily, they did not raise much awareness from the other patrons. Jack handed Gibbs some money, and the man went off to buy them drinks. Jack indicated for Will and Hermione to follow him over to a post situated near the middle of the room. 'You two wait here. If you don't want the pirates and wenches propositioning you for anything you may not have done yet…' he paused, looking at Hermione with raised eyebrows, and she blushed, '…or can't do…' at this, he eyed Will who glared at him. Jack averted his eyes, before continuing, '…then I suggest you pretend you are both "together" if you get my meaning,' he finished. Gibbs came back, setting the drinks down on a table near to where they were standing. Jack looked around the room warily for a moment before turning back to Will. 'Keep a sharp eye,' he advised him, leaving to sit at the table with Gibbs. Shadows enshrouded the table, a single candle was all that illuminated them, and they spoke in hushed voices.

Hermione frowned as Will wrapped his arms around her when he noticed one of the pirates eying her almost hungrily. Hermione looked up at him. 'Why do you think Jack told us to wait here? I can hear them as if I was sitting there with them,' she told him.

Will shrugged. 'I think that was the idea. I guess propositions made between pirates must be kept within the circle of pirates. Meaning it is not supposed to have anything to do with us, but I think Jack wants us to hear what they are saying. So, they chose a close table to where we are standing,' he answered. Hermione nodded, and they fell silent so they could hear what the pirates were saying over the loud music and noises from the other patrons.

Gibbs lifted his tankard, taking a large swig. 'Just the one,' Jack told him, and the other pirate paused before taking a dainty sip instead.

'Make it last, then,' he muttered, setting his tankard down, and looking at Jack curiously. 'Now, what's the nature of this venture of yours?' he asked him.

Jack held up a hand. 'First, have you found me a crew?' he asked him.

Gibbs chuckled. 'Oh, there's a hard tale, Jack. Most of the decent pirates in town won't sail with you, seem to think you're a jinx,' he revealed.

Jack frowned at his words and sighed. 'Now where, I wonder, would they have gotten that idea?' He asked sardonically. Gibbs evaded answering him by taking a long sip. Jack leaned forward, and Gibbs hesitantly did the same. 'I'm going after the Black Pearl,' Jack told him. Gibbs choked on his drink, straightening up as if someone hit him. He stared at Jack as if he only just realised he was mad. He reached for his drink as if to down it, but then thought better and set it back down, before leaning forward again. Jack had not moved an inch as this was happening, and he continued, 'I know where it's going to be, and I'm going to take it,' he told him, sitting back in his chair, and taking a swig of his rum.

Gibbs stared at him in disbelief. 'Jack, it's a fool's errand. Why you know better than me the tales of the Black Pearl,' he said, placing his tankard on the table.

Jack leaned forward with a smile. 'That's why I know what Barbossa is up to. All I need is a crew.'

Gibbs shook his head, his eyes wide. 'From what I hear tell of Captain Barbossa, he's not a man to suffer fools nor strike a bargain with one.'

Jack smiled at this. 'Well, then I'd say it's an excellent thing I'm not a fool then, eh?' he answered, taking another slightly longer swig of his rum.

Gibbs eyed him thoughtfully. 'Prove me wrong,' he wagered, picking his tankard back up. 'What makes ye think Barbossa will give up his ship to you?'

Jack looked at him knowingly. 'Let's just say it's a matter of leverage, eh?' he answered with a smile. Will tightened his hold on Hermione at these words, looking around at Jack for a moment before turning back around. Jack smiled enigmatically, trying to indicate in their direction discreetly. Gibbs was too much of an idiot to take heed, so Jack rolled his eyes and bluntly pointed to the post Will and Hermione were behind.

'The kid?' Gibbs asked, looking at the post.

Jack nodded. 'That is the child of Bootstrap Bill Turner. His only child, savvy? Can you not tell from the resemblance? I swear it's uncanny,' he answered, taking a drink of his rum.

Gibbs' eyes widened over the edge of his tankard, peering at where Will was standing. He smiled widely, showing more missing teeth than good ones. 'Is he, now? "Leverage", says you. "I think I feel a change in the wind", says I. I'll find us a crew. There's bound to be some sailors on this rock crazy as you,' Gibbs told him. Hermione shuddered at the thought of there being anyone else like Jack. Will rubbed her back comfortingly.

'One can only hope,' Jack answered, raising his tankard towards Gibbs in a toast. 'Take what you can…' he began.

Gibbs clinked his tankard against Jack's. '…Give nothing back,' he finished. They both drained their drinks, slamming the empty mugs down on the table.

They both looked over in stunned fascination as Will reacted overdramatically to the sound. He pushed Hermione behind him and unsheathed his weapons. He kicked over a table for cover, whirling on anyone who moved.

'Um…, Will?' Hermione asked, looking at him in shock and embarrassment.

Gibbs frowned. 'Kid's a bit of a stick, isn't he?' he asked putatively.

Jack chuckled. 'That he is,' he answered, shaking his head.

oOoOo

It was a couple of days since the proposition Jack made to Gibbs in the tavern. Gibbs returned with news he had found Jack a worthy crew. They could sail off the next morning without any delay. Hermione, for her part, loathed seeing the sun on that morning. She agreed with Will that the morning had come far too soon for their liking. It was also with some relief they followed Jack, and a now clean Gibbs, to the dock. There was a dishevelled, motley, and weather-beaten group of about a dozen swabs of every shape and size standing in a ragged line-up waiting for Jack's judgement.

Gibbs gestured to them with a smile. 'Feast your eyes, Captain. All faithful hands before the mast, every man worth his salt, and crazy to boot,' he told him. Jack looked at them all in turn, while Hermione and Will exchanged a glance. They both wondered if they were going to be the only two sane people on this crew, and how long it would take before they, too, became insane.

Will looked around at the gathered pirates. 'So, this is your able-bodied crew?' he asked Jack who nodded absently.

Hermione sighed. 'Able-bodied? That man only has one arm…' she said, pointing out the pirate. She then pointed at another. '…and he only has one leg! Able-bodied indeed,' she said sarcastically. Will placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.

Jack, who was utterly torn between agreeing with her and not, looked around at them with a morbid expression of dread. He walked down the line, looking at one sailor who was quite fat, and another who was too thin and sickly looking. Jack was not happy with Gibbs' choices. He paused in front of a short blue-clad sailor with grey hair, and a large colourful parrot sitting on his shoulder. Jack raised an eyebrow. 'You, sailor!' he shouted, looking him up and down.

'Cotton, sir,' Gibbs informed him.

Jack glanced at him, nodding before turning back to the pirate. 'Mr Cotton… do you have the courage and fortitude to follow orders and stay true in the face of danger and almost certain death?' he asked. When he received no answer, Jack frowned. 'Mr Cotton! Answer, man!' he shouted putting more authority into his tone.

Gibbs placed a hand on his shoulder causing Jack to turn to him. 'He's a mute, sir. Poor devil had his tongue cut out, so he went and trained the parrot to do the talking for him,' Gibbs explained. Cotton opened his mouth to show his tongue, or lack thereof, and Jack grimaced. 'No one's yet figured how, and nobody knows the parrot's name, neither, so we just call it "Cotton's parrot".'

Jack nodded and went to walk on down the row, but he stopped and turned back to Cotton. 'Mr Cotton 's… parrot. Same question,' he said with slight hesitation.

Cotton lifted the parrot off his shoulder, raising it towards Jack who stepped back. The parrot looked at him before clicking its beak. 'Wind in the sails! Wind in the sails!' he shouted.

Jack turned to look at Gibbs to translate. Gibbs glanced from the Parrot to Jack. 'Mostly, we figure, that means "yes",' he told him. Cotton nodded vigorously; lowering the parrot and it went silent.

Jack shook his head, before taking a step back. 'O'course it does,' Jack said as if it could mean nothing less before turning to the others. 'That goes for the rest of you! Danger and near certain death…' he paused, turning away, so his back was to the crew. 'For we are to sail for the Isla de Muerta, to rescue the Daughter of Governor Swann. An equal share of the reward will be—' Jack stopped mid-sentence when he heard movement from the crew. He looked back to see several potential crew members backing away in fright. First one, then another turned and ran back up to the town, quickly followed by a few more. Soon there was only about half a dozen left; Cotton was one of them.

Will grabbed his shoulder in annoyance. 'Shut up, before you lose them all!" he barked.

Jack shrugged him off. 'These are the only ones’ worth having,' he reasoned before glancing up at the sky. 'And we're going to need them,' he added as a storm seemed to be coming in. He then turned to Will and Hermione. 'Satisfied?' he asked them.

'Well, you've proved they're mad,' Will answered, gripping Hermione's hand.

'And that even though they are mad, they are nothing like you, so that's a relief,' Hermione answered, smiling at Jack, and then at Will who chuckled.

Jack was about to retort when a voice came from one of the sailors that sounded feminine. 'And what's the benefit for us?'

Jack walked over with hesitancy, stopping in front of the sailor. He reached forward slowly, pulling the sailor's hat off revealing a woman, and smiled at her. 'Anamaria,' he said in an almost loving way, but all he received was a slap much harder than what Scarlett's or Giselle's had been. Will raised his eyebrows in amusement, and Hermione looked on with a grin. Jack looked at Anamaria with slight fear.

Hermione leaned towards him. 'I suppose you didn't deserve that one either?' she asked as Will nodded in agreement.

Jack shook his head. 'No, that one I deserved,' he admitted as Anamaria nodded.

'You stole my boat!' she shouted at him.

'Actually-' he began, but she slapped him again. He pushed on with his explanation. '…borrowed. Borrowed without permission, but with every intention of bringing it back to you,' he told her.

'But you didn't!' she shouted, looking as though she may slap him again.

'You'll get another one,' Jack promised, his voice a note higher than it had been.

Anamaria pointed her finger at him, causing Jack to flinch back. 'I will,' she said with a nod.

'A better one,' Will put in as Hermione nodded.

'A better one!' Jack agreed even though it seemed he did not want to.

'That one,' Hermione added, pointing to the Interceptor. The rest of the sailors looked also.

'What one?' Jack asked her. She pointed to the ship again. 'That one!?' he asked in shock as the sailors looked back at him for an answer. 'Aye, that one. What say you?' he said, deciding it was smarter to keep the peace.

'Aye!' the crew shouted as they made to get on the ship.

'Anchors aweigh!' Cotton's Parrot shouted. Anamaria snatched her hat back off Jack and made for the Interceptor also.

'No, no, no, no, no, it's frightful bad luck to bring a woman aboard, sir!' Gibbs shouted at Jack, watching Anamaria board the ship.

'What am I? A chicken?' Hermione muttered as they passed them, and Will chuckled.

'It'd be far worse not to have her,' Jack answered, looking at Anamaria. His eyes then drifted to Hermione. 'Yet, it would be hellish if we didn't allow her to come,' he warned. Gibbs nodded, agreeing with that.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eight: Introducing the Mutineers; All Good Pirates Need Enemies

It was not long before they set sail with Jack at the wheel as standard. He ordered the crew to man the ship, getting everything in order. As they pulled out of Tortuga, the sky darkened, and it started to drizzle. They had been out at sea for only an hour when the wind picked up. Lightning flashed across the sky, followed by a loud crack of thunder. The canvas of every sail stretched taut in the wind, and the ship rocked as it dropped into the valley of huge swells, climbing up the other side. On board, the new crew members scurried about with their tasks, pulling lines and trimming sails. They were excellent sailors, taking everything they had to keep the ship afloat. Anamaria was at the helm, while Gibbs staggered along the deck, sometimes grabbing onto ropes or the sides to steady himself.

Hermione managed to find some more suitable clothing. A tunic and some loose trousers, rather than the dress she was wearing. She was finding it more comfortable to help with the crew in their tasks now. Her dress would have been weighing down horribly in the rain.

Gibbs looked at Jack from his position near the side of the ship, the roaring wind blowing back his hair, his eyes intent on their course. 'That fool will have us lose the canvas, and the masts besides!' he growled, moving to climb the tilted deck toward him. 'We'd best drop canvas, sir!' he shouted over the howling wind.

'She can hold a bit longer,' Jack shouted back, spinning the wheel to the left a bit more just as the wind picked up some more. Jack smiled.

Gibbs stopped next to Jack, looking at the smiling captain. 'What's in your head that's put you in such a fine mood, Captain?' he asked curiously.

Jack smiled. 'We're catching up,' he answered, spinning the wheel back to the right. He turned back to the sea, clearly enjoying himself. Gibbs stared at him like he was a crazy man. The Interceptor, on open waters, looked glorious as she sailed through the harsh weather. Her white sails set wing-to-wing.

oOoOo

Hermione sat on the step leading up to the bridge, and she was glad the storm was over. The clouds gave way to blue skies overhead. Her eyes found Jack who was standing next to Anamaria, his compass cradled in both hands. He leaned over to study it closer, almost as if he was praying. Jack smiled when the quivering indicator above an old-fashioned rose petal style direction marker settled on the south-east. 'Bear three points starboard,' he ordered Anamaria. She turned the wheel obediently, adjusting the course of the ship. It leaned into the new direction. Jack glanced back down at his compass, and the indicator then reversed, settling on north-east. 'Six points port!' Jack ordered. Anamaria frowned but followed the orders. She turned the wheel back, and the ship responded.

Hermione, shaking her head, stood from her position on the step. She moved over to where Will was working on the deck, coiling a rope, but his eyes fixed on Jack and Anamaria. He was unhappy. She helped him loop the line, and he flashed her a smile as Gibbs hobbled up to them. 'Left-handed ropes are coiled against the sun, or it's bad luck!' he said, twirling a finger in the air. 'Anti-clockwise,' he advised, taking over the task just as the ship shifted course again.

Will let out an angry sigh, he'd had enough. 'How can we sail to an island nobody can find with a compass that doesn't work?' Will asked Gibbs, pulling on the rope to tighten it further.

Gibbs smiled. 'Aye, the compass doesn't point north, but we're not trying to find north, are we?' he told him. 'That compass gives bearings to the Isla de Muerta, wherever it may lay,' he added thoughtfully, glancing up at Jack.

They continued with their tasks, and the air gradually became heavier. In place of the clear air, they sailed into a thick fog surrounding a lagoon Anamaria was steering the boat through. The air seemed to drop considerably. The crew stopped what they were doing to gaze out at the wrecked ships strewn everywhere in the water. Some paid silent homage to the fallen pirates and sailors, while others went back to their work. Will, Hermione, and Gibbs continued to look out. 'Puts a chill in the bones how this passage has claimed many honest sailors,' Gibbs told them.

Will nodded, picking up another rope, and coiled it like Gibbs showed him. Hermione's eyes found Cotton's Parrot who alighted on the railing of the bridge, and he was staring at the compass in Jack's hand. Jack looked up, closing his compass quickly with a frown. Then put it back in his pocket, he shooed the Parrot away from the bridge. Hermione turned back to Gibbs. 'How is it that Jack came by that compass?' she asked curiously.

Gibbs leaned against the mast, happy to have a willing listener. 'Not a lot's known about Jack Sparrow before he showed up in Tortuga with a mind to go after the treasure of the Isla de Muerta. Now, Jack has an honest streak in him, and that's where the whole problem starts. That was before I met him, back when he was Captain of the Black Pearl,' he told them.

Will and Hermione's eyes widened at this revelation. 'What? He failed to mention that,' Will said, sharing a glance with Hermione.

Gibbs nodded in understanding. 'Ah, he's learned, then. Plays things more close to the vest, and a hard-learned lesson it was. See, Jack was a cartographer, back in Old England. Somehow, he came by the money to commission the Pearl. Hired himself a crew, promised each man an equal share,' he told them. His voice lowered as he continued, 'So, they're forty days out, and the First Mate says everything's an equal share. That should mean the location of the island, and the treasure, too. So, Jack gives up the bearings,' he paused, shaking his head and glancing up at the Captain in question for a moment before turning back to them. He continued in a whisper so Will and Hermione leaned in closer to hear him. 'That night, there was a mutiny. Jack gave himself up for the sake of his loyal crew. They marooned Jack on an island, and left him to die, but not before he'd gone mad with the heat,' he explained. Hermione realised now why Jack was the way he was.

'Ah. So that's the reason for all the…' Will didn't finish, but acted like Jack.

Gibbs nodded looking at both of them in turn. 'Reasons got nothing to do with it. Now, when a man is marooned, he is a given a pistol with a single shot, one shot. Well it won't do much good hunting or to be rescued, but after three weeks of a starvin' belly and thirst, that pistol will start to look real friendly,' he explained, motioning putting a gun to his head.

'And what is the story on his pistol?' Hermione asked as Will and Gibbs suddenly stood straight, looking behind her. Hermione frowned before turning, realising Jack was now standing with them, and she looked away from him.

Jack smiled at her before pulling out the pistol, raising it. 'I survived, and I still have that single shot. It's meant for one man. My mutinous first mate,' Jack revealed, looking at the pistol intently.

'Barbossa,' Will said in realisation. Hermione frowned at the thought of the pirate who captured Elizabeth.

'Aye,' Gibbs answered with a nod.

Hermione frowned. 'With only a pistol and the clothes on your back, how did you get off the island?' she asked Jack curiously.

'I didn't!' he shouted. Will and Gibbs jumped, and Hermione covered her ears reflexively. 'My body's still there, rotting away, and I am but a ghost!' he answered. His three companions stared at him, not entirely sure what to make of that as Jack chuckled.

'Seriously, how did you get off the island?' Hermione asked again.

Jack smirked slightly. 'Ah, that's a dark and unpleasant tale, best left untold,' he answered, touching her nose with his forefinger, and she pulled back.

Gibbs looked at Jack. 'Go on, Jack, it's not that unpleasant,' he said as Jack sighed, nodding for him to continue. 'I'll tell ye. Jack here waded out into the shallows. There he waited three days and three nights till all manner of sea creatures came and acclimated to his presence. On the fourth morning, he roped himself a couple of sea turtles, lashed 'em together and made a raft,' he explained with a smile as Jack nodded slowly.

Hermione looked between Gibbs and Jack in disbelief before looking at Will who was mirroring her expression. 'You roped a couple of sea turtles?' Will asked Jack slowly with a frown.

'Aye, sea turtles,' Gibbs was the one to answer, nodding enthusiastically.

Hermione nodded slowly before looking back at him. 'What did you use for rope?' she asked curiously having already gathered there was no rope on the island.

Jack, his face an emotionless mask not betraying anything, looked down at Hermione. 'Human hair… from my back,' he answered. Hermione lowered her head in disgust while Will watched Jack curiously.

They stood in silence for a moment as Cotton pulled a sail line, looking out and his eyes widened. Lifting the Parrot from his shoulder, he stroked it along the back. 'Land HO! Land HO! LAND ho! LAND ho!' the Parrot shouted. The four companions and the other members of the crew looked to where Cotton was pointing.

Indeed, the faint outline of the Isla de Muerta appeared in the distance on the port side. Will, excited, pulled himself onto the rigging to get a better look.

Anamaria, who was at the helm steering the ship, stared at Cotton and his Parrot in disbelief. 'How does he do that?' she muttered as Jack came to stand next to her on the bridge.

He addressed the crew. 'They'll be anchored on the lee side. Haul your wind, and keep to the weather of the island!' he shouted in order. They got into position, and Jack held up his hand to signal them to wait a moment before he curled his fingers into a fist. 'Let go of the anchor!' he shouted to the crew.

'Let go of the anchor, sir!' they all shouted back.

Jack looked around at them all as he and Gibbs made their way towards the boat that some of the sailors were lowering into the water. Will and Hermione followed close behind. 'Young Mr Turner, Miss Swann, and I are to go ashore,' he told Gibbs, reaching the side and threw the ladder over so it landed in the boat.

'Captain! What if the worst should happen?' Gibbs asked him.

Jack turned to him. 'Keep to the code,' he answered, climbing over the side and making his way down the ladder.

'Aye, the code,' Gibbs answered with a smile.

Will and Hermione stared at him, a little confused. 'What's the code?' Hermione asked Will.

'I have no idea,' Will answered, following Jack over the side and down the ladder into the boat. He then helped Hermione down into the boat as well. Hermione sat in-between them, looking back at the Interceptor as it lay in anchor. She almost wished she were safely on board.

Jack and Will rowed away from the large vessel in a small longboat, toward the rocky shore where they could make out the enormous dark mouth of a cave, right at water level. Will looked up then as the sound of rushing water reached his ears. 'What's that?' he asked, nodding towards where the rushing water was coming from.

'Depends,' Jack answered with a small sigh.

'On what?' Hermione asked, trying to look around Jack towards the island.

'On whether the stories are all true. If they are, that's a waterfall that spills over at high tide, with a short drop to an underground lagoon. If not…' he trailed off as the moving water tugged on the longboat, sucking them in. 'Well, too late,' Jack muttered as the boat rushed forward, plunging into darkness as it took a harrowing drop over a short waterfall. It landed safely in a gorgeous underwater lagoon, floating lazily towards a sandy shore. Hermione grabbed hold of the sides of the boat as it rocked from side to side. Jack continued rowing towards the dark abyss that was the mouth of the cave. 'Chalk one up for the stories,' Jack muttered, pausing in his rowing to try and steady the boat.

The Isle itself looked evil, and Hermione could have sworn if she tilted her head at the right angle it looked like it was in the shape of a skull. She shook it off thinking it was her over-active imagination playing tricks on her. 'That's disturbing,' she whispered saying her thoughts out loud. She again tilted her head to see again if it did indeed look like a skull. She frowned, realising that maybe her mind wasn't playing tricks on her and the island was in fact just a largely shaped skull. This thought disturbed her more.

'What is?' Will asked her as he, too, looked around to see what was troubling her.

'Just this whole island. We are, but three people, two normal and one insane pirate, heading into a cave with god knows what waiting for us there. An army of pirates that don't seem to know how to die. It's just disturbing,' she told him. She averted her eyes from the rocks and cliff faces making up the island to the water, which seemed to be glowing with a light all its own.

'I see your point,' Will muttered, thinking about what she said. It made sense after all. What could they possibly accomplish from this except maybe a trip to an early grave? It seemed trouble was following them no matter where they went.

Will wondered what he would be doing now had this not happened. He would most likely be back in his beloved store making more swords and practicing with them as he used to. As he thought about it, the more it seemed like another life now. He was a completely different person now, out on a seemingly heroic quest to save a woman he cared about. Making swords seemed to him like a thing of the past after everything that happened.

'What should we do when we get in there, Jack?' Hermione asked the quiet Jack. He seemed to be staring at the island with a strange expression on his face, and a frown on his brow.

'Nothing stupid, I would imagine,' Jack answered before slipping back into silence.

Hermione frowned. 'Anything more specific?' She asked him but received no answer. She shook her head, and looked back down at the water, jumping when she saw a skull.

'Careful, you may topple us with all that jumping, Miss Swann,' Jack said with a smirk, turning to look at her. 'And we wouldn't be wanting that now, would we?' he asked hypothetically. Hermione only smiled back sarcastically in answer.

Will looked down into the water as the left oar Jack was using hit one of the skulls. He gulped. 'That reminds me, what Code is Gibbs to keep to if the worst should happen?' He asked Jack curiously, looking back into the water. He saw another, more rotted and cracked skull on the ocean floor, and he gulped once more. In front of him, Hermione shifted uneasily upon noticing them as well.

'Pirate's Code. Any man that falls behind… is left behind,' Jack answered after a moment of looking around at his surroundings.

Will nodded. 'No heroes amongst thieves, eh?' he asked hypothetically, looking around again.

Jack turned to look back at him. 'You know, for having such a bleak outlook on pirates you're well on your way to becoming one,' he told him. Will frowned in return as if to question why that would be. 'Sprung a man from jail, commandeered a ship of the Fleet, sailed with a buccaneer crew out of Tortuga…' he counted off on his fingers. All three of them looked down at the ocean floor then to see gold glinting back up at them. Jack smiled before turning to Will who was still looking. '…and you're completely obsessed with treasure,' he finished with a smirk at the Blacksmith.

Will frowned. 'That's not true,' he argued before thinking about how true the first three were and added, 'I am not obsessed with treasure.'

They finally pulled up at a small beach area inside the cave. Jack and Will leapt out into the water, pulling the boat ashore, and Hermione then got out. More boats lined the shore, and Jack wandered around taking all the oars from them and hiding them. He turned back to them while they looked back in confusion. 'Just to be safe,' he told them.

'So you hide their oars?' Hermione asked slowly as though speaking to a child.

Jack sighed before looking at her. 'There is a reason for the hiding of said oars so that when we spring free your bonny Sister and make our getaway they will not be able to follow us thus giving us a head start to which they will be left here still looking around for said oars that I hid, savvy?' Jack answered. Hermione and Will both tried to make sense of what he said. Before they could though, Jack beckoned them to follow him.

They walked along a dark passage, reaching a part with an opening in the wall with treasure lining it that they could look through. Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate,' Jack whispered to Will.

Hermione looked around the clearing before them. Everywhere she looked there were piles of gold, jewels, doubloons, and Merlin knows what else. What intrigued her the most was atop the largest mound of gold, and other valuables, stood a chest made of solid gold. There was an inscription carved into the side, written in another language. Above the dedication was a carving of a smiling golden skull, which had her feeling strange. It was familiar to her somehow as if she had seen it in a surreal dream. Standing behind the chest was Elizabeth dressed in a gown the colour of blood, which did nothing to ease Hermione's sense of dread. Relief filled her though, knowing Elizabeth was alive.

Next to the chest, on Elizabeth's right stood a tall man with a monkey alighted on his shoulder holding an apple. It was using its free hand to grasp the pirate's hat. Hermione assumed this man must be Barbossa. Jack confirmed her suspicions, growling his name under his breath. Hermione glanced at him before looking back in on the gathering.

Barbossa addressed his crew, 'Gentlemen, the time has come! Our salvation is nigh! Our torment is near an end,' he shouted to the cheers of his crew.

'Elizabeth,' Will whispered upon noticing her. Hermione glanced at him to see a worried frown on his brow.

She tuned back into the speech happening in the clearing. 'For ten years we've been tested and tried, and each man jack of you here has proved his mettle a hundred times over and a hundred times again!' Barbossa was shouting. Hermione strained her ears as one of the crew-members said something in answer, but she was too far away to hear it. 'Punished, we were. The lot of us – disproportionate to our crimes! Here it is…' Barbossa paused, turning and throwing off the lid revealing hundreds of identical golden medallions. '…the cursed treasure of Cortés himself. Every last piece that went astray, we have returned…. save for this,' he said, pointing to the matching medallion hanging around Elizabeth's neck.

Will scrambled to his feet then, upsetting some of the treasure they were hiding behind. Jack pulled him back down. 'Jack!' he shouted out in annoyance, turning to the pirate.

Jack shook his head. 'Not yet. We wait for the opportune moment,' he told him. Will huffed in irritation and Hermione grasped his arm to try to calm him down a little.

'881 we found but despaired of ever finding the last,' Barbossa was saying in the background. Hermione was too busy trying to keep Will from rushing into the gathering, most likely getting himself killed.

'When's that? When it's of greatest profit to you?' Will asked Jack angrily.

Jack grinned slightly before becoming serious once more. 'May I ask you something? Have I ever given you reason not to trust me?' he asked him. Will glared back and slumped his shoulders.

Hermione rubbed his back comfortingly. 'Maybe we should just listen to him. He hasn't led us astray... yet,' Hermione said to Will but looked at Jack intently on the last word.

'Exactly. You should listen to her more, mate. You may learn something,' Jack said with a small smile before looking back at the gathering. He looked back at them thoughtfully. 'Do us a favour – I know it's difficult for you, but please stay here and try not to do anything stupid,' Jack told them. Hermione rolled her eyes as Jack scampered off along the passage.

'Bloody pirate!' Will seethed.

'Would you calm down!' Hermione said to him angrily. He turned to look at her in shock. 'We will get Elizabeth back safely, but we won't be able to if you just rush in there waving your sword and hoping to make it out alive! We need to plan something like this and do it in such a way they won't notice us. As Jack said, we should wait for the right opportunity to arise and then save her,' she told him. They both pulled themselves back into kneeling positions, looking back over at the gathering.

They tuned back into what Barbossa was saying now. 'And who among us has paid the blood sacrifice owed to the heathen gods?' he shouted.

'Us!' the crew shouted back.

'And whose blood must yet be paid?' Barbossa shouted to them.

'Hers!' they shouted back.

Will shook his head, tuning out as he made to follow the passage Jack disappeared down. He turned back to Hermione. 'Come on,' he told her.

She looked back, a little torn, before sighing and following him down the passage. 'Where are we going?' she asked him but received no answer. 'Will? Did you listen to a word I said?' she asked him.

Will turned back to her. 'Of course, I did. I have always listened to you in any situation, but did you not hear Barbossa? They are going to use Elizabeth as the blood sacrifice. I cannot stand here and let that happen. I think I am safe to assume as she is your Sister, you would not want any harm to come to her either, am I right?' he asked her.

'Yes, but-' she tried to argue but Will cut her off. He took her hand, practically dragging her down the passage.

'Good,' he muttered, looking around the ground for something.

'What are you looking for?' Hermione asked curiously. Will walked away for a moment, picking up an oar lying on the ground. He made his way back over to her, retaking her hand. 'What do you need that for?' she asked him, eyeing the oar in confusion. He didn't answer, continuing along the passage, and pulling her along behind him. Hermione got angry once more. 'Where are we going? What are you hoping to accomplish, Will! Let go of-'

He cut her off. 'Shhh,' he whispered as they rounded a corner. Jack was looking through another gap in the wall.

'What are you going to-' she stopped talking as Will brought the oar down hard on Jack's head, knocking the pirate unconscious. She stared at him in disbelief.

Will looked down at Jack. 'Sorry, Jack. I'm not going to be your leverage,' he said before grabbing Hermione's hand, dragging her along the passage again.

'Why did you do that?' she asked him, looking behind her to see Jack still lying on the ground.

'I refuse to take orders from pirates,' Will answered. They reached an opening behind the mound of gold the chest was on. They watched as Barbossa became angry about something, but they didn't know what seeing as they hadn't listened. Hermione looked at Will who breathed in relief that Elizabeth was okay and they hadn't killed her.

Will and Hermione flinched as Barbossa turned on Elizabeth angrily. 'You, maid! Your Father, what was his name? Was your Father William Turner?' he asked furiously.

'No,' Elizabeth answered.

Barbossa grabbed her arm painfully, picking up the medallion which was dripping with her blood. 'Where's his child? The child that sailed from England eight years ago. The child in whose veins flows the blood of William Turner. Where?' he asked her. When he received no answer, he raised his hand, backhanding her. She fell down the mound of gold to land at the bottom next to the medallion that flew out of Barbossa's hand. An argument began amongst the pirates, and Will took that opportunity to wade into the water towards Elizabeth. Hermione waited at the side with baited breath. Will swam over, clasping his hand over Elizabeth's mouth so she wouldn't scream and motioned for her to follow him into the water. Elizabeth turned, grabbing the medallion that was lying next to her before sliding into the water. She followed Will to the other side where Hermione hugged her, and they made their way out.

Thinking they were safe they continued, but they heard a screeching sound. Hermione glanced around to see the monkey pointing in their direction. 'The medallion! She's taken it! Get after her! You feckless pack of ingrates!' Barbossa shouted, and the three sped up their pace to the boats were.

They climbed up a dark crevasse leading to the sandy shore where the boats were lined up. Will grabbed Elizabeth's hand, helping her up before helping Hermione. Will turned to Elizabeth as Hermione went to look for the oars Jack hid. 'I'm glad we got here in time,' he said, hugging her.

Elizabeth pulled back, giving him a small smile. 'Truthfully, you were a bit late,' she corrected him, as he turned to look away from her in embarrassment.

Hermione appeared next to them, giving the oars to Will. 'The trick isn't getting here, it's getting away,' Hermione said, ushering them towards the boat. As if on cue, the yells of the pirates drew closer, and Will pushed the longboat into the water. They jumped in, and Will rowed it as quickly as he could out of the lagoon towards where he hoped the Interceptor was.

They reached it after a time, as they had to try to get around the waterfall. Will boarded the Interceptor before helping Hermione, and then Elizabeth up onto the deck. Elizabeth looked around and groaned. 'Not more pirates,' she said, looking at Hermione and Will.

Gibbs smiled at her. 'Welcome aboard, Miss Elizabeth,' he said with a slight bow of his head.

'Mr Gibbs?' Elizabeth asked in disbelief before turning to Hermione.

'The very same,' Hermione muttered.

Elizabeth turned back to Gibbs to say something, but he seemed to notice Jack hadn't followed them aboard. He looked at Will. 'Hey, boy, where be Jack?' he asked him, looking over the side in case Jack was still climbing up.

'Jack?' Elizabeth asked before turning to Will and Hermione. 'Jack Sparrow?' she asked them.

Hermione smiled, suddenly feeling amused at the situation she found herself in. 'The very same,' she answered with a shrug.

Elizabeth frowned at her. 'Cassandra, why were you working with pirates? Why are you here? Father must be going spare wondering where you are!' she said, but Hermione only shrugged again, leaning against the railing of the ship.

'He fell behind,' Will said to Gibbs who was waiting for an answer. He then took Elizabeth's arm, leading her away.

Hermione watched with a frown as they disappeared into the cabin. She turned back to Gibbs who looked disheartened at the loss of Jack. 'Keep to the code,' he said as the crew nodded, going about their duties.

'Weigh anchor! Hoist the sails! Make quickly, divvies,' Anamaria shouted, walking to the helm of the ship and taking the wheel.

oOoOo

Back in the cave, Jack stumbled towards where he remembered the boats were while eyeing an oar curiously. He wondered how it hit him in the first place. He was also wondering where Will and Hermione were. Jack stopped when he heard a voice ahead. 'No oars here. Where're the oars?' came the voice.

'The oars have gone missing. Find them!' Another voice echoed through the caves. Jack smiled at his genius plan at hiding the oars before making his way out.

Ragetti turned then, seeing Jack holding the oar. 'You,' he said in disbelief.

Pintel looked at him as though he'd seen a ghost. 'You're supposed to be dead!' he shouted.

Jack raised his eyebrows. 'Am I not?' Jack asked, looking down at himself. 'Oh,' he said happily before realising a pistol was pointing right at him. 'Palulay...palu-li-la-la-lulu, parlili… parsnip, parsley, par – partner, partner…' he muttered, trying to think of the right word.

'Parley?' Ragetti asked him.

'Parley! That's the one. Parley! Parley!' Jack shouted to the crew with a smile.

'Parley?' Pintel asked Ragetti angrily before turning back to Jack. 'Down to the depths whatever man that thought up "parley!"' he shouted.

Jack smiled. 'That would be the French. Also, would you know they are also the inventors of mayonnaise? I heard that somewhere,' Jack told them thoughtfully. They all looked back in anger, while some rolled their eyes.

They led Jack back to the clearing with the chest and Barbossa looked at him in irritation and disbelief. 'How the blazes did you get off that island?' he asked him curiously.

Jack smiled. 'When you marooned me on that godforsaken spit of land, you forgot one very important thing, mate,' Jack paused while they looked back at him wondering what it was their Captain could have forgotten.

'And what is it that I was forgetting?' Barbossa asked in morbid curiosity.

Jack smiled. 'I'm Captain Jack Sparrow,' he answered as if this should have been obvious.

'Ah, well, I won't be making that mistake again,' Barbossa told him before looking around at his crew. 'Gents, you all remember Captain Jack Sparrow?' he asked them to an answer of affirmations grumbled from them. He looked back at Jack who was looking at them all with a wide smile on his face. Having armed pirates surrounding him didn't faze him in the least. Barbossa was not impressed by this. 'I'm inclined to kill you now, Jack Sparrow, without so much as a word, if you don't lose that grin from your face,' he warned him, but that only made Jack smile wider, if possible. Barbossa growled at this. 'Kill him,' he ordered the pirates while turning around to walk away.

They raised their weapons at Jack with smiles as though they were anticipating when they would be able to kill him finally. Jack just shrugged, grinning like the cat who got the cream. 'The girl's blood didn't work, did it?' he asked Barbossa confidently.

Barbossa growled again, turning back. 'Hold your fire!' he shouted to his crew. They all lowered their weapons in annoyance and reluctance. 'You know whose blood we need,' Barbossa stated rather than asked.

Jack grinned with a glint in his eyes. 'I know whose blood ye need,' he answered as the crew members looked at each other.

oOoOo

Jack found himself on the Black Pearl, looking around like a child Christmas had come early to. He ran his hand along the railing almost lovingly. Barbossa beckoned him to follow him to the Captain's cabin. Jack entered, looking around. 'Love what you've done with the place. Very evil and morbidly pretty. Not how I would have decorated it, but I am not you, am I?' Jack said with a grin, taking a seat. Barbossa followed suit.

'So what name is it that we be needing?' Barbossa asked him.

'Ah, cutting right to the chase are we? Well, it is not that simple. Give me a reason why I should bestow you with said name, and I shall, for my part, perhaps give it,' Jack answered, eyeing the bowl of apples in the middle of the table.

'Name yer terms, Jack,' Barbossa said, watching Jack eyeing the fruit with raised eyebrows.

Jack leaned forward, looking through the apples before deciding on a particularly nice one near the bottom. He sat back down before looking at Barbossa. 'How about the deal for the name would be for you to live out the mutiny you cast upon me?' Jack asked him with a smile.

'And then what?' Barbossa asked in amusement.

'And then I would have me ship back, and everyone would be happy,' Jack answered.

'So you expect to leave me standing on some beach with nothing but a name and your word it's the one I need and watch you sail away on my ship?' Barbossa asked him, sitting back in his seat, and clasping his hands together.

Jack looked at the apple before leaning forward and looking back up at Barbossa. 'No. I expect to leave you standing on some beach with absolutely no name at all, watching me sail away on my ship, and then I'll shout the name back to you. Savvy?' he answered with a smile.

Barbossa frowned. 'But that still leaves us with the problem of me standing on some beach with nought but a name and your word it's the one I need,' he stated, eyeing the apple in Jack's hand before looking back up.

Jack leaned back in his chair again. 'Of the two of us, I am the only one who hasn't committed mutiny, therefore… my word is the one we'll be trusting,' he said, putting his feet up on the table, and making himself comfortable. 'Although… I suppose I should be thanking you because, in fact, if you hadn't betrayed me and left me to die, I would have an equal share in that curse, same as you,' he said with a smile, biting into his apple. 'Funny ol' world, innit?' he asked as Barbossa nodded back bitterly. Jack offered him the apple.

Barbossa looked at the apple with raised eyebrows before Jack shrugged and retracted it, taking a bite as Barbossa eyed him amusedly. 'I'm supposed to… trust you?' Barbossa asked as the pirates in the room laughed at this.

Jack glared at them before looking back at Barbossa. 'I'm a man of my word,' he said to which he received laughter from the pirates again. Jack growled under his breath before looking at Barbossa. 'You see, I've got this honest streak in me which, in its own way, is a sort of curse. Oh and there's the fact you have no choice,' Jack told him, smirking at his reasoning.

Barbossa's eyes narrowed. 'I'll torture it out of you.'

Jack chuckled. 'You left me on a desert island, what worse can you do?' He asked him, taking another bite of his apple. Jack's grin widened, intentionally smug now.

Barbossa could see his options dwindling, and he stood from his seat, pacing in front of the table. 'Blast you! I'll throw you in prison,' he growled, glaring at Jack.

Jack smiled, faking a yawn. 'Wait as long as you like.'

Barbossa eyed him, furious now. 'You're setting me up for a double cross, you with the ship, and me with nothing more than your word!' he shouted, looking out the window.

Jack made a show of thinking about it, before speaking, 'Let's say I tell you the wrong person. What would you do?' he asked curiously.

'Track you down and-' Barbossa began but stopped himself upon realising where Jack was heading with this.

Jack looked at him thoughtfully. 'And if I tell you the truth, you become human again, and you won't come near me because you know I'd kill you,' he told him, his smirk appearing again.

Jack's smirk widened, realising Barbossa was hesitating now. The pirates in the room looked on in amazement at how the tides turned. It sounded as though Barbossa had gone past considering the idea, and might even do it. Barbossa stared out the window, a frown on his brow, before he shook his head, turning back to Jack. 'Jack, I don't trust you, and that's a fact. Never trust a smiling man, you can lay to that,' he answered. There was still that underlying hesitation in his tone, which Jack picked up on.

Jack leaned forward as if he was anticipating this answer. 'See, that's where we're different. I trust you… to do what it takes to get what you want,' he explained with a small smile.

Barbossa looked at him curiously. 'You're playing this as close to the edge as any man; I'll give you that,' he said, smiling, and came to a decision. 'We might just have to sign articles, you and I. Jack, you're a pirate at heart, that's certain,' he told him, and Jack shrugged with a smile.

Bo'sun entered then. 'Captain, we're coming up on the Interceptor,' he reported, and Barbossa walked out with him, followed by Jack, and they went topside.

Barbossa began firing off orders. 'Pintel… set sail. If this fool plan is to work, we'll need the medallion, and that means catching the ship which brought 'em here.'

Jack turned to look at him, caught completely off guard, and for the first time, his smile faded. 'What? You don't have the medallion?' he asked, sounding a tad panicked.

Barbossa shook his head, growling. 'That fool woman took it. You be careful around her, Jack. She's pretty enough, she'll steal your heart, but pure evil inside,' he warned him, sounding almost genuine about wanting Jack to be careful.

Jack smiled at this. 'My only true love is the sea, but I will watch my back,' he answered to which Barbossa nodded. Barbossa took out his spyglass to look at the Interceptor, but Jack stood in front of it, blocking the view. 'I'm having a thought here, Barbossa,' he said as Barbossa lowered the spyglass slowly, looking at Jack somewhat agitatedly. 'What say we run up a flag of truce? I scurry over to the Interceptor, and I negotiate the return of your medallion, eh? What say you to that?' Jack asked him.

Barbossa smiled slightly. 'Now you see, Jack, that's exactly the attitude that lost you the Pearl. People are easy to search when they're dead,' he answered, turning to Bo'sun. 'Bo'sun! Set up Mr Sparrow's quarters, nice and fine… in the brig,' he ordered him, smiling at Jack before adding. 'Meaning no disrespect, of course,' and Jack nodded at this. Bo'sun grabbed Jack, and as they passed him, Barbossa snatched the apple from him, not hiding his mistrust in him. He looked at it for a moment before angrily throwing it overboard.

Bo'sun dragged Jack down to the brig, pushing him into one of the cells. Jack looked around, sloshing about in the water before looking back at the stiff pirate. 'Apparently, there's a leak,' Jack said to him, but it fell on deaf ears as Bo'sun walked back up topside.

Jack continued to look around as Barbossa's shouts from above reached him. 'Haul on the main brace! Make ready the guns! And run out the sweeps,' he ordered his crew. Jack sighed, leaning against the wall, his mind in overdrive as he tried to figure out how to escape.

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine: Cross and Double Cross; Nothing is Ever What it Seems

At full sail, the Interceptor headed out to sea. Gibbs glanced over at Elizabeth and Will, where they were talking alone on the forecastle. He turned his gaze towards Hermione who was walking down the steps from the Bridge. He shook his head. 'Three women on board? A man don't have to be superstitious to know that's trouble,' he muttered to himself. He peered forward from the Helm, scanning the horizon. He could see a tiny island in front of them. 'Shift your heading, steer clear of that island. Fifteen degrees starboard,' he told Anamaria, who nodded and turned the wheel.

On the aft deck, Cotton concentrated on his work, securing a halyard. Cotton's Parrot flapped its wings, taking off to land on the starboard bulwark, squawking. 'Dead men tell NO tales! Dead men tell NO tales! Dead men tell NO tales!'

Cotton looked at the parrot in confusion for a moment, before looking out at the horizon. He could see black sails. He dropped the rope he was holding and stood up. Gibbs and Anamaria looked behind them, seeing the ship. 'Hands aloft to loose t'gallants! With this wind at her stern, she'll carry every sail we've got,' Gibbs was shouting, passing Hermione as she stood to see what was happening.

Off in the distance behind them, a ship was following them. Hermione guessed it was the Black Pearl. 'So much for a head start, Jack,' Hermione muttered to herself.

She looked around as Elizabeth came up from the cabin followed by Will. Will looked miffed by something, and she made towards them, taking hold of Will's arm. Elizabeth looked at them for a moment with a frown before shaking her head. She went up to the bridge as the crew ran around on the deck. 'What's happening?' Elizabeth asked Anamaria who was steering the ship.

'The Black Pearl, she's gaining on us,' Anamaria answered, looking behind her to the approaching Pearl.

Elizabeth looked at her in disbelief. 'This is the fastest ship in the Caribbean,' she argued, gesturing to the ship.

'You can tell them that after they've caught us,' Anamaria answered irritably.

Hermione and Will made their way up to the bridge. 'We're shallow on the draft, right?' Hermione asked her.

Anamaria looked at her, frowning. 'Aye,' she answered.

Elizabeth caught on to what Hermione was thinking. 'Well, then can't we lose them amongst those shoals?' she asked her.

Gibbs smiled then. 'We don't have to outrun them long, just long enough,' he said, turning to shout orders to the crew.

'Lighten the ship, stem to stern!' Anamaria shouted.

'Anything that we can afford to lose… see that it's lost!' Gibbs shouted as the crew made to complete the orders.

Will and Hermione ran down to the deck to help. Barrels of rations and equipment were getting thrown off the ship, lightening the load. After a short while, he stopped and looked out at the Black Pearl to see oars coming out of the sides to speed them up. Hermione also looked out and frowned. 'They'll catch us in no time with them. I think throwing the stuff off the ship may have been in vain,' she told him, and he nodded in agreement.

Will looked around, walking over to one of the crew members that was about to throw a cannon overboard. He stopped him. 'We're gonna need that,' Will told him and the man nodded before going off to do something else to help.

'It was a good plan until now,' Hermione muttered to him. Will clasped a hand onto her shoulder. Hermione looked up to see his eyes were full of determination and she wondered what he was planning. Hermione looked over the side of the ship seeing miles of blue water, the Interceptors tacks leaving a long white wake. The Black Pearl was matching it though, gaining on them.

'Gibbs!' Will shouted, letting go of Hermione and went towards Gibbs. 'We have to make a stand. We must fight!' he told him before turning back to the crew. 'Load the guns!' he shouted to them.

'With what?' Hermione asked, coming to stand next to him. 'We just threw everything overboard save for a few cannons with no gunpowder nor cannonballs,' Hermione reminded him.

Will turned to her. 'Anything,' he said, turning back to the crew. 'Everything! Anything we have left,' he shouted as the crew began running around again.

'Load the guns! Take shot and langrage. Nails and crushed glass! With a will!' Gibbs ordered. The crew stuffed cutlery and other assorted items into the cannon, including Gibbs' canteen flask. 'Pearl is going to bluff up on our port quarter. She'll rake us without ever presenting a target,' he shouted, reaching for his canteen only to remember it was loaded into a cannon. He growled in annoyance.

Elizabeth turned to Anamaria. 'Lower the anchor on the right side. On the starboard side!' she shouted to her as Anamaria looked back in disbelief.

Hermione nodded in agreement, as she thought about it. Will looked at Elizabeth for a moment before looking back at Anamaria. 'It certainly has the element of surprise,' he said to her.

Anamaria looked at them in disbelief. 'You're daft, lady! All three of you are!' she shouted.

Gibbs smiled, a glint appearing in his eye. 'Daft like Jack!' he said to them. Hermione groaned at getting classed in any class related in any way to Jack because no one was like him. Gibbs turned back to the crew again. 'Lower the starboard anchor! Do it, ye dogs, or it's you we'll load into the cannons!' he shouted, and the crew made to lower the anchor.

Hermione looked out again; the Black Pearl was now close behind the Interceptor, which was heading towards the island. One of the sailors ran past her up to the stern, pulling a release. The ships anchor raced down into the water, the metal chain jumping and twisting on the deck. Once the chain stopped, the sailor locked it in place. Hermione looked at Anamaria who still had a firm hold on the wheel. 'Let go,' she told her, and she did so. With its forward momentum and the anchor down, the Interceptor made to turn quickly. It pivoted around the anchor surprising Barbossa whose eyes widened at the sudden move.

Barbossa and Pintel watched as the vast ship brought its cannons to bear right in front of them. 'They're clubhaulin'! Hard to port! Rack the starboard oars,' Barbossa shouted to his crew.

'Hard to port!' Bo'sun repeated the order as the two ships came up, so they were side by side.

On the Interceptor, Will turned to Anamaria. 'Keep us steady now,' he told her before turning to the crew who were waiting to fire the cannons. 'Now!' he shouted.

'Fire!' Elizabeth shouted just as Barbossa shouted the same command on the Black Pearl. The ships began exchanging cannon fire, but for now, the Interceptor had the advantage and took it. Its cannons boomed, raining down cutlery, other items, and a few cannonballs on the Black Pearl.

Down in the brig of the Black Pearl, Jack looked around in alarm as the cannon fire continued. He looked out the porthole to see if he could see anything. In the cell with him was Twigg, acting as a guard. 'Don't hit my ship! I mean, kill the lying scoundrel…!' he paused in his shouting and turned to Twigg. 'I'm a little conflicted, here,' he said, but Twigg just stared at him. Suddenly, a hole blew in the hull causing him to dive to the ground to avoid injury. He sat back up, looking at the hole in anger. 'Stop blowing holes in my ship!' he shouted. He looked down, seeing Gibbs' canteen flask. He picked it up and went to take a drink only to find it empty, and looked around. He noticed Twigg was lying on the ground unconscious. The shot from the cannon destroyed the lock on the cell door. Pocketing the flask, he made his way out.

Back on the Interceptor, Gibbs came up to Hermione and Elizabeth. 'We could use a few more ideas, lassies,' he said to them.

'Your turn,' Elizabeth said, biting her lip.

'I can't think of anything,' Hermione muttered, ducking down from a blast.

'We need us a devil's dowry,' Gibbs shouted in annoyance.

'We'll give them her,' Anamaria said, pointing her pistol at Elizabeth.

'But they already tried using her!' Hermione shouted.

Will pulled her to her feet and into his arms. 'She's not what they're after,' Will said, looking at Elizabeth.

Elizabeth frowned at Will and Hermione before reaching up to where the medallion had been only to remember that it wasn't there anymore. 'The medallion,' she said in worry. Will let go of Hermione, leaving to search for it below.

Elizabeth and Hermione watched as the Black Pearl came about. A low, loud rumble of two dozen cannons fired as one hitting the Interceptor. A second barrage of shots followed then, most of them finding their mark. Sailors dived for cover, leaving their cannons as they realised they were outmatched.

Hermione looked over into the face of the man captaining the Black Pearl as he laughed. He signalled another round of fire, showing no mercy. Hermione dived to the side, using the side of the ship to pull herself back up. She just managed to hear Barbossa issuing orders to his men over the shouting and cannon fire. 'Raise yer colours ya bloomin' cockroaches!' The Black Pearl fired again, a double-ball shot with a chain connecting the two. It hit the main mast dead on! A cracking, splintering sound filled the air as it broke, falling onto the deck.

Down below, Will was panicking. The toppled table upon which the medallion had been wasn't there anymore. A crack from above and a crash later, he realised the mast had fallen, trapping him. He made his way to the grate. 'Hey! Hey! Below!' he shouted, but there was no answer.

'Looks like they mean to send us under!' Anamaria shouted, firing her pistol at the pirates.

'There, she's raised the Jolly Roger, upside down, Gibbs said, pointing to the flag on the Black Pearl.

Everyone looked at him, all knowing what this meant, but Hermione looked at it in confusion. 'What does it mean?' she asked him.

Gibbs sighed. 'It's a signal. If we resist, it won't just be death. There'll be torture as well,' he explained. Hermione's eyes widened.

'We're not going to surrender!' Elizabeth shouted defiantly.

'That we are,' Gibbs muttered.

Barbossa moved his ship alongside, preparing to board. 'Hands, grapnels, at the ready. Prepare to board!' he shouted to his crew. They threw grapple hooks across to the Interceptor, beginning to board. 'Blast all to carcasses, men! Forward clear to the powder magazine and the rest of you, bring me the medallion!' Barbossa ordered. His men swung across to the Interceptor.

'We can at least fight! We might be able to kill a few—' Hermione began to argue. She reached into her pocket for her wand, wondering if this was when she would have to reveal herself.

'Cassandra… it'll be worse for us, for Elizabeth and Will… especially Will… if we fight,' Gibbs said, cutting her off. Hermione stared at him for a moment. She nodded in agreement, but her expression was still defiant.

The deck slanted; the ship was sinking as Pirates swarmed across on ropes, taking control of the Interceptor.

Back on the Black Pearl, Jack finally emerged from the hold to see pirates running around and fighting. He walked over to one of Barbossa's crewmen, taking the rope from him as a bullet hit him. 'Thanks very much,' he said before swinging onto the Interceptor to land ungracefully in front of Gibbs.

'Jack!' Gibbs shouted in surprise and relief.

Jack shifted unsteadily for a moment, reaching into his pocket and pulling out Gibb's canteen, handing it to him. 'Bloody empty,' he told him. He headed towards a pirate who was cornering Elizabeth. 'That's not nice,' he said before punching him. He then turned to Elizabeth. 'Where's the medallion?' he asked her.

She stood angrily. 'Wretch!' Elizabeth shouted, about to slap him.

Hermione ran over then upon hearing the commotion as Jack caught Elizabeth's wrist. 'Jack?' Hermione asked in disbelief having believed he was dead.

Jack didn't appear to hear her. He looked at Elizabeth's bandaged hand. 'Ahhh. Where's dear William?' he asked with a smile, a glint in his eye.

Elizabeth's eyes widened as Hermione turned around to see Will under the grate. 'Will…' she whispered as she made to go towards him.

'Will!' Elizabeth shouted, pulling her wrist free from Jack and ran towards the grate.

'Elizabeth! Cassandra!' he shouted, trying to lift the grate.

Jack watched for a moment before seeing the monkey making his way over to the Black Pearl with the Medallion clasped in its mouth. 'Monkey!' he shouted, running after it.

'I can't move it!' Elizabeth shouted, trying to push the mast.

It was times like these where Hermione knew she had to make a choice, and she chose to use Magic. Even if it scared them, they were curious or rejected her after discovering her secret. She had to save Will, and she went for her wand. Someone grabbed her from behind though, dragging her away along with Elizabeth. 'Will!' she shouted, reaching out her hand towards him.

Will looked back at her with worry. 'Cassandra!' he shouted, doubling his efforts at moving the grate, but it was no use.

Over on the Black Pearl, the monkey alighted on Barbossa's shoulder. He reached up to take it from him just as Jack reached Barbossa. 'Why, thank you, Jack,' Barbossa said, looking down at Jack.

'You're welcome,' Jack answered with a smile.

Barbossa raised his eyebrows. 'Not you. We named the monkey "Jack",' Barbossa informed him with a smile. Jack returned it with a nod, and Barbossa turned to his crew. 'Gents, our hope is restored!' he shouted to them, receiving cheers in return. On the Interceptor, some of Barbossa's men ignited gunpowder leading to a collection of powder kegs. Will struggled to escape from the cabin that was filling with water. He swam to the bottom of the cabin upon noticing the large hole in the side. He swam towards it just as the Interceptor exploded.

'WILL!' Hermione and Elizabeth shouted out, staring at the flaming ship in shock and grief. The topmasts of the H.M.S. Interceptor sank into the smooth crystal waters of the Caribbean. Tears filled their eyes, falling to the deck of the Pearl.

oOoOo

Hermione couldn't breathe as she stared at the wreckage of the Interceptor. Was Will dead? She didn't want to think about it. The possibility made her heart beat faster and her stomach flutter in panic. Tears were streaming from her eyes like a waterfall. Next to her, Elizabeth didn't seem to be faring much better than her. She kept shaking her head, her tears falling.

Hermione tuned back into her surroundings, just as Pintel was pointing his gun at all their crew in turn. 'If any of you as much as thinks the word "parley", I'll have your guts for garters,' he threatened them.

Elizabeth snapped then. 'Will!' she shouted before attacking Barbossa. 'You've got to stop it! Stop it!' she was shouting, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Barbossa smiled crudely, grabbing her wrists to stop her from hitting him. 'Welcome back, Miss. You took advantage of our hospitality last time. It holds fair now that you return the favour,' he said. He pushed her into the crew whose hands were all over her in seconds. They yelled shouts of approval, forcing her from one to the other.

'Let her go!' Hermione shouted. She made to help Elizabeth, but Barbossa grabbed her, pulling her back against him.

'Can't be having that, Missy,' he whispered into her ear causing her to shiver in fear and disgust.

'Barbossa!' came a familiar voice.

Hermione turned to see Will standing on the railing, holding onto the rigging to keep himself steady. He was pointing his pistol at Barbossa. 'Will,' she whispered, a smile spreading across her face.

'She goes free!' he shouted, pointing his pistol at Barbossa from where he was still holding Hermione.

Barbossa frowned up at him. 'What's in your head, boy?' he asked him.

'She goes free!' he shouted, gesturing to Hermione again. He noticed Elizabeth, gesturing towards her. 'She goes free as well!' he added.

Barbossa frowned before chuckling. 'You've only got one shot, and we can't die,' he explained, smiling a horrid smile at Will.

Jack looked at Will, gaining his attention. 'Don't do anything stupid,' he whispered loudly to him.

Will ignored him, answering Barbossa. 'You can't. I can,' he said, pointing the gun at himself, and leaning out over the ocean.

'Like that,' Jack whispered, closing his eyes and sighing.

Barbossa's frown deepened, wondering who this brave boy was that would risk his life for a bunch of scoundrels. 'Who are you?' he asked him in confusion and a little annoyance.

Jack moved to stand in front of Barbossa then to try and stop Will from answering. 'No one. He's no one. A distant cousin of my aunt's nephew twice removed. Lovely singing voice, though – eunuch,' Jack told him with a smile, pointing down as Barbossa raised his eyebrows at him.

Will glared at Jack before addressing Barbossa once more. 'My name is Will Turner. My Father was Bootstrap Bill Turner. His blood runs in my veins,' he told him. Barbossa's eyes widened in recognition upon realising the resemblance. Jack lowered his head in defeat, moving back to where he was standing before.

Pintel squinted at Will as the pirates murmured in surprise. Ragetti gasped, pointing at him. 'He's the spitting image of ol' Bootstrap Bill come back to haunt us,' he said to the murmured agreements of the rest of Barbossa's crew.

Will ignored them, pointing the gun at his neck. 'On my word do as I say, or I'll pull this trigger and be lost to Davy Jones' Locker,' he threatened, placing his finger on the trigger.

'Will, don't!' Elizabeth shouted. Will glanced at her before looking back at Barbossa.

Jack dropped his head, and Barbossa grinned at him. 'Looks like your back to having nothing to offer,' he said with a chuckle. Jack closed his eyes in annoyance.

'And he's got Old Bill's courage. A curse on him, and you!' Pintel shouted out, staring at Will in slight fear.

Barbossa stepped forward. 'Name your terms, Mr Turner,' Barbossa said to him.

Will pointed to Hermione. 'Let her go,' he said. Barbossa let her go. 'Elizabeth and Cassandra both go free,' he told him.

Barbossa nodded. 'Yes, we know that one. Anything else?' he asked him a little mockingly.

Will looked over at Jack then and saw him pointing at himself. Will gestured towards them with his pistol before pointing it back at himself. 'And the crew – the crew are not to be harmed,' he told him. Jack rolled his eyes, having meant for Will to order Barbossa to let them go free as well.

Barbossa considered his terms while his crew waited. Finally, he answered. 'Agreed. You have my word, as a gentleman of fortune–'

'Will – you can't trust him,' Elizabeth said imploringly, looking at Will in worry.

Will thought about that before turning back to Barbossa. 'You must swear by the Holy Bible,' he told him.

Barbossa's crew looked to their captain. Barbossa looked at Will as if he'd just grown another head. 'Eh? You have my word, then – on the Good Book, I do swear, and the Lord spare my worthless soul,' he said, crossing himself. His crew followed suit. Will nodded and lowered his gun, stepping down onto the deck. The pirates surrounded him, snatching the pistol away from him. 'Boatswain! Take your captives below decks. Chain them in the galley, and teach 'em how to row,' Barbossa ordered a few of his crew who led the captives away.

Barbossa looked out to the sea then, towards the islet as a cheer went up from the pirates. Will clicked on to what Barbossa intended to do, struggling against his captors. 'No! You gave your word!' Will roared as they dragged Elizabeth and Hermione to the plank.

Barbossa glanced at him. 'Quiet, boy, or you'll lose your tongue. Those who know me know I wouldn't cross my word, and bring down bad luck on the ship,' he answered before turning and nodding at Pintel.

'Go on, Poppet, go! Walk the plank!' Pintel said. Elizabeth gave him a look of disgust.

'Barbossa, you lying bastard! You swore they'd go free!' Will shouted at Barbossa.

Barbossa rolled his eyes, turning back to him. 'Don't dare impugn me honour, boy. I agreed they'd go free, but it was you who failed to specify when or where,' he said with a chuckle. One of the pirates gagged Will, and Barbossa turned to look at Elizabeth and Hermione. 'Now my terms,' he said, turning back to Will, 'one stays, and one goes,' he said with a smile. Will began making noises of anger.

'I say to hell with it, and we both go,' Hermione whispered as Elizabeth shook her head.

'No, I'll go,' Elizabeth told her gently, but firmly.

'No, I'll go,' Hermione told her, but Elizabeth shook her head. 'Why?' Hermione asked in frustration.

'I do not like the idea of you being stranded on an island in the middle of nowhere with nothing, Cassandra. I will not allow it, and Father would not be best pleased if I did that. I am the eldest, after all, it is only right,' Elizabeth paused, looking at Will. She then looked at Jack. 'Look after those two,' she whispered, turning towards the plank.

'Elizabeth, no, I don't like it either…' Hermione whispered. She walked forward, pulling the older woman into her arms. 'Please, don't do this...' Hermione said, tightening her hold on Elizabeth.

'We'll meet again little Sister,' Elizabeth whispered. Hermione pulled away, feeling the tears welling in her eyes. She wanted to argue with her, but she knew she couldn't win… Elizabeth was way too stubborn to listen.

Barbossa looked back and forth between them. 'Decided then,' he said, walking towards Elizabeth. 'Though it does seem a shame to lose something so fine, don't it lads?' he asked his crew.

'Aye!' they all shouted in agreement.

Barbossa smirked, looking back at her. 'So, I'll be having that dress back before you go,' he told her, holding out his hand to take it. Elizabeth glared at him, untying the ties on the front of the dress and slipping it off.

Jack turned to the pirate who was holding him. 'I always liked you,' he whispered, and the pirate growled at him.

Elizabeth finally had the dress off, leaving her in her under-dress. 'It goes with your black heart,' she shouted, throwing the dress at him.

Barbossa chuckled as he caught it, pressing it to his face. 'Ooh, it's still warm,' he said, throwing it to the crew.

'Off you go! Come on!' a pirate shouted, and Elizabeth slowly made her way down the plank.

Bo'sun rolled his eyes. 'Too long!' he shouted, stomping his foot down on the plank. It shook, and Elizabeth fell into the water with a splash.

'Elizabeth!' Hermione shouted in worry. Behind her, Will made more angry noises.

Jack looked around in shock as two of Barbossa's men dragged him over to the plank also. Jack looked down at the plank before turning. 'I'd really rather hoped we were past all this,' he said to Barbossa with a slightly pleading look on his face.

Barbossa smiled, placing his arm around Jack's shoulder. 'Jack…, Jack. Did ya not notice? That be the same little island that we made you Governor of on our last little trip,' he told him, pointing out to the distant island.

Jack turned to look at it before looking back at Barbossa. 'I did notice,' he answered. 'When you sail the open sea as long as I, you learn to trust the signs fate sends your way,' Jack said irritably.

Barbossa smiled a toothy smile. 'Perhaps you'll be able to conjure up another miraculous escape…, but I doubt it,' he said, unsheathing his sword and brandishing it at Jack's throat. 'Off you go,' he said.

Jack moved back towards the plank. Jack stopped just before stepping onto the plank and sighed. 'It's pure evil to make a Captain walk the plank of his ship, twice in one lifetime. No good can come of it,' he warned Barbossa.

Barbossa chuckled, lifting the sword, so the blade rested just under Jack's chin. 'Now, Jack. That reef is less than a league distance. It's a square deal all around, and you can't hope for better,' he told him.

Jack nodded absently. 'Someone needs to cut these bonds, then,' Jack requested of him.

Barbossa smiled, showing a pistol and pointing it at Jack. 'You'd best take a swim, Jack,' he told him firmly.

Jack's eyes widened, looking at the pistol and then back at Barbossa. 'Last time, you left me a pistol with one shot,' he said, raising his eyebrows and looking at Barbossa somewhat hopefully.

The pirates muttered in agreement. 'That's proper, sir, according to the code,' Ragetti said.

Barbossa feigned looking shocked by this. 'By the powers, you're right,' he answered, turning to his crew. 'Where be Jack 's pistol? Bring it forward,' Barbossa ordered. One of the pirates brought it forward, handing it to Barbossa.

Jack looked at the one pistol momentarily before looking at the island. 'Seeing as there's two of us, a gentleman… would give us a pair of pistols,' Jack said hopefully.

Barbossa shook his head. 'It'll be one pistol as before, and you can be the gentleman and shoot the lady and starve to death yourself,' he answered, throwing the pistol into the sea. 'That is, presuming you're both not drowned,' he smirked. Jack glared at him. 'So how did you get off that island, anyway?' he asked Jack curiously.

Jack looked down at the water where his pistol had disappeared before looking back at him nonchalantly. 'You can go to your grave not knowing,' he answered.

'That's fair,' Barbossa answered as if he didn't care. He watched Jack dive into the ocean after his pistol.

Jack plunged down into the water, appearing on the surface, floundering as he struggled to stay afloat. Elizabeth, who was still in the water, spotted Jack below her now, sinking and struggling. Sighing, she took a deep breath and swam down. She untied his bonds before swimming back to the surface.

Looking around, she expected to see Jack surface next to her. She looked around and saw him, inexplicably, swimming the other way, further into the depths. Confused, she watched as, finally, Jack broke the surface next to her, sucking in air. He pulled his hand out of the water, showing her what he went after. It was his pistol, which he tucked into his shirt. Elizabeth stared at him in disbelief. 'You went back for that? We need to head for the reef!' she shouted, shaking her head and swimming towards the island. Jack shrugged before following her.

They waded out onto the beach where Jack looked back at the Pearl, shaking his head. 'That's the second time I've had to watch that man sail away with my ship,' he muttered. Behind him, Elizabeth rolled her eyes.

Chapter Text

Chapter Ten: Unexpected Bastardy

Elizabeth walked along the surf line, her bare feet leaving prints in the sand. She finally met up with matching footprints she made earlier, going in the same direction. She had walked all the way around the island.

Jack watched her from his position, sitting on the beach. 'Not all that big, is it?' he said to her as she passed him. He took out his pistol earlier and dismantled it, laying the parts, ball, and the powder to dry on his scarf.

'Has it changed since the last time you were here?' she asked, watching him.

'The trees are taller,' he answered distractedly. He checked to see if the pistol parts were dry, and they were. He set about reassembling and loading his pistol, feeling a lot better about it being usable again.

Elizabeth frowned at him. 'I hope you have no intention of using that,' she said, worry in her tone.

Jack finished putting his pistol back together, shoving it into his belt and standing up. 'Not yet. Ask me again in a few weeks,' he told her, walking off towards the trees.

Elizabeth gaped at him, not believing her ears. 'Captain Sparrow! We have to get off this island, immediately!' she shouted after him, following him.

Jack stopped, looking at her. 'Don't be thinking I'm not already working on it,' he answered with a sigh. Turning on his heel, he walked through the trees to the other side of the island.

Elizabeth watched him for a moment before following. 'But you were marooned on this island before, weren't you? So, we can escape in the same way you did then,' she reasoned with him.

He continued walking at a fast pace, but he spun around to face her after a moment. 'To what point and purpose, young Missy?' He asked. She looked back at him with a frown. 'The Black Pearl is gone. Unless you have a rudder and a lot of sails hidden in that bodice—unlikely—young Mr Turner will be dead long before you can reach him. And who knows what will happen to your bonny wee Sister,' he explained. He turned away and continued walking.

Elizabeth followed, watching him knock on a tree trunk. 'But you're Captain Jack Sparrow. You vanished from under the eyes of seven agents of the East India Company,' she said, counting off the things he had done. He took four large steps, jumping up and down on the spot a few times. 'You sacked Nassau Port without even firing a shot. Are you the pirate I've read about or not?' she said to him. He stopped, looking at her. 'How did you escape last time?' she asked him.

Jack sighed, hesitantly beginning his seemingly heroic tale. 'Last time… I was here a grand total of three days, all right?' he answered, and she frowned at him in shock. 'Last time…' he paused, climbing up towards a clump of palm trees, digging for something beneath the sand. He let out a nervous laugh, finding what he was looking for: a large iron ring.

'What is that? Is there a boat under there?' Elizabeth asked, rushing up to join him. Jack ignored her, heaving the trap door up and over, revealing a pit. Inside there were barrels and bottles of rum, all covered with dust and cobwebs, long abandoned. Jack's face fell. 'What? What's wrong? How will this help us get off the island?' Elizabeth asked him.

Jack sighed, kicking a barrel. 'It won't. It won't, and so we won't,' he answered, continuing before Elizabeth could start speaking. 'Last time, the rum-runners used this island as a cache. Came by and I was able to barter a passage off,' he explained, climbing down into the cellar. 'From the looks of things, they've long been out of business. Probably… have your bloody friend Norrington to thank for that,' he told her, climbing back out with two bottles of rum in his hands.

Elizabeth looked at him angrily, raising her hands in frustration. 'So, that's it, then? That's the secret grand adventure of the infamous Jack Sparrow?' she asked. He nodded, and she looked at him in irritation. 'You spent three days lying on a beach, drinking rum!' she asked angrily.

Jack smiled. 'Welcome to the Caribbean, love,' he answered, walking away. He turned back to her for a moment, saluting her with his bottle. 'You should look at our contretemps this way: we've got shaded trees, thank the Lord. We've got some food on the trees, thank the Lord again. Moreover, we've got rum, praise the Lord. We can stay alive a month, maybe more. Keep a weather eye open for passing ships, and our chances are fair,' he told her.

This was not what Elizabeth wanted to hear. 'A month? Will doesn't have a month! And god knows what they will do to Cassandra! We've got to do something to help them!' Elizabeth shouted.

Jack raised his eyebrows. 'You're right,' he answered, hoisting the bottle. 'Here's luck to you, Will Turner,' he said, taking a drink and defiantly returning her angry gaze. He turned away, sitting down. 'As for your lovely Sister, she is a spitfire to be sure. I'm sure she can handle herself,' he said, glancing back at Elizabeth who was still glaring at him. 'Don't be thinking I'm happy about this, Elizabeth. I see no use in wailing and gnashing my teeth over that which I can do nothing about,' he told her seriously, taking another swig of rum.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes. 'Not when you can drink instead, at least,' she answered angrily.

Jack sighed, picking up the other bottle he grabbed as well and tossed it to her. 'Try it. It goes down rough, but it goes down, and the second swig goes down easier,' he told her, taking another drink.

Elizabeth looked down at the bottle angrily, about to throw it away. Something stopped her, and she came to a decision. She looked at Jack for a long moment, before walking over and sitting next to him.

She glanced at him while unsealing the bottle, taking a swig and gagged at the strong after-taste. For a while, the two of them sat in silence, looking out at the horizon. She broke the silence. 'And you will call me Miss Swann,' she muttered. Jack looked at her in surprise before toasting her. Elizabeth studied the bottle, before giving Jack a sidelong glance, taking another drink.

The sun was setting on the horizon as the two of them managed to get a fire going. Jack began drinking his bottle of rum heartily. Jack, who was quite drunk, didn't seem to notice Elizabeth had only been sipping hers and was nowhere near as drunk as him. As the two sat by the fire, Elizabeth began humming lightly before singing under her breath. 'Drink up me hearties, yo ho…'

Jack looked at her. 'What? What was that?' he asked. Elizabeth smiled in embarrassment. 'Something funny, Miss Swann? Share, please,' he said, nudging her with his bottle.

Elizabeth chuckled. 'Nothing… it's nothing. Just… I'm reminded of a song I learned as a child. A song about pirates,' she told him, taking another drink.

'I know a lot of songs about pirates, but none I'd teach a child. Let's hear it,' he said, leaning back on his elbows in the sand.

'Oh, no… it's silly. Back in England, we didn't know a thing about pirates. They seemed so romantic and daring…' she trailed off. Jack sat back up, looking at her with a smirk on his face. She knew he liked the sound of that, so she continued. 'That was before I met one, of course,' she added, looking at him, but this never seemed to faze him.

'Now I must hear this song. An authentic pirate song. Have at it!' he insisted.

Elizabeth chuckled at his enthusiasm. 'Well, perhaps… with a bit more to drink, I might…' she trailed off, taking another sip of her rum.

Jack leapt up. 'More to drink!' he shouted, running to gather two more bottles, tossing one to her. Elizabeth dropped the one she was holding, which was only half-finished, to catch the new bottle. Elizabeth glanced back at the other one lying in the sand and grimaced, opening her new bottle and taking a sip. Jack appeared again at her side, sitting down cross-legged in the sand. 'Well?' he asked, nudging her with his bottle.

Elizabeth took another sip, clearing her throat. She began to sing self-consciously, her voice becoming stronger as she went on. 'We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, we loot, drink up me hearties, yo ho,' she sang, gesturing for Jack to take a drink before continuing. 'We kidnap and ravage, and we don't give a hoot, drink up me hearties, yo ho—' she stopped as Jack joined in.

Jack sang out a lot louder than Elizabeth. Eventually, he stood up, pulling her up as well and they began singing and dancing arm in arm around the fire. 'We're devils and black sheep and really bad eggs. Drink up me 'earties yo ho! Yo ho, yo ho a pirate's life for me!' they sang, continuing to dance.

'I love this song!' Jack shouted out. They both met each other in the middle, swinging around arm in arm again. 'Really bad eggs! Ooh!' he said falling and taking Elizabeth down with him. He sighed, looking out onto the horizon. 'When I get the Pearl back, I'm gonna teach it to the whole crew, and we'll sing it all the time!' He told her with a smile, which Elizabeth returned, saluting the idea with her bottle. Jack had tossed his empty bottle behind him, so he was unable to answer the salute. Elizabeth handed him hers, which he took a large swig off before settling shakily on his arms in the sand.

Elizabeth smiled back, feigning being drunk. 'You'll be positively the most fearsome pirate in the Spanish Main,' Elizabeth said, feeding his ego.

Jack shook his head a little. 'Not just the Spanish Main, love. The entire ocean. The entire wo'ld. Wherever we want to go, we'll go. That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel, a hull and a deck and sails. That's what a ship needs, but what a ship is… what the Black Pearl really is… is freedom,' he explained to her. She smiled and nodded.

Elizabeth leaned her head against his shoulder. 'Jack… it must be really terrible for you to be trapped on this island,' she said.

Jack looked at her in confusion because she was leaning on him. Jack shrugged a little. 'Oh, yes,' he answered, putting his arm around her. 'But the company is infinitely better than last time, I think. The scenery has definitely improved,' he said, complimenting her as well. He made to move in, and so did she.

She moved away before their lips could touch. Elizabeth laughed slightly, looking at him. 'Mr Sparrow… I'm not entirely sure that I've had enough rum to allow that kind of talk,' she explained. She was glad she pulled away before they kissed. She knew she would regret it.

Jack smiled. 'I know exactly what you mean, love,' he answered, curling his moustache.

Elizabeth grabbed one of the other bottles lying by the fire, opening it, and raising it in a toast. 'To freedom,' she said.

Jack raised his bottle. 'To the Black Pearl,' he toasted. They clinked their bottles together, and he downed his, losing consciousness.

Elizabeth looked on in disgust before looking at the fire, smiling. Elizabeth got up, leaving Jack where he had passed out and made for the cellar. She grabbed barrels of food, bottles of rum, and anything else she could find before carrying them back and throwing them on the fire.

oOoOo

Jack was fast asleep, lying in the sunlight appearing on the horizon. His nose twitched as he stirred, and smoke drifted by above him. As the smoke drifted nearer to him, his nose twitched again, and he frowned before opening his eyes. Jack groaned, sitting up and rubbing his temples to clear his morning hangover. He looked over the island, realising all the foliage was on fire, the smoke rising into the clear blue sky. Leaping to his feet, he grabbed his head in pain. He squinted, watching Elizabeth pour out the last of the rum, dousing a scrub brush at the base of a palm tree. The whole thing went up in flames before she rolled a barrel forward and it also started to burn merrily.

Jack stared in disbelief, wondering if this was some horrible nightmare. He slapped himself to wake up, but when he saw Elizabeth toss another barrel onto the fire and a small explosion went off, he began to panic. 'No! Not good! Stop! Not good!' he shouted, running over to her. 'What are you doing? You burned all the food, the shade! The rum!' he shouted, grabbing his head in irritation as he looked at her.

'Yes, the rum is gone,' she answered, looking at the massive fire. She wiped her hands together as another rum barrel let off another explosion.

Jack stared at her in bewilderment. 'Why is the rum gone?' he asked as if it was the end of the world.

Elizabeth turned to him sharply, causing him to take a step back. He could see anger building in her eyes. 'One, because it is a vile drink that turns even the most respectable men into complete scoundrels,' she explained. Jack stared at her blankly, so she continued. 'Two, that signal is over a thousand feet high. The entire Royal Navy is out looking for Cassandra and me. Do you really think that there is even the slightest chance that they won't see it?' she asked him but sighed in irritation as his blank look didn't lift.

Jack stared at her in disbelief. 'You… you burned up the island, for a one-time chance at being spotted?'

'Exactly,' she answered, before turning towards the sea.

'But why is the rum gone?' he asked again in anger this time.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes, sitting down on the sand to stare out at the horizon. 'Just wait, Captain Sparrow,' she told him without looking at him, instead pointing to the horizon. 'You give it one hour, maybe two, keep a weather eye out, and then you will see white sails on that horizon,' she told him. She shielded her eyes, scanning the water determinedly, waiting, and searching.

Speechless, Jack threw his hands in the air. He looked down at her with unguarded anger, taking out his pistol to shoot her for what he deemed her insolence and selfishness at burning his precious rum. He then thought better of it, placing it back in his belt and stalking off up the dune in anger just to get away from her. As he got to the top of the dune, he glanced back down where he could see a speck sitting on the sand. '"Must've been terrible for you to be trapped here, Jack. Must've been terrible for you",' he imitated Elizabeth before shouting. 'Well, it bloody is now!' Jack reached the crest of the dune where he stopped, staring incredulously at the horizon. Anchored on the other side of the island, white sails glorious against the turquoise waters, was the H.M.S. Dauntless. In the water was a longboat rowing towards the island. Jack rubbed his eyes in frustration, before looking back down towards the beach. 'There'll be no living with her after this,' he muttered, slumping his shoulders in defeat.

oOoOo

Jack made his way back down to the beach as the rowboat was pulling onto the shore. Elizabeth and Jack got in, and they rowed back to the Dauntless. It wasn't long before they were on board and Norrington pulled Elizabeth into his arms. 'Elizabeth, I'm relieved you're safe,' he said.

Elizabeth pulled away, giving him a nervous smile. 'Yes, I'm fine, Commodore,' she answered. 'But we've got to save Will and Cassandra,' she told him. He shook his head, and Elizabeth looked at him in shock.

He turned towards Jack, raising his eyebrows before nodding to the soldiers. 'Clap him in irons, and behind his back this time,' he ordered them. They fetched the irons, clapping them on Jack.

'Commodore, you can't do that!' Elizabeth shouted, beginning to panic.

'You're speaking up for him again?' Norrington asked, rounding on her.

Elizabeth shook her head. 'He can locate Isla de Muerta – but I doubt he'll be willing to help us from the brig,' she told him.

Jack nodded. 'She's right. We had time to get to know each other,' he answered, smiling at Elizabeth who rolled her eyes.

Norrington sighed. 'We are bound for Port Royal, not Isla de Muerta,' he told her, making to walk up to the bridge.

Elizabeth stared at him in disbelief. 'No. The pirates have taken Cassandra and–'  she started, but he cut her off.

'No. You're safe now, and we have already sent soldiers out to save Cassandra. Your Father is frantic with worry. Our mission was to rescue you both and return home to Port Royal immediately, not go gallivanting after pirates!' he told her sternly.

Elizabeth was having none of it. 'Then we condemn them to death,' she asked in shock. She couldn't believe they weren't even going to go after Cassandra. 'Commodore, please!'

Norrington sighed. 'Cassandra will be safe once they find her. The boy's fate is regrettable, but so was his decision to engage in piracy,' he answered.

Elizabeth threw up her hands in the air in frustration. 'To rescue me. To prevent anything from happening to me,' she answered, before shaking her head worriedly. 'Cassandra was with them! They will not hesitate to kill her as well after they have executed Will. They may even kill her beforehand! Do those soldiers you sent out even know the way to Isla de Muerta?' she asked. Norrington seemed to think about this. 

Jack raised his eyebrows at this, deciding to step in. 'If I may be so bold as to inject my professional opinion,' he said. They all turned to him as he continued. 'The Pearl was listing near to scuppers after the battle. It's very unlikely she'll be able to make good time. Think about it. The Black Pearl. The last real pirate threat in the Caribbean, mate. How can you pass that up?' he asked.

The Commodore turned to him. 'By remembering that I serve others, Mr Sparrow, not only myself,' he answered, turning to walk away again.

Elizabeth looked stricken at this, how can they just leave Cassandra? She thought. She stepped forward, placing her hands on the handrails of the stairs to the Helm of the ship. 'Commodore, I beg you, please do this. For me. As a wedding gift,' she said, staring up at him. Norrington turned to her in shock.

Gillette asked. 'Elizabeth, are you accepting the Commodore's proposal?'

Elizabeth sighed. 'I am,' she answered, continuing to look up at Norrington hopefully.

Jack smiled. 'A wedding! I love weddings… drinks all around!' he shouted as Murtogg and Mullroy looked at him in bewilderment. Jack looked at the arrogant expression on Norrington's face. 'I know, "Clap him in irons", right?' he asked with a smile still etched on his face.

Norrington rolled his eyes. 'Mr Sparrow, you will accompany these fine men to the Helm and provide us with the bearing to Isla de Muerta,' he told him, and Jack nodded. 'You will then spend the rest of the voyage contemplating all possible meanings of the phrase "silent as the grave". Do I make myself clear?' he asked.

Jack smiled. 'Inescapably clear,' he answered. Murtogg and Mullroy took his arms, dragging him up to the Helm of the ship.

Norrington turned to Elizabeth. 'You may seclude yourself in my cabin. I'm afraid we do not have any ladies' clothing aboard,' he told her, taking in her undergarments.

Elizabeth looked down at herself. 'Then I can wear men's clothing,' she suggested.

'That would hardly be proper,' Norrington argued, shaking his head.

Elizabeth huffed. 'Well, I am not going to stay hidden in some cabin, or I suppose it's going to be heaving bosoms and bare for the remainder of the voyage!' she answered stubbornly, folding her arms over her chest.

Exasperated, Norrington stared at her, but couldn't help grinning at her defiance. This was precisely why he loved her. She smiled back at him as if telling him she's not going to change. 'Murtogg, take our guest below, and find her some trousers and a shirt,' he ordered him. Elizabeth smiled, allowing him to escort her away. Norrington watched her go, before turning his gaze to the sea.

oOoOo

Back on the Black Pearl, Pintel entered the brig, looking in the cell Will and Hermione were locked in. There was no sign of Will because he was hanging from the rafters, trying to shove the ceiling planks with his legs. Pintel chuckled, causing Hermione to raise her eyebrows in question. 'That ain't going to work. That's the gun deck above ya,' he shouted up to Will. Will sighed, dropping back down to the ground.

Ragetti came down with two mops and a bucket, and he started swabbing the floor. Pintel took the other one, getting to work. Gibbs and the rest of Jack's crew were watching as Cotton's Parrot looked down, squawking. 'Awwk, shiver me timbers,' he said.

Gibbs chuckled, looking at Pintel. 'Cotton 'ere says you missed a bit,' he told him. Pintel hit the cell with his mop.

Hermione looked up as Will leaned against the cell bars, looking at Pintel. 'You knew William Turner?' he asked. Hermione came to stand next to him, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder.

Pintel stopped mopping, looking at Will. 'Ol' Bootstrap Bill. We knew him. Stupid blighter. He threw in with us after we relieved Jack Sparrow of his Captaincy. But turned out, it never sat well with him, the mutiny and all – particularly after we found Cortes' treasure, and its peculiar condition. He thought we deserved to be cursed, for leaving ol' Jack to the fate we did. He said it wasn't right with the Code. That's why he sent off a piece of the treasure – to you, as it were: so it would never be recovered, and so cursed we remain,' he explained, starting to mop again.

'And then he ran, and he's hiding out someplace where you haven't been able to find him,' Will said, his tone hopeful.

'That's a nice thought, to be sure, and I wager your ol' Dad wishes he'd thought it hisself, but, no. See, what he'd done, didn't sit too well with Captain Barbossa–'

Ragetti laughed, cutting him off. 'That didn't sit too well with the Captain, at all. Tell him what Barbossa did,' he said.

Pintel rolled his eyes in irritation. 'I'm telling the story!' he shouted at Ragetti who continued swabbing. He turned back to Will. 'So, he chained a cannon to ol' Bootstrap's Bootstraps, and dumped him over,' he answered. Will stepped back from the bars in shock at the account of his Father's fate.

Ragetti laughed. 'Stupid blighter,' he said, and Pintel smirked in agreement.

Gibbs frowned. 'Good man,' he put in.

'The last we saw of ol' Bill Turner, he was sinking into the crushing black oblivion of Davy Jones' Locker. 'Course it was only after that we learned we needed his blood to lift the curse,' he finished with a frown, shrugging.

'That's what you call ironic,' Ragetti added to Pintel's nod. Will looked down at the floor of the Pearl sadly. Hermione rubbed his back, trying to give him some comfort.

Barbossa appeared behind Pintel, flanked by several other pirates. He regarded Will for a moment, before tossing the key to their cell. Pintel caught it. 'Bring them!' he ordered, turning on his heel and making his way back up. Will looked down at Hermione worriedly, pulling her into his arms and kissing her forehead. Ragetti opened the cell door.

oOoOo

Jack stepped up to the rail, folding his arms over, waiting as he pretended to look out at sea. Elizabeth, dressed in sailors clothing to excellent effect, joined him and leaned on the rail as well. They stood in silence for a moment. Elizabeth glanced at him. 'You didn't tell Commodore Norrington everything,' she said to him.

'Nor did you, I noticed,' Jack said, looking at his fingernails before looking at her.

'He might delay the rescue… and that would be too late,' Elizabeth answered, defending her reasoning for not going into detail with Norrington.

Jack smiled. 'Exactly.'

'These men will be facing an enemy that seemingly cannot be killed,' Elizabeth said worriedly, wondering what would become of all the soldiers.

'I have a plan. If it succeeds, then any battle will be decidedly brief… and one-sided,' Jack answered with a smirk.

Elizabeth looked at him, frowning. 'What's your plan?' she asked curiously.

'LAND HO!' the lookout in the crow's nest called out.

Jack and Elizabeth looked in the direction the lookout was pointing in, seeing the Isla de Muerta laying dark and menacing on the horizon. Norrington appeared beside them with Gillette. 'Elizabeth – below decks. I will not compromise your safety,' he said defiantly, leaving no room for argument even as she opened her mouth to speak. He turned away, not giving her a chance. 'Lieutenant, escort Elizabeth to my quarters, and make sure she stays there,' he ordered Gillette. He looked between the Commodore and the now glaring Elizabeth worriedly. Norrington pretended not to notice this, gazing through his spyglass at the island. Jack watched in amusement as Gilette escorted Elizabeth away. Norrington lowered his spyglass, looking at Jack. 'I don't like the situation, Mister Sparrow. The island is riddled with caves. I will not put my men at a disadvantage. Any attempt to storm the caves could turn to an ambush,' he told him.

Jack smiled a toothy grin. 'Not if you're the one doing the ambushing,' he answered. He proceeded to tell him his plan as if they were about to go on a treasure hunt. 'I go in; I convince Barbossa to send his men out with their little boats. You and your mates return to the Dauntless and blast the bejesus outta them with your little cannons, eh?' he told him. Norrington became thoughtful, his expression then turned to disgust as Jack placed an arm around his shoulder. 'What do you have to lose?' Jack asked him with a smile.

Norrington took a deep breath, counting to ten in his head before peeling Jack's arm off from around his shoulders. 'Nothing I'd lament being rid of,' he answered.

Jack nodded. 'I knew you'd listen to reason!' Jack exclaimed. He then turned serious, tapping his chin, and clicking his tongue. 'Now, to be quite honest with you, there's still a slight risk for those aboard the Dauntless, which includes the future Mrs Commodore,' Jack told him. The Commodore looked back in confusion as the crew prepared to lower a longboat over the side. Jack wrapped his pistol securely in an oilskin pouch. 'That chart I drew up'll get you past the reefs. If you're steersman's good enough, that is,' Jack informed him.

Norrington glanced sideways at him. 'I'll be at the wheel myself,' he answered.

Jack nodded. 'I'll slip in, talk them into coming out, and you'll be free to blow high holy heaven the whole lot of them,' Jack told him. They got into the boat, and the crewmen lowered them into the water.

oOoOo

Up on the Dauntless, Gillette and another soldier pulled Elizabeth to the cabin, throwing her in. Elizabeth tried to go back out, but Gillette stopped her. 'Sorry, but it's for your safety,' he told her.

Elizabeth punched the other soldier, causing him to grab his, now, bleeding nose. 'Coward! The commodore ordered – I have to tell him! The pirates! They're cursed! They cannot be killed!' she shouted, but only realised after how insane she must have sounded.

Gillette smiled mockingly. 'Don't worry, miss. He's already informed of that. A little mermaid flopped up on deck and told him the whole story,' he told her, shutting the door.

Elizabeth banged on the door for a while. 'This is Jack Sparrow's doing!' she shouted. The lock clicked, and she leaned against the door in frustration.

oOoOo

In the caves, the group of pirates moved deeper into the depths of the island. Hermione and Will followed along unwillingly, pulled by Ragetti and Pintel. 'No reason to fret. It's just a prick of the finger, and a few drops of blood,' he told Will mockingly.

Barbossa turned then with a grin. 'Turner blood doesn't flow pure in his veins. Best play it safe, and spill it all,' he told them. The colour from Will's face drained, and Hermione looked at him worriedly.

Pintel shrugged. 'I guess there is a reason to fret,' he said with a grin.

In the torchlight, Hermione noticed cracks running between the floor, and the wall of the cave, which widened into a ravine. Barbossa appeared next to her, laying a hand on her shoulder making her jump. 'Careful, now. You could fall in and still be wonder'n when you'll hit dirt,' he said to her with a grin. She stepped away from the ravine.

Making a sudden decision, she intentionally stumbled as Ragetti pushed her forward. Closing her eyes, knowing what she was about to do may make Will hate her or even afraid of her, she took out her wand, casting the disarming charm towards the pirate in front of her. The torch he was carrying flew out of his hand and into her waiting hand. The force of the spell caused the pirate to fall into the wall of the cave. She stood in front of the pirates, armed with the torch and her wand, firing another spell at Pintel who let go of Will. Will took that opportunity to get over to her, looking at the wand in confusion. She pointed it at the pirates.

'What is this power!?' Pintel shouted, standing back up.

Hermione looked sideways at Will, giving him an apologetic expression. 'It's called Witchcraft. I'm sure you've heard of it,' Hermione answered, noticing Will's shocked expression. Hermione closed her eyes, knowing she had a lot of explaining to do. 'You all deserve to be cursed, and remain cursed!' She shouted, turning to Will. 'Jump into the ravine, now!' She told him. He dropped down without question. Hermione turned back to the pirates, raising her wand at the cave ceiling. 'Reducto!' She shouted, jumping into the ravine as the ceiling collapsed, blocking the passageway. The wall of the ravine became loose gravel due to the explosion from the passage ceiling, and Hermione hit it. She tumbled down, disappearing into the darkness below.

'Witchcraft! Blast that girl! A Witch! A pox on the boy, his Father, and the whole damnable line! Fan out! Find them! Kill the Witch and bring the boy to me!' Barbossa ordered. The pirates who were not crushed by the caved-in ceiling backtracked down the passage to find a way down into the ravine.

oOoOo

On the Dauntless, Elizabeth looked out of the Captain's small porthole seeing boats laden with Navy men heading towards the shore of the island. Turning away from the window, Elizabeth wished there was something she could do. As she looked around for a way to get out of the ship, she heard a flutter at the window. She looked over to see Cotton's parrot perched on the window ledge. 'Drink UP me hearties yo ho! Drink UP me hearties yo ho!' the parrot squawked, fluttering off and Elizabeth raced towards the porthole, and then to the stern window to see it fly away. Looking down to where Cotton's parrot flew off, she could see a small rowboat fastened to the stern of the ship. A small, hopeful smile flitted onto her face.

oOoOo

Will watched as Hermione got to her feet sheepishly, looking at him fearfully. Will sighed, walking towards her and taking her wand out of her hand, examining it. 'You have a lot of explaining to do, Cassandra. I have no idea how you did what you did, but you have bought us some time,' he said, handing her wand back.

'I know, I promise I'll tell you everything as soon as we are out of this mess,' she said. Her voice was weak with the knowledge of what she would have to tell him. It may end up with her being the star guest at the gallows.

Will nodded, before taking her hand and they ran through the ravine, turning this way and that. Eventually, they could see a light, and they headed towards it, turning around a corner, and ran straight into someone.

Stepping back in alarm, Will let out a breath of relief upon realising it was Jack. Jack looked between the two of them in surprise, before grabbing their arms. 'Do you have any idea where you're going?' he asked them, glancing at Hermione, who gave him a small smile.

'Jack!' Will exclaimed, feeling like he could hug the bastard, even though he was also wondering how the hell he got there.

'Jack, where's Elizabeth!?' Hermione shouted, hoping that Jack being here meant she was also safe.

'We'll talk later. Don't speak; these caves magnify sound. Just follow me,' he told them. They nodded, following him through the caves.

Jack led them through a series of narrow passages, stopping and staring around himself a few times before carrying on. Will was just behind Jack, pulling Hermione behind him. The third time they stopped, Hermione sighed in frustration. 'Are you certain this is the right way?' she asked him.

Jack looked at her for a long moment before answering. 'It's the right way,' he replied, nodding to a crack in the wall he was looking through. The two joined him, looking through the crack to see what he was staring at. Through the crack was piles upon piles of treasure, sparkling, glowing, and seemingly endless. On top of the centre pile, in a moonlit clearing, was a stone Aztec chest.

'Thank you, Jack Sparrow,' came a voice from behind them, making them jump. Barbossa was standing right behind them, flanked by his men. The trio whirled around to run, but more pirates emerged from all directions, effectively cutting them off. Nearly the entire crew of the Black Pearl was there, except for the few who were crushed by the passage ceiling. The pirates grabbed the three of them, Will and Hermione instantly started struggling, but Jack did not bother fighting at all. Barbossa smirked at them all in turn. 'You couldn't have led him back more directly if you knew exactly where you were going,' he laughed, moving forward towards the stone chest. The pirates followed, dragging the three captives with them.

'You did know where you were going! You led us directly to them!' Will shouted angrily. Jack remained silent, not looking at either of his companions.

'Why, Jack?' Hermione asked, her voice quiet.

Jack glanced at her, shocked to note the undertone of hurt in her voice. Jack looked away, not wanting to see her hurt expression anymore.

The pirates grabbed Will, manhandling him towards the chest. 'The girl dies once we have dealt with Mr Turner. We wouldn't want her to taint us with her Witchcraft again,' Barbossa said. Jack looked at Hermione in confusion, but she had her eyes lowered to the ground. Jack watched Barbossa walk into the moonlight, becoming skeletal, and he put the medallion around Will's neck. He picked up a stone knife. 'What was begun by blood, let blood now end it!' he shouted to cheers, raising the knife to Will's throat. Hermione averted her eyes, tears beginning to fall, thinking they were not going to get out of this one. She felt Jack move closer to her. She looked at him as he winked at her causing her to frown at what he could be planning now.

Jack continued to look at her as he said. 'You don't want to be doing that.' Then he looked up at Barbossa.

Barbossa made a show of pretending to think about his words, before lowering the knife to Will's throat again. 'No, I really think I do,' he answered.

Jack shrugged. 'All right then, your funeral,' he muttered, looking away.

Barbossa paused then, rolling his eyes and moving away from Will and out of the moonlight. 'Why don't I be wanting to do this?' he asked Jack out of morbid curiosity.

Jack grinned. 'Because, right about now, the H.M.S. Dauntless is lying in wait in the lagoon,' Jack informed him, and Will's eyes widened in horror.

'Jack!' Hermione exclaimed in shock.

Jack ignored them both, continuing, 'And its guns and crew will cut you and your men to pieces the moment you step outside these caves.'

At these words, a buzz of apprehension swept through the pirates. 'Do you believe him?' Pintel asked Barbossa who looked as though he was considering Jack's words carefully.

Barbossa shook his head. 'No,' he answered. Jack's shoulders slumped at this, but he perked up as Barbossa nodded towards Hermione and then Will. 'But I believe these two,' he said before looking at Will. 'He is genuinely angry,' he answered to nods from the pirates.

Jack relaxed. 'You've no hope of surviving Norrington's attack… that is, if you're mortal.'

Barbossa who looked back towards him with a frown. 'What're you suggesting?'

Jack shook off the hands holding him, strolling towards Barbossa, Will, and the chest of coins. He turned back to look at the pirates for a moment, deliberately avoiding eye contact with Hermione out of fear of what he would see in her eyes. He looked back at Barbossa. 'Simple. Don't kill the boy yet. Wait for a more opportune moment,' he suggested. Will glared at him, listening to every word he was saying. Jack moved over to the chest, looking at Will for a moment before scooping up a handful of coins from the chest. Keeping eye contact with Will, he began dropping the coins one-by-one back into the chest as he spoke. 'Like after you've killed… Every… Last… One… of Norrington's men,' he said emphasising his words with a drop of a coin.

Barbossa eyed him suspiciously. 'I can't help wondering, Jack, why you're being so helpful and all? Last time you did that, it didn't end well for you,' he said, clicking his tongue trying to figure Jack out.

'The situation has changed,' Jack answered, turning back towards him.

'That so?' Barbossa asked, raising his eyebrows and gesturing for Jack to explain.

'Aye. See, after you're done with the Royal Navy, you'll have a bit of a problem: The H.M.S. Dauntless. There you'll be, with two lovely ships on your hands, and what to do? Of course, you'll decide you deserve the bigger one, and who's to argue? The Dauntless: a first-rate ship-of-line, and with it, you can rule the seas,' he paused for a beat, letting this sink in. He continued, 'But if you're Captain of the Dauntless, who's left for the Black Pearl?' he asked with a smile, spreading his hands. 'Me! I sail for you as part of your fleet, I give you fifteen percent of my plunder, and you get to introduce yourself at tea parties and brothels as "Commodore Barbossa",' he said, sticking out his hand towards Barbossa. 'Do we have an accord?' He asked. Barbossa licked his lips, obviously tempted. 'Now, you can take care of the Dauntless, right?' he said, his tone hopeful.

Barbossa turned from Jack to the pirates. 'Men! Are you up for it?' he asked them. The pirates yelled back in the affirmative. Barbossa turned back to Jack, shaking his hand. 'Mr Pintel, select five men to stay here. Take the rest of the men out… not through the caves,' he ordered, keeping his eyes on Jack.

Jack's expression faltered; this he hadn't planned on. 'There's… another exit?' he asked him in surprise.

Barbossa smirked. 'Aye, for us there is.'

oOoOo

Moonlight shone down into the shallow waters, brightening the coral, and sparkling over the rippled sand floor. Suddenly, all the fish scattered in the seemingly empty water and figures appeared in the distance, wavering in the shifting current. They scuffled forward, kicking up clouds of sand, and the figures resolved into skeletal pirates, moving silently across the lagoon floor, swords glinting. The tatters of their clothing drifted in the water, their skull heads fixed in endless grins.

The lead pirate glided forward, stopping next to a huge iron anchor twice his height, buried halfway into the sand. A heavy chain with barrel-sized links climbed up toward the surface. A shadow fell across the lead pirate, transforming him into an ordinary man, revealing him to be Pintel. He looked up, above the massive chain led to the giant bottom hull of the H.M.S. Dauntless, silhouetted by the moonlight. The colossal shift drifted, again spilling light below, and the pirates gathered around the anchor were once again transformed into skeletons, staring with upturned faces. Pintel put a knife between his teeth, crawling up the iron rings.

The other pirates crowded forward, and soon the anchor-chain became clustered with skeletons.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eleven: Friend or Foe?

Elizabeth managed to get a small boat, rowing away from the Dauntless, looking ahead over her shoulder. Cotton's parrot was nowhere to be seen now. In the distance, Pintel broke through the surface near the Dauntless, intending on climbing up the anchor. He glanced over as Elizabeth rounded the point, rocking the obscure longboat from view. Shrugging, and gesturing to his fellow skeletal pirates who appeared, Pintel climbed up the anchor.

In the lagoon, two sailors, alert and vigilant, stared out towards the shore. The island revealed nothing but complete blackness. The sailors jumped upon hearing a strange scurrying sound like bones scraping against metal. They continued to listen intently, but after a few moments, there was nothing more. The taller of the two shrugged at his companion. 'Ship rats. Big ones,' he said, chuckling.

The smaller one nodded. 'Hate those things,' he muttered, scanning the shore for any movement. The two sailors turned back, continuing their vigil. There was a long silence between them before the small one spoke again. 'Taste all right, though,' he added thoughtfully.

The tall one looked at him for a moment, before looking back out at the shore. 'That they do,' he agreed with a shrug. From behind, the two sailors were well-lit by a lantern. Shadows appeared, skeletons were climbing up the ship behind the sailors. Skeletal arms reached up, grabbing the sailors from behind, picking them up and tossing them over the rail, hitting the water with a splash.

Pintel looked down into the water, satisfied with his actions, and put away his knife. Looking down, he noticed a long piece of seaweed in his ribcage and pulled it out, tossing it over into the water as well before turning to the others. 'Be quick, now. Train the starboard guns on the beach, and set your aim. Wait for my signal, we don't want to spook them,' he ordered. The other pirates scurried off in a hurry to comply.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth rounded the point until the Black Pearl, anchored in the neighbouring cove, came into her sight. 'Oh where are Cassandra and Will,' she muttered to herself, scanning the cove. She caught a fleck of colour by the Pearl as Cotton's Parrot darted through a porthole. Elizabeth slowed her efforts, silently approaching the ship. She drew up as close as she could, climbing up the side as quietly as she could. She climbed over the railing, moving towards the deck, glancing around the corner to see there were figures on the deck.

Four pirates, who ought to have been keeping watch, gathered on the deck. They had collected wine bottles, and rum casts into a pile, along with apples, biscuits, and all the food they could find on the ship. The moonlight cast them as skeletons, their bones shining like marble. They acted out a mock-feast, in anticipation of the curse getting lifted finally. A skinny skeleton offered two bottles, one of them wine and the other rum, to a big-boned skeleton settled on the deck next to him. 'Which would you prefer first, good sir—rum, or wine?' he asked him.

The big-boned skeleton looked at the two bottles. 'I believe I'll have a spot o' rum, if you don't mind, and thank'ee kind sir!' he answered in the same mock tone his companion used. They burst out laughing, a hideous sound wheezing through their bones.

Behind them, unnoticed as they were not paying attention, Elizabeth peeked around the corner again. Picking her moment carefully, she sneaked past them down a gangway, disappearing into the darkness of the ship. She hoped they left Cassandra on board, but also prayed they would have enough time to reach Will in the cove.

oOoOo

Scanning the cove, Gillette crouched down before running low behind a line of rocks where Norrington waited, hidden behind a larger rock. 'All the men are in place, sir. Ready to fire,' he reported to, receiving a curt nod.

'Good, wait for my order—' A booming sound cut him off, echoing throughout the night. 'What the blazes is that?' he muttered more to himself than to Gillette. They looked around behind them, noticing it was cannon fire coming from the Dauntless. They dived out of the way as cannonballs hit the shore, the sounds of the hidden men crying out in anguish reaching their ears. 'Men! Take cover!' Norrington shouted. The sailors scrambled to find refuge.

oOoOo

Hermione felt helpless standing next to the chest which caused so much drama amongst the pirates who were holding them prisoner. Two bulky pirates flanked her sides, holding onto the chains binding her. If only she could reach her wand from where she stored it in her boot when they took her into the hold of the Black Pearl. Luckily, the pirates hadn't even thought to take it off her, that it may be a weapon of their undoing. She used magic in front of them last time, though Barbossa didn't seem to realise how dangerous she is.

She glanced at Will who was looking at Jack as if he might tear him limb from limb, and she wasn't surprised. Jack had betrayed them, and it was his fault they were in this place. Though Hermione wondered what Jack's game was. He hated Barbossa from what she could recall of her conversation with Gibbs. Why would Jack help the one person who took everything from him?

Will spoke, interrupting her thoughts. 'You've been planning this from the beginning. Since you learned my name.' It wasn't a question. Will was stating a fact while glaring at Jack from where three pirates were guarding him.

Jack smirked, and Hermione couldn't help thinking of Draco Malfoy, wondering if the two were distantly related. Jack glanced at Barbossa, taking the opportunity to move towards him. 'Oh, please! Did I really seem that clever?' he asked him, rolling his eyes.

'Jack you sold us out!' Hermione shouted, whimpering as one of the pirates pulled the chain forcefully, causing them to cut into her skin.

Jack paused, looking at her before shooting a glare at the pirates. Hermione looked at him, and he winked at her. He was still smiling, while smoothly slipping a sword from one of the pirate's scabbards. He tossed it to Will who caught it despite his surprise. 'Use it well,' he said, drawing his sword and clobbering one of the guards holding Hermione. He hit the other one, grabbing the key, and unlocked the chains binding her before Barbossa and the other pirates recovered from their shock.

Barbossa growled. 'Confound it, Jack! I was actually beginning to like you!' he shouted. The pirates drew their swords, advancing on the three companions.

Hermione pulled out her wand, casting protective spells around them. The two looked at her for a moment. 'What on earth—' Will began, getting cut off as a pirate engaged him in battle.

Jack clashed swords with two pirates but smiled at her. 'I knew there was something special about you, love!' He shouted, thrusting his sword through one of the pirate's chests, using his foot as leverage to pull it out. He turned to engage the other before he got skewered.

'Yes well, save it for later!' Hermione shouted, firing spells at the pirates, finding it to be more efficient when they were in their regular form rather than as skeletons.

Jack and Will were back to back, taking on many opponents, each had their style of fighting. Will parried, glissaded, and disarmed his enemies with lightning fast speed and perfect form. Jack used his blade, his fists, acrobatics, and anything within his reach to survive. Hermione watched the contrast between them with some amusement. She would have commented had she not also been fighting for her survival. Her technique was using the Petrificus Totalus curse to petrify them before stunning them just to be safe. She was still dubious about the last time her wand hadn't worked against them. It seemed to be holding this time thankfully.

oOoOo

On the beach, the sailors charged towards refuge just as the moon emerged from behind a cloud. Suddenly, an army of skeletons rose up from the sea, charging the stunned sailors, striking several of them down. 'Steady, men! Remember—we're the Navy!' Norrington shouted. The sailors recovered their nerve at these words, engaging the enemy. It became a full-on battle between the Royal Navy against the skeleton pirates. Eventually, the skeletal army surrounded the Navy men, driving them back when there was a sudden boom of cannon fire. Norrington, in the midst of a swordfight, turned to see what was going on. 'What is happening out there?' he muttered to himself, blocking the attack of the skeleton he was fighting.

Meanwhile, on the deck of the Black Pearl, Gibbs, Anamaria, and Cotton had managed to seize it. Elizabeth acted as its Captain, steering around the point, cannons blazing.

Gillette looked over then, seeing the Black Pearl firing on the Dauntless. 'They're on our side! Take heart, men!' He shouted. The Royal Navy men stood their ground, continuing the fight.

Elizabeth was becoming panicked. She checked the entire ship, and there was no sign of Cassandra. She prayed her little Sister was safe, not knowing said "Sister" was currently holding her own against the pirates within the cove.

Hermione, for her part, had managed to paralyse and stun quite a few pirates. She was starting to get restless as they realised her trick and moved into the moonlight where her magic was ineffective against their skeletal form. She glanced over at Will and Jack while staying in the shadows, her wand trained on the pirates in case they moved into the shadows where she could attack them…

Her thoughts turned to Elizabeth. She knew if Jack escaped the island she would like to think he wouldn't have left her there or that Elizabeth would have let him, which meant she had to be close by.

She just hoped the older girl was safe…

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve: The Demise of Captain Barbossa

Hermione shouted out when one of the pirate’s grabbed her around the waist, trying to pry her wand from her hands. She elbowed him in the stomach, but this did little to him. Jack, having heard her shout, looked around, noticing she was struggling. He leapt from the pile of treasure he was fighting a pirate on, sprinting towards the pirate grappling Hermione, and tackled him to the ground. He stood up, offering his hand to Hermione.

Hermione looked up at him, taking his hand. He pulled her up quickly, making her fall into him and she placed her hands on his chest to steady herself. For a moment he kept a firm grip on her waist and the two locked eyes. Jack smirked, leaning down close. 'You will be the death of me, my dear,' he whispered, his lips close to her ear. With that, he took her hand, placing a gentle kiss on the back of it before winking and running off back into the fray.

Hermione shook her head. 'Not likely,' she muttered, looking at the pirate who grabbed her. He was making his way back to his feet so she pointed her wand at him, stunning him before he could repeat his attack on her. She looked around, noticing there were only two of the pirates left. Barbossa and Jacoby; the bulky pirate covered in tattoos. Jacoby rounded on Will, while Barbossa was facing off against Jack. She stayed back, firing protective spells towards Jack and Will when given a chance. She also moved around the fallen pirates, removing their weapons, piling them a safe distance away from them in case the spells wore off.

Hermione turned back to the fight going on with the guys and the pirates, holding her wand ready in case she needed to use it. Though she decided to leave the guys to fight this out themselves rather than just use magic. She could have stunned Jacoby, but Will was capable of handling him. And Jack? It was something he needed to do, to fight it out with Barbossa and defeat him. If she used magic, Jack would kill her… hypothetically speaking.

She watched Barbossa clash swords with Jack, smirking at him. 'Just so you know, Jack, I don't think you're that clever. I think you're a fool. A mortal fool,' he revealed, causing Jack to chuckle.

'Remarkable how often those two traits coincide,' he answered, managing to drive Barbossa back.

The pirate Captain laughed. 'You can't beat me, Jack,' he said matter-of-factly. To prove his point, he dropped his sword, catching Jack's sword with both hands. Struggling for a moment, Jack could not free his sword, and Barbossa twisted it from his grip reversing it. Jack's eyes widened in surprise as Barbossa drove the sword into his chest.

Hermione's eyes widened. 'NO!' she screamed, falling to her knees in shock and horror.

Will, who was battling Jacoby, turned upon hearing Hermione and noticed Jack. He smashed Jacoby in the jaw, crumpling the pirate. 'Jack!' he shouted, moving closer towards him.

Jack stared down at the sword jutting from his chest, his mouth opened in surprise. His eyes found Hermione's tearful ones staring at him in shock. He took a few steps back towards the Aztec gold, keeping eye contact with her. He stepped into the moonlight and his flesh became skeletal. Hermione gasped in astonishment. Jack smiled at her. 'Well, isn't that interesting,' he said, looking at Barbossa who was staring at him in irritation and surprise. Jack pulled the sword from between his ribcage and pulled something shiny out of his pocket. He curled it along his fingers, and it rattled as it flipped across his bony fingers expertly. It was one of the Aztec coins. 'They're so pretty; I just couldn't resist stealing one. It's a curse, I guess,' Jack mocked, aiming to piss Barbossa off a little bit more.

Barbossa growled, grabbing up his sword, and rushing at Jack. Both men were cast in the moonlight now; two skeletons pitched in battle. 'So what now, Jack Sparrow? Are we to be two immortals, locked in epic battle until the trumpets of Judgement Day?' Barbossa asked him.

Jack made a show of thinking about it before answering, 'Or you could surrender.'

From the ground, having come to terms with the fact Jack was now cursed, Hermione glanced at Will, giving him a meaningful look. Will nodded, moving around behind Jack and Barbossa towards the Aztec chest, looking around the ground. Neither of the two noticed him, as Jack shoved Barbossa back out of the moonlight. Barbossa stalked the room; his full attention focused on Jack in case he tried any more tricks. 'Or I could chain you to a cannonball and drop you in the deepest part of the ocean, where you can contemplate your folly forever,' Barbossa suggested. Will seemed to find what he was looking for. Barbossa charged at Jack, noticing a strange gleam in his eyes, and a pistol shot rang out, echoing throughout the cave. Hermione jumped at the sound. Jack moved out of the moonlight towards her, flesh and blood again in front of her, holding his smoking pistol, which was aimed at Barbossa. The pirate Captain laughed. 'Hah. Ten years you carried that pistol, and you end up wasting your shot,' he said in surprise.

'He didn't waste it,' came a voice from behind them. Barbossa turned to find Will standing over the Aztec chest, holding his bloody sword in his hand, his left hand closed into a fist. Opening it revealed the medallion he was looking for, knowing Jack dropped it near the chest, blood covering the skeletal design. He dropped it into the chest with the others, revealing the deep gash in his palm.

Barbossa stared in shock, feeling strange and he looked down at his chest as blood blossomed on his shirt around the bullet hole. It spread quickly, and he clutched his chest, his face registering pain for the first time in many years. Barbossa gasped for air, before falling to the ground, dead.

Jack turned around, blowing smoke from the barrel of his pistol, before tossing it away. He helped Hermione to her feet, and she couldn't help, but grab him into a hug, wrapping her arms around his neck. He chuckled. 'And to what do I owe this, love?' He asked, pulling away and lifting her chin so she would look at him. Tears glistened in her eyes, falling gently, and Jack wiped them away. 'See, I'm not dead,' he whispered. She reached up, placing a hand over his heart as if to reassure herself. He chuckled. 'It's beating,' he added. She smiled, letting go of him.

Will came over to them, wrapping a torn bit of cloth around his hand. 'You okay, Jack?' he asked, reaching them.

Jack smirked. 'Never been better.'

'Good,' Will answered, before turning to Hermione. 'Are you well, Cassandra? You seem quiet,' Will asked, worry colouring his tone.

'Yes, I'm fine, just tired,' she smiled, storing her wand back in her boot.

'Might I ask what it is you did to these scoundrels? You were waving that stick about and not touching them, yet they fell…' Jack trailed off in his questioning, looking at her suspiciously.

Hermione knew she would need to reveal everything to them, and deep down this terrified her. She hoped they wouldn't hate her. 'I'll tell you later. I think we should get out of here for now,' she promised. The two nodded in agreement, heading out with Jack taking the lead.

oOoOo

Meanwhile, the Navy sailors were still fighting the pirates out on the beach. Murtogg fired his pistol at a pirate, expecting it not to do anything, but the pirate grabbed his chest screaming in pain, and crumpled to the ground. Mullroy ran through another pirate with his sword. For a moment the battle halted as the pirates reacted to the sight in shock, realising their peril. They set their weapons down, raising their hands in surrender.

Elizabeth watched in shock, looking towards the cove in panic hoping Will was still alive. The Black Pearl came alongside the Dauntless, and Jack's crew swarmed across, overwhelming the pirates on the ship. The sailors on the beach watched, cheering at their victory.

Back in the cave, the three companions made their way through towards the exit. Will winced, stopping for a moment, grasping his hand in pain. Hermione grabbed his hand, unwrapping the makeshift bloodied bandage covering his palm to reveal the gash pooling with blood. Jack moved closer to them, looking at the gash. 'That seems nasty, mate,' he stated.

Hermione rolled her eyes. 'State the obvious why don't you,' she muttered. Will leaned against the wall, his face pale and a fine sheen of sweat glittered on his forehead. 'Will, this wound looks like it's infected,' she said worriedly, reaching up to move his hair from his face. Making a quick decision, she reached down to remove her wand from her boot, pointing it at the gash. Will moved his hand away from her, and she looked at him. 'Trust me,' she pleaded. Hesitantly, he let her take his hand. She muttered something under her breath, and a blue light lit the tip of her wand. The gash stopped bleeding, and the sides of the wound knit together leaving a red scar in its place. She whispered another spell and the pain disappeared as well. Will looked at his hand in astonishment, before using the ripped cloth to wipe away the blood.

He looked at the scar before looking at her, his eyes showing fear and curiosity. 'How is it you have this power?' he asked her.

'I promise I'll explain once we are safe and out of here,' she answered. She wasn't ready to reveal all but knew there was no way she was getting out of it.

Jack smiled. 'I think it's a handy skill to have. Just be wary that witches are usually burned at the stake,' he told her.

Hermione nodded. 'I know,' she answered, knowing full well they may kill her.

'So you are a witch, then?' Will asked her. She sighed, nodding slowly. 'How have I never noticed this?' he added, looking deep into her eyes.

Hermione looked away. 'As I said, I'll explain later, okay…' she trailed off, uncomfortable with the two men currently scrutinising her.

'Alright, but I will be expecting answers,' Will told her, not leaving room for argument. She nodded.

'As will I,' Jack added.

'I'll tell both of you, and Elizabeth. I promise,' she answered.

'Good,' Will said, moving from the wall. Even though his hand was healed, he still lost a lot of blood, and he leaned back again becoming dizzy. 'I just need a minute,' he muttered, closing his eyes and breathing deeply.

'Alright mate, but don't take too long,' Jack told him, moving down the path to check around the corner.

Will watched him for a moment and started chuckling causing them both to look at him. 'Well, you're the worst pirate I've ever heard of,' he said, smiling at Jack. 'You're a man who can be trusted, who can be counted on, and who can't betray his friends. What kind of pirate is that?' Will asked him, the smile remaining on his face.

Jack smiled, looking at the ground for a moment. He looked at Hermione as if she was the one who spoke. 'The worst,' he admitted before continuing, 'But, maybe I'm a man who can't pass up a chance for revenge against the black-hearted bastard who stole my ship and left me to die in the middle of the ocean—twice!—and who knows how to get what he wants. Now that's a great pirate,' he finished. Hermione chuckled. Jack looked down at his hand, clasped shut in a fist. This action made Will and Hermione also look at his hand in curiosity. He opened it to reveal a diamond.

'Jack?' Hermione asked in confusion.

Jack looked at her, hesitating for a moment, before tossing the diamond into the abyss. 'Who needs it when I'm going to hang,' he muttered. Hermione and Will looked at each other in confusion. Jack turned to them, snapping out of his musings. 'Well then, Mr Turner, if you are fit let's get out of here,' he said. With a nod of agreement, he continued to lead them through the cave to the beach.

oOoOo

It wasn't too long before the three companions emerged from the caves, meeting with Norrington on the beach. 'Ah, it is good to see you are well, Miss Cassandra,' he said, nodded to her. 'Mr Turner I see the company you keep has not improved,' he said looking at Jack who smiled at him. 'But we will tend to that in due course,' he finished.

'You're all right!' a voice cried out. The four turned to look at Elizabeth, the men somewhat awkwardly, each wondering which one of them she meant as she raced across the sand towards them. She ran straight to Hermione, wrapping her arms around her.

Norrington and Will coughed, both having the same thought process. Jack was looking at Hermione with a frown, trying to read her. He observed the pause and surprise registered on her face before she hugged Elizabeth back. It was almost as if she wasn't expecting this. Being of a curious nature, Jack had to wonder… wasn't these girl's Sisters? Shouldn't Cassandra be happy her Sister was alive and well? He vowed to find out more about the younger girl, wondering if it had anything to do with her power…

He snapped out of his musings when Elizabeth moved to hug Will. 'Miss Swann, are you wearing trousers? And how did you get off the island?' he questioned, holding her at arm's length and looking at her in full.

Elizabeth stared at him in shock, not believing that was what he noticed. Indignant, she stepped away from him, crossing her arms. 'Yes, I am wearing trousers. And as for how we got off the island—ah, that's a grand adventure, but now is not the time to talk about it,' she said. She reached a hand behind his neck, decisively kissing him and shocking the other three standing with them. After a moment, she pulled away. 'There, and don't you dare tell me that wasn't a proper kiss!' she said, leaving no room for argument, but forgetting who she was talking to.

Hermione stared between the two, shocked and bemused. She wasn't sure if this bothered her or not. Glancing at Jack, she caught his eye, and he shrugged. Hermione looked away as Will began speaking. 'Elizabeth, I think it doesn't matter we are of a different class—' he started, and she cut him off.

'It doesn't!' Elizabeth stated.

'—but that was not a proper kiss,' he finished as if she hadn't said anything. Pure consternation settled on her face, but before she could argue, Will added. 'This is a proper kiss.' He swept her into his arms, leaning her back, kissing her long and well.

Hermione turned, walking away towards the shore to stand at the water's edge. She knew this turn of events affected her, believing she may have developed feelings for Will. She smiled as she looked at Jack who placed a hand on Norrington's shoulder. 'Tough luck. I was rooting for you,' he said, before moving away from him. He walked over to stand next to Hermione who turned back to look at the water. 'Are you okay?' he asked her, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder.

'Yes I'm fine, just needed some breathing space,' she answered, smiling up at him.

Jack frowned. 'Does it bother you?'

Hermione looked at him, trying to decide whether it did or not. She wasn't sure how she felt, but she was not as hurt or disappointed as she thought she should be. Glancing over to where Will and Elizabeth were still locked in their embrace, she realised she was happy for them and smiled. She looked back at Jack who was watching her closely, and she smiled. 'Not overly, no,' she answered.

Jack smiled. 'That's ‘cause I'm here, love,' he said in as charming a voice as he could.

Hermione laughed. 'Oh? And what does that mean, exactly?' she asked playfully.

Jack chuckled. 'I'm Captain Jack Sparrow,' he answered as if this was obvious, before continuing. 'No woman… or man…' he shuddered, 'can resist my charms.'

Hermione laughed. 'I'm sure they all fall at your feet,' she said. He nodded vigorously in agreement. 'Well Captain Sparrow, I will not fall for your charms,' she added, smiling at him.

Jack laughed. 'We'll see,' he said before taking her arm. 'Come on, let's get out of here,' he said, and she let him lead her towards the Black Pearl.

oOoOo

A few weeks had passed by since the Black Pearl, and the Dauntless sailed back to Port Royal. As promised, Hermione explained everything to Will and Jack about what she was, and where she came from. Both found it hard to believe, and Will acted distant around her for the first week. He eventually came to terms with it, while Jack had just acted the same. She made them both promise to continue to refer to her as Cassandra though. She had yet to tell Elizabeth, and all three of them agreed that it was for the best she didn't know about it yet.

During the third week of their return found them up in the courtyard of Fort Charles. A trial was underway, and in the middle of it was Will as the defendant, his face stoic and staring forward, standing straight and unmoving. Around him were members of the Royal Navy, standing before a group of witnesses from the town. Norrington rose from his chair, looking at Will with no emotion as he spoke, 'Though I do say so with regret, the law is clear. The penalty for piracy is death by hanging,' he announced. He glanced at Elizabeth for moment, his expression apologetic before turning to face the front again.

Elizabeth squeezed the hand of her Father, Governor Swann. She let go when he stood, noticing the seat next to him was vacant and wondered where Cassandra had disappeared to now. Glancing at her Father's angry expression, he too had realised his youngest was absent. He continued as if this was not the case, speaking directly to Norrington. 'By your leave, I wish to speak on behalf of the boy,' he said, glancing at Elizabeth who smiled thankfully. He looked back at Norrington who nodded. 'It is clear that these deeds were performed out of a sincere desire to do good, at great personal risk. It seems to me that in rare occasion where the right course is committing an act of piracy then an act of piracy is the right course!' he announced, receiving cheers of approval from the witness's present, before continuing, 'So, in my capacity as Governor, I intend to grant a pardon to—'

Gillette ran in, cutting him off and disrupting the trial. 'Sir!' he shouted, causing all eyes to turn to him from where he was standing at the top of the stairway to the cells. 'Jack and his crew have escaped!' he shouted to gasps from the crowd. 'There was no damage to the cell… they must have been set free,' he revealed to more gasps.

Will and Elizabeth exchanged looks that said, "It wasn't me!" before they both smiled, looking at the vacant seat Cassandra should have been sitting in.

Swann noticed something in his peripheral vision on the parapet and pointed. 'The Black Pearl!' he shouted. People rushed to the wall. Sure enough below in the bay were the distinctive black sails of the Pearl. The ship cut through the waters close to point where the gallows of the pirates were. Jack appeared on the point, swinging off the empty gallows, across and down onto the ships rigging when it passed.

'Sir! Shall I break out the cannons?' Gillette asked, awaiting orders.

Norrington sighed, leaning against the wall. 'I don't think that will be necessary,' he answered, raising his hand and twirling a key on his finger before continuing. 'A day's head start. That's all he gets,' he finished. Will and Elizabeth smiled knowingly, and Swann followed their glance out toward the Pearl.

On the Black Pearl, Jack monkeyed down the rigging and walked casually towards Anamaria who was at the wheel. 'Captain Sparrow, the Black Pearl is yours!' she said with a smile, moving aside to let him take command.

Jack smiled, running his hands lovingly along the rail and taking the wheel. It felt good, right in his hands. For a moment he let himself enjoy the feeling of being Captain of the Black Pearl again. Then he looked at the smiling faces of his crew, shifting to "Captain" mode. 'Anamaria, trim the mainsail!' he ordered.

'Aye, aye, sir!' she answered, moving to complete the order.

'Mr Gibbs, organise a cleaning detail—you and Cotton. I want every inch of the Pearl spic-and-span and ship-shape!' he ordered. Gibbs stomped the deck, executing a salute. Jack stood at the wheel, smiling as it registered to him that he had his ship back. Everything was right with the world.

He looked back towards the Gallows, seeing a prone figure in a flowing emerald and black lace dress, her long curly tendrils blowing in the wind. He could just make out the small smile on her face as she twirled her wand between her fingers. He couldn't help the grin crossing his face. Hermione saluted him, and he returned it before turning away, beginning to hum. He set the wheel to the right, singing. 'Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me…' he stopped, realising what he was doing, the smile widening on his face. 'Drink up me hearties, yo ho!' he sang out, steering the Black Pearl for uncharted waters.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirteen: Three Sheets to the Wind

Hermione stood on the parapet, watching the waves thrash the shore and harbour in rolling swells. Down on the beach, palm trees bent sideways, and chairs were scattered, disorderly and wind-blown. The wind whipped through her curly locks, throwing them over her left shoulder angrily. She looked up when thunder rumbled throughout the sky, but her eyes moved back out towards the sea as if she was waiting for something to happen.

Behind her, an altar was set up in preparation for a wedding. The chairs were all askew, and a lone parasol blew past in the wind. Hermione sighed, looking over at Elizabeth who was sitting in the rain, drenched in her wedding dress. Her tears were mixing in with the rain, and the white bouquet of orchids she was holding fell to the grass. She still felt the niggling jealous feeling in the pit of her stomach at the thought of her marrying Will. Then the feeling would subside, and she would remember that she doesn't even belong in this time.

This thought led to bigger things, and she wondered about Harry and Ron. Had Ron woken up from his coma to find her gone? Had Harry gone on a rampage searching for her? Had time stood still and for them, only seconds would have passed, but for her, it had been months? She shook her head, pulling out her wand and looking at the long smooth stick which held such power, yet she felt powerless to use.

Would she even feel right in her time if she went back… or would she not even remember being in this time? Then she remembered Dumbledore pointed out the book to her… did that mean he knew this would happen? Harry defeated Voldemort, so there was no way coming to the past would have affected the future, so why? Why had she not questioned it before? Even when she spilt all to Jack and Will, these thoughts never occurred to her at all.

She looked back up as lightning lit the sky in a brief flash, recalling the conversation they made her have. It was amusing now she thought about it. The three of them plopped down at a table in the hold of the Dauntless… well, she and Will were sitting at a table. Jack was sitting cross-legged on the floor of his cell, shackled.

oOoOo

Three months earlier…

'You promised,' Will stated, sitting down at a table in the dingy part of the hold where they kept prisoners.

'I know,' Hermione answered. She looked in on Jack who was lying on the ground with his ankles crossed, his shackled hands resting behind his head. If she wasn't so nervous about what she was about to reveal, she might have laughed at the reminder of the last cell she had seen him lying in.

'Well, love, that would usually be your cue to tell us your little secret,' Jack stated, grinning at her.

Hermione nodded, wondering where to start. 'I… I don't know how to tell you both,' she whispered, shaking her head.

Will clicked his tongue, causing her to look up at him. 'Why don't you start from the beginning.'

'The beginning…?' she trailed off in her question, asking herself more than her two companions. For a moment, she was silent, and the two men thought she wasn't going to tell them. Jack sat up, about to say as much, when she spoke, 'I'm not who you think I am,' she whispered, and they had to strain to hear her.

Will frowned. 'What do you mean?' he asked, not sure where she was going with this.

Hermione looked at him. 'I… I'm not Cassandra Swann…' she trailed off, looking at the array of emotions flit across Will's face. Jack looked between the two of them with curiosity.

Eventually, Will's expression settled on controlled anger and he looked away from her. 'I have to admit I was suspicious when you first appeared. So, you are an intruder then?' he asked her, trying to keep his anger in check.

'I didn't do this on purpose…' She paused, sighing as she thought about her next words. She knew she would need to be careful if she wanted them to at least accept what she was telling them. 'When I ended up in Port Royal, it was completely unexpected. Someone found me at the peer and thought I was the Governor's daughter, so they took me to the mansion. I tried to explain, but Swann… he thought I had amnesia. Before I knew it, everyone thought the same thing… even the doctors,' she trailed off, shaking her head. She glanced between the two men, gauging their reactions.

Will looked confused, but she could also tell he was beginning to piece the puzzle together. She couldn't even read Jack's expression. His face was blank as he stared at her, no emotion giving him away about how he felt about this new information.

Will was the one to break the tense silence enveloping them. 'So, where are you from? Who are you exactly? Why are you here?' the questions rolled off his tongue in quick succession.

Hermione sighed. 'This is where my explanation becomes complicated. Before I continue I know neither of you will believe me, but I promise you what I am going to tell you is no word of a lie,' she told them. They nodded, but Will already had a disbelieving look on his face, and she hadn't even said anything yet. This hurt her, but she could understand. She didn't look at Jack, expecting to see the same blank expression on his face she found difficult to take in.

After a few minutes where Hermione mused to herself about the two men, Jack cleared his throat causing her to look at him. 'Well?' he said, reminding her that she still needed to explain herself.

She nodded slowly. 'Sorry, I was… never mind,' she trailed off, before looking at them both and continuing, 'My real name is Hermione Granger; I am… I'm not from… I mean…' she swallowed, trying to say the words she was dreading. Taking a deep breath, she tried again. 'I'm from the future…' she whispered, not looking at either of them. When neither of them said anything, she continued, refusing to meet their eyes. 'I was in school—a school for wizards and witches—and I got told about a book… a diary which I think belonged to you, Jack,' she paused, looking at him. His expression hadn't changed at all, causing her throat to constrict painfully. She tried to continue, 'This book, after I read some of it, had a spell on it which transported me into the past… to this time… and the rest you know,' she finished, and her head dropped to her chest, realising how much she sounded like a complete nutcase.

The silence continued, draping her like a thick blanket. Eventually, she looked up with tears in her eyes. Looking at them as they stared at her with blank expressions. She pleaded for at least one of them to say something.

Jack seemed to pick up on this, and he chuckled causing them to look at him. 'Well, that explains a lot, I assume,' he said, smirking. Hermione smiled, feeling relieved that he didn't seem to hate her.

Will turned back to her with a stony expression. 'Why are you here? And where is Cassandra?' he asked her, his tone angry again.

She sighed. 'I don't know the answer to either of those questions. No one explained it to me. I don't even know who Cassandra is… For all I know, she could be in the future going through the same thing as me…' she answered.

Will nodded, realising she was being sincere. 'I need to process this…' he muttered, standing and storming out of the hold.

Hermione let the tears fall then as the realisation that Will may hate her now hit home. She had come to like and care about him, and now she felt like she had no one in this time who cared about her as her real self. They cared about an intruder portraying the life of someone she had never even met.

She raised a hand, covering her eyes as more tears fell, completely forgetting Jack was still in the room, watching her silently with a frown on his brow.

Eventually, she stopped crying, and a voice from the cell startled her. She looked at Jack, remembering he was there. 'He will come around, you'll see,' he told her, his tone promising.

Hermione nodded, giving him a small smile. She hoped so, as she felt she had no one she could rely on now except Will. Though as she looked at Jack, she realised that was not entirely true. He smiled at her, and she couldn't help but smile back.

oOoOo

Hermione sighed; three months had passed by since she told them who she was. She tightened the hold she had on her wand, before placing it back up into the sleeve of her dress. She wished Harry and Ron were here with her; it would have made things a lot easier for everyone.

She contemplated going after Jack for a few days, finally concluding that it would have been a pointless endeavour. She didn't even know where he was heading, and she kicked herself for not accepting his offer to go with him when she freed him from the cells.

She looked down at the harbour where the Royal Navy ships were anchored in a line across the bay. She noticed there was a new one among them: The H.M.S. Endeavour. There was a longboat coming to shore with a gentleman in a white suit. Hermione assumed this was possibly another guest meant to be coming to the wedding.

She glanced back over at Elizabeth who was still sitting alone, oblivious to the rain pounding down on her and ruining her dress. She wondered where everyone was, especially Will. The wedding was starting soon.

The sound of marching footsteps drew her attention towards the chapel. Elizabeth looked over her shoulder in surprise. She ran towards the red coats, realising they had Will manacled. 'Will…!' she said, looking at him. 'What is happening?' she asked him.

Will shook his head, shrugging as best he could. 'I don't know. I'm sorry,' he said. He looked her over, taking her in. 'You look beautiful.'

Elizabeth smiled at the incongruity of his statement considering their situation. Hermione was the one to speak her thoughts though, 'I think it's bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding.'

Will smiled at the gallows humour. 'That explains the unexpected guests.'

Governor Swann appeared then, pushing his way through the crowd and the soldiers. He took in the scene before him in shock, addressing the soldier who seemed to be in charge. 'You. Order your men to stand down, and remove these things at once,' he said, but the man made no move to do anything about the situation, and Swann frowned. 'Did you hear me?'

'Governor Wetherby Swann. My apologies for arriving without an invitation. That cannot be your daughter, little Elizabeth?' he asked, looking at Elizabeth.

'Cutler Beckett?' Swann asked in shock, taking the man before him properly.

'It's Lord, now, actually,' Beckett answered smugly. Hermione was reminded again of Draco Malfoy and his cronies. Maybe Cutler Beckett's future line would be Slytherin's. In any case, Hermione disliked him instantly.

Swann growled a little. 'Lord or not, you have no reason and no authority to arrest this man,' Swann argued.

Beckett's smirk widened, and he laughed bitterly. 'In fact, I do,' he answered, snapping his fingers. 'Mister Mercer?' Mercer came over to him with a large dispatch case. Beckett rifled through it, removing several documents. He handed one of them to Swann. 'My appointment to the Royal Commission for Antilles Trade and Protection. The Commission charter, granting it extraordinary powers in matter both governmental and military. And the warrant for the arrest of one William Turner.'

Swann looked at the parchment, his eyes widening in shock. 'This is for Elizabeth Swann!' he shouted.

Beckett snatched the parchment back, looking at it with a frown. 'Is it? How odd… That's annoying. My mistake,' he said, turning back to the case. As he rifled through it, he added off-handed, 'Arrest her.'

The soldiers moved forward, trying to grab Elizabeth. She struggled alongside Will, but they were quickly overwhelmed by the sheer number of soldier's present. Hermione frowned as Elizabeth was put in manacles. She fought, moving closer to Beckett. 'On what charges?' She demanded. Hermione pulled her wand back out from her sleeve, getting ready to defend them if need be, holding it down by her side.

Beckett ignored her, continuing to rifle through the documents. Gleefully, he pulled one out. 'Aha! Here's the warrant for William Turner. And I have another one for a James Norrington. Any idea where he is?' he asked them, looking around at the group.

Hermione growled. 'What are they charged with?' she asked angrily, moving to stand by Elizabeth.

Beckett looked at her, only just registering she was there. 'Ah, Miss Cassandra Swann is it? I believe you were also involved in this debacle, though I do not believe we have a warrant for your arrest. You are lucky, girl, but fear not, I will have that fixed,' he told her, nodding to Mercer. He took out a quill, writing something down on a spare bit of parchment. Beckett then turned back to her. 'However, I don't believe that's the answer to the question I asked,' he added, looking at them expectantly. 'Where is James Norrington?' he asked again.

Swann sighed. 'Commodore Norrington resigned his commission several months ago,' he answered.

Beckett looked at him blankly. 'That does not seem like an answer to the question I asked.'

Swann growled. 'And we haven't seen him since!' he shouted in frustration. Beckett was a handful.

Will growled. 'Lord Beckett!' he shouted, finally getting Beckett's attention. 'In the category of questions not answered…' he trailed off, tilting his head towards Elizabeth so Beckett would pay attention to her.

It worked, and Beckett looked at her inquisitively. Elizabeth continued his statement, 'We are British subjects under the jurisdiction of the King's Governor of Port Royal, and you will tell us what we are charged with,' she said, raising herself to her full height.

Beckett smirked, and they could all tell he was enjoying this immensely. 'The charge is conspiring to secure the unlawful release of a convict, charged and tried for crimes against the Crown and Empire, and condemned to death. For which, regrettably, the punishment is also death,' he answered.

Elizabeth and Will’s faces went pale, their confidence slipping. Will glanced sideways at Hermione, glaring at her and she knew straight away he was blaming her for this. She didn’t need to be a mind reader to work it out. Will blamed her for everything now, since he learned of her background.

She tuned back into what was being said. 'What are you referring to exactly?' she asked, subtly sliding her wand back up her sleeve.

'You do remember a pirate named Jack Sparrow?' Beckett asked, looking at them all in turn.

'Captain Jack Sparrow,' Hermione answered automatically, before adding. 'Yes, we know of him.'

Beckett chuckled happily, catching them out. 'Yes, I thought you might,' he told them, and he nodded to the soldiers who dragged them away.

Swann grabbed Hermione's arm, stopping her from following. Elizabeth glanced back at them, and although he hated it, Swann nodded to her. She closed her eyes, nodding back. Hermione looked up at him. 'You're just going to let them go?' she asked him.

Swann sighed. 'We go along with it for now. We do not want to end up getting arrested ourselves. We won't help either of them if we're in prison,' he answered, leading her away from the parapet towards the chapel.

'You have a plan?' Hermione asked, hopefully.

Swann nodded. 'Yes, but it requires tweaking,' he answered her. He led her to the carriage, ordering the driver to take them to the manor. 'For now, we go home and strategise,' he said, and she nodded, glad Swann was going to try and do something about this.

oOoOo

Not so far away from Port Royal, anchored by a small island which held a Turkish prison, was a beautiful ship with black sails. Gibbs walked the deck alone, looking up at the clear night sky towards the rigging ropes and blocks. He drank from a bottle, singing quietly to himself. 'Fifteen men on a dead man's chest. Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum. Drink and the devil had done for the rest. Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!' he sang. Gibbs smiled drunkenly, pausing mid-swig, avoiding several drunken crew members sleeping on the deck. A bell tolled from the island, and he looked up to see a flock of crows flying in the foggy night sky. He turned his attention back to the small island, waiting.

oOoOo

The crows flew across the coastal island as the bells continued to toll, echoing throughout the night eerily. A thin bridge connected the pinnacle island to the mainland, lit by glowing torches in the darkness. Cages of all shapes and sizes lined the bridge, and inside them were men who were captured by the locals of the island. They all looked up as more prisoners marched across the bridge, getting locked in another of the cages.

One of the male prisoners had bloody legs, having taken a beating by the guards when he tried to escape. He was muttering curses as they dragged him across the bridge. A crow reflected in the eye of one of the male prisoners in the cage, watching the bloodied man. The crow alighted atop the cage, looking at the man and tilting its head. It attacked him, pecking his eye out causing him to scream.

The prisoner getting dragged by the guards looked around as they took him through a hatch-like door on the ground. His scream split the night as the door closed, drowning out the sounds.

Down on the rocky shoreline, lit with torches, men tossed caskets into the sea. They floated away from the island, vertical streaks in the distant clouds appearing in the sky. A crow landed on one of the caskets, pecking at the top.

A sudden gun blast split the silence from inside the casket, blowing the crow away in a cloud of feathers and wood. The hand holding the flintlock pistol emerged from the hole in the coffin, panning it around. His hand came out next, reaching over and unlocking the latch. The lid swung open, and Jack Sparrow sat up with a sigh. His calm demeanour became panicked then, searching the casket for his hat, putting it on. He let out a long breath, feeling much better now.

For a moment he sat silently, looking back towards the island. His eyes found the cages lining the bridge, shuddering as he thought of the screams from the prisoners. He saluted them, before looking down at the skeleton he shared the casket with. He bowed his head, crossing himself with his hand. 'Sorry, mate,' he muttered. Reaching down, he tugged hard on the skeleton's leg and managed to snap it off at the hip. He looked back at the skull. 'Mind if we take a little side trip?' He asked it, pausing to wait for an answer. He nodded. 'I didn't think so,' he muttered, using the skeleton's leg as a makeshift oar. He rowed towards the full moon and the black ship which was waiting in the distance to the right of the moon.

It didn't take him long to arrive at the ship in his coffin rowboat, climbing up the ladder. Gibbs held out his hand to help Jack aboard. Jack looked at his hand, placing the skeleton leg in his hand instead and Gibbs pulled him up, letting the leg go in disgust straight after.

Cotton moved forward, draping Jack's coat around his shoulders. Gibbs looked at him speculatively. 'Not quite according to plan?' he asked him.

Jack shook his head. 'Complications arose, ensued, were overcome,' he answered, looking at the sky for a moment.

Gibbs nodded. 'You got what you went in for, then?'

'Mm-hmm!' Jack answered distractedly, his thoughts elsewhere.

'Captain, I think the crew, meaning me as well, were expecting something a bit more... shiny,' Gibbs started. Jack continued walking, almost bumping straight into Leech who was standing in his path, his arms folded. The rest of the crew drifted over, surrounding Jack. They were not doing it threateningly, but they weren't looking friendly, either. Gibbs continued, 'What with the Isla de Muerta going all pear-shaped, reclaimed by the sea, and the treasure with it,' Gibbs explained, hoping not to annoy Jack. The Captain had not been himself since they left Port Royal.

'And the Royal Navy chasing us all around the Atlantic,' Leech added.

'And the hurricane! Aye!' Marty added, gesturing to some damages on the ship.

'Aye. Aye,' the crew agreed.

Gibbs looked around at them all, before turning back to Jack. 'All in all, it's seems some time since we did a speck of honest pirating,' he explained. He and the rest of the crew waited in anticipation.

Jack frowned, looking at his crew thoughtfully before looking back at Gibbs. 'Shiny?'

He nodded. 'Aye, shiny.'

He realised he had not been himself since he escaped from Port Royal. If he was to be honest with himself, he was still quite annoyed Hermione turned down his offer. He wanted to see more of what she could do. He felt let down that she would rather live out her days as someone who she wasn't, than live a life of adventure. Apparently, his crew also noticed his mood change since then as well.

Jack looked at his crew. 'Is that how you're all feeling, then? Perhaps dear old Jack is not serving your best interests as Captain?' he asked them, looking at them all in turn.

'Awk! Walk the plank!' Cotton's parrot squawked, breaking the awkward silence which ensued.

Jack grabbed his pistol, pointing it at the bird angrily. 'What did the bird say?'

Leech reached forward, placing his hand on top of the pistol, forcing Jack to lower it. 'Do not blame the bird. Show us what is on that piece of cloth there,' he suggested.

Jack raised the piece of cloth in his hand, causing the monkey to snarl. It climbed down, seizing the cloth and scampering off with it. Jack growled, attempting to shoot the monkey with his pistol. It misfired, and the monkey screeched at him. Jack grabbed a gun from another of his crewmen, blasting the monkey as it scampered onto the deck. The monkey screamed again, not harmed by the shot. It did drop the cloth, scurrying into the rigging.

Gibbs chuckled. 'You know that don't do no good,' he muttered, looking sideways at Jack.

Jack sighed. 'Keeps my aim sharp.'

Marty picked up the cloth the monkey dropped before it could blow away and looked at it. His eyes widened in wonder. 'It's a key!' he shouted, handing the cloth back to Jack.

Jack smirked, looking at him with glee. 'No! Much more better. It is a drawing of a key,' he told them, speaking as if they were children. Jack held up the cloth. The crew moved forward to have a closer look, not looking as impressed or as excited as Jack expected. He couldn't believe they were not more enthusiastic. Among the crew, Jack noticed three members he didn't recognise. There was a Chinese man, a black man with a black beard, and a white-bearded man with a large black hat. He frowned at them, shrugging and looking back at the cloth. 'Gentlemen, what do keys do?' he asked them, feeling almost like he was having a show-and-tell moment.

Leech screwed up his face in thought. 'Keys... unlock... things?' he answered receiving a nod from Jack.

Gibbs gestured to the drawing. 'And whatever this key unlocks, inside is something valuable. So, we're setting out to find whatever this unlocks!' he said, looking at Jack for confirmation.

Jack frowned, shaking his head. 'No! If we don't have the key, we can't open whatever it unlocks. So, what purpose would be served in finding whatever needs be unlocked without first having found the key what unlocks it? Honestly. Ninny,' he rolled his eyes. His crew stared back at him in confusion, trying to make sense of his logic.

Gibbs was the first to answer having known Jack for long enough to know how his mind works. 'So, we're going to find this key?' he explained.

Jack rolled his eyes. 'You're not making any sense at all. What good is a key if we have nothing for the key to unlock? Please, try and keep up!' He said, shaking his head. Gibbs stared at him in confusion. Jack ignored him, addressing the crew, 'Any more questions?'

'So, do we have a heading?' Marty asked.

Jack's eyes widened. 'Hah! A heading,' he said, laughing nervously. He turned away, flipping open his compass and studied it. He shook it and angled it before pointing in random directions. 'Set sail in a... mmm... a general... that way… direction,' he answered, pointing back towards Port Royal.

'Captain… Port Royal is in that direction,' Gibbs said in confusion.

Jack nodded vigorously. 'I'll plot our course later,' he said quickly. The crew looked at him in confusion, hesitating. Jack looked at them all in turn. 'Come on, snap to and make sail, you know how it works,' he ordered them.

The crew watched Jack stride towards his cabin and disappear inside, not at all happy but went about their tasks as ordered. Marty and Gibbs stood alone together by the railing after the crew set sail back towards Port Royal. 'Have you noticed lately... the Captain seems to be actin' a bit strange…-er,' Marty said, looking at Jack from where he was standing at the wheel, muttering things under his breath.

Gibbs nodded, glancing towards him also, wondering what had gotten into him. 'Settin' sail without knowing his own headin'? Somethin's got Jack vexed. Mark my words, what bodes ill for Jack Sparrow bodes ill for us all,' he warned Marty who nodded.

As if in answer to Gibbs' earlier statement, the Black Pearl sailed straight into a thunderstorm later that night, the worst one she had seen yet.

Chapter Text

Chapter Fourteen: Chaos is a Butterfly; Order is a Fallacy

Hermione watched Will getting dragged through a corridor, passing by a painter who was painting a detail of a world map on a mural. She made to get her wand out from the sleeve of her dress, but a tiny shake of Will's head stopped her. Feeling helpless, Hermione left the hallway, walking out onto the parapet. Looking out at the ocean, she wished she followed Jack. Life on the sea would have been better than this.

She hated this feeling, knowing there was nothing she could do to stop the world around her from falling apart. All because they broke Jack out of jail… again. Her mind strayed back to Will, wondering what Beckett could want with him.

oOoOo

The guard brought Will into Beckett's office, the chains of his manacles clanking. Stopping, the guard saluted Beckett. 'Lord Beckett, the prisoner as ordered, sir,' he announced.

Beckett turned around, glancing down at the manacles holding Will prisoner. 'Those won't be necessary,' he said to the guard. The guard nodded, moving over to Will, and removing the manacles. Will rubbed his painful wrists, the manacles were tight. Beckett nodded to the guard again and, giving him a salute, he left the room. Walking over to the liquor cabinet, he took out a bottle of whisky, pouring two glasses, and handed one to Will. He looked at it suspiciously, and Beckett chuckled. 'I haven't poisoned it. You saw me pour it.'

Will swirled the brown liquid in the glass. 'Can never be too sure,' he answered, taking a sip. 'So, I imagine this is not a meeting for a chat, so what do you want?'

Beckett took a sip of his whisky. 'The East India Trading Company has need of your services. We wish for you to act as our agent in a business transaction with our mutual friend: Captain Sparrow.'

Smirking, Will said, 'More acquaintance than friend. How do you know him?'

'We've had dealings in the past, and we've each left our mark… on the other,' he answered, leaving Will to ponder this information.

Will frowned, looking down at his glass of whisky. 'What mark did he leave on you?'

Beckett was silent for a moment, staring out the window. He looked back at Will. 'By your efforts, Jack Sparrow was set free,' he said, ignoring Will's question. 'I would like you to go to him, and recover a certain property in his possession,' he told him, leaving no room for argument.

'Recover? At the point of a sword?' he asked, finding this to be a suicide mission in the making.

Beckett leaned forward. 'Bargain!' he said slowly as if he was speaking to a child. He watched Beckett walk over to a wooden box on a table in the corner, opening the lid. He pulled something out, turning back to Will and waving them in the air. 'Letters of the Marque. You will offer what amounts to a full pardon. Jack will be free, a privateer in the employ of England,' he told him, thinking this was a fantastic offer.

Will laughed bitterly. 'Somehow I doubt Jack will consider employment the same as being free. I do not even think he would be able to hold down a job. It just doesn't have the same excitement that pillaging and plundering has.'

Beckett nodded, his expression thoughtful. 'Freedom. Jack Sparrow is a dying breed. The world is shrinking, the blank pages of the map filled in. Jack must find his place in the new world or perish. Not unlike you, Mister Turner. You and your fiancée face the hangman's noose,' he advised, looking at him.

Will's expression darkened at his words. 'So, you get both Jack and the Black Pearl.'

Beckett frowned in confusion, 'The Black Pearl?'

'The property you want that he possesses.'

Beckett laughed at this. 'A ship? Hardly! We have plenty of ships. The Black Pearl is of no interest to us,' he paused, calming his laughter, before continuing. 'No, Mr Turner, the item in question is considerably smaller and far more valuable. Something Sparrow keeps on his person at all times. A compass,' he revealed. Will's eyes widened in recognition and confusion about why they would want a useless compass. Beckett smiled at his expression. 'Ah, you know it. Bring back that Compass, or there's no deal,' he told him.

Will looked down at the glass in his hand. Could he betray Jack like that? Lifting the glass to his lips, he knocked the rest of the whisky back, nodding to Beckett who smirked.

oOoOo

Jack tilted his head from where he was sitting in a chair, leaning down over a map on the table, a set of callipers in his left hand. His "P" brand mark was showing on his right arm from this point of view. An hourglass in the background was filtering sand into the bottom as Jack tapped his compass. He picked up his compass, not liking what it was showing. He closed the lid, shook it, and sneaked a peek inside. He snapped it shut, still not liking what it showed.

He had been sitting like this now for hours, trying to chart a course with a divider and triangle protractor. After several attempts, he scratched them all out.

He sighed, picking up his bottle of rum from the table which felt too light for his liking. He looked into the bottle, turning it upside-down, and only a few drops spilt out. 'Why is the rum always gone?' He asked to no one. Rising to his feet, he staggered against the table, a smile flitting onto his face. 'Oh! That's why!' he said in amusement, answering his question.

Staggering over to the world globe, he plucked his hat off the top of it, before making his way out onto the deck. There were miles of empty ocean all around them, neither a ship nor shore in sight. Jack staggered towards a hatch on the deck, almost tripping over Leech.

Leech stirred. 'Heading, Captain?' he asked, half-asleep.

Jack looked at him, staggering a little and trying to focus his eyes. 'Steady as she goes...' he slurred.

He reached the hatch, opening it wide and carefully made his way down the ladder into the crew's cabin. He picked up a lantern, lighting it before walking into the cabin further. Hammocks were strung up in the room, and the sailors were all sleeping. Some of them were snoring, Cotton among them with his foot jammed into Marty's face.

Chickens were clucking loudly, and Jack pulled out his pistol. The chickens suddenly went silent. 'That's what I thought,' he muttered, continuing past the hammocks. Jack stopped next to Cotton's hammock, before looking around at his crew in general. 'As you were, gents,' he muttered, before moving on and downstairs into the hold. An animal bleated as Jack unlocked the door, walking in.

He looked around, grimacing at the eerie filter feeder creatures festooning a beam of wood. Looking around further, swinging the lantern around, he finally spotted a rack of bottles stored sideways in a wine rack. 'Ah!' he said happily, walking over. He tried to pull one from the rack, which proved difficult because it had barnacles covering it. It felt wrong, so he uncorked it, and turned it upside-down, watching sadly as sand poured out.

'Time's run out, Jack,' came a voice from behind him, making Jack drop the bottle in fright. The bottle smashed to the floor, the glass shards flying out in all directions.

Jack turned to see who had spoken, 'It's rude to startle a man holding ru-' he trailed off upon noticing the lone figure hiding in the shadows. He was pale, with bleached out skin; starfish and barnacles seemed to be part of his face and neck. Walking over, he recognised who it was. 'Bootstrap? Bill Turner?' he asked as if trying to convince himself it was the same man.

Bootstrap looked up from where he was sitting on a barrel; crabs were scuttling across his face. 'Jack Sparrow. You look good,' he answered.

Bootstrap stepped out of the shadows then, and Jack wished he could say the same for him. He tried a few times, but he couldn't get the words past his lips. Instead, he looked around in confusion. 'Is this a dream?' he asked him.

'No, lad,' Bootstrap answered, looking at him in amusement.

Jack nodded, 'I thought not. If it were, there'd be rum.'

Bootstrap smiled crookedly, showing his rotting teeth. He reached into his seaweed covered jacket, pulling out a bottle of rum, handing it to Jack. Excitedly, Jack pried the bottle from Bootstrap's hand with a crackling sound. It had encrusted with barnacles. He took a deep sniff of the bottle; it was rum. He wiped the mouth of the bottle before taking a drink.

'You got the Pearl back, I see,' Bootstrap stated, startling Jack a little.

Jack was so caught up in staring at Bootstrap it took him a moment to register what he said, 'Bouillabaisse...' he mumbled, trailing off before catching himself. He gave himself a mental shake. 'I had some help retrieving the Pearl,' he told him. He tapped the lip of the bottle with his fingers, blowing across the top of the bottle. 'Your Son,' he advised him, taking a drink from the bottle of rum.

Bootstrap was a little shocked at this revelation. 'William?' he asked in disbelief as Jack nodded. 'He ended up a pirate, after all.'

Jack chuckled. 'Given a liberal definition of the word "pirate". He's got an unhealthy streak of honest to him,' he answered.

'That's something, then. Though no credit to me,' he said, smiling a little.

There was silence for a moment as Jack drank his rum, and Bootstrap stared off into the distance, probably reminiscing. Changing the subject, Jack asked, 'So, to what do I owe the pleasure of your carbuncle?'

He watched a myriad of expressions flit across Bootstrap's face. 'Davy Jones. He sent me as an emissary,' he said.

Jack closed his eyes for a moment, nodding. He was expecting this day to come, but he hoped he was wrong. 'Ah, so it's you, then? He shanghaied you into service, eh?'

'I chose it,' Bootstrap answered. A small hermit crab scuttled by Bootstrap, on top of the barrel where he was sitting. Bootstrap grabbed the hermit crab, popping it into his mouth, crunching on it. Jack watched in revulsion, looking as though he was about to throw up.

Jack looked at the bottle of rum, before handing it back to Bootstrap. He shook his head in the negative. 'I'm sorry for the part I played in mutiny'ng you, Jack,' he said sincerely. In truth, he never wanted anything to do with it. Jack knew this and waved it off. Bootstrap continued, 'Everything went wrong after that. I ended up cursed, doomed to the depths of the ocean, the weight of the water crushing down on me. Unable to move... unable to die. All I could do was think. And mostly I thought, even the tiniest hope of escaping this fate... I would take it. Trade anything for it,' he revealed sadly.

'That is the kind of thinking bound to catch his attention,' Jack answered.

'It did. Davy Jones came. Made the offer. I could spend one hundred years before the mast, with the hope that after, I would go on to a peaceful rest,' Bootstrap said.

'It's funny what a man will do to forestall his final judgement,' Jack said, nodding thoughtfully as his plight came to the forefront of his mind.

Bootstrap nodded, catching on to Jack's thoughts. 'You made a deal with him, too, Jack. He raised the Pearl from the depths for you, and thirteen years you've been her Captain.'

Jack smiled, gulping. 'Technic-' he cut himself short.

Bootstrap raised his eyebrows. 'You won't be able to talk your way out of this,' he said. Another crab crawled out of Bootstrap, and he crushed it and ate it. 'The terms what applied to me apply to you, as well. One soul, bound to crew a lifetime upon his ship.'

'Yes, but the Flying Dutchman already has a Captain, so there's no need for me,' he said.

Bootstrap sighed, nodding his head. He expected this answer from Jack. 'Then it's the locker for you. Jones' leviathan will find you and drag the Pearl back to the depths, and you along with it.'

Jack sighed. 'Any idea when Jones might release said terrible beastie?'

'I told you, Jack: your time is up,' Bootstrap answered, looking down and nodding at Jack's hand. Jack's eyes widened, as he looked down at the palm of his left hand in terror where a black spot was boiling into view. 'It's not a matter of how long 'til it comes after you. It's a matter of how long 'til you're found,' Bootstrap added.

Jack stared at the spot, opening his mouth to speak. Panic-stricken, he looked up, realising Bootstrap had disappeared. 'That's not good,' Jack said, terror filling his voice as he turned tail. He sprinted out of the hold, through the crew's cabin, and up onto the deck of the Black Pearl. Jack continued running across the wooden deck which had a shallow covering of water. He grabbed some cloth, wrapping his hand around it to cover the black spot. 'On deck all hands! Lift the skin up, make fast the bundt gasket! On deck! Scurry! Scurry-on! Keep your loaf! Have care of the lee hatch! Marty, I want movement! I want action!' he shouted, startling the crew who were watching him in confusion.

'Lift the skin up!' Gibbs ordered the crew, and they started making ready to move.

'All on deck! Haul those sheets! Haul 'em! Run, mates! And keep running! Run, as if the devil himself and itself is upon us!' Jack ordered, looking out to sea, his eyes alight in fear.

Gibbs turned to him. 'Do we have a heading?'

Jack nodded quickly. 'Ah! Ooh! Run! Land,' he said, rising from where he ducked behind the base of the mast.

Gibbs frowned at him. 'Which port?' he asked, wondering what had got Jack in a frenzy.

Jack shook his head. 'Didn't say port. I said land. Any land. Preferably the one Cassandra is on… she'll protect me,' he told him, nodding.

'Protect you?' Gibbs asked, his frown deepening.  'May I remind you if you return to Port Royal you're bound to get hanged, drawn, and quartered… not necessarily in that order?'

Jack looked at the mast, contemplating his words. 'True, just land then… any land. Away from water,' he answered. Jack lowered his head, wishing now more than ever that Cassandra had taken him up on his offer. Then she'd be on the ship… protecting him.

Jack, the monkey, chose that moment to drop onto Jack's shoulder and scream. Startled, Jack snarled back, trying to swat him away from him. The monkey performed a spinning leg kick aimed for his hat. His hat flew off, tumbling overboard. The monkey leapt into the rigging, laughing.

'Jack's hat! Bring 'er about!' Gibbs shouted, sounding almost panicked thinking Jack would murder them if he lost his hat.

Jack stopped him. 'No, no! Leave it! Run!' he told him, the panic in his demeanour was starting to worry Gibbs.

Gibbs turned back to the crew, not believing his ears. The monkey and the crew couldn't believe it either. 'Back to your stations! The lot o' ya!' Gibbs ordered as the crew went back to their posts in bewilderment. They would think Jack had gone mad if they didn't know he was already mad. Jack moved away from the mast, ducking into the shadow of some steps, standing stiffly between two lighted windows. Gibbs followed him, stopping as he reached the stairs. 'Jack?' he said, looking at the stricken Captain in confusion.

'Shhh!'

'For the love of mother and child, Jack, what's coming after us?' Gibbs asked him.

Jack had never felt this terrified in his life. What was coming after them was the worst thing he could imagine. Jack paused, looking out at sea through the gap in the stairs before looking back at Gibbs. 'Nothing,' he answered, but Gibbs was not convinced.

Jack gave Gibbs a little "shoo, back to work" gesture. Gibbs stared at Jack who was staring back out at the water. On the water, Jack's hat floated, turning slowly. The water gradually started brightening up as the daylight came.

oOoOo

Will, Hermione, and the Governor descended the stone steps into the prison. The guard at the bottom of the steps held out his arm to stop them, holding a long gun with a bayonet on the end, 'Here now. He can't be here. Mister Swann-' he cut off, falling on the ground, and Hermione put her wand back in her sleeve.

Governor Swann and Will knelt down to check him, 'He's asleep!' Governor Swann pronounced in confusion.

'Maybe he was just exhausted?' Hermione answered innocently, but she noticed Will tilt his head and she winked at him. He couldn't help but smile when he realised she was the one who put him to sleep.

'In any case, he's alive. Let's get to Elizabeth,' Will said, leading the other two towards the cells at the back of the room.

'Will! Cassandra! Father!' Elizabeth cried as she saw them.

'Elizabeth!' Will said, falling to the ground at her cell, reaching through the bars to take her hands.

'Are you well, Elizabeth?' Governor Swann asked her, looking at her with a critical eye.

'As well as can be expected, but I'll be fine,' Elizabeth answered, before looking over to where Hermione was keeping watch. 'Cassandra?' she called, causing the younger girl to look at her.

Hermione was conflicted. Earlier in the day, after his release, Will forced her to sit with Governor Swann and explain who she was. Governor Swann was fuming, and then he was just worried about Cassandra. It ended up being a tearful talk which resulted in Governor Swann hugging and accepting her. He said he wouldn't report her.

Governor Swann opened his mouth. 'Elizabeth, this girl is not your Sister,' he advised her.

Hermione felt herself shrinking as Elizabeth's confused eyes turned on her. 'Who are you?' she asked in a gentler tone than Hermione was expecting.

Hermione raised her head, tears welling in her eyes. 'I'm sorry,' she said quietly, trying to calm her rapidly beating heart before continuing, 'My name is Hermione Granger…' she trailed off, and tried to continue, but a bang from outside made her stop. 'Look, I'll explain everything later, I promise. Right now we need to hurry,' she advised as another bang echoed from outside.

Elizabeth continued looking at her suspiciously, before nodding. 'I understand,' she answered.

Hermione nodded, running towards the doors. Closing them, she pulled out her wand, muttering the locking charm, and she heard a click. Satisfied, she turned and went back into the room. 'We're safe for now,' she told them.

Will nodded to her before turning back to Elizabeth. 'I have been given a job to do. Beckett has ensured our freedom if I can get Jack's compass,' he told her.

Elizabeth frowned. 'Jack's compass? What could Beckett possibly want with that?' she asked, wondering what Beckett was up to.

'I asked the same question,' Hermione said, joining in as she sat on the bench. They all looked at her. 'What could Beckett want with a compass that doesn't work? It doesn't even point North!' she stood up, clicking her fingers. 'I bet there's a secret to it, like a compartment which opens up and has a map or something in it,' she nodded, happy with her deduction. Though she had no idea why the compass was special. 'Why else would he want it?' she asked, the question hypothetical.

Will shook his head. 'Does it matter?' he asked her harshly, and Hermione felt herself deflating at this. She was starting to believe nothing would ever be the same with them. Ever since she told him the truth, he had been harsher and almost uncaring towards her. She wished even more that she had gone with Jack, and had half a mind to leave to search for him. At least he cared about her… in some weird way anyway. She tuned back into her surroundings then as Will started speaking to Elizabeth again. 'I'm to find Jack and convince him to return to Port Royal. In exchange, the charges against us will be dropped,' he told her.

'Well, that's it, then. We must find our own avenue to secure your freedom,' Swann put in.

'Is that lack of faith in Jack, or in me?' Will asked him.

Swann sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. 'That you would put your life at risk to save Sparrow's does not mean he would do the same for anyone else,' he answered, and looked around the cell block then. 'Where is that silly dog with the keys?'

'I have faith in you. Both of you. It's Cutler Beckett who can't be trusted,' Elizabeth said, shaking her head.

Hermione looked at the ground sadly. 'If I hadn't set Jack free...' she trailed off, closing her eyes to stop the tears from welling up.

'Don't say that, Hermione. You were right in what you did,' Elizabeth answered instantly.

'I never expected you would bear the consequences of my actions, though,' Hermione answered quietly. She glanced at Elizabeth then, noticing Will was glaring at her.

Elizabeth squeezed Will's hand, frowning at him. He yelped, looking at his hand. 'What was that for?' he asked her.

'Hermione is not wholly responsible for this, so don't you dare look at her like this is all her fault. I will gladly share the consequences because if she hadn't freed him, I would have or you would have, William Turner,' she growled.

Will looked away from her, knowing she was right. 'I know, I'm just upset with the situation,' he answered, taking her hand and kissing it.

Elizabeth nodded. 'I know. We all are,' she said gently. She looked at everyone in turn, before turning her gaze back to Will. 'How are you going to find him?' she asked.

'Tortuga. I'll start there, and I won't stop searching until I find him. Then I intend to return here, to marry you,' he promised, reaching through the bars, and cupping her cheek.

Elizabeth leaned into his touch. 'Properly?' she asked, looking into his eyes.

Will smiled. 'Eagerly, if you'll still have me,' he said, looking down at the ground.

Elizabeth tilted his chin up, so he was looking at her. 'If it weren't for these bars I'd have you already,' she said, her eyes welling up with tears.

A loud clang knocked the two out of their moment. They turned to see Governor Swann had accidentally knocked a candle-holder off the wall. He picked it up, looking around for somewhere to put it, and finding nowhere suitable, he tossed it aside onto the floor.

Elizabeth smiled, turning back to Will. 'I'll wait for you,' she promised, a single tear falling from her eyes.

Will nodded, smiling at her. He kissed her fingers holding the bars and wiped the tear away. 'Not much choice, is there? Keep a weather eye on the horizon,' he told her, and she nodded. He stood up, walking to the stairs followed by Hermione and Governor Swann, and the three of them disappeared up them. Elizabeth sighed, leaning her head against the cold metal bars of her prison cell hoping and praying it wouldn't be too long a wait.

Outside the prison, Hermione grabbed Will's arm, causing him to stop and look at her. 'I'm going with you,' she stated.

Will shook his head. 'No.'

'Yes, I am,' she said forcefully, before continuing, 'I have my own reasons for wanting to find Jack,' she told him, walking again.

Will stopped her by stepping in front of her. 'What reasons?' he asked her, frowning.

'I don't believe it's any of your business,' she seethed, pushing past him.

'What is wrong with you all of a sudden?' he asked her, following her as Governor Swann looked between them in confusion.

Hermione stopped, looking at the ground. 'I'm not Cassandra, so don't bother trying to stop me. Whether we go to Tortuga together, or separately, I am going to find Jack,' she said before walking away again, leaving the two men stunned in her wake.

oOoOo

It was raining in Tortuga, and Will and Hermione ran to take cover in a nearby tavern. Will looked around, searching the bar for any signs of Jack. He turned to Hermione. 'Wait here,' he advised, and she nodded.

Will walked towards a weathered sailor, sitting drinking a pint of rum. 'Excuse me?' He said politely as he reached him. The sailor looked up at him, nodding for him to continue. 'I don't suppose you know of a man named Jack Sparrow?' he asked him, watching as the sailor's expression turned from one of curiosity to annoyance.

By this point, Hermione had wandered over to the table as a drunken patron was trying to cop a feel. Will noticed this, and was about to nod her over, but she made that decision herself. She came to stand beside him as the sailor spoke, 'Captain Jack Sparrow? Owes me four doubloons. Heard he was dead,' he answered, taking a swig of his rum.

Will thanked him, and the two made their way to the bar. Hermione managed to get the attention of the tavern master who walked over to them. 'Yes? What is it?' he asked them.

'Have you heard of a man named Jack Sparrow?' Hermione asked, knowing probably everyone in Tortuga knew him.

The tavern master chuckled. 'Aye, I know Captain Jack Sparrow. Can't say he's much welcome 'ere though,' he lowered his voice. He leaned in, and they could smell rum on his breath as he spoke which made Hermione want to gag. 'He ain't liked much by the patrons, so he never bothers to show 'is face round 'ere,' he advised them.

Hermione sighed. 'Any idea where he could be?' she asked him.

The tavern master shook his head. 'Last I 'eard, he ran off with a Creole woman to Madagascar. Half his age and twice his height!' he said before shuffling off to serve another patron.

Hermione and Will were about to give up when a fisherman at the bar turned to them. One of his eyes was bright blue; the other was white. Hermione understood he was half-blind, but it creeped her out. He smiled crookedly, showing his wonky and rotten teeth. 'Lookin' for ol' Jack are we?' he asked, and at their nod, he continued, "I 'magine he'll be in Singapore. Tha's wha' I 'eard. He'll be drunk wi' a smile on 'is face. Sure as the tide, Jack Sparrow will turn up in Singapore,' he told them.

'HA!' came a voice from behind the fisherman, and the two companions looked to see who laughed.

They both couldn't help the feeling of amusement upon remembering what happened the last time they met the red-headed Scarlett and the blonde Giselle. They were just surprised to see them both standing in the same vicinity as each other. Will took a deep breath before asking, 'Have either of you lovely ladies seen Jack Sparrow?'

'Jack Sparrow!' Giselle said, laughing.

Scarlett joined in laughing before advising, 'I haven't seen 'im in a month.'

Giselle smiled, walking up to him. 'When you do find him, will you give him a message?' she asked sweetly.

Will's expression scrunched up in worry. 'Yes?' he agreed timidly. Giselle slapped Will across the face, hard, causing him to fall into one of the tables which was empty of patrons. Hermione burst out laughing but stopped at Will's glare.

They left the tavern, noticing a black man sitting on the dock, mending his nets. He looked as though he may be a fisherman or a shrimper. On the dock behind him was a bunch of bananas, and a goat getting loaded aboard a ship. They glanced at each other, shrugging, before walking over to the man. 'Excuse me?' Hermione said as they approached.

The man looked up, smiling at them. 'How can I help? Come to buy some shrimp?' he asked them.

'No thank you, we just want to ask you something?' she advised him.

'Ask away?' the shrimper said, his smile widening slightly.

'Have you seen or heard of a man called Jack Sparrow?' Will asked him curiously.

The shrimper laughed, causing them to look at each other in hope in case this man had seen him. 'Cannot say about Jack Sparrow, but dere's an island, just south of de straits, where I trade spice for… mmm… delicious long pork. Cannot say about Jack, but you find a ship dere. A ship wit' black sails,' he told them, speaking as if it was a huge secret.

Jack and Hermione looked at each other, a glimmer of hope in their eyes. 'Black sails…' they both said at the same time.

'I'll take you both dere on my boat, aye,' he offered.

Hermione turned back to the man who was still smiling at them. 'Thank you, sir,' she said, smiling at him, and Will nodded at him. The two made their way onto the boat with the shrimper. 'It's our best bet,' Hermione said. Will nodded in agreement, before helping the other members of the crew make ready the boat to set sail.

oOoOo

The shrimper handed Will his spyglass, letting him look through it towards the approaching island. He could see the Black Pearl careened onto the beach. Will lowered the spyglass, passing it back to him. 'Yes, that's Jack's ship,' Will advised him.

'Good den, my Brother will take you ashore,' the shrimper told him, as his brother came to stand beside him.

They lowered the row-boat into the water. The Brother went on first, followed by Hermione, and then Will. The shrimper's Brother began rowing them towards the shore, stopping just short of the beach so he wouldn't get stuck in the sand.

Will, not realising this, turned the shrimper's Brother. 'What's wrong? The beach is right there,' he said, but the man shook his head.

The man said something in French, and both Will and Hermione looked at him in confusion. 'What?' they both asked in unison.

'Bon voyage, monsieur, mademoiselle,' the shrimper's Brother said, gesturing for them to get out of his boat.

They both looked at each other, knowing they didn't have a choice, and jumped into the water, swimming ashore. They waded ashore, Will removing his sword and waving it around to get the water off it. 'Watch where you're waving that!' Hermione said in annoyance, ducking to avoid it hitting her.

'Sorry,' he muttered, replacing his sword at his waist. They made their way towards the Black Pearl, walking alongside it. It was tied with ropes attached to stakes in the sand. They came upon the remains of a campfire. 'Jack! Jack Sparrow! Mr Gibbs! Marty! Cotton! Anybody?' Will shouted out, but there was no answer. The ship was silent, deserted. They studied it, but there didn't seem to be anything wrong with it.

The two companions wandered into the palm jungle bordering the beach, not noticing Cotton's parrot fluttering up to land atop a palm stump. 'Awk!' it squawked, gaining their attention.

'Ah! A familiar face!' Will announced in relief.

'That means they have to be here!' Hermione surmised, feeling more hopeful as the day went on.

'Rawk! Don't eat me!' Cotton's parrot squawked, causing them to look at it in confusion.

'We're not going to eat you,' Hermione told it gently.

'Don't eat me! No! Don't eat me! Akkk!' Cotton's parrot squawked as if in panic.

As Hermione was trying to calm the parrot down, Will looked around the jungle, trying to find a path. 'I'm not even hungry,' he muttered.

'DON'T EAT ME!' the parrot screeched.

Will sighed in exasperation. 'Look, you're nothing but feathers and bones. You probably taste like a pigeon," he said to it. The parrot seemed to understand what he said. It went silent, looking down as if his words hurt him.

'Will...' Hermione whispered, looking at the parrot.

Will looked at him, scratching the back of his head. 'Sorry. That was uncalled for,' he said, stepping closer to the bird and petting his head. 'Listen, if anyone should ask, tell them, Will Turner, against his better judgement, went into the jungle in search of Jack Sparrow. Understand? I'm talking to a parrot.'

'Aye, aye, sir!' Cotton's parrot answered.

He looked around some more, noticing something glinting in the sun. Moving closer, he realised it was Gibbs' husk canteen hanging on a plant, trailing on a long string. 'Gibbs,' Will whispered, beginning to worry and wonder what happened to the crew.

Hermione came to stand at his side, both looking at the canteen with a foreboding feeling. They ended up following the string attached to the flask which led over towards a large tree. They both failed to notice human eyes lurking at them belonging to a man, camouflaged against a nearby tree. The man shouted, jumping out from the tree at Will, startling them both. Will got caught by a snare, yanking him back, and was dangling upside-down from a rope.

'Will!' Hermione shouted, taking out her wand, trying to stun the man. He was too quick, and grabbed her, holding her in place.

'Hermione!' he shouted back, taking out his sword.

More camouflaged men charged out of the bushes, surrounding them from all directions. They carried spears, ruthless and savage with filed teeth, their bodies painted and pierced. They were wearing remnants of their previous victims: hats, vests, necklaces, and belts.

Will swung his sword which was awkward from this angle, but it kept them at bay. They were talking in a strange language as Will shouted threats towards them. Eventually, one of the camouflaged men, who had a bone through his nose, pulled out his blowgun, shooting a dart into Will's neck.

Hermione felt her heart drop as Will's body went limp, dropping his sword to the ground. 'No! Will! Let go of me! Will! Please, wake up!' The man then turned towards Hermione, blowing a dart at her. Her vision blurred quickly, and then she saw no more.

oOoOo

The men who captured Will and Hermione were moving along a bridge past lush green mountains. Hermione came to first, opening her eyes to find she had a banging headache, and her vision was still blurry. Struggling to look around, she realised the men who captured them were carrying them. She spotted Will getting taken in front; he was still unconscious. He was hanging from a bamboo pole, and his head was hanging back.

Her eyes found the ground, gasping when she saw human skulls lining the path. She felt her heart go into her throat upon realising these people must be cannibals. Looking at where they tied her hands, she knew she wouldn't be able to reach her wand… if her wand was even still on her person. She may have lost it for all she knew. The angle she was hanging from did not give her much room to check if it was on her person.

Deciding there was nothing she could do for the moment, she turned her gaze towards where the cannibals were carrying them. She had to shut her eyes when they carried them over a rope bridge to stop her vertigo kicking in and making her dizzy.

Keeping her eyes closed for a moment, she heard one of the cannibals speak, 'Hurry-hurry tan daga!' and she realised some of the words they used were English. She chanced opening her eyes to find they were back on solid ground, and she glanced around for the source of the voice. Seeing him, she would have laughed if she was not in a life-threatening situation. He was wearing an English white wig while using a Western-style fan. If she was watching this on a Muggle Television, she would have found it funny.

The cannibals brought them into the village shortly after this with huts made of sticks, everything else made of bones. The cannibals carried them towards a throne of bones. By this point, Will had woken up feeling angry at the situation they now found themselves in.

Looking up at the throne, Hermione was expecting to see a tribe chief… but sitting on the throne was the elusive Jack Sparrow. Hermione gasped. 'Jack…' she whispered, knowing he wouldn't hear her from the drums playing in the background.

The music came to a stop, and Jack's eyes popped open, revealing his eyelids were painted to look like his eyes were open. Will shook his head, not believing what he was witnessing, 'Jack? Jack Sparrow! I can honestly say I am glad to see you!' Will stated, seeming to be genuinely happy.

Jack tilted his head, not saying anything in comment to his statement. He gave Will a blank look like he'd never seen him before. He arose from his throne, walking over to Will. He pushed one finger into Will's shoulder as if testing how much meat Will had on him.

'Jack? Don't you recognise us?' Hermione pleaded as Jack came over to her.

He paused in front of her, looking into her eyes, before turning to the tribe. 'Ally ding dong, wilbo washy,' he said, speaking gibberish.

Hermione felt the restraints on her wrists getting cut away, and they released her from the bamboo stick. Confused, she looked at Jack. 'What's going on?' She asked him. He just stared at her, grabbing her arm and dragging her over to the throne, making her sit in it.

'Jack! What the hell are you doing!?' Will shouted, getting infuriated that Jack was being completely ignorant.

Jack walked back over to Will again, prodding his shoulder again. 'Wa-say kohn,' he said to the tribe.

'Een dah-lah. Eeseepi,' one answered back.

'Eeseepi,' the crowd of cannibals chanted together.

Will looked around at them, starting to panic. 'Tell them to let me down, Jack,' he said, his voice almost at pleading point, but not quite.

Jack looked at him for a moment, before turning to the tribe. 'Kay-lay lam. Lam piki-piki. Lam eensy weensy. Lam say-say… eunuchy. Snip-snip,' he told them. Will didn't need a translator to know he had, once again, insulted his manhood, and to a bunch of cannibals no less.

'Ahhh... eunuchy!' they all laughed at Will's expense.

Jack walked away, looking disinterested in what was going on, his compass hanging from his waist. Will noticed it and started squirming. 'Jack! The Compass! That's all I need, Elizabeth is in danger. We were arrested for trying to help you. She faces the gallows!' he pleaded with him, causing Jack to halt in his step and pause.

Turning back to the crowd, he casually walked back towards them. 'Say-say lam shoop-shoop sha smalay-lama shoo-koo. Savvy? Ball licky-licky. Ball licky-licky!' Jack announced, serving only to confuse Will and Hermione more.

Hermione wasn't sure what was going on, and she was in too much shock to say anything except sit there. 'Jack?' She called, but he didn't turn to look at her. She did notice the perceptible movement of his hand clenching, hoping this was his way of telling her it was all a farce.

The cannibals were chanting repetitiously now, and Hermione watched Jack walk back over to Will. 'Save me!' he muttered, walking past him and over to Hermione.

Will watched him in utter bewilderment. He felt himself getting picked up and carried away towards the rope bridge, still attached to the bamboo stick. 'Jack, what did you tell them? No! What about Elizabeth? Jack…!' he shouted, disappearing out of sight.

'Jack! What the hell are you doing!?' Hermione shouted, rounding on him now she found her voice.

Jack sighed. 'I'm gonna need your help if we're ever getting out of this with our hides intact, love,' Jack told her, his eyes pleading for her to just go along with it.

Hermione nodded. 'Fine, but once we're out of here, you have some explaining to do,' she told him, leaving no argument.

'Of course, love,' he answered with a bright smile, showing teeth. 'And, it's good to see you,' he added, his smile widening. Hermione looked into his eyes, seeing something there, but she couldn't tell what it was.

oOoOo

Elizabeth was sitting alone in her prison cell, trying to ignore the male prisoners in the cell next to her. They were whistling and beckoning her to go over to them. 'We don't bite… Come on…' they were saying. Elizabeth wished it would end.

As if in answer to her prayers, Governor Swann appeared at her cell door. 'Father!?' she cried, wanting to hug him, but the bars were in the way.

Governor Swann pulled out keys from his coat pocket, using one of them to open the cell door. 'Come on. We do not have much time. I need to get you out of here,' he said, grabbing her hand, and leading her upstairs and out of the prison building.

Elizabeth frowned at him. 'Why don't you tell me what's happening?' she asked him.

'Our name still holds some sway with the King. I've arranged passage for you back to England. The Captain is an old friend-' She cut him off.

'No. Will has gone-' She started, but he cut her off.

'Not now. William should never have left. It was irresponsible,' he answered, leading her down a narrow path between two buildings.

'He's a better man than you give him credit for,' Elizabeth told him, reaching a horse and carriage which was waiting.

The Governor opened the door to the carriage, holding it open as Elizabeth climbed in, and he got in after her. He shook his head sadly as he sat down. 'Please, this is no time for innocence,' he said, drawing a pistol. 'Beckett has offered only one pardon. One. And it has been promised to Sparrow. Even if Will succeeds... Do not ask me to endure the sight of losing my Daughter walking to the gallows. Do not!' He said, pushing the pistol towards her, tears in his eyes.

Elizabeth looked down at the pistol, tears welling in her own eyes. 'Yet, you ask me to leave without you?' she asked him in disbelief.

'I must stay. There are still men loyal to me here, and Beckett is wary of my ties to the Crown. Perhaps... I can ensure Will a fair trial if he returns,' Swann answered.

'This is no time for innocence. A fair trial for William ends in a hanging,' she said, her eyes wide, the tears starting to fall.

'Then there is nothing for you here,' Swann answered, shutting the door, and signalling for the driver to get them moving.

The carriage took off, making its way down the path, bumping as it went over stones and the uneven gravelly road. It was not long before they reached a dock where Captain Hawkins was standing silently, facing out to the sea.

The Captain's body soon fell, revealing Mercer who was standing behind the body, a long knife in his hand. 'Evening, Governor. Shame, huh? He was carryin' this. It's a letter to the King. It's from you,' he announced. Horses and soldiers arrived at the dock, cutting off the Governor from any chance of fleeing. The Governor closed his eyes in panic as Mercer opened the carriage door, but it was empty. Governor Swann let out a breath of relief knowing Elizabeth had escaped. Mercer turned on him. 'Where is she?' he demanded, grabbing the Governor by the lapels, and pushing him up against the side of the carriage with enough force to knock the wind out of him.

'Who?' Swann asked, feigning innocence.

Mercer growled. 'Elizabeth.'

Swann smiled. 'She was always a willful child,' he answered. Manacles clanged shut on his wrists, and he took one last look inside the empty carriage as they led him away.

oOoOo

Beckett's quarters were bathed in darkness, the only light coming from a lantern he was holding as he walked back in from the balcony. Walking to a table, he opened a wooden box, revealing the Letters of Marque which had been in there were missing. Beckett stood up straight, knowing now and sensing the presence of someone else in the room. No doubt you've discovered that loyalty is no longer the currency of the realm, as your Father believes,' he said, knowing only one person those letters would interest.

Slipping into the dark room from an interior door, Elizabeth made her way towards him, her hands held behind her back. 'Then what is?' she asked him.

'I'm afraid that currency is the currency of the realm,' he answered, turning to look at her.

Elizabeth smiled sardonically. 'I expect, then, we can come to some understanding. I'm here to negotiate,' she told him, leaving no room for argument.

Beckett turned towards her. 'I'm listening,' he said, not looking interested. Elizabeth revealed what was behind her back, pointing the pistol at Beckett's head. 'I'm listening intently,' he said, his voice cracking.

'You haven't raised the alarm,' Elizabeth stated.

Beckett smirked. 'This does not seem to be a situation I cannot handle,' he answered.

'These Letters of Marque, they are signed by the King?' Elizabeth asked him, holding up the letters.

He nodded. 'Yes, and they're not valid until they bear my signature and my seal,' he answered her.

'Or else I would not still be here,' she said, pausing for a moment, before looking at him.

Beckett nodded. 'And what do you think you have to offer me, young lady?' he asked her.

'Information. You sent Will to get you the Compass owned by Jack Sparrow. It will do you no good.'

Beckett was starting to become amused. 'Do explain,' he asked her.

She sighed, lowering the pistol. 'I have been to Isla de Muerta. I have seen the treasure myself. There is something you need to know,' she started, but Beckett held up a hand to stop her in her tracks.

Smiling at her, he spoke, 'Ah, I see. You think the Compass leads only to the Isla de Muerta. And so you hope to save me from an evil fate, but you mustn't worry. I care not for cursed Aztec gold. My desires are not so provincial,' he said, moving over to a huge map on the wall. It showed incomplete parts of South America, Africa, Australia, only sketched in. 'There's more than one chest of value in these waters. So perhaps you may wish to enhance your offer,' he told her, thinking he had won the negotiation.

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows, cocking her pistol and pointed at Beckett's head. In her free hand, she waved the letters as if making a point. Beckett, knowing she would be willing to kill him because of this, signed the documents to be on the safe side, and handed them back to her. 'Consider into your calculations that you robbed me of my wedding night,' she told him as if this explained why she was doing this.

Beckett nodded. 'So I did. A marriage interrupted, or fate intervenes. You make great efforts to ensure Jack Sparrow's freedom,' he said, sounding as though he may be assuming too much.

Elizabeth shook her head. 'These aren't going to Jack,' she revealed to him.

Beckett raised his eyebrows. 'Oh really. To ensure Mister Turner's freedom, then? I'll still want that Compass. Consider that in your calculations,' he told her, and Elizabeth found herself wondering what she was going to do now.

Chapter Text

Chapter Fifteen: Bound in Darkness

Drums were pounding, the noise giving Hermione a headache, and she reached up to rub her temples. She was now sitting on an uncomfortable stool made of human bones next to the throne where Jack was sitting. One of the cannibals came forward, handing Jack a necklace made of human toes, causing her to gag at the sight.

Jack grimaced, taking the offering. 'Thank you,' he said, looking down at it. He frowned, seeing one of the toenails was too long. He brought it up to his mouth, biting off part of the nail, trimming it. Hermione turned around, throwing up as Jack spat the nail out before re-examining the toe.

oOoOo

On another part of the island, two spherical cages, made from the bones of six Black Pearl crewmen apiece, hung from ropes over a deep chasm. Will got put into the same enclosure as Gibbs, Cotton, Marty, and two others. 'Why would he do this to us? If Jack is their chief, can't he just tell them we're friends?' Will asked, angry Jack would just let this happen.

Gibbs shook his head. 'Aye, the Pelegostos made Jack their chief, but he only remains chief as long as he acts like a chief... Which means he cannot do anything they think a Chief ought not to do,' he explained to him.

Will nodded in understanding. 'Ah, so he had no choice then. He's as much a captive as the rest of us,' he surmised.

Grimacing, Gibbs answered, 'Worse… as it turns out. See, the Pelegostos believe Jack is a God in human form. They intend to do him the honour of releasing him from his fleshy prison.' Cotton leaned over, biting Gibbs' finger as if to illustrate his point. 'Argh!' he shouted, shoving Cotton away from him, before turning back to Will. 'They'll roast him, and eat him. It's a deeply-held religious belief. Or, we figure, maybe they just get awful hungry,' he finished.

Will frowned in worry. 'Hermione's up there with him! What will they do to her?' he asked them.

Gibbs looked at him in confusion. 'Who's Hermione?'

Will shook his head, realising they wouldn't know what had happened. 'Cassandra… long story. What will they do to her?'

'How was she treated?' Gibbs asked, worry starting to show on his face.

'I don't know, but they untied her, and made her sit on this throne by Jack. It was like they were honouring her or something,' Will explained. At these words, Gibbs' looked down. Will felt panic rising in him. 'What, Gibbs?' he asked, needing to know what was going to happen to her.

'Sounds like he showed some form of interest in her, and he's chosen her to be his bride. That means she will get the same treatment as Jack,' Gibbs informed him.

Will closed his eyes, the horror of their situation hitting him in full. He should have protected her. She was a powerful person though, as long as she had her wand she should be fine. He also liked to hope Jack wouldn't let anything happen to her.

Changing the subject, he asked, 'Where's the rest of the crew?'

Gibbs grimaced again. 'These cages we're in… weren't built 'til after we got here,' he revealed. Will was gripping the bars made of human bones but pulled his hands away. Gibbs continued, 'The feast is about to begin. Jack's and Cassandra's lives will end… when the drums stop,' he told him.

Will looked at him, before turning to the rest of the crew. 'Well, we can't just sit here and wait then, can we?' he said to them.

oOoOo

Jack was rubbing Hermione's back, whispering comforting things to her. 'I have to make it look like I'm their Chief, love. We're safe for the moment, but it may not last long.' Even at these words, Hermione couldn't look at him, so he continued, 'Hermione, I have to act like a savage…' He trailed off as she turned, looking at him. She couldn't speak for fear of throwing up again, but she nodded to show she understood their plight. He smiled. 'Get ready to run,' he said, and she nodded.

Standing up, he sauntered over to where the cannibals were still pounding on their drums. Taking a deep breath, he started making hand gestures towards the fire. 'No! No, no! Wait! No, no! More wood! Big fire! Big fire! I am Chief! Want big fire! Come on! Boy! Maboogie snickel-snickel. Tout de suite! Come on! More wood!' he ordered. The cannibal standing next to Jack left to put more wood on the fire. Several cannibals came back, setting large pieces of wood on the fire. Turning around, they let out a chorus of angry gasps when they realised Jack and Hermione were gone.

oOoOo

Jack was running across a footbridge, pulling Hermione along behind him. He stopped upon reaching a cliff edge, almost tottering at the edge. He looked down. 'We're not going to get across this way,' he muttered, noticing a length of bamboo pole lying on the ground.

Hermione watched him, feeling scared knowing the cannibals were right behind them, and Jack was wasting time. He ran into a nearby hut, seeing various supplies. Stopping for a moment, he shook his head upon hearing the sound of flies buzzing around. Ignoring the flies, he picked up a rope, and went to leave the hut, but halted, turning back to look inside. Hermione frowned further as he ran back into the shed again, picking up a can of paprika. She reached into her sleeve, a feeling of relief washing over her upon realising her wand was there. She placed her hand on the hilt of the wand, using the sticking charm so it would stay attached to her sleeve.

Hermione heard running footsteps, and she turned to see the tribe had caught up with them. They grabbed her from behind, holding her arms behind her back. 'Jack?' she tried to say, but her captive slapped his hand over her mouth.

Walking back out of the hut, Jack realised the predicament they were in as the entire tribe were waiting, staring at him. Jack gulped. 'Oh bugger,' he muttered, dropping the coil of rope. He raised the paprika, sprinkling it on his armpits while smiling at them. 'Little seasoning. Eh?' he reasoned, but the tribe grabbed him, tying him to a bamboo pole along with Hermione, so they were side by side.

They carried them back to the village, setting the bamboo pole on two stands which held them hanging face down over a pile of wood. Around them, the cannibals were dancing. Jack was laughing fearfully. 'Well done,' he stuttered, before looking at Hermione in worry.

'What are we going to do?' Hermione asked him, trying in vain to loosen the rope around her wrists so she could reach her wand.

'I think we may be buggered this time, lass,' Jack answered, the worry starting to become evident on his face.

oOoOo

Back with the captives, the men swang the cages with wide arcs. Both cages finally came within reach of the cliff, and they reached out, grabbing the vines so they could hang on to the cliff face. Gibbs turned to the crew alongside him. 'Put your legs through, start to climb! Agh!' he told them, doing this himself.

Will also gave encouragement. 'Come on men! It'll take us all to crew the Black Pearl!'

Leech placed a hand on his arm. 'Actually, you won't need everyone. 'Bout six would do! Ohhh… dear,' he revealed. Gibbs nodded in agreement as the men in the other cage gave them a competitive glance.

Will slipped his legs through the gaps in the cage. 'Hurry!' he shouted. Both cage groups raced against each other up the cliff. 'Come on! Go! Go! Go! Come on! Give it all you got!' he was saying as they ascended. He looked across the gap, seeing a cannibal crossing the rope bridge above them. He held out his hand. 'Hey! Hey… Stop! Stop! Stop! Shhh! Shhh!'

The cannibal stopped near the end of the rope bridge. 'Shhh!' Leech called, but one of the cage groups decided to take the risk of climbing, despite the nearby cannibal. 'What's he doing? Stop!' he cried as quietly as he could. One of the men in the climbing cage grabbed hold of a coral snake from the cliff instead of the vine. He let go of the snake, and the vines, which caused the rope to break, and their cage fell into the ravine below.

Will looked away. 'Move!' he said. The remaining crew in the cage started climbing again. He prayed Hermione and Jack would be okay.

oOoOo

As the cannibals were dancing around the fire, the drums pounding, another cannibal crossed over the bridge, shouting out, 'Ahhh! Fye-fye! Ahhh! Fye-fye!' The cannibal arrived, panting, telling the rest of the tribe the men in the cages were escaping. 'Da latazo! Da litozo! Hay la paka say-say!' he shouted, but the crowd just stood silently, not knowing whether to stay or take chase of the escapees.

Jack growled. 'Well, go on! Go get them! Hay ala!' he ordered them.

'Hay ala! Ala, ala!' they chanted, running off to chase after the men who escaped from the cages. In their haste, one of the cannibals dropped a lighted torch onto the pile of wood underneath Jack and Hermione.

Hermione gasped, as Jack shouted, 'No! No no! Oi! No no!' The edges of the wood caught fire as well, and black smoke rose up making Hermione cough. 'Not good,' Jack said in panic, blowing at the igniting wood.

Hermione tried to loosen the ropes desperately, trying to reach her wand so she could free them. 'Jack, I need your help!' she cried, making him turn to look at her questioningly. 'Reach for my hands, try and untie the rope!' she told him. He could just reach her hands, trying to grip the rope and pull it away or loosen it at least.

oOoOo

The remaining cage reached the top of the cliff finally. Will turned, noticing the cannibals were closing in on them. 'Cut it loose! Find a rock!' he shouted. Marty reached for a rock which was closest to him, handing it to Will. Will managed to sever the cage's cable by hammering with the rock. The men soon realised they would be unable to get the cage open in time before the cannibals would reach them. Thinking on his feet, Will said, 'Roll the cage!' And at these words the men pushed against the bones making it roll down the hill, falling over a small cliff. It kept moving down a steeper slope, crashing against a coconut palm trunk without breaking. 'Lift the cage! Hurry!' Will shouted. The men put their legs through the gaps, carrying it instead.

'Come on, men! Lift it like a lady's skirt!' Gibbs shouted, urging them on. The men ran with their legs protruding from the cage, holding it up. Marty, who was a lot smaller than the other crewmen, made the running motion with his short legs, but he was unable to reach the ground. 'Come on!' Gibbs shouted, slowly and awkwardly making their escape.

oOoOo

'There!' Jack exclaimed, managing to loosen Hermione's hands, and she pulled them free. She was glad she was quite agile, swinging herself up to her feet, and untying the ropes. She used her momentum to swing to the ground away from the fire. She grabbed a makeshift axe made from a thick stick and a sharpened stone, hammering away at the stand. It broke quickly enough, and Jack was able to get his feet on the ground.

Hermione untied his feet, before turning and running towards the rope bridge. 'Hey!' Jack shouted after her, following with the bamboo pole still tied to his back. Hermione stopped upon encountering a cannibal boy standing with a fork and a knife, one in each of his hands. Hermione snatched the knife from him, before turning back to Jack who was panting. She used the knife to try and cut the rope off.

Two cannibal woman appeared then, and Jack charged at them, but the bamboo pole still attached to his back ended up spearing a coconut in a pile near the cliff edge. Hermione watched in amazement as Jack turned, flinging the coconut off the end of the pole into one of the cannibal's faces. Slowly, lifting the dripping coconut from his face, the cannibal scowled at Jack.

oOoOo

Back with the others, the cage rolled over a ledge into a small chasm holding a river. Cannibals were throwing spears and shooting arrows at the men in the water. They decided to swim underwater making it harder for the cannibals to see them.

Gibbs surfaced for a moment, followed by the others. 'This way, lads!' he said to them, leading them down the chasm.

oOoOo

Hermione watched in amusement as the two cannibal women threw many fruits at Jack, while the pole was still on his back. Several of the fruits impaled on the pole, making Jack look like he was part of a shish-ka-bob.

'Da litozo! Da litozo!' the cannibal boy shouted.

Hermione was becoming bored with this display; they needed to get out of there. 'Jack!' she called, gaining his attention. 'Come on!' With that, she took a running jump across the chasm, landing on the other side.

Jack followed suit, pole vaulting across the chasm, barely landing on the edge. Hermione watched in horror as the fruit started to slide down the end of his pole, putting weight on the end over the chasm. She reached out to grab him, but the weight caused her to topple over with him. They both screamed as they fell into the ravine, the two cannibal woman watching disinterestedly.

As the chasm narrowed, the pole caught on the side, stopping his fall. He managed to grab Hermione before she fell to her death, the weight causing the pole to slip loose. 'Bugger,' he said, as they descended again, both screaming. As they fell through a rope bridge, Hermione managed to grab hold of one of the ropes. Jack was hanging upside-down in the chasm as the rope caught the bamboo pole. Hermione watched as he fell through a total of six rope bridges before landing on his back in the grass.

The rope Hermione was holding onto snapped, and she fell, screaming, only just managing to grab one of the ropes from the bottom rope bridge. Her hands were killing her from the rope burn, but she managed to get a good grip. She reached for her wand, and she looked down, conjuring a mattress on the ground below her. Gauging the fall, she knew it would hurt even with the mattress there to cushion her fall. Shimmying down to the bottom of the rope, she closed her eyes and let go, falling to the mattress.

An excruciating pain shot through her arm, and she cried out. Grabbing her wand which was next to her on the grass, she pointed it at her arm and muttered a spell to mend any broken bones. She screamed as the bones shifted back into place, tears falling from her eyes. She then said another spell which formed a bandage to support her arm. She lay there for a moment, turning her eyes to Jack. The bamboo pole fell from where it was still attached to the rope above them, spearing the ground next to his head. The fruit which was on the bamboo stick tumbled down afterwards.

oOoOo

On the beach, Ragetti and Cotton's parrot were aboard the Black Pearl, while Pintel was on the beach below. 'Haul loose the mooring lines! The mooring lines!' Pintel was shouting up to Ragetti.

The monkey leapt down towards Ragetti, chattering as it grabbed his wooden eye. 'Thief! Little hairy thief! Give it back! Don't bite it!' he shouted, taking chase of the monkey.

Pintel was becoming aggravated. 'Unloose the mooring lines!' he shouted again, wondering what in the world Ragetti was doing.

Ragetti leaned over the side of the ship. 'He's got me eye! He won't give it back!' he complained, pointing at the monkey who was trying to chew on his eye.

Pintel sighed. 'Well, how'd you get it back last time?' he asked, his patience wearing thin.

At that moment, Gibbs, Will, and the other remaining escapees reached the ship. Gibbs patted Pintel on the back. 'Excellent work! Work's half done!' he shouted, climbing onto the ship.

Pintel smiled innocently. 'We done it for you! Knowin' you'd be comin' back for us,' he said, moving to climb aboard as well.

Gibbs looked around at remaining crew. 'Make ready to sail, boys,' he ordered them.

'Wait! What about Jack and Cassandra? I won't leave without them,' Will said adamantly.

'Hey! Wait for us!' Will heard Hermione shouting in the distance. He turned to see her running down the beach with Jack in tow towards the ship. Will smiled, thankful they were okay. His smile fell upon seeing the crowd of cannibal's appearing and running down the beach in pursuit of them.

'They're almost here. Time to go,' Will stated, helping them get the ship ready, just hoping they would make it in time.

Gibbs nodded, shouting. 'Cast off those lines!' At this point, Hermione had reached the ship and was climbing aboard. Jack was a fair bit behind her screaming while running down the beach. 'Make ready to cast off!' Gibbs ordered as the men ran around the ship, getting it ready.

The dog who was with Ragetti and Pintel had sprinted off up the beach, giving chase to Jack, barking at him. 'Good doggie! Doggie!' he said, grabbing hold of the rigging on the side of the departing ship. He turned back to the tribe. 'Alas, my children! This is the day you shall always remember as the day you almost—' a giant wave splashed him from behind, cutting him off. Spitting out the sea water, he finished. 'Captain Jack… Sparrow.'

The crowd of cannibals fell silent, watching the ship leave. The dog, who was on the beach, barked at the departing ship. The heads of the cannibal crowd turned toward the dog. The dog's ears fell, his barks falling silent. He let out a whimper, before fleeing back down the beach, and the cannibals gave chase, shouting at the dog.

Hermione watched the scene sadly. 'Poor thing, I hope he manages to find somewhere to hide. We should have grabbed him, and got him on board,' she said to Will who was standing next to her.

Will shook his head. 'It's unfortunate, but we didn't have time,' he said, trying to reassure her.

Hermione nodded, he had a good point, but it was still horrible. Gibbs and Jack walked over to them, looking back at the cannibal crowd chasing the dog. 'Let's put some distance between us and this island, and head out to open sea,' Gibbs said.

Jack nodded in agreement. 'Yes to the first, yes to the second, but only insofar as we keep to the shallows as much as possible,' Jack ordered him.

Gibbs frowned in confusion. 'Uh, that seems a bit contradictory, Captain.'

Jack turned to him. 'I have every faith in your reconciliatory navigational skills, Master Gibbs,' he said, grinning at him. He turned around, walking the length of the wooden deck. 'Now where is that monkey? I want to shoot something,' Jack muttered, looking around. The monkey let out a scream, dropping Ragetti's eye. Ragetti scrambled to the floor, grabbing his eye and spitting on it, and rubbing the spit around it.

The monkey was chattering, climbing up into the rigging. Jack took his pistol out, pointing it towards the monkey, ready to shoot it. A voice distracted him, 'Jack,' Will said, impatiently.

'Ah,' Jack responded, not looking at him, but concentrating on aiming his pistol.

'Elizabeth is in danger,' Will advised him.

Jack looked at him before answering, 'Have you considered keeping a more watchful eye on 'er? Maybe just lock her up somewhere?'

Will reached up, rubbing his eyes in annoyance. 'She is locked up, in prison, bound to hang for helping you!' he shouted at him, causing Jack to look at him.

'There comes a time when one must take responsibility for one's mistakes,' Jack reasoned, placing his hand on Will's shoulder in a comforting gesture.

Angry at his words, Will pulled a sword from the waistband of a pirate who had just turned around, pointing it at Jack. 'I need that Compass of yours, Jack. I must trade it for her freedom,' Will revealed. Jack just stared at him as if his words weren't sinking into his brain.

Without turning around, Jack pushed Will's acquired sword aside, making his way towards the back of the ship. 'Mister Gibbs!' he called.

Gibbs was by his side straight away. 'Cap'n.'

'We have a need to travel upriver,' he informed him.

Gibbs looked at him in confusion. 'By need, d'you mean a… trifling need, a… fleeting, as in say... in a passing fancy?' he asked him.

Jack looked at him, frowning as if Gibbs had grown another head. 'No, a… resolute and unyielding need.'

Hermione came to stand next to Jack. 'Where are we going, Jack?' she asked, but Will drowned.

'What we need to do is make sail for Port Royal with all haste,' Will said.

Jack turned to Will, a look of absolute boredom on his face. 'William…' the way he said it halted Will in his tracks. 'I shall trade you the Compass if you will help me…' He paused, taking out a piece of paper, holding it up to him, '…to find this.'

Will and Hermione looked at the picture in curiosity. 'It's a key,' Hermione deduced, stating the obvious.

'Ding ding, you are correct!' Jack shouted, dancing about excitedly.

Rolling his eyes, he grabbed Jack's arm to stop his dancing. 'You want me to find this?' he asked him, taking a closer look at the picture.

Shaking his head, Jack responded, 'No. You want you to find this because the finding this finds you incapacitorially finding and or locating and you're discovering the detecting of a way to save your dotty belle ol'… whats-her-face. Savvy?' His statement confused everyone, some not even trying to figure out what he said.

Will took some of the things he said, believing he pieced together something resembling what he said. 'This… is going to save Elizabeth?' he asked him.

Jack nodded, grinning like a Cheshire cat, which caused Hermione to laugh. Jack asked, 'How much do you know about Davy Jones?'

'Not much,' Will responded with a shrug.

Jack's grin widened. 'Yeah, it's gonna save Elizabeth,' he answered.

oOoOo

A few days passed since the Black Pearl made her escape from Cannibal Island. They came upon another island, one which Jack seemed to be familiar with.

Hermione was sitting in a longboat, Jack standing behind her, while Will and Gibbs were in front of her. They were beginning their way through the mouth of the Pantano River. Before long, the longboats entered into a swampy area with twisting roots everywhere.

Will looked up at the silent Jack, before turning to Gibbs. 'Why is Jack afraid of the open ocean?' he asked, trying not to draw Jack's attention.

Hermione also leaned in, placing her head in her arms so she could listen, curious about this herself. Gibbs lowered his voice, 'Well if you believe such things, there's a beast does the bidding of Davy Jones. A fearsome creature with giant tentacles. Can suction your face clean off, and drag an entire ship past the crushing darkness. The Kraken!' Gibbs raised his voice on the last word, causing Marty to turn around at the mention of the word. Pintel and Ragetti looked at each other, their expressions showing concern. Gibbs continued, 'They say the stench of its breath is like…' he trailed off trying to think of the right way to explain, and clicked his fingers. 'Ooh! Imagine: The last thing you know on God's green earth is the roar of the Kraken and the reeking odour of a thousand rotting corpses. If you believe such things,' he finished.

'And the key in the picture will spare him that?' Hermione asked him. Jack looked down at her from where he was listening even though they were trying to be quiet.

Gibbs looked thoughtful as he replied, 'Now that's the very question Jack wants answering. Bad enough even to visit… Her.'

'Her?' Hermione asked, her voice showing curiosity and what some might think is jealousy.

Gibbs nodded. 'Aye.'

They reached a bayou with fireflies, and an iguana was sitting on a tree trunk to their left watching them. Hermione watched the iguana's tongue slipped out, catching one of the nearby fireflies, and eating it with a quick slurping sound, making her grimace in disgust. She was uncomfortable with her surroundings; she could see people standing in the darkness among the trees.

Jack decided to speak up at this point, 'No worries, mates. Tia Dalma and I go way back. Thick as thieves. Nigh inseparable we are. Were. Have been. Before,' he almost seemed unconvinced at his last words.

Gibbs nodded, rolling his eyes. 'I'll watch your back,' he assured him.

Jack grinned. 'It's me front I'm worried about,' he said, stepping out of the boat onto the walkway leading to a small hut. 'Mind the boat,' he added on passing.

Gibbs stood up, walking behind him, followed by Will, and then Hermione. Pintel, Ragetti, and Marty followed behind them, all saying as they passed, 'Mind the boat.' Leaving Cotton alone in the longboat.

Cautiously, Jack turned the handle, pushing the door open. A live snake was hanging near the inside of the door, moving slowly. Tia was sitting at a table. Looking up from her crab claws, she noticed Jack in the doorway. 'Jack Sparrow!' she exclaimed, standing up to greet him.

'Tia Dalma!' he answered back, grinning as she approached.

She smiled, showing her rotting teeth. 'I always know de wind was goin' blow you back to me one day,' she said to him. She looked over at her other visitors, seeing Will and Hermione standing in the doorway. She sauntered up to them, taking Hermione's hand. 'You are not from 'ere,' she stated, looking down at her palms. 'I cannot see yer future,' she added, looking into her eyes. 'You have been through much, girl,' she said, before moving onto Will. 'You,' she pointed at him, making him pull back. 'You have a touch of… destiny about you, William Turner,' she said to him, taking a closer look at him.

Will frowned, his expression mirroring Hermione's. She was just terrified of everyone finding out the truth. Will looked at Tia curiously. 'You know me?' he asked her, trying to remember if he had ever met this woman.

Tia laughed heartily. 'You want to know me,' she asked him, grinning, and eyeing him up and down with her eyes.

Jack grabbed her arm, pulling her away from Will. 'There'll be no knowing here. We've come for help, and we're not leaving without it,' he said firmly, before adding under his breath for her to hear. 'I thought I knew you,' and giving her a petulant look.

Tia smiled at him. 'Not so well as I had hoped,' she answered, winking at him, before moving further into the room. 'Asking for help does not sound like Jack Sparrow,' she said, gesturing for them to follow.

'It's not so much for me, as for William, so he can earn a favour from me,' Jack replied.

Sitting down, Tia looked at Jack. 'Now that sounds like Jack Sparrow!' she said, smiling at him. She turned to Will. 'What… service… may I do you? Hmm? You know I demand payment,' she told him, holding out her hand.

Jack nodded. 'I brought payment,' he assured her, whistling once and a crew member brought forth the monkey in a cage. 'Look!' he said pointing towards it. Tia looked at the monkey, unconvinced, until Jack cocked his pistol, shooting the monkey. The bullet did not affect him, but the monkey was chattering in fright. Jack grinned, looking back at Tia. 'A undead monkey! Top that! Perhaps you can give it the crocodile treatment,' he said, feeling proud of himself.

Tia stood, walking over to the cage. She lifted the cage door, letting the monkey scamper off. Gibbs outstretched his hands in anguish. 'No! You've no idea how long it took us to catch that!' he cried, looking as though he may collapse to his knees in sorrow of how many days it took them to catch the blasted monkey!

Tia placed a gentle hand on his shoulder to calm him. 'The payment is fair,' she said, and Gibbs visibly relaxed.

Jack pulled out the picture from his coat. 'We're looking for this, and what it goes to,' he told her.

Tia frowned, taking the picture from him. 'The Compass you bartered from me. It cannot lead you to dis?' she asked him, pointing at the picture.

Jack looked uncomfortable. 'Maybe. Why?' he asked her.

Tia's expression turned to one of glee. 'Ayeee… Jack Sparrow does not know what he wants! Or… do know, but are loathe to claim it as your own,' she surmised, causing everyone to look at each other. Will and Jack both noticed Tia look over at Hermione with interest. Will looked at Hermione and Jack. Jack lowered his head to the floor, and Hermione was blushing. Will was about to open his mouth to question this, but Tia continued, 'Your key go to a chest, and it is what lay inside the chest you seek, don't it?' she said, looking at Jack. He nodded, but he refused to raise his eyes to meet hers. He was fearful about what she might see there and reveal.

Thankfully, Gibbs spared him, 'What is inside?'

Pintel spoke up. 'Gold! Jewels? Unclaimed properties of a valuable nature?' he asked, getting excited.

Ragetti, uncomfortable of the jar of eyeballs which was hanging next to his face, said, 'Nothing… bad, I hope.'

Tia grinned at them. 'You know of… Davy Jones, yes? A man of de sea. A great sailor, until he ran afoul of dat which vex all men,' she said mysteriously.

Will looked at her in confusion. 'What vexes all men?' he asked her.

Tia looked at him. 'What, indeed,' she said.

Gibbs spoke up, 'The sea?'

Pintel came second. 'Sums!' he stated more than asked.

Ragetti then said, 'Dichotomy of good and evil?' causing everyone to look at him in shock. 'What?' he asked them.

'Do you even know what that word means?' Pintel asked him.

Before he could answer, Jack turned back to Tia. 'It was a woman,' he stated.

Tia nodded, smiling at him. 'A woman. He fell in love,' she revealed to them.

Gibbs shook his head. 'No-no-no-no, I heard it was the sea he fell in love with,' he said, confused.

Tia waved his comment away. 'Same story, different versions, and all are true. See, it was a woman, as changing, harsh, and untameable as the sea. Him never stopped loving her, but the pain it cause 'im was too much to live wid, but not enough to cause him to die,' she answered. Gibbs nodded, understanding now.

Will scratched his head for a moment, looking thoughtful. 'What… exactly did he put into the chest?' he asked.

Tia grinned at how uncomfortable they all looked, but how eager their expressions were for the answer to his question. She dragged it out for a moment, watching them sweat, before answering, 'Him heart.'

Hermione gasped, she heard this story before, but the altered version she heard involved a witch and a wizard. The story itself was the same, but the characters used and the methods were different. It was almost like a Romeo and Juliet type story. For reasons unknown to her, she glanced over at Jack. Feeling eyes on him, Jack glanced over at her, giving her a small smile and a wink before tuning back into the conversation around him.

Ragetti spoke up, 'Literally, or figuratively?' he asked, speaking of the heart.

Pintel smacked him atop the head. 'He couldn't li'erally put his heart in a chest!' he said, pausing upon seeing Tia's grin. 'Could he?' he added questioningly.

Tia paced in front of them as she spoke, 'It was not wort' feeling what… small, fleeting joy life brings, him decided to endure da inevitable, cruel torments… And so, 'e carved out him heart, lock it away in a chest, and hide de chest from de world. De keys, he keep wid him at all times,' she revealed to them.

'That was a roundabout way to get to the answer,' Jack said, sighing.

Tia smirked. 'Sauce for da gander, Jack.'

Will turned on Jack, suddenly angry. 'You knew this,' he claimed, assuming Jack had known all along and this was a ploy to set him up.

Jack looked horrified at the notion. 'I did not. I didn't know where the key was, but now we do. So all that's left is to climb aboard the Flying Dutchman, grab the key, you go back to Port Royal and save your bonnie lass, hey!' he exclaimed happily, but Will glared at him.

Tia moved over to Jack. 'Let me see your hand,' she said, not leaving room for argument, so Jack showed her his untouched right hand. Tia grabbed his left hand, unwrapping the bandage revealing the black spot.

Gibbs jumped away from him as if he had been stung. 'Uhhh! The black spot!' he shouted, wiping his hands on his chest, spinning around once to the left, and spitting. 'Black spot! Black spot!' he shouted out again. Pintel and Ragetti started copying his ritual, in complete synchrony.

Jack closed his eyes in frustration, before tilting his head, and looking at them. 'My eyesight's as good as ever, just so you know,' he told them, making them stop what they were doing.

Tia walked to the back of the hut, pushing aside the cloth door beads. She disappeared into a back room to search for something. 'Where are you?' They could hear her saying to herself. Jack edged towards the table, stealing a ring which was sitting beside a silver locket. Tia entered the room again, an object in her hand from the back room, walking back over to Jack. 'Davy Jones cannot make port. Cannot step on land but once every ten years. Land is where you are safe, Jack Sparrow, and so you will carry land wid you…' she told him, handing him a jar of dirt.

Jack looked at the jar in disbelief. 'Dirt. This is a jar of dirt,' he said to her as if he was speaking to a child.

Tia nodded, not getting his point. 'Yes?'

Jack leaned forward, so he was eye-level with her. 'Is the… jar of dirt going to help?' he asked her petulantly.

Tia realised he was mocking her. 'If you don' want it, give it back,' she said, reaching for the jar.

Jack moved back. 'No,' he said hugging it to him.

She nodded. 'Den it helps,' she answered, smiling at him.

Hermione jumped back in fright as the snake from before let out a hiss, falling to the floor. Everyone looked at her, and she blushed in embarrassment. 'Sorry, it was a snake,' she muttered, moving further into the room, coming to a stop next to Jack.

Will sighed. 'It seems… we have a need to find the Flying Dutchman,' he stated to no one in particular.

Tia sat down at the table, holding several crab shells between her cupped hands, closing her eyes. 'A touch… of destiny!' she exclaimed, throwing the crab claws down on the table to see how they would fall. Looking at her map, she pointed to some rocky islands whose positions matched those of the crab claws.

oOoOo

Hermione was thankful to be back on the Black Pearl. She felt uncomfortable in Tia's hut, especially with the comment she made about her. She had worried Tia would reveal the truth about her. Jack came to stand next to her. 'You okay, love?' he asked her.

Looking up at him, she nodded. 'Yes, I was just a bit… overwhelmed,' she answered, looking out at the ocean.

'Yes, Tia can seem a bit much at times,' he said, shaking his head. He glanced at her. 'You were quiet. Usually, you're quick to give your input,' he said, curiosity in his tone.

Turning back to him, she shrugged. 'I don't know anything that's going on. I just wanted to find you… I didn't expect it would be quite like this,' she told him truthfully.

'Why were you looking for me?' he asked her, frowning.

'To accept your proposition,' she answered, looking at him as realisation reached his eyes.

Grinning, he placed a hand on her shoulder. 'You sure you want to do this, love?' he asked.

'Aye, captain, I'm sure,' she answered, smiling.

Jack smiled gently. 'Good, then get to work!' he ordered her.

 

Hermione nodded, walking off to help the crew make ready to set sail. Jack looked out to the sea, thinking this would be an interesting new arrangement, even if it was bad luck to have a woman on board. He wondered how Gibbs would see it. Highly amused by this thought, he wandered over to Gibbs to give him the good news.

oOoOo

Later that night, the Black Pearl was sailing past some rocks in stormy weather. The Black Pearl crew were looking at the scuttled ships on the rocks, having crashed due to the weather in this area as it was always stormy. Beyond this, they noticed a ship in the water, which wasn't smashed onto the rocks.

'Is that the Flying Dutchman?' Hermione asked Jack, standing next to him. Nodding, he frowned, his face etching in slight fear of the ship.

Will tilted his head, looking at it. 'That's the Flying Dutchman? She doesn't look like much,' he said, scrutinising it through the pouring rain.

Jack rolled his eyes. 'Neither do you,' he muttered, causing Will to turn to him in anger. He held up his hands in surrender. 'What I meant was do not underestimate her,' he told him. This did not convince Will that this is what he was meaning.

Giving Gibbs a meaningful glance, Jack elbowed him. 'Must've run afoul of the reef,' he said, nodding towards the ship.

Jack turned back to Will. 'So, what's your plan, then?' he asked, curious to know what Will was going to do about it.

Will looked thoughtful. 'I row over, search the ship until I find your bloody key,' he answered, smiling at him sarcastically.

Jack smiled. 'And if there are crewmen?' he asked him.

'I cut down anyone in my path,' he answered.

'I like it. Simple, easy to remember,' Jack answered, smiling brightly.

Ragetti moved over to them. 'Your chariot awaits you, sire! Ha, ha-ha-ha, ha-ha!' he said, giving Will a look which made Hermione feel uncomfortable about this situation.

'Will, are you sure you have to do this?' she asked him.

Will nodded, and without looking at her, he climbed down the ship, and onto the row-boat. Jack leaned over, looking down at him as he got into the boat. 'Hey!' he called, causing Will to look up at him. 'If you do happen to get captured, just say Jack Sparrow sent you to settle his debt! Might save your life!' he advised him making Will frown, but he nodded.

Ragetti waved at him. 'Bon voyage! Ha-ha-ha!' he said laughing, earning a slap to the back of the head from Pintel.

Jack turned to Marty. 'Douse the lamps,' he ordered him. Marty went about doing what he got ordered to do, followed by Cotton, and then Pintel. Jack could vaguely see the lone figure of Will in a row-boat, making his way towards the Flying Dutchman. The rest of the lamps were then doused, and darkness surrounded them.

Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen: The Return of the Diabolical Master Plan

Hermione didn't like this. Sending Will, by himself, over to the Flying Dutchman seemed like an idiotic move to her. She watched him rowing towards the ship, her heart sinking a little more upon realising he would never be the same around her again.

It was times like these when she missed Harry and Ron, wishing she could go back home to the future. She wondered what happened to the real Cassandra… wondering if she somehow ended up in the future...

oOoOo

Will glanced behind himself, feeling uncomfortable when the lamps from the Black Pearl went out one by one. Rowing the oars again, he made his way towards the ship, boarding it with foreboding. He picked up his lantern from his boat, shining it on the wrecked ship so he could see. Walking carefully, he made his way further into the ship.

As he walked, he passed one dead crewman at deck level, propped up behind a net-like rigging. He shook his head, unable to get rid of the feeling something terrible was going to happen. He pushed himself forward, reminding himself he was doing this to save Elizabeth.

He walked up some steps, coming across a wounded sailor, who seemed to be in shock. He was pulling on a pulley desperately, muttering to himself, '...up the...'

'Sailor!' Will called to him.

The sailor continued to mutter to himself, ignoring Will, '...the stench... capsized...'

'Sailor!' Will tried again, moving closer to the sailor.

'...bring a...' the sailor stopped, turning as if just sensing he had company.

Will was next to him now. 'There's no use. You've run aground,' he explained to the sailor.

He looked back in horror. 'No! Beneath us! Foul breath!' he exclaimed, shaking his head.

A massive wave hit the side of the wrecked ship, causing the hull to shudder from the impact. A body fell from the rigging, landing hard on the deck, causing Will to jump back in fright. Will looked closer at the body, frowning at the large suction marks along his back. Taking a deep breath, Will reluctantly reached out, turning him over. He grimaced at the sight; the man's face was gone, sucked completely off, just like in Gibbs' story. Will backed away, gagging at the puckered skin, bulging outwards.

Suddenly, the wind picked up, and the sea started churning. Looking past the rail, Will watched the Flying Dutchman appear, rising out of the sea, formed of what looked like water and waves. It rose up, looming huge, and blotting out the sky. A ship from hell, made of pallid wood and white bones, covered with the stuff of the sea: shells, coral, flotsam, and seaweed. Sails glowed with the paleness of a bloated corpse. A skull rode the bowsprit, lashed there in punishment.

The sea creature-like crew were already emerging from the surfaces of the dark ship. Crew members from the Flying Dutchman started attacking the remaining crew on the scuttled ship.

'Down on your marrowbones, and pray,' one of the creatures said.

Will engaged in sword-fight against several of the invaders. Panicking, and confused about what was happening, Will turned around, trying to find something to help him live a little longer. Noticing a barrel, he glanced inside to see oil as the invaders were closing in on him.

Split decision made, Will dipped his sword into the oil, using the lantern he took with him to set his sword alight. Flaming sword in hand, he waved it at the men surrounding him. 'Get back! Back!' he shouted, slicing open the stomach of one of them, fish spilling out onto the deck.

Will continued to battle with the invading crew members. One of them hit him on the back of his head with a plank of wood, knocking him out. 'Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha,' the laughter faded as Will succumbed to the darkness.

oOoOo

Will woke up to find himself bound, and lined up with the remaining survivors of the scuttled ship. Looking at them, they were all cowering in fear as they sat on the deck along the railing. Will was at the end of the row; there were only five survivors in total. He looked up as a strange man with an octopus for a face stomped aboard with his peg leg, assuming this must be Davy Jones.

One of the crew members from the Flying Dutchman, Maccus, was standing in front of them, his back was facing them. Will grimaced at the lobster legs on his back. He nodded his head at Jones. 'Five men still alive. The rest have moved on,' he advised Jones.

Jones paused, clenching his left hand which was a giant lobster claw. He lit his pipe in front of one of the cowering crewmen from the scuttled ship. 'Do you fear death? Do you fear that dark abyss? The last glimmer of moonlight that dies in the dawning of your final day. And then... judgement. All your deeds laid bare. Your sins punished. I can offer you… an escape-uh,' he said to him.

'Don't listen to him!' one of the crewmen shouted out, and from what Will gathered he was the chaplain.

Jones turned to look at him, walking over and taking the chaplain's head in his claw. 'Do you not fear death?" he asked him, tightening his hold a little.

'I'll take my chances, sir,' the chaplain answered, his voice shaking.

'Good luck, mate. To the depths,' Jones ordered. Maccus moved over to him, slitting the chaplain's throat. Two other crew members picked him up, throwing him overboard as Jones laughed.

'Cold-blooded!' the crewman next to Will shouted out.

Jones looked at him. 'Life is cruel. Why should the afterlife be any different?' Jones said, leaning forward, his beard bristling. 'You cling to the pain of life and fear death. I offer you the choice. Join my crew, and postpone judgement. One hundred years before the mast. Will ye serve?' he asked him, tilting his head and blinking at him.

The helmsman looked at the ground, before closing his eyes, and looking Jones in the eyes. 'I… I will serve,' he answered hesitantly.

Jones smirked. 'Grand,' he answered, looking pleased. His eyes caught sight of Will at the end of the line of crewmen. Jones stomped over to him. 'You are neither dead nor dying. What is your purpose here?' he asked him.

'Jack Sparrow sent me to settle his debt,' Will answered, wondering if he was about to regret this decision.

Jones laughed bitterly. 'Huh! Did he, now? I'm sorely tempted to accept that offer,' he answered, turning to look into the darkness exactly where Jack was looking through a spyglass at them.

Jack's spyglass went dark, and upon lowering it, he found Jones was now standing aboard the Black Pearl in front of him. Turning, he noticed Cotton, Hermione, and Gibbs had knives held to their throats from the other Flying Dutchman crew members who teleported over. Jack looked at Jones, smiling nervously. 'Oh…' he trailed off, knowing he was in trouble.

'Jack!?' Hermione shouted, but shut up as the knife against her throat dug into her skin, and she tried hard not to swallow.

Jack fought not to turn and look at her, making a small hand gesture in her direction. 'T'is all right, love,' he muttered, hoping this would be enough to calm her.

Jones smirked. 'A woman on board, Jack. My thinking is you enjoy being on bad lucks good side,' he said, and his crew members laughed.

Jack smiled. 'Maybe so. She hasn't caused me bad luck yet. I like to keep her around,' he answered, not wanting to talk about this. He attempted to change the subject. 'So, what brings you over here?' he asked him.

'You have a debt to pay,' he answered, looking down at Jack's hand. Jack glanced at his hand, feeling genuinely scared dealing with the forces of nature. 'You've been Captain of the Black Pearl for thirteen years. That was our agreement,' he answered sternly.

Jack held up a hand. 'Technically, I was only Captain for two years, then I was viciously mutinied upon,' he said, thinking this would win his argument.

Jones laughed. 'Then you were a poor Captain, but a Captain nonetheless! Have you not introduced yourself all these years as Captain Jack Sparrow?' he asked him, tilting his head.

Jack tapped his chin in thought. 'Not that I recall, why do you ask?' he said, but at Jones' murderous glare, he nodded. 'You have my payment. One soul to serve on your ship. He is already over there,' he told him, pointing towards where they tied Will up on the scuttled ship.

Jones face twisted, a combination of anger and incredulity. 'You can't trade. You can't substitute,' he spat out, angrily.

Jack shook his head. 'There is precedent regarding servitude, according to the code of the Brethren—'

'One soul is not equal to another,' Jones said, cutting him off.

Jack laughed, feeling like he might win this. 'Aha! So we've established the proposal is sound in principle. Now we're just haggling over price,' he announced.

Jones didn't look as amused. 'As has been the case before, I am compelled to listen to you,' Jones said, rolling his eyes at Jack.

'Just how many souls do you think my soul is worth?' Jack asked, hoping it was not too much.

Jones smirked, rubbing his octopus beard. 'One hundred souls. Three days-uh,' he ordered, not leaving any room for argument.

Jack smiled, hiding his dismay. 'You're a diamond, mate. Send me back the boy, I'll get started, right off,' he agreed, moving to leave, but Maccus stepped in front of him, blocking his exit.

Jones shook his head, not inclined to do Jack any favours. 'I keep the boy. A good faith payment. That leaves you only ninety-nine more to go,' Jones laughed, while his crew laughed with him.

'No!' Hermione shouted out, tears filling her eyes. She couldn't believe Jack traded Will the way he had.

Jack looked over at her apologetically, turning back to Jones in full. 'Have you not met Will Turner? He's noble, heroic, terrific soprano. Worth at least four…, maybe three and a half. And did I happen to mention… he's in love. With a girl,' he said, trying to sway Jones.

He wasn't biting. 'Love. You think that matters to me?' Jones asked, unmoved by this.

Jack tried again. 'Due to be married. Betrothed. Dividing him from her and her from him… would only be half as cruel as actually allowing them to join in holy matrimony. Aye?' Jack tried to barter.

'Sparrow. Might this be a lady you are interested in for yourself?' Jone asked in amusement.

Jack shook his head quickly. 'Not remotely... but I could be if it helps make the deal,' he answered, being careful not to look in Hermione's direction. He could feel the weight of her glare at the back of his head, and he did not want to see the hurt in her eyes.

Jones didn't look impressed. 'I keep the boy. Ninety-nine souls-uh. But I wonder, Sparrow, can you live with this? Can you condemn an innocent man, a friend-uh, to a lifetime of servitude, in your name while you roam free?' he asked him.

Jack thought about it for a moment, avoiding Hermione's disappointed gaze, before answering, 'Yep! I'm good with it. Should we seal it in blood? I mean… mm-mm… ink?' he asked him.

Jones' face darkened. 'Let's not and say we did. Agreed?' he said, grabbing his hand, resulting in a squishing sound.

Jack grimaced. 'I'd embrace you, but I fear it might stick,' Jack said with a nervous smile.

Jones glared at him, pulling his hand away. 'Three days. Three days,' he told him. Hermione whimpered, the knife against her neck becoming tighter.

Jones and his crew left the Black Pearl, returning to the scuttled ship. Jack looked down at his slime covered hand in disgust. The black spot which was present disappeared under the effect of the mire. 'Oh, Mr Gibbs,' Jack said, still looking at his hand.

Gibbs came over to him, rubbing his neck. 'Aye,' he asked.

'I feel sullied and unusual,' Jack told him, holding his hand up to show him.

Hermione stormed over. 'What are you doing?' she asked him.

'Don't worry, love, Will's soul will not belong to Jones. I just need a few more days,' he answered her, giving her an almost pleading expression.

Hermione huffed but nodded. 'Well, I suppose you have a plan?' she asked him.

'How do you intend to harvest these ninety-nine souls in three days?' Gibbs asked him.

Jack looked between them. 'Fortunately, he was mum as the condition in which these souls need be,' he told them.

Gibbs smiled, realising his meaning. 'Ah… Tortuga!' he said.

'Tortuga?' Hermione asked him.

Jack smiled at her. 'Tortuga.'

Hermione hoped by harvesting souls; this didn't mean Jack would have to cause mass murders to free his soul. She realised she would just have to wait and see what would happen when they reached Tortuga. She agreed to Jack's proposition, and he was now her Captain, and she couldn't speak out against him… could she? Would he even listen to her reasoning?

oOoOo

A long line of men were lining up by the well in Tortuga. As they reached the well, they were getting tied up and dunked into the water to sober them up. One man got pulled back up, spouting water from his mouth.

Hermione walked around the men, looking at them all in disgust. She walked over to Jack. 'So this is your masterful plan? Half-drown men, and then present them to Davy Jones?' she asked him, not knowing what to think of Jack anymore. She realised most men or woman would do anything to live, but she felt this was going too far.

Jack nodded. 'This is the only way… if I want to keep my soul,' he answered her, shaking his head. 'I know it's not the most… decent way of doing things, but I'm not a decent man. I'm a pirate,' he told her, looking at her.

Hermione nodded, sighing. 'Yes, you are,' she said, sitting on the wall beside him to watch.

Eventually, they brought the men back into the tavern, lining them up in front of a table where Gibbs, Hermione, and Jack were sitting. The inn crowded with patrons, shooting glass bottle's off people's heads for entertainment. A duo of musicians were playing the guitar and an accordion. Gibbs looked up as one of the men stepped forward to the table. 'And what makes you think you're worthy to crew the Black Pearl?' he asked him.

The man was elderly, and Hermione was shocked he would even be considered. He smirked showing the gaps from where his teeth were missing. 'Truth be told, I never sailed a day in me life. I figure I should get out and see the world while I'm still young,' he answered, his speech slurred.

Gibbs nodded. 'You'll do. Make your mark. Next!'

'Are you mad?' Hermione asked him, looking at the senior man walking away. 'He can barely walk, let alone do any real work,' she told him.

'Keep in mind, love; we are only picking people who are close to death's door, or want to die. We won't take on anyone who is not in those categories,' Jack assured her, placing a hand on her shoulder. This speech comforted her a little. So Jack was not a complete monster, but she was still uncomfortable with this.

A younger man came to stand in front of them, looking jilted. 'My wife ran off with my dog. And I'm drunk for a month. And I don't give a ass rat's if I live or die,' he told them.

Gibbs smiled. 'Perfect! Next!' he said.

Another man limped forward. 'Me have one arm, 'n' a bum leg,' he told them.

Gibbs looked down at the man's mangled leg. 'It's the crow's nest for you,' he told him. The man nodded, limping away.

Jack stood up, moving to the wall near to the table, and sitting in a chair within earshot of Gibbs. Hermione watched him; he had been quiet for the last few days. She understood now this was not something he was planning on doing. She watched him take out his compass, shaking it and opening it. He tapped it with his finger, trying to make it work. She stood up, moving over to him as he muttered, 'I know what I want.' Hermione looked over his shoulder to see the compass needle turn in her direction. She frowned in confusion, before moving to sit across from him. 'Yes, love?' he asked.

'Nothing, just came to see if you were okay,' she muttered, watching him snap the compass closed again.

'Next!' they heard Gibbs shout.

'I'm fine, love,' Jack answered, looking down. She reached her hand across the table, placing it on top of his. He looked back up at her, raising his eyebrows, and she smiled.

'Yes?' Gibbs was saying to the next candidate.

'Ever since I was a little lad, I've always wanted to sail the seas. Forever,' he answered, his expression becoming dreamy.

'I can understand that,' Jack muttered to himself with a smile. 'I was the same,' he told Hermione, and her smile widened.

'Sooner than you think. Sign the roster,' Gibbs told the candidate, pushing a piece of paper towards him.

The man signed the roster, looking back at Gibbs. 'Thanks very much,' he said happily, bounding off to where the others were standing.

Jack shook his head, giving Hermione's hand a gentle squeeze, and turned to Gibbs. 'How we doing?' he asked him.

Gibbs turned to him, raising his eyebrows at seeing their joined hands. 'Including those four? That gives us…' he trailed off, looking down at the roster, '…four!' he told him, gesturing for the next candidate to come forward. 'And what's your story?' he asked the man who looked like his life was over.

The man smiled. 'My story… it's exactly the same as your story, just one chapter behind. I chased a man across the Seven Seas. The pursuit cost me my crew, my commission, and my life,' he answered, shifting his body weight to his other foot.

Gibbs frowned, looking at the man properly. 'Commodore?' he asked him.

Norrington shook his head. 'No, not anymore, weren't you listening? I nearly had you all, off Tripoli. I would have, if not for the… hurricane,' he told them.

Gibbs shook his head. 'Lord. You didn't try to sail through it?' he asked him.

Norrington looked at him, choosing not to answer that. 'So do I make your crew, or not? You haven't said where you're going. Somewhere nice!' he said, clasping his hands together, and pulling out a pistol.

'Oh no…' Hermione whispered, pulling out her wand.

The music around them stopped, and everyone stared at the altercation. Jack grabbed a branch from a nearby vase, carrying it in front of his face, and attempted to walk out of the tavern unseen. Norrington raised his hands. 'So am I worthy to serve under Captain Jack Sparrow?' he asked loudly, spotting Jack sneaking off behind him. He pointed his pistol at him. 'Or should I just kill you now?' he said, cocking his pistol. Jack ducked back and forth behind both sides of the pot, trying to avoid the aim of Norrington's pistol, but failed.

Jack sighed, coming out and raising his hands. 'You're hired,' he agreed.

Norrington lowered his pistol, looking at it. 'Sorry. Old habits and all that,' he told him with a smirk, raising his gun again which was still cocked.

A man turned to him. 'Easy, sonny!' he said, and another man tried to deflect Norrington's pistol upwards as it fired. The ball ricocheted off the chandelier, breaking a man's bottle when he was drinking from it. The man looked at his broken bottle angrily, slugging the man next to him. The music played again as a brawl ensued. One man was swinging from the chandelier, women joined in the fighting, and bottles were getting thrown against the wall.

Jack looked around at the chaos before turning to his companions. 'Time to go?'

Gibbs nodded, standing up. 'Aye!'

The fighting escalated into sword-fighting, and the three of them moved towards the stairs. Someone threw a bottle against the wall above the stairs, and Jack grabbed Hermione, ducking when it smashed above their heads. They sprinted up the stairs, trading hats a few times along the way until Jack got his back. 'Thanks, mate,' he said, slapping the man on his shoulder. He fell backwards off the balcony, and Hermione looked over to see if the man was okay. Jack halted along with the others to let two men carrying another man proceed towards the edge of the balcony. They looked at him. 'Carry on,' he said to them, smiling and gesturing to the balcony.

'Heave!' the men said, throwing the man they were carrying off the balcony, and the companions continued on their way.

The music stopped again when Norrington picked up a bottle, holding it threateningly. 'Come on, men! Who wants some? Form an orderly line; I'll have you all one by one. Come on, who's first?' he shouted at the men who were closing in on him.

From behind him, someone grabbed the bottle from his hand, smashing it over his head, and knocking him out. 'I just wanted the pleasure of doing that myself!' they shouted. The crowd cheered, holding their mugs up in a toast. The men picked Norrington up, taking him outside where they threw him in the mud with some pigs. The crowd left except the person who hit him over the head with the bottle. They reached up to take off their hat, revealing it to be Elizabeth, and she turned Norrington over onto his back. 'James Norrington. What has the world done to you?' she whispered, looking down at the unconscious man.

At the door of the tavern, unbeknownst to Elizabeth, Mercer was observing them.

oOoOo

Back on the Flying Dutchman, Jones was playing his pipe organ with his tentacles, steam billowing out of the pipes. The crew were on the deck, slaving away, and pulling rhythmically on a rope. 'Heave! Heave! Heave! Heave! Heave! Heave!' they were shouting, in time to the organ music.

Bo'sun was walking amongst them, issuing orders to Will. 'Secure the mast tackle, Mister Turner! Step to it! Tight!'

Will made to grab a rope, but another man moved to grab the rope. Will turned to him. 'Step aside!' he said, trying to pull the rope away.

Bo'sun shouted out to the men, 'Regain yourselves!' He turned to Will and the other man. 'Mind yourself!' he said. The other man looked at Will, his expression becoming stunned and he let go of the rope. Will attempted to grab the sliding rope, but it dragged him across the deck. The hoisted cannon crashed onto the deck, and the organ music stopped playing. Bo'sun moved over to him along with some other crew members. 'Haul that weevil to his feet!' he ordered them. They grabbed Will, hauling him to his feet, and presented him to Bo'sun. 'Five lashes to remind you… to stay on 'em!' he shouted, nodding to another man with a whip.

The man who fought over the rope with Will stepped forward. 'No!' he shouted, standing in front of Will.

The crew went silent, watching Bo'sun take a step towards the man dangerously. 'Impeding me in my duties. You'll share the punishment,' he warned him.

The man stood his ground. 'I'll take it all!' he answered.

Jones appeared then, stomping onto the deck. 'Will you now? And what would prompt such an act of charity?' he asked the man.

He looked at Will who was looking at him in confusion. 'My Son. He's my Son,' he answered, lowering his head as realisation dawned on Will.

Jones laughed cruelly at this answer. 'What fortuitous circumstance be this! Five lashes be owed. I believe it is,' he said, and the other members of the crew laughed. Jones took the whip from Bo'sun and turned, handing it to the man, his tentacle curling around the shaft. 'The cat's out of the bag, Mister Turner. Your issue will feel its sting be it the Bo'sun's hand, by your own,' he said, holding it out to the man.

'Good ol' Bootstrap, give 'im a real lashing!' One of the crew members said, laughing. Bootstrap reluctantly took the whip, and two crewmen tore Will's shirt off, exposing his bare back. Tears filled Bootstrap's eye when he raised the whip, lashing Will five times as ordered.

The crew grabbed Will, dragging him across the deck where they tossed him into a lower part of the deck partially filled with water. 'You had it easy, boy!' Bo'sun laughed, throwing him another shirt, and going back up topside.

Bootstrap walked into the lower deck, moving over to help Will who was putting the other shirt on. He placed a hand on his shoulder, but he shrugged him off angrily. 'I don't need your help!' he shouted.

Bootstrap stepped back, lowering his head in shame. 'The Bo'sun prides himself on cleaving flesh from bone with every swing!' he argued back, looking back at him.

Will turned to him, frowning. 'So I'm to understand what you did was an act of compassion?' he asked, not sure what to believe.

Bootstrap nodded. 'Yes…' he answered.

Bootstrap followed Will into the interior of the ship. Crew member Wyvern was on their right, encrusted into the interior side of the hull, standing up. Bootstrap glanced over at him, before looking at Will. 'Once you've sworn an oath to the Dutchman, there's no leaving it. Not until your debt is paid,' Bootstrap explained to him, looking worried for his Son.

Will turned to look at him. 'I've sworn no oath,' he told him.

Bootstrap grasped his shoulders. 'Then you must get away,' he told him.

Will shook his head. 'Not until I find this,' he said, pulling out the picture and showing it to him. 'The key.'

At the mention of the key, Wyvern's eyes opened in the coral-encrusted wall. As he was part of the wall, he broke away from it, leaving his brains behind. 'The deadman's chest,' he revealed, looking at the picture.

Will looked at him. 'What do you know of this?' he asked him.

'Open the chest with the key, and stab the heart. No-no-no-no. Don't stab the heart. The Dutchman needs a living heart, or there'll be no Captain. And if there's no Captain, there's no one to have the key,' he said being contradictory.

Will nodded. 'So the Captain has the key,' Will deduced, watching as the Wyvern retracted his head back into the wall, having said too much already. Will moved over to him. 'Where is the key?' he asked him.

The Wyvern opened his eyes. 'Hidden,' he muttered.

Will groaned. 'Where is the chest?' he asked him.

'Hidden,' was the answer. Will realised he was going to get nowhere further with his line of questioning, and the Wyvern closed his eyes, falling silent.

oOoOo

The Black Pearl was at the dock in Tortuga, and the crew was busy loading fruit and livestock. Jack, Gibbs, and Hermione were walking towards the ship together, whispering. Elizabeth approached them from behind, still dressed as a man. 'Captain Sparrow!' she shouted to them in a deep voice.

Jack turned around, looking at her suspiciously. 'Come to join me crew, lad? Welcome aboard,' he said, turning to carry on walking. Hermione held back, looking at the person and trying to see their face beneath the hat.

'I'm here to find the man I love,' she said, lowering her head so Cassandra wouldn't see who she was. She was itching to hug her, she hadn't seen her Sister in a while, not since they left Port Royal. She was worried about her.

Jack turned back to her with a charming smile. 'I'm deeply flattered, Son, but my first and only love is the sea,' he told her. Hermione glanced at him, before looking down at the ground, unsure about why these words affected her.

Norrington appeared behind her and tried to speak, but ended up vomiting over the side of the dock into the water. Elizabeth rubbed his back, turning back to Jack. 'Meaning William Turner, Captain Sparrow,' she told him.

Jack's eyes widened. 'Elizabeth,' he said, quickly turning to Gibbs. 'Hide the rum,' he said. Gibbs took the bottle Jack handed him, walking up the boarding plank behind them.

Hermione ran over to her. 'Elizabeth! Are you okay? How did you escape?' she asked her.

'Father helped me escape,' she told her, hugging her.

Jack walked over to them, scrutinising Elizabeth. 'You know, these clothes do not flatter you at all. It should be a dress or nothing. I happen to have no dress in my cabin,' he told her, waggling his eyebrows. Hermione suddenly felt annoyed, but she still didn't know why.

Elizabeth sighed in exasperation. 'Jack. I know Will came to find you. Where is he?' she asked him.

Jack held a hand to his heart. 'Darling, I am truly unhappy to have to tell you this but… through an unfortunate and entirely unforeseeable series of circumstances that has nothing whatsoever to do with me, poor William has been press-ganged into Davy Jones' crew,' he told her, feigning a sorrowful expression which had Hermione glaring at him.

'Davy Jones?' Elizabeth asked him.

'Elizabeth don't list-' Hermione was cut off by Jack.

'That's exactly what happened,' he said forcefully, giving Hermione a look which shut her up.

Elizabeth shook her head. 'So… Davy Jones?' she repeated, looking at Jack for answers.

Norrington vomited over the side again and spat out the remains. He turned to them. 'Oh, please. The Captain of the Flying Dutchman,' he slurred, trying not to throw up again.

Jack looked at him. 'You look bloody awful. What are you doing here?' he asked him curiously.

'You hired me. I can't help it if your standards are lax,' Norrington answered, shaking his head.

'You smell funny,' Jack retorted, sticking out his tongue.

Elizabeth rubbed her temples in annoyance. 'Jack. All I want is to find Will,' she told him.

Jack sidled up to her, smiling. 'Are you certain? Is that what you really want most?' he asked her, looking her dead in the eyes.

''Course,' she answered, feeling a little nervous.

Jack grinned at her. 'Because I would think, you'd want to find a way to save Will the most,' he told her, raising his eyebrows.

Elizabeth's eyes narrowed in thought. 'And you have a way of doing that?' she asked him, prompting him to continue.

Jack nodded. 'Well, there is a chest…' he began.

Norrington scoffed. 'Oh, dear,' he muttered.

Jack ignored him. 'A chest of unknown size and origin,' he explained to her.

'Is this the chest which we discussed in Tia Dalmia's hut?' Hermione asked him.

Pintel and Ragetti chose this moment to walk by, carrying a large crate of bottles between them. Overhearing the conversation, they stopped, and Pintel said, 'What contains the still-beating heart o' Davy Jones.'

Jack nodded. 'And whoever possesses that chest possesses the leverage to command Jones to do whatever it is he or she wants, including… saving brave William from his grim fate,' he finished, clapping his hands together as if this idea was pure genius.

Hermione sighed. 'Well, how do we find this chest then, Jack?' she asked him, leaning against the railing, and crossing her arms.

Norrington looked at her. 'You don't believe him, do you?' he asked in disbelief.

Hermione chuckled. 'Of course, I do. As a member of Jack's crew, I saw Davy Jones with my own eyes, and I saw the Flying Dutchman,' she answered. Jack smiled at her support.

Elizabeth looked at them angrily. 'You're a member of his crew!?' she shouted in disbelief, turning on Jack. 'You release her right this instant! I will have no Sister of mine being commanded by you!' she shouted, hitting Jack's arms angrily.

'Calm down! Elizabeth, calm down!' Hermione shouted, grabbing her arms and pulling her away from Jack.

'I want an explanation,' she demanded, looking at Hermione.

'It was my choice. I am old enough to make my own choices. Jack gave me the proposition on the way back to Port Royal after the fiasco with Barbossa. I initially said no, but realised I didn't want to be stuck in Port Royal. It's not the life for me. After that adventure, I realised I wanted more… So when I caught up with Jack…' she paused, looking at him, and giving him a small smile, '…I spoke to him and agreed to his proposition. I have never been happier,' she finished, even though she felt she didn't need to explain herself to Elizabeth seeing as they were not related.

Elizabeth's expression softened. 'It just worries me. Growing up, the fascination with pirates and danger was my thing. You were always the responsible one, so this came as a little bit of a shock,' she told her, taking her hands gently.

Hermione sighed, remembering they told Elizabeth she wasn't her Sister and wondered if she forgot. She pulled away from Elizabeth. 'Remember, Governor Swann told you the truth... I'm not your Sister,' she reminded her, and resignation came to Elizabeth's eyes.

'I know... but I've come to know you, and recognise you as if you were Cassandra. I feel responsible for you,' she answered, taking her hands gently. Hermione nodded in understanding. Elizabeth turned on Jack. 'You better take care of her or so help me—!' he cut her off.

'I promise you, Hermione will come to no harm while these lungs have air,' he told her, crossing his heart.

Elizabeth calmed down a little more at his words. She was still uncomfortable with her being in the same vicinity as Jack, let alone being a member of his crew even if she wasn't her real Sister. She sighed. 'How do we find it?' she asked them, reverting to their previous conversation.

Jack and Hermione looked at each other in confusion. 'Find what?' they both asked, making them both look at each other embarrassedly before looking away.

Elizabeth rubbed her temples again. 'The chest?' she said, glancing between them.

Jack took out his compass. 'With this. My Compass… is unique,' he revealed, smiling down at his compass until the needle pointed towards Hermione again. He snapped it shut quickly.

Norrington laughed. '"Unique" here having the meaning of broken,' he mocked, turning and vomiting over the side of the dock again.

Jack frowned at him. 'True enough. This Compass does not point north,' he said as if this should be obvious.

Hermione looked at the compass. 'I've always been curious about it since you first used it to find the Isle de Muerta. So, where does it point exactly?' he asked her.

Jack looked at her, his expression softening. 'It points to the thing you want most in this world,' he answered gently, his eyes not leaving hers.

Elizabeth smacked his arm, breaking the moment. 'Oh, Jack! Are you telling the truth?' she shouted, getting annoyed at him.

Jack raised his hands in surrender. 'Every word, lass. And what you want most in this world is to find the chest of Davy Jones, is it not?' he asked her.

'To save Will?' she asked him, glancing at the compass.

Jack nodded. 'By finding the chest of Davy Jones,' he said, handing the compass to Elizabeth. He drew away quickly so as not to influence it, and she consulted it. For her, the dial spun around before clearly pointing in a specific direction. Jack slowly moved over, rising to peer in the face of the compass. 'Mr Gibbs!' he called.

Gibbs appeared at the top of the boarding plank. 'Cap'n?' he asked, awaiting orders.

Jack smiled. 'We have our heading,' he told him.

Gibbs sighed in relief. 'Finally! Cast off those lines, weigh anchor, and prow that canvas!' he shouted, giving orders to the crew.

Jack turned back to Elizabeth. 'Miss Swann,' he said, gesturing for her to board the Black Pearl which she did.

Norrington followed her on, and Pintel smirked at him. 'Welcome to the crew, former Commodore!' he chuckled, and the goat he was tying up neighed.

Jack turned to Hermione. 'Hermione?' he called to where she was leaning on the railing.

She turned to him. 'Sorry, I was just thinking,' she told him, moving over to stand next to him.

He placed a hand on her shoulder gently. 'Plenty of time to do that on the way," he told her, putting a hand under her chin so she would look at him, and she smiled at him.

From the deck, Elizabeth watched them… She did not like the closeness which seemed to have sprung up between Jack and Hermione. She didn't trust Jack, and she knew if Hermione was anything like Cassandra then she had always been a hopeless romantic. She decided to put it to the back of her mind… for the moment.

Chapter Text

Chapter Seventeen: Upon the Myriad Paths of Pirates

Hermione was sitting on the steps leading up to where Jack was at the wheel. They were sailing in shallow waters, and she could see he the worry in his eyes. She looked up when Elizabeth came to sit next to her, giving her a curious sideways glance. 'You still have not told me who you are...' she trailed off.

Hermione sighed, she knew Elizabeth would ask her eventually. She turned to her, hoping she would take it as well as Jack had at least. 'As Governor Swann mentioned, I am not your Sister. I told you my real name, and I am...' she paused, taking a deep breath. 'I'm a witch… from the future. I came to be here under strange circumstances beyond my control,' she told her, not wanting to look at her for fear of what she would see.

Elizabeth was silent for a moment, and she laughed, making Hermione look at her in shock. 'Wow, that's a lot to take in, but I believe you. I found it strange you did not remember anything at all, but now that I look at you, I can see the differences between you and Cassandra. She is girly, and never would have gallivanted off with pirates… She was always the sensible one,' Elizabeth told her, giving her a small smile. Her smile trailed off. 'So you're a witch?' she asked, and Hermione could hear the slight fear in her tone.

'I am, but I would never hurt any of you. You have all been good to me. I have no reason to use my magic against you or anyone who has helped me,' Hermione answered, trying to reassure her. She noticed Elizabeth's expression relaxed.

'That is good to know,' she said with a smile. 'I would be careful about who you tell though, as witchcraft is revered as an abomination in this time. You could get hanged or burnt at the stake if someone finds out,' she told her gently.

Hermione nodded. 'I know, I've only told you, Will, Jack, and your Father. Nobody else knows… well except for Barbossa, but he's dead,' she answered and Elizabeth nodded.

'Father won't say anything to anyone, so you're safe. He will never condemn someone if all they are doing is good. With how much help you've been in rescuing me, helping Will, and the Navy, he wouldn't give up your secret,' she said quietly. Gibbs ran past them up the stairs towards Jack, whispering something to him and receiving a short nod.

Hermione nodded. 'Will hates me now, though,' she answered, placing her head in her arms.

Elizabeth frowned. 'Really? I never thought Will would be one to judge,' she answered, shaking her head. 'Then again, Will has always been sceptical about anything unnatural, or beyond his control. He will lighten up, he probably just needs time to process this,' she reassured her.

'Maybe,' Hermione answered, sighing.

They fell into a comfortable silence until Elizabeth broke it. 'Do you know what has become of Cassandra?' she asked timidly as if afraid of the answer.

Hermione shook her head. 'I honestly don't know. For all I know she could be in the same situation as me in the future, or she is still at school in England. Though if that were true, I imagine she would have returned for your wedding,' Hermione mused, hoping the girl was safe.

Elizabeth smiled. 'With any hope, she has taken your place in the future...' she trailed off.

Hermione looked at her in confusion. 'Why do you say that?' she asked curiously.

Elizabeth smiled at her. 'She'll be safe,' she answered, and Hermione nodded.

'Yes, she will be. Safer than here anyway. My friends in the future will look out for her,' Hermione told her, hoping this were true if Cassandra was transported into the future.

oOoOo

Back in Port Royal, Beckett and Mercer were in a room with Governor Swann, whose hands were in shackles. Mercer was looking through a mounted telescope which looked out on the waters surrounding Port Royal. Beckett turned to Swann. 'There's something about knowing the exact shape of the world and one's place in it, don't you agree?' he asked him, not waiting for an answer. "I had you brought here because I thought you'd be interested in the whereabouts of your Daughter,' he revealed.

Swann's eyes widened. 'Where?' Swann asked, his throat dry causing him to cough.

Mercer continued to look through the telescope, but he was the one who answered, 'Most recently seen on the island of Tortuga. Then left, in the company of a known pirate, Jack Sparrow, and other fugitives from justice,' he answered, turning towards Swann.

'Yes, your other Daughter, Cassandra Swann was it? She was looking close to Jack, I have heard,' Beckett told him, a glint in his eye in the hopes this would rile Swann up a bit.

Swann shook his head. 'As long as she is safe. If he is looking out for her, then I cannot judge,' he answered, not willing to give Beckett the benefit of seeing if this bothered him or not.

Beckett looked surprised at his answer. 'Oh, so you would condone your Daughter being with a pirate, then? The Daughter of a Governor, running away and falling in love with a renowned pirate who has terrorised the seas… It is a somewhat romantic notion...' he trailed off for a moment. He moved towards Swann, kneeling down in front of him. 'Would you not agree, Governor? Would you allow this type of union?' he asked him quietly.

Swann chose not to answer and was instead saved by Mercer. 'Should we continue, sir?' he asked Beckett.

Beckett stood back up and nodded at Mercer. 'Yes, lets,' he said, moving over to the table and picking up a sword. He turned back to Swann. 'The company they are with also includes the previous owner of this sword... I believe. Our ships are in pursuit, and justice will be dispensed by cannonade and cutlass, and all manner of remorseless pieces of metal. I personally find it distasteful even to contemplate the horror facing all those on board,' he told him with a small smile. Swann's eyes widened at this. 'Your authority as Governor, your influence in London, and your loyalty to the East India Trading Company,' he paused when Swann shook his head, not wanting any harm to come to Elizabeth or Hermione. 'Shall I remove these shackles?' he asked Swann who nodded after a few moments. Mercer moved over to him, removing the shackles. 'So you see, Mercer, every man has a price he will willingly accept. Even for what he hopes never to sell,' he finished to which Mercer nodded. They both looked at Swann who was ready to succumb to whatever it was they wanted him to do.

oOoOo

On the Flying Dutchman, three crewmen were playing a game at a table with dice. Organ music floated in the air, a normal sound, coming from the Captain's Quarters. Maccus was one of those playing the dice came, slamming his cup and dice down on the table before looking at the others. 'I wager... ten years,' he said.

Koleniko smirked. 'I'll match ten years,' he said, slamming his cup down on the table.

Greenbeard nodded, following suit. 'Agreed.'

Will and Bootstrap emerged from below deck then, moving over to the crew members. Will looked on in curiosity. 'Liars Dice,' Bootstrap said in answer to Will's unasked question. Bootstrap turned to look at him. 'Wondering how it's played?' he asked him.

Will tilted his head, watching what was happening on the table. 'I understand. It's a game of deception. Your bet includes all the dice, not just your own,' he deduced, looking at Bootstrap curiously. 'What are they wagering?' he asked him.

Bootstrap shrugged. 'Oh, the only thing we have. Years of service,' he answered.

Will nodded. 'So any crewman can be challenged?' he asked him thoughtfully.

Bootstrap thought for a moment, before nodding. 'Aye. Anyone,' he answered, looking at him wondering what he was planning.

Will thought about it for a moment before saying, 'I challenge Davy Jones.'

Everything around him stopped, and immediately the organ music in the background ceased. Jones' peg-leg could be then, thumping louder and louder as he approached. With each thump of his footstep, gooseneck barnacles retracted, and the crew members started laughing when Davy Jones made his appearance, looking at Will in amusement. 'I accept that-uh,' he said, sitting down at the gambling table, looking up at Will. 'The stakes?' he asked him.

'My soul. An eternity of servitude,' he answered, not missing a beat.

Bootstrap shook his head. 'No...' he whispered, looking at Will worriedly.

Jones smirked. 'Against?' he asked him.

Will took out the picture of the key. 'I want this,' he answered, throwing the picture down on the table.

Using his crab claws, Jones picked up the picture, looking at it in shock. 'How do you know of the key?' he asked him curiously.

Will smiled. 'That's not part of the game, is it?' he answered, sitting down at the table. 'You can still walk away,' he said, raising his eyebrows at Jones.

One of Jones' tentacles moved towards his heart, pulling the key from where it was resting against his chest to display it to Will, and the tentacle moved the key back. The two slammed their cups down on the table, just as a third joined them. Jones looked at Bootstrap to see him sitting down. 'What's this?' he asked him amusedly.

Bootstrap looked at him. 'I'm in. Thirty years' wager,' he staked.

Will shook his head. 'No! Don't do this,' he said to him.

Bootstrap looked at him. 'The die is cast. I bid three twos,' he said, turning back to Jones. 'It's your bid, Captain,' he said.

Davy smirked. 'Four fours,' he said.

'Four fives,' Will said.

'Six threes,' Bootstrap said.

'Seven fives-uh,' Jones said.

'Eight fives,' Will said.

Jones laughed. 'Welcome to the crew, liar,' he said gleefully, looking at Will.

Bootstrap slammed his hand down on the table. 'Twelve fives!' he shouted out, making Will and Jones look at him. 'Twelve fives… call me a liar, or up the bet,' he said to Jones.

Jones looked at the cup in front of Bootstrap to his face before answering, 'And be called a liar myself for my trouble? Bootstrap Bill, you're a liar and you will spend an eternity on this ship! Master Turner, feel free to go ashore... the very next time we make port!' he laughed, standing up and walking away followed by his crew.

Will watched them leave, feeling disheartened by this. He looked at Bootstrap. 'Fool. Why did you do that?' he asked him.

Bootstrap shook his head. 'I couldn't let you lose,' he answered him, thinking this would be obvious.

Will sighed, sitting down next to him. 'It was never about winning, or losing,' he told him.

Bootstrap's eyes widened in realisation. 'The key… you just wanted to know where it was...' he said, and Will nodded. He closed his eyes realising what he had done.

oOoOo

Will emerged from a hatch on the deck, sneaking past one of the crew on the deck who was sleeping with a bottle in his hand. He quietly entered the captain's quarters, taking in Jones' sleeping form on the organ, snoring lightly.

Will sneaked up behind him, grabbing a nearby quill pen, and used it to lift one of Jones' tentacles gently. One of the tentacles fell on an organ key, and Jones' eyes opened a little, almost waking up, but his eyes closed again, and his snoring continued.

Will let out a breath quietly when the falling tentacle set off a locket on top of the organ which played a song. Will held one of the staves in his mouth while he lifted the tentacles again and finally removed the key, replacing it with the drawing.

He quietly made his way back out onto the deck to where Bootstrap was waiting and getting a longboat ready for him. He walked up to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. Bootstrap turned to him with a small smile. 'It was always in my blood to die at sea, but it was not a fate I ever wanted for you,' he told him.

Will lowered his head, looking back at him. 'It's not a fate you had to choose for yourself, either,' he told him.

Bootstrap laughed bitterly. 'I could say I did what I had to when I left you to go pirating, but it would taste a lie to say it wasn't what I wanted. You owe me nothing,' he told him, shaking his head.

They stood in silence for a moment and Will looked at him. 'They'll know you helped me,' he said quietly.

Bootstrap laughed cynically. 'What more can they do to me?' he asked him.

Will nodded at this statement, there was nothing worse they could do to Bootstrap, so instead, he said, 'I take this with a promise. I'll find a way to sever Jones' hold on you. And not rest until this blade pierces his heart. I will not abandon you. I promise,' Will was sincere, looking Bootstrap in his eyes, and giving him a quick hug. He climbed down the side of the ship, and set out alone in the longboat, praying his Father would be okay.

oOoOo

Back on the Black Pearl, the crew were scrubbing the deck, while Jack, Hermione, Elizabeth, and Gibbs were in the Captain's Quarters. Elizabeth was telling them about what Will had to do and showed them the letters. 'Beckett!' Gibbs exclaimed, looking at them.

'Yes, they're signed, Lord Cutler Beckett of the East India Trading Company,' Elizabeth told them.

'So what does it mean exactly?' Hermione asked, looking at Jack for a moment when he let out a noise.

'Will was working for Beckett, and never said a word,' Gibbs answered, looking at Jack.

'Agh,' Jack muttered, looking at his closed compass.

'So Beckett wants the compass?' Hermione asked them.

Gibbs nodded. 'Only one reason for that,' he surmised, looking at Jack.

Jack nodded. 'Of course. He wants the chest,' Jack answered, tying his compass on his belt.

'You mean the chest Tia Dalmia mentioned?' Hermione asked him to which she received a nod.

Elizabeth nodded in agreement to this statement. 'Yes, he did say something about a chest,' she said, looking at the compass.

'If the company controls the chest, they control the sea,' Gibbs told them.

'And that's a bad thing,' Hermione said to nods of agreement from Jack and Gibbs.

'A truly discomforting notion, love,' Jack said, placing a hand on her shoulder gently.

'And bad. Bad for every Mother's Son what calls himself a pirate. I think there's a bit more speed to be coaxed from these sails,' he said, leaving the room and addressing the crew, 'Brace the foreyard!' he shouted, and the crew ran about getting to work.

Jack, from where he was still standing next to Hermione with his hand rested on her shoulder, looked at Elizabeth. 'Might I inquire how as to how you came by these?' he asked, picking up the letters and waving them at her.

Elizabeth smirked. 'Persuasion,' she answered.

'Friendly?' he asked her.

'Decidedly not,' she answered.

Jack moved away from Hermione, looking at the letters. 'William strikes a deal for these and upholds it with honour,' he stated, turning to look at Elizabeth. 'Yet you're the one standing here with the prize,' he added with a smile. He laughed when he looked at the letters again. 'Full pardon, commission as a privateer on behalf of England and the East India Trading Company. As if I could be bought for such a low price,' he told her, tucking the letters into his coat. He took a gentle hold of Hermione's arm, and they made to leave the room.

Elizabeth stopped them. 'Jack, the letters, give them back,' she said, holding out her hand.

Hermione glanced up at Jack with raised eyebrows, as he looked at Elizabeth. 'No. Persuade me,' he said, smirking at her.

'You do know Will taught me how to handle a sword,' she stated as if this would help.

Jack smiled, glancing at Hermione for a moment before looking back at Elizabeth. 'As I said... Persuade me,' he told her.

Elizabeth, giving up, walked away in frustration, leaning on the ship's railing. Jack made an odd grunting noise, leading Hermione away to the steps leading up to the wheel. Elizabeth watched them go, wondering for a moment if something was going on between the pirate and Hermione.

Norrington walked over to her. 'It's a curious thing. There was a time when I would've given anything for you to look like that while thinking about me,' he said, leaning against the railing.

Elizabeth looked at him in confusion. 'I don't know what you mean,' she said innocently.

'Oh, I think you do,' he answered, looking over at Jack and Hermione who were whispering.

'Oh, don't be absurd. I trust him, that's all,' Elizabeth answered, glancing over at them. 'In any case, it seems Jack only has eyes for one person, and she is over there with him,' she told him.

Norrington nodded, seeing this himself. 'Yes, it seems that way, but then again Sparrow is a devious pirate. He may want you both,' he told her, receiving a look of disgust in response. 'So you never wondered how your latest fiancé ended up on the Flying Dutchman in the first place?' he asked her, making her look at him in curiosity.

oOoOo

Will was found by a ship which came upon him, and he was taken aboard. He found out this was the Edinburgh Trader. 'Strange thing to come upon a longboat so far out in open waters,' Bellamy said to him when they took him into the Captain's Cabin.

Will nodded, looking back out at the sea behind them. 'Just put as many leagues behind us as you can. As fast as you can,' he told them to which he received a frown from Bellamy.

'And what are we running from?' he asked him curiously.

Will went to answer but noticed Elizabeth's wedding dress on a chair in the corner near the window. 'That dress. Where did you get it?' he asked them, hoping Elizabeth was okay.

Bellamy stood from his seat, walking over towards the dress. 'It was found aboard the ship. The crew thought it was a spirit bringing some omen of ill fate,' he told him, shrugging.

Will smiled knowing Elizabeth must have been on the ship and sneaked transport or something. 'That's foolish,' he answered.

The quartermaster nodded. 'Oh, yes. Proceededly foolish,' he said with a broad smile.

'It brought good fortune! The spirit told us... Put in at Tortuga, and we made a nice bit of profit there,' he explained, looking at the dress.

Bellamy smiled. 'Off the books, of course,' he told him with a wink.

Will smiled. 'I imagine... some of your crew may have jumped ship there,' he told him to which Bellamy frowned.

'Why do you ask?' he inquired curiously.

Before Will could answer, one of the sailors came into the Cabin. 'Captain, a ship's been spotted,' he reported, pointing out to the sea.

'Colours?' Bellamy asked him, following him out.

'She isn't flyin' any,' he answered. They moved over to the railing, looking out.

'Pirates!' Bellamy shouted out, looking at the ship.

Will looked at the ship. 'Or worse,' he muttered worriedly.

oOoOo

Jones was standing on the deck of the Flying Dutchman, having found the cloth Will swapped for the key. He was furious Will managed to double cross him like that.

Behind him, one of the crewmen was holding Bootstrap at knifepoint. It looked like a sawfish sword, used as a restraining weapon against Bootstrap. 'You will watch this,' Jones said to him, making sure Bootstrap was watching what was about to happen. The crewmen were being whipped, turning a large screw used to summon the Kraken. 'Let no joyful voice be heard! Let no man look up at the sky with hope! And let this day be cursed by we who ready to wake... the Kraken!' Jones shouted out. The device thumped heavily against the sea.

'No!' Bootstrap shouted out in anguish as he watched.

oOoOo

The crewmen on board the Edinburgh Trader rushed to the railing, chattering to see the Flying Dutchman. Will managed to get himself up on top of the mast. 'I've doomed us all,' he whispered solemnly before shouting, 'It's the Flying Dutchman!' At these words a loud thumping sound resonated throughout the ship.

Bursar was holding a rope, twisting it in his hands in fear. 'Oh, Mother Cary's chickens. What happened?' he asked the crewmen around him.

'Must've hit a reef,' the Quartermaster answered. The crew looked overboard, seeing bubbles rising alongside the ship.

Bellamy nodded, his forehead shining with sweat. 'Free the rudder! Hard to port, then hard to starboard! Clear the rudder! Hard to port!' he ordered his crew. They ran about the deck following his orders.

A Kraken tentacle silently reached up behind them, seizing an unsuspecting crewman while they had their backs turned. The Kraken tentacle surfaced then in the distance, holding the crewman who was now screaming, 'Kraken!'

A crewman rang the ship's bell wildly when a giant tentacle rose high over the ship. It came down hard onto the deck, breaking the ship in two, which bounced men off the bridge. Men slid off the tilted deck, and Will was flung underwater, seeing the body of the Kraken in the distance under the water. Will surfaced, climbing aboard a floating board from the debris of the ship. The Flying Dutchman came near Will, and he slid off his board, swimming towards the ship. He managed to grab the corals at the back of the ship, pulling himself out of the water. He looked back out at the sea, seeing the floating debris and Elizabeth's wedding dress amongst it all

oOoOo

'The boy's not here. He must've been claimed by the sea,' Maccus reported, looking out at the devastation wrought by the Kraken.

Jones spat angrily. 'I am the sea,' he snapped, stomping over to Bootstrap. 'You need time alone with your thoughts,' he snarled, and the crewman holding him took him below.

'What of the survivors?' Bo'sun asked him.

Jones was silent for a moment, looking out at the sea. 'There are no survivors,' he ordered. The remaining crewmen from the Edinburgh Trader were simultaneously axed from behind. Will, upon witnessing the axing, ducked behind a beam. Jones turned, sensing Will's presence, but could not see him. 'The chest is no longer safe,' Jones muttered, turning back to Bo'sun. 'Chart a course to Isla Cruces. Get me there first, or there'll be the devil to pay,' he ordered, receiving a nod from Bo'sun.

'First?' Koleniko asked him.

Jones nodded. 'Who sent that thieving charlatan onto my ship? Who told them of the key? Jack Sparrow,' Jones answered him, and Will's eyes widened. He managed to make his way towards the front of the Flying Dutchman where he planned on hitching a ride between the jaw formations.

oOoOo

Elizabeth and Hermione were sitting on the steps of the Black Pearl murmuring about something which had Hermione looking guilty. Jack walked over to them holding a bottle of rum. 'Well, you both look lively,' he said, watching in shock when Hermione stood up, storming away. 'Something I said?' he asked Elizabeth who sighed.

'No, I was just asking her some questions,' Elizabeth answered, shaking her head.

'My tremendous intuitive sense of the female creature informs me that you are troubled,' he informed her.

Elizabeth lowered her head, looking at the wooden deck. 'I just thought I'd be married by now. I'm so ready to be married,' she answered sadly. Jack offered Elizabeth a drink from the bottle of rum.

Jack sat next to her. 'You know... Lizzy... I am... Captain of a ship, and being Captain of a ship, I could, in fact, perform a... marriage. Right here. Right on this deck,' he told her.

'Oh, really?' she asked, looking at him.

'Yep, it comes with the package,' he answered, taking a swig from his rum.

'Would you marry Will and I? Could you handle seeing that union?' She asked, her curiosity about how he feels about her getting the better of her. She had a feeling his interests lay elsewhere, considering the way he was looking at Hermione lately.

'Why would it bother me? I love weddings, and what better wedding than the wedding of two of my most favourite people?' he asked her.

Elizabeth smiled, letting out a small laugh. 'Is that supposed to be your blessing or something?' she asked him.

Jack nodded slowly. 'Personally, I think you and Will are well suited. You are both as stubborn as a mule and don't take no for an answer. My only love is the sea, Elizabeth, so it would never work out between us,' he told her with a small smile. 'And if I was ever to come across the one thing that vexes all men of the sea… then she would have to love the sea as much as I for it to work out,' he told her honestly which shocked Elizabeth. She noticed his gaze moved pointedly over to where Hermione was standing gazing out at the sea.

'She is your vex,' Elizabeth muttered, looking back at him.

His expression, which was soft and relaxed when looking over at Hermione, hardened when he looked back at her. 'Your meaning, lass?' he asked her, carefully hiding his emotions.

'Hermione… you feel something for her,' she said to him, watching him look away, and avoiding looking in Hermione's direction. 'It's obvious… you at least care about her,' she said to him.

Jack looked back at her, smirking. 'Caring about someone, and loving someone is not the same, Elizabeth. She is a member of my crew, and I care about everyone on my crew. Don't mean I love them,' he answered, thinking this would be the end of it.

'But you love her...' she stated. He didn't answer, looking down at the wooden deck again instead. She took this as an answer in the affirmative.

'We are very alike, her and I. I and her. Us,' he muttered, taking a drink of his rum.

Elizabeth laughed. 'Oh. Except for a sense of honour, and decency and… and a moral centre. And personal hygiene,' she listed off, looking back at him in amusement.

Jack sniffed his armpits. 'Trifles,' he muttered. 'I can clean up, you know. She will come over to my side, I know it,' he said with a small smile, looking over at Hermione again.

'You seem very certain,' she answered, following his gaze.

'She's already warming to my charms. She has agreed to be a member of my crew meaning she must trust me, listen to me, and be able to take orders from me. To be in the same vicinity as me… meaning to some extent she must like me—' he listed off, but Elizabeth cut him off.

'Tolerate is probably the word you want there, Jack,' Elizabeth said in amusement.

Jack glared at her. 'Does it matter?' he asked her, looking back over at Hermione. 'One day, she won't be able to resist,' he whispered, taking another drink of his rum.

Elizabeth nodded slowly. 'Maybe...' she trailed off. She decided to change the subject. 'Why doesn't your compass work?' she asked curiously.

Jack looked at her, a bit thrown off by her change of subject. 'Uh… my compass works fine,' he answered, looking away from her.

Elizabeth smiled. 'There will come a moment when you have a chance to do the right thing, Jack,' she said to him.

Jack smirked. 'I love those moments. I like to wave at them as they pass by,' he answered, making a show of waving at something.

Elizabeth laughed, before turning serious again. 'You'll have the chance to do something… something courageous. And when you do, you'll discover something: that you're a good man,' she stated, trying to convince him.

Jack shook his head. 'All evidence to the contrary,' he answered instantly, taking another drink.

'I have faith in you. Want to know why?' she asked him.

'Do tell, dearie,' he probed, looking at her.

Elizabeth smiled. 'Because you're going to want it. A chance to be admired, and gain the rewards that follow. You won't be able to resist. You're going to want to know… what it tastes like,' she answered, taking the bottle from him and taking a drink while watching his expression.

Jack looked away from her, his gaze going back to Hermione. 'I do want to know what it tastes like,' he whispered, absently retaking the bottle, and taking a drink.

Elizabeth smiled, knowing now for sure about how Jack felt about Hermione. She no longer worried so much about this as she knew Jack would probably do anything for Hermione to make sure she was safe. Elizabeth stood up, gaining Jack's attention at her sudden movement. 'Well then, I imagine you would want to be a good man if you want Hermione to like you or eventually love you. I think with time, effort, and work on your part your dream may come true,' she told him. Jack looked down, wondering if it was worth the hassle of changing just for one woman. His eyes widened then when the black spot boiled into view in his hand, but Elizabeth didn't notice. 'Wow, no smartarse comeback. I'm proud of you, Jack,' she said, smirking at him.

'Land Ho!' Gibbs shouted then, making Jack and Elizabeth look out seeing land close by.

Jack sighed, and Elizabeth turned back to him, waiting for him to speak. He glanced at her, before walking away and she frowned as he muttered, 'I want my jar of dirt.'

oOoOo

Jack, Hermione, Norrington, and Elizabeth got into a longboat, which Pintel and Ragetti were rowing towards the island. Jack was in the bow with Hermione sitting beside him, while Elizabeth and Norrington were in the back. Pintel looked at Ragetti angrily. 'You're pullin' too fast,' he said.

'You're pulling too slow. We don't want the Kraken to catch us,' Ragetti argued.

'I'm savin' me strength for when it comes. And I don't think it's Krack-en, anyways. I always heard it said Kray-kin,' Pintel reasoned.

Ragetti frowned. 'What, with a long A?' he asked him in confusion.

'Aye,' Pintel answered.

'No-no-no-no-no-no-no. Krock-en's how it's pronounced in the original Scandinavian, and Krack-en's closer to that,' Ragetti argued.

Pintel chuckled. 'Well we ain't original Scandinavians, are we? Kray-ken!' he said.

'It's a mythological creature, I can calls it what I wants,' he answered, reaching the beach.

Jack disembarked from the boat, beginning to walk away. 'Guard the boat, mind the tide... Don't touch my dirt,' he ordered them and they nodded.

Jack handed the compass to Elizabeth who wandered off into the dunes, following the pointer. Jack, Hermione, and Norrington followed her at a slower pace. Elizabeth looked around in frustration as the arrow turned in the opposite direction. 'This doesn't work. And it certainly doesn't show you what you want most,' she announced, sitting down in the sand. She set the compass down in front of her where the needlepoint was aiming towards her.

Jack rolled his eyes, walking over to her. 'Yes, it does. You're sitting on it!' he said exasperatedly.

'Beg your pardon?' Elizabeth said in shock, looking at him like he insulted her.

'Move,' he told her. She stood up as Jack and Norrington started digging under where she was sitting.

Down by the boat, Pintel and Ragetti had gotten out of the boat and were clowning around. Ragetti was balancing a shovel on one hand, while Pintel was pacing and muttering to himself. '"Mind the tide",' he said sarcastically.

Ragetti moved closer to him, the shovel still balanced in his hand. 'I may join the circus!' he announced, looking at Pintel who was still muttering angrily.

Pintel stopped pacing, looking towards where Jack and Norrington were still shovelling sand. 'Don't mind if I shine your shoes, sir?' he said sarcastically, and Ragetti followed his line of sight.

Chapter Text

Chapter Eighteen: Misjudged Benevolence

Aboard the Flying Dutchman, Jones was watching Pintel and Ragetti through a spyglass. 'They're here. And I cannot step foot on land again for near of a decade,' he barked.

'Then trust us to act in your stead,' Maccus suggested to him.

Jones thought about it for a moment, before turning to them. 'I'll trust you to know what awaits should you fail! Down, then!' he shouted.

'Down!' A particularly ugly crew member shouted.

'Down!' Maccus shouted, and the Flying Dutchman submerged into the ocean.

oOoOo

From the beach, Pintel and Ragetti watched, astounded at seeing the ship submerge in the distance. Ragetti dropped the shovel he was balancing in his hand, and they quickly ran towards the group to warn them.

In the dunes on the beach, Norrington was digging in the sand, while Jack was sitting in a lotus position on a nearby sandy slope next to Hermione. Elizabeth was sitting a little away from Norrington who was looking at Jack in annoyance. The pirate stopped helping him and was now lounging about while he did all the work.

He hit something hard in the sand while digging, and Jack moved over next to him, helping him brush off sand, revealing the chest. Removing the chest from the sand, Jack opened it to find a pearl necklace, documents, a smaller chest, amongst other things of value. Hermione picked up a letter with a wax seal and opened it up. She started reading it to herself, and Elizabeth read it over her shoulder.

The two women stopped reading, and the four of them leaned down close to the small chest. They put their ears to it, and they could hear the unmistakable sounds of a heartbeat. They all moved back from the chest. 'It's real!' Elizabeth exclaimed, looking at Jack in surprise.

'This is the oddest thing ever,' Hermione muttered, prodding the chest as if would explode at any moment.

'You actually were telling the truth,' Norrington said to him, quite surprised himself.

Jack frowned. 'I do that quite a lot,' he answered, glancing at Hermione to see her smiling. 'Yet people are always surprised.'

'With good reason!' came a voice behind them, and they turned to see Will walking up the dune towards them.

'Will! You're all right! Thank God! I came to find you!' Elizabeth shouted, running to meet him and they shared a long kiss.

Jack raised his eyebrows. 'How did you get here?' he asked, feeling uncomfortable.

Will smirked at him. 'Sea turtles, mate. A pair of them, strapped to my feet,' he said, and Elizabeth giggled.

Jack smiled. 'Not so easy, is it?' he asked him, looking at him sympathetically.

Will shook his head. 'But I do owe you thanks, Jack,' he said, and Hermione could tell he was not at all thankful.

'You do?' Jack asked him in confusion.

Will nodded slowly. 'After you tricked me onto that ship to square your debt with Jones...'

'What?' Elizabeth said, turning on Jack angrily, and cutting Will off.

'What?' Jack asked her, feeling Hermione take his arm gently, but he didn't look at her.

Will took note of this but decided not to mention anything. He didn't particularly care for either of them anymore. The girl was a liar just like Jack, and he felt they were well suited. Shaking his head, he answered, 'I was reunited with my Father.'

Jack looked surprised at this, almost forgetting Bootstrap was on the Flying Dutchman. 'Oh! Well... you're welcome, then,' he said with a little smile.

Elizabeth rounded on him, prodding his chest with her finger. 'Everything you said to me... every word, was a lie!' she shouted angrily.

'Not every word,' he muttered, looking down at the sand like it was the most interesting thing in the world.

'Oh, right okay, so everything except the part about Hermione, you lied about!' she shouted before realising what she said and covered her mouth.

Hermione looked at him. 'About me? What?' she asked in confusion.

Jack looked at her sheepishly. 'I… uh… I'll tell you later, love,' he promised, looking back at Elizabeth. 'But yes, pretty much everything else was a lie. Time and tide,' he said to her, turning away, and Elizabeth was fuming at these words. Jack noticed Will stooping down with the key to open the chest. 'Oi! What're you doing?' he shouted, stopping Will.

Will looked at him like he'd grown another head. 'I'm gonna kill Jones,' he said, putting the key in the chest again.

Jack drew his sword, startling Hermione, and she felt him take her hand to relax her. He pointed his sword at Will. 'Can't let you do that, William. 'Cause if Jones is dead, who's to call his terrible beastie off the hunt, eh?' he advised him, letting go of Hermione's hand and holding his hand out to Will. 'Now. If you please: The key,' he said, motioning for him to hand it over.

Will backed up slowly, drawing Elizabeth's sword and pointing it at Jack. 'I keep the promises I make, Jack. I intend to free my Father. I hope you're here to see it,' he told him, and Jack shook his head at this.

The two men squaring off were surprised when Norrington drew his sword, pointing it at Will. 'I can't let you do that, either. So sorry,' Norrington said and Will looked back in confusion.

Jack smiled, feeling almost gleeful. 'I knew you'd warm up to me eventually,' he said, smiling at the ex-Commodore.

His smile faded when Norrington turned his sword on Jack instead, shrugging. 'Lord Beckett desires the contents of that chest. I deliver it, and get my life back,' he informed him.

Jack's smile returned. 'Ah. The dark side of ambition,' he acknowledged, nodding slowly.

Norrington made a show of thinking about it. 'Oh, I prefer to see it as the promise of redemption,' he answered, smirking at him.

Hermione was torn, but she had to admit she was more on Jack's side than anyone else's for several reasons. The main two were because one, he was her Captain and two, he was the only person apart from Elizabeth and Governor Swan who accepted her for who she is. Looking at Will, she realised just how much he changed since finding out the truth, and he had been downright horrible to her since. She just didn't know what to think of him anymore. She was beginning to dislike him even though she knew deep down there was a lovely guy in there. She understood he was angry at being lied to, but she told the truth eventually, and she tried to be kind to him, but he was just… horrible at times.

Making a quick decision, Hermione pulled out her wand, pointing it at Will, and then Norrington. 'You're helping him?' Will asked her, while Jack looked at her in shock and gratitude.

Hermione shrugged, keeping her expression stoic. 'He's my Captain,' she answered simply.

Will looked back in confusion. 'When did that happen?' he asked, looking between Jack and Hermione.

'Right about the time you became an asshole, and I decided Jack was the only one who seemed to accept me for who I am without judging me,' Hermione answered honestly, pointing her wand at him.

Will backed up, suddenly uncomfortable with having a witch in the mix on Jack's side. Elizabeth moved forward then, grabbing Hermione's wand hand, forcing her to lower it. 'Stop it!' she said getting annoyed at them. 'Don't get involved, Hermione. I'm sure the three of them can sort this out like adults,' she said to them. Hermione thought about it for a moment, and nodded, stepping back, but not before noticing the grateful look Jack shot her way, and she smiled at him.

'Can we?' Jack asked them, looking at the two swords pointed at him.

'Let's be rational, and figure out who needs the chest more,' Elizabeth suggested.

The three men looked at her in bewilderment, and they all shook their heads and said in unison, 'Nah!' and a duel broke out between them.

Hermione got out her wand, but Elizabeth stopped her. 'Please don't get involved… I don't want a stupid fight to end up with someone hurt or worse...' she trailed off thinking of Will. Upon looking over at him, she noticed him barely ducking Norrington's sword. 'Be careful!' she shouted, and they all looked at her. 'Will!' she added quickly, and they returned to duelling.

The duel halted again when Will turned to them. 'Guard the chest!' he shouted to them.

Elizabeth and Hermione looked at each other, but Elizabeth stomped her foot angrily. 'No!' she shouted back when the duel resumed. 'This is bar-baric! This is no way for grown men to settle—!' she cut herself off, realising this was not helping. Hermione watched in amusement when she started to throw a tantrum. 'Oh! Fine! Let's just pull out our swords and start banging away at each other! This will solve everything! I've had it! I've had enough! Wobbly-legged, rum-soaked... pirates!' She shouted, picking up a rock, and throwing it at the duellists angrily, but the rock only went to the far left of them. Hermione couldn't help but giggle at her failed attempt.

Pintel and Ragetti stopped running towards them when they realised the three men were fighting while the two woman watched them. 'How'd this go all screwy?' Pintel asked hypothetically, not expecting an answer.

Ragetti, not picking up on this, answered, 'Well, each wants the chest for hisself, don't 'e? Mister Norrington, I think he's tryna regain a bit of honour. Old Jack's lookin' to trade it, save his own skin. And Turner there, I figure 'e's tryna... settle some unresolved business 'twixt him and his twice-cursed pirate Father,' he deduced. Pintel was shocked with how much thought Ragetti must have put into this.

They watched Hermione follow the men along the beach, holding a stick in her hand. 'Think she's gonna knock 'em out with her stick when they aren't lookin' and take the chest for herself?' Pintel asked him.

Ragetti nodded. 'Looks that way,' he advised. They watched Elizabeth follow as well, still shouting at them angrily.

'Sad. That chest must be worth more 'n a shiny penny,' Pintel said thoughtfully, looking over to where they left the chest unguarded.

'Oh! Tsk-tsk-tsk. Terrible temptation,' Ragetti agreed, shaking his head.

Pintel smirked, chuckling to himself. 'If we was any kind of decent, we'd remove temptation from their path,' he said, smirking. Picking up on his meaning, Ragetti smirked before the two giggled, running off to steal the chest.

Back to the duel, Elizabeth was chasing after the fighting men. 'Will! Enough!' she shouted, panting from exasperation and exhaustion. She suddenly had an idea. 'Oh! Oh...! The heat!' she said, pretending to faint which knocked her hat off. Elizabeth opened one of her eyes, watching sideways as the duellists continued fighting, utterly oblivious to her. Huffing, Elizabeth sat back up, putting her hat back on. Sitting in the sand watching the duel, she failed to notice Pintel and Ragetti running behind her in the distance with the chest.

'Elizabeth! The chest!' Hermione shouted, pointing behind her.

Elizabeth turned around in the sand, finally noticing them. 'Bugger!' she shouted, getting to her feet quickly, giving chase.

Hermione tried to fire a spell at them, but it missed, and they disappeared from her sight. 'Damn,' she said, turning back to the duel. Norrington and Will were squaring off now, and Hermione was torn between firing protective spells on them all or just Jack seeing as she took his side. Shrugging, she shot a tripping spell towards the two which hit Will. 'Oh well, he hates me anyway,' she said to herself. She didn't care, but she did feel a bit bad when Norrington kicked sand in his face.

'By your leave, Mister Turner,' Norrington said, giving a slight bow, and running off to chase Jack up the hill.

Hermione tried to help Will who was wiping the sand away. 'Get away from me!' he shouted, not even looking at her before taking chase after them.

'Screw you then,' she muttered, suddenly feeling guilty. Everyone which happened up until now had done nothing but turn people against her. Then again, it was only Will now that she thought about it as the only other people who knew hadn't been as bothered.

She turned towards the sea then, spotting something in the distance. Her heart leapt into her throat upon seeing the crew of the Flying Dutchman emerging from the shallows. One of them looked like they were holding a chain shot as a weapon. 'Oh bloody hell,' she said, realising how much she sounded like Ron. She frowned sadly for a moment before mentally shaking herself, and taking off after the guys.

Running up the hill, she could see Jack and Norrington up ahead running through bushes on the beach, and up to a dilapidated stone church on another hill. She wanted to get there before Will, but he was already quite a distance ahead. She was tempted to send another tripping hex his way, but she couldn't get her wand hand to stop shaking and aim. She knew she'd miss if she tried it now.

Norrington chased Jack up the steps inside the building, and Jack managed to kick him back down. Norrington got back up, and the two proceeded to sword-fight on the inside steps. Grabbing hold of the bell rope, it carried Jack downward. Will arrived, reaching the other line and it pulled him up, and he smirked at Norrington. 'By your leave, Mister Norrington,' he said, giving him a bow.

Hermione stopped on the hill, watching the duel for a moment. She turned back towards where they'd left the chest only to see the Flying Dutchman crew had made it to the large chest. They were looking in their direction because of the ringing bell, and she shook her head. 'Really, guys? Do you have to tell everyone where you are on the island?' she muttered, turning back to the duel, and running down the beach towards them so she could at least warn Jack.

She reached them just as Norrington and Will were duelling on the roof. Jack was leaning over towards them, deftly grabbing the dangling key away from Norrington's hand. Noticing the key was gone, Norrington turned around, duelling with Jack instead.

Norrington managed to knock Jack's sword from his hand which flung to the ground below, narrowly missing Hermione who ducked out of the way. Seeing this, Jack turned back to Norrington. 'Watch what you're doing!' he shouted angrily, fuming at him.

Norrington smirked, looking down at Hermione. 'Do excuse me while I kill the man who ruined my life,' he said, giving her a little bow. Hermione felt panicked at this, raising her wand towards Norrington.

Will came to stand next to him. 'Be my guest,' he said, and Hermione glared at him, but he only shrugged.

Jack frowned, looking between Will and Norrington. 'Let us examine that claim for a moment, former Commodore, shall we? Who was it, who at the very moment you had a notorious pirate safely behind bars, saw fit to free said pirate, and take your dearly beloved all to hisself, hey? So who's fault is it, really, that you've ended up a rum-pot deckhand what takes orders from pirates?' he said, looking at them.

Norrington looked furious. 'Enough!' he shouted, watching Jack somersault off the roof to escape and turned on Will, brandishing his sword. 'Unfortunately, Mister Turner... He's right!' he said, and Norrington and Will resumed their part of the duel on the rooftop.

Jack smirked at his own genius in saving his own skin. 'Still rooting for you, mate!' He shouted at them. Hermione picked up his sword from the ground, handing it to him. 'Thanks, love,' he said, smiling at her while putting the key around his neck. Turning to walk away through a graveyard, Hermione gasped when Jack fell into an open grave. 'Oh,' he said, getting to his feet and looking around the grave. He looked up, seeing Hermione brandishing her wand.

'Wingardium Leviosa!' she cast, and Jack felt himself float out of the grave.

Jack felt the ground beneath his boots, smiling at Hermione. 'You're really something, love,' he said, touching her nose gently with his finger.

'Now that we're alone, what was it you said to Elizabeth, Jack?' Hermione asked him.

Jack's face paled. 'Now's really not the time or place, love. I promise I'll fill you in later,' he promised her.

Hermione nodded slowly, looking down at the ground. Jack moved towards her, taking her chin and lifting her head, so their eyes met. The sounds of Norrington and Will's duel on the rooftop faded away as they gazed at each other. Even the sound of the axle wheel breaking off with Will and Norrington duelling on top of it didn't faze them. Jack leaned down towards her, and she stood on her tiptoes. Their lips were just about to meet when they heard a crash behind them, finally noticing the wheel rolling towards them.

Jack pushed Hermione out of the way, and it rolled over him. He was pulled inside it. 'Jack!' Hermione shouted out worriedly, running after the wheel.

'Woah!' Jack shouted out in slight panic when the key around his neck fell off into the wheel. Jack was doing everything he could to grab the key, struggling when it became caught on one of the wooden spikes, dangling just out of his reach. He leapt within the wheel, finally grabbing the key, but hit his head on a metal bar inside the wheel, causing him to fall off.

Hermione reached him, kneeling down to check his head. Jack smiled up at her dazedly, noticing in his peripheral vision someone running past them. They both turned to see Pintel and Ragetti running off with the small chest, each holding one side and giggling. Shaking their heads, Hermione helped Jack to his feet, both running after the wheel.

Elizabeth managed to catch up with them, and she stopped in front of them to confront them, halting and panting. Pintel and Ragetti looked at each other, pulling their swords out and pointing them at Elizabeth. Elizabeth smirked then, reaching for her sword only to remember Will was currently using it in his pointless duel. Pintel's grin widened. ''Ello, poppet,' Pintel said, giving her the same look he had when he last said this to her. Pintel and Ragetti advanced on Elizabeth while she retreated, while still facing them. They all paused for a moment, watching the wheel roll by with Will and Norrington duelling on top. Jack and Hermione were running behind the wheel, trying to catch up and get the key which was still inside. Pintel shrugged, resuming his advance on Elizabeth with Ragetti.

Suddenly, a thrown axe embedded itself in a coconut palm tree next to Elizabeth. All three of them turned to see Jones' crew crashing through the bushes towards them. Pintel and Ragetti engaged them in a sword-fight while Elizabeth looked around for a sword or something to counter them with.

Meanwhile, Norrington and Will continued their fight atop the rolling wheel. Jack grabbed the key and managed to get a hold of a palm frond on a coconut palm tree while at the top of the wheel. The wheel continued while Jack was hanging from the frond. He dropped to the ground then just as Hermione reached him. They could see the ensuing fight between Ragetti and Pintel. Elizabeth was running towards them. 'Sword!' she shouted, and Jack tossed his sword towards her, and she caught it before charging towards Jones' crewmen.

Jack and Hermione watched her go in amusement. 'Gotta admire her courage,' Jack said, smiling at Hermione. She was still blushing from their almost kiss earlier. She wasn't entirely sure how she felt about it.

They turned as Hadrus, one of Jones' men, ran through the palms carrying the small chest. Jack leaned down, picking up a coconut and whirled it for a moment before throwing it at Hadrus. Hermione watched in amazement when it hit the running pirate directly, his conch shell head getting knocked off. Hadrus' head lay on the ground, attempting to give orders to the rest of his body so it could find his head. 'Aya! Uh, seech! Aunido! Aunido! Follow my voice! Follow my voice! To the left, uh… No, to the right… Go to the left…' he said, but Hadrus' headless body walked into a coconut tree. 'No... That's a tree,' he muttered in shame.

Jack and Hermione walked over to the chest, both amused by this. Jack was getting irritated by it as well. 'Oh, shut it,' he said, leaning down and unlocking the small chest with the key. The square security bolts protruded when opened. Hermione looked at the heart inside the chest, feeling uncomfortable at the knowledge it was still beating.

Hermione heard movement behind them, turning to see Jones' crewmen approaching them. Jack hurriedly tucked the heart into his vest, watching as Elizabeth, using two swords together, stabbed backwards, killing two of the crewmen. They looked at each other, shrugging, before making a run for it towards the beach.

They were the first to arrive back at the longboat. 'Jar of dirt!' Jack shouted out, and Hermione handed it to him. He opened the jar, dumping out some dirt and putting the heart in the jar, and scooped handfuls of dirt back into the jar to cover it.

'Jack!' Hermione shouted out when one of the crewmen from the Flying Dutchman appeared behind him. Jack picked up an oar, fighting him.

Norrington, having left Will on the wheel, reached the beach followed by Elizabeth, Pintel, and Ragetti who were still fighting Jones' crewmen. The members of the Black Pearl were attempting to escape by longboat when Norrington arrived. Noticing the others were still distracted, he reached for the jar, taking the heart and putting it under his vest.

The rolling waterwheel reached the beach, rolling out of the shallows and falling on its side. Will emerged from it, wobbling from dizziness. 'Right!' he said, trying to regain his balance.

Pintel and Ragetti were attempting to escape by longboat, but Will blocked their progress. They both reached for their swords, only to find they're gone. They looked at each other, and Ragetti grabbed a fishnet while Pintel grabbed an oar as weapons to use against Will. 'Come on, Turner!' Pintel mocked him, advancing.

Meanwhile, Jack, who was fighting Koleniko, managed to subdue him after Hermione sent a tripping hex at him. Jack turned towards the longboat, noticing Will who was looking at the key in the chest. Jack moved over to him, hitting him in the head with the oar and knocking him out. Hermione ran over to Will, she may not like the guy, but they couldn't just leave him, but Jack stopped her. 'Leave him to lie, Hermione. Unless you plan on using him to hit something with,' he said to her, looking down at Will with more than a little annoyance.

Hermione sighed, stepping away from Will and moving to stand next to Jack. 'Do you think we'll get out of this?' she asked, and Jack shrugged, unsure of the answer himself. Instead, he took her hand in the hopes this may reassure her no matter what was about to happen, he was there to keep her safe. He felt her relax next to him.

Elizabeth shook her head. 'We're not getting out of this,' she said to them.

Norrington nodded, looking as though he was making a split-second decision and picked up the chest. 'Not with the chest. Into the boat,' he told them.

Elizabeth frowned at him. 'You're mad,' she said.

Norrington smiled. 'Don't wait for me.'

Jack placed a hand on Elizabeth's shoulder. 'Uh, I say we respect his final wish,' he said, smiling at Norrington.

'Aye!' Pintel agreed, and the remaining Black Pearl crew escaped in the longboat.

They watched as Hadrus, holding his conch shell head under one arm, caught up to Norrington who was still holding the chest. 'Your bravery is wasted. I shall pry the chest away from your cold… dead… hands,' he threatened, getting ready to attack Norrington.

Norrington paused, looking around. 'Here you go!' he shouted, throwing the chest at Hadrus and fleeing.

Hadrus dropped his head onto the ground again so he could catch the chest flying towards him. Hadrus' crew-mates laughed, walking off with Hadrus' body, and ignoring his head. 'Uh!?Ando! Aunido! Aunido! Pirates!' the face inside Hadrus' head turned around, becoming a hermit crab and extending its legs. 'Vengo kowmpenay lachay. Hey! Hovaya!' he shouted, running after them.

oOoOo

Back on the Black Pearl, Will was dumped on the deck, lying flat with his head over a grate. Returning to consciousness, he looked around only to find Elizabeth kneeling next to him, while Hermione was sitting on the steps leading up to the wheel. Jack was standing next to her and Gibbs was leaning on the wall to the Captain's Cabin on the other side of her.

Will looked at them all in turn. 'What happened to the chest?' he asked, getting back to his feet, and holding his head which was still spinning.

Elizabeth stood up as well, taking hold of his arm gently. 'Norrington took it to draw them off,' she answered.

Gibbs frowned, looking at Jack. 'Where's the Commodore?' he asked.

Jack looked up at Gibbs. 'He fell behind,' Jack said, looking away thoughtfully.

Gibbs nodded, crossing his arms. 'My prayers be with him. Best not wallow in our grief. The bright side is: You're back. And made it off free and clear,' he said, clapping a hand on Jack's shoulder. The relief slipped away as the Flying Dutchman surfaced alongside them. 'Lord almighty save us,' he whispered in fear.

Jack smiled. 'I'll handle this, mate,' he said, turning towards the Flying Dutchman where Jones was looking back at him murderously. 'Hey! Fishface! Lose something? Hey? Oup!' he shouted, tripping down the stairs of the Pearl. The crew cringed, but he got back to his feet quickly. 'Got it!' he shouted out, strutting across the deck, holding his jar of dirt. 'Come to negotiate, eh, have you, you slimy git? Look what I got. I got a jar of dirt! I got a jar of dirt! And guess what's inside it?' He said, dancing around, but the look on Jones' face only became angrier. Hermione pulled out her wand, suddenly worrying for Jack's safety.

'Enough!' Jones shouted, nodding to his crew and the cannon covers slid down, the cannons emerging from the holes.

Jack paled, turning to his crew. 'Hard to starboard,' he ordered in fear.

'Hard to starboard!' Elizabeth repeated.

Will turned to the crew. 'Brace up the fore-yard!' Will ordered.

Gibbs joined in then, 'Hard to starboard!'

Jones smirked, his tentacles writhing with his anger. 'Send his beloved Pearl back to the depths! Fire!' Jones ordered, and a heavy cannonade fired from the Flying Dutchman at the order, blowing large holes in the Black Pearl.

Pintel and Ragetti looked through the gaping hole in the stern, seeing the Flying Dutchman was following them. Pintel turned to Jack, concern written all over his face. 'She's on us! She's on us!' he shouted in fear.

'Let them taste the triple guns,' Jones ordered.

A cage-faced crew-member turned in his seat. 'Aye, Captain,' he answered, lighting the fuse, and the triple-barrelled cannon fired, the barrel rotating after each blast.

Back on the Black Pearl, the crew were running around the deck doing their part to get the ship moving faster. Will was among them. 'Come on!' he shouted.

Elizabeth leaned over the side, looking at the Flying Dutchman. 'She's falling behind!' she told them in relief.

Gibbs followed suit, looking at the ship. 'Aye, and we've got her!' he said, confirming this.

'We're faster, right?' Hermione asked.

Gibbs nodded. 'Against the wind, the Dutchman beats us. That's how she takes her prey. But with the wind…' he trailed off, and she nodded in understanding.

Will understood as well. 'We rob her advantage,' he said, finishing Gibbs' sentence.

Hermione felt relief, her shoulders sagging. 'Hopefully, the wind won't change then,' she said, and Jack nodded slowly in agreement.

Gibbs agreed, 'Aye!'

oOoOo

Davy Jones was fuming, watching the Black Peal speed off. 'They're out of range!?' he shouted angrily.

Bo'sun looked at him. 'We giving up, sir?' he asked, and Davy shook his head, nodding towards the Kraken calling device. Bo'sun started whipping the crewmen, and they raised the device.

Back on the Pearl, Marty watched as the Flying Dutchman seemed to slow to a halt. 'They're giving up! Yay!' he said, and the crew cheered, but Will, Elizabeth, Jack, and Hermione didn't join in. None of them believed Jones would just give up.

Will turned to Jack. 'My Father is on that ship. If we can outrun her, we can take her. We should turn and fight,' he said to him.

Jack shook his head, getting annoyed at Will. 'Why fight when you can negotiate? All one needs… is the proper leverage,' he said, looking at his jar of dirt. The Black Pearl shook then, badly jarring, and Jack's jar of dirt flew out of his hands, breaking open on the deck, and spilling the contents. Jack ran down to the spilt soil, searching frantically for the heart which was gone. 'Where is it? Where is the thump-thump?' he shouted out, panic beginning to show in his face.

Hermione grabbed hold of the stairs. 'What's going on?' she shouted down to the crew.

Gibbs turned to her. 'We must've hit the reef!' he surmised.

Will shook his head. 'No. It's not a reef! Get away from the rail!' he shouted. The crew moved away from the rails on the ship, wondering what was happening and what Will knew which they didn't.

Hermione reached into her sleeve, noticing her wand was missing. Panicking she searched for it, wondering where it could be. Finally, she found it lying on the deck near to where Jack was still kneeling in the spilt dirt, panic written all over his face.

'What is it?' Elizabeth was asking, looking at Will in confusion and worry.

Will felt the thud again, the ship shaking, and creaking under the attack. 'The Kraken. To arms!' he shouted.

Gibbs quickly turned, issuing orders, 'All guns, defend the masts!'

Will turned to the crew. 'It'll attack the starboard. I've seen it before. Break out the cannons and hold for my signal,' he said to them. With a deep rumbling sound, the Kraken's tentacles slowly crawled up the hull. 'Easy, boys!' he said, waiting.

The tentacles rose higher, and Elizabeth grabbed onto Will in concern. 'Will?' she asked.

Will waited, watching the tentacles. 'Steady! Steady,' he said.

Hermione grasped her wand. 'Will!' she shouted at him.

'Hold. Hold…' he said when the tentacles started feeling around the ship.

Pintel looked at him like he was going mad, or he wanted them all to die. 'I think we've held fire long enough,' he said, getting annoyed.

Elizabeth's grasp on his arm tightened. 'Will?' she screeched.

Will nodded then. 'Fire!' he ordered. The crew fired the cannons, hitting the tentacles, and nearly severing some of them. The Kraken sank into the sea, some tentacles glowing from the blast and the crew cheered. 'It'll be back. We have to get off the ship,' Will told them.

Hermione looked around. 'Uh… there's no boats. How are there no boats? Where are all the boats, Jack?' she asked, turning to him only to find he was no longer there. 'Jack?' she whispered, running to the rail, and seeing him rowing one of the boats away, and her heart sank.

He'd left them all to die… he'd left her to die.

Will looked at Hermione and his eyes turned to the wrecked boats. He noticed the barrels of gunpowder next to them. 'Pull the grates! Get all the gunpowder onto the net in the cargo hold,' he shouted to the crew. He turned to Elizabeth, handing her a long gun. 'Whatever you do, don't miss,' he said.

Elizabeth nodded, worried. 'As soon as you're clear,' she said, taking the gun.

The crew got busy loading the barrels of gunpowder from the hold. Marty was counting them as they were loaded. 'We are short stocked on gunpowder. Six barrels below. Bring it up!' he shouted to them.

Gibbs jaw dropped in shock. 'There's only half a dozen kegs of powder!' he shouted.

Will, hearing this, turned to them. 'Then load the rum!' he suggested.

Gibbs jaw dropped even further in shock, turning to see the entire crew had halted, staring at him in shocked silence. Gibbs braced himself, not believing what he was about to do and nodded. 'Aye! The rum, too!' he agreed reluctantly, and the crew continued loading.

Hermione couldn't even help them; she was too upset at the fact Jack abandoned them. His ship, his crew and, dare she believe, he abandoned her as well? Whatever was happening between them, she thought he cared about her at least a little.

Meanwhile, Jack was sitting in the row-boat alone, rowing away from the Black Pearl. For a moment he stopped, watching the tentacles of the Kraken wrapping around the Pearl in the distance. He turned around, looking in the direction he was heading, the guilt overwhelming him. Looking back at the Black Pearl, he could make out Hermione looking out over the rail at him, and he gripped the oars tighter. Looking down, he consulted his compass, watching the needle spin and settle, pointing in the direction of what his heart craved and wanted most. Making up his mind, he began rowing once more.

Elizabeth ran over to Hermione, trying to pull her away from the railing. She stopped when she noticed Hermione's pained expression, looking out to see what she was staring at so intently and caught sight of Jack rowing away. 'Oh you coward!' she shouted to him. She turned to Hermione, wrapping her arm around her. 'He's not worth it, Hermione!' she said to her.

With a heavy heart, Hermione agreed, turning away with Elizabeth to start trying to help them. Another heavy thud hit the ship, causing a lot of the crewmen to fall to the deck. Hermione grabbed onto the mast. 'This is not good,' she muttered, watching as the tentacles crept up the ship again, and the Kraken attacked again.

Will turned to the crew. 'Pull away!' he shouted.

Gibbs started shouting orders to the crew, 'Heave! Heave like you're being paid for it!' Pintel and Ragetti were standing to one side of a cannon port when a tentacle suddenly pulled one crew member through sideways, and they looked at each other in terror.

Will, realising this wasn't helping, jumped up onto the side of the net of gunpowder barrels, hanging on and attempted to attract the Kraken's attention. 'Come on! I'm over here! Come on!' Will slashed out at the tentacle with his sword. He turned towards Elizabeth who was still holding the rifle. 'Shoot! Elizabeth, shoot!' he shouted to her. Elizabeth aimed, but she hesitated, waiting for Will to fall free of the net.

Unbeknownst to her, one of the Kraken's tentacles wrapped around her leg, and she screamed, getting dragged backwards. Ragetti chopped off the end of the tentacle holding Elizabeth. Another crew-member picked up the rifle, attempting to shoot, but the Kraken grabbed him, flinging him around. The rifle dropped onto the deck near Hermione and in front of Elizabeth. Hermione, noticing one of the tentacles moving to attack Elizabeth again, pointed her wand and shouted the Reducto curse at it. The Kraken quickly retracted its damaged tentacle while Elizabeth reached out for the rifle.

A foot came down on the rifle, and Hermione smiled when she saw Jack lean down, picking up it up. He had come back; he hadn't abandoned them after all. Lifting the rifle and taking aim at the gunpowder, Jack fired the rifle. The ball whistled through the air, striking it and it exploded, causing the Kraken to release its hold, withdrawing its burned tentacles into the ocean with a loud groaning sound.

The ocean became still, and Jack lowered the rifle, dropping it to the deck. Elizabeth got to her feet, and Hermione ran over to Jack, wrapping her arms around him. She pulled back, smacking him on the arm. Jack turned to her. 'Sorry, love,' he said to her, stroking her cheek. She shook her head; she was still annoyed at him.

Marty made his way over to them. 'Did we kill it?' he asked.

Gibbs shook his head. 'No. We just made it angry. We're not out of this yet,' he answered, turning to Jack. 'Captain! Orders!' he asked him.

Jack looked at him, thinking for a moment and closed his eyes when the decision he knew he had to make came to him. 'Abandon ship. Into the longboat,' he ordered them.

Gibbs looked shocked and horrified at this. 'Jack! The Pearl!' he said, shocked that Jack would leave her so quickly.

Jack shook his head. 'She's only a ship, mate,' he said, and Hermione took his hand, suddenly proud of him.

Hermione let go of his hand. 'He's right; we should head for land. It's a lot of open water, but we can make it,' she said.

Will looked at her in slight disgust. 'I suppose you'll use your magic to get us there safely and quickly then, witch?' he said spitefully.

Hermione looked back at him in shock, and the entire crew looked at her. She hadn't told everyone she was a witch yet, and they all seemed scared of her. 'I can explain…' She trailed off, knowing it was no use. She was going to get burned at the stake for her troubles or die here because the crew looked like they wanted to kill her.

'Maybe you should just stay here. The world will be a safer place,' he said, and these words from Will stung her to the core.

Elizabeth turned to him, fuming. 'Will! What is your problem? She has helped us, kept us safe! And you want just to leave her here to die? Who the hell are you!?' she shouted, her voice rising in anger with every word and Will realised Elizabeth accepted her.

Will sighed, realising what an ass he'd been. He looked at Hermione who was fighting back the tears. He went to speak but was suddenly knocked to the ground, his lip bleeding. He looked up to see Jack rubbing his hand, his eyes gleaming in fury, but he didn't say anything. He didn't need to and Will finally accepted he was the one in the wrong. He got back to his feet, watching Jack place a protective arm around Hermione.

Will sighed. 'I'm sorry, Hermione. I just…' he paused. He just what exactly? Acted like a callous twat all because she was not from this time? Because she got forced into pretending to be someone he cared about to avoid being burnt alive at the stake? Whatever his reasons… he realised he should have just accepted it. He could see the hurt, the anger, and the sheer disappointment in her eyes and it pained him to see that. He shook his head. 'I shouldn't have treated you the way I did. I just didn't know what to make of you. I thought you were Cassandra, and when I found out it was all a lie, I thought maybe you'd killed her and stolen her identity, being a witch and all. I realise now I was wrong,' he said, lowering his head, unable to look at her. He felt a hand take his arm and he looked at Elizabeth.

Hermione released the breath she was holding. 'In any case, I'll accept your apology for now. I was in the wrong as well. Right now though, we seriously need to get off this ship,' she said. This made everyone nod in agreement, and although most of the crew still looked at Hermione with distrust and confusion, they didn't say anything about it. Probably because they knew Jack would kill them all if they so much as laid a finger on her.

'Yeah we have to try,' Will said, agreeing with her. 'We can get away as it takes down the Pearl,' he said to them.

Gibbs turned to the crew. 'Abandon ship. Abandon ship or abandon hope!' He ordered them. The crew ran off in different directions, getting ready to leave the Pearl, loading supplies, and guns onto the longboat.

Jack started leading Hermione towards the longboat, but Elizabeth stopped him. 'Thank you, Jack,' she said to him.

'We're not free yet, lass,' Jack answered her.

Elizabeth smiled at Jack where he was still holding onto Hermione protectively. 'You came back. Whether it was for your crew, your ship, or maybe you came back purely for Hermione… I always knew you were a good man,' she said. Her words were sincere, and she leaned over, kissing his cheek.

Jack watched her turn and get into the boat. Something about her words made him stop, realising they wouldn't be safe while he was around… Hermione wouldn't be safe. It was almost like a light switch. He helped Hermione into the boat as Gibbs shouted, 'Prepare to cast off! There's no time to lose! Come on, Will, step to!'

Hermione got into the boat next to Elizabeth and Will. Jack's resolve strengthened… he knew what he had to do. 'Take care of Hermione,' he said, cutting the ropes on the longboat, and it fell into the water.

'Jack!' Hermione screamed at him.

Jack shook his head, smiling down at her. 'It's after me, not any of you. This is the only way. I'll go down with my ship as any respectable Captain should. I know now you'll be safe… I'm sorry,' he said to her. He turned away then, not wanting to see the look in Hermione's eyes anymore, but he did catch a glimpse of respect from Will and Elizabeth. Nobody would have thought Jack would think of anyone else except himself, and he'd just proved them all wrong. He looked down at the boat which wasn't going anywhere. 'Get out of here you fools!' he ordered them. The crew looked uncertain, but they cast off because they had to go by the Captain's orders.

Jack watched them go, not at all sorry for the decision he made. He stood in the middle of the deck, a coconut, and a cannonball rolled by on the tilted deck. He closed his eyes when the Kraken rose up behind him, and he slowly turned to face it, sword in hand. The Kraken roared, spraying Jack with slime and flinging his earlier-eaten hat onto the deck. 'Not so bad,' he muttered. He then spotted his old hat lying next to his feet. 'Oh!' he said, leaning down, and picking it up, putting it on. Grimacing, he wiped the slime from his face. Sighing, he raised his sword. 'Hello, beastie,' he said with a smirk. Jack charged boldly towards the Kraken's mouth, his sword drawn and ready to at least hurt it.

Davy Jones watched from the deck of the Flying Dutchman as the Kraken pulled the Black Pearl beneath the ocean. 'Jack Sparrow. Our debt is settled,' he said, smirking.

Koleniko nodded. 'The Captain goes down with his ship,' he said.

Maccus laughed. 'Turns out not even Jack Sparrow can best the devil,' he agreed.

Jones turned towards the chest quickly. 'Open the chest. Open the chest, I need to see it!' he ordered them. Maccus opened the chest and Jones looked in, his face quivering when he took in the empty chest. Jones tilted his head back, shouting, 'Damn you, Jack Sparrow!'

oOoOo

Meanwhile back in Port Royal, Mercer was standing in front of Beckett updating him on the current situation. 'The last of our ships have returned,' he revealed.

Beckett nodded, not looking at him. 'Is there any news on the chest?' he asked him.

Mercer shook his head. 'None. But... one of the ships did pick up a man adrift at sea. He had these,' he advised, dropping the Letters of Marque onto the desk in front of Beckett.

Beckett looked up at Norrington who was standing there the entire time. He opened the letter, looking at it. Norrington smirked. 'I took the liberty of filling in my name,' he advised him.

Beckett beckoned Norrington with two fingers. 'If you intend to claim these, then you must have something to trade. Do you have the Compass?' he said to him.

Norrington shook his head, reaching into his vest. 'Better. The heart of Davy Jones,' he told him, and Beckett raised his eyebrows.

oOoOo

The remaining crew of the Black Pearl paddled slowly through the waters to Tia Dalma's shack. Many natives were standing in the waters surrounding the cabin, holding candles, and mourning Jack Sparrow. Hermione lowered her head, hiding the tears she couldn't stop from falling. 

They went inside the shack after dismounting from the longboat and were greeted by a forlorn Tia Dalma. Will was absent-mindedly throwing his Father's knife onto the table top while Tia walked around them all, offering them mugs of rum. She stopped next to Hermione. 'Against de cold… and de sorrow,' she said sadly. Hermione took a mug, but she didn't drink. Tia placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, but she looked over at Will. 'It's a shame. I know you're t'inking that wid the Pearl, you coulda captured the devil and set free your Fadder's soul,' she deduced.

Will looked at her before resuming his knife throwing. 'Doesn't matter now. The Pearl's gone. Along with its Captain,' he muttered.

Gibbs was standing in the doorway on the side of the shack. 'Aye. And already the world seems a bit less bright. He fooled us all right to the end. But I guess that honest streak finally won out,' he said, shaking his head. 'To Jack Sparrow!' he shouted, raising his mug.

Ragetti was rubbing his fake eye. 'Never another like Captain Jack,' he said, sadly.

Pintel nodded, taking a drink. 'He was a gentleman of fortune, he was,' he agreed.

Hermione lowered her head. 'He cared...' she trailed off, unable to stop the fresh tears from entering her eyes.

Elizabeth nodded. 'He was a good man,' she said. They all took a drink from their mugs except Elizabeth and Hermione.

Will looked at Hermione, where she sat away from them all in the corner. He could tell she was crushed at losing Jack. He believed Hermione had grown to love the pirate just as much as he knew Jack had fallen hook, line, and sinker for her. Will looked at Tia. 'Is there anything that could be done to bring him back?' he asked her, and Hermione's head shot up, her expression hopeful.

Tia looked at them all, her eyes finally landing on Hermione. 'Would you do it? Hmmm? What… would you? Hmmm? What would any of you be willing to do? Hmmm? Would you sail to the ends of the eart', and beyond, to fetch back witty Jack and 'im precious Pearl?' she asked them.

Hermione stood up. 'I'd do anything,' she said straight away.

All the other crew members agreed, along with Will and Elizabeth and choruses of 'Aye's.' filled the room.

Tia nodded, smiling a brown-toothed grin at their answers. 'All right. But if you're goin' brave de weird, and haunted shores, at world's end, den… you will need a Captain who knows dose waters,' she said. She looked up when the thudding noise of boots against the wooden staircase reached her ears, and her grin widened.

The man who came down the stairs was none other than Captain Barbossa biting into a green apple, the juice dribbling down his chin. 'So tell me, what's become of my ship?' he said, and Jack the monkey snarled then, trying to speed up the answer.

Chapter Text

Chapter Nineteen: The Stage is Set

Port Royal was silent, except for the sounds of chains dragging along the ground. One by one, soldiers led pirates to their final reward: the gallows. Their hands and feet were in shackles, clanking off the wooden steps. There was an air of expectancy, hanging like a thick blanket over the crowd of onlookers.

A pirate cabin boy stood on the gallows, a noose being fit around his neck. Among the pirates in line, they started humming a song. The boy closed his eyes, humming along with the song. When he opened his eyes again, he started singing. 'Yo, ho, haul together, hoist the colours high... heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die...' he sang, focusing on the song, and not those who only came to see him hang.

The boy closed his eyes, opening his hand, and dropping a silver coin. It tumbled to the ground, revealing it to be a silver piece of eight. It was irregular in shape, golden light glinting off its rough surface. He looked down at it sadly. 'The king and his men stole the queen from her bed, and bound her in her bones...' he sang out, tears filling his eyes.

The pirate next to him joined in. 'The seas be ours and by the powers where we will... we'll roam...' he sang out, tears filling his eyes as well.

Among the crowd, watching the hangings, was Cutler Beckett. He was standing with officers of the East India Trading Company, frowning at the waiting prisoners as more of them picked up the song.

'Yo, ho, haul together, hoist the colours high... heave ho, thieves and beggars, never say we die...' they all sang out as one.

Beckett watched for a moment, no emotion showing on his face. He made eye contact with the soldier at the gallows and gave him a nod. The wood squeaked, and there was a thunk as the trap door beneath the gallows opened.

Next to the gallows, the line of pirates watched with dread and fascination as the boy danced his final dance. They led another pirate, an old man, to the noose, and he started to sing. 'Some men have died, and some are alive. And others sail on the sea... with the keys to the cage..., and the devil to pay... we lay to Fiddler's Green!' he shouted the last part, looking past the crowd to the sky beyond them.

At the gallows, another squeak and thunk filled the air, and there was a cry as the hapless pirate fell to his doom.

The pirates in line started to sing again. 'Yo, ho, haul together, hoist the colours high. HEAVE HO, THIEVES AND BEGGARS, NEVER SHALL WE DIE!' they shouted out the last part of the song.

They pulled the lever, and another pirate swung, the rope tightening. This rhythm quickened, and Beckett smiled when there was now over a dozen pirates dangling at the end of their ropes. A final pirate dropped down, his feet twitching in his boots.

oOoOo

A silver piece of eight landed on a table, spinning and wobbling to a stop. A man with dreads, threaded through with beads, stared out a window, the weight of ill news in his eyes.

Behind him on the table where the piece of eight lay next to a candle, was an open envelope, and a letter. He walked over to the table, picking up the coin, and clutched it. His eyes were full of sorrow and anger when he looked back at the letter. The words "Pirate Lord of Madagascar" was printed on the front in thick, black ink.

The candle blew out...

oOoOo

A small boat emerged from the gloom in Singapore harbour, seating Elizabeth and Hermione. They were using long poles to navigate it through the maze of pylons. Junks crammed together around ramshackle docks, crisscrossing shadows coming from hanging lamps.

Elizabeth and Hermione were singing, trying to look as innocent as possible. 'The bell has been raised from its watery grave... do you hear its sepulchral tone?' they sang out.

They moved under the docks, rowing past raised platforms. An old lady was crouching, gutting fish; an artisan was blowing glass over a coal fire. There was a laughing boy outside a fireworks shed, lighting a pinwheel. It started spinning wildly, sparks flying from it.

Hermione looked up at the wall, seeing the shadow of a monkey racing past, and her apprehension grew. The whole place was weird and surreal. She kept singing with Elizabeth. 'A call to all, pay heed the squall...' they trailed off, getting out of the boat, and tying it to the bowline. They continued singing, '...and turn your sails toward home! Yo ho, haul together—' they cut off upon hearing approaching feet. Hermione looked up, seeing East India Company Men, Mercer among them, approaching them. They lowered their heads, retying the line as they passed them. When they were safe, they started singing again. 'Raise the colours high! Heave ho—'

An unknown voice joined them, causing them to stop, and look for the newcomer. '...thieves and beggars, never say we die,' he sang, and three guards appeared out of the sewer pipe near to them. Tai Huang, their leader, appeared to them, looking down at them sceptically. 'A dangerous song to be singing, for any who are ignorant of its meaning. Particularly two women. Particularly two women alone,' he said to them, eyeing them with interest.

'What makes you think they're alone?' Came another voice from behind the guards. They turned to find Barbossa smiling at them.

Huang looked at him. 'You protect them?' he asked him, turning his back on Elizabeth and Hermione.

Hermione smirked at him. 'What makes you think we need protection?' she asked him, while Elizabeth stood behind him with a knife at his throat.

Barbossa chuckled, looking at Huang. 'Your Master is expecting us,' he announced smugly. He looked at Elizabeth, taking her arm, and lowering the knife. 'And an unexpected death would cast a slight pall on our meeting,' he said to her, and she nodded.

Huang looked closer at the pirate Captain. 'You're Captain Barbossa,' he deduced.

Barbossa nodded. 'Aye. And they are Elizabeth and Cassandra Swann. And Sao Feng has promised us safe passage,' he told him.

Huang nodded. 'For as long as it suits him,' he said, shrugging lightly. He turned, motioning for them to follow him. After a moment of walking, he held up his hand for them to stop. East India Company Agents ran past them, and once they were gone, he gestured for them to follow him into the sewer pipe.

oOoOo

Gibbs looked up at the East India Company Agents keeping a lookout on the bridge above them. In the water, a dozen or so coconuts floated by lazily with the current, and one of them rose up revealing it to be the top of Pintel's head. Others started rising out of the water, coconut shells getting worn like helmets by Ragetti, Cotton, and Marty.

They were carrying oilskin bundles, taking out large rasps. They waited, poised to file through the bars of a metal grate. Gibbs looked up again, watching the Agents turn away at the sound of squeaking wheels.

Tia Dalma was pushing a cart carrying bird cages with twittering canaries, potions, bottles, and bags of flour. Cotton's parrot perched on top of one of the cages, while Jack the Monkey turned the crank of an organ.

Beneath the bridge, Gibbs and his crew started sawing through the grate, the noise of scraping metal covered by the music.

oOoOo

Huang led Barbossa, Elizabeth, and Hermione toward the door of a low-slung, decrepit bathhouse. The three were conferring in whispers. 'Have we heard anything from Will?' Elizabeth was asking, looking at Barbossa.

Hermione nodded. 'Yeah, it has been a while since he sent word to us,' she said in worry.

Since he apologised, Will had made a considerable effort to bridge the gap between himself and Hermione. She was grateful he was trying, but she was still upset with him. Some of the things he said to her had cut her deep, and she hadn't entirely forgiven him yet.

Barbossa smirked a this, looking at the two of them. 'The whelp is more than capable of taking care of himself,' he answered them. He gave them both a serious look, almost like a Grandfather would if he was telling them off for not behaving. 'But you, in the presence of Sao Feng, you'll both be wanting to show a bit more diffidence than is your custom,' he warned them.

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. 'He's that terrifying, is he?' she asked him in amusement.

Hermione chuckled. 'I think we've faced worse,' she told him.

Barbossa chuckled as well, looking at them. 'He's much like myself, absent my merciful nature and sense of fair play,' he answered them.

They reached a door, and Huang rapped out a signal. A slit opened, and eyes scanned him for a moment. The slit closed again, and the door opened.

oOoOo

Under the bridge, Pintel and Ragetti continued filing with the saw, trying to get through the grate. The music above them suddenly stopped without warning, and Ragetti filed one stroke too far with wide eyes.

Above them, one of the Agents was regarding Jack the Monkey, holding him up with the tip of his sword. The other Agent was poking at the cart. One of them cleared his throat, looking at Tia. 'You can't be here,' he told her.

Tia Dalma lifted her face then, showing them she is blind. 'Yer Mother always knew it be you who threw da linens down da well. But she forgave you fer it,' she said, tilting her head.

The Agent looked back at her in shock. 'How did you know that?' he asked her in fear.

'The canaries,' she answered, grinning a black-teeth smile. The Agent's jumped back in fright, and Jack the Monkey went back to grinding the organ, picking the music up.

Under the bridge, Pintel and Ragetti returned to sawing through the grate.

oOoOo

Barbossa, Elizabeth, and Hermione followed Huang into the bathhouse. He stopped, turning to them and barring their way. 'No weapons. Remove them, please,' he said to them.

Barbossa nodded. 'Of course,' he said instantly. Barbossa and Elizabeth removed their swords and pistols. Hermione didn't remove anything because she didn't have anything to remove. She already placed her wand into Barbossa's pocket, putting a sticking charm on it.

They tried to move on, but Huang stopped Elizabeth. 'Did you think because she is a woman, we would not suspect her of treachery?' he asked them. Hermione frowned, not feeling as confident anymore. She hoped they wouldn't suspect Barbossa of the same... If they found her wand, she didn't know what she would do.

Barbossa smiled at him. 'When you put it that way...' he trailed off, nodding to Elizabeth.

Huang looked at her. 'Remove, please,' he ordered.

Elizabeth glared at him, stripping off her coat, and Huang took it from her, revealing two swords in hidden scabbards in the lining. Again, they tried to go past him, but he stopped Hermione and Elizabeth this time with a smile.

Hermione frowned. 'I don't have anything on me,' she said, turning around and shaking her coat.

He watched her for a moment and nodded. 'Remove your coat, please,' he said to her. Hermione looked back in confusion but shrugged and did as he asked. She handed him her coat. He checked it, looking in the pockets, and found she didn't have anything. 'We needed to make sure, you understand?' He said to her, and Hermione nodded. She realised he wasn't giving her the coat back, and he placed it with Elizabeth's. He turned back to Elizabeth. 'Remove. Please,' he said again, and Elizabeth gave him an indignant look.

Eventually, Elizabeth had to remove all her clothes because they didn't trust her, and they gave her a short robe to cover herself with. Hermione looked over at her, feeling sorry for her. She would have hated to be in her shoes. Hermione had always been self-conscious, and looking at the expression on Elizabeth's face, she knew the older woman was the same.

The three companions followed a dragon tattooed, half-naked pirate into the bath house. They moved past algae-covered tubs and leaky, rusted pipes. Hermione looked around at the assembled pirates, realising they all had the same dragon tattoo, and she wondered what it meant.

They reached a room with a large bath where a man was bathing with two women. Hermione assumed this was Sao Feng. When they approached, Sao Feng stepped out of the tub, and two attendants, in corset outfits, started dressing him in full pirate garb. Sao Feng did not acknowledge them, and Hermione thought this was just plain rude. She stepped forward to say something, but Barbossa placed a hand on her arm and gave her a warning look. She took a step back, glaring at Sao Feng instead.

Barbossa knew how Sao Feng worked. He never acknowledged others first so he figured he would need to speak first. He stepped forward, bowing a little. 'Captain Sao Feng. Thank you for granting me this audience,' he greeted with a smile.

Sao Feng turned then, looking at them like he hadn't seen them come in. 'Captain Barbossa! Welcome to Singapore,' he greeted back. He turned to a guard. 'More steam,' he ordered to him. The guard nodded, moving over to the wall and banging on it.

oOoOo

Two short attendants, who worked the boiler and bellow system which fed steam into the bathhouse above, heard the banging. They moved to start working on getting more steam. Gibbs watched them for a moment, crawling out of a tunnel near them. Pintel, Ragetti, Cotton crawled out after him, and Marty, who didn't need to crawl, followed them out.

Gibbs' gestured for them to follow him, turning in the direction of the attendants. They all looked at each other, smiling when they all had the same thought process. This would be easy.

They moved forward, intending on taking them out when a giant attendant came into view. They stopped, realising this could become problematic. Ragetti backed away, trying to go back into the tunnel, but Gibbs grabbed him by his collar. 'None of that,' he whispered, looking at them. 'If things don't go the way we want, then we're the only chance we have it won't go as bad as we expect,' he reminded them. They all nodded, looking back at the giant attendant, and gulping in fear.

oOoOo

Back in the bathhouse, steam issued out from the pipes, and Sao Feng leaned over a vent, waving it into his face. 'I understand that you have a request to make of me...?' he asked Barbossa.

Barbossa nodded. 'And a proposal to make to you,' he answered, and Sao Feng looked at him in intrigue. 'I've a venture underway, and I find myself in need of a ship and crew,' he said to him, hoping he would agree.

Sao Feng laughed heartily, and Barbossa's smile wavered. 'And you consider me worthy of such an honour? A ship and crew...' he trailed off, chuckling to himself. 'Huh. That's an odd coincidence,' he said to them.

Hermione narrowed her eyes at the man, wondering what he was getting at. 'Because you happen to have a ship and crew you don't need?' she asked him, a little sceptical, but she backed off at the warning glance Barbossa shot at her.

Sao Feng looked at her in amusement. 'No. Because earlier this day, not far from here, a thief broke into my most revered uncle's temple and tried to make off with these...' he trailed off, moving over to a wizened old man who was clutching ancient charts to his chest. Sao Feng tried to take them, but the old man didn't want to let them go. Sao Feng looked at him murderously, and the man released them. Sao Feng turned back to them. 'Navigational charts. The route to the Farthest Gate,' he said, and Barbossa's smile faltered even more at these words. 'Wouldn't it be amazing if this venture of yours took you to the world beyond this one?' he asked them with a chuckle.

Barbossa nodded, shifting to his other leg. 'It would strain credulity, at that,' he answered nonchalantly.

Hermione looked between Barbossa and Elizabeth worriedly. She mentioned to them earlier she didn't think this plan would work, and she felt she was right. She looked at Sao Feng who was gazing at Barbossa levelly, and she just knew something terrible was about to happen.

He turned, nodding to two guards who were standing near one of the baths. They reached into a tank, hauling a figure out, and dragging him forward. Hermione closed her eyes, realising it was Will. He was gasping for breath, and Sao Feng grabbed him by the hair, displaying him to them.

He looked at them all in turn. 'This is the thief. Is his face familiar to you?' he asked them. None of them moved, they all played it cool so they wouldn't give away their involvement in this. Sao Feng studied them carefully, and he shrugged, picking up a huge knife. 'No? Then I guess he has no further need for it,' he said, preparing to stab Will. Hermione closed her eyes, feeling Elizabeth tense next to her. Sao Feng stopped, spotting this, and his pleasant demeanour vanished. He looked at them angrily. 'You come into my city, you seek my indulgence and largesse, and you betray my hospitality? You betray me?' he said to them in disbelief.

Barbossa shook his head. 'Sao Feng, I assure you, I had no idea—'

'—that he would get caught,' Sao Feng finished, cutting him off. He stared at him, and Barbossa shrugged. There was no point in denying it any further. Sao Feng was no fool, and he figured out what they were doing. Hermione realised this straight away, but she still worried about their safety. There were a lot of guards in the room. Sao Feng looked at them all in curiosity. 'You intend to attempt a voyage to Davy Jones' locker. And I cannot help but wonder why?' he asked them.

'Jack...' Hermione whispered, looking down at the ground sadly. Whenever she thought about him, she could feel her heart shattering even more. She missed him so much, it physically hurt.

Sao Feng's eyes shot to her. 'What did you say girl?' He asked her. Hermione didn't answer, looking at Barbossa instead who tossed something to Sao Feng. He caught it and examined it. It was a piece of eight. 'A piece of eight,' he said, looking up at Barbossa. 'It's true, then?' he asked him.

Barbossa nodded. 'Aye. The time is upon us. We must convene the Brethren Court,' he said, and Sae Feng looked back at the piece of eight.

Hermione frowned. 'What's the Brethren Court?' she asked them.

Barbossa looked over at her. 'Pirate council,' he answered.

'You have a council?' She asked, surprised by this. Of all the things she had learned about pirates, it never crossed her mind they would have a council. What would they need a council for?

Barbossa nodded. 'Aye, there are rules we must follow, after all,' he answered, and Sao Feng nodded in agreement to this.

Sao Feng looked at the vents, realising there was no steam. He banged on the wall, twice. 'More steam!' he shouted, but there was no reply, and no steam came out.

oOoOo

Marty looked up, hearing the banging on the wall and the shouting. He was sitting on top of the enormous attendant, tightening a knot, while Cotton was puzzling out the boiler mechanism.

Gibbs, Pintel, and Ragetti moved out of the room, further into the bathhouse.

oOoOo

Sao Feng leaned over, breathing in the soothing steam now pouring out from the vents. He turned to Barbossa. 'The Court has not met in my lifetime,' he stated to him, breathing in more steam.

Barbossa nodded thoughtfully. 'Nor mine,' he revealed to him. This shocked Hermione because Barbossa wasn't exactly young.

Sao Feng reached up, toying with a Captain's knot pendant hanging around his neck. 'And when last it did, my Father told me, it ended... badly,' he said with a frown. Hermione could see he was not comfortable at the thought of having to attend one of these meetings.

Barbossa smirked at this, remembering what his Father told him about the last meeting. 'But the time before that, it produced the Code, which has served us well... And it was the very first meeting what gave us no less than rule of the sea herself, didn't it? And now that rule is being challenged,' he told him.

Sao Feng's eyes widened. 'The East India Trading Company,' he stated, and Barbossa nodded.

'Lord Cutler Beckett is a pox on us all,' Barbossa stated, shaking his head, his thoughts on the man who was hunting down the pirates mercilessly.

oOoOo

Under the bathhouse, Gibbs and his crew were unrolling the oilskin bundles they were carrying with them. Inside were swords, pistols, and grenades. They moved about the room, placing the grenades in the floor joists.

Ragetti's attention drew to a knothole, and he peeked through. He tilted his head, getting a better angle with his wooden eye. This caught Pintel's attention, and he moved over to him. Ragetti looked at him, and pointed up, mouthing, 'Elizabeth!'

Above them, Sao Feng sighed. 'There is a price on all our heads, it is true. It seems the only way a pirate can turn a profit anymore...' he paused, regarding Will with irritation before continuing, 'is by betraying other pirates,' he clarified, turning back to Barbossa. 'But pirates are either Captain or crew, and nine squabbling Captains trying to chart a course is eight Captains too many. Against the company, what value is the Brethren Court? What can any of us do?' he asked them, looking from Barbossa to Elizabeth to Hermione, and back to Barbossa again.

'You can fight,' Hermione said, and all eyes turned to her. She suddenly felt uncomfortable, realising she said it out loud.

Beneath them, unknown to any of them, Pintel shoved Ragetti aside to peer through the knothole. He watched Elizabeth step forward. 'You are Sao Feng, the Pirate Lord of Singapore,' she said, moving closer to him. 'You command in the Age of Piracy, where bold Captains sail free waters. Where waves are not measured in feet, but increments of fear. Those who pass the test become legend,' she said, and the guard with the huge dragon tattoo moved forward, placing a hand on her shoulder. Elizabeth shrugged him off. 'Would you have that era come to an end on your watch?' she asked him, and Sao Feng looked back at her thoughtfully.

Hermione smiled, silently cheering the older girl on. She knew Elizabeth had always been fantastic with her knowledge about pirates. She probably knew more than most of the pirates themselves, with the number of books she read on them.

Beneath them, Pintel flinched back at the sight above him. He looked at Pintel in dismay. 'What are you smoking?' he mouthed to him.

Above them, Elizabeth took a few more steps forward until she was standing about a metre away from Sao Feng. 'But here you are... Your ships crowd the harbour, rotting on their lines, while you cower in your bath water!' she shouted at him.

Sao Feng was silent for a moment, regarding her thoughtfully. He started circling her. 'Elizabeth Swann... there is more to you than meets the eye, isn't there? And the eye does not go wanting,' he said, smiling charmingly at her, and she couldn't help smiling back at him. He looked away from her, looking between Barbossa and Hermione. 'But I can't help but notice you both failed to answer my questions,' he said, looking at Hermione first. 'What was it you mumbled, girl?' he asked her, turning his eyes to Barbossa. 'And what is it you seek in Davy Jones' Locker?' he asked them, looking between them again.

Hermione took a deep breath. 'Jack Sparrow,' she told him. 'In answer to both your questions,' she added, and he eyed her with curiosity. Sao Feng froze, and the room went dead still. Hermione wondered why his name had this effect on them all. 'Something I said?' she asked the silent room.

Will was the one to speak, breaking the uncomfortable silence. 'He's one of the Pirate Lords,' he said, and Hermione looked at him in confusion. This was news to her. She never knew Jack was a Pirate Lord. The title suited him well, and she couldn't help the little smile which flitted onto her face.

One of the twins giggled at the name but stopped at the glare Sao Feng shot at her. The other twin was trying to hide her smile, while Sao Feng worked to conceal his rage. 'The only reason I would want Jack Sparrow returned from the realm of the dead is so I can send him back myself,' he stated.

Hermione gave him a glare at these words. Barbossa moved forward, placing a hand on her arm to stop her from saying or doing something she would regret. She didn't say anything, but her fists tightened into fists, her knuckles turning white. Barbossa couldn't help smirking at her reaction. So, it was true Jack and Hermione were something more. This interested Barbossa, only because he always knew Jack to be a wanderer. He never dreamed Jack would ever settle for one woman. He was curious to see how long the union would last once he was back.

Shaking out of his thoughts, he turned back to the fuming pirate captain. 'Exactly why we preferred his name go unmentioned,' he said, sighing exasperatedly.

Sao Feng glared at him, but then he looked past him, seeing the dragon tattoo on one of his guards was melting. 'So you admit you have deceived me?' he asked Barbossa, turning to look back at him.

Barbossa shook his head. 'Jack Sparrow holds one of the Nine Pieces of Eight! He failed to pass it along to a successor before he died. And so, we must go and fetch him back—' he cut himself off when Sao Feng's eyes moved to Huang, directing him towards the guard.

'Weapons!' Sao Feng shouted out. The men and women in the room produced weapons from the tubs.

Under the bathhouse, Gibbs and the others exchanged a glance, realising things were bad. They prepared themselves for the worst.

Above them, Barbossa, Elizabeth, and Hermione found themselves at the centre of a ring of weapons pointed at them. Barbossa looked at Sao Feng. 'I assure you our intentions are strictly honourable,' he said, spreading his hands wide. Suddenly, from under the floor, swords flew up, and Barbossa found himself holding one in each hand. Elizabeth had two swords as well, and she tossed one of them to Will who was still across the room. Hermione, unnoticed, grabbed her wand from Barbossa's pocket, slipping it up her sleeve. In her hand, she held a sword as well, even though she had no idea how to use it.

They looked over at Sao Feng who was holding his long knife at Steng's neck. 'Drop your weapons, or I kill your man!' he shouted at them.

Barbossa frowned, and Sao Feng looked at them all in turn. They all looked at each other in confusion. Barbossa shrugged. 'Kill him. He's not our man,' he answered him.

Hermione looked at the man in confusion. 'If he's not with you, and he's not with us... who is he with?' she asked the silent room, and they all looked at each in confusion.

The question hung in the air, but it was quickly answered when East India Company Agents stormed into the bathhouse, crashing through the windows. Instantly, the pirates all turned, back to back, to face this new threat. Sao Feng spun away from Steng to fight. Will grabbed another sword from below, and waded into battle.

Under the floor, Pintel and Ragetti chuckled while lighting the fuse of a grenade attached to one of the joists. They ducked away as it exploded, rocking the bathhouse, and half the floorboards dropped down, creating a ramp. Gibbs, Marty, Cotton, Pintel, and Ragetti rushed in, firing pistols, and joined in the fighting.

Hermione pulled out her wand, moving to the wall and shot every jinx, curse, and hex she could remember in her arsenal of spells. She did this discreetly, trying not to draw attention to herself. They would burn her at the stake if they realised what she was. She turned to the door when Mercer strode in with a phalanx of soldiers.

One of the twins moved to attack him with her sword, but he shot her, killing her at point-blank range. The other twin, enraged, pulled a chopstick out of her hair, setting after him for vengeance. The other pirates started fleeing and scattering, trying to buy more sand for their hourglasses.

Hermione's eyes widened when she realised Barbossa and company were fleeing down the ramps already, and she took off after them. The last thing she needed or wanted was for them to leave her behind. She followed them down the ramps, up ladders, and they swung across ropes. She glanced at her hands when she reached the next ramp, red raw from rope burn, but she didn't have time to fix it. The Agents were taking chase, firing their pistols at them, and engaging others with swords.

Amid the fighting, Pintel noticed a stack of crates falling towards Steng, and he pushed him out of the way, saving his life. Steng smiled at Pintel in thanks, but then he suddenly attacked him, and Pintel jumped back. 'Hey! You're a pirate!' he shouted in shock. Steng ignored him, slashing again, and Pintel fell backwards over a rail.

Barbossa, Elizabeth, Cotton, and Marty were taking on an array of Agents, while Hermione stayed behind them, firing off spells. Thankfully, they hadn't seemed to notice her. She wondered if they thought she had a pistol or something.

She looked around, noticing Agents were crouching behind the push-cart of Tia Dalma. The canaries flew away from it, through the open doors of their cages. The Agents watched them in confusion, and Hermione pointed her wand at it, whispering a spell. The sound of sizzling came from the cart, and the Agents started running away just as it exploded.

On a platform, the wall collapsed, knocking Mercer back into the shadows. He reached up, pulling a chopstick out of his shoulder... and then the other. He took a painful breath, looking up to see the twin seeking vengeance on him, smirking at him.

Will came around a bamboo scrim, and Sao Feng grabbed him. He put a knife to Will's throat, watching the fighting, gunfire, and explosions through the scrim. 'Odd coincidence, isn't it? The East India Trading Company finds me the day you show up in Singapore,' he said to him angrily.

Will shook his head, careful not to cut himself on the knife. 'It is coincidence only,' he answered, twisting away and flashing his knife. Sao Feng blocked the attack. Unknown to both of them, Mercer grinned and drew his pistol, aiming. Will turned back to Sao Feng. 'You want to cut a deal with Beckett? You need what I offer,' he said to him.

Mercer cocked his pistol, ready to fire it, but he hesitated, listening to what they were saying. Sao Feng scoffed at him. 'You crossed Barbossa, and you're willing to cross Jack Sparrow... Why should I expect any better?' he asked him curiously.

Will smirked. 'They are in the way of what I want. You're helping me get it,' he answered him.

Sao Feng thought about it for a moment, finally accepting this logic. He raised his eyebrows at him. 'You betray me, and I will slit your throat,' he warned him, his eyes glinting dangerously in the flickering light from the fires around them.

Will agreed readily. 'Then we have an understanding,' he told him. They lowered their knives then, and Sao Feng handed Will the charts.

Unknown to Will, Sao Feng, and Mercer, there was another pair of eyes watching them. Hermione frowned at Will, wondering what he was up to. She decided not to mention this to anyone just yet, but she had a feeling Will was going to betray them.

oOoOo

On the docks, Jack the Monkey lit a rocket which shot across the water into the fireworks shed. It exploded, and the shed tilted over, splashing into the water. Barbossa, Elizabeth, and Hermione reached the platform where Will was waiting for them, standing with Tai Huang. Barbossa clicked his fingers, and Jack the Monkey ran to him, alighting on his shoulder. He turned back to Will, noticing something in his hand. 'You have the charts!' he shouted out in confusion.

Will smiled. 'And better,' he said, indicating to Huang. 'A ship and crew,' he told them.

Hermione looked at him suspiciously, while Elizabeth looked around. 'Where's Sao Feng?' she asked him.

Will looked behind them, back towards the bathhouses. 'He will cover our escape, then meet us at Shipwreck Cove,' he told them.

Huang nodded, gesturing them to follow him. 'This way. Be quick,' he said to them.

Barbossa nodded, and they all followed Huang away. Hermione walked a little slower, her eyes on Will. What had he been talking about back at the bathhouse? What did he want that Sao Feng could help him get? And why were Barbossa and Jack in the way? She wanted to believe Will only tricked his way into getting the charts, a ship, and crew, but he had become just like any other pirate.

She felt a lump in her throat... most pirates only cared for themselves, and they would do anything to get what they wanted. Jack used to be the same, but something made him change. It was like Jack and Will swapped places somewhere down the line... Will was becoming a pirate. Just like they said it was in his blood. Whereas Jack became selfless, proving he was a good man underneath the pirate stature he had. She realised she didn't know who Will was anymore... and when she looked at him, she knew if she had to choose who to defend...

It would always be Jack.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty: Edge of the World

Hermione leaned against the railing while the Hai Peng sailed out of the harbour. The night sky was glowing from the fires burning in Singapore, the smoke covering the stars above. Looking to her left, she noticed Will a few metres away tying some rope around the barrels, securing them in place. She fingered her wand, hoping she wouldn't ever have to use it against him. If he betrayed them… she didn't want to think about it. Hell, he would be hurting Elizabeth more than anyone.

She looked out at the sea while Barbossa confronted Will. She closed her eyes, tuning in to what they were saying. 'You weren't supposed to get caught,' Barbossa said, leaning against the railing next to where he was still tying the barrels.

Will stopped, looking up at him. 'It worked out the way I wanted,' he said with a shrug.

He walked away from him, passing by Hermione who was looking out over the rail at Singapore. There were dozens of ships clustered on the shore. Elizabeth came to stand next to her, looking at Singapore as well. 'There's no place left for him to cower. Do you think he will honour the call?' she said, but it wasn't Hermione who answered.

'I cannot say. Der be somet’in on de seas dat even de most staunch an’ bloodt’irsty pirates have come to fear,' Tia Dalma said, stepping up behind her.

Hermione shook her head, wondering what she would be doing now if she was at home in the future. Voldemort was dead… so, would life still be good without the adventures with Harry and Ron? She would have them, and this would make it enjoyable. Without all the excitement of knowing danger was right around the corner, would this bore her?

She missed them.

If there was a chance she could go home, she wasn't sure she would go even if it meant being with them again. The adventures she had here and the things she learned… the future was more like a dream now than her reality. She couldn't even remember how long she had been in the past for.

She hoped Ron recovered, and they weren't trying to find her. With any luck, Dumbledore explained to them about what happened and where she was. She frowned when the thought crossed her mind that all this wasn't Dumbledore's plan. What if someone else left the book there, forcing her to come to the past.

A chill ran down her spine at the thought…

It made her wonder if there was even a reason why she was in the past. So far, nothing jumped out at her making her believe this was the case. She was just a witch, in a different time, helping pirates…

She closed her eyes, picturing the good times with Harry and Ron. If she did get a chance to go home… maybe she would. Even just to be with them again, like old times. It would be a future without the impending doom of Voldemort over their heads. Life would be peaceful…

Could she live with it?

oOoOo

Out in the Caribbean Sea, the Dutchman surfaced with its cannon ports open. The cannons fired immediately with no time for reloading. The pirate ships around were hit on their broadsides, and their cannons returned fire.

This continued for a while before the Dutchman’s cannons went silent, smoke drifting out from their cannon barrels. She sailed through the smoke from the burning wreckages regally.

There was a single ship left, sailing majestically on the horizon; the Endeavor. Within the Cabin, several officers were pouring over a map of the world, models of vessels representing squadrons. A piece of eight spun on a desktop until a hand slammed down on it. Beckett picked it up, examining it closely. On the desktop, next to where the piece of eight was spinning, was the Dead Man's Chest.

Beckett looked up at Mercer. 'A piece of eight. Nine of them, you said?' he asked him.

Mercer nodded. 'Our new friend in Singapore was very specific, sir. Nine pieces of eight,' he told him.

Beckett nodded thoughtfully, looking back at the piece of eight. 'What is the significance of that, I wonder?' he asked to no one in particular.

Mercer shrugged. 'Does it matter? There's nothing which can hold against the Armada,' he said, tapping a finger on his chest. 'Not with the Flying Dutchman at the lead,' he added.

Beckett nodded, tilting his head in thought. 'Nothing we know of,' he murmured, placing the piece of eight back on the desk and spinning it again. 'Did our friend happen to mention where the Brethren Court is meeting?' he asked him.

'He was mum on that, sir,' he answered, shaking his head.

Beckett nodded, raising his eyebrows. 'Then he understands the value of information. Speaking of…' He trailed off, glancing around the room. Swann was sitting at a table, signing orders, one after another. Beckett looked back at Mercer. 'Best keep all this to ourselves. We can't have anyone running off to Singapore, can we?' he said with a smirk. Norrington entered the room then, his eyes moving to the map on the table. 'Ah, Admiral!' Beckett greeted, gaining Norrington's attention.

'You summoned me, Lord Beckett?' he said respectively, nodding his head.

'Yes, something there that better suits your new station,' he said, nodding to a long wooden box on a sideboard. Norrington frowned, recognising the box and moved over to it. He opened the box, peering inside to see his sword lain within. He glanced back at Beckett, who gave him a nod, and Norrington lifted the sword out, considering what it meant. Beckett moved towards him with a smile. 'The Brethren know they face extinction. All that's left is for them to decide where they will make their final stand,' he said, his smirk widening.

A clerk entered the room then, setting a sheaf of documents down before Swann. 'Not more requisition orders,' Swann groaned at the Clerk.

He shook his head. 'No, sir. Execution,' he answered, receiving a distressed look from Swann. Swann made eye contact with Norrington briefly before both of them looked away. He picked up his quill, resuming his distasteful task.

Groves entered the room then, saluting Beckett. 'The attack is ended, sir,' he reported.

They all left the cabin, and Swann stared out at the sea. Blasted sections of hull, floating barrels, and bodies were strewn about in the water. Beckett and Norrington came to stand next to him, gazing out at the carnage. 'Appalling,' Norrington muttered, and Swann nodded robotically.

Beckett raised his spyglass. 'Bloody hell. There's nothing left!' he said, turning to Norrington. 'Prepare to lower the boat. Fetch the chest,' he ordered him, and he nodded, heading away.

Swann stared out at the carnage in horror, wanting nothing more than to turn away as well, but he forced himself to look.

oOoOo

On the Flying Dutchman, in the Captain's Cabin, music was playing while Jones gazed at a picture in a locket hanging from the pipe organ. He lifted it gently, tears forming in his eyes. He raised a knuckle to the tear, stunned by its presence, by his own emotions. He knew the cause, and he glanced towards the deck.

Outside on the deck, the Dead Man's Chest was brought over the rail, guarded by marines including Murtogg and Mullroy. Norrington led them, taking in the ship and the crewmen. He wasn't happy to be there at all, and he noted the fear in his men. 'Steady, men. We stand aboard a seagoing vessel, no more and no less. You will comport yourselves as marines,' he told them, turning to them.

Murtogg put his hand on the rail, and then snatched it back in disgust. Mullroy looked at him in amusement. 'Oh, now, it's not all that bad. A little bit of elbow grease is all she needs,' he said to him.

'We set the grease on fire?' Murtogg asked hopefully, looking around the ship.

Mullroy nodded. 'And get away as fast as we can,' he agreed.

'It's a two-part plan.'

'That's how you know it's a good one.'

The two shut up when Jones strode onto the deck, but kept his distance from the chest. 'Go, the lot of you, and take that with you! I will not have that infernal thing on my ship!' he shouted, pointing back towards their ship.

Beckett smirked, patting the chest lightly. 'Oh. I'm sorry to hear that. Because I will. Because it seems to be the only way to ensure this ship do as directed by the Company,' he said, his smirk widening.

Jones gripped the ship's rail with his claw while Beckett nodded to Norrington, indicating he should continue away with the chest. 'The Dutchman sails as its Captain commands,' Jones argued, growling at Beckett.

Beckett watched Norrington leave, before turning back to Jones. 'And the Captain is to sail it as commanded. This is no longer your world, Jones. The immaterial has become… immaterial. I would have thought you'd learned that when I ordered you to kill your pet,' he answered, tilting his head.

Swann stepped forward then. 'Did you give those ships opportunity to surrender?' he asked him quietly.

Jones turned his eyes to him. 'We let them see us. Methinks that opportunity enough,' he answered, clicking his mouth.

'My Daughter could have been aboard one of them! That alone is cause to exercise restraint!' Swann shouted, pointing out to the carnage the Dutchman left behind.

Beckett looked at him. 'Don't you mean "Daughters'", Swann?' he asked him, raising his eyebrows.

Swann kicked himself internally, realising his slip up. 'Yes, Cassandra and Elizabeth could have been out there, Jones,' he corrected himself, but he knew it was too late. The look on Beckett's face said everything.

Beckett decided he would interrogate Swann later on his little slip-up, and turned back to Jones. 'We need prisoners to interrogate. Which works best when they are alive,' he said, raising his eyebrows.

Jones growled at him. 'I am exterminating pirates. As commanded by the Company,' he growled, and then he turned to Swann. 'Your Daughters' were with Sparrow. They are both dead. Pulled under with the Black Pearl by my pet. Did Lord Beckett not tell you that?' he asked him, looking at them angrily.

Swann took a step back in shock. Dead? Both of them? He knew Hermione was not his Daughter, but he came to regard her like one. He knew Cassandra was out there somewhere, hopefully safe, but Hermione… He didn't want to believe she was dead. He whirled around, running for the cabin and Beckett gave Jones a dark look, before following him.

In the cabin, the chest was set in place with the key inserted into the lock by Norrington. He opened the chest, looking upon the beating heart inside. He turned when Swann came into the cabin with a purposeful look on his face. The marines immediately pointed their rifles at the heart, but Swann grabbed one of their bayonets, intending to plunge it into the heart.

Norrington grabbed his wrist, looking at him in confusion. 'Governor!' he said, stopping the distraught man.

Swann looked at him. 'Did you know? Did you?' he asked him, tears welling in his eyes. Norrington shook his head in confusion, not knowing what he was talking about. 'They're dead! Elizabeth and Cassandra are dead!' he shouted, breaking down. This revelation stunned Norrington, and he jerked his head for the marines to leave, which they did. Swann regained his purpose. 'Let me go! Let me do this!' he shouted angrily, trying to get Norrington to let go of him.

Jones appeared in the doorway. 'Let him go,' he told Norrington, looking at Swann.

Swann turned to look at him. 'Stay back! I will kill you!' he shouted at him.

Jones tilted his head, his eyes flashing. 'And are you prepared for what comes after? When I carved that traitorous vessel from my body, I cast upon it a terrible geis. If you stab my heart… then yours will take its place,' he revealed, but the import of this was not lost on Swann and Norrington. 'The crew is not bound to me; they are bound to the Dutchman… and the Dutchman must have a Captain. Will ye serve?' he asked him with a smirk.

Swann hesitated then while Beckett and Mercer arrived just in time to hear the end of Jones' speech. Beckett glared at Jones, none too pleased by this. He turned to Swann. 'Governor! Your Daughter is still alive,' he told him, and Swann frowned.

'Just one? Or both?' he asked him.

'Well, Elizabeth, of course. Cassandra was there as well… but I have a feeling she is not your Daughter, and just a lookalike. Am I right, Swann?' Beckett said with a small smirk.

Swann frowned. 'Of course, she's not. Who else would she be?' he answered, but he could feel himself sweating and knew he could not keep this lie up. Even if he had to admit she wasn't his Daughter, he vowed he would not give up her secret.

'Uh-huh,' he answered, clicking his tongue. Swann knew fine well he didn't believe him. Beckett shrugged. 'Well, in any case, they are both alive,' he advised him.

Mercer nodded. 'I saw them myself, in Singapore,' he told him. This was news to Jones, and he snapped an angry look at Beckett who waved him off.

Swann looked between them, knowing they would lie just to keep him in their service. 'You're all liars!' he shouted, but he desperately wanted to believe it was true.

Beckett shook his head. 'No. Jones is merely cruel, but perhaps I am guilty of sin by omission. For which I apologise,' he said, bowing his head.

Norrington turned to Swann. 'Governor… Weatherby… there's still hope,' he said to him, and Swann searched his face seeing he was sincere. 'I have hope,' he said, keeping eye contact with him.

The anger drained from Swann's face, and he released the bayonet to Norrington. Swann turned to Beckett then. 'Our association is ended,' he growled, and Norrington escorted him out past Beckett. Norrington gave Beckett a narrow look, knowing he did not like what he just heard.

Beckett turned to Jones. 'You're dismissed, Captain,' he said, and Jones gave him the same narrow look while he left. Beckett moved over to the chest and shut it softly, while he contemplated his options.

Mercer looked at the door where Jones had disappeared through. 'He's a sly one, that Jones. Who's going to kill him, if they become him?' he asked him, shaking his head.

Beckett considered this, not coming up with anything substantial. 'I can order Admiral Norrington's silence. He'll obey, it's what he does,' he answered, tilting his head thoughtfully.

Mercer nodded. 'And the Governor?' he asked him.

Beckett frowned, looking genuinely regretful. 'Yes. Well… every man should have a secret he carries to his grave,' he answered, and Mercer closed his eyes with a frown.

oOoOo

Back on the Hai Peng, Will was making a line fast and felt something on the back of his hand. He looked down, noticing it was a speck of water. Looking up, he saw snowflakes were falling onto the ship.

They sailed into a frozen glacial landscape and, on the deck, everyone was shivering with the cold, except Tia Dalma. Pintel and Ragetti huddled close, while Hermione was trying to rub some feeling back into her arms next to them. Pintel shook his head. 'No one said anything about cold,' he muttered, his teeth chattering.

'I'm sure there's a good reason for us suffering,' Ragetti answered, blowing into his hands for warmth.

Hermione looked at them, wishing she could just use her wand to warm everyone with a warmth spell. She was afraid they would chuck her overboard before realising she was just trying to help. She leaned her head back against the side of the ship, closing her eyes and opting to suffer along with them. If she couldn’t use her wand to help them, she wasn’t about to be selfish just to warm herself up.

Pintel groaned. 'Why didn't the obeah woman just bring back Jack the way she brought back Barbossa?' he asked no one in particular.

Hermione shook her head. 'I don't think it works like that,' she muttered, and they looked at her.

Pintel was about to answer, but someone explained to him, '‘Tis like she said, Barbossa was only dead.' They looked up to see Tia standing there, not realising she was there the whole time. She turned to look at them. 'Jack Sparrow be taken body an' soul, to a place not of death, but punishment. De worst fate a person can conjure fer ‘imself, stretchin' on forever…' she told them, and Hermione frowned up at her. 'Dat's what await in Davy Jones' Locker,' she said, looking back out at the frozen glaciers before moving away from them.

Ragetti smiled, showing his teeth. 'I knew there was a good reason,' he said to Pintel who rolled his eyes in response.

Hermione looked down at her hands sadly. She didn't even want to think about what Jack must have thought when the Kraken took him. How did he feel? Knowing there was no escape from inevitable death. She fancied the idea of his last thoughts being on her but shook it away. He would think of his crew, hoping they would be safe. She doubted any of his last thoughts focused solely on her.

If she knew she was about to die, she would have thought of Harry and Ron. She would have wished to see them one last time before darkness took her. This thought made her want to go home to the future…

She shook her head and stood up, moving up the stairs to the wheel where Will, Huang, Barbossa, and Gibbs were looking at a map. She watched Will move the circles within circles of the chart. In the centre, the drawing of a ship rotated, and Will turned to Huang. 'Nothing here is set. It can't be as accurate as modern charts,' he surmised with a frown.

Huang nodded. 'No, but it leads to more places,' he told him.

'What does that mean?' Hermione asked, but Huang moved away.

'I'm not sure,' Will muttered, shaking his head. He focused on the map again, looked at one of the inscribed poems and frowned. '"Over the edge, back, over again, sunrise sets, flash of green",' he said and looked up at Barbossa. 'Do you care to interpret, Barbossa?' he asked him.

Barbossa grinned but didn't answer him directly. Instead, he turned to look at Gibbs. 'Ever gazed upon the green flash, Mister Gibbs?' he asked him, his grin still present while Will looked between them interestedly.

'I reckon I've seen my share,' Gibbs answered, nodding to himself thoughtfully.

'What is this green flash?' Hermione asked them, looking between Gibbs and Barbossa.

Gibbs looked at her. 'Happens on rare occasion, at the last glimpse of sunset, a green flash shoots up into the sky. Some go their whole lives and never see it. Some claim to have seen it who ain't. Some say—'

'—it signals when a soul comes back to this world from the dead!' Pintel cut in, having moved over to them with Ragetti in tow, and Gibbs glared at him. 'Sorry,' he muttered, slinking away to stand with Ragetti.

Ragetti chuckled at him in amusement. 'Don't they get it? It's a riddle. Riddles are fun. "Over the edge, back, over again—"'

Pintel looked at him in bewilderment. 'Riddles are not fun!' he argued, cutting him off. 'The way it always goes is some poor bloke ends up dead, but just beforehand he realises no, I wasn't supposed to listen to the sirens! I wasn't supposed to take the pot gold, but by then it's too late! He dies in a horrible and, ofttimes, ironical manner, and in this case, you and I be the poor bloke!' He finished, taking a deep breath. By the time Pintel ended with his rant, everyone on deck was staring at him. Hermione and Elizabeth giggled, while Barbossa grinned at him.

Barbossa turned back to Will. 'See, Mister Turner? We will find a way. It's not getting to the land of the dead is the problem. It's getting back!' he clarified to which Will and Hermione looked back in concern.

oOoOo

Later that night, Hermione stood looking out at the sea while Elizabeth stood beneath a lantern by the rail. They stared out at the dark sea in silence, and Hermione noticed the icebergs were gone and the air was considerably warmer. It wasn’t warm, but the icy chill was gone.

Will came over to them, stopping next to Elizabeth, and Hermione moved away to give them some privacy. She noticed the two hadn't spoken to each other at all since Jack sacrificed himself for them. She wondered about it, and she felt Elizabeth maybe held some feelings for Jack even though she was marrying Will.

She sat on the steps, watching them for a moment. She didn't want to eavesdrop, but she was curious about why they weren't speaking to each other. While they stood there staring out at the ocean which looked like a mirror, stars above and below them, there was nothing but complete silence. Hermione thought maybe they weren't going to speak, but then Will broke the silence. 'How long do we continue not talking?' he asked her.

Elizabeth shook her head, not wanting to talk at all, but she knew she couldn't ignore him. 'I don't even know why we're not talking, if I'm honest,' she answered, shaking her head. 'It's been a tough ride for everyone. I think it has hit Hermione the worst, though,' she added.

Will frowned, looking behind him to glance at the girl in question who was staring up at the stars. Her expression gave away the sadness looming over her like a veil. He turned back to Elizabeth. 'Yes, she loves him,' Will answered, shaking his head. 'One can only wonder how she could love someone like him,' he said with a frown.

Elizabeth gave him a sideways glance; knowing Will always held a flame for Cassandra. She wondered if these feelings extended to Hermione as well. She shook the thought away; she knew he loved her and wanted to marry her. This was enough to squash any jealousy she may have felt at one point. She sighed, looking back out at the stars. 'Why wouldn't she? Jack has done more for her than anyone else. He accepted her, no questions asked, and protected her. He proved himself to her in more ways than we could ever understand, Will,' she answered, defending Jack having seen this first-hand for herself.

Will nodded, looking at her briefly before turning his gaze to the ocean. 'I guess. The way he reacted to what I said…' he trailed off, closing his eyes in shame at the things he said about her.

'You deserved it. Hermione may be a witch, but she is a good person. She wanted nothing more than to help us all,' she said, turning to look at him.

'Yes, I deserved it, but it scared me. I didn't know what to make of her. I had awful visions of her killing Cassandra and stealing her identity,' he said, shaking his head. 'When I look at her now, I realise they are quite different. They may look alike, but there are differences as well which are noticeable when you know the truth,' he said, turning to look at her.

Elizabeth nodded. 'Yes, I've noticed it as well. I just hope she'll be okay. I know she wants to save Jack more than anyone else does,' she said, turning to look at the girl who had her face hidden in her folded arms. She frowned at her, knowing she was hurting. 'Once we rescue Jack, everything will be fine. She will be happy again,' she said with a nod, praying they would succeed in their mission, if only for Hermione's sake.

Will looked over at Hermione again as well. 'Then we will rescue Jack,' he said, his tone promising. Elizabeth smiled at him, and stepped back from the rail, turning to leave. Will leaned forward, his arms on the rail, noticing a line of white mist stretching into infinity quite a distance off. He turned to where Barbossa was at the wheel. 'Barbossa! Ahead!' he shouted to him.

'Aye, these be the waters I know. We're good and lost now,' he answered with a grin.

'Lost?' Hermione asked, looking up at him from her perch on the stairs. She wiped her eyes, having started crying when listening to Will and Elizabeth talking. She didn't even know why she was crying, though. Possibly what they were saying hit home a little.

Barbossa looked down at her. 'For certain you have to be lost, to find a place as can't be found. Elseways everyone would know where it was, aye?' he explained with a laugh.

Gibbs looked over the rail. 'We're gaining speed…' he said, trailing off while watching the water lapping rapidly off the hull.

Will's eyes widened. 'To stations! All hands! To stations!' he shouted while the ship gathered more speed, and the sound of raging water reached his ears. 'Rudder full! Hard a-port! Gather way and keep her trim!' he ordered and the pirates scrambled to comply.

Barbossa left the wheel to one of the other pirates, striding forward with a grin, and entirely at ease. 'Belay that! Let her run straight and true!' he shouted, and the pirates paused, unsure who to listen to.

Will looked at him like he’d gone mad, and climbed the rigging to get a better view of what they were up against. From his vantage, he could see the Hai Peng was fighting the pull of the current, and it was turning, but it wasn’t sharp enough. He narrowed his eyes, trying to see through the mist and his eyes widened when he saw the endlessly long waterfall. The ocean itself was flowing over and down into nothingness… the edge of the world.

Will jumped back down, running to wheel while Tia Dalma appeared on the deck. Unlike those around her, she was calm and serene. She tossed her crab claws down onto a barrel head and leaned over them. She murmured an incantation, 'Malfaiteur en Tombeau, Crochir 'Esplanade, Dans l’Fond d’l’ eau!' She repeated the phrase, faster and then slower while moving the claws around in an intricate, repeating pattern. Hermione watched her with interest, wondering if she was a witch herself. She didn't have time to ponder this though when the roar became deafening.

Will was wrestling with the wheel, while Elizabeth turned to Barbossa who was pulling himself to his feet. 'You've doomed us all,' she said, panic in her tone.

Barbossa scoffed at her words. 'Don't be so unkind! Ye may not survive to pass this way again, and these be the last friendly words ye'll hear…' He trailed off when the Hai Peng turned again sharply, fighting to escape the current. She was nearly sideways now at the edge of the waterfall.

The hull of the Hai Peng stuck out in the air, and then the entire ship tilted over and toppled down. Elizabeth and Hermione screamed, Barbossa laughed, and all the pirates cried out while the vessel plummeted down into darkness.

oOoOo

Hermione couldn't see anything, and there was just complete silence. She felt wrong like she'd been stretched too far and then folded up a few times. She couldn't move, something was pinning her down. She wondered if she was dead…

She suddenly heard distant singing and laughter. Various pirates' voices which were distant and eerie… 'Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me…' they sang and as quickly as they came, the voices faded.

She frowned, she could have sworn the voice was…

'Jack?' she called, but there was only silence.

oOoOo

A white-hot sun burned in a cloudless blue sky where a loose flap was sailing in the wind. The sail was pulled aside, revealing Captain Jack Sparrow, and he tied it up fast before calling up to the rigging, 'Boatswain! Haul the halyard, slacken braces!'

Up in the rigging was a second Jack Sparrow, and he waved down at him. 'Aye, Captain! Slacken braces, men, make all! How does she lie?' he called.

On the deck, a third Jack Sparrow turned towards him. 'A fair wind and a following sea!' he answered.

Captain Jack nodded. In good spirits, he moved along the deck, before stopping and looked down upon noticing a problem. 'Mister Sparrow, come here,' he ordered him.

The Boatswain Jack moved over to him. 'Aye, Captain!' he said, dropping down from the rigging and running over to him.

Captain Jack's demeanour was rigid with a gaze that could wither Captain Bly. 'What say ye about the knot on this bowline?' he asked him with a frown.

Boatswain Jack looked at it. 'It be proper to my eyes, sir,' he answered with a smile, but while he spoke Captain Jack tugged on the line, and it unravelled.

'Proper? It is neither proper nor suitable, sir. It is not acceptable nor adequate. It is, in obvious fact, an abomination,' Captain Jack said, shaking his head.

Another Jack stepped forward with an earnest and well-meaning expression on his face. 'Begging your pardon, sir. Perhaps if you gave the man another chance—'

Captain Jack shook his head, turning on Honest Jack and cutting him off. 'It's that sort of thinking that got us into this mess,' he said, pulling out a pistol and shooting Honest Jack. He stumbled backwards, over the rail. Captain Jack turned back, closing his eyes in annoyance. 'You have caused us to lose speed and therefore time. Precious time, which cannot be recovered once lost. Do you understand? Aye, Captain. DO YOU NOW?' he shouted and opened his eyes again to show the madness in them.

There was no one around him now, and he was speaking to himself, carrying both sides of the argument.

'It will have to be redone. All of it! And let this serve as a lesson to the lot of you!' he shouted out, shaking his head angrily. 'It's the doldrums, sir; it has the entire crew on edge—' he cut himself off, turning around. 'Stow it! I have no sympathy for any of you feculent maggots—' he shouted, stepping up onto the rail. '—and no more patience to pretend otherwise!' he added and stepped off the rail on the wrong side into the sand below.

The Black Pearl was empty with her sails flat, no crew, no movement, no other Jack Sparrow’s. She was just alone in a vast desert. She only had Jack by himself, raving on her deck. Jack picked up a rope and pulled on it, his feet digging into the sand, but he was going nowhere. The rope angled up behind him to the ship, and he tried to pull again to no avail

He gave up, slumping down in the sand with a sigh. 'No wind,' he muttered, looking out at the vast desert.

There were several smooth, round stones nearby, and Jack picked one up. He flung it, watching it skip across the sand. Jack watched the stone come rolling back towards him. It rocked back and forth like an egg hatching and cracking, transforming into a crab. The crab turned towards Jack, clicking like it was laughing at him. Jack tilted his head at it. 'Perfect. What would my torment be without unusual crabs here to mock me,' he said, grabbing a handful of sand and flinging it at the crab which flinched back.

Jack collapsed onto his back and the crab scuttled forward, looking between him and the ship behind him. It moved away to the pile of stones. Jack sat back up with his head lowered to his knees, alone in the dunes of the vast desert.

Before long, he lay on his back again, baking in the heat of the sun. He frowned when a shadow moved over him, and he opened his eyes, blinking a few times. He angled himself so he could see from where he was lying what it was and noticed the prow of the Black Pearl was moving. He stood up, seeing the Black Pearl drifting across the sand, carried on the back of thousands of chittering crabs.

Jack tilted his head. 'Interesting,' he muttered and followed them.

oOoOo

Hermione ran onto the surf, followed by the rest of the Hai Peng crew who was stumbling a bit slower, bedraggled and exhausted. Elizabeth couldn’t help smiling when she watched Hermione who was looking around for Jack.

Pintel and Ragetti stumbled along, still carrying the plank they were clinging to for safety when the ship went over the waterfall. 'I hate boats,' Ragetti grumbled, kicking the sand.

Pintel looked at him, raising his eyebrows. 'Really? So, no more waxing all poetic ‘bout how you runned away to sea and how you’s only truly happiest at sea—'

'I still love the sea, it's boats that can't be trusted,' Ragetti argued, cutting him off.

They stopped next to Gibbs who was taking in the utter desolation. 'This be truly a God-forsaken place,' he said, and they all nodded in agreement.

Hermione continued to look around, trying to spot Jack in the vast desert. 'I don't see Jack,' she said, her voice saddened by this fact.

'I don't see anyone,' Elizabeth said, coming to a stop next to her and putting her arm around the girls' shoulders.

'Not a soul,' Marty put in, picking up the sand and letting it run through his fingers.

Barbossa shook his head. 'He is here. Davy Jones never once gave up that what he's took,' he told them, looking out at the desert.

Will turned to Barbossa. 'And does it matter? We're trapped here, by your doing. No different than Jack,' he barked, and Barbossa rolled his eyes.

'Witty Jack be closer than you think,' Tia Dalma said, and all eyes turned to her. A dozen crabs appeared then, moving over the sand, and scuttling sideways up onto her. She balanced them on her arms, cooing to them like they were her pets.

Behind her, the Black Pearl appeared with Jack Sparrow at the bow, riding over the desert sand towards the water. The Black Pearl was carried on the backs of thousands of chittering crabs. 'Slap me thrice and hand me to my momma! It's Jack!' Gibbs shouted out in relief, while Elizabeth and Will grinned when they saw him. Barbossa smiled at Jack's entrance, shaking his head, while the ship splashed down.

Jack jumped down into the water and sloshed towards them, the Pearl standing proudly behind him. He found Hermione's eyes, and he couldn't help the grin which broke out on his face. Hermione ran towards him and straight into his arms, letting him spin her around. He held her, feeling her warmth, and he closed his eyes…

He hoped this wasn’t another dream…

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-One: Of Life and Death

Jack reluctantly let go of Hermione, reaching up and tucking her hair behind her ear. 'Hey there, love,' he whispered, gazing into her eyes.

Hermione felt tears come to her eyes, and she reached up to touch his face. 'You're here,' she choked out, lowering her hand to his chest to feel his heartbeat.

Jack smiled, tilting his head. 'Aye, love. What are you doing in this place?' he asked, frowning at her.

Hermione shrugged. 'Well…' she trailed off when Gibbs ran over, his arms spread open, and a grin on his face.

Jack bristled… he forgot there were others around. 'Mister Gibbs,' he snapped, and Hermione flinched at his change of tone. He reached down, taking her hand and giving it a gentle squeeze to let her know he wasn't angry at her.

Gibbs snapped to attention. 'Aye, Captain!' he said, saluting him.

Jack nodded, winking at Hermione who giggled a little. Jack looked back at Gibbs. 'I thought so. I expect you can account for your actions?' he asked him, frowning at his first mate.

Gibbs lowered his hand. 'Sir?' he asked, not knowing what Jack was talking about.

Jack pointed to the Black Pearl. 'There has been a perpetual and virulent lack of discipline upon my vessel!' he shouted, and Gibbs' frown deepened. 'Why? Why is that?' he asked him, raising his eyebrows.

Hermione frowned at Jack, and it dawned on her he didn't realise they were here. He thought they were part of his hallucinations… his torture.

'Sir… you're in Davy Jones' Locker,' Gibbs answered slowly like he was speaking to a child.

Jack glanced around for a moment, before looking back at Gibbs. 'I know that. I know where I am and don't think I don't,' he answered, shaking his head.

'Jack Sparrow,' came a voice from behind the crew members and Jack froze, recognising it.

He turned while the crew members parted, revealing Barbossa. 'Ah… Hector. It's been too long,' Jack said, his voice faltering a little.

'Yes, Isle de Muerta, remember? You shot me!' Barbossa answered, touching the part of his chest where Jack shot him.

Jack frowned. 'I did not,' he answered, looking at him in disbelief. He turned his attention to Tia. 'Tia Dalma, out and about! You add an agreeable sense of the macabre to any delirium,' he said, smiling at her.

Will looked at Tia. 'He thinks we're a hallucination?' he asked her, and she nodded.

Jack turned his eyes to him. 'Ah, William,' he said, gaining his attention. 'Tell me, have you come because you need my help to save a certain distressing damsel? I mean, damsel in distress?' he asked, before weighing both options. 'Either one,' he added as an afterthought.

'No,' Will answered with a sigh.

Jack laughed. 'Then you wouldn't be here, so you can't be here. Q. E. D, you're not really here,' he surmised, looking proud of himself.

'Jack,' Elizabeth whispered, and Jack looked at her, seeing her for the first time. 'This is real. We're here,' she told him, shaking her head.

Jack looked at her steadily, not knowing whether to believe her or not. These hallucinations had come to him before, and they always left him feeling empty and even more alone. He turned away from her pleading expression and Gibbs joined him. 'The Locker, you say,' he asked him, glancing over his shoulder at the faces peering back at him.

Gibbs nodded. 'Aye,' he answered, wondering if he would believe them.

Jack nodded slowly, turning to look at Hermione again who was frowning at him. She was always the last to disappear in his hallucinations… and it would tear him apart. Reaching out to her, only to have her blow away in the wind…

'We've come to rescue you!' Elizabeth said, trying to get him to understand.

Jack turned to her with a smirk. 'Have you now? That's a good one. Very kind of you,' he answered, his eyes flashing angrily. 'But it would seem as I possess a ship, and you don't, you're the ones in need of rescuing. I'm not sure as I'm in the mood,' he said, looking at his nails disinterestedly.

Barbossa chuckled, indicating to the Pearl with his head. 'I see my ship, right there,' he said, smiling at Jack.

Jack turned around, squinting at the horizon. He bobbed up on his toes, leaning from side to side trying to spot Barbossa's ship. 'Can't spot it. Must be a tiny little thing hiding somewhere behind the Pearl,' he said, turning back to look at Barbossa, his eyes daring.

Barbossa stepped forward, and the two looked like they were about to square off, but Hermione stepped between them. 'Look, this is not the time for this,' she said, looking at them. Her eyes stopped on Jack. 'Please, listen to us?' she pleaded, taking his hand and rubbing his knuckles gently to calm him.

'Aye, if ye won't listen to us, at least listen to the woman ye love,' Barbossa said, smirking at Jack. Jack and Hermione stiffened, both taking a step away from each other and looking in any other direction.

Will rolled his eyes. 'Jack, listen,' he said, gaining the pirate's attention. 'Cutler Beckett has the heart of Davy Jones. He controls the Flying Dutchman,' he told him, and Jack frowned.

'He's taking over the seas,' Elizabeth added beseechingly.

'De song ‘as been sung. De Brethren Court is called,' Tia said, giving Jack a meaningful look.

Jack sighed. 'I leave you folks alone for just a minute, and look what happens,' he said, shaking his head.

'Aye, Jack. The world needs you back something fierce,' Gibbs said, looking at him and nodding.

'And you need a crew,' Will said with a shrug.

Jack took Hermione's hand, looking at her for a moment before turning back to them. Will, Barbossa, Pintel, Elizabeth, and Tia had lined up, looking at him. He walked down the line, looking at them all in turn. 'Why should I sail with any of you? Four of you have tried to kill me in the past,' he said, stopping when he got to the end and looking at Hermione. 'None of you succeeded, of course. I didn't give up my life for any of you,' he whispered, stroking Hermione's hair and her breath quickened.

They all nodded at this, knowing he never sacrificed himself for any of them. He wouldn’t have done it if Hermione hadn’t been with them.

'I thought you sacrificed yourself for your crew?' Hermione asked him, looking into his eyes.

Jack shrugged, giving her a small smile. 'They kept you safe; I'll give them that,' he answered, squeezing her hand. He turned back to the line-up, glaring at them. 'Yes, you will all have lots to talk about while you're here,' he said, and then looked at Tia. 'As for you—'

'Oh, don't tell me ye didn't enjoy it at de time,' she said, cutting him off.

Hermione looked at him, raising her eyebrows and his smile faltered. 'This was a long time ago,' he said to her, before looking at Tia. 'That's fair. All right, you're in,' he said with a nod to her. He moved along to Ragetti. 'I don't need you,' he said with a frown and Ragetti looked down sadly. He moved on to Gibbs, Marty, and Cotton. 'Gibbs, you get another chance. Marty, Cotton, all right. And Cotton's Parrot, I'm a little iffy, but all right, you're a team,' he said, moving to Tai Huang. 'And you are?' he asked him with a frown.

'Tai Huang. These are my men,' he answered, gesturing to his crew.

Jack nodded, looking at them. 'Where do your allegiances lie?' he asked him.

'With the highest bidder,' Huang answered with a shrug.

Jack smiled. 'I have a ship,' he said, pointing to the Pearl.

'That makes you the highest bidder,' Huang said with a smirk.

Jack, satisfied, gestured for them to get on board. 'Weigh anchor! All hands! Stand by to make way!' he ordered, pulling out his compass. Hermione watched him while he looked down at it, but the needle held steady. Jack smiled, moving his hand, but the needle wouldn't move no matter how much he fiddled with it. The needle had frozen in place.

'Ja-ck!' Barbossa called to him in a sing-song voice. Jack turned to him to see he was holding up ancient charts. 'Which way you going, Jack?' he asked him, and Jack's shoulders slumped. Hermione smiled at him, rubbing his back gently.

oOoOo

It wasn't long before the crew were hard at work getting the ship in shape for sailing. Barbossa was calling out orders, while Jack shadowed him, repeating the orders a half-second behind, but a little louder. 'Trim that sail! Slack windward brace and sheet! Haul that pennant line!' Barbossa shouted out.

'Trim that sail! Slack windward brace and sheet! Haul that pennant line!' Jack repeated.

Barbossa stopped and turned to Jack, raising his eyebrows. 'What are ye doin'?' he asked him, his patience starting to wear thin.

Jack frowned. 'The Captain gives orders on a ship,' he answered like this was obvious.

Barbossa rolled his eyes. 'The Captain is giving orders,' he said, shaking his head.

'My ship, that makes me Captain,' Jack said, raising himself up to his full height.

'They be my charts!' Barbossa shouted, exasperated. He found Jack could be almost too trying at times.

'Stow it, the both of you, and that's an order! Understand?' Pintel shouted, looking between the two of them. Jack and Barbossa stared at Pintel, too incredulous to respond. Pintel raised his hands, backing away with a smile. 'Sorry! Just, with the Captain issue in doubt and all, thought I'd throw my name in for consideration. Sorry,' he said, backing away further to stand next to Ragetti.

'I would vote for you,' Ragetti said to Pintel, patting him on the shoulder.

Hermione laughed at them, placing her hand on Jack’s arm. He smiled at her before climbing the steps to the rail, with Hermione and Barbossa following. He ceremoniously pulled out a telescope, the way a Captain would do it. Barbossa smirked and stepped up beside him, pulling out a much longer telescope. Jack stared at it, feeling deflated and he lowered his telescope.

Hermione moved away from Jack and went below deck to find Elizabeth. Will followed her, seeing them sitting at a table talking. 'So, Jack sacrificed himself for you,' he stated quietly, looking at Hermione.

She shrugged. 'I didn't want him to. It was his choice,' she answered, looking down at her hands.

'I know that,' Will said quickly. He realised the way he said it might have made her think he was blaming her for what they went through to save him.

'He's rescued now. It's done with,' Elizabeth said, glancing between the two of them. 'Hermione is not to blame. What Jack did surprised us all, but he had his reasons,' she said, becoming defensive. There was a hint of something in her tone which Hermione couldn't place. She thought it sounded almost like jealousy.

Will frowned, his eyes narrowing a little and Hermione realised he must have picked up on it as well. He looked at Hermione instead. 'Did you know?' he asked her.

'I didn't expect it. I thought he would come with us,' she said quietly, shaking her head.

Will nodded before looking at Elizabeth. 'You have not been yourself since, either,' he surmised, looking at her suspiciously.

Elizabeth looked up at him with a frown. 'What are you talking about?' she asked him, shifting uncomfortably in her seat.

Hermione looked at them for a moment and stood up, not wanting to get in the middle of what she knew was about to become a lover's tiff. She made to leave, but Will stopped her. He didn't speak to her, but he looked back at Elizabeth. 'What is going on between you and Jack?' he asked Elizabeth who looked back at him in shock.

Hermione frowned, looking at Elizabeth who was looking utterly scandalised. Her mouth opened a little while she stared at him in disbelief. 'You think I love him?' she whispered, tears filling her eyes.

Elizabeth stood, her chair falling backwards, and she tried to move past them, but he blocked her way. She tried to push him aside, but he pushed her back against the hull. 'If you act the way you do whenever something happens to him… What am I supposed to think? How can I trust you?' he asked her while Hermione looked between them, feeling uncomfortable.

Elizabeth met his gaze, shaking her head. 'I don't love him,' she said adamantly, through gritted teeth. She looked at Hermione then, her eyes softening. 'I don't,' she reiterated, before ducking beneath his arm and leaving them.

Hermione watched her go, before turning back to Will. 'Why did you do that?' she asked him.

'Do what?' he asked with a frown.

'Put her on the spot like that?' she asked, shaking her head. 'She loves you, Will. She may have had feelings for Jack at some point, but I hardly think she would do anything to hurt either of us. She's marrying you, isn't she?' she asked him, but deep down she wondered if Elizabeth still held a flame for Jack.

Will sighed, swallowing hard. 'I just… needed to know,' he answered and she could see how much this was affecting him.

She moved towards him and pulled him into a hug. 'I know…' she trailed off, feeling him wrap his arms around her.

'It's been a while since we did this,' he whispered, forgetting for a moment she wasn't Cassandra.

'This is the first hug we've had since you found out I'm not Cassandra,' she answered, moving to let go, but he pulled her closer.

'It's nice…' he whispered, closing his eyes and Hermione sighed, letting him hold her. Even if it was only for a moment, she was happy he was able to touch her again without flinching in fear.

In the shadows, a lone figure watched them with a glint of sadness mixed with anger in their eyes. Their hands clenched by their side, and they stormed back up to the deck.

oOoOo

Hermione leaned against the rail, staring up at the stars with a frown while they sailed the darkness between worlds. Since she and Will came back up from below deck, both Jack and Elizabeth had been acting strangely. Elizabeth was speaking to neither of them, while Jack seemed to be avoiding them altogether. She wondered what happened in the short time they were down there. Did Elizabeth say something to him and he was feeling awkward? Then again, this wouldn’t explain the glares he was sending their way.

She shook her head; she didn't understand. What had they done wrong?

She headed over towards the Captain's Cabin, intent on talking to Jack. She stopped at the broken door when she heard voices within. It was Jack and Barbossa. 'I see you neglected to care for my ship,' he said, inspecting the damaged cabin from his encounter with the Flying Dutchman and the Kraken.

'What, this?' came Jack's reply, and Hermione flinched at how snarky he sounded. It wasn't like him. He seemed annoyed, and it showed through his tone. 'Just ventilating. Clear out the stench of the previous owner, you know,' he said, and Hermione looked through a gap to see him looking at his nails disinterestedly. 'Thinking of putting in French doors. Feel the cross breeze?' he added, smirking at Barbossa who rolled his eyes at him.

'Yer not yerself this evening, Jack,' Barbossa noted, frowning at him.

"I am too myself; I am always myself, I am absolutely fine, you'll see,' he muttered quickly, sounding almost like gibberish.

Barbossa tilted his head, noticing how shifty Jack was being. 'Right,' he said, not believing a word the other pirate was saying.

Hermione frowned, wondering what was going on with him. She turned when she heard someone walking towards the cabin and moved under the stairs. It was Gibbs. He knocked on the door, sticking his head in. 'Heading, Captain?' he asked, looking between Jack and Barbossa because he wasn't sure who he should be directing it to.

On the word "Captain", both Jack and Barbossa turned to look at him. 'Two degrees' starboard—' Jack started saying, but Barbossa cut him off.

'I'm Captain of the starboard side! Two degrees' starboard. The Captain will now take the helm,' Barbossa ordered, rolling his eyes at Jack who shrugged.

Gibbs nodded, saluting at both of them in turn. 'Aye, sirs,' he said and left, followed by Barbossa and Jack.

Hermione watched them split up and walk up the opposite set of stairs from each other. Jack to port, Barbossa to starboard. She came out from under the stairs and looked up at them. They came together at the wheel, with a nervous Cotton between them. Jack adjusted the wheel on his side, while Barbossa adjusted it back on his side.

Hermione shook her head, unable to stop the small smile which reached her lips while watching them. Why they couldn't just agree on one of them being Captain was beyond her. She looked back up, feeling eyes on her and noticed Jack was looking down at her. When their eyes met, he looked away, his face stoic and she noticed his jaw clench. He was annoyed at something to do with her then… but, what?

She moved away to stand next to Ragetti and Pintel who were fiddling about with a fishing pole. Ragetti surreptitiously readied the pole and walked to the railing, looking down and dropping the line. In the water, a pale body hurried past, face up, eyes closed, and their hands crossed over their chest. Hermione frowned when Ragetti let out a cry, jumping back from the rail. They edged towards the rail again, seeing streams of bodies flowing past underwater. Old, young, men and women, at different depths and moving at different speeds.

Pintel joined them at the rail, looking out at all the bodies. 'Eerie. Downright macabre,' he said with a grimace while the other two nodded, agreeing with him.

Ragetti looked thoughtful while he watched them. 'I wonder what would happen if you dropped a cannonball on one of ‘em,' he mused. The two looked at each other, both having the same thought cross their mind.

'Guys!' Hermione said, gathering what they were thinking, but they ignored her.

Pintel picked up a cannonball and turned back to the railing. Tia Dalma appeared, fixing them both with a stern look. Frightened, Pintel dropped the cannonball. 'Be disrespectful, it would,' he said, looking down at his feet in shame.

Tia turned away from them, looking out at the sea with a frown. 'Dey should be in da care of Davy Jones. Dat was de duty he was given by de goddess Calypso: to ferry those who died at sea to da other side. And every ten years, he could come ashore, to be with she who loved ‘im truly. But he has become a monster,' she told them, shaking her head sadly.

'He wasn't always all tentacle-y?' Ragetti asked her.

Tia shook her head. 'No, ‘im was a man, once. Poor, unfortunate souls… now dey must find der own way,' she answered, lowering her head like she was praying for them.

Ragetti nodded, turning back to look out, but he spotted something ahead in the distance. It was a small boat coming towards them, lit by a lantern's glow. 'Now it's boats coming,' he said, and they all turned to look out at them.

Will and Elizabeth joined them at the rail, standing next to Tia and Hermione. In the distance, more boats were appearing with their own lanterns lit. Gibbs came to stand next to them, loading a rifle and lifting it towards the boats. Will stopped him. 'No. They are not a threat to us,' he said to him, before turning to look at Tia. 'Am I right?' he asked her, wanting confirmation from her.

'We are but ghosts to dem. Dey heed us not,' she confirmed with a nod.

Barbossa appeared next to Gibbs. 'Best just let them be,' he said, patting him on the shoulder. Gibbs nodded, lowering the rifle, but he kept it ready.

The boats moved past them, an eerie, surreal sight to behold. Elizabeth frowned, and looked down at the nearest boat passing by, and narrowed her eyes. She peered closer, recognising the passenger. 'My Father! We've made it back!' she shouted, pointing to Swann in the boat. 'Father, here! Look here!' she called out, trying to get his attention.

Hermione frowned in confusion by the whole situation. What happened to Elizabeth's Father? Why was he in this place? Did this mean he was… The thought froze in her mind, and she paled, tears welling in her eyes.

She turned when Jack came to join them, but he didn't look at her. He placed a consoling hand on Elizabeth's shoulder. 'Elizabeth,' he said softly, and she turned to look at him. He shook his head. 'We're not back yet,' he said apologetically, squeezing her shoulder. He looked her in the eye, and she stared back at him while realisation dawned on her.

Tears filled her eyes while Hermione fell to her knees, crying silently into her arms. Jack stepped away from Elizabeth, finally noticing Hermione on the deck. He hesitated, before leaning down and pulling her into his arms. He pulled her to her feet but kept a firm hold on her while she clutched to him as if her life depended on it. He hated seeing her cry. It touched him in a place he had long forgotten about… his heart.

Elizabeth gripped the rail. 'Father!' she cried out in anguish, tears falling from her eyes.

In the boat, Weatherby Swann glanced over, his lantern lighting half of his face, leaving the rest in shadow. 'Elizabeth!' he called back to her. 'Are you dead?' He asked her, his voice full of concern. It was then he noticed Jack holding Hermione who was crying. 'Hermione, my dear girl, why are you crying?' he called to her.

Hermione looked at him, wiping the tears which were still falling thick and fast. 'I… you're…' she couldn't bring herself to say the words. Swann was the closest thing she had to a Father in this time. He accepted her and took her under his wing even though it could have cost him his life if anyone found out her secret.

'No… we're not dead, Father,' Elizabeth answered him, shaking her head.

Swann nodded at this, while Elizabeth moved along the rail of the Pearl toward the stern to keep pace with him. Hermione followed her, leaving Jack to watch after them sadly. Swann looked at his hands. 'I think I am,' he whispered, looking back up at them.

'No, please don't say that,' Hermione said, shaking her head while fresh tears fell from her eyes.

'No, you can't be,' Elizabeth said, gripping the railing so tightly her knuckles were turning white.

Swann frowned thoughtfully. 'There was a chest, you see… How odd. At the time, it seemed so important,' he said, having trouble recalling what happened.

'Come aboard!' she called to him, before turning to the crew. 'Someone, cast a line!' she ordered and turned back to Swann. 'Come back with us!' she shouted to him. The crew were preparing a line, but they were too slow for Elizabeth. She grabbed it from them and cast it out. It landed neatly in Swann's boat, but he made no move toward it.

Swann looked at her. 'And a heart, and if you stabbed the heart… you would have to sail forever. That's how it worked. Stab the heart and take his place. The Dutchman must have a Captain. Silly thing to die for,' he told them like he was reciting a story.

Will and Jack made a note of what he was telling them, and both of them glanced at Tia Dalma. Her focus was only on Will, and she leaned close to them. 'A touch of destiny…' she whispered, just loud enough for Will to hear.

Due to the action of the two vessels passing, the rope slipped towards the edge of the boat. 'Take the line!' Hermione shouted out, grasping the rail.

Swann turned to look at them both seriously. 'Elizabeth,' he said, gaining her full attention. 'When I reprimand you to obey rules, it was because I did not want you ever to be unhappy. But I should have recognised your willfulness… your courage. I am proud of you, Elizabeth,' he told her and Elizabeth felt fresh tears come to her eyes. He turned to Hermione next. 'I know you are not Cassandra, but if I was to have a third Daughter, I wish you could have been her, Hermione. You remind me so much of her… I wish I had a chance to see her again before…' he trailed off, shaking his head.

'I wish that too,' Hermione called to him. 'Please, come aboard!' she said, more tears falling.

The line slipped further, almost coming out of Swann's boat. 'The line! Catch the line!' Elizabeth shouted out to him, but the end of the line fell into the water. 'Father!' she shouted to him, running down the ship where his boat had reached the aft of the Pearl. 'Come back with us! Please! I won't let you go!' she shouted to him while Hermione was next to her, already climbing the rail.

'They must not leave the ship!' Tia called out while Elizabeth climbed the rail, intent on helping Hermione get him. Will and Jack ran towards them to stop them from going over. Will grabbed Elizabeth, while Jack grabbed Hermione and they hauled them back away from the rail.

Swann watched sadly, looking at them both. 'I'll give your love to your Mother, then, shall I?' he called back to Elizabeth. Elizabeth and Hermione stared at him, watching him pass out of their reach, both feeling helpless. The darkness swallowed up the light from the boat's lantern.

Elizabeth turned towards Will, leaning into his embrace and he comforted her as best he could. Hermione was crying into Jack’s shoulder quietly, and he was stroking her hair with a frown on his brow. Will's eyes drifted to Tia Dalma. 'Is there a way?' he asked her quietly, and Elizabeth looked up at her as well.

Tia shook her head, looking at Elizabeth sadly. '‘im be at peace,' she answered, lowering her gaze. Elizabeth leaned into Will, choking through her tears while he rubbed her back soothingly.

oOoOo

An orange sun hovered over a dark horizon. There was no wind or no movement from the Black Pearl. The crew lay about on the deck, parched with thirst, and no energy to do anything. Pintel tilted a water barrel over his head, his cracked lips waiting… waiting… nothing. 'No water. Why is all but the rum gone?' he asked, throwing the barrel onto the deck.

Gibbs tilted his bottle, letting a final drop fall from it to his lips. 'Rum's gone too,' he told him, and Pintel sighed, sitting back down on the deck with a thump.

Hermione was sitting on the stairs staring out at the strange sunset. Jack was standing by the wheel, but his eyes were trained only on her. He was worried about her, but he wasn’t sure what to do to help her. He moved down the steps and took a seat next to her, but she didn’t acknowledge he was there.

He sat quietly, waiting for her to make any move so that she would know he was there more than anything. Eventually, she turned her head to look at him. 'He wasn't my Dad, but he was the first person I met when I came here. He reminded me of my Dad, and having him die made me think of how much I miss him,' she said, shaking her head.

'‘Tis not a bad thing, love,' Jack said quietly, reaching up and placing his hand on her shoulder.

Hermione nodded, swallowing back the lump in her throat. 'I know that. He took me in and accepted me even when he found out the truth about me. He was the only one, other than you, who just accepted me without question,' she told him, turning to look at him.

Jack nodded thoughtfully. 'Elizabeth accepted you, didn't she?' he asked her with a frown.

'She did, but she questions it all the time. And Will accepts me now because she made him see sense,' she said with a sigh.

Jack frowned, trying to read her when she talked about Will. 'How do you feel about William now?' he asked her, looking down at his hands.

Hermione turned to look at him, a frown creasing her eyebrows. 'He's a good guy. He's proved he can be a complete prick, but he came through in the end. He's a good friend…' she trailed off for a moment. 'Well, when he's on our side,' she added, shaking her head and he nodded. She turned back to look at him. 'Even if I felt anything more for him, he loves Elizabeth. I wouldn't come between that,' she told him honestly, and he nodded, looking away from her. 'I may have felt something towards him when we first met. He was the first person to show me any real affection and care when I came here. He was kind to me. After getting to know him, and especially when he treated me like shit, well I think whatever those feelings just vanished. I don't take well to people treating me like I should just kill myself,' she said, shaking her head.

'Of course not. You didn't deserve any of it, love. You just wanted to help everyone,' Jack answered, looking at her.

'Well, I can understand why he acted the way he did. My magic scares him, and I know he is still scared now. At least he is treating me like a person again, though. I'm still dubious about it all. I feel like the only reason he's being nice again is because Elizabeth will kill him otherwise,' she said thoughtfully, looking over at Will who was standing at the rail with Tia.

'Or I would…' Jack whispered, looking at him as well. Hermione frowned… the look he was giving Will was almost seething. He looked like he utterly loathed him. She wondered what Will had done to cause this reaction in him.

'You don't need to,' she said, gaining his attention back to her by touching his arm.

His eyes softened when they fell back on her. 'I would if he hurt you. You only deserve to be happy,' he answered, looking away from her.

'I'm happy here, serving on the Black Pearl with you as my Captain,' she answered, leaning back against the stairs, and looking at him.

He smiled at her, touching her cheek gently. 'It's a lifetime of servitude, you know,' he said jokingly, grinning at her.

'Oh, I know,' she answered with a smile, looking up at the sky which was darkening every minute. 'I wouldn't have it any other way,' she added in a whisper, her eyes moving back to his.

Jack's heartbeat quickened while he looked at her, and he leaned towards her. Her eyes widened a little, but she didn't make any move to stop him. His lips touched hers gently, and he reached out, running his fingers through her hair. She deepened the kiss, moving her hand to the back of his neck.

Will turned and a little smile graced his face when he saw them. His eyes moved over to where Elizabeth was sitting alone on the other steps, withdrawn and staring off into nothing. Will watched her sadly, wishing she would let him in. Tia sighed from next to him. 'If we cannot escape dese doldrums before night, I fear we will sail on trackless seas, under starless skies, doomed to roam de reach between worlds… forever,' she said, looking out at the inky blackness around them.

Gibbs looked out as well with a frown. 'With no water, forever looks to be arriving a mite soon,' he replied, and she nodded.

Ragetti, one hand over his eye, chased the Monkey past them. Jack, who had moved back up the stairs to the wheel while Hermione went to see if Elizabeth was okay, noticed Ragetti's eye roll on top of the charts. Will shook his head, moving over to Jack and looking towards Barbossa who was standing at the rail. 'Why doesn't he do something?' he muttered, before looking down at the charts. '"Over the edge, back, over again, sunrise sets, flash of green",' he mumbled, frowning at the riddle which no longer made sense to him.

Jack gazed at the chart, watching Ragetti's eye roll about, while Gibbs looked over his shoulder. 'There's no sense to it. Sunrises don't set,' he said, trying to work out the riddle.

'And the green flash happens at sunset, not sunrise,' Will clarified, shaking his head.

'Over the edge… driving me bloody well over the edge,' Gibbs muttered, moving away to look out over the rail.

Jack tilted his head, their voices fading off into the background while he continued to watch Ragetti's eye, rolling back and forth. He idly played with the rings of the charts, and Chinese characters lined up to read "UP IS DOWN". Jack frowned. '"Up is down". That's maddeningly unhelpful. Why are these things never clear?' he asked no one in particular, and no one answered him because Will and Gibbs had moved away from him.

Jack jumped when he heard a small voice from his left shoulder. He suddenly saw a smaller version of himself sitting next to his jungle of dreadlocks. 'Stab the heart,' he said, looking at him.

Jack looked at him in shock, feeling unsettled. He wondered if he had finally cracked completely. 'What?' he asked him with a frown.

A second small Jack appeared on his right shoulder. 'Don't stab the heart,' he said, shaking his head.

'Come again?' Jack asked him.

'The Dutchman must have a Captain,' Right Jack told him, rolling his eyes.

Jack shook his head. 'That's even more than less than unhelpful,' he told him, watching Right Jack cross his arms.

Left Jack pulled on his dreads. 'Sail the seas for eternity,' he said, trying to coax him into agreeing.

Jack smiled. 'I love the sea,' he said with a nod, but his eyes moved to Hermione when he said this and a frown creased his brow.

'But what about port?' Left Jack asked him.

'I prefer rum. Rum's good,' Jack answered, wishing he had some rum now.

'Making port,' Left Jack surmised, smacking his hand to his face and shaking his head.

Right Jack nodded at this. 'Where we can get rum. And salty wenches. Once every ten years,' he told them, and they both frowned.

'What did he say?' Left Jack asked, trying to look over at Right Jack.

Jack looked at him. 'Once every ten years,' he answered, shaking his head. The idea was sounding less appealing to him every second.

Left Jack crossed his arms. 'Ten years is a long time,' he agreed, thinking it over.

Jack nodded. 'Even longer, given the deficit of rum,' he answered.

'And salty wenches,' Right Jack added.

Jack shook his head. 'I don't need salty wenches…' He said to them, his eyes finding Hermione again. They both nodded, following his gaze.

'You would only be able to see her every ten years,' Right Jack told him.

Ten years without Hermione… his appeal lessened considerably at this thought. 'That would be too long,' he muttered, looking over at her.

'But eternity is longer still,' Left Jack concluded.

Right Jack looked up at Jack. 'And how will you spend it? Dead, or not?' he asked him.

Left Jack nodded. 'The immortal Captain Jack Sparrow…' he said, making it sound majestic.

'Oooh, I like that,' Jack answered, thinking about the possibilities.

Right Jack shook his head. 'Come sunset; it won't matter,' he said to him.

On the map, Jack noticed the drawing of the ship spin upside down creating rays of a sunset. It dawned on him what it meant, and his eyes widened. 'Not sunset. Sundown. And rise… up!' he said and stood up, pointing out to the horizon. 'Over there! What's that? I don't know! What do you think?' he said, looking like he was speaking to and answering himself.

'Where?' Gibbs asked him with a frown.

Jack moved over to the railing at the port. Everyone followed him and the ship tilted towards it a little. Jack turned, racing to the starboard side. 'There, it moved! Suddenly. It's very fast,' he said, and everyone followed him, wondering what he was up to. The ship tilted towards the starboard side, and everyone rolled their eyes at his antics. Elizabeth and Hermione looked up from where they were talking, noticing the activity of everyone. Jack seemed to see something on the port side. 'Thar! Over thar!' he shouted out, running to the port side. Elizabeth and Hermione followed everyone else to the rail, and the ship rocked back.

'What is it?' Hermione asked in concern, looking over the rail.

Jack shook his head. 'It's not here!' he shouted out, running across again and everyone followed.

The ship tilted more, and Barbossa frowned, approaching the map and noticed the "UP IS DOWN" characters. The upside-down ship and the sunset, and he picked up the rolling eye. He glared at Ragetti and handed his eye back to him, before going back to studying the chart.

'He's rocking the ship,' Pintel surmised, looking at everyone.

'We're rocking the ship,' Gibbs corrected him, running past him.

Barbossa deduced what Jack was trying to do. 'Aye, he's onto it. All hands together! Time it with the swell!' he ordered, moving to the cargo hold. 'Loose the cannon! Unstow the cargo! Let it shift!' he ordered the crew below deck. They cut the cargo loose, and the crates, bottles, and barrels started to roll.

On the deck, Cotton spun the wheel, and the ship turned sideways to the swell causing the ship to tilt over. Finally, Pintel figured out what they were doing. 'He's rocking the ship!' he shouted out while Ragetti moved over to him, ready with a rope.

'We tie each other to the mast, upside down, so we'll be right side up when the boat flips!' Ragetti told him, thinking it's a brilliant plan. Pintel thought about it hard and nodded.

Will got to the rail, and the ship tilted almost horizontally, and he looked out. The sun was sinking into the sea, a small orange flame left, and the Black Pearl leaned the other way. 'And now up, is down!' Jack shouted out, and the Black Pearl rocked completely over into the water. Waves filled the sails, causing the ship to continue to roll over.

Under the water, chains, cannons, and small objects fell towards the depths. Will was holding on to Elizabeth, while Jack held onto Hermione. Barbossa was next to them, holding on to the rail for dear life. Gibbs lost his grip and floated past, but Marty managed to grab him. Pintel and Ragetti, tied to the mast, looked at each other and held their breaths, their cheeks bulging. The charts floated past, and Will grabbed them, tucking them into his tunic.

On the horizon, a flash of green shot up into the sky, and all the water fell with a giant splash. The objects fell, people fell, the Parrot fell, all slamming onto the deck. The water washed away, and the Black Pearl bobbed on to the sea.

Gibbs was still holding his breath, unsure and turning red. Eventually, he had to let it out and took a deep breath. 'Blessed sweet Westerlies! We're back!' he shouted out, wetting his finger and lifting it to feel the wind.

Jack closed his eyes, opening his fist, and forced himself to look at it. There was no black spot, and he sighed in relief while Hermione smiled at him. He pulled her into his arms, kissing the top of her head.

Pintel and Ragetti were hanging upside down, tied to the mast. 'This was your idea, and the fact that I went along does not make you any less stupid,' he told him, shaking his head.

'Well it don't make you no more smart, either,' Ragetti argued, looking at him.

Pintel frowned. 'Yes it does, my lack of instigating stupid ideas makes me smarter by omission,' he surmised, not taking any blame for this.

Next to Pintel’s head, Cotton’s Parrot shook off the water, ruffling his feathers making Pintel blink at the spray of water on his face.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Two: The Price of Freedom

Elizabeth gazed out at the horizon. 'It's a sunrise,' she said, and Will came to stand next to her, putting his hand on her shoulder. He looked out, seeing the sun rising above the water. There was a brief moment of celebration from the crew while everyone grinned at each other.

Then everybody drew their pistols at once, pointing them at each other. Will at Barbossa, Barbossa at Jack, Gibbs at Barbossa, and Elizabeth at Jack. 'Wait, what's happening?' Hermione asked, looking at them all in turn.

Jack, who had one pistol pointed at Will, drew a second pistol, pointing it at Barbossa. Barbossa followed suit, pointing his second pistol at Gibbs while Elizabeth picked up another pistol and pointed it at Barbossa. Hermione moved forward, but Jack gave her a look which stopped her. 'Stay there, Hermione,' he said firmly, and she frowned, but nodded.

This is a moment everyone had prepared for, and there was a beat before they all laughed. They all grinned at each other, lowering their pistols. Suddenly, the laughter stopped, and the guns were raised again.

Pintel and Ragetti worked to get free. 'Get untied, we need our pistols! Hurry!' Pintel shouted out, wriggling around trying to loosen the rope.

'Who would we point at?' Ragetti asked him thoughtfully.

Over with the four, Barbossa looked at all of them in turn. 'All right then. The Brethren Court is a-gathering at Shipwreck Cove. Jack, you and I be going there, and there's no point arguing the point,' he said sternly, looking at Jack pointedly.

Jack looked at him. 'I is arguing the point. If there's pirates a-gathering, I'm a-pointing my ship the other a-way,' he said to him, raising his eyebrows.

'The pirates are gathering to fight Beckett. And you're a pirate,' Elizabeth stated, looking at him. She swung her second pistol toward Jack, and he stopped aiming at Will to point at her. Will aimed one of his guns at Jack, and the other at Barbossa to cover him.

'Fight or not, you're not running,' Will told him, leaving no room for argument.

Hermione looked at all of them, wondering why they needed pistols to negotiate this. She didn't understand why everyone couldn't just calmly agree. Then again, they were pirates… except for Elizabeth, Will, and herself. She guessed this was how they negotiated. She tuned back in when Barbossa spoke, 'If we don't stand together, they'll hunt us down, one by one, ‘til there's none left but you,' he said to Jack, pointing his pistol at him.

Jack looked at Hermione for a moment, before turning to look at Barbossa. 'Then I'll be the last pirate. At least then there will be only one of me,' he answered, thinking this was sheer brilliance on his part.

'Aye, and you'll be fighting Jones alone. How does that figure into your plans?' Barbossa asked him, rolling his eyes.

Hermione moved over to them. 'He won't be alone,' she said, looking at them all.

'Ah, so you would have the witch protect you?' Barbossa surmised, smirking at Jack.

'No, I would get her to someplace safe, and then I'll work on my plan,' he said, looking at Hermione apologetically.

'Why wouldn't you let me help you?' she asked him, shaking her head.

'You shouldn't be in the middle of this,' Jack answered, shaking his head. 'I'm not putting you in immediate danger, not even if my life depended on it. I'd rather die than put you in danger,' he told her honestly, and she looked away, not sure how to argue with him about it. He turned back to Barbossa. 'I'm not going back to the Locker, Barbossa. Count on that,' he said through gritted teeth.

Jack pulled the trigger on his pistol, but there was only a resounding click. Barbossa, Will, and Elizabeth pulled their triggers, getting the same clicks. Pintel and Ragetti arrived next to them with their pistols, while they stood to check their own. 'Wet powder,' Gibbs clarified, looking at them all.

Will lowered his pistol. 'We've got other issues to deal with. We can get back to shooting each other later,' he said to them, and they all moved away.

'Is this necessary?' Hermione asked them all, but none of them answered her. Jack just smiled, putting his arm around her and leading her away with him.

Pintel and Ragetti tested their pistols, getting the same clicks. 'Wait. We can still use ‘em as clubs!' he said, using the pistol to hammer the air in a demonstration of this.

Ragetti followed suit, but he hit Pintel with it. 'Sorry,' he said to him, receiving a glare in return. 'Effective, though,' he said with a smile and Pintel rolled his eyes.

oOoOo

Later that morning, Will was leaning over the charts, indicating to Jack and Barbossa to look at what he was pointing at. 'There's a freshwater spring on this island, where we can resupply,' he told them.

Jack nodded. 'You lead the shore party. I'll stay with the ship,' Jack said, looking at them both innocently.

'I'll not be leaving my ship in your command,' Barbossa argued, shaking his head.

Will smirked. 'And he'll not be leaving his ship in your command. Here's an idea, you both go, and leave the ship in my command,' he suggested, and they both raised their eyebrows at him. 'Temporarily. Promise,' he added with a smile.

Jack and Barbossa shook their heads, before moving over to the rail. Barbossa pulled out his telescope while Jack came to stand next to him. 'An uneasy alliance?' Barbossa asked him, opening his scope and looking through it.

Jack nodded. 'An unholy one,' he agreed, opening his telescope until it was as long as Barbossa's. He opened it further until it was much longer and drooped at the end. Barbossa looked at him in disbelief, and he smiled back. Barbossa snapped his telescope closed, and walked away, shaking his head.

oOoOo

It wasn't long before they reached their destination and they got into boats to go ashore. Pintel and Ragetti crawled out on to the surf while the other boats landed. Jack, Hermione, and Barbossa stepped out onto the sand, spotting something large ahead. The rest of the pirates noticed it too. 'Criminey!' Pintel shouted out.

Barbossa moved towards it, with Jack and Hermione in tow, while Pintel and Ragetti hustled past them. When they got closer, they realised what it was. 'It's the Kraken,' Hermione said in shock.

It was lying dead on the shore, and Pintel found a driftwood stick, poking it with it. 'Careful!' Ragetti called to him.

'Ahh, not so tough now, are you? Stupid fish! Serves you right!' Pintel said, poking it some more with his stick.

Jack took Hermione's hand with a frown, and she looked up at him. She couldn't imagine how he must be feeling seeing it again even if it was dead. She rubbed his arm gently, and he gave her a small smile. They approached it, almost reverently in Jack's case. 'Are you okay, Jack?' she asked him, and he gave her a quick nod, not trusting himself to speak.

'Hello! I bet folk would pay a shilling to see this! And a second shilling for a sketch of ‘em sitting atop!' Ragetti said, moving around it excitedly.

Pintel nodded. 'Kraken slayers! We could carve mini’ture Krakens out of coconuts and sell those, too! We could give ‘em a slice as a souvenir,' he said, getting just as excited about this as Ragetti.

'Or fried! For lunch,' Ragetti suggested to him.

'I wonder which of the parts is edible?' Pintel asked, looking at the massive beast.

Jack and Hermione stopped about a metre away from the beast. Hermione went to move closer, but a tug on her hand from Jack stopped her, and she turned to look at him. He was staring into the giant eye of the beast, his image reflected back, and Hermione could see the fear in his eyes.

Barbossa appeared behind them. 'Still thinking of running, Jack?' he asked him, coming to a stop next to them. 'Think you can outrun the world?' he said, looking at him. 'The problem with being the last of anything, by and by, there be none left at all,' he told him, looking back at the beast.

Jack squeezed Hermione's hand, looking at Barbossa. 'Sometimes things come back. We're living proof, mate,' he said in a small voice Hermione had never heard him use. He was always so full of confidence, and she believed seeing the Kraken again took it out of him a bit.

'It's not going to retake you,' she whispered, trying to make him feel better about his ordeal with the Kraken.

He smiled at her. 'I know, love,' he answered, wrapping an arm around her.

Barbossa looked at Jack. 'Aye, we may have come back, but that's a gamble with long odds, ain't it? There's no guarantee of coming back. But passing on… that's dead certain,' he answered him. Jack frowned, contemplating this while Barbossa regarded the beast. 'The world used to be a bigger place,' he said with a shake of his head.

Jack frowned. 'It's still the same size. There's just less in it,' he answered, shaking his head. 'Summoning the Brethren Court, is it?' he asked reluctantly.

'Our only hope,' Barbossa confirmed with a nod.

Jack shook his head, his arm tightening around Hermione. 'That's a sad commentary, in and of itself,' he answered, resting his head on top of hers and she patted his back awkwardly to comfort him.

They moved away from the Kraken to where the well was meant to be on the island. It was located through the trees, and while they walked, Hermione thought about everything that had happened over the course of the time she was in the past.

To come from a war in her time and to be thrown into another war… it was unthinkable. She should have broken down into a huge mess by now. She didn't know what was keeping her going anymore. She couldn't fathom what was driving her, but she knew she wanted to… no, she needed to see this through. She felt like she was here to help right an injustice against pirates… although they were technically the bad guys. The ones she had been with from the beginning were not bad, no matter what they had done in the past.

She glanced up at Jack and couldn't believe how much he had changed since the first time she met him. If someone told her back then she was going to fall for a pirate Captain she would have thought they were cracked up. Hell, he wasn't even her type. Hell, Will was more her type, which was probably why she felt the way she did when she first met him. Yet, here she was with Jack, walking with her hand clasped tightly in his, and she didn't want to look back.

She didn't believe it until he was gone, of course. She denied the feelings which were building up in her for Jack. She tried to think more about the rapidly vanishing feelings she felt for Will and the anger which followed in its wake at his treatment towards her. Even now she still felt anger towards him, but she didn't want to hurt or upset Elizabeth.

She shook her thoughts away when they reached the well, watching Marty stoop to take a drink. She started when he jumped back from it with a shout, and they moved over to the well to see what spooked him. There was a body floating in the water, face down. Barbossa leaned down, sampling the water, and spat it out. 'Poisoned. Fouled by the body,' he said with a grimace.

Barbossa reached down to turn the body over revealing it to be Steng, the betrayer in Singapore. The wooden fid had been driven through his eye. 'Hey, I know him!' Pintel stated, pointing at him.

They heard a shout then and rushed outside to find Ragetti yelling something, but his words were lost. He pointed out past the reef where the Black Pearl was floating, and next to it was a Chinese fighting ship; the Empress.

Jack and Barbossa stared at it, and there was a loud click from next to them. They both looked sideways to find Tai Huang holding a pistol on them, backed by his men. Jack pointed at Barbossa. 'He's the Captain,' he said with a smile while Barbossa rolled his eyes.

oOoOo

The landing party climbed up on to the deck of the Black Pearl. There were Chinese pirates, too many to fight, who had taken over the Black Pearl. They had already stripped the crew of their weapons and shackled them together. Two guards were holding Elizabeth, one of them was rubbing a swelling eye, and the other had a bloody lip.

Jack and Barbossa spotted Sao Feng at the same time, and Jack moved Hermione a little behind him, holding his arm out in front of her to protect her. She gave him a pointed look, and he frowned, but she winked at him. Realisation dawned on him, and he lowered his arm. Jack, recognising Sao Feng, tried to hide behind Barbossa inconspicuously.

'Sao Feng,' Barbossa greeted him with a smile. 'You showing up here, ‘tis truly a remarkable coincidence,' he said, chuckling a little.

'Fortune smiles upon those prepared to meet its gaze,' Sao Feng answered, before moving towards Jack. 'Jack Sparrow. You paid me great insult, once,' he snarled, looking at Jack with loathing.

Hermione gripped her wand just in case she needed to step in. Sao Feng stepped forward and slugged Jack in the jaw. She flinched, her hands balling into fists when he staggered, and his knees buckled, but he kept his feet. Sao Feng moved to slug him again, but Jack held up his hand for him to wait. Jack looked around, searching for his hat, and when he found it, he set it back on his head. Hermione looked at him in disbelief, and he shrugged.

He turned back to Sao Feng. 'So, now we can call it square,' he said with a smile, some blood at the corner of his mouth.

'Hardly,' Sao Feng answered, glaring at him.

Hermione spotted Will striding up to them, and she frowned upon realising he wasn't a prisoner. She was right; he betrayed them. She made to move towards him, but Jack held out his arm to stop her. 'Patience, love,' he whispered, and she nodded, but tears were coming to her eyes.

Will stopped near to them, spotting Elizabeth in chains. He looked at Sao Feng. 'She's not part of the bargain. Release her,' he ordered him.

Barbossa frowned. 'And what bargain be that?' he asked Will, but he ignored him.

Sao Feng turned to his men. 'You heard Captain Turner. Release her,' he ordered them, and they released Elizabeth who came to stand next to Will with an angry frown.

Jack raised an eyebrow. 'Captain Turner?' he asked him, shaking his head a little.

'Aye, the perfidious rotter led a mutiny against us,' Gibbs advised them, glaring at Will.

Jack shook his head. 'It's always the quiet ones,' he said, looking at Barbossa meaningfully and he nodded back.

'Will, why are you doing this?' Hermione asked him, but he didn't look at her.

Elizabeth noticed this. 'Answer her, Will. Why didn't you tell me you were planning this?' she asked him.

Will turned to look at Hermione. 'I didn't want to, I had to,' he answered her, shaking his head sadly. He then looked at Elizabeth. 'It was my burden to bear,' he said to her, and she frowned.

Barbossa sighed. 'The only way a pirate can make a profit, these days, is by betraying other pirates,' he said, looking at Sao Feng.

'I can live with that… as long as I am not the other pirates,' he answered, crossing his arms.

'But you've no acrimony toward mutineers?' Jack asked in surprise. Most pirates hated mutiny with a passion and feared it would happen to them.

Sao Feng shrugged. 'He did not mutiny against me, did he?' he answered smugly, smirking at him.

Will looked at Jack. 'I need the Pearl. That's the only reason I came on this voyage,' he told them, his tone stoic and his face expressionless.

Jack rolled his eyes, pointing to Will. 'He needs the Pearl,' he said, looking at Elizabeth next. 'And you felt guilty,' he said, and she looked away. He looked at Barbossa next. 'And you and your Brethren Court,' he said to which Barbossa shrugged a little. 'Didn't anyone come to save me just because they missed me?' He asked everyone, and he felt a tug on his hand. He turned to look at Hermione who was frowning at him. 'I'll rephrase that… anyone, except Hermione,' he asked everyone. Gibbs, Marty, and Cotton raised their hands followed by Ragetti and Pintel when they realised they raised their hands. Jack pointed to them. 'I'm standing over there with them. Come on, Hermione,' he said, taking her hand and moving over to them.

Sao Feng grabbed his arm. 'I'm sorry, Jack, but there's an old friend who wants to see you first,' he told him with a smirk.

Jack smiled nervously. 'I'm not certain I can survive any more visits from old friends,' he answered, gripping Hermione's hand tighter.

Sao Feng noticed this but looked back at Jack nonchalantly. 'Here is our chance to find out,' he answered, nodding his head to something over Jack's shoulder. Jack and Hermione turned to see the Endeavor rounding the island towards them.

Two men grabbed hold of Hermione, while another two yanked Jack roughly away from her. 'Jack!' she shouted out, but one of the men clasped his hand over her mouth. She struggled to get free, managing to release own of her hands and reached for Jack.

Jack reached for her hand, and their fingertips touched before he was pulled away. 'Don't worry!' he shouted back to her, worry evident in his eyes. He turned to look at her one last time before he was forced into a boat. The boat moved through the water towards the Endeavor.

Hermione's body slumped, tears filling her eyes. 'Jack,' she whispered, her tears falling to land on the deck.

oOoOo

On the Endeavor, Jack was escorted into the Captain’s cabin, and the important-looking man in there signalled for the guards to leave without turning around. Jack frowned, wondering who this man was. He was standing at a window, peering out at the Black Pearl. Jack searched the tidy cabin surreptitiously, spying his effects on the table, including his Compass. There was also a decanter and two glasses of Sherry, and his frown deepened. He raised his eyebrows at the man, wondering what he wanted from him.

'Remarkable,' the man said, breaking the uncomfortable silence, and he turned to look at Jack. His eyes widened a little when he recognised the man. It was Beckett. 'The last I saw of that ship, she was on fire, a blackened hulk sinking beneath the waves,' he said, looking back out at the Pearl with interest.

Jack closed his eyes, not wanting to think about it. 'Thank you for that memory,' he muttered, looking down at the ground.

Beckett turned to him. 'We had a deal. I contracted you to deliver cargo on my behalf. You chose to liberate it,' he said, shaking his head.

Jack frowned. 'People aren't cargo, mate,' he said with a slight growl.

Beckett raised his eyebrows. 'And you incurred a heavy debt to raise her back up, didn't you?' he asked him, before noticing Jack was looking around the room. 'It's not here, Jack,' he said with a small smirk.

Jack snapped his eyes back to him. 'What is not?' he asked, assuming an air of questioning innocence.

Beckett turned back to the window. 'The heart of Davy Jones. It is safely aboard the Flying Dutchman, and so unavailable for use as leverage to satisfy your debt to the good Captain,' he told him, glancing sideways at him.

Jack clocked what he said and smiled. 'By my reckoning, that account's been settled,' he answered.

Beckett turned back to him. 'By your death. And, yet, here you are,' he said, eyeing Jack with a frown.

Jack smiled, looking down at his hands for a moment. 'Close your eyes and pretend it's all a bad dream. That's how I get by,' he answered, looking back up at him.

Jack watched Beckett's control lapse momentarily, which was something he had never seen before. Beckett was a man who always kept his cool, kept his poise, so for him to lose control was interesting to Jack. Beckett shook a little with anger. 'Your good deed cost me much, Jack!' he shouted, and Jack realised he had probably wanted to get this off his chest for a long time.

Jack smiled. 'And you spared me any possibility of ending up as anything other than what I am. And for that, I thank you,' he answered sincerely, shrugging a little. He turned and walked around the room, spotting two model ships on the table. He picked them up, pretending to sail them in mid-air. 'Will someone be in soon to draw you a bath?' he asked, his tone mocking.

Beckett stormed over, taking the ships from Jack and put them back in their places. He took a deep breath before looking back at Jack. 'It would be nice if all of us could be on holiday year ‘round, but someone must ensure that the world turns properly,' he told him, before looking over at the map of the world. 'People are what they love, Jack,' he said, looking back at him. 'And what they love is cargo. They love spices, and linens, silks… plantains… and as long as it arrives on time and in sufficient supply, they are content to be nothing more than figures in a ledger,' he said to him, giving him a serious look. 'You're a smart man, you know I'm right,' he said, his tone and expression hopeful.

Jack scoffed, and then he chuckled. 'If you're offering me a seat on the board, I am neither depraved enough nor drunk enough to accept,' he said, shaking his head. He refused to agree to anything this man proposed. He wouldn't be able to look himself in a mirror again… he wouldn't be able to face Hermione again. He shook his head, trying to clear his mind of her for the moment. He didn't want Beckett to realise how important she was to him. He would use her are a bargaining chip… he couldn't have that. He would die first…

His eyes followed Beckett while he moved to the table and picked up one of the glasses of Sherry. He moved over to Jack, handing it to him, and he looked back at him in surprise. Beckett picked up the other one, raising it in a toast. 'Then perhaps you'll consider a different arrangement. One that requires nothing from you but information,' he suggested, tilting his head a little.

Jack frowned, wondering what his game was. He glanced at the table Beckett was standing next to, spotting the Pieces of Eight and a light bulb flashed on in his mind. He raised his eyes back to Beckett. 'Regarding the Brethren Court, no doubt,' he answered, thinking about it. Hermione was going to murder him when she found out what he was about to do. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. 'In exchange for fair compensation? Square my debt with Jones, guarantee my freedom?' he proposed to him. Hermione may not like it, but he would be free to be with her without any impending doom above their heads.

Beckett smiled. 'Of course. It's just good business,' he answered, his smile widening upon his belief Jack would give them what they need.

Jack nodded, a thoughtful expression on his face. 'Were I in a divulgatory mood, what might I divulge?' he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Beckett took a sip of his sherry. 'Everything,' he answered with a shrug. 'Where are they meeting? Who are the Pirate Lords? What is the purpose of the nine pieces of eight?' he said, listing off questions on his fingers.

Jack nodded, smiling at him. 'I think I'd prefer to maintain my monopoly on those answers,' he said, looking Beckett directly in the eyes. 'It's just good business,' he said, looking at his sherry which he was unsure whether to drink. Who knows what Beckett may have put in it…

Beckett frowned, shaking his head. 'You haven't changed,' he said with a sigh. 'Enjoy the gallows,' he added with a shrug.

Jack smiled, he was expecting his answer to be along those lines. 'I've been. Once you've taken in the view, there's not much else to it,' he answered, shaking his head. He prayed Hermione would forgive him for what he was about to do. 'Now, far be it for me to give advice to you, but if I were me and you were you, and we each had the same lack of trust in the other, imagine you are me. You would propose that rather than you telling me where the Brethren Court is meeting, you lead me there instead, whereupon you could serve up to me the Pirate Lords, the Nine Pieces of Eight, and the whole of the Brethren Court on a silver platter,' he said, turning away from him so he wouldn't see him close his eyes, regretting what he was about to say. 'And you being me, I would likely accept such an offer,' he said, forcing the words out. He took a deep breath, putting on a stoic expression before turning back to him.

Beckett looked deep in thought, his eyes wide. 'On a silver platter?' he asked him, turning his wide eyes on him.

Jack smirked, calm as a summers day on the outside, but on the inside, he was fighting internally with himself. He knew this was a bad idea; he just didn't know how bad yet. 'With a frilly linen napkin and a spicy banana on the side,' he answered, his shoulders slumping when Beckett turned away to think about it. He closed his eyes, praying this would mean his freedom. He only did it so he could be with Hermione and sail the seas without having to worry about things like this happening.

He did it for her… to keep her safe.

oOoOo

Back on the Black Pearl, Sao Feng’s men guarded Barbossa, Elizabeth, Hermione, and the rest of the crew. Mercer and a crew of sailors fanned out on the ship, and the sailors made their preparations to sail, but when one of them tried to take the wheel from Huang, Sao Feng and Will intercepted Mercer. 'My men are crew enough,' Sao Feng said to him pointedly.

Mercer raised his eyebrows at him. 'Company ship, company crew,' he answered calmly.

Will frowned, turning to look at Sao Feng. 'You agreed, the Black Pearl was to be mine,' he growled, looking at him and Mercer.

Sao Feng smiled. 'And so it was,' he answered and Will's eyes widened. Sao Feng gestured to one of his men who stepped forward, punching Will from behind in his kidneys. The wind was knocked out of him, and he fell to his knees while two others shackled his arms and hauled him away.

Hermione shook her head from where she was standing by the rail of the Black Pearl; her eyes fixed on the Endeavor. She couldn't believe Will had betrayed them again and she was beyond forgiving him this time. He deserved whatever these pirates and sailors were going to do with him. She shook her head, banishing those thoughts straight away. If she was honest, she didn't wish any ill to come to Will. She knew he only did what he did because he desperately wanted to save his Father. She knew she would do the same if she were in his position.

Her gaze narrowed on the Endeavor, hoping Jack wasn't being an idiot and agreeing to some deal with Beckett. She wasn't sure if he would end up betraying them as well. She hated the thought, but he was a pirate after all. He would do anything to save his skin. Then again, he also proved he would do anything to protect her. She just hoped if he was making a deal with Beckett, he wasn't doing it for her. She would hate herself if he did something he would regret because of her. She didn't want him to risk everything for her again… she couldn't bear the thought if she were to lose him again.

She looked back up at Sao Feng and Mercer, tuning in to what they were saying. 'Beckett agreed, the Black Pearl was to be mine,' he said to him with a frown.

Mercer chuckled. 'And so it was,' he answered, turning to him with a smile. 'Lord Beckett wouldn't give up the one ship as might prove a match for the Dutchman, would he?' he answered, tilting his head much like Beckett would. Sao Feng looked around uncomfortably, realising the sailors outnumbered his men, all armed, and watching for trouble. Realising he was in no position to argue, he nodded sharply to his man at the wheel who stepped aside for the sailor with a frown. Mercer gave Sao Feng a half-salute before ambling away with a smile on his face.

Hermione watched with interest when Barbossa sidled up to Sao Feng, a look of curiosity plastered on his face. He gave her an imperceptible nod, and she slyly moved closer to where they were. She wondered if Barbossa had a plan, and she was thankful she used the sticking charm to stick her wand to her sleeve before this happened. Maybe Barbossa caught on to this and knew she still had her wand on her.

She moved closer, tuning in to their conversation while making it look like she was just getting some water from a barrel near to where they were. 'Shame they're not bound to honour the Code of the Brethren, isn't it? Of course, honour's a hard thing to come by, nowadays,' Barbossa said smugly, examining his nails.

Sao Feng looked at him, a smirk on his face. 'There is no honour to remaining with the losing side. Leaving it for the winning side… that's just good business,' he answered, his smirk fading when he looked back at Mercer who was walking around the ship slowly.

'The losing side, says you,' Barbossa answered, looking sideways at him.

'They have the Dutchman. And what do the Brethren have?' he asked him, his curiosity peaked at how nonchalant and relaxed Barbossa was about their situation.

Barbossa smirked at him. 'We have… Calypso,' he answered, looking at Sao Feng who was frowning at him in surprise. Hermione frowned as well, wondering what or who Calypso was. She watched Sao Feng's eyes move to her, and she quickly looked away to avoid suspicion. Barbossa clocked this though, and his smile widened.

Sao Feng adopted a sceptical mein. 'Calypso. An old legend,' he scoffed, shaking his head.

Barbossa chuckled. 'No, the Goddess herself, bound in human form… fury or favour, you not be knowing… but when the mood strikes her, and it's her favour she bestows upon a lucky sailor… well, you've heard: legendary,' he said, exchanging a knowing smirk with Sao Feng. 'There was a time when the seas be untamed, the world a rougher place, and a sailor made his own fate,' he said, pausing for a moment and silence hung the air around them. Barbossa continued, 'I aim to bring it back. And for that, I need the Brethren Court,' he told him, tapping the knot pendant Sao Feng was wearing. 'All the court,' he added pointedly, looking at him.

Sao Feng nodded thoughtfully. 'What are you proposing?' he asked him, his eyes narrowed a little.

'What be you accepting?' Barbossa asked, knowing there would be a price.

'The girl,' Sao Feng answered.

'What?' Elizabeth and Hermione answered as one, before looking at each other.

'That girl,' he said, pointing at Hermione.

'We give you Her—' Will cut himself short, before continuing quickly, 'Cassandra in exchange for helping us escape?' he asked him in disbelief.

Sao Feng nodded, thinking this seemed like a reasonable price to him. Barbossa shook his head. 'No. No. Out of the question,' he said, looking at Hermione. 'Jack would kill us all if we allowed her to go,' he said, moving to stand next to Hermione who gave him a look of confusion.

'You know I can take care of myself,' she muttered with a huff.

Barbossa raised his eyebrow at her. 'Aye, I'm well aware, but I'd rather not have Jack kill me again,' he answered with a smirk at her.

'Would you accept me?' Elizabeth asked him, thinking this through.

Hermione shook her head. 'No, Elizabeth. Don't do this,' she said, grabbing the girl's arm gently.

'It's okay, Cassandra. I have my reasons,' she told her with a smile, before glaring at Will.

Sao Feng watched the exchange before looking at Elizabeth. He walked around her for a moment. 'Yes, I would accept her instead,' he answered, looking at Barbossa.

'Done,' Elizabeth agreed, moving to stand next to him.

'What?' Will barked, looking at her. 'Not done,' he said to Sao Feng.

Elizabeth turned on him angrily. 'You've put us in these straits. If this frees us, then…' she trailed off, turning back to Sao Feng. 'Done,' she reiterated.

'No,' Will said in despair.

Elizabeth looked at him. 'My choice. My choice alone,' she said pointedly, daring him to argue.

Will shook his head. 'Elizabeth, they are pirates,' he implored to her, trying to get her to reconsider.

Elizabeth chuckled. 'I've had more than enough experience dealing with pirates,' she answered pointedly, and Hermione could hear the implication behind her words. She had more than enough of dealing with one pirate in particular: Will. Hermione watched Will's face fall at her words and knew he came to the same conclusion she did.

Sao Feng smiled at her, reaching out to take her arm. 'I am pleased—' he cut off when she roughly yanked her arm out of his grasp and held up a warning finger to him. 'My apologies. I know I must earn your favour,' he said, bowing his head to her.

Elizabeth looked at him in surprise at his show of respect, but she was willing to take it. 'That's right. You do,' she answered with a small smile.

Barbossa frowned at them, knowing the reason he wanted Hermione was because he planted the seed she was Calypso. He never thought he would take Elizabeth instead, but realised it might be because of how close they were. Barbossa would have thought Sao Feng would rather annoy Jack by insisting he take Hermione, so he had to wonder what Sao Feng's plan was.

He shook his head, deciding he would figure it out later. 'Then, do we have an accord?' he asked him.

Sao Feng looked hesitant for a moment, his eyes fixed on Hermione, and Barbossa had a feeling he was about to change his mind. He was surprised when he turned back to Barbossa. 'Agreed,' he answered, and they shook hands.

Gibbs looked at them, before shaking his head. 'Now, if we only had a plan,' he said to them, and they nodded, all thinking of ways they could escape their current predicament.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Three: From the Edge of Despair

Back on the Endeavor, Jack was lounging in a chair looking at Beckett with undisguised hatred while they bargained with each other. ‘You can keep Barbossa. The belligerent homunculus and his friend with the wooden eye, both. And Turner. Especially Turner. If he were twins, you could have all three of ‘em,’ Jack said, smirking up at him.

Beckett nodded, noting that and looked at him with suspicion. ‘And what becomes of the Swann Sisters?' he asked him, noting Jack's eyes were narrowing at him.

‘What are they to you?’ Jack asked, his frown deepening. He would be damned if he gave up Hermione to him. Beckett didn’t answer, just gave Jack a knowing smile. Jack gritted his teeth. ‘The rest go with me aboard the Pearl, and I will lead you to Shipwreck Cove. A fair deal, don’t you think?’ he said, extending his hand to seal the deal.

Beckett smiled at his hand. ‘Jack, I just recalled: I have this wonderful Compass that points to whatever I want. So, for what do I need you?' he asked, thinking he had won.

Jack raised his eyebrows. ‘Points to the thing you want most. And that’s not the Brethren Court, is it?’ Jack answered, glancing at the Compass knowingly.

‘No? Then what is, Jack?’ he asked curiously.

‘Me,’ Jack answered, not missing a beat. There was a long pause before Jack sighed. ‘Dead,’ he added. Jack gestured to the Compass. ‘Try it,’ he said.

Beckett moved over to it, picking it up and opening it. He looked at the needle, and from his reaction, it pointed at Jack. Jack scuttled sideways, and the needle followed him. ‘Damn,’ he muttered, and Jack smirked triumphantly.

Beckett flung the Compass to Jack, who caught it easily. Jack opened it, and his smile dropped as the needle pointed to the Black Pearl where Hermione was. He needed to get back to her as soon as possible. He hoped they could wrap this up so he could go back to her.

Beckett watched the emotions flitting across Jack’s face, and hid his feelings of glee at knowing there was something Jack held dear. And that something, or rather someone, was aboard the Black Pearl. He would make it a personal mission to find out which Swann Sister Jack held in such high regard… and he would use her to destroy Jack.

Beckett watched Jack close the Compass, his expression becoming impassive again. Beckett clucked his tongue, a sudden realisation coming to him as he watched Jack attach the Compass onto his belt. ‘Although, it occurs,' he said, and Jack looked up at him. ‘If I got what I wanted most, then wouldn't what I wanted second most become the thing I wanted most?' he asked, and Jack realised what he was getting at as Beckett started pacing. ‘If I killed you, I can find…' he trailed off thoughtfully. ‘Shipwreck Cove, was it?' he asked, receiving a nod from Jack. ‘On my own,' he continued as if he hadn't needed to ask a question in between. He turned to look at Jack, who could see he was itching to follow through with what he was saying. ‘Cut out the middleman, as it were,' he said with a shrug. ‘Literally,' he added and picked up his pistol.

Jack had to think quickly because he knew Beckett would kill him where he stood, without a second thought or hesitation. ‘With me killed, then you’ll arrive at the Cove, find it’s a stronghold, nigh impregnable, able to withstand blockade for years, and you’ll be wishing, oh, if only there was someone who you had not killed inside to ensure that the pirates come outside,’ he said, biting his cheek. Hermione was going to kill him, never mind Beckett.

Beckett lowered his pistol. ‘Can you accomplish this?’ he asked curiously.

Jack chuckled. ‘You may kill me, but you may never insult me. Who am I?’ he asked, not expecting an answer before he continued, ‘I’m Captain Jack Sparrow, mate. Do we have an accord?' He said, extending his hand once more. Beckett hesitated for a moment, and then the ship was rocked by cannon fire making him fall forward. Jack grabbed his hand and shook it. ‘Done!' he said with glee, before scooping up his effects and headed for the door.

Jack appeared on deck with Beckett trailing behind him. Bodies were littered from the aftermath of the fighting. Becket looked out, seeing the Empress sailing away in the distance. Cannon fire and gunshots could be heard from the Black Pearl. The last of Beckett's men were cut down, and Jack saw Mercer somersaulting off the stern, splashing into the water.

Jack stared at the Pearl, hoping Hermione was okay and looked for a way across. He moved over to a gunner, shoving him away from a cannon. He kicked away the brace, and flipped the cannon over, facing the ship. Beckett turned then, looking over at Jack who was wrapping a rope around the cannon wheel. Jack grabbed a fuse lighter in his hand. ‘You're mad,' Beckett said to him, shaking his head.

Jack smirked at him. ‘Oh, thank goodness! Because if I am, in fact, not living some wretched fever dream, I doubt this will work,' he said and lit the cannon. Beckett dove out of the way as it fired, the ball hitting the mast behind him, cracking it. The recoil shoved the cannon violently back, and it smashed through the rail and plummeted. Jack hung onto the rope as it pulled him upwards and out, flying across towards the Black Pearl.

Barbossa followed Jack's trajectory, wincing at a series of horrible crashing sounds. He pushed forward and saw a ripped sail, a splintered barrel, a tangled rope, spilt tar, and gunpowder. The aftermath of what had to be a terrible landing, but when Barbossa looked up, he saw Jack standing on the aft railing, unhurt, and quite relaxed. Jack smiled down at him. ‘Tell me you didn't miss me,' he said, his smile widening when Barbossa turned away in disgust. Jack hopped down, coming face-to-face with Will, and his smile turned into a seething glare. ‘Send this piss-yellow traitor to the brig,' he ordered, and Will was dragged away.

Jack moved on, looking around for Hermione, but Barbossa stopped him. ‘See, Jack, there’s somethin’ we be needin’ to tell you,’ he said, and Jack actually saw fear in his eyes.

‘Where’s Hermione?’ Jack asked, looking around for her again, but he couldn’t see her. He took a step forward, and Barbossa held up his hands in surrender. Jack’s eyes flashed dangerously. ‘Tell me where she is!’ Jack shouted, and Barbossa flinched, not thrilled with the idea of having to explain what happened while Jack was away. The crew looked on in terror as Jack grabbed Barbossa and dragged him into the Captain’s Cabin, slamming the door behind them.

oOoOo

Back on the Endeavor, Beckett watched the spectacle and heard Jack shouting and then the Black Pearl set sail. Beckett found Jack’s anger to be very interesting. Groves came to stand next to him. ‘Which ship do we follow?’ he asked him.

Beckett sighed, looking around at the carnage on his ship. ‘Signal the Dutchman. We follow the Pearl,’ he said as Groves moved off to do as he was asked. Beckett stopped him. ‘How soon can we have the ship ready to pursue?’ he asked him, and he didn’t even flinch when the broken mast behind them cracked and fell, the sails plummeting.

Groves shook his head, staring off at the Pearl in open admiration. ‘Do you think he plans it all out or just makes it up as he goes along?' he asked, watching Beckett rub his face in irritation.

oOoOo

Hermione wriggled her hands, trying to get them out of their binds, but it was useless. She tried to shout out, but the gag over her mouth made her want to be sick. She couldn’t believe Sao Feng had kidnapped her, and he stopped Elizabeth from coming down to the brig. What did he want with her? Was she a bargaining chip should Jack come after them?

Hermione closed her eyes as she thought of Jack. He would be fuming when he learned what's happened to her. She had no doubt he would come after her, but she wanted to give these pirates a piece of her mind before he got to them. She continued her struggle, knowing if she just got one hand free she would be able to reach her wand.

Hermione stopped wriggling when she heard footsteps coming down into the brig. She glared when Sao Feng appeared and smiled at her. He moved over towards her and removed the gag from her mouth. ‘Where's Elizabeth?' she asked instantly.

‘Oh, she is being treated like a princess,’ he said, smirking at her. ‘Which would have extended to you as well, had I been allowed to take you,’ he told her, and Hermione frowned at him.

‘Why did you take me? That wasn’t part of the deal,’ she growled, wondering what this man had in store for her.

Sao Feng laughed. ‘Very clever trying to hide your real identity, my dear,' he said, and Hermione froze. Did he know who she was? How did he find out? Sao Feng noticed her stiffen and his smile widened. ‘Ah, so you know what I am talking about… Calypso,' he said, and Hermione looked at him in bewilderment.

‘What?’ she asked, staring at him as if he’d grown another head.

‘Not the name you fancy, I imagine, out of the many that you have… but it is what we call you,’ he answered, bowing his head to her.

‘Huh? Who?' Hermione asked him in confusion. She relaxed a little knowing he was apparently referring to something else and not the fact she was a witch.

‘Whom,’ he corrected.

‘Who?’ Hermione asked again, rolling her eyes.

Sao Feng looked at her, considering telling her, and then he shrugged. ‘We of the Brethren Court and our predecessors, who concealed you in this form,’ he said, and then he frowned. ‘Your forgiveness. I lied. Who imprisoned you—’ he cut himself off, tapping his chin. ‘Oh, “who”. You were right,’ he said with a smirk.

Hermione realised what he was getting at, and she almost laughed. She remembered being told about Calypso and couldn’t believe this idiot actually thought she was her. ‘Goddess,’ Hermione said, barely able to contain her amusement.

‘You confirm it, then?’ Sao Feng said, glee glinting in his eyes.

‘How can I confirm it? You’ve told me nothing,’ Hermione answered, but she wondered if she would be safer to play along. She may even be able to demand her release.

Sao Feng smirked. ‘The Brethren Court, not I, the first Brethren Court, who… whom… whose decision I would have opposed. They bound you in human form, so that rule of the seas would belong to men, and not—’ she cut him off.

‘Me,’ she finished, deciding to play along for the moment.

Sao Feng nodded. ‘But one such as you should never be anything less than what you are,’ he said with respect in his tone.

Hermione laughed. ‘Pretty words for a captor, but words whispered through prison bars lose their charm,’ she answered, raising her eyebrow at him.

‘Can I be blamed for my efforts? All men are drawn to the sea. Perilous though she may be,’ he said, his eyes gleaming and Hermione wondered if he was mad.

‘You know, Jack Sparrow will kill you if he knows you kidnapped me,' Hermione told him sweetly.

‘I have no doubt, but I imagine you have cast some spell on him to keep him as your protector. I offer my desire to you, without the need of spells,’ he said with a smile.

Hermione was fuming that he thought she would use some trick to keep Jack at her side, but she didn’t let it show. She counted to ten before answering, ‘Your desire means little to me. What would I get out of it?’ she asked, continuing this farce.

‘I would have your power, should you choose to use it,’ he answered, bowing his head to her.

‘And if not?’ she asked, her eyes flashing daringly.

‘Then I will take your fury,’ he answered, and leaned in to kiss her.

Hermione couldn't push him away because her hands were bound, so she did the next best thing and headbutted him. ‘Don't you dare—' she was cut off by a muffled, distant explosion, an incoming projectile, and a sudden crash. Sao Feng ran back up towards the deck, leaving Hermione bound to the chair. ‘Damn it all!' she shouted, resuming her efforts to free herself.

Panic shot through her as screams, shouts, cannon fire, and pistol shots could be heard from above. Hermione finally managed to release one of her hands, gasping at the stinging from the rope burn. She groped for her wand, and with a quick spell, the rope unbound itself. Thankfully, in his haste, Sao Feng had left the cell unlocked, and she followed him up the stairs.

Hermione ran into Elizabeth who was coming out of one of the rooms. She was dressed in a fancy, Chinese dress. ‘Elizabeth!’ she said, grabbing onto the other girl.

‘Oh, Hermione!' she said, hugging her. ‘I tried to get Sao Feng to release you, but he wouldn't listen, and he locked me in that room,' she said, shaking her head. She took in the red marks marring Hermione's wrists, realising she must have been tied up and anger flashed through her eyes. ‘Jack will kill him if whatever is attacking us doesn't get to him first,' she said, and Hermione nodded.

Deep down, she hoped it was Jack who was attacking. She just wanted to be in his arms again. ‘Come on, let’s go check it out,’ Hermione said, leading Elizabeth towards the deck.

A whistle sounded, and the two girls ducked down as lead balls slammed into the hull. Elizabeth glanced through a porthole, seeing only smoke and flashes of explosions, but she couldn’t see who was attacking the ship. They ducked as another cannon ball blasted through the hull. They moved out of their hiding spot, knowing that they were sitting ducks just waiting to be hit if they stayed there.

Elizabeth noticed Sao Feng lying on the deck covered in blood, and there was a long shard of wood buried in his chest. ‘Sao Feng?’ Elizabeth said, leaning down next to him.

Hermione moved over, wanting to help him even if he did treat her poorly. She knew if she removed the wood she could heal him. ‘Elizabeth, help me get this out of him. I can heal him,’ she said, grasping onto the wood.

Elizabeth grabbed the wood as well, but Sao Feng reached up and stopped them. ‘No, I'm done,' he said, coughing up blood. ‘Here. Please,' he said, removing the rope knot pendant he was wearing. ‘The Captain's Knot. Take it,' he said, handing it to Elizabeth. ‘You'll be free! Take it! I must pass it on to the next Brethren Lord,' he said, coughing again.

‘Me?’ Elizabeth asked in confusion.

‘Go in my place to Shipwreck Cove,’ he whispered, and Elizabeth took the pendant. She looked at Hermione in confusion before placing it around her neck.

Tai Huang burst through the door then, the sounds of fighting following him into the cabin. ‘Captain! The ship is taken! We cannot—’ he cut off, stopping short as he took in the scene before him.

Sao Feng was mortally wounded, bleeding profusely, and he was turning deathly pale. He looked up towards Elizabeth and Hermione who had to lean down to hear his next words, ‘You must release… Calypso…' he choked before exhaling his last breath.

‘Release Calypso?' Elizabeth asked Hermione who shrugged, deciding not to tell the older girl Sao Feng thought she was Calypso.

‘What did he tell you?’ Tai Huang asked, moving over to them and taking in the body of his Captain.

Elizabeth held up the pendant, now hanging around her neck. ‘He made me Captain,’ she answered, shaking her head in confusion, and Tai Huang nodded.

Elizabeth made her way out onto the deck, followed by Hermione and Huang. Hermione looked at Elizabeth, and she was glad Sao Feng hadn’t made her Captain instead. She would have given it to Elizabeth regardless. She didn’t want that kind of responsibility, but Elizabeth seemed to take it in stride.

Hermione looked around, the deck was littered with bodies, and cannon smoke hung in the air. Sails were ripped to shreds, and moans from injured sailors floated to her ears. Hermione and Huang followed Elizabeth to the railing, and they looked out at the Flying Dutchman, with its contingent of encrusted sailors. They watched as they swarmed onto the ship, rounding up the terrified sailors.

The smoke lifted revealing Norrington striding forward, surveying the damage. He sighed before raising his eyes, seeing Elizabeth and Hermione. ‘James?' Elizabeth said in disbelief at seeing him there.

‘Elizabeth! Cassandra!’ he shouted out, running over to them and embracing them both. They both endured it, looking at each other over his shoulders. ‘I heard you were both dead!’ he shouted, pulling back to look at them both.

‘And I mourned you,’ Elizabeth said, glad to see he was not dead.

Norrington self-consciously straightened his uniform jacket. ‘Your Father will be overjoyed to hear you are both well,’ he said with a smile.

His smile dropped when both Elizabeth and Hermione looked down at the deck, tears filling their eyes. Elizabeth looked back at him. ‘Father is dead,’ she whispered, trying not to cry.

Norrington frowned. ‘No, he’s not. He returned to England,’ he told her, trying to reassure them.

Hermione laughed bitterly, making him look at her. ‘Oh, and I suppose Beckett told you that, did he?' she barked, and he was a bit taken aback by her anger. Elizabeth lay a gentle hand on her arm, and she calmed herself down.

Norrington shook his head. ‘Yes, Beckett told us he…’ he trailed off, not wanting to believe Beckett had lied to him about the Governor’s fate.

Davy Jones appeared then, stepping past them. ‘Who among you do you name as Captain?’ he questioned, looking at them all.

Huang quickly pointed at Elizabeth. ‘Captain! Her!’ he shouted out, and Elizabeth gritted her teeth as the other sailors chimed in as well.

Norrington looked at her in surprise. ‘This ship is done for. We leave it. Take the sailors to the Dutchman’s brig,’ he ordered them.

‘You heard the Admiral!’ Davy Jones shouted, and his crew moved to obey the command.

Norrington held up a hand. ‘The Captain and Lady Cassandra may have my quarters,' he said, looking at Jones.

‘No thank you, sir. I prefer to remain with my crew,’ Elizabeth told him sternly.

‘I’m staying with Elizabeth,’ Hermione said, and they both moved over to the crew as they were being led away.

Norrington called to them, ‘I swear, I did not know.’

Elizabeth turned back to him but continued to walk backwards. ‘Know what? Which side you chose?' she asked him, and he frowned. ‘Now you do,' she said, fighting back the tears threatening to escape.

oOoOo 

Crew members from the Empress were locked in various cells. Jimmy Legs closed the bar on Hermione and Elizabeth, and a thought occurred to her. ‘Bootstrap?' Elizabeth asked him tentatively. Jimmy Legs let out a laugh, and moved away, passing by Clacker who was mopping the deck. ‘Bootstrap? Bill Turner?' She called to Clacker softly, but he only grunted and turned his back on her.

Elizabeth gave up then, slumping down in the cell. Hermione came over to her, rubbing her back. ‘He’ll be here somewhere. Maybe he’ll hear about this and come down to see. Pirates are curious after all,’ she said, trying to be reassuring. Elizabeth nodded, but she didn’t look entirely convinced.

‘You know my name,’ came a voice making them both jump. They looked at the wall of the ship, seeing someone there who was part of it.

Elizabeth nodded, standing up and Hermione followed suit. ‘I know your Son, William Turner,’ she said to him.

‘William! He’s all right?’ he asked, and the two girls nodded at him. ‘He made it! He’s alive. Hah!’ he said, laughing heartily. ‘And he’s sent you to tell me that he’s coming to get me. He promised. God’s wounds, he’s on his way!’ he exclaimed with hope in his eyes.

‘Yes, Will is alive, and he wants to help you,’ Elizabeth told him, hoping he would be able to help them.

Hermione frowned when the hope in his eyes disappeared and his features clouded with despair. ‘What’s wrong?’ she asked him.

‘No. He can’t come. He won’t come,’ Bootstrap whispered, shaking his head.

‘He’ll try,’ Hermione said, trying to reassure him.

‘You’re his Father. He won’t abandon you,’ Elizabeth said gently.

Bootstrap looked at them. ‘Is one of you Elizabeth?’ he asked, looking at them.

‘Yes, I am,’ Elizabeth answered, taking a step closer to him.

‘He spoke of you,’ Bootstrap told her and Elizabeth smiled. ‘He can’t save me. He won’t. Because of you,’ he told her.

Elizabeth’s smile dropped. ‘Me?’ she asked in shock. Why would he not save his Father because of her?

‘You’re Elizabeth,’ he said as if this was the answer to everything. Bootstrap fell silent then, closing his eyes.

Elizabeth waited, wondering if he would say any more, and she looked at Hermione in confusion. Elizabeth shook her head. ‘I’m Elizabeth,’ she prompted him.

This worked, and Bootstrap opened his eyes, looking at her. ‘If Jones be slain… he who slays him takes his place. Captain. Forever. Every man before the mast knows that, Elizabeth! The Dutchman must have a Captain!' he told them, and they looked at each other.

Hermione frowned. ‘So, if Will intends to free his Father, he would have to kill Jones, and become him?’ she asked, shaking her head.

Elizabeth nodded, having pieced it together herself. Was that Will’s plan? ‘I see—’ she began, but Bootstrap cut her off.

‘If he saves me… he loses you,’ he said, and Elizabeth nodded, closing her eyes sadly. ‘He won’t pick me. I wouldn’t pick me. The Dutchman must have a Captain,’ he reiterated.

‘You already said that,’ Hermione said, looking at him in confusion.

Bootstrap nodded, slowly fading back into the ship. ‘Tell him, don’t come! Tell him, stay away! Can you tell him? It’s too late. I’m part of the ship. The crew,’ he told them, closing his eyes and becoming utterly still. Elizabeth moved forward, reaching out a comforting hand to him. Suddenly, his eyes open again. ‘You know my name. You know my name!’ he shouted out, receiving a frown from Elizabeth.

Elizabeth looked at Hermione in shock, before looking back at Bootstrap. ‘Yes, I know your, Son,’ she answered quietly.

‘William! He's alive?' Bootstrap said happily, smiling at her. Bootstrap stared at her, waiting for an answer, but Elizabeth couldn't bring herself to speak, so she just nodded at him. ‘He'll come for me. He promised. You'll see,' he said and faded back into the hull leaving Elizabeth and Hermione to regard him with horror, and pity.

oOoOo 

On the Black Pearl, Jack was in his cabin drinking from a bottle of rum. His expression was dark, and no one dared even speak to him. Barbossa had taken over full command of the ship and told the crew to leave Jack be.

They had lost track of the Empress, and this alone made Jack fume. Barbossa almost had to lock him in the cabin to avoid him becoming a danger to the crew, let alone himself.

Eventually, they found a trail and followed it, but when they came upon the wreckage of the Empress, Jack had fallen into grief and believed Hermione was dead. Now, he was wallowing in his despair and drinking heavily.

Jack lifted the bottle to his lips, but it was empty. He cried out angrily, throwing it across the cabin to smash against the wall. He shook his head and headed out of the cabin intending on finding more rum.

He stopped at the forecastle and looked down seeing Will and his eyebrows raised. A sudden idea came to him, and he leaned on the railing. Will was tying a body to a barrel, working almost automatically. He pulled out a knife to cut the rope, but paused and gazed at it. He let out a growl, his anguish apparent.

‘You escaped the brig even quicker than I expected,’ Jack said, and Will whirled around, ready for attackers. He looked up, seeing Jack lounging on the rail above the forecastle, and wondered how long he had been there for. He raised his knife, not about to allow Jack to stop him from leaving. ‘Hold on, William,’ Jack said, holding up a hand. Will could hear in Jack’s voice that he was still devastated at losing Hermione, but Will didn’t believe she was dead. He couldn’t. If Hermione was dead, then Elizabeth was probably dead as well. He wouldn’t accept that. Jack continued, ‘Do you notice anything? Or, rather, do you not notice anything? Or, rather, do you notice something that is not there to be noticed?’ he asked cryptically.

For a moment, Will thought about what he said and looked back up at him. ‘You haven't raised the alarm,' he stated, lowering his knife.

Jack smiled, but it was pained one. ‘That’s odd, isn’t it?’ he said, clearing his throat which had been thick with tears. He grabbed the rail, and hopped over, dropping down to the forecastle. From this proximity, Will could see Jack’s blood-shot eyes as clear as day. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days, and had probably cried the entire time. He decided not to say anything. Bringing up Hermione was a very touchy subject, and Jack would probably kill him. Jack shook his head, looking over at Will's handiwork. ‘But not as odd as this. You came up with this all on your lonesome?' he asked him.

Will smirked. ‘I said to myself, think like Jack,’ he answered, looking over at the barrel.

Jack chuckled. ‘And this is what you arrived at?’ he asked, gesturing to the barrel. ‘Lead Beckett to Shipwreck Cove so as to win his trust and accomplish your own ends? It’s like you don’t know me at all,’ Jack said, shaking his head.

‘Think like Jack, but do what’s right,’ Will corrected himself, smirking at Jack.

Jack leaned against the railing. ‘And how does your dearly beloved feel about your plan?’ he asked him. Will frowned, but didn’t answer. Instead, he returned to his work, but he was curious about why Jack would bring that up. Surely, if he believed Hermione was dead, wouldn’t he think the same of Elizabeth? ‘Ah. You’ve not seen fit to trust her with it,’ Jack stated, bringing Will out of his thoughts.

‘I'm losing her, Jack,' he said, looking up at Jack who was surprised by this. When Jack mentioned Elizabeth, he wasn't sure if Will felt the same as him. Will was stubborn and didn't believe anything unless it was jumping up and hitting him in the face. Even seeing the devastation of the Empress didn't make him believe Elizabeth and Hermione were dead. True, they searched the ship and couldn't locate any bodies, but Jack had a sneaking suspicion Davy Jones had something to do with that. Jack tuned back in as Will continued talking, ‘Every step I make for my Father, is a step away from Elizabeth,’ he said, shaking his head.

Jack smiled, but it was sad. ‘If you choose to lock your heart away, you will lose her for certain,' he answered and Will looked at him. ‘But if I might offer an exceedingly simple solution: Don't save your Father,' he suggested to him with a shrug.

Will shook his head. ‘I have to. I can’t turn my back on him,’ he answered.

‘“Can’t” is a matter of fact,’ Jack said, making Will frown at him. ‘You can if you want, but you won’t, and that makes it a choice,’ he told him as Will looked away, considering his words. ‘That’s what life is, boyo: Choices. Out of all the things you can do, what will you do?’ Jack asked him, but Will didn’t know how to answer. He was at a loss, and his shoulders slumped. Jack smirked; this was exactly where he wanted him. ‘If I might lend a machete to your intellectual thicket,’ he said, walking past Will, and turned back to him. ‘Avoid the choice altogether. Change the facts. Let someone else dispatch Jones,’ he suggested, looking him dead in the eyes.

‘Who?' Will asked, and then realised what Jack was getting at. ‘You?' he asked him, looking at him in disbelief. ‘Have you given up on Hermione that quickly? You would do this, knowing if she is alive you'll never see her again? She won't stick around for you, Jack,' he said, shaking his head. Jack's eyes flashed dangerously, and Will knew he was treading on delicate ground by bringing Hermione up, but it needed to be said. Jack couldn't just give up on her.

‘Death has a way of reshuffling one’s priorities,’ Jack told him through gritted teeth, and Will knew what he meant by that. Hermione’s “death” had reshuffled Jack’s, and Will stared at him in disbelief. ‘Truth be told, I should never have fallen for man's greatest vex,' Jack whispered, heaving a sigh. Will could hear the pain in his voice, and he suddenly felt awful for Jack. He gave up his life for Hermione, only to have her taken from him within days of being reunited with her. He genuinely believed she was lost to him. Jack's voice brought him back from his thoughts. ‘I slip aboard the Dutchman, I find the heart and stab the beating thing. Your Father goes free from his debt, and you are free to be with your charming murderess if she is still alive,' he answered, smirking at Will.

‘And you bind yourself to the Dutchman, forever?' Will asked, thinking Jack was an idiot.

Jack shook his head. ‘No, I am free forever. Free to sail the seas, beyond the edges of the map, free from death itself, and grief. I’ll forget my pain, my sorrow…’ he trailed off, biting his lip and forcing the tears back. He took a deep breath. ‘Crew aboard the Dutchman is one thing, but Captain?’ he said with a smirk. ‘Sign me up,’ he said, trying to sound enthusiastic, but he knew he didn’t.

Will shook his head. ‘You think you’ll forget Hermione when you become Captain? All the pain you feel from losing her… it will be worse. You’ll have forever to wonder what would have happened if she lived. And, if you were to do this, only to later find out she is alive? You’d be stuck in an eternity of regret,’ Will told him, ignoring the glare he received from Jack. ‘And, you have to do the job,’ Will added, shaking his head.

‘Job?’ Jack asked, moving the subject away from Hermione. The pain he felt was still too much to bear. He wasn’t sure what would happen once he became Captain of the Dutchman, and he knew he would never forget Hermione, but he knew the pain would ease one day.

‘You have to ferry souls to the next world, or end up just like Jones,’ he answered, rolling his eyes as if this was obvious.

Jack looked way at the sea, considering what that might be like, and began puppeteering his beard braids like tentacles. He shook himself and shuddered at the thought. ‘I don't have the face for tentacles,' he mused in disgust, remembering the slime residue which was left on his hand when Jones removed the black spot and shuddered again. Jack made up his mind. ‘Then I'll take on the obligation and not quite be completely free, but immortal has to count for something!' He said, clasping his hands excitedly, even though he didn't feel the least bit excited. He missed Hermione; it was tearing him apart. He shook her from his thoughts, as difficult as it was to do, and moved over to Will. ‘Now, here,' he said, handing his Compass to Will.

‘What's this for?' Will asked him.

‘Think like me. It’ll come to you,' Jack told him, and Will frowned in confusion as he puzzled over what Jack meant by that. Then realisation hit him about a half second too late as Jack shoved him over the side of the ship. Will hit the water with a splash, before surfacing and he watched as Jack tossed his barrel over beside him, narrowly missing him. Will hauled himself atop it, glaring up at Jack who was leaning over the side. ‘Give my regards to Davy Jones!' he shouted with a broad smile, before waving and disappeared from Will's view.

Will glared at the spot Jack was standing at moments before. ‘I hate him,’ he growled, shaking his head.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Four: The Noose Tightens

Amid the calm seas, the Dutchman sailed straight, leading other ships in the group which were dark outlines against the sky. In the brig of the Dutchman, Elizabeth opened her eyes at the sound of the cell door opening. She sat up when she realised it was Norrington. ‘Be quiet,’ he warned her, looking around. ‘Wake Cassandra. This way. Hurry,’ he said to her.

Elizabeth frowned, but leaned over towards Hermione and shook the girl. ‘What is it?’ Hermione asked, sitting up and seeing Norrington standing nervously at the cell door.

The two girls got to their feet, moving towards him. Sao Feng's crew members looked at Elizabeth, and she gave them a nod. They walked past her towards the exit. ‘What are you doing?' she asked, placing a hand on her hip.

‘Choosing a side,’ Norrington answered, motioning for them to follow.

Norrington left the cell door open, and Bootstrap Bill appeared from the wall, staring at it. He pushed it further open and shuffled through.

‘What now?’ Elizabeth asked Norrington as they got out on deck. ‘We don’t have a ship, it was left behind,’ she said to him, crossing her arms.

Norrington nodded towards a tow rope leading to another ship called “The Rambler” which was only slightly smaller than the Empress was. Elizabeth nodded to her crew, and they walked over to the tow rope. Like rats on a line, they crawled across to The Rambler. ‘One at a time. Quickly now,’ Norrington told them, before turning back to Elizabeth and Hermione. ‘Do not go to Shipwreck Cove. Beckett knows of the meeting of the Brethren,’ he told them, and Hermione frowned.

‘How did he find out? Unless…' Hermione trailed off, her eyes widening when she realised it must have been Jack. Why would Jack give up the location of Shipwreck Cove? What deals did he make with Beckett? She shook her thoughts away and grabbed Norrington's arm. ‘Is the Black Pearl heading to Shipwreck Cove? Did Beckett say anything about it?' Hermione asked him, making him look over at her.

‘Yes, Lord Beckett is following the Pearl to Shipwreck Cove. I fear there is a traitor among them,’ he answered, looking at them both in turn.

Elizabeth shook her head. ‘It is too late to earn my forgiveness,' she whispered and felt Hermione take hold of her arm gently in comfort.

Norrington sighed. ‘I do not ask it,’ he answered, making Elizabeth look back at him. ‘I had nothing to do with your Father’s death, but that does not absolve me of my other sins,’ he answered, shaking his head sadly.

‘Come with us,’ Elizabeth said to him, finally believing he is telling the truth. Norrington hesitated, and they could tell he wanted to. ‘James, come with me,’ she reiterated, taking his hand. Norrington was considering it and looked over to see nearly all the Chinese crew members were across.

A sound came from the deck, breaking the moment, and a figure shuffled towards them. ‘Who goes there?' came a familiar voice, as Bootstrap emerged from the darkness.

Norrington looked back at them, giving them a push towards the tow line. ‘Go! I will follow!’ he said to them, taking out his sword.

‘You’re lying,’ Hermione muttered, shaking her head.

Elizabeth looked back at Norrington. ‘James…’ she trailed off, her tone imploring.

Norrington looked down with a sad smile on his face. ‘Our destinies have been entwined, Elizabeth, but never joined,' he said, looking back up at her. Elizabeth took a small step towards him, and Norrington seemed to give in to whatever internal struggle he was having when he leaned forward and kissed her. They stayed that way for a few lingering moments before Norrington pulled away. ‘GO! NOW!' he shouted at them, shoving them towards the tow line. He turned back to Bootstrap who was holding a pike as a weapon. ‘Back to your station, sailor,' Norrington ordered, grasping his sword tightly.

Elizabeth and Hermione were making their way across the tow line, and Bootstrap looked towards them. He tilted his head, knowing something was not right, but he wasn’t sure what it was. ‘No one leaves the ship,’ he mumbled, and Norrington had to strain to hear him.

‘Stand down. That's an order,' Norrington said, but his words fell on deaf ears.

‘Part of the crew. Part of the ship,’ Bootstrap was chanting to himself while he stared at the two girls who were halfway across.

‘Steady, man,’ Norrington said in warning, raising his sword.

Bootstraps eyes widened then as something seemed to snap in him. ‘All hands! All hands! Prisoner escape, all hands!’ he shouted out.

Norrington raced towards Bootstrap. ‘Belay that!’ he shouted, but it was too late. The sound of running footsteps approached, and the crewmen appeared.

Hermione had just made it across and was about to reach out to Elizabeth to help her aboard, but she stopped upon seeing Norrington in trouble. ‘James!' she cried and moved back towards him.

‘Elizabeth!' Hermione shouted, but she couldn't reach her to grab her back.

Norrington looked over, and drew his pistol, firing upwards at the tow line. Half the strands severed, and the other strands quickly strained, and snapped. Hermione watched as Elizabeth swung down, splashing into the water as The Rambler drifted free. She grasped the railing, her knuckles turning white, as she spotted Elizabeth holding onto the rope for dear life. Elizabeth slowly dragged herself, hand over hand, towards the hull of the ship.

Norrington let out a breath of relief and turned back to the crew. Suddenly, he was run through by Bootstrap Bill. Norrington cried out in pain, blood spilling from his mouth.

Hermione watched this in horror, feeling tears come to her eyes, but she shook her head and ran to the hull. She grabbed a rope and tied it tightly to a ring on the railing—just like Jack showed her—and dangled it down for Elizabeth to catch. ‘Elizabeth! Take the rope!' she shouted.

Elizabeth managed to grab it and pulled herself up towards the railing. She looked back at the Dutchman in time to see Norrington collapse onto the deck. ‘NO! JAMES!' she screamed, letting Hermione pull her over the railing to safety.

Bootstrap was standing over Norrington, a look of confusion clouding his features like he wasn't sure what he had just done. ‘The Admiral's dead. The Admiral's dead!' Clacker shouted, and the phrase echoed through the crewman. Davy Jones appeared then, making them stop. ‘To the Captain's Cabin! Aye!' he shouted, and the crewmen raced away past Jones and past Bootstrap who they knocked back. Bootstrap tilted his head, still not understanding what he has done.

Jones leaned down towards Norrington, who was spitting up more blood. ‘James Norrington, do you fear death? Do you fear judgement on the other side?’ he asked him, receiving a glare in return. Norrington suddenly lurched up, thrusting his sword into Jones’ shoulder. Jones frowned at the sword, unaffected, and unhurt as Norrington stared in shock, before exhaling sharply and collapsing, dead. ‘I take that as a… no,’ Jones muttered, and pulled Norrington’s sword out of his shoulder, regarding the blade with genuine appreciation. ‘Nice sword,’ he said, slashing it through the air.

Jones stood, and looked out at the sea, watching The Rambler moving away from them swiftly. He shook his head; he would deal with them later. Crewmen were rushing pell-mell along the deck amid shouts of "The Admiral's dead!" and "To the Captain's Cabin!". They rushed the door, and the pirates crowded into the room, looking at the table where the chest was open.

Murtogg and Mullroy, trembling, and several other soldiers had their rifles pointed directly at the heart. Behind them stood Mercer, who survived his tumble off the Black Pearl. Next to him was a small cannon, and the pirates stopped short.

They part as Jones entered the room, and fear appeared in his eyes. ‘Close it. CLOSE IT!' he said angrily.

Mercer complied, and closed the lid of the chest, locking it with the key on a chain. He then tilted the cannon into place, pointed squarely at the chest. ‘Nothing has changed,’ Mercer said, putting the chain around his neck.

Back on The Rambler, Hermione was trying to comfort Elizabeth. ‘What do we do now?’ she asked the older girl.

‘I will not rest until Beckett pays for what he has done!’ Elizabeth growled, standing and going out onto the deck followed by Hermione.

‘We need to go to Shipwreck Cove,’ Hermione said, and Elizabeth turned questioning eyes to her. ‘I need to see Jack. I have a horrible feeling he thinks I’m dead, and that won’t bode well for anyone,’ she said, and Elizabeth nodded absently.

Elizabeth turned to her crew who were awaiting orders. ‘Make ready to leave! We sail for Shipwreck Cove!’ she ordered, and the crew quickly went about their work.

oOoOo

Jack leaned on the rail of the Black Pearl, staring out at the sea darkly. Gibbs came to stand next to him on the aft deck, looking at him curiously. ‘You know, Jack,' he said thoughtfully, flinching when Jack turned his angry gaze to him. ‘I…' he trailed off, not knowing how to say what he wanted to say without pissing Jack off more than he already was.

‘Speak, man!' Jack ordered him, turning his gaze back to the sea.

‘I… well, not just I, but the crew… we don't be believin' Hermione is dead, see,' he said, and Jack looked at him in warning. Gibbs gulped, but continued, ‘The lass is clever and powerful. I believe she would get out of a bind,' he finished, hoping Jack wouldn't kill him for mentioning her.

Jack didn't answer, but Gibbs noticed his dark look changed to one of thoughtfulness. Jack tilted his head, and Gibbs could almost see the wheels turning. Jack knew Hermione was a powerful witch, and he knew she would be a challenging target to take out. If Davy Jones killed her, he would be using her as a weapon against him. Will's words came back to him, and he acknowledged the Blacksmith-turned-Pirate didn't believe Hermione and Elizabeth were dead.

Jack shook his head. ‘Perhaps,’ he muttered, and Gibbs looked at him in shock, but didn’t dare steer the Captain away from any positive thoughts he might be having. ‘I will find you,’ he said to himself, his eyes softening. ‘Gibbs,’ he said, leaning against the rail again.

Gibbs nodded and turned to address the crew. ‘Look alive and keep a careful eye! Not for nothing it’s called Shipwreck Island, where lies Shipwreck Cove, and Shipwreck City!’ he shouted, and the crew nodded, preparing themselves for what was to come.

Jack turned and faced the crew, leaning back on the railing. ‘You know, for all that pirates are clever clogs capable of the most underhanded and duplicitous thinking… we are an unimaginative lot when it comes to naming things,’ he mused, shaking his head.

Gibbs chuckled. ‘Aye,’ he agreed.

Jack looked over at Barbossa who was looking out to sea opposite to them. He had to admit he appreciated Barbossa taking the reins when Jack succumbed to his grief. He couldn't believe he was so naïve to think Hermione was dead. He had to hold on to the hope she was okay. He still felt a pang of loss, and part of him wanted to search for her instead of heading to Shipwreck Cove. There was no way Barbossa or Tia Dalma would allow it though.

Over on the other railing, Barbossa was thinking similar thoughts, only his revolved around Tia Dalma and not Hermione. He was glad to see Jack was picking himself back up again, but he would be damned if he allowed him to become a joint Captain again. Jack was too unpredictable now and had let his emotions get the better of him. Barbossa didn't think he could be trusted to make an unbiased decision, and if Hermione were here, he knew Jack would do anything she wanted.

Barbossa sighed irritably when he felt a hand on his shoulder, but he didn't turn to the owner as he knew who it was. ‘Barbossa, why you not giving the order to man the guns?' Tia Dalma asked, leaning on the railing next to him. ‘All the Brethren be gathered in this place. You can force them to do as you want!' she said, frowning at him.

Barbossa rolled his eyes and looked at her. ‘What I want is not to act the fool, and what you're suggesting it nought but fool's folly,' he argued, turning his gaze back to the sea.

Tia reached up and caressed his cheek seductively. ‘If you no longer want my favour, Barbossa, then perhaps I should be calling a different Captain to my cause,’ she said, shrugging indifferently.

Barbossa scoffed. ‘Hardly,’ he said, turning to look at Jack who was watching them curiously. ‘I don’t think he would do anything unless it were coming from Hermione,’ he answered, giving him a little wave. Jack frowned and turned away, glancing back at him a few times as if Barbossa was mad.

‘Hmmm, yes, de girl does hold much sway over, Jack,’ she agreed, but she didn’t sound at all happy with this.

‘I wouldn’t be thinking that if I be you,’ Barbossa said, not needing to look at her to know what she was planning.

‘No need. Witty Jack would not turn down the promise to survive the coming storm, I think,’ she answered with a smile.

Barbossa sighed. ‘I do not renege on a bargain once struck, but we agreed to ends only; the means are mine to decide,’ he said, and turned to walk away.

Tia reached out and caught his wrist, and he turned back to her. She squeezed, and his forearm and hand became decayed, skeletal, dead. Barbossa flinched at the sight, but he didn’t pull away. ‘Caution, Barbossa. Do not forget it was by my power you be returned from the dead… or what it means if you fail me,’ she warned, letting go of his arm and it turned back to normal.

Tia turned to walk away this time, but Barbossa grabbed her arm and pulled her close. ‘And don’t you forget why you had to bring me back. Why I could not leave Jack to his well-deserved fate. Why I could not give Sao Feng a second smile in his throat to match that ineffably smug one he wears on his face,’ he seethed, and his grip tightened on her arm. ‘It took nine Pirate Lords to bind you, Calypso—and it takes no less than nine to set you free. ‘Til then, I'll not be taking commands from you, nor risk you reaching accord with someone else!' he barked, and she stared back defiantly. Barbossa growled under his breath. ‘Mr Pintel! Mr Ragetti! Take this… fishwife to the brig!' he ordered them.

Pintel and Ragetti hurried to comply. ‘Right this way, Missus Fish,’ they said, and Tia rolled her eyes and allowed herself to be taken away, but shot Barbossa a scathing glare.

Jack watched all this with curiosity, wondering what Tia said to Barbossa to earn her a trip to the brig. He was tempted to ask her, but the shudder down his spine held him fast, and he turned away. He would find out later.

Jack made his way up to the bridge. ‘Step out, Mr Cotton,’ he ordered, and Cotton moved aside to let Jack take the wheel. ‘There’s some dangerous cross tides ahead that will prove a trick to navigate,’ he explained, and Cotton nodded, moving down onto the main deck to help with other duties.

The Black Pearl sailed directly towards the cliffs, as if it would run aground, but revealed amid the rocks was a massive tunnel. Jack sailed the Black Pearl into the tunnel, and Gibbs glanced over the side. ‘Deep enough for the ship's draw. I would never have believed it,' he said in awe. This was his first time to Shipwreck City, and he had never seen it before.

Jack smirked. ‘If you knew how many died making it deep enough, you'd believe,' he answered distractedly.

Shipwreck Island was hollow, with a round water cove. In the centre was Shipwreck City, constructed of broken, derelict ships. Moored around the city was pirate vessels, of all types, from all over the world. Pintel and Ragetti stared at it in awe, while Jack smiled faintly. ‘Look at them all!' Pintel shouted out, pointing to all the ships.

Barbossa nodded. ‘There’s not been a gathering like this in our lifetime,’ he told them, crossing his arms.

Jack sighed, the smile fading as he recognised a few of the ships. ‘And I owe all of them money,' he muttered, pulling his hat lower over his head, though he knew this would not hide him from them.

oOoOo

Somewhere in the Caribbean Sea, squawking seagulls circled above the Endeavor, diving down to the barrels on the deck. The Flying Dutchman was moored alongside it. Groves opened the door to the Captain’s Cabin, and he quickly stepped out of the way as Jones stormed in angrily. ‘I cannot be summoned like some mongrel pup!’ he barked at Beckett who had his back to him.

Beckett turned slowly, not affected by Jones' ire. ‘Apparently, you can,' he answered, smiling at the fuming Captain. Beckett gestured to someone leaning against the wall. ‘I believe you know each other,' he said by way of introduction. Will stepped forward, holding a teacup and saucer, and nodded to Jones.

Jones smirked. ‘Come to join my crew again, Master Turner?’ he asked, tilting his head.

‘Not yours. His,' Will answered, nodding to Beckett. Jones' eyes widened, and Will smirked at him. ‘Oh, Jack Sparrow sends his regards,' he said smugly. Jones and Beckett looked at him in surprise, just as Will intended.

‘Sparrow?' Jones asked in confusion.

Will raised his eyebrows in faux surprise, and turned to Beckett. ‘You didn't tell him Jack was rescued from the locker? Along with the Black Pearl?' he asked, tutting at him, and Beckett shot him a glare.

Jones took a moment to absorb this new information and turned to Beckett angrily. ‘What else have you kept from me?' he snarled at him.

Beckett shook his head. ‘Not important,' he muttered and held up a hand when Jones intended to argue. ‘There is another issue,' he said, pointing to Will, ‘far more troubling,' he continued and turned back to Jones. ‘You are familiar with a person called "Calypso"?' he asked him.

Jones tried for a measured response to his words but was not entirely successful. ‘Not a person. A heathen God. She delights in cursing men with their wildest dreams, and then revealing them to be hollow and nought but ash. The world is well-rid of her,' he explained, his anger rising as he spoke.

Will clicked his tongue. ‘Not quite so well, actually,' he said and sipped his tea. ‘The Brethren Court intends to release her,' he told him nonchalantly, awaiting his reaction.

Just as Will expected, Jones was fuming at this news. ‘No. They cannot! The first court promised to keep her imprisoned forever! That was our agreement!' he shouted, slamming his claw hand into the wall.

Beckett frowned. ‘Your agreement?’ he asked in curiosity.

‘I told them how to bind her. She could not be trusted. She gave me no choice,’ Jones explained, shaking his head. ‘We must act before they release her,’ he said, turning to Beckett.

Will’s eyes widened when he realised why Jones was so affected by this. ‘You loved her,’ he said, and Jones snapped his eyes towards Will in anger. ‘She’s the one. And then you betrayed her,’ he deduced, and Jones rolled his eyes.

She pretended to love me. She betrayed me,’ Jones told him, and Will nodded.

‘And after which betrayal did you cut out your heart, I wonder?' he asked, watching as Jones' face darkened.

Jones hurled the table out of the way and slapped Will's teacup out of his hand. Jones came right up to him, his face merely inches from Will's. ‘Do not test me!' he seethed, but Will didn't even flinch.

Will looked at his broken teacup on the floor, before turning to look back at Jones. ‘I wasn't finished with that,' he said, and Jones pulled back from him in irritation. ‘You will free my Father,' he ordered Jones who looked back at him in disbelief. Will ignored him and turned to Beckett. ‘And you will guarantee Elizabeth's safety, and my safety,' he told him, before pausing to consider whether he should mention Hermione as well, but shrugged. Jack would take care of her, and he knew she was safer with him if he was honest. Jack would never let any harm come to her.

‘Your terms are steep, Mr Turner. We will expect fair value in return,’ Beckett said, crossing his arms and considering Will’s orders.

Jones growled. ‘There is only one price I will accept: Calypso. Murdered,’ he said, wondering if Will would accept his terms in exchange for his Father’s release.

Will shrugged. ‘Calypso is aboard the Black Pearl. Jack has sailed it to Shipwreck Cove,’ he told them.

‘With you no longer aboard it. How do you propose to lead us there?’ Beckett asked him curiously.

Will smiled, and held up Jack’s Compass. Their eyes widened at this. ‘What is it you want most?’ he asked them, and opened the Compass and the needle settled, pointing to the west.

oOoOo

Hermione couldn’t get off the Rambler quick enough when she saw the Black Pearl anchored in Shipwreck City. She wanted nothing more than to run off and find Jack, but Elizabeth stopped her with a firm hand on her shoulder. ‘Don’t run off,’ she said, her eyes pleading. ‘I know you want to find him, but he’ll be at the meeting. We’re going there now,’ she said, and Hermione nodded.

‘I know, I just wanted to check if he was on the Black Pearl, first. I don’t think I’ll get a chance to speak to him at the meeting. I doubt he will let on that I’m important to him. He has too many enemies. He wouldn’t risk it,’ Hermione answered, lowering her head.

‘Only because he wants to keep you safe. You know he loves you, right?’ Elizabeth asked her, and Hermione blushed.

‘I don’t think he’s quite that emotionally attach—’ Hermione was cut off.

‘No, he does. He pretty much admitted it,’ she told her, and Hermione’s eyes widened at this revelation.

‘I didn't realise…' Hermione trailed off, but she smiled, and Elizabeth knew then that the younger girl felt the same about him.

‘Come on, let's get you back to him before he does something stupid,' Elizabeth said, taking the girls arm and leading her through Shipwreck City, followed by her crew.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Five: The Brethren Court; Confessions

Jack sauntered into the room where the Brethren Court was going to be taking place. It was an abandoned hull and curved spars of a wrecked ship, like the ribs of some prehistoric beast. He took out his sword and stabbed it into a Globe, joining seven other swords which were already there. Jack flinched as Barbossa banged a cannonball on the table. ‘As he who issued the summons, I convene this, the fourth Brethren Court. Your pieces of eight, my fellow Captains,' he ordered, watching the pirate lords take their seats.

With Jack and Barbossa were the other Pirate Lords: Ammand the Corsair, the scourge of the Barbary Coast; Villanueva, a taciturn Spaniard; Capitaine Chevalle, an aristocratic Frenchman; Gentleman Jocard, slave turned pirate; Mistress Ching, a blind Chinese woman; and a serene and priestly-looking Hindu, Sri Sumbhajee, flanked by two of the biggest, nastiest-looking guys Jack had ever seen: Akshay and Pusan.

The Lords tossed their pieces of eight into the wooden bowl in the middle of the table. Jack looked at the dish in amusement as the "pieces of eight" actually consisted of junk. There was a Queen of Spades, a snuff-box, the neck of a bottle with the cork still in it, a pair of spectacles, and other trash.

Pintel frowned in confusion. ‘Those aren’t pieces of eight. Those are just pieces of junk,’ he said, making Jack chuckle.

Gibbs nodded. ‘Aye, the original plan called for nine pieces of eight to bind Calypso, but when the first Court met, the Brethren were to a one skint-broke,’ he explained, shaking his head.

‘So, change the name,’ Pintel suggested.

Gibbs laughed. ‘What, to nine pieces of whatever we happened to have in our pockets at the time? Oh, yes, that sounds real pirate-y,’ he replied, rolling his eyes.

Barbossa gestured to Ragetti who moved over to him. ‘Mr Ragetti, if you will?’ he said, holding his hand out to him.

‘I kept it safe like you said when you gave it to me,' Ragetti said, not moving towards Barbossa.

Barbossa rolled his eyes. ‘Aye, you have, but now I need it back,' he said firmly, and Ragetti moved over to him hesitantly. Barbossa held his hand over Ragetti's eye, and patted him on the back of the head, making the eye fall into his hand. Barbossa smirked at him and added the eye to the bowl.

‘We’re missing two, by the sound of it,’ Mistress Ching said, her white unseeing eyes moving about the room. Jack glanced at her and shuddered.

‘Sparrow,’ Villanueva spat, pointing to the bowl.

Jack reached up for the coin circlet on his headband but paused midway as he considered the other missing Pirate Lord. Barbossa took note of the gesture as Jack dropped his hand to the table and clasped them together. ‘We're still short one Pirate Lord. I'm content to wait until Sao Feng joins us,' he said smugly, leaning back in his chair.

‘Sao Feng is dead,' came a voice from the door, and Jack's eyes shot to her. It was Elizabeth standing in the doorway, with Huang behind her. Jack tried to look around her… he needed to know if Hermione was with her, without making himself obvious. Elizabeth glanced at him, sensing this, and she moved into the room, but Huang stopped her and gestured to the globe.

Elizabeth moved over to the globe, revealing Hermione behind her, and Jack had to fight not to jump out of his seat to pull her into his arms. Hermione looked at him, but she didn't move, and Jack realised she didn't want to put him in a dangerous position. Jack gave her a little smile and motioned with his head. Hermione walked over to him and stood next to Gibbs, and Jack's chair.

‘You girl!’ Chevalle shouted, making Jack flinch. ‘What gives you right to walk in ‘ere?’ he asked in a thick French accent.

‘She’s one of Jack’s Lieutenants, Chevalle. Sao Feng kidnapped her,’ Barbossa answered, and Jack looked up at him in shock. Barbossa looked back at him with a “you owe me” expression, and Jack gave him a tiny nod to acknowledge this.

Elizabeth stabbed her sword into the Globe. ‘Before he died, Sao Feng named me Captain of the Empress. He passed his Lordship onto me,’ she declared, moving over to take a seat at the end of the table.

Jack looked at her in disbelief. ‘Captain? Captain? They’re just giving the title away now,’ he barked, shaking his head. Hermione shifted, brushing her arm against Jack’s shoulder. He didn’t react, but she noticed he unclenched his hand, so she knew he acknowledged the touch.

Jack was itching to wrap his arms around her so that he could know she was real and not going to disappear again. He would be damned if he let anything happen to her again.

Sumbhajee made a small gesture to Akshay who nodded. ‘Sri Sumbhajee inquires, by whose hand did Sao Feng perish?’ Akshay asked on behalf of his Captain.

‘Hers, I’ll wager,’ Jack muttered, and flinched when Hermione kicked his leg. Gibbs, Pintel, Ragetti, and Barbossa had to hide their amusement at this.

Elizabeth, who hadn’t noticed this, glared at him. ‘He fell to the Flying Dutchman,’ she answered, looking away from Jack and shaking her head.

The Pirate Lords, except Jack, Barbossa, and Elizabeth, erupted into an uproar of concern at her words. Ammand slammed his hand on the table. ‘With the Dutchman against us, there is no hope!’ he shouted out, his voice louder than the rest.

‘Listen! Listen to me!’ Elizabeth shouted, but no one paid her any heed.

Elizabeth looked at Barbossa, and he slammed the cannonball down on the table. ‘Everyone shut up and listen to Captain Swann!’ he barked, and the Pirate Lord’s fell silent, looking at Elizabeth.

‘Our location has been betrayed. Jones, under the command of Lord Beckett—' She cut herself off and shook her head. ‘They are on their way here,' she told them, and they all looked at each other suspiciously.

‘Who is this betrayer?’ Jocard asked, looking back at her.

‘Not likely anyone among us,’ Barbossa answered, looking at Elizabeth.

Elizabeth looked around, realising someone was missing. ‘Where’s Will?’ she asked, looking at Jack.

Jack shrugged. ‘Not among us,’ he answered, looking at his fingernails disinterestedly.

Barbossa slammed his hand on the table, making Jack flinch. ‘And it matters not how they found us! The question is, what will we do now that they have?’ he said, looking at everyone.

‘We fight,’ Elizabeth answered with a shrug. The other pirates laughed dismissively at this. Hermione looked at Elizabeth, feeling sorry for her. ‘Good men have already given their lives to this cause!’ she shouted, standing up.

‘And so, what matters the lives of a few bad ones, quips Sri Sumbhajee,’ Akshay said, playing to the other pirates and more laughter ensued.

Elizabeth glared at them. ‘They died in defiance of the Company. That’s my measure of good,’ Elizabeth barked, silencing the pirates. Jack frowned, regarding Elizabeth with a calculating look.

Mistress Ching tapped her finger on the table. ‘Shipwreck Cove is a fortress, a well-supplied fortress. There is no need to fight if they cannot get to us,' she suggested as the others in the Court considered her words.

Barbossa tapped his finger to his chin. ‘There be a third course,' he said, and the Court turned to look at him with interest. ‘In another age—at this very spot!—the first Brethren Court captured the Sea Goddess and bound her in her bones. That was a mistake,' Barbossa told them and held up a hand when they went to argue. ‘We tamed the seas for ourselves, aye, yet opened the door for Beckett and his ilk,' he explained, and they lowered their heads thoughtfully at this. ‘Better were the days when mastery of the seas came not through bargains struck with eldritch creatures, but by the sweat of a man's brow and the strength of his back alone. And you all know this to be true!' he said, looking at them as they all nodded. ‘Gentlemen… ladies… we must free Calypso!' he finished, clasping his hands together.

Hermione looked around at the silent, shocked members of the Court, and then they erupted in shouts, arguing back and forth. She shook her hand, and Jack used the distraction to reach his hand around to hers, and he squeezed it. Hermione smiled down at him, but he didn’t look up at her. Hermione closed her eyes, wanting this to be over so she could speak to him properly.

‘Shoot him!’ Ammand shouted amongst the arguing pirates, pointing to Barbossa.

‘Cut out his tongue!’ Jocard barked, taking out a pen-knife.

Jack chuckled. ‘Shoot him and then cut out his tongue! And then shoot his tongue. And then trim that scraggly beard,’ Jack said, receiving a glare from Barbossa and a giggle from Hermione.

‘Sao Feng would have agreed with Barbossa,’ Huang said, and Barbossa nodded to him.

Elizabeth turned to him. ‘Sao Feng’s judgement in matters regarding Calypso shouldn’t be trusted, even if he were here,’ she retorted, fixing him with a stern look. Huang nodded, and took a step back from his new Captain, taking her point on board.

‘Nonetheless, I would have agreed with Sao Feng,’ Villanueva added, tilting his head.

Jocard shook his head. ‘Calypso was our enemy then, she will be our enemy now,’ he argued.

‘And her mood’s not likely improved, n’est pas,’ Chevalle put in, crossing his arms.

Villanueva pulled out his pistol and slammed it down on the table. ‘I would still agree with Sao Feng!’ he growled, narrowing his eyes at Chevalle.

‘You threaten me?' Chevalle asked, looking from Villanueva to the gun on the table.

‘I silence you!’ Villanueva shouted back, lifting the pistol to shoot Chevalle. The Frenchman was quicker, and punched him, sending him sprawling into the other pirates. A pistol shot rang out in the Court which initiated a pushing, shoving, yelling melee that broke out into a full-blown brawl.

Jack stood and moved Hermione to a corner, standing in front of her to protect her from the brawl. ‘You alright, love?’ he asked her, glancing at her.

‘Yeah,’ she breathed, looking at him properly now, and she could see he didn’t look himself. She hoped he wasn’t down because of her. ‘Jack?’ she whispered, taking his hand.

Jack gave her a little smile. ‘We'll talk later, I promise,' he mumbled back, squeezing her hand. He wanted to leave with her now, run away from all of this, and leave these idiots to fight it out. Just Hermione, him, and the Pearl… it's all he wanted or needed. He knew that wouldn't happen though, not until this was all over. Then he could be with her without the thought of impending doom continually looming over their heads.

‘This is madness,’ Elizabeth muttered, shaking her head and moving over to them to avoid the brawling mess of pirates.

‘This is politics,’ Jack told her with a chuckle.

‘And, meanwhile, our enemy is bearing down on us,’ she said, rubbing her eyes in frustration.

‘If they not be here already,’ Barbossa said, sighing and shaking his head.

oOoOo

Tia Dalma looked down at her open locket which was playing a song she had listened to countless times over the years. She shut the locket, but the song continued, and she looked up in confusion into the shadows beyond the bars. Jones emerged from the shadows, his open locket in his hand. ‘My sweet Captain… you’ve come for me at last,’ she said, standing and walking to the bars.

‘You were expecting me?’ Jones asked, tilting his head.

Tia nodded. ‘Long ago. It has been torture, trapped in but this single form, condemned to exist on land, cut off from the sea, from all that I love… from you,’ she answered, lowering her eyes sadly.

Jones let out a bitter laugh, causing Tia to look back up at him with a frown. ‘No. Ten years I devoted to the duty you charged to me. Ten years I looked after those who died at sea… and, finally, when the time came I could be with you again… you weren’t there,’ he barked, glaring at her. ‘Why weren’t you there?’ he asked her, his voice softening as the memories saddened him.

Tia closed her eyes. ‘It is my nature. I may have been there the next time. Would you love me if I was anything but what I am?’ she asked him, raising her eyes back to his.

‘I do not love you,’ he snarled, and she flinched at his stinging tone.

‘Many things you were, Davy Jones… but never cruel. You have corrupted your purpose, and so yourself…' she trailed off and reached her hand through the bars. ‘And you hid away what should always have been mine,' she said, touching his chest where his heart used to be.

Instead of the creature Jones became, he was now the man he once was. He reached back through the bars, caressing her face. ‘Calypso,’ he whispered, looking into her dark eyes.

‘I will be free. And when I am, I would give you my heart… and we would be together, always…’ she trailed off as he traced his hand down the contours of her face. ‘If only you had a heart to give,’ she whispered, shaking her head and removing his hand from her chest. His hand which was touching her throat turned back into a claw. ‘Why did you come?’ she asked him, pursing her lips.

Jones removed his claw from her neck and tried to pull it back through the bars, but it was trapped inside. Jones rolled his eyes and concentrated, shuddering, and then pushed himself through the bars into the cell with Tia who took a step away from him. ‘And what fate do you have planned for your captors?' Jones asked her, leaning against the wall.

Tia’s eyes darkened. ‘The Brethren Court, all of them, the last thing they will learn in this life… is how cruel I can be,’ she alleged, her eyes flashing in anger. Jones nodded and stepped away from her towards the shadows. ‘And what of your fate, Davy Jones?' she asked, turning to look at him.

Jones paused and sighed, turning his head towards her. ‘My heart will always belong to you,' he whispered, and Tia smiled. She opened the locket, and their song resumed as Jones vanished into the shadows.

oOoOo

Meanwhile, in Shipwreck Cove, the brawl was still in full force. Jack had pulled his chair back to the corner for Hermione to sit on, and when he did he noticed the deep welts in her wrists from the ropes, but he didn't say anything. He would find something to shoot later to release his anger at the thought Sao Feng hurt her.

Elizabeth was sitting in her chair, her head resting on her fist, with an exasperated expression on her face. Barbossa banged the cannonballs, trying to regain order, and stepped up on the table. ‘It was the first Court what imprisoned Calypso! We shall be the ones to set her free! And, in her gratitude, she will see fit to grant us boons!’ he shouted out, trying to get them over to his side.

Jack chuckled from his corner next to Hermione. ‘Or at least grant ‘em to the one of us who summoned the rest of us and connived all of us to set her free,’ he said, tilting his head and smiling at Barbossa. Barbossa shot him a glare while the rest of the Court eyed him with suspicion. ‘It’s not impossible. Is it so improbable?’ Jack asked the Court, and they all nodded.

Barbossa rolled his eyes. ‘If you have a better alternative, please, share,’ he said, gesturing for Jack to speak his mind.

Jack nodded and stepped up to the table. ‘Cuttlefish. Nasty little buggers. Pen ‘em up together, and they’ll devour each other without a second thought,’ he started as everyone raised their eyebrows wondering where he was going with this. ‘So, yes, we could hole up here, well-provisioned and well-armed, and half of us will be dead within the month, and half of the other half dead the month after that,’ he said, and the other Pirate Lord’s found they couldn’t argue with that.

Hermione couldn’t help but smile at Jack’s back… he had a way with words that could sway almost anyone. He could charm his way in and out of any situation if he wanted to. She frowned for a moment as this thought crossed her mind and she suddenly remembered the many women he had probably charmed in the past. Hermione felt her stomach clench as she wondered if Jack was doing the same to her.

Charming her for one thing…

Hermione looked up at him, only to find Jack was looking at her. He had made his way to the other side of the table during his speech, and he frowned at her in worry. She didn't want to think that of him. She kicked herself internally, pushing her ridiculous thoughts from her mind. Hell, Jack sacrificed himself so that she would be safe… that should be enough for her to realise he was genuine. Hermione smiled at him, and his face relaxed, and he moved back around the table to their side.

Jack continued, ‘Or, we can release Calypso, and we can pray she'll be in a merciful mood. But can we pretend that she is anything other than a woman scorned, like which fury hell hath no?' he asked them, and they all shook their heads. ‘No, we cannot. Res ipso loquitur, tabula in naufragi, we are left with only one option. I agree with—' he stopped himself and closed his eyes. ‘Captain Swann. We must fight,' he finished, forcing out the words.

Barbossa laughed. ‘You’ve always run away from a fight!’

Jack looked at him in shock. ‘Slander and calumny! I have only ever embraced that oldest, noblest of all pirate traditions. My fellow mariners and shellbacks, I submit that here, now, that is what we all must do. We must fight to run away!’ he suggested, smiling at them all in turn.

‘Aye!’ Gibbs agreed.

‘Here, here!’ Jocard put in.

Mistress Ching rolled her eyes. ‘And what be the target of this fight, eh?’ she asked, tapping her finger on the table. Hermione wondered if this was a nervous habit she had or something. She only ever did it when she spoke.

‘Lord Cutler Beckett,’ Elizabeth answered, looking at them.

Chevalle laughed bitterly. ‘Beckett is nought but a cog. Kill him, and another takes his place. Like Jones, the East India Trading Company is immortal. It has no body to kick nor soul to damn,' he told her, shaking his head.

Jack smiled at this. ‘Ah, but Jones does have a body, doesn’t he? Such as it is,’ he said, crossing his arms.

Jocard agreed. ‘Yes! And should we kick it hard enough and long enough…’ he trailed off, receiving an enthusiastic nod from Jack. Hermione shook her head, noting how alike Jack and Jocard were. She didn’t realise there were other pirates out there that thought like Jack.

‘If the Dutchman has no Captain… what matters the Dutchman?’ Ammand put in, nodding thoughtfully.

Barbossa tilted his head, seeing the sentiment of the room swaying and he banged the cannonball for attention. ‘As per the Code… an act of war, and this be exactly that, can only be declared by the Pirate King,' he told them, and they looked at him suspiciously.

‘You made that up,’ Jack accused with a frown.

‘Did I now?' Barbossa said with a chuckle. ‘I call on Captain Teague, Keeper of the Code!' Barbossa announced and grinned at Jack's "oh, crap, not him" expression. Jack backed away into the corner where Hermione was, and she looked up at him in concern at the fear on his face.

Sumbhajee made another small gesture. ‘Sri Sumbhajee proclaims this be folly. We are not beholden to those ancient, outdated set of laws! Hang the Code! Are we not free to—' Akshay cut off as a pistol shot rang out, and he stiffened, falling to the floor.

Everyone looked to where the shot came from, except Jack. Behind him stood Captain Teague in a doorway, posing as a gunslinger, smoke still rising from his pistol. ‘The Code is the law,' he said, staring at Sumbhajee with his hand on the butt of a second gun.

Hermione looked at him in awe… he was just like an older version of Jack. Braided and beaded hair, same-styled hat, and even the way he was dressed and the way he held himself. She looked at Jack, but he had his eyes closed. Is Captain Teague Jack’s Father? She wondered, looking at them both.

Sumbhajee gestured to Pusan to step into Akshay’s place. Pusan looked nervous as Sumbhajee gestured again, and then sighed in relief. ‘Sri Sumbhajee explains that a great misunderstanding has occurred, and avers that indeed the Code is the Law,' he told them and slumped his shoulders.

Teague placed a hand on Jack’s shoulder making him flinch. ‘You’re in my way, boy,’ he said, and Jack sidestepped to the other side of Hermione as two pirates carried a locked manuscript into the room. Hermione stared at the book, her mouth agape. It was the biggest book she had ever seen, and she thought the book which held the information about Nicholas Flammel had been big. Hermione would have given anything to read the Pirate’s Code, but she knew this would never be allowed.

‘The Code!’ Pintel cried in awe.

‘As set forth by Morgan and Bartholomew!’ Ragetti said, equally in awe.

Teague whistled then, and the prison dog ran into the room, a key ring hanging from his mouth. Pintel and Ragetti recognised the dog instantly. ‘That can’t be the same pooch, can it?’ Pintel asked, scrutinising the dog.

Teague looked at them. ‘Sea turtles, mate,’ he told them, and they nodded as if this was an obvious answer.

Hermione gasped making Jack look at her in concern, but she was looking at Teague. What he said confirmed what she thought about him being Jack’s Father, and she looked up at Jack who gave her a nervous smile.

Teague took the key from the dog and unlocked the book. He opened it and licked his fingers as he leafed through it. ‘Compensation… left leg, above knee… shooting customs agents… rum drinks…' He muttered under his breath and then he stopped as he reached the page he was looking for. He skimmed it before looking up at the Court. ‘Barbossa is right,' he said, looking at the smug Captain.

Teague went to shut the book, but Jack stopped him, and read the passage himself. Teague raised his eyebrow at him as he considered shooting him. ‘“It be the duties of the King to declare war, parley with shared adversaries, co-ordinate forces…”’ he trailed off and shook his head. ‘Fancy that,’ he muttered, moving away from the book and Teague.

Teague gave Jack a look before closing the book and locking it, giving the key back to the dog. He then retired to a chair at the back of the Court and began strumming a mandolin.

‘There’s not been a King since the first Court, and that’s not likely to change,’ Chevalle said, crossing his arms.

‘Why not?’ Elizabeth asked, looking around at them.

‘See, the King is elected by popular vote—’ Gibbs started to explain, but he was cut off.

‘—and each pirate only ever votes for hisself,’ Barbossa said smugly.

Jack smiled then making Hermione wonder what he was planning. Jack, on the other hand, intended to put a pin in Barbossa's balloon and wipe the smug smile off his face. ‘I call for a vote!' Jack declared, and Barbossa looked at him in dismay. Everyone voted for themselves, naturally, but as it came to Jack's turn, he smirked at Barbossa. ‘Elizabeth Swann,' he said, receiving a glare of Barbossa who knew he'd been foxed.

Elizabeth looked at Jack in shock, but she was quick on the uptake. ‘Done!' she declared, and then the Pirates broke out in cries of outrage.

‘Ah. Am I to understand, then, that we will not keep to the Code?' Jack shouted over the din of the arguing. A loud noise of a mandolin string breaking over by Teague shut everyone up, and Jack knew Teague had his back on this.

The Pirate Lord’s exchanged glances. ‘Very well. What say you, Captain Swann, King of the Brethren Court?’ Mistress Ching asked, looking in the general direction Elizabeth was sitting in.

Elizabeth gazed around at all the Pirate Lords, and she stood. ‘Prepare every vessel that can float. At dawn, we are at war!' she declared, looking at them as they contemplated this.

Sumbhajee was the first to stand. ‘And so, we shall go to war!' He shouted in a very high-pitched voice which made everyone flinch. They realised now why he used an interpreter.

‘War!’ Jocard shouted out in agreement.

The pirates rose from their chairs, vowing war and slapped each other on the backs like the brawl earlier never took place. They started making their way out of the meeting, and Hermione watched them go feeling somewhat relieved and scared at the same time. Barbossa glowered at Jack as he made his way out, but Jack shot him a victorious smile in return. Barbossa nodded to Pintel and Ragetti then before turning to leave. Ragetti picked up the bowl behind his back and Pintel walked close behind him to cover the theft as they left.

Jack turned away from the proceedings and closed his eyes. He was kicking himself, the betrayal of all time was in place now though, and there was nothing he could do to prevent it. Hermione would hate him when she found out… he just hoped she might forgive him in time.

Gibbs walked over to Jack. ‘There’s more beneath the waterline here then you’re letting on,’ he whispered to him, shaking his head. Jack opened his eyes, looking at Gibbs with what he hoped was a wide-eyed, innocent expression. ‘You used to have an honest streak, let a man knew where he stood with you. But I can’t figure this at all,’ Gibbs said, shaking his head at his oldest friend.

Jack sighed, looking over at Hermione who was still sitting in the corner. Her eyes found his, and she smiled at him. ‘And where did that honest streak end me up? Dead,' Jack answered, his eyes not leaving Hermione's as the smile faded from her lips.

Gibbs shook his head. ‘Jack, you can’t blame Herm—’ he started, but Jack cut him off.

‘Mr Gibbs, you’ve a ship to ready for battle, don’t you?’ Jack ordered him, not wanting Gibbs to get into things too close to home for him.

Gibbs was taken aback by his brash tone and pursed his lips. ‘Aye-aye, Captain,' he muttered and turned to leave.

Hermione stood then and made her way over to Jack. ‘Hey, love,' he whispered, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. Jack felt eyes on him and turned to look at Teague who was watching him with raised eyebrows. ‘What?' Jack asked him, shaking his head. ‘You've seen it all. And survived. That's the trick, isn't it? To survive,' Jack said, carefully avoiding the confusion on Hermione's face.

Teague looked at them and stood. ‘It's not just about living forever, Jackie. The trick is, living with yourself forever,' he told him, and then his eyes fell on Hermione. ‘I thought your only love was the sea?' He said to Jack whose eyes widened, and Hermione blushed. Teague pulled a shrunken head from his belt and offered it to Jack who grimaced as he took it. It reminded Hermione of the shrunken heads in the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. Teague left them alone with their thoughts.

‘Ah,’ Jack said as he seemed to recognise the head. ‘Mum,’ he muttered, and Hermione’s eyes widened in shock as she stared at the head. Jack placed the head down gently on Teague’s vacant seat before turning back to Hermione. ‘Come on,’ he said, taking her hand and leading her from the room. Jack intended to spend their last moments before this war started together… without interruption.

The crew watched Jack with wary eyes as he came onto the Black Pearl with Hermione and they headed straight to the Captain’s Cabin and the door closed. A few moments passed and then Jack came back out and went over to Gibbs. ‘I need to speak to Hermione in private. I want no interruptions,’ he ordered him, and Gibbs nodded.

‘Aye-aye,' he said, looking at the crew. ‘Back to work!' he shouted, and the crew went back to what they were doing.

oOoOo

Hermione watched Jack come back in and shut the door again. He leaned against it heavily, like a huge burden was resting on his shoulders. She wanted to ask, but she felt what he would tell her was not going to be good.

‘Jack,' she whispered, taking a step towards him. She was suddenly nervous, she hadn't been alone with Jack on this journey and wasn't sure what to expect.

Jack pushed away from the door and moved over to her. He took her hands, his fingers running over the welts on her wrists and his eyes flashed. ‘Sao Feng?' he asked, and she nodded. ‘If he weren't already dead, I would kill him,' Jack said, and Hermione could tell he was seething with anger.

Hermione reached up with a trembling hand and touched his face, making him look at her. ‘What have you done, Jack?’ she asked softly, and Jack closed his eyes, lowering his head.

‘It was me,’ he whispered, moving away from her and sitting on a chair. ‘I gave up the location of Shipwreck Cove. Or, at least, I provided them with the means of finding it,’ he told her, and Hermione was shocked he owned up to it. ‘I’ll understand if you don’t want to be around me. In essence, I’ve put you in danger as well,’ he said, rubbing his eyes in irritation.

Hermione's laugh startled him, and he looked at her in confusion. ‘You don't need to coddle me, Jack. I can take care of myself. Witch, remember?' She said, shaking her head. She moved over to him, and knelt down in front of him, taking his hands. ‘You must have had your reasons for betraying the Court,' she said, turning his hand over and kissing his palm.

‘Aye, a selfish reason,’ Jack replied, pulling his hand away. He couldn’t bear to have her affection knowing he betrayed her, even if it was to ensure she would be safe.

Hermione stood up and walked away from him, looking like she’d been stung. She leaned against the wall and crossed her arms. ‘So, what selfish reason was that?’ she asked him, her eyes flashing. ‘Your survival, I guess?’ she snarled bitterly, shaking her head. ‘I should have known you’d never change,’ she whispered, tears welling in her eyes.

Jack stood angrily and walked over to her until he was inches away from her. ‘I have changed! I gave my life for you! I have betrayed everyone for you! To ensure you would be safe!' he shouted, and it took a moment for his words to register in Hermione's mind.

Hermione shook her head. ‘I don't need you to save me, Jack,' she whispered, and Jack took a step back from her, his expression filled with pain.

Jack sat down slowly; he didn't know how to handle this situation. He had never attached himself to anyone before, especially not a woman. His attachment was to the sea, but now he found himself in love with a woman who didn't need him as much as he needed her. Jack would willingly give his life for her, time and time again, and he felt like she waved it off as if it meant nothing to her.

This was not how he expected their reunion to go…

Jack felt Hermione take his hands. ‘Jack, I didn’t mean that as it sounded,’ she said, and he looked up at her. ‘I just meant you don’t need to risk your life for me. I’d hate to lose you,’ she said, tears falling from her eyes.

Jack stood and wrapped his arms around her. ‘I'm sorry,' he whispered, kissing her head and stroking her hair.

Jack pulled back and looked at her. Hermione's eyes widened a little as he leaned down and captured her lips with his in a desperate kiss. Hermione wrapped her arms around his neck, allowing him to lift her up, and she wrapped her legs around his waist. He walked with her to the table, continuing the kiss, and sat her on the edge. Hermione put her hand on the table, knocking an ink pot off, spilling it on the floor. They looked at each other for a moment, and Hermione bit her lip.

Jack let her down, and swiped his hand across the table, knocking everything to the floor, before wrapping his arms around her and laying her down on top. He kissed his way down her neck, and he tore her shirt open, continuing his way down between her breasts to her naval while Hermione gasped.

Jack smiled at her, before leaning down and kissing her gently. ‘I love you,' he whispered, caressing her face.

‘I love you, too, Jack,’ she whispered, allowing him to pick her up and carry her to the bed.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Six: The Pirate Way

Hermione awoke to the feeling of feather-light touches tracing her skin. Fingers moved across her arm and her stomach gently, and for a moment she thought she might still be dreaming. She opened her eyes and found dark, brooding ones staring back. Hermione blinked and then her memory of the previous night rushed back to her, bringing a blush with it.

She looked down, noticing now that Jack was tracing the scars she received from the war. She closed her eyes and swallowed hard at the memory of how she got them. The words “Mudblood” forever carved into her arm was one night she wanted to forget out of all the others.

Hermione felt tears at the corner of her eyes, and Jack reached up to wipe them away when they fell. ‘Hermione,' he whispered, pulling her closer to him. He rested his head on hers and ran his fingers comfortingly up and down her arm. Hermione cuddled into his chest, listening to his heartbeat. ‘Where…?' he trailed off in his question and shook his head.

Hermione sighed. ‘There was a war,' she told him, reaching up to rub her eyes. ‘My friends and I were captured and tortured for information. "Mudblood",' she paused and lifted her arm, so the scar showed more plainly. ‘is a derogative term for witches and wizards like myself who were born with non-magical parents,' she explained, and he nodded.

‘It’s sick,’ Jack seethed, entwining his hand with hers instead of tracing the scar. He could tell she was uncomfortable with it.

‘No point getting angry about it,’ Hermione said, turning and looking at him. ‘There’s nothing either of us can do now. I’m just grateful to be alive,’ she told him, rubbing her face against his bearded chin.

Jack nodded, but he still couldn't shake the rage he felt at someone torturing her, but he decided against arguing with her about it. Instead, he pushed her onto her back and hovered over her. Hermione raised her eyebrow at him. ‘Shouldn't the Captain be getting up?' she asked, grinning up at him.

‘Oh, I’m getting up alright,’ he countered, waggling his eyebrows at her which made her giggle. Jack’s expression turned serious as he gazed down at her. ‘I won’t ever hurt you,’ he whispered, kissing the corner of her mouth. ‘You know that, right?’ he asked her, and she nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

A knock on the door interrupted them. ‘Sorry, Captain, but we’re just makin’ way to join Miss Elizabeth. It’s almost time,’ Gibbs said through the door.

Jack sighed and looked down at her. ‘Come on, love,' he uttered, kissing her before getting out of the bed.

Hermione watched him for a moment before getting up as well. They pulled on their clothes in silence, but when Jack moved over to the door, she grabbed his hand. Jack looked at her and tilted his head. ‘No matter what happens today, I meant what I said last night,' she told him, searching his face which softened at her words. ‘I do love you, Jack,' she whispered, leaning up and kissing him.

Jack smiled, his eyes shining. ‘I love you too, Hermione,’ he said, kissing her again. He took her hand and led her out onto the deck.

Shipwreck Island lay in the background, and the Black Pearl was joining the Rambler, and the collected pirate ships, ready for battle. The pirates were sharpening their swords, and clambering about the ship, making ready for the sea.

Marty peered ahead into the fog-shrouded waters, and out of it, a single ship appeared. It was the Endeavour. Marty raised the alarm. ‘The enemy is here! Let’s take ‘em!’ he bellowed, and blood-curdling yells reverberated around them as the pirates roared their approval.

Hermione grimaced as more ships appeared until they were outnumbered, and the yells of the pirates grew less confident. When the fog cleared, Hermione's eyes widened as she took in the armada of the East India Trading Company. Every manner of ship, hundreds of them, were poised and ready for battle. ‘Jack?' She whispered, her hand tightening in his. When she looked up at him, she could see he was also staring at the armada in dread.

‘Whatever happens,’ he breathed, looking at her and she nodded. They both looked back out as the Flying Dutchman rose up from the water, leading the East India Trading Company fleet.

There was silence, except for the flapping wings of Cotton’s Parrot who was heading back towards the island to get the hell out of there. All eyes were on Jack, belonging to fuming pirates. ‘So, what the hell do we do now, Sparrow?’ Marty asked him, crossing his arms.

‘This is not his fault. He may have got everyone to go to war, but he couldn’t have known the entire East Company would come,’ Hermione reasoned, defending him.

‘Shut it, witch!’ came another voice.

Jack scowled at the pirate, hissing expletives under his breath. Hermione squeezed his hand, and he looked at her. ‘Ignore it, Jack. I've had worse,' she murmured, and he nodded, remembering their conversation that morning.

‘So? Your plan?’ Marty repeated, looking at Jack and Hermione.

Jack sighed. ‘Parlay?' He proposed, his shoulders sagging. Hermione frowned up at him, before looking back out at the armada in concern. Jack turned to her then. ‘Do you trust me?' he questioned, and she looked taken aback by this.

‘Yes, of course,' Hermione replied, frowning up at him. ‘What's going on, Jack?' She asked, tilting her head at him inquisitively. Jack looked at the crew then, noticing they were watching and listening to every word. Jack glared at them and pulled Hermione away from them. Hermione rolled her eyes and took out her wand, placing a silencing charm around them. ‘Right, they can't hear us, Jack. Tell me what you're scheming,' she said, placing her hands on her hips.

‘I have put some plans in motion which will get me aboard the Flying Dutchman,’ he told her, and she looked at him as if he’d gone nuts. ‘I know it sounds crazy, but you have to trust me,’ he pleaded with her, and she swallowed.

‘You’re going to stab the heart,’ she whispered, tears coming to her eyes as the gravity of what he was planning washed over her.

‘It’s the only way to end this,’ Jack sighed, grasping her chin so she would look at him. ‘And I’m the only one foolish enough to do it,’ he said with a snicker, but it didn’t reach his eyes.

Hermione closed her eyes, letting more tears fall as Jack wiped them away. She finally looked back up at him. ‘It doesn’t have to be this way, Jack,’ she cried, banging her hand on his chest. ‘There has to be another way! We will find it. I can’t let you do this!’ she yelled, gripping the collar of his shirt.

‘Whatever happens…’ he trailed off, and the meaning of those words hung heavily between them.

Hermione looked up at him and realised it didn't matter what she said to him; he was not going to back down. He would do it anyway, regardless. He was a tenacious idiot. Hermione released her grip on his collar but kept her hands on his chest where his heart was beating. ‘Whatever happens…' She trailed off, and he leaned down and kissed her. Jack walked back to his crew then, but Hermione called to him, ‘Jack!' and he turned back to her. ‘It will always belong to you,' she said, holding her hand to her chest.

Jack nodded, smiling at her. ‘As will mine,' he said, and swiftly spoke to his crew while Hermione slumped against the stairs, already feeling like he was lost to her.

oOoOo

Hermione watched as Barbossa, Elizabeth, and Jack made their way to a sparkling white strip of sand to meet with Beckett. Jack turned to look at her, and gave her a two-fingered salute which she returned, but half-heartedly.

Hermione couldn’t deny she was infuriated at Jack for thinking this was the only way. She pondered if he was purely just being selfish again. Maybe this was his plan all along. Hermione shook her head; perhaps he had thought about this before she even came into the scene.

Hermione looked back at them to see they had arrived at the sand strip and were making their way towards Beckett, Will, and Jones. So, Will deceived them. Her thoughts drifted to their conversation the previous night, and her brow furrowed. Jack had told her it was him...

oOoOo

Barbossa, Jack, and Elizabeth reached the other three, and for a moment they regarded each other in silence. Barbossa was the one to break it. ‘You be the cur that led these wolves to our door,' he spat, looking at Will in irritation.

Beckett observed them. ‘Don't blame Turner. He was but the tool of your betrayal,' he said and looked at Jack. ‘If you wish to see its grand architect, look to your left,' he told them in delight.

Elizabeth, Barbossa, and Jack the Monkey looked to their left where Jack was standing. Jack also looked to his left. ‘Me?’ he asked, looking at him in faux shock. ‘My hands are clean in this,’ he said, shaking his head before looking pensive. ‘Figuratively,’ he added with a shrug.

Will turned to Beckett then. ‘My actions were for my purpose. Jack had nothing to do with it,' he said, defending Jack.

Jack smirked. ‘There! Listen to the tool,’ he said, his grin broadening as Beckett raised an eyebrow at him.

Elizabeth took a step forward. ‘Will, I’ve been aboard the Dutchman. I understand the burden you bear, but I fear that cause is lost,’ she told him regrettably, her eyes beseeching with him to give up.

‘No cause is lost if there is but one fool left to fight for it,’ Will argued, shaking his head and Elizabeth’s shoulders slouched. Will’s eyes shifted to Jack deliberately, and Elizabeth clocked it, looking over at the pirate, her eyes calculating.

Beckett, who missed this exchange, clicked his tongue. ‘If Turner was not acting on your behalf, then how did he come to give me this?' He asked, holding up Jack's Compass. This also convinced Barbossa that Jack was the turncoat and the Captain looked daggers at him. ‘You made a deal with me, Jack, to deliver the pirates—and here they are. Don’t be bashful; step up and claim your reward,’ he said, throwing the Compass to Jack who caught it effortlessly.

‘And what reward does such chicanery fetch these days,' Barbossa asked, looking at Jack and Beckett.

‘Her,' Beckett countered, pointing to Elizabeth. She looked at Jack in bewilderment while Will looked at him in astonishment.

They all stared at Jack as he burst out laughing. ‘Her?' Jack asked through his mirth. ‘You got the wrong end of this deal,' he said to Beckett, calming down. ‘I do not want her,' he said, looking at Will and Elizabeth. ‘I don't,' Jack added to Elizabeth who nodded.

‘Yes, I was a bit confused at that sentiment,’ she countered with a chuckle.

Beckett's face fell as he comprehended he had been duped. ‘Then what did you want, exactly, Sparrow?' he inquired, tilting his head at him. Jack didn't say anything, and then something clicked in his mind. ‘Ah, you mean the other,' he said, his gleeful smile returning.

Jack looked at his nails neutrally. ‘Hmm? Dunno what you’re on about, Beckett,’ he muttered, but he knew Beckett had figured it out. ‘Even if that was my plan—and I'm not admitting to anything—there's not a tinker's chance of it coming off anymore,' he said, and crossed his arms. His thoughts turned to Hermione, knowing if he pulled his plan off, he would only see her every ten years. This knowledge made a lump rise in his throat, but he carefully hid how he was feeling from his face.

‘There never was,’ Beckett responded with a pleased tone. Jack let out a bitter laugh and shook his head.

Jones stepped towards him. ‘Your debt to me must still be satisfied. One hundred years in servitude aboard the Dutchman,' he growled, staring at Jack. ‘As a start,' he added with a smirk. Elizabeth observed Jack's eyes light up, and it suddenly clicked with her what Jack was after. Elizabeth glanced at Will who gave her a slight tilt of his head, telling her that her assumption was correct.

‘That debt was paid,’ Jack said, crossing his arms and glaring at Jones.

‘You escaped,’ Jones barked, scowling at Jack.

‘A technicality,’ Jack chuckled, shaking his head.

Elizabeth rolled her eyes. ‘There’s no better end for Jack Sparrow than a bilge rat aboard the Flying Dutchman. I propose an exchange. Will leaves with us… and you can have Jack,’ she proposed, smiling at them.

‘Done,’ Will said immediately.

‘Not done,’ Jack contended.

‘Done,’ Beckett settled.

‘You’re condemning me again?’ Jack inquired Elizabeth who winked at him, and she didn’t miss the amusement in his eyes at this.

Barbossa, who had missed the entire understanding between the three, turned to Elizabeth crossly. ‘Jack is one of the Nine Pirate Lords. You have no right!’ he shouted.

Elizabeth looked up at him. ‘King,’ she countered, but gave him a piercing look before looking sideways at Jack. Barbossa’s took a step back, grasping Jack was up to something.

Jack tipped his hat. ‘As you command, your nibs,’ he said, moving across to Beckett.

Barbossa grabbed him back, whirling Jack around while he drew his sword. ‘Blaggar!’ he snarled, slashing his sword at him, but Jack dodged what would have been a fatal blow. However, the sword connected with the circlet coin attached to his bandana, and it dropped into the sand. Jack the Monkey scurried to pick it up. Jack raised his eyebrows at Barbossa, and they regarded each other. ‘If you have something to say, I might be saying something as well,’ he said, smirking at Jack.

Jack nodded. ‘First to the finish, then,' he said, his eyes glinting and Barbossa's grin widened, and he nodded back.

Will and Jack completed the cross, and Jones shoved Jack down to the ground. ‘Do you fear death?’ Jones asked him.

‘You have no idea,’ Jack murmured, his eyes widening a little in dread.

Beckett rolled his eyes and addressed Elizabeth, ‘Advise your "Brethren": you can fight, and all of you will die. Or you will not fight, in which case only most of you will die,' he told her with a shrug.

Elizabeth glared at him. ‘You murdered my Father,’ she growled.

Beckett shrugged again. ‘He chose his fate,' he responded frankly.

‘And you have chosen yours. We will fight… and surely you will die,’ she said confidently, narrowing her eyes at him.

Beckett raised his eyebrows. ‘So be it,’ he said with a smile.

Elizabeth and Will turned away, walking back towards the longboat as Jack the Monkey dropped the circlet coin into Barbossa’s hand. Barbossa spun it between his fingers, contemplating it, before closing it in his fist.

‘“King”?’ Will questioned when they were out of earshot.

‘Of the Brethren Court. Courtesy of Jack,’ Elizabeth replied, looking over her shoulder to make sure no one was sneaking up on them.

Will grinned. ‘Maybe he does know what he's doing,' he said, glancing back at Jack. Will couldn't deny he was impressed.

‘Yes, but how will Hermione take it?’ Elizabeth said, leaving the question hanging as Will and Barbossa looked at each other with a frown.

oOoOo

On the Flying Dutchman, Jack was thrown into a cell, and the door was slammed shut. Jack looked through the bars as Maccus moved past. Jack leaned against the bars heavily and started to evaluate his decisions now. He tried to keep Hermione from the forefront of his mind, but her devastated expression was all he could see.

When Jack started to think his plan might be fruitless, his conscience decided to make an appearance. ‘Bravo!’ Right Jack said, and Jack looked at him to see him leaning against the bars. ‘You have arrived aboard the Flying Dutchman as per the overall scheme,’ he elucidated, gesturing around them.

‘Oh, yes, bravo,’ came Left Jack who was standing to his left. ‘Except for this little sojourn in the brig, it’s utter clockwork,’ he said with a shrug.

‘But we’ve got momentum on our side!’ Right Jack said, and Left Jack nodded in agreement.

Just then, a fourth Jack opened his eyes. This one was well on the way to becoming part of the Dutchman, like Wyvern. He pulled away from the wall, exposing his brain. ‘Stab the heart!’ he screeched out as the other three looked at him. ‘Step foot ashore but once every ten years. But if you’re in the brig, then who’s to stab the heart?’ he inquired, looking at them in confusion.

‘It does seem to put immortality a bit out of reach,’ Left Jack stated, crossing his arms.

‘I don’t mind. Let someone else do it. Not seeing Hermione for ten years is enough to put any man off the thought of immortality,’ Jack said with a shrug. ‘Even better if someone else will do it,’ he added.

‘Poppycock,’ Right Jack said.

‘“Poppycock”?’ Jack asked in puzzlement.

‘He’s never said “Poppycock”,’ Left Jack said thoughtfully.

‘I’ve never even thought “Poppycock”,’ Jack said incredulously.

‘Just then you did,’ Right Jack claimed, shrugging.

‘I did not—’ Jack was cut off as a searing pain shot through his head.

The three clutched their heads, shouting in agony, and they looked over to see Wyvern Jack had taken his brain in his hand. Wyvern Jack was squeezing it, and every time he did, the three screamed out and grabbed their heads in discomfort.

‘Should he be doing that?’ Left Jack said through the pain.

‘That can’t be good for us!’ Right Jack cried.

Wyvern Jack squeezed again, and Jack fell to his knees. ‘Stop it! Stop! You're giving me a terrible headache—' he cut himself off as he suddenly recalled something. ‘The whelp,' he whispered, and Wyvern Jack nodded, and the squeezing stopped.

oOoOo

Meanwhile, Barbossa, Elizabeth, and Will made their way onto the Black Pearl. They were joined by Hermione who scowled at Will, and he sighed. Will still needed to apologise again for betraying them, but they had more imperative things to do.

Elizabeth moved over to Hermione and placed a hand on her shoulder. ‘Jack is safe, he chose to go,' she reassured the girl, and Hermione nodded.

‘I know, he told me his ludicrous plan,’ Hermione answered, crossing her arms. She was still pissed at him.

Elizabeth, Barbossa, and Will looked taken aback by this. ‘Jack told you?' Barbossa asked her, and she nodded.

‘Why wouldn't he?' Hermione shot back and glanced over at the Flying Dutchman. Well done, Jack. Your scheme is in motion, she thought miserably and swallowed the lump in her throat.

Elizabeth nodded. ‘Of course, you are a member of his crew,' she replied, and Hermione didn't reason that there was more to it than her being a crewmember. Elizabeth turned to Barbossa. ‘We'll need the Black Pearl to serve as our flagship, and lead the attack,' she told him, and he smirked.

‘Will we, now?' Barbossa responded with amusement.

Will and Hermione turned upon seeing Tia Dalma being led onto the deck by Pintel and several of the Chinese pirates. She was manacled and bound with heavy ropes. Will's eyes widened when he realised what it meant. ‘Barbossa, you can't release her,' he said forebodingly, looking back at Tia who was glaring daggers at them.

Barbossa raised his eyebrows. ‘Can't I, now?' he asked him and gave an imperceptible nod to someone behind them. Suddenly, the Chinese pirates encircled Will and Elizabeth, restraining them. They moved to detain Hermione as well, but Barbossa shook his head, and they left her be. Hermione looked at him in misunderstanding. ‘I might need you,' he told her, and Hermione nodded. She moved over to stand next to him, fingering her wand.

Elizabeth looked at them in shock. ‘We've got to give Jack a chance!' she said, struggling against her captors. ‘Hermione?' She called, and Hermione looked at her. Elizabeth slumped, she could see how much Jack's actions had wounded her, and she suddenly felt sorrow for the witch.

‘Jack will have his chance,' Hermione said, shaking her head. ‘I believe in him,' she hissed and turned away from them to face Tia Dalma.

Barbossa shrugged and moved over to Elizabeth. ‘Apologies, your highness. But ‘tis certain the world we know ends today, and I won’t be letting the likes of Cutler Beckett say what comes next,’ he enlightened, shaking his head. Barbossa glanced over towards Hermione who was using magic to tauten the bonds on Tia Dalma. Barbossa lowered his voice so she wouldn’t hear his next words, ‘I won’t be pinning my hopes on Jack Sparrow, either. Too long has my fate not been in my own hands. No longer!’ he yelled the last part, and wrapped his hand around the Captain’s Knot around Elizabeth’s neck and tore it free.

Barbossa nodded to the crew. ‘Make ready,' he ordered, and the crew scrambled to get ready to sail. The sails rose up, and the Black Pearl leapt forward.

Ragetti moved over to Barbossa, presenting the bowl used for the pieces of eight, and the Captain added the Captain’s Knot. Suddenly, the wind died, and they looked up at the flat sails as all the ships stopped moving.

Hermione frowned. ‘Is there a spell? An incantation?’ she asked, suddenly feeling anxious about this whole idea.

Barbossa nodded. ‘Aye, the items brought together, done. Has to be performed over water, we lucked out there. Items burned. And some person must speak the words, “Calypso, I release you from your human bonds”,’ he clarified, looking at the bowl in uncertainty.

‘Is that it?’ Pintel questioned, crossing his arms.

‘T'was said it must be spoken softly, as if to a lover,' Barbossa explained, and Hermione couldn't help chuckling at the thought of any of these pirates speaking adoringly to anyone. Barbossa raised his eyebrow at her, but he didn't comment. Instead, he grabbed Gibbs' rum bottle and shattered it over the pile. He shoved the punk into the pile. ‘Calypso, I release you from your human bonds!’ he said softly, but there was no emotion behind it.

Everyone looked at Tia as the items smouldered, but nothing happened. ‘Is that it?' Pintel asked in confusion.

‘You didn't say it right!' Everyone turned to gape a Ragetti whose face turned bright red. Even Ragetti would have gawked at Ragetti if he could as he flabbergasted himself by speaking up. He crossed his arms defensively. ‘You have to say it right,' he said and stepped up to Tia Dalma. He gazed into her eyes. ‘Calypso, I release you from your human bonds,' he said tenderly, channelling the love he felt for the sea into his words.

The punk in the bowl burst into flames and licked upward in a twisting column. Then it was gone as rapidly as it came. The pieces of eight decayed, their age overtaking them. Everyone looked at Tia Dalma who let out a gasp and sagged. The manacles on her hands became eroded with corrosion, and fragile with rust. Tia trembled, and they broke, falling to the deck.

Will struggled away from the Chinese pirates. ‘Tia Dalma! Calypso!’ he called to her, and she raised her eyes to him. ‘When the Brethren Court first imprisoned you, who was it that told them how? Who was it that betrayed you?’ he inquired of her, and her eyes flashed.

‘Name him,’ she growled the order, her fists clenching.

‘Davy Jones,’ Will revealed and Tia’s eyes shot towards the Flying Dutchman, the wrath building behind them.

‘No,' Hermione whispered and raised her wand at Tia as she started to transform. Her eyes changed colour, and her hair rippled with no wind. She rose up as the crew members continued trying to detain her, but the ropes pulled through their hands. The ropes snapped, and the deck buckled under her weight as she grew tenfold in size, a vision amid the sails. ‘No!' Hermione screamed, firing a spell and chains wrapped themselves around Calypso, but the Goddess didn't seem to notice.

Barbossa knelt, and everyone else followed suit except Hermione who was frantically thinking of a way of keeping Calypso from getting to the Flying Dutchman. Barbossa looked up at the Goddess adoringly. ‘Calypso. I come before you as but a servant, humble and contrite. I have fulfilled my vow and now ask your favour. Spare myself, my crew—but unleash your fury upon those who dare pretend themselves your masters, or mine!' he entreated, bowing his head to her. Calypso scarcely paid him any mind though.

Hermione struggled with her chains and shot another spell which heated the chains up. This time, Calypso gasped at the pain and stumbled. The ship shook precariously, but Hermione didn't let up. Calypso's eyes found the Flying Dutchman again. ‘FOOL!' she shrieked, and Barbossa's eyes went wide. His long-odds gamble did not pay off.

Suddenly, Calypso collapsed, causing the chains to vanish, and crashed down to the deck in the form of thousands of crabs. They ran in a torrent across the bridge, tossing pirates aside, until they flowed over the side of the ship into the sea and everything went silent.

‘No,’ Hermione whispered, falling to her knees as she stared at the Flying Dutchman in horror.

‘I had to,' Will said to Hermione, and she looked up at him, tears falling from her eyes. ‘Calypso would have killed us all, first,' he enlightened.

Hermione looked away from him; her eyes fixed on the Flying Dutchman. ‘Jack,' she whispered, tightening her grip on her wand.

Will moved over to Barbossa. ‘Is that it?’ he requested, looking at the mass of ropes on the deck.

‘Why she's no help at all!' Pintel complained and then turned to Barbossa. ‘What now?' he asked as the wind suddenly picked up again, causing the sails to shudder.

‘Nothing. Our final hope has failed us,’ Barbossa explicated, shaking his head.

The wind took one of the pirate's hats, and it spiralled up and around the mast. Elizabeth watched it with a frown. ‘It's not over,' she whispered, closing her eyes.

Will moved forward, having overheard her. ‘Hope is not lost. There’s still a fight to be had,’ he told them, but they stared back in scepticism.

‘There’s an armada arrayed against us. We’ve got no chance of winnin’,’ he pointed out, gesturing to the ships in the distance.

Elizabeth opened her eyes again, watching the wind. ‘Only a fool’s chance,’ she whispered.

‘Revenge won't bring your Father back, Miss Swann—' Barbossa said to her, and Elizabeth looked at him as if he'd just slapped her, ‘—and it's not something I'm intending to die for,' he told her, shaking his head and crossing his arms.

Elizabeth's face softened as she apprehended he was right; nothing would bring her Father back. Elizabeth looked back at him and nodded. ‘You're right,' she said, and after a beat, she added, ‘Then what shall we all die for?' At these words, she stepped up onto the rail of the ship and addressed the crew, ‘Listen to me! The Brethren will still be looking here, to us, to the Black Pearl, to lead. What will they see? Frightened bilge rats aboard a derelict ship?' she asked as they all looked at each other. ‘No. They will see free men. And freedom! And what the enemy will see is the flash of our cannons. They will know what we can do—' she paused and looked at Barbossa before continuing, ‘—by the sweat of our brows and the strength of our backs—' Barbossa smiled at her words, as she continued to the crew as a whole, ‘—and the courage of our hearts,' she finished, casting her gaze around the deck, meeting the eyes of several who were grinning at her, and her gaze ended on Will. ‘Hoist the colours!' she ordered.

Will nodded. ‘Hoist the colours,’ he reiterated in a low, resolute tone.

This was picked up by the rest of the crew, and became a murmur as they moved with purpose to their stations, past and around Barbossa. Barbossa looked down at the deck and smirked. He looked back at Elizabeth and began to sing softly, ‘Yo ho, all hands, hoist the colours high…’ he trailed off.

Gibbs walked over to Hermione who was still kneeling on the deck and helped her to her feet. ‘Jack will come through,' he said, and she looked at him. ‘He's laughed death in the face countless times,' he reassured her and Hermione nodded. Gibbs looked up at the sails. ‘We've got the wind on our side, boys, and that's all we need!' he called to the crew.

Elizabeth smiled at Hermione before turning to the Rambler who was lying next to the Black Pearl awaiting command. ‘Hoist the colours!' She yelled across to Tai Huang who nodded and bellowed it across to the other waiting ships.

Hermione came to stand next to Elizabeth, and they both watched as the flags were raised on all the pirate ships. The flags were all different styles, black on white, red on black. Most had skull and crossbones or crossed swords. The Black Pearl eased forward, followed by the others.

Hermione looked around as the pirates started to sing as one, their voices rising together in triumph. ‘Yo, ho, haul together, hoist the colours high! Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never say we die!' and Hermione grasped it was the song she and Elizabeth sang when they were in Singapore. Elizabeth smiled down at her, and the two girls joined their voices to the song.

Will turned to Barbossa. ‘Target the Flying Dutchman. We’re the only ship that can catch her,’ he said, and Barbossa nodded in agreement.

oOoOo

On the Endeavor, Beckett was in his cabin sipping tea. Officer Groves approached him. ‘We have a favourable wind, sir,’ he said, looking out the window.

Beckett looked out the window, noticing this as well but remained utterly casual as he took another sip of his tea. ‘So, we do,' he answered and looked at Groves. ‘Signal Jones. "No quarter". That should brighten his day,' he ordered, and Groves nodded and left.

On the deck, a signalman waved a flag as seen on the Dutchman. On the upper deck, Mercer turned to the crew. ‘To arms! We will give no quarter!' he ordered, and the crew shouted back their approval.

Davy Jones turned away as the wind rose around them, and he looked up into the sky. ‘Calypso,’ he whispered as his hand moved towards his chest.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Seven: An Unsubtle Approach

Clouds above the hundreds of ships rotated, forming a storm disc in the sky, and lightning struck the sea. A colossal whirlpool turned slowly in the Caribbean Sea, and sheets of rain fell. The two formations of ships converged, the Black Pearl outpacing the pirate fleet, while the Flying Dutchman outdid the Armada.

Between them, the sea continued to churn and Gibbs stared at the sea with a practised eye. ‘Maelstrom! Saints preserve us!' he yelled out as everyone took a moment to take stock of their dire situation.

Hermione gripped the rail with one hand while tightening her grasp on her wand with the other. Her mind went through the spells in her arsenal, but one to stop a Maelstrom didn't jump out at her. She just hoped they would evade it or survive it, as improbable as that idea was.

‘Captain Barbossa!’ Elizabeth bellowed, and Barbossa looked up from where he was contemplating his mortal hand. ‘I need you at the helm,’ she ordered him.

Barbossa nodded. ‘Aye, that be true!' he responded, running up to the helm and taking the wheel from Cotton. ‘Brace the yards! Set the staysails and turn her windward!' he ordered the crew, and they ran about the deck carrying out their duties.

Ships of the Armada and the Fleet turned away from the Maelstrom. The Black Pearl also turned but was caught along with the Flying Dutchman. Mercer spun the wheel of the Dutchman, trying to escape the swirling vortex. ‘Veer off!' he cried, but Jones shook his head.

‘Shall not harm us! Full-bore, and into the abyss,’ Jones maintained as the crew looked back and forth between them.

‘Are you mad?’ Mercer questioned, looking at the swirling pool of death and feeling his stomach lurch.

‘Hah! Are you afraid to get wet?' Jones asked him in delight. He turned to his crew. ‘Stand on!' he ordered them, and they nodded. Jones grappled the wheel from Mercer, and spun it, taking the Flying Dutchman over the edge right into the Maelstrom. The Dutchman used the inner, faster-moving water to cut in behind the Black Pearl.

Hermione watched this all with astonishment, but she clicked on to the Dutchman’s strategy. ‘Barbossa!’ she shouted, gaining his attention and pointing to the Dutchman.

‘She’s on our stern and gaining!’ Will bellowed to him.

Barbossa nodded. ‘More speed! Angle yard to port!’ he ordered the crew.

The Dutchman was right on the Black Pearl's tail and still gaining. ‘Bow cannons, fire!' Jones ordered, and the forward cannons boomed, striking the Pearl from behind.

The crew on the Black Pearl ducked as cannon balls flew at them from the stern, one of them taking off a steering wheel pin. ‘Take us out! Before they overbear us!’ Will shouted, covering his head as more cannon balls sped past.

‘Nay, further in! And cut across to faster waters!’ Barbossa yelled back, turning the wheel.

Hermione ducked under the stairs, pointing her wand through the gap towards the Dutchman. She whispered a spell, hitting one of the cannons and it misfired, causing an explosion on the front of the Dutchman. She grinned and went to do the same thing to the other gun, but she had to move when she heard whistling, and the wall behind her caved in.

Elizabeth and Will raced down to the main deck, stopping momentarily to help Hermione to her feet. ‘Prepare to broadside!’ she ordered the crew, grasping Hermione’s elbow.

‘Captain the guns! Bear-a-hand!' Gibbs ordered, and the crew prepped the cannons. Will paused, looking across to the Dutchman and grasped they were about to fire on the ship his Father and Jack were on.

Hermione was having a similar internal battle and clutched her hands towards her mouth as if she was praying. ‘Please let him be safe,' she whispered and closed her eyes.

Pintel and Ragetti raced below deck to the guns as Barbossa cut the Black Pearl down into the whirlpool to dodge the aft cannon fire. The Flying Dutchman and the Black Pearl spun broadsides to each other, and the other ships faded into the mist and rain, poles spinning in the background.

Maacus and Jimmy Legs readied a cannon as the Pearl came into range, while Pintel and Ragetti prepped their guns and took aim. Beyond them, the Dutchman came into view, and they got ready to fire. Gibbs came down the gangway. ‘Hold ‘til we lay board-and-board!' he ordered them, receiving nods in return.

Barbossa gritted his teeth as he brought the Pearl around. ‘Fire!' he ordered.

On the Dutchman, Mercer turned to the crew. ‘Main battery at the ready!' he ordered them, and they waited.

‘Fire!' Jones ordered them.

Cannon fire thundered as the two ships battled across the abyss. On the Pearl, Hermione sprinted up to the helm and looked over at the Dutchman. ‘You shouldn't be up here, missy!' Barbossa yelled to her, giving her a stern look. ‘Jack would have my head if you got hit by a stray cannon ball!' he shouted over the din of the cannon fire.

‘I’ll be fine! I can help!’ she cried back, holding up her wand for emphasis.

Barbossa looked uncertain for a moment before nodding to her. ‘Your funeral!' he bellowed to her, and she rolled her eyes.

Hermione looked back at the Dutchman and hesitated for a moment. She knew that firing upon the Dutchman may put Jack in danger, but she had to have conviction that he would pull through. She carefully made sure to only fire spells which wouldn’t damage the ship and instead picked off some of their crew.

On the Dutchman, Mercer and Jones looked on in confusion as some of the crew collapsed to the ground. ‘What is this devilry?’ Jones muttered as he watched two members of his crew run away from canaries chasing them.

Hermione smirked at her work, pointing her wand towards Jones. ‘Diffindo!’ she whispered, grimacing when her spell hit its mark, severing one of Jones’ tentacles.

The Captain of the Dutchman let out a shriek of pain as he looked down at the tentacle on the ground. He looked back at the Black Pearl in rage, observing for who was causing this witchcraft.

Hermione looked back over to the Dutchman, smiling at her contribution to taking them out. She turned and watched two crewmen race the length of the deck as cannon balls screamed past them. She frowned hoping they would make it out of this alive. She looked over the railing into the churning void, comprehending how close they were to going into it and her stomach lurched uncomfortably. She leaned back against the railing and closed her eyes against nausea threatening her.

Barbossa chortled. ‘Hah! It be too late to alter course now, mateys!' he shouted out in glee, and Hermione looked at him as if he was mad.

oOoOo

Jack sat cross-legged on the floor in the middle of the cell, watching the other Jack’s being rocked by the cannon fire. He jumped to his feet, snapping his fingers and springing into action. He ran towards the bench—it was beyond him why there was a bench, but he wasn’t about to protest—and ripped it away from the wall, levering it against the door.

‘Think like the whelp, think like the whelp, think like the whelp,’ he muttered over and over again.

‘Half-barrel hinges!’ Right Jack said, impressed.

‘Never work,’ Left Jack said, shaking his head.

‘Leverage!’ Right Jack said, raising his arms as if he was lifting something.

Jack shoved down on the bench, lifting the door, and it fell to the ground with a bang. ‘Wish us luck, boys. We might need it,’ Jack said to them, giving a two-fingered salute. He moved past the bars, and the Jack’s watched him go.

‘I miss him already,’ Right Jack said with a sigh as he waved at Jack’s retreating back.

‘He’ll be back,’ Left Jack said, leaning against the wall and crossing his arms.

‘NOBODY MOVE!' Wyvern Jack screeched, and the other two looked at him in surprise. ‘Dropped my brain,' he clarified and pointed to it as they grimaced.

Jack reached the door leading to the deck and opened it ajar, looking out at the commotion. Mercer was flanked by two guards, with Jones at his side. ‘Rake ‘em! Keep up the barrage! Prepare to board!' Mercer ordered the crew.

A cannon ball whistled towards them. ‘And keep your head about you!' Jones shouted as he pushed Mercer aside when the cannon ball crashed and took out the two guards.

Mercer looked up at Jones gratefully, which quickly turned to horror as Jones' tentacle beard wrapped around his neck. Mercer choked, reaching up to try and unwrap the tentacle, but it was no use. Mercer coughed and spluttered as Jones suddenly let out a pained yell as the tentacle holding Mercer was severed, and he fell to the ground, grasping at his throat.

Jack watched this in bewilderment, and it dawned on him what was happening. ‘Hermione,’ he breathed, opening the door some more and looking over at the Black Pearl.

Jones looked at the Pearl, tears forming in his eyes and he snarled. He reached down for Mercer and snapped his neck in his claw. As Mercer fell to the ground, Jones' claw caught the chain with the key, holding him up momentarily. Jones closed his claw, snapping the chain and Mercer fell to the deck. Jones stomped off, the key to his chest finally back in his possession.

Jack clicked his tongue, knowing it would be difficult to get the key from Jones. He moved onto the deck and made his way to the Captain's Cabin. Murtogg and Mullroy, looking very twitchy, swung the cannon towards him. ‘Halt there, or we'll shoot!' Mullroy yelled, and Jack stopped, holding his hands up in surrender.

Jack smiled at them. ‘Good one. I just came to see my effects. Admirable though it is, why are you here when you could be somewhere else?’ he asked them, looking at them both interestedly.

‘Someone has to stay and guard the chest,’ Murtogg countered, and Jack nodded.

‘No question, there’s been a breakdown in military discipline aboard this vessel,’ Mullroy said broodingly.

‘I blame the fish people.’

‘Oh, so fish people, by dint of being fish people, automatically aren’t as disciplined as non-fish people?’

‘Seems contributory, is all I’m suggesting.’

Jack watched them for a moment, feeling a sense of déjà vu come over him. As they argued, he crept over to the chest and picked it up, sneaking away with it.

‘It is true that if there are no fish people there would be no reason to guard the chest,' Mullroy said, tapping his chin.

‘If there were no chest, there would be nothing to guard,’ came Murtogg’s answer. They both looked down at the chest then, only to find it gone.

Meanwhile, Jack appeared from the Captain's Cabin, carrying the chest and shaking his head at the idiocy of those two soldiers. This was the second time he had tricked them, and he grinned. Jack turned then and stopped when he saw Jones coming down the stairs with the key. He grimaced at the missing tentacles, the black ink oozing from the wounds and dripping onto the deck.

Jones smirked at him, but his eyes fell on the chest. ‘Lookee, boys! A lost bird. A lost bird that never learned to fly!’ he shouted as the crew laughed and surged forward towards Jack.

Jack backed away, looking for an escape. ‘To my great regret,' he countered with a smile. He looked around, grinning as he spotted his escape route. ‘But it's never too late, eh?' he said, sheathing his sword, and tipping his hat at the crew members. ‘And now, anon, adieu,' he called and grabbed a sail, loosening the bottom tie. The sail, partially free, filled with wind and carried Jack to the upper rigging.

Jack landed, impressed with himself, and inched along the rigging. He looked up to find Jones there, drawing his sword. ‘The chest. Hand it over,' Jones warned, pointing his sword at Jack.

Jack drew his sword, clinking it off Jones’. ‘I can set you free, Jones,’ Jack told him.

Jones shook his head. ‘Have you never loved, Jack? My freedom was forfeit long ago,’ he answered, leaping forward at Jack and their swords clashed in a shower of sparks.

oOoOo

The two ships drew closer in an ever-tightening circle. The giant masts of the two ships tilted close enough for attackers to swing on ropes and cross from ship to ship. Cannon fire blasted from the Black Pearl as soldiers from the Flying Dutchman swarmed across, attacking Hermione, Will, and Elizabeth.

Hermione ducked the sword of one of Jones’ crew, sending a stunner towards him which blasted him over the side of the ship from the force. Hermione looked across at the Flying Dutchman, her eyes seeking out Jack, but she couldn’t see him. She prayed he would be okay and some miracle would stop him from stabbing the heart.

Hermione's thoughts were cut short when two of Jones' men appeared before her. ‘Really, now? Two on one, a bit unfair, right?' she said to them as they continued to press forward. ‘I will only fight the strongest,' she said swiftly, channelling her inner Jack and looked at them. ‘So, which of you is the strongest?' she asked them.

The two looked at each other, and then one of them stepped forward. ‘I would have thought…’ Hermione trailed off as the other grabbed his crewmate and pulled him back. ‘Yeah, that’s my thought,’ she said as the two fought each other. Hermione watched as the bigger of the two tossed their crewmate overboard and advanced back on her. Hermione pointed her wand at him. ‘Aquamenti,’ she muttered and the jet of water shot from her wand, forcing him overboard as well. ‘That was easy,’ she mumbled, shaking her head.

She watched Will and Elizabeth fighting near the capstan and shot protective spells at them before turning her attention to the soldiers still coming from the Flying Dutchman. As they flew across, she stunned a few of them, making them fall into the water or onto the deck.

Will watched her and took advantage of the short break she was giving them. He turned to Elizabeth. ‘Elizabeth! Dying for something, that’s the easy part. What are we going to live for?’ he asked her.

Elizabeth looked at him as if to say “you’ve got to be kidding” just as more assailants appeared before them. ‘Right now, is not the best time!’ she shouted back.

The two fought on the opposite sides of the capstan before coming together again. ‘Right now, may be the only time! I love you!’ he said with a chuckle. They separated again, fighting off some of the advancing soldiers, and Will caught her hand. ‘I've made my choice. What's yours?' he asked her, his tone serious.

Elizabeth's eyes softened as she stared into his. ‘Barbossa!' she screeched to the Captain, making her decision. Will frowned, staggered at her answer. ‘Marry us!' she shouted again, and it all became clear to Will even as the enemies separated them again.

On the deck above, Barbossa was fighting off several crewmen. ‘I'm a little busy at the moment,' he yelled back in answer as he felled another foe.

Hermione looked up from where she was still shooting spells at the advancing force from the Flying Dutchman in astonishment and changed the course of her attacks towards the soldiers attacking Will, Elizabeth, and Barbossa.

Will continued his fight with Elizabeth on opposite sides of the deck. He noticed the drop in assailants charging at Barbossa and saw the opening. ‘Barbossa! Now!’ he shouted towards him.

Barbossa rolled his eyes. ‘Fine, then!’ he said and climbed atop the binnacle cabinet as Will and Elizabeth came back together again, and smirked as he begun the ceremony. ‘Dearly beloved and others, we are gathered here—’ he was cut off as he ducked a stunner which crashed one of his would-be attackers into the wall, and he looked down at the wide-eyed Hermione who merely shrugged after a moment with a little smile.

Barbossa rolled his eyes and went to continue the ceremony, but enemies beset him, and Will and Elizabeth were not in a better situation. He looked to Hermione to see she was having problems of her own so she couldn't cover them.

The four of them fought down the length of the deck, and Will stopped for a moment to look at Elizabeth. ‘Screw it…’ he muttered, fighting his way towards her. ‘Elizabeth Swann, do you take me to be your husband?’ he requested of her, grabbing her hand.

‘I do,’ she answered, smiling at him.

‘Great!’ Will said enthusiastically before ducking a sword and stabbing the attacker.

Elizabeth spun around and started fighting another enemy. ‘Will Turner, do you take me to be your wife? In sickness and health?’ she asked, stabbing her foe before turning back to Will. ‘With health being the less likely?’ she added with a smile.

‘I do,’ he replied with a smile.

Hermione grinned at them and shot a stunner at one of the soldiers advancing behind Will to stab him in the back. On the wheel deck, Barbossa raised his arms. ‘As Captain, I pronounce you—' he was cut off by more assailants. ‘You may kiss—' he cut off again as he ducked a sword. ‘Kiss the—' he stopped short, just avoiding being skewered from behind. He took out two and grabbed the railing. ‘Just kiss!' he yelled and took on the other attackers swarming him.

Will finished his fight and caught Elizabeth and nearly managed to plant a kiss, but they were separated again. Hermione used spells to attack any more of the soldiers as Will and Elizabeth came back together and finally kissed. Hermione smiled at them before her focus turned back to the Flying Dutchman.

She hoped Jack was okay.

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty-Eight: Jack Kicks Butt

Jack and Jones were sparring on the Flying Dutchman. The two swords clashed, and Jack twisted his, stripping Jones’ sword from his grasp. ‘There is nothing you can do with that, without the key,’ Jones said, trying to buy time so he could get his sword.

‘I already have the key,’ Jack countered, advancing towards him.

For a moment, Jones eyed him in misunderstanding, almost believing him. Then he smirked and presented the key at the end of his tentacle. ‘No, you don’t,’ he replied, glaring at Jack.

‘Oh, that key,' Jack said with wide eyes before slicing at Jones' tentacles. Black ink sprayed everywhere, and the key fell and landed on the deck amid the splatter, still clutched by the writhing tentacle fragment. Livid, Jones shoved Jack backwards just as Jack slashed down, but Jones' claw stopped his sword. Jones squeezed, and Jack's sword was snapped in half.

On the Black Pearl, Cotton struggled with the wheel, and the masts of the two ships slammed together. The shuddering of the mast on the Flying Dutchman caused Jack to lose his balance, and the chest fell. ‘NO!!!’ Jones screamed, reaching down and saving the chest with his tentacle arm. He looked past the chest to see Jack dangling below, hanging onto the chest.

Hermione watched the events unfolding on the Flying Dutchman and raised her wand to help Jack, but she stopped when she realised if she shot Jones he would drop the chest and Jack. Her mind was going erratic as she tried to think of what she could do to help him.

Will, also noticing Jack's predicament, ran towards a soldier sneaking up on Hermione and he stabbed him. ‘Hermione!' he called to her, and she looked around in alarm, noticing the soldier on the ground.

‘Thanks,' she mumbled and turned back to look at Jack.

Murtogg and Mullroy swung across, slamming into the ship and they crawled up over the railing. Will raised his eyebrow, taking their rope and coiled it around his arm. ‘Don’t worry,’ he told Hermione who frowned at him.

Hermione turned back to watch and covered her mouth in horror as Jones slung Jack up into the air, and she quickly raised her wand at him. ‘Wingardium Leviosa!’ she shouted watching as Jack hovered for a moment and he grabbed onto a line.

Jack's eyes were wide with fear and curiosity as he drifted to safety. He looked over at the Black Pearl, seeing Hermione lower her wand and he smiled at her. He didn't have time to think about it though as he swung around and smashed into a Dutchman crewman swinging on another line. Jack looked down and noticed his pistol. ‘That's mine!' he shouted, grabbing the pistol and head-butted him off the line. Jack swung back around behind Jones and fired the gun, hitting Jones in the back.

The chest fell from his grasp, smashing down on Haddrass as he tried to sit up and his entire head was forced down into his body. The chest tumbled free just as Will landed on the deck. He bent down and picked up the chest, moving away from Haddrass who was trying to fix his head.

Jones strode along the deck, moving through the fighting. A redcoat stopped to pick up Jones’ sword and examined it. Jones growled, taking the sword from him before running him through as he walked past. Will glanced over his shoulder, and then back ahead where Maacus was right in front of him, blocking his way.

On the Black Pearl, Pintel and Ragetti were up to something as they stood on either side of a cannon, smirking. Pintel chuckled as he lit the fuse, and with a loud blast, Jack the Monkey flew from the cannon, shrieking with glee. He smacked right into Maacus, who tore at him, trying to get him off his face.

Jack swung back around on the line, and looking down he could see Will moving past Maacus with the chest. Will sidestepped another of the crew, but another floored him. The chest slid away from him as Will scrambled to his feet, looking at who stopped him. It only took him a second to recognise his Father.

‘It’s me—’ Will started to say, but he was cut off as Bootstrap slashed at him with his sword. ‘Stop! It’s Will! Your Son—’ he cut off again as he understood something was wrong. He was forced to defend himself against the attacks Bootstrap was throwing at him, but he also had to try not to harm him.

This left the chest momentarily free, but Jones reached it and was just about to grab it when Jack dropped down in front of him and pulled his broken sword from its sheath. Jack looked at his sword, whimpering when he realised he wouldn’t be able to defend himself. He looked around quickly, and pulled a bayline pin out of the capstan, and used it to block Jones’ attack.

Jack dodged, keeping the capstan between them, but then Jones cut straight through it. Jack spun the capstan, turning Jones around to come out the other side while Will continued to battle Bootstrap, giving ground.

Back on the Pearl, Pintel, Ragetti, and Gibbs arrived on the deck as Barbossa fought with the wheel, straining to keep the two ships apart. ‘The masts be tangled! The Dutchman is going down, and us with it!’ he yelled down to them.

Gibbs craned his neck, staring at the masts turning. ‘Loose a cannon! Use chain shot! Blast us free!’ he ordered them.

Pintel and Ragetti ran towards the nearest cannon, but Clacker intercepted them. Hermione watched, knowing they wouldn't reach the cannon in time. She raised her wand towards the mast, but a shout from the Flying Dutchman made her lose concentration for a moment as she saw Jack and Jones fighting.

Clacker went overboard then, leaving Pintel holding the iron balls, clinking together. ‘We’ve got balls!’ he shouted out with a chuckle.

Elizabeth rushed past them. ‘Free the sails! Target the mast!’ she cried the order, crouching down and slashing the cannon tie-down rope.

Gibbs bent next to her. ‘I’ve got it, go!’ he told her, looking over at the Dutchman.

Elizabeth ran towards Hermione, bringing her back to the gravity of their situation and she raised her wand again. ‘Reducto!’ she screamed, blasting the mast but only part of it detached. Hermione concentrated and went to try again, but Elizabeth pulled her out of the way of a cannon ball firing from the Dutchman.

On the Dutchman, Jack raced away, but Jones leapt in front of him and blocked his escape. Jack retreated, but Jones slashed him across the face, and he fell back, landing hard on the deck. Jones turned and laughed as he strode back towards the chest.

Elizabeth, who had grabbed a line, swung across with Hermione, and they both landed in front of the chest. ‘Harridans! You’ll see no mercy from me!’ he yelled, looking at them both.

Hermione twirled her wand in her hand, while Elizabeth raised her sword. ‘That’s why I brought this,’ she said, giving Hermione a look. The younger girl nodded and cast protective spells on her before running off to Jack.

Jones sneered at Elizabeth and attacked her which caught the attention of Will. Jones was beating Elizabeth backwards. Will slashed at Bootstrap, disarming him, before grabbing his Father and slamming him into the rail. Will pulled out his knife and raised it as if he was about to stab Bootstrap. ‘I will not kill you. I made you a promise,’ Will said through gritted teeth before slamming the knife down, into the railing, through Bootstrap’s jacket which pinned him there.

Will turned away to go and help Elizabeth, while Bootstrap stared down at the knife. It looked familiar, and he closed his eyes as he tried to remember.

Meanwhile, Hermione ran towards Jack who was still lying on the deck. She noticed the tentacle crawling past him, heading back to its master while dragging a key behind it. Hermione figured this was the key to the chest. She stooped down and grabbed the key. ‘Incendio,’ she whispered, setting the horrible tentacle on fire.

Hermione moved over to Jack who was rolling over onto his front and getting up. ‘Jack,’ she breathed when she realised he was okay.

Jack looked at her in wonder, before pulling her into his arms. ‘I had a horrible feeling I would never see you again,’ he muttered into her hair.

‘Me too,’ she whispered and pulled away from him. She took a deep breath and opened her hand, revealing the key.

Jack’s eyes widened, his eyes flying from the key to the chest. Then his eyes found Hermione’s which were filling with tears. ‘Whatever happens…’ he whispered, but she shook her head and pushed him away.

‘Fine, Jack,' she snarled, dropping the key in front of him and walking away.

Jack felt his chest constrict and his breath catch as he watched her. He didn't want to do this, but someone had to, or Jones would forever haunt them. Jack crawled towards the chest, trying to ignore the devastated look on Hermione's face.

Hermione ran to help Elizabeth as Jones backhanded her with his claw. She stopped as Will thrust a sword into his back and Jones looked down. He looked over his shoulder then, seeing Will. ‘Missed. Did you forget? I am a heartless wretch,' he chuckled bitterly. Jones reached up and bent the sword tip, locking it in place before wrenching sideways and freeing the sword from Will.

Jones knocked Will to the deck. Will’s eyes shifted to Elizabeth, something Jones noticed, and he processed their relationship. ‘Ah, love. A dreadful bond,’ he said, shaking his head.

Hermione looked over at Jack who was opening the chest, and she closed her eyes, bile rising in her throat as she realised what was about to happen.

Will was backing away from Jones; he had no weapon and was helpless. Jones pulled the sword through his body and tossed it aside. ‘Yet so easily severed. Tell me, William Turner,’ he said, raising his sword at the unarmed blacksmith. ‘Do you fear death?’ he asked him, bringing the blade to a stop next to Will’s throat.

Jones suddenly yelled in pain and Hermione looked over at Jack with wide eyes. ‘Do you?' Jack said, holding Jones still-beating heart in his hand. Jones staggered as Jack squeezed the heart, making Jones clutch his chest in agony. Jack smiled at Hermione but swallowed hard when she didn't return it. He sighed and took a deep breath. He had everything under control finally. Jones regained his balance and took stock of his situation. Jack smirked at him. ‘It's a heady tonic,' Jack started, tossing the heart in his hand. ‘Holding life and death in the palm of your hand,’ he said, looking down at the heart.

Jones clucked his tongue. ‘You are a cruel man, Jack Sparrow. Self-serving and dishonest,' he growled.

Jack chuckled. ‘Self-serving and dishonest I'll give you, but cruel is a matter of perspective, is it not?' Jack asked him, tilting his head. He carefully avoided looking at Hermione as he raised his broken sword to stab the heart.

Jones glared at him. ‘Is it?' he asked, before stabbing Will with Norrington's sword.

Elizabeth cried out as she knelt next to Will, holding onto him and Hermione came to her side, tears falling from her eyes. Hermione raised her wand and whispered a spell to see the damage caused. Jones had punctured his lung, and he wouldn't survive long. ‘Can you… heal him? Elizabeth asked her through her tears.

Hermione shook her head. ‘He's bleeding internally, I can only stop the pain, and try to ease—' she cut herself off. How could she say she would ease his passing? She didn't want to ease it; she wanted him to live. Hermione performed another spell, stopping the pain Will was in, but he was still struggling to breathe.

Will turned his head, looking down at the sword that ran him through and realised it was the very sword he forged. It was a cruel mockery. His eyes turned to Jack who was hesitating to stab the heart.

Bootstrap looked over at the scene with an expression of curiosity on his face. It then turned to wonder and recognition. ‘William. My Son,’ he whispered, and immediately tried to break free from his restraint.

Jones turned towards Jack. ‘Take what you want most, Jack. Live forever—’ Jones was cut off as Bootstrap raced across the deck, laying into Jones and attacking him with rage. Jones was driven aside, overcome by Bootstrap, towards the railing of the ship.

Jack turned his attention away from the grappling men towards Will who was mortally wounded. Hermione turned to look at him, catching his eyes as tears fell from her own. She gave him a shake of her head, and Jack's eyes turned back to Will who was staring at the sword sticking out of him.

A quake went through the ship, and Jack glanced across the abyss to Barbossa who was at the wheel of the Black Pearl as the ship spun at the point of no return. Pintel and Ragetti aimed their cannon and Jack looked back down at the heart, before looking at Will. He turned his eyes to Hermione who was pleading with him with her eyes, and then he looked at Elizabeth.

‘Please,' Elizabeth said to him.

At the rail, Jones twisted away from Bootstrap, gaining the upper hand and forced him out over the railing. ‘You will not forestall my judgement—' he was cut off as a sudden pain shot through him, and he clutched his chest, crying out. The ship shuddered, and Jones let go of Bootstrap and looked over to see Jack's shortened sword had stabbed his heart.

Will's hand was on the sword hilt, and he was standing over the slain heart, dark ink, volumes of it spread out onto the deck. Jones fell onto the rail, opening his eyes one last time and stared into the whirling void, accepting his fate. ‘Calypso!' he cried as he plummeted down into the sea, one with Calypso at last.

Pintel and Ragetti shot their cannon, and part of the mast on the Dutchman was blown away while Barbossa turned the wheel outwards and the Black Pearl fought to get free. The two ships finally separated, and the Flying Dutchman spun, following Jones down, encircled in darkness.

Elizabeth held Will in her arms, and he looked as though he was going to say something, but his breath caught in his throat and he died. ‘Will…’ Elizabeth whispered, tears falling from her eyes and landing on his face.

Hermione moved forward, pulling Elizabeth away as the crew of the Dutchman moved towards Will. Bootstrap grabbed the knife from the railing and followed suit. ‘Elizabeth, we have to go, now!’ Hermione whispered urgently, but Elizabeth struggled for a moment before the grief overcame her.

Hermione escorted her through the enclosing circle of crewmen as Jimmy Legs carried the open chest towards Will. ‘The Dutchman must have a Captain,' Bootstrap said, knife still in hand and he knelt down next to Will. Bootstrap pulled open Will's shirt and raised the knife.

‘The Dutchman must have a living heart…’ Maacus said in a trance.

‘Part of the ship, part of the crew, part of the ship, part of the crew…’ the other crewmen chanted.

Jack met Elizabeth and Hermione at the railing where he was gathering the ropes of a flapping sail. He grabbed hold of Hermione while Elizabeth took the line, and Jack fired his pistol at the knot. The three were lifted from the deck by the wind-filled sail. Elizabeth stared down as Will's body was obscured from sight by the crewmen. Hermione looked at her, but her eyes were trained on the ship which was growing smaller.

Unknown to them, Jack the Monkey had also hitched a ride, and even he was looking down at the ship with a mournful stare.

The Flying Dutchman vanished into the whirlpool, while Jack, Hermione and Elizabeth landed in the ocean near the Pearl. Barbossa, Pintel, and Ragetti watched in dismay as the Dutchman was pulled down, spinning, into the depths. Gibbs ran to the rail, helping Hermione and Elizabeth over before grabbing Jack and helping him as well.

‘Thank heaven, Jack. The Armada is still out there, the Endeavour is coming up hard starboard, and I think it’s time we embraced that oldest, noblest of pirate traditions,’ Gibbs said with a grin.

Jack sighed. ‘I've never been one for tradition,' he muttered and chanced a glance at Hermione who was comforting the crying Elizabeth. He sighed when Hermione didn't look at him, and he could tell she was still annoyed.

Jack wondered if he would ever be able to earn her forgiveness. He promised not to hurt her, yet had immediately broken the promise by telling her he was going to stab the heart and become Jones. Even though it hadn’t worked out like that, his intentions were there and that, he knew, she wouldn’t forgive easily.

Jack looked over at the Endeavour where Beckett was standing at the helm with the Armada re-forming behind him. Jack moved towards the wheel. ‘Close haul her! Luff the sails, and lay her in irons!’ Jack ordered the crew.

Barbossa rolled his eyes. ‘Belay that! We’ll be a sitting duck!’ he ordered the crew who stopped moving.

Jack glared at him. ‘Belay that, belay that!’ he ordered the crew who all started to protest, but Jack cut each of them off. ‘Belay it! Stow it! Stow it, stow it, belay, belay, stow!’ he shouted as each of them opened their mouths.

Hermione rolled her eyes at him, before turning back to Elizabeth who was staring out at the sea where the Flying Dutchman went down. Hermione didn’t know what to say to her. Any words of comfort that may have come to her just wouldn’t be enough.

Meanwhile, on the Endeavour, Beckett tilted his head as he watched the sails of the Black Pearl being luffed. It was helpless. ‘What is he waiting for?' Groves questioned as he watched in bewilderment.

‘He expects us to honour our agreement,' Beckett answered with a shrug. Below him, the cannon ports opened on the gun deck, and cannons emerged.

On the Black Pearl, its sails flapping, Gibbs watched the Endeavour move into position against them. ‘Didn't figure for it to end this way. Always pictured an angry husband,' he muttered, shaking his head.

Jack raised his eyebrow at him. ‘Reasonable,’ he responded with a chuckle.

On the Endeavour, Beckett sailed in for the kill. ‘Nothing personal, Jack. It’s just good business,’ he said with a smirk of victory.

Suddenly, the Flying Dutchman appeared from the depths, sailing alongside the Black Pearl. It was now a clean slate grey and no longer crusted. On the Pearl, Jack grinned. ‘Full canvas!’ he ordered, pointing towards the Endeavour.

‘Aye, full canvas!’ Barbossa agreed, shouting the order as well and the crew got the ship ready.

On the Flying Dutchman, William Turner stepped out onto the deck, a dark avenging anger in his eyes, and he was now in control of the dreaded ship. Barbossa spun the wheel on the Pearl and split away from the Dutchman. The two ships sailed on either side of the Endeavour, trapping it between them.

On the Endeavour, Beckett stared in incredulity while Groves looked out at their doom. ‘Orders, sir?’ he asked, waiting uncertainly. ‘Sir?’ he questioned again, still getting no answer. ‘Sir, what do you command?’ he requested again, but Beckett didn’t move.

Finally, Beckett turned his head, staring across at Jack. ‘Who am I?’ Beckett mumbled to himself, with resignation, disgust, and amazement.

Groves' eyes widened, noticing Beckett had lost it. ‘Abandon ship! All hands! Abandon ship!' he ordered, turning away from Beckett. With the other crewmen, Groves raced to the rail and vaulted overboard.

‘FIRE!’ came the orders from Will and Jack.

The two ships opened fire, showing the full fury of their power. It was a furious broadside as cannons blasted several times and Beckett’s ship was blown away.

On the Endeavour, Beckett stepped forward, shots landing all around him, but he didn’t flinch and was still fearless in the face of death. A mast fell, but it didn’t faze Beckett at all even as the deck gave way and he disappeared.

Cheers could be heard from the various pirate ships littering the Caribbean Sea as Beckett fought to remain above water. The East India Company flag floated down and covered him. There was a brief struggle beneath it before the flag flattened on the water.

Hermione watched as the crew cheered, but her eyes found Jack’s and she couldn’t help but smile. She clutched her hands behind her back, and Jack indicated with a nod of his head for her to come up. Hermione ran up the stairs and straight into his arms.

Hermione looked down as the cheers paused when Murtogg and Mullroy appeared, trying to pretend to be pirates and they all circled them. She felt a little sorry for the two soldiers and wondered if they would ever find their calling. Jack and Hermione turned to look at the Armada ships as they turned tail and fled at the destruction caused.

‘They’re retreating,’ Hermione whispered in awe.

‘Aye, they’re terrified to take on the combined might of the Dutchman and the Pearl!’ Gibbs agreed, raising his fist in cheer.

Jack chuckled. ‘I’ve never seen a retreat from this side before,’ Jack mused before looking at Gibbs. ‘Gibbs, you may fling my hat,’ he told him making Hermione giggle as Gibbs took Jack’s hat in awe and threw it up into the air.

On the Flying Dutchman, Captain William Turner stood on the deck looking out toward the Black Pearl and sighed. Bootstrap came up beside him. ‘Orders, sir?’ he asked him, bowing his head slightly.

Will looked at him in surprise. ‘You’re no longer bound to the Dutchman. You’re free,’ Will told him with a frown.

Bootstrap shifted onto his other foot and smiled at him. ‘It’s a fine thing, but by my reckoning, I’ve still got a debt that needs be paid,’ he told him, his smile widening. ‘If you’ll have me,’ he added, hope in his eyes.

Will regarded him for a moment before a smile fought free and broke out on his face. He gestured towards the wheel. ‘On the wheel, then, Mr Turner,’ he ordered him.

‘Aye, Captain Turner,’ Bootstrap responded, moving up to the wheel. Will’s gaze turned back to Elizabeth and Bootstrap noted it. ‘One day ashore, ten years at sea. It’s a steep price to pay for what’s been done,’ he told him with a sad sigh.

Will smiled. ‘That depends on the one day,’ he replied, shaking his head.

oOoOo

‘What will you do now?’ Elizabeth questioned Hermione who was sitting on the stairs.

‘I don’t know,’ the young witch answered as her eyes found Jack who was helping prepare a longboat.

‘What about the future? Do you think you could return?’ she asked Hermione.

Hermione’s eyes glazed over as she thought about returning. How would she even get back to the future? ‘Maybe I’ll find a way, someday,’ she finally replied.

The more she thought about it, the more she found herself wondering how she would feel. Her eyes found Jack, and this time he looked back and smiled at her. Hermione would miss Jack terribly, but she would be with Harry and Ron. There would be no Voldemort, and they could all finally have peace in life. Hermione was sure she would find love again, and Jack would as well.

‘He’ll be devastated,’ Elizabeth whispered, looking at Jack.

‘What do you mean?’ Hermione asked her.

‘Jack,’ she countered as if this was obvious. ‘He loves you. I don’t think he’s ever loved anything more than the sea until he met you,’ she said, shaking her head.

Hermione looked back over at him, and she knew she felt the same, but she was torn. ‘We'll see what happens. I don't even know if I can return to the future,' she answered, shaking her head.

The two girls were interrupted by Gibbs. ‘Your chariot awaits, your highness. Oars are inside,' he told Elizabeth who rolled her eyes.

Elizabeth stood with Hermione, and they walked towards the longboat. ‘Mrs Turner,' Barbossa said, giving her a bow.

Elizabeth smiled at him before turning back to Hermione and giving her a long hug. ‘I hope we meet again soon, Hermione,' she whispered, and the younger girl nodded.

‘Me, too,’ Hermione murmured back, before pulling back and letting Jack pull her into his arms.

Elizabeth smiled at Jack. ‘Thank you,’ she said and leaned up to kiss his cheek.

Jack nodded, smiling at her and helped her into the longboat. He ordered for her to be hoisted down as Hermione looked over the railing to watch.

oOoOo

A Few Months Later…

‘So, where to, Jack?’ Hermione asked with a sigh. The Black Pearl had been sailing around in circles for months while Jack tried to plot a course.

‘You want to stay?’ he asked her a little sheepishly as he looked up from a map. The two had argued a lot over the last few months, and their recent argument had Hermione telling him to drop her off at the next nearest port.

The two were alone in the Captain’s Cabin. ‘Do you want me to, Jack?’ she asked with a sigh.

Jack didn’t answer, he just walked over to her and pulled her into his arms. They stood that way for a while before Barbossa walked into the room making them pull apart to look at him in uncertainty. ‘Well, now, sorry to interrupt,’ Barbossa said, bowing his head, and they could tell he wasn’t sorry at all.

‘There must be a purpose,’ Jack said, his eyes narrowing on Barbossa.

‘Well, Jack, we need to do something about this both of us being Captain thing,’ Barbossa started as Jack rolled his eyes. ‘The crew is a might jumbled with both of us acting as Cap—’ Barbossa was cut off.

‘Take it,’ Jack muttered going back to the map on the table.

‘Jack?’ Barbossa asked in misunderstanding. Surely, Captain Jack Sparrow would not give up the title so quickly.

‘You be Captain. There are more important things in life than a title,’ Jack answered, shaking his head.

Barbossa was taken aback by this. ‘That’s fascinating. The Jack I know would never give up on being Captain,’ he said looking at Hermione who was also watching Jack with a frown.

Hermione moved towards him, placing her hand on his to stop him from moving the compass across the map. ‘I hope I’m not the reason you’re stepping down,’ she questioned him softly.

‘We need somewhere safe, and the sea is not safe,’ Jack answered her, giving her a look which she would understand.

Barbossa looked at them both before stepping fully into the room and closing the door. ‘You’re not staying, Jack? I would have made you first mate,’ he said with a chuckle.

Jack looked at him as if considering his offer. ‘We could stay for a short while,’ Jack said slowly, looking at Hermione who nodded with a smile. ‘But we will have to find land soon,' he added, and she sighed.

‘I like being at sea,’ Hermione told him, but Jack shook his head.

‘We can come back later,’ Jack told her with a note of finality.

‘Now, what could have happened for Jack Sparrow to give up on the sea and settle down on land?' Barbossa asked looking at them both. Jack stared at the floor while Hermione's face flushed, and she subconsciously wrapped her arms around her abdomen. Barbossa raised an eyebrow, looking at Jack. ‘I see,' he said with a chuckle before leaving the room.

Hermione rolled her eyes and stared at the ceiling of the cabin. ‘How did he figure it out?’ she asked Jack who shrugged.

‘He would have found out eventually,’ Jack muttered, looking back at the map.

‘You’re not angry?’ she asked touching his arm.

Jack turned to look at her with a frown. ‘Why would I be?’ he asked her in bewilderment. Hermione looked at the floor, but Jack reached over and lifted her chin. ‘Hermione, I love you. I want to protect you,’ he whispered and leaned in to kiss her. ‘Both of you,’ he added and kissed her again.

Hermione wrapped her arms around his neck, knowing there was no way she could return to the future now. She couldn’t hurt Jack like that.

She loved him.