They say the Pirate King has married the sea, in secret and sacred rites that no mortal man could know. They say she kissed Davy Jones one moonlit night, leaning over the quarterdeck as their ships passed one another in the fog. (They say she still has the rope-burn on her palm, from where she wrapped the line around her hand—the only thing that kept her in the land of the living, they say.)
They say her son was born squalling like a storm, into the arms of Captain Jack Sparrow, who trails his own rumors like sea spray. (No one mentions a certain similarity of aspect between child and godfather, but then neither do they bring up the ears that could only be a Turner’s, or the straight sharp nose that, in the right light, would not have looked out of place on a commodore’s profile.)
They say the Pirate King can steal anything she likes, and keep it.
Jack visited her once, when she was still in her father’s house—she and Will had been courting then, stealing iron-burnt kisses in the forge; running away to the cliffs to swordfight and then tumble to the grass, their bodies fitting together like the sea to the shore. He was a beautiful thing, and Elizabeth was glad glad glad, having won him.
(Not enough, it turned out, for he was not the world entire and she was horizon-hungry, thirsty to swallow all the sea—but for just then, that string of golden afternoons, he was enough.)
Her mouth had still been humming, kiss-chapped, when she returned to find Jack Sparrow standing in her kitchens. “Ravishment suits you, love,” he said with a grin, after ducking the knife she hurled at his head. “Do give my regards to Mr. Turner.”
“You’re lucky my father isn’t home and the servants are asleep,” she said with a sneer, which only made him grin wider, ape-like. “They would see you hanged.”
“And you won’t?” he asked. “Miss Swann, I am delighted.”
“What do you want, Jack?”
He reached out and brushed his knuckles along her jaw, then laid his hand over her cheek. “Just to say goodbye, Lizzie,” he said. There was a strange gentleness in his voice she couldn’t make heads or tails of, only that it made his dark eyes look wounded in the light of the dying light of the fire. “I didn’t get the chance, before.”
She wouldn’t notice the tar he left behind on her cheek until the next morning, the whorls of his fingertips written dark as ink.
(Sometimes, when she studied the planes of Will’s face, she thought she could see the same tarry fingerprints, a shadow on his jaw.)
Edward Teague has a face like leather left in the sun too long, and bows to her like a ship pulling onto the rocks, groaning and resentful. She is already many long months pregnant and she balances the Codex on her swelling stomach, pretending not to notice all the cups of tea left at her elbow, the mutton and bread that seems to manifest whenever Teague is puttering nearby. (He does not acknowledge leaving them either, so they get along.)
The first time she feels the baby kick, she grabs his wrist blindly, letting out a cry. He looks panicked until she takes his hand, guides it to her belly.
He is very quiet for a long time afterward, darting glances at her when he thinks she will not note them. There is a kind of kindling awe in his dark eyes, as though she has swallowed the sea, and he felt the tide beating through her skin against his palm.
Jack stopped calling her “love” at some point. She suspects it became something too close to true.
Elizabeth tucks letters in the hands of dying men, sometimes with her sword still buried in their bellies. “For the Dutchman,” she whispers in their ears as they gurgle a last, bloody breath. “For the Dutchman.”
She is not sure whether all of them reach Will, whose ship travels stranger tides than she can navigate, but she lives in hope. Sometimes she takes his
heart from the chest, and holds it in her hands, just to feel it wet, and beating.
Tia Dalma—Calypso, the goddess, wearing her old skin and shackles, but with ghostly lights for eyes—comes to her in dreams sometimes, grinning with teeth full of shipwrecks. Clever Lizzie, she croons, feeding Elizabeth salt when she is thirsty, she is so thirsty. My Lizzie.
Elizabeth wakes gasping, longing for water, desperate for the sea.
Her son—little Liam, is Jack’s name for him; princeling, the pirates of her Court have taken to calling him—is three when the trunk washes up on Shipwreck Island. It is sealed with coral and tar, and carved into the lid is For the Pirate King.
It takes Elizabeth a moment to understand its contents, for they are carved from driftwood and strangely shaped—but once her eyes adjust, she realizes they are kraken marionettes and little wooden ships, mermaids with seaweed braids and turtle-shell drums. For my son, the carving on the underside of the lid reads. With much love.
Little William adores them, and names each one in secret ceremonies that Elizabeth is not privy to. A thing to keep between him and his father, who is death and love and the sea.
Elizabeth remembers more the flesh and smiling and wanting of him, Will Turner with blacksmith-rough and rope-calloused hands, who was too loud when she fucked him and laughed too quietly, and tries not to grieve.
She and Jack do, once or twice. Usually there is rum involved. He always kisses her afterwards, with a reverence badly-hidden and a love that burns on his tongue. Elizabeth always pulls away too quickly, to keep from being burned.
Will’s heart is in a chest under her bunk. Sometimes, climbing into her bed, Jack will nudge it further back, into the dark.
At the end of her ten years, her husband will find her faithful, still.
“Pirate,” Barbossa calls her once, pride in his deep-set eyes. She does not remember why, but she remembers grinning, shameless.
The Pearl saves a man from drowning, and Jack drags him back to the Brethren Court. “Go on, tell her what you told me,” he says. His eyes are dark and wounded again, even in the flickering candlelight. Elizabeth wishes she could siphon it from him without poisoning herself. (She does not know how else, and is not selfless enough to try swallowing his pain. She was not made to bear the heartaches of men, when she has her own. Ten years has taught her not to be sorry for it.)
“I—there was a man on a ship,” the almost-drowned man says. “He was…he had a scar, over his heart. He said I was to deliver a message to Elizabeth Swann. He said…he said that she was to be ready, for he was coming. He was coming.”
The sky flashes green, so bright, too hoped-for, she has to look away.
When she looks back, there is a tall ship on the horizon, and she is not sorry, not for any of it. She grins, shameless, and goes down to meet the tide.