Think of Elizabeth Swann, sea torn and sun weathered, standing in the Brethren Court and taking her power in her own hands. Will has betrayed her, she him, and a whole ocean of unspoken unshared schemes and secrets between them. However, she is king of the Brethren Court, and by god, she will not go quietly.
The sea has gotten under her skin, the vastness of the oceans beckoning with all its wild promises of freedom.
This is a woman who would rather stand tall and fight against an armada with a motely flotilla of pirate ships, than turn tail and flee.
This is a woman who would cross blades with the devil-shepherd of lost souls to protect the man she loved. This is a woman who got married in the heat of battle, in a storm, to a pirate, by a pirate.
Imagine then, that after all of this, would she then go quietly and allow the land to settle into her sedated bones and raise a child, waiting, just waiting all the while – ten years – for Will to return?
No. I think not.
Imagine rather, that she took her crew and her ship, she is still King after all, and the seas are even wilder, their promises hard to win but they shine so brightly. Besides, the sea is where her love lies and they will not leave each other so easily.
So she takes her crew and they roam. She has the favour of Calypso herself, and the heart of Davey Jones. (His name is Will Turner, he will always remain thus to her, in her heart and in her childhood, but all the oceans know him as Davey Jones.)
Captain Swann is feared and loved by all: her crew is composed entirely of women, all of them, down to the last mate. She takes them, liberated slaves, prostitutes who sell for a lack any other choice, orphans, and women like her who are too wild to ever settle easily on land.
Theirs is a life of being both pirates and merchants, of liberators and saviours. Theirs is a crew of adventures and pragmatists. Slave traders learn to tremble when Elizabeth’s flag flies, their hold is full of pearls and gold-spice and other pirate captains bow when Elizabeth sails past. She is King of The Pirates, and the horizon spreads out before her.
(Where is Jack Sparrow in all this, you wonder? His story is his own; he has his own seas to cross and treasures to seek. He will hear tales of Captain Swann, perhaps even tell a few himself, of the time before she was King and Captain. She will become half a stranger in time, but he will always remember the women he knew, and he will see the woman now in the echo of the time where she chained him to a mast with a kiss. The woman, the King, Elizabeth has become was always an eventuality, he will understand, and while he loves the sea, he loves freedom and treasure more, but Elizabeth loves the ocean and not for anything it promises other than itself. They will cross paths occasionally, but not swords. They will not kiss but Jack will offer her the use of his compass and she will refuse, saying ‘I know where and what it is Jack, and it cannot be found. I want nothing else.’)
When she gives birth to her son, nine months after Will’s last day on land, it is on the Forecastle of her ship with her first mate and the doctor telling her to push. (She does not need to push; he slips out as easily as the tide with all of the salt and iron of both her blood and the sea).
She names him for the sea and for the man she loves, swaddles him in sea-wrack, silks, and pearls, and waits at sunset for a green flash.
Will holds their son, blesses him with the kiss of Calypso and the love of a father, and stays just long enough that the dawn just brushes the curve of the horizon. He has a job to do; he will stay just long enough to love them, before the parting becomes impossible to bear.
Her son, Young Will, grows tall and strong, watched over and taught by a fierce crew, loved by a mother and father, blessed by the sea. Elizabeth will have a daughter named for the ocean, Ariel, wild and free as the wind, who has half the sea in her blood and the tide in her lungs. Her daughter will know the roll of the waves and the pitch of the deck better than her own lungs, she will know the currents and the stars better than any port of call or sedate land. The crew will call her their daughter and teach all that they know.
There will be tragedy too, another daughter who will not live past a month, and a son – only eight, but as cheeky as dolphin, and the crew’s own luck charm besides – who will be lost to the oceans in a storm. Will collects them both in person; for the babe, he kisses her cold brow, and promises that he himself will see her safe. For the son, Charlie, he offers a chance under the mast – to grow tall and ferry the souls of the dead at his father’s side. Charlie takes it solemnly and becomes half a fey thing himself, one foot in life and the other in death. Tales whisper that he is loved by the sea, consort to a goddess. Only Charlie knows the truth, and he will never say.
When Elizabeth dies, her daughter takes over the ship and the crew, her son the first mate, and Elizabeth drifts off to the tide in a long boat. Her body lies under the stars, a great cosmos wheeling above her that she has long learned how to read better than the lines of her own body.
When Will shows, The Flying Dutchman breaching the surface in a gentle silent slide with seawater running down the sides like a holy anointment, her asks her if she fears death.
Elizabeth replies that she does not, but she will serve.