honorat: (Will Turner by Honorat)
[personal profile] honorat
By Honorat
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: Well, then, I confess, it is my intention to commandeer PotC, pick up the characters in Port Royal, raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out!

Summary: You all knew it had to happen. Welcome to the path to destruction. Angst alert. Fasten your seatbelts. Please keep your arms and head inside the vehicle. The story of Will and Master Brown. More movie novelization and missing scenes. Still entirely off the edge of the map.

Thank you, [livejournal.com profile] geek_mama_2, for the wonderful beta work; I’ll buy you a hat—a really big one.

Links to previous chapters:
Prologue: To Miss An Appointment
Ch. 1: Pirate Attack
Ch. 2: Unrestrained Piracy
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 1
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 2
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 3
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 4

* * * * *


Six months after Joe had departed Port Royal, a delivery wagon from the harbour arrived at the smithy with a shipment of crucible steel from Sheffield, England. Packed in with the crates of steel was one crate containing four odd clay vessels. One hadn’t survived the passage, but the others were intact. A letter in Joe’s scrawl, enclosed with them, shed some light on the mystery.

Tell Will these are for him to experiment with. Huntsman is as hard to crack as a fire-weld. He guards his secret like it’s his hope of heaven. I spoke to an iron founder named Walker who is the only outsider who has ever made it inside Huntsman’s works. He rigged himself out as a tramp and picked a snowstorm in which to arrive, claiming to be ill. The workers took pity on him and let him sleep in a corner where he spied on them. He tells me that Huntsman uses a coke-fired furnace to heat clay crucibles like these containing iron to white heat. Then they’re charged with bits of blister steel and a flux of broken glass. Three hours later the impurities are skimmed off and the molten steel is poured into ingots. The proportions are a mystery. So have fun young William. Meanwhile, I’ve arranged for a regular shipment of crucible steel for the smithy. Can’t let the French beat us out.

That evening, after his day’s work was complete, Will returned eagerly to the opened crates that had been calling him all afternoon. Reverently he lifted one of the steel ingots. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on its weight in his hands, its pure, clear, hard perfection. He breathed in the fragrance of metal warming in his hands. This was magnificent steel. He’d never felt steel with such an unclouded presence. His hands itched to try working it.

Looking up, he saw Master Brown smiling at him in understanding. “Go ahead, Will. I know you wouldn’t taste your meal anyway. I’ll tell Mistress Brown not to expect you.”

Will grinned in elation at the mastersmith. “Thank you, sir!”

Brown nodded at him. “You’re a good lad, Will Turner. You have the makings of a fine smith, perhaps even a great one.”

His heart singing under the unaccustomed praise, Will turned back to the alluring steel.

He did not know what hour of the night or morning it was when he straightened and stretched his cramping muscles and contemplated the folded steel ready to be worked into a blade on the morrow—or later today, whatever it was. Still holding the shaping hammer in his hand, he rubbed his eyes with the back of one grimy wrist. His body felt empty—of strength, of volition, of emotion—as though he had spent it all on the steel, infused himself into the swirling pattern in an unseen seam of spiritual ore.

This steel was unlike any he had ever worked before—recalcitrant, adamantine hard, thwarting all attempts to drive it into a shape. He’d never had to have such patience with a metal, never had to listen harder to what it wanted to be. But finally he had broken through whatever was barricading him from understanding this fierce new medium. Finally they had ceased to resist each other. Finally, he had succeeded in surrendering to the steel, in allowing it to mold itself in his hands. When he held what he knew was the most perfect thing he had ever created, shivers ran through him like the tremors of an ague. His breath came light and fast as though he had been running. Surely molten metal was flowing through his veins. If he cut himself, he would bleed fire. He did not feel joy or accomplishment or pride—merely an overwhelming, elemental sense of new life.

Master Brown found him still standing by the forge in the morning, rapt as an acolyte in a vision.

“That good, is it?” he inquired.

Startled out of his reverie, Will stared at his master, gradually processing the question. A slow smile dawned on his pale, tired face. “Oh yes,” he said. “It’s very good.”

* * * * *

The spring that the smithy of J. Brown began to turn out unsurpassed swords made of the finest steel, a foe impervious to the sharpest blade stalked through the streets of Port Royal. The air was thick with the choking odour of tar burning in the streets. A slow trickle of fearful people bled out of the town, trying to escape.

The conversations of Mistress Brown and her gossips ceased to revolve around children and husbands and produce and fashions. Instead Will heard snippets of grim stories.

“Margery Bidley over on Market is very ill, and a man at the shoemakers next door to the Pages!”

“There is a man next door but one who Dr. Branigan says will quickly die of this horrible disorder!”

“Master Stimpson and his family are moved out of town.”

“Poor Sarah Peabody died yesterday.”

Down at the docks, Will saw slave women paddling canoes up to newly arrived ships from which British colonists were disembarking. With gleeful sarcasm they chanted:
“New come buckra
He get sick.
He tak fever.
He be die!”
They could laugh, for everyone knew that African slaves were immune to the dreaded yellow fever.

Meanwhile, upwards of 70 persons in the town were stricken by the disease. Each Sunday, the vicar prayed that the alarming fever now prevalent might be abated if it pleased kind Providence so to order.

But it did not please Providence, and the disease continued to rage.

Willingly, the Brown family and Will endured being dosed with Daffy’s elixir and vinegar on a sponge with a sprig of wormwood in the hopes of staving off the putrid and bilious fever. They walked as little as possible in the lower streets, but the precautions proved ineffectual.

One morning Master Brown eyed his wife’s flushed face with concern. “Are you feeling quite well, dear?” he asked.

“Just a touch of the headache,” she admitted, rubbing her temples. “I’ll be fine.”

The mastersmith slipped an arm around her waist. “Then you should lie down. Emily will bring you some tea. She’s a young lady now, twelve years old, and quite capable of managing the house for a little while.”

Mistress Brown rested her head on his. “Perhaps I shall. Just for a minute.”

She did not, however, recover in a few minutes. Instead, by the end of the day, fear coiled in the corners of the smithy and set its fangs into the hearts of the little family. Yellow fever had struck. The overworked, harried Port Royal doctor was called.

The doctor placed Mistress Brown on a regimen calculated, so he said, to dilute the blood, correct the acrimony of the humours, allay the excessive heat, remove the spasmodic stricture of the vessels, and promote secretions. Only liquids and very light foods such as fruits and gruel. No animal food.

Faithfully Emily prepared the special diet and sprinkled her mother’s chamber with vinegar, juice of lemon and rose-water with a little nitre dissolved in it. Daily, Master Brown bathed his wife’s feet and hands in lukewarm water. Will took the brunt of the labour and ran the forge almost entirely on his own.

They learned then that Susanna had also been stricken by the disease. Perhaps she and her mother had run across some foul air on a trip to the market together. The burning tar was not driving it out fast enough.

After the third day, Mistress Brown appeared to rally. Her fever went down and she felt well enough to move around a little. But the doctor was not encouraged. Yellow jack was tricky that way. Often a patient would seem to be regaining his health when the disease would strike a second time with far more deadly results.

In this, the doctor proved to be correct. The next day, Mistress Brown collapsed into bed again, her fever raging higher than before, her pulse tumultuous. When the symptoms of inflammation did not decrease, and her pulse remained quick and hard, the doctor recommended bleeding, although not more than a patient of her strength could endure. As the fever rose, he repeated the procedure a second and later a third time to no avail. Mistress Brown continued to deteriorate.

Joseph Brown did not leave his wife’s side those final seven days as her once clear skin turned the characteristic jaundiced yellow of the disease that was rotting her from within, as the putrified blood oozed from her gums, nose, and ears—from every orifice in fact. In the last few days, he held her while her body purged the terrifying black and bloody vomit, while her mind wandered in delirium and she no longer knew he was there, while convulsions racked her wasted frame. And finally, he sat beside her, holding her hand and talking to her as she lay immobile and comatose. That night she died in his arms.

Susanna died two days later.

The two of them were buried in the church yard next to three small markers where lay Brown children Will had never known—two girls, ages four and five, who had died in an outbreak of dengue fever ten years ago, and a stillborn baby boy who would have been older than Joe, had he lived. There was no place for Gordon who rested somewhere at sea.

Will stood with Emily and Master Brown as the plain boxes were lowered into the dark graves. Father and daughter seemed smaller than ever to Will. After his first meeting with the mastersmith, he had never again noticed the man’s height—his spirit was too large, his personality too expansive, his skill so towering that his apprentice had always looked up to him even when Will had grown head and shoulders taller. But now the man seemed shrunken, as if half of himself were being buried in that crumbling earth.

The three of them returned to the house above the smithy to find that it was no longer home, that no amount of candles could lighten the shadows, that no voices could lift the long silences. It was as if the spirit of the house had died of the yellow fever as well, leaving only wood and stone and loneliness.

* * * * *

That night Will knew he should stop working. It was long past when he usually retired to his room in the attic, and he was so exhausted nothing he was working on was worth the coal it would take to reduce it to slag. But he couldn’t endure the thought of the stillness high under the eaves.

“Will?”

He looked up, startled, to see Emily standing in the doorway. Her normally rosy face was pale, her eyes haunted and circled with shadows. A twelve-year-old should not look so. Will remembered losing his own mother when he had been Emily’s age. He’d felt as though all solid ground was crumbling beneath his feet.

“Emily.” He crossed to her with a single quick stride. “What’s wrong?” he asked gently, although he knew.

“What isn’t wrong?” her child’s voice held a bitter adult wrench to it. If she’d been Susanna, dreamy, passionate Susanna, who rested silently now in the churchyard, she’d have wept and thrown herself into his arms. Being Emily, she stood awkwardly in the door, suffering alone and in silence.

“Come here, Emily,” Will invited impulsively. “I could use some help.”

Curiousity burned away a little of the numb look in her eyes. “What can I do, Will?”

It struck Will that it was always Emily who had fluttered about the edges of the smithy like a small, dusty brown moth. Her mother had constantly rebuked her for leaving her own work undone until Emily had brought her patchwork into the forge. “I hate patchwork,” she’d confided to Will, “but if I do it here, at least it will be bearable.”

When she’d watched her father and brother work, her eyes had held the same sparkle as theirs in the flicker of the forge.

“Here,” he said, digging out his old apron that had also been Joe’s. “Put this on. Let me show you how to make a nail.”

Yes, he’d guessed rightly. Fascination superseded grief in her face as she shrugged into the stiff, heavy leather that hung down to her toes. Will had to smile at the sight. She took the hammer he handed her and weighed it in her hand, shifting it until she found its balance.

Removing a bar from the forge with a pair of tongs, Will asked, testing her knowledge, “Is this ready to draw out?”

“No,” she answered firmly. “It’s only cherry heat—too cold.”

Will raised a brow. Emily had obviously been paying attention. He replaced the bar and encouraged the donkey to power up the bellows. The next time he withdrew the bar it was a bright orange-red. “How’s this?”

“That’s just right.” The corners of her mouth turned up in a ghost of a smile.

Will nodded. “Good. Now I’ll hold the bar on the face of the anvil and you try out the hammer. This time you’ll just be testing the way of the hammer against the metal. Don’t try to force it down. Swing from your shoulder and let its own weight do your work.”

Two hours later, Will was even more exhausted and Emily was flushed with triumph as she displayed a rather large, ungainly nail in the palm of her hand. Remembering his own first attempts, Will admitted that she’d done reasonably well.

Gazing down at her achievements—one nail, two blisters, and a burn—Emily reflected, “My father always told me smithing was no task for a girl.”

“Well, he’s right that you’ll not be keeping those pretty hands if you spend much time with the hammer and tongs,” Will admitted.

“Oh!” Emily flared up. “Of what use are pretty hands?” She held up her nail. “Of course there’s not much use in this nail, either.”

Will opened his mouth to demur, but she forestalled him. “You’re being very polite, Will Turner, but I’m a blacksmith’s daughter, and I know apprentice work from masterwork. This barely qualifies as apprentice work. About the only thing this could be used for is hanging the scrap pail for the chickens. But it’s a start. It’s evidence that a really useful nail is at least a possibility.”

Will smiled at her. “It’s not just a possibility. It’s a certainty. You are a blacksmith’s daughter.”

Emily blushed at this, as she never would have over a compliment to her looks or her stitching.

“Whenever you feel the urge to hammer something,” Will offered, “come on down, and you can make another nail.”

She looked at him measuringly. “Does it help? To hit things.”

“Sometimes.”

“But the difference with you, Will Turner, is that when you hit things, you don’t destroy. You create.”

Without considering his words, Will said. “That’s the only way any of it makes sense.”

Emily paused in the doorway, an arrested look on her face. “Yes. You’re right, of course.” She turned to go, then looked back over her shoulder. “Thank you,” she said simply. “You’ve a kind heart, Will Turner.”

Will did not have to ask for what she was grateful. He knew. Now, he thought, he could bear to climb up to his solitary room and rest.

* * * * *

Over the next months, Emily spent at the forge any spare time she could squeeze from the burden of household responsibilities now resting on her young shoulders. At first Will did not think Master Brown even noticed his daughter was there. The man seemed to be drifting in a fog, not really seeing anything that was around him, going through the motions of smithing by rote. But one day, he’d simply asked Emily to hold a piece of work for him as though she had always been his apprentice. Emily had glowed for hours after that.

Will continued to teach her in the long, otherwise unbearably silent evenings, and soon she was consistently producing respectable nails. He’d been guiltily grateful to pass along that task to her. She was inordinately proud of her gradually roughening and darkening hands, counting smugly each fingernail that chipped off. And indeed, Emily, who had always been the plain one, achieved a strange kind of beauty as she planted her sturdy little figure beside the anvil, her sleeves rolled up on her short arms, and her tousled hair haloed by the firelight of the forge.

* * * * *

Will was showing Emily how to forge a chain link late one night. Emily was as out of temper as he, the two of them snapping at each other desultorily. She couldn’t do anything right and her frustration was increasing. For Will, himself, the work refused to cooperate. His hands felt stiff and aching and unskilled—about as clever as pigs of iron. The heat of the forge burned his eyes so he had to turn away. Suddenly, the entire smithy turned a cartwheel and disappeared. The fever had claimed another victim.

The next few weeks were a blur of intense misery through which floated strange faces and familiar ones he couldn’t name. His flesh felt as though fire consumed him from under his skin, as if, were he touched, he would crumble to powdery ash. Then the fever grew worse, and Will was sure, when he was conscious at all, that the sparks would soon fly off his body as the hammer blows raining down on his flesh unmade him entirely.

He awoke finally, too weak at first to notice, but eventually realizing that no member of the smith’s family came to see him. When he asked after them, none of the strangers who cared for him would tell him where they were.

When he grew strong enough to sit up in bed, his nurse, a slave woman in the household of the governor had he but known (Elizabeth was still insisting on taking care of Will Turner), informed him that the mastersmith was also recuperating, but that Emily had joined her mother and her brother and sisters in the little churchyard on the hill. He was a fortunate young man to have survived.

Will did not feel fortunate. As soon as the woman had gone, he turned his face to the wall and wept silently for the only little sister he’d ever had.

The minute he was allowed up, he dragged himself into the silent, dark shop, lit the fire and stirred up the donkey. When the forge was burning white hot, Will wired the bars of iron and crucible steel together. He had no one now to help him hold them. Thrusting the metal into the forge, he heated it until the sparks were spraying him like tears of fire. And then he began to “hit things,” over and over, reheating the metal each time to fire-welding temperature.

This would, he vowed, be the most beautiful sword he’d ever made. It would be shorter and lighter, a lady’s blade. For Emily’s sake, he would wrest creation out of all this destruction. As he folded the steel with the iron until the pattern rippled like water down the blade, the salt sweat of his face was indistinguishable from the salt of his tears.

They found him collapsed by the anvil, the fire going cold, with the unshaped blade hugged to his chest. They’d had to put him to bed with it, for he would not let it go.

After that setback, Will had been watched and thwarted whenever he showed a tendency to want to return to work. Master Brown was now up, but Will did not recognize him any longer. A stranger looked out of those blue eyes. The only comfort the smith seemed to find was in the dark liquid depths of a flagon of ale. Will hoped that when they were allowed back to work, the mastersmith would be able to re-forge his broken life as Will had done six years before.

* * * * *

For Will, the greatest benefit of his extended convalescence and banishment from work was that he was able to see Elizabeth—Miss Swann—more than he had in years. Since Elizabeth had suffered a mild bout of yellow fever the first year she had come to the Caribbean, she was immune to the disease—as if even the dreaded yellow jack did not dare inconvenience the imperious Miss Swann. After her first visit to Will, the nurse had made the mistake of commenting to her that Will looked much improved.

After that, nothing her father could say kept her from taking care of Will Turner. Nevertheless, Will was always mindful of the governor’s strictures, trying to stay polite and respectful, to keep his place and his distance. Elizabeth, however, made this task extremely difficult. She refused to be polite or respected, and she ignored distance—she was still his childhood friend, full of fun and plots and mischief. Her presence was an acute pleasure and her visits an agony of denial.

Elizabeth was not allowed in the house, but she and Will, followed by the sympathetic Estrella, who had been roped into trying to keep pace with her hoyden mistress for propriety’s sake, would wander along the shore, poking curiously into every shore worker’s business, tasting anything cooking that was offered, making any number of unsuitable acquaintances. Fresh air and mild exercise had been suggested by the doctor, so the two of them took every advantage of the excuse. Gradually, Will found himself beginning to laugh again.

TBC

Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 6a

Date: 2006-01-11 04:30 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kahva.livejournal.com
My icon says it all. :) I've been waiting for this latest installment, and was wondering if maybe it would show up soon - and here it is! Excellent work as always! I can't even begin to pick out a favorite part: the humanizing of Mr. Brown, showing just what drove him into that bottle, Will's growing love of creating beauty from cold steel and iron, Elizabeth's continuing to take care of her little lost boy who hurtling towards adulthood just as fast as she, and in some ways had beaten her to that finish line.

I think perhaps it is Will's wanting to forge a lady's blade, Emily's blade, that I'll remember the most from this chapter. If nothing else has shown just how much the Browns have become Will's family, this does. Emily was the only little sister he would ever have, and to lose her like this, yet he has survived - with Mr. Brown so far down in his bottle, it's as if Will is all on his own again.

Well done! And please pardon my drooling, it is a compliment, I assure you! :)

Date: 2006-01-11 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
And a very adorable icon it is. *Bounce* You've been looking forward to this--that makes me happy. I'm glad you can feel sympathy for Brown. I wanted this to be a tragedy--the fall of a great man. The art of steel insists on running through this chapter like it is the foundation of everything else. Will's artistry was one of the things that drew me to his character.

Because he has lost so much and had to work so hard, Will has to be a little more aware of the cost of growing up and the things that one can't have than Elizabeth. Although she lost her mother, Elizabeth has pretty much had her way in life. She sees the world as something she can manipulate; Will has found it something he must accomodate. They're both such fun to explore at this age.

I'm so glad Will's relationship with the Brown family feels that intense to you. I've loved creating them and I'm really sorry I've had to do this to them in order to rejoin the movie. Will is indeed becoming more and more alone. Poor boy.

*Wipes up drool* No problem. I'm delighted you liked it. Thank you so much for commenting.

Date: 2006-01-11 06:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rennie1265.livejournal.com
Oh dear, I've been dreading this installment and I was right to do so. I am going to miss the Brown clan, they really are/were quite the endearing lot. The story follows a logical progression and explains Brown's drowning his sorrows very understandably. Like the touch with Will making Emily's blade and how he encouraged her to learn to be a smith. Horrible disease, yellow jack, but so prevalent for so long. I hope you don't do something awful to Joe in far off England.

Date: 2006-01-11 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
Yes, this has been hanging like a sword of Damocles over the entire story. I'm going to miss my Browns too. They almost seem real to me. I've drawn them and know exactly what each of them looks like. They're like friends. I feel like the fourth horseman of the apocalyse--death on a pale horse! I have plans for that blade Will made for Emily. And I imagined that Will, who is so willing to allow Elizabeth to fight by his side, had to have absorbed less of the sexual stereotypes of his time than most, so it seemed natural he'd be the one to discover the smith in Emily. Yellow fever was indeed a terrifying disease, and so misunderstood at the time. As for Joe . . . I make no promises. Thank you so much for the comments. I really appreciate them.

Date: 2006-01-13 06:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ref-1985.livejournal.com
Evil, evil honorat - you killed Emily *starts to cry*

Beautifully written yet again - well done.

Date: 2006-01-13 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
Guilty as charged. Mea maxima culpa. I had to kill everybody. They weren't in the movie. *sniff*

Thank you for commenting.

Date: 2006-01-13 08:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sparky-darky.livejournal.com
The worst thing about exam time is that it renders reading anything you wish practically impossible. I've just managed to catch up on this series, and I cannot tell you how wonderfully it is developing!

I have never been a particular fan of Will-- I liked him, certainly, but he never struck me as a character of all that much interest. Your writing of him gives him such depth, and rounds him out beautifully, so that I see him as I haven't before. The tragedy that has almost constantly touched his life gives an extra dimension to his actions in the movie: his refusal to lose Elizabeth, not just because he is in love with her, but because he refuses to lose one more person who means so much to him.

On that note, I do like what you're doing with Elizabeth-- a distant character, but her presence seems to remain over Will's life. His reflections of her as an imperious, mischievous girl being molded into a role which doesn't fit her, is such a brilliant way of dealing with her-- enough of these gentlewoman Elizabeths!

The sheer amount of research and devotion you've given this work really stands out, and sets it apart from fiction which passes over such things as smithwork-- I would certainly never have the patience to do so, and subscribe to the 'write about what you know' school of thought. The world you're creating is so detailed that it is impossible not to believe that this happened.

Eagerly awaiting the next chapter, and very sorry for not reviewing more often!

Date: 2006-01-13 09:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I can sympathize. Exams do eat your life. I hope yours were successful. Thank you for persisting and catching up with this series. It's the longest work I've written yet, even though I've written works with more chapters.

I'm so glad this is giving you a new appreciation of Will. I love all the characters, but Will, while not my absolute favourite, is the character I identified with the most. He was the artist--the maker of beautiful swords, and a person who tries so hard to live up to the standards that he has imposed on himself. Will really has completely emptied himself of self in that movie--he has renounced his life long before he stands on the rail of the Black Pearl and trades his life for Elizabeth's. I wanted to explore the elements that would go into the making of such a soul. In a sense he has made a bargain with fate. This time he will take the place of the one he loves. He will not survive one more time when someone he cares about dies--neither Elizabeth, nor Jack for that matter.

Gentlewoman Elizabeth has always seemed a stranger to me when she shows up in fics. I don't see her in the girl in the film. She never hangs back from danger, she craves adventure, she loves ships and the sea. And Will is the one man who doesn't try to thwart her. Each time she steps to his side to join his fight, he does not step in front of her. That said a lot to me about how he understands and appreciates her.

The research has been a great deal of fun as well as work. I love learning about new things. When I teach writing, I make my students "write what you know"--it is the only way to learn the textures of reality. Once you've written enough of it, you can then begin to write fiction with that same texture. While the technical details of smithcraft were something I had to study, the actual act of creation, of becoming lost in a work of art, is something that is very much "what I know". Also, both my father and my husband work with metal--welding and machining it--so the smell and feel of it is also familiar. For me, that is the only way historical fiction works--real sensations and ideas and emotions and experiences underlie the fictional details. I know I've pretty much convinced myself that this is what happened. If they ever panned a shot of the cemetery in Port Royal in one of the next movies, I'd look for the Brown tombstones!

For the next chapter, I've decided to give Will and Elizabeth one perfect day before separating them for the next several years. It will be a bit of a relief after all this tragedy.

Thank you so much for the lovely comment. It was great to hear from you again. Good luck with university.

P.S. By the way, as a Ragetti fan, you will be happy to know he is starring in the next episode of "Crossing the Bar"! I've never had a chance to write him before, so it has been fun.

Date: 2006-01-13 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sparky-darky.livejournal.com
Will really has completely emptied himself of self in that movie--he has renounced his life long before he stands on the rail of the Black Pearl and trades his life for Elizabeth's.
This is an extremely interesting reading of Will's character that I have never heard before-- I have to admit that it gives me a lot more pleasure to think about than my usual dismissal of Orlando Bloom as a wooden actor. Your observations of Will (never once encouraging Elizabeth to back down) continue to develop my appreciation for him: perhaps next time I watch the film I will pay a little more attention to Will :)

For me, that is the only way historical fiction works--real sensations and ideas and emotions and experiences underlie the fictional details.
I think that this is what first drew me to your fiction; the events are tangible almost, and you never patronise your readers by feeling the need to explain things-- your stories manage to be both plot and character-driven simultaneously, and seeing things through characters' eyes give insights and clarities we are denied through film.

By the way, as a Ragetti fan, you will be happy to know he is starring in the next episode of "Crossing the Bar"!
You have no idea how happy I am to hear that! I look forward to your interpretation of him-- as much as I love reading about Ragetti, so few authors explore him, either turning him into a two dimensional villain, or employing him as comic relief. In the film that was his main purpose, but there are stories behind every single face in that film, and it is always wonderful to read an interpretation.

Date: 2006-01-13 09:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
Perhaps because I'd never seen Orlando Bloom in anything else (grad school--I know I was living under a rock), I had no preconceptions about what his acting was like. There is a certain stiffness to Will, particularly at the beginning of the movie that seemed to fit the character. Orlando called him "corseted" in a different way than Elizabeth. I based my interpretation of his character on the moral about-face he does when he decides to go after Elizabeth. The man who hates pirates with a passion makes an agreement with one and commits an act of piracy the penalty of which is certainly hanging. He's already decided to damn the consequences. When he tells Jack he'd die for Elizabeth, he really means it.

As for Ragetti, I can't even imagine two-dimensional characters, so I think you're safe there. The stories behind the faces in that film are what fascinate me. The fact that the trailer shows Pintel and Ragetti on the Black Pearl got me thinking--obviously they escaped Norrington's noose. What would bring them together with Will? And if they did end up on the Pearl again, however would that happen? So I tried it out. Now to research all the technical details that will surround my human interest story and flashbacks. I'm sure my version is nothing like what the movie will say, but it is amusing me a great deal. And Ragetti gets to be a bit of a hero, to everyone's, including his own, surprise.

Aww!

Date: 2006-01-14 01:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] classics-lover.livejournal.com
Gotta love the angst. And there's nothing better for angst than disease and death. Fabulous and beautiful.

At last, I understand Brown's drunkenness, and Will teaching Emily was a joy to behold. And she was right, he DOES have a kind heart. (I already knew this, but being blinded by righteous indignation on Norrington's behalf sort of made me forget). His goodness really shines here.

And Elizabeth is so utterly in character that she made me laugh out loud!
Lovely. I think you're turning me into a fan of Will Turner. I didn't think it was possible.

Re: Aww!

Date: 2006-01-14 02:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I'm glad you've "enjoyed" the angst. There was really no other way this story could end.

I'm also happy this story is provoking understanding for J. Brown. He deserves some credit for training a swordsmith like Will. As for Will teaching Emily, that was my favourite part of the story, so I'm thrilled you like it.

I do love writing Elizabeth--she's such a fiesty heroine.

Whoohoo! Another conversion to the Will appreciation club. Norrington is perfectly lovely, too. I love all these characters. But I felt that Will, who has been constantly beaten down by life, who is still young and untried, and who tries so hard, often gets outshone by the more polished or flamboyant, and certainly more experienced older men in the movie. So I wanted to give him his own story, to show the metal that will go into making him as spectacular as they are when he reaches their level.

Thank you so much for the lovely comments.

Re: Aww!

Date: 2006-01-16 04:16 pm (UTC)

Date: 2006-01-15 05:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/elizabethswan_/
I've already said it on ff.net. Love it.

It is by far one of the best character studies (of any pirates character in the potc fandom) that I've come across. I commend you to explore Will, over much loved characters (which seem more intriguing to the majority).

I don't think people really touch the subtle tragedy that is, Will's life. He lost both his parents as a boy. Poverty has taught him patience and loneliness has manufactured a keen need to please people. Unlike Norri' he is not a man of manners (contrary to the popular belief) nor is he a roguish charmer, like Jack. He is clumsy (first scene/when Jack trips him/everytime he acts on emotion rather than logic) but it is misconstrued as him being stupid. To me that was an endearing quality which I hope you'll touch on.

I just wish they had kept some parts from the first draft of the script where it was established that Will is terrified of the sea. His decision to rescue Elizabeth would've come across with a lot more depth than mere infatuation on his part.

Thanks again for the lovely fic.

Date: 2006-01-15 03:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
I do thank you so much for commenting here as well as at ff.net.

Will is such a subtle character that I felt I could not write any more of the novelization of the movie without coming to terms with his background and his motivations--hence, this story. His life really has been a tragedy. I think the moment that struck me the most in the movie was the one where the Governor has mobilized the entire British fleet to find his daughter, and the minute they do, "the boy's fate is regretable." Will has no one, no position, no power. To everyone but Elizabeth (and possibly, although it's hard to tell, Jack), the orphaned blacksmith's apprentice is expendable. The lonliness of his life always strikes me.

He may not be a man of manners, but he is a very mannerly lad and very well-spoken. Certainly he's not a rogue! But Jack outshines anyone in the same screen with him!

I'm going with the writers' statement in their commentary that Will is the best swordsman in the movie, followed by Norrington and Barbossa as equals in skill, and then by Jack. So the fight between Jack and Will is going to be fun to write--why does Will not win that fight decisively? Tune in for chapter 4.

I've never seen anything of previous drafts of the script, except what was mentioned in the commentaries, so I've only what I see and hear in the movie to go on in my interpretations. I know earlier drafts had Norrie as a bad guy, which doesn't work at all with the movie. I don't see the Will in the movie being excessively terrified of the sea--green, yes, but his actions on the Interceptor are mostly relaxed. He can hold a conversation with Gibbs in the middle of a storm on an unnecessary topic. And he is a great swimmer. But I do see his childhood experiences haunting him at sea. To go out on the sea chasing pirates, when all his instincts must revolt against him placing himself in that position ever again is indeed heroic.

I do appreciate your lovely response. It's nice to see Will has some fans.

Date: 2006-03-10 12:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hendercats.livejournal.com
Rough chapter to read. Beautifully done, as always, but hard. *snuffle, snirf*

His body felt empty-of strength, of volition, of emotion-as though he had spent it all on the steel
Aaah, and here we know (as if we didn't already) that Will has no female attachments. My mind may be edging toward the gutter here, for this calls to mind a bit of The Agony and the Ecstasy - can't remember the exact quote but it's on the lines of "what you put into the women at night, you cannot take out of the marble in the morning."

If he cut himself, he would bleed fire.
Again, the fire in his veins. *contented smile* How do you manage to keep making it new? This is gorgeous!

Yellow fever... *wanders off, mid-chapter, to Wikipedia* Good choice, Research Goddess (oh, had I not told you? In light of the most recent chapter of Crossing the Bar, your elevation to divinity has been approved). The doctor ... oh, the doctor is fabulous, perfect; his treatment of Mistress Brown is paced just right. Odd note: burning tar must be ringing very distant bells in my head for it seemed simultaneously exactly right, yet curious. Presume you found historical reference - what was the rationale?

It was as if the spirit of the house had died of the yellow fever as well, leaving only wood and stone and loneliness.
Wow. Just ... wow. Also loved Will's perception of Brown as smaller now that joy and liveliness have fled.

Bravo for Will for remembering exactly what that look in Emily's eyes felt like, and for understanding her need and finding a way to help her. He makes such a good big brother.

Don't want to face the loss of Emily. *pouts* Thank you for letting her shine so well in the smithy.

and Will was sure, when he was conscious at all, that the sparks would soon fly off his body as the hammer blows raining down on his flesh unmade him entirely
If you ever notice that this bit is missing, it would be because I've stolen it and run off to someplace remote and quiet so I can hold the pretty and look at it.

I so like Elizabeth's tending of Will. Yes, he's her childhood friend and playmate and our dear stubborn Lizzie refuses to give that up entirely, but (and this is something I see in her, so may be reading more into what you've written than you intended ... or perhaps you see the same thing) seems also that she's never released herself from the charge her father gave her, to take care of him.

Date: 2006-03-10 01:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
My tissue supply has gotten very low from handing out freebies to readers for this one. I did warn everyone.

In retrospect, that description of working crucible steel was remarkably sensuous. LOL. Someone on Black Pearl Sails commented that she didn't think Will would have another such experience until his wedding night with Elizabeth. *grin*

the fire in his veins. *contented smile* How do you manage to keep making it new? Cliches Revitalized While U Wait.

I do spend an atrocious amount of time on research for a singularly materially unprofitable occupation. Yellow fever just seemed to fit the bill for what I needed in this chapter. The medical treatment came straight out of a historical medical manual on the treatment of fevers. As for the tar burning--they did that during the yellow fever outbreak in the United States. At the time there was a theory that disease was carried on bad air--particularly in the smell itself. So, logic went, if you could drown the smell, you could destroy the contagion. Since yellow fever was actually vectored by a mosquito, the technique probably did have some success when the smoke drove away the insects.

If I'm to join the ranks of the semi-divine, I'll be the muse of research writing. *groan*

I'm glad you (liked doesn't work) appreciated the imagery and events surrounding the drain of all he cares about from young William. Watching grief erode those adults to whom one looks up is one of the hardest parts of loss. I was sorry to lose Emily, too. She was one of my favourite characters. Since Will seemed so unconventional in his acceptance of Elizabeth's ability to do unladylike things, I wanted to show that part of him in his teaching Emily to smith. Besides, like a typical OC, she insisted on learning, and what's an author to do?

If you ever notice that this bit is missing, it would be because I've stolen it and run off to someplace remote and quiet so I can hold the pretty and look at it.
Pirate! You are attracted to fire, aren't you? :D I'm afraid I have an excessive fondness for smithing metaphors.

I definitely agree with you about Elizabeth. She's still taking care of Will Turner even in the movie. If he saves her, she also saves him. At least in the next chapter I'll be giving Will (and myself) a break from all this tragedy. Fun times for Will and Elizabeth coming up.

Thank you so much for the lovely long comment. My muse is purring.

Date: 2006-03-11 11:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hendercats.livejournal.com
*buys you new tissues*

At the time there was a theory that disease was carried on bad air--particularly in the smell itself.
Aaahh, that's why they used tar (see, I'm a lazy researcher - ran back to story after reading symptoms, disease progression, historical fatality rate and the like). Thank you. Knew the smudge-pot effect would be helpful at keeping the mosquitoes away, but couldn't think how they got to it in the first place. (perhaps had read about it sometime though, because the "of course, that's what they'd do" feeling was so strong)

Will seemed so unconventional in his acceptance of Elizabeth's ability to do unladylike things
Yes, very much so! I'd always put it down to his having known her for so long and being aware that trying to dissuade her would be useless, but you've given a lovely history to his attitude.

She's still taking care of Will Turner even in the movie. If he saves her, she also saves him.
Yesyesyes!

Good to hear you're going to be nice to Will for a bit. :)

Date: 2006-09-07 09:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] myystic.livejournal.com
Oh, I think I hate you. I don't even know where to begin reviewing. You've certainly found cause to send Mr. Brown groping for the bottom of a bottle. And Will's determination to save Elizabeth in the film has taken on a new level of desperation--after everyone's he's lost he can't stand to lose her too. And that transcends his romantic feelings for her, strips it down to a baser human need. It could almost be selfish, that he'd die for her so that he wouldn't have to endure burying her, but really it's about the need for control. From this picture, its obvious that Will's never had control over anything in his life, and with Elizabeth in danger something snaps. It's why he's willing to trust a pirate, his hated enemy, to help him. Nothing matters except saving Elizabeth--his own need to save Elizabeth--as well as Elizabeth's actual life. They are seperate things.

Okay, I think I've deconstructed your work enough for one evening. Proabably reading way more into things than I should, etc. Ta!

Date: 2006-09-26 04:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] honorat.livejournal.com
Oooh! Hate mail! :D I have arrived! I figured it would take something pretty drastic to throw the man who trained Will Turner into such an abyss. And yes, Will has pretty much emptied himself of self by the movie. His own survival is not an issue. He's not going to be the one left standing one more time. He's been helpless to prevent any of his other losses, but hers he can do something about. It also adds to why he is so determined to save his father in DMC. He's been given a second chance.

It's always nice to inspire literary analysis :D Thank you so much.

Date: 2010-08-03 05:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pearlseed.livejournal.com
You really really really know Will Turner==the sweetness of him and the faith of him, his desire for right and good and balance, always metering the balance of the sword he creates, drawing out the good in whatever is there as he helps it form. Didn't realize he had spent his life being there to help form Elisabeth.

"You've certainly found cause to send Mr. Brown groping for the bottom of a bottle. And Will's determination to save Elizabeth in the film has taken on a new level of desperation--after everyone's he's lost he can't stand to lose her too. And that transcends his romantic feelings for her, strips it down to a baser human need. It could almost be selfish, that he'd die for her so that he wouldn't have to endure burying her, but really it's about the need for control. From this picture, its obvious that Will's never had control over anything in his life, and with Elizabeth in danger something snaps. It's why he's willing to trust a pirate, his hated enemy, to help him. Nothing matters except saving Elizabeth--his own need to save Elizabeth". This is of course from myystic and it's just a beautiful summation. How neatly you have writ of Will's life, how hard it is to have a family and then have that family snatched away by powers you cannot control. Definitely goes back to his experience in coming to Port Royal and pirates. You have done such a concise clean story where one thing follows another just true as can be. Love it--I do!
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