honorat: (Will and Elizabeth 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: Will and Elizabeth have a teen-aged moment and one perfect day. Estrella gets a few prematurely gray hairs. Angst again. We will rejoin our regularly scheduled movie for the epic fight between Jack and Will after the next installment. 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
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 5
Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 6a

* * * * *

The collection of hovels and shelters huddled at the edge of the beach bore all the evidence of being the backdrop for a momentous occasion. The scene was one of colourful pageantry, rich with dark-skinned people in bright ragged clothing, set against the vivid green of the jungle and the white sand of the beach. Children darted about, swift as birds. The air rang with excited calls and happy babble. Several fires were burning under large kettles from which tantalizing odours drifted.

Will guided Estrella to a large, thatched-roof hut with woven walls. It seemed to be in a better state of preservation than many of the other structures. A tiny, wizened old woman met them at the door, her shrunken lips pulled back in a toothless smile.

“Good afternoon, Mother,” Will greeted her politely. This woman, unusual in her survival to such an age, held a great deal of status among her people. “Have you a place where this lady can rest and recover from the sea sickness and her headache?”

Nodding rapidly, the woman backed into the shadowy interior. Gesturing to a pile of palmetto mats, she indicated that Estrella should lie down. “I get you a remedy for the sickness.”

A bit dubiously, Estrella allowed herself to be persuaded. It was cooler in the dark of the hut, and lying down would feel so good. She sat down.

The little woman disappeared for a moment and then reappeared with a clay mug filled with an unrecognizable liquid. She held the mug determinedly in front of Estrella’s face. “Drink this,” she commanded.

Even more uncertainly, Estrella gripped the mug and took a small sip. The beverage was not as unpleasant as she had expected. In fact she detected not an insignificant amount of sweetly burning rum as one of the ingredients.

“Now go away,” the old woman ordered Will and Elizabeth. “She sleep well.”

“Run along then, Elizabeth,” Estrella agreed drowsily, already feeling better. “When I’ve rested, we can go home.”

Will and Elizabeth obeyed. Outside in the bright sunlight, Elizabeth whispered to Will, “Did we just drug our chaperone?”

“I don’t know,” Will shrugged. “Maybe. But it won’t hurt her. She’ll feel much better after a good nap. No one here will mind that we are unaccompanied.”

“Who are these people?” Elizabeth asked staring around her.

“Friends of mine,” Will said. “They’re slaves from one of the big plantations.”

He supposed he’d been greatly daring to bring her here—the governor’s daughter at a slaves’ celebration. Will marveled at his own temerity. He knew what her father would say to it. It felt disloyal to be glad Estrella had been too shaken to notice it. But Elizabeth would love it, he knew. The fact that she shouldn’t be at such a gathering would only add spice to her enjoyment.

“Is it a party?” Elizabeth asked, taking in the preparations and the festive atmosphere.

“Yes, I suppose,” said Will. “Their master allows them one day, perhaps once or twice a year.”

“That’s nice,” Elizabeth approved.

Will shook his head. “I don’t think he does it to be nice. It diffuses some of the resentment. Keeps it from blowing up. Imagine how you’d feel if you could never do anything you wanted to do. Ever.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth looked subdued.

He hadn’t meant for this to be such a sobering outing. “They do have a lot of fun, though,” he said. “I’ve gotten to know quite a few of these people through some of the plantation work we do at the smithy, and they invited me. You’ve never seen anything like this. Come on. I’ll introduce you.”

Leading her into the crowd, Will greeted his particular friends, shaking hands and clapping backs. “This is my friend, Elizabeth,” he explained simply. Elizabeth’s thoroughbred English ancestry had better remain unmentioned. In her plain, smudged gown, with her hair tangled and her nose pink from the sun, she did not look like the daughter of the governor of Jamaica. For once, he was relieved that Elizabeth only noticed her name when he refused to call her by it. This was not the place to insist on “Miss Swann.”

Wide-eyed with curiosity, Elizabeth grinned back at the welcoming smiles she received from these strangers. She knew her father owned plantations, but she had spent very little time on them, and had never been allowed to associate with the field hands. Now she watched as a large woman enfolded Will in a massive hug.

“Li’l blacksmith better have a big appetite,” the woman boomed, as Will looked suffocated.

Elizabeth giggled. The woman turned her attention on the girl.

“Come, missy. You meet my girls,” she beckoned. Then turning, she bellowed, “Betsy! Maria!”

Two girls separated themselves from a crowd of women around the cauldron over the fire. Considering their mother’s girth, they were astonishingly slender. “Yes, Ma?” the taller one answered.

“This be ‘Lizbeth,” their mother informed them. “She’s Will’s friend. You see she has a good time.”

The three girls stared shyly at each other for a moment.

However, Elizabeth, who had presided at her father’s table for several years now, was completely equal to an awkward social situation. Holding out her hands, she smiled. “What is it that smells so good?” she asked. “Can you show me what you’re cooking?”

Returning her smile, they nodded for her to follow and the three of them scampered off together.

Will watched her go with a smile of his own. This was what he admired about Elizabeth. Not that she consciously condescended to associate with the lower classes, but that she seemed truly oblivious to social barriers. He’d seen her retreat to high society airs, come the grand lady with intent, but only as a weapon—not because she believed it her right, but because she could use it and had need of it. Here among these people who were considered little better than animals by many, and who were often treated worse, Elizabeth seemed unaware of the vast gulf that lay between them.

Her golden brown head bent in unison with two dark glossy ones as they pondered the seasoning in a communal kettle, as if she’d never been served a many course meal under silver covers. Dark and light hands reached for the ladle, and identical laughter rang out as the three girls licked dollops of stew from their fingers.

“It’s perfect!” Elizabeth pronounced. “I’ve never tasted anything more delicious!”

Then Will was drawn away into a crowd of revelers. The next time he caught sight of Elizabeth, she was dancing in a circle with her new friends and a horde of younger children, her pale arms linked with their glowing brown ones. Somewhere, like him, she’d managed to shed her shoes and stockings. Sand was meant for bare feet. Strings of shells adorned her arms and ankles and throat. If there was a young lady inside there, it wasn’t showing on the outside. Over the other noise and chatter he could hear snatches of singing.

“We’re devils and black sheep and really baaaaaad eggs,” Elizabeth caroled at the top of her lungs.

And everyone joined in: “Drink up me hearties. Yo ho!”

Will shook his head in rueful amusement. Elizabeth and her pirate song. The governor shouldn’t worry about low company corrupting his daughter. He should worry about her influence on them.

As the sun began to draw its flame-coloured veils across the sky, Will and Elizabeth rejoined each other with the crowds around the cauldrons of seasoned meat. Their morning of activity in the fresh sea air had left them ravenous. Free of all inhibitions, Elizabeth reveled in eating with her fingers and making a mess. Will had to laugh at her. Since her handkerchief had either been forgotten or lost, she couldn’t remember which, he had to loan her his to clean up.

He began to feel some fellow feeling with her father when he had to rescue Elizabeth from being plied with rum.

“You don’t want to be drinking that!” Will whisked the bottle out of her hands. That was the problem with locking girls up until they could be married off. They hadn’t the slightest idea how to go on. He steered Elizabeth towards where an agile urchin had liberated some coconuts and was slashing the tops off them for folks to drink.

“But I hate coconut milk,” Elizabeth protested.

“It’s that or nothing,” Will informed her. “I don’t think I want to know what you’d be capable of drunk!”

Elizabeth stuck her tongue out at him. She took a sip of the coconut to slake her thirst, screwing her face up with distaste. “The rest is all yours,” she said emphatically.

* * * * *

As the feasting slowed down and the darkness closed in around the circles of firelight, the drums began to throb and a shiver ran through the celebrants. Gradually voices raised in song. It was a song of impossible grief combined with a joy in life that resonated with Will as though these men and women, who’d lost their homes and families and freedom, had read his heart and set his pain to rhythm and music.

The tempo increased, growing wilder. Bodies began to move into cadences and patterns. The pulse of the music set up a counterpoint in Will’s blood.

“Come on, Will,” Elizabeth tugged at his sleeve, her eyes bright with firelight. She was already swaying with the primitive beat. Recklessly, he allowed her to lead him into the dance.

To move, unfettered, frantic as though he were escaping everything, even his own thoughts, was an almost painful respite. Will was aware only of the music and of Elizabeth. She seemed to become music and incarnate fire, flickering like a pale flame amongst the dark ones, painted with brush strokes of golden light and violet shadow, whirling like sparks caught in wind. Light ran down her arms, gilding her plain gown into something fantastic, worthy of a palace, setting her tossing hair aglow. Her hands brushed his like the burning kiss of molten metal as she spun towards him and then away.

As though keeping an unspoken agreement, Will and Elizabeth drew apart from the crowd of gyrating bodies in the direction of the sea. The music still coursed through them so that their walk together more nearly resembled their dance. Elizabeth’s hair swayed in counterpoint to the movements of her body. Her arms and legs seemed caught in the pounding rhythm. Will felt the drumbeats deep in his bones as he was drawn irresistibly by the wild harmonies. Somehow it seemed natural that they should join hands. Their individual movements melded into a single continuous, whirling motion. The silk-smooth touch of Elizabeth’s hand in his rough one sent races of lightning along Will’s arm.

When the sound of the festivities had dwindled far enough into the distance that the strong susurration of the sea dominated the night sounds, they slowed to a gentle walk. The glistening, tide-washed sand sang back to their bare feet with every step. A trail of two sets of footprints followed them for short distances until the long running curls of foam erased them. Will found he hadn’t let go of Elizabeth’s hand.

In the background, palm trees whispered in a soothing interlace of fronds. Far away in the jungle, animal cries occasionally punctuated the peace. Around the curve of the bay, the evening lamps of Port Royal lit windows and doorways with gold while the moon dusted the tile and thatched roofs with paler light. The waters of the harbour threw back flickers of flames and the rippling reflection of the moon. For this moment in time, Will was perfectly happy. The only things in the world were he and Elizabeth and the bright canopy of stars held up by the columns of palms, their dark fretwork capitals edged with the silver wash of the moon. A perfect night to crown their perfect day.

Stopping for a moment, the two of them looked out over the sea.

“Do you see the path the moon makes on the water?” Elizabeth asked.

“I always used to wish I could walk across it,” Will answered.

“Yes,” Elizabeth agreed. “I used to pretend that it was a bridge that led to a wonderful country where all my wishes would come true.” She paused for a moment. “Sometimes I imagined that my mother would be there—if I could just find a way across.”

“I once thought that was the way my father had gone,” Will looked down at the sand.

Elizabeth’s hand tightened on his. “Do you still miss him?”

“No. . . . Yes. . . . I don’t know,” Will had never spoken to anyone about his father. Ever. Suddenly, he wanted to tell Elizabeth.

Awkwardly he tried to piece together his feelings. “I’ve always missed my father—even when we knew where he was and a letter would come once in awhile, or he’d come home once or twice a year. I loved him so much when he was there—his laugh, the way he could lift me up as though I didn’t weigh anything, the way he was so tall no one dared bother my mother or me when he was around, the things he taught me—knots and a little whittling and how to shoot, even how to hit a target with a spitball.”

He paused a moment, reflecting with a private grin that Elizabeth was surely the only young lady who, instead of looking disgusted at the idea of a talent for spitting, would look intrigued. Best not even let her get started with that idea.

He hurried on. “My father even took me fishing once.” Will hated how pathetic his small list of memories sounded. “But I never really knew him,” he admitted.

The warm touch of Elizabeth’s hand was a comfort. Will was glad for the darkness, for the shadows that made it feel like he wasn’t revealing anything, as though the night would swallow all revelation. “I guess I miss ever having had a father, really,” he said finally. “Even if he showed up now, nothing can bring that back.”

Looking at Elizabeth, he said, “You’re lucky to have a father who cares so much for you.”

Elizabeth was silent for a minute; then she admitted, “I know.”

They walked on together, each lost in memory.

“How old were you when your mother died?” Will asked finally, wondering how it was they’d never discussed their parents before.

“I was eight,” Elizabeth said. “I would have had a little sister, if they had lived. But first the baby died and then my mother.”

“I’m sorry,” Will murmured, and it was his turn to press Elizabeth’s hand comfortingly. “Your mother must have been very beautiful.”

“How did you know?” Elizabeth asked, genuinely puzzled.

Will’s smile quirked at her unselfconsciousness. “Lucky guess.”

“She was all the light and life in our house,” Elizabeth went on. “I don’t think the sun ever shone again in England after she died. I only remember rain or sleet or snow. I think my father accepted the post of governor here just to get away from that empty house and gray sky.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath of the warm air, redolent with frangipani blossoms and the sea. “I’m glad we came here.”

“I am too,” Will said simply.

In companionable silence, they wandered along the shore. But Elizabeth could never stay quiet and introspective for long.

“Listen,” she exclaimed, stopping for a moment.

“What?” Will asked, unsure what she’d heard.

Elizabeth waved her hand to encompass the entire bay. “It’s calling to us.”

Tossing Will a sparkling look of mischief, she broke into a coltish gallop, dragging him straight into the water. Hand in hand they splashed through the shallow waves that caressed the sand with delicate strokes. Moonlight turned the flying water into sprays of pearls.

They romped along the shore, chasing the hissing foam as it retreated into the sea then turning to race ahead of the next breaker as the wreaths of white froth licked at their heels, giggling and yelping when it caught them. Elizabeth broke away from Will, daring to follow the withdrawing seas too far, shrieking with mock terror as the returning low roar of water caught at her legs, tangling her attempts to flee. Finally, the inevitable happened. Elizabeth turned too late and the moonlit curl of a breaker swept her down, laughing, into its embrace.

She regained her feet before Will could plunge to her rescue, but the sight of her rising from the gem-encrusted clash of waves, halted him as though he were suddenly anchored. Elizabeth seemed a spirit of the sea, shimmering with cascades of salt water, her hair wet and curling like tendrils of seaweed over her shoulders, the strings of tiny cowries glinting at her throat and wrists, her eyes like starlight on water, her body limned with silver. Her delighted laugh rang like the peal of bells. Will’s breath caught reverently.

He was irresistibly drawn to her side, joining her in the muted thunder of the breaking water, reaching out his hands to her shoulders, bracing with her against the ceaselessly breathing waves. They stood so close Will could see the water droplets glittering on Elizabeth’s eyelashes, could feel her breath against his skin.

The night enfolded them in warm velvet spangled with diamonds.

There are moments in life when everything changes—when the universe flips, reverses itself, turns inside out—and when the soul finally ceases reeling and staggers upright, nothing is ever the same again. That night Will Turner’s universe changed.

He had always known that Elizabeth was important to him, that she was his dearest friend, that life without her would be intolerably barren and desolate. But as the warmth of her flesh burned him through the fabric of her gown, as he looked into her exquisite, delicate face, he knew, with a thunderclap of dizzying desire that was more like pain than anything he had ever experienced before in his life, that he loved Elizabeth Swann. Loved her with a passion that terrified him even as it exalted him.

His hand rose without his volition, tracing the fine curve of her cheek, not quite touching. Elizabeth’s eyes met his, large and full of night. The expression in them, allure and mystery and promise, sent a shiver through him. No walls stood between them now. Her lips parted. Her head tilted up towards him, all trust and dawning realization. For one breathless moment a newborn kiss hovered in the air between them. Impossible futures swept around them on wings of fire.

And then reality, kept at bay in the dark, latched its teeth into Will’s throat. He froze in horror. What in hell did he think he was doing?

He might have managed to fool himself into believing that nothing separated them for this one day, but the truth blazed cold and harsh, chasing away the shadows of all dreams. Elizabeth was the governor’s daughter. He, Will Turner, was merely the orphaned son of a merchant seaman, a blacksmith’s apprentice. There could never be anything like love between them.

He would be a cad of the most despicable sort to compromise this innocent girl now, to awaken her to something so utterly doomed, to deliver her up to her luminous future anything less than heart-whole for the man she would one day love and marry.

He had been criminally irresponsible to have allowed their adventure to reach such a point.

Letting both hands fall in fists to his side, Will summoned all the steel in his soul to say lightly to Elizabeth, “We should go back to Estrella now. She may be worried, and I need to get you home before your father ignores my message and rouses the entire fort to hunt us down.”

Elizabeth’s eyes widened in confusion. She shivered in on herself as he pulled away. Will longed to put his arms around her, to reassure her that everything between them would be all right. But he knew it would not. Almost angrily, he tore himself from her side and set off at a bruising pace for the shore and the firelight.

“Will?” Elizabeth called. Slowly she followed his footprints, placing her own directly on top of his, matching his long stride. An hour earlier she would have run after him, coaxing him into a merrier temper. Now she hung back, reluctant and awkward, unsure of her own feelings. Something indefinable had changed.

The barrier between them had been imaginary before. Suddenly it was real.

* * * * *

Estrella awoke in startled disorientation. The dark was filled with strange odours and wild, frightening sounds. Where was she? What had happened? She remembered being sick and drinking some potion. What had been in that drink?

Elizabeth! Struggling to her feet, Estrella stumbled about in the dark, knocking into unfamiliar objects. If anything had happened to Elizabeth . . .

Finally, she recognized the flickering light as the doorway. Rushing to its opening, she stared out in shock at the twisting, writhing mass of dark bodies, the fearful crackle of flames. The disturbing throb of drums set her nerves on edge. Frantically she searched the crowd for a golden brown head. Just as she was about to panic, she saw Will Turner making his way towards her; Elizabeth, thank God, was trailing along in his wake. The two of them looked wet and rather shaken, but they were unharmed. Estrella began to breathe again. Forget counting additional gray hairs, she sighed. After today, she’d surely have white hair. What would the governor say when they returned?

* * * * *

Will moved through the farewells in a fog of half-comprehension. Estrella’s shrill, worried relief and scolding. His friends’ boisterous good wishes. The realization that rum was becoming a more significant part of the festivities and that soon it would not be safe for Elizabeth to be here. Finding the cart he’d arranged to carry them back to Port Royal. Through it all, he did not go near Elizabeth, although she was the only person of whom he was absolutely aware, as though every move she made, every look, every texture of her, resonated in his own body.

She hugged her new friends, accepted the small gifts of flowers and shells with enthusiasm, collected her discarded shoes and stockings, and finally allowed herself to be bundled reluctantly into the cart, waving until they rounded a curve in the road.

The rest of the journey they completed in silence. Elizabeth curled up on the straw and closed her eyes. But somehow Will knew she was not asleep. With all that jolting, sleep was certainly impossible for him. He stared instead into the dark night with burning eyes.

When the cart finally creaked to a halt in front of the gate to the governor’s mansion, Will helped Estrella and then Elizabeth down. Estrella made as if to hurry Elizabeth through the gate, but the girl hung back obstinately.

“I need to say good-bye to Will,” she insisted. And when Estrella merely paused beside her, waiting, she added firmly, “Alone.”

Estrella looked from Will’s drawn face to Elizabeth’s resolute one and withdrew without demur to where she could see the two of them but not hear what passed between them.

“You know that I am going away?” Elizabeth asked.

“I know,” Will said. “Your father told me.”

The shadows of the night hid his expression.

“I shall be returning to work tomorrow,” he finally said. “The doctor has said I may, if I don’t overexert myself.”

“Oh,” said Elizabeth. “That will be good for you.”


Elizabeth hesitated, then added, “I shall miss seeing you.”


Several awkward moments stretched out into silent eternity.

“One season.” Elizabeth broke the silence, determination lifting her chin. “I have informed my father that I will not stay on that pestilential plantation for more than one season. If I can learn to pass for a lady and then do my duty by society, perhaps . . . ” Her voice trailed off.

They both knew there would be no end of duty for the governor’s daughter. That she must always and forever pass for a lady.

“I’m sorry,” Will said helplessly.

As though unwilling to trust her voice, Elizabeth nodded and blinked fiercely. She raised her head in her indomitable way, as though this were a battle she must fight until the bitter end.

Dear God, how much he loved her. The strength of that emotion terrified him.

They stood on the hard-packed road, reluctant to part, no longer the two children who had met on that same road that morning. Something precious had ended this day, and it seemed impossibly hard not to linger until something new could be forged.

“I had a lovely time,” Elizabeth said softly, shy in his presence as she had never been before.

“I did too,” Will said around his constricted throat.

Elizabeth looked up at him, her moonlit eyes uncertain.

How he longed to remove that uncertainty. To let her know what this last day would always mean to him. But honour sealed his lips. Instead he forced the words he had known he must say since he had spoken with her father. “Good-bye, Miss Swann.”

The hurt in her eyes as that wall of formality slid back into place impaled him like steel through his chest. He hadn’t known how much this moment would cost him. He did not know whether he had the courage to pay its price.

He forced himself to continue. “Thank you so much for your kindness.”

Elizabeth flinched as though he had struck her. This time, she did not insist that he call her by name.

“Good-bye, Will,” she whispered. And then she fled to where Estrella waited in the darkness.

* * * * *

Will did not return to the smithy. He spent the night high on the promontory overlooking the harbour, watching the silver path of the moon travel across the sea. Finally, it slipped over the horizon, leaving relentless black. Now he could never set foot on it to find his heart’s desire, nor anyone that he had lost. Will remained motionless, arms wrapped around his knees, and watched until each star grew faint and quenched its light in the merciless tide of dawn. Slowly, stiffly, he arose and set his face away from the sea, back to Port Royal, to the cold forge and to the empty shop.

Ch. 3: Canticle for a Blacksmith, Part 7
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