?

Log in

 
 
30 December 2009 @ 10:48 am
For jessieheart, "For the Love of a Lady" by bonnyblondelass  
Title: For the Love of a Lady
Author: Bonnyblondelass
Pairing: Barbossa/Elizabeth
Rating: PG-13
Beta: RF (my late night beta goddess!)
Summary: Elizabeth's son always looks forwards to Captain Barbossa's visits and the grisly tales of the sea that he shares. Elizbeth must admit, however, that she might have her own reasons for welcoming the pirate into her home.
Warnings/Notes: The story that Barbossa shares is based on a 'true' story of an English ghost ship, so I'll only take the credit for incorporating it into my tale rather than the actual creation. No warnings apart from mild adult themes and a bit of angst.

 
For the Love of a Lady

“Know ye, young Master Turner, what ‘tis I be holdin’ before ye?”

Elizabeth put down her quill and glanced over her shoulder, smiling fondly as delight dawned on her son’s face. Like William, she knew that Barbossa’s words signalled the launch of another swashbuckling story. An image flashed in her mind of the first fable she’d ever heard from the notorious pirate captain…one about a ship full of men, cursed to sail the seas as the walking dead, and their quest to put an end to their suffering through a hard-fought search for pieces of Aztec gold. The memory alone sent a chill up her back.

She knew she should spend the evening catching up on the rooming house accounts, but it would be pointless to try. Elizabeth closed her ledger’s heavy cover and returned the quill to the ink pot. Although yarns of pirates and mythical adventures were nothing new to her, it was impossible to ignore the lilting, lyrical voice of Captain Hector Barbossa once he warmed to the telling of one of his fantastic tales.

Pushing away from her desk, Elizabeth stood and smoothed down her skirts before making her way over to where Hector and William sat before the crackling hearth. The fire wasn’t strictly necessary – the temperature couldn’t ever really be said to be cold in the Caribbean – but having a few logs lit and flickering in her sitting room always made her feel more at home. And it brought a small bit of comfort now, at Christmas, when she felt most nostalgic about her past life.

She settled herself into a soft armchair across from Barbossa and leaned back, crossing her ankles daintily as she looked at him. His face appeared softer in the glow of the fire, the golden light flattering his features and making him seem younger. His long hair was still damp from the bath she’d insisted he take upon his arrival, the wet auburn strands tickling his shoulders. Although he always protested the ritual when he landed on her doorstep every four months or thereabouts, he secretly enjoyed the luxury...or so she thought, if the contented humming she heard through the door as he soaked in the tub was any indication.

While he’d been busy scrubbing away months of filth, she’d gathered his odiferous clothes into a bundle and sneaked them down to the kitchen to launder them in a pot of boiling water. Although he’d grumbled when he discovered his garments missing, the new crisp white shirt and black breeches she’d provided in their stead suited him well. Barbossa would likely cringe to hear it, but he appeared almost respectable without all the well-worn finery in which he took such pride.

William was sitting tailor-style on the throw rug between her chair and Barbossa’s, trying desperately to contain his eagerness. If only she could have the energy of an eight-year old, she thought as she ruffled his hair affectionately, how bright and shiny life would seem…

“It’s a coin!” blurted William, reaching towards the grey disc of metal, dulled by age and the touch of many hands. Before the boy could get his fingers on it, though, Barbossa snatched it away and gave the lad a scowl.

“Aye, ‘tis. But I was hopin’ that ye’d be able to tell me a bit more than that…ain’t yer mother always goin’ on about how smart ye be?”

William tilted his chin defiantly in response. “I am smart! But if you won’t let me get a proper look at it, how can I tell you more? You’re not playing fair, Captain.”

Elizabeth smothered a grin behind her hand, disguising her snort of laugher behind a light cough. Barbossa narrowed his gaze at her son and leaned forwards menacingly. “I see ye’ve inherited more than just yer mother’s eyes, young lad. Ye be quick with yer wit as well.” Although his words might have seemed harsh to anyone else, Elizabeth heard the affectionate warmth in Hector’s voice.

Slowly, so as to prolong her son’s torture, Barbossa extended his fist and opened his fingers to reveal the coin once more. William squinted in the dim light, ‘though he didn’t attempt to touch it again. “It’s a British coin. ‘Georgius…II…Dei Gratia.’ And it says, ‘Lima,’ too. Is it silver?”

A satisfied smirk crossed the old pirate’s face. “So ‘tis, boy. And the silver was plundered from a Spanish ship near Lima by British privateers, so noted right there beneath the head o’ the king. What yer seein’ be a half crown, one of thousands that were part ‘n parcel of the cargo of the ill-fated Lady Lovibond.”

“Ill-fated?” William breathed, his eyes wide.

Barbossa eased back into his chair and slung one leg over the other, knowing that he already had William hooked. “T’was February 13, 1748, and Simon Peel, cap’n of that very fine three-masted schooner, decided to take hisself a wife. Now, despite what many might think, that weren’t his worst mistake by far…” he continued, giving Elizabeth a sardonic grin meant to ridicule her own matrimonial state, “fer Cap’n Peel decided to tempt the gods and bring his new bride Annetta aboard the Lady Lovibond.”

William shook his head in confusion. “What’s wrong with that?”

“Yes, Captain,” dared Elizabeth, crossing her arms over her chest. “What is wrong with that?” A smile quirked at the corner of her mouth and she had to bite her lip so she didn’t break out into a grin. She lost count of the times she’d been welcomed aboard a ship…present company very much included.

Clutching at his heart with one hand, Barbossa looked in horror from Elizabeth to her son and back again. “Are ye daft? Ye can’t be bringin’ a woman aboard! B’fore ye know it, all manner of discipline is lost, the men spend their time moonin’ about…and besides all that, the very darkest of luck follows them as allows women on a vessel, wife or not! Can’t imagine what kind of madman would dare attempt such a thing!”

Elizabeth laughed and rolled her eyes. For his part, William cocked his head like a dog hearing a distant whistle and regarded Barbossa sceptically. “But Mama sailed on a ship from England…”

“And I’ve heard tell that it was a member of the fairer sex who led the pirate fleet to victory against Cutler Beckett and his cut-throat mercenaries,” she couldn’t help but interject with a teasing grin. She might have kept her nefarious past hidden from her son, but she wasn’t going to let the old pirate discount her entire gender without a challenge.

Barbossa huffed in mock indignation. “First off, yer mother was naught but a girl then, so that don’t count. And second, as fer the rumours of a woman leading the most bloodthirsty of pirates – that ain’t nothin’ but a poppycock legend, born in the taverns of Tortuga and spouted by men who wouldn’t know a female should one land in their laps. Now, ye gonna let me tell this terrible tale as I see fit, or are ye plannin’ to pipe up and share yer opinion each time I open me mouth?” He slapped the coin into William’s small hand and closed the boy’s fingers tightly over the cool silver, giving him a stone-cold stare as he did so.

The boy clutched the token almost fearfully and edged backwards on the rug to be closer to his mother. “What happened to Captain Peel and his ship?” he prompted, grasping the hem of her skirt.

Bending forward in his chair, Barbossa lowered his voice to a growl. “What Peel didn’t know was that his lovely new wife had already been courted by the first mate…a man by the name of Rivers. Now Rivers, he loved Annetta with all of his heart…but she had set her eye on a cap’n and would accept nothin’ less fer a husband. Rivers was driven to a jealous rage when he saw his ladylove with Peel, dancin’ and drinkin’ and celebratin’ their nuptials as they set sail for a honeymoon in Portugal. Her fickle heart drove her former lover wild with anger and Rivers decided that if he couldn’t have her, then nobody would!”

“Sounds as if men are the real problem aboard a ship,” Elizabeth muttered under her breath, her comment earning almost identical hard looks from both Barbossa and her son.

“Mama! Don’t interrupt!” William hissed, disappointment crossing his innocent face.

Elizabeth attempted to look chastened. “I’m sorry…you’re right, darling. Apologies, Captain.”

Barbossa inclined his head, indicating his acceptance of her dubious act of contrition, before turning his attention back to William. Inch by inch, Hector slowly drew his dagger from its sheath and held it up, examining the edge of the blade as it caught the gleam of the orange firelight. “As the newlyweds and their guests were waltzin’ about below decks, Rivers crept up behind Peel and slit his throat, clean as you please!” With those words, Barbossa made a swift cutting motion across his own neck with the knife, baring his teeth in a terrible grimace as he drew it from one ear to the other.

William gasped in joyful horror, holding onto the coin so tightly that Elizabeth was sure that King George the Second’s face would be imprinted into his young flesh for days. “Captain,” she said softly by way of warning, but Barbossa was far too caught up in his own story to notice.

“The planks beneath their feet were slick with Peel’s blood, and the bride was screamin’ in terror an’ grief, clutchin’ her beloved to her breast as his life ebbed away. But Rivers, he wasn’t done…nay, not by far! With the passengers in a panic, the first mate climbed back aboveboard and cranked the wheel towards the notorious reefs of Goodwin Sands. Before anyone had the sense of mind to stop him, Rivers had dashed the Lady Lovibond to pieces upon the rocks and left nary a survivor to tell the tale.”

“Everyone was dead?” William whispered, swallowing hard. He crept slightly forward to better hear the pirate’s response.

“Aye, the lot of ‘em,” said Barbossa, looking terribly solemn. “But not gone!” He abruptly sheathed his dagger and settled back into the padded leather of his wingback chair, gazing at the boy over long, steepled fingers.

“Were they ghosts, then?” the boy asked quietly, as if by speaking the word too loudly, he risked inviting the spirits into the confines of his own home. He pressed back against Elizabeth’s legs, seeking the protection that only a mother’s presence could offer. She laid her hand gently on his shoulder, squeezing in reassurance.

“When the moon is high in the sky and the chill of winter is upon the waters, more than one honest sailor has seen the phantom schooner appear,” nodded Barbossa solemnly. “Glowing green in the mist and hell-bent fer the rocks, ‘tis said that ye can hear the shrieks of fear from the weddin’ guests and Annetta alike. Rivers, Peel and the lovely bride, eternally damned to live that moment of envy and love gone awry again and again!”

William looked at the bit of silver in awe. “Where did you get the coin, Captain? Was there a whole chest full of them?”

Barbossa slowly shook his head from side to side. “Just that one was recovered, lad...clutched tightly in the skeletal fingers of one of the wedding guests. Matter of fact, t’was yer father as found it...and he as wanted ye to have it.”

Elizabeth’s gasped at the unexpected revelation. “That’s not amusing, Captain Barbossa!” she snapped. The warmth had gone out of the evening in a heartbeat and no amount of fuel on the fire would bring it back. Not once since he’d sailed away had Will Turner made any kind of contact, and she thought it extremely unlikely that he’d chosen Barbossa as a bearer of gifts – or that Will would send such a grisly souvenir to the boy, providing he was even aware that she’d given birth eight years earlier.

Hector’s unrepentant blue gaze shifted to her. “Weren’t tryin’ fer a joke, Missus Turner. And while the tale be grim, surely ye’d not deprive the boy of a gift from his sire?”

“Mama! A gift from Papa!” William was on his feet, unable to hold back his excitement any longer. His warm brown eyes sparkled brightly and he jumped in place. “Maybe he knows how much I love ghost stories and that’s why he sent this! Isn’t that right, Captain Barbossa?”

Elizabeth stood abruptly, her shoulders tight with tension. “William,” she cut in, trying to keep her voice calm and steady, “now that you’ve had your story, I want you to wash up and go to bed.”

“Noooo...I want to hear some more about the Lady Lovibond!” whined her son, giving her the pleading look that so often caused her resolve to waver. It wasn’t going to work tonight, though.

Before she could rebuke William for his petulance, Barbossa spoke up. “Yer to mind yer ma, boy. ‘Tis what yer da would want from ye.”

William grinned sheepishly, his enthusiasm for his prize outweighing his disappointment at an early bedtime. “Sorry, Mama. Good night, Captain. And thank you for the story...and the coin. It’s the best Christmas present I ever got!”

Elizabeth glared darkly at Barbossa before following her elated son up the stairs, taking deep breaths to calm herself down. After ensuring that he cleaned his teeth carefully and washed behind his ears, she tucked the boy into his downy feather bed and kissed him softly on his forehead, determined not to let him see her distress.

When she reached the door, she turned down the lamp and looked back at her beautiful son, her heart breaking at the happiness a single coin had brought him. Even as he yawned and his eyelids began to droop, William clutched the half crown tightly in his little fist, no doubt already beginning to dream of high seas and ghostly galleons.

Slowly she descended the stairs to confront Hector. Although she suspected he’d said what he did in an effort to make William happy, the gesture was misguided to say the least. Once William’s excitement wore off, believing that Will had sent a gift would only make the absence in his young life more keenly felt…and she would be the one left to try to explain and comfort him.

Barbossa was still ensconced in front of the fire, his long legs stretched out before him and his boots crossed as the shadows cast by the flames danced around him. “Is the boy asleep?”

Elizabeth stopped at the threshold to the sitting room, leaning her cheek against the cool wood of the door jamb. “How could you do that? How could you bring him a gift and let him believe that Will sent it? It will only hurt him more when he realizes it isn’t true,” she chided sadly, upset that he would dare raise false hopes in her son’s heart.

He twisted his head around sharply but stopped short of meeting her eyes. “Never once said the present was from Will Turner,” he snarled over his shoulder. “Told him it came from his father, didn’t I? No word of a lie there.”

The bottom dropped out of her stomach, her vision swam, and for a moment Elizabeth wasn’t sure she would be able to remain on her feet. She stumbled over to the desk and slumped into her chair, her legs feeling suddenly boneless. “How...how did you know?”

Hector stood and strode over to her, his angry steps snapping against the wooden floor. “I ain’t dim-witted, ‘Lizabeth. Long have I known the boy to be mine…ye need but look at him to see the truth! Even if there weren’t such resemblance, t’was I as took yer maidenhead when ye came to me that night before the battle...and so far as I can tell, dead men father no offspring. That’s what Turner really is, ye understand...just as I was not entirely human when the curse was upon me, so yer husband ceased to be truly alive when his heart was carved from his chest. The two of ye might have had a honeymoon that one day on the beach, but it sure as Hades wasn’t Will Turner as planted a child in yer belly!”

Had she been standing, his pronouncement would have driven her to her knees. Finally it all made sense –his frequent visits to Bridgetown, the countless hours he spent with them, the obvious affection he showed to William. Doubtless, he’d heard rumours of a young woman, alone and pregnant, settling in the small Barbados town and had tracked her down. And to think that she had flattered herself into believing that there might have been more to his sojourns than just a chance to share stories with William. Being proven wrong in her assumption made her feel like a fool...and hurt far more than it should have.

Elizabeth had always known that her son did not possess a single drop of Turner blood. The curve of his smile, the way he squinted in the sunlight, his quick temper – those and a dozen other characteristics were far too reminiscent of Barbossa for her to pretend otherwise. She had managed to convince herself that it didn’t really matter, though. Once Will returned, they’d be a family and she’d take the secret to her grave. It had, after all, only been one moment of weakness before she’d taken her wedding vows. One couldn’t even call it faithlessness, not really – she and Will hadn’t yet been married when she’ been seized by fear and loneliness, and had taken it upon herself to seduce Barbossa.

“If you’ve known for so long, why wait until now to speak out?” she asked, resting her elbows on the desk and burying her face in her hands as tears threatened. “If you seek to punish me for my secrecy...”

Hector turned away from her and stalked back to the hearth, leaning on the mantle as he stared down into the fire. “Figured if I gave ye enough time and showed that I care fer ye and the boy, ye’d summon a wee bit of courage and divulge it on yer own. But instead ye’ve chosen to delude yerself and him both, and I’ve no more patience fer such. Oh, don’t ye fret,” he added bitterly. “Ye needn’t worry that I’ll be tellin’ tales about ye. I just wanted to give the boy somethin’ as would remind him of me, even if he ne’er knows the truth of who I am. A farewell gift, if ye will. When the Pearl sails at daybreak, I’ll be puttin’ me rudder to Bridgetown fer good.”

Elizabeth suddenly felt sick with disbelief. “You’re not coming back? Why?”

His head jerked up and he fixed her with glare that made her cringe. “Can ye really be so blind as all that? Tell me, girl - ye heard the legend of the Lady Lovibond, but did ye listen? Did it not occur to ye that ye might be the bride and I the first mate, forced to watch ye dance with one unworthy of yer devotion? Will Turner put everythin’ else before you...and yet ye have eyes only fer him, so badly do ye want the fairytale life he once promised ye! Too well can I understand why Rivers did what he did!”

“But he’s my husband...” she stammered before the core of what he was saying to her sank in. It hadn’t been just for William’s sake that he’d come so often to Barbados...

“Yet ‘tis I as has made me way here to ye time and again, crossing storm-tossed seas and fightin’ impossible odds, ain’t it? ‘Tis I as has extended me protection to ye and kept ye safe from them as might act against ye...and ’tis I as stayed silent while me own son shared with me tales of his long-lost father. But none of that has touched ye...still ye sit and wait fer the day that Will Turner rejoins ye, and ye can’t even see that which is right before ye! Bad enough that all that should be mine belongs to him...I’ll not stand by and watch this lie play itself out another hour!”

He stormed past her and made for the front door, the sound of his boots like pistol shots against the hard wooden floor. Finally, the understanding that he really did mean to walk out of her life forever spurred her into action. Gathering her skirts in her hands, she chased after him. Catching up to him just as he retrieved his baldric and weapons from the hook by the door, she snatched hold of his shirt sleeve and held on tightly. “No! Please, Hector...I don’t want you to go!” Her heart thundered against her ribs and she felt as though she had been dropped into some terrible waking nightmare. She couldn’t lose him, not now!

He rounded on her and instead of the rage she expected to see on his face, Elizabeth found herself shocked at the depth of the torment marring his rugged features. “Oh, aye...yer content to have me here so long as there be no better offer...no Cap’n Peel on the horizon, so to speak,” he hissed. “But after so many years, ‘Lizabeth, I’ve naught left to give ye. Find yerself another fool to fill the hours ‘til yer beloved Will returns!”

Yanking his arm loose from her grip, Hector roughly pushed past her. Elizabeth watched as he gradually disappeared into the evening gloom and she stood helpless as her world collapsed around her.

*-*-*-*-*-*

Stars were strewn across a black velvet sky and the full moon beamed down upon them as Elizabeth and William made their way down the treacherous, rock-laden path towards the beach. Thank goodness, she thought, that she’d had the foresight to abandon her cumbersome skirts in favour of a pair of worn breeches and soft kid boots she’d kept from her days at sea. Even though they were both dressed for the terrain, the loose pebbles on the trail caused their footing to slip unexpectedly from time to time, prompting Elizabeth to keep a tight grip on the back of William’s coat so he’d not end up tumbling arse over teakettle down the hill.

“Just a little further,” she softly reassured her weary son as they scrambled ever closer to their destination. From their vantage point halfway down the rocky incline, Elizabeth could see the deck lamps of the Black Pearl from where it was anchored just off shore. The tiny lights glowed orange amber, beacons of hope in the darkness of the night.

When they finally stumbled from the path onto the shore, all was quiet save for the low tide breaking against the rocks. A gentle breeze blew across her face and the fragrance of the ocean brought with it a thousand glorious memories of times spent upon the waves. The irresistible call of the sea was something Elizabeth had tried to ignore once she began a life ashore for herself and William, but it had never really left her. It was true that the sea could be a hateful, dangerous, and frightening thing at times...but still, she’d never felt more at home than she had on a ship. It was yet one more part of her past that she’d missed more than she realized.

“Where is he, Mama?” William asked, his voice small and worried. He clutched the bundle of clothes he’d brought tightly against his chest and looked around fretfully.

Poor little dear, she thought as she brushed her fingers through the silky hair that stuck out from beneath William’s hat. His well-ordered world had been turned on its head and all because she lacked the backbone to share the truth from the very start.

For as long as he’d been able to ask questions about his father, Elizabeth told her son that Will was a ship’s captain whose grand adventures at sea kept him far from his family, though he missed them dreadfully and would return as soon as he possibly could. It had been the same vague lie she’d told the villagers in Bridgetown; in creating an imaginary but respectable history, she had made life simple and established a certain reputable standing in the community. Never had she doubted the wisdom of her elaborate illusion until Hector confronted her.

After Barbossa’s angry departure, she’d dashed up the stairs and rousted William from his warm, cozy bed, finally confessing to her son that the man he’d thought to be his father wasn’t…and the man whom he had grown to love and admire was. At first, his small face had crumpled in disbelief at the revelation, and Elizabeth hated herself with shocking intensity for ever deceiving him. It was patently cruel and unfair to burden her child with such startling news, never mind in the middle of the night, but she had failed him for too long already and it was time to right the wrongs. As she’d helped William quickly tug on his clothes, he grew less distressed and more intrigued that his father had, in fact, been part of his life all along. She knew then that she would subject herself to any humiliation…any agony…any hardship…to ensure that William had the opportunity to share what remained of his childhood with Hector.

“I don’t know, darling.” Elizabeth replied as she held aloft her small oil lantern and anxiously scanned the beach. The shortcut they’d chosen wasn’t one that most sane people would attempt in the darkness, even beneath the gleam of the moon. She had been certain that Hector had taken the road through town, but perhaps he’d been upset enough to navigate the same narrow trail they’d risked and was already on board the Pearl. Despair welled up within her as the prospect of having acted too late sank in.

Elizabeth was wondering if she could acquire a small boat back at the main dock and make her way out to the Pearl in time when she caught a flash of white out of the corner of her eye. As she turned to peer through the purple shadows cast by the coconut palms further down the shore, she saw it again…and recognized Hector by the bright new shirt she’d given him to wear. “There!” she whispered excitedly, pointing him out to William. “We’re not too late!”

Hopeful anticipation wiped away the fatigue on her son’s face and he would have gone running to Barbossa had she not lain a firm hand on his shoulder to stop him. He looked up in confusion at his mother, and Elizabeth shook her head and held a finger to her lips. “You must let me speak to him first, William,” she said, bending over to murmur quietly against his ear as she handed him the lantern. “Promise me that you’ll stay put until I either call for you or return.”

Her son was crestfallen but nodded reluctantly, turning from her to fix his teary gaze on the Black Pearl. She hoped he was retreating into his youthful imagination and replaying the hundreds of stories he’d heard about the infamous pirate ship throughout his life. Anything but dwelling on why his mother would have lied to him in the first place. That was an explanation that would take years for him to truly understand.

Elizabeth’s first impulse was the same as her son’s – to run as fast as her legs would carry her down the beach – but she forced herself to walk instead, purposefully striding across the sodden sand. She had to speak not only for William’s sake, but for her own as well. It wasn’t just her son’s paternity that she’d tried to keep hidden from Barbossa, but her own deeply buried feelings too.

Hector was occupied digging his gig out from where he’d hidden it in the bushes and he didn’t notice her approach until she was almost beside him. “I’m glad I found you before you cast off,” she said hesitantly, hugging her arms around herself in an effort to stave off the chill from the water. He gave her a resentful glare but didn’t speak, silently tossing aside the palm fronds he’d used to camouflage his boat.

Elizabeth swallowed hard and rubbed at her cool skin. “I don’t blame you for not wanting to talk to me…after the way I misled both you and William, I deserve nothing less. But there’s something you need to know before you go.”

“Save yer breath,” Barbossa snarled, looping the line between his hand and elbow and tugging the boat across the sand towards the water. The fabric of his shirt rippled in the breeze and strands of loose hair blew across his face, hiding his expression. “There’s nothin’ ye could say as would sway me now.”

As well earned as his hostility was, the unkind words still cut her to the quick. But if she was to be condemned thereafter, it wouldn’t be for holding back the truth. “Will isn’t coming back!” she blurted, her voice breaking with the sudden release of pent-up emotion. “Not ever!”

Hector’s head jerked up and he gaped at her in astonishment. The length of rope hung slack in his hands, his retreat to the Pearl forgotten for the moment. “And how do ye figure that?”

Her heart thudded so hard that if felt as if it were working its way up her throat. It was one thing to know it…it was quite another to admit it out loud. “Before he left me, Will said that Calypso had struck a bargain with him. If he served for ten years aboard the Dutchman, she would release him from his duties…provided that, after all that time, I still loved him and had remained faithful in body and heart. But I broke the accord and in so doing, I… I doomed him to an eternity at sea, ferrying souls to the next world.”

“Ye didn’t break it on account of me!” he shouted indignantly, his initial surprise at her statement giving way to anger once more. “Ye weren’t yet married when I partook of yer charms.”

“Yes, it was on your account, you obstinate, pig-headed buffoon!” she yelled back, her temper rising to meet his. “Were you not listening? I said, ‘body and heart,’ didn’t I?”

“And what might ye mean by that?”

She exhaled sharply in exasperation. “When I first settled in Bridgetown, I used to take a walk every evening to the western cliffs and look out over the waves, hoping to catch sight of sails where the sky meets the sea. And I would pray that I’d see the tattered canvas of the Flying Dutchman coming into view, even though I knew that wasn’t possible.”

“A touchin’ sentiment, to be sure,” Hector sneered, pulling the line taut once again and dragging the boat a few more feet through the sea grass.

Elizabeth scrambled in front of him and blocked his path, crossing her arms over her chest. “Then one evening, shortly after William marked his second birthday, all of my waiting finally paid off. It wasn’t the Dutchman that appeared out of the west, though, but another vessel altogether...a ship so close to my heart that it was like seeing a part of home again.”

“Out of me way, girl,” he cautioned tetchily, seemingly untouched by what she was trying to tell him.

Stubbornly planting her feet even more firmly in the sand, she stood her ground. If he wanted to get past her, he’d either have to push her aside or wait until she finished talking. “Every time you arrived at my door, every hour you spent in our company, Will was forced a little further from my thoughts... and when I was alone, it was you that I missed, your company I longed to share. Not Will’s, yours! I still go to the western cliffs to gaze into the sunset and every time I do, I pray that I’ll spot black sails coming over the horizon. Don’t you see? I might not have taken you to my bed these many years, Hector, but in my heart I’ve sinned against my husband a thousand times!”

Sighing unsteadily, she turned from him before he could respond and walked to the water’s edge. The moonlight caught the crests of each wave and made it seem as though the sea was spilling forth with diamonds. Was Will looking out over the water, too, and counting the days until he believed they could be together again? Or had he known of her betrayal for years? Maybe the slowly beating heart that she kept so carefully hidden had shattered long ago.

Barbossa approached her and stood close enough that she could feel the warmth of his body through the thin material of her clothes. “If ye were so sure that Turner was lost, why did ye keep the truth from me?” he asked quietly.

“Because I thought if I pretended hard enough, then I could spare Will from having to endure such a fate,” Elizabeth replied, the stars above blurring as her eyes brimmed with tears. “If I tamped down my desires and kept silent, if I told myself that it was enough to have you share our life in some small way, then maybe...”

Powerful arms enfolded her into a strong embrace and she leaned back against Hector, closing her eyes as she savoured the feeling of being held. It had been so long...so very long...since a man had shown her such tenderness that it was all she could do to hold back a sob of relief. “Ye take on too great a burden,” he murmured, nuzzling against her temple. “The heart wants what it wants...’tis no sin to be true to yerself.”

“Yet the result is the same,” she answered miserably, bringing her hands up to rest over his, determined to prolong the closeness. “He belongs to Calypso now...forever part of her world.”

“Huh,” Hector said as though deep in contemplation. He stood silent for a while and she was content to do the same. The guilt would always be there, but for just a few minutes, she wanted to leave reality behind and relish what comfort he could offer. “I wonder...” he said slowly, puzzling something out in his head. “’Lizabeth, what were the exact words the goddess spoke when she brokered the deal with Turner? What did he say to ye?”

She frowned. “I wasn’t there but as he told it, if his wife remained constant in her love for him, body and heart, while he was aboard the Flying Dutchman, then he’d be set free after ten years had passed.”

“Wife? She used that word? ‘Tis important...” There was a cautious optimism in his voice that prompted her to turn in his arms and face him.

“Yes, that’s what he said...and I assume what she said too. Why?”

He smiled sadly and brushed a stray lock of hair out of her face. ““One must be careful of the wordin’ when strikin’ a bargain with eldritch creatures...tricksters, the lot of them. The goddess ne’er had any intention of releasin’ Turner from his bonds...and nothin’ ye did would ever have brought him back to ye.”

Elizabeth gasped, shaking her head in disbelief. “No! That’s not right! I told you what he agreed to...”

He held her by her shoulders and ducked down so he could look deeply into her eyes. “T’was after I married ye to him that Turner was struck down by Jones. The lad was dead, Elizabeth, no matter what happened afterward. Whether ye’d taken a lover or not...whether ye’d found love or remained ferever alone... t’would have made no difference. When yer husband died, the matrimonial bond was severed. Yer not a wife, yer a widow.”

“But why would she do that? Why promise to free him at all if it was always her plan to bind him to the Dutchman?” she sputtered.

“A willin’ captive always be better than one ye must force to yer will,” Hector said. “And perhaps she thought that if she had ten years in his good graces, she could win his heart away from ye and he’d stay of his own volition. ‘Course, he’ll know she deceived him if he still wishes to return once the decade passes, but like all deities, she be vain...thinkin’ it impossible that he’ll be able to resist her.”

Elizabeth trembled in rage. “Then Will and I...we never even stood a chance! It was all a lie! She’s...she’s monstrous!”

“Misguided though she likely is, might be she did it out of a desire fer love,” he suggested calmly. “Remember...not so many years have passed since ye thought me the monster and yet here we be.”

Her anger drained away as he spoke. He looked so uncertain for a moment and with no good cause. “Before I knew better, perhaps,” she whispered, caressing the coarse hair of his beard. “Before you let me see the man you really are.”

“Ye’d do well to keep in mind, lass, that ‘tis a pirate as stands before ye,” Hector warned her, his broad hands spreading over the small of her back and pressing her against him. “There be a bit of the monster remainin’...one whose hungers have grown ravenous after so much time.”

She felt a faint twinge of guilt as her body eagerly responded, Hector’s simple touch instantly setting her blood afire and making her knees quake. Calypso meant to keep Will for herself, though, and that understanding freed Elizabeth from a terrible weight on her soul. “I would not love you so well if you were anything but,” she replied breathily, bestowing the gentlest of kisses on Hector’s parted lips. He moaned deep in his throat and drew her closer, ravishing her mouth in needful desperation and the tempered desires of too many years.

Through the haze of her arousal, it gradually surfaced in Elizabeth’s fevered consciousness that her son was waiting patiently down the beach, likely wondering what had happened to his mother. It took all the willpower she possessed, but she pushed hard on Hector’s chest until she was able to break the kiss that had very nearly left her faint. “Wait...stop,” she panted, cradling his face in her hands and resting her forehead against his while she caught her breath. “There is all the time in the world for this, but first I have something for you. You left your clothes and I’ve brought them back for you...”

“Won’t have a need fer such soon,” he groaned, his hands gliding over her hips and tugging her roughly against him so she could feel for herself the hot urgency of his desire. “Ye have but one thin’ I be wantin’.”

Elizabeth’s moaned but didn’t give in. “No,” she said, tearing free from his grasp and stumbling away on shaky legs. “It’s Christmas Eve – think of it as a…gift, if you prefer. You can’t deny me that.”

“Fine...fine! Whate’er it takes. But ye’ll pay fer further delayin’ me when I’ve gone so long already.” He leaned over, resting his hands on his knees and trying to bring himself under control. “I’ll have me own sort of gift fer ye then.”

She grinned and straightened her blouse before she turned back towards where she knew her son stood. “William!” Elizabeth hollered, looking over her shoulder at Hector and giving him an enigmatic smile. He gazed back at her, his brow knitting in confusion, and she laughed in jubilant expectation. “Come here, son...bring forth those clothes and return them to your father!”

*End
 
 
Current Mood: coldcold
 
 
 
bonnyblondelass on December 30th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you, 'Drea
...for tolerating all my nagging. :D So good to see it here, hope that Jessieheart and others enjoy it.
Pretty Princess: Jack demands DNAjessieheart on December 31st, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was so, so good. I really did love it.

Barbossa's accent was just terrific, I loved "listening" to his story because I could really hear it, you know! I could see him spinning the tale, just like his "we are cursed men" monologue in Curse of the Black Pearl.

Oh, and William! I loved him to pieces, especially after finding out his paternity. Of course he'd be smart, and I can well imagine him adoring stories from all over. Poor boy, his mother made things so hard on him... I hope Barbossa makes up for it with many adventures and tons of presents.

This was so well thought out, down to the last detail, I can't help but adore it! The ending was so sweet, so lovely... Thank you for this story! Thank you, thank you! ♥
bonnyblondelass on December 31st, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC)
You are so welcome!
I'm delighted that you enjoyed the story...it really was a love of labour to write. :) Thank you for your very kind comments, they really are appreciated!