DISCLAIMER: Pirates of the Caribbean is the property of Walt Disney Studios. This work was created purely for enjoyment. No money was made, and no infringement was intended.

RATING: T (for adult themes)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hey, everyone! Another little tale about Will and Elizabeth after the end of At World's End.

ONE DAY

One day.

One day they were together.

This was the first. She didn't cry at its end. Her heart felt so heavy, a dead weight inside her chest, but she knew her pain to be nothing compared to his. What did he feel, she wondered, with his heart bound forever to such a horrible curse? He never admitted his misery, even when the sun set and he was dragged away from her and back to the sea. The absence of him beside her wracked her with such hurt that she could not bear to consider this her future, so she danced away from the inevitable by crying his name and running towards him to stop him. She flung herself around him, desperate to keep him hers, and he closed his eyes to his tears. He swore to her that, given what he knew now, given everything that had been done to him, he would have still gladly walked this path to find himself her husband at its end. She believed him and smiled and drowned herself in his kiss. Not one moment of their one day would be wasted on regret, on sorrow, on pain or anguish. There was no time. Not one moment.

One day was all they had.

She cried when she saw him again, when at last at the end of his ten years at sea he found his way home to her. She was ten years older, and though the passage of years had been kind to her beauty, it was hard to see him exactly as he had been the day she had lost him. He was yet young, his body lean and strong, his skin vibrant and bronzed, his eyes not quite the same but still so dark with strength and purpose. She was different. Her face bore a few lines of worry that appeared when she grimaced. Her hands had grown tough and weathered with work. Her spirit was weighed with so many long nights spent with nothing but her grief and the ghost of his voice for company. And their son, a blessing and a curse at once. He laughed softly, afraid of it all, and brushed away her tears as he held her. It hurt to realize that the difference between them would only grow every time they met, so they disregarded that fact and drank of each other. They could only hungrily find their fill of one another and seek satiation in heated moans and lingering embraces and tender caresses. Her heart ached when he rained kisses down upon her, when his rough hands touched her. He was as he had been the first day of this hellish penance and as he had been every day before that. But somehow he was terribly different. He was a stranger who she inexplicably knew, a ghost from a dream or a memory perhaps. He didn't want to understand why the tears escaped her half-lidded eyes to roll down her flushed cheeks. He didn't think he could bear her pain.

They could almost forget, it seemed, as they lay spent and entangled, ignoring the loss of moments. He pressed himself close to her, resting his head upon her breast and listening to the music of her heart. Then it all became too much, and he begged her to leave him. She would destroy herself if she continued to live her life for this terrible torture. He could not bear to see the misery in her eyes as they kissed or to feel the tremble of her body as he touched her. He could not live with the further burden of becoming her destroyer. Love was not meant to cause such strife, he argued. Love was not meant to hurt so very badly, to make the heart wither and wan with so horrible and intense a longing. She should seek a new husband, and for their only child a new father, and not continue to waste her life on one day that did so little to fill an abysmal void where there had once been a vibrant promise. She had quieted him with a finger to his lips and a kiss to his brow. He was hers and she was his, and that would not be changed even if they both wanted to change it.

One day was all that mattered.

A lifetime of love had to exist in that simple stretch of time between the sun's first kiss upon the land and its last, solemn caress goodnight. Another decade had passed. She was anxious, though she did not show this to him as he met her that morning or left her that night. He was worried, though he hid that well as she rid him of his clothes and claimed his lips in a kiss that decried too many moments spent longing. They hardly spoke, for there was no need for words to express the depth of devotion between them. Only love fortified by destiny could withstand such torment. This was what they thought as they explored each other anew, remembering familiar trails across curves and hard lines and tender places. She lay with him after and watched him sleep, tracing the hideous scar across his chest gently with her finger. It was as heated and fresh as the day he'd been sacrificed to this task. She hated it and what had been done to them. There were so many scars. The vicious line upon his breast. The faded marks stretching across his back. The faint wound upon his palm. These were reminders of what he'd done for her, of what he'd endured for them. She wept as he dreamed.

One day was not enough.

Ten years later they found each other changed and fearful. Passion was tamed by a harsh and cruel reality. With age her golden hair was losing its colorful shine, her eyes dimming in a waning fervor, her skin darkening with the abuse of life. Her radiant youth was beginning its slow abandonment of her. He let himself see it this time as he had not before. And though he had still not known the passage of a single day, he felt old and weary as he held her and whispered that she was as wild and beautiful to him as she always had been. He tried to be strong, but they both knew the truth. The warm golden light of youth and promise at long last was disappearing into twilight. The tang of sweat and the sea. He wanted to taste her forever, to imprint her very essence upon the planes of his mind because he knew the inevitable future. He realized how little was left. She threaded her hands through his hair and tucked his head to her chest and breathed. She had accepted the finality long ago. The sun set on all things.

One day was all that was left.

Mortal minds and bodies were not meant to last. She had faded greatly. The last ten years had taken a terrible toll upon her. Her skin was thin and sallow, as substantive as paper it seemed, and her once lithe body was bent and gnarled. Her hair had grown wispy and white. Her eyes told of a life spent waiting and wanting. When he saw her, rage rushed over him as hot and harsh as the sun, and the sea shook with his anguish. The unfairness of it all was too bitter a thing to swallow, and he trembled, turning away so that she might be spared his fury. But she would not have it. In some ways, she had always been the stronger of them, and when her weathered hand grasped his shoulder, he let go. He cried, long and hard, finally releasing his long held grief and rage. She endured it, rubbing gentle circles upon his heaving back as he sobbed into her lap. Eventually the storm of his anguish stilled, and they were silent as they watched the sun trace its arc in the sky. Hearts beating. Together and apart. He tightened his grip upon her as she buried her face to the nape of his neck, and she breathed deeply of the sea that ever clung to his smooth skin and basked happily in the warmth that ever radiated from his spirit. When the day ended, he told her he loved her for the first time in many, many years. She smiled, understanding how much more he meant by that simple affirmation, and told him their child and his family would now look after his chest. They parted with heavy hearts and faded dreams. This day would be their last, and they both knew that though neither had the courage to say it. A few days meant to last a thousand. He had taken this burden, vowing to never sink into sorrow and anger and embrace the cruelty of his predecessor, but he wondered then at the worth of it all.

Only a few years passed before he saw her once more. Her wispy ghost floated on the black sea, with the parade of departed souls about her. He spotted her face, as familiar to him as the sun, as he stood at the bowsprit of his ship and led the dead to the world beyond this one. Realization left him shaken and grief-stricken, and he had screamed his anguish, reaching down towards the water with all of his strength, reaching towards her with all he was. His crew stood shocked and fearful as their stalwart captain finally broke beneath the strain of all that had been thrust upon him. The glassy surface of the water shifted and rolled gently with spirit all its own, and she rose from the ocean as beautiful and young as she had been before any of this had happened. Pale, ethereal light surrounded her, and he remembered then his first memory of her, of opening his eyes and looking upward to see her as a little girl leaning over him. The sun had set her aglow then just as death did now. She was, always had been, and always would be beautiful.

He asked softly if she would wait for him. She smiled a knowing smile, wiping the tears from his face with a kiss of light and a breath of sweet wind. And he knew she would.

Many days passed then, days that were dark and lengthened by a surreal and sudden loneliness. But he held to his hope that forever would perhaps not be so, that he would eventually be free of this task. Then he would join her in the serenity beyond this life, where they would both be as young and beautiful as they had been before everything had been stolen from them. Where a single day would be an eternity of precious moments and unneeded promises. There was still a chance, a fool's chance perhaps, but he would not give up. He would wait until time's very end if he needed to.

One day they would be together again.

THE END