In the starlight, with a glass of rum already in her belly, fears dissolve like sparks in friendly eyes. Jack is singing softly to himself, a familiar tune, with his head in her lap. The crew, bloated as puffer fish from a good night's spending, pockets heavy with a good week's take, are spread out along the decks in smallish knots of people. Here and there are songs, are simpler tales; are memories of women and particularly grand ocean currents.

A lump in her throat, the size of a robin's egg, rises. It was near this time last year that she lost a smallish thing, but precious. A child; or, the chance of one. Pregnant three months, she had finally told him, a surprise too huge to truly comprehend, but he'd taken it in good-natured stride. At the end, mere days before she had started to bleed, he had told her the hoped-for name. Begged her for it, in fact. He had been as excited, as frightened, as joyous as she. Jack Sparrow, a father. Jack Sparrow, publicly announcing once again how he'd proven his incredible manhood and vigor; but mostly his inexplicable longing to be, at his core, a good man. He cried longer than she did, in fits and starts, but in total and absolute solitude only. And only at the wheel of the Pearl.

Elizabeth would never bear another child, and not even the ghost of one. And, stroking his hair while he dozed, she knew it made no difference. She loves him better than anyone she's ever known, loves him with a selfish and gentle passion that terrifies and thrills. And he, mysterious, offers her all things. It's no life for a child, a nomadic and illegal existence scraped out on the flats of other men's ships.

But here, in the starlight, sometimes she wonders. She might have rocked one, and sang it to sleep.

It's only a passing thought.

The first fear comes from the water itself.

She sees the light dazzling on the water; feels the spray and tastes the closeness of the rocks into which Jack has just dived. He missed open water by mere inches, and is bobbing face-down with a thin stream of blood following alongside; playful maroon dolphins in a ship's wake.

"MAN OVERBOARD !" the crew is busy yelling to one another, and it doesn't seem like saying enough. When he goes off hurtling towards danger, there really ought to be some more appropriate shouts. Shouts like "there'll be no tomorrow unless he's breathing, dammit, get him up now, he'd better be breathing". The latter is, of course, what she is saying now. Elizabeth is alternately rubbing his dear (alive) chilly hands and slapping his dear (alive) stupid chest.

"Saw somethin' shiny." he says, later, and shrugs.

"Idiot." she hisses, lovingly, and he doesn't disagree.

The second fear is the most ridiculous. To the point that even Elizabeth is unable to bear the mere thought, and has made the crew promise not to ever speak on it again. Jack, bless his heart, fell out of the rigging and nearly brained himself on Monday last. Bless his heart, bless his heart and the rest of his addled body. She turns around at noon that day, the day Jack fell, and sees her shadow stretched out behind her. It moved with her, as a shadow should, though it was unnatural; and gave her nightmares for a fortnight.

The third fear she does not share.

She dreams of Jack's death, and although she wakes in his arms, feels the loss settle in the center of her chest like a leaden ball. A shrinking quiet has lay upon the Pearl for weeks now; it is the shadow she cannot shake. Jack Sparrow has lost his luck.

As it turns out, she needn't have worried.

They are in a bar above Tortuga to the north, a quiet place that has long been one of their best buyers in the smuggling trade. A quiet place, clean beds and all, that cooks hearty meals for taste buds not yet saturated with drink. Jack hates it, and has often tried to start vicious brawls, but cannot seem to get himself kicked out or even scolded. And never will. For unbeknownst to him, he was about to burn it down. And burn it down he did. Kicked over a lamp in a wroth over being ignored. Kindling couldn't have given a cheerier performance. And a ceiling beam trapped him away from his crew, on the far side; where no door and no window could give him aid.

Then the ceiling fell in. Directly in a circle around his thrice-damned hide.

"I'll never lose my luck, you ridiculous woman." he says, burnt black and still clinging to a half-empty flagon. "You are my luck."

"Oh, Jack !"

"You're not, uh... going anywheres, are you ?"

"Oh, Jack."

They were hunted. It's true. True also that they were never caught. They sailed until they were old, they say; and then Jack Sparrow and his swan-throated bride went back to the sea, where they'd been born, been married, and been one. Of course the middle's more interesting than the end, quiet voices get lost in the clash of steel-on-steel and the clink of cursed gold in a silk purse.

They say they went hand-in-hand together into the spray, and that their bodies never rose. Some say they became mermaid, or fish, and swam out into the kingdoms of the deep; but generally if anyone speaks that out loud, the proper authorities are alerted.

Their marrows were made of saltwater pearls, they say, and the sea owned them both. Ah, could all be lies. Even so, Jack would tell you it's the story that counts; and as stories go, it was a fine one.