Chapter 23: The Epilogue




Elizabeth Swann closed her eyes as she savored the feel of the morning breeze whip comb her hair. She stood on the bow of the Dauntless, anchored beside the Pearl in a small cove that Jack had pointed out and suggested they stopped for the night. The sun was rising over the trees, its yellow light dancing with the wave tops in a frenzied routine. She could hear the faint clanging of swords in the background, knowing without turning that it was James Norrington teaching his new protégée Eve to duel. Elizabeth suspected there was more to the pair than met the eye, often finding them in each other's company, but it was not her place to say.

Elizabeth leaned on her elbows against the rail and let the morning sun kiss her upturned face. It had been five days since the two ships had began their leisurely journey back to Port Royal; seven days since the horror had ended.

The governor's daughter suppressed a shudder, thinking back to that night. She remembered it all in vivid detail; Eve had burst into the galley where Elizabeth was mindlessly playing cards with herself and told her that something was happening aboard the Pearl, that Evans was nearby. After several minutes, unable to stand it anymore, the two girls had rushed topside, staring open-mouthed as they watched in the darkness by the light of small lanterns as Jack Sparrow raced into view, yelled something at the door of his cabin, then shot the lock open and rushed inside.

Then there was silence, and Elizabeth and Eve had held their breath to discover what had taken place. They watched in shock as several British soldiers dragged the lifeless body of Charles Adler from the cabin. As soon as Will and James had come back aboard, they had assaulted the two with questions, anxiously upset because they had not seen hide nor hair of Jack or Ana.

Elizabeth grinned to herself. The pair was fine, obviously. A hardy thing, pirates were. After the fiasco with Dr. Jenkins which ended with the scrawny man in the brig, the crew had found a new doctor in Wittenburg who had re-stitched Ana's side and demanded that both pirates rested for a long time. Elizabeth knew from several instances of commotion aboard the Pearl that the captain and his first mate were getting restless, although both seemed to keep the other in line fairly well and making sure each did a fair share of resting. Truth be told, Elizabeth had not seen them out of the cabin yet.

Strong arms encircled her waist, and Elizabeth muffled her surprised scream as she started. Elizabeth soon realized who it was, and entwined her fingers with his. "Will," she murmured, nestling her head against the crook of his shoulder.

"Good morning, Miss Swann," Will replied in his low whisper, kissing the side of her neck in greeting.

"Elizabeth," she corrected, spinning in his embrace to kiss him on the lips.

"Yes, Miss Elizabeth," Will finally murmured, inhaling deeply the scent of her hair as they embraced fully in the glory of the morning. Over the top of her head, his eye caught on activity on the deck of the Black Pearl. His eyes flickered to the door belonging to Jack's cabin, and he watched with amusement as a dark-haired slim figure slipped out of the door, closing it softly behind her.

Will laughed to himself, bending down again to kiss Elizabeth's forehead. Oh yes, it was a wonderful morning.





Jack snorted softly, smacking his lips in the transition between slumber and waking. He stretched out his arm blindly to pull Anamaria closer to him. Bloody woman had probably rolled away from him again to get away from his snoring, he thought ruefully through his sleep-induced haze. In the week following their reunion, the two had slept here in his cabin to be close to and keep an eye on the other. They knew the emotions were there, but they were pirates, blast it all. Things were difficult with the crew bursting in like Satan's fire was on their heels every other minute with some remedy or meal or question.

"Ana, love?" he murmured sleepily, not moving his head from the pillow. Not feeling her body anywhere, he patted the surrounding areas on the bed blindly before finally forcing his eyes open. She wasn't there. Jack frowned, a sudden panic overtaking him. 'Good God, not again', were the words that first crossed his mind. He shot up in bed, feeling the discomfort of his half-healed wounds, but a dramatic improvement from a week prior.

Jack snatched the dagger imbedded behind the wood above the bed and laid his palm on the place where she usually laid. He felt some of the sudden tension leave as he realized it was still imprinted with her body warmth. Jack swung his feet over the edge, making his way to the door, spotting her worn hat on a nearby chair. He threw his shirt awkwardly over his head and grabbed the floppy hat, as he swung open the door into the sunlight vowing to give that woman a piece of his mind when he found her.

Jack made his way towards the helm, knowing it to give him the best view of the ship. However, he spotted her several yards down leaning against the railing. Jack paused, carefully placing the dagger on the deck to not make a sound, knowing he wouldn't be needing it. He stayed motionless, the hat dropping to rest against his thigh as he watched her.

She had her chin in her hands and was gazing across at the Dauntless anchored beside the Pearl. Her head was turned so he could see the diagonal planes of her face, her hair drawn back in a loose braid that he knew she had slept in. On the opposite ship, the flash of metal caught his eye, and he followed her stare to where he could determine two figures sparring on the deck. Ah, Norrington and Eve. He might just find himself a girl yet.

Anamaria laughed softly, and Jack's gaze shifted back to her. Her face had not yet regained the color and vigor from prior to the ordeal; from where he stood the pirate captain could see the remaining dark scabs of several scrapes along her jaw and wrists. However, he noted with satisfaction that most of her bruises had faded into nothingness, and her stitches had came been taken out the day before by Elizabeth, a trial which no party involved had any desire to repeat in the near future.

Jack saw her stop chuckling and gently touch her side as if still wary of it, and she shifted her weight to shield her eyes from the sun to continue her observations. At this, Jack suddenly remembered his mission and anger.

"Anamaria!" he hollered, stamping his way over to her, holding up her hat as if it were some kind of punishment.

She jumped in surprise, spinning around to meet his eyes. In seeing his upset expression, she leaned back against the railing nonchalantly, folding her arms. Her eyes danced with unheard laughter. "Oh, aye?" she called back.

"What on God's green earth are ye doin' out 'ere with-without-" Jack fumbled over his words, waving the hat frantically, approaching her, his upset expression mixed with confusion. 'Me,' he almost said outloud, before realizing it pretty much defeated his point. "W-without yer blasted hat?" he finally demanded, squinting at her through smudged eyeliner.

"Me hat?" Ana asked, arching an eyebrow at him.

"Aye," he replied like it was obvious, shifting from foot to foot, "It be mighty bright out."

Ana sighed patiently, suppressing any comments that were forming on her lips as he placed that hat on her head. She looked up the brim of it into his dark eyes and shook her head. "Yer daft sometimes, Jack."

Jack offered his trademark grin, tugging the brim of the hat down playfully to shield her eyes. "Aye, but it makes ye want me, love," he said slyly.

Ana's hand shot out to connect with his face, her automatic reaction to anything he said of the sort. Jack was expecting it and lightly caught her wrist in his hand. "Temper, temper, love," he crooned, kissing the inside of her healing wrist, holding it steady with her attempts to free herself.

"Sparrow," Ana growled, glaring at him.

"Captain. . ." Jack corrected softly, moving his lips to kiss the back of her hand and each of her knuckles.

"Jack. . ." Ana tried again, feeling her resistance fading. She couldn't do this. Not after all the memories that Adler had stirred up. Not yet. "Don't, Jack. No."

"Captain," Jack murmured again, more slowly, and he stiffly straightened up, releasing her hand. His gaze flickered up to meet hers only for a second, but in that instant Ana saw that she had hurt him. She opened her mouth to take it back, but he beat her to it. "I'll just be goin' to the galley and get me some breakfast," he muttered nonchalantly, turning and swaggering towards the stairs, and she caught him say under his breath something about rum.

Ana stood perfectly still a moment, staring numbly after him, "Jack!" she called after him. He didn't respond, and kept stubbornly at his path, now reaching the open doorway to the stairwell.

Anamaria stomped her foot childishly and tore the hat from her head, her surefire temper and irritation emerging. She stalked after him; now it was her turn to wave that hat furiously through the air.

"Jack Sparrow, I swear to God ye are the most addle-brained, hardheaded daft fool o' a man I've ever met!" she ranted, following his retreating back down the stairs, "Don't ye walk away from me. Not after all that's happened, ye daft, daft man!"

He reached the room that served as the galley, still ignoring her, stopping at a cabinet to rummage through it, his expression unchanging as he pulled out a bottle of rum. Jack pulled outthe cork with his teeth and took a long swig of it as she began to speak again. Snubbing her, he sashayed over to a chair in the corner.

"There ye go, on yer bloody rum again!" Ana railed, his disregard of her comments only increasing the volume and conviction of her voice. She realized vaguely that Gibbs had been sitting in the corner of the galley calmly eating bread and drinking when they had entered. Now the quartermaster had begun to quietly shuffle along the wall towards the stairs, clutching his bottle as if it might save him.

"Do ye think it's gonna help anythin'? Good God, Sparrow, can't ye just stop for one moment bein' so bloody selfish?" Ye don't think I spent all the time we was apart worried out of my brain fer ye? And what are ye doin now, drowning yerself in yer blasted lover rum again." Ana paused, sucking in a long breath. Jack had stopped moving towards the chair, his back still towards her, but he hadn't drunk again.

His silence and motionless seemed to mock her and she crossly flung her hat onto the counter before continuing. It skittered across the surface and knocked over an empty tumbler. Ana screamed in frustration, "Don't ye get it, ye thick-skulled dimwitted man? Don't ye ignore me; I bloody care what happens to ye! Blast it all, I love ye! And ye--"

Jack dropped his rum contained with a thump, and he spun around, his dark eyes searching and immediately locking on hers across the room. Ana gasped and clapped her hands over her mouth, realizing what she had blurted out in her rampage but was unable to find the strength to break the eye contact. She felt dangerously close to smacking her head against the nearby table.

Gibbs, who had reached within a yard of the base of the stairs, looking absolutely shocked and terrified to be caught in the crossfire such a discussion, and the pirate turned and sprinted up the steps, as fast as his heavy frame could carry him. Neither Jack nor Ana took any notice of him.

Anamaria spun around, so now it was she who was facing the wall. She crossed her arms protectively across her chest and gaped at herself, cursing herself a thousand times a fool. Pirates didn't love, especially not the infamous Jack Sparrow. She squeezed her eyes shut, her mind screaming that her that she had royally destroyed everything.

Jack stared at her back, unaware of the rum pooling into a puddle at his feet. He took a step towards her, nearly tripping over the bottle that lay forgotten at his feet and had to grab the table edge to steady himself. Jack approached her cautiously, blinking furiously in attempts to grasp her unintentional confession. He halted directly behind her, sliding his hands to gently rest on her elbows.

"Ana, love. . ." he began, trying to sort the words out in his head. "I-"

Ana slammed her elbow into his side, spinning around, her eyes glittering defiantly up at him. "Stop it, Sparrow. I don't need none of yer pity. Just- " She broke off, trying to make her escape up the stairs.

Gasping at having the wind knocked out of his lungs, Jack managed to lunge after her, catching her around her lower waist, still mindful of her healing wound. He lifted her struggling form up and deposited her onto the long sturdy table, his body weight pressing against her to hold her hostage. "Stop," he panted, "Yer gonna hurt yerself. Just hear me out, love. . ." Jack begged softly, his dark eyes willing her to understand.

Sighing in frustration, Ana finally nodded her head in submission. Jack stared down at her, not knowing where to begin. "I certainly wasn't expectin' that over a bit of rum," he quipped. Ana growled up at him, struggling to free one of her legs. "No, no," he amended quickly, blinking innocently, "I didn't mean it-I didn't. . ."

Jack took a long breath while Ana again stopped struggling, rolling her eyes and gazing fixedly at her shoulder.

"I love the Pearl," Jack began cautiously, knowing exactly how she would interpret this. Ana let out a low scream of frustration, and began struggling anew, beginning verbally protesting as well.

Over her struggles, Jack hastily continued, his eyes showing full sincerity as he raised his voice to be sure she heard it, "But she be nothin' without yer presence, love."

Anamaria stopped protesting, a frown creasing her forehead as she stared up at him in puzzlement. She opened her mouth to object, but Jack carefully laid a finger over her lips. "I love the Pearl," he said again, the deep pools of his eyes shining into hers, "But she be mighty jealous, Ana. Because she can tell that what she has can't match my love for ye."

"Wha-what?" Ana's muscles went slack as her brow furrowed in confusion.

Jack lowered his head and propped himself up on his elbows directly over her, their faces inches apart. He busied himself by kissing her hair, forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin.

"I," he managed to say between kisses.

"Love," he kissed her lips tenderly, effectively silencing the pair for several moments

"You," he finished triumphantly, tucking a wild piece of hair that escaped her braid behind her ear.

He pressed his lips against her eyebrow then nuzzled her nose. Only then did he notice that she hadn't responded, and he ceased his actions, staring down at her with a perplexed air, his black-lined eyes widening comically. "Ana?" he finally asked, "Yer not gonna be slappin' me again, are ye?"

Ana laughed finally, her lips curving into a genuine smile, and she felt a huge weight lift from her chest. "Nah," she breathed, slipping her arms to crisscross at the base of his neck. Using it as leverage, she pulled his head down to hers to tenderly and deeply kiss him.

Jack shifted so he could prop himself up on his hips and leave his arms free. Ana felt one of his hands slide along the side of her breast and felt a quick stab of panic. No.

She freed one of her own arms and carefully slid it back upwards to rest over her heart. "Jack," she began softly, trying to figure out how to break this to him and cause a different reaction than before.

Her tone must have given it away, because Jack's eyes met hers immedietly, and through their clear depths she could see no hurt or regret there. Frankly, there was a kind of mild amusement. "I know, love," he told her seriously, thoughtfully tapping the place where she had guided his fingers, "Can't be jumpin' in the waters without bein' ready to swim yet, can we now?"

Ana giggled girlishly at this, her heart swelling with relief and she drew him down for another kiss. While they were occupied, Ana began to hear the increasing volume Will Turner's voice arguing with Gibbs' protesting distinct growl.


Will's voice bounced down the stairs, eventually reaching Jack's ears as well. Jack raised his head, his eyes conveying his annoyance. "Go away!" he growled loudly, Ana watching him though amused eyes. He swooped down again to capture the pirate woman's lips, and she allowed their tongues to begin a slow deliberate duel.

Anamaria heard Will call out again, saying something about threatening to come down there, and she reluctantly broke the kiss, ignoring Jack's pleading expression as he stared hungrily at her. "Come on," she drawled, pushing him of her and standing. She snatched her hat from the counter, and pulled Jack, who had collapsed onto the table in exasperation, to a standing position and hauled him along with her.

As she bounded up the stairs, pulling the pirate captain along with her, he suddenly let out a loud growl and trapped her against the wall, kissing her soundly again. Ana grinned bashfully up at him, crooking a finger to draw him close again.

As he brushed his lips against hers, she playfully shoved her hat onto his head down over his eyes and took his hand, leading him into the bright Caribbean sunlight. Jack ruefully removed it, letting it fall from his fingertips to the newly scrubbed deck.

He wrapped his arms around her from behind and let his chin rest in the crook of her shoulder and surveying the Black Pearl.

It was good to be pirate.






AN: Well, that's it dearies. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it. Now, I've got some idea involving either a prequel or a sequel (preferably sequel) but it's up to you, the reader, to tell me if I should even bother. Ca dépend à vous, mes amis. It's up to you!

Thank you all, you've been a wonderful audience.

I'd especially love love love to recognize Missy Mouse and J.L. Dexter who have reviewed very faithfully to almost ever chapter (wowsers!).

MissyMouse: *Takes hat off to you* Your reviews always made me smile!

J.L. Dexter: Thanks so much for offering awesome advice and tips and overall incredibly sweet reviews.

Everyone else, thank you everyone who reviewed, you're all super amazing, most of the reason that this story actually got finished and were wonderfully patient with me. If you didn't review but you're read it, thanks a bundle for reading!

Til next time!