Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Pirates of the Caribbean, I don't own the rights to The Princess Bride. I make no money.
A/n: As one of my earliest stories, I knew this was pretty poorly written, especially at first, and was reminded of that very fact recently by reviewer Sparrabeth (thank you!). I came to take a look and realized that it indeed was pretty rough. So I am now working it through, fixing it up a bit, without changing big things/messing with the plot or anything. I took into account all the crits from the reviews I've gotten in the past and will be using those to help me fix it up. Hopefully it will be a better read from here on. ;D Lastly, this story takes place several months after Curse of the Black Pearl and therefore basically disregards DMC and AWE, and in the Princess Bride timeline is several years since the end where Humperdink is left tied up in that chair. -Aug '09
[Edit: This story was written from 2004 - 2006, when I was a writing newbie. I leave it up to show how far I've come, and because people still stumble upon it and enjoy it. I think the above mentioned edits only went so far, so I do not guarantee quality - enjoy at your own risk. ;) -Red]
Will Turner stood on a small rock formation, jutting out towards the sea. The light breeze slightly ruffled his hair, most of which was pulled back in a loose ponytail. He took a deep breath, letting the salty air into his lungs. A few seagulls cried over head, and then moved on as he watched ships leave and arrive at the various docks. He wished one of those ships was Captain Jack, as he found himself missing his pirate friend.
It hadn't been so several months ago. It was only after a long series of events that Will had ever become friends with the pirate and that included hating Jack every minute for a long time before the pirate saved his life a couple of times. His thoughts turned away from Jack and to the fair Elizabeth Swann. Her image ran through his mind and he smiled. How lucky he was that she loved him back, especially after so many years of being the poor blacksmith who pined for the Governor's daughter. He supposed he could thank Jack for that - if Jack hadn't have come to Port Royal and set in motion a strange set of events involving cursed pirates, Elizabeth may have gone along and married Norrington like her father wanted her to. He never would've guessed that he would now be owing his life (and love life) to a pirate, of all things.
As his thoughts continued along the path of the lovely Elizabeth, Will's eye caught on a very regal looking ship slowly pulling into the dock. Curious as to its origins, Will pulled out his pocket telescope for a closer look. Flags bearing the colors red, blue, gray and a strange gold animal hung loosely over the sides and from the mast. Will didn't recognize the ships flags at all.
He looked over the crew, and they all looked rather ordinary - not pirates, as far as he could tell. There were many soldiers or guards posted all over the ship. Will assumed the Captain or a guest on the ship was of rather high rank or importance to necessitate all the protection.
As ramps were placed leading up to the ship and ropes tied down to secure the ship, a tall man dressed in a very strange outfit stepped forward, with his hands on his hips. His robe-like outfit came to his knees, and swayed like a skirt when he walked. He wore leggings underneath covering his legs and black boots going up to just past his calves. The man had short dark brown curly hair, a very defined and tan face, and hard dark eyes. Will could tell this was a man on a mission.
Will watched closely with his telescope, intrigued by this important man with the fierce, determined gait. The man walked quickly and determinedly down the ramp, flanked by five or six soldiers. The ship's crew stayed aboard the ship, carrying out their usual duties, with a handful of soldiers staying behind to monitor the ship. The man stopped to speak with the Dock Master and did not smile while they spoke. The Dock Master looked concerned and somewhat flustered, then hastily pointed up towards the hill.
Will raised his eyebrow slightly. The only people who lived on top of the hill were the Swanns. He immediately wondered what the man in red wanted from them, but decided he must be some far off dignitary here to meet with the Governor. Still, he was very curious about the man and decided he perhaps ought to pay a visit to Elizabeth - conveniently at the same time as the man in red, of course.
Elizabeth Swann was dressing in a lovely yellow and green dress while Molly her maid chatted away animatedly on the other side of the dressing screen. Molly asked if Elizabeth would be wearing a corset today and she laughed.
"Not if I want to breathe, thank you very much." She said.
Molly clucked disapprovingly. "Ev'ryone is wearin' 'em, mam."
"Everyone but me." Elizabeth insisted.
She emerged from behind the dressing screen so that Molly could help her do up the back of her dress and do her hair. She gazed out her window and as she was looking out across Port Royal towards the ocean, she noticed a line of soldiers in unfamiliar colors approaching the gate below. She wondered what guest her father had coming today and was surprised he hadn't mentioned it. Usually when her father had some important guest coming, the staff was doubled to make the house extra spotless and perfect, and she was required to look extra special, especially if it was a suitor for her. They didn't come often, but they did come. She was soon to be engaged to Will Turner, however, so the suitors would stop altogether as soon as word spread that she was engaged.
Molly left to get fresh sheets for the bed and some hair accessories for Elizabeth's hair and Elizabeth approached the window to get a better look. There was a man dressed in red at the front of the group of soldiers and he was walking with intensity. Abruptly he looked up and saw her and she felt an unexpected jolt at the look in his eye. It was strange and dark - she couldn't explain or identify it. She immediately forgot about it, however, as he looked away and continued on towards the front door and Elizabeth spotted Will's unmistakable figure coming up the walk in the distance, some way behind the soldiers. She grinned, her heart lifting in her chest at the prospect of seeing him.
Molly swished back into the room at that moment, carrying the sheets and a basket of brushes and pins. "'Ere we are, mam." she smiled brightly and set the sheets down on the bed to be changed later. She gestured to the chair in front of the vanity where Elizabeth proceeded to sit and Molly got right to work doing up Elizabeth's hair.
"Do you know if my father was expecting anyone today?" Elizabeth asked. If he wasn't a suitor, that may explain why her father had forgotten to tell her specifically about the guest, but Molly would know.
"If 'e is, 'e 'asn't told any of us, mam." Molly answered.
Downstairs she heard voices and grew more curious about the mysterious man in red who was paying her father a surprise visit. She urged Molly to hurry with her hair so she could investigate. The voices faded and she knew that they'd moved to the drawing room.
"Stop wigglin', mam, I'm nearly done!" Molly chided as Elizabeth fidgeted and strained to hear what was going on downstairs.
Finally Molly was finished with Elizabeth's hair and makeup. Elizabeth hurried out of her room and quietly made her way downstairs to try and learn who the man was. She heard voices floating down the hall and was able to catch snatches of what they were saying until she she was close enough to hear properly.
"Well, you see, there's... ah, sort of a... directory."
"A directory? You must be joking, sir!" said her father.
"I am not," the unfamiliar voice laughed. "But back to the issue at hand."
"She would be extremely well taken care of. My father left me an extremely generous living, as well as... well, the entire country."
Her father laughed. "Yes, I'd say that is very generous." A pause. "She is... well, she is soon to be promised to another man, I regret to inform you."
Elizabeth froze where she was standing. This man sounded like a suitor. Was her father actually negotiating with him?
"I understand, Governor, yes. But I have come all the way from Florin, as a King, in search of your daughter's hand. Surely any father wants to best for his daughter? I doubt you could do much better than a King of another country."
The man's words were smooth and his tone persuasive. Elizabeth's heart began thumping in her chest. She wasn't officially engaged to Will yet and she knew her father still disapproved of Will's lack of finances, even though he'd warmed greatly to having Will has a son-in-law over the past few months. Would her father really give in to the stranger's demands?
"This is really something we perhaps ought to be discussing with Elizabeth..." her father began unsurely.
"Of course, Governor. I thought it proper to ask your permission first before asking hers."
The Governor asked a servant to fetch Elizabeth from upstairs, so she backed up the hallway quickly and pretended to be coming that way just at that moment when a servant intercepted her. She pretended not have heard a thing as she was brought in to the room and the stranger greeted her with a wide, charming smile and a low bow.
"Elizabeth, this is King Saradon of Florin and he's traveled a great distance to speak with you." She didn't miss the tone of her father's voice - he was impressed by the visitor and was demanding Elizabeth be polite and social. She wondered what had been said between the two men that she had not overheard.
She curtsied and allowed Saradon to kiss her hand. "I am not disappointed," he said. "I was told of your captivating beauty."
"Thank you sir, you flatter me." She put on an easy smile though she didn't feel much like smiling. "What is it that you've come to speak to me about?"
"Miss Swann, you would do me a great honor if you would accept my hand in marriage. I've just spoken to your father and he wanted to know how you felt about such an arrangement."
Elizabeth stared, trying desperately to find the right words for such a situation. How did she pointedly refuse in a polite way? "Sir, I appreciate the distance you've come, but I regret that I must decline your offer. I am soon to be engaged to someone else."
"Yes... your father mentioned that." Saradon shifted slightly and Elizabeth saw something flash in his eyes. He'd put on a warm mask for them, but now her mind darted back to the oddly cold and dark look she'd seen on his face when he'd seen her standing in her window upstairs. "I do ask you to reconsider. I don't take disappointment well." He seemed very put out that she'd so easily refused his charm and request.
"I am sorry." She said.
Saradon cleared his throat slightly and more warmth seemed to disappear from his mask. "You do realize, Miss Swann, that you would Queen in Florin. I don't think you could get a better offer anywhere else."
Elizabeth stiffened, not appreciating his tone. "I do very well, thank you."
The Governor turned to Elizabeth. "A King is a far cry from a blacksmith, darling, I must agree."
She snapped her gaze to her father. "You know how I feel about Will. Excuse me if he is more important to me than wealth."
Her father looked rightfully a bit ashamed but that didn't stop him from adding pleadingly, "We just ask you think about it, dear. That's all."
Elizabeth was about to reply angrily when there was some scuffling and yelling coming from the foyer. They all looked towards the door as three soldiers entered, two struggling to hold onto the man thrashing in their grip. Two of the Swanns' servants were behind the soldiers looking flustered and frightened. They all started talking at once and Elizabeth gasped when she realized the man being held by the soldiers was Will.
The Governor silenced everyone and then asked, "What in heaven's name - !"
"You asked us to stop anyone from talking to the lady, sir." One of the soldiers said to Saradon.
"He's a regular guest!" one of the servants shouted. "He's here to see Miss Swann - he's her - "
"My soon-to-be-fiance." Elizabeth cut in coldly. "Release him at once."
The soldiers traded unsure glances until Saradon gave them a curt nod. They tossed Will forward onto the floor.
"What is the meaning of this?" The Governor demanded.
"Apologies, Governor." Saradon inclined his head slightly. "I merely wished to have an uninterrupted audience with Miss Swann. I was unaware that a guest of such... poor standing would be admitted into your household. My men were asked to detain anyone who didn't meet... certain standards." He cast a disapproving glare at Will who was brushing himself off and moving to stand beside Elizabeth.
The Governor didn't seem to know whether to be offended or agree with Saradon. Elizabeth, on the other hand, had had quite enough and was thoroughly outraged by the treatment of Will.
"Sir, thank you for your visit but I think you have quite overstayed your welcome." She snapped, barely maintaining her composure. "Please leave at once."
"I assume this is your blacksmith?" said Saradon disgustedly, ignoring Elizabeth's dismissal of him. "What riff-raff company you allow your daughter to keep, Governor. If she were allowed to accompany me back to Florin, I can promise she would only run in the most fashionable and well-off of social circles."
Will's fists clenched but Elizabeth swiftly put a warning hand on his arm. She silently asked him to do nothing and he complied with great difficulty.
"I would've thought any decent lady would never have passed up a chance to be Queen." Saradon continued smoothly. "Nor any father have let his daughter decline such a magnificent offer." He smiled though there was absolutely no warmth to it. "I do wish you would change your mind, Miss Swann. You may well regret it if you do not."
Elizabeth managed a tight smile back. "Thank you, but I've made my decision."
Saradon's face colored with anger and Elizabeth saw that something flash in his eyes again. She shivered and Will moved a step closer to her as if to further drive the point home that Elizabeth was most definitely not going anywhere.
"Don't say I didn't warn you." Saradon growled in a deep and dangerous voice. "I don't take disappointment well."
After a moment where the Governor nor Elizabeth showed any sign of having anything further to say, Saradon gave a short, curt bow, snapped his fingers and with a mighty swish of his red cape, he exited the Governor's house, followed by his soldiers.
"Elizabeth," the Governor began once Saradon had left.
"Father," Elizabeth stopped him. "Don't."
"Queen, Elizabeth! Just think about it, darling. Consider it, just for moment." He pressed.
Will cleared his throat slightly and the Governor flushed, as he'd quite forgotten Will was in the room. Elizabeth glared heatedly at her father.
"I don't believe you. Is wealth all that matters to you? Does my happiness count for nothing?"
She turned on her heel and hurried from the room. She didn't stop until she'd made it to the other side of the house and leaned against the rails of the balcony, overlooking another side of Port Royal. She dried her eyes with the palm of her hand and felt one hundred times better and calmer when she felt Will's comforting hands on her shoulders.
"Alright?" he asked.
She sighed and leaned into him. "Now I am."
They stayed like that for some time, watching the sun set in the distance until Elizabeth finally broke the silence.
"Why me?" she asked quietly. "Why did he come all this way, merely on someone's word that I was lovely to look at and probably available? Why was he so intent on not taking no for an answer?"
"I should think that's quite obvious." Will answered.
Elizabeth turned to face him, her features questioning.
"I'd cross the world for you ten times over. Apparently I'm not the only one."
She smiled and kissed him softly.
"You know, your father would likely be extremely displeased to know that we're currently unchaperoned." Will whispered against her lips.
"Let him be displeased."
Saradon stood at the bow his ship, silently fuming. He hadn't truly expected it to be easy - it never was - but he'd certainly hoped. He had, however, thought he'd have at least been able to persuade her father enough that he order her to accompany him. He had not expected to fail so completely.
He would find a way. This wasn't like last time. He wasn't the same person - he had learned from his mistakes and he'd become hardened. He'd take care of that blacksmith, he'd come back for her and he would not be stopped. He didn't care how drastic his measures had to be. He'd messed up his chance at war with Guilder last time - that foul Westley character and his precious Buttercup had seen to that - but not this time.
No, not this time, Saradon thought.
With a deep frown, he let himself remember the moment when everything had changed. After Westley had rescued Buttercup and made a complete fool of the cowardly Humperdink, Humperdink's father had died, passing on the title of King. He'd changed his name when he'd received the crown to show that he was no longer the same person. Humperdink was a hunter, a tracker and a little coward. Saradon was a man with no mercy, the best hunter and now King. Everyone regarded those two parts of his life as separately as the two separate names.
The point was that Saradon had learned wisely from his past: tie up all the loose ends and do the job yourself.
And that's exactly what he intended to do.
A/n: Two things. First, the actor who plays Humperdink in Princess Bride's real name is Chris Sarandon, which is where I got the idea for Saradon (note no 'n' in Saradon). Secondly, the "directory" that Humperdink is referring to is a throwback to the Princess Bride book which opens with talking about a list of all the beautiful women in the world and how Buttercup eventually moves up the list to be number one. Thanks for reading and reviews are like oxygen!