Author's Note: god. I finally finished it. I know it's been several months in the making, but I finally got off my sorry ass and wrote this chapter. This is the final installment in The Violinist. I sad. I hope it meets (even exceeds) expectations.


Chapter Eleven - Red Roses

Lyset Andrews was, by no means, a completely shallow person.

She held certain things in high regard: treasure, life, alcohol, ranking, honor, kindness, nobility, humanity. To her, these were things that were necessary for human existence. She felt the possession of these characteristics separated the low lives and the true upper-classmen in society.

And then there was one thing she did not see any value in: loyalty.

It wasn't that she didn't like the aspect of loyalty so much as the fact that she didn't see how it could ever function properly in real life. One cannot remain loyal for all of ones life, especially in the occupation of piracy. You have to lie, cheat, steal, and lie some more. Being loyal, in Lyset's eyes, never helped anyone get any farther in life.

Now, as she was lead to the plank by several very cautious members of the Black Pearl, she very much suspected she was right in that assumption.

Jack stood precariously upon the Pearl's rail, a deep frown crudely distorting his handsome face as he watched the spectacle. In the depths of the dark night the moon before, Jack had decided that this stupid woman was ruining what little chance he had of pursuing a life. Well, the Shadow Man had chosen, really. But for the most part, Jack was the Shadow Man, and so it seemed as though he were making his own decisions.

He had decided this on the evening he summoned the violinist.

She had been dragged into his quarters, half-unconscious, and thrown to the floor. Her white dress was now yellowing and torn all around the bottom. Dirt clung to her skin like a disease, and her face was sallow and pale. She hadn't been eating the food that was given to her, and so all of her bones seemed to jut out from her skin, making her form look frighteningly skeletal.

Jack had never seen anything sadder than that sight, really.

Such a beautiful woman had become such a disaster. Somehow, it pained him slightly in his heart to see her in the condition she was in, but he quickly pushed it away. She didn't deserve his sympathy, not by a long shot.

His eyes found hers from across the room. Mariana's had faded to a dull brown, just as Jack's had. Any life and sparkle that had been in them was now gone, lost to the depths of Davy Jones' locker. It amused him a little that she was becoming more and more like him as the days dragged on.

Jack pursed his lips before speaking. "The other night," said the pirate captain with a few wild hand gestures, "I was trying rather desperately to understand why I'm so obsessed with you, my dearest Mariana."

Mariana's eyes didn't leave his, but they did not react to the statement.

"And try as I might, I couldn't do it," Jack continued. "I just couldn't figure it out. I hate you, my dear, I truly do. You've brought nothing but blood and tears and turmoil with you on this bloody ship. You leave a trail of death in your path--yes, it's your fault all these deaths have come to be, my dear. And, yes, I do blame you for this insanity I've fallen into. I am absolutely sure you caused it. There is not a single doubt in this insane mind."

He pointed to his head to illustrate.

Still Mariana said nothing.

"And even though I hate you so," continued Jack, tapping his chin thoughtfully, "--and I do hate you, you can be sure--I still have kept you alive for all these months. My god…it's nearly been a year, hasn't it, my dear?"

Mariana slowly nodded, her eyes never leaving his. The dull stare did not create an angry energy as it once had. There was no enough passion and fire to ever generate such a glare ever again.

"You are a mystery to me, Miss Mariana," said Jack, partially musing to himself. "And I believe you are one of those confounded mysteries that goes unsolved."

He wrung his hands together, his knuckles cracking sickeningly loud. Mariana didn't react to any of his actions, even as he stood from his chair and strode purposefully over to her. That sight would bring a scoundrel to tremble, but this small Spanish woman shook it off as though it were nothing.

Jack fell to his knees in front of her, grabbed her hands roughly, and placed them on either side of his face. Her eyes widened slightly and she briefly tugged at the grip, but to no avail. Jack sighed deeply, as though the violinist's reluctant touch eased some deep, burning pain that he carried with him throughout his sorry life.

"You remind me so much of my wonderful Anamaria," he told her quietly. "You could be her sister, you know? That's how much of a likeness I see between you two."

Mariana tried to yank her hands away, but Jack was much stronger than she was and she was weak from lack of food, and so her hands stayed where they were.

"Sometimes," whispered Jack, "I remember what it was like when I was younger. I was happy back then, Mariana. Drunk, to be sure, buthappy most of the times. I was…free."

He slowly took his hands from hers, but she did not pull away. Her touch stayed there and Jack sighed in relief. The pirate wrapped her frail form in his arms, burying his face into her thick black hair. It didn't smell of the must in the brig; more like the scent of autumn. Jack let the smell wash over him like water pouring from a waterfall.

"My god, you're beautiful," he sighed.

Mariana closed her eyes slightly and wrapped her arms around his neck. She didn't draw away, because she finally understood why it was Jack had become so cold and so distant over all these years. He had been left alone and unloved, and his heart and soul had deteriorated into oblivion.

"I think at last…we have an understanding for each other," said Jack, pulling away from the embrace.

The faintest trace of a smile was playing at his lips and the sight of it nearly brought Mariana to tears. She nodded slowly, smiling back. Jack's face regained his serious expression and he sighed.

"I'm sorry," he whispered.

It all happened in unison: Venice Turner went to check up on Lyset Andrews to find that she was halfway through escaping at the exact same time Jack plunged a knife into Mariana's gut, and somewhere around the Rio Madrid an old man whose daughter had been kidnapped by two of the nicest pirates imaginable keeled over and died.

Mariana's eyes went wide and her eyebrows narrowed and pain. She made no sound as she looked down at her injury. A crimson stain was quickly spreading about her yellow dress, and Jack's hand drew away from the knife's hilt as though he had been burned. Mariana looked at him in shock and horror.

"Why?" her expression screamed.

Jack scrambled away from her as she collapsed onto the ground, tears streaming down her beautiful face. "I'm so sorry, Mariana," he whispered, bringing his shaking hands to the sides of his skull as he tugged on his dirty hair. "I had no choice. You were keeping me from being free."

Well done, Jack, the Shadow Man cackled triumphantly.

Mariana stared at him for several moments more before her body stopped convulsing on the ground. Her mouth was open in a wide "O" of horror, much as Anamaria's had been upon her death. The violinist's eyes stared blankly at him full of shock at the betrayl. Jack stared at her for what seemed like hours before closing his eyes tightly.

"I've done what you asked," he muttered to the Shadow Man. "Now please…let me go. Let me be free once more."

Oh, Jack, said the Shadow Man. You shall be free.

And with that the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow of the infamous Black Pearl ceased to be, and something dark and new took over his body. Something far more dreadful than any monster of the imagination.

A murderer.

Lyset no longer made any attempt to kick and make a fuss, because she felt there was no point or purpose to it. They were going to toss her overboard. And, of course, she probably would die, but there was a good chance that she could swim to the shore nearest to her.

"Miss Andrews," said Jack loudly, his face relatively free of expression aside from the deep frown across his lips.

The woman looked up at him coldly, her thick red hair now wet and matted to her skull due to the sea spray spritzing onto her. "Aye, Sparrow?" said Lyset icily, bending her elbows to make sure she still had feeling in her arms. Her hands were tied all too tightly in front of her and she felt that her circulation was being cut off.

Jack paused before answering and then smirked. "See you in hell," he sneered.

With a snap of his fingers the woman was overboard, thrashing about in the salty ocean.

It would later be discovered that she cut her bonds on a rock at the bottom of the sea and she swam to the nearest shore, several miles away. Later on she would recruit herself a new crew of all female pirates and commandeer one of the Navy's most pristine and well-thought-of ships. Lyset Andrews would rename it the Vixen and would go on to become one of the world's most notorious pirates.

But that is for another day and another time.

Jack snorted in distaste at the sight of the woman slowly sinking in the relatively calm water and strode down to the wheel. Venice was there, waiting for him, his hands grasped tightly to the wheel. He had the air of an abused dog about him as he gulped down his fears and spoke to his captain.

"Where to, Jack?" he asked meekly.

Jack didn't answer for the longest time as he stared off onto the horizon. Then, with an evil smirk, he pushed Venice away and took over the post, turning the wheel a few clicks east.

"Captain?" Venice tried again.

Jack didn't even bother to look at the boy as he continued to steer off. "Hell, boy," he answered and the Black Pearl continued its journey to oblivion.

Closing Notes: Woohoo. It's over. Yeah, I'm pretty happy with it. I hope you've enjoyed The Violinist. Thanks so much.