by Honorat Selonnet
Cast: Jack and Elizabeth
Disclaimer: Owned by mus musculus. Drat.
Set the day before Jack's hanging. Elizabeth visits Jack in jail. I don't write J/E but I think that their island experience gave them a unique relationship and one could read that subtext into this story. Some phrases are more understandable if you've read my "Marooned" fic. I'm also using Johnny Depp's statement that all of the stuff in Jack's hair represents important memories. The assumption here is that on the island, Jack told Elizabeth some of the stories behind the mementos. I've called them souvenirs using the French meaning of the word, "remembrances," rather than the English.
Thanks go to geekmama2 for beta work on this. Any errors and inconsistencies remain mine.
by Honorat Selonnet
Jack slouched on the too-familiar stone ledge of the Fort Charles gaol. Chin on chest, he was trying to find oblivion in sleep, but it was eluding him. The early morning sun striped in through the bars. Every once in a while a limp breeze carried a faint whiff of salt sea into the foul air of his cell, twisting his heart with longing.
He had awoken each morning for almost a week to the ominous drill of snare drums, the excited noise of a crowd, and the thunk of the lever that dropped the trapdoor as another one of Barbossa's men, poor sods, danced the hempen jig. There was no love lost between them, but, God, what an abominable way for a pirate to die. The sorry bastards were so delighted with any sensation—the slop they served prisoners, the cold iron of the cell doors, their own rough rags. It seemed a shame that, after ten years of waiting to be free of the curse, they had no chance to enjoy anything better. The gaol reeked of moldy straw, human waste, and fear. He wished prisoners received a ration of rum or even grog.
The sound of footsteps on the stairs caused him to look up, alert for the possibility of an upcoming opportune moment. Whatever it was, it was out of schedule. An eyebrow climbed into his red scarf as he recognized who was coming in to the gaol. Now that was interesting. Accompanied by two disapproving redcoats, but completely ignoring them, Miss Elizabeth Swann tripped down the stairs. They had trussed her back up like a lady, corset and petticoats and fifty pounds of dress. She looked lovely, but he found he preferred the pirate lass who'd burned the rum. In the dim light of the gaol, she squinted, peering around.
"'E's over there, miss," one of the soldiers informed her stiffly, pointing towards Jack's cell.
She flew to the grating. "Jack!" she called. Something in her voice did not lead him to expect she brought good news.
"Aye, lass?" He did not get up from the ledge.
Elizabeth turned to her guards. "I'd like to speak to Captain Sparrow privately, if you please."
"Sorry, miss," the man answered obstinately. "Our orders is no one is to visit this prisoner without an escort."
Jack snorted to himself. Norrington was getting canny.
"Well, can you at least step back there?" She waved at the entrance. "You can see everything I do, but I want to speak to the captain without an audience, savvy?"
This time Jack grinned genuinely. Shuffling noises told him the guards were complying with her request.
Elizabeth's face appeared at the bars again. Her hands gripped the iron slats, white-knuckled. No, definitely not good news.
"Jack," she called again, "could you come over here? I'm trying to thwart those eavesdroppers."
"Anything you wish, love," Jack suggested lasciviously for the benefit of said eavesdroppers. He swung off the ledge and stepped smoothly to the bars of his cell. "What can I do for you Miss Swann?" He bowed slightly.
"It's Elizabeth, Jack."
They exchanged ironic glances.
"I just can't seem to keep that straight," the pirate complained. "Now to what do I owe the honour of your presence in this high-toned and fancy accommodation provided by our mutual friend, the Commodore?"
"Jack." Elizabeth seemed at a loss for words.
"Spit it out, love," he encouraged. "I take you have news from the papa and the fiancé?"
"I couldn't do it, Jack," Elizabeth admitted miserably. "I tried everything. I reminded them that you saved my life over and over, that you rid the Caribbean of that villain Barbossa. I begged. I threatened. Jack, I even cried. I haven't cried to get my way since I was a little girl."
"Any weapon to hand, eh lass," Jack agreed.
"They both disappear when they see me coming. But I couldn't budge them. 'Duty,' they preach at me. 'Law and order.' Nothing about right and wrong, you'll notice."
"Easy there, love." Jack made calm-down motions with his hands, but the lass was too wrought up.
"Apparently," she spat, "I played my only trump card when I bartered my life for Will's. Now my purse is empty. I have no more coin. James has what he wants. My father has what he wants. I don't know what Will wants. And I have nothing I want. And you . . . Oh, Jack, I'm so sorry." Elizabeth leaned her head against the bars of his cell.
"You did save Will, Elizabeth," Jack reminded her. "And your father has pardoned him."
She took a deep breath. "Yes. There is that."
"So, lass, I assume the verdict is in, now. When is my spectacular demise scheduled?"
"'S okay, love. I was locked up in here waiting for the dawn the day Will came in to spring me out of here to go haring after you. Nothing much's changed."
"Tomorrow," her voice was small. "Tomorrow at dawn."
"Ah. That'll be it then."
"If only I were a man," Elizabeth snarled. "I'd force that verdict down their throats." She thumped a small fist against the iron slats.
Jack reached through the bars and brushed the backs of two grimy fingers over her hot cheek. "If you were a man, Elizabeth, it would be a great pity."
She swatted his hand away. "Can't you be serious, Jack Sparrow?"
"Nope," he told her, and was rewarded with a weak smile. "That's my bonnie lass," he approved.
"But I've failed you, Jack," she whispered.
"Of course you didn't, love," Jack reassured her.
"I signaled the Dauntless. I was so sure everything would be fine."
"I made use of the Dauntless."
"I let those pirates loose who stole your ship," she continued contritely.
"You're not responsible for their decision."
"We could have left you on Isla de Muerta."
"What? With no rum? Ye'd not be so cruel, lass." Jack sounded genuinely horrified.
"I can't win this one, can I?" The smile was back.
"Nope." Jack smirked at the girl. "I'm Captain Jack Sparrow, savvy?"
That won him a laugh. Much better.
"Seriously darling, it's grateful I am that you tried. 'T means a lot." Palms together, he gave his little bow. He wasn't lying. It had been a long time since anyone had inconvenienced themselves for Jack Sparrow.
An idea forming in her head, Elizabeth eyed him speculatively. "I don't suppose you could hold me hostage again?"
Jack gave a crack of laughter. "You volunteerin'?"
He waved a finger at her and shook his head. "'S too kind of you, darling, but I imagine your bloody fiancé Norrington," he jerked his chin towards the window, "is too clever by half to fall for that one again. He'd call my bluff."
"Were you bluffing before?" Elizabeth asked.
"What do you think, love?" Jack smirked. "Keepin' in mind I'm a bloody murderous scoundrel out for me own profit."
"Liar." She punched at him through the bars.
"Pirate." He widened his eyes as though that excused any and all nefarious activities.
"I wasn't afraid then, you know." Her voice was thoughtful.
"I know ye weren't," he grinned. "Brave bonnie lass."
"Angry, though," she peered up at him mischievously.
"Aye, you'd have enjoyed scratchin' me eyes out," he agreed. "That was one of my better escapes. I'd have made it too if it hadn't been for young bloody Will and his three hours a day practice to kill a pirate."
Elizabeth dropped her eyes. "It wouldn't have to be a bluff." Brave bonnie lass, indeed.
"Now that is too kind," Jack scolded her.
"It's not kindness," she murmured. "You were right about the chains, Captain Sparrow."
"I know, love."
She sighed. Jack waited silently. There was something else on the lass's mind.
"I have a request." Elizabeth searched his face, for what, he couldn't tell.
"Fire away, love," Jack waved his arms expansively at the tiny stone cell. "I'm a little low on resources to be granting requests, but I'll do my best."
Silently, Elizabeth held out her hand. On her palm lay a small gold bead and a slightly larger wooden one. She looked down at them pensively. Then she looked back up at Jack. "Could you show me how to put these in my hair?" she asked quietly.
He regarded her soberly. "Who are they for?"
Dropping her eyes to the tokens again, she answered, "The gold one is for the three men Will and I killed in the cave."
"Jacoby, Hawksmoor, and Monk," Jack supplied.
Elizabeth nodded appreciation. "Jacoby, Hawksmoor, and Monk," she repeated. "And this one is for the soldiers on the Dauntless. It's made from a bit of her deck."
"Have you some sort of cord?" He rested his wrist on the bars, his hand cupped.
Elizabeth clenched the hand with the beads into a fist. With her other hand, she dropped a thin leather thong, warm brown like her hair, into his.
"I imagine you'll not want this showing much," Jack remarked.
"They are for myself, not for display," she agreed. Reaching up, she began removing pins from her hair. Soon the golden brown strands lay like watered silk over her shoulders. A muffled protest arose from her escort, but she shot them such a glare that they subsided. As Jack had once said, it was more fun to be hanged for a crime you had actually committed. Let them think . . . whatever it was they were thinking.
Slipping his arms through the bars, Jack selected a strand of hair just above and behind her left ear. With a little art, the beads would not show there, either with her hair up or with it down. His face revealed only concentration on the task as he divided the strand and began to braid it with dexterous hands. She was grateful. If he had given her the leering look that so often accompanied his touch, she couldn't have stood it.
"After the braid is started," he informed her matter-of-factly, "You'll want to add the cord. This will have to be redone as the hair grows out. The ends of the cord become part of two strands in the braid for a little bit. Then you'll tie off the braid and let the cord drop. He secured the braid with the cords. "You'll want to check this occasionally," he suggested.
"Now." He held out his hand. "The souvenirs."
Elizabeth watched the little trinkets drop from her fist into Jack's palm. She felt his hands threading them onto the cords.
"Once they're on," he spoke softly, "tie a knot in the two cords and they should be secure for quite awhile. A lass like you shouldn't have to add too many more to this strand, unlike an old pirate like me."
Jack paused, his fingers lingering in her hair, his eyes inward looking. As though reaching some sort of decision, he pulled his hands away and lifted them to his own decorated locks. Slowly he unthreaded a small sapphire disk that hovered alone by his jaw.
Meeting Elizabeth's eyes with unwonted sobriety, he held it out to her. "Here's one for absent friends, eh love?"
Her breath caught a little in surprise. She knew what those tokens meant to this man. Hesitantly she held out her hand for the little disk.
"See if you can put it in, yourself." Jack waved a hand in the direction of her braid.
Turning the disk in her fingers, Elizabeth looked up at him. "Who was it for?" she asked.
"That one," his voice was quiet. "That's for my mother, Elizabeth. She was no lady, but she done the best she could. I'd like to know she's being remembered by someone who knows the truth, not just the legend."
She knew so very little of the truth, Elizabeth reflected, looking with awe at the trinket. So much of Jack Sparrow would forever be a mystery. "I don't know what to say, Jack."
"Don't have to say anything, love. Just wear it for remembrance."
Awkwardly, she untied the cords and threaded the blue disk onto them. After she had knotted the ends again, her fingers remained, drifting over the strange textures of the souvenirs in her hair. The three pirates and the fifteen crewmen of the Dauntless whose lives had been lost by actions she had taken. Captain Jack Sparrow, whose life was forfeit tomorrow morning, and the woman, long dead, who had given birth to him and done what she could. For such tiny things, these trinkets carried a terrible weight. How could Jack bear all those beads?
Jack tilted his head and stroked his beard, scrutinizing her new look. "There, love. You look all properly piratey. Can't have that, can we?" And with his fingers, he combed her hair back over the little strand of three souvenirs.
Elizabeth seemed nearer to tears than he had seen her in all of their ordeal. "Jack, I'm so sorry."
"Now, none of that, darling. I'm a pirate. We don't expect to die in bed of old age. Besides," he chucked her chin comfortingly, "there's still plenty of time for an opportune moment to arise."
She was silent for a moment. "But if one doesn't," Elizabeth asked, "would you rather I stayed away or came?"
"Don't do anything you'd rather not, love," he told her. "But I'd be honoured if you'd be there. Add a little class to the occasion, as it were."
"I'll be there then, Jack." Elizabeth was still fighting tears. "Is there anything I can bring you before . . . before tomorrow?"
"A cake with a file in it," he said promptly, mischief lighting his eyes.
"Consider it done," she choked on a small laugh. "Anything else?"
"Well, you might see that those poor blighters over there get a decent meal before they swing," he reflected, head tilted and one hand waving negligently towards them.
"Oh, Jack." Elizabeth looked wonderingly at him.
He shrugged. "I can't help but feel a bit sorry for 'em—starvin' for ten years and all. The swill they serve here can't be called food by any stretch." And they had once been his crew, his responsibility.
"They shall have a veritable feast, Jack," Elizabeth promised. "My word on it."
"No lies, eh lass," Jack grinned at her.
"No lies, pirate," Elizabeth gave him a watery smile.
"We have an accord, Miss Swann."
"We have an accord, Captain Sparrow."
He reached a hand through the bars and gripped hers.
"Ahem." The sound of the guard clearing his throat broke the silence. "Time's up, I'm afraid, Miss Swann."
Elizabeth did not startle and back away as she had on the deck of the Dauntless when they had been interrupted. Instead her hand lingered in Jack's, a warm and comforting pressure. The last touch of a hand of a friend before he would know only those of his executioners.
Their eyes met, sober and dark. Jack gave an abrupt final little nod, and their hands relaxed and slipped apart.
Her lips parted as though she might say something, but there was really nothing left to be said. Instead, a sad smile curved them briefly. Then Elizabeth turned and slowly made her way out, picking up her escort at the door.
Jack was glad she hadn't said good-bye. He had no wish to say anything so final.
Elizabeth left the gaol wondering just when the fate of a rascally, smelly, immoral pirate had acquired the ability to wring her heart.