Usual disclaimers and I can't wait for the film to come out!
Sorry it's taken so long to post this up, I'll try and get more with it in future :rolleyes:
Celia tried hard not to jump as a marine guarding the gateway to the church spoke to her, but instead forced a smile and bobbed a curtsey. "Good morning," she nodded. "It is all right if I go and visit the grave of my grandmother, isn't it?" She decided that pretending to be a maid of the bride was pushing the boundaries of reality just a little too far and so had made up a story of her own.
"Of course, Miss. The wedding ain't for another two days – though you wouldn't believe it to look at all the fuss!"
"Well, it is the Commodore," she giggled, feeling emboldened and rather pleased with herself and wondered what Jack would make of it from where he and some of the men were hiding and watching.
"Off you go, Miss, and if any of the men question you, tell them Lieutenant Murtogg said it was all right for you to go through."
"I am most grateful to you, Lieutenant," Celia smiled coyly, hoping against hope that Jack could see that at least.
"Bloody hell," Jack hissed almost inaudibly. "Yer could pick someone better ter flirt with than Murtogg! At least he's a soft touch, though…"
'Where to start?' Celia mused to herself as she surreptitiously glanced around to make sure no-one was looking at her before studying the gravestones nearest to her then moving on and praying that it would not take too long to find what she wanted – if it was indeed there at all. She held her breath as two officious looking naval men passed by her, each doffing their hats and bowing their heads in respect but paying her no more heed once they had gone by, and it took all of Celia's willpower not to exhale loudly. With another furtive glance at the marine guarding the gate to make sure he had not noticed she wasn't stopping at one particular grave, Celia carried about her task.
"Come on, come on…" Jack urged from his hiding place, panicking now that the young woman was no longer in sight.
"She'll be all right, Cap'n," José Santos assured him with a blackened grin.
"Shhh," Jack glowered, feeling decidedly nervous about the amount of marines there were in and around the churchyard and now wishing he had not asked Celia to do this.
"Oh!" Celia stopped by a grave and peered at it, her heart pounding with excitement as she realised it looked exactly as the other two had done. Her fingers traced around the carving of a blindfolded man, working on an anvil and she bit her lip as she realised who it represented. She turned and went to hurry from the graveyard but realised it would look suspicious and so forced herself to appear calm as she strolled back towards the gate and the marine guarding it. "Good day, Lieutenant Murtogg," she smiled as she exited the grounds. "And thank you, once more."
"It's a pleasure, Miss. Will you be coming to catch a glimpse of the bride?"
"Alas, no," she sighed, edging away and wishing he would shut up. "I won't be able to make it."
"That's a pity," the naval man sighed ruefully. "Good day, Miss."
'Thank goodness for that,' Celia thought, her words echoing exactly what Jack was thinking at the same time.
Celia gasped as the shout went up and bit down a cry of alarm as Jack, José, Elliot, and Josia Phelps all ran from their hiding place with a number of marines in pursuit, firing their pistols as they gave chase and thankfully missing so far as she could see. She sent up a swift prayer that Jack and the others would be safe and then turned and made her way towards the town of Port Royal and to the blacksmiths workshop where Jack had assured her she would find shelter and help if the worst came to the worst. 'Well it has now…' she thought, her heart still pounding with fear as she walked along the lane.
"Hello, can I help you, Madam?"
"Ah… erm, it's Miss, actually, and I hope so."
"Is there something wrong?"
"Is it safe to talk?" Celia enquired as she regarded the man before her, taking in his open expression and dark brown eyes, which held a gentler look than her lovers did.
"Safe from whom?" he mused, frowning and wondering who the young woman was and why she was so nervous. "Are you in trouble?"
"Of sorts," Celia admitted ruefully. "You are Will Turner, aren't you?"
"I need to get back to Jack and the Black Pearl," she gabbled quickly, only stopping when the blacksmith started in surprise. "We got separated and I need to get to the cove but I don't know the way…"
"Whoa! Hold on… let's start from the beginning, shall we, Miss…?"
"Sorry – Hammond, Celia Hammond, I'm… with Jack…"
"I see," Will mused, nodding slowly as he pondered whether asking what such an obviously well bred woman was doing with such an irrepressible rogue as his friend, would be too forward of him, disregarding the fact that most of the town thought exactly the same of he and his wife. "And just what is Jack doing here?
"On a treasure hunt, of sorts… the clues are on gravestones and I had to go and find the next clue in the churchyard of Saint Paul's…"
"Saint Paul's…? Is he mad? No, don't answer that! Did he know about the wedding?"
"Oh yes," Celia sighed, "but he thought that the treasure might be there and he didn't want the Navy finding it first."
"So he sent you? He's unbelievable," Will sighed. "I'd better get you to Elizabeth – it's be too late to go to the cove now."
"Oh… I suppose it will be," she frowned, biting her lip as she did. "I suppose you're wondering why I'm with Jack?"
"Yes," Will chuckled, "but wait until I get you home then you can tell both of us."
"Bloody hell!" Jack swore, wiping sweat from his brow with the end of his bandana, glad to be securely aboard his ship. "You sure you saw Celia walking away safely?" he demanded of Elliot Deane who was nursing a graze on his shoulder.
"Aye," he winced as Matthias Swain applied a potion to it. "She definitely started walkin' towards th'town."
"I just hope she finds Will's all right," Jack worried, looking in the direction of the town. "He won't risk bringin' her tonight," he mused, mostly to himself. "So we'll put guards along th'path before first light… no, we'll put guards along th'path tonight. Gibbs arrange it."
"Aye, captain," the quartermaster complied, going about his task immediately, and choosing men he knew from experience would stay awake and more importantly, alert.
"Th'rest of th'ship will be on watch on board, savvy?" Jack called out. "I am not riskin' th'bloody Navy findin' us here like sittin' ducks."
"Shouldn't've took th'chance on goin' ashore now, then, should ya?" Adam Butler muttered darkly beneath his breath and shooting his captain a withering look behind his back.
"Shut it!" Gabriel Jennings hissed, shoving his erstwhile crewmate on the shoulder. "Yer gob will land yer in trouble sooner or later, an' I just hope it's sooner."
"Are you two bloody well fighting again?" Jack snapped, glaring angrily at both of them. "Sort it out or I throw yer both off, savvy?"
"Aye, Cap'n," Gabriel nodded. "Bastard!" he hissed to Adam, pushing past him roughly to volunteer for shore watch duties, knowing full well that Butler wouldn't go and most certainly wouldn't be picked.
"My goodness! I thought I had lead an eventful life!" Elizabeth laughed as Celia finished recounting her story over supper.
"You have!" Will put in with a rueful smile. "So, what will you do once you have repaid your debt?"
"I honestly don't know," Celia shrugged, sated with plenty of good food and wine. "I… I'm sorry," she apologised as she unsuccessfully stifled a yawn. "It's been along day."
"Of course it has, and you have an early start in the morning," Elizabeth smiled. "I'll show you to your room."
"Thank you, you have been so kind."
"We'll just chalk it up as another favour Jack owes us," the older woman winked. "At this rate, it will take all of his treasure to pay us back!"
"I'll let you suggest that to him!" Will chuckled. "Goodnight, Celia."
"Goodnight, Will, and thanks again."
"You're a friend of Jack's and therefore a friend of ours. I'll see you before dawn."
"Yes," she sighed, rolling her eyes as she exited the dining room with Elizabeth.
"I've got some breeches and a shirt for you to wear. It will save ruining your dress."
"Wha…? All right," Celia agreed uncertainly, wondering if it would be too bold to ask why the daughter of the Governor would need a shirt and breeches.
"I find this life a little stifling at times," Elizabeth explained, knowing that the younger woman would be too polite to ask the question that was obviously on her mind. "Will and I take off in a small sloop which we have."
"A…? I see…" Celia pondered. "And your father doesn't mind?"
"My father knows nothing about it!" Elizabeth laughed. "We pretend we're visiting friends but we sail away. We met up with Jack once and spent our holiday on board the Pearl, chasing ships.
"Goodness! I'm boring and virtuous compared to you!" Celia gasped, shaking her head in wonderment. "Doesn't it concern you?"
"Leading a double life? No, not really – it keeps me sane, and Will too. Here we are," Elizabeth smiled, pushing open the door to the guest room. "Sleep well, although I doubt you will in a comfortable bed."
"I'll sleep like a log," Celia assured her. "I've dreamt of a nice bed to sleep in for the past few years."
"Hmm," Elizabeth nodded knowingly. "I'll see you before you go in the morning."
"Don't get up on my account."
"Will makes enough noise to wake the dead," she sighed, "so I will see you in the morning."
"All right," Celia chuckled. "Goodnight."
"It is a little early to be going to work, is it not, Mister Turner? And you're not even heading in the right direction…"
Both Will and Celia jumped at the sound of the voice and Will tried to push Celia out of sight in a doorway but to no avail.
"And just who is your companion?"
"None of your business!" Will snapped, grabbing Celia's hand and trying to push past the guard.
"You are abroad before it is even light and with a woman who is obviously not your wife - of course it is my business," the guard sneered. "Now if you're not going to answer my question here then perhaps you will tell the Commodore…"
"I don't think the Commodore will thank you for bothering him with such trivialities the day before his wedding," Celia put in, icily.
"Oh, but I think he will… this way." Celia glanced at Will who was trying desperately to think of a plausible story to offer Commodore Norrington, whom he knew had always kept tabs on him in an effort to capture Jack Sparrow, but up until now, he had never been successful and Will realised that his options were few.
"I-I… was meeting a… friend," Celia blurted, looking sideways at Will and hoping he would play along.
"And your friend is…?"
"I am not at liberty to say," she replied haughtily. "Mister Turner was escorting me back to where my horse is stabled so that I can get home before light."
"Hmmm," the guard mused, stopping and looking at her with a frown. "And your name is… or aren't you at liberty to tell me that, either?"
"No," she replied meekly, her confidence evaporating under his scrutiny. "But Will doesn't know who my friend is," she added hurriedly. "E-Elizabeth is a friend of mine and she didn't like the idea of me going through town unescorted." 'Oh Lord, how are we going to bluff this?'
"Perhaps we should go and wake Mistress Turner then, and ask her to verify your story…"
"At least wait until dawn," Will pleaded. "She is with child and I don't want her disturbed or upset."
"Ah, so you can sire children then," the guard mocked cruelly, the fact that the young couple had had no children in four years of marriage being the source of much discussion and snide remarks in the town.
"Will, no!" Celia cried, pushing herself between the two men as Will advanced on the marine. "Don't, he's not worth it," she soothed.
Celia shrieked with fright as two figures hurled themselves towards the trio, one of them grabbing the marine from behind and drawing his blade across the hapless man's throat.
"Ta, Will," came Gabriel Jennings' voice through the darkness. "Th'Cap'n sent me an' Matty along ter meet yer – just as well, eh?"
"Indeed it is," Will gasped with relief. "Things were looking a little tricky…"
"Y-you… k-killed him…" Celia gulped, staring at the dark figure on the ground.
"I had to," Matthias Swain reasoned. "Would have been too thorny fer Will an' 'Lizabeth, otherwise. Talkin' of which, yer'd better get goin' Will – don't want anyone seein' yer around an' puttin' two an' two together, eh?"
"No," Will breathed. "Thanks, lads."
"Couldn't you have tied him up or something?"
"Gawd, Miss Celia," Gabriel sighed acerbically. "He'd still have been able ter talk once he woke up again…"
"I suppose he would," she replied sadly, crossing herself and offering a silent prayer for the soul of the guard. "Thank you, Will, although I almost wish I had never come to you for help, now."
"I'm very glad you did," the blacksmith stated firmly. "And we will be more than pleased to help you out again if ever you need it, all right?"
"All right?" he demanded gently.
"All right," Celia conceded, reaching out to give Will a peck on the cheek. "Give my love to Elizabeth – oh, and congratulations!"
"Thank you," Will chuckled. "I'd best be going before it gets light. Goodbye, Celia."
"Goodbye, Will, and thanks again." Celia walked away, sandwiched between the two pirates as they left their friend and the stricken guard and headed towards a path which led, eventually, to the cove in which their ship was waiting for them.
"Come on… come on…" Jack muttered, peering through the dark along the path and praying that his crewmen and his lover would appear soon. He frowned, not certain whether he had heard a noise or not before shaking his head and deciding that he hadn't. "Where are you?"
"Aw!" Celia yelped quietly as she stubbed her toe on a large stone sticking out of the ground. "How can you know where you are going?"
"Practise," Gabriel informed her in a world-weary tone. "Gawd knows, we've used this trail often enough…"
"Aye," Matty agreed as he traipsed along behind Celia but not so close that he would be caught unawares if she fell.
"Wait..." Gabriel stopped and cocked an ear, positive that he had heard something. "Cap'n?" he whispered loudly.
"About bloody time!" came Jack's drawl from the darkness. "Celia with you?"
"Yes," she gasped, relief at hearing his voice, flooding through her. "Will and Elizabeth put me up for the night."
"That's another one I owe them," he chuckled, his voice drawing ever closer.
"Elizabeth said it will take all of your treasure to pay them back the favours you owe," Celia chuckled, her horror of what had happened earlier dissipating with the relief of being safe once more.
"I'll bet she did," Jack growled but without malice. "No problems?" he asked his men.
"Aye, there was," Matthias Swain told him. "A bleedin' marine had stopped 'em, an' they were about ter be escorted ter th'fort, but me an' Gab jumped him."
"As a doornail," Matthias laughed.
"Will it affect Will an' Lizzie?" Jack demanded, "there was no-one around, was there?"
"Nah," Gabriel replied. "Miss Celia was just startin' a story about how she was visitin' a friend in town an' that Will was takin' her back to her horse
"A friend, eh?" Jack teased, peering at the young woman in the gloomy light.
"It's all I could think of. Exactly how long were you two there for?" Celia asked her two rescuers.
"We were about ter come out an' greet yer an' Will but the marine beat us to it," Matty laughed as he started off down the path once more, eager to get back to the ship and his bunk.
"I just hope they don't connect you ter me, or worse, to th'Turners," Jack mused as she took Celia by the arm and led her along the track, as eager as his doctor to reach the ship, but to get as far away from Jamaica as possible in as quick a time as he could.
"Well what else would you have me say?" Celia insisted. "If you hadn't made me come and look for the damned gravestone in the first place, none of this would have happened! Besides, you're the one who told me to find the blacksmith if there was trouble – well there was! You got yourselves discovered!"
"That's enough!" Jack snapped, angry with her for voicing what he had been scolding himself with since the previous afternoon.
"Pardon me," she sniped, pulling her arm away from his grasp. "But if you really cared for your friends, you wouldn't do this to them."
"No," Jack agreed with a sigh. "It's one more reason fer Norrington ter watch them closely. I'll write ter Elizabeth an' see if I can persuade them ter move this time."
"If yer do, it'll have ter be soon – she's expectin'," Matthias grinned.
"Eh?" Jack gasped. "You're jokin'? Bloody hell!" he chuckled delightedly, his joy tempered by the additional worry that Elizabeth might lose this child as she had two others previously. "Maybe I should…?"
"No!" both crewmen exploded together. "Cap'n, there's redbacks at every turn an' will be even more once that one is discovered. It's far too dangerous," Matty reasoned, hoping he would be not involved in another rescue of his, at times, reckless captain.
"I suppose so," Jack sighed, his brow creased with worry for his good friends.
"Cap'n? Is Celia with you?" the dark figure of Joshamee Gibbs called from the gloom of the beach.
"Aye, all present an' correct," Jack replied, casting a glance at the quiet woman beside him. "You all right, luv?"
"If things are so dangerous for Will and Elizabeth, why did you have me go to them for help?"
"Because I was cocky enough ter think we wouldn't be discovered," he admitted with a rueful shrug. "Sorry, luv. But Will an' Elizabeth love this sort of thing happenin'," he added brightly, chuckling to himself as he remember just some of the adventures he and his supposedly respectable friends had had over the past five years.
"I hope they'll be all right," Celia fretted, biting her lip. "I really hope so…"
"Celia, pet, it's good to see you safe and well," Joshamee smiled as they reached him and Josia Phelps, keeping watch on the ships boat beached on the soft sand of the cove.
"Thank you," she replied wearily, accepting his help into the boat and feeling her way to the bench at the bow.
"So, did yer find anythin' in th'graveyard?" Josia enquired as he and Gabriel picked up the oars.
"Yes," she nodded, although they couldn't see the action in the darkness. "It's the church of Saint Dunstan in Tortuga."
'What?' Jack exploded inside his head, a cold feeling of dread creeping over him as he remembered ordering Gabriel and Oliver to destroy the church to prevent her from endangering herself by walking to and from it at night – or even during the day. "T-Tortuga…" he repeated, glad she couldn't see his reaction. "Fancy that…"
"How do you know, pet?" Joshamee asked.
"It had a blindfolded man working at an anvil, and the blacksmith that used to come and shoe the horses at the convent would always go and pray to Saint Dunstan in our chapel and he told me that he was the saint of smiths and the blind," the young woman explained.
"Which means it's probably long been discovered," Matty sighed. "So much fer our treasure hunt."
"No harm in lookin', although we'll have ter move all th'rubble – it had collapsed th'last time I saw it," Gabriel reasoned, thinking it best to keep quiet about what he and his erstwhile crewmate had done.
"An' have th'whole of Tortuga wondering what we're bloody well up to an' then havin' ter fight them all off if we do discover somethin'," Jack snapped, not quite believing that fate had managed to kick him in the teeth so successfully.
"The treasure, if there is any, might not be buried there…" Celia put in.
"Oh, I'll bet th'whole of Isla de Muerta that it is," came her lover's heated response. "What better hidin' place than underneath th'noses of some of th'most feared pirates in th'Spanish Main?"
"Well, Cap'n…" Gabriel began, unsure as to his captain's reaction to what he was going to suggest. "Ya could always pretend that yer goin' ter re-build th'church…"
"Or you could actually re-build it!" Celia burst out excitedly.
"Whoa! Hold yer horses, young lady," Jack replied worriedly. "I'm not re-buildin' th'bloody thing."
"Why not? And kindly don't swear when referring to a church."
"Why not? Well, fer one, it was dangerous fer you to be goin' to and fro. Two, what's th'point? It didn't fall into disrepair fer no reason. Three, it would take too long an' once we get th'treasure, I intend being as far away from Tortuga as possible. Four…"
"All right, all right," Celia sighed. "It was worth a try, I suppose."
"Pretend ter re-buil'd th'church…?" Jack mused, stroking his braids as he considered the idea. "It'd mean a bit of ribbin' from th'other pirates over my feelings fer Celia…" he pondered, talking more to himself than anyone in the boat and he did not notice Celia start at his words.
'What does he mean, feelings?' she thought with horror. 'Does it mean he has no feelings for me at all? Or maybe it's just that he doesn't want to admit them in public…?'
"Captain approaching," Joshamee called out, breaking the young woman's reverie, as they neared the hull of the Black Pearl.
"Celia an' all?" Elliot called out from the deck.
"Aye, Celia an' all," Gabriel replied as he tossed the mooring line up. "So get th'chair rigged, yer lazy bastards!"
"Pot, kettle an' black," someone else on board mocked as the sound of the bosun's chair being made ready could be heard from the boat.
"Sails!" another voice cried. "I see sails!"
"Shit," Jack swore, fumbling about in the gloomy pre-dawn for a rope and climbing up swiftly to the deck of his ship, cursing once more as the opposing ship fired, which fell thankfully short. "Everyone on board as quick as yer like," he barked. "Loose all sail an' man th'guns. Celia, in my cabin an' cover yourself."
"All right," she squeaked as her feet hit the deck running.
"Navy!" the watchman called. "It's th'cursed Navy!"
"Of course it is," Jack sighed, shaking his head at the obvious statement. "It ain't goin' ter be anyone else this close ter Port bloody Royal, is it?" he muttered darkly. "When you're ready, Mister Frazer."
"Just let 'em get a little closer, Cap'n," the master gunner called in reply.
"Not too damned…" Jack did not finish his sentence as the Pearl rocked and keeled as her long nines boomed, filling the air with noise and smoke, and Jack could hear Thomas Frazer urging his men to reload as quickly as they could and the pirate ship rocked again, both from the force of her guns firing once more and the force of the naval ships balls slamming into her. "Damage?"
"Lost number three gun," the Scotsman yelled by return. "Come on, damn yer eyes," he barked to the remaining men. "Have at 'em!"
"All available men to th'guns," Jack ordered. "Go on, Burford – I'll take th'helm."
"Aye, Cap'n," the helmsman nodded, yielding the helm to his captain and running to man one of the cannons at the stern.
"Kill th'bastards!" Jack bellowed. "Hammer them!" 'I hope Celia's all right,' a small part of his mind worried and he winced as another round of shot crashed into his beloved ship.
Celia cowered on the side cabin deck, beneath the scant covering she had managed to grab before the hostilities started, and prayed hard. Even with her limited knowledge of sea matters, she knew that they were in deep trouble, trapped in the cove with precious little room for manoeuvre. 'Oh Lord, let Jack be all right.' She screamed loudly as the stern of the main cabin burst out in a cacophony of shattered glass and splintering wood and pulled the covers around her even tighter, in a futile effort to protect herself.
"Shit! Burford, take th'helm back," Jack roared, grabbing a rope and tying the wheel steady as he ran down the steps and into his cabin. "Celia?" His heart stopped then sank as he saw the destruction.
"I-I'm here," she replied timidly. "Oh, Jack…"
"Sorry, luv, but you're goin' ter have ter stay where you are – it's safer, believe it or not."
"I'll try." Jack turned on his heel and sped back out and up to the helm once more, grasping the railings as the Pearl rocked to and fro under the onslaught. "Frazer?"
"Bring us about, Cap'n, then we can use all th'port guns."
"Bring us about?" Jack repeated incredulously, looking around the tiny cove, made smaller still by Will and Elizabeth's sloop anchored, nestling against the cliff tops. "As you wish, Mister Frazer…" He barked out orders for sail to be reduced and the starboard sweeps to be deployed and slowly but surely, the pirate ship began to turn on her axis, the cannons on deck still bombarding the naval ship. "Which ship is it?" he called to his men.
"Th'Britannia," Adam Butler called. "That'd be Gillette, Cap'n."
"So it would be," Jack smiled grimly to himself, grateful it was not the, in his opinion, more skilled Theodore Groves, who was captain of the Dauntless. He braced himself when he knew that they were now in a good position to fire a broadside at the Britannia, wishing there was some way of warning Celia what was about to come.
Celia froze, too frightened to even breathe as the whole world exploded and part of her was convinced that she had died and this was what hell was like. The ringing in her ears continued for some time but Celia eventually became aware that the gunfire had all but ceased, and she chanced getting up creakily from her crouched position and making her way carefully across to where the stern windows had once been, peering out into the dawn and gasping at the sight of the naval ship, her main mast snapped like a twig and the rigging all torn and tangled. She barely had time to react as another volley boomed from the Britannia and she threw herself back, shrieking as the deck below her rumbled and groaned and then roared as the pirate ship fired back, again and again, beating her opponents into submission until at last, a white flag was waved on the deck of the naval ship, signalling their surrender.
Jack yielded the helm back to Myles Burford and went down the steps, striding along the main deck and surveying the damage to his ship with a worried frown. "I hope ter God th'Dauntless isn't along th'coast waitin' ter finish us off," he muttered.
"I doubt it," Matthias Swain sighed, mopping a cut on his forehead. "They wouldn't have left them ter their fate," he said, jerking his head in the direction of the stricken ship.
"Nah, I suppose not," his captain agreed. "But let's hope they're far enough away that we can get back ter Tortuga safely, eh?"
"Aye, however long that'll take," the ship's doctor fretted, shaking his head sadly. "I have men ter attend…"
"Let me know how bad when yer have time – I'll send Celia down ter you."
Jack leaned over the port rail, facing the wrecked Britannia, and waited until someone spotted him. "I want ter speak ter Captain Gillette," he called across.
"The captain is dead," a marine replied. "I'll fetch the First Lieutenant."
'Dead? Hmm.' "You will let us through," he instructed the First Lieutenant when he arrived at the starboard rail of the ship, "or suffer th'consequences."
"We will let you through," the naval officer agreed heavily, having seen too much death and destruction to want any more of it that day. "But if I ever see your ship again, Sparrow, I will not rest until you are in Davy Jones' locker."
"Promises, promises," Jack taunted, suppressing a shudder at the mention of the sea devil who had so very nearly had his soul. "All able men to th'sweeps, th'rest of you – repair th'riggin' an' sails," he ordered, doing a double take when he saw Celia hovering nearby. "You're not hurt, are you?"
"N-no," she stammered, tears welling in her eyes. "J-just…"
"Hey, I know," he soothed. "It's over now, eh? Go an' help Matty, there's a good girl."
"All right," she sighed, wanting more reassurance from him, but at the same time knowing she would not get it, for a time at least.
Five days later
'Thank goodness for that!' Celia sighed to herself, wanting nothing more than to feel firm ground beneath her feet after the trauma of the last few days - the constant worry that the Navy would catch them up as they ran running repairs to the ship as they limped towards the pirate haven, and the burial at sea of nine crewmen, including José Santos, which had upset her deeply.
"You all set fer facin' Aggie?" came Jack's voice, breaking her reverie.
"Are you, more to the point?" she chuckled, wagging her finger at him as he crossed the cabin to where she was sitting and sewing an old coat of his. "She won't believe that you didn't force yourself on me."
"So you'll have ter convince her then, won't ya?"
"Maybe…" she mused, a spark of devilry glinting in her eyes. "Or maybe not…"
"Do you want me ter punish you?" Jack warned with mock severity.
"Perhaps," Celia teased, smiling coyly at him. "It depends on the punishment."
"Bloody hell, woman! Do you realise what statements like that do ter me?" he growled, pulling her to her feet and into his arms.
"Cap'n! Ah, sorry," Gabriel Jennings apologised as he backed out of the cabin which he had burst into with a cursory knock.
"Knock louder next time, Mister Jennings!" Jack snapped angrily. "What?"
"Ah, umm, th'Nymph's in – I reckon Abe Curzon would be interested in what we've got."
"An' that couldn't have waited?"
"Yes, Cap'n, sorry, Cap'n, Miss Celia…"
"You shouldn't be so hard on them" Celia chided once the crewman had vacated the cabin.
"So you don't mind if they burst in on us?" he retorted with a shake of the head. "They have ter learn ter respect our privacy, savvy?"
"An' don't 'yes Jack' me in that tone of voice, or I will punish yer…"
"Celia…" he growled with a grin. "Yer lucky we're almost in port an' I have things ter do."
"Well off you go then and I might be able to finish this coat for you."
"Aye, Cap'n Hammond!" he teased, saluting smartly before turning on his heel and marching from the cabin, the sound of her laughter ringing in his ears.
"Yer did what!" Aggie exploded, staring across the rickety table in the middle of the only room in her house. "Yer… fool!"
"Why?" Celia fretted, surprised at the force of her friends anger. "I can't help how I feel about him."
"Didn't mean yer had ter give yourself t'him. Bloody hell, girl!"
"Well I'm sorry I disappointed you!" Celia sniped, standing and pushing past her friend, making to go out of the door.
"Cee – wait! Look, I'm sorry. It's just such a shock, that's all. Yer come back after nearly two months an' I find that Jack and Mouse have fallen out over yer an' Mouse is now gawd knows where, an' yer've opened yer legs fer a bleedin' pirate! He won't feel th'same f'yer, y'know – they never do."
"I know," Celia replied in a small voice, tears welling in her eyes. "But I couldn't resist… it was hard!"
"Obviously," Giselle remarked dryly from where they had thought she was sleeping in her cot.
"Shut yer gob!" Aggie snapped. "Yer sure he didn't force or charm 'is way into yer knickers?"
"Quite sure," Celia nodded, blinking her eyes. "It was my decision and not one I took lightly… well, too lightly."
"We'll make a whore of yer yet!" Giselle cackled which turned into a shriek as Aggie threw a pitcher at the cot. "Cow!"
"Takes one ter know one!"
"The thing is," Celia interrupted, "I may need some of what you take to stop from getting… you know…"
"With child?" Giselle finished for her. "Too late, I reckon. I can imagine th'number of times Jack must've had yer over th'last two months."
"What?" Celia exploded, looking to Aggie for reassurance and finding none.
"She's right, fer once," the red haired whore shrugged. "Yer need ter take it as yer doin' it, so ter speak. Although if yer are pregnant, th'stuff can get rid of it fer ya."
"You mean kill the baby?" Celia gulped, looking aghast. "I-I couldn't…"
"Celia… Jack ain't goin' ter be stickin' around – he's a pirate…"
"An' Cap'n Jack Sparrer ter boot," Giselle added. "Ain't no ties known ter womankind that would bind him."
"B-but… oh, what am I going to do?" Celia worried, tears springing to her eyes.
"Take th'potion," Aggie suggested. "An' keep some with yer at all times. Didn't Jack say anythin' about preventin' a babe?"
"N-no," the young woman sniffled, wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her dress. "And I never gave it a thought, until…"
"Until you realised yer hadn't had a bleed," Giselle put in, sitting up in her cot. "Ah, bloody hell," she sighed, rolling her eyes at Aggie.
"Look," Aggie reasoned, "it ain't like it's a baby until it's born, eh? So yer can't be killin' it if yer take th'potion."
"It is a life and was as soon as conception took place!" Celia wailed, burying her face in her hands and sobbing.
"Yer don't half get yerself into some scrapes," Giselle remarked, getting up from the bunk and crossing over to the crying woman and placing a sympathetic hand on her shoulder. "Maybe Jack will support yer…"
"You think so?" Celia asked, her head snapping up and she looked at the blonde whore with hope shining in her eyes. "Or maybe he will be pleased to have a child – his offspring! I should go and tell him."
"Whoa! Hold yer horses! Haven't yer heard a word we've been sayin'?"
"But you don't understand, I've seen a different side to Jack," Celia implored, "I'm sure he will not cast me aside." She sprang to her feet and hurried from the small house before either of her friends could say anything.
"She's settin' up fer a fall," Giselle observed, shaking her head. "He ain't goin' ter be tied down by a woman whether she's havin' his child or not."
"I know," Aggie fretted. "I should go after her an' stop her."
"Nah – she's got ter find out sometime, might as well be sooner…"
Celia hesitated before pushing open the door to the Faithful Bride and blanched at the noise, smoke and smell that hit her all at the same time. She glanced around worriedly, trying to avoid the lecherous stares of the men inside the infamous tavern.
"Oi! Celia! Over here!"
"Elliot," she breathed gratefully as she made her way over to where he was waving his good arm frantically. "Thanks goodness you're here."
"As am I…" Jack drawled, hastily pushing a whore off his lap. "What are you doin' in here?"
"Erm… Aggie and Giselle will be working soon, so I thought I'd, erm… come and tell you I'll be going back to the ship," she gabbled, biting her lip to stop herself from bursting into tears. 'He was going to go with a whore,' she thought, biting harder on her lip.
"All right," Jack nodded. "I'll take yer back, savvy?"
"T-thank you," she smiled, her heart soaring again.
"Ah, Mish Shelia…"
Celia smiled ruefully at the sight of Gabriel Jennings, more than a little inebriated, and she went to push past him.
"Ain't it funny?" he slurred, catching her arm and preventing her from moving. "What we destroy – we re-build…" he giggled, weaving alarmingly.
"Th'ch… church – Cap'n an' me destroyed it, an' Cap'n an' me'll build it again…"
"Come on, lass," Jack growled, taking her arm and pulling her away from his drunken crewman. "Let's get yer back…"
"You destroyed the church?" she enquired in an icy tone. "You did, didn't you? You… bastard!" she spat, slapping him hard. "How dare you!"
"An' just what do you think would have happened if you'd continued ter walk th'streets of Tortuga at night, eh?" Jack snapped, angry with his secret being found out and angry that the whole of the tavern had fallen silent and was hanging on to every word of the argument.
"Nothing as it happens," Celia retorted, "for Stockton took me the following day, so your desecration was in vain, Captain Sparrow!" She snatched her arm from his grasp and shoved two other men aside, who were blocking her way to the door. "Don't follow me! I don't wish for your company."
"Fine," came the riposte and Jack stood in the middle of the floor, watching as his lover flounced from the bar, wondering if he should swallow his pride and go after her.
"Sh-shorry, Cap'n," Gabriel said, a hangdog look on his face. "Didn't mean…"
"Forget it, Jennings," Jack snarled, storming over to the bar and ordering a bottle of their finest rum, intent on drowning his sorrows.
'I can't believe it,' Celia thought in horror as she fled down the streets of Tortuga, not knowing where she was going, but knowing she did not want to go to Aggie and Giselle's – not yet awhile. She found herself at the ruined church and her sobs started afresh as the full realisation of what Jack had done, hit her, and she sank to her knees, burying her face in her hands, wondering as she cried, just how she was ever going to forgive him for what he had done.
"Captain… yer not goin' ter like this…"
"So sod off," Jack growled, wincing as his head pounded viciously thanks to the large amount of rum he had drunk the previous night.
"There's a whole gang of pirates up at th'church… it seems Miss Celia has told th'whole town there might be treasure buried there…" Matthias Swain backed away as Jack jumped to his feet, his face black with anger.
"I'm goin' ter bloody well kill her!" he threatened; grabbing his effects from the floor of the room someone had hauled him in to the previous night. "Where is she?"
"That's th'thing, Cap'n – nobody knows. No-one's seen her since last night, not even Aggie."
"She can't have gone far," Jack glowered, tying his sword belt around his waist at the second time of asking and ramming his hat on his head, an action that he immediately regretted as the self-inflicted pain intensified.
"We've been searchin' th'whole mornin', Cap'n," the ship's doctor explained, backing away again as his captain advanced on him.
"All morning? What th'hell time is it an' why wasn't I woken earlier?"
"It's three bells of th'afternoon watch, an' some of us have tried ter wake yer, but…"
"Da?" Peter Swain's voice called from the corridor outside. "Mister Gibbs says some pouches have gone missin' from th'cap'n's cabin…"
"She's gone too damned far!" Jack roared, his anger overcoming the pain.
"She might say th'same about yer," Matty reasoned. "Do we continue ter look fer her?"
"Aye, an' I'll be joinin' you!"
Celia gulped as she looked at herself in the hand glass she had taken from the private head of Jack's cabin, running her hand over her closely cropped head and then looking down at the pile of hair pooled around her feet. She blinked back tears and shook herself physically and mentally before reluctantly putting the glass down on the floor of the derelict house she had holed up in, and checking herself over, adjusting the binding which she had wound around her breasts, where it cut into her, and praying that she would pass for a lad, or boy, at least. With a deep breath, Celia vacated the building, glancing furtively around to make sure she had not been spotted, and squatted down, picking up some dirt and rubbing it into her face and hair and over her clothes before hurrying towards the docks, where there were a number of small boats and sloops in the harbour that had come to trade with the pirates, and she hoped that she would be able to find passage on one of them. 'You must be mad,' a voice inside her head chided. 'That is not the worst thing anyone has ever done and he did it out of concern for you, even before you had given yourself to him. Don't do this…' But her chin jutted out and a steely glint flashed in her eyes as she looked at which might be the best option to try her luck, before deciding on a small fishing sloop, with women working on board, as well as men.
"Excuse me," she called, deciding not to try and disguise her voice and having to remember to keep up the pretence. Peter Swain had a high voice and she hoped that hers would sound similar. "Are.. yer lookin' fer workers." 'I must talk the way they do, though,' she belatedly thought.
"Yer wantin' work?" a man on board enquired, looking at her with hands on hips.
"Can yer gut an' fillet fish?"
'Oh no…' "I-I'm a quick learner…"
"Go on, Abe," one of the women urged. "We need some more help an' yer know it."
"It's hard work," Abe warned, turning his attention back to Celia. "Ya up to it?"
"Oh yeah," she nodded eagerly. "Ain't ever been afraid of 'ard work."
"That's our boat there," he nodded, indicating a small rowing boat moored to the quayside. "Yer'll have ter row yerself over."
"A-all right," Celia replied hesitantly, climbing down the steps and into the boat, picking up the oars and hoping it would be as easy as it appeared to be when the crew of the Black Pearl rowed her. 'The Pearl,' she thought sadly, looking across at the dark ship and biting her lip. 'I can't go back, not after what he did… besides, Aggie and Giselle were right, he'd never want to be tied down with me and a baby…' She dragged her attention back to the task in hand and began pulling on the oars, gasping with shock at how hard it was, but in order to keep up the pretence of being an able lad, she gritted her teeth and continued to pull until the boat knocked against the hull of the Merry Dancer.
"What's yer name, boy?" Abe asked, grabbing the mooring line as Celia threw it up.
"S-Simon," she replied, grabbing a rope ladder and climbing up with more confidence than she felt.
"What ship yer from, Simon?"
"I-I haven't worked on a ship f-fer a while," Celia lied. "Been livin' on th'streets."
"Cor! Yer look a bag of bones, lad," one of the women smiled kindly. "I'm Mary – Abe's wife, an' this is me sister, Betsy."
"Nice ter meet yer," Celia replied, chancing a small smile. "Where d'yer want me ter start?"
"That's what I like ter hear!" Abe laughed, the sound booming across the deck. "Yer can swab th'decks, if ya like – that'll keep yer occupied until we're ready ter sail."
"When will yer be sailin'?"
"High tide," the captain of the Merry Dancer replied over his shoulder as he went below.
"Can't wait," Mary sighed before Celia had chance to wonder when high tide was. "I hate comin' ter this place – scares th'bejaysus out of me."
"Me too," Celia agreed with a rueful smile as she picked up a pail and hauled it over the side to draw up some water to begin her task. "Me too…"
Jack pushed his hat back and scratched his head through the bandana. He and his crew had been searching for three hours and no-one had come up with any sign of his errant lover. He glanced at Joshamee Gibbs who shrugged his shoulders in return, and then along the street, frowning as he heard someone shouting excitedly.
"Cap'n! Thank gawd I've found yer," Elliot panted as he rounded a corner, holding up his hand in which he clasped a hank of hair. "I reckon this is Celia's."
Jack took the hair off his crewman and stared at it, his frown deepening. "Bloody hell!" he eventually swore, casting the hair to the ground and spinning around. "To th'dock's!"
"Eh?" Joshamee queried as he followed, albeit at a much slower pace than the young and fitter man.
"She's disguised herself an' that only means one thing – she's goin' ter take off!"
"Oh no," the portly man groaned, trying to find an extra burst of speed from somewhere. "I hope it's not too late…"
"High tide is… around about now!" Jack called, the realisation giving him more haste and he ran as fast as his legs would take him to the docks of the pirate town.
"But, Cap'n," Elliot gasped as he struggled to keep pace with Jack, owning to his injury. "We ain't got enough men on board ter sail – an' gawd knows where th'rest of them are – it'd take all night ter round everyone up again. B'sides… th'ship ain't in any fit state ter sail."
Jack turned his head and glared at the younger man, cross with him for pointing out the obvious, but at the same time praying that by some chance, his entire crew would be waiting at the quayside and that his ship would be miraculously repaired. He skidded to a halt as he reached the wharf, throwing his hands up in despair as he watched four vessels making their way towards the natural mouth of the harbour and out to the open ocean. "Celia!" he called, cupping his hands around his mouth. "Celia!"
"I'll go an' see who I can find," Elliot offered, making to run towards the town until stopped by his captain's raised hand.
"No point," Jack sighed despondently. "By th'time you've found enough of them, they could be well away an' probably goin' in different directions, knowin' my luck…"
"But it's worth a try, Cap'n!" the younger man protested. "Ain't it…?"
"All right, lad," Jack nodded, forcing a smile. "Go an' see who yer can find…" He waited until Elliot had gone from earshot before sighing deeply once more, staring at the three remaining boats still in the harbour, the fourth already having made her way out of the mouth. "Bloody hell, Gibbs…"
"I hate to say it, Jack…"
"Well don't!" the pirate captain snapped. "I know what I ordered Fernan an' Burford ter do was wrong, but I did it ter protect her, savvy?"
"I know," the quartermaster replied with a sigh. "She might not be on board one of those boats."
"Why else would she disguise herself, eh? I wonder if Aggie knows where she's goin'?" Jack pushed past Gibbs and sped in the direction of the two whore's house, hoping against hope that they would know of Celia's plans. "Aggie," he panted, pushing open the door to the ramshackle house without knocking first. "Where's Celia?"
"Bloody hell, Sparrow!" the red haired woman shrieked as she pushed Abraham Curzon off her and grabbed a coverlet, hoisting it to her chin.
"Thanks a bunch, Jack!" Curzon growled, hauling his breeches up and shooting him a dire look as he stormed from the house, slamming the door so hard that the walls shook.
"What th'fuck d'yer mean, 'where's Celia'? What's happened, Jack?" she asked, a warning tone in her voice. "What yer done ter her…?"
"Oh shit," Jack murmured, sitting heavily on a chair and running his hands across his face as hopelessness and fatigue washed over him. "She's gone, an' yes, it's all my fault…"
"Yer know she thought she was pregnant…?"
"What!" he exploded, thinking that things could not get any worse if they possibly tried. 'Damn you, you bloody fool!' he cursed himself. "I have ter try an' find her," he lamented, knowing full well that it was futile.
Five months later
Celia winced as a drunkard barged into her and she placed a protective hand on her swollen belly, smiling to herself as she felt the child kick in response. She stopped to ease her back, placing the basket of food on the ground as she did. The coins that she had stolen from Jack's cabin had been enough to tide her over, and with the work that she did, taking in laundry and sewing in the town of Grand Turk, meant that she was better off than most women would be in her position. Celia stooped to pick the basket up again, crying in alarm as someone else pushed into her and grabbed the basket from her hand. "Stop! Thief!" she called, trying her best to run after the robber, but her bulk made it difficult. "Oh…" she sighed, throwing her hands up. 'Now I have to go all the way home and come all the way back again –and before it gets dark.' She started on her way again, despondency settling on her like a cloak as she trudged along the track, the rains from a storm the previous day making the way muddy and at times treacherously slippery.
"Celia?" a voice called. "Dear God, is that you?"
"What...?" she gasped, whirling around and looking at the speaker, her eyes going wide in astonishment. "Oliver…?"
"What in th'world…? Oh, yer…" he glanced down at her belly. "Is it…? Sorry, none of my business."
"Oliver?" she repeated incredulously. "What are you doing here?"
"Me ship docked this mornin' – gawd, I can't believe it's yer."
"Likewise," she replied, still dazed at the chance meeting. "Yes, it is, and yes, it is," she shrugged, belatedly replying to his many questions. "Why don't you come back to my house and we can catch up on all that's happened?"
"I'd love ter," he grinned, offering her his arm. "Ah, th'Cap'n ain't…?"
"No, I… left him. I found out that he destroyed, or at least he had, the church in Tortuga destroyed. I… ran away," she confessed, not adding that she had berated herself ever since for being hasty and foolhardy, now realising that he had done it for her.
"Ah…" Oliver nodded, wondering if she knew his part in it . 'She wouldn't be so friendly towards yer if she knew,' he reasoned to himself. "It looks like we've got a fair bit of catchin' up ter do, eh?"
"Indeed it does," Celia smiled. "You first."
"Ah, well… I dunno if th'cap'n told yer what happened – he did? Ah… well, I found myself a berth on board th'Jester at Saint Marta an' have been with them ever since, although th'cap'n's a right bas… sod."
"I'm glad you weren't hurt or anything. I'm sorry for, you know…"
"Me too," he smiled ruefully. "Should've kept me big mouth shut an' me feelings ter myself. Are yer with… anyone else, like?"
"No," Celia replied, shaking her head sadly. There had been one of two men interested in her when she first arrived in Grand Turk, despite her closely cropped hair, but as soon as her belly started to swell, all suitors had melted away, leaving her with just a cat for company.
"I see," he replied brightly, desperately hoping he did not sound too eager. "So what happened ter ye after Saint Marta?"
"Oh, goodness," she breathed, clinging on to him as she almost slipped. "I think it might be best to wait until we're safely inside – oh!" she groaned, suddenly remembering her stolen basket. "I will have to go back to town straight away. Some bastard stole my food."
"Ah, bloody hell. I'll see yer home then go an' fetch yer some more – save yer havin' ter go out again, eh?"
"Oh, I couldn't ask you to do that, Oliver."
"Yer didn't, I offered," the Irishman grinned. "An' I doubt anyone would try an' steal food from me!"
"No," she chuckled, feeling glad of having a friendly face and someone to talk to. "How long will you be staying?"
"On what? Are you stopping for supplies or business?"
"Supplies, but I might be lookin' fer another berth."
"Why?" Celia enquired, looking sideways at him.
"Why d'yer think, Celia, me darlin'? My feelings f'yer haven't changed."
"Oh… I see…"
"So – is there a chance?"
"I don't know," she admitted, coming to a stop and regarding him. "Wouldn't you be worried that I might say yes just to secure a future for me and my child – Jack's child?"
"That's a risk worth takin', in my opinion," he shrugged, cupping her face with his hands. "An' I don't mind bringin' th'babe up as my own. Cap'n Sparrow is a good man – it was just unfortunate that I happened ter love yer as well."
"I-I…" Celia gulped, tears welling in her eyes at the generosity of his statement and she found herself nodding her head, a squeal of surprise being stifled by his lips closing on hers.
The story continues in New Beginnings – Ani.