Author's Note: Written and posted while delirious with sleep deprivation. Spoilers for "Dead Man's Chest."


by S. Risen

It is not love that she feels for Jack Sparrow. Even when every other gold silk belief she has ever wrapped around herself lies ragged and ruined at her feet, there is no confusion on this point. She knows what love is, and it is not the tangle of lusts that run (that ran--past tense) through her blood when she looked at Jack. Lust for the forbidden, the exotic, and the dangerous. She can say it prettily: the prospect of playing a merry game of hide and seek with fate will always have its appeal for her. Or she can bow to Jack's apparent omniscience and call it curiosity. Elizabeth has always, after all, been curious. Especially about pirates. And whores, too, for that matter.

No, love is something else entirely. It is what carried her through starkly beautiful halls lined with women of her own station who whispered behind their hands about poor Liz Swann, marrying beneath her. It is the lingering quality of all those stolen kisses during her fencing lessons (the agreed-upon penalty for being disarmed). It rose like bile in her throat when Will appeared out of the sea, having slogged a hundred miles through hell for the sake of his true love.

There is something faintly ridiculous in such classic, unbelievable chivalry. He is the gallant knight, inspired by his high-born and unattainable lady to legendary feats of arms. Has he not read the medieval romances? Does he not know that courtly love is meant to end badly?

Of course he hasn't read them. He grew up a lowly apprentice, lucky to be literate.

Sometimes she loves him so fiercely it burns.

"If there was anything that could be done... Elizabeth." She is not yet so callous that she cannot recognize how much those words cost him. She can see it even behind that look of his that says he will align the stars in a fashion more to her liking if she asks him to do so. He thinks she wants Jack, and he is willing to sail to the world's end to fetch the bastard. But the truth of the thing is that Elizabeth doesn't know what she wants.

She only knows that it's not this.