Author's Notes: After seeing the midnight showing, I decided to quickly write this to join the fun. I tried to make it as different as I could from all of the others of the same nature, so hopefully I succeeded. This really stays in the middle of the two pairings (Jack/Elizabeth and Will/Elizabeth), though I'm a very strong JE fan myself. But don't let that dissuade you from reading this short sketch.
Where the Compass Points
Elizabeth sat alone in the longboat just outside Tia Dalma's hut. The darkened water lapped against the sides, rocking it back and forth ever so gently; she found solace in the motion, as it was reminiscent of a mother's arms as she lulls her child to sleep. Fireflies danced just above the river's surface all around her, yet did not come near as though they sensed her want of solitude.
Now, more than ever, Elizabeth felt her mother's absence, for it was the wisdom of such a figure that she wanted the most in the world. Someone to guide her through the rough waters of her confusion. Someone to take her hand and present a solution to her that she otherwise would not have met on her own.
She shivered, suddenly cold in spite of the humid air. Hours had passed since their return to this place, and the mysterious candle-bearers had gone as though dissipating into the trees. The light from the hut reached her, yet she could not feel its warmth. It was like she had been enshrined in darkness; for once, she was thankful of such a thing, though the feeling was also a bitter one.
Suddenly, a deeper shadow was cast upon her, and she looked up to see a figure in the doorway. After a moment, she realized it was will.
"You should come inside, Elizabeth," he said, stepping into the boat. The wooden craft teetered for several seconds as he sought to find his balance. Then he sat opposite her and placed his hand gently upon her own. "I'm worried for you, out here and on your own."
"Don't be," she whispered hoarsely. She sniffed as a new wave of tears rolled down her cheeks in silence.
"It's my fault, you know," she cried suddenly. Will looked at her, startled and concerned. "I as good as murdered him." She paused, then added, "To save us."
The boat swayed beneath them as he drew her into his arm, and the cricket song grew louder. It seemed to press against them.
"What do you mean?" he queried softly, stroking her hair.
"I know you saw..." She hesitated. "I know you saw Jack and I, but you only saw the half of it. He didn't elect to stay behind on his own, it was I who elected it for him!"
She didn't know why she was telling this to Will, the man to whom she was betrothed. The man who she thought she loved and was sure who she loved still. Perhaps this was why she felt she had to explain. She owed him the explanation behind her actions. Yet what if she didn't know it entirely, and had begun to second-guess what had seemed so right before? How, then, was that an explanation?
"Have you ever murdered a friend, Will?" Her eyes were distant, clear even though they were fogged by tears. "I told him I wasn't sorry. But I am sorry. I'm so sorry." Her voice broke.
"Please, Elizabeth, come inside," Will begged. He brought himself to his feet and held out his hand so that she could do the same. Yet she declined it, shaking her head slowly.
"I cannot, not just yet. But I promise that I won't be long." Elizabeth did not meet his gaze, and when he had left her, she stood suddenly. It was foolish to condemn herself outside in the open air, though she felt it was what she deserved, the pirate that she was.
She started as something heavy hit the bottom of the boat. Blinking rapidly, she searched for the object, bending and feeling about with her fingers. When she thought she found it, she lifted it up in her hands and gasped. It was Jack's compass. How had it gotten there? She thought Jack had had it last. Curious in spite of herself, she lifted the lid.
The arrow pointed distinctly toward the hut for a moment: toward Will. Then it quivered, shivering as she had done, and spun to face the opposite direction, from whence they had come: the open sea. Her breath stopped before it escaped her parted lips. Could she even entertain the notion that it pointed to something else? She watched as the arrow shifted back and forth between the two directions unsteadily.
Biting her lip, she snapped it shut.
"I'm sorry Jack," she repeated, this time addressing the Captain. If she imagined hard enough, it was as though he was there. Her memory of him was so strong...
"There now, Lizzy," she could nigh hear him say. "You can't ever trust a pirate, most especially such a ravishing one as yourself."
It was almost too much to bear, and she didn't know why. Somehow, she felt more than just guilt, but she didn't know exactly what the other feeling was. It was as though she had lost a part of herself: the part that had whisked her from balls and corsets to the freedom of the sea. It was the part of her that put a cutlass in her hand and a bottle of rum to her lips.
When she thought of this, she realized that without Jack Sparrow, this part of her would never have been uncovered. And now that he was gone, it had been buried once more, like a beating heart locked away in a chest.
When she kissed Will, there was security in his presence. There was warmth, there was love, and there was an unconditional promise It was tender yet fierce affection. When he held her, it was as though they would never be parted, and they would settle together to live a beautiful life. What more could she want in the world?
When she kissed Jack, there was freedom in his presence. There was need and raw desire, a passion she could not attempt to deny. She could taste the wind and endless sea upon his lips. When he was near her, it was as if anything could be accomplished if she expressed her want for it to be so. Yet what more could she want in the world?
Perhaps Davy Jones had been right to cut out his heart from his chest. Would it not be so much easier that way? But that was the coward's way out.
Wiping her eyes, Elizabeth unsteadily made her way up the steps to Tia Dalma's hut. She paused for a moment, however, looking back over her shoulder. The fireflies winked back at her, yet she could not see them. Not really. She was seeing beyond all that.
"To freedom," she whispered, and stepped into the light.