She was bloody well going to break his hands if she didn't stop squeezing. Sweat poured off her face as she grimaced in terrible pain. They were somewhere off the coast of New Providence, anchored and waiting. Anamaria, picked up on their last landfall, rested her tough hands on Elizabeth's knees.
"C'mon, lady, just a bit more work and it's all over 'til you let him at you again!"
Elizabeth groaned and howled. "He'll bloody well never lay a finger on me again!"
"Aye, that's what they all say," Anamaria smiled. She'd had a tot of her own since Jack had last laid eyes on her. Her son, though barely 3, was the spitting image of his mother and every bit her progeny. It had given him hope for the future when he was still reeling from the news of their child's conception.
His musings were cut short as Elizabeth's iron grip cracked his hands and brought him to his knees. He couldn't fathom why Anamaria had allowed him in here. This was women's business, not men's.
"Look here, Jack, welcome your babe to the world," Anamaria whispered. He peered down, preparing to make a terrible face at the carnage, but instead was struck dumb with awe. In Anamaria's capable brown hands was a small but healthy squalling baby.
"What is it, Jack, what did we make?" Elizabeth's voice was exhausted and hoarse.
"Take her, Jack. It's your bairn."
Jack gingerly took the squirming, bloody bundle into his hands to look it over. His face broke into a huge grin. "We've made a girl, Lizzie, a bright, bonny girl!" He bent to kiss her, awed at the treasure she'd hidden away inside herself for the better part of a year, awed that he should experience this, and awed at the small child with his mouth and Elizabeth's perfect sandy hair.
Elizabeth leaned her sweaty forehead against his arm as she stroked their daughter's cheek. She was a bonny girl, indeed. Her eyes fluttered half-closed with the exhaustion of her travails.
"Nellie," he whispered in the tiny, perfect seashell of an ear. "Little Nellie Twinkle Toes, and you shall dance, my love." He slipped into the space next to Elizabeth, stroking her damp hair.
"Ana... Ana!" he called.
"Tell the crew there's a new lady aboard the Pearl! Step to!"
Anamaria could only smile at the tender scene. "Aye aye, captain!"
Will Turner stood on the edge of the path down to the little cove. It had been four years since he'd set foot on that sand and since he'd last seen Elizabeth. He'd heard tales coming back in, stories of a pirate king that Hell itself had spat back, not for wickedness, but for stealing the heart of Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld and for bringing her back to the world of the living with him to make her his own. They'd spoken of her bewitching beauty, how she rivaled her king in wit and cunning. He'd heard tales, too, of how the legendary captain of the Black Pearl had charmed a mermaid, a siren, one of Neptune's own daughters and beguiled her out of the sea. As Tia Dalma-- the name had come to him in a dream one night after Elizabeth had left-- said: same story, different version.
What remained the same in all the tales of the pirate king and queen was her happiness. He'd heard a sailor, freshly rescued and gripping a mug of grog tightly, tell how her face had shown like the sun whenever Jack had looked at her. If the man was to be believed, as well, below her tunic, her belly had been swollen with child. Perhaps all of it was true, perhaps none of it, but he was sure of one thing: her happiness.
In the months after she'd left, he'd found a wounded seabird on the bluff. He'd taken pity on it, brought it into town, and nursed it. He'd grown fond of the bird and it grew comfortable with him, but it always had its eye on the horizon. When it had healed, Will had brought it back to the cliff and set it free. In the moment it took wing, he realized how Elizabeth had felt. He'd come to terms with her choice then, as he watched the bird wheeling against the setting sun. She'd belonged on land no more than the bird.
A year after she'd left, when the tales first started to filter in, he'd fallen in love again. Mr. Brown's daughter, Marta, was sweet and gentle and nothing like Elizabeth. She'd watched him for months with her soft blue eyes, never saying a word. He'd spoken to Mr. Brown one afternoon and arranged to court her. It seemed the fitting thing to do.
They'd married in a simple ceremony a scant few months before Mr. Brown died in his sleep, at his forge. Will had inherited it and set about to make an honest living for himself and his wife. His love for her grew into a comfortable, easy rhythm. In another year, Marta had whispered to him that she was with child, and for that instant, he'd forgotten Elizabeth entirely.
She'd given him a healthy son, who they'd named Bill after her father and his. Little Billy was closing in on three now and Marta was expecting another child in the fall. He was content with his life, but now and then, he'd returned to the bluff, wondering if he'd see black sails against the horizon one day. He never had.
He stepped off the path onto the sand and looked out over the water. So much had changed in four years. It didn't feel like his life. The memories seemed like nothing more than a bit of a story he'd heard as a child.
"Fancy meeting you here, lad," the voice from behind drew his attention to the present. He spun around, only to find himself face to face with Jack Sparrow. Further down the cove, a woman played in the shallows with a small child, no older than his Billy.
"I see being a pirate king has done you well, Captain."
"I see the stories have reached your ears, then, mate. Is dear Lizzie still a siren and our child half a fish? Or am I again dining on pomegranates with Hades, trying to win his queen in a game of dice?"
"A little bit of both, depending on who you hear it from and how drunk they are." Jack laughed and clapped him on the back.
"A good tale either way! And what of you? I hear tell you're married with one of your own now. Master of your own forge, too."
"Aye, I married Mr. Brown's daughter. We've a son, Bill, named for my father."
"Hello Will." Elizabeth's voice startled him. He'd been so busy talking with Jack, he hadn't seen her creep up. She carried their child in her arms, smiling at him. Her face was more weathered than it had been four years ago, but it somehow suited her. The child, on the other hand, was fair, with Jack's dark eyes and high cheekbones and her light hair.
"Mrs. Sparrow," he said stiffly. "And your child?"
"This is Nellie. We come here, now and then. I'm teaching her to swim now. She'd taken to the ocean like a fish."
"So the tales say." It was her turn to laugh.
"We've heard!" She leaned against Jack, their daughter reaching out for him. "Tales of you have reached us, as well. They call you the finest blacksmith in the Caribbean now."
Will smiled sadly. "And it's all rubbish. I'm no better than any other man." Elizabeth reached out to touch his face and he pulled back. "We're expecting another child this autumn." She'd simply nodded and withdrew her hand. Time may have healed all his wounds, but even scars can still sting.
"We won't trouble you any longer, then, Will. Jack and I... we have to get back to sail on the tide. It was good to see you, though." For just a moment, the Elizabeth Will had known long ago surfaced, but was just as quickly gone. She turned and started away. Jack lingered on, holding Nellie.
"Cheers, mate. Best of luck with the new one," he said quietly.
Will stared for a moment, the last vestiges of his old self slipping away. "If you or Lizzie ever need anything... a sword... anything at all, send word. I'll get it to you." It was a selfless gesture, but an honest one. Jack dropped his free hand on Will's arm.
"That we will, son." And he was off, following Elizabeth down the beach, catching her in an embrace before they rounded the corner.
Will stood there for a moment, very much like he had so many years ago, and then his face broke into a wide smile. In the light of the setting sun, it was as though a weight had been lifted off him. She'd given him his closure and Jack's words echoed in his head: This is not where your story should end. He turned and headed up the path. His story hadn't ended, only one chapter, and the rest of it was for him to write.
Author's Notes: So this is it, the very last bit of Horizons. Everything is tied up here and given a happy ending. My apologies for the lateness; that whole Real Life things caused a bit of a hinderance. Many, many thanks to everyone who's reviewed and everyone who has read. I cannot believe how many people read what amounted to my first bit of fiction in years. Special thanks also are in order for my beta, Libby24, without whom this story (and all my others) would be awkward as a blind, three legged dog.