Author's note: This is my first POTC fanfic so I'm kind of nervous about posting it, but after seeing DMC I really wanted to explore Elizabeth's reaction to Jack's death. I wanted her to feel the guilt and to go out of her way to make it right...hence this story being written. Anyway, I hope you like it and please don't hesitate to tell me what you think, but please NO FLAMES. You don't want to make me cry do you:-(
Disclaimer: I own nothing...blah, blah, blah...disney...blah, blah, blah.
Switch of Fate
Her head rested against the marbled black wood of the railing as her eyes closed and she found herself lost in her thoughts. The last three weeks had been spent charting and discussing their journey, but none of the others felt the need or the drive in the same way Elizabeth felt it. There was a yearning ache in the pit of her stomach that refused to wane, but she refused to take it for what it was. True, she wanted Jack back and that fact alone drove her to find him, but there was an unspoken guilt that threatened to consume her if she gave it the chance.
The sea was restless tonight, rougher almost as the ship pitched and rocked, but Elizabeth paid it no mind. She was used to the swaying motion, it was actually a comfort for her now and she preferred it to the stillness they'd dealt with for most of the journey. It reminded her of what she had become.
Gone was the sophisticated woman who had been raised to be a lady of society. In her place there was a woman who was unsure of exactly who she was or what she stood for. Pirate, he'd called her and she'd heard the sound of admiration in his voice, coupled by a hint of betrayal caused by her action. It had been a very pirate like thing to do, leaving Jack on that ship all the while knowing what fate had laid out for him. So in that sense, she believed herself a pirate, but did pirates feel guilt for their actions? Did they hate themselves for condemning innocent men to death in order to save their own lives? Elizabeth did.
This was how she'd spent most of her nights since they'd departed from Tia Dalma's shack. Alone with her thoughts. And the crew had been decent enough to give her that. They kept their distance and even Will, dearest Will, had stayed out of her way.
She suspected he had seen her encounter on the ship before she'd locked Jack against the mast. The kiss. The brilliant kiss that had been replaying in her mind repeatedly since the moment it had occurred.
She sighed, lifting her hand to rub at her tired eyes. It had been a long time since she'd had a good nights sleep and these thoughts did nothing to aid her in rest. Even when she did sleep, the dreams she had were too vivid and horrifying for her to handle and she'd given up on sleeping.
Her eyes shot open and she turned her head to look at the man who was still, if in name only, her fiancé. "Good evening, Will."
"It's late, you should be in bed. Your watch isn't until the morning."
She smiled, though it didn't reach her eyes. "I can't sleep. You should rest though. We have a long day tomorrow." She replied, trying her best to ignore the awkwardness that threatened to invade the space between them.
Will looked as if he'd do as she suggested, but instead he walked towards her and sat down on the wood beside her. "Elizabeth, that's cannot go on. You need to rest." He said, placing his hand on top of hers, though it offered her no comfort. "You face is pale with exhaustion and there are circles around your eyes. You'll kill yourself if you go on like this."
She slid her hand out from under his and crossed her arms. "You don't have to worry about me, Will. I'll be fine. I just have a lot on my mind right now. Once we find Jack, it will all be fine."
"Will it?" He asked bitterly, his eyes darkening as he spoke. "I imagine you'll feel much better having your lover on board."
She's been expecting this moment, but was nowhere near prepared for it as she turned to meet his eyes. "Jack and I are not lovers. The one time we kissed, I chained him to the bloody mast of his ship and left him there to die. That doesn't work to inspire passionate emotions, Will. For either of us." She said, though it was a partial lie. Elizabeth didn't want to say the words out loud. Didn't want anyone to know just how much the kiss and the actions there after had affected her.
Will's anger faltered and he angled his head as her words sank into his mind. "You—you left Jack on The Pearl?"
She swallowed and nodded her head shakily. Somehow, no matter what pain she'd been feeling, it seemed even more painful hearing the words spoken from Will's mouth.
"I had to. The kraken was only after him, not us."
She could hear the disbelief in his voice. "It's strange. I've dreamed of living a life of freedom, the life of a pirate, and still when I finally get a taste of it I betray it. I killed him, Will," she said, her voice cracking as she spoke. "I chained him there and, do you know, I think he expected it? He wasn't even angry."
Will placed his hand on her shoulder and she was too tired to move away. "He's a pirate. He's used to betrayal." Will said softly and his voice did not hold disgust, but pity.
Her face crumbled slightly. "I have to get him back. I can't leave him in hell or wherever it is that Davy Jones has damned him to. I owe him his freedom."
"He'll have it. We'll find him, Elizabeth and when we do…" He paused and she closed her eyes, sensing the next words he would speak. "You need to tell him that you love him."
Her eyes widened. That hadn't been what she was expecting. "What?"
He smiled as he lifted his hand and touched his fingers to her cheek. "You think I don't see it? It's written all over your face."
"Will, I don't…"
"Yes, you do." He interrupted and she could see the pain in his eyes as he spoke. "I've loved you since we were children and I always dreamed that you would feel the same. For a while I actually thought I was close to it, but that was a fool's hope." He sighed, allowing his hand to cup her face. "I'm not a pirate, Elizabeth. A pirate's blood flows through my veins, but I will never choose this life and I know now that won't suit you."
She didn't know what to say. Of all the things she'd imagined him telling her, this wouldn't have even crossed her mind. He was telling her to choose another man, another life—and she was listening.
"Jack's only love is the sea. He doesn't love me." She managed to say.
"You won't know that for certain until we find him."
Before Elizabeth had a chance to reply, a loud cry sounded in the night. "Whirlpool!" The voice cried and Elizabeth and Will were on their feet in an instant.
It the blackness of the water, the moon's glittery reflection revealed a sight that should have spelled their doom. But this was what they'd been looking for. The gateway into the land of the dead.
The ship veered widely to the right, easily escaping the clutches of the suctioning hole as the crew shuffled onto the deck and they weighed anchor as they decided what would come next.
Barbossa approached the railing as they all watch the swirling vortex. He stood next to Elizabeth, his hands against the wooden banister. "Looks like we found what ye be lookin' for, lass." He said, grinning his disgusting grin at he glanced at Elizabeth. "Ye best be goin then."
"What!" Will exploded, turning on the pirate captain. "She can't go in there alone."
Elizabeth made no sound as she met Barbossa's eyes and their look filled with understanding. "No, it's all right, Will. He's right."
"Elizabeth, you can't be serious."
She sighed and turned to Will. "I did this, Will. It's for me to clean up, but I'll be back."
"Then I'll go with you." He said, moving towards the long boat that was being lowered to the side of them.
"No." Elizabeth replied, pausing him mid-step. "I'm going by myself." At his questioning glance, she stepped towards him, lowering her voice so that he was the only one who could hear her words. "I need you to stay on the ship and make sure Barbossa doesn't leave us. I will be back, Will, with Jack, and we can get out of here. All right?"
She could see the muscles working in his jaw as he fought his inner need to protect her. In the end, his eyes showed his answer and he nodded his head. "You promise me you'll come back."
She smiled, and cradled his face with her hand, giving him the biggest lie of her life and solidifying her title as a pirate. "I promise." Glancing of his shoulder she met Gibbs eyes. "Lower the boat."
It didn't take her long to settle into the boat and she had to fist her hands for a moment to keep them from shaking. Closing her eyes, she took a few breaths to control her growing nerves as she reached out and gripped the oars, beginning her journey towards the entrance of the hole. It was much closer than it had originally appeared and she was on its outer edge before she knew it. Glancing towards the ship, she saw Will watching her, but her sight of him was only a brief glimpse as she felt herself falling backwards into the dark oblivion beneath the sea.
She didn't feel it when the boat connected with solid land, nor did she remember being lifted from the boat before it crashed as her mind shut down and she felt as if she were floating in a nightmare. Darkened faces watched her from the shadows, charred arms grabbed at her clothing and tugged at her hair as she was lowered to the abrasively hot sand below. It burned her skin to touch it and she sat up quickly to relieve the pain in her hands. Only then did she realize that it was no dream that she had found, it was exactly what she'd been looking for. The land of the dead.
It was no longer dark, but the light of the sun was not as it had been. Everything around her shined with bright red, the sand, the sea, everything was the color of blood. And the heat. It scorched her skin like the hottest of raging fires, kissing her with death's destructive kiss.
She fumbled in her pocket as she moved forward, glancing around her as if something would jump out at her with each step. Grasping the compass, she opened it, hoping it would still work down here. Its needle swung around in a confused motion, spinning like a top that refused to stop, but finally it ceased its crazed spin and pointed down the hot beach.
"Brilliant. Into hells open mouth I go." She mumbled to herself as she walked along the beach. The simple leather soled shoes upon her feet were no guard against the sand's stinging heat, but she kept on. Imagining Jack spending weeks down here, maybe longer depending upon how time ran in this realm. It was appalling to her and the guilt she'd fought so hard to keep at bay began to crawl out from beneath her denial.
Even now, the moments felt like hours as she walked and her legs felt heavier with each step she took. Even the air was thick and difficult for her lungs to breathe. She stumbled slightly, her eyes intent on the compass as it began to turn again. Stopping, she glanced around her and noticed something off in the distance. Black scraps of wood seemed to liter the sand and she could see the shimmering heat as it rose from the heaping piles. The wood look familiar to her eyes and she felt the dread screaming in the pit of her stomach louder than ever before. It was the pearl—or what was left of it. Scattered upon the hellish sands like some unimportant object with no history and no worth.
As she neared what was left of the ship, she kneeled down and ran her hand along the wood sadly, ignoring the harsh burn against her skin.
"Not exactly at her best, is she?" A voice asked and Elizabeth's shoulders stiffened as she recognized it immediately.
"Jack…" She said, lifting her head slowly as if afraid he wouldn't be standing there when she looked, but there he stood, his shirt tattered and torn and his skin even more darkened than before. The shackle still hung from his left wrist and she felt a sharp pain in her heart as he gaze moved upward until she had finally met his eyes.
"Hello, love. Come for a visit?" He asked, his voice cold and lacking of his once carefree tone.
"I came to get you out." She replied. It sounded silly as she heard the words escape her mouth.
"Really? And how might you be planning to do that? Unless you've got a ship hidden on you some where—doubtful--we're both stuck here."
Elizabeth reached down the front of her shirt and felt Jack's eyes on her as she did so, pulling out a small opaque stone at the end of a chain. Lifting it over her head, she glanced down at it, remembering what Tia Dalma had said when she'd given it to her.
"Ye'll be needing a way back and this be it. Give it to Jack, him'll be sent back to de ship."
"Tia Dalma told me to give this to you." She said, holding the chain out for Jack to grasp. As he reached for it, a loud roar reached their ears and Elizabeth's gaze sought out the sea. The red water broke up into a frothy spray as the ship which had been haunting her dreams appeared off shore.
"What do ye think ye be doing, lass?" The voice of Davy Jones asked and Elizabeth let out a soft sound of surprise as his right arm slipped around her, pulling her against his sea encrusted body.
"I'm here to set Jack free."
"Are ye now? What makes you think you can do that?" He practically purred in her ear as she met Jack's eyes. He remained unmoving, though his eyes had darkened at the appearance of the man who possessed his soul.
"Because I have something that might interest you. I'd say it's worth bargaining over." She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small object, holding it up so Davy could see. It was a ring. A gold band with the most perfect of diamonds resting in its center.
Davy Jones pushed her away and she fell into the sand, lifting her hands immediately and brushing them off. Jack made a move to help her stand, but Jones show him a death glance as he towered over the young girl. "Where did you get that?"
Elizabeth picked up the ring that had fallen onto the ground next to her and stood up, facing the mad Captain proudly. "Calypso gave it to me," she said, holding it out to him in the palm of her hand. She'd been preparing for this ever since Tia Dalma—who was actually Calypso in the flesh--had given it to her. The voodoo woman had told her a tale that would rival any that Elizabeth had heard before. A tale of love and betrayal, a tale of curses and horrors, but most of all it told of the one woman who had caused the captain who stood in front of her to become the creature he was now.
"Calypso?" His voice faltered slightly and she watched him gaze upon the ring with such pain and confusion. Even as one of his tentacles shot out and grasped the small item, she did not move, nor did she look away from him. She knew exactly what came next.
"I know that tale and what goes with it," Elizabeth said, taking a step towards him. " As do you."
He eyed her cautiously, his eyes flaring with an anger that did not seem as harsh or brutal as before. "Are you certain you know what you ask?"
She nodded her head. "I am. I want Jack freed from this prison and you will not harm him or any of the people that I care about ever again."
He sighed, growling slightly as he ponder the deal she had laid out before him. He did know what the ring meant and also what it meant for the young woman who met his gaze with such bravado he couldn't help but respect her for it. "We have an accord. Welcome to the crew, lass." He said, turning to walk towards the sea before pausing and speaking over his shoulder. "Say your goodbyes."
Elizabeth took his suggestion and turned to Jack, the look of confusion on his face amused her as she smiled. "I knew I'd get you out."
"Elizabeth, what have you done?"
She moved to stand in front of him and raised her hand, relishing the feeling of his warm skin beneath her finger tips. "I love you, Jack. This was the only way."
"No," He said, shaking his head. "Don't do this for me. This is beneath you. I'll find my own way out."
Her eyes glistened slightly and she caught her bottom lip in her teeth to keep it from quivering. "No, you won't. I made my choice, Jack. I sent you down here and I'm going to get you out."
She smiled as his pet name for her rolled of his tongue and he leaned into her hand. "Tell Will I'm sorry."
"For what love?"
"For not keeping my promise. I've already made amends for anything else." She replied, her meaning obvious as she leaned forward, her nose almost touching his. "Goodbye, Jack."
As he made a move to speak, she pressed her lips against his, her eyes closed tightly as she engrained the moment permanently in her mind. While she served on The Flying Dutchman, it would be this kiss, this man who would keep her company at night. This memory that would keep her sanity intact. And as she pulled away, pressing the necklace into his hand, she realized she could be without him, knowing that his freedom remained intact.
"Be nice to her, Jack. You've been to hell together and back." She said, turning him to face the newly restored Pearl in all her magnificent glory.
"The Pearl." He whispered. "How did you…" He turned to Elizabeth, only to find himself staring at empty air. She was gone. Now all that was left was Jack and the Pearl. She was his first love and only, he'd once thought. She'd been faithful to the end and they'd met their deaths together as it was meant to be for a Captain and his ship. But, as he climbed on board and found himself standing at the helm, he felt something he'd never felt before. Regret.
Elizabeth watched from the Dutchman as Jack climbed aboard his ship, wiping away the tears that stained her face. They would do her no good now. She knew that especially as Davy stood next to her.
"It's a funny thing—love. It can make even the most intelligent men fools and even coldhearted women warm and inviting, but there's nothing that can describe the feeling of love lost," he said, his voice holding a rare emotion almost sympathy.
"I think we have something in common, captain."
"Indeed we do, Miss Swann. Indeed we do."
With that he turned to the crew and gave his orders. His sympathetic moment was over and now there was work to be done. He gave Elizabeth a moment to herself, another rarity as he was hardly ever indulgent to anyone, but he did see something of himself in her and it made all the difference in the world.
Elizabeth could see Jack standing at the helm of the ship and she smiled. She'd done what she came to do and freed the man she loved. It was the easiest and most difficult thing she'd ever done. Now, as she raised her hand in a final farewell, she accepted the hand fate had dealt her and stepped away from the railing.