Though Bootstrap hardly gave a second glance to his surroundings, Charlotte thought her neck might snap from the quick glances she stole as she meekly followed. The curious marine fauna that had taken up residence in every available space was not an ordinary occurrence; however, neither was salvation at sea performed by unholy men with cephalopod features. The ship could not even be likened to something from her wildest dreams – truly it was in a class all its own.

A dank smell of must and rotting timber permeated the air, and though the planks beneath groaned at every footfall, Charlotte found that they were remarkably strong. On occasion, her curious eyes forgot the floor beneath her, and she slipped briefly on the wet wood. Bootstrap never seemed to have that problem as he led her down to the galley – but perhaps that was a perquisite of being cursed. Or, perhaps it was that he wore sound boots, while she wore footwear of a far less practical nature.

Charlotte entered the dimly-lit galley with more than a little apprehension. The lone lantern swaying precariously from the beams above did little to dispel the shadows in the aged room – but Charlotte realized that was perhaps a blessing.

A few barrels and chests reposed openly on one of the waterlogged tables, and Bootstrap handed Charlotte a lit candle he'd procured from somewhere or another. The latter waited patiently in the shadows as she ransacked each barrel and chest until she'd established a fairly decent meal on a cracked plate whose cleanliness was highly disputable.

Satisfied with the victuals, Charlotte was suddenly again aware of Bootstrap's presence. "You'll join me?" she asked with a graceful motion of her hand. "I can hardly be expected to eat whilst you starve – it would be quite rude. Besides, I would be grateful for your conversation."

Bootstrap opened his mouth to explain that he had grown accustomed to the less than certainly conventional fare he was certain normally graced her gold-inlaid china, but he shut it just as quickly when he noticed the pleading, albeit hesitant, look in her eyes. "Very well."

Charlotte poured the pair a bit of red wine; she had no taste for grog or rum, and water was always questionable on sea voyages and best left for the animals aboard. As Bootstrap sat down across from her, she noticed the slowness of his motions and the fact that his skin was wrinkled as is wont to happen when submerged in water for extended periods of time. Accursedness apparently had few redeeming qualities – on the body, at least.

"You were sailing from England?" Bootstrap was the first to break the silence.

"Yes," Charlotte replied as she chased a bit of salted meat with her fork. "I used to live in London."

"Quite a long trip," Bootstrap mused. "Were you travelling alone?"

"No, my father never would have permitted that," Charlotte answered, suddenly remembering that there was no way she would even be able to give him a proper Christian burial. "He was escorting me to Port Royal."

"That's quite a distance," Bootstrap said. Sensing perhaps dangerous waters, he skillfully diverted the conversation to a detailed discussion of the Flying Dutchman and her crew.

Long after the wine ceased flowing and the plates were cleared, Bootstrap and Charlotte remained in the relatively quiet galley shooting the breeze. She began to wonder how a man such as William Turner had ever become a pirate in the first place. But, she assumed that like prostitution or arranged marriages, piracy was a life one was thrown into, not a choice given. Her stomach sank at the thought of her pending marriage to Lord Beckett, and she hoped somewhat detachedly that the man would not be too upset by her delayed arrival.


Charlotte felt rather disappointed when Bootstrap left her at the door to the captain's quarters. She leaned back against the closed door, and the wet wood quickly dampened the fabric of her gown. She frowned – doors were rarely wet, even those which belonged to ships. Charlotte ran her fingers down the dark timber, and her frown deepened as rotting bits crumbled off onto her skirts.

She again surveyed her surroundings, which were much more visible due to the large amounts of light permitted by the spearhead-shaped window that rose from floor to what Charlotte surmised to be the foredeck. What appeared to be an organ comprised a great deal of what space wasn't overtaken by all manner of sea life, and its pipes extended almost halfway around the room. Various chests of assorted sizes squatted randomly about the chambers, their presence slighted by candlesticks, tables, and a spyglass – rendered useless by the barnacles growing at either lens – set about in the same apparent serendipitous fashion.

And as her naïve eyes registered the nightmare in a mind once ignorant of the supernatural, Charlotte was suddenly fully aware that she was completely awake.

A/N: I probably would have had this completed sooner had I not thought that watching select scenes from POTC 2 might freshen my memory a bit -- except that led to watching the entire film . . . and that led to watching the third film . . . and that led to watching Davy scenes from both films. . . . I do apologize for its shortness. It seemed a bit longer when I had it in Word. Hm. I'm sure I'll make up for it in chapters to come!