Disclaimer: I do not own Pirates of the Caribbean. Duh.
Spoilers: For ending of Dead Man's Chest.
A/N: Yay for my first PotC story. It's hard venturing out of my usual stuff. Warning—not for those who like fluff endings. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this one-shot.
"These Sins Do Tell"
I followed her out, shutting the door, and, with it, taking away the golden angelic glow the candlelight had gifted her. The mask was gone. Even from behind, I could tell that there were tears sliding down her cheeks. The slight trembling of her shoulders, the shallow breath that hissed between her lips like an asp, gave away her quiet sobs.
"Will?" she asked softly.
If my heart had not already been cut in so many pieces, I might have wrapped my arms around her right then and there. But I halted my step before I took it, holding back as if she were a spark on a hot blade and I the water. No, even that was too small a comparison. I was a glacier, not frozen still but moving ever so slowly toward her, ready to put out that small bit of warmth.
And it hurt that I had to be so cold, but this was the only way. I had to do her harm to do her good. No child ever learned from a pat where a cane should be, and no liar would ever be taught a lesson by their victim telling that all was well.
All was not bloody well.
"I know, Elizabeth," I stated.
I moved to the steps and the wooden plank moaned as I took a seat near the top, looking out at the early morning past the still, night-black water. The sun had not yet risen, but the swamp was awake. It smelled of rot and death—it looked like no home for the young—however, I could almost feel nature's blood rushing thought the high hung moss, new birth in every slither, crackle, and splash of the boggy splendor.
If I looked at her, I would see a beacon of beauty in the muck, but I knew that the coldness within would melt into a raging flame. I could not bear the thought of hating her so.
Elizabeth approached, leaning on the unstable railing. She gave no reply; neither did she sit down with me.
"I know what you did, Elizabeth," I said again. Now I could feel her eyes piercing me from behind. "I saw you kiss him."
She sucked all the air from around us. My throat constricted at the ache of hearing that foolish reply. I clenched my jaw, resisting the urge to shout out all the chaos that filled my mind at that simply sound.
"Oh, God. Will, I didn't mean for. . . ."
"For what, Elizabeth? For me to see?"
"No! That's not what I meant." Her voice shook, and she dipped down, her knees banging against the flooring. "I didn't want you to see—you're right—but not because I meant to keep something from you, to keep such a hurtful secret. I was so ashamed, Will. I knew that you wouldn't understand."
"But I do understand. I understand very damn well, Elizabeth!" I turned to her, unable to see more than her form for all the blood rushing to my face. "And you should be ashamed, if you want to know the truth of it."
"No, my William. I did not mean it! It was not a kiss of passion." She reached out, capturing my bristled cheek in her delicate hand. I could see the pain in her gaze, but behind it lived hope, hope that I was wrong, that I truly did misunderstand. . . . That I was only a jealous ruffian.
"I know that, Elizabeth." I pushed her hand away with my own. "I also know that it was not a maiden's sweet peck of bravery on a poor man's head. I saw it, Elizabeth. I didn't understand it at first, but it became apparent. I realized what you had done."
I looked up at her, awaiting some denial from her lips. None came, so I added, "It was not a kiss of passion, but a kiss of betrayal. You tricked him, didn't you?"
Elizabeth's eyes widened. "Then you know?" A look of confusion washed over her. "You know that I am still loyal to you? Then why are you so cold to me, William?"
"You have to ask?" I hissed. I turned from her, knowing that the grimace plastered on my face was not what I had wished to show, but unable to straighten my expression. "You betrayed someone I called friend, someone you called friend. That, Elizabeth, is what is shameful. If you had loved him. . . ." I felt wetness sting my eyes but held back what was to come, brushing a palm against them. "Then it would have hurt me, but it still would have been some form of a reason. Instead, you led him to believe that he'd won you and kicked him while he was down."
"We would have died, Will!" Elizabeth shouted, standing. "I did it for us. It was either Jack Sparrow's life or yours. . . ."
"We could have made it," I muttered.
"NO! That was not an option." Elizabeth's face was livid, twisted in anger and shame and sorrow. "Captain Jack Sparrow had deceived you in the past—risked both of our lives to save his own skin—and he probably would have done it again given the chance. Are you saying that what I did to him was so much worse?"
"Yes, Elizabeth," I snapped. I was at my feet before I'd realized it. "Jack Sparrow was. . . . is a pirate. Pirates lie, pirates cheat—you, Elizabeth, are not a pirate. The woman I was supposed to marry followed her heart, not her will to survive."
"I was following my heart, Will." Her tears had returned. "I hate myself for this fact, but I truly did want to give Jack that kiss, and not just to deceive him. But I wanted to save you more. I wanted to be able to live with you just a bit longer."
"Well, then. I guess you received your wish on both accounts, now didn't you?" A maddening, sarcastic smile crept onto my face at that statement. "I still love you, Elizabeth."
"I will always love you," I continued, more gently, "but I can't be with you right now." I paused, letting her hear me. "And, if we can't find Jack, then I don't know if I can ever be with you again."
The color left her face, but Elizabeth's voice did not shake as she asked, "What if we do find him? What if we save Jack?"
A silence fell upon us, as if the Earth had opened up and swallowed sound.
"Then you will have to make some important decisions," I answered at last. "Your future is in your hands, whether you decide to spend it with me. . . . or another But either way, I will not be able to forgive you for what you've done until Jack has heard your apology."
I didn't remember leaving her outside, but I must have because the next thing I saw was the golden glow of candlelight, blinding me. And I almost fell then, wishing for the numbness that sleep could deal me. I could never have guessed that gambling with my soul could be less frightening then throwing away my heart. A lesson learned, I suppose.
E/N: At the end of the movie, I was so sorry for Jack, Will, and Elizabeth that I was tearing myself to bits. I thought there should be yelling, so I wrote this. I know Will sounds cold, but I think he might react this way. Anyhow, review and tell me what you think.