A/N: At Story's End...
(Yes, there is a chapter after this A/N, although you probably can't see it yet...;)
Thank You Note:
I would like to thank you very much for reading and for all the wonderful reviews that I have been receiving throughout this story! Thank you, my amazing readers & reviewers! You are the best & this story would have never happened without you!
I would like to thank:
1.more.time, 2mishelle3, Aaron, ABBY!!, alexa, Amanda601, angelXwithXbrownXeyes, Ariel Sparrow, blackpearl.fantasy, Brook.Cloud.Dream.Team, bUsHyEyEbRoWdUde, Captain Ichabod Rainey, Captain Lizzie Sparrow, CaptainSwashSwashBuckleBuckle, CaptainUschi, CaptJessicaSparrow, Cat18, CJS, corinnacatz, crazibookwormi, dancerchick17, Darkened Writer, DarkPirategirl, DebbieSC, DeppnBloom, dextriin, Ditte3, englishfreckle, FaNtAsMaS ChiCa, Forget-Me-Nots and Marigolds, freelke, Gemma, haley, Hanna28, heart-broken.kunochi, howlongmustiwait, ichliebepie, IloveHouse777, irishpiratess, Isabella Cherone, jackismysparrow, Jack Sparrow's my man, Jengarola, JmaX kahbou, kate, Katla, KayleeG, kcpiratey05, kels, Kendral, Kitty, Kitty-kat831, LaZyFMAgirl, Leah, Lilagirl, lizzie swan, Majorcrush, McAlice92, MeganSparrow, MissDepp4eva, MissMandi, missrisa77, MiMiGallowicious, Misao22, Mishelle, mrs. cap'n jack sparrow, mrs.patrickdempsey, my.life.is.RaNdOm., Oceanana, ophelia's-rose, Perfect Pirate Captain, Pessimist-Piratee., PirateLover, Piratesfanatic, Pirate Princess x, Powerline, purplekirbyshaft, QueenOfSparrabeth, ReviewsGalore, sandygirl888, Sassy Sparrow, Sparrow's Gal 25, Sparrow's Love, splitpersonality73, StarDragon411, Stella, stricy, suekogirl, Tahitianbabe, teepirategirl, Tempo, Terraminuit, Terriluv, The Girl In The Wrong World, Willofthewisp, wolfblood16, wordwitch, xxcuriosityxx, xxJE4everxx, & [insert your name here).
Thank you for reading & being with this story for nearly four months!!! It's been a wonderful journey, writing this story & maybe, hopefully, reading it was a pleasant journey as well:)
And now, finally: onto the last chapter (See? There really is a chapter after this A/N!:)
Disclaimer: POTC belong to Disney, but this story belongs to me! (Does it make sense?) (That's what I thought...)
Freedom is not about doing what you want. Freedom is about choosing between doing what you want, and not doing what you want, or maybe even sometimes choosing between not doing what you want, and occasionally not doing what you do not want.
And even that, only if you demand the description, instead of the experience. Instead of making up your mind, and leaving the past which is either powerless, or overwhelming; the present which is either too plain, or too embellished; and the future that you have never dreamt of, but which is easily attainable, safe, predictable, risk-resistant.
Elizabeth stood at the bow of the Black Pearl watching Port Royal growing darker, dimmer, less visible under the night, dark, Caribbean sky. It was late in the evening, and at the following morning they were going to sail away from here, and she did not know when would be the next time she will see the town again.
The celebration must have not been finished yet. She could almost hear the music playing... Or maybe it was just her imagination. She smiled thinking about the wedding, about the vows, which were replaying themselves in her head involuntarily, but she enjoyed listening to the words nonetheless. Never has she read any poem that would sound more beautiful than those phrases. And she really felt every word of it. She meant every letter.
Some of the guests had scrutinized her, and Jack, making some deliberately loud supposedly whispered remarks, but... she did not care. She was happy that her father was there, that he had finally accepted her choice, and maybe even (although she knew that it will probably take him years to admit) he came to actually like Jack. (As if it was at all possible not to like him, she thought with a smile.)
It was also a rare occasion to see all the members of the crew dressed up in regular, that is "civilized" (as Philip Fairwood put it) clothes. Philip Fairwood... Elizabeth thought back to that day when she had found Jack in Tortuga, when she had come to find him, because he had kept coming in dreams...
And then the night in Philip Fairwood's house, and the morning, and Jack sleeping... no: pretending to be sleeping in a chair, and her, kissing him, and him saying that he had almost thought that she was never going to do this...
"Thinking about something pleasant, luv?"
Elizabeth shivered caught off guard by Jack's voice.
"No... I mean... yes", she answered leaning her head against his shoulder, as he slipped his arms around her waist from behind. "It's a beautiful night", she whispered looking at the stars above.
"Which one do you want, Lizzie?", asked Jack in serious tone of voice, looking up at the sky as well.
"What do you mean?", Elizabeth blinked, confused, turning her head, so she could see the expression on his face.
"I mean the stars", replied Jack with a smile flickering across his face. "Which star do you want?"
Elizabeth wrinkled her forehead suspiciously, and spun around to come face to face with her husband.
"Aye", Jack pulled her closer with a smirk.
"I do know that the ocean is yours, but I have not been informed that the sky is yours as well", she said trying to keep a straight face. "Unless, of course, your offer is only a bluff", she added challengingly, raising her eyebrows.
Jack tilted his head back in astonishment at the word "bluff". "A bluff?", he repeated indignantly. "Well, I think you will have to make up for this accusation, darling wife", he smiled with a glimpse of mischief in his eyes, leaning towards Elizabeth.
"If you can prove it wrong, darling husband", she teased, turning her head if only slightly, but enough to make Jack's lips land on her cheek instead of her mouth.
Jack sighed with mock-resignation, and propping her chin with his hand, said with pretended disbelief: "Seven hours after the wedding and you're arguing with your lawfully rightfully wedded husband already, luv?"
"I'm not arguing, I'm merely conversing", she explained solemnly, her eyes laughing.
"Ah", acknowledged Jack with a grin. "But perhaps we should convert this conversation into something more conventional in the light of the occasion, aye?" He tightened his embrace, and kissed her softly on the lips.
As much as she did not want to, Elizabeth managed to brake the kiss. "What about the stars?", she inquired, narrowing her eyes.
"What about them?", asked Jack nonchalantly, burying his head into her hair, and placing light kisses along her neck.
"You asked me", Elizabeth closed her eyes, "which one do I want", she said in a faltering whisper, wrapping her hands around his neck.
"Which one", he looked up at her, and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, "do you want to sail to, 'Lizbeth", he corrected her question, clarifying his meaning, or at least so it seemed.
"Which-", started Elizabeth, still not happy with the answer, but stopped in mid-sentence, suddenly feeling herself being lifted up in the air, as Jack picked her up, and began carrying her in his arms.
She turned her head to take a look of Port Royal yet. It was so quiet, so distant now... Or maybe it was the Pearl that was quiet? There was nobody else on the ship but them right now, and it seemed so surreal, only the silence blended with the soft, humming sound of calm waves brushing against the ship.
Jack opened the door to the Captain's Quarters, and gently put Elizabeth down.
"So what did you mean-", she wanted to pursue the stars topic further, but trailed off at the sight around her. "Jack!", she exclaimed, smiling.
The cabin was flooded with flowers. All kind of flowers (maybe even too many kinds of flowers...) in all the imaginable colors: red roses, yellow daffodils, violet crocuses, orange tulips, white lilies... The scent was sweet, overwhelming, and intoxicating. Elizabeth walked hurriedly around the room looking and smiling at every flower.
"Where did you get all these?", she asked pulling Jack in an embrace.
"I've no idea. They were already here when I woke up this morning", replied Jack defensively.
"Jack!", Elizabeth laughed, and pulled him into a kiss. He held her close, his hands entangling in her hair. Elizabeth slid her hands under Jack's suit, and pulled it off his shoulders.
"Who made you wear that, Jack?", she whispered with as amused smile.
He looked at her, and she felt the world slowly beginning to spin around, as his eyes seemed suddenly darker, undecipherable, serious. He ran his hand across her face without breaking the eye contact with her.
"So many times I thought that I'll never see you again", he said thoughtfully.
She watched the serious expression on his face with fascination. It was the expression that she knew that not many people have known of, that not many people would have believed in. It was not a part of the legend. It was not in the books. It was not what Captain Jack Sparrow could have been accused of: the seriousness. And she liked that. Not only because of the mystery shadow that it bestowed upon him, but also because it was rare, it was something private, personal, a part of him cut off from the real world around them.
It was what has always fascinated her in the legend: the truth behind it, the invisible part, the unwritten chapters, the amendments that no one bothered neither to write nor even discover. The unknown Captain Jack Sparrow. The Captain Jack Sparrow that only she could reach, and encompass. Her Captain Jack Sparrow. Her husband.
"What is it, Lizzie?", he asked in a soft tone of voice, noticing a smile flickering across her face.
"I just thought how fine it is to be married", she whispered, leaning her head against his shoulder.
"Oh, yes", agreed Jack with a smirk, playing with the strings on the back of her wedding dress.
Elizabeth closed her eyes, giving in to the mood, to the darkened room, to the scent of the flowers... She felt the quiescence enveloping her, but it was not the quiescence she used to dread, the false peacefulness of balls and corsets, of meaningless conversations and stiff politeness, of predictable hours, days, and years, from which there was no escape, no way out. Not that she knew many people who sought a way out, no. Sometimes she even had an impression that nobody else around her felt threatened by the ordinary course of life. She did not think that anybody else felt terrified at the very thought of letting the life flow, as it pleased, without doing anything to provoke a commotion, a disaster even, aimed at breaking the spell of the seemingly unchanging reality...
The dress slipped off her shoulders, and she shivered at the touch of Jack's fingertips on her bare skin.
"How can we sail to the stars?", she asked in a barely audible whisper, suddenly remembering their recent conversation. She slowly opened her eyes, moving his hand across Jack's shirt in search of the buttons. She found them, and began unfastening them leisurely.
"Well", she did not see it, but she could feel a smile forming on his lips, before he brushed them against her collarbones. "Seeing that we cannot count on our compass to endow us with a reasonable heading", he cupped her face in his hands, and smiled at her with his eyes aglitter, "we have to follow the stars."
Elizabeth laughed, and tilted her head to the side, kissing his hand which was still cupping her face.
"You have to pick a star, and then we just follow it", whispered Jack, bringing her face closer to his.
A glimpse of amusement flashed in Elizabeth's eyes. "You mean after we sail away from the Shipwreck Cove?", she asked, brushing her lips against his.
"Aye", said Jack with a sigh.
"And you have no idea what do they want, Jack?", Elizabeth inquired in a low tone of voice, with a hardly traceable tone of suspicious in her voice.
Instead of giving her an answer, he kissed her, and it alerted her for some reason.
"Jack!" she exclaimed in a tone of voice that he knew only too well. "Tell me what you know!"
He looked at her quizzically, and studied her face for a moment, until all of a sudden he crashed his lips against hers catching her off guard completely.
"I know that I luv ye, luv, savvy?", he whispered feverishly, gasping for air.
"Savvy", breathed Elizabeth, forgetting about everything else, but that moment, that pirate, that husband of hers, that night, that... noise. Noise? "Jack, did you hear that?", asked Elizabeth, wrinkling her forehead.
And there it was again. A loud, metalic, jingling sound.
"Aye", nodded Jack irritably.
They stood in silence for a moment, listening.
"Well, let's forget about it", proposed Jack cheerfully, resuming unfastening the dress.
"No, no, no", Elizabeth shook her head, raising her index to her lips thoughtfully. "Shh. Listen, Jack. Again."
Jack rolled his eyes, and listened. And unfortunately, Elizabeth was right. The noise persisted, and it was still audible.
"Let's ignore it", said Jack looking at Elizabeth hopefully.
Elizabeth laughed. "How can we ignore it? Maybe somebody is stealing the ship!"
The idea caught Jack's interest, but after a moment of hesitation, he said matter-of-factly:
"But we are on the ship", said Jack, somewhat upset.
"Well, maybe somebody is stealing the ship with us", said Elizabeth shrugging her shoulders.
Jack sighed. "Why should anybody be stealing the ship with us?"
"I think it's a waste of time talking about the possible motives, and instead we should just go, and see what is it", Elizabeth turned around with a smile. "Could you fasten it, it's falling down", she said indicating the dress.
Jack stared at the fastenings. "I have a weird impression that it has happened before", he muttered fastening the dress reluctantly. When he finished, he spun Elizabeth around, and pulled her into a kiss. "If it's a regular person I'll kill it", he stated menacingly.
Elizabeth laughed, and they walked out of the cabin to find the source of strange noise.
After searching for some time, they finally arrived at the conclusion that the sounds were coming from the dining quarters. They stood by the kitchen door, listening. Yes, something was happening in the kitchen. They exchanged knowing glances, and after pulling out his pistol, in one quick movement, Jack cracked the door open, and rushed inside.
"Oh bugger", muttered Jack.
Elizabeth looked over Jack's shoulder, and blinked disbelievingly, before bursting out laughing.
"Lizzie, please, can I shoot him?", asked Jack pleadingly in a low tone of voice.
"Be my guest", said Elizabeth with a smile.
"Good", Jack cocked his pistol.
"Wait!!", the man exclaimed finally, alarmed by the cocking of the pistol. "You can't shoot me."
"Why not?", asked Jack, his pistol still aimed at the man.
"You have no reason", replied the man (this time without a knife).
Jack sneered slightly at this. "You've no idea."
"All right, all right", Elizabeth decided to intervene. "What are you doing here?", she addressed the man patiently.
Jack sighed. "Let's just shoot him. Please."
"I'm putting away the dishes", said the man defensively, rubbing his forehead.
"Why?!", Jack and Elizabeth asked in the accidental unison.
"Because I'm a cook! Remember?!", exclaimed the cook, clearly upset at this point.
"What are ye doing on me ship!", shouted Jack irritably.
Elizabeth tapped him lightly on the shoulder, presumably to calm him down a little.
"I'm working!", shouted back the cook.
"I had not, did not, have not, am not, would not, and will not hire you!", stated Jack firmly, with growing impatience.
"It's alright, my dear, don't get upset", said Elizabeth, tapping Jack on the shoulder again, finding the situation rather amusing, and holding back laughter caused not only by the scene itself, but also by her own words. She had heard wives seriously talking like that to their husbands, and she just wanted to try it out herself. But somehow it just made her laugh.
"I don't need anybody to hire me. I'm hired already!", retorted the cook triumphantly.
"By whom?!", snorted Jack indignantly.
The silence fell. The cook sighed, tired of shouting. Jack and Elizabeth slowly turned around to see who said those words. The voice sounded unpleasantly familiar...
"And I would also appreciate if ye could get off my ship as quickly as possible", said Barbossa with a sweetish grin, aiming two pistols at them, one at Jack, and one at Elizabeth.
"That's the third time I've had to watch that man sail away with my ship", said Jack in a blank tone of voice, standing next to Elizabeth on the pier.
"We will get her back", whispered Elizabeth reassuringly, lacing her hand through Jack's arm.
"Aye", muttered Jack sadly, staring absent-mindedly into the distance. "The Pearl is gone", said Jack in half a whisper, shrugging his shoulders.
Elizabeth glanced at him, sighing.
"The rum is gone", he shook his head.
Elizabeth looked at him, narrowing her eyes.
"What's left?", he asked rhetorically, looking straight ahead.
Elizabeth could not quite make out the expression on his face in the darkness, but she had an impression that there was a very faint trace of amusement in his voice.
"Oh, well... I don't know...", she whispered with a sigh, looking away.
She felt his eyes shifting from the horizon to her. He turned her around, and whispered into her ear: "I know what's left, Mrs. Sparrow-"
To his surprise, she drew back violently, and looked at him frowning. Jack blinked, baffled.
"I would have never expected you, of all people to say such thing!", she exclaimed indignantly.
"What thing?", Jack stared at her, puzzled.
"What thing?!", she shook her head in astonishment, but seeing that he really was clueless at the moment, she tugged on his shirt, leaned into him very close, and in a frighteningly solemn whisper, trying to sound as serious as possible, she corrected him through her gritted teeth: "It's Mrs. Captain Sparrow."
"Ah!", Jack grinned, enlightened, but then the grin turned into a roguish smile.
Elizabeth looked at him searchingly.
"Actually", started Jack, closing her in a tight embrace. "It's Mrs. Sparrow right now...", he said teasingly.
"How come?", Elizabeth stared at him with her eyes wide open.
"Well", Jack leaned towards her, and it seemed to her that the stars above them were reflected in his eyes. "It takes more than a ceremony to become Mrs. Captain Sparrow, luv."
With that, he pressed his lips against hers, and she closed her eyes, trapped in freedom; finally trapped in the long-awaited freedom of his arms.