Disclaimer: Mine, this is not.
Marty visits her two months before she gives birth. He looks at the ground abashedly for a full ten minutes (and she thinks of that ridiculous fairy tale about the seven dwarves her father had read her long ago…the Grimm Brothers, or some such tale) and then goes horribly red when she offers him a seat and goes about making tea.
She has cut her hair, he notices, and she smiles as she hands him delicate china, the set she'd received anonymously three months prior, wrapped in brilliant violet silk, the teapot cradled in a tiny, worn tricorn hat.
She looks nice. Pretty.
He turns bright red.
Barbossa comes to ask her to join him in search of Jack, and looks panicked when he sees her large belly.
Her water breaks all over his newly shined boots.
He cleans the babe, expertly swaddles him in the silk by her bedside, and coos and cradles the boy. He sets him softly in his mother's arms.
Jonathan Nathaniel Passer, he says. Knew a man, he informs her, who kept the name, only he disguised it like the rest of him.
Nathan, she tells him, is a very nice name for a boy.
One day, shopping in the village, she bumps into a man who recognizes her. His name is Holland, and he had the pleasure of working under Commodore Norrington.
She smiles at him, and he smiles down at Nathan.
Good wishes to her, he says, and to her son.
Asks what his name is.
Nathan William, she says, and then stops, unsure.
Nathan William Passer, she finally says, and he gives her an odd look. Tips his hat to her. Walks away.
She is sweaty and tired, her hair pulled back in a haphazard bun, tendrils curling hot against her shoulders.
Captain Teague appears at her fence with Nathan on his shoulders, and she has a strange sinking feeling, like this is bad news.
He never mentions Jack. Not once, and he stays from the time the sun had just begun to get hot to when it has already set to the west. Informs her she is still King. That the job has few responsibilities, but if another Court is called, she must resume her command, or surrender it.
Nathan is in the next room, playing with Gregory, the stray he'd rescued from under the wheels of a moving cart (she'd nearly fainted, but Nathan had come away unscathed) and he is humming the chorus of "Yo Ho."
Elizabeth merely gives Teague a pointed look.
She is five and twenty, and Barbossa has returned with a trunk full of gifts.
Pintel and Ragetti saved up for months, he says, handing her a beautiful pistol, with what she is sure must be an ivory handle. Bought it legally and everything.
The money was stolen, she counters, and he chuckles.
Cotton found it on a beach in the tropics. He points to the conch shell delicately shrouded in coarse fabric. Hear the ocean in it, you can.
She smiles as Nathan does just that.
Marty got her a hat. Gibbs had someone write down a few of his stories, for the boy. Hector proffers a rolled up scroll. A treasure map, he says with a wink, and finds it is caricatures of Will, Jack, the Pearl crew, Barbossa, and herself. The writing down the side is Japanese, he tells her. No idea what it says.
Lastly, he hands her a smaller chest, gives her a key, waits as she opens it. He doesn't say who it is from.
A small glass bottle, inside an almost exact replica of the Pearl. A music box, with two dancers who twirl around and around and around to the tune, stopping when it does.
A small, wooden sword.
She doesn't bother to ask. They both of them know who it is from.
She is humming "Hoist the Colors" as she sits by Rosemary Beatrix's bedside. Rose is dying. She knows it. But she looks up at Elizabeth with a smile.
Tell me about pirates, Captain Swann, she says.
Elizabeth tells her about James Norrington and Gibbs, Marty, Pintell and Ragetti. Jack the Monkey, and Cotton's parrot, even about Davy Jones.
Rose looks up at her through fevered eyes. And what about the one she loved?
Who says there was only one?
Nathan has been eight for a full day. He is not happy.
Gregory has died. She remembers, at his age, watching her mother falter, fade, and evanesce. She never had a pet to prepare her for the inevitable. She is quite sure it hardened her.
He cries into her shoulder as she rocks him, and her heart aches for her little boy.
A gift, she says as he stares morosely at his dinner. It is a book, full of vivid pictures and big words she is sure the gift giver uses constantly in confusing ways. He smiles, and her heavy heart lightens.
She thinks she will die. Her chest aches. She feels constantly damp. When she has covers, she is burning, when she has none she is freezing. She won't let Nathan in to see her, and he is frightened, worried sick.
When she coughs, everything feels like it is being cut to pieces.
A soft word. A comforting touch.
She fades to black as someone swings Nathan up, carrying him like a small child, singing songs in a voice deep and strong.
She feels old.
He is there. Standing in her kitchen, stirring a pot of something as Nathan reads out of one of the books he's accumulated over the years. Nathan stumbles over a word, and Jack turns, bends over her son's shoulder, and slowly helps him pronounce it.
She feels frail when he looks up at her.
Nathan leaps from his seat, the book nailing Jack in the nose.
Jack says you were feeling really bad. But that I made you better. Did I make you better?
She holds him close, breathing into his hair, but her eyes are trained on Jack.
Yes, she says, holding Jack's steady gaze. Yes. You made me better.
She kisses Nathan's brow, then both cheeks, and smiles as he tugs her closer to kiss her on the lips.
She pats his hair softly.
Jack, too, Nathan says, giggling like only a little boy could. Jack stares at her for a long moment.
She leans forward, her lips pressing against Jack's cheek. She feels a jolt.
Nathan giggles again, and Jack pulls the blanket close around him, ruffles the hair she'd just patted down. G'night, Nathan mumbles, already half asleep.
Jack is quiet for a very long time.
G'night, he says, leaning into Elizabeth's side, his breath hot against her neck just before he kisses the hair above her ear.
He is nine and a half, he tells his father, and he doesn't have to sleep until later. Will laughs.
They don't tuck him in until late, and they take their time on the way to the bedroom.
His hands are far too soft for a man of the sea, she thinks, just before her world explodes in a cascade of white.
He brushes hair from her face, after, curling them both in a blanket as the sea breeze wafts through the window. He gazes at the trinkets about her room, and his eyes cloud for a moment.
There are others, he says, and she smiles at him.
Not others. Just one.
He nods. His son needs someone to be there for him. He can see now what had been so familiar about the way Nathan was.
And she needs someone. To hold her. To care for her. To smile at her when she is in a foul mood. To bring her off her high horse – because Lord knows sometimes she gets a little too high and mighty.
He takes a bite out of the grapefruit, and juice squirts out at her. She blinks her eyes closed, and when she opens them he is staring at her lips.
He quickly leans forward, takes her bottom lip between his, suckles lightly, then kisses her fully.
She is too surprised to stop him. And if she responds to the kiss, it is only because she hasn't been kissed in years.
He pulls away.
"I thought once was more than enough?" she finally asks.
He slides another slice of the tangy citrus into his mouth. "You had some juice, just there," he explains, his finger tracing her bottom lip.
The fountain of youth, he informs her. He has one leg up on her table, has leaned her chair back on two legs, and she can see Nathan eyeing the two legs with a look so devious she wonders if Jack will steal it from him.
She brushes back a piece of hair that has begun to bristle. Flexes fingers that feel a little worn. Cuba? she queries.
His smile is arresting.
A flurry of action. Something flies toward Jack. The chair spins up onto one leg, and Jack catches whatever went careening toward him. The other three legs touch the floor.
You're good, he informs Nathan, peeling skin from the orange. But I'm better.
She is sure she must be getting younger, instead of just retaining her current age.
She feels stronger, wilder. She has the urge to dance. The wrinkles she was sure were beginning about her eyes she is sure are gone now.
Jack takes her in his arms, spins her wildly, and as she sees the bonfire, she glances at him.
We're devils, we're black sheep, we're really bad eggs!
She takes a drink from the bottle of rum he has been holding behind her back.
Somewhere to her left, she hears someone – Barbossa? – swearing loudly.
Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
They stumble, fall together in a heap in the sand, and she throws the half-full rum bottle into the raging fire as Jack leans up to kiss her.
He saves Nathan from the Spanish Armada single-handedly, but it comes at a heavy price. He surrenders himself, and Elizabeth thinks she will surely kill him.
Immortal, love, he shoots back.
Immortality doesn't erase scars.
Will climbs aboard the ship in the dead of night, and he comes out with a moody Jack Sparrow.
Could have saved meself, if I'd had a few more minutes, he grumbles as Elizabeth clings to him in the longboat.
A few more minutes and they would have been trying to figure out what could kill you, if a hanging couldn't.
Captain Jack Sparrow smiles. I'd have lived to tell the tale.
Elizabeth swears she'll never go near the fountain of youth again.
Both men stare at her as if she is mad. You'll die.
Her chin is set rather high as she stares at them both.
There are worse things.
She knows she is dying. She can feel it, deep in her bones.
She was partially true to her word. She went back only twice. Altogether she's added thirty years to her life.
But now she looks fifty. She feels fifty. Her joints creak. She is weary.
But she is alive with color, and sound, and the wind in her hair and the sea at her feet.
She was born eighty-five years ago, and she can still see the pulse of life that is around her. Still feel her father's soft kiss on her forehead. Still remember the first time she'd held a sword.
Jack has stopped going to the fountain. He stays with her now, aboard her small ship. He misses Nathan. He does not want to live as a young man when Elizabeth has embraced age. By actual aging standards, he is nearing one hundred years. Because of his stretch toward immortality, he is two years younger than her.
He cradles her against him, as she plays with the small growth off his chin. He cut the braids when they started to gray.
I feel old, he says.
She breathes in deeply.
He chuckles. There are worse things.
She blinks into the sunlight as the longboat stops. The sand is warm under her feet.
Will stands before her, and she smiles at him.
I died, she says. He nods grimly. And Jack?
He takes her hand. He'll be here soon.
Elizabeth kisses him softly, and when he runs a hand through her hair it is long and dark, gleaming in the Caribbean sun. Her joints feel strong. She flexes her fingers and they spring comfortably.
I love you, she tells him. Goodbye.
He lets go of her, and she can feel him fading away as he stares up into the sun.
Marty visits her while she is waiting. She finds it ironic that she never really waited for Will. And now she is sitting on a beach waiting. For something.
He smiles at her, does not blush. Begins to tell her in gory detail how he'd ended up here. It is violent, and terribly frightening, and Elizabeth loves it.
She looks nice, he thinks. Her hair has grown long.
He smiles at her when she grows impatient.
Where is he? she thinks, but doesn't ask.
He gives her a knowing smile as he leaves.
Barbossa tosses his pistol on the ground beside her. The fire at her back is warm. The stars are bright.
Nathan William Passer, he tells her, was a great name.
She smiles at him. Better than Jack's?
He tries to suppress the mirthful laugh, fails miserably. Jack Sparrow? I never knew his real name.
Elizabeth frowns. But…
She tires of waiting. Stands, moves around the fire, and begins to walk.
With the sun high in the sky, she turns into the shade of the trees and finds James Norrington dipping his feet in a stream. He asks her what she is waiting for.
She informs him that she isn't waiting for anything.
And whatever it is that she isn't waiting for, he presumes, isn't coming quickly enough.
He probably went back to the fountain, she says softly. I don't know why I would wait for him.
You've been waiting for him since before you met him. Stop waiting. He always comes to you eventually.
She sings. Nathan sits be her side, and she sings pirate songs.
Tell me about pirates, her son says.
She tells him about Marty, Cotton, Barbossa, Pintel and Ragetti, James, and Davy Jones.
What about the ones you loved?
She looks at him.
What about them?
She feels young. She is running through a field of grass, and there is still dew on the ground, seeping through the bottom of her feet.
She can feel a presence all about her, something she knows she must have loved very much.
She reaches the end of the grass and stares out before her. There is sea, not far away, and beach right in front of her.
She doesn't want to step onto it.
He is there. Standing in the water, staring straight at her. Without a thought, she steps into the sand, and lets the diminutive pebbles scrunch, collecting in between her toes and on the bottoms of her moist feet.
She takes a flying leap and they both fall into the water, swirling around each other in the surf. He kisses her cheek.
She knows what the presence is. It is home.
They sing. We're beggars and blighters and ne'er do-well cads. Drink up me 'earties, yo ho.
Elizabeth trips over something, and pulls Jack down with her. He lands ungracefully atop her, and adjusts his position. They fit nicely.
He thought they would be punished.
Because they were sinful. Piratical. They lived unnaturally long lives.
Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads.
She nuzzles her face against his neck. Why would we be given all that, and then punished for it later?
He smiles against her hair. Thank Heavens it was your version we ended up with.
Elizabeth breathes in deeply, inhaling the scent she knows is Jack, and she blinks up at him. He bends forward to kiss her, and she bites his lip gently.
Kiss of Death, he bemoans.
Was it worth it?
His grin is lazy, his fingers trace patterns along the small of her back and up.
You have no idea.
up me 'earties, yo ho.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me.