Notes: I wrote this ficlet very shortly before the last movie came out but just didn't have it quite polished up before then, so it is not really consistent with the ending. This fic is sort of a reflection on the way I was sure the story was going to end for Elizabeth that, I think, still gives Jack's role in her life its deserved importance.
Sometimes she dreams of the night she spent left on that island with Jack and nobody else around. The world looked so immensely huge around them then as they sat on the beach of that small and limited island surrounded by endless dark sea and with countless stars above them. In the dreams, the coolness of the sea breeze on her skin as well as the warmth of rum in her veins seem as vivid and real as when she was really there. And other sensations: how after she had been dancing in circles around the fire for so long the world around her seemed to swirl and spin, and then when they collapsed to the ground together and she lazily settled back against his chest, she was vaguely aware of hearing his strong heartbeat for just a moment.
It is strange for her to remember now that for all they knew that night, they were going to die there. With Jack with her, somehow she had not been afraid. Maybe they were going to die, but at least they would out on this land where there was wind in their hair and sand under their bare feet, not confined by bars and rotting away in the dark.
Perhaps the life Elizabeth has now has its confinements. As much as she might have fallen in love with the sea ever since her path in life kept crossing with those of pirates, there are other things she loves. When she married Will, she had no doubt she was making a choice she would not regret. Or at least the choice she would regret less. The life she has chosen does not have the complete liberty she could have had. She has gone back to wearing dresses of rich brocade too heavy to run in and which she must be careful not to get dirty. She has to think of her children before thinking of herself. And because she is married, nothing she does can be her own business alone.
But one day she will be too old to be running about practicing with swords for fun, and instead happy to watch her grandchildren playing games and pretending to be fearsome pirate captains. She never would have imagined before actually starting a family that she would ever feel this way, but even after all her adventures at sea of the kind that sailors tell stories about and that she loved to read about as a young girl, it is becoming a mother that she regards as her most important accomplishment. And sharing all of her life with someone she loves she does not see as a restriction as much as a blessing.
For she has found that there are some ways that being in love and not being free are the same thing, and perhaps this is why her choice was not so difficult to make. Maybe she always knew that even if the kind of life she lived made it possible for her to be a part of Jack Sparrow's, she would never be able to completely possess him. The sound of the hard thumping of his heart in his chest had always stayed with her, like the wings of a bird beating in desperation to get away. She has known since that night on the island that she got to know Captain Jack Sparrow the man of flesh and bones instead of the one she'd only known from pages of books that he is a man much too eager to run from anything he sees as a cage to be conquered. One might as well try to take control of the ocean.
And so she is happy with what she has become, but she sometimes allows herself to go out for a walk on the beach with her feet bare in the sand, and just thinks of what she could have been. Sometimes she will put a shell to her ear and hear the wide open sound of the sea inside, and it will remind her of when she briefly rested her head against Jack's chest as they sat under the stars. And when there are those nights that she dreams about being back there, she finds comfort in knowing that dreaming is one freedom she will always have, and there are parts of her as well that still no one possesses.