Disclaimer: not mine Fandom: Pirates of the Carribbean Spoilers: At World's End Rating: PG Length: 1700.
Notes: Um. Yeah. Ten years gives us a lot of time... I think I have everything in here I felt the need to say. This is LizardbethJ's fault.

Practicalities by ALC Punk!

It's an easy matter to secrete the heart of Captain Turner. Elizabeth, rather grimly amused, considers that she is also now Captain Turner.

Returning to the 'Black Pearl', Elizabeth thanks Barbossa and Jack for their courtesy before heading back to the ship which she had been gifted. The crew appear almost in the mood for mutiny, until she trades half of them at their first stop at Tortuga. The new crew members know little enough, and it's there that Elizabeth elects to change the name of her ship.

Rechristened the 'Tia Dalma', the ship heads out to sea again, in search of gold and booty.

The first months are hard, back-breaking labor, as Elizabeth holds onto her captaincy (and the kingship, which is a laughable thing in and of itself) by a thread. There are always challengers, mutineers who believe they can lead far better than their lady-captain.

Nothing quite so bad as Barbossa's mutiny against Jack Sparrow occurs, though there are a few close calls.

The other problem is that Beckett was right. The world has changed, and Elizabeth isn't sure it's for the better or not. Piracy isn't profitable anymore. Her crew are actually rather shocked and appalled when they start taking legitimate cargo hauling jobs. She shares the profits, so they don't object.

A letter from her father--a lie, of course--eventually reaches her in Tortuga (she's not sure how the British mail found her, but supposes it's simply a matter of guess-work. Elizabeth Swann left no forwarding address, and Captain Turner is a pirate). The letter is succinct, telling her that he was called back to England, and not to worry about her.

Elizabeth takes it to the nearest office of the East India company. The manager there has simply no idea who he's dealing with until she's got her sword at his throat.

He makes a bargain for what he thinks is his life, and Elizabeth walks away a free woman with enough money to live her life secure. Money she carefully invests for herself, her crew... and the child she's come to realize she's carrying.

The child is not an easy burden. A part of her is thrilled to have some piece of Will with her (other than his heart, which she long ago hid where no one would find it)--it's a stupid sentiment, one she recognizes from bad novels and the trappings of the court she used to frequent with her father. Another, far larger part, is increasingly angry at a fate which demands she give up the life she wants to care for something she never planned.

At five months, she no longer feels safe on the sea. As much as she loves the feel of ocean beneath her and sky above her, she's slowing down. Her body is betraying her as it grows larger, reflexes shifting and changing. Watching the 'Tia Dalma' sail without her, she has the feeling it won't come back. Not to her, at least. And if the look her first mate had given her was any indication, it would only have been a matter of time before he tried to challenge her anyway.

Retirement from piracy (even one so commercial as her current endeavors) is a hard thing.

It grates on her nerves, having nothing to do, so Elizabeth takes an interest in the local politics. She remembers, grimly, that Jack once claimed the Pirate Brethren were politics at its finest. She's not so sure he was wrong. Here, she can't stab a man for being annoying, though she can glare and use words to rip his arguments to shreds.

Despite the fact that most women are accorded little respect in public office, Elizabeth finds herself on their council. It's a small enough position, but gratifying when they listen to her. Often as not, they ignore her for being a woman, until she talks rings around them.

At eight months, she's as large as a bloody boat, with swollen everything and a curse on her lips for every man who dares contradict her. She bows out from the council, citing her health. Which, much as she might be loathe to admit it, is causing her to be unable to think as clearly. Simply one more thing she can chalk on the ledger of reasons to never get pregnant again, she decides grimly.

The 'Tia Dalma' returns to port, bringing cargo and news. Her first mate suggests she give up pirating for good, since she must have forgotten her sea legs at this point. And despite her bulk, Elizabeth's sword still finds his throat.

Afterwards, she wonders that she still has the stomach for piracy. In a moment of black humor, she considers the size of her belly and decides that perhaps she should eat those who oppose her. Or have it put about that she does.

She goes into labor ten days later. It's too early, she thinks, as the midwife coaxes her, with cool cloths on her head and soft words.

They're not the words she needs, and she rages a little at the poor woman, unable to keep her fear and grief from overwhelming her. The baby could be injured from the early birth, unfinished, and she suddenly doesn't want that. She might bitterly loathe its existence, but there is some part of it that she loves, as she loves Will.

Dawn breaks, and she's still writhing, sweat drying into a tacky film on her body as the baby takes its time.

The midwife drifts away to make tea.

Elizabeth knows she isn't alone from the way the air cools. The smell of the sea in her nostrils makes her force her eyes open. She's even got a knife in her hand when Tia Dalma--Calypso, now--kneels beside her bed. There's something dark around her, a sense of old power and lesser pain. "Now, then."

"Get away from me," Elizabeth manages, brandishing the blade.

"Is that any way to greet a friend?" Easily, Calypso takes her wrist, removing the knife and setting it to the side. "I not be here to harm you, not in the way you 'spect."

The accent is still there, thick, coating the back of Calypso's strangely-shaped mouth as the sweat coats the back of Elizabeth's throat. "Please... don't harm my child."

Fingers brush over her distended abdomen, and Calypso clicks disparagingly, "I not in the business of harming children, Captain Turner." Something like a chuckle escapes her, "My pirate king."

"Hard to be a pirate king from here."

"Isn't that always the way of it?" A shake of her head, and Elizabeth tastes salt and brine.

"What do you want?"

"Always, you question." Calypso clicks again, hands firm on Elizabeth's skin, "This child, it will do great things."

"Why?"

Calypso pauses in her movements. Her eyes meet Elizabeth's, and the darkness there is suddenly human, for a moment. "Because there is love between you." She shakes her head, the humanity gone, and laughs, "And perhaps, because I demand some sort of payment for the years enslaved to man." She bends over and kisses Elizabeth's belly.

Immediately, there is pain. Elizabeth arches up with it, body straining--as though someone has pulled a cord, unfurling a sail, or dropping a cannon into the sea with her attached to it. She isn't sure whether she screams or not, she merely remembers the sound. It goes on and on, until there is nothing but the scent of the sea, the tang of blood in her mouth, and the sound of a tiny cry.

And there is the pain. The endless pain, throbbing and twisting as it rips her from neck to navel in her dreams.

Waking from the tangle of nightmare and shadow, there is dull pain left in her body. Her mind recalls someone talking about what it felt like to be shot. This, she thinks, is worse. A movement in her arms jerks her firmly awake.

She can't say anything.

Tiny blues eyes stare at her from a misshapen, strange little face. For a moment, she isn't sure what to think of the child, and then she yawns at Elizabeth, tiny little mouth expressing disdain for the world at large.

It's suddenly not so hard to think of giving up her independence for a scrap of humanity.

"Hello," she whispers, finger brushing over the baby's cheek.

"She's lovely, Mrs. Turner," asserts the midwife as she bustles in. "Born right as rain this morning." She checks below the covers, fingers gentle, "Have you considered a name for her, ma'am?"

"I..." For a moment, she can't think. And then the answer is obvious, in a way. "Jeanette. Jeanette Mary Turner." For her mother, and for James Norrington, who'd sacrificed himself that she and her crew might live. She hopes he's at peace wherever he is.

"Very well, ma'am."

The following days are hard--far harder than the days after Beckett arrested Will. This isn't delving into the underworld to find word or rumors of Jack Sparrow. This is living an honest life, with a child to raise. Some nights, she curls in despair at ever succeeding.

And yet, in the days that follow there is also a curious fulfillment in holding her daughter and standing on the porch as the sun sets. In knowing that this isn't the end of it all.

She will go back to the seas, will stand upon her own deck again and taste the salt on the breeze. And she'll do it with her child at her side. For if there is one thing Elizabeth is determined about, it is that Jeanette is not going to grow up fearing pirates.

Well, not unless she has reason.

It will be dangerous, of course. It will be harrowing and tricky, to manage a child while sailing. But she's determined to try--as she was determined to find Jack, so long ago. As she's determined just as equally to find her husband again in nine years. She will sail the seas, she will carry cargo, and she will loot and profit. 'Till, at the end of it all, she will go to her husband a free woman. As she has always been free.

A sigh escapes the baby, and she starts to fuss. Elizabeth hums to her, teasing her with melody, but not lyrics until it's clear she needs more.

The sun is gone, and the stars are out as she opens her mouth, and sings softly, "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me..."

-f-