Never had a sunset been so unwanted. And inexplicably, it seemed to be lowering faster than usual, its descent edging the ocean with an emerald glow.
William Turner found himself hating something that he had enjoyed watching many times before. But now, when the sunset meant more than the close of another day, he began to loathe the coming of night. To leave Elizabeth—his wife—for ten years, never to look upon her face, hold her closely, listen to her voice? It was, quite simply, an unbearable thought.
Gathering his wife close, Will buried his face in her hair, smelling both the sea and a scent he had dubbed simply "Elizabeth"; he couldn't define her scent, just like he could never define the feelings he held for her.
He felt her sigh against him, and in response, he kissed her lovely, swanlike neck. Although her surname was no longer Swann, (and the thought of her as Elizabeth Turner made him irrationally proud, he noted) Will had always thought her maiden name had been rather apt in describing her: physically beautiful yet devoted to those she loved.
"Will," Elizabeth murmured, disturbing the calm that had settled over them. "The sun has almost set…" Her voice trailed away.
Will glanced up, glaring at the sun drifting towards the ocean. "I should return to The Dutchman," he muttered dutifully. He made no move to stand, however.
Another moment of silence passed; then, untangling herself from his arms, Elizabeth stood and offered him her hand. She smiled sadly. "You have a duty to fulfill, Captain."
Will noted how her once pale hand had turned golden over the last few months, and calluses even covered her lady-like palm. The governor's daughter, now the Pirate King, Will mused as he took her hand.
And the blacksmith, now the usher of the dead, he added morosely.
Will took her hand and stood, facing the setting sun. It was time to begin his duty, time to leave Elizabeth… Looking down at his wife, at her brave attempt at a smile while her eyes glistened with tears she refused to shed, Will felt his chest ache—despite its hollowness. He may still be alive, but once he returned to that wretched ship, it would only be in the barest sense. Elizabeth was—and had always been—his world, his other half.
They started for the beach in silence, their fingers linked together. When they arrived at the shore, the only sound was the waves crashing against the sand, a few gulls cawing overhead. For a few moments the pair watched the sun set towards the horizon, its glow a warm, brilliant orange.
Will's gaze, however, eventually strayed to the chest sitting upon the rock in front of them, its contents worth more than silver or gold. Although it safeguarded his heart, Will felt only disgust for the object; it served to symbolize the curse that would part him from Elizabeth for ten long years. Stepping towards it, he hefted the weight in his hands before turning back to his wife.
"Will you keep it safe?" he asked, already knowing the answer.
Coming to him, Elizabeth replied, "Yes." Her voice seemed to catch in her throat. "Yes," she added rather desperately.
Will allowed Elizabeth to take the chest from him; guilt clawed at him, knowing of the burden he was making her bear. "It's always belonged to you," he murmured. My heart has always been yours.
Leaning towards her, he allowed himself one last moment of weakness; touching his forehead to hers, Will closed his eyes and focused on this last touch, this last sound of her breathing. When the chest in between them brushed against him slightly, though, he tore away from her. His duty—his curse—would not be forgotten.
As Will walked away from his wife to the ship that awaited his arrival, Elizabeth cried his name. Suddenly she was in his arms again, and when she threw her arms around his neck, he kissed her with all that he had to give. Elizabeth, Elizabeth…he murmured against her lips. It was a kiss that trembled between them, that realized the long, lonely years ahead. So soon wed, so soon torn apart by a touch of destiny—despair and bitterness tinged their kiss and, like before, too soon ended.
"Keep a weather eye on the horizon," Will murmured.
And then he was gone.
Long Author's Note of DOOM: I promise the next chapters will be longer. But angst just works so well when it's short and sweet (or so I tell myself).
Anyway, sorry for the delay—I have actually been rather busy for the last couple of weeks (don't act so surprised). And, yes, I changed my pen name because I love confusing people.
Let me know what you think, as always.
PS: If you didn't already know, swans happen to mate for life. :)