AN: Thank you guys so much for all your comments! For everyone that complained that Will was being too assholey to Abby - well I hope you feel he's been redeemed :-)
The sequel is in the works, so keep a weather eye on the horizon...
Isla Del Aburrimiento, ten months later
The little cottage is modest, but clean and well kept. The crew had tactfully torn down her shack and begun from scratch when they built the small home. There is very little in it, just two rooms and a small open bit between them that she enjoys calling a foyer. There is a long divan in one room, where she theorizes that a guest could perhaps sleep on, should one ever appear, and a large bed in the other room. There are many cushions, some taken from plunder, some purchased at the island across the way and some made herself, as well as two straw ticks that are kept on the well-swept floor for the children. In the day they are shaken out and tucked away, only to be pulled out again at night. Many nights they don't bother, both children curl up in the big bed on either side of Momma. Though when Uncle Jack is there, the beds are neatly arranged for them in the other room long before bedtime comes.
Liam knows exactly – or as exactly as a nine year old boy can know – what goes on between Uncle Jack and his mother. He tries not to resent him, knowing that his mother hums now, even when he's gone. She is happy, and smiles in a way that reaches her eyes. But his dreams of Father coming home are dashed by this unfettered joy, and he can't help but resent it.
No one likes having their dreams crushed, after all.
When The Day comes, Uncle Jack has been by the house and gone again. Peggy – as Liam had taken to calling her, much to his mother's ire – had gone with him. "Just a bit of adventure," he'd promised, swearing to be back in a week's time. He had swung the small form of Liam's tiny sister onto his shoulders and she had gleefully begun using his dreadlocks as reigns.
It is Peggy who has made him accept Jack, finally. She smiles now, so much more than she had even before Mother was kidnapped. She laughs, though it is still less than most, and runs like other girls and boys her age. He never knows what made her so sad before, but it has lifted from her shoulders and thus from his. He feels freer now, unfettered by the weight of his unhappy family. He supposes he should thank Jack for it, but he believes that that is far beyond what one can expect from any boy of nine and one-quarter.
It is just he and Mother who stand atop the highest peak of their little island, and they watch anxiously a familiar ship. The flash of green announces an arrival, and his face lights up. It has been almost a year since he spent those few weeks aboard his father's ship, and naturally he is anxious to see him again.
Mother doesn't know that Father promised to take him aboard the Dutchman for a bit of adventure, and he is certain that there is no reason to tell her until the time is right.
Or better yet...he think he will let Father tell her. After all, he is only nine and one quarter, and she is a very...strong Mother.
Aboard the Black Pearl...
She still clutches that damned rabbit like it holds the meaning of life. It irritates him now, knowing exactly what kind of stories the thing has been telling her. It irritates him as well because he can't get anything out of it – he does not admit that he has tried, because Pirate Lords do not hold conversations with stuffed rabbits, possessed by their mothers or no.
The doll had been silent for weeks after their adventure, and the cries he had heard from his daughter had wrenched his heart. He well understood wanting the company of that particular lady, he'd spent most of his childhood and young adult life attempting to win her approval and attention – but she'd spent most of her time trying to win the same from John Teague, trying to remind the old blackguard that he had stolen her from her French nobility for a reason, which was certainly not to ignore her in favor of Tortugan floozies.
Jack had hated his father for many years, because of that – it never occurred to him that the man had hated himself for the same reason.
Regardless of those facts, Abigail is glad to have the whispered protection of the spirits about her, which, incidentally, also pleases Jack quite thoroughly. It makes it a bit easier to have her with him, knowing exactly who is guarding her.
He frequently comes in late from his watches, and she is always sitting up in the corner of his bunk, waiting for him. She doesn't sleep well without company, and he knows she still has nightmares with him beside her. It wreaks havoc with his heart, to see her in pain. He tells her stories, when she wakes up sobbing and clutching Miurne; she doesn't like the stories of piracy however, and he is forced to think up stories of beautiful princesses and brave knights – none of whom, his Bess had firmly told him, were to be eunuchs. If the brave princess usually saves herself and rides off into the night with a rough-and-tumble scoundrel instead of her dashing hero, well it is a good lesson for his girl to learn anyway.
He never admits it to anyone, not even his Bess, but he nearly cries the first time Peg curls up in his lap and calls him Papa. He just hugs her to him and feels the bit of his spirit that had still been declaring itself utterly free give in – he is owned now, body and soul, by a bit of grey eyes and curling hair.
She still follows him about the ship, like a lost pup with no mother. He gave her a job on the ship, and now she carries his 'effects' around with an air of a soldier on an important duty. Once he let her open his compass, and he'd laughed when the damn thing pointed directly at Miurne.
Tomorrow they will return to the little house on the hill, where they will claim their bonny lass and set sail for adventures unknown. She will carry his effects with self-important airs, and he will protect her little heart as long as his keeps beating.
He supposes it's the Teague in him.
Isla del Aburrimiento
She has almost forgotten that night of rum and bonfire, until she hears the soft humming under the breath of her son. Her mind flashes to another place and time, and she can't help but smile. She knows exactly who taught the tune to her boy, and can't repress the pleasure knowing that he has impressed the child, even if he isn't exactly accepted yet.
When they meet the longboat down below, she allows herself to remember a time of innocence and laughter, when pirates were fairy tales and ghost stories were naught but legends. She is in the arms of her best friend, and for a few hours will pretend she lives a different life. A life of lace and satin, and the warmth of a smithy, where the only sword fights are pretend, and the biggest daily worry is if Father will be home for supper. For a few hours it will be true, and they will all imagine that life has always been such – will always be such. There will be no softly beating heart under the flowers in the back garden, and no cursed ships awaiting on the horizon. They will be a small, happy family, for a day.
She was always very fond of make-believe.
(and here's a sneak preview of the next bit!)
She closed the large, hand-written book with a wistful smile. In the dim lamplight, her little girl's eyes were wide open and she stared at her mother. She never slept when there was a pirate story to be told.
"And then?" The little girl begged for more detail. "Was he caught? He got away didn't he Mother?"
"Yes," the word came softly as she tucked the blanket under her daughter's chin. "Of course he did darling. No one could ever capture the infamous -"
"Captain John Teague!" The name slipped from her lips, excitedly. "Please tell me another, I promise I'll go to bed after."
"Not tonight dear heart, tomorrow." She picked up the lamp and stood over the bed, eyes filled with an emotion that the girl would never understand.
"Please Mother, just one more. About Jack Sparrow!"
Her lips pursed in amusement, and she nodded. She set the lamp down upon the dresser again and picked up her book. "Captain Jack Sparrow darling," she corrected gently. "Now let's see...it was early June, and a hot summer evening...Nassau Port is usually quite heavily guarded, but that day there was a skirmish with the Spanish, and many of the soldiers had been called away..."
The little girl listened with rapt eyes and open ears, drinking in the adventures with an unending enthusiasm. She loved these stories.
She always remembered, in later years, the exact way her mother's eyes looked as she turned down the lamp, and the soft swish of her skirts as she left and the gentleness in her voice as she whispered "goodnight Beth". It was not because the stories excited her so...no, it was because it would be the last time she ever saw Victoria Swann.
And as the moonlit shadows grew long across the richly furnished home, a pale-haired woman packed a bag, and stole away into the night.
In the morning, Weatherby Swann found two letters, one addressed to him and one to his daughter. He stared, dry-eyed as the second curled to black ash in his fireplace, and went downstairs to tell the little girl that her mother had died in the night.