Genre: AU, Gen (Chapter 1), Romance (Chapter 2)
Setting: 14 years before DMC. 1 year before Jack loses everything.
Summary: What if Jack and Elizabeth had met before? Before Port Royal, before the Wench became the Pearl…
At nine years old Elizabeth Swann was not afraid of anything. She could climb the highest trees, fight with any of the boys, and pick up the scariest of spiders.
It didn't matter how many times her governesses scolded her for ripping her dresses and coming into the house caked in mud and dirt, or how often they screamed at the innocent bugs that crawled out of Elizabeth's pockets
It was silly how scared they got over something so small. They chastised her about not being ladylike. But if ladylike was tea, and sitting, and screaming; then she didn't want to be a lady! Not ever!
It wasn't fun and she wasn't afraid of the things ladies were afraid of. Not trees, not bugs, not boys, not even…pirates!
When she had been first learning to read, the son of her father's friend had given her her first book on pirates. And how fascinating it was! She would like to meet a pirate but the chances of doing so in London were quite small. Unless one wanted to kidnap her! She was important enough for a ransom wasn't she? They would steal into London in the dead of night, when everyone was sleeping and –
"Elizabeth? Ah, there you are."
She turned to face her father as her daydreams faded.
"Oh good. I see your dress is still in fine condition."
Elizabeth smiled and dropped into a curtsey. "Where are we going today?"
Weatherby kneeled down in front of his daughter. "I told you it was a surprise, but I think you'll like it."
Elizabeth smiled at her father as her governess appeared in the doorway behind them.
Weatherby stood and caught sight of her. "Ready to go then?"
"Governer Swann, with all due respect sir, I don't think…"
"Hannah, I trust you to watch her. And John and I will be there. What's the worst that could happen?"
The handkerchief in the governess's hand twisted tightly.
"Where are we going?"
"I'm not telling you."
"I want to know."
"Into the carriage miss."
Elizabeth climbed up happily and adjusted her dress and jacket as she sat. The door shut as she watched Hannah speak with their driver from the window.
"…forward to it."
"It's just not appropriate what her father lets her do, John!"
Elizabeth's brow furrowed at the muffled words. Why did every governess she had say that?
Putting it from her mind, she smiled as Hannah finally got into the carriage and her father joined them minutes later.
At twenty-eight years old Jack Sparrow was his own man. For the first time in his life he was out from under the shadow of his father. No one knew him here, no one cared that he was the only son Teague claimed as legitimate. He would earn the respect of his crew, not have it fearfully given as his birthright.
He wasn't a pirate.
He was a good man.
An honest man for a change.
He had a ship, the sea, and a job; and he neither stole, bribed, nor threatened to acquire them. The East India Trading Company had offered him a new life. A decent life. He got to see the world without worrying about the Navy, he got to trade along the routes from Britain and India.
He loved the heat of India, his mother's homeland. He felt closest to her there.
And it was such a sight different from Britain as well. It was much cooler for one, and for another Ireland was much too close; it reminded him of Teague, even though the man had made his home in Madagascar and then finally, Shipwreck Cove. The latter, a place Jack vowed never to return.
Life had definitely improved.
And it would improve even more if the Company would stop sending his ship to London. He'd rather make the long voyages to the Caribbean. He'd been down there a few times, and those waters…those were a thing of pure beauty.
And the ports there were nothing like the port in London.
Extremely busy and overly congested. There were too many ships vying for such small space, to weigh anchor and find their own dock. The wait time meant more losses of full profits from damaged goods, delays, and thievery. He didn't like the crowding in the port or the Thames, it made him feel boxed in, land on every side. The Wicked Wench belonged to the ocean, to the horizon. But it was his job as a merchant.
Once this job was finished, and he was back in India, maybe he'd talk with Beckett about something more permanent in the Caribbean…
"Elizabeth! Elizabeth! Elizabeth!"
Elizabeth found herself pulled backwards as Hannah finally managed to grab her hand.
"How many times do I have to say to stay with me?"
Hannah looked around. Where were John and the Governor?
"I want to get closer to the ships!"
Elizabeth had never been this close to the London Port before. And it was magical. There were so many people running about, unloading crates and ships, moving them down the docks, repacking, and unpacking. She wanted to get closer. Wanted to see everything.
"Come on Hannah!"
"Elizabeth we have to wait for your father, it's not proper to be without chaperone, you shouldn't have run ahead like that," she scolded. Hannah twisted around to look at her surroundings. They were lost. Once the girl had realized where they were going she had bolted from the carriage the moment it stopped. Hannah had managed to keep sight of the small child as she ran through the crowds, but it was obvious Elizabeth's father had not.
"But I want to see the ships…"
"You're going to have to wait."
Elizabeth stopped trying to pull her governess and pouted. She wanted to see the ships so bad. Maybe there'd be pirates! Elizabeth looked around.
"Well if you hadn't started running, we wouldn't have lost him."
"Maybe pirates have him! And he's at the ships right now being loaded aboard, we have to save him Hannah!"
"Your father is not aboard a pirate's ship, now stop this nonsense immediately."
"Fine," said Elizabeth sullenly.
"Good. Now where could they be?"
Elizabeth watched her governess's attention drift towards the crowds. When she felt the hand holding hers loosen just a bit, she took her chance.
Hannah screamed as the girl wrenched her hand from hers and disappeared into the crowds.
Darting behind a cart, Elizabeth watched as Hannah raced by her moving hiding place. Keeping up with the cart for a while, Elizabeth eventually dated out into the crowded streets once more and headed closer and closer to water.
She'd find her father, just watch her, and she'd prove it to Hannah.
Despite any damages or thefts that might have occurred on board, if any, Jack had a talented tongue to spin any story, or haggle over any price. The speed and twists that he shifted and incorporated into his speech left buyers paying ¼ more than usual or forgiving him for a few missing spices or silks.
He didn't consider it cheating. It was a talent, and those who couldn't catch on would lose their money some other way. The rich and elite he traded to especially. They had more than enough that they wouldn't miss it. Jack's crew though, could use some extra coin in their pockets; many had families back home and even here in London.
"Aye mate?" He turned to face the approaching crewmember.
"The Dock Master is wanting to speak with you, sir."
Jack nodded and reluctantly left his post, giving orders to be followed until his return. Stepping down the Wench's gangplank, he sought out the one who sent for him.
Excitement was everywhere! Elizabeth couldn't keep the smile off her face as she moved about and dodged two and fro as to not be stepped on by men moving crates and boxes. She'd narrowly avoided a cart earlier, and was resolved to pay more attention. But just look at the activity!
And the ships! She was so much closer now and they were so big. The sails towering majestically above everything and everyone, the dark wood of the hulls, flags fluttering in the wind. Just another road and she'd be on the boardwalk.
She did glance around for Hannah every one and a while, but she didn't mind walking on her own. Her father was somewhere by the docks, she just knew it, and besides she wasn't afraid.
Her eyes caught movement across and above her. Men climbing the riggings, high into the masts; she needed to be closer, she wanted to watch everything!
The loud shouts and calls around her drowned out the sound of hooves and rolling wheels as she stepped absent-mindedly into the road.
She heard not the echoing footsteps running behind her, nor the horse and carriage moving too fast through the chaos. The driver's late shout startled her around to see the animal bearing down towards her.
With barely time to scream a strong arm grasped around her waist and pulled her back clear off her feet.
"Brat! Stay on the damn walk!" The angry shouts of the driver faded as his cart pulled further away from them.
Elizabeth's heart beat frantically against her ribcage. She'd nearly…she'd nearly been crushed!
"You need to be more careful darling."
The deep voice behind her startled her out of her near crushed thoughts and back to the present. The present at which she was currently being held a foot above the ground.
Thoughts of kidnapping danced through her mind more real than ever. She shouldn't have run from Hannah, shouldn't have run from her father. Where was father?
No sooner had she thought it, the arm that was holding her let go and she stumbled to her feet. A hand on her shoulder balanced her and spun her around.
She stood face to chest before looking up into the darkest eyes she'd ever seen.
She felt her cheeks heat. Boys weren't supposed to be that pretty were they?
He'd nearly been too late. The girl had walked straight into the traffic, and he had broke into a run in order to catch her in time. She looked to be around ten when he could see her properly. What by Davy Jones was she doing alone?
Jack's eyes narrowed as he glanced around. "Where are your parents?" He raised an eyebrow.
Judging by the girl's clothes he assumed she had them. The lass didn't look like a stray. Far too rich-looking to be one of the street urchins that littered the alleyways.
"Um…" Elizabeth looked up and down the walk. "I…don't know…" she admitted.
Jack let out a breath. Perfect. The Dock Master was an idiot at numbers and shipment and now he's found himself a lost little girl. Wouldn't be right to leave her. Especially if it turned out she had a penchant for getting herself into trouble…
"Right then. Do you know where you are?"
Elizabeth scowled. "I know perfectly well that I'm near the docks."
Jack grinned at her scrunched up nose, mind made up. "Let's find your parents then, a girl so young shouldn't be wandering alone."
"My governess got lost."
"Is that so?"
"Yes, it is Mr. –"
Elizabeth's eyes lit up with fascination as she let him guide her across the road and onto the boardwalk.
"A Captain? Are one of these ships yours?"
"Aye luv," Jack pointed out at the port, "sixth down."
Elizabeth craned her neck as the cobblestone of the street turned to wooden planks underneath her feet. Snow white sails hung tied in port, the black wood of the hull shone fresh in the sun. A black flag fluttered in the wind.
"She's an East India Company ship."
"Oh then you're…"
A merchant, then. She couldn't help the slight drop in her chest, but it did lessen her chances of being kidnapped, she supposed. If her father was here somewhere, he wouldn't like that. Not at all. Even if a pirate Captain would have been exciting, a merchant Captain would do for now, and probably safer as far as her father was concerned.
Spying all the ship flags she could, she didn't see a single jolly roger. Her father was probably searching for her, and quite worried, not aboard a pirate ship like she'd thought. Her imagination did tend to run wild at times. But it wasn't nonsense.
And speaking of…
"Have you ever met a pirate?" Elizabeth looked up at her current companion.
Jack suppressed a blanch. It wasn't a question he was expecting from such a small lass, and a girl no less. But in some ways it made sense. Merchant ships did have the highest chances of being engaged by pirates.
As for if he'd met one…
He thought of Teague's blank stare, disappointment in his eyes as Jack left. The looks and whispered words throughout the Cove as he'd hoisted sail and disappeared into the horizon. The mix raced son of an Irish pirate and an Indian courtesan gone to be an honest man. Gone to cheat his station and legacy.
"No," said Jack with finality. "Can't say I have."
"I heard all sailors get attacked by pirates."
"Nothing can outrun the Wench."
Her face screwed up. "Excuse me?"
"It's me ship's name love. The Wicked Wench."
"Why would you name a ship that?"
Jack smiled at her prissy discomfort and turned to pick her up. He couldn't help laughing at her undignified squawk as he set her up to sit on the railing separating dock from water.
"If you're ever lost darling, stay in one spot. And right here seems well enough. Along the main stretch and high up, easily seen if one is walking and searching for you."
Elizabeth placed her hands on the wood below to anchor herself.
"They should come soon."
"I have no doubt of it, most likely frantic."
Elizabeth bit her lip. She'd seen her father worked into a panic before during one of her daring escapes. But this time she wasn't playing make-believe somewhere on the estate grounds. She was in public.
"Are you staying?" she asked curiously. Surely she could trust her rescuer.
"What type of man would I be to leave a young lass all by her lonesome?"
She felt her face start to heat again, and dropped her gaze. When her eyes fell on his hands, she blinked.
"Is that a tattoo?" she asked distracting herself. She'd never seen one in real life before. A lot of the pirates in her books were completely decorated in tattoos. Though they were much larger than this.
Jack looked down at the number '3' inked between his left thumb and index finger.
"Why a three?"
Jack looked out to the water. It was to honour his mother and her traditions. Even though her devotion had been to Shiva, Jack had wanted a reminder of all three gods. Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva. Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer.
"No reason," he answered. "Just liked the number."
"Did it hurt?"
"There are worse things."
They both turned their heads towards the scream, and watched a white-faced frantic woman come rushing down the deck.
"I cannot believe you would just run off like that! You could have been abducted! You can have been hurt! I could lose my job!"
Elizabeth let out a little yelp as she was pulled off the deck's rail and set on her feet; Hannah's hands running over her checking for wounds.
"Are you hurt?"
"Are you injured."
"Are you wounded?"
"They're the same thing!"
"She's all right miss."
Hannah startled, her wide eyes seeking out Jack, noticing him for the first time.
"A-and on what authority do you have that?" she stammered out.
Jack held up his hands in surrender and took a step back. Never get between a terrified, irate woman with a child, it only leads to slapping. And accusations.
"Just that she wasn't sitting there long."
"Sit – " Hannah spun Elizabeth around to look at her coat and dress, checking for dirt and grime.
"Good day, Elizabeth."
She heard his voice once more, but when she turned, he had vanished.
Furrowing her brows in confusion Elizabeth looked around everywhere.
He was gone.
And now she realized, much too late, that she'd never even asked his name. Maybe manners would be the least that Hannah and her father would ask about?
How could someone disappear like that? Was he a spectre? A ghost, maybe? A wandering spirit protecting the lost?
He did save her life earlier. Maybe…maybe she had a guardian angel?
She let her mind run, if she had a pirate guardian angel…now that would be even better.
Elizabeth smiled to herself. She could have her dreams.
"Elizabeth!" a shriek ran out. Jack turned from his brisk walk to see the girl running again through the crowds, frantic governess trailing after her.
"Come on Hannah! I saw treasure when I came this way!"
Jack smiled to himself. Such spirit, such determination, an inquisitive imp, and not afraid in the least; she was a cute lass and a hand full from the look of it.
That's the type of girl, he thought, that when she grows up, God help the man who falls in love with her…
A/N: And here I thought "A Caged Swann" would be my only Pirates fic! Shows what I know doesn't it? There will be a Chapter 2 to this fic, set AU AWE. Jack and Liz find out that they've met before. It will definitely be Sparrabeth in nature.