Time had not stayed still for them, nor did Elizabeth want it to. Each day was a new adventure and a new chance to see more of the world. She wanted to see it all before she died.
Which according to Jack, would never happen. Finding the Fountain of youth- or Aqua La Vida, which was how it rolled off Jack's tongue- had taken longer than either of them could have imagined. He was still bent on it, so they could live forever.
She was all for living forever, but they had yet to leave this island. A beautiful place they had stopped in a storm…a gorgeous place. Lush trees, the greenest of grass, sparkling streams of the clearest blue. Fruits clung to every vine and each day was more beautiful and clear than the one before it.
They stayed there for a long while. It was irresistible, the draw the place had on them. Elizabeth and Jack, sailors at heart, were as happy on that spit of land as they were on the Black Pearl. She couldn't explain why they felt the need to stay there a while; they just ended up doing so.
It was their Eden.
Rue was a strong little boy now, a child who ran on sturdy legs and climbed trees at lightning speed. He looked so much like Will with his brown hair and brown eyes, fair skin that didn't tan much even in the blistering sun.
But his temperament was all Jack- wild and unpredictable and unexpectedly sweet. He lacked his father's patience and gentleness, but he still clung to Jack like a shadow. Each day he trailed behind the man who had become his father, exploring the woods and beaches with him.
Salem grew too- she wasn't a baby anymore. Her speech wasn't quite as good as her brother's, and she acted like Elizabeth, but she was Jack in every feature. Her black hair would never straighten no matter how many times a brush was ran through it, her skin a soft gold that made her eyes glitter like dark coals.
Elizabeth turned when she heard the voices of her family, underbrush trampled as Rue ran to her side. "Father said we set sail on the Black Pearl tonight!" he reported breathlessly, grasping her arm.
She smiled down at the wiggling little boy and glanced up at Jack as he came into sight. "Is that so?"
"That is, if Captain Swann will acquiesce to that request." Jack tipped the brim of his hat to her. "Young Master Rue here feels we should sail out with all haste."
"Me, too." Salem piped up, her small tricorn hat falling over her face.
"They just miss the ship." Elizabeth smiled in amusement. "We shall set out tonight, if the crew wishes to. I've missed my ship, too."
"My ship." He growled.
"Actually, Captain Sparrow, I won it from you a fortnight ago in a game of cards. You will have to settle for being Commodore Sparrow now." She teased mercilessly.
"You cheated and I shall win it back later tonight." He scowled at her, the beads in his hair clicking at his bent down to Salem and Rue's height. "Since we are leaving tonight, why don't you two go off and look for some treasure we might have overlooked, eh?"
They rushed off; Salem struggling to keep up with Rue's much more hurried pace, as always. "Never thought I'd see the day when our children wanted to leave this place." He remarked, a small smile twitching on his lips.
"They're meant for the sea." She replied softly. "Just as we are."
Our children. She barely noticed when he said that now because it was so natural. She knew the day was rapidly approaching when she must tell Rue the truth, but he was still so small. He had a right to know, and when that day arrived, Will had a right to see his son.
She glanced at her smallest son, nestled in his cradle. Keaton, like Salem, was all Jack and she wondered if she'd ever have another child that looked the least bit like her. Not that she had any clue how many more children they'd have, these things just sort of…happened. "And I have no intention of letting you win the Pearl back from me."
"Oh, but I will. Even if I have to create a mutiny."
Classic Jack. She rushed toward him and kissed him, a hard, passionate kiss. She wasn't ever going to be alone again like she was after Rue's birth. She had family again, a man that loved her and a purpose in life.
And wherever he was out there, Will had his purpose. One of the most important purposes in the ocean. And a family- his father, at least.
But she had his heart, so she pulled away from Jack. "We will return here one day?" her voice was hopeful.
"Aye, love. That is for certain. Much quieter than Tortuga." He smiled, but his eyes watched her closely, knowing the importance of her question.
She glanced out the window, watching as the sun sank a little behind the treetops. "I will be back within an hour so we can cast off."
He moved toward her. "I can come with you."
"No, stay and wait for the children. We have little to pack and they can help you with that." She reached under the bed and picked up Will's chest, carrying it outside.
There was a small breeze down beside the pond, where she stopped and knelt down. The ground was moist from the water and it didn't take her long to dig a hole large enough for the box.
"This isn't forever." She said quietly as she pressed more earth to the top. "Just until we come back. And I'll keep coming back- forever- to check on it. But it's safe here, like I promised. And I'll be there on that day, like I promised."
There wasn't a sound save for the chirp of the birds around her. It felt right to leave it here, in this place she had come to love. His heart didn't belong on board a ship, it belonged on solid land.
"I love you, Will." She spoke quietly into the air as she stood, brushing dirt from her dress.
And she did. She waited eagerly for the day he would be with her again and she would feel his mouth upon hers. But Jack was also her future and he was waiting for her- waiting for them to reach that horizon.
And she planned to reach it, with her children and Jack by her side.
She smiled when she saw him, standing with Keaton in his arms, shouting as Rue and Salem not too venture out too far into the surf. She never thought that he would be the overprotective parent. God, she never thought Jack could even worry about anything the way he breezed through life.
"I'm ready." She called out, her voice strong.
"We are too!" Rue exclaimed, practically dragging Salem to the ship.
Elizabeth took Keaton from him and wrapped him up in her arms. "Lead the way, Captain Sparrow." She slipped her hand in Jack's.
He nodded, eyes shining with the prospect of adventure as he led them forward. "Master Rue has the compass on board, so only he knows the heading."
She smiled briefly, a hopeful one. "We don't need a heading. We can go anywhere. We're…free."