Author: Kates Master, aka Emma
Summery: William Turner, boy-in-the-water, blacksmiths apprentice, faithful rescuer, Captain of the Flying Dutchman, last of the pirates, died as the sun set, a smile on his face and three roses clutched in his fist. Will/Elizabeth. Onshot.
Authors Notes: Something that drifted into my head in the endless freetime I gained after finishing exams in June. Which I then forgot about until today.
So here it is. Loved the ending to the film, personally – nice to see a diviation from the classic Disney happy ending – and, while I am personally a staunch believer in the curse ending if they're faithful for the first ten years, this was an idea I couldn't drop.
Discliamer: I'm a poor A-Level student on £20 a week…somehow, I don't think I own much of this at all. All Disney's. Meh.
Dedication: To the Holywell Brass, the Flintshire County, and even the Four Counties, Youth Bands…and anyone else who's ever played one of my favourite soundtracks. Long may we soar.
The first time is, of course, the most memorable. If he closes his eyes he can smell the salt of the soft surf crashing round his legs, see her splashing towards him, laughing and crying all at once. Feel her weight as she threw herself into his arms.
That first day…one, perfect day, when the sun shone down on the little family he hadn't even known he had, allowing them to pretend, if only for twenty-four hours, that everything was normal.
So much had happened, those first ten years. Clearing the backlog of lost souls, trapped for who knew how long after Davy Jones gave up his task. He picked up Weatherby Swann and James Norrington within a week of each other, about nine months into his service, and the three spent a surprisingly peaceful night up on deck, talking of their common interest. The looks of horror on their faces when he explained what had happened – why he was here, what it meant – were doubled in Norrington's voice as he exclaimed "but who is there to look after Elizabeth?"
He smiled at that, imagining his wife's reaction to the comment, and explained that a woman who had spent in on three years living as a pirate, been elected pirate king and married the undead ferrier of souls, was probably quite capable of looking after herself. He didn't add the guilt he felt at not being there himself.
His little boy was all grown up, the next time he went home. Gone were the dark curls and boyish shyness at meeting his father for the first time. Young Will Turner was a sailor through and through, having served under pirates and merchants alike, and no longer a stranger to the weight of his parentage. Even the surname of Turner was enough to turn heads – add the Will at the front, and, as the bashful youth admitted, more than one fist-fight would brake out over a case of mistaken identity.
He learnt a new fear, the ten years after his second visit; the discovery of his sons chosen profession lead to the dread of finding his soul amongst the many they picked up. His father understood that – he had himself spent many years watching for the untimely arrival of his son. For, as he put it, "all Turners go to sea in the end. No matter how hard they fight. We all end up at sea."
Fate was a cruel mistress, but none feel her cruelty as much as one who, upon standing before his wife's grave, can admit they lived no more than a week as a couple in over sixty years of marriage.
He had known, the moment he had seen the lonely figure of his son waiting where she had stood for so many years. The shock made him realise, for the first time, how much his son had aged. Weather worn, greying hair, with children of his own. He could have easily passed for the child of his own son that day.
Young Will, as Jack had christened him so long ago, led him to her grave, and the two stood there, practically strangers, really, despite the bond they shared.
They'd buried her as close to the sea as the churchyard would allow, a grave marked by a simple stone that said little of the extraordinary life she had lead.
Gone to realms beyond the sea
Young Will watched his father read, and then, with a sad smile, crouched down to pull away the vegetation and revealed a spot at the very base of the stone. A skull and cross bone had been carved neatly into the rock; the pirates last respect to their dead King.
"We buried the chest next to her." he added. "Not too deep, just in case you ever need it."
He didn't need to ask which chest he meant.
The next few years were lonely ones. The loss of his wife had bought into sharp relief those he had once known who he would never know again. Gibbs, Barbossa…Jack and his ship going down together…in the end, when faced with it, even the man who had fought so hard to find his chance at immortality had found he didn't fear death. So many names, people who had been enemies, then allies, and, somehow, eventually friends. All gone.
One by one they died. His wife, his son, his grandchildren…and he floated on, immortal, eternal. But still, every ten years, there would be someone waiting, atop the same cliff he had first spied his wife on so many years ago. Sometimes the same person several decades running, sometimes a constant change through the generations. Alone, with siblings, parents, children…the decedents of Young Will would loyally await their mysterious ancestor. They'd give him one day with the ground beneath his feet, a proper hot meal, and a chance to see just how much the earth was changing.
He watched as a world that had once been his changed around him: an invisible power called electricity, the slow but steady fall of the wooden ships he knew and loved, the rise of the strange metal boxes which took their place. Two great wars saw a sudden increase in those souls lost at sea, none afraid of a death in the name of their cause. His female descendants started meeting him in trousers, wearing the garments not only to sail and away and save the men they loved, but as an everyday thing.
By the time he met Susannah, even the sea seemed different. His descendents had crossed the ocean several generations before, settling back on the soils he and Elizabeth had left so long before. No one told him of this, but somehow his ship knew, and he let her guide him to a small bay on the South England coast. The bay was quiet, and fairly secluded, with a strange rock arch out in the centre, warning all who wished to enter of the slightly submerged rocks that surrounded it.
She was waiting with her older brother the first time, nine years old, small for her age and as feisty as her many-greats grandmother. The two children took him all round their new realm, showing him the hidey-holes and adventures of their childhood. It had been some decades since two so young had been left alone with this most important of responsibilities, and it was somehow refreshing. They begged him for tales of generations gone by, and he found himself surprisingly willing to oblige. They laughed, they played, they gave him one day of perfect childhood, and he loved it.
Susannah presented him with a gift, as they stood on the beach to say goodbye. Three roses, carefully picked by the little girl, and even more carefully stored away in his pocket as he hugged them, and promised to see them in ten years.
He liked to pretend he could see her from the moment he first returned to the mortal world, the next time. From the moment he first spied the cliffs of her home, distinguishable by the strange rock out in the centre of the bay, he was certain he could see her too, a tiny stick figure amongst the towering rock faces. By the time he knew it was definitely her he was looking at, she had turned to race down the rocky path which led to the beach, meeting him as he waded out of the water by throwing her arms around his neck. She earned herself a few odd looks from the early morning dog walkers, but Susannah didn't care – to see him again, alive and wonderfully real, was far more important.
She had grown, just like his little boy had done – no longer a mischievous child, but now a young woman, confident, mature, still with that hint of something in her eye that would forever prove her to be a Turner at heart.
They walked, that second day. Susannah had bought a picnic lunch, and so the two set out, across the cliffs and along the coastal paths. She chattered merrily all the way, tales and stories of what she had been up to, what she was planning. It was only when he asked about her brother that, for a moment, her cheerful countenance faded.
"He said he wouldn't come." she sighed. "Said it was stupid. That you were a game we'd made up. He's got a girlfriend now, and she puts all sort of stupid things in his head. Don't believe in what you can't see, she says. Well, I can see you, so what's there not to believe?"
He accepted the explanation without question, and they moved on quickly onto far happier topics.
She had another gift for him, as they stood on the beach to say goodbye for the second time. A cardboard box – "I know it won't hold up against the sea water, but they don't make chests anymore. Not ones that a students budget can afford, anyway." – filled with books. Romances, fantasies, adventures…the books of a person whose imagination saw far beyond the stars.
"I figured you probably get pretty bored sometimes." she explained matter of factly. "I mean, ferrying souls can't be all fun. And I had to clear out my room last year to move to Uni, and they'd just sit in the attic and gather dust if you don't take them."
Nine times she was there to meet him, always with some new wonder to show and tell. Her brother came again just once more – apologies pouring out of his mouth like seawater about the "cretin" he had dated so many years previous. She introduced him to her children, took him with great pride around the little cottage on the cliff-top she and her husband had scrimped and saved so hard to buy. She planted roses in the garden, letting them grow into a spectacular display, and always tucked one or two into his hands as they said goodbye.
And then, like all the others, she died.
Her granddaughter met him, told him, and hung round awkwardly for a while, unsure of what to do. This day had always been completely and utterly her grandmothers – something no one else in her family had done in nearly one hundred years – and it felt strange and wrong to be even attempting it without her.
He ignored her, after the initial explanation, headed instead for the sea path the two had climbed together so many times. Her garden was still there, the roses just beginning to bloom, but a creaky "For Sale" sign hung by the front gate, and he knew, with a sudden certainty, that he wouldn't be coming back here again.
He plucked three roses, and returned with them to his ship.
It was a sad sight to behold – the once feared pirate vessel, scourge of the seas, floating lonely in the water. As the generations had passed, and more and more of the crew had finished their service, the ships population had dwindled. The Flying Dutchman and her legendary crew had become nothing more than that – legends. And no soul can be rescued by something it truly believes to be a child's bedtime story. With no souls to replace those that departed, the crew had fallen to just two – the captain and his father.
Bootstrap Bill had stood loyally by his son through the centuries, through the deaths of friends, family, of everything they knew. But now, after so long, both knew it was time to part.
The days of pirating were long since over. The world had shrunk, it's once mysterious four corners carefully mapped and marked, and no longer had room for that most illustrious breed of men. They were in a time where dishonesty was dressed up in suits and ties, where thieves had fluid tongues, and justice had become so wrapped up in itself that it seemed to have forgotten what it was for.
No words were said in that final goodbye – indeed, none were needed. A final smile, a nod that conveyed everything, and Bootstrap Bill finally allowed himself to be laid at rest.
There was only one thing he had left to do now, really. Lucky he was captain of a ghost ship, or there was no way he would have been able to sail her himself. But finally, he once more dropped anchor in a familiar bay, and made his way ashore for the final time.
The grave was cracked now, overgrown and half hidden by foliage. He began to clear it, methodically weeding and cutting back, until, as the sun set, he was happy. The lettering was faded, almost impossible to read if you didn't know what it said, but it was clear, and the tiny engraving in the bottom corner was revealed to the world for perhaps the first time.
A flash of green made him look up, just in time to see the very soul of his ship dive for the final time.
He lay down next to his wife's grave, atop the spot where his son had buried his heart all those years ago. Had he thought, all those centuries before, had he even had an inkling, as he boarded that ship in search of his father, what that act would lead him to, would he still have done it? He'd fallen in love, discovered himself not quite so proper as he had once liked to think, found friends you could trust with your life, if nothing else, found his father, found, if only briefly, the happiness of a lovers embrace, witnessed the changing of the world, and met some of the best people to ever walk the planet. He'd have given it up, of course, in exchange for the life he and Elizabeth had dreamed about, but, really, maybe it wasn't that much of a poor second choice.
William Turner, boy-in-the-water, blacksmiths apprentice, faithful rescuer, Captain of the Flying Dutchman, last of the pirates, died as the sun set, a smile on his face and three roses clutched in his fist as his body dissolved into the soil, and the beating heart below, buried for so long, finally stilled.
The being, who had for so long helped those across to the other side, at last passed that way himself. After all, people were waiting for him.
Annnd...done. Hope you liked. Be a friend and review.