Elizabeth's Desperate Quest
Chapter I: In Which Our Heroine Decides that Five Children Is Quite Enough, Thank You
After having ink spilled on her new bonnet, her freshly planted flowers trampled, and her knee bruised (leaving a bit of a limp to her step)—all in one day, mind you—Elizabeth Turner, nee Swann, made a resolution:
No. More. Children.
That wasn't to say Elizabeth didn't love her children. On the contrary. She adored them quite thoroughly. And it was to be added that each of these incidents was the result of childish antics and not to be confused with actual malice.
The ink on the bonnet was caused by Elizabeth's two daughters Catherine and Marianne (three years of age and two years of age, respectively) playing dress-up with their mother's gowns and vast array of accessories; and by sheer unlucky providence, little Catherine bumped into her mother's desk, thus toppling a bottle of ink onto her sister's head—which happened to be wearing Elizabeth's bonnet bought just the week prior. The tears (and some might even say a little hysteria) resulting from this debacle placated most of Elizabeth's irritation with the matter, knowing in her heart that her two little girls were very, very sorry to have ruined Mother's new bonnet. This also was the beginning of Elizabeth placing the ink bottles quite far up onto her desk, even when her children were old enough to avoid bumping into furniture and ruining her bonnets in the process.
The trampling of her flowers was by her two boys William and James, who as little boys are wont to do, were roughhousing and playing heartily and paying little attention to what they were running upon. Their behavior was not as easily overlooked as Catherine and Marianne's (for they had trampled many an innocent plant beforehand, to their mother's despair) and were given no lemon ice for the afternoon that day as a result. William and James were contrite—especially after learning there was to be no lemon ice—until they began another game much like the one before, although far away from any of their mother's plants.
And the bruised knee? Well, suffice to say that while entangling her boys from their roughhousing, James managed to kick their mother soundly in the knee—although aiming for his older brother—and left a four year old sized footprint as a result. Poor Elizabeth limped a bit the rest of the day.
The evening weather was pleasant, and as Elizabeth sat upon a bench in the garden of her home with her infant daughter Becky upon her knee, she watched her children play. Five children in seven years—some would say she and her husband Will had been blessed greatly, and for the most part, Elizabeth would agree. She had a loving, warm husband and beautiful sons and daughters. But Elizabeth mentally cringed at having another child any time soon: the nausea of early pregnancy, the subsequent swelling of what seemed to every body part, aches, moodiness, and, eventually, labor. No, Elizabeth thought as she bounced Becky and listened to her gurgling giggles, no more children for quite a while.
The problem was, though, that Elizabeth happened to enjoy her husband and their nightly activities a bit more than it was thought proper for a lady. Oh, she could ask Will to leave her be for a while—and he would, albeit unhappily and with that eyebrow furrow that always managed to wheedle its way into her heart. But she knew her weaknesses, and God help her, but Will was one of her greatest. Two weeks, maybe three if she was particularly resolute, could she last without making love, but she knew in the end that with one look from her husband, she would crack. And probably not feel the least bit guilty afterwards.
Knowing that she and Will were unable to be abstinent spouses, Will had suggested after the birth of James what he dubbed the "leave before you finish" technique, hearing that it was one of the best ways to prevent another pregnancy (he had emphasized the word hearingwhen receiving a frown from his wife; he assured Elizabeth he'd never actually tried it himself). Unfortunately, Will had totally forgotten to "leave" around the third time they made love.
Nine months later, Catherine was born.
Will had been quite upset over his failure and lack of control ("You know you've always made me lose my mind," he'd admitted glumly), and when Elizabeth discovered she was with child the third time around, he had been positively depressed and wouldn't touch her for almost a week. Elizabeth, knowing that Will would castigate himself far longer than necessary, forgave him and never spoke of his failed technique again. And since she was already pregnant, the prevention of a child was put on hold for another time.
Marianne was the result of a little too much wine on Christmas. Becky—Elizabeth smiled at the memory—had been created on Will's birthday when she had given him a particular gift after the children had been abed…
Now, however, Elizabeth was rather desperate to remain un-pregnant for a little while. It seemed such a distant memory—a body all her own, no little creature pummeling her insides during the day and night…
Elizabeth's reverie was cut short with the sound of the front gate protesting on its hinges and the subsequent squeal of four children yelling, "Papa!" Even Becky began cooing louder, not wanting to be outdone by her elder brothers and sisters.
Elizabeth rose, Becky in her arms, to follow her children to the sound of her husband's voice; when he came into view, she saw four little creatures hanging onto his legs and around his waist. "Have you been behaving for your mother?" Will was asking, receiving dutiful nods in return (the earlier incidents apparently forgotten) and chattering answers. With Elizabeth's approach, Will looked up and smiled that smile which continued to make Elizabeth's heart flutter.
Will made a move toward her, but with the extra weight of four children hanging onto him, he was unable to get very far. Elizabeth laughed. "Darlings, let your father move! Give him a kiss, go into the house with Nurse, and get ready for supper." With the murmurs of "Yes, Mother," William, James, Catherine, and Marianne bade their father goodbye for the moment before Nurse silently collected them and ushered them into the house.
Finally free, Will came forward to kiss Elizabeth and then Becky, who smiled happily at her father's ministrations. Smiling back, Will took her from Elizabeth's arms.
"You have returned early," Elizabeth remarked.
"Yes," Will replied as he patted Becky's back, "I've only had one commission to work on and finished it this morning." He sighed. "Business has been unfortunately slow, lately."
Elizabeth made no comment, but she worried for her husband. Although he had no need to work for a living (her father had provided her with a substantial dowry), Will continued his profession as a blacksmith for his own enjoyment. His craftsmanship was highly praised throughout the Caribbean. Unfortunately, his past involvement with a certain pirate made business rather slow: gently bred people generally disdained purchasing items from a man who had once engaged in piracy.
Taking her husband's arm, Elizabeth led him into the house, Becky pulling on Will's too long hair the entire time. Feeling that she should say something to lift Will's disappointment, she remarked, "Well, perhaps since Christmas is almost upon on us, more people will be having weaponry being commissioned—as gifts, you know."
Will smiled amusedly. "You are the only woman I know who would see a deadly sword as the perfect Christmas gift."
"It is certainly more useful than candied fruits, I can assure you," Elizabeth replied loftily. "Although, I suppose," she added with a laugh, "if they were hard enough you could use them instead of cannon balls!"
Upon reaching the front door, their taciturn butler Graham opened it for them before requesting Will's dirty jacket and hat. Graham frowned upon seeing his master not wearing gloves—again—something no gentleman would ever consider doing. But as he took his mistress's gloves, his heart lifted slightly: at least someone in this household had their priorities in order. Until he spotted their soiled appearance, upon which Graham mentally washed his hands of the entirety of mankind.
The parlor clock chimed the seven o'clock hour, which prompted the fussing of Becky. Smiling at her infant's punctuality, Elizabeth took her from her father's arms, wiggling and whimpering slightly. "Come upstairs and change for supper, darling," she said to Will. "You must be tired."
Once inside their bedroom, Will began washing up and throwing his clothes to the floor; his valet (who Will still protested having: "I think after almost thirty years, I can dress myself tolerably," he continually whined) hurried around the room, daintily picking up his master's soiled shirts, trousers, and socks, keeping the items as far away from his body as possible. Elizabeth seated herself in one of the comfy arm chairs in front of the fire and began to feed the fussy Becky—who really was only grumpy because of hunger. She watched as her husband scrubbed his chest and shoulders, washed his face and hands, all the while completely unaware of her gaze.
Wincing suddenly at the hard suck of Becky, Elizabeth sighed inwardly. Gazing at her husband just this way is what brought you here, she thought with a frown. She really couldn't forget that, even if she still found Will indecently handsome and charming, not to mention kind, loving…
"What is for supper?" Will interrupted.
Elizabeth blinked. Regrouping, she replied, "Um…carrot soup. Mutton from dinner. Oh, and probably some candied fruits."
Will sighed. "I love carrot soup."
Elizabeth blinked again while shifting Becky to her shoulder. How, precisely, was she to avoid the charms of a man who loved carrot soup?
After having multiple bowls of carrot soup, Will lay in bed with Elizabeth. All of the children had been put to bed earlier—bathed and dressed for bed by their nannies before their parents tucked them in. Now in bed together with Will's arm snaked around her, Elizabeth snuggled into his embrace and promptly yawned during his story.
He looked down at her. "Are you bored?" He countered his supposed offended tone by pulling her closer.
Elizabeth simply yawned again. "Making swords—as I've said many times—seems infinitely easier than caring for five children, especially when one is constantly hanging onto one of my breasts."
"If I could," Will replied gravely, "I would share the responsibility of having Becky hanging on one of my own breasts."
Elizabeth looked up at his seemingly serious face and promptly burst into laughter. "Will Turner, you goose-brain!" she exclaimed before smacking him with one of the many unusable pillows on their bed. He began to laugh with her. "I would certainly love to see you try such a thing!"
"Could you imagine it? Our poor darling would be so confused." Will began to grapple with Elizabeth for the pillow with which she was hitting him. "Not to mention hungry." As he pulled the pillow away, Elizabeth lost her balance and fell on top of him, still laughing.
Will promptly spanked her on the rump with the pillow, causing his wife to laugh even louder. Pulling her up to face him, Will once again snaked an arm around her—but not before tracing a line from her lower back to the back of her neck.
Elizabeth stopped laughing.
When he kissed her lightly, and then harder, Elizabeth felt a hazy mix of both arousal and a tint of grogginess infuse her mind and body. Will began brushing his fingers down her throat to her breasts, where his touch was feather-light, knowing that that part of her was more than likely a bit sore. This bit of tenderness aroused Elizabeth even more than his kissing.
They stayed like this for some time longer, before Will began to lift Elizabeth's nightgown; when she twitched as he brushed her knee, she bumped it into his hand and suddenly a burst of stinging pain reminded her of the bruise got from James. From one of her five children. Like a dump of ice water, Elizabeth froze. Will noticed it in a few moments, and asked her with confusion, "Are you all right?"
Elizabeth, not knowing what else to do but knowing she couldn't go further, pulled down her nightgown and rolled away. "I'm actually very tired," she muttered into her pillow. "I'm sorry."
Will was silent for a beat. "Are you…" he hesitated, "that tired?"
"Yes." Elizabeth blew out the candle. "Good night."
She knew he continued to gaze at her before rolling over onto his own side, probably racking his poor brain as to what he'd done wrong seducing his wife. Elizabeth sighed quietly. How was she to achieve her aim of having no more children without avoiding her husband entirely?
A/N: I actually started this sucker back in July, but as per usual with me, didn't finish it until now. I hope you've enjoyed it so far—I'm rather fond of it, but that means nothing, really.
And for just the fyi, back in the day, meals and mealtimes were obviously different from what they are now. There was no such thing as lunch, and dinner was actually served early afternoon and was the biggest meal of the day. Supper, however, was like a light meal late in the evening. And not forgetting the most important meal of the day—breakfast was generally what it is today.
Let me know what you think, and hopefully I won't be updating this sucker 10 years later. Although don't be surprised if that happens. - MM