One or the Other
A/N: I do not own any POTC characters or storylines.
The clanging of the two swords filled the workshop until Elizabeth's ears finally blocked it out. Her mind switched focus to the shimmering weapon headed straight for her heart. Blocking it once more, she turned and swung at her assailant.
"You still turn too slow. You don't want your back to someone that long."
"Then I'll try it again." She spun around in a fury, loosening the tight bun that covered the curve on the back of her neck.
In a pair of Will's trousers, tightened at the waist with silk ribbon that originated all the way in China, Elizabeth felt the familiar tightening of her muscles in her arm. This sword, fashioned just for her, still weighed less than any cutlass that came standard issue with the navy, but her broad bony shoulder still felt like it could shrivel up and break from her body like a leaf.
"You're gripping it with both hands," Will said, taking the lead in their dance. With each step he took forward, she had to take backward, submitting to his skill. "It's not a cricket bat."
It would soon be impossible to hide the increasing inhales and sloppy form. Might as well give it all I have left, she thought, and thrust her sword right in between Will's arm and torso. Jumping back with wide eyes, his rounded mouth narrowed into a proud smile.
"You almost had me there!"
She glanced over at the small dusty clock hanging over an anvil almost as tall as she was. "Time's up!"
Will swung his sword at hers, purposely trying to force it out of her hands.
"Time's up, Will!" she laughed, backing into a hay pile at the edge of the workshop.
"You know, in a fight you won't have a time limit," he said, plopping down next to her, beads of sweat running down his neck.
"I'm getting better." She knew it sounded childish, but it was true. "I remember the first lesson you gave me. You still had energy to laugh at me." She gave him a shove. His hand reached out to the floor before he could topple over.
"I never said you were bad. Why, I'm sure that if you had come into that cavern with this drawn, it would have given Captain Barbossa quite a fright."
"Don't call him Captain, and I doubt it would have affected him at all." She shook off her bun, unraveled down to her back thanks to this latest sparring match. She brushed her hair out of her face, her sweat stretching out her waves into bone-straight cords. Another hand played with the hardened tresses.
"Will, you don't want to touch my hair now." But she wanted him to now, she thought. He always leaned in but never, never…she didn't know exactly what it was he never did, but she knew any affection he bestowed upon her at all left her with an unsatisfied feeling. Closing her eyes, Elizabeth let her lips brush against the soft flesh of his cheek. She found his lips and took in a deep taste of them.
"Elizabeth," he grunted, slowly opening his eyes again. "Elizabeth."
She snapped back into real life, here in a blacksmith workshop mid-morning—no waves crashing against rock, no sinking sun beckoning their shadows to come and greet it.
"I've been meaning to ask you something."
"If it's for help out of this haystack, I think you ought to be the gentleman and help me out of it."
"I'm too comfortable to really move," he laughed, his eyes shining. He always laughed when she tried to be witty. It should be illegal to do so little and yet make someone so happy. "You know I made that sword for you."
"I know." She rubbed his shoulder, his soft white shirt still damp.
"Well, I considered it time to give you another gift." Her eyebrow rose.
"Why so vague about it then?" she asked, already blushing at the embarrassment of having nothing to give him in return. Curse her thoughtlessness! She should be conjuring up gifts to give him all the time, books of poetry, new chains for a pocket watch she knew he'd been saving up to buy. She should have sat down and crocheted him a scarf or commissioned a leather worker to make him a thicker vest for the winter months…not that it was ever cold here, but it was something she had in common with Will. If their necks were exposed to the cold, their entire body would start shivering uncontrollably.
"Elizabeth." He had shifted to be face to face with her. He uncovered his necklace, previously tucked under his shirt. She knew it well, except for the new glistening object hanging from the chain.
"Elizabeth, I know I'm just a blacksmith, but the shop is mine now. The last decent thing Brown ever did was pass it on to me. I can't possibly rise up to your stature, but…will you have me anyway?"
"Will," she breathed, her arms reaching out for him. "You, you were saving up your money for this and not a watch chain?"
"That's your answer?"
"Oh! I'm sorry, I'm just so, so flustered. You kept it a secret from me!"
"I can be sneaky if need be. I wanted it to be a surprise for you."
The thin band covered with stones found her finger before she knew it in spite of a shaking hand. She stayed in Will's arms, still in shock from the gesture.
"You nearly decapitated me today," Will said, helping her to her feet. "I didn't think you would be so…"
"So what? Nervous? Every woman is nervous when she receives a proposal." It was a half-truth, though. During her last proposal, her mind could only concentrate on just how cruel the sun was, pouring into her, giving strength to that corset, encouraging it to tighten even more. Yet, she thought, why should she be nervous now? If one were to open her log…because it was a log and not a diary…they would see how she'd fantasized about a lily-covered wedding to Will, and they would discover page after page of contemplations of what it would be like to be his wife and experience love with him and birth his children and watch the years go by with him.
"Did you ask my father first?"
"I'm not completely ignorant of etiquette in spite of being a blacksmith." She managed to join him in a laugh now. Yes, it would be easy transitioning from Elizabeth Swann to Elizabeth Turner. Will would help see to that.
"What did he say?"
"You mean after the crying stopped?" He waited for her stunned look to pass. "He shook my hand and patted my back and told me to always care for her, make sure you wouldn't go and do countless things without thinking."
"His exact words?"
"His exact words." He stroked her cheek and planted a kiss there.
Society would now demand announcements, parties, visits, and all the planning that would come with a governor's only daughter marrying. Gossip would start too, that the spirited Elizabeth Swann that somehow survived a pirate scourge had been loose with her morals and her skirts and succumbed to the charms of a handsome young blacksmith who had his own pirate rumors whispered about him through Port Royal. Wouldn't it come as a shock to everyone when it would be nine months after their wedding and there would be no baby carriage being wheeled about the town?
Now, probably the last calm night of her life for a while, she sat alone with her book, the crisp turning of a page and the crackling of the fire the only sounds. Mrs. William Turner. She would have to learn to cook unless Will had saved even more money to hire one. Will with a secret fortune, she laughed, turning the page, hardly digesting the words she skimmed. And just as she would notice the water boiling, Will would come home and surprise her with a sword assault to test her skills before she could even chop the vegetables to go into the pot. Mrs. William Turner. Or would he then consider her training useless? Would he even want to discuss their adventure of the Aztec gold and actually stepping aboard the legendary Black Pearl, a ship she'd grown to love? Maybe some pirates would attend their wedding, swinging in on long ropes and cutting the cake with their swords.
She wiped tears she hadn't even noticed welling up in her eyes. It was too hard to imagine Captain Jack Sparrow cleaned up and sitting proudly in one of the front rows, watching her walk down the aisle with a lush bouquet in her hands, whispering to a distant aunt or uncle, "I remember when the two of them were loading swivel guns with silverware and rum and blowing holes into MY ship."
But it was too easy to imagine his voice.
A sudden thud once again brought her back to real life. It was too familiar—alone at night in this large house with abrupt sounds with no known source. Not this time, she said to herself, pulling out her sword from under her chair. Even an undead pirate could be stalled with a sword.