Story: Changes at Sea

Summary: There is a rationale to why she is marrying Will. At first, it's because he isn't Jack. And later, it's because he is.

Notes: Just saw AWE and was, once again, totally blown away by its awesomeness. Because Sparrowbeth is made of awesome, but Liz/Will is canon. So I wrote a little short to rationalize the two. Is sort of a character study/motivation study, if you squint.

Disclaimer: Cannot even put into words how I do not own this.

There is a rationale to why she is marrying Will. At first, it's because he isn't Jack. And later, it's because he is.

Because, you see, in the beginning, she didn't want someone like Jack Sparrow. She'd had her adventure, and while she isn't the type to just sit at home and make doilies and embroider cushions, she still doesn't want to spend all her time with a man as aggravating and annoying and confusing as Jack.

But then time makes him start to seem . . . well, less aggravating. Certainly not less confusing, but perhaps a smidge less annoying – but then, by this point, she has been back in Port Royal for long enough that she is regretting that Will is so damn honorable. She has tried to seduce him four times at the blacksmith's shop, and all four times he has been close to the edge and all four times he has kissed her and then sent her on her way.

So after that fiasco – not to mention it raining on her wedding day, which securely postpones any non-honorable marital activities for an even later date – seeing Jack again is rather refreshing. And that includes his apparent lack of honorability when it comes to physical interaction, which Elizabeth, being nineteen and fond of that sort of thing, appreciates.

Of course, Jack isn't the sort a woman marries, even a woman like Elizabeth Swan, who has been kidnapped by pirates and dresses like a boy on occasion and happens to want to have sex with her fiancé.

Therefore Elizabeth has to be content with marrying someone not like Jack. Because of this, she tries her hardest to hide from Will her horrible ruthless side, the side that probably would give up innocents to save the ones she loves and that is always capable of making the hard choice. Will is so damn naïve, even after everything that has happened, even after a stint on the Dutchman, and he is still idealistic and in love.

After a month on the Pearl with Jack as her only conversational companion, Elizabeth finds Will's naivety annoying, rather than comforting. She misses being able to guess his motives by comparing them to her own. It was easy to guess what Jack was thinking, because it was usually what Elizabeth herself was thinking in the shadow of her heart.

She still loves Will, though, and that's why she locks Jack to the mast of Pearl. She could probably do it without kissing him, but she lies and tells herself that it's necessary.

Sorry, her mouth says.

Always wanted to do that, her eyes say.

She's guilty, and that blinds her to a shift in Will. The Dutchman has changed him, it's just she's changed too, and didn't notice. He's become ruthless – the endearing kind, the kind Elizabeth can appreciate, and it infuriates her even as she is drawn to it – and the only thing that really hasn't changed is that he still loves her.

Realizing he's betrayed them, her first thought is horror. And however much she wants to deny it, the second is an almost painful attraction. He's become more like Jack that she would have ever dreamed. When Will does things, he does them wholeheartedly. Learning to fight, loving her, saving her, saving his father – and, eventually, going bad.

The first time he proposes, she accepts because the only way she will be free is by marrying Will. Marrying someone like Jack would cage her in her freedom – she would learn to love being free more than her husband, and that would never do. She thinks Will understands her, but that probably isn't possible because she doesn't understand herself. She thinks that she's walked away from the pirate profession with a healthy appreciation for danger and nothing changed in her except her level of tolerance for corsets.

The second time, in the pouring rain (funny coincidence, isn't it?), with the blood of Beckett's soldiers on her knuckles, and the slinking men of the Dutchmen trying to kill her, she accepts because she loves him, absolutely and totally, because he is no longer just Will, broad and strong and pure. She couldn't stand pure Will, but she likes – she loves – ruthless, hard Will. He is more Jack than even Jack, and she's reeled in.

She likes breaking the rules.

(That's why, when Jack shows up with a map and a flagon of rum, she follows him. She leaves baby James with friends, and she goes up to Florida and she hacks through the jungle with a machete and a swarm of mosquitoes flirting with her shins, and when she is drinking the sweet, slightly tangy sweat of the Fountain, her first thought is now we can be together forever, which is admittedly closely followed by I'm the first immortal female Pirate King and I don't have a ship – I ought to fix that.)

It's short, but it was sort of a spur of the moment kind of thing, and I was so terrified that once the movie was over I wouldn't be able to finish it that I just churned out something short and sweet and I hope that it actually makes sense.

Thoughts? Being not of the Liz/Will persuasion, I want to know if I got it right . . .