(OT: Who taught Elizabeth the song when she was a child when her father was so insistent that she stayed away from the vile creatures and their habits? Why was Jack so happy to let Miss Swann into his life? Perhaps her intrigue in Captain Jack Sparrow was sparked by the man himself without the girl ever knowing...I decided to explore this concept and work in Jack's impersonation of a cleric of the Church of England. This is set a year before the events of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Leave reviews, if you please, and enjoy!)
With her little hands draped gracefully across her extenuated hips, eleven year old Elizabeth Swann shuffled into the gargantuan cathedral's corridors, wistfully imagining herself entering a daring tower that housed slaves she was to free or stealthily creeping into a castle to meet her brazen prince. It was a bitter thought that she was merely there with her father.
She avoided the small crowds of ladies, a few hovering close to an entryway. Once out of sight of the visitors, Elizabeth crunched the corners of her light pink skirt into her hand, lifting it off the ground so that she didn't have to walk languidly through the church. She trotted forward, still hindered by the short heels, and veered into the next room, once again dreaming that she was following a trail left only for her. She blissfully smiled and glanced over her shoulder, almost hoping there would be someone to hide from and someone to laugh about later. Alas, she was in no luck today.
She finally slowed down as she meandered through a few more chambers, each one larger than the next, and finally, she strolled down tile floored nave, glancing up to the beautifully constructed dome ceiling. Rays of gorgeous light flooded through the glimmering stained-glass windows and splashed across the wooden benches and erect pillars, forming a path just for Elizabeth. She skipped from one light to the other, giggling when she teetered on the edge of a dash of golden light and tossing her head from side to side. At least there was something for her to do. Then, as she trotted back into the middle aisle again, she spun in a circle, glanced to the ceiling, and then a strange terror seized her.
"Oh," she whispered, her billowing skirt drooping to the ground.
Mighty oak doors, some open and others closed, surrounded this magnificent place of worship, and she wasn't certain which one she came through. It suddenly was no longer an exciting maze, and she stepped toward one door and then another, growing more hesitant as she peered through each entrance, hoping to spot some object or chair that was familiar.
"Father?" she asked, fully knowing he would not answer.
She paced the rows for a moment and then walked briskly toward the decorated altar, her eyes barely flicking over the ornaments and pretty settings. The terror simmered in her mind for a moment and then it subsided. Someone was bound to find her…Eventually. And Mr. Swann had a habit of never forgetting her. Elizabeth swiftly resolved on staying in sight of all the doors and asking the next person to happen upon her how exactly she could get back.
She leaned against the altar's white table and stared out among the rows upon rows of benches. It frightened her to even think of standing in front of every single person in the community and then declaring God's word. What if the cleric stammered or paused too long or had a fit of coughs in the middle of a sermon? She would be mortified...But then again, she always thought men who rose above the crowds were daring, and she respected their fine stature. Perhaps she could do that without the Bible on hand. Without thinking, Elizabeth climbed the short flight of steps and spread out both arms and released a little squeal. It echoed. And she liked it.
Elizabeth let out another one, this time it was louder, and then, nearly shouting, she said, "Hellooo!"
The distinct clicking of footsteps brought reality back into her mind. She was in a church, without her father, and she had been told over and over never to yell unless she was injured or dying. She was definitely neither. A young man, probably no more than twenty-five walked…No, she realized…He sauntered into the chamber, his arms swinging lazily at his waist and his dark, ominous eyes scrutinizing the little girl. She froze in place and waited as his footsteps echoed softly around her.
"I'm so sorry," she said quickly. "I wandered off and I thought I would just try standing up her-- but I could never do that because I certainly could never speak in—" Elizabeth cut herself off, realizing this man had no interest whatsoever in why she was screaming.
"Oh," the man said in a soft rumble.
She squinted at his oddly arranged attire. He was, of course, in normal ebony black attire, but his pristine wig was slightly lopsided and frayed, chunks of braided long hair protruded, and his long whiskers were twisted into braids as well. He was handsome with his bronzed complexion and fine eyebrows, and his hands were lovely, unlike most men's hands she had seen. They were almost delicate, except she could see they were riddled with calluses. Unlike any priest she had ever met. She cocked an eyebrow.
"Are you a priest?"
"Cleric of the Church of England, at your service, Madamemoiselle." He bowed at the waist, sweeping off his tricorne hat.
She snorted. He wasn't French, and his words were slightly slurred together. "You don't look like a cleric."
"And who are you to say so, Young Missy?"
"Elizabeth," she said, her eyes flickering up and down his wardrobe again. She didn't bow as she normally did when she introduced herself. It seemed too formal for this man, even if he WAS a cleric.
"Pleasure to meet you." He nodded his head and replaced his hat, plopping it on top of the wig.
"Aren't you supposed to introduce yourself?"
His eyes narrowed at her bold, nay, almost indignant tone.
"Clerics don't need introduction," the odd man replied in a squeaky voice.
His eyes drifted from one door to the next, his hands nervously twitching at his sides. He seemed to be unable to control his movements; he swayed each time he spoke, his index fingers constantly pointing and his head constantly angling toward her.
"Can you direct me back to the entrance?" she asked, this time politely. He seemed tricky, even though he had said little.
The cleric shook his head, his wig bobbling slightly.
Elizabeth giggled, watching more chocolate brown tresses cascade from the wig. "Shouldn't you know?"
He shrugged as she folded her stocky legs beneath her, flopping down on the glistening steps. He apparently was intrigued by her audacity; he sidled into a seat beside Elizabeth. They peered at each other and a sly smirk slipped across his lips, making her grin back at him. It was a contagious smile; she hadn't known the likes of it before.
"Have you always wanted to be a cleric?"
Elizabeth didn't understand his apparent bafflement. Was it that hard of a question?
"Uh-huh," he finally said.
"I think you're lying." She sighed and propped both hands under her chin, leaning the weight of her head on her knees. "I bet you wanted to be a pirate," she said in her little voice, her lips not quite parting in a smug smile.
"A pirate, eh?" She glanced toward him and caught that amazing crooked grin again.
"My father doesn't approve of me speaking of such things. Says I shouldn't trouble myself with fanciful ideas like pirates." She attempted to sound older--wiser beyond her years. Mocking her father as she had heard her adolescent friends do so many times.
The cleric chuckled. "I've met pirates before," he drawled. "And they are fanciful. Have you heard of Captain Jack Sparrow?"
He added the most distinct emphasis on the word, "captain," and a smirk flashed again. She squinted, realizing she spotted the gleam of a gold tooth. How strange. Elizabeth straightened up, nodding her head furiously.
"Met 'im once before. He even taught me a song."
"A pirate…Taught you…A song?" She laughed, rocking backward like she'd seen beautiful woman do. She wanted to impress this cleric and be completely coy, unrelenting yet pretending she wasn't interested in his song. But Elizabeth was dying to hear him sing...Or to even hear him speak again. She anchored both hands behind her, her slender fingers twitching.
"I don't suppose you would want to hear it, lass?"
The nickname immediately made her perk up. No, he was no ordinary cleric.
"It would be dreadfully improper," she murmured, "as my father would say."
"I don't see your father around."
The man turned away from Elizabeth for a moment, and she saw his hand swiftly slip into his pocket, withdraw a small canteen, and swig a drink from the container. She imagined it was water. Singers did usually need a beverage before singing. The man turned back to her, licking his supple lips and his eyes twinkling all the while. She instinctively scooted a few inches away, allowing more room for her skirt and slightly frightened by the glint in his eyes. He cleared his throat, his head wiggled a bit, and then he crooned gently, the melody wafting into her ear.
Yo ho, Yo ho, a pirate's life for me
We kindle and char and in flame and ignite
Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
His eyebrows bounced and she hummed the simple tune.
We're rascals and scoundrels, we're villains and knaves
Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
We're devils and black sheep and really bad eggs
Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
Yo ho! Yo ho! a pirate's life for me!
When he finished, he smiled and withdrew the canteen again, this time nursing the beverage for a time. Her eyebrows furrowed, but she didn't question his actions. Not when an adult—a cleric in fact— was actually willing to tell her about pirates.
"What did he say? Did he tell stories? Was he going back to the sea?"
The man nodded and patted the girl softly on the back, the gesture obviously unfamiliar to him. "You're not a bad little lass," he said.
She opened her mouth but then groaned and sighed deeply when the defined figure of her distressed father bustled into the nave.
"Elizabeth!" he shouted, and the tone resonated. He was surrounded by numerous other clerics and political figures, and the girl waved feebly. Not now. She wanted to hear more about this cleric.
"I suppose you can meet—" Her sentence dropped off as she swiveled around. The peculiar man was gone. As if he had never existed. She gaped in wonder, the doors on either side bolted shut and only traces of his rumbling voice and silly song vibrated in her mind. Was it a…No, it wasn't dream. Elizabeth was certain of that. She rose from her seat.
"Sorry," she murmured, her eyes searching the chamber. "I got lost."
"That's all right," he said, giving her a small hug. "I'm just happy you aren't hurt. Someone said they heard a little girl screaming not too long ago."
"Oh," Elizabeth said softly, her eyes wide. "I didn't hear a thing." She weakly smiled, puzzled by the man's vanishment, and nodded to the small throng of men before dropping back, humming the cleric's childish pirate tune as she skipped toward the entrance. Perhaps coming to the cathedral wasn't such a bad idea after all, and Elizabeth was absolutely certain that she would scour the library as soon as possible and learn about the fantastic Captain Jack Sparrow.
Jack smirked at Elizabeth Swann hitched up the off-white, tarnished skirt, whirling merrily about the crackling fire with a fiery bottle of liquid glued to the palm of her slender hand. Her slightly warped teeth glimmered in the glimpses of orange and red light, illuminating her beautiful features, and seemingly enhancing the quality of the lyrics. Oh, he knew them well, but Elizabeth was left in oblivion, unaware they had encountered one another nine years before. He had contemplated trying to tell her of his clever ruse and disguise, but she was just a girl then, and he had only just realized it himself. Maybe he and Miss Swann were destined to meet. He was becoming more and more certain of that as she sang louder and as the night progressed into utter darkness, the stars sparkling above. Two souls left on a deserted island. It was a better fate than last time, and Jack Sparrow willingly grasped it by the neck of the bottle.
"Dance with me!" she shouted, hauling him to his feet.
He staggered for a moment, swigging from the drained bottle of rum, and then smirked as he chased after her endless circle about the firelight. It would be his little secret; he was certain of it then.