A/N: 3/4/09 I have had two readers this week tell me that they did not realize that this story is a sequel to a previous one, despite the fact that the summary says Episode IV. :D So if you find yourself here enjoying the story but a bit confuse because you didn't read the previous fics, at least pop on over and read Memories of May. This will make much more sense if you do!
Twelve years ago, a song was sung on the deck of the infamous pirate ship, the Rogue Wave, about a great son of the sea who fell in love with a beautiful girl, but was destined to have only one night of passion with her, and then to be fated to remain apart from her, in love with her until the moment of his death.
It could have been a song about a certain pirate, and it could have been a song about a certain lady doctor, except for one small detail.
Someone forgot to tell the Pirate Lord of the Caspian Sea that was supposed to be the end of the story...
A Rose Among the Thorns
Blackness surrounded the even blacker ship
She was alone, but surely not at peace.
Few sounds other than those made by the soft waves lapping at the flanks of the Black Pearl and the occasional creak of the ship's timbers broke the near silence of the hour.
Elizabeth Swann stood on deck, contemplating the still night around her, trying to endure a sleepless night that she knew might well be her last. While the past few hours had seemed a tortured eternity, she knew dawn was approaching faster than she'd care to admit.
Footsteps sounded on the deck behind her, and her attention shifted to the approaching person, although her gaze remained focused on the dark waves before her. She wasn't entirely sure that she wanted to talk to Jack at the moment, but she resigned herself to the fact that she ought to, since he was obviously concerned enough about her to come and find her this late.
"'Tis yer own doin' that's caused yer lack of sleep, I reckon...Yer Majesty."
Elizabeth glanced at Barbossa as he came to stand next to her and rested his hands on the railing, a brief look of mild surprise on her face when he turned out not to be who she expected, which quickly faded to a neutral one.
"Yes, thank you, I'm quite aware of that...Captain," she said back with just the same amount of sarcasm that he'd used.
"Yer resolved to destroy us all still, are yeh?" he asked, not looking at her, but with enough derision in his voice that she knew that he wore a slight sneer, even though she couldn't see it.
She sighed. "I am resolved that the Brethren will go to war," she said evenly. "Who ends up destroyed in the end remains to be seen."
Elizabeth frowned a little and finally looked at her midnight companion, disliking his uncharacteristic lack of further argument. He merely glanced sideways at her and said nothing, and she both mistrusted what was possibly going on in his mind, and disliked the fact that he disapproved of her in some way.
As firm as her resolve had been, backed up by Jack's support when he sealed her fate and elected her King, she still felt an irrational need to explain herself to the infuriating man who stood next to her.
"You know, Jack agrees with me," she said, her tone a touch haughty to try and hide her insecurity, which she felt was not becoming to a Pirate King.
"Ah," he said, a touch overdramatically, "well, I guess that would make it all fine and dandy then, if Jack Sparrow approves of what ye be doin'."
Elizabeth turned away sharply, even though he wasn't looking at her, irritated because there was more to his comment than what appeared to be on the surface.
"And I suppose ye think it wiser to listen to the likes of him than the likes of me?" Barbossa asked, still watching the dark sea.
"I trust him, is all," Elizabeth replied, trying to keep the defensive aspect out of her words.
"But ye don't trust me," he accused quietly.
"I didn't say that," she said softly, not really sure whether she did or she didn't.
"You didn't have to."
Elizabeth opened her mouth to retort, and not knowing exactly what to say, she closed it again and remained silent.
"Yer a smart girl," he said, and Elizabeth was sure, that although he kept his eyes on the waves and his expression neutral, that there was a hint of amusement in his voice.
She couldn't help but smile to herself a little. "Glad you think so," she said, flipping the comment off her tongue a little smugly, as if she couldn't care less what he thought.
Her smile faded at the lack of sarcasm in his comment. "You have?" she asked, and then she berated herself silently for sounding like a little girl who was looking for approval.
"Aye." He faced her and leaned on his elbow on the railing, the slight smirk that she knew he was wearing visible now. "A right pain in me arse ye be more often than not, Missy, but it doesn't mean yer not one of the cleverest lasses I've met."
Elizabeth sported her own smirk. "I suppose that's quite a compliment, coming from you, Captain Barbossa."
"I suppose it is." His smirk drew into a slight roguish smile.
"And how long has it been since you've lavished such extensive compliments on a woman, Captain?" Elizabeth asked, already knowing the answer, and likewise knowing that he was unaware that she knew. "Ten years, perhaps? Twelve?" She relished the puzzled frown that appeared for an instant on Barbossa's face in response to her comment.
He didn't manage to hide all the annoyance in his voice when he answered. "What would make ye offer such an inane comment, Miss Swann?"
Elizabeth smiled. It was 'Missy' he called her when he was teasing or sarcastic, and it always became 'Miss Swann' when he was irritated with her. She examined her dirty fingernails casually. "Did I ever mention that Madeline Gray is a very good friend of mine?"
The surprised look on the older pirate's face was only there for an instant, but Elizabeth relished the small victory and continued. "I haven't seen her in some time, but I had the most interesting conversation with her about a year and a half or so ago."
"Interestin', ye say?" Barbossa asked, not being entirely successful in sounding casual.
"Aye," Elizabeth said, not saying anything else to see if he would take the bait. She watched him think over her comments, trying to outwait her and let her say more before he had to break down and ask. She didn't, and he finally relented, and she would have savored the second small victory in their frequent verbal tête-à-tête if it weren't for how cautious he sounded when he spoke.
"What did she say?" he asked softly, perhaps a bit of wariness in his eyes that she knew were focused on hers, even in the darkness on the deck of the Pearl. She knew him well enough to know that although it might not be obvious to a casual observer, that there was a trace of apprehension in his manner.
Elizabeth softened her tone as she spoke. "She told me what happened all those years ago...I read the letter you sent her," she replied a little awkwardly, not knowing what to expect from him in response.
"Ah." He turned away to lean on his arms against the railing and look out over the darkened waves again. "Is she well?" he asked, very quietly.
"Yes." Elizabeth debated about what else to say, knowing that she had stirred something in the man at the railing next to her that she hadn't witnessed in a long time. Not since the night he told her of how awful the curse he endured was, and spoke with such agonized longing of the things he'd lost.
"Everything alright, Elizabeth?" Jack's voice interrupted her conversation with Barbossa from a short ways across the deck, and she turned and nodded to him.
"Fine," she replied, giving him a weak smile, but letting him know that she could handle Barbossa on her own.
Jack shot a mistrustful glance in Barbossa's direction, and nodded at Elizabeth before leaving her alone again.
A few minutes passed with neither of them saying anything, and finally she spoke again. "I think I understand better why you did some of the awful and desperate things you did..."
"Do yeh now?" he asked casually, shooting her a look that said he wasn't about to apologize for anything he'd done anytime soon, and then glancing back at where Jack was heading below decks again. "Maybe you do. Seems as though ye did an awful an' desperate thing yerself, Missy."
Elizabeth was glad that it was dark as she felt the flush across her cheeks, knowing that Barbossa referred to how she'd doomed Jack in order to see to it that the others, and especially Will, was safe.
"We be more alike than I wager ye'd care to admit," he said, "and I'll give yeh a piece of advice about young Master Turner, whether or not ye'd be inclined to accept it."
Elizabeth said nothing, curious to hear what he was going to say.
Barbossa's steely blue stare softened for a moment. "Don't let 'im go, lass. 'Tis obvious there's somethin' there that ye'll regret losin' forever..."
His voice trailed off, and she knew he was speaking from experience. "You're probably right," she said very quietly.
"Aye, and right I am about a lot of other things ye'll not listen to me about," he replied with good-natured sarcasm, "so at least heed me warnin' 'bout this."
Elizabeth smirked once the sarcasm she was accustomed to reappeared in Barbossa's voice. "I may not be as old, or as wise as you are, Captain Barbossa," she replied, earning herself a dirty look, "but let me give you a piece of advice, whether or not you'd be inclined to acquiesce."
"And what be that?" he asked, amusement at her reference to a long –past conversation between them in his voice.
"When this is over," she said, "if I were you, I'd pay a call to a certain doctor I know."
"A fool's errand," Barbossa spat, but his comment lacked any real bite. "She'll have moved on by now."
Elizabeth smiled. "I don't think so."
Barbossa rolled his eyes at her as if to dismiss the idea once more.
"Trust me on that at least," Elizabeth said, patting him on the arm before she turned to walk away. She halted a few paces away when he spoke once more.
She stopped in her tracks, knowing he was going to ask her something important. She couldn't ever recall him addressing her like that.
"Would you wait that long, for someone that..." he broke off, clearly a bit uncomfortable with the conversation, "...that ye truly...loved?"
Elizabeth glanced over her shoulder at him and gave him a tiny smile, and then nodded. "Yes, and so would she."
"Well, then perhaps I'll be takin' yer advice," he said, back to his usual arrogant charm, "if I survive what ye put us through tomorrow, Yer Majesty."
"And perhaps I'll take yours, if I survive whatever else it is you may be planning, Captain Barbossa," Elizabeth answered back in the same manner.
She couldn't help but roll her eyes a little at him as he merely smirked at her and nodded his head once in a small deferent but mocking bow.
Elizabeth prepared to leave the Pearl at last, with the battle over and the Endeavor at the bottom of the sea. The remainder of the EITC fleet had scattered, not wanting to face the Brethren with the Flying Dutchman and the Black Pearl leading the charge. It was over...for now.
The crew was gathered around to see her off, and some of those she knew best stood near, waiting to pay their respects and say goodbye. She took a deep breath and strode forward, glancing at where Barbossa stood with his hands resting casually on the hilt of his sword.
"Mrs. Turner," he said softly, nodding once gallantly to pay his respects.
Elizabeth met his gaze, and couldn't help but smirk in response to the tiny wry smile that tugged at the corners of his mouth. He knew that she'd taken his advice, and indeed had helped her do so when he'd performed the unorthodox marriage in the midst of the maelstrom.
She said nothing, knowing that she didn't need to, and neither did he, the man who had been her enemy, her captor, her mentor, her ally, and dare she say in some odd way, a friend? Perhaps.
She turned away, a faint smile on her lips, knowing by the look they'd exchanged that he planned on taking her advice as well.
And so the story continues...