Title: Lies of Omission
Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean: Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy loses girl. Boy meets eccentric pirate. Boy goes on adventure and becomes pirate. Boy gets girl back. Sort of. It's all the property of Disney, I don't own it!
Taunt: My fandom is savvy.
Everything goes according to plan.
They leave her on the island with only the clothes on her back, and a very special chest holding a singular treasure. She couldn't got back to Port Royal, as she is a fugitive there, wanted for aiding and abetting in the escape of a wanted pirate. So they leave her at the first island they see with an active port and harbor.
She makes sure she looks the part by splashing around in the surf, tearing at her clothes, and the like. Thus done, she stumbles towards the village.
She chooses a house with two children out in front, and knocks on the door, working on the logic that a family home is the safest place for her to go at this point in time. A woman answers, and she quickly finds herself ushered inside. A chair is found for her; a blanket is thrown around her shoulders. And she is surrounded by an entire family, a mother and father and children, all asking her what happened and where she came from?
She introduces herself as Elizabeth Turner. Her story is simple, one that she concocted to fit her situation. Her fiancée went to sea. After a time, she feared for him, and went to search for him. She found him, and they were married at sea by the captain. Shortly after they were married, their wedding, the ship was attacked by pirates. She was able to escape, but her husband…
By the time she finishes her story, she is weeping, and not just for show.
But the family is sympathetic. It seems that the story she tells, while perhaps a bit more extreme than most situations, is not entirely unheard of. This is a fishing village. People being lost to the water is tragic, but not unheard of, and has affected nearly everyone in the town at some point or another.
She finds herself staying with them for the night. They give her dry clothes, a warm meal, and a bed to sleep in. And she has all their sympathy for what she has lived through.
As night falls, she lays awake and stares into the darkness. She is too tired to even cry anymore. All she can do is lay there, thinking of everything that has happened.
The next day, they take her down into the village. It seems that word has already spread around the town. The men cough and crow about what a crime piracy is and how pirates should be wiped from the seas; the women look sympathetic and offer their aide.
She feels a bit guilty for misleading these kind people, even though the only lies she told were technically lies of omission. Because everything she said was actually true, more or less. It was just a question of context.
It is the truth. Just not all of it.
She makes a home in the village. It is a small place, where everyone knows everyone else. They are kind people, though not wealthy, and they help her to get her feet under her. It's a far cry from the exquisite house she once lived in with her father, with servants and many rooms. But she appreciates her new home, and somehow it feels more like home than the Governor's Mansion did.
As time goes by, she finds a colleague and a confidante in the strangest place: the village midwife. The midwife is an ancient woman, easily the oldest person in the town. Her hands are wrinkled and knotted, but as strong as any fisherman's. But her most visible feature is her left eye; it is milky white, and reputedly allows her to see what cannot be seen by the normal human eye.
She begins to spend a lot of time in the midwife's cabin. And slowly, she starts to learn the names of the various herbs on the walls, the tools of her trade. Word begins to spread that she will take the midwife's place. An apprentice…
She gives it careful consideration. It would certainly provide a better life, both for her and for the one who was not yet in the world. The last thing left to her by her beloved.
But she finds herself forced to give some credence to the stories of the midwife's reputed powers during a visit. It was a routine visit, to be sure, just to make sure everything was progressing as it should. As the midwife touched her swollen belly, she murmured words that sent a chill down her spine.
Your husband is not dead. Not in the truest sense.
She feels her eyes widen and her breath hitch. But she does not reply to that statement. She remains still and quiet until she is preparing to leave, when the midwife addresses her again, fixing a gaze on her with that milky eye that could not possibly see, and yet somehow did.
You married one who did things that some would call piracy.
She is quiet for a moment longer before she offers a simple reply.
He was a good man.
It is the truth. Just not all of it.
Labor is a nightmare unlike anything she has ever experienced, in more ways than one.
First of all, of course, there is the physical pain. It feels like she is being torn in two, like she could very well die in her (she feels) pitiful attempts to bring a new life into the world. Some part of her is fully aware that women have been going through this, and surviving this, for far longer than she has been alive, back in the earliest days of humanity.
But unfortunately, that knowledge does not make it hurt any less.
Then there is the other side of the coin. She thinks about him, and that last day they were able to spend together. Has it really been nine months since that happened? She cannot decide if it has only been nine months, or if it feels more like it has been nine years.
The tears are borne of pain, both physical and emotional. But there is no time now for grieving, nor for pity. The midwife is telling her what to do, and she knows that if she and her child are to survive, she needs to focus on her task.
She has always been different from the other girls, other women. They dreamt of romance, of knights in shining armor, of princes in castles. She dreamt of high adventure, of open seas with salty breezes, of pirates and outlaws. They fled before danger and cringed at the idea of beasts. She challenged an immortal pirate captain with nary a thought for running away and stared a sea monster in the face.
She has always been different.
She has always been stronger.
And now that strength will serve her well.
The other women of the village have been so kind to her through all of this, first after hearing her story that her husband had been lost at sea, and then upon learning that their one day together had brought about such results. How tragic, they say, to be both a widow and a mother so young.
She appreciates it, though they truly know nothing of her.
At last, it has come to this. And finally, as she sinks back against the bed, her strength depleted and her eyes blinded by pain and tears, she hears the beautiful sound of a baby wailing. She turns her head and lets the tears run from her eyes as she tries to see her child. Their child.
The midwife holds the baby for a moment, just out of her sight; she hears water splashing. The infant that is then passed to her is clean, and wrapped in a blanket, and wailing. And the midwife whispers to her the words she had hoped to hear.
It is a boy.
She names him William. For his father, she says, and his grandfather.
The villagers help her to celebrate the birth, as after all these months she has become one of them: a respected woman of the small community. They nod approvingly, and agree that it is a fine name.
One woman, of a superstitious nature (though admittedly ignorant in this particular matter), sees the baby and proclaims that her husband must have been the finest of men to father such a healthy child, and surely she will want her newborn son to grow up to be like his father.
In an echo of her earlier conversation with the midwife about her husband, she agrees that he was, indeed, a very good man. And she would be thrilled if he was like his father in many ways.
Another woman comments that motherhood is an adventure unlike any other, the greatest adventure she will probably ever go on. And she nods and assents to that, saying that she has certainly never been on an adventure such as this one.
It is the truth. Just not all of it.
She sees Jack once more, several years later.
It is in the village market. She is returning from a visit to an elderly woman in town, someone she knows is desperate for companionship, and so she looks in on her from time to time. The town has given her much, and she repays it in little ways as best she can. Now she is buying things for dinner. Her son wanders along beside her, taking in the world as only a five year old's eyes truly can.
She glances through the crowd, smiling at a friend, and sees the familiar bandana. For a moment, she is unsure as to whether or not that could possibly be him. Then he turns around, and all doubt vanishes. It is really Jack Sparrow.
Captain Jack Sparrow, she reminds herself, amused at her own thoughts. Old habits do die hard, after all. For a moment, she considers calling out to him, but decides that will not do. That part of her life is behind her now, in favor of a very different sort of adventure. And furthermore, the town gossips are out and about today. They have never had anything to say about her, and for her son's sake, she will not give them anything now.
She is about to walk away when he turns again. And he sees her.
There is a brief moment during which the town seems to cease movement. He really has not changed at all, though she imagines that she has. There are memories, sadness and regret, and a sickened feeling in her stomach as she recalls the moment when she condemned that man to death by her own two hands, chaining him to a ship and leaving him at the mercy of a monster intent on devouring him.
And then Jack nods, a faint bob of the head. It's almost as though he understands.
He always was an odd one.
Yet one of his philosophies has, in a way, become the mantra by which she has built herself a new life here. It was something Jack did often in his pitiful attempts to manipulate people, and something she did now simply to protect herself and now to protect her child: the best lie a person can tell is the truth. Just not all of it.
She returns the nod, and then breaks the moment to look down when a small hand tugs on her skirt. The world resumes its normal movements and motions, and all is as it should be. She straightens, and reaches down to take her son's hand.
Come along, Will. It's late. We need to be getting home.
She knows Jack can hear the words, and she knows that he will know what they mean. And she walks away, letting the moment go and once again resigning all of those bittersweet memories to their proper place: hidden in her past.
As she is preparing dinner that night, her son asks her about the man they saw in the market.
Mama, who was he? He looked like a pirate!
She thinks long and hard about her answer before she gives it.
Someone I knew a long time ago. A friend.
Her son, a young child with a young child's attention span, seems satisfied with that cryptic answer, and at her instruction obediently goes to wash up for dinner.
It is the truth. Just not all of it.
Her son asks about his father.
She has known that this would come sooner or later. If anything, she should be surprised that he waited until he was eight years old to ask. And she knows she has mentioned him now and again, usually in passing. This is both for her own memories, and because she did not want to invite the question.
Because it is an awkward one to answer.
Still, he sits beside her and listens as she tells him the story of how she first met the man she would eventually marry. He seems fascinated by the idea of finding a boy washed up from a shipwreck, taking him on board and saving him, taking him to the port, apprenticing him to a blacksmith, and seeing him grow to a fine young man, one she fell in love with.
She glosses over nearly all of the details, and skips a good many major events, and eventually just tells him more or less the same story that she told the villagers on the day she stumbled into town, having just been left there by a pirate ship crewed by those odd lawless people she considered to be friends. They were married, had a day or so together, and then he was lost at sea to pirates.
He takes all of this in, and then speaks.
My father is dead?
The question is like a knife in her heart, but she keeps herself neutral and answers.
You will get to meet him someday, Will. I promise. But yes. He is dead.
It is the truth. Just not all of it.
Ten years have passed.
She has been counting every day as it passes, waiting and keeping a weather-eye on the horizon, as he used to say. And now, finally, the day has come. And she does have a surprise for him, although she is unsure as to whether or not he will really be that surprised.
The chest that he gave her is still in her possession. Once she had a home of her own here, she went and retrieved it from where she had hidden it. It has been tucked away safely ever since, away from prying eyes. Now and again she will glance towards its hiding spot and sigh, but she has not been able to bring herself to take it out.
Her son seems a bit surprised when she tells him that he is going to meet his father, and even more startled when she says that he cannot tell anyone of it. It is a secret, and if anyone were to find out, it would make a great deal of trouble. But he is smart, and he nods and swears secrecy, and follows his mother out to the sea.
The village sits on one side of the island. She and her son travel to the other side, where they should be safe from prying eyes. The journey takes a fair amount of time, but they are there in plenty of time to wait and watch and hope.
As the sun paints the sky in red and yellow and orange, she hears her son begin to sing. It is a song that she sang as a child, one that began to take on a new meaning for her as she grew up and went on the most extraordinary adventures. She taught it to her son. When a man in the village questioned the wisdom of teaching a child such a song, she smiled and said that it is a song she knew as a child herself, back when she was unaware of the true evils of pirates.
Strange how sentimental value can make even some distasteful things acceptable.
She smiles as he sings it now.
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me…
As they stand and watch, there is a flash of brilliant green light on the horizon, and a ship appears, sailing towards them. She hears her son gasp, and feels a smile break on her own face. Ten years of waiting have brought them all here now, and it is the most joyous of moments. She wraps an arm around her son, and tells him that his father is here.
As Will said to her ten years ago during those first fateful twenty-four hours, one day might not be much. But it all depends on the day.
And that is the truth.
PS. Wow. Long fic is long. This entire thing was sparked by the little "after the credits" scene at the end of the third movie. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading, all! Much love!