A/N: In this chapter, you will learn just who it is Mary is talking to in the prologue. My dear readers, thank you so much for having stuck with this story to its epilogue. This started out at first as my "fun" story, meaning it wasn't going to be taken seriously; I was going to do whatever I wanted with it and was not going to fuss with all the little details I usually do when I write. However, over time, it grew to mean more to me and only the original universe rivals it in terms of my affections. My hope is that you too have had fun, that you got to see something a little lighter and more spirited than AWE, but still felt like you were part of a thrilling ride. I have sincerely appreciated every review. Thank you.
Six months later…
A calm white dawn, Will smiled, anchored near Tortuga just for the sunrise. He had no idea how long he would be able to enjoy the lulling waves, seas far less friendly in other places ready to claim more lives. But just for the moment, he could relax. He laughed at himself, his hands around the neck of a rum bottle. In moderation, of course, the sweet drink could be very good.
"The bishop can only go diagonally, Mary," he heard his father complain beneath him. "You were doing so well."
"That's my wife you're harassing," Will chuckled, leaning over, remembering acting as minister and groom both, his father the witness.
"No need to ruffle your feathers over me," Mary called up to him, wiggling her wings at him. "This old man has yet to see the consequences of when Mary Read outfoxes ye."
"Hopefully he will before too long," he said. "You have someone to meet."
He'd felt her joy just as if it had been his own when they learned Anne Bonny had escaped the gallows, disappeared off the records long ago, middle-aged and a bit grayed now, as Mary would have been had she not been rescued by Calypso, but they'd left her a note telling her to go into the pub and wait that evening if she wished to see an old friend. He longed to see the delight on Mary's face when she'd tell Anne the story, but that small piece of happiness was not to be.
As if she knew what he'd been thinking, and he didn't doubt she did indeed know, she flew up to him and kissed him.
"She'll be right jealous of you, she will. Won't matter if she found someone or not."
"I'm sure she'll have a story to tell you after you tell yours," he said, kissing her back. His angel. His winged guardian angel. His wife.
"Won't be as romantic," she laughed before gliding back down to Bootstrap to finish their chess game.
"Lord Norrington," Howell Davis said, walking up to James at his desk. This afternoon the office basked in the sunlight streaming in from the windows. Fitting, he thought, the days of Beckett remembered like the Dark Ages. He noticed Lord Norrington's sword sitting on the shelf behind him, replacing the map that had been there before the hurricane. Full of plants and old military memorabilia, he stopped to once again admire the medals displayed off to the side of the desk.
"Yes, Howell, what is it?"
"Just a message, sir, the Black Pearl has been sighted up in the Carolinas."
"Oh. Thank you."
"Is it supposed to be there, sir?"
"Howell," James said, pouring two glasses of wine and passing one to him. "The Black Pearl is a Company ship, isn't she?"
"Yes, sir. At least that's what they tell me." He waited for Lord Norrington to drink first.
"So it would be rather maddening for anyone to suggest that particular ship is doing anything other than Company business."
"Yes, sir." He took a sip and held the glass with awkward hands.
"Why don't you sit and finish it off in here? I'd enjoy the company."
Oh yes, Howell Davis thought, sitting back in the chair, able to converse with his employer like they were equals. The Dark Ages of Lord Beckett were truly done.
"…and after they decapitated Blackbeard, they attached his head to the bow of Maynard's ship, which sailed up to Virginia with the survivors of the crew, all of which were hanged."
"That's not a very happy ending, Miss Elizabeth," Ragetti said.
"That wasn't really the point," Jack said. "The point is that it all happened here." He put his arm around Elizabeth and rolled his eyes, her dress swishing with the subtle breeze. He felt a bit scruffy next to it, hair locked and braided behind a perpetual bandana, just the way he liked it. Simple pleasures.
"Just because it all really happened don't mean the ending's got to stay the same," Pintel said, forcing Jack to share a bewildered expression with Elizabeth. "What was it that Tia Dalma said…before she was molested by Norrington, that is. 'Same story, different versions and all are true.'"
"Might have known ye would be bringing up that witch," Gibbs grunted.
Jack steered himself and Elizabeth to the other side of the street and walked along the pier, still shaking his head at them. He felt her head rest against his as they walked, slowing their pace, but he didn't mind in the slightest. Walking along the shipyard with your wife resting her head against you was just one on a long list of pleasurable things to do with her, most of which were pleasurable before she came along, but, Jack had noticed, Elizabeth had a way of enhancing everything.
"We burn up the city/We're really a fright/Drink up, me hearties, yo ho," she sang. Jack grinned, knowing she didn't even realize she was singing.
"A sad ending can only be happy if the story keeps on going!" he could hear Ragetti trying to talk some sense into Pintel. So much for keeping a low profile.
"Would ye give it a rest?" Gibbs shouted, glancing over at Jack for help, only to receive a casual shrug.
"Mind singing a little louder, love, just to drown them out?"
"I was singing?" she asked into his neck.
"Don't worry," he teased. "You're just doing what a Sparrow should."