A/N: Happy Valentine's Day! :)
Summary: Post AWE. One thousand words. Ten years. Year after year. Sparrabeth.
Disclaimer: I don't own Jack, Elizabeth, etc.
All Hours Are Silver & Gold
The first year is made out of absence. He pretends not to know that she resides in Shipwreck Cove; she pretends not to know that he knows – and does not come.
There are nights when everything is dark, when even tears seem black, lost to the darkness of ravenous imagination.
Other nights are peaceful and calm, soundless and sleepless, filled with fading memories floating in the humid air.
Time remains the strangest of foes, unreachable. Days are long, and hours stagger. It takes forever to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear; to uncork a bottle of rum.
During the second year she learns that the Black Pearl was lost – and recovered by her Captain. There are people favored by fate, then.
She travels across the corridors like labyrinths – all the doors leading to nowhere. She is lost - and careless in her thoughts. She trades nightmares for daydreaming.
He spends nights and days at the helm, mastering self-deception. The sun sets the sea aglitter; the moon sets his heart on fire. He cherishes the sun and curses the moon. Neither seems to care.
At some point all the seas in the world turn into mirrors.
She wakes up in the middle of the night to the storm and raised voices.
Bare-footed, she runs, the black nightgown fanning around her. The sand is warm under her feet, and the rain feels like stars falling onto her face.
The black sails are tattered but the ship looks as invincible as ever.
He does not notice her until she is too close for either of them to run. There is anger in his eyes and thousands of masks on their faces.
It takes three words for anger to fade – and one kiss for the masks to fall.
The world vanishes for a year.
They cling to each other without memories, plans, second thoughts. His scars are rough under her fingertips, his lips impatient on her skin. Every moment is precious and they barely sleep. Arms and eyes locked, they whisper about freedom.
They laugh in the dark and count stars in broad daylight. Every word is tender, each kiss is sweet. Her hand clasped in his, and his in hers, they are drawing maps of unknown islands. Except for the wind, nothing matters. The waves plot the course and they never speak of headings – and sunrises.
Wherever they want to go they go. All the places they visit are enthralling. He paints her eyelids black and slides rings on her fingers when she is asleep.
Dust and foreign languages are swirling in the air. They run across the crowded streets and quiet forests, try pronouncing the names of what they eat, drape each other in colorful fabrics, fall asleep surrounded by the scents and sounds of the world.
She wears his shirts and listens to the true version of his stories. They sing - and write letters to each other and read them together in the candlelight.
Some battles feel like theater plays and they revel in each sound made by clashing swords. Other battles are simply obstacles to be overcome. They keep bantering and kissing while treating the wounds and only sometimes the sight of blood makes them think of the past.
One evening he catches her cry - she refuses to explain. He shatters the silence with his voice, eyes, hands, lips.
In his arms, she contemplates the irrelevance of guilt, tracing the outlines of his tattoos with her fingers.
He wakes up with her hand over his heart and her tears on his chest.
She is terrified by how fast time is running. She tries to hold onto each day but they escape her. She cannot stop the future from haunting her.
She is already gone when he wakes up and he avoids her as much as possible in return. They snap and glare. The rum is gone. He threatens to leave her behind. She threatens to leave him behind. One day Gibbs leaves them behind.
Three days later they are back on the Pearl. She fakes sleep; turns around when he buries his face in her hair.
Time stops running when they kiss.
He likes when she is telling him ghost stories with her cheek pressed against his.
They man the helm together and argue in hushed voices. He knows that the shadows on her face are the ones of guilt – not of regret. She pretends that she finds his self-confidence annoying.
He knows that she is happy even when she is sad. She does not cry. Only sometimes it takes her longer than usual to smile.
They are tired of anxiety billowing in the wind; tired of this calm before the storm that is approaching both too fast and too slow.
The crew learns not to run across the deck at night in order not to trip over them.
They spend long, dark hours stargazing, comparing the shades of their skin in the moonlight, exchanging the rings, throwing their hats in the air and catching them with eyes closed.
They fall asleep looking at each other. His arms are warm around her. Cold rain returns in dreams.
She searches for a hurtful memory but there are no unsaid words left, no secrets to reveal.
He traces the contour of her lips with the backs of his fingers, kisses away her tears.
The question is lingering at the end of each look he gives her - but no words follow.
He spends the last night alone. The storm wakes him up.
Caught off guard by the sight of her, he braces himself for what he hoped to avoid – saying a good bye.
It takes a lightning to make him see the expression on her face and only then, in the torrents of sea blue rain, it dawns on him that it is not the last day of their first decade together.
It is already the first day of the next one.