Disclaimer: I don't own them; the characters belong to Disney, etal. No infringement is intended.
After their one day together, after Will had vanished from her sight to take up his reluctant command of the Flying Dutchman, Elizabeth had secreted the chest that held his heart somewhere on the island. It was the only way to ensure that no one would ever know that he'd entrusted it to her. Only she would ever know the place where it had been tearfully buried. Will kept the key.
But, there were simply too many pirates that knew who she was, and that she was loved by the new Captain of the Flying Dutchman. Those who didn't know directly would likely hear of it by way of rumor, innuendo or gossip. A truly dangerous position to be in, for with very few exceptions, pirates would never be known for their loyalty. No one would ever use her to get to Will, she'd fiercely vowed.
And uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, was her grimly Shakespearean thought as to the rest of it. Realizing that her positions, both as captain of the Empress and as Pirate King, were fraught with peril, she'd sailed the Empress to Shipwreck Cove, and immediately placed herself under Teague's formidable protection, while she considered what to do about her situation.
Not long afterwards, she'd discovered that she was pregnant.
The sea was no place to raise a child, but she had next to nothing in the way of funds to set up a new life for herself and her babe. Believing that the warrants for her arrest and hanging for helping a known pirate were still in effect, she wouldn't take the chance of returning to Port Royal to try and access her father's wealth as his heir.
Remembering her kidnapping at Barbossa's hands, she'd gone to Teague, summoned Tai Huang, and entered into careful, specific negotiations. In exchange for the funds needed to make a decent start, she would resign her kingship and turn command of the Empress over to Sao Feng's lieutenant. He would give Teague her agreed-upon percentage of the plunder as Pirate Lord and owner of the vessel, until the amount had been repaid. After that, the Keeper of the Code would hold her share of the plunder in trust.
Maybe, when her child was older, she would take up the captaincy again.
Near the time of her confinement, she'd sent word to Jack, requesting that he would escort her to a neutral port not long after her baby was born. From there, she would journey to a new home, one that she hoped was far enough away from both the reach of the Crown, and the reach of the pirates that she had been king of.
Her cabin on the Pearl is so very small and cramped. Between the bunk, and the cradle that had been bolted to the floor when she boarded the vessel at Shipwreck Cove, there is barely any room to move around. She's lost count of the number of times she's hit her shin, or stubbed her toe, on the one piece of furniture or the other.
She lies in the darkness of her quarters, wondering what it is that woke her up. It takes her only a moment to realize that it is the complete and utter silence that had jolted her from her sleep.
There is no quiet breathing that comes from the cradle, there are none of the tiny noises that William makes during the night, sounds that comfort her, sounds that she finds so very endearing, such as the snuffling little coo he will give before his lips suckle at a breast that isn't there.
She rises swiftly, moving the few paces to where her son sleeps, her hands reaching anxiously for him, her mouth suddenly dry with fear. Finding no warm, tiny body, Elizabeth's heart seems to literally stop, before it lurches almost painfully to start again, beating hard.
"No," her voice breaks. "Dear God, no!"
Fumbling in the darkness, she struggles to turn the knob of the lantern that hangs from a hook on the wall next to her bunk. The resultant glow over an empty cradle brings a low, wounded sound from her throat.
Clad only in a light, cotton shift, her hand automatically catches up the sword that is never out of reach. Elizabeth hurries to jerk open the door of the cabin. It is unlocked. It is never unlocked when she retires for the night.
Frantic, she races for the steps that lead to the deck. She'll start there, she thinks, and she won't stop until she finds her son. And woe be it to the man who has him, for she will surely kill him. She uses her free hand to pull her shift up high out of the way of her feet, and takes the stairs two at a time.
When she reaches the deck, she squints against the sun that shines in her eyes. It is just after dawn. She turns in a quick circle, searching, straining, almost sobbing at the sickening fear that swamps her.
What she sees next brings her to a sudden halt. Her sword arm falls to her side, the blade slipping from her suddenly nerveless fingers to clatter onto the deck. She forgets, for the second time in mere minutes, how to breathe.
"Will," she finally says in a small, thready voice.
In all the years to follow, Elizabeth will never forget the sight. It is imprinted forever in her memory, never to fade with time or distance.
He stands near the rail of the ship, turned slightly towards her. Avidly, she takes in the sight. He wears a dark green tunic, its sleeves rolled up to just below his elbows, black breeches and scuffed boots. His hair is free of the confining band of cloth he'd worn when she last saw him, tied back instead in the simple queue she remembers so well. The sun reflects off of the familiar earring in his left ear.
And in his embrace she sees their son. Will holds him close to his chest, William's small head resting near his shoulder. His father's strong arms are wrapped securely around him, one arm supporting his tiny bottom, the other around his back. Will's large hand cups his son's curly head, his lips are pressed to his fine, dusky hair. She gives a watery little laugh when she realizes that Will is moving from side to side in the slight swaying motion that seems to be universal to anyone holding a babe.
Elizabeth starts towards them slowly, drinking them in, swallowing hard against the thickness of her throat.
William is wide awake, she sees. And he is supremely content to be where he is. His eyes are dark and solemn, so very much like Will's. He seems to be taking in the world from the strength and safety of his father's embrace.
Her husband raises his head. He smiles, and she can see the glitter of tears.
"Elizabeth," Will says hoarsely, and then she is running to his side. She wraps an arm around his lean waist, and places her other hand over his, where it rests over William's short curls. He stares at her for a long moment, before looking down again at the miracle that is their son.
"He's so beautiful," Will's voice cracks.
"How ... how did you find us," Elizabeth asks, still gazing up at her husband's face. A sudden, horrible thought crosses her mind, and she knows another moment of that sheer, unadulterated terror. She jerks away a bit.
"You aren't here to take him?" she cries harshly. "Tell me you're not here to take him away!"
"No!" Will responds quickly, firmly. "Elizabeth, no!" His voice becomes quiet and gentle, his gaze reassuring. "I'm not here for that, I promise you." He hurries to explain. "Jack somehow found a way to let me know that he would be escorting you from Shipwreck Cove. I truly don't know how he does these things," Will's voice is filled with slightly exasperated admiration. "He gave me the approximate time you'd be sailing, and that the rest was up to me. He also let it be known that I would be forever in his debt. Which I will be," he smiles ruefully. "When I wasn't taking care of my duties, I was literally haunting this side of world's end."
Unable to wait any longer, Will leans down, and their lips meet, clinging together. "I've missed you so," he whispers raggedly against her mouth.
Elizabeth eagerly returns the long, lingering caress. It seems like forever since she's held him, kissed him, she thinks, and now it's like coming home.
William chooses that moment to let his presence be known once again, because he is now beginning to be hungry. She breaks away with a laugh at the sound of their son's little mewls of distress. Soon, she knows, they will be full blown wails, if she doesn't put him to her breast.
"Our little prince wants his morning meal," she tells Will, mirth filling her eyes at his sudden uncertainty, for William's head is beginning to bob up and down, searching for the usual source of his nourishment. Unhappy with not being able to find it, his cries of distress grow in volume.
"I don't think I can help him with that," Will grins.
"Come to my cabin, so I can feed him," she replies. "You can watch. How long will you be able to stay?"
And Elizabeth wraps her arm around his waist again, guiding him to the stairs that lead below as he continues to hold tightly to their son. She intends to make the most of whatever time they have.