During the ride back to Port Royal, we'd been thrown in the Dauntless's brig.

"Seems like all we ever do is get tossed around from jail cell to jail cell," I grumbled.

Jack leaned back against the cell wall and folded his arms behind his head. "Not much we can do right now," he said. "Might as well try and get some shut-eye."

"You don't need to tell me twice." I flopped onto the ground.

I fell asleep on the floor and woke up a few hours later feeling strangely warm. A little disoriented, I realized that Jack had wound up sleeping on the floor next to me, his back against mine. Suddenly I felt very self-conscious. I didn't know what to do, so I just kept lying there and pretended to be asleep until they came to get us for the hanging.

You might have thought it was a party, the way Jack was acting so nonchalant. Inside I was terrified, but I was determined not to let it show.There's no reason to be scared, I consoled myself. You know that this ends well. But it was hard to stay positive, standing there right next to the gallows, waiting, my wrists bound together with thick, itchy rope. I glanced at Jack and found that he'd been looking at me. Of course, he immediately started looking around in every which way, as though pretending he hadn't just been caught gawking. I wasn't sure what to make of that.

Some stuffy-looking official read from a paper. "Jack Sparrow, let it be known that you have-"

"Captain," Jack corrected. "Captain Jack Sparrow."

"-for your willful commission of crimes against the crown, said crimes being numerous in quantity and sister in nature, the most egregious of these to be cited herewith: piracy, smuggling, impersonating an officer of the Spanish Royal Navy, impersonating a cleric of the Church of England-"

"Ah, yes," Jack said with a smile, reminiscing.

"I'd be interested in hearing the details of some of these," I remarked.

The list continued on. "-sailing under false colors, arson, kidnapping, looting, poaching, brigandage, pilfering, depravity, depredation, and general lawlessness. And for these crimes you have been sentenced to be, on this day, hung by the neck until you are dead. May God have mercy on your soul."

Just then, Elizabeth gasped. "I-can't-breathe!" and fell over. The executioner pulled the lever on the wood beneath Jack's feet, and Will threw a sword at the bottom so that Jack had a foothold. Will started fighting his way up to the gallows, and Jack tried frantically not to slip off of the sword. Figuring it was worth a shot, I attempted to gnaw through the ropes on my wrists. This, astonishingly enough, did not work. Fortunately, after cutting Jack free, Will cut my ropes as well. I snatched a sword off of a Hoity-Toity Type (HTT) who had his back turned and joined Jack and Will in the fight. It only lasted a few minutes before the HTTs cornered us, but while it was going on it was pretty damn cool. Like being the third of a demented Three Musketeers.

"I thought we might have to endure some manner of ill-conceived escape attempt," Norrington said to Will, "but not from you."

Added Governor Swann, "On our return to Port Royal, I granted you clemency. And this is how you thank me? By throwing your lot in with them? They're pirates!"

"And good men," Will said. "Uh, people."

Jack grinned. That's us, he mouthed, nodding and pointing proudly at himself, then me, and then himself again.

"If all I have achieved is that the hangman will earn three pairs of boots instead of two," Will continued, "so be it. At least my conscience will be clear."

"You forget your place, Turner," said Norrington icily.

"It's right here between you and them," Will replied.

"As is mine," Elizabeth said, standing next to Will.

"Elizabeth!" Governor Swann cried. "Lower your weapons. For goodness sake, put them down!" Reluctantly, they did so.

"So this is where your heart truly lies, then?" said Norrington. I felt a bit sorry for him.

"It is."

"Well! I'm actually feeling rather good about this," said Jack brightly. He offered me his arm. I slipped it through the crook of his elbow.

"Me too," I agreed.

To Governor Swann, Jack said, "I think we've all arrived at a very special place, eh? Spiritually...ecumenically...grammatically..." He, with me in tow, took a step backward and turned to Norrington. "I want you to know that I was rooting for you. Know that."

"I wasn't," I told him.

Another step backward. Onto Elizabeth. "Elizabeth - it never would have worked out between us, darling. I'm sorry."

"And I'm sure she's devastated to hear it," I said dryly. Elizabeth smiled.

Another step backward. "Uh, Jack-" I began, glancing behind us.

"Shh." Now, last but definitely not least... "Will-nice hat."

Will smiled.

A final step backward. "Friends! This is the day you will always remember as-"

Jack stumbled backwards, falling over the battlement and dragging me down with him. I screamed. There was a whooshing feeling in my stomach like when you go down a steep part of a roller coaster. And then, suddenly, I was underwater. I kicked my legs and flailed my arms around until I got to the surface, and I wiped my eyes and gasped, spluttering saltwater. My whole body was shaking.

"Holy crap," I told Jack, "don't ever do that again! You hear me? Never-"

Jack grabbed me and kissed me. He tasted like rum. His mustache was tickly and kind of coarse, but his mouth was soft. I kissed him back, feeling tingly all over.

"Where did that come from? Not that I'm complaining."

"Master of opportune moments, remember?"

I giggled. Then we swam over to the Pearl and climbed aboard.

"I thought you were supposed to keep to the code," Jack remarked.

"We figured they were more actual...guidelines," Gibbs replied.

Cotton handed Jack his hat. "Thank you," said Jack, putting it on.

Anamaria draped his coat around his shoulders. "Captain Sparrow," she said, "the Black Pearl is yours."

Jack walked to the helm and stood there for a moment, looking around fondly. He really loved this ship. It gave me warm fuzzies inside to see him so happy.

"On deck, you scabrous dogs! Man the braces! Let down and haul to run free. Now, bring me that horizon." Jack looked at me. "I know how enjoyable it must be to stare at me, darling, but those orders were for all members of the crew."

"And I would follow them gladly," I said, "if I was able to understand a word of them."

And so Jack explained that the braces are the lines used to rotate the yards around the mast.



"And what are the yards?"

"The spars."

"The what?"

"'The what'?" Jack smacked his hand to his forehead in exasperation. "You really don't know anything about sailing."

"I do know what's port and what's starboard. Contrary to popular opinion. You didn't tell me what spars are."

"The..the horizontal poles on the masts!" Jack said. "Goodness, teaching you is going to be a process."

end of part one