So it's been a long, long time since I updated and I'm super, super sorry for that. To make a long story very short, I spent most of the summer with a very bad relapse of my depression. I'd been off my antidepressant since January and was doing fine up until early May. I was probably doing the worst I had ever done mental health-wise since right before I started therapy and medication when I was in high school. So while I had the time to write, I didn't because I barely had the will to get out of bed in the morning. How could I write when I could barely take care of my basic needs? But I'm doing a lot better now. I'm back on my antidepressants and my mental health is getting way better. That being said, updates will be very scarce within the next year between graduate school applications, graduate school auditions, and preparing my senior recital. But at least next May I'll finally graduate with my BA in Music with an emphasis in Vocal Performance. Thanks to all of you who are baring with me and continue to follow this story! Here's the next chapter at long last!

Kitty paced across the docks as she heard the cries of victory echo across the waters back to Shipwreck Cove. Even little Connor, who'd slept almost peacefully in her arms during the entire battle, seemed to realize that the pirates had won this war and woke up, letting out small gurgling cries. She could feel her heart swelling with both pride and fear as she watched the black sails of the Black Pearl draw closer. On one hand, they'd won. Beckett was dead and he'd never be a threat to her family ever again. Little James could grow up happy without the influence of the East India Trading Company looming over him. But on the other hand, she had no idea how the battle went. She had no idea who on their side was alive and who was dead and who was injured. The best she could do right now was pray that her sisters and her husband were alive and unharmed.

"Someone get Humphrey!" She suddenly heard someone shout. "The Pearl's signaling for a surgeon!" Kitty widened her eyes and spun around to look at the harbormaster. They needed a surgeon immediately? What had happened? Who was hurt? Another man immediately ran past her as he rushed to get the surgeon. The Pearl slowly drifted closer and closer to the docks of Shipwreck Cove. Kitty didn't even realize she'd been holding her breath until Connor suddenly cried out. When the Black Pearl finally did dock, it was incredibly evident that someone had gotten very seriously hurt. "Moor the ship!" Barbossa shouted from atop the helm. Kitty furrowed her brow as she moved closer to the ship. A wiry older man brushed past her, holding a large leather bag, and immediately ran up the gangplank which had only been lowered mere seconds ago.

As he disappeared into the Captain's cabin, James and Lydia exited it. Kitty let out a small sigh of relief. James looked completely unharmed, despite the tatters on his clothes and the blood staining it. She smiled at the sight of her healthy husband and sister. She was even glad that Barbossa was largely unharmed. Elizabeth finally appeared in view, but she was looking at the other ship that was docking next to the Pearl. She didn't recognize it; after all, she hadn't seen a ship of that style with white sails leave Shipwreck Cove that morning. Who did it belong to? Was it one of the pirates? Or had it set sail that morning and perhaps Kitty just didn't notice it before?

It was only after she saw Will Turner standing on the deck of that other deck, smiling at a man who looked eerily similar to him, that Kitty made the connection. That was the Flying Dutchman! But how could that be? Surely she'd get an explanation later. That seemed to be the recurring trend amongst these pirates, after all; it was either explanations later or no explanations at all. She was brought out of her thoughts when she saw that James, Lydia, and Barbossa were all coming down the gangplank. Kitty couldn't help the large smile coming across her face as she watched her very healthy and very much alive husband come running towards her.

"You're alright!" Kitty said with a huge smile on her face. "You're alive!"

"Yes," James said. He wrapped one arm around her, careful not to touch Connor while Kitty was holding her. "We all made it out alive." He face suddenly fell and he turned back to the Pearl.

"What is it?" Kitty asked. James looked down and let out a shaky breath.

"Alice is in bad shape," James told her. Kitty gasped and looked up at the Black Pearl. "Jones crushed her arm. It's… it's highly unlikely that she'll keep it."

"Is that why you hailed a surgeon?" Kitty asked.

"Aye," Barbossa said as he approached them. "She'll live but… losing a limb takes a toll on the mind. I've seen it many a time. It ain't easy. Just ask Ragetti." Lydia was completely silent, staring blankly at the dock in front of her. Something had happened to her during the battle, Kitty could tell. She just had no idea what that was.

"Hector," she finally said quietly. Her voice was cracking, as if she'd been abusing it. "I should go rest. Thetis really-"

"I know, love," Barbossa said. He wrapped his arm around Lydia's waist and looked over at James. "Get me when there's news of Alice."

"Of course," James replied. Barbossa then escorted Lydia off the docks, his arm never leaving Lydia's waist. Kitty couldn't help but smile at the sight of them. She never would have imagined Lydia with a pirate like him, but now she could understand how her eldest sister fell in love with him. The pair of them really did suit each other well, despite their very obvious differences. Suddenly a blood-curdling scream rang through the air. James tensed his jaw and held Kitty closer to him. Connor woke up again and started crying at the sound of her mother's screams. "I can't imagine the pain of getting a limb amputated; physically and psychologically."

"I can't either," Kitty whispered. Connor kept wailing in Kitty's arms as Alice's own screams slowly died down. When the surgeon emerged from the cabin minutes later, Kitty had to turn away. She felt sick to her stomach at the mere sight of blood on his apron, just because she knew it was her younger sister's blood. James grabbed the man's arm, stopping him as he rushed back across the docks.

"How is she?" he asked.

"She'll live," the surgeon said. "But the arm had to go. There was no hope of saving it."

"Oh my God…" Kitty breathed out, trying to stem the rising nausea in the pit of her stomach. The surgeon gave a single curt nod and then rushed off the docks, most likely to go help anyone else who needed attention after the battle. James and Kitty both looked down at their crying, wailing niece. On the deck, Kitty watched as Gibbs spotted them and then stuck his head inside the cabin. After a few seconds, she saw Gibbs lean back and wave at the Norringtons to come onto the ship. Kitty held Connor closer to her and nodded at the First Mate. James placed a hand on her shoulder, kissed her forehead, and then let go of her.

"I'll wait here," James said. "She doesn't need me right now. She needs her sister and her daughter." Kitty nodded. She walked towards the ship and up the gangplank, gently rocking Connor the entire way up to calm the baby down. Gibbs stood in front of the door and looked down at baby Connor.

"She'll live," Gibbs said, echoing what she already knew from the surgeon. "But she doesn't look good. I'm glad you didn't see her arm before Humphrey came aboard." Kitty took a long, deep breath and nodded, mentally preparing herself for the sight of her little sister. She didn't know how bad the wound had been first hand, but if pirates were saying it was bad... she thought she might faint at the sight when she entered the cabin.

She didn't, though. She was frozen in the doorway the moment Gibbs opened the cabin door.

There in front of her was Alice, lying unconscious on her bed. Her coat and the white sheets of the bed were stained red with her own blood. There was a fair amount on Jack's shirt, vest, and pants as well. She was so pale and her breathing was so shallow that for a moment Kitty wasn't even sure Alice was breathing. If she hadn't been holding Connor, Kitty would have covered her mouth with her hand to hold back a gasp and shield herself from the smell of blood in the air. Jack didn't look up from Alice and he didn't let go of her blood-coated hand.

"Not a pretty sight," Jack said quietly. Gibbs stepped inside the cabin and shut the door behind him. Kitty barely felt herself walk across the cabin and sit down on the bed next to her sister. Connor let out a louder wail and started flailing around in her arms. Jack let go of Alice's hand and extended his arms out to Kitty. She handed the baby to her father and she almost immediately began to calm down. "There, there," Jack murmured. "Your mum's going to be fine." It was strange for Kitty to see this man, this pirate, act like a father. Based on everything she'd known about Jack Sparrow, he wasn't the sort of man she would have expect to fall into a fatherly role as well as he has been.

"Seeing her like this is..." Kitty whispered. "It's terrifying. I know she'll live through this but..."

"I know," Jack replied. Gibbs leaned against the door, oddly quite as he watched Alice's unmoving form. "Alice is strong."

"I know," Kitty replied with a soft smile. "I grew up with her, remember?" She let out a low, deep sigh before letting out a small smile. "I've seen her get hurt many times in our childhood. But this…"

"Still doesn't feel real," Jack admitted. "Her looking like this." Kitty felt tears begin to flow down her cheeks. "I barely remember the surgeon in here."

"If you or Alice needs anything, James and I are here," Kitty said. "So is Lydia and Barbossa." Jack let out a ghost of a laugh and smirked.

"I don't know, most of you hate me," Jack said. "But you'll all be there for her and Connor. That's all I can expect." He paused and looked over at Alice. "Go on. Be with your husband. I've got my girls." Kitty nodded and rose to her feet. As much as she wanted to stay with her sister, she knew that Jack needed to be alone with her, just to get his thoughts together away from the burdens of an entire crew in the aftermath of war. She walked over to the door and exited the cabin, leaving her sister and her niece inside with Jack Sparrow.

Lydia couldn't stop the floods of laughter coming out of her as she watched these pirates all dance merrily and drunkenly around the Little Dagger. Though she personally didn't have the energy to dance around and be as wild as the men and women around her, she had gotten enough from her brief nap to be able to enjoy the frivolity. She rested her head in the crook of Hector's neck, smelling the rum that had earlier spilled out of his cup and into his auburn beard. "You certainly seem to be doing better," he said, his words ever so slightly slurred.

"Well, now that we know Alice is going to be alright, why not celebrate some?" Lydia said. Only a few minutes earlier, Gibbs had made his way into the Little Dagger and loudly shouted that Alice was going to be alright. Of course, he also told them quietly soon after that the surgeon had to cut off her arm just below her elbow. But she would live through it and that was all that mattered to Lydia and Hector; that Alice would live to see her daughter grow up and teach her the ways of the sea. "We won this war, Beckett and Jones are dead in the water, and my sister is going to survive her injury."

"Aye," Hector replied, raising his tankard. "Things are only up from here on out, lass." He took a long drink of his rum and then kissed the top of her head. Lydia could certainly get used to this; sitting curled up in Hector's arm while the two of them drank rum. She certainly hadn't gotten used to the taste of it yet, but she was too drunk to care. Is this how Alice had gotten used to rum? Drink so much that it burns the taste buds off of her tongue? Or just drink so much that the taste of the drink no longer mattered?

Next them sat James Norrington, just enjoying the revelry without indulging in rum. His eyes were glued to Kitty, who had been roped into playing the fiddle with some other pirate musicians. Lydia still couldn't believe Kitty was actually playing random music with these pirates, but then again, it must have been ages since Kitty had even touched a single instrument besides Davy Jones' organ. She was smiling the most Lydia had seen her smile since she'd arrived in Shipwreck. "She plays well," Hector said to her. "You said she plays other instruments?"

"She could play any instrument she touches," Lydia bragged, her words slightly slurred. "Oboe, pianoforte, apparently the organ..."

"And what about ye, hmm?" he asked. Lydia shook her head and grimaced.

"Never had the talent or inclination," she said, taking another drink of her rum. "Books were my passion growing up. Shakespeare, Rowe, Defoe, Swift... I loved it all." Hector let out a low chuckle and took another drink.

"Aye, I can see that in ye," he said.

"She always had her nose in a book," Norrington said with a small smile. "It was about as often as I saw Kitty with music." His way of speaking was still stilted, as if he still wasn't comfortable with Hector. It made perfect sense; he did kill many of Norrington's men three years ago. Some things couldn't be forgiven and forgotten so easily. Just as she would never completely get along with Jack Sparrow, she doubted James Norrington would ever be on very good terms with either Jack or Hector.

The tavern suddenly erupted into loud cheers as Kitty finished her improvised fiddling. She laughed and bowed, then handed the fiddle back to the pirate she borrowed it from in the first place. "It felt so good to play again," Kitty said as she collapsed into the chair next to her husband. James pressed a kiss to Kitty's temple and wrapped his arm around her shoulder.

"So," Hector said, pouring himself another glass of rum, "What's next for the two of ye, hmm?"

"Go back to Port Royal and our son," Kitty said. "Try to live as normally as possible. Hopefully we can convince Jack to drop us off there, but if not we can find our way home." Home… Lydia hadn't thought of home in a while. Did she truly have a home anymore? She was raised in London but that was no longer home. She spent her teenage years in Port Royal, but now she couldn't consider it home thanks to Cutler Beckett. Suddenly she felt herself sober up with those thoughts. "What about you Lyddie? Are you coming with us?" Lydia looked down and sipped on her rum.

"No," she said after a few moments of silence. "I don't think I can. With father gone and all the unpleasant memories…"

"Where will you go then?" James asked. Lydia looked up at Hector and smirked.

"Wherever he goes," Lydia replied. "But I think I do need to visit Port Royal one last time. There are a few loose ends I want to tie up." Hector narrowed his eyes at her.

"What loose ends?" he asked.

"Retrieving a few things, saying goodbyes, seeing if anything was left to me by my late husband in their wills," Lydia said, swirling the rum in her cup. "Laying father to rest… Things like that." Hector nodded and took another drink of his rum. All of a sudden, the tavern seemed as if it were far too crowded. She really did hate how her mind always seemed to lead her to brooding. "I think I need some air."

"Come on, lass," Hector said to her, rising to his feet. "If ye want to get out of this tavern, I think I know the perfect place to go."

"Lead the way, Captain," Lydia replied with a smirk. She turned to James and Kitty, said brief goodbyes to them, and then took Hector's hand. He began to weave his way in and out of the drunken, dancing patrons, never letting go of her hand as he lead her out of the Little Dagger.

Lydia was definitely far drunker than she realized. Anyone with eyes could see that. But that wasn't to say she was completely incoherent. After all, Hector Barbossa knew that there were men and women inside the Little Dagger that were way further gone than she was. Then again, Barbossa wasn't all that sober either…

"Where are we going?" Lydia asked. She let out small, tipsy giggles and squeezed his hand. Oh yes, Barbossa was very sure he wasn't going to get tired of being able to feel her touch.

"Ye'll see in a few moments, lass," he said with his signature smirk. He wanted this to be a surprise. After all, hardly anyone knew of this spot. Barbossa himself hadn't known about it until earlier in the evening when Captain Teague subtly divulged its location, mentioning that perhaps it would be a nice place for a Nereid. Lydia rolled her eyes and giggled once again. Even in the dim moonlight he could tell that her pale face was flushed red. Finally, they rounded the corner and arrived at their destination. Lydia dropped her jaw and absolutely beamed. Before them was a small, secluded cove.

"How did you find this?" Lydia asked, turning to him. Barbossa merely shrugged and walked towards the sea.

"Something I heard in passing," Barbossa replied simply.

"Liar," Lydia said with a smirk. "See? I'm learning. Thetis found your tell."

"And pray tell what would that be?" He asked, pulling her towards him and wrapping his arms around her waist. Lydia rested her arms on his shoulders and shrugged.

"My secret," she said with more intoxicated giggling. "At least, until you tell me yours?" Barbossa let out a ghost of a laugh and shook her head. He wasn't sure if her increasingly pirate-like ways were a good thing or a bad thing.

"Yer a little vixen," he said. He bent down and pressed a firm kiss on her lips. Lydia very eagerly responded. He would have continued… but right now she needed to be teased as much as she was teasing him. "But that's why I love ye."

"Arse…" she muttered under her breath. She let out a huff and let go of him. Suddenly she was running towards the water, leaving behind a very confused Barbossa.

"What're ye doing, lass?" he called out as she shed her green coat. She smirked as she pulled off her dark boots, leaving her in just her shirt and trousers.

"Swimming," she said. "You can stand there or you can join me. Your decision." With that she ran straight into the ocean, a huge smile gracing her face. Barbossa shook his head at her tipsy antics and slowly walked closer to the shoreline. Lydia emerged from the water soaking wet from head to toe. She was covered in her markings and her eyes seemed to glow blue in the midnight. How he managed to get such an ethereal being to fall in love with him would always be a mystery. She let out a deep sigh and lay on her back, floating on the ripples of the water. "This feels nice after the year we've had."

"Aye," Barbossa said, sitting down on the shoreline. He took off his boots and set them aside, showing off his less-than-ideal feet. After all, it wasn't as if most pirates cared excessively for proper hygiene. He felt the water pull the sand away from under his feet as it lapped against the shore. The night was surprisingly beautiful. Nature seemed to ignore the fact that so many horrors and deaths occurred just hours before. No… all he could see was the full moon and the stars shining their lights off the wine-dark sea. All this light illuminated Lydia so beautiful. God she was a beauty… "Feels strange, to know that we can finally rest and return to some honest pirating."

"Or in my case finally start," Lydia said. She looked down and turned to swim closer to the shore. "You know, I was fully prepared to stay with you three years ago. I never would have admitted it, but I sort of liked life with you and the rest of your crew." Barbossa let out a smile and laid back, resting on his elbows.

"That so?" he asked. "Because at the time it more seemed as if ye were bargaining to save Will's life."

"I know," she said. "But I wanted to. My only reason for staying in Port Royal was my family. I didn't feel the love for it that I used to after you kidnapped me."

"Technically, I ne'er kidnapped you," Barbossa said. "You called for a parley and I simply abided by the terms set by Elizabeth."

"And I learned to be very thorough and specific when making deals with you," she replied. "Something you'll hate me for in the future."

"Aye, but I'm very good at getting what I want," he said, smirking at her. "Loopholes are my specialty, after all. I have eighteen years of dodging them on ye." Lydia sighed and swam closer, finally walking back onto the beach. She sat down next to him and laid down, his arms immediately coming around her and holding her closer to him. The two of them laid there, wrapped in each other staring up at the night sky. For the first time in so many years, he felt at peace. Just the feeling Lydia's head on his chest and his arms around him made him feel so content. He pressed a kiss to her dark, wet hair and pulled her closer to him. She turned her head and immediately kissed him.

Without hesitation, he pulled her so close to him that they were practically flesh against each other. He could feel every curve of her body though her wet clothes and it was more intoxicating that the flagons of rum he'd consume not even an hour prior. Her leg came up around his hip and he moved so that she was now on her back in the sand and he was holding himself up above her, careful not to crush her with his weight. He wanted nothing more than the drink in the feeling of her soft lips and the sound of her small whimper. His hands wandered up and down her sides, brushing ever so slightly along the sides of her breasts. How many times had he wanted to feel them when he'd first met her three years ago? It'd been so long ago that he'd lost count. He looked down at her swollen lips when the two parted for a breath of air. Her blue eyes seemed to stare right through him, into his very being. Then suddenly he said something he didn't expect himself to say, at least not yet.

"Marry me," he breathed out. The words had flown out of his mouth before he could even think about what he'd just said. Lydia widened her eyes in shock and stared up at him.

"What?" she whispered.

"Marry me," Barbossa repeated. It was so spur-of-the-moment, but he was entire sure of what he was asking. Three years he'd been without her. He wasn't about to wait even longer to call Lydia his wife. And somehow he knew that she didn't want to wait all that long to call him her husband either. Her silence, however, was worrying him. "Ye don't have to say yes if ye aren't ready." She suddenly pressed her lips against him for a few moments before pulling away, a smile gracing her face.

"Yes," she said. "I'll marry you." She cupped the side of his face with her hand and kissed him again. "But I want to wait until I've settled everything I need to."

"I understand," Barbossa said. "We can worry about the when later." He kissed her once more, feeling her smile on his lips. He pulled away as a realization hit him. "I don' have a ring."

"I don't need one," Lydia said. "I know you're good for your word. And this is one promise I doubt you're looking for a loophole out of."

"Aye, that's very true," Barbossa said with a smirk. For the rest of that night, they lied on that sandy beach, drinking in the feeling of being with each other. Eventually they nodded off, falling asleep in each other's arms.