A Pirate's Life For Me
by Ishafel

Will thought she was running away from him, and Jack thought she running to him, but the only thing Elizabeth wanted was freedom. She had thought, once, that nothing could be more stifling than the life of a young lady of good family; she knew next to nothing, then, of the life ordinary married women were saddled with. At least, as the governor's daughter, she had been answerable to no man but her father, who had done his best to please her.

Her father had made certain allowances for her youth, her high spirits, even her intelligence; Will wanted what he wanted and she had best do as she was told. On the Pearl she had done as she pleased and it had pleased her to help with the work when she could. As the wife of the young blacksmith's apprentice her duties were no less rigorous and far less amusing. Swabbing decks she could bear; scrubbing floors she hated. She could stitch a sail as well as any man but she had grown tired of mending her husband's clothes. And somehow it was far worse to spend hours sweating bent over a fire place stirring the stew for dinner than to spend those same hours below decks loading cannon during the hottest July on record.

Once she had been the belle of the island, and now Elizabeth was bitterly aware that every woman present was laughing at her, and every man leering. They knew, the ordinary men and women--whose lives were shapeless drudgery a world apart from the glitter of island society--they knew what it was she had given up far better than her father did, or Norrington, or even Jack Sparrow. If Will had truly loved her would he have been so eager to condemn her to share the life he led?

Elizabeth had not been made for poverty, not for this endless penny- pinching misery, anymore than she had been meant to wear white gloves and corsets. She was not meant to be a lady, and perhaps she was not meant to be a woman at all. If she had been born a boy, how different her life would have been. She would not waste her life, as Will seemed determined to do, on steel and fire and iron. Not for her, this battle to earn respectability, to disappear, to be ordinary.

There were only two legitimate routes to glory for a man of Will's class, and one was the army and the other was the church. Will was too fiercely independent for one road and too fond of women for the other. A man with fewer scruples might have turned to one of the shadier roads by which a fortune can be won: to trade, to privateering, theft, piracy. Will was romantic enough to see the honor in making his own way but he was not romantic enough for these.

Elizabeth, the governor's daughter and blacksmith's apprentice's wife and former scourge of the Spanish Main, Elizabeth snuck away in the night like a runaway slave, made her way to Tortuga and the Black Pearl leaving behind only a note for her deserted husband. It was a coward's way out, perhaps, but even the bravest of women must take the easy way sometime. A part of her still loved Will and always would; she could not have born to see his face when her words cut him to shreds.

In Tortuga she sold her wedding ring and bought a boy's clothing and a small light sword. It was not as nice a blade as those Will made but it was a suitable weapon for a pirate. After that she settled down at a small seedy boardinghouse and waited for the Pearl to come home to port. Every night she went to bed alone in a narrow bed on yellowed sheets and every night she dreamed of hard capable hands on her body, beneath her nightdress. And sometimes she came so hard she woke herself up, all from dreaming about fingers on her breasts and a pink tongue between her legs.

When she finally saw the ragged proud sails and the flagless mast in the harbor Elizabeth was seized by a sudden fit of shyness. For three days she could not bring herself to leave the inn, she was so sure that anything that happened would destroy her. In the end she did not have to seek them out, because they came to her. The innkeeper's wife pounded on the door with one big red fist and when Elizabeth opened it there they were: Captain Jack Sparrow, golden teeth gleaming in the dim light, and his fat, peg-legged bosun, and Anamaria his first mate, dangerous as the sea. Elizabeth let them in, feeling unexpectedly shy, and smiled impartially at them, careful not to meet their eyes. They knew what she wanted and what she was willing to do to get it.


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