The Heart Is Deceitful, Above All Things
by Siryn

The house is dark and quiet now. With the windows open, the smell of the sea seeps into the room. Shifting in my chair, I stare out at the horizon. I can't decide if the black sails I see are real or a figment of my imagination.

A shift in the breeze makes the single candle still lit on the table flicker and dance. Slowly, I run my fingertips through the flame, pulling them back at the last second before it burns me. Not that I'm not used to burns on my hands now and then, but the burns from the forge are accidental, these are much more deliberate.

She's going to be here soon. If the rum hasn't completely clouded my vision, and if the wind is with the Pearl, she might even be here tonight. I wish I could resist her, send her away and tell her to never come back and leave us to our lives. But I can't and it wouldn't make any difference. She does what she pleases, and always will. And despite everything that's happened, I still love her. She is my wife, after all.


We were married on a warm day in October. She was so beautiful, draped in white like a goddess and the large black pearl set in silver around her neck. Maybe it should have been a sign that Jack and his ship were never that far from her mind. But we were in love and couldn't see beyond what was going on at that moment.

The house was a gift from her father. It was set up on the bluffs overlooking Port Royal proper and only a short walk into town. It was quite a relief, since I didn't relish having to live in the Governor's mansion and I had no notion of bringing Elizabeth to live in my old rooms above the smithy.

The memories of that first year seem to have a surreal, golden glow about them. We sailed to Nassau for our honeymoon and spent days and nights exploring the city and each other. I used to lie awake and watch her sleep, just to make sure she was real and this wasn't some elaborate dream.

We came back to Port Royal and began to settle into our lives. After the commission I had made for Commodore Norrington, I was flooded with orders for custom swords. I worked long hours and she spent her days sketching and sailing. Sometimes she came to the shop with me and watched me work. There was nothing that she wasn't curious about; she always wanted to know how everything worked. My collection of practice swords drew her interest and after a few days of her failing about with them, I offered to teach her to how to use one the proper way.

I've never seen anyone take to the blade so fast. She was amazing, almost liquid in her movements. Before long she was as good as I was, a fascinating combination of classic style and improvisation that reminded me of way Jack fought the first day we met. She even managed to best James a few times, much to his chagrin.

James. My worst enemy and my best friend. There was something about Elizabeth, something that made you do what she wanted, no matter how much you objected. It was at her insistence that James and I became friends. It wouldn't do, she said, for two of the people she cared for most in the world to be at odds with one another. It started with stiff, formal dinners where neither one of us said much to each other, but in time we found common ground. There was no question that he was still very much in love with her, but her choice was clear and he respected it.

Just after our first anniversary, Elizabeth found out she was going to have a baby. I was thrilled. A child of our own, who would have a home and family, something that I never had. Even though it didn't matter, I secretly wanted a boy to carry on the Turner name. It was silly, I know, after all the pain being my father's son had caused me, but it was the only thing I had to pass on that was solely my own, that I hadn't worked and slaved for.

The Governor was more than pleased. I think he was hoping that a child would ground Elizabeth and end her notions of pirates and wild adventures. At first, she was happy, more serene. She would lie in the hammock outside for hours, reading and staring out at the ocean. She was the first one to spot the Pearl's sails in the tangerine twilight.

Our unexpected visitors arrived just past midnight. Jack and Anamaria came sneaking up the bluffs, after anchoring the ship on the far side of the island. The first thing he asked when he came in the door was if we were going to name the baby after him. Since, in his way of thinking, if it hadn't been for him, we'd never have gotten married in the first place. He was so sincere; I had to laugh at him. In an uncharacteristic show of womanliness, Anamaria's face softened as she placed her hand on Elizabeth's belly. Out of her pocket she produced a jar and a vial, something for the pain of childbirth and for after, to soothe the skin, she said. How they knew we were expecting, I still haven't figured out.

After their visit, Elizabeth seemed oddly restless and ill tempered. Not knowing better, I chalked it up to nerves about the baby. It was an easy delivery and suddenly I had a little girl in my arms. We named her Regan, after a character in Elizabeth's favorite play. Regan Genevieve Turner. My daughter.

She was amazing and perfect and had inherited her mother's ability to wrap everyone around her little finger. There wasn't a moment of the day that she and Elizabeth weren't on my mind. I had something, someone to come home to.

Not that the sea didn't call to me. It did, every minute. But it was different now. I didn't see Elizabeth and I on the bow of the Pearl, now I saw us teaching Regan to sail and listening to her mother's tales of pirates and cursed gold.

If I had to pinpoint the moment it all started to unravel, it was the day after Regan's first birthday. We had spent the day at the Governor's mansion. Elizabeth was having a good day, since I had been firm in tending to Regan the night before so she could get some much- needed sleep. James was there and we were sitting in the front parlor when her father broke the news. He was ill, very ill. There was nothing to be done; whatever was happening was too far-gone to be treated. It was only a matter of months, the doctor had told him. We were all talking at once, trying to work out a solution. James recommended going back to London, to see if they could cure whatever it was, I threw out the name of doctor I'd heard Jack mention, a man who could cure anything that might ail you. Elizabeth even went so far as to suggest trying the 'local' medicine, but he shushed us all. He was resigned to his fate and all he wanted to do was spend the time he had left with daughter and granddaughter.

A matter of months turned out to be a little more than six weeks. He died peacefully in his sleep. Between the funeral and Regan, I don't think either of us got more than a few minutes to ourselves. As Commodore, James had been put in charge of Port Royal until the new Governor arrived from England. It was a hard time for us all, to say the least.

Elizabeth seemed withdrawn and unhappy. I tried everything I could think of, but nothing seemed to lift her spirits. She took to leaving Regan with Marian Kennedy, who had a young daughter of her own and walking along the beach for hours. In the middle of the worst thunderstorm in month, that's where I found her, soaked to the skin, the waves pounding wildly against the cliffs.

I've never quite figured out how Jack knew to come, but he did. I came home from the shop and found him sitting in the front room, my daughter babbling happily in his lap and my wife smiling and laughing as if the past few months had never happened. I hoped that this was sign that she was getting back to herself.

Which is, I suppose why I never saw it coming. I came home and found the house empty. At first, it didn't seem odd. It was a lovely day and with Jack here, I assumed they were someplace, most likely on the secluded beach off the other side of the bluffs. James had stopped by the shop that morning and I had made him aware of Jack's presence. He was not pleased, but he agreed that if Jack could snap Elizabeth out of this funk, he could look the other way for a few days.

I had gone to change when I heard the knock at the door. Marion was there, holding my sleeping daughter in her arms. When I tried to question her, she just shook her head and handed me a thick, ivory envelope. My heart dropped into my stomach as a possibility I never thought of entered my mind. I took Regan and thanked Marion for watching her. In slow motion, I went to the chair by the window, settled my daughter against me and read the words that shattered my heart.

She was gone. Jack had agreed to let her sail on the Pearl. Things were too difficult here for her to face and she needed time away. A pirate ship was no place for a child and she was confident that I could handle Regan. She loved and missed us both already.

I had no idea how long I sat there, reading and rereading her words. Regan began to fuss, wanting food and attention. I busied myself with feeding her and brought her crib down to the front room so I could watch her while she slept. I tried to time my breathing with hers, slow and even, because if I didn't I might just split in two.

I fell asleep there, leaning over the crib, waking to a mad pounding on my front door. It woke Regan too, who immediately began crying, I gathered her in my arms and found James at the door, missing his wig and dress uniform. He took one look at me and knew it was true.

There was a part of me that wanted to go after her and damn the consequences, but James knew me too well. He stopped that idea before I could bother to dwell on it. I had a child to raise, a little girl who needed me all the more now that her mother was gone. I knew he was right, I couldn't think clearly. All I could think was that she was gone, that somehow I'd let her slip through my fingers like fine, white sand.

In a soft voice, I heard James speaking to me, explaining he would make arrangements for me, for someone to take care of Regan and the shop, if I needed time. I nodded numbly, not really even feeling the weight of my daughter in my arms. As if she knew something was wrong, Regan began to struggle against me. I looked down into her eyes, those eyes that looked just like her mother's and I felt something snap. I didn't realize until later that it was my heart.

The first year she was gone went by fast. After a few months of watching out the window night after night, Regan in my lap, I realized that she wasn't coming back. Every thing in the house reminded me of her and little by little, I began take her things to the attic. Her clothes went first, the silk and lace trapped in their trunks like butterflies in a cage. Bit by bit I was erasing her presence from the house, but the specter of her was always there, peeking over my shoulder as I looked at my daughter. The only things I kept out were her jewelry and her sketches, locked in my bureau drawer.

As my daughter got older, it was natural that she was curious about her mother. I tried to be as honest as I could with her. I told her that her mother loved her very much, but needed to be away from us. After while, she stopped asking why and just accepted it. I wasn't sure if that was good or bad.

James had become a fixture in our lives. He was Regan's beloved uncle and wasted no time in wrapping him around her finger, just like her mother had. But time was slowly eroding at him. Governor Aldrich had become a thorn in James' side from the moment he stepped onto the island. He felt that Governor Swann had been far too lenient with things in Port Royal, but most especially pirates. It was his opinion that James had been sorely remiss in his duties as Commodore and nothing James did seemed to satisfy him in the least. As a born and bred Navy man, James tried to take those things in stride, but the constant hammering was beginning to tear at him.

One night when Regan was staying with Marian and her daughters, he came to the door. Aldrich had sent him out after Jack again and he'd been gone for almost a month. He was completely drunk and stinking of whiskey. I dragged him inside and started to make him the strongest coffee I could find. After I'd gotten some of it down his throat, he said he'd let them go. He'd taken the last watch and as they came around the back of a small island, he saw those black sails. It didn't take more than a moment to change course, the crew never knowing how close they came to finally capturing the last real pirate threat in the Caribbean.

When I asked him why he'd done it, he didn't answer right away, just stared out at the inky black sky bleeding into the ocean. I sat next to him, not exactly knowing how to comfort him when he whispered his answer. For her, he'd done it for her. He couldn't possible bear to watch her march to gallows. The moment he said her name, it was like she was standing in the room with us, the image of her pressing down on us. Before I could say another word, his mouth was on mine, hot and demanding. My heartbeat was pounding in my ears as I found myself kissing him back, tasting the bitterness of the whiskey on his tongue. We hardly spoke as our clothes scattered on the floor and I led him to my bedroom, the ghost of Elizabeth lingering in the back of our minds.

It was always like that when we were together. Sometimes it was less, sometimes more. No matter what we she was part of me, of him, of us. After what she did, his leaving was unexpected but bearable. The Dauntless had docked for repairs and when Gillette came back aboard, there was a letter of resignation and an empty cabin. Three weeks later a package came to the docks addressed to Regan with a brand new doll and a note that her Uncle James missed her and would be back soon. With an understanding no eight year old should possess, she simply told me that he must have needed to go away like mommy did and that I shouldn't be sad, that she wasn't leaving any time soon. Clutching her new toy, we went home and I had another ghost to join Elizabeth in my heart.


Had I never spent any time under the tutelage of Jack Sparrow, I might never have heard her slip into the house. I also had to allow for the fact she hadn' been here in almost ten years, while I knew every sound and creak. I sat still in the chair, waiting to see how bold she would be. With my eyes closed, I heard the hinge of Regan's door squeak and the groan of the third step on the stairs. The air around me seemed to become thick with her as she stood in the doorway behind me.

"Hello Elizabeth," I said without turning to look at her. She took my greeting as an invitation and moved to the chair across from me. When she lived here before, it was the chair she always sat in. Now there were cushions on it, so Regan could feel as tall as I was.

"Hello Will." When I looked at her I wasn't surprised to see that she looked as beautiful as the day I'd first set eyes on her, all those years ago after being fished out of the ocean. The sea agreed with her, her skin was a deep gold and her hair was lighter then I remembered, braided down her back, with the hint of a shiny bead here and there. There were lines around her eyes now, as if she'd spent a lot of time squinting into the sun and there was a small raised scar peaking out of the neck of her loose cotton shirt. She was watching me too and I couldn't help wondering what she was thinking.

"You're well I take it," I said mildly, not wanting to betray the tempest of emotion that was building inside of me. She smiled at me and for a moment, she looked almost nervous.

"Yes. Jack sends his regards. He really wanted to come, but..."

"Keeping out of the line of fire is one of Jack's many talents." Reaching over, I picked up my glass and drained the last of the rum left there. It was taking all my self-restraint not to touch her.

"How is Regan?" she asked in a soft almost whisper and not meeting my eyes.

"Why do you care?" I snapped before I could stop myself. I could see the fire blazing in her eyes now, her years of spending time on a pirate ship feeding on her habit of being quick to anger.

"I care because..."

I cut her off quickly. "Please don't say it's because you're her mother. Because you're not."

"Despite what you may think, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her. Or you."

"Really? You'd never know it," I said bitterly. "I'd think you'd be more concerned about staying out of the noose than about the daughter and husband you so blithely abandoned."

She was on her feet now, pacing the room like a caged animal. "Is that what you think? That I up and left on a whim?"

"Isn't it? Leaving Regan with Marian while I was at the shop, stealing away with Jack without even speaking to me first, saying goodbye in a bloody letter? You are many things, Elizabeth, but I never thought you were a coward."

"How dare you. You had no idea what I was going through," she hissed at me.

"And Jack did? I was your husband, Elizabeth. We had a child together," I said, not bothering to disguise my anger now. "Do you have any idea what things have been like for her? The things other children say to her? That her mother ran off to be a murdering pirate, on the Black Pearl no less. Did you, for one moment, think of the consequences of what you were doing? Not just to Regan, but to me as well. Not to mention James. He was under orders to drag you back to Port Royal and hang you as an example to show that a pirate is a pirate, no matter who her father was. You should be thanking him everyday for saving your life."

"I have," she answered back.


She moved back to the window, eyes scanning the horizon. "I have thanked him. In fact, I thanked him again this morning." I reeled back as I understood the impact of her words.

"James, James Norrington, former Commodore of the Royal Navy is sailing on the Black Pearl? Have I gone mad?"

She smiled at that. God, I missed her smile. As angry as I was at her, that smile still sent my heart racing.

"No, you're not going mad. We picked up James in Tortuga a few weeks ago. The ship he'd been trying to buy ended up at the bottom of the ocean. Jack made him an offer to sail with us, as a passenger only. The irony of the situation was lost on no one, believe me," she said. There was a look in her eyes I couldn't quite read. "He wanted me to tell you how sorry he was, about leaving you the way he did."

"I was more concerned about Regan than I was about myself, believe me," I said, not wanting to take this any further.

"This isn't the first time I've been back here, you know," she said quietly, looking at me from her perch on the window.

"About four years ago, we were anchored near here and my curiosity got the best of me. I climbed in through the front window. I didn't mean to, but the door was standing open." Her eyes went glassy as she spoke. "It was like a painting. The moon was shining in and James had his arms wrapped around you. I just stood there, staring at you, doing my best not to even breathe. It was beautiful." She shook her head, as if to regain her focus. "It made me wonder if we ever looked like that."

"Elizabeth, I...I mean we didn't...I mean we weren't," I broke off, not knowing what to say. She just looked at me with that knowing look.

"Will, I've been gone almost ten years. I didn't expect you to be faithful to me. And yes, you did love James. Not the same way you loved me, perhaps, but it was love all the same. I'm just sorry I lost my chance," she said sadly. "I never stopped loving you, you must know that. I just felt trapped. Everything was pressing down on me, it felt like I was suffocating. When Jack offered me a place on the Pearl, I truly believe he thought that I'd be fine in a few weeks. After awhile, he just stopped asking me when I was going back."

I felt a lump in my throat as I looked at her. I still loved her too, desperately. Part of me wanted to drop to my knees and beg her to stay, but I couldn't. In time I could forget what she did, but I'd never really be able to forgive her.

I don't know how long we sat there in silence, her watching the sky turn brighter and brighter and me watching her, aching to hold onto her.

"Is she happy?" she asked, not hiding the emotion in her voice.

I smiled as I thought of Regan, running down the beach and laughing like a mad woman. "She is, as much as any eleven year old can be. She has friends, she's smart, Marian is teaching her and Teresa how to embroider, which she hates almost as much as you did. She's been begging me to take her to England, so she can see real mountains and trees like the ones she's read about in books. She draws constantly. I can barely remember a time she wasn't carrying that little pad around with her." I watched her draw her knees up to her chest and almost laughed at how similar she and Regan truly were.

"Does she remember me at all?"

"Not really. What she knows is mostly stories from Marian, James, and I. I never lied to her, you should know that. No one else in town was keeping the truth from her, so I couldn't," I said without malice.

She chuckled bitterly. "So, she thinks her mother is a murdering pirate?"

"No, she doesn't. She's grown up on the exploits of Jack Sparrow and his famous Black Pearl. She knows that not everyone who's a pirate is an evil murderer and that normal people can be just as cruel as any supposed pirate." That seemed to satisfy her. The sky was beginning to change and dawn was nearing.

"You should be getting back. Jack will want to get out of the cannon range before the morning guards come on duty." Getting the words out was a struggle, because my heart kept telling me to make her stay.

She unfolded herself and stood up. "I came to tell you something. I'm leaving the Pearl. It's time for me to get back on solid ground again."

"Where are you going?" I asked, my heart pounding. If she asked to stay, I would say yes, damn everything else.

"America, actually. There's a French port on the Gulf of Mexico called New Orleans. We've been anchored there several times and I came to love it. Jack actually owns a house there, if you can believe it. He won it in a card game, or something equally shady, a few years before he got the Pearl back. I'm going to stay there for awhile." She went back to the doorway and handed me a small sack. "These are for Regan. It's a book of drawings that I've done over the last few years. Now she can see what the places from those stories look like."

I flipped through the pages, looking at the drawings. Some were done in ink, some with charcoal and filled in with watercolors. The last two pages were portraits. The first was of Jack, looking mischievous as always. The last one was of her, but the quality and tone were different.

"Jack did that one. His talents are endless, apparently," she said, answering my question. Along with the book were a letter and a set of combs, inlaid with black pearl. "Those are from Jack. He says he'll be back to visit after I'm settled."

"I'm sure that will be a disaster waiting to happen," I joked, trying to lighten the moment. She nodded with a wistful grin.

"Trouble does seem to follow him, doesn't it?" Our eyes met and I could still see that beautiful, brave girl who fought Barbossa and his crew for my life and stood against her father in order to love me. But things were different now, and some wounds never heal.

"You should go," I whispered. Leaning in, she kissed me softly, barely brushing her lips against mine.

"I love you. If you don't remember anything else, remember that. You know where to find me." And with that, she walked out of my life again.

I sank back into the chair. The sky was a brilliant pink orange and the breeze had come back up. I still love her, maybe now more than I ever did. But it was right to let her go. She wasn't meant for this life, not really. Maybe, in time we could find our way back to each other, but for now this was enough. It had to be.


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