megatron: (Default)
megatron ([personal profile] megatron) wrote2007-08-27 11:58 pm

Fanfiction: Storyteller - PotC - PG-13 - James/Elizabeth

Title: Storyteller
Author: [personal profile] whisperwords | [personal profile] megatron
Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Pairing: James/Elizabeth
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Spoilers for AWE.
Summary: A father tells his children a bedtime story. Post-AWE.
Disclaimer: PotC and the franchise belong to Disney. I'm simply fleshing it out a bit. :)
Word Count: 3,986



Edmund Worthington was taller than his father, his shoulders were broad, and he wore his Naval coat with authority. He was an Admiral, like his father before him and his father’s father. He knew all the stories of the sea and he told them with great enthusiasm; it was for this reason that he often found himself seated before a winter fire with his two young sons, begging him for the excitement and adventure that only a seafarer’s stories could bring them.

“What do you boys want to hear about tonight?” he asked, smiling down at his brown-eyed younger son. The boy had a playful gleam in his eye, but he still deferred to his older brother for the final decision.

“Pirates!” the older one shouted, a bit too excitedly. He leaned forward on his knees and Edmund laughed.

“You want to hear about pirates, do you?” he said, pulling his younger son up onto his knee. The boy grinned at him, lopsided and missing a tooth.

“Yes, yes,” he said, clapping his hands. “Pirates!”

“Well then,” Edmund leaned forward and looked up, searching his mind for a suitable tale. “Ah, yes, that’s the one. I’m going to tell you boys about the Pirate King.”

The two boys gasped, their eyes widening with anticipation. The older one climbed up from the floor onto the seat beside his father.

“Many years ago,” he started, “There was a great battle among pirates...”

*****

Captain Will Turner of the Dutchman, through years of doing naught but right and honourable acts, became famed as the most venerable man to ever helm the ship of the dead, and the most sorrowful. For after ten years of doing all he was entrusted with, he found no one waiting for him on the other side, and eternity grasped at his soul like a starving man at sustinence.

He had married the Pirate King, and she had left him to wander the earth without a heart for her sins.

*****

“But wait, father,” the older boy stopped him. “The captain of the Dutchman married the Pirate King?”

“Yes, James,” Edmund stopped to clarify. “You see, the Pirate King was a woman.”

“Wouldn’t that make her the Pirate Queen?” the younger son -- Charles -- asked. “Women can’t be kings!”

”Well boys, this was no ordinary woman,” Edmund started. “She was voted the Pirate King by the Brethren Court.”

*****

Elizabeth Swann stood flabbergasted in front of a table full of pirates. Jack Sparrow stared at her with a smug grin on his face. A bit proud of himself, is he? she thought, smirking to herself. At least someone is, then.

To be sure, Elizabeth had already had her share of surprises -- first she was made captain of the Empress, and mere moments later she was detained by Davy Jones, only to be freed hours later by the Admiral she’d never expected to cross paths with again. One more surprise among them shouldn’t have jarred her as much as it did. However, she’d just been told she was in charge of the whole of piracy.

The fact that piracy seemed at its end made the entire event seem just a bit overwrought to her mind, anyway.

*****

“I still don’t think she should have called herself the king,” Charles piped up.

“Quiet, Charlie,” James snapped. “I want to hear more about Captain Turner. Why wasn’t she waiting for him?”

“We haven’t gotten there, yet...”

*****

Elizabeth paced in the captain’s quarters, her eyes crazed and her hair a wild tangle. Things were not working out as she’d planned them; they hadn’t been working out the way she’d planned for a long time. She’d never expected a legion of the undead to come after her for a trinket of gold, after all, and she certainly hadn’t expected for a giant squid to destroy the ship she was on -- and its captain! -- and she had absolutely not anticipated that captain’s involvement with the Brethren Court and the subsequent chase she’d had to participate in to retrieve him from Davy Jones’ Locker. Come to think of it, she’d not planned on meeting Davy Jones, either, but what was another unexpected twist in her life? She was prepared for nothing and everything now, because her most carefully laid-out childhood plans were all but a whisper in her mind now.

If only she could reset everything, she would begin anew. She would start at the very beginning and beg her father to stay in England.

No, that was too far. She would simply not take the coin from the boy on the crossing. That would set it all right, that would make everything work out the way she’d originally planned. She’d let the boy keep his trinket, and the pirates would come for him, and they would leave her well alone to live out her days an Admiral’s wife.

Yes, that was precisely it. Elizabeth gnawed at her thumbnail as she paced, wondering if she’d ever stop seeing those sad, green eyes when she closed her own brown ones. She sighed loudly and turned on her heel, biting a bit too hard on a hangnail she’d created and drawing a bit of blood. The tiny wound stung as she sucked at it, the coppery taste of her blood reminding her vaguely of Isla de Muerta.

How would she do it, though? She sat down on the floor, pulling her knees to her chin and furrowing her brow. If she and her crew could travel through seas full of ghosts and oceans made of sand, it could not be too much to ask to turn the clock backward, to set everything straight.

A knock at the door caused Elizabeth to snap out of her musings for just a moment.

“What is it?” she snapped, and the door cracked open just a bit. Ragetti -- or was it Pintel? -- stuck his head in.

“We was wonderin’,” he started, and then looked back out the door. Someone nudged him, so he shuffled to stand just inside the doorway. The other of the ragtag team -- Elizabeth could never remember which was which -- peeked in from around the frame.

“’Ello, Mrs. Turner,” he said mildly. “We’s wond’rin’ when we might make port.”

“Next port town we pass,” she said, waving one hand. “I trust the two of you can find one?”

“Aye, cap’n,” the first muttered. He stood awkwardly there for a moment, but Elizabeth had already lost interest. She never held interest long anymore. They shuffled back out of her quarters and not long after, the ship pitched slightly starboard, and the sudden movement pushed her to her feet and out the door.

“A change in course, men!”

*****

“Is she crazy, father?”

“Yes, yes she is,” Edmund ruffled his older boy’s dark, curly hair. “The Pirate King went mad.”

“Why?”

“Well, son, she lost her love.”

“Captain Turner?”

“No, boys. The Pirate King loved a Naval man.”

“Like you!”

“Yes, boys, just like me.”

*****

Admiral Norrington had been an upright, honest man through the day he died. He’d only ever lied the one time, and it was to save the life of the woman he loved, so it hadn’t counted against his eternal soul in the least. Strangely enough, though his life had been nothing but honour and valour, he hadn’t been content to leave the seas as his life left his body, and he found himself trapped there in the deep blue sea, no body to bind him, but no freedom still from the Earth.

He found, after a time, that he could travel wherever he pleased, so long as he remained over water. He found it mildly ironic that he was confined by the same boundaries as Davy Jones.

There was no time for James Norrington, no sense of hot or cold, no clue at all for him about how long he’d been where he was and what was happening around him. Five minutes and five years had no significance to him. Five centuries could pass and he’d never know. All he understood was that he’d died on the deck of the Dutchman and that for some entirely inexplicable reason, he’d not passed on.

Then one day, he found himself haunting the shores of Isla de Muerta.

*****

“Where is Isla de Muerta?” Charles asked. James glared at him for interrupting the story, but Edmund simply smiled.

“No one knows, except those who have already been there,” he replied. The boy furrowed his brow and frowned.

“Then how did anyone find it in the first place?”

“That’s a mystery I don’t know the answer to, son.”

“Father?” Charles began to ask another question. This time James shushed him.

“Come now, Jamie,” Edmund placed a hand on the older boy’s shoulder. “No harm ever came from asking a question.”

“Is James named after the Admiral?” Charles continued. Edmund laughed. James’s expression suddenly changed and he tugged on Edmund’s sleeve.

“Keep telling the story, no more questions! What’s on Isla de Muerta?”

“On Isla de Muerta, the pirate Barbossa and his crew left a chest of cursed Aztec gold...”

*****

“Eight-hundred and eighty-two pieces exactly,” Elizabeth Swann muttered to herself, running her slender fingers along the gold at the top of the pile. “All accounted for, all here within this chest.”

She’d left her crew waiting in the shallows and insisted she come into the caves alone. Most of her crew was wary of entering these dark, damp tunnels as it was, most of them having once felt the burden of the curse themselves.

Her fingers found the chain attached to one of the topmost coins and pulled it up. The very same coin that had started her life as a pirate dangled from her hand, gleaming in the dim light of the cave. She smiled a small half-smile, chuckling to herself. This would be the one. Will Turner’s blood was there, dried in the skull pattern on the coin, brown and flaky. It would go in time.

The winds shifted and sent a chill down Elizabeth’s spine as she looped the chain over her head. She turned quickly on her heel, the goosebumps on the back of her neck alerting her to an intruder in the caves, but she saw no one.

“Show yourself,” she said, her hand dropping to the cutlass at her hip. She took one step forward and clenched her jaw. “I am the Pirate King, you will show yourself.”

The wind shifted again, blowing harder this time and from inside the caves, pulling her hair around her shoulders and whipping at her face. She frowned and turned to face it. It was warmer this time, and smelled faintly of wig powder. It vexed her.

“No matter,” she said, shaking her shoulders and standing up straight. “I’ve got what I came for.” She headed back for her ship.

*****

“Why didn’t she take more of the treasure?”

“Boys, boys! Keep interrupting me and we’ll never reach the end of the story.”

“Sorry, father.”

“Yeah, sorry, father.”

*****

“She didn’t wait for me,” Captain Turner said, looking out toward the horizon from the bow of the Dutchman. “My own wife.”

“A lot can happen in ten years,” Barbossa said in reply. He finished off a green apple and threw the core into the sea. The juices left on his hands made the grime under his nails stickier and he wiped the muck on his coat.

“Have you seen her?” Turner asked, looking hopefully at Barbossa. The man shook his head.

“I have heard tales,” he started, “Tales of the crazed Pirate King.”

“Crazed?” Turner looked worried. “She’s gone mad?”

“Aye, if the stories are true,” Barbossa nodded solemnly. “Some say she engages in battles too large for her crew on a whim; others say she wanders the bottom of the sea searching for her lost love. Which would be you, by all accounts.”

“The bottom of the sea?”

“Ah, yes. The stories all tell of a curse,” Barbossa muttered. “Perhaps the very same curse the crew of the Pearl suffered so many years ago.”

Captain Turner became very quiet then, staring out to the sea. There was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the moon was large and full. The light reflected playfully from the water.

“Again, I haven’t seen her, I cannot account for the truth in these tales,” Barbossa offered. Turner’s expression did not change.

*****

“But it’s not Turner!” James exclaimed, very vexed. Edmund smiled.

“You know that and I know that,” he said, “But Barbossa, now, why would he know that? Don’t you worry, Jamie.”

*****

She saw him in a dream. Elizabeth woke with a start and a scream, her hands clutching at her clothes. She wrenched her eyes shut and then open again, and still the image of him would not leave her. She thought for a moment he was right there with her, standing in front of her and smiling knowingly down at her as she gasped for air. But he was not.

When her vision finally adjusted itself and she could differentiate reality from her dreams once again, she grew angry.

“Why won’t you leave me be?” she asked, dragging a shaking hand through her hair, catching her fingers in the knots that the sea winds tied there. “Why can’t I forget you, James? Why can’t I bring you back?”

She grew very aggravated then, the irritation building in her as she left the captain’s quarters. Her crew watched her as she climbed up the rigging into the sails, higher and higher until she was at the crow’s nest. She stood there for hours, staring out into the distance as if searching for something.

As the sun began to set, she looked down to her crew.

“You there!” she shouted down to the crewman at the helm. “Take us hard to starboard!”

“Aye, Cap’n!” The ship veered to the right. Elizabeth smiled to herself, a broad, triumphant smile, and she began her journey back down to the deck.

*****

“Where’s she going?”

“Patience, Charles.”

*****

“Ahoy!” Barbossa heard the call before he saw the ship, though it was alongside the Pearl in almost no time at all.

“My King,” he greeted Elizabeth with a smile. “I’ve heard quite a few tales about you,” he added, taking Elizabeth’s hand as she crossed to his ship.

“I have heard quite a few myself,” she muttered, grinning at Barbossa. There was a shine to her eyes, a gleam that betrayed her calm.

“You’re as wild as they say, then,” he muttered, and he knew, though her smile did not falter. “Might I ask you a question?”

“You might,” Elizabeth answered, “Though I might not answer it.”

“You are aware it’s been thirteen years now since William Turner took the Dutchman, then?”

“I...” her smile disappeared now. “I hadn’t realized.”

“Quite.”

Elizabeth glared at him then, and the cheerful facade she’d cultivated shattered all around her. “I need to find him.”

“Turner?”

“Yes, Turner, who else could do what I need him to do,” she said quickly. Barbossa raised an eyebrow, curious.

“And what might that be?”

“An old friend,” she started, and then cackled to herself, an unhinged string of musical notes. “No, strike that. Not just a friend. Not just anyone. I need James Norrington.”

*****

“But Father, if Norrington is a ghost...”

“Patience, James, patience is a virtue,” Edmund chuckled. “I fear you two are getting overexcited. Perhaps we should finish this story some other time?”

“No! No, father, please,” Charles pleaded, his eyes wide.

“No more questions, I promise,” James added.

“You promise?” Edmund smiled, his eyes twinkling. The two boys nodded emphatically. “All right, then.”

*****

Barbossa called for William Turner and it did not take long for the message to get through. Elizabeth paced the deck of the Pearl until the Dutchman burst from the sea, and then she stood stock-still until Turner stood squarely in front of her.

“You didn’t wait for me,” he said, and his words stung her.

“I didn’t,” she replied. “I have no excuse,” she added. Will searched her face for meaning and found none.

“Why should I help you find Norrington?” he asked, and she set her jaw. “It’s been thirteen years now, I can’t guarantee it will work.”

“It will work,” she said, and she brought her hand up to her throat, thumbing the chain around her neck. It suddenly felt very heavy. She added, almost a whisper: “It has to.”

The wind picked up, around them, without a direction and warm. The tattered sails of the Pearl flapped violently in the sudden gale. Will took a step toward Elizabeth, closing the gap between them.

“Thirteen years,” he repeated, softly. She looked back up at him with that same wild, almost manic look in her eye.

“I loved you, then,” she said, and it almost seemed enough for him.

“You’ll have to come with me,” he said, motioning toward the Dutchman. Elizabeth nodded and took his hand.

*****

“She loved him, too?”

“What happened to ‘no more questions,’ James?”

“Sorry.”

*****

Elizabeth had forgotten how tasking it was to make the trip from the Locker and back, but once they were on the other side she sank quickly back into herself, waiting impatiently for the chance to see James once more.

Night fell and after what seemed to Elizabeth like eternity, Will came up beside her.

“It’s time,” he said, and she looked up at him. He didn’t look her in the eye.

“When will we know?” she asked, as Will handed her the end of a rope. “What’s this for?” He pointed up at one of the sails. A menial task, to keep her occupied while he worked.

“You’ll know soon enough,” he said. The night air was as still as the grave, and the clouds hung in the sky unmoving.

“Something’s not right,” she muttered, though she set to her task. She kept an eye on Will as she worked, though after a while she grew tired of spying and worked the rigging to make the time pass.

“He’s not there,” Will uttered, hours later. “It’s as if he never existed at all.”

“That’s impossible,” Elizabeth countered, and Will nodded. “Then what does it mean? Perhaps he didn’t die after all,” she started, moving away from Will as she thought out loud. “No, but I saw him fall, I saw him die with my own eyes, perhaps... is it possible Davy Jones destroyed his soul? No, that isn’t... is it?” she turned sharply on her heel to face Will.

“I don’t have the power to destroy a soul,” he said succinctly. She wheeled away from him again.

“Well then he must still be there, somewhere,” she started again, bringing her left hand to her face. She started to gnaw on an already ragged fingernail. “Somewhere around there, perhaps... can you do this on the other side?”

“I’ve never tried.”

“Would you?”

*****

“Are you sure you don’t want to go to bed?” Edmund asked as Charles stifled a yawn. James stretched beside him, arching his back as he raised both hands into the air. Both boys shook their heads.

*****

The Dutchman broke the sea surface at dawn within sight of the Pearl. Elizabeth’s latest stolen ship was anchored not far from that. Will dropped anchor between the two.

“Try now,” Elizabeth said as soon as the ship was still. “Will, please.” Her hair was enormous around her shoulders, and the warm Caribbean breeze pushed it gently around her face.

“Give me a moment,” he said softly, and she frowned, sitting down on the deck with her knees pulled up to her chest. “Just a moment,” he repeated, and she rested her chin on her knees, impatient. She watched intently this time as he worked, kneeling on the deck. His hands moving rapidly across a strange compass-like object he’d pulled from a pouch he kept at his hip, and his lips moved, murmuring something she couldn’t quite make out.

“Well?” she asked, when Will paused momentarily and leaned back on his heels. He shushed her quickly and then knelt over the object once more. The wind picked up around them.

“Ah, there he is,” he muttered, and looked up toward the sails. Elizabeth’s eyes followed his gaze and she watched as the wind fluttered aimlessly through the rigging. Will turned back down to his trinket and continued murmuring, but Elizabeth’s gaze never fell from the wind. It picked up speed, faster and faster across the deck of the Dutchman, until Elizabeth had to close her eyes to shield them from her own hair, which was whipping violently around her head. The ship rocked violently with the force of it; it was like a hurricane on the deck. The sails tore and Elizabeth ducked her face down into her knees, shielding herself with her arms.

The wind stopped.

“Elizabeth?”

She lifted her head tentatively, pulling her hair back from her face. She blinked a few times to be sure of what she saw. Vibrant green eyes stared at her, a puzzled look pointed straight at her, from a familiar face not six inches from her own.

*****

“It worked!” Charles cheered, an enormous grin on his face. James smiled through a yawn.

“That it did,” Edmund said. “Now shall I take you two to bed?”

“But she’s still cursed!” James protested, and Edmund raised his eyebrows.

“Of course, right, how silly of me.”

*****

“James?” she whispered, though she could not move. He gave her a soft smile.

“The very same,” he replied, and he placed a warm hand on her face. She could not tear her eyes away from his; they were the same as they ever were, the eyes that had driven her mad in her dreams, here in front of her now. She felt her own filling with tears.

“James,” she repeated, and she still could not quite move her arms, though she desperately wanted to touch him, to make sure he was solid and not another vivid dream. She remained tightly curled, her knees drawn to her chest, and he knelt there in front of her, one hand on the deck to steady himself and the other gently brushing her hair from her face. His fingers trailed down the side of her neck to the chain that held her curse to her.

“I think we should return this to the chest it came from,” he said, tugging gently at it. Elizabeth sobbed out a laugh and finally found her arms mobile again, lunging forward and wrapping them tightly around his shoulders.

“I’d lost you,” she said, a few times, burying her face in the crook of his neck. “I couldn’t find you, and I looked, and we went so far...”

“I’m here now,” he said plainly, and he stood, helping her up with him. Elizabeth found her legs again. She pulled away from James, though it took a great deal of effort to let go of him entirely, and moved toward Will.

“Thank you, Will,” she said, her face flushed with emotion. “Thank you so much. I can’t say in words how much it means to me.”

“I love you,” he said, meaning ‘you’re welcome.’ Elizabeth nodded, and grasped his hand for a moment. He smiled gently and then looked to Norrington. “Take care of her.”

“I will,” he promised. He took Elizabeth by the hand and together they left the Dutchman for Elizabeth’s ship.

*****

“Is that the end?” James asked, yawning widely. Edmund nodded. He stood, holding the already-sleeping Charles to his shoulder, and then leaned down to hoist James up as well.

“Now it’s off to bed for you two,” he whispered, taking them up the stairs to their bedroom.

“Father?”

“Yes, James?”

“Am I named for the Admiral?” he asked, a soft whisper in his father’s ear.

“Yes, you are,” Edmund whispered back. “You’re named for your great-grandfather, Admiral James Norrington.”

[identity profile] halonoir1.livejournal.com 2007-08-28 08:56 am (UTC)(link)
Whee! That was really great, and though I'm not usually a fan of stories within stories, I absolutely adored the interruptions, this one in particular:

“She loved him, too?”

“What happened to ‘no more questions,’ James?”

“Sorry.”

Just perfect, what I think most of us used to do during stories!

[identity profile] whisperwords.livejournal.com 2007-08-28 01:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I'm glad the style worked for you. :)

I know I was most definitely that child myself, the one that promised no interruptions and then continued to interject regardless.

[identity profile] artic-fox.livejournal.com 2007-08-28 10:36 am (UTC)(link)
Wow, just amazing! Truly fantastic. I love the structure you have used - the story within the story, the narrative through, and such detail. It is such an original idea, and yet it felt so completely right in reading it. I just... love this. Thank you so much for posting!

[identity profile] whisperwords.livejournal.com 2007-08-28 01:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you so much! I'm glad the style worked, I was worried it'd be hokey. Then again, I went all in for the cheese at the end there anyway. :) I'm glad you liked it!

[identity profile] ericadawn16.livejournal.com 2007-08-28 03:31 pm (UTC)(link)
It's a very interesting idea. I liked the idea of his death haunting her, but I was left a bit...wanting. There were a few mistakes which is okay in the POTC-verse, but I wanted a bit more, like what happened afterward? What did James think of her being cursed? Apparently, she was able to break the curse? As much as I liked the interruptions of the children and the twist, I kind of wondered whether it was actually limiting in a way: not allowing for so much description or what happened afterward.

[identity profile] whisperwords.livejournal.com 2007-08-30 02:48 am (UTC)(link)
Thanks for the feedback. I thought writing it from the passed-down-the-line verbal storytelling POV would be a fun little experiment; I enjoyed writing it. I guess it leaves something to be desired, like you said, but then again, every story that is passed down loses a bit of itself on the retelling, so perhaps it worked out well enough anyway.

Again, thanks for leaving a comment; I appreciate the feedback.