"Their names are Ignorance and Want. Beware of them. For upon their brow is written the word doom." A one piece about regrets, ignorance, and want. Set Pre-CotBP, slight JackxOC
A Pirates of the Caribbean Fanfic
"They are your children. They are the chldren of everyone who walks the earth - unseen and unheard. Their names are Ignorance and Want. Beware of them. For upon their brow is written the word doom."
The manorhouse was not as ostentatious as one might expect from a persona of the British nobility. Nor were there as many guards or servants as one might expect for its size. Only a handful of times during the year did that change. Did the place suddenly bustle with servants and guards. Did visitors suddenly come and go with any frequency. Such times did not last long. A fortnight at most. A matter of days was more common. Then it would return to it's near-empty state.
Some might think it no more than a vacation home of a noble with more money than time. That it truly was empty accept those brief days it suddenly overflowed with people. But Captain Jack Sparrow knew better. Knew that it was during the times it was busy that the house was truly empty. Bereft of what it held the rest of the year that gave it worth. As he gazed at the house through his spyglass he was relieved to find now was not one of those times.
He had business inside the manor, and if he had come during one of those times, it would mean a delay in his plans. A delay he wasn't sure he could afford. Still, he found himself hesitating on the rocky beach the house sat near - a part of him reluctant to enter inside. Not because he was unwelcome, but because of the reason that brought him there. Business. A trip there should never have been for such a cold reason. And yet, it always was. It was always business that brought him to the rocky shore he now stood on. That drove him to seek the residents of the elegant home before him.
The sun was setting into the ocean behind him when he put away the spyglass and crept his way to the building, easily evading the dozing guards on duty. The front door was out of the question. The two faces of the manor continued even during the quiet times. Luck could have the right person open the door, and he could be ushered inside without worry. But luck was a fickle ally, as Jack knew too well. And if the wrong person opened the door...
There was an open window on the second level. Several in fact. There always was. And the latticework that led there might as well have been a proper ladder - it made ascending and descending from the windows ridiculously easy. He wouldn't be surprised if that was the whole point. But whether it was to make entering the house easy or escaping it easy he couldn't say for certain. The room he found himself in was decorated with soft colors, with paintings of ships and seas decorating the walls. A variety of children toys filled both the shelves and the floor. It was a familiar room to him, for he'd entered and exited from it before. It was a bit more cluttered than last he'd seen it though.
His reverie was broken by a small voice squealing, "Cap'n Jack!", before a small form barreled into his legs, clamping onto it and nearly knocking him over in the process. After catching his balance he glanced down at the mop of black ringlets atop the head of the toddler that had his leg in a vice-like grip. He would have grinned, because it was a rather cute picture, and there's something about being tackled by an excited toddler that is rather endearing - provided you liked children that is. However, depending on the strength of the said toddler, it can get rather painful as well, and he knew from past experience that this particular child had a grip that put squid to shame. So he tousled the mop of dark curls quickly. "Oy, there, tadpole - give a mate some room."
The little girl, having been acknowledged, let go of her hold, backing up to look at him with an infectious grin and dark eyes that were alive with excitement. "I haven't seen you ever more."
"Sorry, lil one. Captain Jack's been a bit busy." He gave her a grin that might have been apologetic, tousling her curls again as he headed for the door. He was forced to stop when she grabbed his coat.
"Story!" She pleaded.
Wondering whether being found by the girl was luck being kind or evil to him, he turned back to pry his coat from her plump hands. "Not today. Go play."
"But haven't seen you ever more!" The tiny face screwed up, tears threatening to spill.
"Oy. No tears. Waste of good salt water." He knelt down, worried she'd start wailing and bring the whole household running.
"But want story!" She was getting louder, and Jack winced.
"Now, now. Jack's got something better than a story."
The tears instantly stopped, and not for the first time when it came to the moppet in front of him, Jack wondered if he'd been had. Really, weren't children supposed to be all gullibility and innocence? He was beginning to think that was a folk tale, and that a child's ability to dissemble far surpassed most adults. Maybe honesty had to be taught along with ABCs and 123s?
"Present?" The dark eyes lit up.
"That's right, poppet." Digging into his pockets he produced a darkened bronze coin.
"Pretty!" The girl reached her hand up excitedly.
"This here coin is from Siam, lil one. Whole other side of the world from England here." He placed it in her palm and she grasped her fingers around it tightly.
"Sa-yam!" She repeated loudly and determinedly, though it was doubtful she'd remember the word later.
"Close enough." He shrugged over her mispronunciation, standing again.
"Remember to thank Captain Jack for the present, Muriel." The slightly amused feminine voice from behind him took him by surprise. Jack turned to the woman in the doorway. Her own black hair was piled high on her head, and she was dressed in a gown he guessed must have been the latest fashion in London. She entered the room with the graceful steps and strong aire of authority one expected, and so rarely found, in one born and bred of the nobility. "After all, he didn't have to bring you anything, and I'm certain that coin must be worth atleast a half-penny."
The teasing lilt to her voice was lost on Muriel, who squealed with delight - ignorant to the worth of money as most children were. "Thank-you." She hugged Jack's legs again, before running over to tug on the woman's skirt. "Look, Mama, pretty."
The woman knelt down next to her daughter, making a show of studying the coin to please the young girl. "By Jove, it's wonderful darling. Go put it with the others in the chest Grandpap gave you. Then find Nana and tell her I sent you. Captain Jack and I have to talk."
Muriel pouted. "But I wanted story."
"I'm sure Nana knows some wonderful stories."
"Not as good as Cap'n Jack."
The woman's lips quirked into a wry smile. "Yes, well, very few people can weave fantasies half as well as the good Captain. But all the same, it'll have to be Nana's stories today. Now run along."
Muriel gave a pleading look Jack's way, but he spread his hands in a helpless gesture. "Sorry, tadpole. No help here. Nothing good comes of kids what don't listen to their Mum."
Muriel gave a defeated sigh, and exited the room looking utterly dejected. The woman shook her head. "I bet she'll con two cookies out of Nana with that woeful look."
"Dare I ask what chest her "Grandpap" gave her?" Jack found himself asking, as they watched through the door as Muriel entered another room briefly before heading downstairs.
"Just a sea chest." A bit too casual.
"Just a sea chest?" The question was laced with doubt.
"He may have said something about it once holding part of the treasure of the feared Captain Brooke of the Red Lagoon, but I wasn't fully paying attention at the time. You'll have to ask him."
"Not ruddy likely, darling. But I'll keep it in mind."
"And I would appreciate you not calling my daughter a frog."
"Tadpole's not exactly a frog. It's more like a fish."
"It grows into a frog."
"Technicalities." Jack waved his hand. He pause to study where she still knelt by the door - eyes following her daughter's progress down the stairs until she was out of sight. For a long moment neither moved or spoke, then Jack sauntered forward to where she was kneeling. "She's a treasure. You've done right by her."
"Thank-you. There are times I find myself wondering."
"Her father come to see her lately?" He asked, watching her expression closely.
Dark eyes lowered away, avoiding his searching gaze. "My husband was here not a month gone. But he had no desire to see her, as usual."
"Prolly better that way."
"I'm inclined to agree. That's why we're here."
After a moment's silence, Jack cleared his throat. "Yes, well - as you told the moppet - we do need to talk, so perhaps you'd best get off the floor. As much as I'm enjoying the lovely view of your décolletage, it can be rather distracting."
Coral lips curled in a smirk as the mood in the room shifted. She raised her eyes to meet his, one hand tracing the edge of her collar. "But that's the point, darling. I don't wear my bodices low cut for my own benefit, now do I?"
"Thought it might be for whatever strapping young lad you got at your call now."
"I fear my line of suitors have dwindled somewhat. A romance with a married woman is, after all, one with no future. And there aren't quite so many lads around here as in London."
"Dwindled somewhat, perhaps, but certainly not dwindled away?"
"My husband's reputation also takes it's toll on my choices. But, no, it has certainly not made a matron of me. My bed is warmed when I wish it. The same as yours, no doubt." She held out her hand, which Jack took without hesitation - aiding her to her feet.
"True enough. Can't expect otherwise from either of us."
"No, I don't." She crossed to the open window to gaze at the scenery below, her eyes settling on the open ocean beyond the house and its shore. "Sometimes I do miss it though. The naiveté of my youth. When my head was full of romance and wonder. When love was some incredible force that bound two people together for all eternity. Before I became old and wise enough to realize that it was just another emotion. A powerful one, yes, but just one more feeling. Possible to connect to many others, and just as capable of fading away as the lesser emotions too."
Jack watched her for a time as she watched the sea, not replying or commenting on her soliloquy. "Lorelei." He said atlast, and nothing more.
The woman turned at the sound her name, her smile sad. "We're survivors, Jack. You and I. I have no regrets...well, perhaps some. One stands out the most. But most days it does not bother me. Come, I know why you're here."
Jack nodded. "She's got something I'm needing if I'm ever to recover the Pearl."
Lorelei nodded as well. "Come." She led him down the hall to a set of locked double doors. Pulling a key from her bodice she unlocked them, replacing it quickly. She noticed Jack was watching her actions, and her lips curled into a smirk again. "Like the old saying 'You never know what's up a man's sleeve?'. You never know what a woman keeps in her corset."
"Oh, I've long been aware of the power found in a woman's corset." Jack leered at her.
Lorelei laughed shamelessly, her hands on the double doors, but not opening them. She met his gaze, sparks flickering in her eyes. "How naive, Captain. I would think you of all people would know not to put your faith in appearances. Afterall, a pretty set of sails is useless if what's below decks isn't up to standards."
Jack smirked back, meeting her heated gaze. "Oh but I do know that, darling. That's why I always insist on a thorough inspection.." He rested one hand on the small of her back, feeling a shiver go through her at his touch.
She chuckled, but one hand moved from the doors to lie on top of his, drawing it over to rest on her hip instead. "Well, you've always had a more personal touch. I know you keep a good ship."
"Though every ship must come to port sooner or later." Jack leaned down to purr in her ear.
"And of all the ports you've harboured in, is there one you've found to be better than others?"
"I always have been fond of this one."
Lorelei closed her eyes for a moment, allowing the second hand to rise from the door and reach back to weave through Jack's hair. His free hand reached around to stroke her chin gently, so she turned her face toward his. Their lips were centimeters apart when she opened her eyes again so they could meet eachother's gazes - see the tide of desire in eachother's depths. Lorelei broke away first, burrowing her head in the crook of his neck for a moment - breathing in deeply before pulling away completely. She turned to face him, her hands holding onto the handles of the double doors behind her back.
"You're a cad and a liar, Captain Sparrow. And far too good of one for either of our own good. Still, it isn't proper decorum at all - propositioning your sister-in-law."
"What does decorum say about sleeping with your betrothed's half-brother?" Though the question sounded flippant, there was an edge to it as well.
"Much the same." Lorelei's lips quirked into a wry smile. They faced eachother a moment longer before she opened the double doors, stepping back into a meticulously kept office. Sea charts lined the walls, along with various other maps and a few painting - mostly mythological in nature. The desk did not hold anything but a writing set and a globe. There was shelves lined with books, and several drawer sets. Jack tried one, but it was locked. He glanced at Lorelei, who shook her head. "Combination locks. There is no key."
"You've never figured out the combination?"
Lorelei studied the drawers, and then the writing desk, her features tense. "I've never...wanted to know what's inside."
"So why are we in here?"
Lorelei went to the bookshelf, and pressed against it gently with her hand. It swung inward to reveal a staircase. There was a dank smell from below, combined with a sharp scent that Jack instantly recognized. He looked at Lorelei, who was stone-faced as she picked up an oil lamp that hung on a hook on the wall and lit it. He followed her as they descended two levels. They were underground now, and the sharp smell was stronger. Cells lined one wall, and a large fireplace was across from them. Branding irons lay on the brick flu. Though they were grey and cold as the fireplace they sat on, Jack couldn't help but rub his right arm. A chair with manacles sat next to it - empty as the cells were, but far too clean to have been in disuse long.
Lorelei's back was stiff now, a sign of her tension. But she did not pause to study the room, instead crossing to a door on the far side to enter a different chamber. His eyes hard, Jack went to follow her, but she reentered carrying a vial and rubbing one arm as if chilled. He could feel that the air from the other room was much colder. "Large blocks of ice are kept in there to keep it cold." She closed the door. "One of his men come once a week to replace them. To keep what he keeps there...fresh."
"What is in there?"
"Do you really want to know more than necessary?" Lorelei asked.
Jack glanced between her and the door. "I reckon not."
"I think this should suffice." She offered him the vial. "Keep it cold as long as possible."
Jack studied the vial's dark contents. "Blood?" He stated more than asked.
Lorelei would not meet his gaze. "The sacrifice of innocence."
"Innocence? Or Innocents?"
"Does one not equal the other?"
Jack studied the vial. "Will she accept it?"
"I'm sure she'll find it potent enough to be acceptable payment."
"Never thought of innocence as having any sort of power." Jack mused aloud.
"Oh, but it does. Don't you remember what it was like? That enviable, untouchable feeling before you came to know how hard and unforgiving the world was? Before you came to know just what sort of cruelty you were capable of?"
Jack did not respond to her questions, but he tucked the vial into his sash. "Well, if that takes care of her payment - what of yours? What can I give you in exchange for such a...potent item?"
Lorelei seemed to hesitate, glancing around the torture chamber. "I rather think...at moments like this, that I'm the one repaying a debt. Trying to compensate for my own selfish form of cruelty. My deliberate ignorance." Her gaze fell on the branding irons on the fire before turning away to climb the stairs. "Besides, you made Muriel smile."
There were no words as they climbed back up the secret passage, the door sealing behind them with a soft click. There was no more to say. Their business was complete. Jack could feel the cold hard form of the vial sticking into his side through his sash. He'd have to borrow some ice from the local fish mongers so it would remain cold on the journey.
The tidiness of the study, no - the civilness of it - seemed mocking after being inside it's hidden chamber. The duplicity of it was almost sickening in nature. He glanced at Lorelei, but she - like him - seemed lost in her own thoughts as they exited the room. She turned her back on him to lock the doors, and there was a subtle dismissal in the gesture. He felt tempted to say something, as the silence seemed too oppressive. Instead he turned away, heading back toward the nursery he'd entered the home from.
"Sometime..." Lorelei's voice drew him up short. "...Sometime you must visit just to visit."
There'd been no sound of movement behind him. No rustle of skirts; no footsteps. She couldn't have moved from the study doors. Had she even turned around, he wondered, but didn't turn to look himself.
"And what would we do then? Sit down and have a spot of tea?"
If the mocking words hurt, it didn't show in her voice. "Coffee's quite the rage now. I hear it's good spiced with rum. You could tell Muriel a story. Your stories are always her favorite."
"On that day, should it happen, would you be telling me the name of Muriel's father?"
Silence. The rustle of skirts. Footsteps that grew closer, and then slightly altered steps as Lorelei began to descend the stairs. "Safe journey, Captain. I hope you find your heart's desire."
Those words stuck in his mind long after he left. So he wasn't surprised at all when Tia Dalma accepted the blood, and offered in return a compass that didn't point north.
The hardest part about this fic was coming up with a title. When the quote that opens the fic finally came to mind, I latched onto it. I felt it encompassed what the story was about. For whoever doesn't recognize it, it comes from A Christmas Carol and is spoken by The Ghost of Christmas Present.
I suppose I have written several Canon CharacterxOC stories over my time as a fanfic writer. I also seem to have a trend with them in which the said relationship doesn't end happily for the parties involved. This is, however, not at all the fic I sat down to write when I decided to try my hand at PotC fanfiction. It came about b/c of three factors.
One, as all my usual readers know, I'm a sucker for a back story. Can never resist filling in holes in character pasts. And Jack's past has lots of big empty holes to play with.
Two, I'm really sick of reading female OCs in this fandom that are either Pirate Wenches or Innocent High Society Girls. The first because there's plenty of canon female pirates. Why can't someone write a story about Mistress Ching or something? The second because most society ladies were far from innocent. If you really think a girl raised in the court of London would be a blushing virgin, you need to go read up on your history.
I tried to make Lorelei a woman of her time and status. Elegant, seductive, and lethal. In the rough draft, there was even mention of failed attempts to poison her husband, but I couldn't get it to flow right in the final rendition, so I took it out. Even though she knows what's going on in her own house, she ignores it for the safety of her daughter and herself. Selfish, yes, but self-preservation overrides any sense of nobility she has. Though her guilt prompts her to small acts of rebellion, like aiding Jack whenever he comes to her. Hence the opening quote about ignorance and want. Jack's vendetta and obsession with the Pearl, and Lorelei's deliberate ignorance of what's going on around her is leading them both to uncertain fates.
Third is, quite frankly, if I read one more fic or - help me - published book with something resembling the line:
"Why hadn't he/she seen sooner that what they'd felt for (Insert Character Name) wasn't really love? It never had been, never could be. All along they'd truly loved (Insert Character Name)?"
I mean - WTF? It is possible to love more than one person in a lifetime. Though Lorelei's speech is a bit more cynical than even my own opinions on love, I just had to write an antithesis to the above trite. Hence Lorelei's soliloquy. Whether she's talking about Jack or her husband when talking about love fading away is open to interpretation.
As for Jack being Lorelei's mysterious husband's half brother - why not? Can you honestly tell me you don't think Teague could have other kids? Now as for Muriel's father - I leave that open to interpretation also. After all, since her husband is Jack's half-brother any resemblance between him and Muriel could be due to that. Yet obviously Jack and her had a physical relationship not long before her marriage, so one could always interpret that as meaning he's Muriel's father as well. Perhaps Lorelei isn't even sure herself.