Why is Miss Elizabeth Swann ever so obsessed with pirates? Could it be something from her youth...?
Giving one last glance back over her shoulder at the building, Elizabeth made her way placidly down the streets of London, as if she'd done it every day of her full eight years.
Meanwhile, waltzing down the street, was a young man, looking quite reflective, who moved as if he'd be better suited for a ship. The beautiful thing about not being given any real important responsibility was that, when something important was going down - like loading up the Speedwell for her next trip, taking care of all the minor and vital details that would make it possible - Jack Sparrow had nothing to do, simply so he couldn't mess anything up, and as such, could loaf around in the general vicinity of the harbour. He found it rather amusing. He'd never been to London before and found, to his pleasure, that the city was filled with strange and interesting things and, more over, unobservant people with money on their notable and honoured persons.
She spotted him first from far across the street. It wasn't that she'd never seen anyone of a lower class, she wasn't so sheltered as that. But it was hard not to notice someone as, well, wandery as he was. With a bright red bandana, a worn coat (one Lieutenant Norrington would have scoffed at even touching) and so much that was shining about him, it was very hard indeed not to spot the man. However, she seemed to be the only one actively attempting to pay attention. Elizabeth slipped along the buildings, watching him with much interest.
Something was smelling rather good, and Jack hadn't eaten since breakfast. Without really noticing, he slid his hand into the pocket of a fat merchant, discussing - loudly - the price for a fat load of fish with someone who seemed quite adept at cooking them. When it came back up it was holding a jingling purse, and Jack glanced down in half surprise.
Oh. Guess he could buy some of that delicious-smelling cookerating now. He sashayed his way towards the booth in question, unaware of being watched.
Looking both ways before crossing the road, because she was a good little girl, Elizabeth made her way just a bit closer, a start of a smile on her little mouth. Making her way a bit closer still, she found herself standing just by his side and staring up at the odd looking man.
My, but he was handsome! Elizabeth decided that she was very much in love with him.
The food that so interested him turned out be a thick beef broth that, amazingly, actually looked to have been made with real beef. Jack happily coughed up the price demanded from the stolen money, and recieved a bowl's full and a bread to scoop it up with. Lovely. It was about then he noticed that he was being stared at. Glancing down, he saw a little girlchild, dressed in a perfect little dress and hair arranged in perfect little ringlets, looking up at him with wide, brown eyes. Unnerving.
Glancing around for any sort of parent, he sighed and looked back. "Can I help you, my lady?" She looked like a lady-type child.
"My name is Elizabeth Swann," she said politely, in her best grown up voice with a little curtsy. Giving him her best smile, she awaited his name in turn. After all, that is what polite company did, didn't it?
Laughing a little nervously, glancing around again, he said, "Well, isn't that lovely? Shouldn't you be with mother Swann then, little one? Dangerous place around here."
Figuring that would be that - Jack never did understand children well - he set about putting the broth in its rightful place.
"Oh, no, 'tisn't very dangerous at all! I walk along here all the time," Elizabeth replied sweetly, lying maybe a little and making no move to go whatsoever. Well, he wasn't very proper, not giving a lady his name, was he? Not that it was entirely a bad thing. She did tire of that rather easily, and it made him just a touch more exciting.
"Well," Jack said through a mouthful of soggy bread, "you can keep on walking, then. I'm sure your mum wouldn't want you to be talkin' to me, eh?" He waved his hand, crumbs dropping to the ground. "Get on with you, then."
"Never met my mother," Elizabeth replied, affecting a tone of sadness. It wasn't that she wasn't sad that she'd never met her mother. From all she knew, she'd been a perfectly lovely woman, but her having been gone before she was ever able to recognize the loss, her father had been well enough for her.
Still, she noticed it always seemed to help her situation when she called the lacking of a mother to attention, and Elizabeth put a little quiver into her lip.
Jack had never been sentimental, and the idea of sensitivity was as foreign to him as it had been to his father, so he merely swallowed his food and said, "Fine, your father then. Go on with you, nothing to see here." So saying, he turned from her and got back to the rather all right broth.
Well! She certainly had never gotten that response beforehand. Elizabeth, though, was not about to take that rejection quietly. After all, this was the man she loved! She made no move to leave, instead smiling as kindly as she could at him.
"You will not even tell me your name, sir?" she piped after a moment of waiting.
Stubborn mini-wench, wasn't she? Jack sighed and swallowed his current mouthful before glancing down at her again.
"Jack Sparrow. And that be all you need to know, little one. Now go on, get. Your father would be worried to know which company you kept."
The man in the booth looked up from his work at the bit of commotion and quirked a brow. He glanced between the ratty-tatty sailor and the little girl, deciding they didn't know each other, but that still, they were blocking a good portion of the view to his boothe on the busy street. Taking up space and keeping away other prospective and paying customers.
"Take 'er back t'er father then, why don't you?" he said sharply, nodding at the girl. "Little one like that don't need t'be runnin' about unescorted."
Elizabeth nodded in agreement, her small ringlets bouncing, and offered her little arm up to her beloved. "Yes, Mr. Sparrow." She beamed warmly up at him. "I am unescorted."
Looking at the meddling bastard like the rotten traitor to adulthood he was, Jack held up his bowl and bread and declared, "I'm /eating/. And besides, she's no responsibility of mine. If you're so worried, you take her to her father." Glancing down at the girl, and then setting about ignoring he, he muttered, "I didn't come ashore to play nursemaid."
"G'wan then! Don't very well know the man, do I?" the man snapped, waving a hand at Jack shooingly. He gave a hard glare for good measure. "Take 'er back!"
Elizabeth, on the other hand, was more enthralled than she'd been in her life. Ashore? That meant a ship, like Lieutenant Norrington was on, and all the grand stories he'd tell father! Swords and cannons and adventures and bright islands like jewels in a far-off sea. Oh, she could already imagine sailing aside this Jack, her love.
"/God/, fine," Jack said irritably, polishing off the meal and scowling - as much as he was capable of, which was not much, especially not at a girlchild - down at the little miss Swann.
"Are you a captain?" she asked reverantly, dark eyes glittering in awe.
"No, girl, I am merely a sailor. Now where do we find this father Swann of your'n?"
The cook harumphed in agreement, snatching back his bowl and waving them both off, to let another paying customer in. Elizabeth offered him her arm more insistantly and smiled.
"Oh, about here somewhere, I'm sure," she said a bit shyly. She knew just where he was, but first she must hear Jack's proposal of marriage before she'd be telling him exactly. "We can find him. Are you with the Royal Navy, then?"
After all, his coat was blue. Somewhat.
With a wretched face, Jack reached down and resolutely took her hand, then snorted at the mere suggestion.
"Hardly. I sail under a private captain, love. Now what does your father look like?" He turned around in the street, trying to spot anyone who looked like a small, stubborn child could belong to him. Shouldn't be that hard, should it? He sighed. Apparently it should. "Where did you last see him?"
"Down the road some, I think," she said softly, feeling just a bit faint. Oh, that he should call her "love"! Certainly, her aunt Evelyn did as well, but it was hardly the same. Much more potent coming from one's future fiance. She gazed up at him with stars in her eyes.
"Right." Tugging her along, Jack marched down the road. With small steps, mind; he wasn't sure she could keep up otherwise. He tried to ignore the star-struck look in her eyes, but the way she was constantly looking at him it was hard. Bloody hell, why couldn't more grown women look at him that way?
"A private captain? A merchant, then?" Elizabeth asked pryingly, imagining herself sailing with a pretty little ring on her finger. Father should be happy that she ended up with a merchant. And such a fine one as her new Jack.
Oh, another question! She was just full of them, wasn't she. "In a way," he said carefully. He wasn't sure a child knew what, exactly, a privateer was.
"What way would that be?" she asked happily. Her hand in his and a bit of walking was all she needed. She could already see that he would love her, that much was obvious. He was being very careful with her and all. How gentlemanly!
"He sells things," Jack said, even more carefully, as they went along. He usually had no problem lying, but to a little girl who, honestly, looked like a devoted puppy it was difficult. Didn't mean he'd tell her the whole truth, though; heavens no. And where was that father of hers?
"Do you see your old man about, love?"
There it was again! She sighed happily, tilting her head towards his arm comfortably. Oh, he would be her Jack, he would. She took her time in answering, half out of joy. Elizabeth's heart was soaring in a way she was sure she'd not felt before. Not, at least, since the Duke's young boy had come by for tea the week before last and kissed her hand.
"No, not yet," she said dreamily, smiling in a bit of a daze. "What kinds of things do you sell?"
Bugger. He growled, standing a bit on his toes - why'd everyone have to be so tall, anyway? - to try and see if he could spot anyone who looked right. Elizabeth mimicked him curiously, stepping up on her tip toes as well. More to see his face than to see over anyone else. Her father was not of an immediate concern.
"Well," he said absently, "all sorts of things. Whatever it is we can take, really. What did you father look like, again?"
"Oh, tall, red jacket. Jack?" She tugged at his hand, looking brightly up at him, despite the lie. Father's jacket had been violet, hadn't it? Either way, they wouldn't find him on the street. "What do you mean by take?"
Had he said 'take'? Jack blinked. "Did I say take? I meant, whatever it is we, er... bring aboard. Yes. You know, standard procedures like that."
Red jacket, red jacket, please, before she asked any more questions. He knew he'd tell her at some point if this kept on, and he had the horrid suspicion that he'd never be rid of her then. Ah! Red jacket on some fat bloke. He looked skeptically between the man and the girl, then decided to hell with it; might be the girl's mother had dallied about. "Is that him, then?" He pointed hopefully.
"Oh, I don't. Tell me?" she asked, taking no more than a moment to look the man over. No, that wasn't him. Father wasn't even out looking for her yet. "No, no, not him. Do tell me, please?"
Jack half-whined a sigh, closing his eyes. "Whatever we take from the Spanish and Portugese, all right? Now are you sure this is where you last saw your father?" Why wasn't this man looking about for his daughter? If nothing else, then to keep London safe!
"Maybe it was down the other side of the street, Jack," Elizabeth said dismissively, relishing his name and batting her eyes up at him, just as she'd seen Lady Cottington do for Mister Farnsworth. Suddenly, the meaning of his words caught her. She paused in her eyelash-batting to think and think hard.
"From the..." she trailed off, then tugged at his arm again, "Are you a privateer then?!"
Twitching slightly, Jack said, "Yes, I'm a privateer. Couldn't you have told me it was the other way before we went this way? We do need to find your father before he gets really worried."
He started back the other way, looking around worriedly. Red jacket, red-- Oh! No, that was a redcoat. Hmph.
"He'll be fine. I'm safe in your hands, Jack," Elizabeth said happily, her voice going a bit soft at his name. She leaned closer and sighed. Now, privateering! That would be adventurous. "A privateer, then? You work for the King?"
Oh, good god. "That would be the definition of a privateer, yes," he said a bit tiredly. "Don't get attatched, love; I really don't have time for this. I have to be back at my ship before two hours have passed noon." A bald lie, really, but anything that might help. Two hours seemed more than enough time to her.
She all but clung to his arm, batting her eyes up at him, "But, what if we don't find Father in that time? Would you take me with you?"
That made him stop in the middle of the street, gape at her like a dullard and sputter, "What?! Are you completely out of your mind, girl?!"
"I can sing and clean and sew," Elizabeth named her talents off in her most serious tones, staring at him with bright and hopeful eyes. "I would make a very good wife. It's what aunt Evelyn always says!"
"Wife?!" Jack shrieked in a voice only dogs could hear. "You--! What--!" He took a deep breath, looking around a bit helplessly, before saying, "Look, first off, a ship is no place for a little girl. And second of all, you'll be no one's wife jus' yet! You're, what, five?" He'd never been good with ages.
"I'm not little, I turned eight and a half, three weeks ago," Elizabeth said very defensively, "And Father says I'm very grown for my age."
Well, at least he'd been close.
She huffed a bit, pouting her lip out for a moment before it occured to her that Jack hadn't said he /wouldn't/. "You would marry me, though, wouldn't you?" she asked with a beaming smile.
"Most certainly not!" Jack sputtered indignantly. "What sort of man do you take me--" Oh, it was hopeless. At eight, the girlchild wouldn't even know what marriage entailed, and why Jack was so averse to it. He sighed and knelt to face her. "All right, pay attention, love. You can't marry me, because it's not legal to marry until you're, er, twenty." Yeah, that'd do. "And at that time, you should marry someone your father approves of, and I can assure you that he would, most certainly not approve of me. Savvy?"
Elizabeth's pout was not forced this time. Her lip quivered and her eyes filled, wavering and dark. The man she loved with all her heart was telling her he wouldn't be her husband? She could think of no bigger insult.
"My father," she said, sniffling softly, her chest hitching in half a sob, "would, if I loved you. He would."
Oh, for the love of...
"Please don't cry. Oh..." He looked around, trying to ignore the looks he was getting. "Look, look, Lizzie. Can I call you Lizzie?" He smiled weakly. "Look. In fourteen years you turn twenty, yes? Tell you what, when that time comes, you send me a note with a place and a date, and I'll get right there and marry you. How's that?" Hopefully she'd have forgotten all about him by then.
Fourteen years felt like an eternity, but that was enough for her. Her lip stopped quivering momentarily and she even ventured a little smile, eyes still wet. Elizabeth asked him in a small, venturing voice, "You promise me that, Jack Sparrow?"
He put a hand over his heart and smiled as genuinely as he knew how.
"I promise, Elizabeth Swann. On my honour as a privateer and a sailing man. You behave yourself now, and in fourteen years, I'll stand groom." He could always claim he'd gone celibate. "Do we have an accord?" He held out his other hand.
Ignoring his hand entirely, Elizabeth leapt up and threw her little arms around the sailor's neck. She clung to him in the strongest embrace she could manage, giggling giddily. Jack squeaked and wheezed a little, trying to pry her off. She was surprisingly strong for such a little lass. "Right, good. Now let go, eh? We still need to find your father." He grabbed her waist and tried to push her away before, god forbid, someone he knew saw him.
Hopping down and moving as in a dream, she giggled to herself. Mrs. Jack Sparrow. That would be passing fine for her. She clung to his hand and moved along happily.
"Oh, yes, Father would be very happy to meet you," she assured him, heading a little ahead towards the tavern she'd last seen him in. It seemed he still hadn't noticed her missing, as none of the servants had even left the whole building. Which would make the surprise all the sweeter. Oh, her father would be so proud to have such a respectable son-in-law.
Well, she was moving with definite purpose now, wasn't she? Only now, Jack was slightly more worried about meeting papa Swann, if the girl intended to blabber about their supposed future marriage. Lord, he knew there was a reason he avoided children. They tended to get him in awkward situations somehow, sweet and energetic though they were.
"Oh," he managed. "Lovely."
"He should be very proud that you're a privateer, oh, yes. Very good, working for the King. He works for the King, too, you see," Elizabeth prattled happily, squeezing close and only not skipping because she knew it not to be ladylike.
Oh, well, good, Jack's mind said sarcastically, and he was inclined to agree. This was going to be utter hell, wasn't it? "You know, maybe it's not a good idea if you tell him about our, ah, 'engagement', love. He'd only think you were playing, and then where would we be?" If the man actually took it seriously, Jack'd land in a lot of trouble that he bloody well didn't deserve.
"Oh, but he very much likes loyalty to His Majesty," she said softly, patting his hand as though he were the child and she the protectress. "And any man who's loyal to the crown is as good as gold, is what he said."
"Yes, well," Jack said, looking around worriedly. Ohh, he hated having to do this. "Look, Lizzie, the truth is I might've lied a little to you, eh?" Desperate times called for desperate measures, and they were nearly at the door. How did a little girl get so stubborn?
"Lied?" she looked up at him, little eyebrows knitting together. "To me? .. Well, forgiveness is a virtue."
Elizabeth sighed heavily, feeling a bit betrayed. But at least he'd told her. It certainly did show character, that.
"You're a very kind, young lady, but I fear your father won't be as forgiving," he said weakly, then lowered his voice and looked around with exaggerated care, before whispering, "The truth is, and you must tell no one - no one - of this, savvy? The truth is that I'm not a privateer." He paused dramatically. "I'm a pirate."
"Pirate?" she whispered after, almost disbelieving. Slowly, her eyes widened. "You? You don't look like what the Lieutenant says they are!" Elizabeth's face squenched up. But, then again, Norrington wasn't always right, was he? And if her Jack said he was a pirate and that he was going to marry her, then he was both.
She paused in thought a bit, looking towards the door and then back at her fiance. "Perhaps you shouldn't meet Father, then."
"Perhaps I shouldn't," Jack agreed with relief. "Now you go in and stop worrying your father, eh, and then I'll see you in fourteen years. Promise." Without waiting for an answer, he pressed a short, dry kiss to her forehead, then spun on his heel and hurried off down the street, glancing back only once to make sure she wasn't following. He found her only standing, stunned and smiling, in the middle of the road.
Little Elizabeth Swann gave a long sigh of happiness and murmured to herself,
"I'm going to marry a pirate."
Credit for the story idea goes to Umetnica's picture (http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/37131486), and Gaelic Storm's song "Go Home, Girl! (Gypsy)".
Both are highly recommended pieces of work.