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Posted as [livejournal.com profile] serenissima, January 6, 2007 for the [livejournal.com profile] 3_ships exchange.



To: Kate (avariel_wings)
From: serenissima
Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Threesome: Jack Sparrow/James Norrington/Elizabeth Swann
Title: All The Days Remaining
Requested Element: Futurefic
Betas: Thanks to valderys for the beta!
Notes: Slight crossover with the Baroque Cycle, if you squint and look sideways.
Summary: And what would mean to say, that "I loved you in my fashion"?

Earth

At the start of the rainy season, when the storms begin to gather, the Widow holds her vigil. On same day each year, she leaves her house in the winter morning as a gray dawn breaks across the sky. Crossing town, she goes down to the small church at the point. She goes to pray, to watch, and to wait.

There are many stories about the Widow. Although these days she lives quietly in her house on the hill, the memory of scandal swirls about her, obscuring her like a veil. They say she was the daughter of the Governor of Port Royal, back in the bad old days before the East India Company. They say she collected lovers as easily as ribbons, and discarded them as easily, too. They say she was a pirate's bride, and a pirate herself, who sailed to hell and back for the man she loved. Yet whatever else she was, she is now simply a woman of middle age, fine boned and featured, thin and graying, wearing an old fashioned dress of figured black silk. Her movement is graceful and her head held high as she walks through the town, remarked only by the sun and the few early rising workmen. And as the light increases in the east, she lights a single candle and kneels on the cool floor of the old stone church, before a plain marble memorial, carved into a supporting pillar near the altar. William Turner. Beloved husband, devoted son.

Air

The Admiral is old. He has achieved much in his time, Commander of the Caribbean Squadron, Viscount Teignmouth, and Vice-Admiral of the White. He married a French noblewoman of dubious reputation, commanded fleets, fought wars, and of course, pirates. But just gone noon, as the breeze begins to blow inland, he walks down from the harbor to the church at the point. He takes his place behind and to the right of the Widow. It is no small effort for a man of his age, but old habits die hard, and he stands ramrod straight for hours on end without speaking, barely stirring, despite the ache his leg and the chill in his bones. It is much a proof as a penance, to know that he is capable of this.

Standing in the cool dark, memory washes over him in waves. He recalls a time when he loved this woman, desired her, burned for her. He remembers a time when he hated her, when he betrayed her and was betrayed in return. He remembers the sound of her laughter, the scent of her hair, the hitch of her breath, and the feel of her hand upon him. He remembers calling her name, and remembers at last seeing her from a great distance, receding. But that is in the past now, and there is nothing left to say, so he stands and waits with her, as the sun sinks in the west, the lamps are lit and shadows begin to fall.

Water

It is under cover of darkness that their third arrives. He flows out of the darkness, seemingly washed in the tide, remarkable and yet unremarked as he makes his way through the streets of Port Royal, heading for the church at the point.

Between the fall of one shadow and the next, he appears, so quiet and light of step that no man could notice. No man expect the Admiral, who alerted by some scent or sound, or merely his sixth sense for pirates, merely turns on his heel, sword drawn, and whispers low, "Not a word, Sparrow."

"Pleased to see you too, Commodore" The Pirate reaches up to doff his hat, but is stopped by the gentle pressure of the blade beneath his chin.

"Later. When she's finished, then you can talk." The point slips away, the sword is sheathed and the Admiral returns to his position, standing behind the kneeling Widow, as the Pirate moves to stand beside him on the left.

For the remaining hours, he is both silent and still, no small effort for one whose nature is all movement and murmur. But in this, at least, he is aided by the Admiral, who stands next to him, shoulders just touching, a line of strength and warmth down the side of his body. The Pirate reaches out, and a hand, calloused, dry and cool, slides into his. As the minutes pass, their fingers interlace and their breaths fall into sync, waiting, until the clock strikes twelve.

Fire

Once it is over, the Widow rises, making no acknowledgement to the men beside her, even as they move to support her on either side. She must be faint with hunger and exhaustion, but her step is light as she makes her way home, flanked by the most unusual of escorts.

Inside, she lights the fire, and uncorks a dusty bottle from the cupboard. The reek of the rum is unmistakable and the taste event more so; caramel and wood smoke, fierce burn and bitter aftertaste. No niceties are necessary as they pass the bottle between them. She does not miss the way that the Pirate's hand lingers over the Admiral's as he takes the bottle, nor does she object when his thumb slides across her knuckles like a familiar caress. As the lamps begin to gutter and smoke, her vision becomes hazy and she is lost in a stream of memories — sand beneath her feet, fire crackling before her, the taste of salt and tobacco on her lips, the dull click of irons snapping shut, the look of understanding and hurt in the eyes of the man she betrayed. True, they have all forgiven each other, as much as they ever could. But forgiven is not forgotten, and truth cannot always admit desire. Come early morning, she will awaken alone in her bed with the door carefully locked but the window ajar. But they will return again, and the next year and the next for all the days remaining.

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