Rating: Older teen
Warnings: Mentions of the naughty and mild cursing.
Disclaimer: I do not own POTC or any of its characters. That honour goes to Disney.
The little whelp’s words continued to nag and taunt him with smug superiority, try as he might to ignore them. “And after which betrayal did you cut out your own heart?”
He had spent centuries hiding this secret. Whoever came up with the damn sea shanty didn’t know how much truth was conveyed in its words. Though if she knew, he would have known by now. She was never known for her restraint and he had loved her for all the more for it. Liar. Incongruous voices said otherwise - the mongrel pup he had used to be, for one.
Something out of those two, whether it was the thrice-cursed maggot-infested lord or the whelp, had caused him to trip out that hidden leverage. He hadn’t expected anyone to figure out the connection between him and her. It wasn’t for them to know about their private war. He didn’t doubt his monstrous change in appearance was her doing. But every soul he bartered into serving on the Dutchman was another blow to her, no matter how futile.
She had cared about them. It was why he had agreed. They had meant so much to her. It had hurt to see that look in her eyes, enough that he would have done anything to drive it away. Should have amended that. She would be there waiting for him at the end of ten years while he was in the other world. She should have been there. One day, that was all he asked and she wouldn’t even surrender it! He wasn’t worth a day to her!
His actions were automatic with no need for his mind to captain. He didn’t notice when he found his person back aboard his ship or as he numbly locked himself within his private quarters. He didn’t notice when he phased himself through the hull into the dark waters and towards Shipwreck Cove. He remembered the way. He remembered the way just as he remembered when he was a Pirate Lord, long before the Nine Pieces of Eight were worth more than salt and brine.
And then he heard it. Its melody echoing stronger through water than it would have on land and air – the song he had composed for her. After which, he had obsessively devoted himself to creating their twin music lockets to store it within. She had tinkered with the gears and cogs, a surprise to him that she understood modern mechanics, much less knew of them. When he had asked, she only smiled and continued working, occasionally explaining what piece was used for what purpose or function.
It was he who carved their shapes into that of crabs, her sacred animal. In the centre, he sculpted her face from the memory of the first time he saw her in the sea, one lone night on the docks of a northern port, a mysterious face in the waters gazing up and through him. She still teased him about how he fell face-first in because he constantly peered over to get a better look.
He stopped inches outside of the brig that imprisoned the one who had once bested him. One of their favourite past times had been chess, to outthink and outsmart the other. And he had won, he assured himself as he stepped through the hull of the Black Pearl.
It starts with the move of a pawn.
Hunched over candlelight was that harridan. It was the human form she favoured. Never had he seen skin so dark and eyes more enigmatic, but her physical form was irrelevant to her appeal, and her beauty was as a glass was to the wine it held. He had asked if it had been her original form. She countered what did it matter? He had asked if she was Calypso from Homer’s Odyssey; she asked, what did he want to believe?
Rooks are predictable, straight, and true.
He had been a fool to believe otherwise. The signs had been there. Never was there a woman who was such a tempest. She was embodied her nature, the untameable and ever-changing sea, and he was a fool to think he could anchor her down. If King Canute couldn’t stop the tides, then what luck did he have with the sea? So he fell into her embrace, for love wouldn’t leave him do anything else.
The knights are strange as they move in L’s.
While within her arms, there was a disturbing sense of peace. As a sailor, he knew there were things beyond his control. As a privateer, he knew you couldn’t trust things completely without question. They would fight and they would quarrel from sunset to sunrise. They would be lost in each other, unable to tell where she started and he ended. There was a sense of right, to be with her, and he had thought it was enough.
Bishops are tricky in diagonals.
She might have charged him with his duty, but it was he who suggested it. The Goddess of the Sea, she was also the protector of sailors. Once bound by death, they were Hades’s men. She could not touch them anymore than Zeus could in their demise. But he could. As one who would straddle both worlds, mortal and other, he could rescue the lost souls at sea. He would live forever as a ferryman to the dead, and have her for that one day after ten years.
The queen is powerful and there’s always one per side. Her weakness is her king.
He enjoyed knowledge as a learned man, but his repertoire was eclipsed by her own. She challenged what he knew and what he thought he knew. The gods, even the two whose powers outshone hers, Zeus and Poseidon, were bound by laws unwritten and unbroken, as was she: their nature.
She could summon a maelstrom with nothing more than a thought, yet assure waves never took him beyond her reach. He learned the strange and bizarre, simple and complicated, from her. She never refused him an answer but her rejoinders were in riddles. In the end, he learned of a great and terrible beauty: how to bind a goddess to a mortal form.
The king holds the fate of the game in his death.
Before the anathematised duty, he could find her easily at sea. She was the sea. A touch of her feet to water, a whistle into the air, and he would see a goddess in her glory. The human skin she slipped on with effortless ease was his doing, she explained. Belief could crush a dream or strengthen a hope; she appeared as he saw her.
But belief hadn’t been enough. He believed she would be there, ashore after ten long years before the mast. He trusted her to be there so he could be free, for though they struck a deal with the gods together, she was his Orpheus to his Eurydice; she had looked back before reaching the world of the living. After those ten years, she hadn’t remained faithful, and he was dragged back to Hades because of it.
The pawn is but a pawn and not powerful at all until it comes back from world’s end.
Perhaps freedom was the lover he could never be, so he had her cut off. If he couldn’t have his liberty, neither could she. Perhaps it was young hope and jealousy that drove the desire to have her bound. He would have her, and never would she be able to slip through his fingers again. He couldn’t do it alone. He needed the belief for her to be bound and who better to provide it than the Brethren Court and their wish to no longer be subjected to her moods?
Nine Pieces of Eight anchored the spell with earth and air. They had promised to never release her but that mattered little to him. He had planned to steal the Nine Pieces and scatter them beyond her reach, but well within his own. Then she would be his forever and she could never leave him again. That was the plan, the perfect plan and revenge.
But the fates were crueller mistresses when he used that single day ashore to be the first to greet her in her mortal form. Lying in the sands, she opened up her eyes and asked him who he was. She had lost all of her memory except for that she was attracted to the sea. She was child-like and naïve, curious about the world and its mysteries. He could mould her now, shape her to his desire. She could be whatever he wanted her to be, subjected to his whims for a change. She was wrong.
She was not Calypso, the wild force who could shove men to their knees in one moment and soothe them with her song in the next. The glass was empty of its wine, devoid its character from age and texture. Her beguiling eyes mocked him with their absence of endless knowledge. Her soothing yet vibrant demeanour reminded him of what once was and that he was not a cruel man. When the time came to take the Nine Pieces of Eight, he couldn’t do it.
It was his blasted heart. The heart that refused to keep her forever without a chance to reclaim what was hers. His damned, feeling, heart would ruin everything. It might even have given her freedom back. It had to go. Through skin and muscle went his blade, savagely carving through bone till it hit the wretched thing’s nest and pried it out. If he couldn’t complete his plan, he would be damned if he would unravel it.
For centuries he had endeavoured for his plan to be realised but he could never acquire more than one Piece at a time. He became crueller, the devil of the seas. He struck fear into the hearts of those who would dare travel over the ocean. He gave his crew no mercy. He convinced souls to bargain away their freedom to the Flying Dutchman. Yet, he couldn’t – that mongrel pup couldn’t bear the thought of taking her freedom away for eternity.
Which was why he was here. To convince that part of him otherwise. Time to finish the task he started. His body phased in completely now, an inch away from the brig’s wall. The locket in her possession playing the clear-pitched yet haunting melody that he repeated on the organ when he felt the urges to release her.
There she sat…vulnerable. The locket’s mate rested in the palm of his almost human hand. And then, hers stopped at the end of its song.
He opened his locket and answered back.
Author's Notes: This story was betaed by kirabutler. Go worship her. Without her, this story might not have left my laptop and sunk faster than the Titanic.