AN: Well, it's taken me over a year, but I finally got a sequel chapter up for this story. I was originally planning for this to be a one-shot, but several people suggested a sequel, and my own sense of romanticism had to have one. So, here it is.
Note: Reviewer responses are at the end of the story this time. Also, anyone who wants to be on my mailing list—drop me a line or put your email address in a review. I don't send spam, your address will be private, and you'll get prompt notification when I update something or post a new story.
Special thanks go to JaSSerS for once again beta-ing for me.
I Will Not Forget You
The salty early morning sea breeze whipped at his clothes and hair as Will Turner left his cabin and climbed to the deck of the trading vessel on which he was currently traveling- the Bonny Erin. The sun was just beginning to climb over the horizon, and it promised to be a gorgeous day. Light glinted off of the ocean's surface, making it look as though there were a moving mirror behind them.
"Land, ho!" came the cry from the lookout in the crow's nest. Will leaned out over the railing and could faintly make out the shape of an island. His heart leaped. Port Royal. He was almost home. Elizabeth, he breathed silently.
As he waited for the ship to cross the distance to the shore, Will thought about his wife. He had no doubts that she would still be very angry with him, though he hoped she would understand his explanations. A sudden idea occurred to him and his hands clenched. He'd be able to explain only if she was still there. What if she wasn't? What if she'd given up on him and left?
He couldn't imagine that her father would allow her to leave Port Royal, but... His mind froze, refusing to recognize the fact, but he plowed on. What if she had died? The very thought made him feel sick to his stomach. But he had received no word from her at all during the time he'd been gone, even though he'd written her faithfully every week. He'd tried to tell himself that the letters had been mislaid, or that something similar had happened, but there was only so long he could fool himself. Thirteen months was a long time and he'd never heard a word from her. He could only pray that she was well.
He pushed the feelings away and concentrated on keeping from jumping over the railing and swimming the rest of the way to shore. After what seemed an eternity, the Bonny Erin docked. As his sword had been rather inconvenient to wear on board and the captain had not been particularly happy that a passenger was armed, he'd left it off for the duration of his voyage, but now he was more than happy to put it back on again. Swiftly, Will buckled it on; one hand surreptitiously patting his belt to make sure the money was still there. Then he hefted his bag.
Quickly, he strode down the ramp and stepped onto Port Royal's soil for the first time in over a year. After several weeks on a ship, it was wonderful to be on firm ground again. He looked around with interest at the bustling activity of the docks. One corner of his mouth quirked in a half-smile. So far, not much had changed.
Will joined the crowd of people moving towards the center of town and trod the familiar streets briskly. He wanted to look around and see what was different and what was the same, but his longing to see his wife overrode everything. He didn't notice the looks he was given by people who thought they recognized him as he passed by, although he nodded to a few men that he recognized.
In no time at all, he found himself at the door to their little house. Heart beginning to pound wildly, he knocked on the door. It was midmorning, he reflected. She would be awake. He heard footsteps, and then the door was pulled open. Will's eyes widened in surprise. This was not Elizabeth, nor was it the maid they had employed. Perhaps she's hired someone new.
The older woman at the door eyed him suspiciously. "Can I help you?" she asked shortly.
Will removed his hat. "I'm looking for Elizabeth Turner." His dark eyes peered intently into the woman's own blue ones.
"She don't live here anymore," the woman informed him briskly.
Will took an involuntary step back, shock written all over his face. "She doesn't...live here...anymore?" he managed to say, his heart sinking all the way to his feet. Where had she gone? Why had she gone? He rallied. "Excuse me, madam, but this happens to be my house. Elizabeth is my wife. Where did she go?"
The woman opened the door a little further and leaned against the doorframe. "Thought so." Her face was less hostile. "Like I said, she don't live here anymore."
Will pressed on. "Do you mean to say she's sold it?" The thought blew him away. How could she sell their house?
"Took you long enough to get back," the woman snorted.
"I beg your pardon?" Will blinked at the abrupt change in subject.
"Me husband and me be renting this house and the smithy shop from Mrs. Turner until such time as her husband comes back." She looked him up and down and sniffed.
"Where is she?" Will demanded. This woman was becoming irritating. "Where did she go after she rented you the house?"
The woman jerked her thumb towards the hill, where the governor's mansion sat. "Went back home, her ladyship did."
Will followed the motion, and a spark of hope ignited. "She's still in Port Royal." The words were meant more for himself than anything else. He tipped his hat to the woman. "Thank you." Quickly, he marched up the street to Governor Swann's residence.
The woman watched him go, a speculative look on her face. He was a handsome one, that was for sure. A bit naive, she thought, but Mary Baker was a fairly good judge of character. Mr. Turner had a good heart and she sensed he cared about his wife. The look of heartbreak in his eyes when he'd heard her ladyship was gone was enough to make a body break down in tears. She shook her head and went back to her baking.
Will strode purposefully towards the mansion's front gate. His insides were a knot and his heart was pounding so fast he was afraid it would jump right out of his chest. Taking a deep breath, he raised his hand and knocked on the broad white door. He was about to knock again when the door was opened.
Will found himself face-to-face with Estrella, who had been Elizabeth's personal maid when she lived with her father. Her eyes grew wide and she gasped. "Mr. Turner!"
He nodded. "Estrella, is—" his breath caught in his throat. "Is Elizabeth here?"
The girl stood frozen for a moment, then swung the door open wide to allow him entrance. "We didn't think you'd ever come back," she burst out. "Well, I always hoped that you would—Miss Elizabeth hasn't been the same since you left—but we all thought you'd been killed or lost at sea, or—" she caught herself. She'd been about to say, "hanged for being a pirate." Opinions varied on what exactly Will had left to do.
Will's mind picked up only part of her outburst. "Is she well?" he asked anxiously, a concerned look in his brown eyes.
Estrella looked up at him and opened her mouth to say something, but thought better of it. She merely frowned a little and motioned for him to follow her.
Will glanced around as he walked through the Governor's house. Not much had changed since he was last here. They rapidly climbed the stairs and Estella quickened the pace. She did not think it would be good thing for the Governor to see Will first.
Estrella stopped at her mistress's door. "She's in there," she said quietly, as she turned and scurried away. Much as she wanted to see the reunion, it'd be best to give them some privacy. After all, she'd hear all about it later, she was sure.
Will stood at his wife's door and swallowed. He knocked gently and listened for an answer, but none came. Making a decision, he opened the door slowly and stepped through, closing it behind him. As the rest of him froze, he unconsciously swept off his hat.
Elizabeth was curled up on the window seat, staring out at the ocean. Her golden brown hair was longer than he remembered, but fell down her back in the same beautiful curls. He stared at her a moment, absolutely and completely tongue-tied.
"Estrella, I thought I told you I didn't want to be disturbed?" She spoke softly, tiredly, and when she heard no answer, nor even opening and closing of the door again, Elizabeth turned her head. "Estre—" she began, but she broke off, a sharp gasp escaping her lips. Eyes widened in shock, she whispered, "Will?"
He took a step forward, an eager, relieved expression on his face. "Elizabeth." He half-expected her to jump up and meet him, but she merely twisted around to face him, a wary, guarded look about her. Will tried again. "Elizabeth, I'm back." He held out his arms to her, but she still remained frozen.
That awful sinking feeling returning, he slowly crossed the room to her and knelt at her feet. "Elizabeth?" Will searched her eyes with his own, seeing the surprise and a strange coldness, and...pain. He raised a hand to cup her cheek, but she jerked away. His own eyes filled with hurt and he bowed his head. He knew she was angry, and he knew why. "I'm so sorry, Elizabeth. I never meant to be gone so long."
She'd been frozen since she realized he was in the room, unable to believe he was really there. He looked just as handsome as he had when last she saw him, though his hair was a little longer and his body a little leaner. She only began to hope it was real when he knelt before her. And looking down at his dark, bowed head, Elizabeth finally found her tongue.
"You're sorry?" she echoed sharply. "You never meant to be gone so long? What is that supposed to mean?" Her hand flashed out and cracked sharply against his cheek.
"I suppose I deserved that," he muttered.
She rose to her feet and moved away from him, her eyes bright and blazing. Her hand stung, but some part of her gloried in the fact that the reddening mark on his cheek probably hurt more. "You left me, Will. You left me!" Her voice raised in pitch. "And all you have to say is, 'I'm sorry'?"
He stood and held his hands out defensively. "Elizabeth—"
She cut him off. "You don't even say goodbye, you just leave that stupid, insignificant little letter and disappear for thirteen months!" Tears were welling in her eyes and she was too proud and too angry to wipe them away. "Do you know how much that hurt me? Not knowing where you were? Not knowing if you were alive or not? Not knowing you were even planning this in the first place? How could you do this to me? You said you loved me!"
She moved closer to him, bordering on the edge of hysteria. "How could you leave me?" she demanded. "How? After everything we've been through? I thought I meant more to you than that." She laughed shortly, and it almost turned into a sob. "And to think I defended you." Elizabeth looked away from him, trying to hold back more tears, and stared at the wall. "Oh, Father was furious when you disappeared, but I kept telling him you had your reasons. I just wish I could believe that."
Will reached out and caught her hands. "Elizabeth," he said earnestly, "I do love you. And I am truly sorry for what I've done to you. I was delayed."
She tried to wrench her hands away, but he held them fast. "You were delayed?" she repeated scornfully.
Will's eyes softened; he had glimpsed the pain beneath her words. His voice was gentle when he spoke. "Yes, I was delayed. Did you not get my letters?"
Elizabeth's head jerked upwards. "Letters? I never received any letters."
"But I wrote you—every week. Do you mean to say none of them reached you?"
She shook her head slowly, a few tears slipping down her cheeks. "I never got anything. Do you think I would be this upset if I had? I mean," she amended, "I would still be angry with you leaving the way you did, but not as much."
Will's head was spinning. He sat down heavily on the window seat. "Well, that would explain quite a few things," he said at last. "I was wondering why you never wrote back." He glanced down at the carpeted floor. "You've been furious with me ever since I left." The statement and her answer drove a dagger deep into his heart.
"Well...yes, actually." Elizabeth looked at him for a moment, noting the abrupt slump of his broad shoulders and the weariness that suddenly seemed to overwhelm him. She fought the urge to put her arms around him and comfort him, tell him that everything would be all right. She chewed on her lower lip for a moment before shyly sitting down beside him on the seat.
"Elizabeth," her husband murmured brokenly, "I swear to you, I—I never ever intended to be gone so long. I was just—" he trailed off as his throat closed off.
"Just what?" she asked gently, her tears gradually going away.
Will twisted around to look at her, and he hesitantly took her hands in his. "I left with Jack to go see a gentleman who was in need of an expert sword maker. Somehow or another, Jack had met this man and he'd told him of me." Will's brown eyes met hers steadily. "I was having a hard time then, Elizabeth. I wanted to go to sea, but I didn't think your father would approve of you going with me. I just needed to get out for a while."
She started to interrupt, but he shook his head a little. "I never dreamed I'd be gone so long. I was only supposed to make a few swords, and then I was going to return."
"They were in need of a blacksmith. I offered to help them out, but only until they could get someone else." He laughed shortly. "They kept bringing me work, and I felt guilty about leaving it undone. So I kept working."
Elizabeth smiled wryly. She knew exactly how they had used guilt to manipulate him into staying. She glanced down at their entwined hands. "But you managed to get away."
He blew out a sigh. "Yes. Finally." He chuckled a little. "But they want me to come back."
She looked at him. "Do you want to?"
Will tightened his grip on her hands. "Only if you go with me." She glanced away, unsure. "Elizabeth, Port Alexandra is a lovely town. I've been able to save up. We could buy a house-I've picked one out that I think you'd love." He continued quickly, "I wrote you about it. But if you didn't get the letters-"
Abruptly, she shook her hands free and got up, walking over to the center of her room. Her back was to him, and she hugged her arms tightly around her body. "I don't know, Will. You disappear for over a year and then-" she waved a hand in the air, "and then you come back and want me to move?" Her brown eyes were incredulous.
"We don't have to move," he said quickly, rising and taking a few steps forward, but he was hesitant to touch her. "We can stay here if you want." His voice was eager and full of hope.
She shook her head. "I don't know. I-I need some time to think about it." Elizabeth couldn't look at him. She knew if she did that her heart would melt at the love that was in his dark eyes and she would give in to him. Frankly, right now she didn't know what she wanted. Her mind was still in a state of shock.
Something inside Will died at her words and tone; the tiny little spark of hope that had kept him going winked out. It had been too much to expect that she would remain the same after so long, that she still loved him. Too much time had gone by. "Do you want me to leave?" He forced the words out past the lump in his throat, eyes fixed steadily on his wife's back
Leave? Again? Elizabeth's blood ran cold. She didn't want him to leave. She stood with one hand tightly clenching a handful of her dress, a stunned look on her face, while a thousand thoughts raced through her mind. Having him back in her life had been her steadfast hope and dream these thirteen months. But she was angry with him; angry that he hadn't tried to get out of that town sooner. He was really too noble for his own good sometimes.
Will took her silence to mean yes and looked down at the floor, pained heartbreak in his eyes. Then, squaring his jaw, he raised his head and straightened his shoulders. It was his fault after all, that they were in this mess. The least he could do was take it like a man. Maybe she'd change her mind someday. All emotion drained from his face as he swiftly walked past her to the open door, hat in hand. He stopped and bowed to her politely. "Goodbye, Elizabeth." Then he marched out through the door and down the hall. He didn't look back.
Elizabeth stood there frozen for a moment. She glanced down at her hands and saw the slim scar on her palm. A collage of all the special moments they'd shared flashed past her eyes. Then reality sank into her brain and she gasped, her eyes roving wildly around the room. "What have I done?" An awful fear filled her. I can't lose him again. She gathered up her skirt in her hands and ran out of the room. "WILL!"
Estrella, who had burst into silent tears when Will walked out with a look on his face that broke her heart, looked up in surprise as her mistress tore out of her room a few minutes later. Startled, she watched as Elizabeth hurried down the stairs at break-neck speed and flew out the door. Then she got to her feet and raced to the window.
Sobs were rising up in Elizabeth's throat; she was deathly afraid that she would miss him and he would walk out of her life forever. She ran out of her father's mansion like all the pirates of the Black Pearl were after her, golden brown hair streaming behind her wildly. Fortunately, he hadn't reached the gate yet. "WILL!" she screamed.
He turned at the sound of his name, eyes widening in surprise, and he couldn't quench the little spark of hope that suddenly flared up in his heart. She still cares. Will stood there silently watching her as she approached, his face expressionless, but he couldn't hide the emotion in his eyes.
She stopped about ten feet away and glared at him fiercely. "Don't you DARE leave me again!" Tears were streaming down her face, but she made no move to wipe them away-her hands were still tightly fisted in her skirt.
Will took a half-step toward her. "You don't want me to go?" His voice was quiet, but with a hint of hope that he couldn't quite hide. He was trying desperately not to hope; he was deathly afraid that she would dash his heart to pieces on the ground. But he was mesmerized by her and his dark eyes were fixed on her face intently.
"NO!" Elizabeth abruptly launched herself into his arms and held on for dear life. "Don't go," she sobbed into his shirt, "I couldn't take it if you left again." He was warm and solid, just like she remembered, and she held on tightly, half-afraid she was going to wake up and find that it was all another dream. "Wherever you go, take me with you."
Will's arms came around her slim, shaking form automatically and he rested his cheek on the top of her head. "Oh, Elizabeth. I missed you so much," he murmured brokenly. "You have no idea how badly I've wanted to come back this past year."
She raised her head to look up at him, with a small smile playing on her lips. "As badly as I wanted you to come back?"
"Will you forgive me?"
Elizabeth searched his face for a moment, noting the love, pain and honesty in the brown eyes she loved so much. "Yes. Of course I forgive you, Will."
"I love you, Elizabeth." Will shook his head slightly, the sunlight bringing out the rich brown tints of his hair. "I always have. There's never been anyone else in my heart but you."
"I know," she replied softly, bringing a hand up to lay it against his cheek. Then, glancing up at her husband through her eyelashes, she asked coyly, "Aren't you going to kiss me?" She swept his hat off before his brain had even processed her question.
A smile broke out on his face, that boyish grin that she loved so much, and he tilted her chin up. When his lips met hers, Elizabeth's eyes drifted shut of their own accord. His hat slipped from her fingers to land on the cobble stoned courtyard, but neither of them cared. The fact that she still loved him made Will's heart feel like it had wings and he put every ounce of it into the kiss.
When they finally broke apart to breathe, Will picked her up and spun her around giddily. Elizabeth was laughing and crying all at once. "I love you," she said breathlessly. "I love you so much." He set her down gently and took her hands, rubbing them gently with his thumbs. "I just have one thing left to say to you," she said briskly.
He glanced at her with a questioning look in his eyes. "Oh?"
She leaned close to him. "You're a horrible liar, Will." Her brown eyes were dancing and sparkling.
Frantically, he searched his mind for something—anything—to which she could possibly be referring.
"That letter was absolutely awful. Surely you could have come up with something better than that silly nonsense about the sea calling to you. Next time, just tell me the truth."
He smiled sheepishly. "It was the best I could do on such short notice. But don't worry. You have my word that it will never happen again."
"Good." She pulled his head down and kissed him again. After a moment, it suddenly occurred to her that they were kissing in full view of anyone walking past the house and she had a feeling that all the servants were all crowded around the windows peering out. Blushing, she said in a low voice, "I think we had better go indoors. You can tell me about everything over breakfast."
Muted cheers greeted them as they walked back into the house. Everyone was delighted that Will was back and that he and their mistress had made up. Estrella actually had tears of joy streaming down her face. Elizabeth asked that two trays of food be delivered to her room, and she and Will promptly escaped. They spent much of the morning hidden away from the rest of the world catching up on everything that had happened to them in the past year.
When Governor Swann awoke, he learned that his son-in-law was back and came down all but breathing fire. He demanded, not very politely, that Will explain himself, and with a comforting nod to Elizabeth, Will followed his father-in-law to his study. Elizabeth never asked what they'd talked about, and Will never told her, but the Governor was much friendlier afterwards, though he never quite forgave Will completely.
That night, Elizabeth awoke with a start, terrified that she had imagined Will's return. Her heart began to pound faster and tears filled her eyes. She'd dreamed of his return so many times and she'd been disappointed. Then Will shifted in his sleep and pulled her closer, immediately reassuring her that this was real. She snuggled into his arms and rested her head on his chest, drifting back to sleep listening to the steady sound of his heartbeat.
After that, it was more or less the proverbial happy ending for the two of them. Will did return to Port Alexandra, much to the joy and delight of the townspeople there, and he and Elizabeth bought a house. Governor Swann had been reluctant to see his daughter leave, but he accepted the fact that she would be happy and well-taken care of and even visited them occasionally.
Every so often the Black Pearl stopped at Port Alexandra and Jack would invite Will to go sailing with them for a few days. Will always took Elizabeth with him. Captain Sparrow had complained and grumbled good-naturedly about it the first few times, but Annamaria and Elizabeth merely laughed at him.
Jack wanted to go back to Port Royal for a visit, but Elizabeth talked him out of it. She explained that while Norrington still wanted to string him up, he was married now and she didn't think it would be fair to Mrs. Norrington if her husband got killed in the line of duty. The pirate had listened to her, nodded a few times in all the right places, and since she'd made him a present of a very fine bottle of rum, ended by insisting that everyone drink a cheer to Norrington getting hitched. They'd done so.
::smiles:: Hope y'all liked this. Please review—feedback keeps me going.
And for those of you who read my Sailor Moon story, "For Love or Duty", I will have a new chapter up in the next two days.
And now for the thanks to those kind people who reviewed...
Catmint: Thank you.
JeanieBeanie33: Glad you liked it, and the elf bit was it. :)
Cassidy Jewel: Thank you! No, Elizabeth isn't exactly the passive type, but she really didn't have a choice. Her father wasn't about to let her go wandering off, she had no idea where Will might be, and it was dangerous for a single woman to travel on alone on the open sea. smiles Yup. Elves.
Venus Smurf: I know, Will's too dedicated for the most part. But this was a crazy idea I had, and hopefully after reading this next chapter, you'll understand. Thank you for the kind words—they're a real encouragement.
Drucilla Malfoy: Thanks. I almost cried myself while I was writing it.
LordLanceahlot: You're welcome. Glad you liked it.
13th Angel: Actually, I just put that reference in to see if anyone would pick up on it. I'm not particularly fond of Orlando Bloom, but I liked him as Will and as Paris. He played both of those characters well. I hope you haven't given up on For Love or Duty—I've got another chapter due to come out in a day or two.
IcePrincessVE: ::looks alarmed:: Don't hang Will! It's going to get better—there is a definite reason for all this. Yeah, I know my plot in this first chapter is a bit off, but things get explained in this next chapter. I like Bloom and Depp too—and I liked the movie. This will get better, I promise. Oh, and FLOD, Part 16, will be up very shortly.
JaSSerS: Once again, thank you for your support. It's very appreciated.
blackflagDiamant: Thank you. :) Well, I hope you like this next chapter. It'll bring everything to a nice little ending.
Meee: Glimmers of hope are good—that's where this chapter comes from.
7va: Yup. The reference is about the elf.
Breeze2: Ooh, thank you. Here's your sequel.
Saquoia: ::smiles:: Thanks.
tigressong: ::nods:: Yes, Sarah Mclachlans' songs are often very emotional. Hope you like this next chapter too.