Greetings, Gentle Reader:

Before you begin reading this story, I would like to ask you to set aside all knowledge of the movie known as Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds' End. I began writing this story long before that movie was released. Therefore, the events in this story and the events in AWE don't mesh at all. So, please consider this an alternate universe story, which picks up where AWE didn't leave off. I'll warn you now, this will be a very long story when it is complete. But don't be intimidated by the number of chapters. They're all a comfortable length. I truly hope you'll find it as fun to read this as it is for me to write it. If you haven't read my story "Oh, My Stars", please do. It's a short one-shot that takes place just minutes prior to the beginning of this story.

Oops, one last request-if you have an opinion about my story, please tell me by leaving a review. I love and welcome reviews, good or bad. But if you really like this story, please tell your friends and send them here! I dream of seeing a 6-digit number on my hit counter by the time I finish writing this.

Disclaimer: I own nothing of Disney's, not even a pair of mouse ears.

- Prologue

Elizabeth sat at the base of the mainmast, stung by the memories of her maternal grandmother's words. She was roused from her thoughts by more itching. She scratched her scalp and wondered idly if dirt could drive one mad. She suspected she would find out before long. She scratched the back of her neck where her hair was matted down tightly in a thick layer.

Oh, she thought, that's going to hurt coming out if I ever get my hands on a comb again.

It was a beautiful clear night under a new moon. Every star in the sky was ablaze with light, and Elizabeth could see her own shadow on the deck faintly revealed by the starlight. Since she was too wide awake to attempt sleeping again any time soon, Elizabeth rubbed her back against the mast and let her mind wander.

There was much for her to contemplate. The past ten weeks aboard the Black Pearl had been nothing like Elizabeth had ever imagined life on a pirate ship would be. When she had read all those exciting and forbidden pirate stories as a child, she had never considered the day to day life of a pirate. Her daydreams about pirates were all about the thrill of the fights, the fantastic treasures and being on the open sea. Mundane things like baths and food and bodily functions had never crossed her mind. A few weeks on the Black Pearl and all her childhood fantasies about pirates had been destroyed, replaced with the harsh realities of pirate life.

Ch. 1, Goodbye Singapore

After Jack had been rescued, the Black Pearl was raised from the bottom of the ocean. She came up in almost-as-good-as-new condition, courtesy of a minor ocean deity Jack had somehow met and charmed during his time in Davy Jones' locker. Never underestimate the powers of a minor deity, he'd said. All the nonsense about Davy Jones' heart, Will's father's curse and Cutler Beckett's Napoleon complex had been settled. After they left the Locker, the adventurers on the stolen ship captained by Barbossa soon found themselves in Singapore.

While Jack and Barbossa were both out in search of new crew members to get their ships to their separate destinations, Will had taken his leave of those who had survived the adventure. When he said goodbye to Elizabeth early that morning, he broke off their engagement none too gently. She still winced when she recalled the conversation.

He had caught her alone on the deck on the last day before the Pearl was to leave Singapore.

"Elizabeth, it is beyond time that I spoke my true feelings. I've said nothing until now because there was no point in speaking out while we were at sea and no action could be taken. And since we arrived in Singapore, there has been no opportunity to speak to you privately. But before we set sail, I feel I must speak my mind. I am certain that you took Jack as your lover while I was aboard the Flying Dutchman. I saw you kiss him the day the Pearl went down. A woman does not kiss a man like that unless she has bedded him. That broke my heart, Elizabeth, to think that you could forget me so quickly and bed such a man as he."

"But Will, that's not true! I am still a maiden! How could you believe that of me?"

"I'm not as naïve as you think I am. I saw how different you became after he died. I knew then that our life together was over before it started. The only reason I went on the mission to rescue Jack was because I loved you still, and I wanted to see you happy again. I knew that only Jack's return would make you smile. I will always love you, but I do not have to stay around to watch the two of you together."

"Will, he and I are not together! There is nothing between us. You don't know the whole story! I'm certain he hates me. Please Will, you must believe me!" She didn't try to keep the tears from spilling from her eyes.

"No, Elizabeth. It is over between us. I don't want to hear any more about Jack Sparrow. I just want to get out of the way." He looked at his feet, and she could see him squinting, holding back his own tears.

"Oh, Will...," Elizabeth sighed, "how can I convince you otherwise?"

"You should have thought of that before you bedded him."

Elizabeth's pain turned to panic when she realized he was really leaving her on her own, halfway around the world. "You're just going to leave me here in Singapore on my own then? How can you do this to me?"

"You're not on your own. You have Jack." He spat out the name as if it tasted bad. "You will truly be a pirate now, as you have always dreamed. I hope your newfound womanly skills will serve you well in the pirates' world, Miss Swann." His words made her cringe, and tears came to her eyes again.

"Where will you go? How will you get home again?"

"I don't dare to return directly to Port Royal because I don't know the political situation there since Beckett's fall. But I'm sure we have both been labeled pirates by the law, if we have not been declared dead and our belongings sold at auction. I found a merchant captain who has agreed to take my father and me on as extra hands. I don't have a home anymore, and neither do you. I do not know where I will end up, but right now I don't care very much. "

Elizabeth gasped at his words. She had not even considered the fact that she might not be able to return home again after having been in the company of pirates for so long during the search for Jack.

Will continued. "I would like to return to Port Royal at least long enough to gather my tools from the shop, even if I must sneak in at night and steal them. But if I cannot return to working in Mister Brown's shop, I still intend to use my blacksmithing skills again. If I must leave Port Royal, I would prefer to settle somewhere quite boring and far from the sea. My father is the only pirate I ever wish to see again. Now, if you'll excuse me, Miss Swann, I have a ship to board." He turned away, and did not look back as he crossed the deck to join his father. Will walked down the narrow gangplank of the Pearl together and disappeared into the crowds on the docks of Singapore.