Just a little one off from me.

On a challenge was issued for someone to write a story about the scene between Will and Elizabeth below-decks on the Black Pearl. This is my response to that challenge, and I hope you guys like it because I wrote it when I was meant to be writing an essay, don't I know my priorities

Disclaimer: As with all other stories, I do not own Pirates, I just enjoy borrowing the characters every so often, throwing them in a blender and returning them, albeit in smoothie form. (Gross analogy, but you'll all live.)

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HOPE

Will didn't know what he was doing below decks, only that he didn't want to be around Jack. What was he supposed to do now that they had 'rescued' him? Sure, they still had to find the way out of the locker, and Will was already beginning to see his reflection doing strange things, and quite frankly, he was sick of it.

But what was he supposed to do now that the man who had claimed his love's heart was back on board the ship. He couldn't bear to be around, to see their reunion. After all, he'd seen how her face had lit up on the beach when Jack came ashore. He had also seen her persuade him they were really in the locker, and not figments of his imagination.

But he also couldn't help get past Jack's announcement, that 'four of you have tried to kill me in the past;' well, Will could understand three, Barbossa, and the two dim-wits. But the fourth? Of course, Jack had then finished, "one of you succeeded" and immediately he realized what Elizabeth had done. He just couldn't understand why?

Was she so in love with him that it hurt her and she wanted him out of the way? Was she trying to save herself from a likely death at the hands of the Kraken? He no longer understood her. He was still at a loss as to whether they were even friends or enemies, and thus whether he could even trust her anymore.

His thoughts were broken when he heard footsteps on the stairs. He was expecting Gibbs to appear, looking for his rum-flask, or one of the other pirates looking for the same liquor. But when nobody appeared, Will, curious as to why a pair of feet had come down the stairs, and not continued on, nor returned above decks, ventured out.

There was Elizabeth, sitting on the lower stairs, obviously lost in thought. That expression, he had come to recognize its features from so many hours of staring at it when she didn't realize it.

That was another thing that was irking him; in the days before this second adventure with Jack Sparrow, whenever Will had found himself staring at his love, and betrothed, she had always sensed it, and turned to see his blushing face at being caught and smiling. He missed those smiles she used to give him.

He wanted to see her face light up at his presence again, wanted to see the smiles she used to give him; wanted to feel her lips against his; wanted to hear her voice, happy and joyous; wanted to feel her warm body against his, like when she was re-teaching him to waltz so he wouldn't step on her toes at their wedding, or just simply when they would embrace. The last time he had seen, heard or felt any of these things was so long ago; that day on the beach, the first time he had seen her since that morning in the Fort jail.

He approached her slowly, walking under the staircase, realizing that now was the only time he could get answers from her; in particular regarding that particular accusation Jack had made against her.

As usual, she remained ignorant of his presence, despite the fact she didn't jump when he knew he was in her line of sight.

Taking a deep breath Will opened his mouth to speak, forcing all tone of accusation to the back of his mind, and forcing himself to think he was asking her a simple question such as 'how was your day?' Oh how he missed those conversations they would have in the evenings when Elizabeth would sneak down to the smithy ready for her sword-fighting lessons.

"You left Jack to the Kraken?" Success! He thought to himself, it came out exactly as he wanted it too.

Elizabeth didn't look at him however, shifting her line of sight from the empty space in front of her to the floor, never once looking at him, instead almost forcing herself not to look at him. Internally, this maddened Will. Why won't she look at me?

"It doesn't matter now. He's rescued, it's done with." She responded, half a whisper.

Will sighed. He understood her language. Now all he wanted to know was why, why had she left him; how had she left him? Why had she kissed him? But their relationship at the present moment, their level of conversation, meant Will couldn't find it in himself to ask, any of these questions.

Instead he turned away, trying to see the sea through some of the holes in the side of the ship.

"Will, I had no choice." Will was surprised to hear Elizabeth's voice, and the sound of her jumping to her feet that accompanied it, but he couldn't look at her, not now knowing she was capable of killing someone she considered a friend.

"You chose not to tell me." He had wanted those words to be accusatory; as of yet, Elizabeth had never seen him truly angry, which was something he was especially happy about. But now – well maybe angry was the wrong emotion. Hurt was more what he now wanted her to see coming from him. Yet his voice let him down, his words coming out bland and almost monosyllabic.

"It wasn't your burden to bear." Internally Will only felt anger at these words, and realized that the only way he could make her see the turmoil he'd been facing was to face her, to make her see it through eyes that seemed now finally ready to see him.

Yet again, he couldn't bring the necessary emotions to his exterior, and his voice maintained the sound it had throughout their conversation. "But I did bear it, didn't I. I thought that," now was the hard part. How the hell was he supposed to say what he had thought since the moment he saw his fiancé kissing Jack Sparrow?

But Elizabeth saw his falter, and read what he was trying to say, and said what he had, for now well over a year, thought was true. "You thought I loved him." The way she said it made something in Will's heart beat a little quicker.

He had been wrong; she wasn't in love with Jack. Such relief seemed to fill him, but still he had more questions he wanted to ask, and seeing Elizabeth move to leave him standing their, a look of shock and disgust mixed on her features, Will couldn't help himself, grabbing her arms and pushing her against the upright behind her.

Elizabeth in the meantime, as she felt the hardness of the wood press into her back, with the heat from Will's body warming her front, felt something that she hadn't felt in well over a year.

"If you make your choices alone, how can I trust you?" He whispered, his face so close to hers, his breath tickling her skin.

Elizabeth felt her eyes flutter, loosing her concentration as she felt her heart ache. Why were they only now having this conversation? Why hadn't she told him right then and there, or in Tia Dalma's shack the night before they set off for Singapore? Surely he would have understood her predicament. But now, as his words filtered through her senses and she realized what he said, the warmth she was feeling left her; left her feeling cold and wanting to escape his always comforting – despite the time between – arms.

"You can't." It hurt her so much to say those words, and she could see, too, in Will's eyes, that she had just hurt him as well. "But all you can trust," she went on in a whisper, "is that I, like you would do anything to protect me, would do anything to protect you." It was as Elizabeth was half way through this sentence that she felt her voice crack, felt something dark rise in her throat that was not bile, but instead rose and then appeared behind her eyes: tears.

When they had sat in the long boat, watching the Kraken pull the Pearl and Jack down to the depths along with it, Elizabeth had never shed a tear, and when they arrived at Tia Dalma's, the lone tear that fell had not been about the death of Jack, but the guilt, that it had indeed been she, who had left him there on deck, to await his fate. Now, a year since that day, Elizabeth had shed no more tears, not a single one, and yet here, trying in vain to escape Will's clutches, she felt like the entire ocean was about to pour out of her eyes.

Will saw how her eyes shut, how her head fell. He knew what was about to happen, he had seen it happen only twice before; the first time was not long after they first arrived in Port Royal, some twelve years earlier. It was the first ship that arrived carrying news of England and more people to make up Port Royal's society. On that ship, Elizabeth received word that her favorite cousin had died. Will remembered her reaction because he was sitting in the room with her, playing a game of cards when the maid came in with the note.

The second time was the day they were supposed to be married. She had played with the buttons of his jacket at the same time, and Will, despite the fact that he knew she was about to cry, couldn't help but wonder at just how beautiful she was, he'd commented her on it too. Now, however, he was at a loss.

He could sense she wanted to escape him, so instead of hugging her, he dropped his arms, stepping away from her, waiting for her to move. But she didn't. She just stood there, now looking as though she wanted him to hug her.

"I'm sorry, Will." She whispered, lifting her head, and allowing Will to see her own pain.

Upon seeing her tears, Will couldn't help himself, returning to her and wrapping his arms about her tightly, feeling her rest her head on his shoulder. Neither of them said a word, but both felt calmed by the closeness they had with each other. Only Elizabeth, nuzzling her head into his shoulder, smiled at the comfort, but they both realized that there was still a hope for them, even if it was going to take time.

Fin