Disclaimer: Disney owns Pirates of the Caribbean and all related material, including the delectable Captain Sparrow (drat).

Author's Note: This is slightly AU—I did not like the ending of POTC 3, so we're just going to go with the idea that Davy Jones is killed, his crew released, and everyone free to go about their business, as opposed to people having their hearts cut out to replace Jones (seriously, Disney, what the hell?).

The premise of this story is roughly based on a dream I had a few years ago. Ask and I'll tell you about it.

Extra special thanks to the lovely trufflesque who so kindly read through the first chapter for me.

Some Enchanted Evening

by Blue Kat

Chapter One: The Glass Half Empty

Things that have gone horribly wrong during these past two weeks:

1. The series of 'D's on my last few Calculus quizzes.

2. The ongoing argument with my mother about my future.

3. Second semester stress.

4. Constant lack of sleep.

5. The argument with Rachel about our Political Science project.

6. Subsequent argument concerning her alleged control-freak tendencies.

7. Subsequent argument concerning my alleged hypersensitivity.

8. Subsequent silent treatment.

9. Disappearance of favorite sweatshirt.

Normally, I wouldn't be making this kind of list. Normally, I am a fairly optimistic person, even annoyingly optimistic on some occasions. However, the spring of my senior year in high school was slowly causing me to reconsider my outlook on life. Although I've never been much of a believer in luck, mine seemed to be taking a sharp turn for the worse.

"Well, at least it can't get any worse," I said to myself with as much conviction as I could muster.

But despite my good intentions and fading optimism, things continued to move steadily downhill.

The last Wednesday in April proved to be one of the worst days in my streak of bad luck and possibly one of the worst days of my entire life. I was overtired, overworked, and generally overwhelmed. By second period I was exhausted and ready to go home for the day. By third period I had developed a nasty headache. I excused myself to the nurse during fourth period, where I obtained some ibuprofen and convinced Mrs. Salerno to let me lie down on the cot for twenty minutes instead of the usual ten. Eleven minutes later, I was on my way back to class, having been forced to give up my place to a sophomore who had cramps. Upon returning to class, I also discovered that our unit test had been moved up to Thursday and Sra. Parker had decided to add an additional essay question to the final.

I cannot explain the utter relief I experienced when lunch finally rolled around. I had looked forward to lunch the way castaways look forward to rescue. Things would look up after lunch, I told myself. I had easy classes after lunch and then I could finally go home and get some well-deserved sleep.

I was further cheered when I discovered that curly fries were on the cafeteria menu that day. Things could not possibly continue to go wrong after you've had curly fries—it's like a universal law. My step became lighter as I made my way through the lunch line. Surely this was an omen of good fortune.

The uneasy silence at my lunch table was my first clue that the universe does not always bend to the curly fry law. Almost everyone was noticeably uncomfortable and avoiding eye contact with me. My feelings of optimism quickly vanished as I set my tray down at the table.

"It's curly fry day," I said, breaking the silence. "Anyone want to share?"

"No thanks, I'm good," Rob said, fiddling with the cap on his water bottle. Cassie plucked a fry from the cardboard carton and popped into her mouth with mumbled thanks. Maria and Adam were both uncharacteristically quiet.

I slowly set down the fry that had previously been on a one-way trip to my mouth. Never in my life have I known Rob to decline an offer of free food, let alone curly fries.

"Okay, what's going on?"

Maria looked pointedly at Adam, who cleared his throat a couple of times.

"Umm…Tess, we need to talk," he said.

I shifted rather uneasily.

"About what?"

He chewed on his lip for a moment. Maria elbowed him.

"Laura Colby asked me to prom," he said quietly.

I froze. Laura Colby. Laura of the golden locks, flawless complexion, and extensive wardrobe. She was a varsity cheerleader, class president, and the secretary of the National Honor Society. She was very popular, very pretty, and very smart. Guys wanted to date her and girls wanted to be her. She was the golden girl of our class and Adam had been in love with her since the seventh grade. She had barely given him the time of day.

Of course, considering how my day had gone, it seemed almost appropriate that Laura Colby would pick this day of all days to steal my prom date.

"What?" I replied after a moment of stunned silence.

"Laura Colby asked me to prom," Adam repeated.

"And what did you tell her?" I asked.

"I told her I'd talk it over with you," he replied.

"What?"

"I told her I—"

"No, I heard what you said. I just don't understand how you thought that I'd find this arrangement remotely acceptable," I said, feeling increasingly irritated.

"You know how I feel about her, Tess."

"Look, it's great that she asked you, Adam. I'm thrilled, really. However, that doesn't change the fact that prom is Saturday and today is Wednesday. This isn't so much about your undying love for Laura as it is about common courtesy."

"She has a point," Maria interjected.

"Look, I know it's kind of short notice," said Adam.

"'Kind of short notice'? I'd say that's being a little generous."

"But don't you see that this is my chance?" he argued. "I'm never going to have this opportunity again!"

"Why don't you tell her that you agreed to go with Tess in January?" suggested Cassie, ever the peacemaker. "I'm sure she'd save a dance for you. She'd understand that you've already made a commitment to your friend."

"Or maybe you should explain to Laura that it isn't socially acceptable to go poach other people's dates," I said sarcastically.

"Her date dumped her, Tess," Adam replied irritably. "You could try to be more understanding."

I snorted. "Oh, right. It's not okay for Laura to be dumped the week before prom, but if it's me, then it's not a problem."

"She has a point," Maria repeated, looking increasingly irritated with Adam. "A very valid point."

"I'll pay for my share of the bid," offered Adam.

"That doesn't make things right, Adam."

"Well, what am I supposed to do?"

"Here's a thought: how about you honor the commitment you made to me instead of trying to abuse our friendship to appease a grade school crush?"

"I'm not 'abusing our friendship,' Tess," he snapped.

"What would you call bailing out on your best friend two days before prom so you can go with some other girl whose never given you the time of day?"

"It's not like that…"

"It's exactly like that! She's never seen you as more than the goofy guy in her French class and we all know that's not going to change."

I knew that I was going too far but I was angry. I was angry at Adam, angry at Laura Colby, angry at my friends, angry at school, angry at this day. And from the looks of it, Adam was getting pretty angry with me as well.

"Tess—"

"I don't even want to hear it," I interrupted, picking up my backpack. "Go with Laura, I don't care. I'm not spending prom with an asshole." I stormed off before he could reply, leaving the rest of my lunch behind. I wasn't hungry anymore.

The rest of the day went by surprisingly quickly. When the bell rang at 2:30, I picked up my backpack and practically bolted out of the building. I headed down Flynn Street away from the school at a fast pace and managed to make the fifteen-minute walk home in ten minutes flat. I unlocked the front door and let myself in. The house was quiet and there was a note on the front table. I picked it up.

Hi, sweetheart, it read. Aunt Mary Ann and I went shopping. There's a big sale on linens at the mall. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for those sheets you like so much. We're picking Ben up at soccer afterwards and we'll probably be back around 5:15-5:30. Kelly is over at Monica's working on their history presentation for the rest of the afternoon and Dad will be home at the regular time. The pears that I bought on Monday are ripe if you'd like to have one for a snack. Love, Mom.

I was extremely grateful for the empty house because after I finished reading the note, I burst into tears. Had anyone else been home, I would have had to explain everything and at that moment all I really wanted was to have a good cry by myself.

After I got most of the initial tears out, I was able to pull myself together enough to head upstairs to my room. I dumped my backpack on the floor, collapsed on top of my unmade bed, and drew my knees to my chest.

To make matters worse, my prom dress was hanging on the back of my door. It was a beautiful silk emerald dress that I had found near the back of a local boutique. It was way out of my price range, but once I tried it on, I knew that it was the one. Mom had grudgingly agreed that it was pretty perfect and informed me that after this she was never buying me a dress again. I had the perfect dress, the perfect shoes, the perfect hairstyle. I was going with a group of good friends and my date was my best friend, so there was none of the awkwardness of being fixed up with someone you hardly know. Everything was perfect…until today.

I sniffed and miserably reached for a Kleenex. I didn't know what I was going to do. I had a double bid and no date. The prom date decisions were more or less made by the end of January—that's just the way high school worked. There was no way I could find someone at this last minute—not anyone normal, at any rate. It was also too late to change my bid from a double to a single and I sincerely doubted that Mr. Shirk (the student council moderator, more commonly referred to as "Mr. Jerk") would be very sympathetic. And even if I did go single, I would end up feeling like a fifth wheel, as everyone in my group was taking a date of some sort—Rob and Cassie were going together and Maria had been asked by Brad Porter, a guy in her art class. I sighed and rolled over onto my back.

"I am fairly good person!" I yelled at the ceiling. "I have never killed anyone, been to prison, or done drugs!" I paused. "And I floss regularly! All I want is to take a semi-normal guy to prom! Is that too much to ask for?"

Of course, the only response I got was more silence. I sighed heavily and shut my eyes.

This was undoubtedly the worst day ever.

Naturally, 'high school' and 'drama' go hand in hand—in many ways, they are practically synonymous. I had certainly experienced my fair share of catty remarks and colossal misunderstandings over the years. But the entire situation with Adam seemed to trump them all, starting the very next day at lunch.

Cassie and Maria were waiting outside for me after Calculus. I immediately tried to avoid them.

"I was just going to go to the library," I mumbled.

"Oh, no you're not," Maria replied, linking her arm with mine.

"Tess, you're not going to hide from us for the rest of the year," Cassie said gently. "I know you and Adam are mad at each other, but we'll be able to work something out."

"I have nothing to say to him," I stated as we passed through the double doors to the cafeteria.

"I know it's upsetting," said Cassie as we navigated through the crowd. "And I'm not saying what he did was right, but it shouldn't ruin your friendship. We're all leaving for college soon and I don't think we want to leave hating each other."

"Cassie, it's a lot more complicated than you think," I said, sitting down at our table. Rob and Adam weren't there yet.

"I think we all have a good idea of what it's like to have a fight with a friend, Tess," Maria pointed out. Rob sat down rather hesitantly at our table.

"Is it safe to eat here today?" he asked. "Or is there going to be another smack down?"

"Would it kill you to show a little sensitivity?" demanded Cassie, swatting him on the arm.

"I really have no desire to speak with Adam and I'm pretty damn sure he doesn't want to speak with me, either," I stated.

"I guess we'll find out soon," said Rob looking over at the cafeteria doors. "Here he comes."

But Adam wasn't alone. Oh, no. Laura Colby was walking beside him, hanging on his arm and laughing.

"Oh, God," muttered Cassie when she caught sight of the pair.

"Is he bringing her to sit with us?" asked Maria.

"Maybe they're going to sit with her friends," I suggested. I certainly hoped they were going to sit with her friends.

"No…no, they're not…" reported Cassie, her eyes widening as they approached our table. I swallowed and focused on remaining calm.

"There's going to be a smack down of epic proportions," stated Rob. Cassie didn't even bother to hit him.

I tried to put on an expression of cool detachment as they both sat down.

"Hey," greeted Rob, breaking the uncomfortable silence.

"You all know Laura, right?" replied Adam, looking at everyone except me.

"Hi Laura," said Cassie when none of us immediately spoke up. Laura smiled warmly.

"Cassie, right?" she asked. Cassie nodded and more awkward silence followed. I was avoiding looking at Adam and focusing on my sandwich, which now tasted like cardboard. Laura looked noticeably uncomfortable.

"Look," she finally said, "Adam told me about what happened with Tess and I—"

"Laura, you don't have—" Adam interrupted.

"No, really—" she began.

"Oh, you mean yesterday?" I piped up. Adam finally met my eyes with a steely look.

"Tess, I'm really sorry, I didn't realize—" started Laura.

"Oh, no, you don't have to apologize," I interrupted, my voice high and nervous sounding. "I've already found another date."

I don't know what compelled me to say anything of the sort, but once it was out there, I couldn't take it back.

"You what?" asked Maria. Cassie dropped her sandwich.

"Yeah…a friend of a friend…of a friend," I stammered.

"Why didn't you tell me this?" demanded Maria.

"Er…slipped my mind," I replied, taking a good look around the table. Cassie and Maria were staring open-mouthed at me. Adam wore a look of mocking skepticism and Laura had a confused sort of smile on her face. Only Rob appeared completely unaffected by the entire exchange—he was intent on his burger and fries.

"How could you forget about something like that?" asked Maria.

"I'm a bit scatterbrained today," I said looking up at the clock. "Oh, shit, I forgot—I have a follow up appointment with the college counselor. See you later."

I quickly grabbed my backpack and the rest of my lunch and walked out of the cafeteria before anyone could say anything else.

Of course, Maria and Cassie found me hiding in the library roughly five minutes later.

"You have got some explaining to do," stated Maria, plopping down in the chair at the study table.

"I've got to get a better hiding place," I sighed.

"Duh," stated Cassie.

"What about Adam and Rob?"

"Screw 'em," said Maria dismissively. "Spill—who is he?"

I sighed. "No one…I was trying to salvage my pride."

Maria put on a sad smile and patted me on the hand.

"It'll be all right, really," said Cassie reassuringly. "Hey, you could take my brother—I think he's free that night."

"Cassie, your brother lit ants on fire with magnifying glasses."

"He was six!"

"He let a skunk into school last year. And flooded all the bathrooms on the third floor. Twice."

"Oh right…I'd forgotten about that. Well, military school has really shaped him up."

"Thanks, but that's okay."

"Well, look on the bright side—Adam will probably end up with a disease or something," said Maria cheerfully. "God knows Laura's been around…"

"Maria!" scolded Cassie.

"Well, okay, so she's not the definition of a slut, but she's certainly no nun," amended Maria. "She just likes to pretend she's all innocent and proper."

Cassie rolled her eyes. "Whatever. The point is that this is all going to resolve, one way or another."

I shrugged. "I guess."

However, I couldn't really bring myself to share Cassie's optimism. Adam and I were obviously not on speaking terms and it clearly wasn't something that was going to blow over the next day with an apology and a "Let's just have fun at prom."

This also really screwed up our prom plans. The six of us—Rob and Cassie, Maria and Brad Porter, and Adam and I—had been planning to arrive at prom in a 1967 red Mustang convertible. Adam had spent months talking his father into letting him drive the beloved vehicle to prom. Mr. Marlowe agreed only after making Adam swear up and down that he would drive like a sane, law-abiding person at least five miles below the posted speed limit. He also threatened to sell Adam to the gypsies if anything happened to the car and we didn't think he was kidding. And that was just to take the car to prom—Mr. and Mrs. Marlowe would be following us there in the station wagon and then Mr. Marlowe would drive the car home himself. His Mustang was not going to the after party, where danger and destruction waited in the form of risk-taking male teenagers fraught with testosterone.

Transportation, of course, presented the most immediate and obvious problem. Six passengers could barely fit in as it was; there was no way we could fit a seventh. Laura Colby had been planning to arrive in a limo with some friends, but she had, of course, given up her place in the limo to her former date in exchange for her original seat at her table of friends. Of course, this once again put Adam in the position of choosing between Laura and me.

"You know what the gentlemanly thing would be…" said Maria icily. We had called an emergency meeting after school on Thursday and I had been forced to attend against my will. Adam still wouldn't make eye contact with me.

"Are you sure we can't squeeze another person in?" asked Cassie, hopefully.

"We barely fit as is," said Rob.

"It won't be any easier with our dresses," added Maria.

"I don't have to ride in the car," offered Cassie.

"Cassie, don't be ridiculous," stated Maria. "If anyone should offer to give up—"

"It's fine," I interrupted quietly. "I'll give up my place. I'll get there another way."

"Tess!" protested Cassie.

"I won't have you be a martyr," I replied. "That's just stupid."

"No, this is stupid. You shouldn't have to do this, Tess," said Maria, glaring fiercely at Adam, who was ignoring both of us.

"It's fine," I said firmly. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to see a girl about a pumpkin and six white mice."

As it was the day before prom, I thought this would probably be a good time to explain all this to my family. Their reactions were what I expected.

"Oh, honey!" exclaimed Mom.

"That is so mean!" said Kelly.

"I told you he's a jackass," sighed Ben.

"Watch your language!"

"Prom is tomorrow?" asked Dad.

"What are you going to do?" asked Kelly.

"Why didn't you say something?" said Mom.

"Look, it's not the end of the world," I replied, trying to downplay the situation as much as I could. "I'll just go stag."

"You could take Ben," offered Mom.

"Hell no!"

"Language!" she scolded, swatting him upside the head. "And that is not a nice thing to say. Apologize to your sister."

"It has nothing to do with her, it would just be weird," explained Ben, pulling a horrified face.

"It would be weird," I agreed.

"Fine. What about that nice Grogan boy?"

"Girlfriend."

"Peter Simmons?"

"Pothead."

"What about Grant Miller?"

"Girlfriend and pothead."

"Max from across the street?"

"He's nucking futs," supplied Ben before I could reply.

"Benjamin Walter!"

"What? I said—"

"Look, it's a little too late to get a date with a tux anyway," I replied as Mom gave Ben a few swats with a dishtowel. "I'll just go stag. It'll be fine."

"I'm sure we could—" began Mom.

"Really. It's fine."

I gave Mom a brave smile, wishing that I really could believe myself.

Even though I was still really bummed about being dateless and ride-less (I didn't have the heart to explain that last part to Mom), I have to admit that it's really hard to feel bummed out when you're getting your hair, nails, and makeup done. After all, I told myself as the manicurist worked on my nails, Laura Colby could take my date and my ride, but she could not take away this experience for me.

Well, I was partially right. While Laura couldn't really take anything else away from me, she could, however, have an appointment with another stylist at the same time in the same salon. In fact, the salon had been designed in such a way that I could always see Laura Colby, no matter how I was situated in the chair.

It certainly didn't really help that Mrs. Colby insisted on loudly exclaiming how beautiful her daughter was every five minutes.

"I'm sorry, hon, is that in too tight?" asked Iris as she adjusted a bobby pin in my hair.

"No, it's fine…I…uh…the girl who stole my date is in the chair across…" I replied quietly. Iris, who had heard this story while my nails were drying, quickly glanced over at Laura.

"That's her?" asked Mom.

"No wonder he likes her, she's got the blonde thing going on," stated Iris. "Not natural, though."

"Really?" I asked, slightly surprised. Laura's hair had been blonde for as long as I could remember.

"Her mother's been taking her in here for highlights since she was maybe nine or ten, when her hair started coming in darker," said Iris conspiratorially.

"Someone ought to give that girl a sandwich," stated Mom. "She's far too thin."

Iris nodded in agreement. "Well, now that I know who she is, we're going to make you look extra special. I'll make sure that boy really knows what he missed out on."

I came out of the salon feeling more made up than I had ever felt in my life, but slightly better about the impending evening. Kelly and her friend Julie were waiting for me when I got home and immediately oohed and ahhed and told me how pretty I looked, and how sorry Adam would be when he saw me. It was a much needed confidence booster.

I went upstairs to change, assembling everything with great care. First were the earrings—beautiful dangly drops of emerald that Mom had agreed to lend me on the condition that I take the utmost care with them (Dad had given them to her on their first Christmas together). Next was the dress, followed by the shoes—strappy heels that matched the dress.

I took a deep breath and looked at myself in the mirror. A semi-unfamiliar, but more polished me stared back. The makeup that Iris had put around my eyes made them seem striking and maybe even exciting. She had somehow managed to conjure up (or at least emphasize) the strong cheekbones I had always longed for with a carefully applied blush. Iris had also done wonders with my hair. My hair was fairly long, brown, and difficult. It never seemed to be able to decide between straight and wavy, which was altogether annoying. Iris had managed to bring it into a sleek French twist. I tried an experimental smile. Maybe it was just me, but my teeth even seemed a little whiter.

The dress, of course, was the best part. It was green and strapless with sweetheart neckline, a beaded bodice, and a Basque waist. The dress had the added advantage of making my waist look a little smaller than it was and my chest appear slightly more significant.

I gave another smile, took a deep breath, and opened the door to go downstairs.

I was greeted by gasps from my mother, Kelly, and Julie, who were all waiting for me in the living room.

"Oh, honey, you look beautiful!" raved Mom, snapping a quick picture with the camera and nearly blinding me with the flash. "Paul! Come see your daughter! Kelly, get next to your sister for a picture. Ben! Paul! Come in here so we can take a family photo! We need a picture for the Christmas card!"

To say Mom took a lot of pictures would be an understatement. We had every possible combination—Mom and me, Dad and me, Dad and Mom and me, you name it. Aunt Mary Ann and Uncle Ted came over about halfway through and then there were multiple new combinations to deal with. But Mom was in her element and there was no talking her down once she got started.

"Honey, if you keep this up, she's never going to get to prom," said Dad finally.

"Just one more!" said Mom. I smiled and she snapped the final picture. I was grateful—my cheeks were starting to ache from smiling.

"When is your ride getting here?" asked Aunt Mary Ann.

"Oh, I've got to get a picture of her getting in the car!" exclaimed Mom.

I cleared my throat nervously. This was the part I had been dreading. I had come up with the idea the night before, but I knew it probably wasn't going to go over well.

"Ah, well…the bus leaves at 5:30, so I should start walking soon…"

"The bus?"

"Oh, did I forget to tell you?" I said casually. "I'm taking the bus to the hotel. See, in Environmental Science we're talking about air pollution and how it's such a problem in America because people generally opt to drive instead of using public transportation. I have to write a paper at the end of the semester on what I'm going to do to help the environment, so I thought I'd use this as an experiment. Plus, I think it's a good way to bring attention to the issue within our community. 'Girl takes bus to prom'—people will talk about that."

This, of course, was largely untruthful. We had covered air pollution first semester and our final paper was supposed to be about an endangered species. But I figured Mom didn't need to know and I could probably work the bus into my paper if worse came to worse.

"What?" exclaimed Dad.

"That's the dumbest idea I've ever heard," declared Ben.

"Sweetie, your dress! You'll ruin it!" said Mom.

"I'll be careful. Plus, I'll be standing, so it shouldn't be a big deal."

"'Not a big deal?' Do you remember how much I paid for that dress?"

"Mom, can you really put a price on saving the environment?"

I was really milking it, but I could sense that she was caving.

"Still, you'll—"

"I'll pay for the cleaning bill if it needs to be cleaned."

Mom's mouth had turned into a tight thin line.

"All right," she conceded. "What stop is it? We'll drive you down."

"The point is to not use a car, Mom," I said. "It's the stop at Kinney and Wallace—it's three blocks away. I'll walk."

That required some additional discussion ("You'll ruin your shoes!"), but Mom finally gave in on the condition that I take a picture pretending to get into the car to drive to prom. Ben, Uncle Ted, and Aunt Mary Ann laughed, Kelly and Julie rolled their eyes, and Dad just muttered about having raised a hippie for a daughter and the next thing you know I'll be smoking dope and refusing to shave my legs.

I finally managed to leave the house, setting off down the block as quickly as I could in my heels. The walk to the bus stop wasn't all that bad, apart from the fact that passing cars found it necessary to honk and ask me where my fairy godmother had gone. It was funny the first two times, but it got a little old after that.

I didn't have to wait long for the bus. The bus driver stared at me as I climbed the steps and rooted in my clutch for the appropriate amount of coins.

"Goin' to a weddin'?" he asked.

"Prom," I replied.

"On a bus?"

"I'm protesting America's addiction to oil and taking the bus to make a statement and reduce my contribution to air pollution," I said primly.

The bus driver stared at me blankly. I sighed, my shoulders sagging slightly.

"My date ditched me and I'm too proud to ask my parents for a ride."

He stared at me for a few more seconds.

"Today, you ride free," he declared.

It was the first genuine smile I'd had that week.

"Thank you."

He grunted in acknowledgement and I made my way to the back of the bus. There weren't too many people on the bus, apart from a little old lady, a middle-aged woman and her small daughter, a bored looking teenage boy, and a businessman in a suit.

"You look like Barbie!" declared the little girl happily.

"Thank you," I replied, smiling.

"You do look lovely," agreed the little old lady. "Although you're showing a little too much skin if you ask me. In my day, a girl kept her shoulders covered. It was proper, y'see…"

I listened the old lady's monologue about decorum for the twenty-minute bus ride. The little girl occasionally interrupted to ask a question and was quickly scolded by her mother for interrupting (in truth, I didn't mind at all—she was far more entertaining than the old lady).

The bus finally arrived at my stop and I bid farewell to the little old lady and the little girl. Prom was being held at Middlemarch Inn, a nice local hotel that had a ballroom big enough to accommodate the senior class. It was a few blocks away from the bus stop, but there was a nice little park that I could cut through to avoid more fairy godmother remarks. It also gave me a chance to mentally prepare myself for the upcoming ordeal.

However, I was not at all mentally prepared for what I would find in the park.

I was walking down a cement path and passing under an enormous weeping willow when I heard someone clear their throat. I paused, slightly startled. When I heard no further noises, I continued on my way. Again, someone cleared their throat. I stopped again.

"Hello?"

A figure suddenly stepped out from behind the trunk of the weeping willow and I nearly had a heart attack.

It was a man. A man who bore an extremely eerie resemblance to Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean—the main difference being that this man was cleaner looking. There was no eye make up, his beard was neatly trimmed, and his hair, although dreadlocked and messily arranged into a ponytail of sorts, was bead free. And he was wearing a tuxedo, which was definitely not part of the pirate wardrobe.

I quickly collected myself. Obviously, he was someone else's insanely attractive date who had become lost looking for the hotel.

"I—er—can I help you?" I asked.

"Are you Theresa Montgomery?"

I was shocked by two things, the first being that he knew my name. The second was his voice. It was gravelly and slightly slurred, with the hint of a British accent and something else that I couldn't quite place. But it was definitely familiar and eerily so.

"I go by Tess," I replied automatically and somewhat dazedly. "I'm sorry—do I know you from somewhere?"

"Have you heard of Benedict the Beneficent?" he asked.

"I—er—no…" I stammered.

"You're better off for it," he assured me.

"I'm sorry—who are you?" I asked, more confused than ever.

"Captain Jack Sparrow," he said with a grin. "I'm here to escort you to the, er, prom."

A/N: True story: when I was a small child, I saw one of my neighbors leaving for prom and declared that she looked just like Barbie.

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