A/N: Sorry about the long update time. I really wrestled with this chapter because it's kind of a struggle to figure out how to make a chapter of people essentially explaining what we've already seen as an audience super interesting. That said, I wasn't about to rob you of the reactions of Weatherby and Norrington hearing all this bullshit the kids have been through. Plus, I knew exactly what Syrena was going to do in this chapter and I loved it too much to just gloss over that scene.
Birds of a Feather
The Curse of the Black Pearl
Some Explaining to Do
"Haul them aboard!" a sailor cried out as the longboat reached the Dauntless.
With a series of wary looks as the sailors shouted above them and a rope ladder was thrown down, Will, Elizabeth, Jack, Jack the Monkey, Philip, and Syrena prepared themselves for what was about to come next.
"Well," Jack grimaced as he noticed a group of sailors waiting at the top of the ladder, the shackles in their hands gleaming in the moonlight, "it's showtime. You know, you may not believe it, but it has been an honour to work with you folks… except for the monkey and the mermaid."
"That goes without saying at this point," Syrena shrugged.
But the way Will, Elizabeth, and Philip watched him, and how Philip reached out and patted his shoulder, Jack knew that the sentiment was shared.
Those poor idiots.
"Let's go," Will ordered the group.
Jack went up first so that the sailors could very quickly grab him without the others getting in the way and thus in more trouble. Elizabeth reminded the group of the difficulties Syrena had with climbing on her unfamiliar legs, so Will went next, followed by Philip, then Syrena, and finally Elizabeth so that Philip could be closest to help her should anything happen. Elizabeth was last because it was quickly agreed she knew the signs of Syrena struggling with her climbing and thus could also act swiftly to help her.
Well, that and the fact that Elizabeth was deemed the one least inappropriate to have a view straight up Syrena's skirt while climbing. Bloomers had unfortunately not been on the list of things the pirates thought to scavenge and Syrena was quite exposed.
"Thank you once more, Mister Sparrow for your cooperation through all this," Gillette said gleefully as he shackled and helped the men restrain Jack. "As a result, the Commodore has allowed you to be put in a separate brig away from the main one where we've put all the other pirates."
"How kind of him," Jack gave an overly fake smile.
There was a soft thump, and Gillette turned to see Will Turner, Philip Swift, some random girl with a monkey on her shoulder, and Elizabeth Swann climb onto deck. Upon seeing Will and Philip, Gillette gave the most smug smirk, but the second his eyes met Elizabeth's, his face went perfectly white.
Which made Elizabeth grin like a fox.
"Hello, Lieutenant Gillette," Elizabeth walked right up to him and loved how he stumbled a step back. "How was fighting the undead skeleton pirates I tried to warn you about? Did you want to know more about them? Or do you want to have me again dragged kicking and screaming into a cabin you lock me in?"
Philip snorted, "You dragged Weatherby Swann's daughter across the deck and locked her in a room against her will while Weatherby Swann was on the same ship? Oi, man, do you have a death wish? Gracious Lord, I wish you had blessed me with the opportunity to see that reaction."
"You could have, you know Mister Swift," Groves appeared from the crowd with the biggest teasing grin for Will and Philip. "But instead you chose theft and property damage."
"In our defense, we did intend to return the Interceptor and thus only meant to borrow it." Philip chose not to mention how Will ultimately ended up promising to give a crew of pirates the Interceptor. "It was the pirates who prevented that plan."
"Oh sure," Syrena muttered, leaning against Philip, though she thought it best not to actually wrap her arm around him until her presence had been properly explained. "Blame it all on the pirates."
Groves blinked and looked at Will questioningly. Will quickly shook his head to signal it wasn't worth the explanation just yet.
"Well, despite all that has happened, I am glad to see all three of you safe and sound back with us," Groves said. "The Governor has been beside himself, though I would not expect him to jump with joy at your return just yet."
"Nor would we anticipate it," Will said. "What- What about the Commodore?"
"Why don't you ask him yourself?" a voice cut in.
The group cringed as they turned to see James Norrington approach their party. His face was set and stern, annoyance riddled across it, even directed towards his truant fiancée.
"James," Elizabeth smiled, a touch of falseness to it. "I'm relieved to see you've made it out alright."
"Likewise, Elizabeth," James intentionally used her first name to subtly remind the group –particularly Will – that he was the one to be her husband. "Though, I'm afraid I do have a few questions for you. As does your father."
She cringed, "Of course."
James looked at the rest of the group – his eyes lingered on Syrena for but a moment before slipping past – and he focused in on Will. Will was only to happy to steadily meet James' eyes and hold his ground.
"Well, Mister Turner," James said bitterly, "is this good enough for you?"
Will slightly reddened as he thought back to throwing an axe into Norrington's maps, "Commodore, I can explain my actions-"
"Oh, I'm counting on that. In fact, there are a great many things the Governor and I are expecting an answer for. Starting with your newest companion. Who is this young… lady you've brought with you?"
Philip scowled as he noticed the pause Norrington took before calling Syrena a lady.
"This is Syrena," Elizabeth quickly interjected. "She was kidnapped by the pirates just like me. Her family was killed and her home destroyed so we offered to take her back with us until she can get back on her feet. You know, charitable souls and all that. Really couldn't help ourselves but to offer it. The Swanns do have a high percentage of evangelists in the family. A good fifty percent in the last twenty years."
Norrington glanced over at Groves and then Gillette, "Syrena, you said?"
"Yes, Syrena. Syrena…" Elizabeth struggled for a surname but found only one name came to her mind, "Fins."
Philip and Syrena cringed while Norrington raised an eyebrow.
"Fins?" Gillette echoed.
"…on," Elizabeth quickly added. "Finson. Syrena Finson."
It took all of Will's self-restraint not to slap his forehead. Even Gillette and Groves were sharing a look like they were asking each other is she serious with that?
"Well, Miss… Finson," Norrington had a look on his face that made it very clear he was buying none of this. "Is the creature upon your shoulder your pet?"
Syrena glanced at Jack the Monkey, "Oh yes, this is Jack. He is very well trained."
Norrington was fairly certain that if they made him raise his eyebrow one more time, it would get stuck in that position.
"Uh…" Syrena looked over at Jack Sparrow, "nothing to do with him. My Jack came from home with me. Snuck on the ship to save me, tried to rescue me, failed, and then came along for the adventure."
Even Jack the Monkey stared at her like he knew the lie was a terrible one.
"Commodore," Philip awkwardly cleared his throat and stepped forward. He didn't notice the glare Syrena shot him as she was left to sway uncertainly on her foreign legs, but thankfully Will put a steadying hand on her back. "I know there's a lot of uncertainty in the air and many questions that you have."
"That would be putting it mildly," Norrington said dryly.
"If you could please, I think we first would like to talk to my uncle about a few things. Would you happen to know where he is?"
At that exact moment, the door to the captain's cabin flew open with such violence it smashed against the wall. Out stepped Governor Weatherby Swann, face white with rage and looking not unlike his father in that moment. In an instant, his eyes fixed on Philip and Elizabeth, and Philip had half an instinct to shield his cousin much in the fashion Weatherby once routinely did to Rebecca.
Then Weatherby saw Syrena and his stomach went cold… before burning red hot with rage.
"Elizabeth Dinah Swann, Philip Nathaniel Swift, and William Richard Turner," Weatherby growled, "you have exactly five seconds to get yourselves and your little… friend inside of this cabin!"
Groves leaned over to Philip, "Don't worry, I'll get Pastor Thomas to bury you in a nice spot in the cemetery."
"Thanks," Philip said weakly, vaguely remembering he had legitimately made that offer to Groves when his wife, Fanny passed away.
"ONE!" Weatherby barked.
Will, Elizabeth, and Philip scrambled for the cabin, pulling Syrena along with them. Heck, Philip had half the urge to just throw Syrena over his shoulder and get her into the cabin as that would take less time.
"Ok, you know we're in trouble when Father middle names us," Elizabeth whispered to Will as they hurried toward the cabin.
Will had the fear of God in his eyes, "I didn't even know he knew my middle name."
They scampered into the cabin, and to their chagrin, Norrington slid in behind them. Great, because that was who they wanted to tell everything to.
When they got inside, they found that Weatherby had arranged three chairs from the dining table into a straight line facing the desk he stood before. So many memories of a lecture in Weatherby Swann's office on chairs positioned in that exact fashion flickered in their minds. They were quick to assume the traditional position: Philip on the left, Will on the right, and Elizabeth – the biggest troublemaker and most often ringleader – smack dab in the middle.
Syrena didn't have a chair for her, so she made herself comfortable sitting on the bed with Jack the Monkey. Norrington shut and locked the door, and then stood before it with his hands folded behind his back.
Well, here they were: the moment of reckoning. Their very own judgement day. The cabin was filled with willful silence as all waited for Weatherby Swann to just explode.
And explode he did.
"There is a hand in that drawer!" he exclaimed, jabbing his finger at the desk.
Will, Philip, and Elizabeth frowned and exchanged awkward glances. However, they refused to say a damn word until they were forced, and indeed had no idea what to say in response to that proclamation.
However, Syrena just stood up, placed Jack the Monkey on the bed, and walked over to the desk. They all watched as she so nonchalantly pulled open the drawer and looked down.
"Oh," she said pleasantly, a tad bit of delight to her voice. Smiling, she looked to the humans gathered, "Indeed there is."
When every eye in the room fixed on her – save for Philip, who had dropped his head into his hands – Syrena's smile faded as she realized her lighthearted reaction might not be appropriate.
"Sorry," she pushed the drawer closed and leaned against the desk. She gestured to the Governor, "Proceed."
Weatherby nodded and then turned back to the trio of misfits in front of him, "Elizabeth Dinah Swann, Philip Nathaniel Swift, and William Richard Turner. I don't even know where to begin. Has the Devil himself taken control of your minds and bodies this past month? What could have possibly possessed you to such… insane and horrendous actions? Lying! Stealing! Running away! Breaking a criminal out of prison! Bringing that… that thing on this ship!"
"Hey!" Philip snapped when Weatherby pointed at Syrena.
Syrena scowled, eyes burning as Weatherby Swann – exactly as his daughter had – made the hairpin turn from being friendly to openly hostile, "Oh, is that how we're going to play this? Well, now I see where your daughter gets it from."
Norrington looked puzzled at Elizabeth, but she waved it off with a tired expression that probably meant we'll get to that part later.
But it wasn't The Mermaid's words that surprised Weatherby Swann; it was his nephew's absolutely furious reaction.
"Uncle, she is not a thing; she is a person!" Philip didn't glower per say, but he definitely had a mood on his face that proved he was the grandson of Bartholomew Swann. "Her name is Syrena and if it wasn't for her, we might not have all come out of this alive. You want to be angry at us? Fine. Be angry. We deserve it. But I must insist upon you treating Syrena with the same respect you would any of God's creatures."
Will, Elizabeth, and Weatherby stared at Philip in shock. He had never stood up to his uncle that firmly before.
Syrena just found herself more certain at following her heart to Philip Swift… Although she did side-eye Norrington and wonder how they could possibly have this conversation with him in the room.
James sighed and unfolded his hands from behind his back.
"Mister Swift, I appreciate your concern over your wording while talking about Miss Finson," he drew out the name again. "But I'm afraid I'm already well aware of the fact that she is a mermaid."
"Father, how could you?" Elizabeth chastised.
But Weatherby looked equally confused, "I didn't tell him. Commodore, how did you-"
"Word of advice, Miss Syrena," Norrington said dryly, "if you're intending on hiding that you are a mermaid from a group of people… don't obviously splash your tail to tease them while sneaking past them and they're discussing possibly seeing a girl in the water."
"You did what?" Philip turned on Syrena. "Why on earth would you think that was a good idea?"
She blushed, "It um… seemed like a good idea at the time?"
"Alright, fine," Philip turned back to his uncle we he decided he had no response to that, "Syrena is a mermaid. But please, she's a good soul looking for a fresh start and deserves a chance."
Weatherby groaned, having heard the speech a hundred times before, "Philip, now is not the time for one of your pet projects."
Elizabeth let out a strangled laugh. Weatherby stared at her in confusion and Philip shot her a look of utter annoyance.
"Something funny, Elizabeth?" Weatherby asked.
Elizabeth snorted, "No, nothing at all."
But she couldn't stop her giggling, and Philip glared at her like he was about to smother her to prevent her from revealing his dirty little secret.
Please don't do this, Elizabeth, he mentally willed her. Not like this. But deep in the pit of his stomach, Philip knew what was about to happen was unavoidable.
Then he turned his eyes to Syrena to see how she was reacting – timidly standing against the desk with gaze avoiding Governor Swann – and Philip realized how foolish he was. Why did he want to hide the truth? He loved this woman and he would shout it from the rooftops.
"Actually, Uncle." Philip let out a heavy sigh, "There is something I need to tell you."
Weatherby frowned and looked to James, but Norrington shrugged, having no theory to offer.
"Um," Philip started, "here's the thing-"
"You know what?" Weatherby decided. "Stop. Stop talking right now."
Philip blinked, "What?"
"Whatever you're about to say, I don't want to hear it. You know why? Because after the events of the past month, I don't trust the three of you anymore."
"What? Father, come on!" Elizabeth objected.
"No," he said firmly. "I don't think I'm being unreasonable here. The three of you have been so absurdly dishonest that my trust is completely broken. And you, Elizabeth? You are the worst of the bunch. I don't believe a word that comes out of your mouth right now."
"No! When we rescued you from that island, I asked you what had happened, and you looked me in the eye and lied."
"You wouldn't have believed the truth!"
"That's not the point. The point is you had an opportunity to tell me the truth, and instead you chose to lie."
"Father, I didn't lie. I mostly told you the truth, I just… altered a few details."
Weatherby raised an eyebrow and opened his mouth, but he was cut off by Elizabeth holding up a hand to stop and her face scrunched in pain.
"Yeah, no, I just heard that too," Elizabeth admitted. "Sorry. You're right, I lied. I lied a lot."
Will sighed, lowering his eyes to the floor. He knew what she was doing; she was trying to protect Will, find some way – any way – to prevent the truth about Will's parentage from getting out. It was something that must be done because once Port Royal caught wind of that, everything Will had worked for could be lost.
…Just like Philip and Elizabeth had potentially given up everything they had worked for.
"Look," Weatherby's eyes drifted over the three culprits, "in this night alone I have learned of the existence of mermaids and undead skeleton pirates. At this point I'm willing to believe anything. So, I'm asking you here and now to explain yourselves. I don't care how absurd the story is, I want the full unadulterated truth. Beginning to end, no waving things off, no summarizing events, no forgoing details, everything. And if you're thinking to yourself should I tell him about that then I especially want to hear it."
Will and Elizabeth shared a nervous look at the same time Philip and Syrena did.
"I don't know if we can do that," Philip admitted.
"And why's that?" Norrington asked, definitely not out of curiosity. The man was born to be a commander.
"Because frankly… there are details that are, kind of… sort of… they're not…"
"They're none of your business," Syrena said flatly. "Look, we will tell you want happened, but there are certain details that aren't relevant to you and you don't get to make the choice of whether or not they should be revealed."
Will winced. That was like to not make a good impression on Governor Swann, and it was all to protect him.
"This is ridiculous," Weatherby shook his head. "No, you three are not going to worm your way out of this one. And I will not have a mermaid-"
"Father," Elizabeth said firmly, "this is not a point we're going to be moved on."
"Syrena's right," Philip agreed. "This isn't our choice to make. Now stop bringing up what she is, as that is completely irrelevant to whether or not she is right."
"Philip, for the love of all that's Holy-"
The Swanns broke into their traditional overlapping – and not always perfectly logical – argument that was less about who said what and more so about how loud they could say it. And as they did so, Will could feel the eyes of James Norrington. He knew the Commodore had figured it out that Will had a secret, albeit not what the secret was.
He could also feel the eyes of Syrena on him; the poor girl who had just lost her father. Just like he had lost his father when the curse broke. The only comfort he had at knowing he had just killed his father was that at least Bill Turner had been reunited with Will's mother in death.
Will thought about his parents, turning over the revelation of their piracy in his mind. Why had they lied to him? He could figure out perhaps why his father did – Will had gotten a few more answers out of Ragetti and Pintel after Philip was taken away – as apparently Bill had frequently talked about leaving behind the life of piracy. But his mother… the way Jack spoke of her made it seem more like she wished Will would become a pirate.
He was left with the very hollow feeling that the mother who had been the soul parent for most of his life, was actually a complete stranger to him.
Why hadn't she told him the truth? Was she embarrassed? Wanted to keep him from that life? Or maybe it was the most likely: she just didn't want him going around telling the neighbors, putting their lives at risk. Was she going to tell him the truth when he was older?
The truth. He could barely wrap it around his head. His father was Bootstrap Bill, the only noble crewmember aboard the Black Pearl. And his mother was Sarah Smith: first mate of Captain Jack Sparrow, sister of Red Dirk, and daughter of Captain "Bloody Robert" Smith. They were figures out of Elizabeth's stories… and they were his family.
Was he angry? Was he ashamed? Worst off… was he proud?
"Pirate is in your blood, Boy so you'll have to square with that someday."
Will fiddled with the bandage around his hand. It had been that blood of a pirate that ended this all… and that blood of a pirate that began it.
Elizabeth and Philip had sacrificed so much for him. And now? Now it was time to pay them back.
"For the last time," Philip said, "there are details that will have to stay secret."
Weatherby threw his hands in the air, "What could possibly be so dangerous to-"
"My parents are pirates," Will boldly declared.
The room fell silent.
Weatherby Swann blinked, like he hadn't heard that correctly, "What?"
"My parents are pirates," Will calmly repeated. He sighed and looked to Elizabeth and Philip, "Look, I appreciate my friends trying to protect me, but we can't keep doing this. Eventually they're going to learn the truth anyway. It's best if they hear it from us."
"But Will," Elizabeth nervously eyed her father and her fiancé, "are you sure you want to do this?"
"Oh, I don't want to. But I think I have to… and I would like your help." He looked to Philip, "Yours too."
Philip sighed and looked at Syrena. She bit her lip and nervously shifted, eyes suddenly finding the design of the floor to be most interesting, but she nodded.
"Then I will help you," Philip agreed. He glanced to his side, "And you, Cousin?"
Elizabeth reached over and clasped both Will and Philip's hands, "We tell the truth… all of it."
And so they did.
They started with Syrena telling the story of the curse of Cortez. She explained the medallions and the blood pact and all sorts of counter religious matter that made Weatherby and Norrington turn to Philip for holy explanation. Unfortunately, the only reply he had for them was a far too tired and dejected sounding I don't know anymore, Uncle. I just don't know.
"So what does this blood pact have anything to do with you three?" Weatherby asked the trio seated before him.
"It's all to do with the mutiny," Syrena explained. "You see, Barbossa-"
"Wait a minute," Will held up a hand. "I think we need to track forward in the story a little bit and explain how I came to know the truth about my parentage. Then they'll understand how it's all relevant to the story."
"Will's right," Philip agreed. "I don't think this story is one we can tell linearly."
"Alright," James did his best to sound at all interested in learning about Turner's parentage, though admittedly, he did have a few questions concerning the piracy. "What's all this about your parents?"
After he took a moment to gather himself, Will began, "After you and I argued about the methods of which we would prefer to use to save Elizabeth-"
"You mean after you threw an axe into my charts and screamed at me in an utterly disrespectful and inappropriate display in front of my men?"
A very awkward silence clung to the room. Though Philip noticed that Syrena – who was hearing of the incident for the first time – looked a little too impressed.
Will cleared his throat, "Uh, yes. After I did that."
"Oh Lord, I wish I had seen that," Elizabeth muttered. It earned her a swift kick and glare from Philip, though it was debatable whether it was aimed at her misuse of the Lord's name or just making the situation worse.
"Philip and I went to the jail cells at the Fort," Will continued. "The story is quite obvious from there."
So he told them of how Jack Sparrow had known Will was named after his father, and the later revelations concerning his parentage. That his father was Bootstrap Bill and his mother was Sarah Smith.
It was the last point that interested Weatherby.
"Wait, Sarah Smith?" Weatherby's jaw hung open. "As in the sister of… oh what in Heavens was that name? Scarlet Richard?"
"Red Dirk," Will corrected with a weary sigh. "Apparently that was my Uncle Richard I didn't know I had until a month ago. I'm pretty much just going to assume at this point that my mother lied to me my entire life, and those trips she took to visit her 'sister' was actually just her going on pirate adventures. I don't think I even have an aunt."
"No, but you have a cousin," cut in Syrena.
Everyone stared at her.
"What?" Will wasn't sure he had heard that correctly.
As the eyes were all set on her, she realized that once more she might have made another inappropriate comment. She didn't understand how it could be though, and the undivided attention she was given by the humans made her feel ten inches tall.
She shifted her weight and glanced to Philip for support. He looked shocked, but he still played the role of a comforting lover expertly and gave her the assuring nod and loving gaze she needed in that moment.
"You have a cousin," she repeated, finding her confidence to face Will – the biggest stranger of her new friends. "If you are the son of Sarah Smith, then you are cousin to the illegitimate daughter of Red Dirk. I may not have the best education, but I do know how to draw a family tree."
"Wait, hold on, I'm sorry," Elizabeth interrupted. "Red Dirk had a daughter? Didn't he die long before any of us were born?"
Syrena just stared at Elizabeth, "…He fathered the child two years before he died, which if you and I are born the same year would have been twelve years before our birth. He… He had the ability to procreate before his death. …Elizabeth, be truthful with me. Do you not understand how procreation works? Because really, I should not be your source on this. I am to believe that humans and mermaids reproduce differently."
"How so?" Philip asked, instantly regretting it when the eyes of his uncle – and worse the struggling to stay secret smirks of Will and Elizabeth – flicked to him. He turned quite the brilliant shade of crimson as he realized the implications of his question.
Syrena however, was completely unphased, "Well, I'm not entirely certain how it works for humans, but I've been told that there's really three major differences. Mermaids do not bear sons, Mermaids only conceive under the light of a full moon, and most importantly, Mermaids must also consume the flesh of their mating partner or else the Mermaid will not conceive. Like legitimately have to tear significant amounts of flesh from their victim and eat it."
A very peculiar expression fell across Philip's face. A fear, a horror, a worry… a problem to be solved another day.
"Huh," he bit his lip and refused to look at Will and Elizabeth. "Well, that's… good to know."
Definitely a problem for another day.
Norrington – who had been far too patient – politely coughed, "Governor, if we could move on-"
"No, wait," Elizabeth cut him off. She eagerly looked to Syrena, "You said Will had a cousin. Who is it? Where is she?"
"Tortuga," Syrena answered. "Lovely woman. I've met her a few times. Actually, if I recall Philip's stories correctly, I think he and Will did too."
Will and Philip frowned at each other in utter confusion.
"What is she-"
"I have no idea. Did we even meet any-"
"A few, but no one of significance… Unless-"
"You don't mean…"
Elizabeth just stared at the two men, completely lost. As one, Will and Philip turned back to Syrena.
"Syrena," Philip said very politely. "What is the name of Will's cousin?"
Philip went white as a sheet of paper and let out a small whimper. It took all of Elizabeth's resolve not to burst into a fit of giggles as her mind remembered Will telling her the name of the prostitute that almost made Philip curl into the fetal position and rock back and forth in a corner.
Syrena of course, had no clue of the distress women of such profession caused her overly religious lover and just casually told the group, "Like I said, nice girl. Always knows what's going on among the pirates. Course being a Smith, Barbossa couldn't get within ten feet of her without a murder attempt – your family has quite the talent with weapon throwing – but she's always been very cordial to me. Even helped me sort out my First Hunt… though that's a story for… well, never."
Will just sat back in his chair, reflecting on that nice prostitute they had met in Tortuga. It made sense: Jack had treated the woman with quite a bit of respect, he had wanted to bring the girl a gift, he had never paid her for anything but information, and he hadn't even tried flirting with her like he had done to literally every single woman they encountered.
Eveline Smith, his cousin. Huh. The thought made him feel quite warm. Maybe someday… maybe.
James Norrington took a deep breath, "Honestly, what does this nonsense have to do with anything? What does it matter if our local blacksmith has some prostitute for a long-lost cousin?"
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes at Norrington for reducing Will to just our local blacksmith when Will had done far more to defeat the pirates than James had.
Philip narrowed his eyes at Norrington for reducing Eveline to just some prostitute. No matter her sin, the girl was still a person who deserved respect and love like any other.
Will narrowed his eyes at Norrington for reducing such a significant revelation about Will's life to just some mindless banter.
Syrena narrowed her eyes at Norrington for just yelling at her flock. She had been right: William Turner was ten times better than James Norrington.
Weatherby narrowed his eyes at Norrington for the inappropriateness of the outburst.
"Commodore, I know it inspired a tangent, but the reason for the original conversation was so I may confirm that the Sarah Smith we discussed was the same I thought she was," Weatherby calmly but pointedly explained. "I wanted to because I find it mildly interesting that the Swann and Turner families have crossed paths before."
Two steps ahead her father's thought process, Elizabeth burst out laughing as she recalled a certain piece of trivia she had learned on the deserted island.
Oh God, she had to hold it together. No matter how hilarious the Jack Sparrow and Aunt Rebecca revelation was – and how hard it was to keep it down under the gazes of her father and Philip – Elizabeth couldn't just blurt something like that out.
Norrington scowled, "They have?"
"Yes," Weatherby replied. "During my family's infamous Beckett Incident, Cutler Beckett tried to buy off my brother-in-law by giving him a ship that belonged to Sarah Smith in exchange for never seeing Rebecca again. Actually, that's quite a good story. It was the moment I was won over to Nathaniel marrying my sister. You see, Nathaniel and I were having lunch and I was trying to dissuade him from courtship of Rebecca – this was a few weeks before Kat- Uh, Katherine told me he and Rebecca had decided to marry. As Nathaniel and I spoke, my valet comes in and announces that Cutler Beckett has-"
"Aunt Rebecca met Jack Sparrow!" Elizabeth blurted out.
Everyone just stared at her in utter shock and horror.
Elizabeth however, groaned and threw her head back to look up at the ceiling, "Dang it! I wanted a better segue than that."
Weatherby gaped at his daughter, "Elizabeth, what in Heavens are you talking about?"
"When Jack and I were on that island we were telling stories to pass the time," Elizabeth quickly explained. "I mentioned in passing how Aunt Rebecca ran away with Uncle Nathaniel because of how awful Beckett treated her, and Sparrow mentioned he knew a man like that. I didn't think anything of it until Sparrow mentioned the man he knew tried to buy off a rival suitor with a ship and crew and that he had once heard Aunt Rebecca's pirate song in a scene identical to the one she always described as the origin of where she first heard it. Mentioned the fiddle and everything."
Will looked over to the oddly silent Philip, "How are you taking this revelation?"
"Shocked," Philip had a blank stare on his face as he processed the news. He then admitted, "Honestly, not that surprised, but I am shocked."
"Also, Jack said that he once talked to Aunt Rebecca and offered to let her join his pirate crew," Elizabeth added. She glanced between the men, "So there's legitimately an alternate version of history where your mothers were friends."
"Weirdly, that kind of feels right," Will shrugged.
"Mmhmm," Philip nodded with the tone of a man who was just over the nonsense his life had become. What more insanity could be inflicted upon him? Come on, Universe! Bring on the Kraken or the Fountain of Youth or a Handkerchief that wouldn't burn!
"Elizabeth, don't be foolish. Jack Sparrow has never met our family before the day of the Commodore's promotion ceremony," Weatherby's brain had hit its limit. He had seen and heard more than enough for one evening. He point-blank refused to accept that his sister had ever associated with Jack Sparrow.
Yes, his sister was wild and rebellious, but she was also moral and Godly. Piracy would never ever be an option for her. She simply loved the stories for the freedoms they displayed. Rebecca didn't want to be a pirate, she wanted to be respected for the person she was and allowed to make her own decisions.
"I'm sorry to tell you this, Father," Elizabeth said in a tone that suggested she wasn't sorry in the least, "but they did meet. I asked for further details that aligned with the story."
"And what details were those?"
"Well, for starters, Jack said the girl looked a little bit like me. The girl's fiancé was an officer in the EITC, she was the daughter of a Lord, and the man the girl was in love with was staying as a guest in her family's home for the year."
"Elizabeth, that could describe a thousand women in the world. Do you have any specific details?"
She was silent for a long moment, "…Jack said the woman's father dragged her by the hair and threw her in her bedroom. Then he threatened to take her up the aisle in the same way."
Utter silence filled the room. The horror of Elizabeth's words clung to the group like a dark fog. But even worse was that fear and guilt that flashed in Weatherby's eyes that signalled to his children the truth of Elizabeth's claim.
"…I was hoping I could spare you two from that detail," Weatherby soberly admitted. "I wish I could say to you it was a lie and that all you've heard about Bartholomew Swann was an exaggeration… But the reality is I have strongly downplayed the truth. He truly was an evil man and did horrors I can't even begin to describe."
Philip's eyes flicked to his uncle's right arm where he always kept a scar covered, and Philip wondered.
Elizabeth stood there, stomach dropped out under her as she realized the magnitude of what her father and aunt had been through. She stared at her father in horror, and thanked every God she could name that Bartholomew Swann was dead.
As Elizabeth's gaze quested his, Weatherby cast his eyes to the floor in shame. He was unable to face Philip and Elizabeth and look into the eyes of Rebecca and Katherine and remember all the ways he had failed the women he loved.
Then, he felt a hand on his back, a little touch that rubbed circles in an attempt of comfort. Weatherby frowned and looked up. He was surprised to see The Mermaid – Syrena – smiling at him.
"Fathers sometimes do hurtful things to prevent their children from enduring worse pain," she said kindly. She glanced at Philip and Elizabeth, "I know my father did."
And Weatherby Swann couldn't help but smile and look over at his nephew and his daughter and take in those eyes of Rebecca and Katherine. Those women he loved so dearly, that he had sacrificed so much to protect, and no matter how he failed them they continued to love him.
Rebecca's scream of pain as her father grabbed her by the root of her hair played out in Weatherby's mind much like how it would in the night as he stared wide awake at his bedroom ceiling.
Weatherby's stomach twisted as he thought of the part he had played during her captivity in her bedroom. He thought about the night Rebecca and Nathaniel eloped. How long had he sat watch by her door?
He glanced between Elizabeth and Norrington.
It was a mistake he would not make a second time.
"Uncle…" Philip finally spoke. "I… I forgive you for not telling me."
And Weatherby closed his eyes. If only his nephew knew how much more there was to tell.
Syrena looked around the room, displeased that that awkward tension had returned. For a moment, her eyes met Norrington's, and it seemed like the sentiment was shared.
"You know, I do believe you all are looking at this the wrong way," Syrena said, trying – and knowing she most likely was once more failing – to help. "Yes, we could focus on the sorrow of this incident, like how I could focus on how my father just died-"
Norrington scowled, "Your father?"
"We will get to that part of the story," Syrena waved him off. "Our second option is we can look at the hilarity of the situation. Philip, your mother almost ran away to be a pirate with my father, Will's father, Will's mother, Ragetti, Pintel, and Jack Sparrow. Isn't that the funniest thing you've ever heard?"
The scowl he gave her firmly set in her mind that as a firm no, but it did make Elizabeth break into giggles again. Likely it was mostly as a coping mechanism, but it was certainly preferred over tears.
"Ah, the Beckett Incident," Elizabeth laughed loudly. "It's the gift that just keeps on giving, doesn't it?"
She noticed the longing glance her father made back at Norrington's liquor cabinet in the corner of the room. She didn't know whether to laugh louder or gulp in anxiety when she saw the gleaming labels to the whiskey bottles.
Elizabeth couldn't help the wide grin and the fit of giggles that overwhelmed her as Philip glared at her lack of tact and Weatherby longed to reach for a drink. Elizabeth just found the reoccurring nightmare of her family so humorous in that moment.
…Fifteen months later, when Elizabeth languished in a prison cell after Beckett destroyed her wedding, Philip was sure to remind her of those teasing words and out of control hilarity.
In return, she would kick him in the shins.
Norrington eventually convinced them to get on with the story, reluctantly insisting on the full details. He resigned himself to the fact it would likely take the length of the voyage home to tell it if the banter continued like this.
On and on, the four young adults told their story, truly leaving out no detail. Oh Norrington and Weatherby heard quite the extensive and pedantic tale.
They heard of Will questioning the materials Jack Sparrow had access to make a raft of sea turtles out of.
They heard a decently long rant from Elizabeth wondering how the pirates prepared the multiple feasts on their ship she had witnessed – especially that turkey.
They heard of how when Syrena was dressing in Isla de Muerta it took her about four tries before she figured out how shoes worked.
They even heard of how Philip annoyed Anamaria so badly when they had a watch together in the crows nest that she ended up shackling him to the mast and it took three hours for Philip to get rescued because Will was apparently the only one who actually gave a damn about the preacher and his whereabouts (although Gibbs had alleged that after another hour or two he might have started asking questions.)
Of course, there was a particularly awkward moment when Syrena started explaining to the group why she had been captured.
"Wait, wait, wait," Will interrupted. "My father wasn't there? Are you certain?"
Syrena scowled, "Yes. I'm fully confident in the circumstances that led to me being held prisoner for two years."
"But then, where is he?" Will frowned. He had been so confident that his father had been killed when the curse broke, but now…
"Oh, he has been claimed by Davy Jones."
"So that means he's dead?"
"No… Yes… Sort of… I don't know, it's complicated." Syrena saw the eager light in Will's eyes, "Look, the curse of Davy Jones is a whole other story for a whole other day. Your father – if he is upon the Flying Dutchman – isn't going anywhere in a hurry and there's really nothing you can do about it this exact moment. Jones is a matter you have to tackle with a plan and quite a bit of research. If you want to have a grand adventure solving that and saving your father, sure we can do that. But take a bit of a breather between adventures for. Maybe give it a year."
"Well," Will really couldn't argue with that. "I guess."
"Hey!" Syrena brightened. "Maybe that could be the bonding thing you and I do! Or would you prefer to find your long-lost cousin instead? There's also the potential that we could go find your grandfather's treasure stash. I think Barbossa told me enough information about the secret cove of Bloody Robert to get us somewhere."
Will loudly groaned and dropped his head in his hands. Elizabeth snorted and Philip shook his head, a loving smile on his face.
"Can we go back to my family just being boring and dead?" Will moaned.
When he looked up he found himself surrounded by furious glares of people who would have happily traded places with Will to have the potential of a dead parent being alive (though Weatherby certainly thought of his mother and not his father.)
Norrington turned back to Syrena.
"So Bill Turner wasn't still tied to the cannon?" he prompted.
"Oh yes," Syrena resumed the story, "so I swam back up and-"
On and on the story went.
Elizabeth told of how she stole the Aztec medallion from Will and all the grief it had given her the day of Norrington's promotion ceremony including how Jack recognized it and it called the pirates to Port Royal.
Syrena told how she had the opportunity to escape Barbossa and instead saved Will's life, only to be sighted by Philip and haunt his dreams ever since.
Philip told the story of the voyage to Tortuga and adamantly refuted the suggestion that he or Will hired a prostitute, much less one that turned out to actually be Will's cousin.
Will told about how Gibbs and Jack planned to use him as leverage against Barbossa to reclaim the Black Pearl and in return Will and Philip started plotting against Jack in return.
Elizabeth told the story of Barbossa's obsession with green apples and her failed murder attempt that led to her being locked up with The Monster.
Syrena told about how she showed Elizabeth nothing but kindness and help, and Elizabeth turned around and stabbed her in the back. (Several times did Philip politely have to get Syrena back on track.)
Will told of the pirate code that any man left behind stays behind and how Philip sacrificed himself so Elizabeth and Will could escape.
Philip told of how Twigg and Koehler attacked him and Syrena after they started to bond – after shamefacedly blurting out that he was the one who sent the prison guards to their death with the armory trick, only for James to render that horrible guilt pointless when he reminded Philip that that was the guards' job to fight people like that and actually a really clever idea on Philip's part.
Will told the story of how the Interceptor couldn't outrun the Black Pearl and how their unloading attempt to speed up resulted in no ammunition and thus the cutlery shots.
Syrena told of how she accidentally was revealed to turn into her human form and how Philip helped her try to escape only to get revealed to the rest of the crew in the process.
Elizabeth told how she had gotten Jack drunk on the island and ultimately ended up promising Jack a favor in exchange for his assistance in lying for her. (To which Syrena just in deep condolence shook her head and said You poor, stupid fool.)
Philip told about how he protected himself and Syrena from another attack from Twigg and Koehler and the series of events that led to him naming Syrena. (Weatherby proved more interested in Philip's newly acquired facial scars.)
Syrena told how Barbossa urged her to run away and accepted her as his daughter – which Weatherby and Norrington decided not to touch with a ten foot pole – but she was attacked by Twigg and Koehler, and Syrena did not in the least downplay the threats they had made.
Elizabeth told mostly Will and Philip how she had tried to warn about the curse but instead got locked in the cabin. (Weatherby upon Philip's insistence was happy to recount how he ripped Gillette a new one for doing so. Syrena in turn gleefully recounted how when Gillette was bragging to his men about the little mermaid comment, she almost flopped on deck to mock him for his boasts.)
Philip told about how Ragetti and Pintel set him free, and how his prayer to God on how to find Syrena was answered very suddenly by Jack the Monkey.
Syrena told them how Jack the Monkey and Philip had rescued her – severely downplaying the romantic angle as that conversation needed to be approached very delicately – and they were found by Jack Sparrow.
Will told about the way he and Jack outwitted Barbossa, though he would have preferred Philip not to be an oblivious hostage in the middle of it, but you take what you can get.
Elizabeth told how Syrena helped her escape the Dauntless and how they reclaimed the Black Pearl before those bloody pirates proved to be bloody pirates. (And Syrena once more was eager to point out how many times she warned Elizabeth that exact thing would happen.)
Philip told them bitterly about how hard he tried to help Will fight off the pirates, but no, apparently he wasn't needed. (Jack the Monkey gave a small pat on his shoulder when he did, the Monkey having gotten bored and decided to make Philip his new jungle gym. It was hard to make your grumpy scowl look serious when a monkey was sitting on your head and its tail was hanging down your face.)
Will told about that final plan to break the curse and how he and Jack did it just in the nick of time to prevent Barbossa from shooting Elizabeth.
Syrena told of Barbossa's final words and how he died in his loving and heartbroken daughter's arms.
"And that's really the end of the tale," Elizabeth finished. "I know it's absolutely mad and unbelievable, but… it's the truth."
Norrington and Weatherby just stared at the group.
"Here I thought the Beckett Incident was the most thrilling thing this family would ever go through," Weatherby glanced towards the liquor cabinet once more. James really did have a nice selection of vintage whiskey.
But Norrington narrowed his eyes at Will, "And you're certain there's nothing that's been left out? At all? For example, whatever it was Mister Swift was trying to admit before?"
Will and Elizabeth exchanged a nervous glance at the same time Philip and Syrena did.
Truth be told, they hadn't fessed up to the romances yet. It turned out when you weren't watching the exact scene unfold, it was easy to miss the sexual tension. As far as Weatherby Swann and James Norrington knew, Will had simply caught Elizabeth up on the events of the past month when he bandaged her hand, and Philip and Syrena had just spent a lot of time together and became very good friends.
Wearily, the two couples exchanged looks with each other, both parties begging the other to be the one who fessed up first.
"Alright, I'll face the chopping block now because your thing was worse, Philip," Elizabeth sighed. It took a moment, but she met the eyes of James Norrington, "It's only proper that I admit this: James, I kissed Will."
Not a damn person in that room showed the slightest surprise.
"I see," James said stiffly. He had been expecting this from the moment William Turner stole the Interceptor. But just because he wasn't surprised don't mean he wasn't hurt. "And is that all it was? One kiss?"
"No," Elizabeth admitted. She cast a sorry look to Will but found in his eyes no anger because he knew it had to be done. "James, the truth is that I've been in love with Will since the day we met. As it turns out, so was he, and I found that out courtesy of Philip blurting out my secrets to Will, forever betraying my trust in the romantic secrets department-"
"Love you too, Dear Cousin."
"And Will confronted me about it while he tended to my hand," Elizabeth subconsciously clenched the injured hand. "I admitted my feelings, he admitted his, and we kissed."
James sighed, "I see."
"James, there's more."
He cringed but nodded slowly; both he and Elizabeth knew he needed to hear the full truth.
Elizabeth looked over at Will, "After we kissed, Will told me we couldn't work. He tried to let me down easy, but I insisted. I begged him and convinced that we could somehow make a life together… I promised him that we would be together. Said I'd even pull a Beckett Incident if I had to."
"And- And are you?" Weatherby Swann asked nervously. Lord take him to Heaven if he had to live through another Beckett Incident.
Tears clouded Elizabeth's eyes as those steady and loving brown eyes of Will Turner locked on hers. That anger he had against her was gone; his eyes just begged her to make the best choice for herself.
"No," she said in a voice that didn't feel like hers. "I made a promise. I accepted James' proposal not on the condition that Will and Philip were saved. Yes, the request did push me too it, but if you had said no and we turned back to Port Royal I would have still kept my answer. A promise is a promise, and if you will still have me, I will become your wife."
Will looked away from Elizabeth, and so did James. It felt like an eternity before he answer and the painful conflict on his face as he made his choice was bright enough it looked as if a star had fallen to earth.
"I… I appreciate your honesty, Elizabeth," James said. "It's a good foundation for our relationship going forward."
Elizabeth turned away and choked back a sob. Will glared at James like he was half a second away from throwing a punch. Philip mentally recalculated all the different paths he could help Will and Elizabeth down to get that nephew/godson (after the nonsense they had pulled him through with this medallion, an upgrade was in order and godfather sounded just right) with the middle name of Philip. And Weatherby shifted uncomfortably as he remembered holding his sister's hand through the slot of her barred bedroom door.
But Syrena narrowed her eyes at Norrington. There was something more in her gaze as she mulled over James' words.
"Well, I think we've had enough excitement for today," Weatherby pragmatically said. "Let us put aside all this talk of weddings for another day. It's really time we all get some rest. So Philip, how about you tell us whatever it was you wanted to say and then we'll set about organizing the sleeping arrangements?"
"Yes, I have a pair of nice stiff hammocks with your and Turner's names on them," Norrington had been waiting for this moment. He had had a whole regiment of punishment prepared for Will and Philip since they stole the Interceptor.
"So," Weatherby prompted his nephew, "what was it you wanted to tell me?"
Philip was dead silent and tomato red as everyone stared at him. Will and Elizabeth's masks of sorrow had turned to those eager teasing grins hungry for the mockery that would follow Philip's admission. They were ready for their field day, and Elizabeth only prayed her father's heart was not as weak as his own father's had been.
Syrena unfortunately was of not much help either. She kindly waited on the sidelines in polite silence, knowing it was better for Philip to break the news to his uncle. In his heart, Philip knew too he was the best for the job, but that didn't stop him from wishing Syrena just jumped in and blurted it out in that blunt and naïve way she did so many things.
He was thankful though that when he shot her an awkward look and gestured to Jack – who had apparently decided to check Philip for lice with how hard he had started digging through Philip's hair – she came over, plucked Jack off Philip, and deposited the monkey on her own shoulder. Jack was very happy to start nesting through her much longer and thicker hair.
Weatherby frowned when the silence lingered for a bit too long, "Well, come on Philip. Out with it."
"Yeah Philip," Elizabeth snorted. "Out with it. Tell them. Please tell him."
If he hadn't just gone through Hell to save her life and dedicated so much of his life to following the word of the Lord, Philip definitely would have smothered Elizabeth with a pillow while she slept that night.
Recognizing the indicators of mischief, Weatherby looked between Philip and Elizabeth, "What is going on?"
Syrena scowled, "Philip, do you want me to-"
"No, it's okay. I've got this." Philip took a deep breath, "Uncle… I must admit, I have further reasons for wanting Syrena to come home with us to Port Royal beyond the kindness of my heart."
Weatherby cocked his head, "Alright…"
"You see, Uncle…" How in the world was he going to explain this. "You know it's really amazing how fast some things can go. It happens so quickly, but just because it's quick doesn't mean it's not true… in fact it's the most true thing I think I've ever experienced. It didn't come across as intensely in my story, but it's been quite the whirlwind of bonding. Syrena and I have spent a lot of time together these past two days."
James Norrington's eyes flew to the crown of his head.
"And see, Uncle, I really want you to like Syrena. Really she's a fantastic woman, and I know things are going to be difficult but is it not true that that which is most difficult to endure always bears the choicest fruits?"
Weatherby frowned. What on earth was Philip going on about? Further reasons? Quick but true? The choicest fruits? Whirlwind of bonding? What even did that-
OH GOD, NO! PLEASE NO!
Philip was just rambling pointlessly when Weatherby clued back in, "And really how much time do you need to get to know a person? Isn't it the quality of time you spent together that's important? The shape of events within? After all, you and Aunt Kat only knew each other for three months before-"
"Philip," Weatherby sharply cut off. "Please. Please just get to the point."
Get to the point and don't let it be what I think, his eyes begged his nephew. But his heart fell when he saw the look on Philip's face.
"I…" Philip glanced longingly over at Syrena.
She smiled and nodded. And in that radiant smile, Philip felt any reluctance simply melt away. In it he found his courage to just turn to his uncle, square his shoulders, and declare:
"Uncle, I'm in love with a mermaid that I've only known for two days."
Weatherby Swann just stared at his nephew. Not a trace of emotion flickered on his pale face as his brain refused to process the words Philip had just said.
"Uncle, I'm in love with a mermaid that I've only known for two days."
Rebecca was laughing at her brother in Heaven.
Weatherby was frozen, begging God to erase the last thirty seconds – hell, erase the last thirty days while you were at it – so he could pretend it never happened. He tried to convince himself that he had misheard Philip's words. But then Philip looked over at The Mermaid, and there was a look in his eyes that Weatherby recognized from when Nathaniel would look at Rebecca. True love and utter devotion.
God damn it.
And then he acted. Weatherby Isaac Swann stood up with purpose, crossed the room, opened the liquor cabinet, and pulled out a bottle of whiskey at random. He took a seat at the dining table and poured himself a glass. Weatherby drank it fast, not throwing it back like a shot but definitely not mulling over the undertones of flavour.
Then he poured himself another and drank it just as fast. When he swallowed, he stared at a point on the wall where no one stood and gazed at it with a haunted look: the weariness of the world getting to him.
For a moment, he turned back to the group, opened his mouth to speak… but then closed it and poured himself another glass.
And silence fell on the room as they all just awkwardly watched Weatherby Swann pour and put back drink after drink of whiskey.
Elizabeth let out a loud sigh and fought the urge to grab a glass herself.
James and Will pretended they weren't shooting each other dirty looks when the other wasn't looking.
Philip rubbed his temples and tried to piece together everything that he had just learned about this grand adventure they were on. He muttered to himself what was supposed to be a review of the revelations made but actually came out as pure gibberish. As he just muttered the words of Gold, Curse, Elizabeth, God, Pirates, Barbossa, Mermaid, Turner, and Syrena, he didn't notice how he started to rock in his seat in a bit of a deranged fashion.
Syrena just opened the drawer with the hand again and looked down at it.
"Is anyone going to eat that?" she asked.
They all froze what they were doing and just stared at her.
And she gently closed the drawer.