jackxwill - pirates of the caribbean slash

Title: Burden
Author: kHo (khohen1@bellsouth.net)
Pairing: Jack/Will
Rating: PG-13
Summary: And what of Elizabeth in this series?
Series: On High Seas, pt 5
Thanks to: linaelyn and scarletseraph for much needed sound-boarding and plot bunnies.



Olivier was French, and he had a quiet sensuality that bled into every step he took and look he gave.  He had long nimble fingers, and every time they touched her they made her shiver.  Sometimes from lust, sometimes from disgust.  She wasn't sure if it was disgust with him or herself, but that didn't matter to her.  It was a distraction, a reprehensible and self-destructive distraction, but one she needed.

Governor Swann's illness was slowly robbing him of his health and wit, and it robbed Elizabeth of hers in turn.  When they'd first arrived in London he'd bought a house on the countryside specifically for its back yard garden.  He would spend hours out there, reading the works of Shakespeare and catching up on his correspondence, smiling as birds twittered around him happily.  These days all he could manage was to sit up enough in bed to see the tops of the rose bushes out of the window.

Elizabeth found herself taking over his duties, ordering the maids she'd once called friends around as her father had.  Telling them to fix this for supper on that day, and to not forget to dust the library that afternoon.  She traveled to the doctors in town on their specified days to give a weekly briefing of her father's progress and receive corresponding advice on how to proceed.  She brought him breakfast in the morning, and regretfully made her father open his mouth to reveal the pills he'd tried to hide in his cheek.

The maids offered to serve him his food.  They offered to change his bedclothes and they offered to assist him to the bathroom when he grew too feeble to make it on his own.  She insisted on doing it herself though, feeling that what he'd done for her as a child was her duty to do for him now.   He'd objected at first, but as the disease ebbed away his awareness his protestations abated.

In the three years they'd been in London Elizabeth had aged ten years, her eyes lacking the luster they'd once had, her hair becoming flat and listless.  The bags under her eyes were a dark purple hue uncovered, and took going on half an hour to cover.  The only time she allowed for herself were Sunday afternoons in the park, and the only time she enjoyed herself was when she was listening to the poetic renderings read on those days.

The first year had been good, though.  The first year had been easy, when he was still able to travel the two miles to town and keep up a good conversation with her.  When he would spend time in his garden, and before the words on the pages of his favorite books began to swim.  She would write letters back home, to servants they'd left behind, and to her beloved Will.  Will, whom she'd never stopped loving, no matter what she'd led him to believe.

Things started to get tough at the end of the year though, right around the time the leaves started to fall off the oak trees surrounding their abode.  Her father started complaining that his oranges tasted rancid, that his bread was stale.  He would become angry when his wine started to taste like nothing, berating their ever-faithful servant Anna for watering down his drinks.  

Where she used to spend hours diligently pouring her heart out onto the page for Will, she now spent trying to calm her father.  The time she used to spend copying over her letters on scented parchment in curly and pristine penmanship she now spent trying to distract her father from his failing health.  By the time she realized it had been over two weeks since she'd put pen to paper for Will she didn't know how to begin.

She used to fill her pages with wishes and dreams she'd had, telling him what they should do when she arrived back home.  She would smile as she wrote of places she wanted to show him, giggle to herself imagining the wide grin he'd have on his face when he read her reaction to the first poetry reading she'd gone to in the park.  Most of them contained a bare minimum of facts and a maximum of professions of love and well wishes.

Now her letters were half as long, and laborious to write.  She didn't allow herself to sound as despondent as she now felt.  She told him nothing of how much older her father looked or how much older she felt.  She told him about plays she'd seen, poems she'd heard, and sometimes restaurants her father's associates in London had taken her to.  She tried to sound happy, because she knew Will would suffer for her if she did otherwise.

When the weather grew hot again, though, she could no longer keep up the pretense for even him.  Her letters grew less and less long, and written much more sporadically.  Instead of smiling while writing she held back tears, knowing that one of these days she was going to have to just let Will go.  She knew it was unfair of her to mislead him, but she also knew that he'd never let her let him go if he knew the reasons behind it.

She let her words become less flowery, less conversational and more formal.  She knew Will was the kind of person to read into things, to read between the lines, and she counted on the fact that her detachment would hurt him.  It pained her to hurt him purposefully, but in the end she felt it would be less hurtful than if she did it a year from now.  Less hurtful to him, and to herself as well.

Perhaps the most loathsome emotion she felt in those hot summer days was her wish that her father's suffering would end.  The problem was that in order for his suffering to end, he would have to pass onto the next world and leave this one behind.  She hated the way she felt when she allowed her thoughts to turn this way.  She hated the fact that the feeling wasn't completely selfless.

She was cold now, impersonal to anyone she came across, even the maids she'd known her whole life.  The only one who got to see what was left of her soft underbelly was her father, and he wasn't even aware enough to appreciate it.

The first time Elizabeth met Olivier was at a poetry reading in the park.  It was broad daylight, but his eyes made her think of pitch-black night in the middle of the ocean.  He'd approached her with a feline grace and a feral grin.  She'd been disinterested, but she started seeing him in the park in each subsequent trip and he always asked her for dinner.  When he caught her on a particularly emotionally withering day, she'd given in.

He reminded her of a statue, handsome and dark and brooding on the outside, but shallow.  It was cool to the touch, and not something you really thought about after leaving.  When you were looking at it though, it mesmerized you.  When you looked at the curves and the carvings and ran your fingers over it, you were captivated by its beauty.  As you turned your back though, the vision of it melded with all the other statues you'd seen in your life, the only difference being that this was the most recent.

He had a way about him, perhaps in his eyes, of making her feel like nothing else in the world mattered.  He touched her unnecessarily, on the back, on the side, on the arm.  He talked with a flow that lulled her and whispered things in her ear that she didn't understand.  He talked of trees, and clouds, and the things poetry was made of, but it rang hollow to her ears.  The way he spoke of love and of the beautiful things in life made her think he knew nothing of either.  He didn't ask about her personal life, and she didn't bother to volunteer anything.  

It turned physical quickly between them.  He'd kissed her on their second outing, and on their fourth she'd gone to his sparse apartment with him and drank Brandy.  When he'd kissed her she felt a warmth spread through her as she pictured Will's face instead of his.  She shushed him when he talked by pressing her lips harder against his, bringing his hands to her body.   She was gone ten minutes after it was over, crying into the balmy night for a loss of innocence that she had intended to share with one person only.

It didn't stop there, though.  She started making excuses to go into town, knocking on his door sometimes before noon struck.  He always smiled when he saw her and didn't hesitate to kiss her as soon as the door was closed.  She wasn't surprised that he knew her intentions, she'd never pretended to be interested in him as a person.  

He touched a part of her that she needed touched though.  Olivier was older by ten years, and he knew how to make a woman melt with arousal.  He would graze his teeth over her breast with just the right amount of pressure, and run his hand down her side as his tongue assuaged the reddened flesh.  

He was gentle, and careful, and loving almost when he was inside of her.  When he lay beside her though, she felt even more alone than she had when she'd arrived.  She always swore this would be the last trip she made to his apartment, but then two days would pass and she'd find herself right back where she started.

By the time Will and Jack had rode into town she was resigned to the fact that this would be her life, caring for her father and having empty sex with a French stranger that she knew nothing about nor cared to.  When  Anna had told her Will Turner was at the door her first reaction had been to sink to the floor.  She felt as if the world was threatening to make her face the things she'd become and she wasn't ready.

She'd gone out anyway, because Will was waiting, and if there was one thing she couldn't say no to it was Will Turner.  When she'd seen him her heart had exploded and she almost regretted that it hadn't taken the rest of her with it.  She'd focused on Jack first, trying to calm herself down, but he'd left all too quickly.  She and Will had spent hours talking and not one word out of her mouth had been the truth.

When he told her about his relationship with Jack she could see the love he wasn't speaking of behind his hazel eyes, and it shot straight through to her heart.  Will had moved on, perhaps without meaning to, and it was what she had wanted.  It was what she had hoped for when she decided to take herself out of his life, but it was not something she was prepared to witness first hand.

She said her father was doing better than expected, knowing full well that he lay in that bed 30 pounds lighter unable to lift a piece of paper, never mind the heavy texts that she now had to read for him.  She told him she was sorry for the dissipating quality of her letters, that she'd not done it on purpose.  She acted regretful as she told him of Olivier, leaving out the fact that she cared nothing for him.  She said all was well, and watched with a throbbing ache in her heart as the last bit of happiness drained out of her as he walked away.

~*~

"Do you love me," she asked softly, turning her body away from him, cringing as he wrapped long arms around her naked body.

"Do you me," he asked, a smile curving into her back.  "I was to understand this is about comfort, not love."

She closed her eyes around the pain clutching in her heart.  "I think myself incapable of love anymore," she said softly.

He cooed into her back, running his hand down her side and placing a kiss to the back of her neck.  "Not incapable... unwilling."

"I was in love once," she said softly, grabbing his hand and holding it to her tightly.

"He was a fool," he whispered, resting his head in the crook of her neck.  "To let you go, he was a fool."

"I let him go," she said, her eyes filling with tears.  She cursed them, but did not bother to reach up and wipe them away.

 "Did he not love you?"

"He did," she said, her voice coming out as a mere whisper.  "He does."

"Then you are the fool," Olivier said, laughing lightly.  

She sighed, burrowing further into the bed sheets, hating the way his sticky skin stuck to her back.  "I had no other choice."

"There are always choices," he said, pulling back to brush her hair back and pulling on her shoulder till she lay on her back.  He smiled down at her and ran a finger down her cheek, tracing the path of her tears.  "Tell me, love.  Tell me your heartache."

She took a deep breath and tried to muster her strength together to get out of bed.  She wasn't prepared to tell him her story, she wasn't prepared to tell anyone her story.  He held her there with his eyes and light touches though and she found herself sobbing before the first word came out.  

"My father is dying."

"Oh, cherie," he said softly, propping his head in his elbow and reaching over to wipe futilely at her tears.

"I lived in Port Royal, and I've known Will my whole... half of my life," she said, trying to curtail her sobs and gripping his free hand in hers and drawing strength from it.  "We were in love... we only got to be together for a short... but father got ill.  We had to travel here for his doctors, but they can't..."  She paused, taking a deep breath before continuing.  "They don't know how to help him."

"And your mother," he asked softly, placing a kiss to her temple as he gathered her in his arms.

"Dead," she said.  "I've never known her."

"And this Will... he did not follow you here," he asked, running his fingers through her hair.

"I wouldn't let him," she said with a small smile.  "He would have followed me to the ends of the earth and back if I'd let him."

She closed her eyes as he brushed her hair with his fingers, letting him try to soothe her.  This was why she kept coming back, for that gentle touch.  He was always so gentle, so caring in his touch.  She wondered now if she had been too cold towards Olivier, if perhaps she had been able to open herself up more he could truly have been more to her than he was.

"Why did you not let him," he asked quietly.  "I've lost loved ones, Elizabeth... it's hard enough to do, why do it alone?"

"He's never approved of Will," she answered.  "We are... we are 'important people' in Port Royal... it didn't do for the Governor's daughter to run around with a blacksmith."

He pulled back slightly, looking at her.  "Governor's daughter?"

She smiled, nodding.  "I forget sometimes that you really know so little about me."

"That was your choice, darling," he said, laying back down and resuming his ministrations.  "I didn't push because I wanted you to tell me of your own timing."

"You've lost loved ones," she asked, looking up at him.  

He nodded.  "My grandmother stayed with us in the months before she died.  It was difficult to witness, but it was hardest on my Mother."

She looked down, tracing invisible lines on his arm, chewing on her lip.  "I have to do it alone," she said.  "I'm his only child..."

"You have no one to help you," he asked.

She shook her head.  "I've maids, but... I can't seem to let myself let them help me."

He nodded.  "So this is a burden you've put on yourself then."

She shrugged.  "I don't know why... it snuck up on me... it seemed like one day I just woke up and realized I was all alone in this.  One day I woke up and I had to make all the phone calls, I had to feed him all his meals... I, me alone, had to take care of him."

He laughed slightly, pressing his mouth into her thick dark hair.  "It is funny to me that the isolated always seem to take actions to further isolate themselves," he said.  "They think it hopeless, so therefore it becomes so."

"He came to me last month," she said softly, not knowing she would be saying it before having said it.  Wishing she could take it back the instant it left her mouth.  

"Your Will did," Olivier asked.

"Not mine any longer," she said, pain pulling on her heart.  "He is the sea's... he is Jack's... he is no longer mine.  And I made him so..." she said, breaking off in a sob that didn't quite make it to the surface.

"Is it too late," he asked her then, looking down at her.

"Too late for what," she asked.

"To reclaim him... to find him and make him yours again."

She shook her head, shrugging.  "He doesn't deserve me," she said.  "I am too broken for him now."

"Perhaps it is his duty to mend you, then," he said.

"I can't leave my father," she said as the tears began to fall again.  "He's so fragile... so close to..."  she faded, finding she couldn't finish the thought.

"Perhaps it is mine then," he said softly.  "If you'll permit me."

She looked up at him, surprise etched on her face.  "Yours?"

He smiled down at her.  "Surely you know I love you, Elizabeth," he said, kind and caring eyes staring into hers.  "Have since I first laid eyes on you."

"You..."

"It has not been the easiest thing I've done," he said with a small laugh, reaching out and tracing her jaw-line with a finger.  "You've closed the walls around you so tightly... but I do."

"Why," she breathed out.  "I've used you... I've not treated you well at all..."

He nodded.  "I know."

"Why then," she asked, pulling back from him.

"Because," he said with a shrug, not continuing.

She sat up, lowering her eyes to her lap.  "You don't deserve me either."

He sat up and ran a hand down her back, taking her chin in his hand and turning her to face him.  "The only one who doesn't deserve you, Elizabeth, is yourself."

She opened her mouth to question him further but he silenced her with a kiss, tender and sweet.  He laid back down in the bed, bringing her with him and brought her onto his chest.  "Let others in, Elizabeth... let us help you, you don't have to be as alone as you've made yourself."


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