Author: Haldir Fancier (email@example.com)
Summary: William learned to write properly when he was twenty-one. He didn't learn to read until he was twenty-two, but as it happened, he didn't start to write until just before his twenty-second birthday, and the reading process came just after that.
Notes: Unbetaed ficlet. Review, please!
William learned to write properly when he was twenty-one. He didn't learn to read until he was twenty-two, but as it happened, he didn't start to write until just before his twenty-second birthday, and the reading process came just after that.
He always knew how to write his own name. It was simple. W. I. L. L. His mother had taught him that, as she thought was proper, but it wasn't until Will crossed the Atlantic and met up with one Elizabeth Swann that he learned to write out, William.
That progressed, until he was able to write and then recognize his full given name, William Edwin Turner.
At that point, he was about sixteen, and he began to put his initials, "W.T.", on the things he made in the smithy, to be sure they were his own. He put it in the least likely place, in the tiniest letters, so no one really tended to notice it.
Against the pommel of a sword. On the edge of the handle of a pot. Inside a doorknob. On the inside of a horseshoe. Small places.
And that was it. That was all he'd learned. Elizabeth had formal training. She knew how to read long before he did, but he never minded. He had other things to do.
It wasn't until he took up with Captain Jack Sparrow that he truly learned.
It came about one morning, when Jack, passing by his newly appointed first mate's cabin, stopped and tacked a note on the door.
When Will emerged a quarter of an hour later, he paused, looked at the note woefully, and stuffed it into the back of his trousers for keeping. He pulled his shirt over his head, and trotted off to the galley for something to eat, and to help Cook, as he'd promised.
An hour after that, Jack came looking for him, annoyed.
"How long have you been up and about?"
"Maybe an hour?"
"When your Captain asks you to do something, Mr Turner, do you jump up and do it?"
"Provided I know what he asks me to do, sir," Will said carefully.
"But this morning, you chose to ignore the idea?"
"I don't know what you mean."
Jack snatched the piece of paper out of the back of his trousers and unfolded it carefully, and then thrust it at him.
"William, I left a note asking you to meet me on the bridge as soon as you woke up."
"Oh," said Will, looking at the paper. "I didn't-"
"Know I left a note?" Jack asked, eyes narrowing dangerously. Will took a breath.
"No, I did, I just-"
"Didn't read it?"
"No. I didn't read it."
"And why not?" Jack crossed his arms, challenging him. Will looked back down at the piece of paper. Where had Jack gotten paper? It was expensive and... oh right.
Jack's handwriting was lovely. Flowing and elegant. Like he'd been formally taught. But none of it made sense.
"William" did. And the way Jack had written "William" was just beautiful, Will thought.
Will jumped. "I- um."
"I'm sorry you can't come up with a decent excuse, Mr Turner. I'll thank you not to lie to me, nor ignore me again."
"Jack, I didn't! I didn't ignore you!" Will grabbed Jack's arm, and Jack pulled him out of the galley, into the miniscule pasageway. The two of them were nearly touching as they stood.
"Then what is that? Why didn't you read it?"
"Because I don't know how."
"I don't know how to read it. I don't know how!"
Jack looked at him for a long while, until Will felt his face heat.
"I didn't know that," Jack said, and his voice was soft, almost apologetic.
"Well, of course you didn't," Will snapped. "It wasn't as if I'd told you."
Jack put a hand out, on Will's shoulder. "Want me to teach you?"
Will stared at him. "Teach me?"
"Aye!" Jack sounded excited. It was hard to see his face in the dim light, but his voice, and the way he stood (arm out, one on Will's shoulder, hips tilted one way, shoulders the other) was enough. "I'll teach you!"
"Would you do that?"
"I would. I'd be happy to. Then perhaps you'll pay attention to what I put on your door."
Will smiled. "Thank you."
And so it happened that Will came 'round to Jack's own cabin at four of the clock that same afternoon, and Jack ushered him inside. He sat Will down at his own desk, clearing some papers away at the same time, and set a piece of fresh, blank paper in front of him. There was an inkwell set into the desk, and a drawer of quills below.
Jack took up one, dipped it into the ink, and penned onto the paper: "P".
Will stared at it. He raised an eyebrow at Jack.
"Copy it," Jack said. So Will did. It was sloppy, not as smooth as Jack's letter, but he did it.
"That's a P."
"Oh. It's um..."
"It's a letter, lad, no need to compliment it."
Will grinned. Jack wrote out on the paper, "Pearl".
"I know the L," Will said, smiling. He wrote Pearl under Jack's, and frowned at it. "What's it say?"
"Pearl," Jack replied, and smirked.
It went on for an hour. Will filled two pieces of paper, front and back, with nonsense. He (and Jack) wrote his name (Will). Jack's name (Jack). Will's full name (William Edwin Turner). Jack's full name (Jonathan Daevon Sparrow, if he'd believe it). The Black Pearl, Pirate, Caribbean. A number of other things.
Finally, Jack pulled out another fresh piece. Will was surprised. Three pieces? All used on him?
"Now, you know the 'a', I'll give you that," Jack said. "So, we'll do the 'b'. You know, 'bird.' 'Broom.' 'Butterfly.' So on." He penned it on the paper, and handed it to Will.
"Fill this up for me. Just with this one letter. Make 'em nice. Bring it 'round... oh, say tomorrow. Same time."
Will took the paper hesitantly. "I have a lot of work to do," he said slowly. "We're still on a ship, you know."
"Of course, of course, I know. Can you do it tonight?"
"Good," Jack said, and stood up. He'd been perched on the edge of the desk, one leg drawn up. "You're a fast learner, already," he said. "I like my first mates sharp and educated, even if I have to do it myself."
"I'm not an idiot, Jack," Will said, mildly annoyed.
"Don't be silly, boy, ignorance isn't idiocy."
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