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Title: Immortal Beloved 2: Consequences
Author: Soleil Compeau
Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Pairing: Jack/OFC
Rating: NC17 for sex, violence, and death
Disclaimer: Jack Sparrow and other POTC characters are not mine to use for profit in any way whatsoever. I do this out of love, and for entertainment purposes only. Sarah Margita is my exclusive creation, and no one but I have rights to her.
Summary: Jack lived a life of adventure and peril, until his death. Then he was resurrected, and had a chance at a different sort of life, one no less exciting.

Author's Notes: Please remember that in this time period, the average life span was something like fifty years. You were considered quite long lived in your sixties. Also, disease was rampant, with common illnesses being cancer, severe influenza, consumption, malaria, smallpox, and syphilis. A lot of women also died in childbirth. Jack and Sarah are remarkably healthy people, particularly for pirates.

Warning: Major character death, angst


 

Chapter Twenty One - Death and Rebirth

He couldn't hide his knowledge of the boy, not with the ship he'd brought creaking in the surf. He didn't want to hide knowledge of Orungan. It burned through him, excited his blood and his sense of...was it ownership? That creature was HIS, damnit, engendered by his own loins! How dare she never tell him of this, goddess or no! And to lay deceitfully in his arms, both of them drowsing in sweet lassitude?

"She's coming," Joie warned, and Hector arranged himself for negotiation.

He could hear her approach as she got closer, humming, perhaps anticipating coupling again. Then her curious check at the ship. A moment later, Calypso stood ashore. "What's this?" she flicked her fingers at the brig. "We've visitors, maybe?"

The soft eager innocence of the query drove all his carefully prepared questions, all his sarcastic, offensive remarks, out of his mind. After a moment he answered simply, "A boy calling himself Orungan brought it. A merboy. Said it was a gift to you."

She stood stock still. Hector sucked air in through his teeth in wonderment; Calypso hovered in the air with her toes a good six inches above the sand. Nothing at all moved for a timeless moment. Not the water, nor the droplets of moisture in the air, nay, not the sea itself stirred while the goddess held herself in deep thought.

Then motion resumed and she spoke softly. "My boy...my boy was here?"

"Aye. And it seems he's my boy as well." Carefully, go carefully here, he cautioned himself.

Calypso studied him, measured his response to this revelation. "The deed was done while I was human, Barbossa, and had no thought or glam to prevent such a conception. Not long after I knew, you were cursed and I couldn't reach you. Nor would if I could have, you were evil and I knew not what you'd do to the child." She explained with no prompting, and Barbossa strained to catch every nuance of her forthrightness, hardly believing she simply volunteered it. "He was beautiful and wild, and soon enough he was gone, leaving his poor mother all alone, yes. A little later you were gone too, but I raised you up for my own purposes. Too late then to speak of the child. He was beyond both our reach."

The goddess moved closer to him, glanced at her daughter. Some swift, silent communication flew between them. He broke it. "I want to find him."

Calypso's swept him again, and her eyes narrowed at the emotions she sensed from him. "Maybe we can entice him back to us, yes? Maybe that wild, bad Orungan come back to me? To you?" Her voice was dangerous, challenging.

Pretending a nonchalance he did not feel, Hector turned towards the ship. "I can be swift as the current in that wee beauty. I can search for my son meself, do you see?"

Waves began to pound the island, huge waves reaching far up the beach. Joie broke in. "I can help too. Speed Hector with fair winds, and swim through the schools of dolphins, listen to the gossip of the whales. I can help find Orungan too."

Now thunder boomed, and black clouds roiled overhead. The waves crashed over the whole of the land now, but Hector, gazing with sharp strength towards the brigantine, saw that it was safe. Calypso could not bring herself to swamp and cause harm to the gift her wild, lost son had brought. "That's right," she hissed. "You go on and leave me. Everyone leaves Calypso! Odysseus broke her heart, Davy Jones made her a slave for centuries, Jack and Barbossa and a few others taste the tame goddess's favors and traipse away! Oh yes! Leave the goddess of the seas, just walk away! If you can!"

The storm of her wrath bore down on him, only his imperviousness to drowning made it at all bearable. But Hector still had bones that could be broken. 

Abruptly, Joie's comforting touch was upon him, ceasing the burden bowing his head. "Not going to leave you, Mother." He paid little attention to the soothing words Joie spoke to Calypso. He was too busy breathing in relief. "I am fashioned of you, bound to you, by birth and by choice. I won't leave you ever. This is to reunite us. A child of Calypso ought to be bound to the mother! Let me, let Hector and I, bring him back to you!"


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When they ported once again in the familiar waters of Cadiz, it was Amaryllis' mother who bustled towards Jack. "Senora Menendez," Jack bowed courteously. "How are you this fine morning?"

"Quite well, gracious." The woman did not simper and giggle as she used to when the handsome sea captain addressed her. Instead, she searched his face intensely. "Your voyage seems to have done you great good, Captain. You're fairly glowing." Senora Menendez sniffed haughtily. "Why, my dear Alejandro doesn't look nearly as vital as yourself!"

"Well, the sea air can do wonders," Jack responded cautiously. Her eyes were far too shrewd. "I suppose I'm just blessed with a youthful appearance."

Just then Sarah appeared at the rail, calling to him. She was near the gangplank. "Excuse me, Senora." Jack bounded to his lady's side and offered his arm. The reason soon became apparent to the woman on shore.

"My dear...you are in a family way! And at your age...my god!" The stout lady wrung her hands, reminding herself of what she held and why she was there greeting the Sparrow family.

Jack and Sarah shared an uneasy glance which the other woman's hawk eyes caught. "Truly a miracle, isn't it?" Sarah smiled serenely, patting the gentle curve above her waist.

"And here I thought you, like many of us, were holding out for grandchildren." Senora Menendez cleared her throat and held out a thick bundle of letters. "That gentleman that sails your ship, Senora Sparrow, he came a few days ago. Left me with these and the request to personally hand them over to you." Her thick jowls quivered with disapproval at her next words. "Left several bulky packages and crates at your home as well, young Jacqueline let him in to deliver them. Wouldn't entrust THAT task to me!"

Jack excused himself to handle the business affairs of his ship. Sarah explained soothingly, "Well, perhaps Captain Swaraj simply felt that it was best to keep the business in the family, you see." Trying to change the subject, "And how are the girls?"

"Ah." Senora Menendez waved a hand. "Studying away at those herbal potions, cooking up all manner of brews. Jacqueline more so, of course I don't let my Amaryllis spend too much time on THAT!"

There was danger here in Cadiz now, the signs had been present for a long time. It seemed so preposterous; science had advanced, and rational thinking. The hysteria and panic of suspecting people of magic, and unnatural or supernatural ways was past. Wasn't it? In sober consideration, Sarah could understand why her and Jack's apparent inability to age normally would be a cause of envy, speculation, and even superstitious fear among the people of this fairly small port town. Having exposure to far flung travelers and news around the world would not necessarily shield people from a fear of the strange and unknown.

Perhaps she and Jack should have foreseen this? They could have altered their appearance, to appear as old as their contemporaries. But how would their baby have been explained? Oh, this would not do! The seed of an idea began to take hold in Sarah's mind.

Jack immediately volunteered to split wood out back. Mother and daughter talked lightly of life in the village, Jackie's future plans, all manner of womanly and familial topics. After a bit, Sarah claimed she needed rest, so Jackie volunteered to prepare a welcoming home meal. In truth, Sarah wanted to watch Jack work. She chose a seat where she could see him out the window, and put her feet up on a cushion.

He'd stripped off his shirt as the sun and exercise warmed him. His hair, getting longer again and usually bound back with a leather tie, had come loose and was flapping on his sleek shoulders. Though older, yes definitely - it showed in his slower movements and graying locks - Jack was still a toned and fit man. With easy grace the muscles of his chest and arms bunched beneath tawny skin as he swung the axe over his head and brought it down on the wood repeatedly.

In time, Sarah could not help but rise to her feet and stand closer to the glass to get a better view. In time, Jack could not help but notice the woman ogling him from the house. His lips curled up in a wicked half smirk as he very deliberately stretched. Then he sauntered over to the well and scooped up water, dumped it over himself and made a show of shaking his long hair. Droplets of water flew in a rainbow all around him and glistened on his chest, biceps, and slowly slid down his stomach.

She smiled delightedly at his display and at the anticipation of the play that would follow from their intense meeting of eyes. She almost didn't notice her daughter appearing next to her with a tray of food, and a decidedly impish smile. "I hope one day I find a man I can look at, the way you look at my father," she remarked, setting down the tray. "And that he'll smile for me as he does for you!"

That lovely afternoon was all the respite they were to have. Having just come from sad tidings of death, they found it also in their home town. Lucia had died while they were away, and Gibbs was soon to follow her.

"Josh!" Jack choked out, seeing the wreck his dearest friend had become. In only two months Gibbs had aged horribly, skin sallow and hanging from his bones, what hair was left brittle and pure white.

He struggled to sit up. Sarah moved past Jack. "Joshamee, you musn't! Oh, rest, please!" In distress she tried to push Gibbs back to the pillows.

"I'll face Jack on my feet, as I always have. If you want to help me, help me do that!" he rasped in response.

Since there seemed little help for it, as Gibbs continued to push the blankets away with skeletal fingers, Sarah tried to support him as he rose slowly upright. Jack was motionless, struggling to control grief and disbelief. Once face to face, Gibbs smiled peacefully. "We been through a lot of adventures, ain't we Cap'n?"

Jack nodded slowly. "That we have Josh. Some right hair raising, as I recall, but we walked through 'em pretty unscathed, didn't we?"

Gibbs smiled proudly. "That's due mostly to your blessed luck Jack." He indicated the plump woman pressed to his side. "Still got luck I see."

"You were always the best of mates, Mister Gibbs." Jack reassured him quietly. "Have a seat mate." Jack slipped to the man's other side and helped Sarah ease him back onto the bed. Now her hands were free to wipe the tears from her cheeks, and press to her mouth to mute the sobs.

Jack went on, "I'll stand the watch with you, Gibbs. To the bitter end."

Gibbs nodded, and closed his exhausted eyes. Jack allowed no one in the room after that, leaving Sarah to deal with Lucia's grown children, managing the household, everything. And unbeknownst to him while he watched his most loyal friend die, Sarah made plans. She knew how Jack would most likely react to Gibbs's death, and the seed of an idea that had rooted earlier, bloomed forth now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Jack!" Even Sarah's voice could not penetrate the fog around him.

Carefully, with steady hands, Jack continued to sew the sheets that would wrap around Gibbs for all eternity. He'd washed Joshamee's body, dressed him in his best clothes, a gift from his wife Lucia, and combed the straggling hair over the thin skull. This he could do for his friend, in fact he was the only one who would be allowed the task. Jack would open the door only when Gibbs was completely ready for his burial.

"Jack." Her voice came again through the door. He listened to it, but did not answer. "Lucia's daughters agree. He should be buried at sea, just as you wish." Jack smiled grimly. They agreed did they? He'd've done it anyway, regardless of their agreement. Gibbs was a man of the sea, it was proper and fitting he should be returned to it. She went away, or fell silent, either way. He carried on, and finished his work.

Later, aboard the black ship Gibbs had loved almost as much as himself, the Captain stared at the place Gibbs had slipped into the water. The guns boomed in tribute. As the helmsman steered them back to port to let off the guests gathered for the burial, Jack kept his eyes on the place as long as he could. The voices raised in the proper mourning songs were hollow. Jack's eyes burned in the back of their sockets, throbbed. He did not sing, or cry. He stayed silent.

Finding himself on land a bit later, Jack swayed and looked around vaguely. His daughter was before him, his errant beauty, Maria. Her face was streaked with tears. Seeing her, he remembered now her arrival. Teague was coming in a few days, Maria had simply been closer when the message came from her mother, bidding her urgently to return.

"Come on Father," she was saying gently. "Come to the house with me." She attempted to lead him.

"No...I need my crew. I...I need to sail." And yes he did need it, badly. Needed to feel the toss of the waves and the cries of the gulls growing faint behind him, to be lost in the soothing madness of the sea. Instinctively Jack knew this would heal him of the deaths he'd endured.

"Mother's at the house, Father. Come see Mother." Oh. No, he could not leave without Sarah, could he? Jack allowed himself to be led.

Many people had gathered for the wake. There was a lot of food, plenty to drink, as everyone who'd known Gibbs paid tribute in the fashion the living had of honoring the dead - by reminding themselves of life. Jack wandered through it. Several times he raised a glass in toast to his friend, but every time he reached for a bottle, it was taken away, so gently he barely noticed until he tried to drink and frowned in confusion.

When everyone had gone, Sarah found him and pressed a full glass of rum into his hand. Jack drained it and she filled it again. When he tried to grab the bottle from her hands, she simply held it out of his way and he nearly overbalanced and toppled over. All right, so it was to be by the glass he would honor Joshamee. Sarah kept his glass filled, but after awhile Jack became frustrated. Glassfuls were not enough to drown the pain. Now, after emptying each, Jack threw it, watching it shatter in the fireplace and cursing feebly.

In such compassionate manner, Sarah helped him to become drunk enough to weep. And weep he did, in great heaving sobs, till his eyes were swollen and his muscles ached. She wept with him, holding them both so that neither would fly apart. Then, she showed him a flask of a different kind, and spoke to him in low tones.

"While you were waiting with Gibbs, I made many arrangements. I send messages to Teague and Maria, not only for Gibbs's sake, but yours and mine. Did you know there is a gypsy in town now? On the outskirts. I visited with her for awhile, her name is Lucinda. She gave me this." Once again she displayed the mysterious green bottle. "Enough for both of us, and once we drink it, we will be free of all this strife, all this death. We will escape."

Jack stared for a long time at the bottle. "Do you understand?" she finally asked him.

He nodded. Licked his lips and asked slowly, "What about Jackie? Teague and Mary?"

"They'll mourn properly for appearances sake. Jackie will be fine, many younger than her lose their parents and survive well. Amaryllis and her family will no doubt take her in and care for her."

His hands spanned her growing waist. "And what about the baby?"

Sarah drew him close in reassurance and murmured more words to him. Evidently they were the right words, for Jack nodded agreement several times, and hugged her and the life within her tenderly. Together, they drank the contents of the flask, prepared carefully by a gypsy who would never reveal it's contents.

They were found the very next morning, in their bed and wrapped in each other's arms. A great outcry and mourning went up; despite their growing strangeness Jack and Sarah were well loved in that community. Fortunately, their offspring were already there and they stepped in smoothly to honor their parents. Captain and Senora Sparrow would be taken to sea, and buried there, from the ship Captain Sparrow had treasured for years. Afterward, Teague and Maria would sail away from the place of their grief.

Naturally, both of them offered a place for their sister Jacqueline. While readying their beloved mother and father, the three siblings talked soberly of future plans. If Jack and Sarah had been able to hear it, no doubt the whole family would have laughed merrily, for some of what was said was passing strange.

"There's a rendezvous place set up, for use once a year. We'll come get you and we'll all be together. And it won't be so hard to track them down, unless HE takes it into his head to be mysterious and unmanageable." A chuckle. "Anyways, SHE'LL keep him steady. Always has."

"Yes...but I can't help thinking that one day, this will all be real."

"Well...console yourself with the knowledge that you'll be managing the Sarah's Swann now. That'll provide a nice dowry when you want to get married!" They were finished by then, and all three shared a sober hug.

In the end, Jackie decided to stay in the village of her birth and continue her studies. She had more of an inkling than her brother and sister did of what the gypsy had done, and it woke a thirst for such knowledge in her. The next day, Maria helmed the Black Pearl out of the Cadiz harbor, followed by Teague's frigate. Under the watchful eye of the villagers, the ships bore their precious burden into the sunset.

Chapter Twenty Two - Freedom through Death

At the helm of the Pearl, Maria Sparrow hummed a tune her father would have instantly recognized. "Ba da da de dum...and really bad eggs..." She was known sometimes as Bloody Mary, amongst the men who tried to take her for themselves and discovered to their dismay that she could not be held by a one of them. The skies were clear and the winds fair, and she was happy.

Below her, she heard the door of the great cabin open. Soon after, Jack Sparrow walked up the steps to stand beside her. "You're awake!" she greeted him with a peck on the cheek.

"Your mother woke me," he explained. "Said if I didn't feed her, and right quick, she'd leave me." This dramatic pronouncement didn't seem to concern him overmuch. "Sent Bowen to fetch her a meal double quick. Figured he'd be happy to see her moving and coherent."

"Well, you took a bit longer to wake from the deep sleep than we expected." Maria commented. "We were starting to be concerned something had gone wrong. The babe took no harm, did it?"

"Sarah says it's moving, so no concerns on that score," Jack answered contentedly. His head tipped back and his eyes closed, enjoying the sea breeze wafting past his nostrils.

Maria smiled indulgently at him, and grasped one hand to guide it to the pegs of the wheel. Together, the pirates steered. Jack kept glancing at the sails. She followed his glance. "She's happy to be dressed in black again, isn't she?"

"Aye." The simple word revealed Jack's gladness as well. "So, wee Caribbean princess, what's our heading?"

"I've set a course to rendezvous with my captain," she informed him. "I can hardly wait to get back to Margaret!"

"Ahh, that's her name is it?"

"You've guessed? That we...?"

"Darling Princess, I've read your letters. Your allusions to your 'partner,' your 'friend.' Think me senile, that I can't see what's plain?"

Maria bit her lip shyly. "Didn't know what you'd think. It's not exactly an alliance that follows tradition-"

"Tradition!" Jack cut her off. "Bah! No worries there, Maria lamb. Marriages are civil unions, hardly a matter for kings and clergy."

"I don't know if we'd call it 'marriage!'" Maria protested. "Since we both have others as the whim takes us. It's more like..."

"Matelotage?" Her father slanted her a teasing grin.

Well, then, she would tease him right back! "Besides which, you and Mother were married by a priest!"

Jack shrugged. "It was a lark, and I knew she'd enjoy all the frippery of it. All the trimmings and lace. Your mother and I were wed, truly, the night we first lay with each other."

"One more bit of business before we drop you off at your ship." Jack fumbled in his pocket until he withdrew a shining metal 'P' and a long curving tooth. "You're the only one as didn't get an inheritance yet. Teague's owner of that house now, and Jackie's got share of the smuggling business. Along with another trifle she'll get..err, later."

He held it out to Maria. She kept her hands still and looked at the Piece with large eyes. She knew the legend and the story behind it, knew what Lordship entailed. She'd been raised on this; first as fanciful tales to entertain, later as examples and allegories of how to conduct one's business properly and well. She and Jackie called the stories "Tales of Immortality."

"Go on take it, Mary. I'm dead now, and sure don't plan to sail up and down the Spanish Main forever. Going to light out and see a lot of places your mother's never had the chance to see. I can show her them now." Jack continued to patiently hold out his Lordship token to his firstborn daughter.

"Piece of Eight doesn't mean what it used to, Calypso's free now. But it does mean the Caribbean's your territory. It does mean you can participate in the decisions the Brethren Court makes. When and if they get around to doing or deciding anything, that is." He chuckled. "You already know the names of all the Lords, you can quote me chapter and verse of the Code. I marked you to follow me a long time ago."

At last Maria took it, dropping a kiss to his fingers as she did. Two days later they dropped anchor next to the ship she served on. Sarah and Jack saw her being welcomed by a blonde girl so delicate and youthful in appearance Jack wondered wryly what good she might be on a ship, except as a bawd.

They were truly free for the first time in a long time to roam where they would. With several new crew members learning the ways of the Pearl and her Captain, they followed their impulses and ventured into far waters. Sarah carefully stowed all Jack's old trinkets he'd removed fom his hair in her mahogony box, and set about collecting new memories to celebrate. With every ship they plundered and every port they made, she chose some new bead or geegaw.

In the night, and even sometimes at high noon, they made love. Sarah was often urgent and demanding of her husband. When Jack expressed surprised pleasure at her strong drives, she laughingly blamed it on her pregnancy; women in this stage of gestation often experience heightened physical drives. As they drift in satiation afterwards, she would lovingly weave a trinket into his hair. A week, and he began to look distinctly like Jack Sparrow of old. The wicked pirate who snatched her from evil's arms and tumbled her to the deck of a ship.

Captain Sparrow set a course taking them to the outlying islands off of Florida. He offered no explanation whatsoever, yet his wife did not need to ask. This confrontation had been a long time coming. They rowed alone to a small lush island, Jack's eyes stony the whole time. Once they stood ashore, on the edge of glistening magic, he finally spoke. "Drink it!"

"I cannot Jack. And you know it." She stared off in the distance, feeling such pain for them both.

"Please Sarah!" His angry tone became beseeching. "What's the worst that can happen? You'll stop growing old! I've faced Calypso's wrath and lived-"

Sarah fixed him with such a contemptuous look he was taken aback. "She was appeased by Davy Jone's death, which you had a part of. That is why she spared you. On the deck of that ship that day, you acted honourably and faced down the problems chasing you for so long. Yet and still, another man paid the price for it! I made a promise! And I will not be spared if I break it."

Cold fear speared through his stomach. "What do you mean? What do you know, Sarah?"

She looked down at her hands and took a deep breath. "She'll know immediately if I drink. And since the price was William's freedom, she'll take him back into her service. And in anger, she may well take my life as well."

Now it wasn't just his stomache that felt cold, but his whole body. "How do you know that?"

Sarah shrugged, a small helpless movement. "I just do. Like she sank this knowledge into my bones."

He faced the Fountain and stared sightlessly into it. Sarah broke down. "Don't drink it Jack! Please!"

Jack swung back to her. "No Sarah, I've no intention of drinking it without you."

"I'm sorry." She buried her face in his chest. "I'm selfish and awful to ask that of you."

Jack grasped her shoulders. "I'm going to find a way, bit. I have to. I need you! I'm not...not done yet...with living...with loving you."

"Nor I, Jack." Her voice could barely be heard over the bubbling of the Fountain. "But 'tis appointed unto every man to die once, then comes the judgement.'"

"Why do you always quote the Bible? There are many books considered wise in men's eyes, why that one, luv?"

An amused, delighted ripple crossed her face and lit it up. "Because sweetheart. I may have given my life to Calypso; mayhap she'll rule it well, mayhap not. But I'm hoping that when I cross Death's threshold, I'll find that He gives me a better reward for my faithfulness!"

Jack reached for her hands and clasped them in his. Reverently, they backed away from the sacred waters and returned to the Pearl.

As she grew more ungainly with child, Jack steered towards New France. She'd birth more safely on land, and she'd once expressed interest in seeing the place of his childhood. Still weeks out of their destination, Sarah woke him very early one morning with a pained cry of alarm.

"It can't be time yet!" he cried.

Her face was suffused. "No...no it isn't. Still a month and a half, maybe two." There was no hope in her eyes, none at all.

During that long dawn Sarah's labor mimicked the bringing forth of life. Towards the very end, Jack slipped away to the deck and fetched a piece of sailcloth. He needed only a small piece. On the way back to the cabin, he paused to look for a moment at the sunrise. A gorgeous peach sun slowly began to reveal itself in cream and orange rays and it amazed him that such beauty could exist alongside such sorrow.

She was holding the baby when he returned, studying the tiny, still face. "Oh Jack," she said in a soft, heavy voice.

Their baby boy was unutterably tiny, and colored a silvery blue. He was perfectly formed, except for the lack of fingernails, and his eyes were fused shut. The birthing cord was wrapped three times around his neck, and grasped in one tight fist. The babe looked angelic, serene. Sarah wrapped him in a soft blanket; the body was extremely delicate, already bits of skin were flaking off. They remained looking at him a long time, transfixed by that peaceful expression.

After awhile Jack took the baby from her and wrapped it in sailcloth. They walked out on deck and Sarah spoke quietly to the crew. Many of them were well known and respected friends the Sparrows had served with for years. They gathered respectfully around the couple. Jack held his infant son closely and uttered a prayer.

"As for me, I will behold Thy face in righteousness : I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the
second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly." He took a deep shuddering breath.

"And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." He could not go on. Raising the small body, he said unsteadily, "This is Joshua William, my son. Guide him as he wanders in the next world." Jack committed his child's body to the sea.

Sarah finished the prayer for him, since he could not. "Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?"

Together, Jack and Sarah saw a touching and bittersweet sight. The waters cleared so they could see the weight of their child sinking. Then up from beneath his small body, came Joie de Mer in mermaid form. She caught hold of the infant and cradled him to her chest, tilting her face upwards towards the couple leaning over the ship's rail. For several moments, they remained in that tableau. Then Joie flicked her tail and swam away, to bear the tiny soul to the Land Beyond.

"I'm sorry Jack. So sorry I could not bear you another son."

He turned and wrapped her closely in his arms. "Sarah...Sarah. I love you for so many more reasons than bearing me children."

They lived in a world that was harsh, to be sure. Only the strongest survived. But it was also a world drenched in beauty, particularly if you were at sea on a fine ship. Pain and loss, and joy and rapture, were not simply vague concepts but daily realities. With sunrises and sunsets showing them every variation of the color spectrum, moonlit nights where they felt bathed in silver and seeing stars so crisp and clear they were like knives, with a sea spread out in rich velvet shades of blue and green and silver and obsidian, with sky filled days so clear and blue it was like looking through the clearest sapphire in the world, their depression lifted.

Those were only the sights given them. There were sounds; the endless sussuration of water, creaking of wood, rough calls of the men, wind making music, music itself, laughter, tears, sighs in the night, the songs of whales, the shrill squee of dolphins. Smells; fish, saltwater, tar, salt pork, stale flour, and when they came near land, the tangy smell of fruit and flowers and fresh water and earth.

It served to remind them that their love was enough.
 

 


<a href="http://soleilpirate.livejournal.com/26214.html?cutid1">Chapter 23</a>

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