I sat down today to work on O.C. fic and instead I wrote eight pages of my first true PotC fic that's about a character that only has one mention in the entire movie. Daft you say? Well...yes it is.
And I babysat my little sister yesterday and rewatched The Tenth Kingdom and I still laugh at the lame lines and love the awesomeness of Wolf.
But first fic, and later, maybe fic I'm supposed to actually to be working on. And after that, perhaps a light snack.
Author: Regala Electra
Summary: A tale of a woman who dreamed of greater things over the sea.
Pairing: William's Mother/Bootstrap Bill
Author's Notes: All we know is that William Turner's mother died in England. This is a possible story of the woman who would have loved Bootstrap Bill, a pirate and a good man.
Good Mary, they call her when she passes by the beggars on the street. She offers little food she has to spare, something she herself should squirrel away in the upcoming months, but she's too afeared that someday that may be her own situation.
Her name isn't Mary, although her former employer, the cruel mistress of the house, called her that: Good Mary, always running off to Church. At least, her mistress recounted on a sharp autumn day, she wasn't a Catholic, like some of those hired girls from Ireland.
Her job was lost to an Irish girl; the reason given was the size of her belly. She was dismissed harshly and told she'd do good to never return.
She was married right and true though: her husband married her the very week they met when she told him that he'd naught be trying to undo her petticoats, he'd only laughed and said, "By God, I'm taken with you, love. You've a spirit like the sea."
He was a sailor, so he said with a bit of a sharp grin, and she loved the sea, she'd never been out on the open waters, but snuck sometimes out to watch the coming and goings of the port instead of visiting Church. She'd share bread with homeless young urchins, their eyes wide and too old for their short years.
She saw him working there one day, he'd been a handsome man, young and strong, tanned by hot days and she'd never seen such a fine man.
She did not fall in love with him that day. But he did notice her, his eyes were dark as night and he smiled and she saw a golden tooth in his bright smile.
(There was talk of pirates that year; a talk of their threats growing and it was dangerous for safe passage at sea, though she longed to leave England for the New World. It had grown to the point where she considered doing the indignity of indenturing herself to the growing transportation of wealthy English nobleman and women, who wanted reliable servants for their lavish new homes. But she could not imagine being cramped on those ships with so many others, bound to a destiny unknown over such a great distance. Here at least, she knew her place.)
The next day, she brought a bit of drink with her along with her food. It was a good whisky, and though she was not much inclined to drink, she brought it with her nonetheless.
He surprised her by sitting right next to her, he smiled nicely and his gold tooth glinted in the midday sunlight. "Good day, miss."
"Sir," she stammered, a blush rising to color her cheeks. She looked down; no man had ever dared to address her before.
There was a pause and then he said, in a jolly tone, "Blast, my manner to have swam out to sea! Apologies miss, I'm more seafarer than gentleman, and the sea's not one for niceties. I'm B-Bill," he caught himself for some reason and she turns to look back at him for that, and does not look away, "Bill Turner."
"Margaret Carleton," she answered, her cheeks feeling hot. "Most call me Mary."
"Mary," he replied, as thought doubtful of the name. "No, I do not think it suits you, love."
She laughed softly at that, brushing a loose lock back into place. "Good sir, I hope you're not a right scallywag."
He laughed at that and only said, "I've been called worse. Most folks know me as Bootstrap Bill."
It was strange, but she thought that fitted him, a slim, young man with tanned skin and dark eyes. He was a man of the sea, she could smell his scent mixed in the many aromas of the sea-air and he was suited to it.
At the end of the week, he'd told her of his life at sea and how he'd go back once he found a captain more honorable than his last one. She'd asked when he meant, but he'd been silent on that.
He asked her about her life and she told him about it, brief and boring as it was. And then he'd tried to unlace her gown and she'd told him she's the marrying sort and he'd agreed.
She'd never expected to have a husband and had been certain that spinsterhood was her future. Some called her pretty, but she was a pale sort, with dark hair and eyes and though she had a pretty face, she was considered too pious, for they knew her as "good Mary, always off to Church." Perhaps they thought she'd be a nun.
Those that saw her watching life at the port only assumed she was waiting for something and in her deep, almost sad gaze, assumed it was a husband. A sea-widow.
It had been Bill who had explained that, the night they first lay together as husband and wife. "Love," he had said, "When I first saw you, I asked all around about the charming maid and the answer was that you were a kind lady who gave food to those who asked and watched the sea like a widow."
She thought long about that and told him that she dreamed of crossing the sea someday. He looked at her and said, "Someday, when I have enough money, I'll bring you with me. We'll have such a life! And you shall live like a queen. I swear it, love."
She hadn't wanted that, she only wanted her husband and she held him close as they slept that night. Every day, she would work at the fine house, cleaning and cooking, and then would visit her husband at the port where he would tell her that he'd yet to find a captain of proper honor.
"None of 'em would hang by the code, proper," he said, and she nodded, not quite knowing the sea code, but feeling proud to be married such an honorable man.
Weeks passed and the summer months were ending and one day he arrived in their small home that he paid for with the little money he did have, and he kissed her full on the lips for a long time.
"I've found a ship," he announced and something inside of her felt cold and strange. "The captain wants to set sail next week and I've joined his crew."
"I'm happy, Bill. I know you've been missing the sea." She would wake in the middle of the night sometimes and he'd still be awake. She'd ask why and he'd only sigh and say he wasn't used to the stillness.
"I will be back soon, love. And then we'll set sail together for the new world."
They made love that night and she wondered how dangerous storms at sea were.
When he left on the ship, she didn't visit the port at much. Omens about sea-widows haunted her and she met another sailor's wife who taught her the secret language of sailors, the prophecies, omens, and signs they lived by, things that her Bill had only hinted out.
Now her belly is swollen and she spends only a little time in Church to pray for her husband's safety. She never prays for his return. She knows he is happiest at sea and she does not long to bring him away from his other love.
Elsie is at her door when she returns home, an old smile on the older woman's wrinkled face. "I've come for some of your lovely tea, my dear."
She smiles and nods, "You're always welcome, Elsie." She is, for the company's nice to have and she has no family to visit.
For Elsie, it is that she has no one to worry over; her children are grown and married. Elsie's husband is always out to sea, sending money and precious gifts as often as he can, which thankfully, is often, unlike some sailors' wives, whose marriages are little more in name.
Some suspect that she is in such a marriage, but Bill does send her money, but it is his letters that she treasures more. Those, she gets often.
"You really mustn't fuss about so much with walking while so heavy with child, dearie," Elsie chides, sitting slowly on one of the chairs inside the little house. "These are cold months, let off with Church until the baby's born."
She sighs and admits as she takes tealeaves down from the cupboard, "Perhaps you're right."
"My dear Margaret," for Elsie also agrees that Mary doesn't suit her, in many ways, if Elsie had been a man, she too would have been a sailor, "I only want you to be careful. I've seen too many young women lose their babies and their lives worrying over their husbands. 'Tis silly, a man knows to take care of himself. A sailor even better. And if I recall, you've said your husband's a decent fellow at sea."
Smiling as she pours the water into two cups, she nods.
"Then let us talk of other things. I believe I've heard good gossip about there being some trouble with pirates in the Caribbean."
"And how will that not make me think of my good husband, dear Elsie," she asks, only half-seriously, as she sits down by the old woman.
Elsie winks one pale blue eye; the color faded with her advanced years, "It's a saucy story, dear. About rum smuggling, quite the cache too, would you like to hear it? My Joseph's quite fond of the drink himself, I wonder if someday all sailors will become pirates just for a good ale."
She listens to the story and many others well into the night and insists Elsie stay over with it being so dark.
Days pass and nights too, and soon she can barely dress herself decently with such a swollen stomach. It is the early spring when she bears her child with the aid of Elsie as midwife and she bleeds too much and doesn't wake until the next day.
There has been nothing from her husband, no letter, and she fears the worst.
A week later, when she has barely healed and her son cries for her breast and she can barely hold him in her arms, she takes the walk to her Church, ignoring the cries for "good Mary" to lend them some food.
She begs a clergyman to bless her child and he does, and she names him William Turner. She prays then, for her son to have a happy life and for nothing else.
William grows strong and her health returns bit by bit and it is summer when she thinks of taking her son to the seaport. She is thinking that when William is old enough, they will cross the sea finally and she will know the feel of being in a ship.
She spends only an hour as a sea-widow, for she watches a familiar ship enter the port and she holds her breath as William sleeps in her arms.
His skin is dark still and there are two more gold teeth in his mouth. His hair, turned lighter by the sun, is longer and she does not move as soon as his eyes meet her own.
He rushes to them, his arms are strong, as they once where when wrapped around her body, and he says, "Love, our child, you are still here."
She moves away when he tries to kiss her. He looks at her in confusion, but she only says, in a cold, empty tone, "William Turner. Your son, Bill. I named him after you."
Then something that had survived the bleeding and the bearing of the child and had festered as the weather turned warm burst out and she sharply hisses, "Where be all your spoils, love? Where be the letters?"
"Love, I sent them whenever we made port, I swear to you," he protests, but she shook her head.
"I know what sailors do when away from their English wives, good sir," she says, voice growing colder with each moment. "You have a child and a faithful wife in England, as ever. Shall we to home and I to serve you?"
"What's come over you?" he cries, anger clear and she flinches.
"I know my place, William," she whispers and it is the first time she has ever called him by his first name.
They make it to the little house, and she stays silent at his many inquires. He holds William and says in wonder, "He looks so much like me."
"When are to you return to sea?" she asks, wanting to snatch her son out of his hands.
"Something is amiss. I pray you tell me, love."
She laughs at that, but is not a laugh that he has ever heard from her. "I thought you abadoned me or the sea did take you. I almost wish it did. I nearly died for our son and if we try for another, I cannot carry it. I do not wish to stay here."
He is quiet for a long time, still holding William in his arms. When he finally speaks, it is slowly and carefully, "My captain has a scheme in mind, one that can make us rich, my love, wealthy as kings! But it is dangerous and may take a long time. For the first time, I do not desire to go back out to sea. Not if I am with you, or my son."
The bitterness in her fades at that and she feels, for the first time in a while, hope for herself. "Bill, is that true?"
"Yes," he says and she doesn't hear the doubt in his answer.
That night she puts little William to sleep early and she makes love to her husband for most of the night. He protests, her bitter words of bearing children have affected him, but she does not care. That night she dreams of the sea.
He is late to dinner the day before he is set to leave. When he arrives, he shows her a tattoo wrought in black ink, a name etched onto his skin forever. It is not Margaret, but the name he never called her, that many think is her name, Mary.
She laughs at that and he says her laughter reminds him of the waves and that when at sea, the waves remind him of her laughing.
When he departs, she tells him she loves him and that he must return safely. She wags a finger at that final request and he kisses her and says, "Love, I promise."
Letters come less and less and neary stop. William grows faster than she expects and she works again in a fine house, but the mistress is a young woman like herself and quite kind.
William is but a small child when a letter comes addressed to "A Mrs William Turner and Young Mr William Turner," and she, who has visited the sea port faithfully since her husband set sail for a fortune enough to bring her to her dreams of the new world, fears for the first time that something is wrong.
She opens the letter but it is William who sees the glint of gold, taking the piece into his small hands before she is able to really see what it is.
Little is written there, it is rushed, angry letters, but in the jaunty, messy scrawling of her dear Bill.
Loves, I pray this be read nigh well before the passing of this year. For the good lady of the house, otherwise known as good Mary, a promise agreed upon by one unfortunate sailor must be broken, but not of his own personal accord. And for William Turner, a father gives his son a memento that I pray will fare him better than his father, if he may only swear to keep it safe.
Save for his signature, there is nothing else. She does not sleep that night and thinks he has cast her off, but knows, deeper still, that something is wrong. He would not break his word to her.
She stops going to the seaport, but she encourages William to, only after she allows him to take his only gift from his father with him. It is a strange golden coin and she keeps it safe, as begged in the abrupt letter, by fastening it to a strong chain.
Her health declines and she fears sleeping for she dreams of Bill beneath the waters, the sea taking him down to black depths.
William thinks his mother is just getting sick because she works too much and he, only eight now, says he should work his fair share, and she thinks of the life he could have in the Caribbean, in the new world she now knows she will never see.
One day she calls old Elsie and tells her the strange dreams and that William wears a gold coin and Elsie's sharp, though faded, eyes alight and the old woman whispers slowly, "I've heard 'orrible stories about pirates lately in the Caribbean. My Joseph's returning from the seas permanently, he says there be no safe place while there be a cursed ship sailing in those waters."
And Elsie's story continues and describes a ship with black sails and she remembers one letter Bill sent just after he arrived in the Caribbean: "I'm joining a crew on a marvelous ship. Captain's a good man. The sails are black as night."
She stops Elsie from finishing her gossip and begs a favor: to stay the night with William and tell him that she's gone to the doctor.
Elsie, who notices her pale skin and the way her eyes have lost their shine, agrees.
So this late afternoon, she hears for the last time, people crying out 'good Mary' and she longs to tell them her real name, but not even her husband tattooed it on his skin. Even her son only knows her as Mother and that some call her Mary and Elsie only calls her dear or dearie.
William Turner, or Bill, or Bootstrap, whichever name he goes by, her husband, she knows who he is, who he pretended to be, and that he loves her.
Pirate or not, he loves her. But he is gone, she knows this now, for only death would break his promise, so as she makes her way to the doctor, a letter with a large sum of money tucked in it, she arranges it so that William will be freed from a life in England, bound to a mother who is waiting to die.
She passes straight by the Church.
And at the docks, she unties her hair, long and dark, it is tossed in the windy open air. She looks at the color of the sunset and knows that this foretells a storm is coming, the red darkness looks of blood.
The ship she purchased is little more than a rowboat and she has not brought enough of anything to survive on the open seas.
But, as she steps into the boat and unties the coarse rope with still-soft fingers, it is enough.
As she drifts out into the unknown, it is enough.
Tomorrow, William will think his mother died of a sickness, an illness that has been gnawing at her since promises were broken of being taken to the Caribbean, that perhaps the heartbreak of being trapped in England was too much.
Perhaps that will finally free him to venture out to sea as well, to the new world his mother will never see. Perhaps he will be happier there.
For her, once Margaret Carleton the dreamer, so often good Mary, nearly the happy Mrs William Turner, and now, a new kind of sea widow, one who will cross the sea into places unknown, that hope is enough.