AUTHOR’S NOTE: A one-shot novelization of the end of At World’s End. What happened after Elizabeth was whisked away from the Dutchman, before its magnificent reappearance at the crux of the battle? Complete.

* * * * *

From his vantage point on the Pearl, Will saw Jack dueling Davy Jones for the key and the chest. He looked around for the nearest rope to swing over to the Dutchman and go to Jack’s aid. His father’s future depended on Jack stabbing the heart and taking command of the Dutchman. It would also mean a quick end to the battle between Jones’ crew and that of the Black Pearl, including Elizabeth. And hopefully, having the Dutchman on their side would give the pirates an edge over Beckett.

As he saw the chest fall to the deck of the Dutchman, Will finally saw his chance. Grabbing a free hanging rope, he quickly swung over to the Dutchman, very near where he saw the chest fall. As he landed, he saw it there in front of him and snatched it up. Now to find the key… He struggled through the mayhem, fending off flying debris and flailing bodies. He ran head-on into a member of the Dutchman crew, a burly man with the head of a hammerhead shark. The man recognized Will and called him by name as he swung his heavy axe at Will’s head. Will fended off the blow with the Dead Man’s Chest, but without dropping the chest had no way to retaliate.

Suddenly, he heard a squeal, and saw Barbossa’s monkey sailing through the air, smacking into Hammerhead’s face. The crewman struggled with the monkey, eventually stumbling overboard. “Thank you, Jack,” Will called to the little animal as he took the opportunity to escape with the chest. Will rushed along the deck of the Dutchman frantically looking for both the key and Jack. He was completely knocked off guard when his own father attacked him, sending the chest skidding across the deck out of his reach. He fought desperately with his father, trying not to land any harmful blows, and trying to avoid his father’s sword. He grabbed the older man by the jacket.

“It’s me!” He yelled, looking him in the face. “It’s Will! Your son.” Bootstrap responded only by grabbing Will by the hair and flinging him across the deck. Will was forced to continue dodging his father’s frantic blows, and had no opportunity to reclaim the chest. He was barely aware of the arrival of Davy Jones and Jack Sparrow, who were battling near the capstan. It wasn’t until he had finally disarmed Bootstrap and had him cornered against the railing that he heard Elizabeth’s voice and realized she had joined the fray and was dueling Jones herself. Jones struck her, knocking her unconscious, and Will was desperate to go to her aid. He held his sword to Bootstrap’s neck.

“I’m not going to kill you.” He said, brandishing the knife Bootstrap had given him. “I made you a promise.”

Will stabbed the knife through his father’s jacket pinning him to the rail and turned to face Davy Jones. Jones was advancing on the still-unconscious Elizabeth, and Will quickly ran him through with his sword. But Jones was unfazed.

“Mister, did you forget?” He said with a sneer. “I’m a heartless wretch!”

With his crablike claw, he bent the sword across his own chest, making it impossible for Will to draw it out. Will struggled to remove his sword, not wanting to give up his only weapon. But Jones swung around and kicked Will across the deck, leaving him stunned and weaponless. As he regained his composure, Will looked over at Elizabeth. She was coming around, looking up to meet his gaze. Will looked at Elizabeth, his eyes begging her to find some way to escape.

Jones looked from Will to Elizabeth, and Will could see the realization in the evil captain’s eyes.

“Ah, love.” Jones said spitefully. “A dreadful bond.”

He focused his attention on Will, who recoiled from the hate on Jones’ face. “And yet, so easily severed.“

“Tell me, William Turner,” Jones said, pointing his sword at Will. “Do ya fear death?

Will felt fear begin to creep into his heart as Davy Jones stood over him, his blade just inches from Will’s throat. He had no weapon, and there would be little he could do to protect himself from Jones. And if Jones chose to turn his attention to Elizabeth there would be nothing he could do to protect her either…
Jack’s voice rang out triumphant over the din around them. “Do you?”

Will looked up with sudden hope. Jack had Jones’ barnacled heart in one hand, and his broken sword in the other. All it would take would be a quick plunge of the blade into the pulsating organ and it would all be over… He glanced at Elizabeth with hope in his eyes. She returned his gaze with a small smile. Surely it would all be over soon.

Jack looked at Jones smugly. “Heady tonic holding life and death in the palm of one’s hand.”

For the first time, Will saw uncertainty on Davy Jones’ face. “You’re a cruel man, Jack Sparrow!”

Stop bantering and stab the heart, Will thought urgently. Come on, Jack! It’s the opportune moment…

Jack showed no sign of finishing the act. He seemed to be enjoying the discomfort of his adversary.
“Cruel is a matter of perspective.” He taunted.

“Is it?” Jones exclaimed with a grim laugh. Suddenly, Jones spun around and Will felt a searing pain. He looked up and saw the ornate, finely wrought sword sticking out of his chest. His lungs constricted and he couldn’t seem to get a full breath. Davy Jones twisted the blade causing a burning pain that eradicated every thought from Will’s mind.

Will tried not to look at the weapon that had impaled him. But his eyes seemed irresistibly drawn to it as they slid in and out of focus. With a shock he realized that he recognized it. It was the sword he had made for James Norrington. That seemed like a lifetime away from here and now. He grasped the blade, wondering if he should try to pull it out, but his strength was fading. It was all he could do to continue breathing.

Elizabeth was at his side in an instant, and he tried to focus his blurry eyes on her face.
Frantically, she captured his gaze. “Will. No, stay with me! You’re alright!”

Will wanted to believe her. Perhaps, painful as it was, the sword had missed anything vital. But from the frenetic pounding of his heart in his ears, the heaviness of his limbs and the searing of his lungs with every attempted breath, he feared that was not the case.

Will was vaguely aware that Jones was no longer standing over him, and seemed to be engaged in a brawl with someone else. But Will had eyes only for Elizabeth. He was so glad he had married her. She was his entire world. He wished he could get enough breath to tell her, but his chest seared at every attempt and he was left simply gasping. Exhaustion was overcoming him and he knew unconsciousness was coming for him quickly.
Elizabeth seemed to sense that he was fading, and she called to him anxiously. “Will, look at me. Look at me!”

He struggled to focus his watering eyes on her. But she was no longer alone kneeling beside him. The familiar face of Jack Sparrow was beside her, bearing an unfamiliar expression.

Will felt the familiar hardness of a sword hilt in his hand. Jack’s hand clasped over his, so he would not lose his grip. He didn’t know why, but he was sure it was essential to hold onto that hilt. It was his lifeline.

As the world faded to grey, Will felt his hand fall, still clutching the sword. It pierced something soft and yielding before colliding with the hard deck. The jarring impact was too much for his weak grip and his hand fell beside him. He could no longer keep his eyes open, and the sounds around him grew muffled. His body felt heavy, and he felt as if sleep was calling him, and now, he was ready to yield to it.
As if from far away, he heard his beloved screaming. Her voice was full of pain and grief that he could not assuage. He wanted to stay with her, but he was tired, he was in pain, and all he wanted was to sleep…

The sounds around him blurred and meshed together. Elizabeth screaming, the crew of the Dutchman chanting. It was all so far away. He knew there was nothing left for him, and he finally let go. The last thing he heard before losing his last shred of consciousness was his father’s voice, though the words meant nothing to him anymore.
“The Dutchman must have a captain.”

* * * * * *


Will had no way of knowing how long he’d been unconscious. He was actually quite surprised to find himself awake. Hadn’t he been about to die? The wound Davy Jones had inflicted had been lethal, he was sure of it. And yet here he was, alive and breathing. No, not breathing. He was surrounded by water. But it did not seem to be affecting him. He was suddenly aware of his own body, and it felt strange to him. He was lying on the deck, right where Jones had pinned him. But the sword was gone. He touched his chest. The wound had closed, but there was more to it than that. There was a jagged, painful gash across his chest, over his heart.

His heart! He lay still for a moment, with his hand on his chest. There was nothing. No throbbing, no beating. He touched his fingers to his neck. No pulse. He was dead after all. Then how was he able to feel? He opened his eyes, and found he could see. He was indeed still upon the Dutchman, and he was indeed underwater. There was no sign of Davy Jones or any member of the crew. Nor was there any sign of Jack Sparrow or Elizabeth.

Elizabeth! Where was she? Was she alright? Had she managed to escape before the Dutchman succumbed to the maelstrom? Had the Black Pearl been brought down as well? Will tentatively pulled his legs under himself and found he was able to stand. His body still felt strange and foreign to him. He felt the current of the water against his skin. It was all very strange indeed. If this was death, to be alone on a wrecked vessel under the ocean, he wasn’t sure he liked it much.

He glanced down at the deck from which he had just risen. Jack’s broken sword was still there, right where he had dropped it. He had dropped it. He was sure of that. But why had he been holding it? Someone had thrust it into his hand, and he remembered feeling that it was terribly important to keep holding onto it. He stooped down and picked up the broken blade. He gripped the handle and thrust it into the deckboards, trying to wrack his brain, to remember something important. He had stabbed something with it. Jack and Elizabeth had been with him. Jack? A thought and a fear began to grow in his mind. What had he stabbed? He scanned the deck frantically, trying to find some clue, some explanation for what had happened. And when he saw it, he felt sick.

Just a few feet away from the broken sword was the object he had impaled. He dared not approach it, but even from his distance, he could see that it was broken, wounded. Davy Jones’ heart. Will tore his gaze from the dead, barnacled heart, and pulled his shirt open to see the jagged wound in his own skin. It was true.

But suddenly, his devastation at learning what had happened to him was secondary to an overwhelming thought. If the Pearl had survived the maelstrom, it still had Beckett’s army to face. If Elizabeth had survived, she would be on the Pearl. And if Elizabeth was in trouble, he would do anything in his power to protect her. He wondered if he would be able to raise the Dutchman to the surface as he’d seen Davy Jones do before.

Will rushed to the wheel, having no idea what it might take to bring the ship to the surface. Where was the crew? His father? Surely someone among the crew would know how it was done. But they were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps with the death of Jones they had all been released from the Dutchman? As soon as Will grasped the wheel, he knew he didn’t need to find the crew. The Dutchman seemed to recognize his touch, as a horse recognizes its rider. As he gripped the wheel, the ship’s speed increased and he could feel it rising perceptibly beneath him.

He steadied himself, preparing for what lay ahead. His customary ponytail had come undone at some point and as the water rushed past, his now loose hair whipped his face. He rummaged in his pocket to find something to tie his hair back with. There was a faded bandanna there, which he had used to wipe sweat and seawater from his face while sailing in the Caribbean heat. He wrapped it around his head and braced himself as the waves broke over the bow and air filled his lungs.

The storm seemed to have ended, and the sea was calm once again. He saw the Black Pearl, scarred and battle-weary, at the lead of the pirate armada, with the Endeavor speeding toward her. Will’s eyes were bright as his ship settled on the surface, facing the Endeavor. Beckett would be assuming it was Davy Jones coming to his aid. He wondered how long it would take for Beckett to realize there had been a change in command.

Will heard footsteps behind him and turned around. The crew was making their way toward him. All the monstrous sea life clinging to them was falling away and he could see his father holding the starfish that had clung to his face, staring in disbelief at his son.

Will looked at his newly reborn crew with determination and yanked at the wheel to turn the Dutchman toward the Black Pearl, as the Endeavor grew closer to her target. He felt the scar on his chest twinge as he pulled on the wheel.

“Ready on the guns!” He called out, hoping the crew would submit to his orders, and having a strange feeling that they would.

As the Dutchman approached the Pearl, Will scanned the deck, hoping to see Elizabeth. She was there, her eyes wide and shining as she caught his gaze. Did she realize yet what had happened to him? He couldn’t focus on that right now; he had to take down Beckett. He glanced at Jack Sparrow who looked back with a look of giddy expectation on his face. Will nodded slightly, letting Jack know he was ready. He saw the sails of the Pearl dropping into place to take most advantage of the wind and bring her alongside the Endeavor, pinning Beckett’s ship between the Pearl and the Dutchman.

He saw Jack give the command to fire on the Endeavor. Will faced his crew again.

“Fire!” He yelled, feeling the scar twinge again as he did so.

Will felt the ship rock and vibrate as the cannons spewed all they had at the Endeavor. With the Pearl blasting it from one side, and the Dutchman doing the same from the other, the Endeavor quickly began to disintegrate. As explosions rocked the ship, Beckett’s men flung themselves from the decks. Their captain, however, seemed to be watching the horror in disbelief, unable to understand how his plans had gone awry. When the Pearl and the Dutchman finally cleared the Endeavor, the powder magazine was finally ignited and what was left of the ship blew apart. The rest of the ships of the EITC armada slowly began to turn away, apparently uninterested in taking on the pirates without their leader.

Across the motley armada from Shipwreck Cove, the pirate crews burst into chaotic celebration at their victory. And although he had played a pivotal role in that victory, Will felt no inclination to celebrate. He gazed across the expanse of water separating the Dutchman from the Pearl, to where his new bride leaned against the dark railing gazing back at him. He heard a soft footstep behind him and turned to see his father standing there.

“Orders, sir?” Bootstrap said quietly.

Will’s throat constricted as he realized that the promise he’d made to his father could finally be fulfilled. “You’re no longer bound to the Dutchman. You’re free.”

“Aye,” Bootstrap agreed. “That’s a fine thing, but by my reckoning, I still have a debt that has to be paid. If you’ll have me.”

Will made an attempt at a smile, knowing that Bootstrap was referring not to the oath he’d made to Davy Jones, but the debt he felt he owed his son. “On the wheel then, Mister Turner.”

“Aye, Captain Turner.” The older man said quietly. Will caught a slight twinkle in the older man’s eye as he addressed his son as captain. Then he turned his attention back to Elizabeth on the Pearl.

Bootstrap spoke quietly behind him. “This ship has a purpose again. And where we are bound, she cannot come.” He paused, then went on, his voice thick with emotion. “One day ashore, ten years at sea. That’s a steep price for what’s been done.”

Will pushed down the despair that threatened to overtake him at any moment. He had to focus on the time he had with Elizabeth – time that Davy Jones had tried to take from them – not the time they would be apart.

“Depends on the one day.” He said, holding Elizabeth’s gaze with his own.


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