PotC fic: Cygnet (Elizabeth, G, 1/1) Title: Cygnet Author:shyaway Rating: G Character: Elizabeth Disclaimer: Pirates of the Caribbean and its characters belong to Disney. Summary: The dawning of the child Elizabeth's adventurous spirit.
Elizabeth’s mother was a great storyteller. When her daughter was very small she would put her on her lap and murmur her lullabies. When she grew bigger Elizabeth would sit at the foot of her mother’s rippling skirts and listen to tales of brave Maid Marian who ran away to live in the greenwood and fought a duel with her beloved Robin. The rustle of taffeta or the whisper of silk was an essential part of those stories for Elizabeth. It was shivering leaves in the forest for the stories set in the woods; the shimmer of the sea when her mother spoke about mermaids.
Her favourite of all her mother’s dresses was the one she wore for a Christmas ball when Elizabeth was seven years old. They spent Christmas on their country estate that year. Their house was full of guests and more came from the nearby town. Carriages rolled up, crunching the snow under wheels and hooves. Mrs Swann came into Elizabeth’s bedchamber before greeting the guests to show her her new mantua. It was cream and gold, colours Elizabeth loved.
After she left, Elizabeth crept to the top of the staircase to watch the guests arriving. She saw her father present her mother with a gift: a fan, with feathers that were white like a swan’s. Although it was cold outside, the roaring fires and crush of people would make it hot like the tropics.
Fine birds should have fine feathers, my dear.
They put their heads together and laughed.
Elizabeth’s mother loved to ride. She explained to Elizabeth that it was because on horseback she could move faster than in a carriage and further than on her own two legs. She followed the hunt regularly. The first time that Elizabeth was allowed to go with her she too loved the speed and freedom.
It was that day that Mrs Swann was brought home on a gate. Elizabeth trailed after the pallbearers on her pony, hating the wide-skirted riding habits that so easily became entangled in a sidesaddle stirrup when a lady fell. A fatal fashion …
Elizabeth’s father told her stories after that. He would put his arm around her and relate the saga of a captive princess awaiting rescue by her betrothed. She liked that story too, although sometimes she wished that the princess would challenge the dragon herself.
She didn’t wonder until much later what had become of the fox on her only hunt. She rather hoped he had got away. He had such a beautiful bright coat, and when he stole chickens he was only doing what came naturally, wasn’t he? When she voiced that opinion to her father, he said acidly, “So are pirates and brigands.”
Elizabeth decided that if a pirate was anything like a fox, he must be quite splendid. In their ships pirates could roam even further than the outlaws of Sherwood Forest, and to stranger places. It must be such an exciting life.
So when Weatherby was offered the governorship of Jamaica and, privately thinking that it would be a good thing for his little daughter to leave this house that was filled with memories of his poor wife, he consulted Elizabeth’s opinion, she assented enthusiastically. She spent the rest of the day sorting through her own books and toys, setting aside the embroidery and keeping Captain Johnson’s book. Then she looked through her mother’s belongings. Some things she had already taken into her possession; others had been laid aside until she became a grown lady. That day would now come thousands of miles away. She would take her inheritance with her.
With small eager hands Elizabeth searched through the chest of drawers. An ivory comb – she couldn’t remember her mother using that. A volume of John Evelyn’s poetry that Mrs Swann had promised to read to her. Elizabeth would read it to herself now. Or her father would. Yes, Papa would read it to her.
She kept looking. She found a lock of her own hair, baby-fine, from when she was much younger, together with a miniature of Weatherby Swann. There was no lock of his hair because his head was shaven, and he would never allow anyone to take the scissors to his wigs. Elizabeth thought with a giggle of how particular he was about his wigs.
From underneath a lacy headdress she pulled out a fan. The fan with feathers that were white like a swan’s. It would be hot in the Caribbean, she thought. Hot and sunny, and a fan would be useful as well as decorative. She snapped it open and as the white feathers spread outwards, somewhere in her mind’s eye she saw a sail unfurling and she heard the rustle of silk and the sea.