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So yeah. I’m officially crazy for writing this. It’s one of my whims, no more than one of the millions godawful plotbunnies hopping about in my painted-green mind, the immense majority of which I usually let wither and die. No idea why I started writing this particular one; maybe I just needed a break from the HP fandom. That or a straitjacket.

~ Drink Up, Me Hearties ~

1 - The Green Flash

Drink up, me ‘earties yo ho,

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me…

The deep, rasping voice was barely audible over the water lapping at the wooden hull and the soft whispering of the wind in the rigging. Sitting at the stern, one folded arm resting on the helm, the singer nonchalantly swung a leg back and forth, his eyes fixed on the black waters beyond the rail. The velvety Caribbean night stretched over his head, the breeze was fresh and smelled salty, and the usual shouts and talks accompanying the comings and goings of the sailors on the deck at daytime had quietened. Most of the crew was fast asleep, and the other man on watch stood in silence at the bow, out of the singer’s sight.

We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot…

The sailor’s eyes swept the deserted deck again, to halt on an immobile white form curled up against the rail, lying half on the deck and half on a roll of rope. It was probably the kid they had picked up the day before, on the island where they stored the rum. Although island was a big word to denote this spit of land half-covered in skinny palm trees; there was no visible spring, no food, except a few seagulls, just sand, heat, and the ocean spreading as far as the eye could see. It was of no use, except to the rum runners who stored there their forbidden merchandise.

How the kid had found himself on their island, no one could tell. They had been busy loading the boat with the boxes of rum when they had seen him, stumbling out of the meagre shadow offered by the palm trees and onto the beach, a hand lifted to his brow to shield his eyes from the glare of the sun reflecting on the white sand. He had looked odd, dressed in a too-tight, opened white shirt that stuck to his sweaty back, and his legs wrapped in breeches made of some coarse blue material. He was bare-foot, but carried in his left hand a pair of leather shoes.

They asked how he got there; he didn’t know. They asked his name, he gave them one: Potter. He didn’t look much older than twenty-one or twenty-two. The captain, who was a good man, all the crew agreed on that, had accepted to take the kid on board as long as he would work to pay for being taken back to land.

The kid had accepted, and he had worked hard and without complaining, all day long. The weirdest part was, he obviously knew the basics of navigation, but still looked as if he had never set foot on a boat in his life. Once or twice he had even asked what part of the world they were in, and what year it was. The heat had probably gone to his head already.

We're devils and black sheep, we’re really bad eggs…

Potter stirred, and the helmsman reflexively lowered his voice; poor kid had spent hours running from stern to bow and climbing the rigging, and he didn’t look much used to working so hard in this heat. Better let him sleep.  

Drink up, me ‘earties yo ho…

The old pirate song mingled with the rumbling of the ocean as the rum runners’ Albatross silently cut through the waves towards the nearest port.

They reached Tortuga around noon the following day; a couple of tall ships already peopled the bay, along with countless boats and dinghies swinging lazily with the softened swell. The sight put the sailors of the Albatross in a good mood: two large crews, plus many other stranded pirates and unemployed ruffians, would make the cargo disappear quickly — there was good business ahead.

The Albatross cast anchor near the landing stage, and most of the crew left to spend the day in town. All day, men approached the captain of the Albatross, the rum was bargained, deals were clinched. At sunset, the men were back to carry the goods from one boat to several others.

The boxes of rum were to be unloaded from the Albatross and into the dinghies sent by the buyers. The merchandise was heavy and difficult to handle, and the sailors swore and grunted as they heaved the boxes from the hold to the deck, where they were piled into nests that were hauled overboard and down into the small boats.

Among them, the thin black-haired man they had picked up on their way back worked mechanically, without a sound, although he obviously wasn’t strong enough for the job. He was slower than the others and the way he squinted and hesitated betrayed his poor eyesight. On several occasions he was at the receiving end of a furious volley of curse words, but he never seemed to hear them; he persisted, his eyes dull, his face devoid of expression.

The benefits made were the best in a long time. Almost all the cargo had been sold, and the remaining bottles would easily find a buyer in town, during the night or the day after. The captain was put in such a good mood that he generously gave his crew two boxes of rum, to share and enjoy for themselves; and the sailors were laughing and cheering as they made their way back to shore, where they would be enjoying themselves for the rest of the night.

The only people remaining on the Albatross were the captain, the two men on watch and the Potter kid.

The captain spotted the latter as he was about to go to land himself. The boy was slumped against the rail, seemingly lost in thought; his fine shirt was torn and greyed by salt, sweat and filth, his breeches were rolled up to mid-calf, revealing his bare feet. The captain hesitated for a second, then made his way to where the young man sat.

“Mr. Potter.”

Potter’s head snapped to the right as the captain’s voice shook him out of his reverie.

“Captain,” he said in mere acknowledgement, then fell silent again.

“We’re leaving again tomorrow,” the captain gruffly said. “If you want to leave the ship, you have to do it tonight. ”

The boy nodded and tiredly got to his feet, wincing as he did so — the evening’s work had probably left him aching all over. The captain beckoned him as he walked up to the starboard rail, where a footbridge had been thrown between the low boat and the landing stage, and both men left the Albatross together.

“Thank you,” Potter said as they reached shore. “For saving my life, I mean.”

“Wasn’t going to let you die on that island, was I?” the captain grumbled. “I’m no pirate. I’m just a tradesman. You paid for the trip, you’re free to go, that’s the end of it. Here.”

The captain picked a stout bottle of rum from his belt and shoved it into Potter’s hand.

“All I can do for you,” he said by way of an explanation.

And without a further word, he turned his back on Potter and disappeared into the tortuous streets of the pirate town, which slowly awakened with the end of the day.

Potter watched him go. Long after he had lost sight of the captain’s silhouette in the colourful crowd filling the streets of Tortuga, he stood there in silence, in the shadow of the Albatross’s hull, with her lonely watchman singing the same old pirate song. When he finally moved, his gestures were slow, as if he was lost in a dream of his own.

He reached into his pocket and took out a small bundle of white cloth and a slender piece of wood. Sliding the stick into the waistband of his breeches, he unwrapped the cloth, which revealed to be a torn sleeve of his shirt enveloping a pair of square glasses. He unfolded the glasses with a practiced gesture of his hand and placed them on his nose.

Then, without a backward glance, he set off.

He followed the shore until he was out of the small town. From there, a dirt track led him into an uneven country of small, rocky hills, covered in a thin layer of earth and short grass. On his right, the sea was turning black under the darkening sky, except for the horizon where the ocean and the sky met in pastel tones of pink and blue. His head was bent and his eyes cast to the ground though, and he did not pay attention to the last remains of the day.

Small rocks rolled under his feet. The wind ruffled his short black hair. Around him the landscape changed, the ground gradually rising into wind-beaten cliffs, and the air soon filled with the low rumbling of waves crashing upon the rocks, fifty feet below the path he was following. Night was falling fast, the first stars already lighting up over his head. And still he kept walking.

He finally bumped into a rock that had been sticking out in the middle of the path, completely invisible in the thickening darkness. He sucked in a sharp breath as pain shot through his bare foot and hopped on one leg for a few seconds, then quickly lost his balance and fell in a graceless heap in the short grass.  

He began to straighten up in a sitting position, before abandoning the idea and lying back on the ground with a dismissive sigh.

“That must’ve looked really dignified,” he muttered to himself, his eyes fixed on the black sky, now spangled with stars much brighter than those he was used to seeing.

He had a feeble laugh, which suddenly caught in his throat as if it had constricted without warning. He swallowed and blinked, but the lump in his throat wouldn’t go away. Aboard the Albatross he had found oblivion in the cheap rum and hard work; but now that he was alone again, lying motionless on top of a cliff, the same questions came back in force to haunt him, the same old anguish clenched around his insides like an iron fist.

How had he got there? How had he found himself on this island, thousands of miles from his country and hundreds of years from his time? He belonged to another place — another era — and most of all, he ought to be dead.

The door had burst open. He had seen the intruder through the glassy panes of the living room door, had recognised Voldemort’s bestial profile. He had sprinted into the hallway, screaming at his wife to get their son and flee while there was still time. But he had been wrong, they had never had any time.

His eyes had met Voldemort’s lidless red ones, burning in a chalk-white face that only looked remotely human. A smile had stretched the livid lips, a white, long-fingered hand had pointed a wand at him.

The first lethal green flash had flown under his extended arm, missing him by inches. He then had backed off, his hand groping blindly behind him on the pedestal table at the entrance of the living room — his fingers had curled around the wand he had left there — but of course, there hadn’t been any time. The second green flash had rocketed at him, too fast for him to dodge.

During what should have been the last second of his life, his murderer had been laughing.

Then the green spell had hit — had it hit him? He was no longer sure. It should have. All he could tell was that there had been a loud tearing sound, he had received a blow in the middle of his chest that had thrown him backward, then his vision had blurred in a kaleidoscope of colours.

He remembered thinking, “So that’s what death is like?”

One second later he had landed heavily on a beach of white sand, bordered by the crystalline waters of a seemingly endless ocean. His wand had still been clutched in his hand. His shirt was still stained with the baby food his one-year-old son had playfully thrown at him at dinner, maybe two minutes before Voldemort had broken down their door. He was in the exact same state as he had been before the second green flash had hit him; but he was stranded on an island of the Caribbean sea.

It had been sunset when Voldemort had crossed his threshold. It had been sunrise when he had scrambled to his feet mere minutes later, incredulous, uncomprehending, in this world that was not his own.

An image flashed before his eyes — his wife’s lovely face, pale and panic-stricken, her green eyes widening in horror as she, too, recognised who had broken into their home. Lily.

What had become of her? Had she managed to flee with their baby boy? But no — there hadn’t been any time. Had she followed him? He had waited on the island, hoping wildly to see her join him in this strange world, which he wasn’t sure was real. But the day had gone without any sign of her. A second day had followed. Heat and thirst had dried out his body and numbed his brain. Then the Albatross had rescued him.

She hadn’t had any time.

They were probably both dead by now, not that he was sure he was still alive. His spirit could have wandered into an odd dream, while his body was already cold in the real world; then maybe Lily and little Harry were having dreams of their own. He could have been magically thrown into an alternate realm of some sort — the existence of parallel universes being one of the oldest and wildest theories in History of Magic. He couldn’t be sure of anything.

But what he knew, what he knew for certain, without being able to tell where his conviction came from, was that they were both out of his reach. He knew for certain that he had failed them.

James Potter blinked as his vision blurred again. Tears swelled and burnt his eyes, his poor eyes dried and hurt by several days of blinding light and hot winds. He let them run along his temples and lose themselves in his tangled, messy, filthy hair. His breathing was even, no sob came to wreck his aching body. There were just the tears, searing hot in his eyes, cool and soothing against his skin.

At the east, on the other side of Tortuga’s island, the moon rose.


The chill of the night woke him. The breeze had grown stronger and colder, it pierced his tattered shirt and froze him to his bones. Shivering, James rolled onto his side and curled into a ball, rubbing his arm in a fruitless attempt to warm himself up.

His motion was accompanied by an odd chinking sound, and a small weight awkwardly settled against his hip, drawing his attention to his belt. He curiously reached down and felt the cool, smooth form of a bottle, tied to his belt with another tatter of his shirt wrapped around its neck. He traced the curves of it with hesitant fingers, wondering where on earth he had acquired a bottle that was, from the sound of it, full to the brim — before he suddenly remembered the gift from the captain of the Albatross.

James sat up and fumbled with the piece of rag for a few seconds, his fingers numb and clumsy from the cold. The bottle of rum came free at last, and after a second’s hesitation, he uncorked it and lifted it to his lips.

The first gulp made him wince. The alcohol was cheap but strong, and he didn’t like the taste at all. It hardly mattered, though: he knew that, with a few more gulps, the rum would have warmed him up — in fact, when he would have reached that state, the difficulty would be to stop drinking. 

He looked round pensively as he drank from the bottle again. The night was clear; the moving waves shimmered silver in the moonlight, while the island was all but an indistinct dark mass covering the ocean like an ugly scab; even the distant lights of Tortuga had now faded. James lifted his head and stared at the moon, an old companion of his teenage escapades, not so long ago. He only needed to glance at it to know that it was two nights before it was full.

He had never liked the moon; he found it sinister. A dead planet reluctantly diffusing a cold, avaricious glow. The moonlight, far from embellishing anything, looked like a shroud thrown over the Earth’s face. The old anxiety and restlessness he always felt at night seeped into his chest and James shivered again, while his free hand automatically clenched on the wand tucked in his waistband.

He drew the wand and held it close to his face, scrutinizing it intently. The livid luminescence drained the mahogany of its usual warm colour, giving it the pallor of a desiccated bone, but what worried James was that his wand felt as dead in his hand as it looked. The hum of magic usually coming from it, so familiar that he had long stopped paying any attention to it, had been conspicuously absent ever since he had stumbled into this world.

He flicked the wand, but it didn’t work any better than when he had tried, countless times, on the rum runners’ island. He was unarmed. Powerless. Worse: he was deprived of the one thing that made him what he was, and without which he wasn’t sure he could survive. Panic tightened on James’ temples; the night was too dark, the moon too bleak, the air too cold, his sorrow and loneliness too crushing.

“Incendio!” he called in a slightly hoarse voice as he blindly jabbed his wand at shapeless shadows, desperate for a little light, a little warmth — a little magic.

The crackling of a fire answered him.

James’ heart leapt in his chest and he looked frantically around, not daring think the sound was real. It could have well been a figment of his imagination, for he was sure the spell hadn’t worked, his wand had remained as imperturbable as before; but it had sounded so close, not further than — there it was again!

James took a deep breath, willing himself to calm down and think rationally. He got to his feet and slowly turned his head this way and that, scanning the distant town, the ocean, the cliffs… and then he saw it; a flickering glow on a cliff’s vertical face, that seemed to come from a fire lit on the beach below.

James merely hesitated for a fraction of second before he set off towards the cliff, his steps cautious, all his senses alert. He was aware that whoever had lit up a fire in a creek remote from any form of civilisation on the island, and at the darkest hour of the night, might not have the best intentions in the world; yet the dancing fire was too appealing for him to stay away. He crept on, his eyes fixed on his objective, like a moth irresistibly drawn towards the light.

He soon reached the edge of the cliff and, silently lowering himself to the ground, ventured a glance downwards at the source of the light. Tall dancing flames drew long and sinuous shapes on the jagged faces of the cliffs delimiting a tiny creek, hardly more than a narrow band of sand between black rocks covered in shells and seaweed. A small boat lay on its belly on one side of the creek, the waves rushing forward to lick its flanks, a pair of oars abandoned inside the hull.

The owner of the boat stood by the large fire lit on the dry sand.

They were between James and the fire, their back to him, so that James could only just distinguish a dark silhouette. It was a man, not very tall nor broad in the shoulder, but not one to be called slight either — perhaps it was due to the way he held himself, with the kind of rigid immobility that is seen in a wildcat getting ready to attack; perhaps it was the sinister fashion the hilt of his sword glinted in the firelight. From what James could see, the man was dressed like any sailor he had worked with on the Albatross, and wore his hair long under his hat.

James settled more comfortably on the top of the cliff, lying on his stomach in such a way that it would be near-impossible for the strange sailor to spot him, and resumed his watch. The sailor kept his gaze fixed on the ocean, straight in front of him, and although he remained still James noticed the drumming of his fingers on the hilt of the sword, betraying his impatience — or nervousness.

James wondered, with a kind of detached curiosity, what he was waiting for — the delivery of stolen goods? Why do such a thing here, in the treacherous waters of this narrow and rocky creek, when Tortuga’s port was open to any thief and smuggler willing to do business? Could he be expecting other people, maybe ex-convicts or outlaws on the run? But again, why here? Ex-convicts and outlaws made up the majority of Tortuga’s inhabitants; they would be safe to meet anywhere in the pirate town. Was he trying to cause a shipwreck, by guiding a ship to these dangerous waters with his blazing fire? But no — this only occurred when a raging tempest threatened to drown ships, and the sea was calm tonight…

As if in answer to his last thoughts, a deep, ominous rumble suddenly came from the ocean, sounding like a faraway tidal wave rushing to the shore. The sailor visibly tensed; James instinctively gathered himself in a crouching position, from which it would be easier to leap up and run.

Something burst out of the ocean, not fifty yards from the cliffs, breaking so abruptly the water’s surface that both James and the long-haired man started in shock. James first thought of a huge marine animal coming to the surface, but the next moments proved him wrong in the most absurd way possible.

A bowsprit rose out of the water, followed by a figurehead, a full bow — then a foremast, a forecastle, an entire warship, shooting up from the depths of the ocean. Incredulous, James stared at the water cascading from the main deck and the two gun decks, at the broad sails flapping in the night breeze, and at the human forms bustling about on the shrouds, yards and deck.

At the foot of the cliff where James crouched, the unknown sailor had walked round the fire and now stood next to his boat, one hand clenched on the edge of the small hull, as if readying himself to push it into the sea; but his eyes were still scrutinising the spot where the warship finished hauling itself out of the water, obviously expecting something else.

“As if a freaking ship being spat out of the ocean wasn’t enough,” James muttered with a disbelieving shake of his head.

He had not stopped talking when the deep rumble sounded again, as the water just at the ship’s stern started bubbling and foaming; and for the first time, James spotted a long, thick rope tied to the bulwark of the poop deck and plunging into the midst of the foaming water, tense as a bowstring. It looked as if the warship, her sails swollen with the night wind as she strained to move forward, was towing something right out of the sea.

And indeed she was. Minutes after the first warship had burst out of the waves, the waters parted again behind her to give way to a second bowsprit, to which the other end of the rope was solidly tied — another ship.

The waiting man pushed with both hands on the small boat, forcing it backwards into the sea, then hastily climbed inside and seized the oars. He started rowing towards the spot where the second ship was being hauled out of the ocean. James, noting the man was facing the beach as he rowed away from it, instinctively shrunk a little further in the darkness, moving sideways slightly so as to get a better view of the second ship without being spotted by any of the crew scuttling about on both decks.

She was more slender than the first, and in proportion to her size, her taller masts looked able to bear an astonishing amount of canvas. She was also more graceful, with a lithe beauty that was indubitably feminine, although her two gun decks made her look almost as fierce as the ship that had hoisted her to the surface. Men — or creatures that looked humanoid, at least from James’ viewpoint — were busying themselves on her main decks and yards with mysterious tasks. Not far from them, the sailor’s small boat was dancing with the waves, its occupant sitting unoccupied on the bench, staring and waiting once more.

James was getting cold again, and he took a gulp from the bottle of rum, feeling warmth come back to him along with a slight dizzy spell. He grimaced; he had never been much of a drinker, and getting wasted didn’t sound like such a good idea when standing at the edge a fifty-foot high cliff, in full sight of two warships with supernatural powers. He regretfully corked up the bottle again and put it away, settling for stretching and rubbing his limbs that were numb from the cold and immobility.

James returned his attention to the two ships. It seemed magic did exist in this world, after all; a different kind of magic than the one he was used to, obviously — but still, there were supernatural forces at work. He didn’t know whether to feel scared or relieved. He couldn’t use his own powers here, obviously, which made him all the more vulnerable to people able of handling magic; but on the other hand magic was something he knew and believed in, even when it took such a strange form — it was familiar, in a way, like a wink from his own world. He stared hard at the two ships, fascinated; he had to learn what kind of power had pulled them from the bottom of the ocean. Maybe if he understood it, he would be able to master some of it.

And if he managed to use magic again, maybe he would be able to go back home.

For a long time, James remained there, watching. Most of the crew was now on the second ship, where they had been joined by the lone sailor who had lit the fire in the creek, and it looked to James as if they were getting the ship ready for Merlin knew what.

The stars were paling by the time they stopped working, and from experience James could tell the sun would rise in less than an hour. The sailors went back to the first warship, some moving along the rope extended between both ships with monkeys’ agility, others getting down into small boats. Only two men remained on the more slender ship, standing on the poop deck, apparently in deep conversation. One of them appeared to have curiously thick hair and beard, which glistened in the fading moonlight as if it was made of some wet and rubbery substance. He soon turned away from his interlocutor and limped down the ship into a boat waiting for him.

The rope linking both ships was severed, the sails of the first ship spread out again and swelled with the fresh morning breeze, and she departed, sailing away towards the still-darkened horizon.

Only remained behind the second ship and her lone sailor.

James slowly crept back until he was out of sight from the ship, then got to his feet and made his way back towards Tortuga.


Captain. Captain Jack Sparrow. Jack Sparrow, Captain of the Wicked Wench… No, not the Wicked Wench — the Wench had been the property of Beckett, of the East India Trading Company, a property merely commissioned to privateer Jack Sparrow before being sunk to the bottom of the ocean in a moment of rage by Beckett himself. Who, incidentally, had also had Jack branded as a pirate the very same day. The man had apparently not approved of the use Jack had made of his ship.

No, the Wench, Beckett’s ship, was gone. This ship was Jack’s — he had sold his own soul to Davy Jones, the feared, immortal captain of the Flying Dutchman, to have her refloated. The Wicked Wench had been her name during her first life, as she sailed under the colours of the East India Trading Co. For her second life, where she would sail for no one but her own captain, she needed a new name.

Jack Sparrow ran a hand along the smooth wood of the round helm, a smile grazing his face, then let his gaze wander around his resurrected ship — the decks, the bulwarks, the masts, all painted black; and the black sails folded and tied to the black yards, waiting to be spread out and to carry the ship wherever the winds would take her. A black ship.

The Black Pearl.

Jack’s smile widened, showing white teeth in his suntanned face, and his dark eyes sparkled with pure joy. Jack Sparrow, Captain of the Black Pearl.

Now all he needed was a crew, and the Pearl would sail again and take him to the confines of the world.

Jack crawled down the flank of his ship and into the humble dinghy that had carried him from the small creek, where he had watched Davy Jones haul up the Black Pearl back to the surface. He hoisted a small mast that lay at the bottom of the dinghy and spread out the tiny sail, then skilfully directed the boat around the huge Pearl that slowly revolved around her anchor.

He was heading for Tortuga; he would find the men he needed there.

By noon the same day, he had gathered enough strong men to crew the Black Pearl and form a decent fighting force — always needed on a pirate ship. He knew his new first mate from reputation; Hector Barbossa was said to be a fine sailor and an uncommonly skilled fighter, not to mention greedy enough so that the prospect of the fabulous treasure Jack had spoken of had convinced him to accept the young captain’s offer. On the whole, Jack was rather pleased with his choices.

All he had to do now was wait for sundown. Then he would get six of his men back to the Pearl, and the seven of them would lead the ship into Tortuga’s harbour, where the goods they needed and the rest of his crew would be able to board. Then they would be gone after the legendary Aztec treasure, the location of which Jack was the only one to know...

Jack ambled idly on the pontoons, lost in dreams of riches and freedom. He started making his way towards his small boat, with half a mind to get back on the Pearl and check once again if Davy Jones’ crew hadn’t damaged anything while refloating the ship — he didn’t trust much the creatures-like sailors of the Flying Dutchman.

He stopped dead when he saw a man sitting on the pontoon, at the precise spot where he had moored his boat — in fact the man had swung both legs inside the dinghy, and was most likely about to steal it from him.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, man,” Jack drawled as he got closer, a hand on the butt of his pistol.

The stranger froze and threw him a look over his shoulder. Jack casually withdrew his pistol from his belt and cocked it, making sure it was in the thief’s field of vision; and to his satisfaction, the man swung his legs back on the pontoon and got to his feet with a weary sigh.

“I wasn’t going to steal it,” he said.

Jack’s eyes narrowed as he noted the British accent in the man’s voice. At first sight he looked completely harmless — slight of build, filthy, unshaved, obviously tired, unarmed and covered in rags. His bloodshot eyes gleamed dully behind spectacles of a shape Jack had never seen before, and which made him look completely incongruous, even a bit silly.

But he was British, and young — probably a couple of years younger than Jack himself— and looked healthy. That was enough to make Jack wary.

“Not gonna steal it, eh?” he repeated, without lowering his pistol. “What were you doin’ in it then?”

“Just checking it was the same boat I saw on the other side of the island this morning,” the man answered evenly.

Jack tensed. Had the kid seen the Pearl? Worse, had he seen the Flying Dutchman drag her out?

“Depends what side of the island you’re talkin’ about,” Jack said in the same neutral tone the stranger was using.

The kid’s lips curled into a smile. “The side where there’s a warship at anchor, maybe?”

Jack licked his lips, his gaze locked on the man’s face. He didn’t look the slightest bit afraid.

“No one ever told you it was dangerous to talk about some things here?” Jack said, lowering his voice.

“I don’t talk much. I listen mostly.”

“Yeah? Hear interesting things?”

“Well, not half an hour ago, I heard you were looking for a crew, and wanted to go in search of a lost treasure.” The man smiled, showing his teeth. “Dangerous to talk about some things in a tavern. You never know who hides behind a pillar.”

Jack replied with a smile of his own, lifting his pistol a little higher so that it was pointed at the man’s belly. “That’s what you heard, huh?” he drawled. “Anything else?”

“That your name was Sparrow. That you had thirty crewmen already. That you wanted to take off at sundown for an island that cannot be found, except by those who already know where it is.” The man calmly stared straight into Jack’s eyes, ignoring completely the weapon pointed at his guts. “That you knew where it was.”

“So you wait here,” Jack said, a steely edge to his voice. “And when I show up, you’re tellin’ me you know everything about my plans and my ship. If you wanna commit suicide, there are easier ways, boy, ones that won’t cost me a bullet.”

“I don’t want you to kill me,” the kid answered, imperturbable as ever. “I want you to hire me.”

Jack blinked, taken aback. In some remote part of his brain he was admiring the kid’s nerve; any other pirate would have run his sword through him by now. The thing was, Jack was not any other pirate — mostly because he had a functional brain and a good deal of sang-froid. In fact, he was thinking of the kid’s offer; he knew of Jack’s plans, which was never a good thing, so Jack would have to make sure he didn’t spread the word any further. One solution was to kill him; the other was, in fact, to hire him.

“You talked ‘bout that to anyone else?” he asked.


“Why would I believe you?” Jack challenged.

The boy shrugged. “I give you my word of honour.”

There were some men whom you could trust when they gave you their words; and this kid looked like one of them, even though Jack wasn’t enough of a fool to take anyone’s word of honour as proof anyway. However, if he had blabbered about the Black Pearl, it didn’t make much of a difference unless someone actually stole the ship; in which case he would personally cut the boy’s throat.

Either way, Jack had to go back to the Pearl, and quick; if one person had seen it, despite its remote location, others could. And if was safer to keep the kid within reach at all times for now.

Jack came to a decision. “Ever been aboard a ship?” he asked brusquely.

The boy’s eyes sparkled with excitement. “Once,” he said.

“Once is enough. What can you do?”

“Anything I’m taught. I’m a quick learner. I’m not scared of heights. I’m fast.”

“Can you fight?” Jack shot at him.

“With a sword, a bit,” the young man said with a slight hesitation. “I learnt, years ago. With some practice it should come back.”

“You’re not the best candidate in the world, are ya?” Jack said. “I don’t want a dead weight on me ship.”

“I won’t be,” the man firmly said. “I can learn to do anything.”

“Can you?” Jack narrowed his eyes, staring hard at the man standing in front of him. “Why d’you wanna get on the ship so bad, anyway?”

“I own nothing at all. I have nothing to lose; everything to win.”

He had said it simply, a man stating a fact; and actually, Jack couldn’t think of a better reason why a man would want to be a part of a dangerous expedition like the one he was planning. He didn’t let his feelings show on his face, though, and settled instead for asking, “What’s your name?”

“James Potter.”

“We already have a Potter. You’ll be just Jim. Get rid of these glasses things on your nose, get yourself a decent shirt and a pair of breeches, and be ready to board at sundown,” Jack shortly ordered. “Talk about the trip to anyone and I’ll cut your tongue off.”

Upon these words he put his pistol away, turned his back on his new sailor, and strode away.

All matters considered, he rather liked that Potter kid.


The Black Pearl left during the night, silent and invisible in the darkness. The men were talking excitedly among themselves of the treasure they’d been promised equal shares of. Captain Sparrow was at the helm, a thin smile on his face, while the first mate Barbossa walked up and down the main deck, barking orders at the crewmen.

Standing on the highest yard of the main mast, James stared out at the black ocean rolling under the stars. The wind whipped his face, the air smelled like salt, and as far as his eye could see there was nothing but an endless sea under an endless sky.

He was a sailor aboard the Black Pearl.

Assuming I continue this story (which I’m very tempted to do, just so the huge amount of research I had to do on nautical terms and whatnot doesn’t go to waste) (that and I’ve planned out a great deal of it already) Harry (who is the main character, even if my James-fangirlism shines through in this chapter) (and yes, to answer your question, I’m done with the bracket-whoring) should make his first appearance in the next chapter.

And yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum.