Pairing/Characters: Weatherby Swann
Word Count: approx. 900
Genre: General, angst-ish
Summary: Challenge #8 = Minor character(s) and superstition/revelation/hidden -- Weatherby Swann muses on the death of his wife and the future of his daughter.
Disclaimer: I screwed around all evening looking at other PotC fanart and fanfic, but I wanted to get this up in time for the challenge, so I had two hours in which to do it, total. Consider yourselves warned, heh.
Spoilers: None, really. It could be taken as happening in a couple of different times in either of the movies.
Special Thanks: n/a
There was a very boring, very tedious book on the political history of England in the thirteenth century on the bottom shelf of Governor Weatherby Swann's library. In the middle of the second chapter there was a decaying piece of parchment, frayed around the corners, yellowing, and folded in half widthwise. Within the parchment was a bit of canvas, and on the canvas was a painting of a woman. She had honey-golden eyes and curling chestnut hair and a little laugh in one corner of her mouth, just waiting to escape. She was Catherine Swann, and she had died fifteen years ago.
Their daughter, Elizabeth, had at one time or another pilfered nearly all the books from this room to read alone in her bed, late at night, the candle keeping her maid awake. Most especially the tomes regarding naval battles, strategies and codes had interested her, and it was all he could do to keep her from aquiring more of them; it was unbecoming of a lady. This particular book, however, would draw no attention from her, he knew, and so it was deemed the safest hiding place for the portrait.
Carefully, he spread the canvas out on his desktop and moved the candelabra closer--but not too close. "So much like her mother," he murmured, not merely remarking on the physical resemblance. Catherine, too, had expressed an unhealthy interest in... unsavoury persons and their exploits.
He tried to ignore it at first, passing it off as a childish fancy she would grow out of as their marriage progressed. Yet as the years flowed by, he realized those hopes were in vain. He overheard snippets of conversations to her maid about books she'd borrowed from a friend, the villain of which was a black-hearted pirate captain she found herself quite taken with. She often spent whole afternoons painting by the parlour window, and though she only showed him lovely landscapes filled with flowers (which he dutifully hung on nearly every wall), he discovered small stashes throughout the house of pictures with darker themes: dead men with stringy hair and crow-pecked eyes swaying from the noose; a bloody handprint on a half-empty chest of pearls and diamonds; a ship in His Majesty's Navy sinking in a boiling black sea from gaping canon-fire holes.
He appreciated, at least, that she realized how her fascination disturbed him, and that she did try to hide it as much as she could. Unlike their daughter would do years later, she did not go around humming pirate drinking songs and chattering to anyone who would stand still long enough about so-and-so's ship or such-and-such a pirate's death count. Where Elizabeth got that streak he didn't know. Catherine always appeared to be a lady, only showing him anything less in the privacy of their own home. Any arguments, however, ended with her promising to do better, and he would embrace her and kiss her and all would be well again... until the next time.
The last "next time" had been on a voyage to the south of France. It was a business trip, a boring one, he tried to tell her, but Catherine had never been on a ship and simply would not take no for an answer. They left Elizabeth, barely two years old, with Catherine's sister, and set sail on a beautiful clear day. It was all he could do to get her off the deck at night to sleep for a few hours, and she was always up before dawn, sometimes earlier than most of the crew, standing at the bow of the ship and staring off to the horizon, her hair whipping back from her face.
When a tattered-looking ship with a terrifying flag approached, he dragged her to safety, but somehow she found her way on deck again in the chaos and violence. The last he saw of her was her sweet golden eyes wide in surprise as she toppled overboard at the blast of a cannon. They couldn't even go back for her body, fearing the safety of the rest of the passengers and crew.
Now his daughter, the very image of her mother in more ways than she knew, could be on a pirate ship God knew where at this moment. Perhaps he should have warned her, rather than keeping Catherine's secrets all these years. Perhaps if she knew the consequences for such actions, she would have been more wary of that Sparrow fellow, and wouldn't have taken up with the young blacksmith after he turned pirate himself. But she was more stubborn even than her mother, and far less concerned with acting a lady. She could be lost to him forever, and it could be all his own fault.
A drop of water hit the back of his hand, and Weatherby hurriedly hid the picture away again before his tears could damage it further. The book was barely settled back on its dusty shelf when he heard someone pounding on the front door. He settled his wig in place as he nearly ran to answer it, brushing past his man on the way. News of Elizabeth? Her death, her capture, her hanging? His fingers trembled on the door handle. "Please," he whispered, a prayer to his dead wife, hoping she had been watching over their daughter. Then he opened the door.