Title: Fitting the Hat
Author: Gileonnen (anne_from_xanth@yahoo.com)
Pairing: Will/Elizabeth, Jack/Will
Rating: PG-13
Summary: When the hat doesn't fit, naught can be done but to take it off and fit a new hat.
Disclaimer: Disney owns these characters and the setting in which they live.
Author's Notes: This comes before 'Bathwater', which comes before 'Join the Battle' (you know, the Jack-battles-vegetables fic +grin+). Fitting the Hat, though, has a much more slapdash style and far fewer homey touches... I'm just trying to get my affairs in order with one last challenge reply before I go.


Will straightened his hat again. It kept falling askew, no matter how many times he righted it. The hat was a beautiful thing with long plumes dyed pale brown, thread-of-gold trim, and a sturdy felt base, but it didn't fit properly on his head, and there were no two ways about it.

However, it was too late to order a new hat. The wedding was scant hours away.

"A hatpin will do you."

Will whirled, and the hat flew from his head. "What are you doing here? You could be killed!"

Captain Jack Sparrow swung his legs over the windowseat and crouched on the Persian rug, grinning like mad and fiddling with a buckle on his coat. "Can't a man go to a fellow's wedding?" he asked. The innocence on his face was almost believable . . . but not quite. He cast dark, soulful eyes upward at Will, who wasn't taken in for a moment. Shock fled, leaving only warm mirth.

"Jack Sparrow, you could be caught and hanged!" Will laughed, kneeling beside the pirate. "And you're concerned about my hat?"

"Yes--ask your ladylove for a hatpin. Can't have you getting married bareheaded, can we?" He stood, examining the room as though judging its fitness. "Not shabby, lad. Can't have anything shabby anymore, eh?"

Will had forgotten how good it felt to be exasperated with Jack. "Don't tell me what I can't have--pirate," he snapped. The grin splitting his face betrayed him entirely; Jack replied in kind as he held out a hand and helped the blacksmith to his feet.

"Nervous? A man often is on his wedding day, I'm told, and a pirate more than any other."

Will managed a shaky laugh. "I am no pirate, Jack. And I've never been more nervous in my life. I've just been going through it in my head all day . . . I will spend the rest of my life with Elizabeth--the rest of my life! What if I'm making the wrong choice? What if I wake up tomorrow morning and I don't know where I am or what I've done, and I can't undo it? And what if--"

The pirate offered a hip flask. "Calm your nerves, Will. But before you do . . .." He pulled the flask back just as Will's fingers began to close over it. "Before you do, listen to a proposal."

"I’m not going to turn to piracy with you! I am a blacksmith, blood or--"

"Not that proposal, lad." Jack swigged at his flask. "I shouldn't have left it 'til your wedding day, but storms off the coast of . . .."

Will sunk into his armchair. There would be a story before he caught even the faintest whiff of a proposal, and Jack's stories were best taken sitting down.

--

"You--you love me? You want me to go away with you?"

It was absurd. Impossible. Unbelievable. Even a bit disturbing. Never in Will's wildest dreams had he imagined that Captain Jack Sparrow would be kneeling beside his armchair, smiling nonchalantly as he made such a mad--no, such an impossible offer!

Well . . . perhaps in Will's wildest dreams.

"I'm marrying Elizabeth, Jack! What are you thinking? Are you thinking at all?"

"I know I left it a bit late, but I was waylaid by--"

"I don't care what you were waylaid by! Today is my wedding day, and you are most certainly not Elizabeth."

"I know, I know," Jack muttered sulkily. "For one, I've never burned a man's drink, and for another, I can breathe in a corset. Like to see the lady manage that even once."

Will just stared. "I don't want to know," he finally managed, and sighed. "Even if I did accept this mad farce, what would you have me do? Run away with you . . . to what? Piracy?"

He could see where this was going, and held up defensive hands. "Mayhap--or blacksmithing, or haberdashery, or ballroom dancing. Whatever takes your fancy. But I like you, lad."

"You said you loved me--you. Loved me."

Jack shrugged as he took a short step back. "Aye, I do."

It had been unexpected . . . one of Jack's mad impulses, carried through the window and tossed to Will off-handedly after a barrage of swashbuckling tales. Unexpected, and that was why Will was considering it. His nerves, too--battled through living and dead for the woman of his dreams, and he was nervous because of the wedding, that was all. Every man thought that he was making the wrong choice on his wedding night, even when he had true love. And Will had true love . . . he was fairly sure. Fairly sure, so why was he considering Jack's outrageous offer?

He put on his hat, which drifted slowly askew again. "Jack, I think it's best if you leave. Now, before I do something that I don't want to."

--

Will watched Elizabeth as she promenaded toward the altar. She was beautiful . . . she was absolutely beautiful, with flowers in her hair and a gown of soft, beautiful satin.

He loved Elizabeth. He loved her. Why would he marry her, if he didn't love her?

She took graceful, dainty steps, each slippered foot falling like a rose petal onto the church's stone floor.

Because she was beautiful and kind, and she loved him. Because he had loved her when he had first met her, and never seen anyone else.

Her father wore a solemn look as his daughter walked. This was a glorious day for him, but steeped in sadness--it was the first day that he could see Elizabeth for the woman she was.

He'd grown up. God help him, he'd grown up, and the love didn't fit anymore! It was a child's love, and it was crushing him!

Elizabeth frowned as a look of terror covered her husband-never-to-be's face, and as he ran past her and out the door of the church, she was too stunned even to hold back the shocked tear that slid past her nose and splashed on the stone beside Will's hat.

--

Jack uncoiled from his casual lean against the wall and caught Will by the shoulder as the boy dashed past. There were tears in his eyes, and he'd lost his hat in the mad scramble to freedom.

"You knew," he gasped. "How did you know?"

The pirate tried to be as gentle with words as he knew how to be. "Will, lad . . . when the hat doesn't fit, naught can be done but to take it off and fit a new hat."

END