Left you all on a cliffhanger last time, so let’s just jump right in! Previous part of the POTC AU here, the whole tag is here, and Jules Farrier is @cursebreakerfarrier’s! Let’s go! <3
It took a moment for Orion to recover from Carewyn’s “confession.” It took a little longer still before he felt brave enough to make any movement toward her, though he still found himself oddly uncertain of how to proceed. For, believe it or not, the dashing pirate Orion Amari had never been in love with anyone else, nor did he have much instinct of how best to express affection. He’d encountered plenty of pirates who were “ladies’ men” in Tortuga and the like, of course – but not only did Orion find they often gave off unpleasant vibes, but he knew for a fact that not one of them could have ever caught the eye of someone like Carewyn Cromwell.
And so Orion found himself hesitating, his hand resting just over Carewyn’s shoulder just shy of her cheek, as he watched her face for her reaction. Carewyn fortunately picked up on Orion’s shyness immediately, and she inclined her head in a muted, encouraging nod as she brought her own hand up to lightly trail over his cheek. The gentleness of the gesture made a shudder ripple through Orion’s shoulders, and he soon found himself mirroring her, smoothing a piece of her bangs from her eyes with his pointer and middle fingers. Her lips spread into a smile as she leaned in, her hand securing itself on his jawline, and placed a chaste kiss to his lips.
That kiss lasted three seconds.
The warmth of her lips on top of his seemed to fill Orion with a wonderful lightness, as if he were coming up off the ground – and when it ended, there was a strange feeling of withdrawal. It felt like he’d gotten only a small taste of some sugary sweet, and it just wasn’t enough to satisfy him.
And so, almost as soon as she’d pulled away, Orion found himself bringing both hands up to her cheeks, cradling it as he slowly leaned in and kissed her again.
That kiss lasted fifteen seconds.
When they broke apart again, both of them were smiling. Carewyn leaned her forehead against his, and for a moment, all they could do was hold each other, reveling in this bizarre new feeling of closeness. It was so warm and fulfilling, and yet peaceful and soothing at the same time. Orion was more off-balance than ever and yet…all seemed right with the world.
As happy as the moment was, however, they both knew it couldn’t last. Carewyn was the one who woke up from the dream first.
“…What do we do now?” she murmured.
Orion’s face became much more somber seeing the sad glint in Carewyn’s gaze as it fell away. He considered her carefully, his dark eyes narrowing slightly.
“…I don’t know,” he said at last, very softly.
His eyes trailed over her face even though she still couldn’t look up at him.
“…I know I cannot ask you to come with me. You could never be a pirate, Carewyn Cromwell. Your spirit’s free as one, but your heart is too noble. Too heroic and selfless…”
His gaze softened sadly.
“And as long as your family – your found family as well as your brother – is out on the high seas…I know you would never abandon the position that gives you the power to protect them. …Nor could I ever ask that of you.”
Carewyn met Orion’s eyes again. Her blue eyes were rippling to the brim with emotion, raging and turbulent as the sea itself.
“And I can’t ask you to stay with me,” she said. “As long as the East India Trading Company is obsessed with hunting down and killing all pirates…it would never be safe for you in Port Royal…or near me.”
She leaned her forehead against his again, closing her eyes.
Orion wished he knew how best to comfort her. Tentatively he secured his arms around her and brought up a hand to cradle the back of her head, the way he’d seen a woman hold her beau’s head while kissing him goodbye at the dock, when he was a boy.
“The world does indeed seem to be against us,” he said softly, “but the world in itself is not meant to be static. It, and fate, is constantly moving. Fate brought us together once, long ago…and it also demanded we separate. It brought us back together, and then we had to separate once more. Like the sun chases the moon…they do see each other every morning at dawn and every night at dusk…even if they must be apart so much of the time.”
Orion adjusted slightly so that he could look Carewyn in the face more easily.
“…Even if we must do that pattern several more times over,” he whispered, “I would cherish every time we met in the sky again, even if it’s only fleetingly.”
Carewyn looked up at him, her eyes full of pain. The movement made their lips suddenly only a hair’s width apart.
“You’d be all right with just that?” she asked.
He could feel her breath against his lips. It was enough to make his heart rate spike, and he had to take a stabilizing breath before answering.
“It seems to me that this…is something that most people could go their whole life never knowing for a moment. With that perspective…those precious moments where we could cross paths would be a gift, not an injustice.”
Carewyn frowned. “I understand, but…in this world we’re in, we should not want to collide at all. I’d have to arrest you, and we’d have to fight. There’s only so much we can pretend…so much I can pretend.”
She closed her eyes again, but this time, she didn’t just look sad – she looked focused. When she opened her eyes again, it was full of a new kind of fire.
“If the world is meant to change…then I’ll make sure it does,” she said firmly. “I’ll fight for a world where you don’t have to run, and I don’t have to lie – where Bill, Charlie, and Jules don’t have to be criminals just because they were determined to save my life. Where the Navy protects its citizens more than the East India Trading Company’s bottom line. …Where people aren’t automatically branded criminals with no chance of reprieve or proper justice.”
Orion considered Carewyn for a moment, his expression rather unreadable. Carewyn’s confidence flickered ever-so-slightly.
“…You don’t believe me?”
Orion’s lips spread into a full, soft smile.
“I learned when I was still a boy trying to argue against eating and staying the night in a stranger’s house never to doubt the convictions of Carewyn Cromwell.”
Carewyn’s eyes softened as her lips also spread into a very small, warm smile. Then she leaned in to close the gap between their mouths once more.
That kiss lasted only a second, but there were about five more of them in rapid succession, a little longer and deeper each time.
The following day, the Artemis found a deserted island on one of the rum runners’ routes where they could drop Carewyn off. The crew was a bit disappointed to see her go – sure, she was a bit too paragon to be a pirate, but she was a capable sailor and her singing voice was pleasant to listen to. Most importantly of all, they could all sense how much their Captain had taken to her and hated the thought of him being unhappy without her.
Carewyn and Skye exchanged a respectful handshake and farewells. McNully shook Carewyn’s hand too, but both she and he ended up using both hands in the end – Carewyn lamented that she wouldn’t be able to work with such a talented tactician back with the Navy. Then Orion escorted Carewyn ashore on his own, the crew staying behind so that they could exchange their proper farewells.
Both of them stayed very stoic for most of the hand-off. Orion could only give Carewyn a jug of water and a pistol with one shot, as per the rules of marooning, as much as he’d also wished he could give her a bottle of rum and some food for the next few days she’d no doubt be on the island, waiting for someone to pick her up. But as Carewyn pointed out, she wouldn’t die of thirst in that time, and she honestly shouldn’t look in great shape when she was recovered anyway. And so, reluctantly, Orion turned to go.
He’d made it about twenty paces when he paused, looking back at Carewyn on the beach. She was standing in true Commodore fashion, with her arms behind her back and her posture perfectly straight, and yet despite her brave expression, he could see the sadness in her eyes she tried so desperately to hide.
It was in that moment that Orion did something completely off-balance and impulsive. In an instant, he’d barreled back across the beach at the run and, when he reached Carewyn, he threw an arm around her, pulled her in, and kissed her. It was deeper than any of their other kisses had been, with both of them holding onto each other’s back and head and touching each other’s faces as they tried desperately to communicate the depth of their feelings in that tragically short time they were allowed.
That kiss felt like it went on for days…and yet it still wasn’t long enough.
Part of Carewyn wanted to just grab Orion and never let go of him again – to shield him from anyone and anything who tried to harm him…but she knew she couldn’t hope to protect him from the entire world. And so, very reluctantly, she and Orion separated, and Orion returned to the Artemis. Carewyn watched the pirate ship sail out of sight, her heart full of every prayer she could think of to ensure his safety.
Within two days, Carewyn had been found by a merchant ship, and within the week, she was back in Port Royal. Percy had been beyond relieved to hear of her safe return, though it broke Carewyn’s heart to lie about what had gone down with Bill, Charlie, and Jules. McNully had decided it’d be best if Carewyn claimed that she and the two eldest Weasleys had had a huge falling-out when she’d heard what they’d done (rather like Percy had) and that they’d been the ones to maroon her, rather than Orion. It would give a good explanation about why she was in such good shape, since even if Bill and Charlie were now criminals, they were still “his brothers,” but it would also make them seem rather heartless, to maroon their own brother on some barren island supposedly with no chance of rescue. When Carewyn met Governor Farrier again, however, she refused to say that Bill was holding Jules prisoner, as he’d originally presumed.
“She took the Revenge and rechristened it as her own flagship,” said Carewyn solemnly. “I’m afraid Miss Farrier – pardon, Juliette Weasley is as much a pirate as my brothers are.”
What she did not add was that she believed that was “not at all.”
In the time Carewyn was gone, Percy had been promoted to Captain of his own ship, the Clearwater. He was incredibly proud of it – as happy as Carewyn was for Percy, it proved difficult at points for her not to get a little irritated about how much he was puffing his chest out in the new fancier blue and white uniform he’d been given. He also couldn’t stop talking about the man who had “suggested” he be promoted, after meeting him.
“Lord Beckett really has his finger on the pulse of things,” said Percy one day as he walked with Carewyn around the newly repaired wall of the fort together. “He was thoroughly dismayed when he’d heard you’d been captured – he’d actually wanted to meet you when you first got promoted, he’s heard all about you…”
‘Lucky me,’ Carewyn couldn’t help but think. The memory of Orion telling her about his time on Beckett’s slave ship rippled over her mind again, and it made her feel a bit ill.
“…Said your ingenuity would be a valuable asset. Lord Beckett is a businessman first and foremost, you see, so he tends to see people in regards to how useful they are…”
“‘Useful?’” Carewyn couldn’t help but repeat, raising her eyebrows primly. “Seems like a harsh way to judge people – I reckon everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.”
“Well, yes,” acknowledged Percy, “but again, he is a businessman. One has to make calculated risks, in that kind of a position. And his judgements seem rather sound – he even mentioned having a woman on his payroll, helping him track down pirates.”
He shot Carewyn a rather meaningful look. She could surmise what he was thinking – if Cutler Beckett allowed women to work for him, perhaps Carewyn could too and not have to hide her gender anymore. Being sure to hide her disgust at the thought of working for the man who had branded Orion a pirate, she gave a light shake of the head.
“As much as I respect the man for his inclusivity…I am a Navy officer, and I take pride in fighting for the crown.”
‘More than I ever would fighting for a private citizen whose moral code seems to be distinctly self-aggrandizing.’
She placed a gentle hand on Percy’s shoulder and gave it a light squeeze.
“…And really…what I want first and foremost is to look after my home and my family – namely, you. I feel a soldier is better equipped to do that than a pirate hunter.”
Percy smiled slightly, clearly touched by her caring, but he tried to stay serious.
“…Well, that’s a noble thought, Carey,” he mumbled, “but I daresay Lord Beckett would be a bit disappointed.”
Carewyn turned around, startled.
A man only about two inches taller than her had arrived up on the wall of the fort. He wore a white powdered wig under a black velvet tricorn hat and a gold-embroidered vest with his suit, and his face on first glance gave Carewyn the distinct impression that this was a tiny man who fancied himself to be a lot bigger than he actually was. Carewyn herself had always been on the small side, but she made up for it with her confidence, strong moral code, and work ethic – this man seemed to be the sort to puff himself up through very different means.
“Lord Beckett!” said Percy, startled.
“Captain Percy Weasley, good to see you,” said Beckett in a breezy tone that indicated to Carewyn he didn’t truly believe the sentiment at all. His eyes had fallen on Carewyn, narrowing slightly as he gave a rather stony smile. “Commodore Carey Weasley – we meet at last.”