Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction, written purely for fun.

Author's Notes: No beta, written for the Character Challenge over at raise_the_dead on LJ. February 2009's character of choice was Elizabeth Swann.

"Will! I'm here," she shouted, in between pants. She'd run the entire way. "Where are you?" Mr. Brown was passed out in his corner, and there was only the donkey in the shop.

"You're early! I'm still in the bath," Will yelled from behind the door. The sound of splashing water served as background.

"I know," she yelled back. "But that odious French teacher of mine was going on and on about verbs and endings of verbs and I—:"

"Elizabeth, they won't let us play if you keep running off."

"I know, Will," she said a little too sharply and wasn't surprised when there wasn't an answer. "When you're done, let's go to the far side of island and see if we can dig up some clams."

She counted the seconds before he replied, "Yes, all right," in a subdued tone.

She'd tell him later. That she was now considered too old to play with that "blacksmith boy." That she was now a "young lady." When she'd woken up that morning a corset had been laid out on the counterpane, and her maid had informed her that the Mantua maker would be by later to measure her for some proper gowns.

What did that mean? Proper. If it meant wearing that thing, which looked like some torture device with laces, under a dress that would be too tight and too long and plastered with buttons and lace and god knows how many ribbons, no thank you. If it meant studying French, or learning how to dance to some silly quartet, or piling her hair up on top of her head with poking sharp pins, and having tea with the horribly boring society women of Port Royal, no thank you.

"Yesterday's storm will probably mean no clams," he yelled, apparently having forgiven her for that mild reprimand.

"No matter. The surf will have brought in some wonderful shells. Maybe even a conch shell."

She had a number of them on her dresser. Her father asked her about them only the other day. She lied and said that Will had given them to her. She thought it might be far worse to admit that she'd found them. Because that meant she'd been to the cove on the far side of the island and had most definitely removed her shoes and her stockings and possibly tied up her skirts. She wondered what that sharp look was about and when he said in a slow voice, "He did, did he?" she realized it would have been better to have told the truth.

Then he said in a mild voice, "Elizabeth, I think you are now too old to be spending any further time in the company of that blacksmith boy."

"What if m—:" She was going to say "my maid" before he cut her off.

"No, I don't think so. Not any more." And he gave her a stern look that meant his I don't think so was more of a most definitely never again. Turning the shell over and around a few times, he murmured "Beautiful," before returning it to its place on her dresser. "No, I don't think so," he repeated.

Spying Will's clothes hanging over a rail, she picked them up and was about to chuck them in through the open crack in the door when she noted how soft they were. Repeated washings had rendered the cotton of his shirt almost threadbare. She put it up to her cheek. So soft. There were no ribbons or scratchy lace. His breeches were of a heavier, more robust weave. Composed of only legs, a couple of belt loops, a simple placket, and some buttons, oh, she could run like the wind if she were wearing these clothes! That awful corset! Unable to take it off by herself, she'd be trapped in that horrible thing all day, barely able to move. Lifting a teacup would be about all she could manage.

"Elizabeth, did you hear me? Hand me my clothes," demanded Will, a seemingly disembodied hand waving through the open doorway.

She did as she was bid and then brought a hand up to her chest in a panic. It was like she could barely breathe. As if she were wearing a corset.