megatron: (Default)
megatron ([personal profile] megatron) wrote2007-06-12 11:36 pm

Fanfiction: Regrets - PotC - PG-13 - James/Elizabeth

Title: Regrets
Author: [personal profile] whisperwords | [personal profile] megatron
Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Pairing: James/Elizabeth
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Spoilers for AWE
Summary: She did not understand him; he always knew what he was doing.
Disclaimer: PotC and the franchise belongs to Disney; I'm just playing in their paddling pool.
Word Count: 1,595

There were a great many things that James Norrington knew. He knew how to sail ships, he knew how to maneuver in a swordfight, and he knew how to handle a pistol. He knew the proper etiquette for even the tiniest detail at a social gathering of high esteem. He knew how to file his paperwork so that it would go through the proper channels, and quickly. He knew the fastest way to each and every port in the Caribbean and he knew how to read the changes in the wind. He knew he hated pirates.

James Norrington knew which side he had chosen once and for all when he made his way down to the brig of the Dutchman. He knew where to find the key that would open the lock barring them in, and he knew that Elizabeth Swann would glare daggers at him even as she used him for escape.

He knew that they'd inevitably be caught, and he knew that he would have to fight so that she could go. He knew without an inkling of a doubt that this was his last night on this cold and wretched ship and he knew, he knew, that he was going to give his life to let Elizabeth go back to her dear William. Even as the dark fingers of fate wrapped around his heart he knew that he was in complete control of his own actions; that was one thing he had always known. He had no regrets, because everything he'd ever done was the result of careful consideration.

No, James Norrington had no regrets. No regrets... save one.

****

Elizabeth Swann had no idea what the Admiral was doing. He'd betrayed them; taken the chest and the heart and run back to Beckett to deliver piracy as a whole to the depths of hell and now he held the bars open as she slipped between them with her pirate crew. She didn't understand why he'd spent all that time with them on the Pearl and still chosen, at the end of the day, to leave them all -- to leave her -- and effectively sign the papers that made their lives so much harder than they already were. Her father was dead, the lives of all pirates were endangered, and the friendship she thought she'd had was gone. She did not understand how they had come to this. She did not understand at all.

She didn't know what he was doing and she couldn't comprehend the look in his green eyes when he urged her desperately to hurry up and leave. She couldn't understand why, when she'd first seen him on the Dutchman, she'd been so eager to run to him but could not bring herself to wrap her arms around him when he embraced her. She didn't know why she'd been so cruel to him on deck, and she didn't know why he was here now, helping her after all she'd done, all she'd said to him.

She often wondered how he could stand to look at her after Jack's failed hanging.

She allowed her crew to leave the brig ahead of her. She was still trying, still searching his face for any clue at all that would help her understand. Why now? Why, at the eleventh hour, was he changing his mind yet again? Why couldn't he have made up his mind the first time?

Elizabeth Swann could not understand what was so plainly set in front of her, so she asked him.

"What are you doing?"

"Choosing a side."

She still did not quite understand.

****

Elizabeth Swann allowed her crew to leave the ship before her. She stood aside and stared at him, studying his face. He could feel her eyes burning through him even as he watched her crew scurry across the ropes to to the Empress.

"Do not go to shipwreck cove," he started. He steeled himself and kept his tone flat. "Beckett knows you'll be meeting the brethren, I fear there may be a traitor among them."

"It's too late to earn my forgiveness," she said to him, her jaw clenched. He knew in his heart that she would give it in time; he also knew he did not have the luxury of waiting to hear it.

"I had nothing to do with your father's death." He could not bear the look on her face. "But that doesn't absolve me of my other sins."

"Come with us."

He hadn't anticipated that. His heart leapt, his pulse racing even faster than it already was. And then she said his name.

"James, come with me."

He wanted to. He knew what he would do, then; he would follow her onto the ropes, he would be the last on the line and he would shoot through it as he clambered across. He knew then, that he would follow her to the ends of the earth regardless of where her affections lay. He saw in her face something he thought he would never see. It was a look he'd seen on her face before; he'd even pointed it out to her on the Pearl. He'd just never seen it directed at him.

"WHO GOES THERE?"

Both of their heads snapped toward the sound; there was no time. James turned to her.

"Go. I will follow." He said it, though he knew he would not. He'd never lied before; now he knew why. Elizabeth's face fell.

"You're lying," she said. Her eyes searched his face, her brow furrowed. She didn't understand. He looked frantically at the Dutchman and then back at her. He swallowed hard.

"Our destinies have been entwined, Elizabeth, but never joined."

He took care of his one regret then, bringing his lips to hers with all the passion in the world. Her lips were soft, as he'd always dreamed they would be, and they tasted faintly like the salt wind off the sea. In that small moment he knew that he had done what he should have done years ago and instantly his regrets leapt from one to hundreds. But when he felt her kissing him back they fell to none at all. He wanted so badly for this moment to last forever but he knew she had mere moments before it was too late for either of them.

"Go, now." His voice cracked and too much of him was revealed; she looked at him then with sadness in her eyes. For the first time, she understood. The same sadness broke through his chest like a cold wave across the bow of a ship.

She hoisted herself up and began to move along the ropes. Bootstrap Bill emerged from the Dutchman too soon and James drew his weapon.

"Back to your station, sailor."

"No one leaves the ship."

"Stand down. That's an order!" James raised his voice.

"That's an order..." the crusty old man searched what was left of his memory. "Part of the crew, part of the ship. Part of the crew, part of the ship." And louder. "Part of the crew, part of the ship."

"Steady, man," James said, taking a single step toward the ropes.

"Part of the crew, part of the ship." And then he raised the alarm. "ALL HANDS! PRISONER ESCAPE!"

It was too soon.

"Belay that!" James shouted, panic touching the edges of his voice. His heart raced in his chest, begging his ribs for more space.

She screamed his name, then, and James knew what he had to do but could not bear it. She started to come back, scrambling frantically to change directions, dangling high above the water. James could hear it in her voice; she knew, now, knew so clearly what he was doing. The sea-salt of her lips lingered there on his mouth. He had to do it, he knew he did: he pressed his lips together and turned his gun to the ropes.

He heard her scream and the splash of the water as she struck the surface, and he felt the blade run clean through him. His breath stopped suddenly, the shock coursing through him like fire and ice as he fell to the deck. And behind him, beneath him -- distant -- he heard her scream his name, heard her sob her unwilling goodbyes, her frantic denial. He did not hear the Dutchman's crew, did not listen as they announced his own death. He heard only her cries and he knew, he knew without a shadow of a doubt, that she had indeed loved him. He knew, then, the answer to the question he knew he'd next be asked.

"James Norrington, do you fear death?"

****

She saw him fall, saw the shape of him tumble to the deck of the Dutchman, and she felt her heart fall with him. She had not known, had not understood, until her lips met his and she'd wanted, needed for him to come with her, to show her again what it truly means to be loved unconditionally. To show her again and again the difference between saying you would die for someone and showing that you would.

He fell and her heart screamed his name. She knew then that she loved him, and she knew now that all of her regrets would only ever be James.

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