Fandom: Pirates of the Caribbean
Characters/Pairings: James Norrington, a little Jack & Elizabeth.
Summary: A look back on James' life & what shaped him.
Notes: 1048 words. Written for story_lottery prompt 24 - space. No, it's not set in space - it's just the first scene was just inspired by the prompt. I love Norrington, just to put that out there.
Blinding white light, then darkness.
James Norrington opens his eyes to the starry Caribbean sky both above and below, finding himself in a longboat with a sole lantern. Time and space doesn’t seem to matter – nor his past and present; all that matters is the steady rocking of the boat on this endless sea.
He’s drifting, just drifting.
And his life, his memories seem to float past him.
He hits the water.
And the tide is pulling him down, down – why can’t he swim up? Which way is up? He tries to breathe but all he can feel is the water surrounding him, closing in on him, crushing him, and why is no one helping? Can’t anyone hear his shouts? He opens his mouth to shout out, to say anything, cry out in desperation, but even he can’t hear anything. It’s just silent. He thinks, whimpers out in his mind, one more kick, one… one more…
Though his legs are exhausted, and he can’t seem to wallow through the thick mud, it’s like quicksand drawing him down, and he’s closing his eyes – almost peacefully.
One last kick…
James Norrington is only seven when he nearly drowns from falling over the railing of his father’s ship, and he’s only seven when the then-fugitive Captain Teague Sparrow saves his life by diving after him.
Cold, wet and shivering, young James wishes his dad would hug him in relief, instead of saying that he would rather James had drowned than ‘be indebted to a pirate’.
He thanks the pirate when they reach land, and slips a key through the bars of the cell.
When he gets promoted to Lieutenant, he thinks he’s destined for an adventurous life sailing the seven seas. (Catching pirates? That is just a side-effect to that.)
The first task he gets given is to transport the new Governor to Port Royal from England, and defend them from potential pirating.
He isn’t too impressed. But then he lays eyes on the ship, the Dauntless. And sails across the Mediterranean. And there was a young girl on board – named Elizabeth.
He isn’t sure what makes him stay in Port Royal, but the journey is decidedly part of it.
“Two paces, march! Right about face! Present arms!”
The brocade he wears that day almost gives him heatstroke in the strong Caribbean sun. Still, James walks down the aisle of bayonets with a distinct sense of pride, his head held high even with the powdered wig on top of it. A bead of sweat drips down from beneath the hairpiece, but he daren’t wipe it away for fear of looking unprofessional. Instead, James leaves it there, until it reaches his collar. But he doesn’t flinch.
When he receives the sword and is officially appointed as Commodore James Norrington, that feeling of achievement that should have been evident is missing. He frowns. He should’ve finally felt successful; accomplished.
But really; would he ever until he gained the hand of his heart’s love?
James lets both Elizabeth and a notorious pirate go in one morning.
One day's head start turns into a wild goose chase across the Caribbean. For a few days, he lumps Sparrow as just another pirate. They even spot the Pearl's black sails one day, but the sun soon falls and they disappear into the night sky.
His goal turns into an obsession.
So he follows Jack Sparrow into a hurricane. And his ship falls apart, along with his life.
James lands in Tortuga, and comes to the most packed bar in town when he hears Captain Jack Sparrow is searching for new crew members.
He slurs for another rum, and the bartender eyes him warily before sliding across a sloppily filled tankard. James fumbles with the handle, but grasps it in the end and takes a hearty swig. He wonders for a moment whether he should address the man who had lost him his commission, his crew. Perhaps if he were not drunk, he would push the thought away. But he is, so he slams the empty tankard down and stands up from the stool, sauntering unsteadily across the bar towards Sparrow.
“And what's your story?”
“My story? It’s exactly the same as your story, just one chapter behind.”
He’s just about ready for a good, ol’ fashioned bar fight by the time he’s told his story and upturned the table. The bar quiets, and for a moment he’s in control, feels in power.
But that quickly fades.
“So am I worthy to serve under Captain Jack Sparrow?”
Out of the corner of his eye, James can see the man in question trying to walk away, and draws his pistol at him.
“Or shall I just kill you now?”
James smiles bitterly, and cocks his pistol. “Sorry. Old habits and all that.”
Later, Elizabeth helps him out of the pig pen, and it’s then that James truly feels shame.
Maybe it’s because he spent the last chapter of his life chasing the man across the Caribbean, but he can’t help but think that Elizabeth is naïve to trust Jack Sparrow. But he guesses that she’s still young, and the pirate is very charismatic.
“So you never wondered how your latest fiancé ended up on the Flying Dutchman in the first place.”
Sparrow is meditating while James starts digging. Sand. He hates digging through sand. He doesn’t stop to take a break, though. Just keeps on digging. Out of stubbornness? He still doesn’t trust Jack, but there must be some inkling of truth.
With every shovel-full out, the soft, loose sand on the surface surrounding pools into the hole. And he starts to feel as if he is digging his own grave, for this, he thinks, is his last chance at getting his life back.
But then his shovel hits something solid with a thud.
James sits in his office aboard the Dutchman, turning the sword over in his hands. Crafted by a blacksmith who took the heart of she who he had once pined for. He almost snorts at the thought; now it all seems so trivial. But that doesn’t matter anymore. He has lost everything – almost everything.
“Come with me – quickly.”
“What are you doing?”
“Choosing a side.”