A/N: Uhm. Yeah. So I realize it's been well over a year since I last posted. A lot of things happened, like I finally graduated from college, and I moved about 300-400 miles away from home into a super awesome apartment, and I now work in a university hospital lab. It's been quite the adventure, and lots of stress. But thanks to a recent follower (you know who you are), it has definitely re-ignited my motivation to shove some time aside and finally write. That being said, there really was no way I liked of getting to the end of this story, but after thoughts, drafts, yells, and other emotions, I finally ended this story the way I feel like it should end. I'm so grateful to my friends when I bounce flow ideas off of them, and they've been so helpful, but I will always be grateful to my readers. I love the reviews I get, the little notifications of a new follower, and it's great. There's a shorter note at the end of this chapter, so please, without further ado, my last chapter for this story lies before you. Please enjoy. :)
The crew of the Dauntless worked tirelessly to get back to Port Royal, eager to finally be home. The excitement of being home was contagious, even Narelle found herself smiling as she finished paperwork. Her wounds were finally mostly pain-free, and she found that fresh air accelerated the healing process. She was relieved that there was no sign of infection.
Though she was still angry at Elizabeth for using James to rescue the blacksmith, she still talked to her. Narelle listened to her tale of being on the Black Pearl and inside Isle de Muerte. While the officer was slightly appalled to the other woman's apparent excitement as she talked about the pirates, Narelle listened to her tale to get the other side of the adventure.
She only went to the brig once, mainly to check on if Sparrow was still there. She barely spoke to him for ten minutes before walking away. Deciding it was a waste of time talking to him, Narelle didn't go near the brig again for the rest of the journey.
The sun seemed to shine high and hot. Narelle was envious that she couldn't take as many liberties as the men. Many of the crew had even asked her permission (much to her surprise) if they could work without shirts to keep them from overheating.
"We just don't want to offend you, ma'am," one of them would say.
"As long as the work is done, I don't care," she always replied. "Make sure you're presentable when we finally reach Port Royal."
She would, however, ditch the officer's coat many times, and her hair went from a braid down her back to pinned as high up off her neck as she could manage. The office doors were tied open to let air try and circulate through, even with the window behind her also tied open, but it was almost always stifling hot during the day. She adapted her hours to work at the desk at night by candlelight just to stay cooler. Narelle often would work late into the night, and sleep for most of the morning, waking when it got too hot.
The crew worried her during the hot hours. She had suggested that the men working topside to take frequent breaks when the heat was intense, and had already seen a couple men collapse from heat exhaustion. When two sailors dropped in one day, the rest became more cautious.
Narelle was giving James some time in the office to finish his work, while she stayed near the helm. Lieutenants Gillette and Groves were keeping her company by both talking to her and bickering amongst themselves.
"What do you think will happen when we get back, Narelle?" Groves asked.
"Not sure," she replied. "Hang Sparrow, for sure, then probably go about our day to day business."
"What about you and James?" Gillette asked.
She gave a half smile. "What about us? We're fine." She thought for a moment. "Excuse me, I need to speak with him."
She descended the stairs from the helm, turned to the office, and knocked softly on the open door.
"The door is open, you can just walk in," James said without looking up.
"I'm just trying to be polite," she countered.
He looked up, and smiled. He returned his pen to the ink, and sat back in his chair slightly.
"What can I do for you?" he asked. "I can surely use a break from this tedious work." He gestured to the many papers littering his desk.
"I came to talk, but I need to shut the doors."
"It's very hot, Narelle. Can we just whisper?"
She looked behind her, then went to the doorway and checked around.
"I suppose no one's around," she said, "so I think we can just talk normally, then. Since you're so, ahem, sensitive to heat." An eyebrow shot up, and she smirked.
He shook his head. "What is it that is so important?"
"Logic, James." She began. "Once we reach Port Royal, the people need to know that you and Elizabeth ended your engagement."
"It's not like she and I are going to shout it from the pier."
"We need to keep our social images intact. We can't just descend the ramp holding hands when we get back. People will talk."
"Since when did you care about what the people thought?"
"When I realized how ridiculous this would look. They need time to figure out that you and Elizabeth are no longer together before they figure out that you and I are."
"Are you saying you want to hold off on what we have?" James's confused expression turned to worry.
"I'm saying," she replied, "that we should just keep us to ourselves for a little while. Let the whole break-off sink in for them. I don't want your image to be ruined."
He closed his eyes for a moment, deep in thought. He opened them for a minute without looking at her at first, then met his eyes with hers.
"We'll keep quiet about it for a week or two," he finally said. "It'll give the people some time to get over the break-off, and quiet down before we officially announce our courtship."
"Will that work?" she asked.
"It will have to. Until then, we can still visit like normal. We still work together, remember."
She nodded. "Very well," she said. "Until then, we'll carry on."
They traded smiles, and she left him to his work.
"Gentlemen," Sparrow started as he started backpedaling, "and ladies o'course. This is the day that you almost caught Cap'n J-"
He tripped backwards off the battlement and crashed into the bay below with a splash. Everyone ran forward to see him resurface and gasp for air.
"Idiot," Gillette mused with a smirk. "He's nowhere to go but back to the noose!"
Someone shouted from a distance. Narelle's head snapped up to see the Black Pearl sail around the bend. She sighed, bowed her head, then looked to James. She could tell that he was trying to come up with a plan to go after him, and even saw his mouth open and close a few times, but no words came. Governor Swann gave a small smile.
"Perhaps on the rare occasion, the right course demands an act of piracy," he said. "Piracy, in itself, can be the right course."
James nodded slightly, his expression mostly hidden, but Narelle could tell he felt defeated. His expression turned slightly stern.
"Mister Turner!" he exclaimed, as he stepped down to the floor. Narelle heard Will murmur something to Elizabeth, then turned to face James. James withdrew his sword and crossed it between them.
"This is a beautiful sword," he commented. "I would expect the man who made it to show that same care and devotion in every aspect of his life."
Will nodded once. "Thank you," he said.
James returned his sword to its sheath, then turned and walked away, along with most of the redcoats that accompanied him. Narelle turned to follow, when she heard Gillette shout.
"Sir!" he exclaimed. "What about Sparrow?"
"What about him?" Narelle asked. "Might be able to give him at least a day's head start." Her eyes met James, who nodded with a smile to her. Both officers turned and walked away. She caught up to James and walked beside him.
"So, now what?" she asked. "Do we go after Sparrow?"
"Not right away," he replied. "We may find ourselves in a lucky situation. Besides, I doubt we'll be able to find him. I'm thinking we won't need to worry about him in case he attacks Port Royal."
"At least the Governor was here to allow such a thing."
"Excuse me," came a voice behind them. Narelle turned, and was surprised to see Will.
"Yes, Mister Turner?" James asked.
"I was hoping to speak to Miss Narelle, if it's possible."
James turned to reply for her, but she rested a hand on his arm, stopping him.
"I'll meet you in your office," she said softly. "We can plan further there."
James looked to her, then to Will, and back to her before sighing slightly, nodding, and walking away. She looked after him for a few paces, before she turned her attention back to Will, and gestured for him to walk with her.
"I just wanted to thank you personally," he said to her.
"You could have said that with Commodore Norrington here," she replied, slightly confused. "But, considering that we're alone, I will say you're welcome."
"I had heard about Elizabeth telling you about our…." He trailed off.
"Adventure?" she asked.
"Yes. I also heard about your opinion about pirates."
"Ah, she told you about our conversation."
"Yes, she did."
She slowly came to a stop, and stood across him. She sighed slightly before answering. "While I do not condone the acts of piracy that I have witnessed lately," she started, her eyes steadily meeting his, "I realize the lengths you would go to make sure the person you loved was rescued and safe. I respect your intentions, but I am against your actions."
"I understand," he replied sincerely.
"I will only say this once: you stay within the bounds of the law. A toe out of line, the irons come down. Am I clear?"
He nodded once. "Very clear, ma'am."
"Then we have nothing more to discuss, Mister Turner. I bid you a good day."
She turned on her heel, and walked back the way she came, deeper into Fort Charles to reach James's office. She knocked on the door, then went in without listening for a reply. She was surprised to see James without his hat or coat on and pouring a clear liquid into two glasses.
"Is that…gin?" she asked, bewildered.
He didn't look at her, but continued pouring until he was satisfied. "I figured we had a safe trip home," he replied. "It was always a tradition for my father and I. We shared a drink when we both were home safely. I figured, since not only my father has already passed, but it was also your first long sail with me, I'd re-ignite the routine with you." He pushed a three finger full glass of gin towards the other end of his desk, which Narelle took. He held up his glass, and she did the same.
"To a grand return home," he toasted.
"And to many more," she countered.
Their glasses tinked together, and she took a sip. She could taste the pine, but it wasn't overly unpleasant. She sat in one of the chairs across from him. She plucked her hat from her head and lazily tossed it onto the other chair, and let her hair down from her usual braid.
"What do you plan on doing about Sparrow, in all seriousness?" she asked.
He thought for a moment as he sipped his glass. "Honestly? I'm content with letting him go. As long as he stays gone, I have no reason to follow."
"Do you think he'll stay away?"
"I'm not sure. He knows our strength in a fight, and I doubt he would, in essence, poke the bear, but that man is the worst pirate I've ever seen. He could come back simply because he forgot his hat."
She smiled. "Then I hope he remembered."
"Until then, let's bask in the brief time of peace."
She knocked back the rest of the gin in one final swig, and pointedly smacked the glass back onto his desk. She then stood, grabbed her hat.
"I'll relay it, then," she said contently. "Thanks for the drink."
"Not a problem," he replied, retrieving her glass. Much like her, he also slammed the rest of his drink, and returned the glasses to his hiding place with the bottle, only after she had already left the room.
Narelle spotted Gillette and Groves in the courtyard of the fort. She waved them over, and they excitedly trotted to her.
"News?" Groves asked.
"Are we going after Sparrow?" Gillette asked immediately after.
She shook her head slowly with a smirk.
"Nope," she replied. "We're going to sit this out. We'll go after him if he returns to Port Royal."
"What if he goes somewhere else and attacks?" Groves asked, bewildered.
Narelle shrugged. "Hopefully he'll stumble into a different fortified island nearby. I hear the French are working with the Dutch at St. Lucia. Maybe they'll get some fun."
"What do we do until then?" Gillette asked.
She crossed her arms loosely, and raised an eyebrow.
"We wait for the next adventure."
A/N: So, this was unexpected (not the ending, but the fact that I finally finished this story). I'm forever grateful for the readers that were here in the beginning, and the newer readers that recently followed my story (as in like less than a week ago). It wasn't as long as I had predicted this to be, but I'm still glad to finally finish it. Much to my own delight, I'm working on how to weave in Narelle for the second and third films. I have a few random scenes written and I will probably have to scrap and/or adapt them. Many, many thanks to everyone who stuck it out till the end. You really are awesome people!