Disclaimer: Anyone represented or mentioned in the movie belongs to someone else, not me. Annie Palmer was a real person and belonged to herself when she was alive. You can tell who the OCs are, I bet.
A/N: Molto grazie to Kahva and Rach! Set three years after the end of 'Wait For No Man'. I hope you all still want a sequel… anyway, if you haven't read that, this one won't make much sense.
Mark The Earth With Ruin
Governor Edmund Norrington got up from his desk and walked to the window, angling the pages he held to see them better in the bright Jamaican sunlight. He stuck his quill behind his ear and murmured aloud the words he'd been poring over for weeks now. If they were to be listened to, the syntax had to be just right, the ideas proposed not too sentimental yet not too cold, the language strong but not off-putting.
"…even the most austere student of economy will allow that the decimation of the working class is cause for alarm," he muttered to himself, hitching up one hip to perch on the wide sill. "While returns in the short term seem to indicate profitability, the fact yet remains that the larger view must and does show that it is impractical at best to allow the continued destruction of an entire class of citizenry… no, that's not right…" Edmund huffed out a frustrated sigh. "People? No, no one likes to be reminded of that. I've already said working class. Unpaid laborers? Um…"
The door to the elegantly spare office where Edmund did most of his governing slammed open suddenly, revealing a most exquisitely dressed and beaming Lord John Finch, née the 'late' Captain Jack Sparrow. "Ned!"
Edmund cocked a brow at him. "I'm working, Jack."
Jack snorted. "You work too much, if you ask me." He made his way to the sideboard and made a thorough investigation of the decanters there. "Why is the rum gone?"
"Because you drank it yesterday, and you may have noticed I didn't ask you." Edmund put his quill down with a resigned air. "Out with it, then. You're about to burst a button off that ridiculous waistcoat wanting to tell me something."
Jack looked down at himself. "What do you mean, ridiculous? Weston said it made me look, and I quote, 'quite the gentleman'."
Edmund grinned, looking over the butter-yellow waistcoat with its pattern of pea-green acanthus leaves and garish mauve squash blossoms. Lieutenant Governor James Weston had a puckish sense of humor, to say the least. Or quite possibly the thing was the height of fashion, for all Edmund knew.
The Governor stifled a chuckle. He wouldn't hurt Jack's feelings for the world. "Well, I expect Weston would know. What's your news, then?"
Jack rubbed his hands together. "Pirates, Ned, me old son. Pirates."
Edmund got to his feet. "Where? Here?"
Jack chuckled. "You sound like you expect them to be coming through the door. No, not here. Off the Venezuelan coast, Aruba, Curaçao, that area. Gibbs is getting the Pearl ready."
"I gather these are not on your list of 'good pirates and good men'?"
Jack wrinkled his nose. "Not even close to anything like it. Captain's a scoundrel by the name of Nicodemus."
Edmund thought for a moment. "It's the Seraph, then?" He nodded in wholehearted agreement. "Aye, that one deserves all he can get. Maybe a troop ship –" Edmund broke off, chuckling involuntarily at Jack's comical expression of dismay and shaking his head at the same time. "I can hardly ignore the duties of my office, Jack."
Jack gave a disbelieving snort. "Seems to me you do when it suits you."
"I don't know what you mean." Edmund was ruffled.
Jack gestured to himself. "Pirate?"
"Oh, that." Edmund grinned and gave up on the paperwork. "Have you forgotten my sister is due in port any day? If you abandon me before this damned ball I'm to give for her Thursday next, I might recall my duty to hang all pirates, even the good men among them. You did promise Lord John's faithful attendance."
Jack poured himself a tot of whiskey. "Nay, I do remember. And both Lord John Finch and Captain Jack Sparrow keep their word, so I will be at your ball with me dancing slippers on. But Friday next the Pearl is off to Aruba. You can keep your troop ship."
Edmund poured himself a whiskey and clinked his glass to Jack's. "What if I send out the troop ship on Saturday?"
"I can handle the likes of Nicodemus," Jack protested. "I'm Captain Jack Sparrow, savvy?"
"A fact which it is not wise to advertise." Edmund took a drink. "Savvy?" Jack made a face; the Governor grinned, then sobered. "In seriousness, Jack, from all accounts Nicodemus is a dangerous man. Maybe you'd best leave him to the Navy."
Jack made a rude noise.
"There are accounts of blackbirding, Jack."
"All the more reason to give the captain of the Seraph a taste of my blade. Put the fear of God into him. Or of me." The pirate gave a cocky grin. "Much the same thing, really." Edmund rolled his eyes. Jack chuckled and toasted the Governor. "Black Jack Sparrow, the Demon Pirate, will teach those dogs the error of their ways!" He downed the whiskey and shot his friend a conspiratorial look. "And besides, it's fun!"
Emmeline Norrington held her modest chapeau tightly to her neatly coiffed head as she squinted up toward the crow's nest to see where the sailor was pointing. There, just off the starboard bow. She gathered her skirts and hurried forward, grasping the gunwale tightly as she leaned toward the horizon. There it was! Green, lush, so very beautiful… Emmy bit her lip in excitement, her gray eyes wide. Jamaica, so close she could almost reach out her hand and touch it. She shivered with the thrill of it.
Her oldest brother Ned had left England more than a decade ago, a newly made Lieutenant, to make his name in the West Indies. And made it he had. Emmy smiled. Governor Edmund Norrington. Such a grand sounding name; was her brother as grand, now? Would she even know him? Or was he still the Ned she had loved?
She had been only nine when she had seen him last. Ned had carried a soft spot in his heart for the baby of the family, however, and while he corresponded regularly with their parents and the rest of their seven siblings, hardly a month went by that did not see a thick envelope arrive for Emmy's eyes alone.
Such adventures he had had! Were not Edmund the most scrupulously truthful brother on Earth, Emmy would suspect that he had made the whole of them up to entertain her. Sometimes he sent pictures, too, small sketches he had made of life in Port Royal, or pen-and-ink portraits of his especial friends. Recently he'd taken to enclosing drawings by his goddaughter, her name signed in straggly letters all over the bottom of the page.
Emmy hugged herself. Ned had promised before he left that he would send for her as soon as she was of age and he could support her. It had seemed that time would never come; but now, here she was, and there was Jamaica, and the docks of Port Royal.
"Excited, my dear?" The deep, feminine voice startled her, so wrapped up was she in her thoughts.
Closing her eyes, Emmy schooled her expression into placidity and turned to greet her fellow passenger. "Why, yes, thank you, Mrs. Palmer."
The other woman smiled. "My dearest Emmy, how often must I ask you to call me Annie?"
Emmy suppressed a shiver, this one decidedly not excitement. "I beg your pardon, Annie."
Annie Palmer's dark eyes bored into Emmy's own, and the younger woman dropped her gaze after a moment. The other woman was undeniably beautiful, and had been nothing that was not kind to Emmeline; but there was something about her that Emmy could not put a finger on, yet found vaguely disquieting nonetheless.
And yet Emmy was conscious that she owed Annie Palmer a debt of gratitude. The voyage out of England and friendly waters had met with more than its fair share of calamity. Nearly every man on board ship had fallen ill, one after the other. Many of them had succumbed and been put overboard, buried at sea. The captain himself had been nigh death for three long weeks. And it had been Annie herself who nursed the master and his crew back to health, though Emmy and the other women on board had done all they could to help.
Emmeline squared her shoulders and took herself firmly in hand. Annie Palmer deserved gratitude indeed, and evidently desired friendship. Emmy could do no less. Were they not two English women far from their native shores?
She smiled at Annie. "I confess I am quite beside myself at the thought of seeing my dearest Edmund again. I hope he will know me."
Annie joined Emmy at the gunwale, watching the sailors ready the ship to make berth. "Ah yes, your brother the governor," she said with an answering smile, her voice carrying the lilt of a faint Scottish brogue. "I look forward to meeting him."
A wisp of cloud passed over the sun, shadowing the other woman briefly. Emmy nodded. "I shall introduce you with pleasure."
The flower seller bobbed a curtsey at the handsome, well-dressed man before her. "Your usual, sir?"
William Turner, Sr., known to friends and intimates as Bill, smiled and nodded. "Aye, lass. Pink roses, if ye please."
She had the nosegay ready and proffered it with an answering smile. "I saved the best for you, Mr. Turner."
Bill tugged on the wide brim of his plumed hat. "Ye allus do, Lucy, 'n' I'm most grateful. I know Miss Rose will like these."
The flower seller dropped another curtsey as he gave her a coin. "'Tis more than a year now that you've daily bought these roses. Perhaps I'll be huntin' out white roses for you soon, sir?" she asked teasingly.
Thanks to ten years spent under an ancient curse, the ex-pirate already appeared far too young to be father to a grown son and grandfather as well. The blush that suffused his face at the flower seller's words made him look even younger. "May be, Lucy, if I've any luck at all."
It might have been his shyness or confusion that caused it, or maybe he was meditating on the idea of matrimony; but whatever the reason Bill turned around with less attention than usual, and as a result collided abruptly with a slim figure in claret merino. He picked himself up, apologizing profusely, flushing painfully at his clumsiness, and reached to help the woman up.
Their fingers met, she smiled at him, and Bill felt an odd thrill run down his spine, his focus narrowing abruptly to the vision before him. He forgot everything: where he was, why he was there, what he'd planned to do next. She was beautiful, intoxicating. He held her hand longer than he should have, unwilling to release her before he'd learned her name at the least, wondering if she knew she was caressing his hand gently with her thumb. "Please fergive me, miss. I'm not usually so lubberly. William Turner, I am."
She smiled, and he was fascinated by the stretch and curl of her wine-colored lips. "Mrs. Annie Palmer," she said, and Bill's spirits sank. She was married. "I am just returning to Jamaica after a year in England to bury and mourn my late husband," the exotic beauty went on, her voice carrying just a whiff of Scottish heather. "We – I – have a plantation in Montego Bay."
Bill's universe righted itself. Not married after all, and done with wearing black crepe. He smiled and offered her his arm. "May I escort ye to yer destination, Mrs. Palmer? To ensure nothin' else untoward happens to arrest yer journey," Bill explained with a twinkle in his dark eyes.
"My thanks, kind sir," she said with a bright little laugh, and they started down the street.
Behind them, a nosegay of pink roses lay forgotten in the dirt.