A/N

What can I say? I have a strange obsession with Norrington.

"I don't want the world to see me

'Cause I don't think that they'd understand

When everything's made to be broken

I just want you to know who I am." –Goo Goo Dolls (Iris)

Of the Frailty of a Heart

A heart is a fragile part of the soul. It is an important part as well, though one may sometimes fail to recognize that. To be so broken, so cracked beyond repair, to the point where you don't even realize when your heart becomes lost, is a horrible fate. You become desperately inhuman, inescapably cynical. Love becomes a broken down toy, no longer used, without a purpose. Hope is like a long lost dream that one scorns ever having. Any human pity is reserved only for the foolish and simple.

After all, why let something as mundane as a heart get in the way of your ambitions? Life does not insist that you must contain an ounce of compassion, only strength of will. Is it not often said that only the strongest survive? And yet…

If you look at the man standing before you, you would never have known that such a frail, yet valuable part of his soul was missing. You would not have recognized the irreparable aspect of his nature that separated him from the rest of the world. Yet beneath a façade of composure, good manners, and health is a heart so ruined that not even the very men that he worked day and night with noticed…

"Sir, are you feeling all right?"

"I am quite well, Gillette. What is it that you want?"

"You look pale. Are you sure…"

"I repeat: I am fine. Now explain to me why you interrupted my concentration or kindly leave."

"Commodore, sir, there's a report of an unknown ship sighted several degrees to the north of us. It bears no flag that can yet be seen, and the style of craft does not suggest that of a merchant. Would you take a look, sir?"

"Very well. Thank you, Gillette. Please hand me my looking glass… Now then… It's moving closer, I believe, and they are hoisting a flag…

MEN! All hand on deck! IT'S A PIRATESHIP!"

The pirates came at him, one by one or in a group, it made no difference. He slashed and cut with a sword and shot with a pistol, driving them backward for only a brief moment. He was growing tired, and he wondered how long these pirates could keep on coming. He staggered under the blow of another pirate's sword, and he cried out as his pistol was knocked from his hand.

He raised up his sword to defend himself, but in his moment of vulnerability they had struck, and he fell with a cry of pain. His leg was a pool of blood, with blood running over his hands as he gripped the wound close to his body... The pirate kicked him hard in the stomach, then once again in the chest. His enemy prepared to strike him once more, this time a fatal blow, when suddenly the pirate's eyes widened and he squeaked in surprise and pain.

Slowly, the pirate fell forwards, on top of him. The scum lay across his aching chest, and he screamed upon the contact. All he saw as he blacked out was the crimson red blood staining the pirate's grimy white shirt, where the bullet had lodged itself. He heard the shouts of familiar voices, felt the pounding of feet on deck, and the sensation of hands picking him up and moving him.


"Will! Mrs. Turner! Thank God that you came!"

"What is the matter, Mr. Finnegan? We were told it was urgent that we come…"

"It is indeed, Will, my friend. A most unfortunate event has occurred."

"Is someone hurt? Doctor, I beg you, tell me immediately. Father is not ill, is he? I would not bear it if he died!"

"The governor is well, Mrs. Turner. But I fear that Commodore Norrington is not…"

"James? What happened? Please let it be nothing serious! Oh Will, hold me…"

"The commodore sustained serious injuries to the leg and chest during a naval battle. He is currently in a deep fever, but before he was calling for you. Especially you, Elizabeth. I urge you to go to him. Now, please, for we have wasted much time…"

In darkness he heard voices, screams that echoed in his ears. There was no one to go to, no one. All whom he had loved had turned from him, left him to a fate of loneliness and horror. Images flashed through his head, of ghastly skeletons charging him, men dying in agony, calls of pain, words of loathing, cold stares that vowed a hatred lasting even past death, and the sickening twist of a rope and loud snap as necks broke and lives ended.

He had killed many and given back nothing. Everywhere he went he left hatred in his wake. There was no such thing as love, no such thing. All was darkness and pain, and the endless gaze of two brown eyes, filled with pity, staring into his soul.

There was no such thing as love.

"James! James, I am here… please wake up, James! James, dear friend, don't die! Hold on…"

"Elizabeth, we have sat here for hours. He is deep in fever and will not wake up. We may come back tomorrow. It is late-"

"No Will! He called for me, I must stay by him. You may go home, but- Look! He is waking up! James, I am so happy that you are awake… please look at me… James?"

He opened his eyes, closing them tightly once more as the bright lights hurt his head. Parting his eyelids slowly this time, he squinted up into the gaze of one of the most beautiful women he had ever hoped to know.

His heart throbbed with a sudden agony, looking into those eyes. He turned away, gasping as his ribs ached sharply with pain. He had once believed in love, but no longer. The women grabbed his hand imploringly, speaking words of worry and compassion. But he did not listen. These words were nothing but an illusion, and soon those warm, soft hands would be gone and he would once more be alone. Why welcome pain? Why welcome these lies into his heart when they would only be wrenched away, leaving him once more vulnerable, once more broken.

He could hear another voice, a male one. It spoke softly to the women, and his mind was lost to sorrow. The other man was the true deserver of this woman's love. This man could wallow in the illusion of love for the rest of his life, while he would forevermore know the truth. Poor fool, to not know it was all a deception, a lie…

"James, why will you not speak to me? Are you still awake? Please, talk! Look at me; I must know if you are well…"

"My dear, he must be tired. Let us leave him. There is nothing we can do."

"No! I will stay by his bedside all night if that is what it takes. You go, but I shall not move!"

"All right than Mrs. Turner, I suppose I shall go home. But I will come back."

"I don't need you around me all the time, Will. I plan to stay here for a while yet, and if I wish to go home, I will go. I do not require your assistance. I am determined to care for James."

"Fine than!"

Already the thin veil between truth and lie was slipping. Already the young couple was breaking apart. He had known this would happen; it always did and always would. No love… No love…

The woman's hands still upon his, he closed his eyes and allowed his mind to fade and let himself fall into welcoming blackness.


"Oh! Mrs. Turner, I had not expected you to still be here. I saw Will leave, and I assumed…"

"Well, I have decided to stay here for the night. James is a long-time friend of mine, and I wished to make sure he had some company."

"Is he well?"

"Merely sleeping."

"If you wish for a bed to sleep in, there is an extra room nearby. Perhaps you would like to stay there?"

"No thank you, Doctor Finnegan. I am quite comfortable as I am."

"Are you sure? Those hard chairs are not very good for sleeping. You may expect to have a bad neck pain in the morning… Please, at least take some cushions? And a blanket as well. I do not want to be known as the one who forced the governor's daughter to sleep in a chair all night…"

"Thank you for your hospitality, doctor. I will gladly accept the cushions and blanket."


Slowly, he regained consciousness. This time, he did not open his eyes, but allowed himself to rest. He wallowed in the space between sleep and reality, calmed by the ever-constant presence of the lady by his side.

The woman's gentle voice flowed into his mind. She told him tales of her childhood and of his time with her on the crossing over from England. She reminded him of when he had told her stories of naval adventures and how he would often scare her by talking of pirates.

She told of how he had even once tricked her into believing that there were real sea monsters lurking in the Caribbean and had told her that they liked to eat "young, pretty girls such as her". And than he had made her scream by tickling the back of her neck with sea weed and yelling that it was a sea serpent. She had grown so angry at him that she threw her shoe at him. And all he had done was laugh…

The woman had a wistful lilt to her voice as she spoke of these happy memories, occasionally dwelling on the fact that, despite his playfulness, he had managed to remain completely calm and reserved in front everyone else while on duty. He acted so much different while in front of her than he did when with everyone else. She had never understood why…

He opened his eyes as she said this, feeling strangely compelled to finally look once more at her face. And he did not care if his chest hurt, or his eyes burned. The only pain that he truly felt was that of regret, and sorrow. Those eyes, now surprised, looked once more into his. He was drowning in those depths, and he knew that he had always been drowning. He was still trapped in the illusion of love; his heart was still a captive to this falsehood.

Voice rasping, dry after a long time in disuse, he attempted to speak. Swiftly, those hands reached for a cup and held it before his lips. He drank hungrily, the water soothing his shaking nerves.

"I…I am… sorry."

"For what, James?"

Her voice was heaven.

"For… for changing. For making you con…confused."

"Oh no, James. You have done nothing of the sort!"

Her face was beautiful.

"I have… doubted in…in you. I have forgotten all that is g…good. But Elizabeth, there is no such thing as love!"

"You speak nonsense, James. There is such a thing as love. If there was not, than I would not be here right now."

Her innocence was pure.

"But… But Elizabeth…"

"If love was not real, than why am I sitting here? Why am I even bothering to come to you in your time of need if love was not real? James…"

She drew close to him, and he felt his forgotten heart ache with longing.

"I love you. You are my dearest friend, and the brother that I longed to have. Love is real. Life would have no point without it."

He felt, deep within his shattered heart, that she was right. He knew she was.

"Oh Elizabeth, I am sorry for being such a trouble to you. I am sorry for coming between you and Will. I am sorry for being such a damn fool. And I am sorry…"

He gazed into those eyes once more.

"…for tickling you with see weed."

"Apologies accepted."

And they laughed, the first time that he had laughed in a long time. She hugged him, and giggled like a schoolgirl as he pecked her lightly on the cheek. Love was real, more real than anything in the whole world. It was merely very fickle, a tricky maiden. But otherwise, if it had not been fickle, than it would not have been quite as beautiful.

After all, that which is most exquisite, the most prized, was often the frailest. But if cared for and loved, one can overcome the frailty of the heart.

This is the final offer

This is the final straw

This is the final wish

Upon an ever-fading star

But do not lose hope

Where'er you wander

I am not far

I am near you

Where'er you are

A/N

Another one-shot by me! This is my first POTC fan fiction, and I know it's short, but if you've ever read any of my other pieces, you'd understand. Please review! No flames, I only accept compliments :-D and constructive criticism. Please, tell me whether the characters are written well or not. I probably am bad at writing Will, if only because I hate him. No offense to any Will lovers out there.

I tried a different way to present the story in this fic, and I want to know if you understood it or not. REVIEW!