Author's Note:

Holloa, all! Again, this is another fic written for a pirate challenge: to include a Jack/Elizabeth relationship, have Will and Norrington interact, and mention "whipping". This is also my first time writing Will.

Before we start, there are somethings which must be covered: I have no idea what's going to happen in the third movie (I want to be surprised) so this has no spoilers in it. In retrospect, it was a little difficult.

Anyway, as usual, enjoy and thank you for your kind support! I really appreciate it.

--cy.


A young man, blacksmith by trade but pirate by birthright, sat down on the docks aside the former commodore. Darkness had draped itself over the port city of Tortuga, where the two had come to see something off on a voyage. Before them, a ship with black sails set the night afire with lanterns and laughter, as the shadows of two pirates danced on its deck.

They were singing a song that Norrington had heard her murmuring on the Dauntless, all those years before, when he had first met Elizabeth Swann. He had promptly dismissed her as a naive fanatic, doomed to always chase after her dreams of piracy without ever realizing them. He laughed to himself softly. This was Elizabeth he was talking about, who would peruse a fantasy to the world's end.

And so she has, he thought. So she has indeed.

William Turner, however, was not as able to medicate his sorrows with drink and acceptance as his fellow in grief had. He clenched his fists until they flared white and pale. In his eyes, confusion sparked anger and threatened to engulf his soul in a conflagration of unspoken rage.

"This isn't right." He kept saying, sometimes to himself, sometimes to the figures across the water. "This isn't right at all. How could she..."

Norrington took another swig of whatever concoction swilled inside his bottle and mused, "Third time's the charm, Mr. Turner. Didn't your parents read you fairy tales when you were little?" He smirked. "I suppose not, as your father was drowned and Miss Swann probably got to you with her pirates before anyone had the chance to tell you a decent story."

He sighed and gazed up at the starry universe above them.

"In the land of Fairy, Turner, all those that try first are doomed to fail, and to fail the worst. The second one does a scrap better, but still despite his best efforts, cannot achieve his goal. It doesn't come until the third that there is success. And this," he swallowed the burning fluid with a grimace, "is a prime example of it."

Will gripped the dock post tightly, staring after the Black Pearl. "It's not fair, she said she was going to marry me..."

Norrington's eyes narrowed. "Mr. Turner, do not make the mistake of thinking that you are the only one who has loved and lost. There are a good deal more like that than you give credit to."

The thread of cordiality broke. With a feral motion, Will jolted up and shot Norrington a deathly glare. "Forgive me if I don't wallow in self-loathing as the others do. My fiancee is sailing away with the wrong man. She promised me that we would be together and I intend to see through that promise."

"Then you don't really love her, do you?"

Will bit back a snarl. "Of course I love her. Why else would I be here?"

"If you loved her," Norrington placed the empty bottle in someone's dingy, "then you would respect the choice she's made."

"If I loved her, I would expend every ounce of energy I have on rescuing her. Which is exactly what I plan to do." Will made ready to jump into the water. "Good evening, Commodore."

Whipping out his gun with a dangerous grin, Norrington cocked the weapon and pointed it at Will.

"I'm afraid I can't allow you to do that, Mr. Turner. You see, I care about her happiness, not about whom she shares it with."

Will stopped. "But are your feelings for her so resigned to that?"

A passing wind carried the ship a few more yards out to open ocean as the two men were locked in a test of wills. Will, hot-tempered and wavering, saw no weakness in his opponent's eyes. Norrington took out an oddly-shaped box from his pocket, not lowering the pistol.

He held it a few seconds, opened it, and smiled ruefully to himself. It took Will a moment to recognize what it was.

"That's Jack's compass. But how did you...?"

"He lent it to me," Norrington turned his attention back to Will, compass still open, "and said that he didn't think he'd be needing it for a while."

Will leaned over and caught a glimpse of the arrow, rather surprised at what he found.

"It's pointing toward the ship."

"I suppose they aren't then." Norrington finished faintly, a reply to a comment long past.

Will sat down in a heap, crossing his arms. He followed the bright mass that was the ship as it floated out into the unknown darkness, contemplating whether or not he could evade an ex-naval officer's bullets. Judging that this was not the appropriate time to find out, he laid back and asked:

"How did those fairy tales of yours end, Commodore?"

"As most stories do," came the reply. "The hero, once he has proven his bravery by overcoming some terrible obstacle, runs off with the princess of the land. Then, hand in hand, they leave and live happily ever after." The words tasted like ash in his mouth, making him regret going through that last bottle so quickly.

"Happily ever after, eh? What happens to the others, the suitors that fail?"

"They usually return to their kingdoms, if they're still alive."

Will shot up from the deck. "Still alive? Are there some that aren't?"

Shaking his head, Norrington continued. "I can't believe that I am educating a boy about the rudimentary facts of fairy tales. For your information, Mr. Turner, yes. There are those that do not return. Some fall in battle with dragons, others die when they knowingly take poison from their love's hands--"

Will's brow furrowed. "Knowingly poisoning themselves? I'm starting to believe it was good luck that I never heard fairy tales."

"The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Turner, and you would do well to read up on it."

Deciding to let the subject drop, Will stifled an aggravated shout as he saw how far away the Pearl had drifted.

"However..."

Norrington too was mesmerized with the departure. It had made everything so final. She was really leaving. She had made her choice. There would be no more second chances, no more opportunities to reclaim her after this. Was it really in his best interests to let her drift away into eternity with Jack Sparrow?

"...that isn't to say that there aren't any other opportunities for them to have adventures. After all, "happily ever after" is a state of mind."

Propping his head up on his knees, Will considered the man beside him. "If you don't mind me asking, how did you cope when you let me have her? It cost you everything: your commission, your status, your future.. and she never loved you back."

"The first one has the worst luck, Turner. Didn't I tell you that before?" He gauged the pace of the ship on the waves. It was still catchable.

Would he let this chance pass by in front of him?

Taking in the scent of the sea, James Norrington realized something, something that made him smile a rare, heart-felt smile.

With a graceful flick of his wrist, he snapped the compass shut, already aware of what it meant. He stood in a swirl of brocade and torn cloth, an ocean breeze whipping at his old uniform, calling him back to adventure.

"And that marks an hour's head start. Turner, if I drown, don't hesitate to leave me to my own stupidity."

That being said, he leapt into the water, hot on the heels of the receding ship.

"You bastard!" exclaimed Will, half-outraged, half-relieved beyond belief, quickly following suit and jumping in as well. "I thought you said that this was like a fairy tale!"

"It is." Norrington spat out a mouthful of water that he had accidentally inhaled in his abrupt plunge.

"Why aren't we taking a boat, then? It seems much easier that way."

"It's more romantic if you swim. Anybody can take a boat. Real fairy tale heroes can swim to the aid of the distressed damsel."

After all, Norrington reflected, after losing her twice and suffering in solitude for his efforts, it was high time for a new tactic. Just as she had gone to great lengths for her love, he would be the one chasing her to the ends of the earth. Forever and always.

"Keep up, Mr. Turner, or you'll be left behind." He goaded the man struggling to his right.

"Besides", he said in a low voice, out in the vastness of the ocean where he was certain no man or beast could hear him, "third time's the charm."