A/N- Sorry it has taken me longer than usual to get this chapter out, but I have been really busy. Thanks again for reviewing!
The waves rolled, golden sunlight glittering on their blue green hues. It was a beautiful sight. The fickle sea chose to be tranquil today, something that all were glad for. No storm darkened the horizon. Even so, Elizabeth could not smile. It seemed that every part of her that could laugh or smile or joke had died. Died back at World's End along with her heart.
It had been weeks, but she still couldn't get over it. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw his face. His skin was pale, sickly so, and pasty. A trickled of crimson red blood ran from the corner of his mouth as he gasped for breath. His hands- strong, firm hands that had once held her so tightly- weakly fumbled at his middle… where dark blood oozed out of the open wound. Then slowly, ever so slowly, his dark eyes began to glaze over. The spark of life that had been there was diminishing. Her brain could hardly fathom the sight. He had always been so full of life. Never could she recall a time when those beautiful eyes looked so blank.
Will Turner gasped his last breath and never breathed again.
At first, she hadn't been able to do anything, even cry. It had taken Jack and Gibbs, one grabbing each of her arms, to drag her away from the corpse just before another attack came. Elizabeth had fought them. How could she leave Will there alone?! He wouldn't have left her! But they were stronger than she, and in the end, she agreed with them. Why stay? She couldn't bring back the dead.
Then when they were finally out of the real danger and she had had time to think, that was when it all hit her. The finality of it knocked the breath out of her lungs. Will was never coming back. She would never see his face, nor hear his voice again. She would never become Mrs. Elizabeth Turner. She would never feel his arms encircle her in their loving embrace. Never would she hear him whisper sweet words of tender love as he kissed her again and again. Never would they make love.
When the reality of all those things fully hit her, she couldn't stop crying. She locked herself in her cabin and sobbed for days. After all, Beckett and his men seemed to have taken off, probably to regroup and strategize. She had time to wallow in her sorrow and self pity. How could this happen to her? WHY?! She wanted to know what she had done to deserve such a fate. Maybe it was what she had deserved. Could this be her punishment for scorning James and then, later when she was still betrothed to Will, desiring Jack?
Elizabeth suspected that that might be the case. Tears sprung to her eyes as she stood at the bow of the Black Pearl. She was a horrible woman and had only herself to blame. She should have known that fate might have taken this turn. But why couldn't fate just make him leave me? she wondered in anguish. She would rather him have left her for another woman than die. At least he would still be alive. Now, he wasn't, and she worried it was her fault.
And she hadn't even had the chance to formally apologize to him for kissing Jack. Yes, they had come to a sort of understanding, and at least he had died knowing that she loved him. Surely, she had left no doubt…. Had she? She stopped crying and her brow furrowed in thought. What if he didn't…? No, of course he knew… but…. Elizabeth was recalling all those times he had glanced at her coolly when all she wanted him to do was take her in his arms. She hadn't thought much of it then. She had assumed it to be a reaction to all the stress and sorrow around them. But now she remembered the despair she had seen in those glances. She supposed her mind had subconsciously masked them for her, knowing that she could not handle thinking of how much pain she had caused him. Now, everything was becoming clear.
"He didn't know," she breathed, bringing her hand up to her mouth, "Oh, God, he thought…! No!" Her eyes widened in horror, and the tears that she had banished came flooding back.
She felt sick. It was all she could do not to lean over the railing of the ship and spew all the contents of her stomach up into the briny sea. Will had died thinking she didn't love him. He had thought she wanted to be with Jack. Elizabeth clutched her hands to her middle, trying to will away the nausea rising up within her. Yes, for a time in Will's absence, she had been attracted to Jack, and when she kissed him she had certainly felt something. But what she felt for Jack was like a candle beside the sun when compared with the way she felt about Will. Her desire for Jack was fleeting, a product of the time and situation. Her longing and love for will was constant and unchanging. She had felt that way about him for years, and nothing would ever be able to make her stop.
Aside from death.
Elizabeth shook her head. No. Death was not the end. She would love Will forever. She would never stop. When the bones of generations unborn lay as dust in the ground, she would still love Will. She knew that when she died she would be reunited with him. She had always gone to church as a girl. Well, if the stories were true, and there really was a heaven, then Will would be waiting for her there.
And if there was any justice at all in the world, somehow he would already know that she did love him. Him and no other.
With that conviction, Elizabeth sniffed and wiped the tears from her eyes. She had things to do now. She couldn't keep dwelling on this. She pushed her hand into the pocket of her coat and pulled out the compass. It was Jack's 'broken' one. They had given it to her to use now, for she was the one who wanted to get to their destination with the most conviction, and they needed a heading, for they were a bit lost. A few days back, storms had knocked them off course and left them disoriented. They had been hard to sail through, but finally they were out, and the weather was looking infinitely better.
Hopefully the journey home would be this peaceful.
Yes, home. The word sent warmth flowing through her veins. Never before did she think she would long to see Port Royal as she did now. Maybe it was her utter loneliness that made her so homesick; she didn't know. At least when she got to Port Royal, she wouldn't be so alone. She would get to see her father. A small, bittersweet smile came to her lips then. She wondered how he was doing. He was getting old. Hopefully, he was taking care of himself well.
Elizabeth pushed her thoughts away, cleared her mind of everything but one thought. She held the compass up in front of her. Port Royal. Port Royal. Port Royal. The compass spun and spun until she thought it would never stop. Then finally it slowed… and stopped. She smiled. "Mr. Gibbs, we have a heading!" she called, running over to where the older man stood at the wheel.
"So we do, Miss," he replied boisterously as he took the compass from her hands, "Finally we'll be able to get somewhere." He turned to his left where Pintel and Ragetti were bickering about something loudly. "Hey, you two, stop messing around and go tell Jack we've got a heading." The comical duo scampered off in the direction Gibbs pointed out.
Elizabeth turned away, feeling a little better than she had before. They were still quite a ways away, but she was fairly sure that they would be able to make it to Port Royal by her father's sixty-first birthday in two weeks.
"I really don't know what the problem is." Dr. Joseph Martin shook his head of thinning white hair as he furrowed his brow in thought. He reached up to scratch a bald spot on the top of his head as he pondered the problem.
"You mean you can't tell me what is ailing him?" James asked impatiently. Mrs. Pierson had been wrong when she said that Benjamin would be well within a few days. It had been almost a week, and his manservant was getting worse and worse by the day. He had sent for the doctor two days before, and finally when he arrived, he didn't know what the problem was.
The doctor bowed his head and shrugged his frail shoulders uncomfortably. "I'm sorry, sir," he insisted awkwardly, "I just… well, umm… erm…." James was prepared to let the man flounder. He wasn't in the least bit happy that this old quack could not provide him with any information. But right then the door opened and Celeste walked in.
She didn't spare a glance for either of the men. Instead, her intelligent blue eyes were fixed on the sick man in the bed. In her arms, she carried wet towels to place on Benjamin's forehead and soothe the hot fever that was burning him up from the inside out. James had to give her credit for one thing: she didn't shrink from a sickroom. Since James first realized that Benjamin didn't have just a simple fever, she had been there whenever she was needed to give whatever aid she could. Many women would have cringed at doing such work, but even when Benjamin was vomiting up blood and foul smelling bile, Celeste was there to help.
As much as he hated to admit it, a grudging respect for her was growing inside him. He could hardly believe it. He still didn't like her very much. No, he thought she would most likely always be an infuriating and difficult woman, but he could not deny that he was beginning to respect her.
But she was still an enigma to him. James couldn't figure out exactly how to view her. Subtle things that she said, the way she held herself, made him think that she could not have always been a commoner. Her speech patterns were too elegant, too refined. And those eyes…. Even when she tried to be meek and submissive, those eyes glared out at him like two pale blue flames of defiance.
Then other things spoke of a common raising. The way she didn't shrink from dirty work, such as cleaning up after a sick man, didn't point to an aristocratic upbringing. Still, he reasoned that she couldn't have always been this way. He wondered what had happened to her. What had changed her from the lady he was sure she had been to the common maid she was now?
James shook his head, trying to force his mind back to the present situation. Celeste was sitting on the edge of Benjamin's bed, leaning over the man. He was a terrible sight to see. If not for the unhealthy shade of green tinting it, his skin would have perfectly matched the pure white sheets he laid on. He let out a soft relieved moan as Celeste pressed the cool towel to his hot forehead. She brushed his sweaty blonde hair back off his forehead and murmured soothing words of comfort until he quieted.
"Miss! Miss!" Dr. Martin was saying urgently, "Miss, move away from there! It's very probable that whatever is ailing him is contagious, and with you sitting in such close quarters, you are bound to catch it. Back up. You don't want to fall ill yourself, do you? And as likely as not if you get it, you pass it to the other servants, and they'll pass it on, and then we'll have an epidemic on our hands."
Celeste scowled at him for a moment, but she acquiesced with his request, moving to the window at the far side of the room. Still, when she reached her destination, she sullenly folded her arms and glared coldly at the doctor. "Happy?" she asked, voice dripping with venom.
Dr. Martin, obviously not realizing that she looked as if she might very well do physical harm to his person, smiled triumphantly. "Yes," he told her, "Very much so."
Eyes burning with indignation, Celeste opened her mouth to emit a biting retort, but James forestalled her. As much as he enjoyed seeing her flustered, he had better things to do than watch her bandy words with this witless doctor. "Is there anything you can do or not, Dr. Martin?" he queried, "For if there is nothing you can administer to my servant, then you may leave. You don't want to be falling ill yourself, do you?" He smirked, and behind him at the window, he heard Celeste's poorly muffled giggle.
The doctor's face went blood red and he stuttered, searching for words. "I… ummm… erm well… I…. Uh, just take this…." He began to rummage through the bag. James could hear glass bottles and supplies clinking together. "Aha!" he exclaimed as he pulled out a small phial, "Here it is. Have him drink this tonight and then twice a day from now until he is well. It's a mixture of herbal extracts. It won't heal him, but it certainly won't worsen his condition, and there's a chance that it will make him take a turn for the better." He nodded for emphasis then continued. "You'll have to force him to drink it because it is rather foul tasting, and he won't want to take it willingly."
James took the phial from Dr. Martin's hand. "Thank you, doctor," he said, "Now, if that's all, I appreciate you dropping by…." Though you did little to help, he added silently. "But if that's all you may leave."
Quickly bowing his head, the doctor did just that. As the door closed behind him, James let out a sigh. He rubbed his hand across his forehead wearily. Celeste 'hmmphed' and walked pointedly back to Benjamin's bedside. She adjusted his covers in a motherly way and dabbed off some sweat on his cheek. "That doctor wasn't much help at all," she stated.
James wasn't sure if she was talking to herself or not, but he decided to reply anyway. "No, not much at all, but at least we do have this." He held aloft the small bottle and gave it a little shake. "Although I don't know how much it will do."
She huffed. "Probably not much."
James smiled a bit at her comment then he turned his attention back to the bottle he held. He popped the cork out of it and held it up to his nose. Immediately, he jerked his face away and made a sound of revulsion. "I can't imagine how terrible this really does taste if it smells this horrible." He looked over to Celeste to see that she was holding her hand up to her mouth trying to hide her laughter. For the first time, her eyes did not look upon him coldly but smilingly. It made him smile himself. Then he realized that this was the first time since their meeting that they were not fighting tooth and nail. For a moment, they held each other's gaze, and he knew that she was realizing the same thing.
Soon, she cleared her throat and looked away. "You may go if you wish, sir," she told him as she once again fussed with Benjamin's pillow. The man was asleep now. "I will stay here and take care of him."
He cleared his throat, wanting to thank her for taking so much initiative in taking care of his sick servant, but he could not forget the times that she had scathed him with biting remarks with her witty tongue. Despite their brief moment of tranquility, he knew her well enough to know that at any moment, if he said the least little offensive thing, she could turn back into her usual, disagreeable self. Still, he swallowed back as much of his pride as he could and forced out his gratitude. "Thank you, Miss Dubois, for putting such an effort into helping Benjamin. I appreciate it."
Celeste waved her hand dismissively. "It's nothing really," she insisted, "I'm the only one who's really willing to do it. Well, aside from Mrs. Pierson, but if she left her duties overseeing the other servants then your whole household would fall apart." James smiled, knowing the truth of her words. "Having worked in a bar in Tortuga, I'm rather used to work that's not exactly… ideal." Her eyes fell, and he could tell that she was uncomfortable with talking about her former occupation. He let the subject drop despite his curiosity.
"Well," he said, "Just the same, I thank you."
"You're welcome, sir," she replied quietly. James could see that she had now retreated back within her hard outer shell. He knew that trying to engage her in conversation now would be futile, and he didn't really mind that. The fact that they were not yelling at each other was quite unnerving, and he did not know how much more he wanted to test it. Besides, he had things that needed doing.
"I will send someone in to relieve you shortly," he told her politely before walking out the door. When he was halfway down the hall, he paused, a thought suddenly occurring to him. When had he started thinking of her on a first name basis? Well, he supposed that as long as he remembered to address her as 'Miss Dubois' out loud, then it didn't matter. He shook his head and walked on.
After the Admiral left, Celeste had gone to stand at the window. As she looked out, she pondered the sudden truce between she and James. She assumed that it would be brief, for, of course, she could not be expected to always be so agreeable. She told herself that the effort had almost been too much already.
Then she heard Maria's words from a few days before running through her brain: "You'll change your mind."
No! Of course not. She wasn't changing her mind about James Norrington. She was still sure that he was a very difficult and disagreeable man. Just because he was polite and even kind one day did not mean he would be the next. Tomorrow, he would most likely be as much of a beast as he usually was. James just must have been in a better mood today than he usually was.
Though, even if she thought that he was an utterly infuriating man, maybe she could admit that he was a good man. Even as she had the thought, she scowled, but she knew that it was true. As reluctant as she was to admit it, James was a good man… or at least decent. After all, she could see in his dark green eyes how worried he was about Benjamin, and how many other noblemen cared so much about 'their help?'
She shook her head. Why was she thinking about him so much anyway? James wasn't anything special. He…. Wait. Celeste paused. When did she start thinking of him as 'James' rather than 'Admiral Norrington?'
A/N- So what did ya'll think of this chapter? I hope you liked it. Let me know : )