Annalise exhaled very suddenly, a smile creeping across her own lips. And the stars shone down all around her, mixing with moonlight to drown the deck in pure silver, but all she really saw was James. All she really felt was a sudden realization of how close they stood, the heat of their bodies meeting in the narrow space between them and in a brief moment something flashed between their open eyes. And then the space was gone.
The instant before his lips met Annalise's, he had thought briefly that he was being too bold. It had been over three years since he had last seen this lovely woman and even then he'd had no real claim to her heart. The instant that had followed eclipsed any such thoughts a hundred times over. Despite the sun and wind and salt of the sea, her lips were almost painfully soft as they brushed against his own. His arms tightened around her slender frame, pulling her closer as he deepened the kiss, thinking very suddenly that bold be damned. He loved this woman, and refused to lose her again. If it had taken him this long to learn to make a stand, at least he would prove that this was one lesson he had finally learned.
There was a breathless instant as they parted, their eyes searching each other's wildly. He felt an insistent tug behind his neck as Annalise pulled him back down into another kiss, and smiled, raising one hand to tangle itself in her hair. He pulled her even closer, feeling her body melt into his. They had parted again, for the most fleeting of moments as Annalise searched his eyes. "You're really here." She had breathed, so softly it constricted something in his chest. His only reply was to lean back down to her upturned face, brushing just one more kiss across her lips.
That night was still sharp in their minds now as they strolled through the streets of Tortuga. They had docked in the dead of night, hoping no one, or at least no one sober, would see them leave the ship. Their luck had held, and then it had simply been a matter of losing the unpaid crew.
They felt guilty, of course. Neither was particularly proud of leaving a dozen men unpaid, but since neither of them had a single belonging to their name; it was better this than winding up facing the men's anger. The couple walked close together, without touching, shyness replacing the need they'd felt during their hungry kisses aboard the ship. Eventually they ran out of streets.
"This is a path?" James had murmured softly, looking critically at the small hole in the jungle that Annalise seemed prepared to step into.
"It will be worth it," She replied, her eyes teasingly bright, "I promise. I used to come down here when I was a child and we were docked here. I never much liked pirates." She glanced down between her clothing and his for a brief moment as a smile spread across her face, "Looks like I judged a bit early on that one."
James shook his head as he followed her into the dark forest. He was surprised to see that the path was clearer than he had expected. Even the waning moonlight was enough to navigate it. He let a moment pass. "Where are we headed exactly?"
Annalise remained silent as they walked for several minutes. "Here," she said softly, gesturing ahead of her, to where the jungle dissolved into a sandy beach. The sky was already lightening ahead of them, the sun promising to rise directly before them. Annalise smiled and settled down onto the soft sand, stretching her legs out and running a hand lazily across the surface grains. "Watch the sunrise with me?" She asked softly, looking up to where James still stood, her voice soft, tinged with an almost childish innocence.
James settled down beside her, close as he could get without touching her. The old insecurities has risen back up within him, keeping him from being too familiar with her, despite the passion of the kisses they had shared before. He watched her as she gazed out upon the soft purples and pinks of the pre-dawn sky and the sun as it rose ever so slowly, a burning cherry-red softened by the slight mist that drifted across the water.
Annalise breathed deeply. "So what do we do now?" She asked, her voice tremulous.
"What do you mean?" James replied, content to sit here for another moment or two, watching Annalise.
"I… I never planned what I would do after I rescued you." Annalise admitted, more to the softly lapping waves than James himself. "I was always so focused on that, I never bothered to think…"
James reached out and touching the bottom of her chin ever so gently, raised her gaze to meet his. "You're so beautiful," he whispered softly, unexpectedly. He knew he had intended to say something far more… appropriate than that… but there was Annalise blushing, leaning ever so slightly into his touch. The kiss that followed was only natural.
At first he kissed her softly, his lips barely touching hers. It was Annalise who deepened the kiss, pulling him closer to her. They parted very slowly. "I love you." He heard himself whisper hoarsely, words he had not meant to say just yet, for all that they were true.
He found himself holding his breath, waiting for Annalise's response. He watched as her lips spread into a warm smile, her eyes dancing with hope and delight. "I love you too," she breathed. "I think I always have."
Sitting beneath the first golden rays of Caribbean sunshine, James Norrington found himself without title or rank, without land or a house to make a home. He had no money or chances of promotion; truly he had nothing at all by the standards of his old life. And here was Annalise, equally without, smiling up at him, and promising him something so much more wonderous than any of it; something better.