Hi Everyone! This is my very first fic (well, that I've ever published on at least), and I'm really excited! So I'm looking forward to any reviews that people have, only please make them constructive criticism and not just bashing, please, because I am a rather insecure writer. I began writing this fic after seeing POTC:AWE because I've always had a thing for Norrington, and when he died I was horribly depressed, to put it mildly. So I began writing to make myself feel better, and it's been rather therapeutic. As a warning, this is already rather long, but I encourage you still to please read and review, and enjoy!!!
Oh, and for those of you who wish to skip directly to the completely original part of the story, please go to Chapter 3: "The Boats." The first chapter is a conversation between James and Beckett right before James dies, and the second chapter is my take on James's death scene – however, I know that some people prefer to skip chapters like those and get onto the main action of the story.
Disclaimer: Much to my sorrow, I own none of this. Not the Black Pearl, not Will, and, sniff, not Norrie. So, Disney, please don't sue me...
What Dreams May Come
1. Beckett's Threat
James Norrington sat at his desk in his cabin, his forefinger rubbing his brow broodingly. His jacket and hat were draped over the back of his chair, his wig placed carefully on one side of the table next to his sword. Maps and papers were strewn across the battered table, along with ink-tipped quills and bars of sealing wax. A single candle cast a faint gold-orange glow over the face of the admiral; he seemed to be watching it flicker with every wave that bobbed the ship up and down, but his mind was elsewhere.
Know what? Which side you had chosen? she had said to him when he had insisted to her that he had not known about her father's death. Well, now you know. Elizabeth. The woman of his dreams. The last place he had expected to see her was here, in this aquatic mess of a ship, filled with its half-human sailor-beasts and ruled by a monster. James furrowed his brow. Until today, he would have said that monster was Davy Jones, the raspy-voiced man with a cephalopod for a head, but after today… He could not forget the look in Elizabeth's eyes when she told him that her father was dead. She was not lying to him. He could not remember a time when she had ever lied to him – withheld the truth, perhaps, but never outright lied. And her eyes had not betrayed any sense of uncertainty or deceit; they were filled with anger, a smoldering fire that not even the holds of this wretched ship could put out. James shivered to think of her, locked in one of those cold, damp cells with the rough-looking pirates she called her crew, her head held proud despite her captivity, refusing to let even one tear of defeat streak her grime-covered cheek.
A knock came on the door. James, lost in his thoughts, ignored it - whoever it was could wait until morning at least to wait for orders. But the intruder had no intention of waiting. The door handle turned, and in walked the man whom James wanted to see least that moment.
'Ah, Admiral,' drawled the arrogantly-bored voice that James had come to despise. 'I am sorry I did not wait for an answer.'
'Lord Beckett,' James said, rising to his feet without looking up. Cutler Beckett was examining the kelp-crusted walls with an air of bored indifference.
'Dreary lodgings they've given you, haven't they?' James said nothing. Beckett had tried to play this game with him before, trying to make him feel worthless for what he had been. 'Certainly a pity they didn't bother to give you anything better. I suppose you're not important enough in their eyes. Why you would even have bothered to offer them to our hostage captain, I don't think I'll ever know.'
James stiffened – had everyone heard him offer his lodgings to Elizabeth, then? – and slowly sat back down, not looking at Beckett.
'But, then again, Admiral, you must have gotten used to this sort of lifestyle when you took your – ah – leave of absence from His Majesty's Navy.' Beckett smiled smugly as he took a seat. 'In fact, you must feel quite at home.'
'May I inquire as to the reason for this meeting, sir?' James said as evenly as he could through tightly-gritted teeth. His eyes had still never left the tabletop.
Beckett smirked. 'Impatient, as always, Norrington. You must have realized that I would not be so stupid as to ignore the fact that you were once engaged to marry Miss Swann… that is, until she fell in love with a blacksmith-turned-pirate.' James's hand was clenched so tightly that it was all he could do to keep from straying to his sword's hilt. 'Oh yes, that is reason enough to suspect treachery in my eyes, Admiral. And don't think I haven't heard the stories about how you let Jack Sparrow escape.'
'Let Jack Sparrow escape?' James spat. He finally raised his head, eyes blazing as he glared defensively at Beckett. 'Never.'
'Really.' Beckett leaned backwards idly in his chair. 'And I suppose that this is why you waited an entire day after his escape from Port Royal before beginning a pursuit?' James said nothing, but cast his eyes back down. Beckett smirked again. 'Funny. I would have thought that by now you would have realized that if you had only kept right behind that ship you might not have run into that hurricane off Tripoli, you might have come out of it all right in the end…' Beckett leaned forward again. 'Stop blaming Jack Sparrow for your defeat, Norrington. It wasn't his fault. It was yours. And I do hope you are grateful that, despite all of this evidence against you, I still let you return to your own position, even promoted you.'
James had had enough. He was sick and tired of Beckett taking every opportunity to remind him that he, Beckett, was the one in charge, and that everything James had recovered he owed to Beckett. 'I would say I was grateful if I had been promoted based on merit and my integrity, and not on the possession of an appropriate bribe,' he said coldly.
If Beckett was surprised at James's forwardness, he did not show it. 'Admiral Norrington, it is due to comments such as these, plus your past associations with pirates, that I am not at all convinced of your loyalty to the crown, or to me. But it must be said that I am a fair man, so I have come to warn you that at any sign of mutiny or such actions as would link you to an act of piracy, I will make sure that you will receive a fate far more horrible than permanent dismissal from His Majesty's Navy.'
James rose slowly from his seat, glaring steadily at Beckett and trying not to let his rage get the better of him. 'Oh, I don't doubt that, Beckett. I just wonder if you gave the same fair warning to Governor Swann… or are you only polite enough to give warnings when you are threatening armed men?'
Beckett stiffened, all semblance of friendliness long since gone. 'You would do best to watch yourself, Norrington,' he hissed ominously. 'Do not think I will forget this conversation between us.' Without another word, Beckett slid off his chair and strode out of the dingy cabin.
James watched him go, cursing Beckett's name and hoping he would die some slow and painful death at the hands of pirates before this whole mess was over. Then, quite suddenly, he realized the foolish mistake he had just made. Insulting Beckett… James sank onto his cot, slightly stunned upon the realization that he had just signed his own death warrant. If Beckett could order and execute the murder of Governor Swann, a respected and quite harmless man, how much easier would it be for a reckless admiral with former associations with pirates to meet a violent and accidental death out at sea?
James smiled a humorless smile. Well, he should have known that this was how it was going to end, and he almost didn't wonder if he deserved it. Why had it meant so much to him that he made his way back into the navy, when it had become infested with vermin like Beckett?
Well, now you know…
Before he knew exactly what he was doing, James had pulled on his coat and his wig, placing his hat firmly on top of his head. Grabbing his sword, he strode confidently out the door, buckling it round his waist as he made his way down the corridor.
OK, well maybe I lied a bit - it's actually more of a during-AWE/post-AWE, but most of it is post. As I said, please review - I'm really curious to know what I need to work on!