Rose turned over; bit her wrist to keep from screaming. Beside her, warm solid flesh twitched. Spoke.
Sharing a bed with Norrington wasn't easy. Norrington talked in his sleep.
Sometimes just nonsense, orders about sails and jibs from a time James was all right. But dreams mirrored life for a man so in reality, and tides always turned. Then he'd scream names. Sit up, eyes glazed shouting:
"I'm drowning! Please, the water, I'm drowning, I'm drowning!"
Watching James Norrington cry chilled her blood. Through walls of ice she didn't wish to comfort him.
But fire melts a chill. And there were nights when one name passed that roused her fury still. James unseen in the dark calling:
"Drew! Drew,I'm sorry…"
Rose cursed loudly, sometimes hit him. He whimpered, didn't wake.
Her name came most.
Rose buried her head in the pillow. Damn her. Damn him.
She wondered why she let him do this. What did she have to gain? Arms around her waist. The memory of two redheaded children in a cramped London apartment with only love keeping them warm. That held-down feeling she'd run from forever.
James rolled over.
"Never stopped beating," he rambled loudly. "I carried it with me it never stopped beating. It…it was the right thing to do, wasn't it? Right thing…Elizabeth! Elizabeth, where are you?"
More sobs. She'd never get used to that sound.
But the nights without nightmare were the worst. They were the ones that sparked tenderness in Rose, if only out of fear.
James would sigh, toss so the sheets imprisoned him. Make sounds that Rose found too familiar. Sounds that could have been pain, but could also have been something else. His face contorted. Calling. Loud into the night.
The way he said it his voice pitched upwards, like a pleading child. He seemed at once to reach for and desperately pull from the phantom in his head. And when he cried then it was desire and fear. Then, only then, would Rose take him against her chest. Cradle him as best she could and hope it helped.
"No, James," she'd mumble in his ear. "Not now. Not yet."
Other than that, she wasn't kind. She was tired, usually sore or bleeding and didn't want his ghosts in her bed. Most nights ended something like this:
"Heave to, take in sail, launch the boats…"
"Search every cabin, every hold down to the bilges!"
"Set top sails…clear up this mess…Steady men."
"Sleep, ye douche."
"One day's head start. So stupid. So weak. Why'd I do it?"
Half asleep, Rose reached under the bed, grabbing her shoe.
"Worst pirate I've ever seen. The compass worked, it did. Didn't understand…What you want most…"
It struck him cross the shoulder. The touch light, but he up like a shot.
"What?" he demanded, looking around. "What? What was…?"
And by the time he settled down, she'd be fast asleep, curled with the blanket entirely on her side.