Chapter 1: Imprisoned
Mist. Darkness. A horizon as black as the water he in which he bobbed, and a blood-stained naval uniform. James Norrington cast his eyes down to the lantern, his only illumination as his tiny boat idled, taken by an unseen current to join thousands of other souls on the Sea of the Drifting Dead. Was this Davy Jones' Locker or was this purgatory, James wondered as he glanced around at the occupants of the other boats; all had been claimed at sea. They waited the same as he to complete the journey to the 'other side.' Was this a punishment? Was he doomed to an eternity of insanity driven by his deepest fears? Davy Jones had asked James whether he feared death and he had responded with a defiant stab into the pirate's shoulder with his rapier and spit his last breath at him. The morbid scene around him, however, forced James to rethink his decision.
He always tried to live an honorable life, but things had taken a horrible turn for him after the incident with the undead pirates and the Black Pearl. His spite toward Jack Sparrow quickly turned into obsession, and James blamed him for ruining his life. He pursued him across the seas, sailing his beloved ship the Dauntless straight into a hurricane, his crew blindly putting faith into him as the ship went down to the bottom of the sea, taking them with it. Soon after the disaster, he resigned his commission, guilt-ridden that his pride and his preoccupation had cost the precious and irreplaceable lives of his crew.
But his troubles were far from over. He became tangled in a plot to find and steal the heart of Davy Jones, which he successfully accomplished. He delivered the heart and the Letters of Marque directly to Lord Cutler Beckett in a rash attempt to restore his honor and position. In exchange for the heart, James was restored to his former glory. At first, James thought that his trouble was worth it. He quickly discovered Beckett's agenda, however, and he found himself conflicted. Governor Swann was forced to sign under gun point for the execution of the innocent, impoverished people of Port Royal. James began to realize then that he made a grave decision, and he was careening down a route from which there would be no return.
His thoughts turned to Elizabeth. What had happened to her? Had she escaped the Flying Dutchman safely? He could never forget his surprise that she was Pirate Lord of Singapore, nor could he forget her expression of hatred and contempt toward him when she informed him of her father's death. James honestly had no idea that Beckett had assassinated Governor Swann, and he could not believe that she thought he was involved. When he looked into her livid brown eyes, he knew that nothing could atone for his sins. He chose to side with the pirates, hoping to earn her forgiveness, but the decision was much too late.
Elizabeth's face was the last thing he remembered after Bootstrap had run him through. He had never told her he loved her, nor did he ever show her his true self, and in his final moment that was upon him, he had kissed her in a moment of desperation, a final dying wish. He opened his heart and allowed her to see the hidden flame of his deep and devoted passion for her.
His post mortem contemplations threw James into sharp relief that he had never lived the full life that he should have; he had taken life for granted. He lived his life bound by his duties to the British Royal Navy so he could carry on his father's work of apprehending pirates. He masked his true self to the point that he allowed few to be close to him. Elizabeth briefly accepted the engagement that he offered and used him as her pawn to rescue the object of her true affection, the blacksmith William Turner. Deep down he knew her intentions, but he could not accept that her heart would never belong to him. She spurned him in the end, and quite publicly at that, and he knew she would. Still, he loved her, even now in death, he loved her.
His thoughts were interrupted by the sudden but gentle rocking of his boat. Previously, the water had been calm, dark and quiet; the only movement was that of the souls that drifted just beneath the surface. He looked up quizzically and saw the enormous Flying Dutchman slowly gliding through the silent sea. James noticed someone standing at the bow of the ship, and upon closer inspection, he was astonished to see that the man looking out over the dark sea was not Davy Jones. He looked much too…human. He studied the captain closer and saw that it was the very man who had stolen away his precious Elizabeth. What was he doing captaining the Dutchman?
James hesitated. If the Dutchman drifted out of his sight, he would be left to journey to the other side. He was not ready to die. He did not want to die. Impulsively, he stood in his boat and began waving both arms at the Dutchman before it could disappear into the mists that rose from the surface of the water. The boat pitched precariously beneath his weight and movement.
"Turner!" he finally called, desecrating the eerie silence.
The dead occupants of their boats slowly, cryptically turned pale faces to James. William looked up, searching for the unexpected cry.
His gaze finally rested on James, and he gasped. "My God…" He certainly did not expect to encounter James here considering the odds were very slim. He glanced at the bo'sun at the wheel and pointed at James's tiny boat. "Turn her about and find a way to that man out there."
Will's father, Bootstrap Bill, idled to his son's side. He followed William's gaze and gave a disapproving nod. "He needs to go to the other side now, Son."
Will paused. "No. I am indebted to him for saving Elizabeth. He deserves my gratitude."
Bootstrap shrugged. "I see… You're an honorable man, son, and you're also the captain. Only you have the power to decide whether he crosses over to eternity."
The Dutchman crept its way toward James, and upon reaching him, the crew lowered a rope. James climbed aboard, leaving the tiny longboat to drift emptily away. James found a hand extending toward him. He took it and found himself meeting William Turner.
"James Norrington, now this is a surprise," Will remarked.
"Turner," James began. He offered William a puzzled look. "I confess that my encounter with you is unexpected on my part as well. Are you the captain of the Flying Dutchman now?" James asked, disbelieving. He glanced at Turner's chest and noticed a scar over where his heart should be.
Will nodded. "Aye, sir. I was gravely wounded during the battle, and Jack and Elizabeth had me stab the heart of Davy Jones to save my life. Then my own heart was removed and I left it with her."
James's eyebrows went up. "Is that so?" Just then Bootstrap sauntered up next to William. James saw the older Turner, and he immediately recognized him. He took a few short steps back and eyed Bootstrap warily. "You! You were the one who killed me!"
William turned to his father. Elizabeth had later told her husband that Bootstrap killed James, but she could not explain why. "I fail to understand why you killed him. He was saving Elizabeth."
Bootstrap hung his head and nodded. "Aye, my boy, but I cannot remember it well. I wasn't in the right mind. I saw this man freeing Elizabeth, and I thought he was freeing a prisoner. I had forgotten who she was, forgotten a lot of things. Losing your humanity does that. I did not know what was going on in my state of mind." He looked at James remorsefully. "I don't expect ye to forgive me, but I'm not a murderer, and had I been in the right mind, I would 'ave never 'armed ye. I owe you an apology and I owe it to you to help restore your life."
"It was well worth the sacrifice," James said. He shook his head. "After all the sins I have committed, I probably deserved to die. I hold no grudge against you, sir."
"Elizabeth told me what you did for her," Will informed James. "Thanks to you, she is alive and well."
Relief flooded over James's features. "I am glad to hear that. I have worried over her fate since…" He looked down at his bloodstained uniform and trailed off.
"Listen…" Will trailed. "I once knew you to be a good man. You graciously stepped aside to let Elizabeth choose the person to which she would give her heart. You have a strong sense of justice, but you stumbled. You should know that your fate does not have to be death. You can right your wrongs."
James shook his head dismally. "It is too late for that. I am destined to move along with the rest. Nothing can be done about that."
"There's nothing you can do," Bill began, "but we can do something. My son has the power to decide whether he wants to return you to the living."
"Y-you can…return me?" James asked surprised.
Bootstrap and Will nodded.
James leaned in with interest. "How?"
"The living person on the side of the dead can overturn his boat at sunset and reach the land of the living at sunrise," Bootstrap explained. "However, for the dead, the soul becomes separated from the body, and to return to the land of the living, you must first obtain a container for your soul or you will be doomed to wander eternally."
"But how can I do anything in this impossible state?" James asked. "I doubt any one will have the ability to see me, nor will I be able to communicate with the living."
"This is true…" Will trailed thoughtfully.
Bootstrap had an idea. "I think I have an idea…what about a looking-glass?"
"A looking-glass?" Will asked.
"What?" James gaped.
"If a soul needs something in which to reside, then why not a looking-glass? Your original body was lost, so we got to send ye in something," Bootstrap answered.
James straightened. Already the idea sounded dubious. After what he had been through, however, he had learned that nothing was impossible. Still, he arched a questioning eyebrow. "You must be joking. A looking-glass?"
"It will work," Bootstrap assured James.
James's deep seeded suspicion toward pirates was beginning to rear its head. He frowned. "You expect me to simply jump into a looking-glass without thought to the possible ramifications?"
"I know it seems a bit strange, but we'll n'er know unless we try," Bill tried to assure James.
William sighed. "I wish I had a better idea, but I'm afraid there aren't many options."
James sighed. "Is there no other way?"
Will shook his head grimly.
"And how do I get out of the mirror if I agree to this doubtful idea?"
"You'll have to find Calypso," Will told him. "Only she can reunite your body with your soul."
James's green eyes went wide. "You asking an impossible task! Isn't she…just a legend? An old sailors' tale?"
"She isn't a mere legend," Bootstrap told him. "She brought back Cap'n Barbossa, and she can fix you as well."
"It's the only way I can think of," Will told him. "After everything you've been through and all the things you've seen that you never thought possible, you still think of impossibility?"
James thought for a moment. He had seen many inconceivable things - an undead crew, the heart of Davy Jones, and a crew that was literally a part of a ship. No, nothing seemed impossible after all he had seen, but were he to go with such an impractical idea, he would have to blindly trust fate. If not, he would be ferried to the other side without hope of ever returning or redeeming himself in the living world. His sins weighed heavily on his shoulders even in his death, and if there was any shred of hope of easing his burden, he had to take the chance and take it now. Reluctantly, James conceded to the plan.
"I'll be right back," William said as he disappeared down the steps toward the bowels of the ship.
He returned with a full length oval looking-glass. The frame was made of dark cherry with an intricate vine pattern carved into the surface of the dark wood. The looking-glass was trimmed with gold leafing, and James admired it for a moment. He could only suspect how such a beautiful looking-glass wound up on board the Flying Dutchman since these men were, after all, pirates. The mirror stood before James as Will and Bootstrap looked on, waiting for him to enter.
James hesitated as he shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other. The surface of the reflective glass beckoned to him. This was it. His fate lie with one decision: he could return among the dead and simply cross to the other side, or he could see what would become of him in the world of the living. James had never made it through the ranks without taking some risks, but the gamble he was about to take would be either his doom or his salvation. He reached a trembling, tentative hand toward the glass; the cool surface rippled upon contact with his fingertips. This was an enchanted mirror but also a prison – his prison. James drew in a deep breath and stepped inside without much thought as to why he was doing this. All he knew was that he was not ready to die. James turned back to Bootstrap and William. He placed his hands against the glass that hardened beneath his palms, trapping him inside.
"Well? Now what?" he asked.
"Now begins your journey," Will told him.
"Rest easy," Bootstrap said to James reassuringly. He produced a sheet and slipped it over him. "We'll have you back to the world soon."
Author's Notes: Hello and welcome to my very first Pirates of the Caribbean fan fiction. I hope that you will enjoy the story and the extensive research I put in for the purposes of writing a more historically accurate tale. As you read the story, you will find that I have added many historical footnotes so you can better understand the time period that comprises the setting. Although much of this has basis in research, this story also has basis in Greek mythology and the many fairy tales I enjoyed as a child and still enjoy today. I hope that you will enjoy this epic tale of adventure and true romance.