Ayse pulled her cardinal red cloak around her neck tighter as her buckled shoes clunked across the wooden docks. Winter was dreadfully cold in London, and she had not yet grown accustomed to how grey and snowy it was in comparison to the beautiful, balmy weather of Jamaica. Yet she made her way along the pier as the ice cold water slapped below her and sailors working on various ships around her shivered whenever the wind howled through the hundreds of masts of all the ships docked in their berths.
In her gloved hand she clutched a neatly written letter sealed with a dark blue wax bearing the letter 'N' for her name. On the front, she had scrawled, 'To Mrs. Elizabeth Turner'. She heard many voices and occasionally would nod and smile when someone from one of the naval vessels would shout, "Ahoy, there, Mrs. Norrington!"
"Hello!" she would shout back with a wave of her free hand before continuing on.
Somewhere at the end of the docks she spotted a familiar merchant vessel, and she recognized at once the name on its bow: Cielo Mio. Sitting at a barrel with a log in front of him was the man she had met when she signed the same log ages ago when she had needed a way out of Port Royal.
"Pardon me," she said, causing the man to look up at her. "I have a letter to go to Haiti."
He grinned up at her. "Got another one, have ye, Mrs. Norrington?"
She smiled. "I do, and the usual payment?" She held out a few shillings.
He took the letter she held out to him as well as the money and grinned. "Aye, to Elizabeth Turner, right?"
"That's correct," Ayse said. "And I included a tip for your trouble."
He took the money and the letter from her hand and smiled. "Aye, thank you. I will have it there in a few months time."
"Godspeed, sir," she said before turning away.
Ayse knew that he had no idea that they had met before, when she disguised herself as a young man to gain employment on their ship and worked under the alias Andrew Thomas. Ayse had chosen not to disclose this information because she had, after all, abandoned them as soon as she was at Tortuga, not that it really mattered to her anymore, but perhaps it was the fact that Ayse Norrington wanted to leave behind her own mystery.
She looked out over the ocean and took out the spyglass that James had given her. After living in Port Royal for about a year together, he had finally received word that his request for transfer back to England had been approved, and they immediately set to packing their things. James had never forgotten the promise he made to Jack where he would no longer pursue him, and Ayse fulfilled a small promise of her own.
Very shortly after things had settled, Ayse and Mary broke the news of her pregnancy to Anne, who was in shock. She had been upset but she knew that nothing could be done and a grandchild was to be welcomed into the world whether they liked it or not. Edmund, however, had been furious over the whole thing, as all of them expected he would be, but after a little damage control on John and Ayse's part, he eventually accepted that marriage to Benjamin and having his child would be what made Mary happiest.
From then, Ayse and Mary shared a much better relationship as her belly grew, and she and James helped Mary and Benjamin find a home they could afford until Benjamin could become a master at his trade of being a merchant in Edmund's store. Mary eventually had a son, and both Ayse and Anne were there to help her cousin care for the child until she could get back on her feet. Last she had written, the boy had begun to walk.
Then Ayse thought about Alston, her former fiancée who had finally found a family to fill his home. He took up Ayse's suggestion and called on the bakery at which Martha was employed and found that this widowed woman was indeed a good lady. He grew to care for her very much and found her children a joy to be around as well. After a few months of courtship, Alston and Martha were married, and since he was a rather wealthy man, Martha was allowed to cease her employment with the baker and run her household as any good gentlewoman should. Though Ayse did not talk to Alston much, they had remained on good terms whenever they saw one another, and she was under the impression that they had an excellent and happy marriage. Ayse could not help smile at the fact that it was she who ought to take credit for Alston's overdue happy ending.
As for Ayse and her Uncle Edmund, they had a rockier relationship, especially since Ayse had struggled with forgiving him for his abominable treatment of her. Ayse had finally decided that while she could forgive him, she would never have a close relationship with him, and James had agreed that it was probably for the best. John was sorry to hear this, but as he was struggling with rebuilding his own relationship with his brother, he, too, decided that it had been for the best.
"Well did you send your letter?" a voice asked, interrupting Ayse's thoughts.
She nodded and held the spyglass up to her eye. "It should be on its way, and James should be back any day now." She scanned the horizon for his ship, the HMS Fortitude.
She lowered the spyglass, her features etched with disappointment, but her father placed an arm around her. "Now, Ayse, when James makes a promise, you know he will uphold it. I think you should take another look in that spyglass of his."
Ayse sighed but put it up to her eye and scanned the horizon carefully. But this time when she looked, a set of masts were looming far out on the southeastern horizon. She carefully looked over what she could see of the ship's colors, and there was no mistake that it could very well be James's.
Ayse looked up at her father who was smiling reassuringly at her. "Shall we wait it out? There is a small inn just off the docks here. I'm sure they won't mind if we wait where it's warm."
Ayse sucked in a breath, not wanting to get her hopes up too much, but James had been away on a new assignment at sea for months and she missed him terribly. She couldn't stop herself from bouncing on her heels nonetheless.
"Oh, do let this wind pick up so they can get here faster!" she hoped out loud, earning a chuckle from John.
They sat at a table in the small lobby of the inn looking out the window and watching the sailors work on the docks. Occasionally, Ayse would lift her spyglass up and look out to see how much closer James was to her, and finally, when it was heading for its berth, she saw that it was indeed the Fortitude. Ayse jumped up, nearly knocking over her drink, and ran outside and down the docks with her father close behind. His daughter moved so quickly that he could barely struggle into his great coat in the cold winter air.
Ayse raced to the end of the dock where she knew the Fortitude would be docking and bounced excitedly on her heels. As the crew carefully maneuvered it in and furled the sails, Ayse smiled and waved up at her husband. He shook his head, smiled, and waved back before barking another order to one of his crewmen.
Groves, who had finally managed to transfer to James's ship, looked down at Ayse and then back to James. "She's been waiting for you," Theodore remarked with a smile.
James tied off a length of rope. "Knowing her, she's probably been coming down here for the past month. She usually does when she knows I'll be home soon."
Groves chuckled as he coiled some rope. "It must be wonderful to have someone waiting for you when you arrive."
James offered a reserved smile. "It is, and what's even better is that she doesn't know you're on my ship, yet."
The ship had finally come to a full stop in the harbor where the anchor was dropped and the gangplank put out. As soon as James dismissed the crew, he made his way off the ship, and no sooner had his shoe hit the main dock he found Ayse catapulting herself into his welcoming arms.
"Oh, James! I've missed you so!"
"I've missed you, too," James replied. He released her and gave yet another subdued smile. "I've got a gift for you in my cabin on the ship, and…" He gestured behind him. "Look who I picked up."
Theodore Groves grinned as he came down the gangplank and waved at Ayse. "Hello there!"
Ayse lit up instantly. "Theodore!" She hurried over to the lieutenant and gave him a hug. "My goodness it's been so long!"
Lieutenant Groves laughed and patted Ayse on the back. "It has, hasn't it? It's always good to see you, Ayse."
"So are you going to be serving under James, now?" she asked.
He nodded. "Aye, though your husband really had to pull some strings to get me here. That's why it took so bloody long."
When Ayse and James lived in Port Royal, Theodore Groves was more than happy to visit the house where they shared good and jolly visits each time he graced them with his company. He had helped James and Ayse get out of Port Royal, and since their return, they had become the best of friends. In fact, Theodore was just as good of friends with Ayse as he was James, and it made the visits even more pleasurable. When they had gone back to England, Theodore never lost touch with James or Ayse, and James had promised him that he would try to bring him back to England to serve. Once he'd gotten approval for Groves to transfer to England, James made a rendezvous with Commodore Channing's ship to pass him off so James could bring him to England to enjoy Christmastide with them.
"You both must be so tired," Ayse said to both of them affectionately. "Theodore, I've got a spare room for you in our house, so as always, you are welcome to stay."
"Thank you for the invitation, Ayse," he said.
"Now let's get back to the house where Eloise will bring us some tea to warm us up."
Eloise had helped Ayse with cleaning her new home back in Port Royal, but as soon as it was found that Mary was to marry and move out, Anne did not really see the use for a servant any longer, for she alone could handle the chores around the house since it would now just be her and Edmund. In turn, she offered Eloise to the Norrington house where James and Ayse readily employed her. When the time came for them to leave, Eloise asked to accompany them so she could be closer to family of her own, and they accepted. She and Ayse were good friends, and when James was gone out to sea, Eloise would often keep Ayse company in the sitting room.
Additionally, Ayse's father had opened a store of his own in London, and he was considering another down in the Bombay. He had an apprentice under him, and Ayse would often work in his store for something to do while James was out at sea. He lived in a cottage just down the road from James and Ayse, and while James was away, he would come and stay in one of the upstairs bedrooms to be sure his daughter was safe.
"Ayse, where did you get that necklace?" James asked.
The necklace in question was a beautiful pendent with a green emerald set in intricately designed gold. The pendant hung on a thin gold chain around Ayse's neck which had become exposed after all the hugging she had done.
She smiled. "Oh, Father gave it to me this morning as a gift. It belonged to my mother."
"Is that so?" James asked. "It's remarkable. No doubt this is a priceless heirloom. Has it been in your family a long while?"
John shook his head. "Actually, I have no idea where Esra got it or how long she has had it." A smirk crossed his features. "I imagine that this necklace has a story behind it in itself."
James smiled. "Indeed. Well, let us get home and celebrate the holidays, shall we?"
Ayse smiled up at him and took his arm. "Yes, let's go home, James."
A/N: Well this is it, folks, the very last chapter of Mirror, Mirror. I would like to thank every one of you you for reviewing, favoriting, and alerting either me or this story. Thank you so much for the support! Without you guys, I would have never finished this. As I promised, I have one final gift for you, my readers. I have posted the picture I promised, but I am unable to link it in this author's note because for whatever reason, half the link disappears when I save this. So, just go to deviantart and look for Amani-Ishikawa, and you'll easily find the picture of them on my front page. :) This story, as with all of my stories, are completely open to illustration so long as I get a link to the picture. :) Thanks again everyone!