Disclaimer: All characters belong to The Walt Disney Company, not to me.
Note
: Written for the "One More Day" challenge at the Raise the Dead Livejournal community.


BACKLIT

By Rex Luscus

"Miss Swann," said Captain Norrington imperiously, "I have something to show you."

"It's not more pirates who've learnt their lesson, is it?" Elizabeth found Norrington's bloodthirst a little tedious, and he always seemed so impressed with himself for it.

"No. It is this." He opened his hand. On his palm was something small and blue.

She took it. "It's a stone," she said, underwhelmed.

"Wrong. Hold it up to the light."

She took the shiny blue-gray thing and held it before the sun. At once, it turned deep red and brilliant yellow, like the mottled surface of a harvest moon. It was like living flesh, revealing its fiery insides against the light. "What is it?" she said, awed.

"It is amber found on the island of Hispaniola. This sort can be found nowhere else on Earth that I know of." He added hesitantly, "You may keep it, if you like."

She remembered her manners. "Thank you, Captain Norrington," she said with a curtsy.

He got that funny look on his face, like he was murdering a smile before it could get out. Then he grew sober. "You're most welcome, Miss Swann."

She walked home through the morning heat, rubbing her thumb over the polished stone. At least two of her friends were madly in love with Norrington, but she just didn't get it--he was so humorless and old. Everything good and exciting annoyed him. Yet he always seemed to be nearby. If life for him was all about rules, what in the world could he possibly see in her? When she'd come out, he'd danced with her twice--he'd been right there, first in line, almost eager--but they'd barely spoken a word for it. He didn't make sense at all.

She took out the amber again and held it up. Such a lovely effect--gray and glossy from one angle, molten and glowing from another. With the sun behind it, she could see right into its webby red insides.

"He gave you a jewel?" said Catherine Grosvenor as they sat in her father's garden.

"It's more like a stone," said Elizabeth. Catherine gave her a look to say she put no stock in this distinction. Elizabeth winced. "Do you think it means he likes me?"

"Well, he's never given me a jewel."

"Maybe if you weren't so obvious about it," Elizabeth smiled.

"You know, he's the senior captain on the post now," said Catherine, squinting to look through the amber. "When the admiral kicks the bucket, he'll be in command."

"I'm not sure it works that way." Elizabeth took the amber back. "And it doesn't matter to me, anyway. I'm not interested in power and rank, just sweetness, intelligence, and passion. None of which he appears to have."

"He's perfectly intelligent!" said Catherine.

"Well, I'd never know, since he never talks, now would I?"

Elizabeth's suspicions grew when her father began to mention Norrington at dinner. Her father wasn't a subtle man, and she knew he liked stuffy old Norrington--they could be old and stuffy together. Somehow her father wore it better, though.

In the garden, she turned the blue stone over in her fingers. She dipped it in the fountain and dyed it dark gray. Against the light, it was as lambent as ever. Was there a way to hold Norrington up to the light? Was there some angle at which his humanity might be visible, melting away the dull surface to let forth the feeling man? He'd given her this gift; he'd asked her for two dances. Of course, lots of ambitious young men wanted to marry her. But perhaps, in his own peculiar way, he did care for her.

It didn't matter. Whatever was underneath that smooth, chilly carapace, she couldn't make herself care for him, even if everyone thought she should. She put the amber in a drawer, and hoped he wouldn't ask after it.

END