Author's Note: This story is the prequel to the story "Rise of Libertas," which will eventually also be posted here. I do not own Pirates, but Jacqueline is a character of my own creation.
Captain James Norrington stood on the deck of the Intrepid, gazing out onto the ocean. The sun was just coming over the horizon, transforming the dark sky above him into a mix of oranges and yellows. He loved watching the sunrise. It made the ocean very beautiful. The only time the sea was lovelier was a night with a clear sky and the stars and pale moon reflecting off the water.
The ship suddenly began to awaken, crewmembers coming from below deck, ready to begin the day. The crew always seemed more energetic on the trip back home to Port Royal, even when they would not be arriving for nearly a week.
"Good morning, Captain." Norrington turned to see Lieutenant Gillette, his first mate. "Another early start, I see."
Norrington smiled. "One day you should try it, Lieutenant. The sunrise is invigorating to watch."
"Whatever you say, sir," Gillette said rather doubtfully.
"Land ho!" someone shouted from the crow's nest.
"We can't be there already," Norrington said to himself. He saw that the man who had shouted was pointing to starboard. Lieutenant Gillette appeared particularly disappointed as he and the rest of the crew saw the tiny, deserted island in the distance. Norrington shook his head and smiled. "What were you expecting, Gillette?"
A sudden gust of wind blew his hat from his head. Norrington futilely attempted to catch it before it flew toward the island. Norrington shook his head with a sad smile as it floated away on the wind. His smile suddenly faded as he saw smoke rising from the island. "Hard to starboard! Take us to that island!" he called as he turned and approached the helm. The helmsman turned the wheel vigorously to the right.
"You see something, Captain?" Lieutenant Gillette asked, following him.
Norrington pointed. "There, Gillette, do you see that column of smoke?"
Lieutenant Gillette squinted to where Norrington was pointing. "My God, there's someone there!"
As they approached the island, they saw a fire burning on the beach. Standing in the shallows was a young woman in a navy blue dress. Through his eyeglass, Norrington saw her wave enthusiastically to them, her dark hair whipping about her face in the wind. As they approached she bent down and picked up Norrington's hat as it floated toward her on the waves.
When the Intrepid could go no closer to shore, Captain Norrington himself went with Lieutenant Gillette in the longboat to bring the young woman to the ship. "It's all right, Miss!" Lieutenant Gillette called as they neared. "We're coming! You're all right!"
"I think she knows that already, Lieutenant," Norrington said with a smile.
The woman waded slightly further out as they approached, meeting them a few meters from shore. "Nice hat," she said. "I'm guessing that it's yours?" she said, holding it out to Norrington.
"Thank you," Norrington said, shaking some of the water off and then replacing it on his head. He got out of the boat, his boots instantly filling up with water. "I am Captain James Norrington of the Intrepid."
"The Royal Navy, I take it," she said, looking at the uniforms the two men were wearing. "I'm Jacqueline. Jacqueline Elodie."
"A pleasure to meet you, Miss Elodie." Norrington took her hand and kissed it politely. He continued to hold her hand as he helped her into the boat.
The whole crew gawked at Miss Elodie from the moment she came on board, most because she the only woman they had seen in weeks, others merely out of curiosity. After she had finished eating her fill, Norrington tried to discover how she came to be on the island.
"May I inquire as to what happened? It is rare to find a woman this far out at sea." Miss Elodie smiled, obviously catching his slight sarcasm.
"I was on my father's vessel—a merchant ship," she began. "We were attacked." She shook her head, tears suddenly coming to her eyes. "We refused to just surrender, so they attacked."
"I'm sorry to push you, Miss Elodie," Norrington said. "But who attacked?"
"Pirates," she said quietly. "They are a ruthless bunch, aren't they?" She paused. "I was the only one who live long enough to get marooned." She put her head in her hands. Norrington reached around her shoulder to comfort her, but decided that the move would be inappropriate, so he just stood beside her.
"I am very sorry, Miss Elodie," Norrington said as soothingly as he could.
Miss Elodie looked up at him. The tears were still in her eyes, but she would not let them escape. "I suppose I should have expected something like this to happen," she said, looking at her hands. "I basically lived on my father's ship." She fell silent.
"Do you have family to stay with in a certain port? We could take a detour…"
Miss Elodie shook her head. "There's no one else." She looked up at him again. "Where are you headed?"
Miss Elodie gave a weak smile. "That's where we were going." She sighed. "That's where I was going to marry."
"Marry?" Norrington said. "You still can. Once we reach Port Royal, we will find—."
"He was also on my father's ship, Captain Norrington." A tear finally escaped her eye as she blinked. Norrington reached over and gently wiped it away. Miss Elodie did not appear to notice.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. He now looked down at his hands, one of his fingers wet with Miss Elodie's tear. "I am afraid we don't have a dress to replace yours," he said, breaking the awkward silence.
Miss Elodie managed a small smile. "As you said, you don't come across woman out here very often." Norrington took a deep breath to speak again, but Miss Elodie said, "My apologies, Captain Norrington, but I'd like to be alone right now." She smiled. "Ironic, seeing as I've been alone for at least three days. I think…I think I just realized that it really happened. Up until now…I had hoped it was all a dream." She glanced around at the working crew. "I'll try to stay out of the way, Captain."
Norrington kept an eye on her all day, but respected her wish to be left alone. Miss Elodie did little except stare out onto the sea. At sunset, he approached her. "Miss Elodie, you will have my quarters," he said, motioning to the door to his cabin.
Miss Elodie shook her head. "I can't ask you to give up your room, Captain Norrington."
"You didn't ask," Norrington said. "We don't have any other individual living quarters—at the moment, they are being used for storage."
"But I don't want to inconvenience you," Miss Elodie said.
"It is no inconvenience, Miss Elodie." She opened her mouth to protest again. "Miss Elodie, do you want me to make that an order?" he said with a smile. She bit her lip and smiled in return.
"In that case, thank you," she said. Norrington led her over to his cabin, where he pointed out where there was some food and drink in case she was hungry and bid her good night.
Later that evening, Captain Norrington wandered up from below deck. He was surprised to see a lone figure near the bow of the ship. As he approached, he saw that it was the young woman.
"Miss Elodie," he said as he came up behind her.
"Captain Norrington," Miss Elodie exclaimed, putting her hand near her heart and giving a small laugh of embarrassment. She apparently did not hear him approach. "Having trouble sleeping, sir?"
"I confess that I am."
"I'm sorry—it's because your not in your quarters, isn't it?" Miss Elodie said worriedly.
"No, no, Miss Elodie, it isn't that," Captain Norrington assured her hastily. "I always have trouble sleeping when I think about all the pirates that are still free." Miss Elodie seemed to shift her weight a bit uncomfortably, but Norrington decided that he had imagined it. "I will make sure that all pirates get exactly what they deserve—a short drop and a sudden stop."
Miss Elodie put her hand on her neck. "That's the sort of imagery bound to put one right to sleep," she said quietly.
"I apologize, Miss Elodie. I merely wished to assure you that the pirates who attacked your ship will be brought to justice." Norrington watched her for a moment. "I take it that you also are finding sleep difficult tonight, Miss Elodie."
Miss Elodie sighed. "Yes."
Norrington nodded. "I understand, Miss Elodie."
"Captain Norrington," Miss Elodie said. "Would it be too forward…could I please ask that you call me Jacqueline?"
Norrington was rather taken aback. "I'm—I'm sorry?"
Miss Elodie shook her head. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked. It is inappropriate." There was a rather awkward pause.
"Would it make you more comfortable, Miss Elodie?"
"Very much," Miss Elodie said. "No one was ever so formal on my father's ship. It just feels like…well, it feels like you're not actually talking to me."
"Very well," Norrington said, taking a deep breath. "If that is your wish, Jacqueline." Jacqueline did not turn to him when he said this, but he saw her smile as she gazed out onto the ocean.
The days passed without sight of the pirate ship that had marooned Jacqueline. That was probably just as well—Norrington did not want to go into a battle with a woman on board. Jacqueline, however, seemed to have a wish to personally deal out revenge on them, and was disappointed as each day past without the sight of them.
Jacqueline was the most intriguing woman Norrington had ever met. She knew everything about the workings of the ship. It was hard to convince her that she did not have to do anything work in return for her rescue. She was a fine woman, who could be very well mannered and ladylike when called upon, but she often acted less than properly for a young woman. She had now gotten most of the crew to call her Jacqueline. Lieutenant Gillette was one of the few that refused to call her anything except Miss Elodie.
"I think it's sort of endearing," Jacqueline said as she and Norrington took another late night stroll, arm in arm, around the deck. "My fiancé…" She trailed off. The subject of her late fiancé seemed to hurt most for her. She sighed heavily.
"We shall be arriving in Port Royal tomorrow afternoon," Captain Norrington said, trying to take Jacqueline's mind off of the tragedy that had so recently befallen her. It wasn't fair that one so lovely and young should have to endure such pain. "I do hope you will allow me to continue to be your host," he continued. She looked at him curiously. "My home is large enough. I would be honored for you to be my guest."
Jacqueline smiled and gave a little shrug. "I don't have anywhere else to go. Are you sure I wouldn't be an inconvenience to you?"