Author's Notes: This story is based on the idea that Jacqueline did not risk her life to save the crew of the Black Pearl in Chapter 25 of Rise of Libertas. There are spoilers for RoL. Rated for safety.
O O O
"We lost our chance for happiness a long time ago."
"You admit that we could be happy."
"Could have been. As I said, we lost our chance."
O O O
"Why didn't I do something? Why didn't I stop it?" James Norrington paced anxiously, muttering to himself as though Jacqueline was not there. "She's dead. I watched her die and I did nothing!"
"She's dead. I let her die…"
"Elizabeth…" James suddenly cried out in pain as a hand forcefully impacted his face. "What the hell?" he exclaimed angrily as he rubbed his stinging cheek and stared at Jacqueline in surprise.
"Will you stop it?" Jacqueline asked, her eyes filled with tears. "Your darling Lizzie wasn't the only one who died, you know." She collapsed into a chair. "He was my only real friend…Ragetti was always there…and I didn't even try and save him…"
"I suggest you two stop mourning over dead criminals."
James glared coldly at the man who had just entered the room, but fell silent at Lord Beckett's suggestion. Jacqueline, however, did not remain silent. "How could you?" she hissed.
"They were criminals and deserved their fate."
"Then I should have died with them," Jacqueline said quietly. "I am like them." Beckett's eyes narrowed and he approached her, lifting her chin so she was looking up at him.
"No. You're much different then those bastards."
Jacqueline slapped him. James winced at the sound, rubbing his own cheek again. "I will never marry you," she hissed at Beckett as she stood. "Not after that."
"Then I suppose it is a good thing that I did not as of yet kill your father." Jacqueline's eyes narrowed, clearly apprehensive of what Beckett was going to say next. "I suppose I could order his death…slow torture would be most fitting…unless you did marry me as you agreed." All the blood drained from Jacqueline's face. "But seeing as I do intend for you to fall in love with me again, I believe I will take another course." Beckett ran a finger tenderly down Jacqueline's neck. "I will let him live. Set him free and allow him to be reunited with his own filthy kind in Tortuga, or wherever else he wishes to go."
"In exchange for me marrying you?" Jacqueline said under her breath.
Beckett shook his head slowly. "No. I already have let him go."
James, who had been gazing at Jacqueline worriedly throughout the conversation, suddenly turned to Beckett, his eyes wide. "You have?" he exclaimed in shock.
Beckett smirked at James' reaction. "Yes. I have." He took a deep breath. "After all, it wouldn't do much in gaining the favor of my bride for me to have her father killed the night before the wedding."
"He's free?" Jacqueline breathed.
"As a bird."
"As a Sparrow should be," Jacqueline whispered, turning to look out the window.
Beckett turned her back to face him. "A Sparrow, yes—but not the future Lady Beckett."
James averted his eyes as Beckett gently kissed Jacqueline. Jacqueline neither returned it nor offered resistance, and when Beckett pulled back she said, "You promised. A ship and a crew."
"And a few months of freedom a year; I remember," Beckett confirmed, although he did not sound too happy that Jacqueline had not forgotten. "I do not plan on breaking that agreement, my love." Jacqueline crossed her arms across her chest and said nothing, catching James' eye before quickly turning her gaze out the window once more. "We should return home. You need your rest tonight, seeing as you'll get very little, if any, tomorrow," Beckett said with a smirk.
James' fists clenched and he struggled to keep from punching Beckett. Jacqueline flushed deeply and closed her eyes as though saying a brief prayer. When Jacqueline opened them, she locked onto James, and he found his cheeks darkening as he swore that he saw her eyes flicker to a place where she should not have been looking. But she turned away so quickly he believed that he must have imagined that brief look of lust.
However, those beliefs vanished quite quickly when, that night, someone managed to appear on the balcony outside his bedroom.
Jacqueline slipped inside before James could even walk to the glass window to open it. "Bloody hell," he muttered as she closed the window behind her and locked it. "What are you—?"
James had not been able to get the full question out of his mouth before he was cut off by Jacqueline, who had strode quickly over to him and pressed her lips to his, kissing him passionately. James pulled away, Jacqueline's arms still around his neck and his eyes wide. "What are you doing?" he gasped. "How did you get out of Beckett's manor?"
"I'm a Sparrow, James," Jacqueline said, kissing him much more gently. "I have my ways."
James swallowed hard as he surveyed the pirate. She was wearing only her chemise and a dressing gown. She had snuck out in that? He was distracted moments later when Jacqueline kissed him deeply again. James tried to keep hold of his senses—did she know what she was doing?
"Why are you here?" he gasped, his breath becoming very hard to find. His mind refused to follow what his body was already telling him.
"You can be a bloody idiot sometimes, can't you?" Jacqueline said with a slight smile.
James flushed. "But…Beckett…" His hands traveled along Jacqueline's curves of their own accord. "You said you were…"
"A virgin," Jacqueline breathed in his ear. "I never said I wasn't."
"You…you can't be…"
Jacqueline struck him. It was rather light and obviously only meant to keep him from finishing the comment he was about to make. "I'm not a whore." James said nothing as Jacqueline gently pushed him back towards the bed. "I'm not giving Cutler the satisfaction of being my first," she said, her eyes twinkling with desire. James' heart pounded furiously as stared at the woman he loved incredulously, causing Jacqueline to falter and pull back. "I'm sorry…I…you don't have—."
"Shut up," James said quietly, pulling Jacqueline toward him. Jacqueline's eyes widened momentarily in surprise before she closed them as James devoured her mouth. James pulled back enough to whisper, "I love you," before allowing his desire and passion to consume him…
O O O
James wished that he had not been invited to the wedding. All the higher ranking officers and other officials were invited and had to attend, but he would have given almost anything to not see Jacqueline take her vows to become Lady Beckett. The entire ceremony she never once looked at him. James should have expected this. She had acted on a whim out of desperation—last night probably meant nothing to her. He probably meant nothing to her…
But James had been foolish—last night had meant the world to him. There was no possible way for him to have remained detached from such an event. He loved her so fully, so passionately… James shifted awkwardly as he felt his cheeks grow warm. He planned to leave as early as was polite.
In fact, that was just what he was attempting to do when someone bumped into him. "Oh, I'm sorry—oh, Admiral!"
James failed to keep his face emotionless as he looked at Jacqueline. Lady Beckett he firmly reminded himself. Jacque—Lady Beckett curtsied slightly, reminding James of where he was as he bowed and took her hand. "Lady Beckett," he said quietly, bringing her hand to his lips, cherishing the feeling for the moments he had to touch her soft skin.
"Were you leaving?" she asked. James nodded, fearing that speaking would betray the flow of emotions running through his mind. "I am glad to have seen you once more, Admiral Norrington, before Cutler and I return to England."
"A pleasure to speak to you once more, Lady Beckett." James' tongue almost burned with the words. Lord Beckett did not deserve Jacqueline. "And I congratulate you on your marriage. I hope you'll be happy."
James bowed and turned away as quickly as he could, striding from the manor in which the ceremony and celebration had been held. Instead of heading home, he rode to the beach and walked along the edge of the ocean. He reached the exact spot where he had proposed to Jacqueline.
Unable to contain his anger and pain any longer, he let out a yell and collapsed onto the sand, tears flowing down his cheeks. He loved her, and all this time she was engaged to another man—a man who only wanted her as a trophy, a prize. And he had managed to win that prize; but Lord Beckett did not love his new wife half as much as James loved her.
Elizabeth was dead…Jacqueline was married to another man and would soon be on the other side of the world…what did James have left? His rank? That meant nothing to him. He had no one to live for.
So why should he continue living?
His hands did not even shake as he reached inside his jacket to withdraw his pistol. One little pull of the trigger and it would all be over. Jacqueline would never know—she was leaving for England that very night. Elizabeth was already gone, as was anyone else who would give a damn about him.
He wrapped his hand about the handle of the gun and withdrew it from his coat. Was it supposed to be this easy? Shouldn't he at least be afraid?
Death is the only way out of this marriage…
Oh, how right Jacqueline had been. James could not live knowing Jacqueline was in such a terrible union. But soon all the pain would be gone. He looked down at the weapon in his hands—the weapon that would free him.
James paused, confused as to what he was looking at. There was a piece of parchment wrapped around the weapon. But he had just put the gun in his jacket this morning, and no one had been near enough to do anything with it since…
When she had bumped into him, James had taken a few moments to realize what was happening. She was a Sparrow, after all…or had been one…perhaps…
James took the parchment and dropped the gun into the sand. He read the letter quickly, tears continuing to escape his eyes, but a smile slowly growing on his face. It was from Jacqueline. She had given him a probable time and place for a meeting. She had begun the letter with "My love" and ended it with "Your darling Jacqueline."
She loved him.