"Commodore James Mathias Norrington."
Elizabeth shook her head, grateful for her fan in such a packed courtroom. The excited murmurs and exhales of the spectators, squeezed in so much there were but a handful of people who were not touching someone else, seemed to transform the room into an oven. Mr. Hudson stood apart from the hive like a queen bee, separating them from James. She stood off to the side, waiting for Jack to turn and wink at her, to tell her in some way this was all according to his plan.
"You had chased Mr. Sparrow from here to Isla de Muerta, is that correct?"
She saw Jack flinch and mouth "captain" without a voice.
"That is. He and Mr. Turner were themselves chasing the Black Pearl."
"For what purpose?"
"Well," James said, clearing his throat, his jaw set at an uncomfortable degree. "Mr. Turner took it upon himself to…retrieve Miss Swann and enlisted the help of a pirate to do so." His head jerked towards her direction, his eyes showing her nothing but guilt. Elizabeth glanced at Will and then back to James. She knew the trial would be a lost cause, Jack's fate a foregone conclusion, prolonged by only a horde of British gentlemen too fond of tradition. But it still made her clench her fists.
"And so you picked the three of them up and here we stand?" Mr. Hudson mocked.
"Note quite, sir. You see, my ship only tracked down M—Captain Sparrow and Miss Swann. Mr. Turner had been taken by Captain Barbossa into the caverns, leaving their other prisoners marooned. We set the anchor at the mouth of the caverns," James said, interrupting what could have only been another smug comment. "The crew came out. We fought. Captain Sparrow came out soon after with both Mr. Turner and Miss Swann."
"Where was Captain Barbossa?"
"Very dead," James said with a gulp. Muffled laughs echoed throughout the room, drowned out by Judge Myers' gavel.
"I will rephrase the question for Commodore Norrington. What were the circumstances that led to Captain Barbossa's death?"
"Captain Sparrow shot him…in self-defense."
"Self defense? Surely one pirate need not fear another pirate? Your compassion must not interfere with the truth, Commodore. Come now. Credit this courtroom with a little intelligence."
"It's the truth!" Elizabeth screamed, the room seeming to whoosh with the amount of heads that suddenly turned to her direction. "You can't possibly be trying him for the murder of another pirate!"
The pounding of the gavel sent a series of shivers coursing through her. Will reached for her hand. Maddening, she thought, averting her father's stare. On their way back up, her eyes caught Jack's, still looking at her and giving her a subtle shake of his head she imagined was his way of saying "shut it." Holding her breath, she waited for another question…and an answer that would hardly be considered.
"So Mr. Sparrow shot Captain Barbossa and fled with his two hostages. Thank you, Commodore. Since Miss Swann seems so anxious to speak, perhaps we should proceed. Miss?"
A guard snaked through those in the crowd unable to find a seat and extended his arm to her. Bunching a handful of her dress, she followed him through all the way to the box. She kept her eyes on the sunshine-drenched windows just past the face of the man asking her to swear to tell the truth. Swallowing, Elizabeth sat down and folded her hands in her lap.
"Elizabeth Catherine Swann."
"Daughter of the governor. Describe your relationship to Mister Sparrow."
"I had fallen from the fort into the water," she said after a moment's pause. "He dove in and rescued me."
"Aren't you leaving out a few details, Miss Swann, such as what he did after he 'rescued' you?" Mr. Hudson asked, a white caterpillar eyebrow inching its way up his forehead in suspicion. "There was quite an upset on the dock that day, something about using you as a hostage, perhaps?"
"I do not recall…"
"You don't recall Mister Sparrow using his own chains to snatch you from the safety of your father and force his own escape?"
"Jack was arrested that very day…" Her heart hammered against her chest, but all she could do was sigh. To say she made a poor showing was a gross understatement. There was nothing she could say, and her stomach drove that point home to her, churning and fluttering about, nauseating her more than a choppy sea could.
"Jack, you say? Such familiarity. But I do now recall Commodore Norrington picked the two of you up from a desert isle and afterwards he shot a pirate dead."
"And yet murder is not one of his charges!" she snapped.
"Should kidnapping be, Miss Swann? You've heard all the evidence, as have every person in this courtroom. To come up here and tell half-truths wastes their time as well as my own. Mister Sparrow used you, used Mr. Turner, used everyone involved for his own gain and now that he's finally caught, you come up here and essentially render him a saint. Your Honor, I have no more questions for this witness. She's obviously in love with the accused."
Before Elizabeth could even wet her dropped lip, a cynical laugh erupted. She followed it to Jack, smirking right up at her and Judge Myers.
"Let's not forget the dear Commodore defended me," Jack said from his seat, his hands drumming on the table, his chains clanging in accompaniment. "Oh, and I believe Mr. Turner volunteered to take up for me also. Looks like they'll have to fight Miss Swann for my affections."
She felt a small smile begin to prickle, the rest of the courtroom blushing at their own laughter. Jack turned back to her and gave her a nod.
"Silence!" Judge Myers bellowed. "I'll not have anyone turning this man's trial into a free-for-all."
"Does that mean you're in love with me too, Judge?" Jack asked.
"Quiet! Miss Swann, kindly step down, please." The old judge rubbed his temple, his forehead wrinkled. "Mr. Turner?"
Elizabeth shuffled her way back to the side wall. She could feel all their eyes still on her, stories already forming in their minds, and she knew just how imaginative people who were otherwise completely drab could be when gossip reared its pernicious head. Passing James, she recoiled at his attempt to place his hand on her shoulder. Passing Will, he brushed her hand as he went by, his hair pulled back and his only long-sleeved shirt starched. Finally she let her back fall against the cool spot on the wall and flicked open her fan. Her face burned.
"I'm very proud of you, Elizabeth," Father whispered.
"It's all for not."
"We shall see. You made an excellent point, and I'm sure Will's testimony will be contemplated." He patted her and turned his attentions to Will. For the briefest of seconds, she could see herself lashing out at her father, clawing and ripping away at him until there would be nothing left but for her to continue the rampage into the crowd. It must be the heat, she thought. And the injustice. Yes. Injustice simply made the room stifling.
"She would have died had I not gone after her!" The rare sound of Will's voice rising called her out of her violent fantasy. Good, dear Will. Yes. There was just something about him that made you trust whatever he said, that gave you a limitless supply of faith in him.
"Did Commodore Norrington not tell you moments before you aided a pirate that he and his men were starting a rescue party?"
"Mr. Hudson, I have been granted clemency by Governor Swann himself. I cannot have my testimony dismissed by you for abetting a pirate." Will took a breath and Elizabeth clasped her hands together. Will was the last hope. "Jack could have turned me over at any moment and he led everyone to believe he would, but it was for my well-being. He held his end of our bargain, as did I."
Guilty. Guilty of countless charges, some of the crimes she had never even heard of, and yet Jack had chosen silence when asked if he had anything to say. Maybe by then he just felt it wasn't worth wasting what breath he was still allowed.
Tossing onto her other side, Elizabeth tunneled her hands under her pillow, refusing to blow out the candle. The execution was scheduled for Friday, and while she lied between imported sheets, Jack probably had nothing but a bale of straw smeared in excrement. Wrinkling her nose at the image, she hopped out of bed and threw on her slippers and robe.
"Will! Will!" The blacksmith shop's second floor never seemed so high to her. She had heard from the townspeople that had she been here fifteen years ago, the streets would be seething with pirates and various other residue. But since James arrived, when most of the people who made up her world arrived, not even a stray cat ran rampant.
"Elizabeth!" She heard his feet sprinting down the rickety steps, through the workshop, and to the front door to let her inside the shop. "What are you doing here?"
"Will, we need to do something. What happened today was a travesty. I can't even put into words…" she trailed off, afraid of the tears that might fall if she continued.
"It's not right. Well then, I best be off to Tortuga."
"You'd go to Tortuga?"
"That's the most likely place I can think of to find Gibbs. Once I tell them Jack's been found guilty and is scheduled for a hanging, they'll have to come for him."
"Will, they took his ship. What makes you think they'll come back for him?"
"I don't know," he whispered, staring at the ground. "Come inside before someone sees you. You shouldn't be here. If Norrington…"
"Leave James to me," she said, harsher than she wanted. "I might still be able to change his mind." She locked eyes with his suspicious ones. "So you'd go to Tortuga? Yes. Yes, that will work. It has to. Come back to the house with me and I'll give you some money. Once you're there and you find them, send one of them to me. Promise them I'll pay them. I'll give the message to Jack and we can work from there. You know how to get him out. You did it before."
"I have a feeling they won't let me within a mile of him."
"We can't worry about that now. Finding Gibbs has to be the first thing. Oh, Will. I'd be lost if it weren't for you!" She lifted her arms to throw around his neck, but remembered her promise to James. In a broken motion, she dropped them back down to her sides. "I could go if you don't want to."
"That's the last place I want to imagine you," Will said, sheathing a sword from one of the tables. "I can get to the harbor tonight and be there by early morning. Of course that probably means I'll have to wait a few hours for everyone to sleep off their drunkenness." He gave her a half-smile. "If I don't make it back in time, you'll have to convince your father or Norrington to make a case for him. Wouldn't it be something if this went all the way up to the king? He wouldn't take our side, but it would certainly buy Jack some time."
"Come back to the house with me. You'll need a place to stay when you get there, and food, and I'm sure you'll have to pay some people for information." She opened the door, her stride widening with every step.
"Elizabeth. I'm not penniless. I can take my own provisions." He opened up one of the barrels in the corner and tightened the strings on a leather bag. "This should be enough to see me through."
"You're stealing from Mr. Brown?"
"No!" he laughed. "This is mine. He's the one who steals from me. I figured I'd hide my money where he'd be the least likely to go…his work." He crossed to her, looking down into her eyes. He tilted his face down to her at the same time she tilted hers up, his lips dangling in front of her. "See what you can do here. Keep a weather eye on the horizon."
The door flew open and he ran off into the night, opposite the direction of the house. Elizabeth glanced up at the sky, no moon tonight. No Will. No justice. Sighing, she began the walk back to her house where Estrella would be waiting at the back door to let her in and listen to her rants. The things being taken by pirates does to you, she thought.
A/N: Hi! A few notes. I don't know much about British law, even less about what it was like at this time. I read a few pirate trials from Under the Black Flag, which I highly recommend if you have an interest in historical pirates, and they were pretty much just formalities like this one. Because of the time the story takes place, there is some W/E in this story, and even a little bit of N/E, but my readers know me and who my couple is...you won't be disappointed! Please leave a review. More is to come! Oh, and I don't own this kick-ass series. Would I seriously be writing fanfiction if I did?