42 – Triangle

"Elizabeth, you look absolutely breathtaking tonight. Happy birthday." James Norrington said, for once not stumbling over his words as he'd been taken to doing as of late in her presence. He wasn't quite sure when the girl he once knew on a ship bound for the Caribbean had flowered into the woman standing before him, but alas there she was.

She granted him a small, close-lipped smile. "Thank you, James. Though I'm hardly worried about taking the breath away from any of my guests."

James wanted to interrupt her. Can't you see? Just the sight of you here makes me breathless.

"Father insists on inviting all of his bureaucrat friends and they're all so old. I don't know how he expects to find me a proper suitor in this crowd."

Ah, I see your father hasn't mentioned his persistent prodding in my direction, then. "Ah, I wouldn't worry about that. Your father is a smart man and I'm sure he has a plan for all of us. In all likelihood, you'll have suitors lined up for you by year's end. You're the loveliest girl in all of Port Royal, after all."

"Woman now, remember?" she corrected him.

James smiled, enjoying his success at holding her affection. "Of course. Elizabeth, would you care to join me for a dance?"

But he had already noticed her attention wavering. The way her eyes lit up when she momentarily glanced at the door, a cheshire grin replacing her polite smile. He looked back over his shoulder, following her line of sight and his eyes fell on a dark-eyed young man. William Turner. That young blacksmith apprentice. Hardly material for a gala of this caliber. And yet here he was, making the woman James intended to marry smile with his mere presence.

"I'm sorry Lieutenant, what were you saying?"

James turned back to Elizabeth, her mask of propriety securely back in place. All his progress dashed to hell by a simple blacksmith.

"It was nothing, Miss Swann," he murmured, falling back into stiff politeness, "Enjoy your party, but I must mingle, as it were." He bowed, hoping she wouldn't see the disappointment on his face.

"Again, thank you." Elizabeth said with a curtsy and a smile, but her eyes betrayed her secret.