James Norrington adored the piano. He had one in the front parlor of his home. The wood from which the instrument was created was some of the highest quality, and the keys were carved from luxurious ivory. Nothing was more relaxing than sipping a glass of fine wine while listening to exquisite music from a piano.
Not that James could play the piano, of course.
It was not for a lack of trying—it was mostly for a lack of time. Well, time and musical talent. But after all, James worked all day at the fort, and by the time he got home, he was generally far too tired to attempt to teach his fingers to play. Perhaps if he had the time, he would be able to play beautifully.
Or, at least, that is what he would tell himself when he did find free time. His fingers would clumsily hit the keys, and he would struggle over reading the sheet music before him. Although his mother had always tried to implant knowledge of music into his head, James had lacked talent in music, and, at the time, the desire to learn.
However, this inability to play piano did not stop James from trying. Attempting to learn piano was his favorite pastime—besides work itself. James wished that he could play; or, at least, to have a servant who could play for him. But alas, no such servant appeared to exist in Port Royal, and James had to concede to the fact that beautiful music would likely never come from his piano.
But James also did not count on meeting a certain Lieutenant Gillette.
As a Captain, James wished to acquaint himself with the new officers he would be working with in his future, and as such, he decided to throw a dinner party for such officers. He hired the best chef in town to prepare a delicious meal for his guests. The only flaw, he decided, would have to be the lack of a pianist.
The dinner was, overall, quite dull. No one was truly interesting, save for a Lieutenant Groves, who became less polite when he drank his wine. Although his propriety was in question after James heard some of his more dirty jokes, James decided that he liked Groves. He was, at least, an interesting person.
As the evening drew to a close, James began to relax and feel calmer as some of the last of his guests left. Groves thanked him for the wonderful food and drink before commenting on the music and saying something about loving "that André." Before James had a chance to ask what the Lieutenant meant, Groves said farewell.
It was then that James finally realized the true reason for his sudden sense of calm—lovely music was echoing into the foyer from the front parlor. Curious, James closed his front door and went to see who was playing his piano.
The officer and apparent musician was hunched over the piano, his hands moving fluidly across the keys. From behind, James was unable to ascertain the gentleman's identity. "Lieutenant?" James guessed from the man's uniform.
The man turned sharply, apparently quite startled. He quickly swung his legs to the front of the piano bench and got to his feet. "Captain Norrington! I apologize; I saw this and I just had to play. I have never seen its equal." The man shifted his weight nervously.
James surveyed the young man, noticing, in particular, a lock of auburn hair that had escaped from the man's wig. "Lieutenant Gillette, isn't it?" James said, stepping toward the piano.
James put a hand on his piano, gently stroking his fingers across some of the fine wood. "You play beautifully."
"Thank you, Captain." Gillette appeared both flattered and embarrassed. Looking past James and through the door to the foyer, Gillette asked, "Have most of the guests gone home?"
"All but one," James said with a small smile. Gillette's eyes widened as he understood and he stuttered an apology. "They've only just left, Lieutenant. You are not imposing," James said to calm the man. "In fact, if you continue playing, I may ask you to stay for another drink."
Lieutenant Gillette appeared rather startled and unsure if the Captain was serious. After a moment, he sat back down and began to play timidly. But as James poured two glasses of brandy, Gillette became more confident and began to play louder and brighter.
James returned to the piano and leaned against the wall next to it. Gillette again appeared to be unaware of James' presence as he played. His eyes were closed, which amazed James, who could not fathom how someone could play the piano without watching at their hands.
"Amazing," James breathed. A small smile played on Gillette's lips in response.
Gillette glanced up at him for a moment as he played, and a minute later he said, "Shame you didn't smile much at dinner. You've got a nice smile, sir."
James put a hand to his lip and was surprised when he realized that he was indeed smiling. "I suppose your playing is more elating than the dinner conversation."
"I'm glad you enjoy the music, sir."
Before James knew it, he was inviting the young Lieutenant to tea the next day.
And the next day.
And again the day after that.
And then James and André, for that was Gillette's Christian name, found themselves spending every spare evening together. James found himself unable to spend an evening alone, now so used to André's lovely piano playing calming him after a day's work at the fort.
"Do you have family in Port Royal, André?"
André's hands froze over the keys of the piano. After a moment, he said, "No, sir."
"Does that explain why you choose to spend your evenings with me?"
James was certain that he saw a tinge of pink appear on André's cheeks. "Partially, sir." André coughed uncomfortably. "Actually, sir, I have no living family at all."
"Oh – I'm sorry, André."
James suddenly wished that he had not asked.
"What about you, sir?"
James slowly shook his head. "No one here. And only distant relatives in England. I'm alone, too."
"Are you, sir?" André quickly averted his eyes from James and back to the piano. "I mean, I'm here. I'm your…I like to think that we're friends, sir." When James said nothing, André began to play again, a slow, sad song that almost brought tears to James' eyes.
"Yes, André. You are my friend."
James saw the hint of a smile on André's face. "I'm glad…James."
And André continued to play the piano.