Pairing: Jack/Norrington (implied), Norrington/Groves (implied).
Rating: PG-13 for m/m slashy hints and Excessive Angst. But the NC-17 part is in the final chapter after this one.
Archive: Yes, help yourself; include all chapters please.
Beta: Moonsalt (I WILL convert you, dearie! MUAHAHAHA) (Is it working yet?)
Disclaimer: Mouse & Bruckheimer Productions owns all, except Jack Sparrow who belongs to J.Depp. ;-)
Author's Note: cupidity (n) Formal - 'Strong desire for wealth or possessions.' (Latin-cupere: 'to long for')
Series: The Cupid Series
1: Cupid's Sparrow
4: A Taste of Heaven
5: Sugar Rush
6: White Gold
7: Gentlemen of Fortune
Summary: What price is a kiss? Reparations in the wake of the Black Pearl's raid on the Turner Wedding Banquet is combined with the Turner Honeymoon in an attempt to capture afore-mentioned Black Pearl, and her erstwhile captain. But that captain is Jack Sparrow, and therefore not easily captured.
The Cupid Series
Governor Swann was pacing the floor of Norrington's office. "The entire town is in an uproar," he fretted. "The loudest voice to speak out against you was Robert Humphries. I'm sure I don't have to remind you he's one of the largest contributors to our coffers. He claims our Naval presence was compromised by your actions. And now others are insisting upon immediate redress. They say this is the second time that particular pirate ship has sacked Port Royal, and it is our fault for allowing Sparrow to escape, a year ago as well as last night."
"I'm well-aware of all of this, Governor," Norrington said, curtly. "You don't have to remind me. We have a far more pressing matter. The continued presence of the Black Pearl in these waters is going to have more than the citizens of Port Royal upset. Our efficiency was compromised by the event of your daughter's wedding." He straightened at the Governor's wounded, angry reaction to his words. "Not that it was an unhappy event, or unwelcome. I only mean that with the celebration in effect, our cannons were not trained on the harbor at the time, but in the sky, for the display. That simple show of force would have been deterrent enough, if Sparrow hadn't already been aware of the date of the wedding and known ahead of time what it meant."
Governor Swann sat down heavily. "We'll have to delay the honeymoon."
Norrington remained standing, and drummed his fingers on the desktop. "Perhaps not," he mused.
The Governor frowned. "What do you mean?"
"It is entirely possible that the pirates expect us to give chase. If it appears as though we will ignore them, giving them the impression that we have no idea where they are, although assuredly they are lurking about somewhere nearby, it will lull them into a false sense of security. Sparrow has yet to contact either your daughter or Mr. Turner, and I suspect he will attempt to do so before too long. If we can draw him out, with our three ships together against the Black Pearl, he cannot win."
Governor Swann looked scandalized. "I'll not have my daughter used as bait! That is a dangerous and improper plan - and you'll do no such thing."
Norrington sighed and pressed fingertips to his aching temples. His hangover was fiercely relentless. "What would you suggest?" he asked, dryly. "Wait for Sparrow to come into port and ask him if he wouldn't mind giving himself up quietly?"
Governor Swann gave him a curious frown. "I'd rather hoped your mood would have improved, considering our new crisis. You've been moping about for months, waiting for something like this to happen."
Stung, Norrington stood straighter once more. Icily, he managed, "Considering that it is your daughter and son-in-law's presence here which has precipitated Sparrow's renewed interest in Port Royal, I would suggest you rethink your position regarding my plan. Bait or not, she is hardly at risk if I'm there in person, with our entire complement of guns aboard all three ships. Even with his ship, Sparrow would want to negotiate at such a show of force."
"She's my daughter! I will not allow her to accompany you on a mission designed to see action!"
"Then how do we draw him out?"
Governor Swann looked impotently furious at his question. "We could send the ship off without either of them aboard, and make it look as though they have embarked on their honeymoon after all, and hope he gives chase."
Norrington sighed. "You're right. It's an absurd plan. There's not a single chance that Sparrow won't already have considered it."
There was a knock on his door. "Come in!" Norrington exclaimed, not relishing the interruption.
It would undoubtedly be more bad news. At least, so he hoped. The worse the situation got, the more it was likely to provide some real diversion. Enough diversion, perhaps, to distract him from the more personal and disturbing matter of both his reaction to Jack Sparrow and the memory of those absurdly disturbing kisses, and Groves' reaction to him, which was now a little haunting for both of them, truth be told. Groves could no longer look him in the eye.
As fate would have it, it was Gillette. Norrington relaxed in slight relief. "What is it, Lieutenant?"
"It's the Turners, Sir. They're gone."
Governor Swann got to his feet in consternation. "What do you mean, they're gone? Where?"
"That's exactly it, Sir," Gillette said, directing his answer at Norrington. "Commodore, they left this, addressed to yourself."
He handed him a scroll of parchment.
Norrington quickly unrolled it and read it, upon which was written:
To Commodore Norrington, head of His Majesty's Royal Navy of Port Royal
To be brief, the Turners have decided to depart somewhat prematurely than planned upon their honeymoon, aboard the Black Pearl as the guests of myself, Captain Jack Sparrow, and Company, until such time as they request to be returned to Port Royal.
The one question upon Turner, Sparrow and Company's lips is this: what price is a kiss? Should you wish to answer the question, we are willing to rendezvous with you at the coordinates below.
Captain Jack Sparrow
Poste Scriptum: Everyone is in agreement that it is most unusual for a Commodore of the Royal Navy to not consider an exchange of a kiss for the equal value of coin placed upon it. However, rum is a most beguiling negotiator, as recognized by His Majesty's Navy, Captain Sparrow and Company (of which the Turners are a part, at this time, until such time as they disembark).
Norrington quickly rolled up the parchment, biting back an oath. The pirate was taunting him.
Governor Swann was perturbed. "What does it say?"
"The Turners are aboard Sparrow's ship. Whether they have been kidnapped or have gone willingly is not pertinent, as no doubt they will consider the entire thing to be a caper, and nothing more."
Governor Swann sat back down and let out a groan. "Elizabeth. Why? Will she never settle?"
Norrington regarded him with a frown. "We have no alternative now. We'll have to simply meet Sparrow at the coordinates he's issued, and hope that he'll release them into our care." And then he added sarcastically, "Assuming, of course, that they wish to return."
Privately, Norrington cursed Sparrow yet again, for it was all too clear that the pirate was mocking him. And on a personal matter, no less. Then he cursed himself for being so addled the previous night that he hadn't thought of it himself. Why had he allowed himself to be drawn into the ludicrous notion that the forfeit of a kiss was the only option, when they had set the rules down themselves for their impromptu drinking contest: if the item was not to be relinquished, an equal value of moneys could be paid in lieu of the item itself. What price a kiss, indeed?
At this point, he wondered if the price had turned out to be far higher than was appropriate, considering the damage to the hall and the sensibilities of the folk of Port Royal, not to mention the loss in terms of personal effects and jewels which had been stolen last night, robbed from people's own bodies by pirates threatening them with cutlasses and pistols.
It had all been a diversion, and yet here he was, being drawn into yet another of Sparrow's diversionary tactics… With the Turners being used as bait, just as he would have attempted, himself.
"The Turners are friends of Sparrow's," Norrington mused aloud.
The Governor gave out a little exclamation of annoyance and anguish. "Don't remind me."
"Take heart, Governor," Norrington said. "It's a game to them, and to him. This might indeed be just the event we've been looking for, to exercise our men, our ships, and find a little activity. He won't harm them. There isn't any profit or amusement to be had from it."
Gillette put in, "If I might venture, Sir, the Turners left the ballroom last night just moments before the pirates attacked the hall. It is entirely possible they had fair warning."
Norrington nodded. "Quite possibly. In fact, most probably. Sparrow was a diversion, from the secondary diversion of the attack on the ballroom, which was arranged to cover their escape to the Black Pearl under cover of night, when all would expect them to be making for their home, on their wedding night. Any loud noises resulting from the raid on the hall would be covered by the fireworks, which we arranged along with the cannon fire for the display after dark. Clever."
Governor Swann was leaning with his head in his hand, propped on his elbow. He looked glumly resigned. "So, will you go bring my daughter back?"
Norrington gave him a brief smile. "Are you certain you want me to?"
Governor Swann answered, "Is it worth it? Maybe she needs the adventure. She's been complaining of feeling cooped up, lately." He sighed.
Gillette muttered, "We all have, at that, Sir. We could do with stretching our legs a bit; especially our sea legs, if you take my meaning. It's better than sitting about here, waiting for the reparations to come down on our heads for allowing it to happen, last night."
Norrington dourly replied, "Agreed. Very well. We'll take both ships and make for the rendezvous point. We can't risk firing upon the Black Pearl until both Turners are safely aboard the Dauntless, but it's unlikely they'll come quietly or voluntarily, both for their own interests and to protect Sparrow. But if we can manage to find a way to capture all three of them at once, I suspect we might be able to bring the Black Pearl down for once and for all. That is certainly something to hope for."
"It's worth a shot, Sir," Gillette agreed, far too eagerly.
Governor Swann yawned. "Excuse me. Well, I suppose I shall go pack. I'll make arrangements to accompany you."
"There's really no need on this occasion," Norrington said in a deceptively innocuous tone. At Governor Swann's darkly puzzled frown, he explained, "It's unlikely you'll be able to add much incentive for her to return. In fact, she's all the more likely to suspect something is up."
Governor Swann raised a brow at him. "I fail to see the distinction. And she is my daughter, therefore I'm accompanying you." He got up and went to the door. "I could do with the exercise, myself. Anything is better than having to speak further with Humphries," he added in an undertone.
Norrington glowered at Swann's departure from his office. With the girl's father aboard, she was more likely to refuse to come quietly.
Gillette remained where he was, watching Norrington. Who had noticed something interesting.
"What is it, Sir?"
Norrington murmured his reply, not taking his eyes from his chart on the desk. "It would seem that the Black Pearl is taking the Turners here, to a point near Hispaniola."
Gillette turned his head to have a better look. "They might be making for Tortuga."
Norrington shook his head. "Most likely they'll make for it after dropping the Turners off with us. I suspect the Turners requested Sparrow's assistance, as you suggested." He exhaled, heavily. "This is supposed to be my consolation prize, I think, as Elizabeth intended." He raised his eyes to meet Gillette's, and gave a wry smile.
Gillette scoffed, "They're playing with fire, Sir."
"Indeed," Norrington agreed.
It was late afternoon when the crew of the Dauntless sighted the distinctive black sails and hulking largesse that was the Black Pearl on the horizon. Right where Sparrow's missive had stated it would be, Norrington thought. They'd been lucky, catching the same wind the Black Pearl had earlier in the day.
The Sterling Hinde and the Intrepid followed close in the Dauntless' wake. Governor Swann awaited the truant Turners aboard the Sterling Hinde, their original ship for their cruise. This unscheduled stopover would only delay the Turners' honeymoon by a day. Governor Swann had reluctantly agreed that his presence aboard the Dauntless was unnecessary.
After the effects of his hangover had mostly fled, and Norrington had recovered from his foul temper from the morning, he grimly clung to the hope that the three ships might at last corral the Black Pearl and sink her. Another hope, a secondary one, was determined to see the Black Pearl raise the white flag and remove Sparrow's crew with little fighting. Failing either option, Norrington considered the final goal held in abeyance: the chance that Sparrow would turn tail and run. With three ships bearing down on her current position, the Black Pearl did not stand a chance of escaping with anything less than mortal wounds.
A sudden shout alerted him. Another sail on the horizon. Mystified, he raised his glass, and was equally confused at what he beheld. Another ship, a slightly smaller vessel but very light and fast, was bearing down on the Black Pearl, and it seemed likely to meet her long before their three Navy ships could.
Norrington absently gnawed on his lower lip at this new development.
"Friends of Jack Sparrow's, do you think?" Gillette was standing nearby.
"Possibly. Or an arrangement, just before our arrival. I'm beginning to believe it was prudence to bring all three ships here."
To his discomfiture, however, as he watched the continued pace of the other ship making directly for the Black Pearl, he saw it run up the famed skull and crossed cutlasses. These cutlasses were reddened on the tips. Norrington frowned as the Black Pearl promptly ran up her flag, the unbloodied swords and skull. This looked to be a clash.
As they began to near both ships themselves, Norrington could see a great deal of activity on both decks. Then a boat was lowered from the Black Pearl and even from where he stood, a good distance off yet, Norrington sighed. He knew it was the Turners, no doubt forced to flee due to the imminent engagement of the Black Pearl with the enemy ship.
Sure enough, within minutes of the longboat bearing the Turners leaving the Black Pearl's side, cannon fire was exchanged. The thundering retorts boomed distantly over the surface of the ocean where the Dauntless, the Intrepid and the Sterling Hinde still sailed towards them.
Foolish, foolish children, Norrington thought. What had the Turners expected, boarding a pirate ship? At least Sparrow'd had the sense to make them leave.
Cannon fire flew thick and fast and it appeared that the two crews were about to board each other. As the three ships gradually came close enough to hear the bloodthirsty cries and shattering cannons, Norrington ordered them to slow, keeping a safe distance from where the two pirate vessels were engaged.
He lifted the glass again, and saw a very disgruntled Elizabeth and Will making directly for them. As for the battle, as it continued to rage, the smoke making things difficult to discern, Norrington could see that the other ship that had attacked the Black Pearl was the Blarney Cock.
"It's Lynch," he said, a predatory note creeping into his voice.
Gillette responded to it with glee. "Red Ned Lynch?! That bastard! We've got them, Sir! We can take them both, we outnumber them. Wait until they're weakened from each other's fire, and then take them both!"
Norrington considered this. "Possibly. Let them exhaust themselves. The fact that they are fighting each other upon our arrival won't be lost on either Lynch or Sparrow. They may band together and attempt to make a stand, for as long as we appear to move against them. Let's wait a while."
Soon enough, the Turners' longboat came abreast and the Turners stood looking up at Norrington. "If you'd be so kind as to tell us what the hell Sparrow was thinking, engaging Lynch like that? Especially with our approach so close?"
Will looked innocently up at Norrington. He spread his hands. "I'm not sure, Commodore. It seems they're old enemies, from a long time back. Jack ordered us off the ship and told us to make for your ships; it seems they have an old score to settle. He said you could watch the fun if you wished."
"Bloody pirates," Elizabeth exclaimed, obviously put out at this rude interruption of her honeymoon.
"Indeed," Norrington agreed. "Make for the Sterling Hinde. You can continue aboard her, on your honeymoon. But be warned, we may yet have to get involved."
Will nodded, and Elizabeth was muttering something only Will could hear. Unaccountably, Will was laughing.
Norrington frowned. And hefted his glass upwards towards the battle once more. Something was bothering him. It felt amiss, somehow.
The fighting showed no sign of letting up. Norrington began to consider it a ruse. Ordering the Dauntless and the other two ships to continue into the fray, he watched both ships carefully.
Sure enough, as the three British ships began to tread too near, the fighting ceased, the cannon fire stopped, and in the clearing smoke, Norrington and indeed the company of all three British ships could see the Blarney Cock and the Black Pearl abruptly break away from their fighting and move apart in opposite directions.
"They're both running," Gillette said, angrily. "We could chase them both down. We could take Sparrow with the Intrepid and the Dauntless. The Sterling Hinde could take Lynch."
"No," Norrington said. "Absolutely not. That's what they're hoping for. We have to choose one of them. Besides, I'm not going to engage the Hinde. She's backup."
Gillette was staring at him.
Norrington ordered, "If we try to catch both at once, we'll lose both and be left holding nothing. At this point, Lynch is the lesser prize. Make for Sparrow."
But Norrington now feared that they really could not hope to catch up with either of the pirate vessels. The Blarney Cock was light and very fast. The Black Pearl was, as always, unmatchable. Even going flat out, he knew bitterly that both ships were safe from them today. Even as all three of their British vessels sped after the Black Pearl, she easily moved out of range, beyond their grasp.
Norrington was angry. All this maneuvering, for nothing. He knew they'd probably make for Tortuga; they were in the vicinity, after all. And considering the Governor and his daughter and son-in-law were aboard the Hinde, he really didn't care to sail all three ships into that port and engage virtually the entire remaining nest of pirates simultaneously. There was too much that could go wrong.
Oh well. At least the escort of the Turners on their honeymoon was underway. The brief flicker of pulse that the excitement had encouraged would last for a little while, but it was too full of disappointment for them to enjoy it.
Norrington was conveyed a message from the Turners later that evening, to the effect that the entire thing had been for show, for the British ships' benefit. Lynch and Sparrow had apparently planned the showdown to confuse them, and would be meeting up in Tortuga together.
When Norrington angrily relayed a message back to them, demanding to know why they'd not informed him of this upon their return to the Sterling Hinde, Elizabeth responded with a pointed observation.
Neither she nor Will had been in the know, and it wasn't until they had both worked out the identity of the mysterious woman aboard Lynch's ship between themselves that the truth had dawned: she was Captain Lynch's wife and beloved, the daughter of Sir James Barnett of Kingston, married to him two years previously after the demise of the acting Lord Governor Durant.
Durant had famously and notoriously created a stir amongst the people and the gentry of Kingston alike, not to mention making waves throughout Jamaica, for his greedy corruption and strange perversions.
Thus, neither the Turners nor Sparrow, nor even Lynch, could be brought to bear and Norrington was left sitting with nothing, yet again.
Norrington glowered to himself and retreated to the cabin where he proceeded to cautiously sit with a bottle of brandy for the remainder of the evening.
At the knock on the door, Norrington called out, "Enter."
Pouring a very small amount of brandy into his glass, he looked up.
Lieutenant Groves stood there, spine stiffly upright, eyes front. "Sir. I hoped I might have a word with you. To put matters to rest."
Norrington nodded. "I probably should have sent for you before now. My apologies; the entire debacle with Sparrow and Lynch has soured the start of our escort. Care for a spot of brandy?"
Groves swallowed nervously and came to stand before his table, careful to keep the table between them. "No, thank you, Sir."
Norrington regarded this move, thoughtfully, and knocked back the sip of brandy.
Groves cleared his throat. "Sir, my behavior last night was entirely inappropriate."
"As was mine," Norrington put in, before Groves could proceed to make a complete fool of himself. "Considering our brief stint at piracy, in the commandeering of the punch bowl, I daresay we called Sparrow's visit upon ourselves. I feel thoroughly chastened by the experience. As I believe you do also."
"Indeed, Sir," Groves agreed, a bit too fervently. "It's just - well, Sir, it…" He trailed off, hesitantly.
Norrington rubbed his eyes with one hand. "Sit down, Lieutenant," he said, wearily. As Groves did so, he continued, "Rum and Jack Sparrow would appear to be the only two evils necessary to release a combined influence of mayhem and misbehavior. I'm willing to forget last night if you are."
Groves glanced up at him, meeting his gaze momentarily.
Norrington was surprised to see the pain in them. He raised his brows, and poured a small measure of brandy into his glass, not even enough to cover his first knuckle. With a wry smile, he said, "I'm even willing to forget the indiscretions that led up to our garden tryst with the pirate, Groves."
Unfortunately, the pained look in Groves' eyes deepened at this. But still he said nothing.
"You're a good officer, one of my best men. I cannot afford to have you compromised by such a minor circumstance in which I myself was the leading perpetrator. I take full responsibility for the altercation with Humphries, of that you can be sure."
But everything he said only appeared to further Groves' hurt. He gradually became aware that he was in fact saying everything Groves didn't want to hear. In a painfully abrupt moment of realization, he could see the situation from the lieutenant's position, and he realized that the young man was in fact already compromised. Just as much as Norrington had found himself compromised the night before, by Jack Sparrow.
Groves was lucky, Norrington considered, darkly. His career was in good hands, protected by a superior officer who could shoulder his own part in the mess and not have any of it reflect upon Groves himself. Whereas Jack Sparrow would no doubt make Norrington famous now for the Dreaded Pirate Hunter who hangs pirates… after trysting with them in midnight gardens in a state of inebriated dishabille and debauchery. The scripted scrawl of Sparrow's on the damning scroll he'd received in the morning still burned into his mind, not letting him rest.
Bitterly, he said formally to his forlorn lieutenant, "Is there anything else?"
But before Groves could respond, there was a sudden shouting outside the cabin. A pounding on the door made them both start and jump to their feet.
"Commodore! Sir! It's the Black Pearl! She's here, Sir!"
Swearing, Norrington struggled to get to the door fast enough. Throwing it open, he glanced about wildly.
To the shock of all three ships in their convoy, the Black Pearl was sliding right in between the Dauntless - and the two ships behind the Dauntless, cutting them off momentarily. The crews of the other two ships were panicking as the huge ship lay directly ahead of them.
Like a giant whale, the Black Pearl slid effortlessly out of the path of the following Intrepid and Sterling Hinde, and with barely-concealed fury, Norrington caught up with Gillette.
"What the hell is going on?"
Gillette said, tightly, "She came out of nowhere; no warning at all. Do you think they intend to engage, Sir? We should make ready the guns."
But the Black Pearl was nearly invisible, once she'd left the perimeter of the guttering torches, and Norrington swallowed down a shaft of fear as they watched her silently glide off into the impenetrable gloom. The cloud cover wasn't letting the rising moon shine at all, and the sea seemed far too close about them. The horizon on every side appeared to be filled with clouds that made it difficult to gauge where the Black Pearl could have gone.
It was almost as if they were being hunted. He was unaccustomed to it, and decided that there was no way he was going to let this go without answering. "Fire on her last position, as soon as we can. Do it now," he ordered.
It might be considered wasteful, but the gesture would undoubtedly be expected. Norrington glared into the inky darkness of the waves, where the night had swallowed the Pearl.
A few minutes later, one of the cannons fired, in the direction the Pearl had disappeared, and although it didn't hit their target, he could have sworn, as he stood peering into its path, it had illuminated Sparrow's ship just ahead of it.
Norrington nodded grimly. "He's playing with us. Trying to rattle our cage. Keep a close watch out for another attempt."
But although they waited all night, there was neither sight nor sound of the Black Pearl, and in the first rays of dawn, watchful eyes could see no black sails anywhere on their patch of blue.
Norrington wondered if it had become a dance. Which was the hunter, and which was the hunted? Maybe they were taking turns. He had been certain Sparrow would make for Tortuga and meet up with his other pirate ilk, there to triumph in over-inflated tales of their plundering of Port Royal the night before, and the subsequent successful joke upon them earlier that day.
Norrington stayed in his cabin, staring at the charts. Gradually, his officers gathered in there with him. Voices were raised.
In the end, he sent them out with orders to merely watch for any sign of Sparrow's ship, to their sullen chagrin.
Days passed, and Norrington hoped that the tension and nervous anticipation of their next brush with the Black Pearl was enough excitement for the Turners, seeing as they had so longed for some sort of 'adventure' for their honeymoon. He received a small measure of satisfaction when he'd heard the rumors, that the Turners were well-chastised for their participation in Jack Sparrow's latest game, with the sleeplessness and nervousness they were also having to endure.
Finally, the Turners broke, and word came that they were requesting their 'honeymoon' be curtailed, and that the entire convoy return home.
The Black Pearl was sighted twice that day, always just over the horizon, obviously pacing them. Norrington began to consider the possibility that they were being scouted.
Ignoring the Pearl now, he made all haste back to Port Royal. They arrived late in the evening.
The entire town was in an uproar. By the time the ships had docked, unloaded, and the men had dispersed, Norrington found himself caught up with Governor Swann in a tangled mess of people, all demanding to know why the city of Port Royal had been abandoned for so long.
By the time Norrington got to the bottom of the stories, he was more than a little angered to discover that the entire time Sparrow had led them on a merry chase around the sea, Lynch's ship, the Blarney Cock, had been marauding up and down the Jamaican coast with abandon, knowing full well that Norrington was otherwise engaged. Port Royal had been sacked three times, twice by Lynch and once by another ship known only as the Seashell. No one knew who the captain of the latter ship was, although it was rumored he was young and untried. For a relatively inexperienced pirate captain, however, he'd led the Seashell successfully into a raid and emerged from it glutted with the remainder of the plunder Lynch had not touched in his previous two raids of Port Royal. Kingston had suffered similarly. Several small towns all along the south coast of Jamaica had also been hit.
Norrington considered his resignation.
Norrington entered Governor Swann's study. The governor brightened. "Ah, Commodore. It's good to see you. Come in, come in. Have a seat."
Norrington sat down wearily, wondering how the events of the past week had treated Weatherby Swann. He'd received very little news.
Governor Swann sat back in his chair and smiled cheerfully. "I'm returning to England. I think Elizabeth will return with me. I'd already been considering my retirement as my daughter's wedding day approached, and with things being what they are, well…" He chuckled. "I'm sure you understand. This way, I can still leave with some modicum of a reputation intact."
Norrington breathed out. "I'm sorry to hear that, Governor. You will be missed. Are you sure that your decision isn't overly influenced, pressured even, by the worthies of Port Royal?"
Governor Swann's eyes twinkled. "I have them to thank for my final decision, yes. I find that Jamaica simply doesn't hold the appeal that it once did. Politics are often like that though, I've found. Matters of state so rarely reflect the true nature of the society's heart."
Norrington nodded, then frowned. "Elizabeth is leaving also? What of William?"
Governor Swann's smile dropped. "Well, yes. Indeed. Elizabeth is used to a certain amount of privilege and quality as my daughter, that she can't expect from a blacksmith who has turned pirate. She's requested an annulment, on the grounds that the marriage was, ah, never consummated, what with the kidnapping by pirates, subsequent ordeal suffered in the wake of the pirate raids during the honeymoon, and sea battles."
Norrington's brows raised alarmingly high. Suspiciously, he said, "Indeed."
Governor Swann nodded a little, placating. "I did try to tell her, a year ago, as you recall. A blacksmith with pirate ancestry waiting in the wings was hardly the right match. She chose with her heart, but I suspect she's learned her heart beats a little too wild. Young William Turner has come of age, I think. Facing manhood, in all its trials. I daresay Port Royal will not keep him long, now."
Norrington was distressed though. "Governor, you cannot allow yourself to be blamed for the majority of the calamities that have occurred. I won't let you. The Navy's part in this was-"
Governor Swann held up his hand to forestall any of Norrington's protestations. "Your part in this was by and large influenced by myself, and just because you think can order me to do something in a military situation doesn't mean that I will." He gave Norrington a smile. "Where my daughter is concerned, I fear I shoulder the greater part of the blame. She has grown up, and I have grown older. We have a home and estate in England, and there is no reason why she cannot seek a better marriage in the heights of London society. Port Royal no longer considers her an asset. Frankly, I don't think she's very useful here. And I wish to retire. My only regret now is that I'm leaving you with the remaining, unresolved menace of the resurgent piracy in these waters."
Norrington's eyes narrowed. "Never fear, Governor. I do believe we can control them. We did before, after all. And we had no way of knowing that Captain Lynch was once more rampaging through the Spanish Main."
Governor Swann looked uncomfortable. "Yes, well. My daughter's honeymoon was entirely ill-conceived, as was all our desire to escape from our duties. I expect that bird has come home to roost. There's a word for it though, I believe. Cabin-fever?" Governor Swann smiled meaningfully.
Norrington smiled, with a chuff of silent laughter, looking down. "Indeed."
Swann cleared his throat. "We shouldn't have expected you to compromise Port Royal's safety. I hope that you won't be chewed out too harshly for that?"
Norrington considered this. "If I am, I am sure it's well-deserved. There have been a number of incidents whose repercussions I can see will need to be dealt with in the future." He looked up. "When can we expect the arrival of the new governor? I understand Kingston has reissued their demand for a replacement after Lord Durant's death. They've been waiting for three years now."
Governor Swann chuckled darkly. "I suspect the King won't be able to ignore the recent uprising of pirates in these waters. He may have difficulties with Spain and France, but His Majesty cannot turn a deaf ear to his Caribbean interests. It's far too lucrative. I will ensure that the British Islands here will remain a topic in Court. At least, until they deal with the situation. I suspect Admiral Cartwright will want to remobilize his fleet, however."
Norrington sighed. "Yes, I rather think he will. After being sacked four times in the past year, I daresay it's becoming a bit of an embarrassment. Keeping most of the fleet engaged in naval exercises in the Atlantic is hardly what I would call 'guarding' our assets."
They both exchanged a look, each very well aware of why; not only had they allowed Sparrow to escape before, their recent brush with him again had proved just as aggravating.
Norrington said, coldly, "If they'd allowed me the full contingent of ships and men I'd asked for last year, we might have avoided this situation. Port Royal is the largest city in the New World, barring Boston in the Colonies. I'd say it warrants a better Naval complement than two ships on standby."
Swann nodded. "Quite."
Norrington wondered if Captain Jack Sparrow, pirate and brigand, had any idea what fate lay in store for him, should he ever venture anywhere near Kingston Harbor again. Port Royal was recovering slowly but surely. However, the town was now grown quite tired of pirates, as had Kingston and the many Jamaican settlements.
But Norrington was now grown exceedingly tired of the townsfolk, who, along with Robert Humphries and others of his kind, would find him a far less lenient acting power in Port Royal than they had found of Weatherby Swann.
Humphries and the others had quite vocally blamed Swann for the entire mess, and indeed some blame could be laid at his door for his daughter's and son-in-law's wedding fiasco, but it was a greater stringency they could expect at Norrington's hands. He had very little patience for the paunched and well-lined pockets of such as the plantation owners and the likes of the rich of Port Royal. And with the exception of Kingston, who would gladly welcome a stronger British Naval presence after the evils they'd suffered under Durant, the entirety of the British towns in Jamaica had no idea what they were in for.
Norrington smiled, unpleasantly. "So, they want a tighter military hold, do they?" he asked, quietly.
Governor Swann carefully looked away, all too aware of what the price for demanding his departure would entail. "No doubt you'll enlighten them after the Admiral arrives. He's due soon, isn't he?"
Norrington's smile broadened. "Tomorrow."
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