prior to his promotion ceremony, Captain Norrington had been invited to
dinner at the Governor's mansion, a singular honor, but one he was accorded
with increasing frequency of late. The Governor was seemingly quite fond of
this young rising star of his majesty's Carib fleet.
Dinner had gone quite well, and the evening had grown late, but the captain
showed no signs of excusing himself, due to the late hour.
Elizabeth was bored.
Governor Swann was tired.
And the Captain? Was inexplicably ill-at-ease and awkward.
After the final plates had been cleared from the table, Elizabeth struck
upon a a solution that would at least allow her own retreat from the
"I know! You gentlemen must retire to the parlour for some brandy!" She
failed to disguise the excitement in her voice.
"Oh, but that would leave you without social intercourse for remainder of
the evening," the doting Weatherby Swann countered.
"It's quite alright. I have a book I've been meaning to read, waiting for me
in my boudoir," Elizabeth parried.
Norrington cleared his throat, interrupting whatever the Governor was about
to say, "I should quite enjoy the chance to discuss a certain matter with
you, privately, Governor."
This went against all their usual evening routine, but the Governor was
adept at the social grace required by his position, and obviously James had
something he needed to speak of, outside of Elizabeth's hearing.
Swann had an idea about what that likely topic of conversation would be.
Farewells were bid to the de facto "lady of the house", and Elizabeth
retreated briskly up the spiral staircase, as the men carried their snifters
of French brandy to the sitting room.
The servants were dismissed for the night, the bottle left in reasonable
proximity, and parlour doors were shut tight.
James was out of time, and he knew it. It was speak now, or forever hold his
"Governor Swann," he began, "I have a matter of some importance, nay,
urgency to discuss with you."
"So formal, James?" the older man replied. "Please, you must remember to
call me Weatherby, when the servants aren't about."
The informality nearly cracked James's carefully controlled exterior. "Sir,
I have a boon to ask of you. Nay, two of them, and they are intertwined
deeply within my heart." That selfsame heart pounded within his chest, in a
way he had rarely experienced outside of battle. Surely his entire existence
was about to go terribly, drastically awry.
"You wish to ask me for my daughter's hand in marriage?" Weatherby's eyes
were soft and affectionate on the younger man. "Yes, yes of course. Whom
else could I possibly choose, as a more appropriate match for her?"
James' eyes flew wide. The governor was lurching towards him, hand
outstretched to shake his own. He took the hand proferred, but could only
hold it, dumbstruck.
Finally, he was able to speak. "You don't mind? I do love her, you know,
been terribly fond of her since she was but a child."
"Not at all, not at all." Weatherby laughed at James' discomfiture. "Drink
up! We must toast you joining my family, after all!"
They drank together, smiling, although James remained uncomfortable and
reserved. Finally, he spoke again. "There is a second matter. A vital
matter, if I am to wed Elizabeth."
"What is it? Do you have need of funds?" Weatherby said. "I do understand
that you may have to be posted elsewhere, eventually. That is the pain all
fathers must face, as the price of having offspring. Children grow and
leave, no matter how fond we are of them. You and I, we serve the crown
first, and not only ourselves."
"No. No, that's not it." James swallowed, and placed a hand on the knee of
the man who had been mentor, guide, and so much more to him, these past
nearly ten years. "It must be over between us, Weatherby. As of tonight. No
Tears started in the elder man's eyes. "I know. You're right, of course. I
know. How I would have survived those first years without Sophia..." his
voice broke and he paused. "It is eminently time for us to end things, and I
am so pleased to not be losing you entirely. I am gaining a son, after all!"
"I have no regrets," James was firm, but then smiled a little, "save that I
could not have my cake and eat it too. But that's not how the world turns,
for good or ill."
"You're a good man, an honorable man, James," Weatherby answered. "You're
everything I'd want for her. This is by far the best solution, for everyone
concerned. When will you speak to her?"
"At the reception, following the promotion ceremony." James palms dampened
at the thought. "What do you think she will say? Will she give me an answer
immediately, or make me wait for a while? I have heard women sometimes do
that sort of thing."
"I have no more idea what she'll do about this, than I do about any other
thing she does." replied the baffled father. "Whatever she does, you can be
sure it will surprise the both of us."
"To the surprises Elizabeth delivers to us, then!" And James raised his
glass in toast to such a thing.
The brandy snifters clinked together, the fingers touched, the eyes locked.
And then it was well and truly done.
But for an ache in Weatherby's heart, that would last for the rest of his