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Amende Honorable

by Melusina

 

Fandom: PoTC    Rating: G    Pairing: none    Full Header

 


James had been in a peevish mood since Sparrow's escape and the end of his short-lived engagement. He would never have wanted Elizabeth to marry him out of obligation -- he wanted a wife who could love him with her whole heart -- but in spite of the brave face he'd put on, it stung to be cast off in such a public manner, and for someone as unsuitable as Will Turner. True, Turner was an admirable swordsman and a skilled craftsman and, although it pained James to admit it right now, a goodhearted young man. But he had a rash streak (as exhibited in the debacle with Sparrow) and he was hardly more than a boy. No good could come of this misalliance.

James' foul temper was only heightened by the onerous task of explaining to the Admiralty how he'd managed to lose the Interceptor, as well as so many of his men. In truth, they were more likely to believe the part about the undead pirates than to accept that Sparrow and Turner had stolen the Interceptor by themselves, under the eyes of the Commodore of the fleet and his most trusted officers. In disgust, James crumpled up his fourth attempt at a letter and flung it into the fire. The paper caught and burned brightly, the ink standing out dark against the page before it crumbled to ash. With a sigh, he picked up his pen and attempted again to translate the madness he'd witnessed into terms the Admiralty would understand.

He'd written no more than the salutation when there was a knock at his office door. Grateful for the interruption, James said, "Come in," but when the door swung open, he immediately regretted his words, for there stood Turner, ridiculous plumed hat in hand and a look of mulish resolve on his face.

"Yes, Mr. Turner?"

"I've come to apologize." He stopped and started again. "I understand that my pursuit of Elizabeth put you in an exceedingly difficult position, which was never my intent." He fumbled for his words, and burst out with, "But I love Elizabeth! I couldn't risk-"

"Yes, Mr. Turner. You made that abundantly clear. If this is your idea of an apology, I must say that it falls rather short of gracious."

Turner's jaw clenched and he took a few steps forward. "I don't regret freeing Jack or stealing your ship. If we hadn't, you'd have never found her and she'd be dead -- or worse. And Jack-"

James stood and leant across the desk. "Have a care, Turner. You-"

"Let me speak! I am sorry that you and your men suffered as a result of my actions. I want you to know how much I appreciate your intervention with the Governor on my behalf, and--"

Their faces were mere inches apart as James bitterly delivered his coup de grace, "And my stepping aside, so that you could slip into my place?"

"No!" Will deflated somewhat and stared down at the desk. When he looked up, he was, for a moment, the boy who'd begged James to teach him to use a sword, but there was a disconcerting sympathy in his eyes. "I understand how painful this must be-"

"Do not presume to know my heart. I believe this interview has gone on long enough. Good afternoon, Mr. Turner."

***

And so the situation stood for some months. In the interim, Elizabeth Swann and William Turner were married in a quiet ceremony; Lieutenant Groves was, through the agency of an elderly uncle, promoted to captain, despite his contretemps with the Black Pearl, and Lieutenant Gillette, lacking the good fortune of connections, was not, to his bitter chagrin. James begged off the wedding on the thinnest of pretexts, celebrated (rather excessively) with Groves, and commiserated (equally excessively) with Gillette. Port Royal society exclaimed over the nine-days' wonder of the Governor's daughter marrying a tradesman, and, tiring of this news, progressed to the exciting encounter between the Dauntless and a dastardly Spanish privateer, in which Commodore Norrington was rumored to have behaved with exceptional bravery and cleverness. The ladies were all aflutter over the dashing scar Norrington had acquired in the battle, and the gentlemen were, more pragmatically, occupied with assessing the value of the prize.

Locked up in his overheated office, James was concerned with neither scars nor prizes, but with the tedious and never-ending paperwork that dogged him in failure and success. The Dolphin would embark for England the next day, and these dispatches must sail with her, but James couldn't manage to find the properly politic phrases.

The faint breeze coming in through the open window carried the scent of the sea, and the calling gulls taunted him with their freedom. His mind wandered, and he found himself thinking back to those few moments of excitement and danger during the battle. No time for second-guessing or diplomatic discourse then, just instinct and action. It was unfortunate that for every moment in battle there must be an hour of paperwork. With a wry grin, James recalled the reassuring platitudes he'd shared with Gillette in his disappointment. Preferment truly was a double-edged sword.

When there was a rap on the door, James jumped to his feet and called, "Enter." Even the sight of Will Turner couldn't keep James from sighing with relief at some distraction from his work.

James had successfully avoided Turner since his uncomfortable attempt at an apology, and there was an awkward pause as they both recalled their last meeting. Finally James cleared his throat and said, "What can I do for you Mr. Turner?"

"It's more a matter of what I can do for you." Turner took a deep breath and started again. "That is, I heard that your sword was damaged in the recent battle."

"Yes, I felt the loss keenly." That was no more than the truth; whatever James might have thought of the maker, the sword had been a fine weapon.

A boyish curiosity sparked in Turner's eyes. "Is it true that you continued fighting even after the blade was broken? And killed three Spaniards?"

"Two, actually. They lowered their colors before I could finish the last one off."

"Fighting with a shortened blade! Makes it harder to parry. . ."

"You remember that Italian trick I showed you, with the dagger?" James mimed the position.

Turner shook his head. "Vaguely, but it's been too long. . ."

An hour later, James had walked Turner through the entire fight (twice), and Turner had relearned the peculiar attack necessary when fighting with a shorter blade than your opponent. They'd both shed their coats, and James' skull felt hot and itchy beneath his wig. The chiming clock recalled him to himself, reminding him of his dinner engagement with the governor.

He began to make his excuses, but Turner interjected, "I almost forgot!" He picked up the long package he'd brought in with him, which had been sitting forgotten beside the desk. "I. . .I wanted you to have this."

The case could only have held one thing, and, indeed, when James opened it, it contained a gleaming new sword. He unsheathed it and made an experimental pass. It had the feel of his old sword, but Turner's craftsmanship continued to improve; this was an even finer weapon than the last one.

"There's no gold filigree in the hilt, but I think this one is even stronger than the other. I tried a new technique with--" Turner cut himself off with a self-deprecating grin. "But you don't want to hear about that."

"This is a very kind gesture, but you realize it wasn't necessary -- there was no flaw in the other sword, the damage was no reflection on your work."

Turner shook his head dismissively. "No, no, I realize that. It was well-made. But I made it on order. You've done so much for me, for us, I wanted to repay that, in some small way." He paused, and furrowed his brow. "I'm. . .not good with words, and sometimes my tongue gets away from me. Shall we say that I made this one in thanks and friendship, and leave it at that?"

Taken aback by this, James offered Turner his hand. "Thank you."

Turner's grip was firm and confident, and as he put on his coat, James noticed that it was plain and serviceable, and there was no sign of the feathered hat.

"How is Mrs.Turner? Well, I trust?"

There was no mistaking the joy in his expression. "Yes, sir. She is well."

His undisguised satisfaction should have chafed, but James was surprised to find that the resentment and envy that had been his constant companions for months had abandoned him.

"Do give her my regards."

"With all my heart."
 

 

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