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
"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
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
"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
"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
"Fighting with a shortened blade! Makes it harder to parry. . ."
"You remember that Italian trick I showed you, with the dagger?" James mimed
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
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
"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."