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Second Chances

by Melusina


Fandom:  PoTC   Rating: PG    Pairing: Norrington/Elizabeth    Full Header


The usual desultory small talk wound down, leaving Elizabeth and James silently sipping their tea.   

"Only three more weeks until our wedding day."  James' halfhearted smile didn't reach his eyes, which were filled with a gloom more suited to a widower than a groom. 

"Oh?  I'd lost-"  James clenched his jaw, and Elizabeth cut herself off. 

He hurried to fill the silence.  "Your father assures me that all the arrangements for the wedding have been made.  And the preparations are almost done on the house. . .I had them paint the parlor blue.  I remember you once mentioned you like blue." 

"Yes."  Elizabeth forced a smile.  "That's very thoughtful of you, James."  She felt a certain pride at having made the effort.  Paradoxically, the relieved look on his face only made her more aware of all the ways she had hurt and disappointed him, and she felt the smile fade from her face. 

James sighed.  "Elizabeth, I offered once before to release you from this engagement.  I would not have you marry me if your heart belongs to. . .another."  He stopped and rested his head on his hand.  "Let us be honest with one another, just this once, and say all the things we've never said."  He raised his head and met her gaze steadily.  "I. . .I know that you do not love me.  I know why you agreed to marry me.  We both know Will Turner is lost to you.  Will you have me in his stead?" 

Tears filled Elizabeth's eyes.  She could not bring herself to speak. 

James stood and picked up his hat.  "Your silence is eloquent.  I would not have you marry me out of obligation."  He turned toward the door and stopped.  His back was straight and taut.  "I had thought, with him gone, you might come to love me, a little.  I see now that I was wrong.  I release you from our engagement.  I wish you only the best, Miss Swann."  

There was a broken note under the veneer of pride, and it hit Elizabeth like a sharp slap in the face, rousing her from the stupor she'd been drifting in.  For the first time in months, she felt motivated to do something, instead of going where she was told and letting things happen to her.   

"Wait!"  Elizabeth stood and rushed to block the door.  "James, please.  I know I've treated you horribly.  Yes, I agreed to marry you because of what you did for Will, but now. . ."  She hesitated, unsure of what to say, finally deciding on absolute honesty.  "I believe I could come to love you."  She took his hand tentatively, conscious that this was the first time she'd initiated such contact. 

A radiant smile spread across James' face.  Elizabeth thought she could love a man who looked at her like that.  And it was as easy as that; to stop six months of brooding and grieving over a man who wasn't even dead, and see the man who'd been waiting patiently for her all this time.  Perhaps, she said to herself, there's more than one way to have a happy ending.


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