Log in

No account? Create an account
26 October 2006 @ 02:19 pm
PotC Vignette: On the Swift Execution of Trust  
James Norrington receives a visit from Governor Swann. Starts out rather run-of-the-mill for my tastes, but after the first page heads off into a completely different direction *g*

Lots of thanks to classics_lover, who kindly volunteered as a beta :-)


by Bimo

As much as he longed to get away from this all, this room, this bed and this window, James tried hard to keep his chin up and his back as straight as the pillows allowed him.

People were a complicated affair these days; the Governor's visit not all that different from the bowl of hot lamb stew which Doctor Hammond's boy had brought in at lunch time. An ill-advised kindness he wasn't quite ready to stomach yet, but had to accept nonetheless, for any sign of protest would have only prolonged the fuss and the fretting.

And James did not want that, Lord no.

He was not keen on getting anxious looks from a child who doubtlessly must have been told to keep an eye on whether the patient was eating. Nor did he like Governor Swann's careful tiptoeing. Even while standing right next to window the Governor stayed decidedly clear of such perfectly natural topics as the sea or the weather, but instead went on and on about someone's newly born foal.

Dying men were being treated with the same distant, insecure mindfulness, it sank into James. But perhaps he was just that in the eyes of the others. A hopeless case, forever ruined.

No use in denying their point.

To save his soul and his memory, God should have taken James Norrington's body and torn it into one thousand pieces, just as the sea had done with the poor wooden hull of the Dauntless.

He rubbed his temples, hoping the touch of his fingertips against damp, warm skin would ease the throbbing. "Governor," he finally said, "If there is anything you have to say, I'd greatly appreciate if you told me upfront."

"Am I tiring you with my presence? Norrington, if you wish me to leave…"

"It's not your presence I find exhausting, just the…" James grasped for a word, and once he had gotten hold of it, let the poisoned, flighty thing drop down appalled. "Chatter, Sir."

"Please take my apologies, son. I should have trusted my instincts," the Governor said, and James could not help but realize what a perfectly owlish phrasing that was. Governor Swann with the grey, clever eyes and the grey, old-fashioned wig. Swann the wise. Swann the ambiguous, Swann, the eternally timid, who would not pick up a sword, but signed his death warrants so very swiftly. Swann the generous and the fatherly kind.

"Better an owl than an insubordinate mocking bird," James mumbled.


"Nothing, Sir. I just remembered a mild disagreement I once had with Andrew Gillette regarding your person."

"He was so much more to you than just your second in command, wasn't he?"

"Quite. Right from the day I arrived on the Dauntless. You know as well as I do she wasn't a happy ship under her first Captain. And if Andrew had not decided to warn me and take me under his wings, Lord knows what might have happened." He paused; willed his heart down until it was nothing but a dumb, muscled slave in his chest. "If only that insufferable mother hen of a doctor would let me write a letter to Andrew's parents."

The Governor raised his brows and for the first time during this conversation his delicate features clouded. "Maybe you haven't noticed it yet, Norrington, because you were far too ill and in mourning, but the good Doctor Hammond only pursues your best interests. Probably the one officer left in Fort Charles who doesn't want you to play right into your accusers' hands with a heartfelt confession."

"I don't understand. What about Perkins, McKinney? The crew of the Ambuscade? All good, loyal men.

"The Ambuscade has been ordered north to Newfoundland five days ago, to check on the French," the Governor said.

"That makes no sense." James closed his eyes, but the image of a large, heavy Galleon struggling through icy waters remained. Frost-covered decks. Numb-limbed seamen, mere shades of themselves, climbing up, climbing down harsh, treacherous ropes. He had been there as a boy, had seen a fellow midshipman fall and slowly die from his injuries over a period of almost a week. No northern star, no earthly beauty, no colony of those endearing faithful little birds they called penguins would ever make up for that horror.

"Governor, that poor old vessel has sailed the Caribbean longer than I have. She's not used to an artic climate."

"Someone within the Admiralty is pulling strings, Norrington. Relocating ships and transferring people. All to ensure that on the day of your court martial you will stand before strangers. Alone. With no one left to defend you or your actions." The Governor sighed, then added in a very calm, factual tone, "Take this from a merry old fool who has survived his share of Whitehall intrigues. Your trial won't be about the loss of Dauntless, but about the of shifting power. Any idea who would be so unusually keen on bringing you down?"

"No… When has this started?"

Around James everything tumbled.

"About two weeks after that Dutch merchantmen had brought you back to Port Royal. Whatever force is behind this, I'm convinced it has contacts here."

"Are you sure? I…, I cannot believe I did not notice."

"You were wounded and feverish. And if I dare say so, not very attentive."

With slow, measured steps, the Governor walked over to James' bedside, sat down on a chair. The faint smell of powder that radiated from him made James long for his own wig and frock, locked safely away in some drawer. Insignia of what he had been, what he had strived for all his life. Without them, dressed only in a linen night shirt, he felt nothing but examined and weighed by the Governor's watchful eyes. People, he realized, underestimated this man. Under the mantle of a naturally kind temper lay a mind that knew very well how to influence others.

"Out! Out, now! I won't have any of this. The Admiralty would never…-"

"Take apart such a well-trained little fleet such as yours when all they hear is the news of your incompetence and evident corruption? Ignore the very fact that by doing so they will leave the gates to Jamaica wide open for whoever wants to seize it?"

They looked at each other, quite coldly at first, but the longer it lasted, the more Swann's anger got intermixed with something warmer, more patient.

"You've said it yourself, Norrington, and more than once. All they seem concerned about these days, is tightening their grip on the French in the North."

"What do you suggest?"

"That you start caring again whether you'll live or die. I think I might need my Commodore," the Governor said softly.

James kept his chin up and stayed perfectly calm until Governor Swann had finally left.

Tags: ,
Current Mood: nervousnervous