I wasn't going to have my OC making contact with Norrington so early in the story originally, but I feel like this works!
Chapter Three - This Bleak World
'Tis the last rose of summer - Thomas Moore
'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rose-bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh...
When true hearts lie wither'd,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?
A room key was gently pushed accross the bar towards me and I sighed inwardly with relief. I was glad to find out I'd be able to lock myself within my rented room if only for two nights. I stared down at the worn brass chunk of metal before me as I realised I couldn't really afford any more than two nights on this part of the island if I wanted to eat. I needed to eat to keep my strengh up. I knew of a man who owed me rather a lot of gold, and I supposed that O'Malley's share would be mine too now that I was the only crew member from The Grace left alive to collect the debt. After my two days of rest I resolved suddenly to go in seach of that man. Last I heard, he had a ship again. I'd give him some gold back in return for passage somewhere.
I was not aware that someone had approached the bar on my right until a glass of a deep red liquid was pushed towards me. I glanced up as the Chinese woman turned away from me, and then to my right. Staring back at me were perhaps the most vivid emerald green eyes that I've ever seen. I recalled the last time I'd seen them, when O'Malley had pulled the man aboard The Grace during a terrible hurricane that had sunk even the strongest of navy ships. There was a certain defeated lifelessness within them now, as if he was almost ready to give up. It was a feeling I understood all too well in that moment.
"O'Malley?" he asked wearily once he knew he had my attention. I couldn't bring myself to say it aloud, not yet; so I shook my head and lowered my gaze back to the surface of the bar where my room key and the glass of what must have been port or wine still sat. "What happened?"
I opened my mouth and no sound came out. I had expected that. for a few seconds I tried to figure out how to explain it all and found the words just would not come. I felt foolish for my loss of speech and expected to find an impatient grimace upon his face but as I turned to try and apologise for my hesitation, I saw it was not needed. It was not impatience I saw in his face, but remorse. I recalled then that he had lost most of his own crew. It had been his own decision to sail them into that hurricane and he was still riding the waves of guilt for such a choice. That made things a little easier. He would have an understanding of how difficult it all was to talk about.
"O'Malley thought...he could ride out any st...storm," I stammered slowly as the emerald eyes met mine again. "It's the worst I've ever seen. Worse than..."
My voice faded away and he nodded his understanding. "Worse than the hurricane in the midst of which we met?"
I had not expected James to voice it himself, but I saw the flash of pain as it crossed his face. "You know what O'Malley was like. He thought that as we'd come upon the storm so quickly that it would disperse at much the same speed. In truth...I think the storm came upon us, not the other way around; followed or chased us down. It was as if it were deliberate." I reached for the red liquid before me and as I brought it to my lips I realised it was port. I had never been keen on such a drink and much preferred whiskey. In that moment though, any drink was a blessing. It wet my lips and eased the dryness in my throat caused by the salted seawater. placing the empty glass back upon the bar surface I glimpsed the uncontrollable shaking of my hand and pulled it to my side hastily. If he had seen, he made no comment of it. "I was asleep," I continued suddenly, filling the silence as he lifted the bottle of the red liquid that he had evidently purchased and refilled my glass. He had poured a glass for himself but had yet to touch it.
"Mick woke me and dragged me up on deck to help but I was as much aid as a paper sail by then. The ship was going to ground and there was nothing we could do. We were listing heavily to the side, and that's how I saw another ship sailing towards us through the gloom. Mick thought it was help coming to us at first, but only fools would go to another ship's aid in such a storm..."
I realised I had called my late captain a fool but I did not regret such a statement as it was wholly true. I had also called the errand of saving the life of the man on my right a fool's one though. "Did you recognise the ship?" James asked, pointedly ignoring my last statement. "Was she flying colours?" How strange it is to think that back then nothing could have convinced me that both the Naval man beside me and I would certainly undertake much more foolish notions within the months to come.
I wished I had a stool to place myself upon then, for I felt my injured knee begin to loose momentum. I slowly moved myself around a little so that I could lean against the bar inconspicuously. I was now facing his side as he stared ahead towards the differing colours of bottles behind the bar, his eyes not seeing anything at all but the horrors inside his mind.
"I didn't see," I replied tiredly. "I was trying to help Colm get back on his feet whilst still staying upon my own. That wind was like nothing I've ever felt before. It had come upon us so suddenly that we were not ready for such conditions. I knew with one glance across the deck that some men had fallen overboard but there was no helping them in those kinds of waters. I watched another two go over the side as we listed again." I shuddered involuntarily and reached for the glass again, deciding I no longer cared if he saw the shaking of my hand. "They were screaming as they went into the water but Mick was shouting at me too. There was cannon-fire from the other ship then and it was as if we all realised together that we were doomed. we'd run aground on rocks before we knew it and they still fired upon us. One by one the men fell." I didn't add that I'd been witness to such atrocities never before in my life; watching Cannonballs tear through the flesh of man after man; my family, as Mick pulled me down to lie across the deck out of the line of fire. I saw his face then before my eyes and I couldn't bear to speak of it. I tried to hold the tears back as I glanced away. I had hoped James might spare me any more torment in reliving what I'd seen.
"I washed up on the beach west of here," I mumbled quietly as I lifted the glass of port to my lips again, taking my tale abruptly to its end without explanation.
When I had emptied the glass and lowered it I saw him steal a glance at my shoulder. "You befell some ill on the streets then? Did they rob you? Perhaps if you can give me a description of the creature, justice can prevail? Although I do not believe there will be much chance to return your stolen-"
"Justice?" I cried indignantly with such force that I thought I caught the minutest of flinches from him. "Justice for what?" I felt rage course through me then so startlingly that I pushed away from the support of the bar, ignoring the protest that my knee gave. I swayed a little where I stood, but that could equally have been the effect of two rather generous glasses of port upon an empty stomach as much as it could have been weariness. "Justice for a whole crew of men who lost their lives for nothing?" My voice broke as tears fell unchecked down my face. I realised a few people had turned to glance at us and I shook my head to try and rid myself of the anger and the torment. Of all the ages that have passed before, I think there's one certainty and that's the probable ill-temperament of an Irishwoman.
"I wasn't shot in Tortuga," I replied in the mildest tone of voice I could find, so devoid of any emotion that I felt briefly ashamed for pushing my own anger away. "A man came aboard The Grace as she sank; shot at us all. Mick was shot as I tried to stand again. He grabbed me by the ankle and yanked me back down to the deck again. His reaction was so sudden that if he'd pulled a second later a musket shot would have embedded itself in my heart. It was his dying act, for in the split second it took for me to fall and turn to him, the life had left his eyes. You speak of justice Commodore? Where's the justice in myself standing before you now, when all of my friends perished! I was meant to die with them all out there and yet here I am. How is it possible that the sea took me along with them all, and of all of that crew it chose me to spit back out. I don't even know how long ago all of that was!"
I covered my eyes with one of my hands and blinked away yet more tears. I heard movement and thought for a second that he had vacated his position and would return to wherever he had been seated before. Wholly unaccustomed to such rudeness from a woman, he would likely believe himself to be above listening to such nonsense. Then I felt his arm brush mine accidentally as he moved closer to speak quietly to me. It was such a strange feeling, to know that such contact had certainly been accidental but despite that there was some sort of pull between us both; that such an occurrence had automatically taken place before either of us had realised what had happened. "It was Yesterday," he supplied evenly from right beside me. "How then do you suppose you survived to wash up upon such an island as this?"
"I don't know Commodore," I mumbled. "I don't know." I shook my head still buried in my hand and felt that if I did not retire to lie down upon a bed soon, my legs would give up entirely. I turned from him with my scarf still held tightly to my shoulder and glanced towards the back of the room where a set of stairs led to the upper floors and the rentable rooms. Would I make the stairs?
"I would advise Miss that you seek out the expertise of a surgeon for such a wound," he said gently.
I grimaced as I realised he had probably taken my outburst for rudeness and his use of such a cordial title in regards to me threw me a little but could find no words within me to convey my anger and dismay in that moment. "You haven't met the doctors in Tortuga have you? I'd be safer wielding my own scalpel. Thank you for the drink."
I moved away from him with as much grace as I could muster even though I knew my knee was seconds from giving way entirely. At the time I was not aware that those emerald eyes followed me as I clumsily climbed the stairs and located my rented lodgings as dictated on the little piece of wood attached to the brass key in my hand.
The room was a surprisingly pleasant one, and I immediately limped across to the small window. despite the dusk I could still make out the glistening waters of the port far below, half hidden behind the walls of another building. Despite what I'd been forced to see, the sea air was still calling to me. I don't know how it was possible, but I knew that the sea was my home. Mick's death should have driven me to madness and perhaps it did for a time but I still longed to be aboard a ship. I recalled how I had felt all of those years ago, upon a beach back in Ireland. So lost and lacking of spirit I was that more than once the thought had crossed my mind to simply abandon my life and walk out into the freezing cold water, to let it take my life. It was almost as I began to have those thoughts that the sea began to call to me in a rather more different way. It was making me some sort of promise; that I know now.
I'd have to do it alone now though. With my newfound family upon the sea all gone I had no one to share such a life with. It would not be so difficult to find occupation aboard another ship but I was not fool enough to think I'd find the same kind of friendships again. Even if I did, would I be able to accept it? I think somewhere within me was still a sense of loyalty to the crew of Irishmen I'd sailed with for all of those years. Maybe part of me had subconsciously made a promise to them all that I'd never again be as happy as I had been when in their company, that I'd never replace them. Now I understand of course that you don't really replace people that have gone before. You simply meet new people who bring something new to your life. At the time, standing in those rented lodgings I think it was firmly set within my mind that I'd never be cheerful again. Without my friends; without Mick I'd be entirely lost in the world. You see, I think I'd rather placed a lot of expectation upon Mick's shoulders. I had grown to believe I'd always have him, and that I could simply follow him wherever he went. That was to be my life, or so I had thought.
I'd bypassed a small looking glass on my way to the window and turned hesitantly back to it to observe my reflection there. How long had it been since I had seen a true reflection of myself; months? Perhaps even years? I knew from the occasional glance at the underside of my scratched spoon in the galley of The Grace that my murky olive green eyes had not changed at all, and my hair whilst still a vivid garnet red had lightened considerably in the sunlight. When above deck the sunlight brought out so many shades of red in my hair that I was unsure what colour to use in a description. What had changed was just about everything else. Of course, now I have some understanding of how time and circumstance may change a person's appearance but then I was surprised at the young woman that stared back at me. My skin was firmer and harder as I tugged at the taught and lightly tanned and freckled face. My skin was naturally and typically Irish and white as snow and my first few months aboard The Grace were akin to agony as my skin blistered and burned under the hot sun. As time wore on though I became accustomed to the heat and the sun. My skin finally began to show signs of colour, but I knew I would never be as tanned as Mick. His dark hair and complexion favoured such a climate and he might have passed for a Spaniard in the many ports we visited. I was thinner than I had been before I left Ireland, if that were possible but I was much healthier and stronger. My limbs were strong and toned excepting the leg that bore my injured knee. in all aspects, I was a different person.
It was no longer Niamh Lefroy as I had been before I left Ireland who stared back at me from the looking glass, but Fiona O'Connell; the woman I had become the day I walked aboard Mick's ship and begged for passage. I'd been a child back then and I'd left Niamh behind and had lived as Fiona for quite some time. Niamh felt like a distant memory of someone I'd known once. It no longer felt to me as if there was any part of me that I needed to hide or shy away from. To me it was as if I had always been Fiona.
Now I understand that I was an amalgamation of both women, doomed to remember the horrors of my past in Ireland and spend my life hiding them away, but free to be the woman I wanted to be upon the sea. The bed was mercifully soft as I gently lay down, carefully trying not to jostle my shoulder. At once I realised my predicament. I had not slept in a solid bed upon land in six years and was not only used to but comforted by the gentle rocking of the ship as it lulled me to sleep. In Tortuga, there would be no such comfort. I lay awake and listened to the sounds of the riotous town below me that seemed to never sleep at all.
Upon entering the tavern earlier, if I had actually surveyed my surroundings and glimpsed the Naval men gathered around small tables towards the back of the room, I doubt I would have stayed for long. Whilst I was in no way wanted for any crime at all and nor were Mick or any of his crew, I would still have felt uneasy. Such men would have asked questions I did not want to answer. Whilst Mick was a good man and by no means a criminal, he wasn't adverse to the odd dodgy deal that would benefit him immensely. He was ever so careful who he dealt with though and usually only conducted such transactions with trusted friends. There was occasion though when I felt Mick was treading a very fine line. He was well respected by many and I began to notice that Mick liked to play both sides. Both pirates and Navy men alike, including Commodore James Norrington had fallen prey to his good humour and charm.
I listened as the sounds of the tavern below filled out into the street and although I could still hear the sounds of the raucous town beyond, there was a still sort of silence permeating from below. It crossed my mind then that perhaps I should have purchased some more alcohol and some form of cloth to use as a bandage for my shoulder, but now that I had lain down I had not the energy to get back up. Every time I tried to move I hissed in pain as my shoulder gave a painful twinge. I was strangely glad of the pain as I'd have been more worried if I couldn't feel it. I did think I deserved to be in pain after what had occurred though. I'd somehow managed to survive the waters surrounding that hurricane to wash up on a beach in Tortuga but I did not think we'd even been remotely close enough to such land when the ship ran aground. To this day I have never been able to explain how that happened. The only thing I can take a wild guess at is fate, again. It's laughable for James and I that we did not recognise such things as they happened. We are both astute intelligent people after all, and we chose to ignore what was staring us in the face. Maybe if we had seen all of this as it occurred, we would not have come together in the way we did though. I'm sure you'll find my familiarity to him rather odd in that I call him by his Christian name and have done for a long time now. for most of my tale though we were not as well acquainted. I called him by his title of Commodore for the most part, if not all of it. I knew his name though and who could not, when such tales were already told of him. He wished to single-handedly rid the Caribbean of pirates and was fairly on his way to doing so. He did not know my name though. He knew my face perhaps, or my accent. No, I'm lying. He's told me since that it was my hair he recognised. Whilst there were many upon the sea with locks of a russet hue, mine had such a vivid colour as to be memorable to many. They say that people caught a glimpse of my hair and knew that Mick O'Malley was not far away.
Afterwards, I'd be glad that I could not find sleep. There was a sense of calmness within the tavern despite the chaos still ensuing down in the lower part of the town, but the sound of glass shattering broke my pained stupor and I shot upright. it wasn't the sound of drunkards throwing glass bottles outside and was clearly coming from the bar area of the tavern. Hurrying to make myself decent again, I hastily tied my scarf around my shoulder in the best bandage I could manage with only one hand and crept soundlessly out of my room and down the darkened hallway. Reaching the passageway that looked out across the bar I crouched down and slid along the floor, my shoulder almost screaming in protest at such a leaning position. I bit down on my bottom lip to stop myself whimpering in reaction to the pain and slid onwards towards a gap in the wooden spokes, now very aware of the sound of men crashing through the bar. I heard a yelp suddenly and glanced to the left. The young Chinese woman I had met earlier had evidently done the same as I, and had crept along the back passage behind the bar towards all of the noise. She had been seen though. I couldn't see the men's faces as they moved towards the girl, but I could tell they were not what would be classed as well dressed. it had crossed my mind succinctly that the man who had climbed aboard The Grace and shot my friend was returning for a second shot at myself but that idea quickly left my mind as I saw how roughly this band of men behaved. The girl was yanked around the bar by her hair as she tried in vain to pull away, shouting garbled threats in what was obviously Chinese.
"There's a necklace here," snarled the man who held her by the hair. "Give it to us and no harm shall befall you!"
The young woman shook her head and for a second I wondered whether she hadn't understood what he had said, but then I recalled that she had clearly understood me very well earlier on. That was when it sank in. I'd given up a necklace earlier to the landlord. Perhaps that was what these men sought. I didn't think it possible, for the pendant was just a garbled piece of metal in an Irish design that bore no importance to anyone at all. It had been around my neck for ten or eleven years and I'd never considered it to be of any consequence. The girl was given a rough shake for her non-compliance and I wondered if she thought these men had come for my necklace. If she did think that, she was clearly doing me a favour in not speaking out.
Whilst I did believe my necklace to be worth no more than a few coins, the niggling reminder jarred in my brain that I had plucked it from a field in Ireland so long ago and knew not where it came from or who it had previously belonged to. You might think I've somewhat of a death wish to consider going to the young woman's aid and perhaps you'd be right. It was a reckless thing to do when perhaps I could have found another way to leave the building. I knew Navy men were docked nearby and could go for help but I had a sickening feeling that the young woman would not last that long. I took in the heads of nine men, and how far they were all now standing from the shattered windows and doors. They all had muskets and all I had was a short dagger stuffed into the belt that held up my skirt.
I crept further along the balcony until I reached the top of the steps, hoping they would not know I was there until I was upon them. I did not get my wish though. Too late I heard the hurried footsteps behind me and glanced up to see the landlord racing towards me. before I could ascertain whether he planned to help or hinder, he had swung one of his large booted feet in my direction and even as I reached out to grab at the wooden spokes of wood I tumbled down the stairs onto the flagstones of the bar area. Each step knocked into my injured shoulder and I knew it was bleeding again as I rolled into a table and sent the chairs skidding away across the floor.
"She brought the necklace, take her too!" the landlord roared. "I want no trouble here!"
One man had already caught sight of the necklace on a shelf behind the bar, but I was already on my feet and determined to beat him to it. I vaulted over the bar as I reached it, scattering glasses and bottles which fell to the floor and smashed. As I reached my hand out to take back the necklace, the bottle just to the left of my face shattered and I felt shards of glass scrape my face as they flew in every direction. grabbing the necklace I turned back to the room to find the man who had also been on his way towards the necklace slumped over the bar. One of his friends had clearly tried to shoot me and in the near darkness they had hit him instead. I ducked below the bar as more shots were fired and scurried along, wondering if I could reach the shattered windows and make my escape.
"Get me that necklace!" one of the men roared. I stopped to take in the scene before me just below the shattered window and saw the Chinese girl struggling fruitlessly to get away from the two men that held her. "Get me that necklace or I'll kill your girl!"
I realised he was threatening the landlord, who appeared to only care about his own safety. "Do what you want with her, she's nothing to me! I want no trouble here! Kill them, take the necklace and 'ave done!"
The landlord was backing away, broken glass crunching under his booted feet. The group of men seemed undecided, with half of them concentrating their attention on the landlord and the rest gazing at me. I don't know where such thoughts came from; it came to me suddenly that now they knew I'd brought the necklace to Tortuga, they would have no intention of killing me. I could use that to my advantage.
"What's so important about this chunk of metal?" I growled at the man nearest me as I held up the necklace. "You'll tell me or I'll stamp all over it!"
The man laughed as he advanced towards me and I caught the slightest trace of whiskey on his breath. I ducked out of the way just as he lunged and slid across the floor, the necklace still held tightly in my hands. The man gave a yelp as he landed in the shards of broken glass strewn all around the front of the bar and I'll admit in that second to wincing a little as I imagined his pain. I say imagined, but I knew what such pain was like and my injured knee twinged as if in remembrance. I had no need to imagine it. I was now closer to the Chinese girl and I grabbed her hand, aiming a ferocious kick at one of the men who held her as I pulled her down to the floor with me.
"MOVE!" I bellowed at her as she remained frozen to the spot. "MOVE NOW!" I gave her arm a shake and she came to her senses again. She crawled until she was underneath one of the tables but I'd already been lifted off my feet. held up in the air, my feet dangling; I finally grabbed the knife hidden away beneath my belt. I placed it against his side as I held the necklace up and stared determinedly down into the eyes of the man that held my waist in a vice like grip. The other men had stopped moving, even the landlord. They were all looking to the man who held me for instruction and I have to say I struck lucky in choosing to threaten their leader.
"I'll not ask again!" I barked, still suspended in mid air. "What on earth do you want with this necklace? What's so important about it?"
Unbelievably, the man chuckled. I pressed my knife a little more firmly against his side and he stopped laughing. "You don't even know what it is do you lass; been carrying such a thing round with you and you don't even know it's power!"
"Power? What power?"
"Been near water lately?" the leader asked with a raised brow. I noted the forced pleasantness in his tone and knew it was because I still held the blade to his side. So he was a coward, a man hired to fetch the necklace for someone else. He wasn't prepared to die for it and that might just work in my favour.
"Of course I've been near water!" I spat. "This whole Island is surrounded by water!"
"Well when you hit the water, this necklace sent out a calling," he said softly. "Magical properties it has, and it's worth a great deal!"
"Do you think I came up the river Liffey in a bubble?" I cried in feigned disbelief as I aimed a harsh kick at his stomach in the hopes that he might drop me. "Magical necklaces? It's a lump of tin!"
My kick did no good, he shook me roughly and I felt the dagger slide between my fingers so that I held onto it only by my fingertips. He laughed as he watched me dangling there for a few seconds before replying. "It's as much a lump of tin as you are lass! Do you know; I reckon you're a real fire cracker once you get goin'! Look at the colour of that hair; sell for a good few guineas that would to the right wig maker!"
He reached up then, taking one hand from my waist to curl a lock of my hair around his finger. "Don't you touch my hair!" I snarled just as shots were fired again. These shots came from the street though. In seconds a sea of blue was swarming the tavern as Navy men clambered through the now glassless windows with their bayonets held aloft. I used the distraction as a chance to free myself and hastily threw the knife in the direction of another of the men as I kicked the one that held me in the chest. He dropped me to the floor as he turned to try and help his men and I cradled my knee where I sat as I tried to discern what was happening. Held aloft, I'd had a reasonable vantage point but from the floor I was hindered by the darkness and the putrid haze of smoke from the muskets.
A few seconds later, I realised I'd dropped the necklace and ignoring the pain in my knee and shoulder I scrambled around on all fours, my hands searching the floor to try and find it again. I was stamped on once or twice as I crawled, but no one paid me much heed until I came up against the table and the young woman's face swam into view. Her hands were visibly shaking, but clutched between them was the small dagger I'd thrown only a moment before. Still to this day I do not know how she came to have it when I threw it in her opposite direction. I have asked, but she's a secretive one is Mai.
when our eyes met she wordlessly handed me back my blade and I nodded stiffly to her in thanks before glancing about for the necklace again. I thought I saw a glint of something on the floor between the many booted feet and began to crawl again, shaking off the girl's hand as she tried to pull me back under the shelter of the table with her. What I thought might have been the necklace however; turned out to be a gold button of a naval coat that had fallen off. I let out a huff of frustration and gave in to the shooting pains in my knee. Gingerly, I raised myself up onto two feet again and was careful to keep my head low so as to be out of reach of the bayonets. candlelight steadily grew warmer around the room as the lanterns were lit one by one and everything seemed to stop still for a moment or two as we all gazed around, trying to figure out what was going on. There were many men pressed down to the floor with an officer pressing either his knee or his bayonet into their backs to keep them in place. It seemed the Navy had outnumbered the other men three to one.
The landlord was standing at the bar with a lit taper still in his hand, lighting the last candle. The Chinese girl was peering out from beneath her table, with an officer holding out a hand to help her to her feet. I sucked in ragged breaths as I glanced about me again for the necklace but couldn't see it anywhere. I hastily stuffed my blade back into my belt, eyeing the officers warily in case one should turn on me.
"Why on earth did you let this 'appen?" the landlord roared suddenly as he approached the Chinese girl. "Look what they've done to the place!" The Naval officers standing close by moved away to congregate at the broken windows and I alone was left to watch the scene. The attackers were dragged from the floor and marched away or carried out into the night until only a few officers stood by the door. "More trouble than you're worth you are! Why on earth didn't you just give them the damn necklace like they asked?" He pushed the girl roughly then and she fell back into the table, caught unawares by the force he used.
"Why don't you pick on someone your own size eh?" I exclaimed as I sidled up to him. The girl glanced at me with fear in her eyes, perhaps trying to warn me. "This is not her fault!"
"No," he snarled suddenly as he rounded on me, "It's yours! All for some damned necklace!"
I realised as he advanced towards me that I'd been wrong to joke about his size. He was much taller than me and a lot quicker on his feet. I backed away towards the bar, my hand flying behind my back to pat along the surface and I laid a hand upon a mercifully full and uncorked bottle of rum. Just as he lifted his own hand to strike me I brought the bottle swinging down upon his head with as much strength as I could find within me. Admittedly, with one hand it was not much strength at all. It was enough though to knock him off his feet and spray us both with shards of glass and rum. You might wonder why I did not procure my blade again, but I did not want to kill the man. After all, he was right. If those men had been seeking my necklace then I had unwillingly brought trouble to his door.
I watched his dazed form upon the floor for a few seconds before turning my attention back to the girl who still appeared frightened. "Why are you working for a bully like that?" I asked her soundly. The girl simply shrugged. "You shouldn't let a man speak to you so!" I announced to her as I moved closer. As I did so, from the corner of my eye I caught sight of movement just behind the bar. Someone had just emerged from the passageway and was scurrying away whilst the Navy dispersed. I moved as quickly as I could, forgetting to disguise my limp as I realised the man who had held me in the air earlier was trying to get away. I was not fool enough to think I could take such a man when injured. He was twice the size of the landlord and his reactions appeared a lot quicker. Just as he reached the broken windows I tore my blade from my belt with my injured arm, my good one still holding in it's hand the neck of a broken bottle. I made a swipe with the dagger, just close enough to him to gouge a cut in his forearm deep enough to scar.
"Marked!" I cried as the shock registered in his face. I knew now that I'd know the man if I saw him again from such a scar. I had not anticipated that in his need to flee he'd think to turn back around. He grabbed the hand that held the blade and twisted my wrist so much that I screamed. I slid backwards as he pushed into me, holding the knife to my throat as we both toppled to the ground. It's a miracle that the blade didn't tear me apart with such a movement, but it was something O'Malley had given me and I'd always considered it rather lucky. That moment proved to be no exception. Before either of us had time to blink, a resounding click told me someone had cocked a pistol and sure enough, it appeared at the side of the man's head.
"Are you terribly sure that's wise Sir?" asked a bored voice from above. The man pressing me into the flagstone floor froze as he clearly recognised the voice. Arms clad in blue cotton appeared from nowhere to prise him off me but his wrist still held mine ever so tightly. Another hand joined it and gently began to prise his fingers from my skin. I don't recall hitting my head as I fell, but I have no reason for the daze I'd fallen into in those few seconds. I observed what was going on and remember it well, but I neither moved or spoke as I would normally have done in such a situation. Maybe it's the Irish in me that renders me incapable of lying down to take the abuse of another so I don't know why all of that failed me in that moment. James has since joked once or twice that it was the effect of being in his presence.
All I know is the next movement I made was to reach out and take the hand that was offered to help me up onto my feet again as I stared into the eyes of James Norrington. Miss...?" His hand lingered in mine for a second too long and I thought it was because he was unsure if I could stay upright without aid. I ignored his query for my name as I had done once before and then I saw his eyes briefly flicker over my bloody shirt and neck and then his hand slipped out of mine. I recognised the officers grappling with the man who had just attacked me as two Lieutenants that O'Malley and I had saved along with James all those months ago. they were searching the man's pockets as he struggled and from one Lieutenant Groves pulled the gold chain and pendant that was my necklace. the Lieutenant's eyes met mine briefly for a second and I can't help but wonder now just how much he knew about me in that moment. Whatever he thought though, he remained silent as he presented his find to James.
James curiously watched my possessive gaze as the necklace landed in his palm and he fingered the dirty gold pendant for a few seconds, seeming to contemplate what to do with such a thing before he sighed heavily. "Yours I presume, Miss?"
In the next chapter, Fiona meets Jack Sparrow again!