"–and their tails, shiny as the purest silver and gold that you'll ever find in the New World!"
James sighed from his spot on the quarterdeck as the drunken, awestruck voices of the crew filtered up to his ears. This wasn't the first time he'd heard the tall tales spun by the bosun when the men got into the rum, but this was the most outlandish of the stories yet on their voyage. They must've hit the bottom of the barrel for the bosun to be jabbering about sirens .
"But pretty metals are nothin' compared to the way they sing. Just a few notes, and you'll think it'd be the swellest idea to take a permanent dip into their waters…"
He couldn't hold in a scoff this time. Fairy tales, the lot of it. He wouldn't say anything, as it wouldn't be due to ruin morale over such an insignificant thing.
"Something the matter, captain?" The quartermaster's voice filtered over the still air as he climbed the steps up to where James kept watch.
James gave him a tight smile. "No, sir. Just… listening to what the men are 'gossiping' about below."
The older raised an eyebrow as he came to stand next to James and join him in staring out across the ship and water.
"It'd be foolish of you to dismiss such stories outright, Norrington," he rumbled calmly, clasping his hands behind his back nonchalantly as James turned to fix him with an incredulous stare.
He let out a light chuckle, assuming his superior would break out of his stupor at any moment. The quartermaster simply watched him with a serene gaze, lips quirked upwards in a secret smile.
"To every story from the seas, there's a sprinkle of truth, boy." The man tipped his head in the direction of the now raucous laughter coming from below as the tales turned into the familiar rhythmic beat of a shanty. "It's how the ocean sifts out the ones not worth their salt."
The night had been still so far as they remained on course, and thus the gust that blew down the ship's length and tugged at his coat was rather unexpected on James' part. He glanced at as he pulled his cuffs down further over his wrists in an effort to distract himself from the goosebumps that'd run down his spine.
"Are you worthy, Norrington?" The quartermaster asked, his eyes glinting in the lantern light like polished obsidian.
James didn't respond, the chill that had settled keeping him frozen in place. As the quartermaster smirks and moves to leave, he sees a ripple and glitter of showering water in the shadow of the ship, momentarily shattering the glassy waters.
James Norrington might not say so, but he believes.
A/N: This was a joint idea by me and flybynite19 because we saw a severe lack of James Norrington content in this fandom! The OFC that will first appear in the next chapter belongs to us both.