Summary: Norrington should have given up the chase long before the Black Pearl made it to Canada.
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Pairing: Jack/Norrington (unrequited)
Disclaimer: Disney owns these characters and the setting in which they live.
Notes: parcae has joined the ranks of my esteemed challengers, and I present to her this fic containing, as per her request, an embroidered fan, Norrington being slapped, a bunch of bananas, a hatchet, a silly walk, an ostentatiously elaborate hairstyle, twins, a lump of frozen duck, and the line "I didn't know that anyone could do that without breaking multiple bones."
Caveat: This was written pencil-and-paper and then typed on my younger sister's computer, as opposed to solid typing. And so the style is different; the quality, I feel, is lower than usual (particularly in regard to characterization). But until I get my room back, I can't work in my normal way, and so the quality will suffer. parcae, I'm sorry if this disappoints.
The French Connection
Norrington should have seen this coming when the Florida coast faded into the distance behind him. He should have been savvy to the pirate's tricks before they'd passed the Virginia colony, and he certainly should have just turned around when he'd stepped off the ship to order provisions and seen the Puritans milling about.
By then, the temperature had dropped to a balmy twenty-eight degrees and the frozen sails snapped in a sudden wind. He'd long ago stopped sending dispatches to the naval bases in the Caribbean.
The provisions he'd bought, at the advice of a solemn man in a black overcoat, were three barrels of salted fish, fifteen ducks, five barrels of fresh water, two crates of apples, a hatchet, and a Bible. Before that day, John Norrington hadn't known that a Puritan could cheat his customers, but the water had frozen in all eight barrels, the ducks had frozen to death and were only kept from rotting by their newly solid state, and the pages of the Bible had proven too thin and musty for starting any decent fires.
His men had borne the news with indifference. Most of the fellows were English, which meant that they'd grown up climbing out the bedroom window every winter because the door wouldn't open, and so long as they could hatchet through the ice on the water barrels for evening tea, they were unfazed. All the same, though, he was glad he'd followed his lieutenant's advice as well and stocked up on heavy coats for his crew. They were only British, after all--not superhuman.
The average pirate, on the other hand, had been raised in the sunny Caribbean and lived on rum. He was as likely to have the Crown Jewels in his seachest as a pair of long underwear. When snow had begun to fall, Norrington had been sure that Captain Jack Sparrow would just turn around and concede defeat.
And then they'd found the French. Or, more accurately, the French had found them.
"Yes, a pirate," Norrington said slowly and clearly. "In a ship with black sails."
The French lady waved her Chinese fan as though this frozen Hell of a fort stifled her. "Non, Monsieur Norrington," she said impatiently, snapping the fan shut and tapping it against her hand. "I 'eard you ze firs' time, and non, zere is no pirate 'ere besides yourself." She glared. "And zere 'as never been a pirate 'ere, which makes you--" she touched her fan to Norrington's chest, "--ze first."
"But Madam, there is a ship with black sails--" the commodore protested, struggling against his bonds. The French were right bastards with knots.
"Zere is a ship wiz black sails, but it belongs to Monsieur Sperot," the lady whispered. "And 'e is our honored guest, so you 'ad best sink about 'oo you call a pirate." Even her tall hair, draped in seemingly harmless pearls, looked threatening when her face was that close. Then she sat back, holding out both hands.
The lady's twin attendants--both tall, broad, and not terribly keen-looking--helped her to her feet. One escorted her out of the dungeons as the other picked up her stool. He shot a menacing look at the commodore and his crew before following his mistress out.
Trapped. Trapped in a French fort where the likes of Jack Sparrow was an honored guest, and damn these bastard French knots!
He should have just turned around when he'd seen the Puritans. It couldn't have got any better from there on out.
The gaoler had one long leg and one short, and he had a devil of a time getting down the stairs to the cells. Norrington had gotten used to the clumpshufflecrash that was Monsieur Pieu's equivalent of a rap at the doorframe to announce his presence.
He was a decent sort of man, for a Frenchman; he wouldn't untie the bastard knots, but he carefully fed his prisoners their bread and soup and only laughed a little when he dripped broth on their clothes.
Today, as Pieu staggered into the gaol's antechamber, there was something different in his manner. He was grinning broadly, the way he had when he'd ushered the lady into his humble abode. Norrington looked up from his latest attempt to undo the bastard knots.
Pieu gabbled something in French that sounded very grandiose; the only word that Norrington caught and understood was "Madame"--the lady again, then. The gaoler pointed to the commodore, who got to his feet, and made his clomping, dragging way to the man's cell. And unlocked it.
And then slit the bastard knots in twain.
If Norrington had been an impulsive man, he might have taken the opportunity to give Pieu a solid clocking and steal the keys, freeing his men and staging a daring escape with chases, desperate battles, and creative use of chandeliers. But Norrington was practical, not impulsive--for one, he didn't know the way out of the bloody fort; for another, he had no weapons and no way of acquiring them; and for a third, that sounded like the kind of thing that Jack Sparrow would do.
So it was mute and upright that John Norrington followed the gaoler up the stairs.
Pieu wasn't much better at going up than going down.
By the time the gaoler had shambled to a halt in front of an impressive wooden door, Norrington had finished working the ache out of his arms and had started working the chill out of his hands. He wished he'd invested in gloves when he'd bought the overcoats, but it hadn't been his plan to drag this chase into the frozen French territory.
No--that had been all Jack's doing.
"Madame Marie d'Ete, Monsieur Jacques Sperot," called Pieu, tapping at the impressive door and opening it just a crack.
"Oui, Pieu," the lady answered, and the gaoler pushed the door open all the way, revealing two very different figures seated on either side of a cozy-looking fireplace
Madame Marie d'Ete was lovely in a fancy silk monstrosity of a dress, her hair piled on her head like a courtier's in France. There was not a wrinkle in her clothing or a stray hair in her coiffure. Jack, on the other hand, was a study in scruffiness, still garbed in his pirate clothes; his only concession to the cold was an enormous, matted fur coat that must have been made from at least six aged and rather mangy wolves. Norrington made a stiff bow for the lady, but frowned at the pirate. "'Jacques Sperot,'" he muttered.
"French sounds so civilized, doesn't it?" Jack asked, grinning. "The good Madame's husband wants to hang you for a pirate, lad, so I'd not be insulting her guests."
"Is there anything that I could call you that is so far off the mark that it would be insulting, Sparrow?" Norrington demanded, and Madame Marie slapped him.
"No need for that, love." The pirate stood, swishing his massive coat as he made his way to the tableau by the door. He took Norrington's chin in his hand and tilted the man's head this way and that.
In an undertone, almost inaudibly, Jack whispered, "You're making it harder to get your head out of the noose." Then the captain made a theatrical turn to Madame Marie. "This is the pirate who has followed me from the Caribbean to capture my cargo--fine fruits from the lands of the savages, the likes of which I showed you yesterday."
Madame Marie nodded gravely. "'E is a stubborn man, Jacques," she agreed, "and a stupid man. Ze . . . 'ow do you say . . . bananas . . . zey were rotten. 'Ow do you expect to follow a sheep for two months wizzout ze cargo spoiling?"
It took Norrington only another moment to realize that she'd meant "ship."
"Terrible, isn't it, Madame," Jack said, shaking his head while the commodore gaped. "And disguised as a military man, at that. It worked until we passed New Amsterdam, but to try it in the French territories! Shocked, Madame."
"Zere is a penalty for impersonating a British officer, is zere not?" Madame Marie mused. "I 'ave 'alf a mind to send 'im to ze navy and 'ave them 'ang 'im--" and Norrington cherished a brief spark of hope "--but we do not deal wiz ze British." She smiled at Jack Sparrow. "Except for you, mon ami."
Jack looked from prisoner to lady and smiled. "I could . . ." he began, but waved the notion away.
"You could?" Madame Marie inquired. Norrington opened his mouth, but Jack silenced him with a wink that Madame must have seen.
"I could--no, that would never work."
"What is your idea?" the lady asked, smoothing her unwrinkled dress impatiently. "You 'ave one."
"Well," Jack said, enjoying the attention that was totally focused on him, "I could take him to a British port I know and turn him over to the navy--if you still have half a mind for it."
Madame Marie snapped her fan open and closed. She tapped it against her chin, studying Norrington. At last, she said, "Zis is a very serious crime 'e 'as committed, and if ze British sink we are rude, zey are cruel. 'E shall get what 'e deserves. Pieu!" she called, and the gaoler stumped into the room. Had he been outside the entire time, then?
As Norrington was led back to his cell, he tried hard and unsuccessfully to conceive of a possible motive for Jack's absurd amnesty. What game was the pirate playing?
At the moment, Jack was playing chess, and losing spectacularly even though he moved the pieces about whenever Marie buried her nose in her novel.
Lovely lass. It had been a good move indeed to spare her husband's ship when the man had gone to staff this fort; as a result, the pirate had guaranteed safety in French waters and the favor of Madame Marie d'Ete, who in turn had the indulgence of her husband. And quite apart from her help, he had her friendship.
"Merci, mon cheri," he said, by way of alerting her that it was her turn to move. She looked up, momentarily startled, and slipped a ribbon back into the book.
"Speak in English, mon ami--I need ze practice." Marie considered the board, giggling. "And you are welcome. Zis will be exactly like it 'appens in ze novels!" She toyed with her fan, examining the embroidered birds as she snapped it open, closed, and then open again.
"The novels your husband doesn't want you reading anymore?" he asked innocently, and she swatted him.
"Oui--zose novels." She grinned salaciously at him and opened her book. "On page one 'undred and sirty-six, ze pirate captain takes ze soldier to 'is cabin an' does zis--" she pointed to a paragraph "and zen zat . . .." She moved to the next page, running her finger along the spine as though it could be titillated by her light touch.
Jack read as best he could in upside-down French. "I didn't know that anyone could do that without breaking multiple bones," he muttered, kohled eyes wide as he considered the possibilities.
"Break 'is bones, mon ami," Marie whispered, sliding her black knight in a smooth L-shape to take a pawn. "I don't know what you see in 'im, but if you see somesing, it must be zere."
Jack took a careful look at the board. Her pieces outnumbered his greatly, and in two more moves she would have him checkmated no matter what he did. "He's interested me. When Gibbs sold him the last of our rancid fish in Plymouth Bay, I knew that he would follow me to Hell and back. Interesting, eh?" the pirate said, taking Marie's queen. "And turning his interest will be a pretty challenge, but I've got leverage, thanks to you. Thankee, lass."
"A pleasure to 'elp an old friend, Monsieur Sperot," answered Marie. "Checkmate." She swept the playing pieces into a velvet bag. "And, Jacques?"
"When you do 'ave 'is interest . . . you must tell me all of ze details."
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