|Overall rating: R
Genre: slash, drama - Pirates of the Caribbean
Pairings: Norrington/Gillette, Gillette/OMC, hint of Elizabeth/Will
Feedback: very welcome. Good or bad.
Artwork by the wonderful Menegroth!
Summary: Captain Benham has been ordered to Port Royal to sort out the mess Lord Cutler Beckett has left behind. He's confronted with a web of lies, secrets and a lieutenant who refuses to accept that his captain is dead.
Author's note: While this story is a stand-alone, it can be read as a sequel to "UNSOILED".
"Have acted according Mr. M.'s plan. I'm now a member of J.'s crew. For a moment I worried that at least Mr. G. would see through it. I was lucky, though. Lucky? Did I just use this word in connection with swabbing the deck of the B.P.? This is only bearable because I know that I do it to serve my country, and that, one day, this score will be settled. Give God that T.G. never learns of this. - J.S.N."
"Grandmother is still suffering from gout, but otherwise she's fine. Rebecca has four teeth now."
Mr. Wilkinson's quill filled the laid paper in front of him with Sally's words. His penmanship was neat; he didn't charge too much for his services and sometimes even accepted a loaf of bread or a bottle of cheap wine for his services when a customer had no money. Mr. Wilkinson also had lovely smile, which was the main reason Sally always volunteered to go to the scribe when a letter to her father had to be written.
"Anything else?" Mr. Wilkinson asked, and looked at the girl with an encouraging smile. She fiddled with the fringes on her scarf and thought about it, then nodded.
"Yes. Please tell father that Billy is now helping mother on the market, and that we bought a goat last week. Please also write that we hope he will be home soon, as we all miss him and love him very much and pray for his safe return every day."
The young man nodded and added the sentences.
"Is that all?"
"If I remember correctly, you know how to write your name, Miss Cotton?"
"Yes, Sir," she said, not without pride.
"Good, here's the quill, please sign your letter then."
Sally took the quill and wrote her name, slowly, in large letters, as a child might have done. Then she returned the paper to Mr. Wilkinson, who sanded the letter, folded and sealed it and wrote the address on it.
"Your letter will leave with the next ship. Once you receive your father's reply, just come and see me, I'll read it to you then. There will be no charge for that, Miss Cotton."
"Thank you, Sir, that's very kind of you. I'll certainly do that. Oh, I almost forgot!"
She reached in the pocket of her apron and took out two apples.
"Mother sends these. Because you were so kind to wait for the payment last time."
Mr. Wilkinson looked a little embarrassed, but he accepted the apples.
"Thank you, Miss Cotton. That's very kind of your mother, but really, it was nothing. Then again, I love apples."
He winked, and Sally blushed. She wouldn't have minded to stay a bit longer, but the next customer was already waiting, so she bid Mr. Wilkinson a good day and left.
A bow-legged sailor took a seat next to Mr. Wilkinson's small desk. It was a hot day in Port Royal, and the man wiped the sweat off his forehead and neck with a large handkerchief.
"I understand you're a scribe, Sir?"
Mr. Wilkinson arched an eyebrow, which gave his face a rather arrogant expression.
"Indeed, I am. That's what's written on the sign outside, right underneath the drawing of a quill and an ink bottle, and the lack of pig-halves and sheep-heads in here implies that I'm not a butcher."
The sailor cleared his throat.
"My apologies, Sir, it's just that I need to have a very important letter written, to a gentleman, so it must be done by somebody who knows what he's doing, you see?"
"Then you have come to the right place."
Mr. Wilkinson opened the lid of his desk and took out a piece of paper. He also reached for a new quill; if the letter was important, he didn't want to risk it being ruined by ink blotches. Once he had everything he needed, he dipped the tip of the quill in the ink.
"Very well then. What do you want me to write?"
The sailor scratched his head.
"Dear Sir, I desire you to know that I'm greatly disappointed. - Is that a good start, Sir?"
Mr. Wilkinson looked up from the paper.
"To the point, I'd say. It all depends on the rest of the letter."
"Ah. Yes. Of course. Greatly disappointed. Then please write that I think he's a gentleman, and that a gentleman would do anything to find out who harmed his friend. I would want to know who harmed my captain if such a thing should ever occur. And write that my captain thinks that Commodore Norrington deserves to have his name cleared."
The scratching of quill on paper halted.
"Please also tell him that-"
"Who are you, and how did you find me?"
"My name's Henry Wallace, Sir. I'm serving under Captain Lucas Benham. One of the maids at Governor Greene's house gave me the tip. You wrote some letters for her. To her husband, Sir. I'm here because Captain Benham wishes to talk to you, Lieutenant Gillette."
Gillette put the quill away.
"I have left the Royal Navy. Lieutenant Gillette doesn't exist anymore. I see no reason for a meeting with Captain Benham."
Wallace sighed. The discussion with the elusive lieutenant would have been less bothersome if he'd had Mr. Jeremy for company. Winding the midshipman up was fun, and he would have probably found better words to convince Lieutenant Gillette that Captain Benham was on his side.
"Sir, I don't think Captain Benham wants to talk to Lieutenant Gillette. He wants two friends of Commodore Norrington to meet, hoping that he can shed some light on the circumstances of his tragic death. That's not a bad thing, is it?"
Gillette clasped his hands behind his back, a gesture Wallace knew only too well. Left the Royal Navy, indeed! If he had ever seen a man with the word "officer" written all over his face, then it was Lieutenant Thomas Gillette.
"Many men have claimed to be Commodore Norrington's friends, Mr. Wallace, and most of them have contributed to his downfall. Why should I trust your captain?"
"Because he's a good man. And because Commodore Norrington was a good man, too."
Gillette didn't answer. The door was open, and he watched the bustling activities on the street. He stood there for a long while, without paying any attention to his visitor.
Wallace thought that Thomas Gillette was a bland looking man, neither handsome nor ugly. His black clothes made him look older than he probably was, and he was a bit stuck-up like most officers in the Royal Navy. Captain Benham would be very disappointed.
"Have you made up your mind, Sir?" Wallace finally asked, getting impatient.
Gillette turned his head and looked at the sailor.
"Would you like an apple, Mr. Wallace?"
* * *
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|BLACKBERRY - 3/15
by Molly Joyful