|"Qui ne risque rien n'a rien."
No risk, no gain.
Elizabeth had tried to ignore the muffled voice calling her name, blaming it on - once again - too much wine, but now there could be no doubt: someone was calling her. She rubbed her temples, trying to wake fully up, but she still felt as if her head was under water.
Who was she trying to fool - her head had been permanently under water for well over a year. Drowning her sorrows in rum would have been more effective, but wine was the only option suitable for a lady. 'Now wouldn't my father be proud of me', she thought, 'we might sink, but we do it in style!'
Elizabeth put on her nightgown and shuffled across her bedroom to the balcony. She looked outside, but couldn't see anybody.
A tiny stone hit her right on the forehead.
"Ouch!" she cried.
"Elizabeth? Is that you?"
She looked over the balustrade and almost collapsed when she recognised the man standing there.
"Will?" she croaked, holding onto the metal so not to fall. "You're alive?"
"No, it's my ghost you're talking to. Of course I'm alive, can I come up there? I've got something to discuss with you."
Will Turner, no doubt - ever so charming. He was here, not dead, which was a good thing. Why he was here, though, and how it came that James had not killed Will as he had told everybody - that was a detail she was very curious to learn.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, trying to keep her voice down so not to catch anybody's attention.
"Re-enacting the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. Can I come up now or not?"
That was another thing she had learned from Jack: unless it's vitally important for you to know, don't ask.
"Fine, come in."
Will climbed deftly up the vines, swung over the balustrade and came to stand in front of Elizabeth, who tried hard not to look shocked. How he had changed! Still the handsome young man she had been in love with, but such sadness in his eyes.
"Will! You look - good."
He wasn't fooled by her words and frowned.
"Yes, I'm very happy to see you again, too," he grumbled, then grasped her by the arm and pulled her inside her bedroom, quickly closing the balcony door behind them.
"Now wait a minute! You turn up out of nowhere, after I thought you dead and mourned you for a year, and then..."
Will broke out in laughter, despite his worries that he might be found here.
"You mourned me? You? Now that's just too funny. When did you find the time? Before you ran off with Jack or after he kicked you off his ship?"
"I mourned you very much, and just so you know, I was the one who left."
Will sat down on the edge of the study and stretched his legs. The furniture creaked.
"What a pity. You were perfect as the pirate's sweetheart."
Elizabeth sighed. She felt as if she had a thousand tiny needles stuck in her eyeballs, a sure sign she'd suffer from headaches all night long.
"Will, have you come here to argue? I'm happy you're alive. I missed and mourned you. You know that you mean a lot to me."
"Oh yes. As a matter of fact I meant so much to you that you marooned me and Norrington on a desert island to go on a pleasure trip with Jack Sparrow, Captain. An odd way to show your affection. What are you doing with those you love? Keelhaul? Quarter?"
"I've sent you a ship to the rescue! And Jack assured me that the island was safe, with water and food aplenty. I just needed some time away from you."
Will stopped grinning.
"Would that be a specific or a generic 'you'?"
"Both of you, I guess."
Will began to fiddle with the quill on the study. 'He'll break it sooner or later', Elizabeth thought. He always broke something; candle holders, quills. One day, he'd very likely break his neck.
"Now that you mention it, let me come to the reason of my visit. I need your help. Your help and your money."
"Blunt as always. You're aware my answer depends on the question?"
The quill broke between Will's fingers as she had expected, and he quickly hid the two pieces behind his back.
"You know what happened to Norrington and the ginger git, don't you?"
"Oh. Thomas Gillette. A charming man."
"So I heard."
"He called me a spoilt brat and informed me that my father should have spanked me when I was a child."
"I'm beginning to like him."
"He also said James should have thrown you back in the sea when we found you."
"Then again, maybe not."
Will sighed and raked his fingers through his hair.
"Elizabeth, I fear there is more to this story than we know. The way this abduction happened - it's not a pirate's way. Somebody else was behind that, and if I'm not wrong, I think it's a mutual friend of ours."
Her eyes narrowed into slits.
"Lord Cutler Beckett?"
"The way you say his name it sounds like an insult."
Her nails dug deep into the palms of her hands, leaving tiny red half-moons.
"It is. So you think he's responsible for James' abduction?"
"As sure as the sun sets in the west. I have to find Norrington, Elizabeth. This means I need money, a ship and a crew."
Elizabeth sat down on the bed and thought about it.
"I don't have much money, Will; Beckett has his fingers in everything and keeps me on a short leash. But what I have I'll gladly give you. Ship and crew - well. That's going to be a problem. Unless..."
Will shuddered, knowing all too well what she was about suggest.
"If you say 'Jack Sparrow' now I'll scream. No way. Absolutely and positively no."
"You don't have much of a choice. If you're right and James and Gillette are still alive, then it will take a pirate to find them. We have no friends here, Will. Beckett's spies are everywhere, I can't trust anybody."
She was right, of course. And he couldn't risk Norrington's life because of his personal dislike for Captain Jack Sparrow.
"So where do I have to go to find him?" he asked defeated.
Elizabeth stood up and went to her wardrobe. She began to rummage through her clothes, throwing skirts and blouses and underskirts in a heap on the ground.
"Tortuga, where else," he heard her voice, muffled by a pink muslin summer dress. "And just so you know, I'll be coming with you."
Will jumped, almost tumbling the study over.
"Over my dead body!"
"If you're dead you can't rescue Norrington and Gillette," Elizabeth stated.
"I have absolutely no intention to rescue Gillette! They can keep him! All I want is Norrington!"
"I thought so, Will. Thanks for confirming my theory."
Will opened his mouth to protest, but he wasn't a very good liar, so he only rolled his eyes.
* * *
Ragetti's random notes: Muslin became greatly fashionable in the 17th and 18th century. The material is ideal for hot climates. Luckily, fashion designers learned about this early on, while the military still insisted on clothing its men with uniforms made of heavy wool, probably not being able to imagine that the weather is not everywhere the same as in London. As a consequence, a scary number of soldiers died of overheating.
|CHAPTER 6: A Nightly Visitor
by Molly Joyful