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With Strength Unbending

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How did he get here? When did life start moving so fast? His old captain had once told him, 'when life is not where you want it to be it feels like a windless summer's day with not a wave to help you along. When everything is good, the wind is finally at your back hold tight to something and focus on what's ahead for that's when your destined to crash upon the rocks.' His old captain had a rather dreary idea of life honestly. Besides none of his advise had but much help let alone true in Jame's life. It never really seemed to slow down. Sure he could see how in some cases it was probably that way but it also likely depended on how one looked at his life. His old captain had not evidently learned to see the bright side.

To be honest though, at this moment there didn't seem to be much of a bright side in his situation either. Here he stood opposite the one he loved more than all others, and being fair James didn't allow himself to become attached to too many people as it was. You can only guard from so many angles at once. Life at see was good but seldom lent itself, despite all the travel, to knowing too many people. His men were hard working and he admired their diligence but he allowed no lack of discipline on his ship. So here he is in his royal navy coat golden buttons polished, his cream trousers creaseless, shining black boots completing his look. He wanted to present nothing but his best for her. She was way above him and he had no delusions on that account-the least he could do was honor her with the finest of what he had.

Regardless of his efforts, her blank stare seem to go right through him, when she finally got around to looking his direction that is. It was no secret that she did not want to be here. That much had been made clear by her complete disregard for him the entire time. Behind her her father sat quietly observing while the minister continued on with his benediction to the small audience. James's heart seemed to pound and ache and be torn in two all at the same time. Could he actually do this? Could he marry Elizabeth without her loving him? Yes, of course. What was he thinking of course he could. This was his duty and he would not shirk it now. As his mother had always said when he was a very small boy: 'If you see someone in need and you can help them. It is your duty to do so.'

"Duty," Her chin shifted and her eyes snapped up to his for the briefest second. Across her eyes flashed pain, anger, which when they weren't busy looking lifeless had been her most common expressed emotions, but now for a raw moment fear joined in the miserable ensemble on her face. Had he said it out loud? Could he have let his self-control slip for any other moment but this. Horrified, he bent a little lower to apologize but her eyes had already drifted down to where they currently gazed through his chest again. She owed him nothing more. He could have figured away around this. If only he'd been given a little more time. But with things being as they were he did not seem to have much if any other choice. Things were as they were and they would make due with what they had. Still it was hard to remember or even know if one single action set them on this path that led them here. Before a minister, in the company of her father, and his Lieutenant, Theodore Groves, along with a few others he wasn't sure he knew.

Thankfully the minister had not skipped a beat, at James' rude and unintentional interruption. Now came the vows and he would say them and hope that one day she would forgive him. That was all he could ever ask of her. This would end her chances with Will despite his desire to allow her what she wanted. Heaven forgive him for binding himself to a woman who neither loved nor wanted him. Perhaps one day. He glanced back down at her. Elizabeth held her head high now and was staring strait at the minister listening with full attention to his words and with calm clear intent nodded and spoke her part. It all seemed a hazy dream this couldn't be real. Except it was. Gently she took his hand. Her fingers were ice on his skin, which he was starting to become acutely aware was sweaty. Had he missed something? Was there something he should have been listening more closely too while his mind traveled to it's dark contemplation's? She glanced up at him then back to his hand as she slipped a ring on his finger. As slowly as possible he drew in a breath and let it out as she abruptly dropped his hand once the ring was firmly in place. The softest sniffle echoed from her.

Turning his full attention to what was happening, he looked down at the minister. Resisting the urge to examine his new extension, James listened to the minister. "And you Admiral? Do you take Elizabeth Swan, to be your wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do you part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto pledge her your faith?" James swallowed. This was it. He looked from the warm gray eyes of the minister to the face of the young woman beside him. Her cheeks were flushed and her jaw so tight he wondered if she might brake a tooth. Still she did not look at him, but preferred to glare at the minister. He couldn't blame her, this is not what she wanted. He cleared his throat. "I do, Sir." Her chest visibly dropped in an exhaled breath he didn't know she was holding. The ministered nodded approvingly and someone handed him a ring. Trying to keep steady, James reached out and slowly took her hand, lifting it with the grace one would use when holding a baby. Aside from her body being turned strait forward toward the direction of her gaze, she offered no resistance to him. In in fact as he slipped the small ring on her finger, she even seemed to relax ever so slightly. "I do, Elizabeth, I do pledge myself to you." He whispered. Surprising him, she did not jerk her hand away although it lay loose and still in his large palm she seemed to relent her distaste for him a small fraction, but it was so unexpected he couldn't help his heart soaring above to the heavens even for just the second before the minister continued. "Then I pronounce you Admiral and Lady Norrington." That did the trick, her hand tensed in his as if expecting a sudden grip or commanding demand. His brows furrowed a moment before her father came to give her a hug and Theodore slapped him on the shoulder and shook his hand. "Well done Admiral. She is lovely." James thought he might have heard Elizabeth gasp but couldn't be sure. "Where are you off to now?" Theodore was full of helpfulness on the tensing of the situation. James inhaled through his nose and held his head high. "There is a small home for us which we will retire to shortly." Theodore grinned but only nodded and winked which all things considered, Jame counted as a blessing. He could be saying much worse. "Well you will take good care of my Elizabeth, now won't you Admiral?" Her father walked over to him and shook his hand. "Sir, I will always take the greatest of care with Elizabeth. And you are welcome whenever you like. Our home is open to you always sir." He gripped his father-in-law's hand reassuringly. "Thank you, yes thank you for all that you have done, and all that you will do, though I'm sure I shall never be able to truly express my gratitude." "No need sir. I am the one indebted to both you and Elizabeth." James protested firmly and glanced passed the older man to the young woman who he now realized had one eyebrow tilted up and her eyes slightly squinted as she for the second time that day searched his face with attention.

"All grown up and a married woman." Her father patted her arm then rubbed her shoulder and looked proud, relieved and a bit saddened as he gazed into her eyes. "Well then, I suppose we should see you off now." "Oh sir, no, no, there's no need for that just yet." James assured him stepping a bit closer. He didn't mean to tower but he was just so tall and it seemed mocking and disrespectful to stoop his stature to stand eye to eye with the governor. The shock of fear that tightened her face instantly at her father's words seemed to ease out of her eyes at James'. "Yes see father, Admiral Norr-" Although James could not see the governor's face something in his posture heightened and Elizabeth's sudden loss for words seemed to indicated an unspoken communication between father and daughter. "-James I mean of course," She paused and glanced at him once more. Her father nodded and she continued. "James, does not seem to be in haste." She reasoned quickly "Nonsense my dear, and Admiral you as well. I know you will live a small distance from here and will need time to settle in before you loose what precious sunlight is left of the day. Go, now. It's time. I will see you both soon I'm sure." Elizabeth looked like she might strangle him, poor soul. With a nod, James stepped towards them. "Elizabeth, if you will?" James offered his arm and her focus was broken and she quietly looped her arm in his and walked along side him, her proud shoulders dropped ever so slightly. "Good day to you all." With that James lead his young bride away. Now he was thankful he'd been put in the royal navy at such a young age as it had allowed him to reach high command at an early and accelerated rate. Even now though he was only 26 he was able to he held the title Admiral, he owned his own home, and was able to provide for his new wife, though he knew she was used to much grander things than he could offer, at least he had something to give, for which he was glad.

In silence they climbed into the small coach and headed to their new home.