Author: Commodore's Chick
Pairing/Characters: Norrington, young!Elizabeth
Word Count: 1532
Summary: Norrington, sick and searching for his book, meets an ally and an unlikely fellow student of naval theory. On the hunt for the book, though, it's every man for himself, pitting the lieutenant against the governor's daughter in race where anything goes.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.
Warnings: None, except for some cuteness and Liz!manipulation.
Notes: Written very quickly, edited quickly. Somewhat sequel to 'A High Compliment Indeed'. Enjoy!
The lieutenant sneezed and rolled over in his bunk.
It seemed that lately his will had been pushed to its extremities, his sense of propriety jepardized, and his patience tried, moreso than any other time in present memory. His head ached and a cough racked his lungs, and it was all thanks to one person.
Or one girl, rather.
Miss Elizabeth Swann.
Seeing that sleep had evaded him Norrington decided not to pursue his prey further, fully aware of the uselessness of that action. Instead, he opted to better use his time, lit a candle, and sought a book.
He had "caught a dreadful chill" (as the culprit had later remarked) after rescuing young Miss Swann from her excursion overboard. Naturally, the governor's daughter had been fine, galloping about above and belowdecks with renewed enthusiasm and disturbing her invalid guardian frequently.
Luckily night had fallen, bringing with its dawning her father's order of curfew. Elizabeth Swann by now would have been sound asleep, dreaming her pirate dreams, tormenting his hours no more. Or, at least, she should have been.
Lieutenant Norrington was quite confident that his charge had slipped under Sleep's wing: ever wary of his orders, he had checked outside her room a few hours previous. He sifted through his things once more, pondering how it was that one child could be the cause of so much misery even when unconscious.
His book on naval treaties was poignantly absent.
In another room on the Dauntless, Miss Swann was, contrary to popular belief, not sleeping and worrying herself sick about a certain item. So concerned about its whereabouts was she that, much to her chagrin and surprise, she found herself outside the officers' quarters, ready to do the unthinkable: barge in on around forty sleeping men and attempt to wake one without letting the others know.
The problem of discerning which officer was Norrington had not entered her stream of thought (for she had very little idea of what he would look like, without the tell-tale smirk delicately angled on his face), which only served to prove how infantile her actions were. A yawn curled around her lips, quickly stiffed in order to preserve her secrecy.
Just as she reached for the door, she wondered how the lieutenant would take being woken up by a her in the middle of the night. She did not spend long on this thought and touched the knob...
...only to find that the door swung open of its own accord, revealing a slightly disheveled but still intimidating Lieutenant Norrington.
"Oh, sir! I have--"
"Shh!" He hushed her irritably, hastening to close the door. He then turned on her with all the rightful indignation a gentleman could muster. However, before said rightful indignation could be released, Elizabeth began again.
"How did you know I was coming?"
Luck, he wanted to say. Or perhaps, "I know where you are at all times on this ship." but that sounded a little over-dramatic. He settled for: "I always know when you're arriving, Miss Swann. Your footsteps resound more thoroughly through the floorboards than an argument of..."
Fever slowed his brain's knowledge of collective nouns to a crawl. Argument of what?
"Pirates?" Elizabeth supplied hopefully.
"No!" Norrington barked quickly, more loudly than he would have cared to admit.
An argument of pirates, he contemplated ruefully, was something only Elizabeth Swann would come up with. Composing himself-- he would not let this illness get the better of him, he would not-- the lieutenant adopted a more placid tone to his voice.
"Miss Swann, I am in search of a book."
She gave him her best innocent look.
"A book, lieutenant?"
It might have worked on her father, but it would not work on a hardened naval officer. Oh no. Years of battle and meeting murderers of his shipmates in the eye had well-prepared him to withstand any charms this girl endeavoured to sway him with.
"Yes. A purloined book, as I have been given reason to believe."
"That's terrible; I have been having the same problem. In fact," she continued, blissfully ignorant of the trap but avoiding it anyway, "I was on my way to summon you to aid me in my search for a similar object. I don't suppose the topic of the book was--"
"'Naval Treaties of the Past Century'? Why, yes it was."
Elizabeth feigned an air of distinct and pleasant astonishment. "The title is very similar to mine."
"The very same, you'll find."
The civil conversation between the two could not last much longer. Once they had meandered to the main decks, a burst of spray hit Norrington in the face, prompting him to lead her to a secluded niche, also neatly removed from the path of the night guards. Since rescuing her from falling over into the ocean, the lieutenant had permitted himself to ease into informality occasionally with the governor's daughter, but never so much as this.
"Where did you last place the book?" A simple enough question.
"If I knew that, lieutenant, I wouldn't be here. I would be snug in my bed, reading my book."
Shocked briefly at this show of insolence and fatigued by his illness, Norrington retorted venomously under his breath, "It is not your book."
"Is too." Elizabeth shot back at him.
"Is not. Was there a name inside of it? That shows whom it belongs to, Miss Swann." This last sentence came out with just the right amount of sarcasm to get on Elizabeth's nerves.
"Of course I know that, lieutenant. I also know that people aboard this ship have been accustomed to losing things abovedecks, where the policy is usually that the finder of something missing gets to keep it. So it is too my book."
"That clause only applies when the original owner does not want it back or does not miss it. Thus, the book is not yours."
"But in this situa--"
A uniformed back passed in front of them, checking the security of the Dauntless before retiring belowdecks, abruptly ending their argument.
"Now is our chance, Miss Swann. We must either act as a team or each fail separately. The night watch will resume in precisely fifteen minutes: in that time we must put aside our differences and locate the book."
She nodded. "As conflicting countries would do, signing treaties that proved mutually beneficial against a common antagonist."
Heavens, it's affected her brain, he thought mildly. He never should have lost that book.
They scouered the deck, under copious amounts of rope, excess sail cloth, and in every barrel they could find. None of their efforts was met with success. Just as Norrington was about to suggest returning inside and leaving the book to the fierce element of the waves, a dark red cover poked out at him from under a staircase.
Snatching it up protectively, he was relieved to see that there had only been minor damage caused. He allowed a finger to slid across the cover in a gentle caress-- oh, how he'd missed it! It was one of the few books he had been able to smuggle out of his father's house, but that didn't matter now. It was safe.
"You found it!" A sea-drenched Elizabeth peeked over his hands. "Perfect! And just in the place I left it at."
Norrington knelt down, figuring that speaking to the girl on her own level might be more effective in relieving her of the book. He held the book up to illustrate his point. "This cannot possibly intrigue you; it's filled to the brim about uninteresting treaties between countries I severely doubt you've heard of, let alone place on a map."
"Oh, but I'm learning how to." Elizabeth said with a shy grin. "You do the book little justice: some of the peace agreements in here are absolutely rivoting."
Norrington shook his head to dislodge the disbelief he felt from that statement. Still, a part of him began to cave, if she has a genuine thirst for knowledge...
No. He must be firm. Miss Elizabeth Swann would have to put up with disappointment at some instance in her life: she might as well learn it now.
No doubt, he had planned to inform her that he was taking his book back, but something made him stop short.
Elizabeth had drawn closer than was respectably allowed and lightly, almost fleetingly touched her warm lips to the lieutenant's cold and water-soaked cheek.
"Thank you very much for finding the book for me."
The novel slipped out of his hands without protest.
"It also has some excellent chapters on the pirate code that established parley. Quite fascinating. Goodnight, Lieutenant!" And with that, she disappeared.
He sank back against the stairs, the dark ocean spray splashing onto his face went unnoticed. For a minute that seemed to span into eternity, he stared after her, into the black abyss that marked whence she had gone.
There were not many girls like Elizabeth Swann, he mused with a bemused smile creeping over his lips.
No, not many at all.