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23rd June 2007 (01:08)

Title: Hallelujah
Rating: PG13ish
Disclaimer: nothing but the plot is mine
Characters: Elizabeth and Norrington
Summary: Pre CotBP and majorly AU. What happens when something drastic changes the course of history for two character's relationship. And what exactly is love? Set to the song "Hallelujah" as sung by Rufus Wainwright (but originally written by Leonard Cohen)

AN: Haven't really checked over this in a none-exhausted state so bear with me, any major mistakes, don't hesitate to point them out, may tidy this up and repost at somepoint, but still tell me what you think!


Hallelujah

I heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased the Lord, but you don't really care for music, do you?


James sat at the piano, his fingers resting lightly on the keys, brow furrowed in thought. His eyes shut and his mind’s eye he visualised the Dauntless cresting along a calm sea. Eyes opened, he finally pushed down and the music began, it started awkwardly though and he stopped quickly, frustrated. He tried again but this time it was not the beauty of a ship or the sea that soothed him, but the memory of Miss Swann. He saw her as clear as day in his mind, standing on the harbour watching the Dauntless return the port, waving shyly at him. Eyes open. He tried again and the difference was profound.


It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift, the baffled king composing Hallelujah

 

James was reading a book intently. Not one of the naval strategy books he should have been brushing up on but an old classic that he had brushed the dust off and decided to enjoy on one of his rare days off. There was a sudden bang and he shot out of the seat – ever the soldier. He looked around warily before seeing a figure out in the rain. James opened the French windows and was horrified to see before him a thoroughly drenched Miss Swann. After freezing for a moment he regained his senses and ushered her inside to the library and threw a few logs onto the dying fire. The girl – no, young woman now, he corrected himself – sat on the very edge of the sofa bed he had been reading on and clutched her arms about her. He gently asked her what she was doing out here on her own, in the appalling weather no less, had she had a disagreement with her father? She smiled ruefully and shook her head. As her shivering passed she seemed to find her tongue and she told him that she had decided to walk over to his home, before the rains had hit, in order to invite him to her debut ball. She was seventeen in two days she declared, proudly. James politely accepted the invitation but dreaded the thought of such a thing. He hated balls, he was not much for any social activity, let alone social activity which required you to move well on your feet and imbibe large amounts of alcohol.

 

Your faith was strong but you needed proof, you saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you


James called for the butler to bring the carriage and escorted her home, trying to ignore the rather fetching way the sopping dress was clinging to her. As they reached the Governor’s mansion she smiled fondly at him and held onto his hand longer than was strictly appropriate as he helped her down the carriage steps. He declined to come in. He sat in the carriage on the way back thinking that perhaps this ball wouldn’t be quite so bad.

 

She tied you to a kitchen chair, she broke your throne, she cut your hair, and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

 

He had been wrong. He was on his own, alone amongst the masses. The party was due to begin at seven in the evening. It was just pass eight and the host had not yet shown her face, much to the consternation of her father. He caught sight of a flash of Navy blue through the crowd and taking evasive manoeuvres from the desperate girls in his path he eventually found himself beside several other captains and lieutenants, all seemingly as miserable as him. Those that were married looked glumly over at their wives and the clock periodically, whereas those who were not, were fidgety in the presence of so many potential brides.

 

Maybe I have been here before, I know this room; I have walked this floor, I used to live alone before I knew you

 

After much small talk and catching up, the orchestra started up at long last and all eyes turned to the long marble staircase where Miss Swann had appeared, looking like the sun through the haze of the rain. She, in her white and glittering dress, was perfectly silhouetted by the large glass window behind her, in which the pouring rain and thunderous clouds could be seen. She walked the steps with an elegance that comes only from rehearsal. James suddenly realised he hadn’t breathed for too long and let out a sputtering cough, earning him dirty looks from nearby guests and the mirthful gaze of the hostess. As soon as she reached the bottom of the stairs her proud father took her arm and showed her around to the guests, until they reached the cluster of Navy officers. She smiles at him – radiant.
“Captain Norrington, would you do me the honour of my first dance?” She asks him and he feels as if his heart will stop. He smiles back at her and takes her from her father, knowing that he will be roped into a discussion with the Governor later. They move gracefully across the floor, her heels clicking, it seems to him, musically upon the hard floor. He can hear his heart beating fast. They begin to dance and all other thoughts beside her flee his mind. She holds him tighter than might be socially acceptable but he does not dare to correct her – besides she must be more knowledgeable in such things than he. As the song ends and she stays in his hold, he has the sudden irrational desire that she should never leave his arms. Some wealthy young upstart comes over and asks if he may cut in – James very nearly tells him there is not a chance in hell. She smiles at him again, and when he calls out pathetically “return to me?” she nods over her new partner’s shoulder.

 

I've seen your flag on the marble arch, love is not a victory march, it's a cold and its a broken Hallelujah

 

In the next few months James finds himself growing ever closer to Miss Swann – no, Elizabeth, she wants him to call her Elizabeth. She has a rather worrying tendency to appear at his home when he least expects it, so often that he begins to develop, he jokes, a Swann-sense. Very early one morning, before he has even had time to get all of his uniform on she arrives at his front door – in floods of tears. There has been an epidemic of yellow fever sweeping through the town of Port Royal – she had been rather glum about the lack of shopping available – but this time her grief is justified. A young man she was friends with, much to her father’s chagrin, has died of the fever. He comforts her as she wallows in grief, even taking the day off of duties at the fort so that he may keep her company. He remembers the lad himself, he would be hard pressed to forget – some six or seven years ago he had been found floating in the Caribbean Sea. An ill-fitting end, James thinks, for such a survivor. He lets her father know that she is at his home and the governor sends a chaperone, but otherwise seems to trust him. Gradually her tears begin to dry up, and although James knows it will take more than a day for this wound to heal, he is pleased with her progress. After that day he resolves to ask the Governor his permission to marry his daughter, knowing that he will likely have to hope for a promotion before the betrothal can become public. The thought of marrying Elizabeth makes him feel strangely light headed and he has to work hard to conceal his intentions from her. Over the next few times he sees her she seems better, on the face of things, but James can tell that something has changed, there is hardness in her eyes that wasn’t there before.

 

There was a time you let me know what’s really going on below, but now you never show it to me, do you?

 

James’ dreams seem to have come true, it is announced before all the citizens of the town at church on Sunday morning that Captain James Norrington will be replacing the recently retired Horatio Johnson as the Commodore of the British Navy in the Caribbean. He sits in the row behind Elizabeth and watches with pleasure as Elizabeth turns in her pew to gape at him, having figured out what a promotion would mean months ago. As his well wishers depart and it is just him with the Swanns left, he shakes hands with the Governor before the older man hands over his daughter to him. They walk through the town, recovered now from those terrible times earlier in the year, arm in arm. When they reach the harbour he pats her arm fondly and he proposes – she seems genuinely happy and he is delighted it his him who makes her feel this way. The hardness in her eyes seems to fade a little.

 

Hallelujah

 

It is their wedding night. Both are wracked with nerves and embarrassment and they attempt to make light of the situation. She is surprised he has never done this before and he feels another rush of nervousness. Several days before the wedding he had caught her crying over her friend and in her madness of grief she let it slip out: “I think I loved him.” Their relationship has been tenuous since, carrying on with the façade, neither willing to acknowledge that she admitted anything. Their first night together is clumsy but unifying. They find pleasure amongst their awkward fumbling and are content. Doubt crosses his mind as she moans in her pleasure but is allayed when it is his name that he brings from her lips to greet the heavens.

 

Remember when I moved in you; the holy dark was moving too, and every breath we drew was Hallelujah

They are married. They are wed. They are husband and wife. It takes James time to get used to the union he is now a part of, and to get used to the weight of the gold band on his finger. One use he has already found that the metal has is that it is an automatic deterrent for the unwed women of Port Royal. He still worries over Elizabeth’s affections for the blacksmith but is reassured by her tenderness towards him. At night, when she thinks he is sleeping she murmurs the extent of her love for her husband into his chest and he holds her tighter when she sleeps. Although their marriage is considered by most to be a good match, a perfect match – the Governor’s daughter and the Commodore, there are some who are spiteful. James has had to restrain himself from using his military persona to dress down the gossipy women in the town, who spread deceit about the woman he loves, but the rumours begin to fade with time and all that is left is the two of them. It takes her a year before she can bring herself to tell him that she loves him when she is sure that he is conscious, and another one to make him believe her. But they are content. They are happy – love, after all takes work: Love is not a fairy tale.

 

Maybe there's a God above, and all I ever learned from love was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
And its not a cry you can hear at night, its not somebody who's seen the light, its a cold and its a broken Hallelujah