Summary: "James Norrington, what has the world done to you?"
I led a respectable -even enviable- life, once. I had an early start in the Royal Navy, and by my mid-thirties, I was promoted to the rank of Commodore. A bit young for the rank, but not the youngest. No one was surprised by my promotion; I had proven to be one of the hardest-working individuals in the fleet. I was young, motivated, and eager to please. If only then I had seen my folly.
I was convinced that by serving others, I was serving myself. Their happiness was my happiness, and their security was my highest priority. For a while, it almost worked. As previously mentioned, I earned the rank of Commodore in His Majesty's Royal Navy and obtained command of the Dauntless, the pride of Port Royal. I had almost single-handedly rid the surrounding waters of the vile pirates that once terrorized innocent ships, and I had earned great respect from my peers and superiors alike. I had even secured the hand of the governor's beautiful daughter in marriage. Life was good.
Then Elizabeth was captured. My love was taken away from me by pirates, and I -Commodore of the British Royal Navy- could do nothing. Determined to adhere to the law no matter what, I immediately began to formulate the most practical and diplomatic course for rescuing Miss Swann. Mr. William Turner, a blacksmith's apprentice who shared my feelings for Elizabeth, demanded that we take immediate action and bargain with the recently-captured Jack Sparrow for assistance in locating the pirates. Naturally, I declined- the plan was rash and held little promise of success. Little did I know at the time that Mr. Turner was the wiser of the two. He understood what I did not: those who hesitate may as well not act at all.
Turner ended up freeing Sparrow despite my orders, and together they set off to find Miss Swann. They outwitted one of my finest lieutenants, and -I will reluctantly admit- outwitted me. Their ploy left me standing on an unmanageable Dauntless whilst watching them sail off in my fastest ship- the one I had intended for rescuing Elizabeth. It was not the first nor the last time that my propriety would be my ruination.
Days passed, and with them my hopes of finding my love faded. I had all but given up when our lookout spotted a column of smoke on the horizon. Eager to continue my search for Elizabeth but compelled by the law to assist any who may have fallen victim to whatever caused the smoke, I ordered the helmsman to guide us in that general direction for further investigation. As we grew closer, it became evident that the fire had been started by someone trapped on a small island, and a lifeboat was sent ashore to search for survivors. My elation soared as the soldiers came back with none other than my Elizabeth...and fell when the other survivor proved to be Jack Sparrow. My spirits sunk further when Elizabeth's reaction was not joy at seeing her potential fiancé, nor relief at being rescued, but rather concern for the fate of young Mr. Turner. When pleading with her father failed, she turned to me -knowing that I could not deny her- and requested that we go after Turner as her wedding gift. I was at once thrilled by her acceptance of my proposal and dismayed by her condition for said acceptance. Naturally, she insisted that it was only a request, but I saw it for what it was. Somehow, though, I didn't care. I loved her, and it seemed that she at least liked me, so why bother with the technicalities? We are all fools in love, and I proved no exception. Off we went to save Mr. Turner, even though a small voice in my mind reminded me that finding him might well end my chances with Elizabeth. I must remember to listen to that voice more often in the future.
Find him we did, and after enduring a grueling battle with undead pirates -a story unto itself- we made our way back to Port Royal. Sparrow's crew, exhibiting the typical pirate nature, deserted him and left him to hang. I must admit that by this point I had begun to at least tolerate the irritating man, but the law is the law, and so Jack Sparrow was to be hung upon our return.
It was an emotionally draining day, though not in the manner I had anticipated. Upon our return, Governor Swann was able to negotiate a pardon for Mr. Turner, and I had not heard from the young man since. At Sparrow's hanging, however, he reemerged and not only had the audacity to pronounce his love for Elizabeth in front of her fiancé, but then proceeded to make an attempt to rescue Jack Sparrow. They did not get far, thanks to the swiftness of my marines, and were soon surrounded. Turner stood stubbornly in front of the pirate and informed me that he had found his place: standing between me and Sparrow. Elizabeth, who had been watching all the while, took my moment of silence to walk up and take her place next to Turner, claiming that it was her place as well. At the governor's orders, the soldiers lowered their weapons and took a step back. Shocked -dumbfounded, even- I could only ask, "So, this is where your heart truly lies, then?" I already knew the answer and was not at all surprised when she informed me that it was. Sparrow was the first to break the awkward silence, and before anyone knew what was happening, he'd taken a tumble over the cliff. No sooner had Gillette commented on his stupidity than the appearance of black sails proved him wrong. Sparrow easily swam to his ship, leaving us all to stare after him. Everyone waited for me to give the order for pursuit, but I merely stood there, still grappling with the reality of the events. My love was mine no more, I had just let a dangerous criminal escape, and my title was at stake. In my typical, selfless manner, I did the "right thing": I let go. In not so many words, I freed Turner from blame and informed Miss Swann that I understood. After all, their happiness was my happiness, right? Upon being asked, I informed my subordinates that we would give Sparrow one day's head start and retreated to my quarters. It had been a long day.
True to my word, I gave Sparrow exactly one day. The following day, we set out in pursuit of the pirates. We almost had them when we encountered a violent typhoon. I was obsessed with capturing Sparrow, and we had come too far to lose them now, so I foolishly gave the order to sail through. We sustained considerable damage and loss of life, all because of a personal vendetta. The severe damage required that we return to Port Royal immediately for repairs, and upon our return I was discharged without honor for endangering both ship and crew. With nowhere else to go, I returned to my personal search for Jack Sparrow, reasoning that if I found and captured him, the Navy would be obliged to give me my old position -and my old life- back. Tortuga, a haven for such miscreants as Sparrow, seemed the most likely place to begin, so off to Tortuga I went.
Typical of my luck at this point, Captain Sparrow had not been seen about for some time, but he was known to frequent the town, and I was assured by several individuals that if I waited around long enough, I'd run into him. I spent what little money I had on drinking to pass the time, and -I must confess- I allowed myself to get into rather sorry shape. Soon my days and nights were either spent passed out drunk or in the process of reaching said condition. I hated getting as drunk as I did, but it was a cheap way to pass the time and a brief escape from my past. On one of my particularly inebriated evenings, Jack Sparrow showed up again. I decided that the easiest way to get a shot at Sparrow was to join his crew, so join I did. I spoke to Joshamee Gibbs -ironically enough, a man who once served under me- about signing articles with them. The idiot simply stared at me without speaking, but his gaze implied that he considered me ineligible for the position. Furious and fueled by the amount of liquor I had just recently consumed, I drew a pistol and aimed at Sparrow, inquiring as to whether I was unfit for the job, or if I should just kill him right then. The pirate quickly agreed to hiring me, but by then my alcohol-influenced mind had reasoned that it would be much easier to simply shoot him immediately and be done with it. This proved to be a bad decision, however, and before I could even get an accurate shot off, I'd been hit over the head with a bottle and thrown out into this pigsty.
I am not certain whether I am half the man or twice the man I was at the beginning of my journey, but I most certainly have changed. I was a poor, delusional fool, and I can only blame myself for my simplicity. I used to think that as long as I was on the side of "justice," I would prevail. I used to think that the world was a fair place, and that those who did the right thing always received their due reward. I used to think that by serving others, I would gain all I ever truly needed. No longer am I subject to such delusions. My former naivety has vanished, and with it my innocence. I realize now that I was foolish to hold life in such a simplistic view. From now on, James Norrington looks after himself and himself only. No more will I subject myself to the pain of helping someone else, only to have it come around to hurt me. I have experienced that pain far too many times already.
What has the world done to me, Elizabeth?
Nothing I didn't deserve.