This Beautiful Skin
Disclaimer: I do not own them, 'cause if I did they'd be wearing collars with my name on them ^_~!
Notes: Norri is so nice, taking Will for tea. Nobody ever took me for tea! I had to look up high tea because despite living in Britain for two years, I never did have any sort of high tea. Shame on me.
Will tried to relax as the Commodore escorted him out onto the street. There was no contingent of soldiers waiting around to arrest him for perversion, but that didn't mean it couldn't still happen. Norrington noticed the young man's tense posture, but really couldn't think of anything to say that would calm him down considering that he was most of the reason Will was so stiff and nervous. Will had his eyes trained down, carefully watching his feet as they slowly walked towards the town center. He didn't notice all the people that stopped to look at them with admiring eyes. Norrington tried to ignore them for the most part, very aware of the eyes on him and his young companion. The rumor mill was sure to start churning after this. Why had he ever thought this was even a vaguely good idea?
Will seemed to be breathing a bit swiftly and Norrington looked over at him in concern. "Are you all right? Is the corset too tight?" He asked softly.
Will shook his head. "Nervous," he explained, not looking up.
"We are almost there," Norrington replied.
"I..I've never been to the Teahouse before," Will said, trying to fill the void of silence between them.
"It is a very nice place. They serve excellent tea sandwiches."
Will nodded. He felt too embarrassed to mention that he'd never really had proper afternoon tea before. Before he and his mother had sailed for the Caribbean, they had never been rich. His mother had done laundry and mending to make enough money to buy their food in between Bill's packages. He had run errands almost since he could walk just for an extra shilling here or there. There was always tea at noon, but if they ate anything with it, they usually had a dry crust of bread, which they soaked in their tea to soften it up. Afterwards they would save the leaves for the next day and continue to use them until their tea was clear and nearly tasteless. At the times when a package arrived from his father, they would celebrate and buy a pastry from the bakery along with some fresh tea, otherwise they kept their belts tight.
The traffic around them increased as they neared the center of town. Will unconsciously moved closer to Norrington, terrified of being recognized. Norrington brought his hand up to rest on Will's arm where it looped through his own. "It's all right," Norrington said, his voice barely louder than the bustle around them. "Nobody will recognize you. We're almost there and we can sit out in the garden and take our tea."
Will bit his lip and nodded. All he had to do was keep his cool and everything would be fine. He concentrated on Norrington's hand on his arm, feeling strangely centered by the comforting hold. He tried not to dwell on it, and before he knew it they were indoors and Norrington was speaking quietly with a lady behind a small desk.
"We would like to have tea in the garden please," Norrington requested.
The hostess nodded. "Of course, please follow me." The woman rose and led them down a decorated corridor and out of the back of the building. The change from the front of the building to the back was amazing. Whereas in front was a loud and noisy street, the back was a large walled in garden full of bright tropical plants and secluded tables in the shade. She led them to a nice shaded table spread with a linen tablecloth and a small vase of flowers. Norrington held the chair out and Will blushed as he sat.
"What type of tea will you be having today?" The hostess asked, trying not to stare at the Commodore's pretty guest.
"We shall have a full tea please," Norrington requested, dismissing her.
The hostess nodded and went off to get their tea ready. After she'd retreated indoors, Will finally looked up and began to take in his surroundings. Aside from the pleasant greenery, roses were climbing the walls nearby giving the cool yard a lovely scent. "It's very nice here," Will said, drawing his eyes slowly back across the garden to focus on the Commodore.
"Yes, I sometimes come here when I am not too busy. One can only take so many meals at the Fort."
"Why not go home for meals?" Will asked curiously.
"I do not have a cook. I only keep one maid and her husband as a gardener. I don't require more. I often go out on the ships and there is really no reason to fill my house with servants if I am not going to be there. The maid will make tea and purchase something from the bakery for breakfast, but it is not a large affair in my household. Usually, she only cooks for her husband and herself while I take most of my meals in my office."
"Ah," Will nodded. “That cannot be terribly pleasant.”
“It comes with my office I suppose,” Norrington said with a small shrug.
The hostess returned with a large tray, which she set, out on the table and began unloading. She placed a small plate of delicate sandwiches, a sugar bowl, some lemon slices and a small pitcher of milk on the table. She poured them each a cup of tea and set it before them, placing the teapot in the middle of the table and a spoon beside their cup with a linen napkin. "Do you require anything else right now?"
"No thank you." Norrington smiled.
The hostess smiled back. "I shall be back shortly with some scones fresh from the oven."
"Wonderful," Norrington smiled again as the hostess took her tray and retreated back into the house.
Will decided that the Commodore looked much better when he smiled. He usually had a stiff look about him, but his smile relaxed that and made him seem more human and not so severe. Norrington turned to his tea, slipping a slice of lemon into the cup and adding a spoon full of sugar. He swirled it gently with his spoon before lifting the cup to his mouth and taking a sip. Will looked down at his own tea nervously. He picked up a lemon slice and put it in the cup. He'd never had lemon in his tea, but if Norrington did it, it must be the proper way to do it. Will put two heaping spoons of sugar in the tea and started stirring it to dissolve the crystals. Norrington winced at the sound of the silver spoon clinking against the delicate china, but didn't say anything. Will was nervous enough without him pointing out that it was considered bad form to hit the spoon against the china. Will picked up the pitcher of milk and Norrington quickly reached out to stop him.
"You don't want to do that." Norrington carefully put the milk back on the table.
"Why not?" Will asked, alarmed.
"The lemon will cause the milk to curdle and it will be very unpleasant." Norrington explained.
"Oh." Will licked his lips nervously, picking up his saucer; he lifted his cup and took a tentative sip. The lemon was quite refreshing in the tea. It wouldn't have tasted very good with milk anyway he decided. Will put his tea down and watched as Norrington selected a small sandwich. "What are they made with?"
"They're cucumber mint sandwiches. They are quite nice," Norrington said before he began eating the small white triangular sandwich.
Will took one and began to tentatively nibble at it. Again, it wasn't bad, but was rather refreshing and mild.
"Do you approve?" Norrington asked, one eyebrow arched in question.
Will nodded. "They are quite nice," he said softly, taking another.
"Excellent. This is only the beginning. Scone and sweets are still on their way."
"More food?" Will glanced at the plate of sandwiches. "I'm not sure I can eat much more."
"Nonsense, you're no more than skin and sinew. You need some flesh on your frame."
Will blushed, taking a sip of tea to put off replying to the Commodore's comment. "I do not have the luxury of a job that puts meat on my bones, sir."
"I am sorry, I did not mean to offend." Norrington said quickly.
"I am not offended. I am merely pointing out fact. Where some live in luxury, others provide that luxury."
Almost as if that were her cue, the hostess walked out with a plate of fresh scones. "Here you are, some nice fresh scones and clotted cream for the Commodore and his lady friend."
"Thank you," Norrington nodded as she set out the scones in addition to a plate of small cakes.
The woman winked and grinned back before hurrying off.
Norrington sighed. "These people are too nosey sometimes. By tomorrow there'll be rumors that I've found myself a new lady."
"No, do not be sorry. It was my choice to bring you here. There are always rumors flying around so it does not matter. Besides, I have yet to apologize to you. I figured this would be a good start."
"A start?" Will looked up from selecting a choice scone.
"Indeed, I cannot possibly expect you to forgive me in a mere day." Norrington said with a frown.
Will blinked. That's exactly what he expected. He thought that Norrington would try to buy his forgiveness and then ignore his existence. "What does that mean?" Will picked up his scone, laying it on a plate and cutting it open. He spooned some clotted cream onto the warm treat, trying to divide his attention between the nice food and the confusing Commodore.
"It means that I am terribly sorry for my actions. I do not know what caused me to snap in such a way, but I regret that I hurt you."
Will didn't look at him. Instead, he had mechanically begun to eat the scone.
"You do not believe me." Norrington frowned.
Will looked up. "I'm sorry, but I do find it hard to believe. The things you said to me....I know that this is...perverted," Will frowned, "but it felt...I just wanted to..." He growled in frustration, not sure of what he wanted to express.
"To be beautiful." Norrington finished for him.
Will's eyes widened. "How do you know?"
"You told me."
"I did no such thing!"
"You did, in your sleep," Norrington explained. "I apologized then and I shall apologize as many times as needed until you finally believe me." Norrington watched Will carefully. The young man looked quite bewildered. "Please believe me when I say that I am truly sorry. If you do not believe me now, hopefully you will sometime in the future."
"I...I am so confused," he confessed, looking back down at his tea.
"It is only understandable. For now let us finish our tea. We won't speak of it any more right now if it upsets you."
"Thank you," Will looked up, relief mingling with the confusion in his soft brown eyes.
Norrington offered him a smile. "It is nothing, now please, eat your scone before it cools. They are wonderful when warm."
Will nodded, taking up the scone as tea continued with only light, safe conversation trickling between them. Will managed to surprise himself and eat a good portion of the food. It was one of the best meals he had eaten in some time as Elizabeth had stopped inviting him for dinner some time ago. Will finished off his tea and set the cup and saucer down on the table. Norrington looked at him.
"Are you done?"
"Yes, I feel quite full. It was lovely thank you."
"It was my pleasure." Norrington smiled. Will gave him a disbelieving stare, but Norrington ignored it. He stood up and walked around, pulling Will's chair out for him. "Come, let's get you back to the Smithy before Mr. Sparrow comes looking for you."
Will frowned. He'd almost forgotten about Jack. He hoped the pirate hadn't gotten into too much trouble while he was away. Norrington offered him his arm and Will took it. They walked back into the teahouse where Norrington paid their hostess a handful of coins that looked to be more than Will made in a week.
"Thank you, I hope we see you again Commodore. And do bring your friend, it's nice to see you with a young lady." The hostess beamed at Will.
Will flushed and eagerly let Norrington lead him outside. They had only walked a few feet when Norrington paused.
"What's wrong?" Will asked.
"That's the Governor's carriage," Norrington said, waving to a carriage a few feet in front of them.
Norrington turned to find the Governor behind him. "Governor Swann," he replied, bowing lightly.
Will quickly fumbled with a clumsy curtsy and tried not to meet the Governor's curious stare.
"I was looking for you. I have good new James." Governor Swann smiled.
"Oh? What news, sir?"
"It seems that Elizabeth has decided not to marry young Mr. Turner. You may have a chance yet my friend. That is if you haven't already found yourself someone?" The governor raised his eyebrow questioningly.
"Forgive me sir. This is Miss Blackwell."
"It's a pleasure sir," Will said as softly as he could while still being heard.
"Charmed," Governor Swann said as he took Will's hand, raising it to his lips and kissing it courteously. Will could feel another blush rising up and once again was thankful for the powder that concealed the flaming blush that seemed to burn his skin. He didn't know what was wrong with him today, but he just couldn't keep the color form rising to his cheeks. It was probably all the unfamiliar attention and the strange circumstances, but he really wished that his face would stop getting so hot.
"Oh yes, that reminds me," the Governor smiled. "We are going to have a St. Valentine's Ball tomorrow evening and you are invited. Oh, and Miss Blackwell, you must come as well. The Commodore needs a lovely lady to escort him, it is only right."
"Oh, I couldn’t," Will gasped softly.
"But I insist," the Governor pressed.
"I...I have no gown." Will pleaded.
"I am sure that the Commodore won't mind providing a gown, will you James?" Governor Swann looked up at Norrington questioningly, but Norrington knew all too well that it was not a question, but an order.
"Of course. I shall find a gown and we will be at your ball tomorrow Governor." Norrington smiled a bit tightly.
"Excellent, excellent! I will see you tomorrow then. Goodbye Commodore, Miss Blackwell." The Governor turned and stepped into his carriage followed by a servant with a large amount of boxes, most likely Elizabeth's gown.
As the carriage rode off Will turned to Norrington. "I can't go to a ball!"
Norrington frowned. "I'm afraid we have no choice. That was an order, not a request."
"But! I cannot! I'm not...I can't do that!" Will's voice was shrill with panic.
"Please understand that even I must obey the word of the Governor and he has requested our presence at his ball, therefore we cannot refuse." Norrington explained gently.
"I think it's a great idea!"
Will jumped, turning to find a grinning Jack standing behind him with a sack of laundry and smelling of cheap rum and cheaper perfume.
"Shh shhh! Keep it down lass, everyone'll start starin'." Jack grinned from ear to ear.
"Sparrow, you really should not be flaunting your presence like that," Norrington warned. He tried to ignore the fact that Jack reeked up rum and whorehouses, taking Will's arm he stepped away from the pungent pirate.
"I was on me way back to the Smithy," Jack slurred. "But I saw me lovely lass and had to stop to say hello!" Jack swept his hat off of his head in a grand salute. "And," Jack added, stabbing his finger at Norrington, "and I ‘ad te make sure you were treatin' her all proper like. So you go along and buy her a nice dress. Make Miss Blackwell the prettiest bell o' the ball. Savvy?" Jack's eyes glittered dangerously despite his drunken antics.
Norrington nodded. "Yes, I will make sure that Miss Blackwell has a fine gown for the ball. Now why don't you find yourself a nice trough to bathe in?"
Jack smirked back. "I might do jus that, can't have my odor offending the Commodore's delicate sensibilities can we?"
"Can you please stop?" Will asked.
Jack nodded, backing off. "Sorry lass. I'll be getting meself back. You take advantage of the kind Commodore's wages and find yourself a pretty gown. Then ye can come home and model it for me." Jack winked.
Will fought back the urge to whack the lecherous man. It would draw more attention than was currently focused on their odd little group and that was something they didn't need. "Just go home," Will hissed, making a small shooing motion with his hands.
"I'm goin', I'm goin'," Jack muttered as he turned and sashayed off into the crowds.
"Well then," Norrington coughed, "shall we see about that gown?"
Will looked up at him and nodded, resigned to his fate and let Norrington lead him into the nearest dress shop.
To Be Continued...
Well, I got one Valentine's Day reference in there. Is Norri improving? I hope so ^_^