11 - Resisting

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After a long, sleepless night, the storm finally faded away, the sea once more still and quiet. Nora was crawled up by the head of the bed, her arms around her knees and her head rested against the wall behind her. James had fallen asleep by the foot of the bed, his mouth slightly open as he lightly snored. He was on his side, face towards Nora, strands of his blonde hair falling over his eyes. James looked to peaceful, his tall frame relaxed, his chest slowly rising and falling. Now and then he moved a bit, stirring like he was having a vivid dream. Nora envied him. She wished she could dream. Or at least sleep. The storm had etched fear in her whole body, straining her muscles, causing her heart to race. It was only a few minutes ago that her heart slowed down, her breathing stabilising. Watching James sleep calmed her down a bit. And as the sea were only making the ever slightest movement, the fear started to disappear from her bones. Soon she felt herself relax, her eyes getting heavy and before she knew it, Nora fell asleep.

The sun woke her up as it started to set, its orange light warming the cabin. James seemed to have put the covers over her while she slept. A sweet gesture, she thought. Nora never expected a pirate to show kindness, but then again, James was a constant surprise. Stretching her legs, Nora got out of bed and changed from her nightgown to a dress. This one was a deep forest green, simple but elegant. The green colour also complemented her hair nicely, copper and emerald together, the dress matching the colour of her eyes. After sleeping all day she felt restless. The storm had stiffened her bones and chased away everything but fear. And now, when the storm was over and the sea calm, Nora didn't know what to do with her new energy, her need to stretch her legs. The door to the cabin was locked as usual, mostly for her own protection, but also to keep her subdued when no one was there to watch her. Nora figured that if the door would only be locked for her protection, she would've gotten the key. But when James left while she was sleeping, he had brought the key with him. Looking at the door, Nora wondered if she would ever get to roam the ship freely, or if she was destined to stay locked up here with only few visits to the deck before they arrived at their destination and Nora's fate was sealed. She also wondered what it would be like, when the crew found out that she wasn't Guinevere. What fury she would have to endure, what death would come her way when they all realised they'd wasted three months on the wrong girl. Chills ran down her spine at the mere thought of it. Perhaps James would be the one to end it. Perhaps the relentless monster that she had seen fight on deck on her first day would be the one to end it. The monster with the face of James. A face she had gotten quite fond of, even if Nora refused to admit it. She could still feel his warm fingers stroking her leg as he was crouched down in front of her, distracting Nora from the storm and looking after her cuts. Without his fingers there, her leg felt cold. She knew she wasn't supposed to like him touching her, as James was a monster in some ways. A pirate and a killer. He might have been gentle with Nora whilst she was on the ship, but she could never forget who put her on the ship in the first place. Who's orders sealed her fate that night when her town burned. No matter how kind James was now, no matter how much he intrigued her, Nora could never let her guard down. He was and would forever be her captor, and that meant that she could never long for his touch or his smile. And Nora knew that. But somehow, James Haddock still occupied her mind more than she liked or would admit.

It grew dark in the cabin as the last bit of sun disappeared behind the horizon. Nora had started to light the oil lamps when she heard  key being turned in the lock, and soon James stepped inside.

"I wasn't sure you were awake", he said, hanging off his belt and weapons by the door. Nora shot him a quick look before continuing what she was doing.

"I woke at sunset."

"You could've come up and taken some fresh air, the storm is long gone."

Nora snorted and rolled her eyes with her back against James so he couldn't see. "The door was locked", she stated in a monotone voice, lighting the last lamp in the cabin. James scratched his head and nodded a bit.

"Right", he said, seeming oddly awkward. "Well, I got you something." Nora turned around, her curiosity peaked. James had a hand behind his back, a look in his eyes that she couldn't interpret. Slowly he closed the space between them until they were only a few feet apart.

"Close your eyes." Nora did as he said, closing her eyes, waiting for what she hoped was something good and not something that would make her regret trusting him. "Put your hands out." Once more Nora obeyed and soon she felt something heavy land in her hands. Slowly her eyes fluttered open and she stared at the object in her hands. A book. The familiar feel of it made her heart race and she brought it close to examine. It was in quite good shape, the brown leather back smooth and soft under her fingers. The title were engraved with gold letters.

"It's one of my favourites", James said as he studied Nora while she studied the book. She was absolutely mesmerised by the book in her hands. Whilst on the ship, she had had nothing to read and she had missed her collection of books that she had kept under her bed. Having one again made her incredibly happy and she didn't even now what to say.

"I thought about what you said last night, and perhaps this will help you escape reality for awhile, if you find the Gisela too awful." James looked down at his feet, suddenly not as confident as he usually was.

"It not so bad here, you know", Nora said before she could stop herself. She knew she probably shouldn't have said that, but she also found it in her heart to be true. Even though the crew scared her and she wasn't on very good terms with the sea, the journey hadn't been even half as bad as she'd first imagined it. Of course she would never forget what they had done to her friends or how she ended up on the Gisela in the first place. But being up on deck, getting to know Arthur, Jack, Absame, Harry and Belmore, Nora had actually enjoyed herself, sometimes even forgetting where she was.

"You think so?" James said, now another look in his eyes that Nora couldn't put a name to. Carefully she nodded and gave him a faint smile.

"Well, I'm still alive. And no one has given me anything worse that a foul mouth, so I'd say the stay has been better than expected. Especially regarding what I know this crew can do if you let them loose." It was hard to tell if James took her words as good or bad, as he didn't respond or look at her. Instead he walked over to the windows, staring out at the water, his jaw clenched and his frame stern. Nora didn't pay him too much attention though, as she sat down on the bed and started to look through the book, reading the first few pages. Soon she was caught in it, swallowing the words on the thin paper like it was air. She didn't even notice James studying her until he started to speak.

"You know, I want you to feel safe here. To feel that no one will hurt you, because I will kill anyone who tries." His candid words caught her off guard and Nora stared at James with and open mouth.

"And why would you care what happens to the woman you kidnapped? As long as the merchandise looks pretty when you hand it off to your buyer, I can't see why you would bother if I feel safe or not." Nora knew that her words were hard, and she regretted saying them as she saw the look on James's face. He looked sad and bothered, trying to conceal it by looking away, but Nora had studied him enough to know that he wasn't as careless as he wanted her to believe.

"You're not just merchandise", he said after a moment of silence.

"What am I then?"

"I- I don't know. But you're more than I thought you were." His confusing words caused Nora to frown. She didn't understand what he was getting at. James was so complex in so many ways, and right now he didn't make any sense.

"Well, thank you for that, I suppose. Always glad to hear that I'm more than just merchandise. It's what every lady wants to hear, really." Her words were hard and her face mirrored her emotions. Nora wouldn't let herself feel any of the words James was saying to her. Even though her heart was beating faster, she refused to acknowledge what he did to her, how James made her feel. He could never mean anything more to her than what a captor meant to his captive. He was a monster, and even though the hurt look on his face made her ache, Nora knew that her feelings could never be anything but irrational. And as James walked out the door without another word, that was what she continued to tell herself as she clutched his book to her heart.

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