15 - No escape

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The time passed slowly, the sounds from upper deck faint. Seagulls screamed outside the hole in the ship, fortunately it was high enough that no water made its way into the cabin. Still, Nora worried that a big wave would come and cover the whole room in its salty, cold water. Perhaps that would be good. Let the water wash in over the cabin, remove the blood from the floor and the body of the dead soldier. Take Nora with it as well. Maybe that would be a good way to end a life. To just follow the waves, float around in eternity, peacefully lulled to the final sleep by the oceans steady hands. But fate wasn't that giving it seemed. Since before any big wave could rescue her and take her away, James re-entered the room. His blue eyes were still suspicious, analysing and constantly aware. But they didn't seem as angry as they had before. No lightning bolts were fired from them, only a hint of darkness lay behind the icy blue.

"Took you long enough", Nora muttered, causing James to raise an eyebrow.

"Didn't realise the tending of your highness was to be prioritised over my wounded men." The sarcasm wasn't hard to detect in James's voice, the anger still there, not overwhelming but noticeable. Nora regretted her snotty comment as she remembered that there were people on this ship that she actually had started to care for. Suddenly her thoughts went to Arthur and Jack, were they alright? Or had they been hurt in the battle?

"Is everyone alright?" Nora watched James as he sighed heavily, running his hands through his messy, blond hair, closing his eyes for a moment.

"No. Not everyone. But more than expected. The bloody redcoats were more than we thought at first. They had more canons as well. But English soldiers have never been the best at combat. Us pirates live for a good fight, those boys playing dress up with the kings uniforms don't last very long." James met her gaze, the troubled look gone, or at least concealed, the old facade of sarcasm and wit back in place. Nora couldn't help but feel her heart beat a little faster, even though he had tied her up and the fact that her secret was out. She shouldn't feel anything for a man like James, a man that would most likely be responsible for her death in the nearest hours. But the matters of the heart never listened to reason and seldom let the mind make any decisions. Not that it mattered. Nora guessed that she would be dead soon anyway, she might as well enjoy the time she had left.

"Jack and Arthur? Are they alright?" Nora's heartbeat quickened even more, but not because of James, but because of the horrible thought that something might've happened to little Jack. James had said that some had gotten hurt, but never specified which ones.  Nora only hoped the young boy wasn't one of them. His hunger for life and his ability to find joy in everything was not something the crew could be without. Especially not Nora.

"Yes, they're fine, both of them. Jack did a good job." James looked pleased, content shining on his face at the thought of the young boy. But that feeling soon went away as his gaze returned to Nora. "The only problem that really remains is you." For a minute Nora stopped breathing, waiting for her verdict, unsure if she wanted it to be a life or death one.

"Since I'm not lying, there shouldn't be a problem." She spoke as confidently as she could and dared, trying her best to imitate Guinevere. James snorted and rolled his eyes, clearly unfazed by her statement.

"Well, love, that we don't know, do we?" He slowly tilted his head as he watched her, those piercing eyes looking directly into her soul. "But since there is a chance that your right, I'm not going to kill you. Yet. Were reaching land in a few days to restock on supplies and let the men have some fun. There will be plenty of people there who will have heard the news of the Governor and his daughter by now. And if it happens that Guinevere Monroe is not in fact missing and presumed dead or kidnapped, you will die. If not... well then you might just live long enough to meet the orchestrator of all this." Nora held her breath once more, unable to speak, as she stared at James. She was absolutely horrified. No matter what happened, her fate was sealed to end badly. With James suspicious of her, she wouldn't be let of the ship, which meant that she would not be able to escape as they docked. The next time they reached land would be when they handed her over to the man who payed James to kidnap her in the first place. And when that happened, Nora's life would truly be over. Frightened and in lost of hope, she leaned back against the wall, trying to keep up the appearance of not being fazed at all with his words.

"Very well then", she said calmly. "Guess only time will tell."

James kept her locked up in the cabin for the rest of the day. Now bound to a chair by the bed as the crew worked to fix the many damages on the ship, the hole in the cabin wall amongst others. Not many payed attention to her as she sat there, fuming with rage and irritation. The only one who actually talked to her was Jack. Positioned by her feet, he sat beside her and gave her a vivid recap of the fight that had happened on deck.

"Can't believe you missed it, Ginny! It was so much fun! But I guess it's no place for a lady like you..." Jack's happy voice continued to tell story after story, as Nora smiled down at him, glad to have some company. James wasn't seen much at all. Most of the men that worked on the cabin were part of the crew that Nora didn't like, which made her even more happy to have Jack by her side. His stories and eagerness made for a great distraction. Not that she listened much, as she still tried to figure out a way to survive this whole thing. Unfortunately, not many came to mind. Instead she found herself thinking about James, but that thought was of course forbidden. Enjoying a view was one thing, as it was harmless. But thinking about him in ways that wasn't the way one thought about an enemy, was dangerous. James Haddock wasn't her friend and certainly not a lover. Perhaps they had shared an hasty moment of recklessness, an almost kiss and a few words. But that was all. And this was no time to be reckless. Nora did not want to die. Not truly. Even though the thought of it was constantly in her head, she didn't want her life to end. She wanted to live. And to be able to live, she needed to escape. Which meant no distractions. Especially one that involved James. No, Nora was determined to keep James away and her thoughts clear so that she could have the best chance possible to find a way out of the mess she was in. But when the night came and the crew cleared out of the cabin, her determination faltered. James had walked in without as much as a look in her direction and sat down at the desk. As usual he started to rummage through papers and maps, sighing heavily. At first neither of them said anything, but it did not take long until Nora couldn't stay quiet any longer.

"Are you going to keep me in this chair until we reach the harbour?" James didn't answer. He didn't even do Nora the courtesy of giving her as much as a glance. Frustrated, Nora let out a sigh and moved around on the chair, pulling on the ropes.

"Not even going to answer me? Honestly, James, I thought you were more well behaved than that."

"I'm a pirate, love. We don't behave." James spoke without even looking up from the map he was currently holding. Nora rolled her eyes and pulled more on the ropes, desperate to get free. She'd been tied up since early morning and her whole body was in need of a stretch.

"And I thought you said there were honour among pirates."

"Among pirates, yes. Or sometimes at least. But you're no pirate." Nora started to get even more frustrated. She missed the James that had opened up to her, the vulnerable side of him that had looked into her soul, wanting her not to fear him. The James that had pulled her close, made her feel safe on the ship full of monsters. But this James, the arrogant, cocky pirate, was a man she did not care for. The man that had pulled his sword on her, that had threatened her life. Sadly, Nora had to face reality that this was the true James. The rest had just been a facade, she was sure of it. Accepting that James was just as much a monster as the rest of the crew was perhaps the only way for Nora's mind to stay clear enough for her to figure out a way to escape. Therefore, she thought no more of James, or spoke another word to him. Instead she sat on the chair, bound and sore, hoping that an opportunity to leave the horrid ship would appear. Because if it did, she now knew she would take it.

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