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As her feet lifted from the deck, she felt relief. Closing her eyes, Nora waited for the water to hit and consume her. But the water never even reached her. Instead the strong grip James had had around her arm tightened even more, keeping her in the middle of the air, hanging over the rail.

"What the hell are you doing?" James roared as he reached over and grabbed her with his other hand as well.

"Just let me go", Nora screamed, wanting desperately for it all to be over. But James wouldn't have it. Instead of answering he only grunted and dragged her over the rail before throwing her on deck. The wood hit her ribcage hard and left her breathless. James did not waste a second. Cursing at her with a broad vocabulary, he hoisted her up over his shoulder and made the walk downstairs to the cabin. A few crewmembers that had gotten up on deck watched them with curious faces, but they knew their captain too well to intervene when he was angry. And boy was he angry. With one hard kick he opened the cabin door open and threw Nora on the floor before closing and locking it. There was no escape now.

"What the hell were you thinking?" He screamed as the door locked. His blue eyes were furious, two icy flames and pure anger, all of it aimed at Nora.

"What do you mean, what was I thinking? Isn't this what you wanted? My death? Haven't you been taunting me with it for weeks end now?" Nora got up from the floor and faced James. He was angry, but she was furious. Too long had she'd been a puppet for James to play with. For too long death had hovered over her head like a storm cloud, just waiting for thunder, and too long had she feared him. But no more. If she wasn't going to live, she might as well end it. His threats had been constant, and when she gave him what he wanted, he stopped her. It was nothing more than cruel. A twisted sadistic game of keeping her on the edge of life. Not living but not yet dead.

"You think you jumping overboard is what I want for you?" James hissed, his eyes cold as ice.

"Why not? Or is that death not painful enough for you? Would you rather cut me into a thousand pieces? Or strangle me, watch the life leave my eyes? Is that what you want?" Nora screamed now, desperately.

"Don't tempt me", James rumbled, his voice dark and furious.

"Go on then", Nora dared. "Do it. Kill me." James closed his fists, clenching them so hard his knuckles turned white. His breathing was hard, his self-control spiraling. "DO IT!" Nora yelled, urging him, and before she could take another breath, James closed the distance between them, slamming her hard against the wall, his hand clenching her neck in a tight grip. Nora's back hit the wall hard, causing her to gasp. But no air entered her lungs as James's grip was too tight. But instead of panicking, like she'd done so many times before, she just started at him, met his gaze and held it. Silently daring him once more to do what he had always wanted, what he'd been holding over her head for so long. James stared back, his face red, his lips pursed. His whole body was shaking as his grip tightened. Slowly, Nora could feel her body start to fight the lack of air. Her pulse became stronger, echoed in her head, her legs started to shake as the blood rushed to save the most important organs. Her heart pounded hard in her chest, fighting for life while her mind was fighting for death, welcoming it as an end to the torture she'd been through. Soon, black spots started to blur her vision and her legs wouldn't hold her anymore. But just as she thought she was going to pass out, to finally be free, James let go. Without his hand no longer keeping her up, she fell to the floor with a thud. Involuntarily gasping for air, Nora could feel tears running down her cheeks.

"Why?" she whined, terrified that he would do this again and again. Keeping her alive, but just barely, the ultimate vengeance for her lies. "Why are you keeping me alive? I don't understand. Please, just do it, end it." More tears clouded her vision and she could hear James mutter something as he paced the room. Crawling into a ball, putting her arms around her knees, she watched him. He still seemed angry, but it wasn't the same anger as before. This was a desperate anger. A new anger, shining of confusion and hopelessness.

"I can't", he suddenly whispered, stopping dead in his tracks, sending her a glance before quickly looking away.

"What?" Nora said stunned, not sure if she'd heard him correctly. "What do you mean?"

"I mean", James sighed. "That I fucking can't." With one swift movement he punched the wall, shouting loudly. Then he quickly turned and walked over to Nora, crouching down so they were on eye level.

"I don't understand", Nora whispered. James laughed.

"Neither do I, love", he grunted and closed his eyes for a second. "I want to, believe me. It would make everything so easy. And you deserve it, frankly, for your filthy lies. But every time I get even remotely close to doing it, something stops me. Bloody annoying is what it is." Nora couldn't answer, too confused, wondering if this was some sort of trap.

"You could've just let me fall", she said slowly. "It would've all been over so fast."

"I know." James said, meeting her gaze. "That's the problem."

"That it would be fast? Would you prefer to be slow? Painful?" Her own words scared her, and she prepared for his answer, waited for the pain to come. But the only pain she saw was the one in James's face.

"No, it's not what I want. Or it is. But it's at the same time not." He sighed loudly. "I... don't know. Nothing makes sense with you. Nothing is easy when it involves you. It makes me crazy, yet I somehow find myself having a hard time letting it go. Letting you go." His words took them both by surprise, their eyes locking into each other as they tried to work out what exactly was going on. Nora opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. She still did not know if she could trust him, if she should trust him. This was the man that had tortured her, chased her and kidnapped her multiple times. Why should this be anything but a game?

"I don't know what to say", Nora said honestly. James smiled a crooked smile, his eyes softer than before. Suddenly, the man before her was not the scary pirate captain, but an insecure man, torn between what he knew and what he felt, unsure about his feelings for the first time in his life. The monstrous James Haddock was gone, in front of her the James she had gotten to know as Guinevere. That James, the one she'd grown fond of in her weakest moments, raised one hand slowly, tracing her bottom lip with his thumb. Feeling his touch on her, gentle instead of stern, Nora's heart started to beat faster, his touch electric on her skin. Their eyes were locked in each other, not moving, not even breathing as James's fingers traced her lips, her jaw. Followed the curve of her cheekbone and tangled themselves in her hair.

"Then don't say anything", James whispered, his gaze suddenly determined. With her tangled curls in a tight grip in his hand, he closed the distance between them and before Nora knew it, his lips were on hers, his hands were on her body, confident and strong. Letting herself be weak for just one moment, she gave in and enjoyed what her heart and soul had secretly craved for so long. 

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