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snowbryneich ([personal profile] snowbryneich) wrote2007-10-19 07:17 pm
Entry tags:

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Title: Recovery (5/?)
Pairing: James/Elizabeth
Genre(s): Drama/Romance/Hurt!Comfort
Warning: Utterly AU, marriage fic, mentions of sexual assault, Elizabeth is underage by modern law. Mentions of non-con, sexual assault.
Spoilers: CotBP only
Summary: James attempts to be helpful and actually talk to his wife and is given a piece of Elizabeth's mind for his trouble. This eventually helps but then he has to prepare for his return to work.
Disclaimer Not mine, disney's.
Rating: PG-13 at most, I think
Word Count: ~3300
Notes: Thank you to [ profile] artic_fox for the amazingly through beta and to [ profile] shahani for encouragement and feedback.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Leaving the fort did not help as much as James had hoped. Elizabeth seemed to withdraw further into herself on the carriage ride home. He did not press her to talk and she fidgeted restlessly. James did not like feeling so consistently helpless. When he stepped out of the carriage, he turned to offer Elizabeth a hand down - something that honestly he had even odds on being rejected. He was surprised and pleased when she actually took his hand and held onto it tightly even once she was steady on her feet.

"A touch of sun?" she asked him suddenly. "Did I really look. . ." she trailed off. She sounded annoyed and it is only belatedly he realised she was annoyed with herself not with him.

"I am sure it was not obvious to anyone else." He attempted to sound reassuring as he steered her indoors. She looked momentarily defeated.

"I did not think it would . . . I thought I would feel different," she confessed. "I did not think you would have to bring me home because I could not manage."

There was apparently no end to the ways Elizabeth could surprise James. He guided her into the drawing room and coaxed her into sitting down. She looked fidgety and flighty and he wondered where she would have wandered without his guidance.

"Elizabeth ," he encouraged, "you did very well today." He cannot help but sound a tiny bit disapproving when he speaks to her. "Very convincing."

"I do not want their pity," she told him picking up on the disapproval instantly. His face softened and Elizabeth caught that at once. "Or yours," she added, her tone hot with temper.

"Concern and pity are not the same thing," James told her, slightly exasperated. Could he do nothing right? "If you are wanting me to cease worrying about you, Elizabeth, I am afraid you are going to be disappointed."

She tilted her head at him and mimicked his cadence and tone, "so it would seem." She pulled off her hat and made a face that indicated at least to him that her life was nothing but disappointment. James recognised the way she is was hovering now and he knew if he allowed her Elizabeth would flee to painting or sulking or to see if she could locate some alcohol again. He reached for her hand and tried to say something that would help. Instead he ended up questioning her.

"You cannot possibly prefer that we not care?" he said, disbelief in his tone. And wondered what she might answer, he did not at this point genuinely understand what she wanted exactly. That made things difficult - as if they needed to be any more so.

The question was clearly a great imposition and she heaved a sigh and looked towards the door and then back at his grip on her hand. "No," she said after a long pause, "no, that is not what I would prefer."

He'd been somewhat desperate to keep her talking and so prompted, "and today . . . how did you think today would go?" She had clearly had a view in her mind of how she wanted it to go

"I do not know," Elizabeth snapped at him but apparently it was enough just to get her started on the matter and her words flooded out from then on. "Just differently. I thought I would feel better that they were dead, but I am not improved at all. Maybe I never will be and instead of being the Governor's daughter or the Captain's wife, I am going to be the girl who was kidnapped by pirates, forever and ever, that is all ever anyone will think of me. I did not even like being the Governor's daughter. I like being Elizabeth. But this is worse. At least before people just expected me to be something, a credit to my father or some such nonsense. Now they look down at me, or pity me or think I am fragile. They should mind their own business."

This outpouring was a relief in a way. He was not sure he could do anything about it, but it seemed much more like Elizabeth to rail against her circumstance than quietly accept them. "Things will change in time." he assured her, "People have to find ways to react to situations like these. It will not be like this forever. It is still very recent, and they will forget eventually when something else becomes the talk of town." It was hardly a surprise that people could not forget at the hanging. The crimes had been read out. And even if they wouldn't actually forget, it would cease to be the talk of the town in time.

"They?" Elizabeth said, her voice rose in volume as she looked at him, clearly vexed, "And when will you forget? When will you stop reacting like I am simple?"

James could not quite believe this accusation but before he responded she must have seen it in his face. "Don't look at me like that," she told him. "You are the worst. You have married me, but you do not think of me as your wife. It is like my father asked you to look after me; telling me when to eat and when to get up. You do not even like my paintings! I got drunk once and you banned alcohol from the house. I tried to kiss you and you made it plain I am ruined and not wanted." Elizabeth wrenched her hand away from James, harder than was strictly necessary, and got to her feet. "You do nothing but treat me like I am broken," she told him, "and so I cannot help but think that I am." Then she was off again, there was no chance for him to have responded to her accusations.

James planned on giving Elizabeth some time to calm herself before he answered her tirade. But his patience had grown thin and he knew that keeping his temper was important. At least once he had made it clear several of her assumptions were wrong matters might improve. Might. He was about to go upstairs when he was interrupted by the maid. "Mrs. Norrington said to say she is unwell and has retired early, sir. She will not be down for lunch or tea."

James found this a tad convenient and wondered if instructing Elizabeth to stop telling lies would be construed as no longer treating her as broken? Or simply dismissed as more fatherly behaviour? But Mary had only relayed the message. "Thank you," he said dismissing her but then added at the last minute. "Take her some broth at tea time, in case she has improved any."

James found he had no mind for concentrating on anything else for the rest of the day and the single occasion he passed by the firmly closed bedroom door his annoyance was severely dampened by the sound of fairly obvious weeping. In the end James retired at an uncustomarily early hour simply as an excuse to check on her. Elizabeth's cheeks and pillow case are tear stained but the bowl of broth is empty. She was already asleep and he tried not to disturb her when he got into bed next to her. "I do not think you are broken." James said to her sleeping form, as he pressed a kiss to her temple.

Before he had went to sleep, James had had every intention of letting Elizabeth sleep until she wanted to rise before he addressed her concerns. However for the second day in a row Elizabeth was awake before him. For the second day in a row, Elizabeth had awoke early and showed every evidence of being cheerful that she has. James looked at her askance. Yesterday he had understood, today he did not. She had managed to get fully dressed without waking him, although the dress is a plain one that does not require lacing and her hair was somewhat haphazard. She was sat by the window humming and she smiled winningly when she saw he was also awake. It was such a contrast to yesterday that he stared, unable to even return the smile.

"Good morning," Elizabeth greeted, as she made her way over to the bed and he resisted the urge to ask 'is it?' because immediately she made it plain why it is. She pulled back the covers on her side of the bed to show off a vivid stain. "My courses came." Belatedly she blushed as he stared and then rehid the stain under the cover as she looked sheepish but she cannot hide her delight. James felt like he'd released a breath he didn't know he had held in and smiled back. He could almost congratulate her but that seemed wrong somehow.

"That is a relief," he said as calmly as he could manage. Another thing occurs to him though and he had to bring it up. It had been some time since the attack. More than two months. Can she be certain it's her courses? "Perhaps we should call for the doctor," he said. "I know you mentioned you were not settled but. . . "

"No," Elizabeth said firmly. "It is my courses." She looked at him. "Besides, if it were anything else there would be nothing to do and nothing I would want done." This to James does not really explain why she doesn't want a doctor. There might be things that she needed it if she’s wrong about it being her courses. But Elizabeth always has a reason.

"I don't like the doctor," she informed him. "He examined me after I got home and he insisted on checking things even though I told him it was pointless."

She looked uncomfortable and this prevented him from pointing out the reasons this would be necessary but only for a moment. James was not to treat her as broken, she'd demanded and so he doesn't. "He would have believed you, Elizabeth," he said trying to phrase this delicately. "But if you were damaged internally you would not have known. He had to check."

Elizabeth looked uncomfortable and he reached for her hand and she no longer wished to talk about that it seems. "I am sure it is just my courses," she insisted. "It would hurt more if it were something else. Surely?" James pulled her into his arms uncertain. He was more than a little surprised that Elizabeth even remembered her exam. She had been so different when they had gotten her off the Pearl. Silent and shocked and acting like in a dream; he wondered if she remembers all of it.

"Neither of us know," he said. "The doctor would, and I would worry less if you were to see him." James was trying now, but she was a grown woman (barely) and his wife - let her decide if she would see the doctor. There was a long moment of silent consideration.

"I suppose he could advise me," said Elizabeth, "but I shall not have an exam," she warned. James was just surprised and pleased that she has willingly agreed and does not argue the point.

Nor on arrival does the doctor. He concurred with Elizabeth that so early on there was little difference. This caused her to look very smug for a short while, and she was prescribed a tea made of raspberry leaf. This brought an end to the smugness because it was pronounced horrid but she drank it under protest.

Elizabeth announced that she wanted some air and it is a brief moment before he took the hint and offered her his arm for a turn round the garden. They have walked in silence for sometime before Elizabeth glanced at him sideways and asked. "Am I very awful?"

James could not help himself, he stopped them and turned to face her properly. "Not even a tiny bit," he promised her solemnly. "Elizabeth, if things are difficult it is not your fault but circumstances . . ."

"It's hardly yours either though, is it?" she admitted and James knew that from Elizabeth that was almost an apology.

"No, but perhaps I could have made things clearer." He is older and wiser and more importantly responsible for her and if there was blame to be apportioned it comes to him not her. He ran her concerns through his head and tried to address them. "Elizabeth, I want to look after you because you are my wife, not despite it. I want you to eat and not spend all day in bed because I thought it would help you recover. I took the alcohol away because I have seen it used as a crutch by others, and it would have done more harm than good in the end. I have never thought of you as ruined and if I want you very much but only if the feeling is returned." He proved this last point by leaning in to kiss her softly and sweetly and slightly more intensely than he had done before. The fact that she did not pull away made his head spin and he doubted his own self control. He broke the kiss in the end after a long moment. He had more to say. "I have always thought of you as Elizabeth," he told her, “not the Governor's daughter”. James smiled at her and she looked so herself again but was his now. Her lips are kiss swollen and she was smiling at him. He could not help but tease her. "But I will admit that with the exception of the Ocean that would not fit, I do truly detest your paintings." She looked outraged and then suddenly giggled.

"I will paint you one specially to hang in your office," she threatened, her face smoothed of laughter and looking quite serious.

"If you did I would hang it," he told her, "no matter how dreadful it was." And at that she kissed him. Bold and unsure but for once, but he thought, genuinely happy.

The change in Elizabeth is if not drastic, obvious to him. She came to meals without him demanding it. She got up at a decent hour nearly every other day. She painted still, but this dreadful painting he had been promised for his office had yet to materialise and after a week she asked almost shyly if he would like the ocean one, because he had said he liked it. Without him even asking she seemed to have stopped telling him obvious untruths and he is quite pleased with himself. Until he looked at the calendar and realised he has a week before his leave ran out and Elizabeth still wants no company but his own. Invitations have started coming again as people move on to new gossip but she declined them all unless it is something they mean to attend together. No invitation to tea or garden party can attract her interest. He was not going to push, but it can't be healthy for her to spend every day in nothing but her own company. He bought her more paint including red, but to his relief no more gore is painted. He simply had to be patient and she would carry on improving. James wondered if he were being big headed to think his absence would have such an effect on her recovery.

That night she cuddled up next to him in bed for the first time while both awake and sober, (although they have occasionally wake like this.) She lifted her head to kiss him and as slow and steady as they take this, he still held himself bodily away from her not wanting to rush or seem demanding. It was another step and with each one she takes the thought of things going backwards is harder.

When an idea finally occurred, he had not left himself much time. He'd been called to the fort a day or two early and was glad to see nothing has gone amiss in his absence. They'll be at sea soon enough and that was another problem he'd yet to think of a solution to. He was walking home, it was a nice enough day and he thought he might call and buy Elizabeth a gift - not that she needed a gift. Her father still maintained his affection that way with visits a rare occurrence. James knew that the governor was a good man, and a good father though, and so remained confident this is temporary state and only allowing the newlyweds some privacy. Besides, he thought his present was better than anything Weatherby had come up with.

His faith is rewarded when he arrived home and his father-in-law's carriage was outdoors. This seemed a good thing until he stepped into front door and heard Elizabeth's raised voice. He heard only the end of an entirely different tirade to the one he received, but he got the gist of it, which was 'no more presents.' The bundle in his arms squirmed and he looked apologetic and tried to think of a good home for it given Elizabeth's lack of desire for presents at the moment. He decided to take it to the kitchen. He can at least feed the small creature before . . . - behind him a door is slammed and he can't help but look back and see Elizabeth was staring at the front door, a hurt but determined look on her face. He hid the kitten in his uniform jacket as he wondered if he should go to her. It mewed loudly and she glanced round confused. He stepped towards her. "What is that?" she demanded as another high pitched squeak emerged.

"It's nothing," he said. "Was that your father?" As distractions go, that one was pretty pitiful and he should have made an excuse to leave.

"Yes," Elizabeth said, annoyance in her tone. "He's gone now. I'm rude and spoiled and ungrateful apparently." She poked at the bulge in his jacket with one finger and the kitten squeaked in protest. "Is that a cat?"

"Yes," said James, because he could hardly deny it.

"Why do you have a cat in your jacket?" she said, her look suggested this was most foolish of him, which it was. It was a kitten, not even house trained as yet no doubt.

"I thought the cook’s children might like it?" he invented, the declaration against presents vivid in his memory. "The mother died, and she needs feeding by hand with a dropper." Elizabeth looked intrigued and then she pulls back the lapel of his jacket to peer at the cat. There was definite interest in her face and he felt hopeful. "Unless you would like. . ." Elizabeth shook her head and he looked disappointed. Then the kitten hissed at her and swiped out with a tiny paw. James is shocked - it has seemed so friendly!

Elizabeth scrunched up her nose and to his surprise made a small cooing sound. The sort girls normally make at small animals and babies but he has never heard it from Elizabeth before. "Look how sweet that is," she said happily. "It thinks it's in charge." She reached into his jacket and scooped the kitten out as it tried to swipe at her with tiny claws which Elizabeth avoided deftly. "Hello there," she said, "what will we call you then?" She headed off to the kitchen with the kitten and he watched mildly surprised at his own success.

Calypso, as Elizabeth named the kitten, was given a basket in their room and yet somehow ended up sleeping by Elizabeth's feet. They haven't been parted since Elizabeth snatched the tabby bundle of fluff from his arms. It may not be much company but Calypso is certainly a success as a distraction. He slid one arm round Elizabeth as she lay on her side and teased the kitten by moving her foot under the covers. They both watched amused as Calypso attempted to pounce on this mysterious moving thing. When the kitten succeeded she tried to bite Elizabeth's toes and this tickled enough to make Elizabeth giggle. He kissed her cheek and slept easier than he might have done.

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