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The Gift - NDL: Norrington Defense League

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November 20th, 2006

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07:58 pm - The Gift
The Gift: Chapter 2 Andante
Chapter 2: Andante
Setting: Post POTC 3
Characters: Norrington/ OFC

"It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness and of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature, and everlasting beauty of monotony."

Benjamin Britten

It was nearly a week before Admiral Norrington found an afternoon that he could leave his work early. It was difficult, but he left Captain Groves in charge and headed towards his town home. There he quickly changed into his civilian attire: a dark blue jacket, a silver brocade waist coat, gray breeches and black stockings. He rested his wig on its manikin, clubbed back his dark hair with a black ribbon and placed a simple tricorne upon head. To the disconcerting eye, he would appear as any other gentleman of the merchant class of Port Royal.

Nearly skipping out the door of his modest town home, James smiled as he left the wig and the responsibilities of the admiralty behind; something he rarely, if ever, did. Today, he was just a man and he was intent on shopping for an early Christmas gift.

Turning into a small alley off High Street, the incognito Norrington, eyed the wooded placarded hanging above a red lacquered door which read “Gagliano Music” with a painting of a violin and a French horn intertwined, a graphic design for those customers ignorant to their letters. Removing his tricorne, he entered the small shop which appeared a first sight, no larger than a reading closet.


The shop was silent. To James’s surprise, it was small, but it was packed with a myriad of instruments. On the left wall hung at least ten violins, below them rested cellos and an assortment of viols. On the right, a clavier and a full scale classical harp clung to the wall, surrounded by smaller lever harps; above hung French horns and bugles.

Approaching the front counter, which was also a show case for concert flutes, whistles and fifes, he called to doorway which was covered by a heavy velvet curtain.

“Good day! Is anyone in?”

Again, silence.

Then turning back to the shop, he set his eyes on the most lovely violin he had ever seen. The instrument was of a deep cheery and brandy coloration with an ebony finger board and ivory carved pegs. It sat with its bow on an embroidered bench, seeming the only furniture within the shop; a fresh sheave of music tucked beneath it. Tentatively, he allowed his fingers to brush the strings. His callused fingertips eliciting the open string harmonics.

His mouth watered and without further thought as to the silence of the shop, he delicately lifted the violin to his chin and picked up the bow. It rested easily beneath his chin as he tightened the horse hair of the wooden stick, closing his eyes as he breathed with pleasure the scent of pine rosin and something else. Was it the scent of a woman?

Drawing the bow to the string, he played the first piece that came into his mind, Vivaldi’s Concerto in B minor, it was one of his favorites. The violin responded with a deep resonance fromm the soaring notes of the opening motif to the rich lower cries of the G string.James Norrington transcended into musical heaven.

He had been playing several minutes, his eyes open, but his thoughts lost within the complexities of the music. It was several seconds before he realized that the beautiful woman standing behind the counter was real and not a vision of his playing. He stopped instantly, his cheeks flushed.

“Don’t stop! You’re playing is lovely,” The dark-eyed lady said with light voice.

James bowed slightly, “Thank you, madam.” She was very beautiful. Dark hair, pulled loose back from her face with an auburn ribbon matching her amber gown, which was low cut in the French style. James decided that she must be the owners daughter or wife, but she was certainly not of the working classes.

“You are a skilled musician.” Her black eyes dancing, “We don’t often get such as you here.”

“Your flattery is not necessary.”

Her rose lips smirked, “I never flatter, only compliment where I see fit.”

Norrington pulled his eyes from hers, and looking at the instrument in his hand, “It is an exceptional violin.”

The woman approached from behind the counter, taking the bout in her hand, “I have always thought so.” She looked at the instrument reflectively, then turning her eyes up to penetrate James’s green ones, “My father made it for me when I was twelve. It has served me well.”

Norrington could feel the heat radiating off of her or was that only his imagination? His pinned up desires playing upon his own vulnerability? No wonder the instrument had smelled sweet like a woman; the players scent is often rubbed into the oils of the wood especially if it were resting against a naked neck. His green eyes darted from her pale, olive collar bone, back to his shoes as he again bowed, trying to quiet his body’s physical response to the thought.

“I had no intention of playing your instrument.”

Norrington cringed as he could almost her Gillette and Groves rolling in laughter at the comment.

“No indeed, sir. It is for sale. I hardly ever play violin these days.” She stepped back, offering the instrument back to James, as if she was shyly realizing that were indeed two handsome people alone in a very small shop. “Are you looking for a new violin, Mister…”

“James Norrington,” he nodded his head.

“Mister Norrington,” the woman curtsied, “Lucy Gagliano, my father is the violin master Nicolas Gagliano.” She announced in untainted English, though by her coloring it was clear she was Italian.

“Miss Gagliano, it is a pleasure,” James smiled at the woman, thankful that she was his daughter and not his wife and wondering if she had indeed made the reference to her father for his benefit. Although mama’s were often throwing their moon-eyed daughters at him, this woman was different. It wasn’t just her continental features, but it was her air of confidence and the fact the that she claimed herself to be a musician. It was unusual for a woman to be so bold.

Bringing his thoughts back to the instrument, “I am indeed looking for a new violin. Mine was…” He hesitated to say it, “lost at sea.”

“Then it is time for you to make a new purchase.” She turned to the left wall, “We have a large assortment of instruments from my uncles’ workshop in Naples. You’re welcome to audition as many as you choose.”

“And would this be your favorite?” His green eyes rested easily on her petite form.

“Yes,” she answered, reaching out and plucking the strings. Her eyes then turning up, “But I would be happy to have it resting in your confident hands, Mister Norrington.”

“I’m not sure about confident. You’re father is an excellent violinist, you’re surely spoiled to excellent playing.”

“You attend Governor Swann’s salon every month, sir. We are both spoiled!”

James was somewhat taken aback at her comment and for an instant he allowed his mask of cool priority to slip, showing his inner thoughts.

“I am correct, am I not? You are Admiral Norrington?” She tilted her head with question.

And he wondered how he had never spied her. “Umm.. yes… Well, most days. Today, I’m just Mister Norrington.”

She laughed; a musical, throaty laughter. It was certainly not the restrained English parlor giggle. “Well, Mister Norrington, I believe I’ve unmasked you! The Admiral of Port Royal and a fine musician.”

To his chagrin, he conceded, “Yes, I am both. But I’d rather my men though of me as wielding a Spanish sword not an Italian bow.” He raised the small wooden stick to an en garde.

“Your secret is safe with me, but I think you underestimate the power of music.” With a rustle of silk, she steeped around James, “The sword has the power to make war, but the bow has the power to make,” suddenly she hesitated, her last word, softly spoken, “love.”

Her pale cheeks blushed and she turned away quickly, moving towards a cello propped in the corner. James Norrington was speechless, thankfully Lucy filled the silence.

With out looking at him, she pulled forward a short stool. “Join me in a duet, Mister. Norrington? We shall explore your musical skills with a new piece from Mr. Haydn.” She asked almost sternly, tuning her instrument before James had a chance to respond.

“Of course, Miss Gagliano. It would be my pleasure.”

She then handed him a sheet of music without looking into his eyes. He hoped that she didn’t notice the tightness of his breeches from her position; he then chided himself for not filling in the awkward silence earlier.

“You must promise not to make fun of my sight reading. It’s rather rusty.” As are my skills with the fair sex, he sadly mused.

This time, she did meet his eyes, bringing up her right hand, she saluted him. “Aye, aye sir.”

It was James’s turn to laugh.

“I would never insult an officer of the crown.” She added, then turning back to her cello, she bowed a few notes, “I value my neck.”

So do I, James thought. “You’re not a pirate are you?”

“No.” Lucy Gagliano replied staunchly, “I am a cellist.”

James brought the violin to his chin as he adjusted his sheet music, “That’s not a hanging offense…Yet…”

A smack of her bow on his leg issued a playful, ‘ouch’ from James and a look of amusement on Lucy’s face as she tested her limits.

Without further ado to his barb she counted, “One, two, three…” And they were off; embarking in the chaste musical pleasure of Haydn.

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