|War Is Never Pretty
Author: LadyofHuntingandHobbits PM
Merideth was not fond of war. Being a nurse meant being in the midst of the horror. She thought nothing could brighten her world. That was before she met Captain James Nicholls, and her world was forever changed. Rating for war descriptions. Nicholls/OCRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Capt. Nicholls - Chapters: 5 - Words: 6,632 - Reviews: 40 - Favs: 30 - Follows: 50 - Updated: 02-28-13 - Published: 06-11-12 - id: 8208853
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I am in awe of how much love I have gotten for this fic, it is by far my most successful one yet! Thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, followed, or favorited this fic. You make all this worthwhile.
Special shout out to SilverTortoise and a few others for guessing an *ahem* possible ending.
*insert disclaimer here*
Here we go: fluff (as promised) and the inevitable angst that is War Horse
She was sitting down on a patch of grass between rounds, catching her breath, when Merideth felt a pair of hands close over her eyes.
"Guess who?" The words were whispered softly into her ear, making her spine tingle. There was no mistaking that voice.
"James!" She jumped up and spun around, throwing her arms around her Captain. Her voice was laced with delight.
He chuckled, leaning down to peck her cheek. "Hello, my love."
Just that small gesture and phrase was enough to make Merideth's breath catch and her knees feel weak. She leaned farther into the embrace, trying to hide her sudden lack of balance. She could tell by the way his arms tightened around her and how his breath caught that he had missed nothing.
She rested her head on his shoulder, nuzzling the crook of his neck softly. "I missed you." It came out barely above a whisper.
He moved slightly away from her, just enough so he could move his hands to gently lift her head and cup her cheeks. He leaned forward again till their foreheads met. "I know. I had to fight just to get here to you now."
She stared into his eyes, gratitude and love shining out.
He sighed quietly. "In fact, I can feel Jamie's eyes on us now, silently commanding me to get back to work. Perkins' and some of the nurses' too. Why don't we go somewhere private?"
"Of course," she answered, taking his hand and leading the way.
Weeks ago Merideth had stumbled upon a small meadow a few minutes' walk from camp, where she was taking James now. She had never seen anyone else there, so it felt perfect. She was hardly ever alone with him, so the opportunity for the intimacy of it just being them was not something to pass up.
As soon as they reached the meadow, James immediately swept her into his arms again and held her there. Once again, she knew something was bothering him.
"What is it?" she asked softly.
His breath left him in a rush. "You know I don't agree with this attack. Merideth. It feels…wrong. More than just morally. I feel like we are walking into a trap, and there's nothing I can do about it."
She pressed her hand, soothingly, to the side of his face. "I know. You know I do."
He looked into her eyes, and she saw innumerable emotions swimming in them. "I'm scared."
She felt tears welling in her own eyes at that. She shushed him quietly and held on tightly. Her other hand came up to touch his face, reminiscent of what he had done just minutes before.
"I know." She tilted his head down slightly and kissed his forehead. "I know."
"I don't want to leave you." His voice broke.
A tear escaped from her eye, and she was sure by now that he could feel her trembling.
"I love you," he rushed out, and brought her head up to meet his. Their broken breathing seemed to echo between them. He poured all his love and affection for her into his gaze. She shivered.
"I love you too," she whispered, returning his look.
Without warning, he captured her mouth with his and kissed her passionately, lips sliding over hers and matching perfectly. Merideth let her eyes fall closed and simply let herself enjoy the moment she had been dreaming of for weeks.
Her hands fell to his shoulders while his came up to tangle in her hair. She felt their heartbeats working in sync. It was perfect, and she let the emotions she had held for this man flow into their first kiss. The one she would never forget.
Neither wanted to pull away, but they needed air eventually. She looked up at his face and saw how flushed he was. The thought entered her mind that she had never seen a more amazing man. She could feel him staring at her in the same way.
And so they stood there, in their small pocket of peace in the midst of hell, staring into each other's eyes and holding each other close.
Who knew how much time they had left?
The next day, soldiers started gearing up and preparing themselves for the attack. Merideth suddenly realized that there was no way to stop it, prevent it, or deny that it was here. She could only try to comfort James.
Their final goodbye came early, as the officers left first. It was a moment they had both been dreading.
She could feel tears in her eyes, but resolved herself not to let them fall, not yet. She had to be strong for him. And she knew that he was doing the same for her.
When he rushed to her and gathered her to him, Merideth knew that it was almost time. She held on equally tightly and buried her nose in the crook of his neck, breathing in his scent. He placed a kiss in her hair and nudged her chin to where they were staring at each other.
She tried to memorize his face, tracing every line and scar. She could feel him doing the same. She had a heightened sense of knowing what he was doing or thinking. It was like she knew his mind better than she knew her own.
When she could look no more, Merideth dove in for a kiss. She felt like she had to make this one count. It could be their last. Neither one knew why they felt such apprehension about this mission, but it was there and they certainly weren't ignoring it.
She pulled away, breathless, and got one last good look at him. "I love you," she sighed.
He smiled. "And I love you." He moved to hold her face in his hands. "And no matter what happens, don't you ever forget."
She nodded, letting out a shaky breath. "I won't," she choked out, voice thick with emotion.
James kissed her forehead and pulled away reluctantly. "I have to go now."
As he mounted Joey, he gave her one last look of love and longing. She let her own eyes say what her voice couldn't be trusted to:
I love you. I will always love you.
Come back to me.
As if he could read her mind, he mouthed one word before riding off:
It had been a long day, and Merideth was tired. She longed to return to her tent and be able to sleep off her weariness. The pain and apprehension would not fade, that she knew. Not until James was back safe in her arms. But she could still use the physical relief.
It had been three days. There was no word that the attack had either succeeded or failed. She had no idea what to think. It was terrifying, like her own life was on the line next to his.
There was no doubt that her heart was.
She shook her head as of trying to shake the depressing thoughts away. But they went nowhere. And she knew they weren't going away any time soon.
God, she needed some sleep.
Everyone had ran out of their tents when the bloody soldier came thundering into camp, obviously frantic and in shock. A messenger had been expected for days, but none had come. Some had began to assume the worst, and this arrival seemed to confirm their fears.
Once off his horse, it took a few minutes to get him calmed down enough until he could be properly understood. Merideth worked her way through the gathering crowd, desperate to hear the news.
He was shaking. That was certainly not a good sign. Up close, Merideth could see the blood covering him, and she paled.
"The attack… they had to have known about it." A few gasped at the implied betrayal. "We were charging, no real resistance in sight, and then we came to the trees. They had heavy artillery. We didn't stand a chance. They slaughtered us."
Merideth let out a shaky breath, trying to maintain her composure and not fall apart in front of everyone.
"Did you see any other survivors?" Someone asked.
After a moment of tortured silence came the dreaded answer. "… No."
She shut her eyes, unable to hold back the tears slipping past.
Her legs, suddenly unable to hold her weight, crumpled beneath her and she sank to the ground with an anguished sob.
The others looked at her, knowing the pain she must be going through. This wasn't easy for any of them, but they had all figured out her and James' relationship. A love like theirs was hard to miss. She wasn't grieving; she was broken.
Some of the nurses held her as she wept, shaking and inconsolable.
Oh God, James
His name was the only sane though in her head, a repeating mantra of love and sorrow.
Apparently she had been repeating it out loud, as well. The bloodstained soldier who delivered the news knelt down and touched her face. "You were Captain Nicholls girl, weren't you, love?"
She gave a small nod, tears still streaming down her face.
He exhaled slowly, painfully. "I'm so sorry, love. He was a good man."
She could only nod again in response.
You said you would come back
Don't leave me here
Crying as I'm writing this; I am sure it is no less painful for any of you. Why am I so good at writing angst? Please don't hate me for this, you knew it was coming.
*cough* I like happy endings *cough* *cough* What? I didn't say anything
Leave some love!