|Horatio Hornblower: A New Beginning
Author: Marianne-Woodhouse PM
First Mariette died - a bullet in the spine. Then Maria, who died giving birth to his son. Horatio is beginning to believe he is cursed in love. But, thanks to a member of his crew, he may learn to love again. But will circumstances take her away as well? slightly AU, using the A&E Version of the story, disregarding Lady Barbara. Hornblower/OC Bush/OC maybe Orrock/OCRated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Family - H. Hornblower & W. Bush - Chapters: 12 - Words: 25,913 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 12-25-12 - Published: 07-26-12 - id: 8361119
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I do not own Hornblower, or any characters which are recognizable. If I did, trust me, I would marry Hornblower himself. Enjoy.
Ophelia Evans examined her reflection, placing the silver cross her brother had bought her around her neck. She sighed as the clasp gave her trouble, she didn't want to be bothered, but she knew that Claudio would never let her hear the end of it if she didn't.
She was going to meet her brother's captain tonight, Captain Horatio Hornblower. To say the least, she was nervous. What was he like? What would he think of his 4th Lieutenant's family? Questions fluttered around her mind.
She could faintly hear the music downstairs from the ball. She looked in the mirror once more, picking at the non-existent fuzz on her cerulean muslin gown. She looked beautiful. She blew out a breath once more, hesitating once before opening her door to descend down the stairs.
One glance at the first floor made her rethink coming at all. She could already see her Aunt Millie was picking out her dancing partners. She growled softly, she hated being paired up with men who were - in her opinion - boobies. Not that Ophelia didn't like to dance, au contraire, she absolutely adored dancing. Her problem was, she knew no men who were good dancers, and enjoyable companions. They were either enjoyable in company, and terrible dancers; or good dancers, but terrible company. There really was no comfortable medium. She sighed, considering going to her room with the excuse of 'she had a headache' it always worked in the past.
"Ophelia" she heard Claudio call. No backing out now. As gracefully as possible, she descended the stairs, trying her hardest not to trip in her satin shoes. She was determined not to fall this time, which was more than she could say before. She wouldn't embarrass Claudio, not in front of his captain, she would never forgive herself. "You look beautiful darling" Claudio complimented, giving her a peck on the cheek.
"Claudio, you haven't told me what kind of a person Captain Hornblower is, how am I supposed to know how to talk to him?" she asked him, Claudio chuckled, "Nervous sister?" he asked playfully. Ophelia smacked his arm with her fan, "A little" she said, taking his offered arm. He led her a little into the drawing room where two men stood. She could only see the face of one man, the other had his back to her.
The man whom she could see had crystal blue eyes, and a permanent scowl on his face. As if he was born with it, her cheeks flushed at her rather rude thought. The man whose back was turned had curly hair, neatly pinned back into his queue. "Captain, Lieutenant" Claudio said, catching the men's attention. The man turned, revealing a handsome, but weatherbeaten face.
"Sirs, allow me to introduce my sister, Ophelia Evans" Ophelia curtsied, showing her proper upbringing. "'Phelia, allow me to introduce my Captain, Horatio Hornblower," he motioned to the handsome man, who bowed at his name, "and the 1st Lieutenant, William Bush" the man with the scowl bowed. He eyes seemed kind, despite his sour face. "Gentlemen" Ophelia greeted, curtsying once more.
"It is a pleasure to meet you Miss Evans, your brother has spoken often of you" Captain Hornblower said, Ophelia smiled, "Forgive me Captain, but the title of Miss Evans belongs to my older sister. He has spoken of you as well, and not with infrequency either." she replied. Captain Hornblower blushed, clearing his throat with awkwardness. Claudio chuckled, he was used to his sister's quick wit, but he was under the belief that the Captain was not used to a woman's tongue.
Lieutenant Bush chuckled, "Your brother warned us of your sharp responses, but I don't believe that we were fully prepared" he told her, Ophelia looked at Claudio, "Well, there goes my spontaneity, you have already warned them. You must be a untrustworthy officer in the face of a Frenchman, telling them the Captains plans" she teased.
Hornblower came to Claudio's defense, "Indeed Ma'm, you are wrong. Your brother is one of my most trustworthy officers. And were he in front of a Frenchman, I believe that he would do what he believed to be the most helpful to me in that situation." he replied indigent, Ophelia raised an eyebrow. "Indeed Captain. I never meant to insult one of your officers, but surely you know that a sister does her best to embarrass a brother in any case" she replied quickly.
"Ophelia" Claudio warned, the young woman ceased her attack, instead opting to smile at the Captain, "Alas sir, I only meant what I said in jest. I hope you do not take me as seriously as that. If I have upset you in any way, please accept my most solemn apologies" she said, with a curtsy. Captain Hornblower, shuffled, playing along, "Apology is noted" he jested, his face the perfect picture of solemnity. All four soon were chuckling.
Ophelia soon turned, "Brother, I hear our Aunt calling me." she said, bring his attention to hear his Aunt's shrill voice inquiring where to find Ophelia. "Oh dear, will she not even give you a few moments of peace?" Claudio inquired with a huff. Ophelia shook her head, quickly curtsying to the Captain and Lieutenant, "Forgive me sirs, I am being summoned" she said, Captain Hornblower and Lieutenant Bush bowed in response. She then walked out of the room to find her Aunt.
"Ophelia dear, where have you been? I've been absolutely wild to find you, you shouldn't wander off like that. Not when there is such company to be met with" Millie rushed when she saw Ophelia approach her. "Forgive me Aunt, Claudio was most eager to introduce me to his captain and lieutenant." Ophelia supplied in response, Millie huffed.
"I will have a conversation with Claudio, he shouldn't monopolize you so much. Not for a Captain even more so. You shouldn't let him do that, no matter who. You can stay with me for the rest of the evening, Claudio will not dare bring you back into the company of those officers if you are around me" she said, taking Ophelia's arm. She did not notice the young woman's face take a mask of horror, she did not want to be around her Aunt for more than a few minutes together, she would make her dance with too many men that she cared nothing for.
Ophelia's brown eyes searched desperately for someone who would drag her away from her aunt, anyone she could trust. She soon met another pair which were filled with mirth, she could see the other young woman curtsy to her current companion, and make her way toward Ophelia. "Ah, Juliet, I was wondering how long you were going to talk to Mr. Chelsey, surely he can't have much to say" Millie said.
Juliet smiled warily, "On the contrary Aunt, Mr. Chelsey was speaking of an expedition his uncle is planning, and how he is going to accompany him." she said, taking in Ophelia's pleading glance, "Excuse me Aunt, can I borrow my sister for a few moments?" Juliet demanded, though politely. Millie at first reluctant, agreed, making Juliet agree to bring Ophelia back in a few minutes, for there were ever so many men who Ophelia must be introduced to.
When they were in the garden, Ophelia sighed in relief, "Thank you sister, you have no idea the things she threatened me with" she said, fanning herself. Juliet laughed, "Which of the brood mares did she threaten to team you up with?" she asked. Ophelia laughed heartily, "Mr. Coxe, and Mr. Yardley. The two most annoying men in the county. I'd rather dance with a navy-man." she replied.
Juliet came closer to her sister, "Speaking of the navy, have you met Claudio's captain?" she asked. Ophelia nodded, "Yes, have you?" Juliet shook her head, saying that she had not. "Oh, well. He is a very pleasant man. Though I don't think that he has been around the people with money much. He seemed very out of sorts. I don't think he is very comfortable around our kind" replied she.
The sounds of the dances could be heard from the ballroom. "Do you think that our Aunt will still make me dance with those bores?" Ophelia asked, Juliet chuckled, "Sister, for shame. Mr. Coxe and Yardley are the most eligible bachelors of the county. Mr Coxe and his 3,000 pounds and Mr. Yardley, though only with 2,000 pounds, is still eligible here in Northampton." she replied. Ophelia sighed, looking into the ballroom, she could see Captain Hornblower at the far end of the room. She wondered if he danced much. And if he did, would he dance with her?
"Phelia?" Juliet asked, "What?" Ophelia replied, Juliet smiled, "Who were you looking at?" she asked, looking into the ballroom, Ophelia stuttered, "Ca – Captain Horn – Hornblower." she got out, blushing furiously. Juliet instantly demanded for Ophelia to point him out, which the younger girl did with eagerness. Juliet gasped.
"Phelia, you have excellent taste. He is a handsome man isn't he. You always have had a weakness for those darker-haired men with curls. You have liked many uglier men" Ophelia hit her lightly with her fan, "Don't laugh at me! Besides, for all we know he may be married." she said, Juliet smirked, "But if he isn't, you're going to make sure that he marries you" she commented. Ophelia looked down at her feet bashfully, "Silence jester" she said. Juliet laughed once more "At any rate you'll make him dance with you" she said, dragging Ophelia into the ballroom.
"What are you doing?" Ophelia asked, Juliet just laughed, making her way to Captain Hornblower. "Introduce me" she commanded when they were about five feet away. Ophelia blushed, approaching the Captain and his Lieutenant. She noted that Claudio was nowhere in sight. She quickly composed herself, no need to embarrass herself in front of the Captain, that would be no way to win him.
She cleared her throat, "Captain Hornblower" she said, catching the man's attention. She curtsied, he bowed, Lieutenant Bush following suit, along with Juliet. "Miss Ophelia, I am surprised that you are not on the dance floor" the Captain commented, Ophelia blushed at the mention of dancing, thanking the lighting in the room that it would be disguised.
"Indeed, I am surprised myself. Usually I am not without a partner this late in the evening" she replied, noting his sad smile, "Do you dance Captain?" she asked, Hornblower shook his head mournfully. "Alas Ma'm, I do not. I have never had the ear for music, you see. I found out early in life that I could not distinguish a gavotte from a serenade. A mournful thing indeed, for I would dance, if I had the ability" he said, watching as Ophelia's face fell. Juliet quickly nudged her in the ribs, reminding her of why she was there.
Ophelia turned to her sister for a brief moment, grateful for the interruption – she felt like she would cry. "Sirs, allow me to introduce my sister, Juliet Evans" Ophelia introduced, moving out of the way to give the men a full view of her older sister, the gentlemen bowed, and Juliet curtsied.
"Miss Evans I presume" Lieutenant Bush said, Juliet smiled, "Aye sir, you know of me?" she asked demurely. Ophelia and Captain Hornblower exchanged a look of recognition and smiled to each other. Lieutenant Bush smiled, "Alas, from your sister only. She was addressed as Miss Evans, and she promptly informed us that, that particular title belonged to her much older sister" he replied, Juliet huffed in indignation, "I am not that much older than my sister" she said, looking at Ophelia in irritation.
Captain Hornblower quickly came to Ophelia's aid, "Miss Ophelia did not give an age Ma'm, it is Mr. Bush's way of jest" he said. Juliet turned to the Lieutenant, seeing his face spread into a smile. She blushed crimson red, ducking her head to hide her embarrassment. "You have injured me sir, for I would trust my sister with my life, and you have caused me to doubt her loyalty" she replied, lifting her head.
Lieutenant Bush chuckled lowly, "I beg your pardon Madam, and in compensation, will you allow me to have this dance?" he asked, offering his hand for her to take. Juliet smiled, "It would be my pleasure Lieutenant, for compensation only, mind you" she said, curtsying to the Captain and throwing a smile to her sister.
Left alone with Captain Hornblower, Ophelia began to become nervous, and seeing as the Captain wasn't saying anything, she did not know what to do now. She quickly spied a man walking toward her, Mr. Coxe. "Dear God, no" she muttered under her breath. "Sorry?" Captain Hornblower inquired, Ophelia looked at Mr. Coxe, and Hornblower looked up to see the young red-head bowing.
"Miss Ophelia" he greeted awkwardly, his tall, imposing figure towering over her. "Mr. Coxe" Ophelia curtsied. The red head looked at the Captain, his eyes darting between them, "May I – that is, if you are not already engaged – may I have the next dance?" he asked, his eyes going back to the petite brunette beside the Captain.
Ophelia sighed, but smiled sweetly despite the fact that she had no desire to dance with the man, "Of course Mr. Coxe" she replied, and with one more glance to the Captain, and a curtsy, allowed herself to be led to the dance floor.
The Captain bowed, and simply watched the interaction between the young people. For the first time in his life, he cursed his inability to dance.
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