Nothing Much to Lose

By: Karen Walker (Serris) & Stephanie Watson (SLWatson)

Disclaimers: Horatio and Archie, along with any other HH character, are owned by A&E. God help them. Everyone who isn't belongs to history.

Notes: Raise your hands if you didn't like the end of Retribution! That many? Okay, now raise your hands if you didn't like the end of Titanic! No, not you DiCaprio fans... I mean, people who didn't like what happened in history, or just you Ioan fans out there who think he should have gotten more screentime.

Well, this is an ambitious project where we take and do a little creative rethinking of both. Now before you scream, bear in mind that all of this is just wishful thinking and the occasional bit of silliness tossed in. As in, we're not disrespecting our gents from the Titanic, but this story wouldn't let us sleep until we started it, and won't let us quit now. A lot of historical research has gone into both halves of it, and we can only hope we got it right.

Not to mention, The Coffee (see Friendship, Courage and Coffee by Serris for more details) makes an appearance. So kick back, have a laugh or two, and most of all, try to enjoy. This story is best read in Times New Roman. Seriously.


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Prologue

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Harold Lowe and James Moody were sailors. They were, in fact, the junior most officers of the White Star Line's newest ship, the RMS Titanic -- Fifth and Sixth, respectively. Lowe was the older of the pair, a man of twenty-nine from Wales, whose life had been one of a good deal of adventure. He lived aboard which ship he was assigned to, having gone to sea at the age of fourteen, and the ocean was far more his home than the land.

Moody, on the other hand, had been raised with the best of training, having attended the King Edward VII Nautical School in London. He was only twenty-four, serving aboard the Oceanic before this particular assignment. He certainly didn't live up to his name, for there was rarely anything moody about him -- if anything, James was usually quick with a joke and nearly always in good humor.

So there they were, the juniors of the ship. What's more, they were fast friends.

It isn't so unlikely -- sailors have so little time to make connections on land or at sea at those ranks, for they don't often have enough seniority to pick and choose their assignments, nor do they get extended leaves on shore. But Lowe and Moody were friends by the time that the Titanic left from Belfast to Southampton, and near best friends after the first few days out on the grand mail steamer.

Much against the laws of probability, there were once true friends in near a moment before the two of the Titanic. Years before there were steamships, motor cars, and telegraphs, there was a much simpler life of an officer aboard a sailing ship. Such vessels were not unheard of in Lowe and Moody's times, but they were the only form of transportation on water for the young friends that lived there, and certainly the only defense against another country during an ocean-bound battle.

Horatio Hornblower was a promising young sailor, just promoted from midshipman to lieutenant and moved to a new ship not long after. He was only twenty-four, and had rose quickly to his spot as Third Lieutenant aboard the Renown. Having started his career at nineteen, he was afflicted with seasickness, but had a strong will and the brains to make up for his shortcomings.

Across from him was a man of much more experience, but was still one year younger than Horatio, and one rank lower. Archie Kennedy had started his career at a quite proper fourteen after attending a seamanship school and learning his way into the ranks slowly.

The two officers had met on Hornblower's first ship, the Justinian, under the watchful command of the ailing Captain Keene. Kennedy had been serving under Keene for a good while before Horatio had arrived, and he felt it best to show the new midshipman around until he could become accustomed to the ways of the crew.

Since that fact, the two made themselves a friendship that would stand under nearly any pressure. Unlike most wavering relationships, theirs relied on the insecurity of their own shortcomings, and their faith in their friend's loyalty. Luckily, they had the good fortune to be stationed on the same ships since their meeting, only parting for a few short months of their careers, give or take.

And so we have four gallant young men, more similar than they are different. Though the time periods are different for all, the hearts of young men seldom change, and to quote a wise saying, "Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose... but young men think it is, and we were young."

How frighteningly... and perhaps touchingly true.