Disclaimer: The "Hornblower" series of novels and all original characters and content therein are the property of the estate of C.S. Forester. The "Horatio Hornblower" television series and all original characters and content therein are the property of Meridian Broadcasting. The fanfiction herewith is written with love for personal enjoyment and no ownership of any kind over the concepts, stories or characters is intended or implied.
For a Moment in Time
A collection of drabbles inspired by the Horatio Hornblower television series.
Horatio thought him callous. Clayton lay dead, and Horatio had wept, but Archie enthused about war. Horatio must think him heartless.
Clayton had taken Archie's part, too, when he joined the Justinian. Had shielded him from Simpson when he could, and picked up the pieces after Simpson had tired of the sport when he could not. Had greeted him with a bracing smile and swig of gin to distract him when Archie felt he could not continue.
Now Clayton was gone, and it was Horatio who needed someone to help him keep going, the only way he knew.
Archie's eyes drifted open. He realised that he had failed. His limbs were weak and too heavy to move; it was all he could do to roll his head to the side and see Horatio, asleep in the chair at his bedside. The cup of water still lay beside him. It was not yet dawn. Archie realised that he had failed and silently cursed himself for giving in, for failing to allow himself to die. Such a simple thing it had seemed.
Harder by far to live with Horatio watching his every move, knowing the trouble he would cause him.
Safe aboard the Indefatigable, Archie still awoke to darkness and bit his lip to keep from shouting. He dreamt of confinement and encroaching madness and he knew from the way Horatio shivered in this sleep that he was not the only one.
Even now, he forgot that he could eat and searched for ways to hide it, or simply turned away, until Horatio would nudge him gently and he remembered he was no longer the burden between his friends and escape.
The habits had been easy enough to form, but they tormented him long after he sought to dismiss them.
The idea was Wellard's, but Archie had known the execution would be his. The boy claimed to be indebted to Horatio, but the depth of Archie's debtwas unfathomable and the burden not tobe passed. He had decided atonce and carried his plan secretly, not knowing how it was to be done, or when, only that it must be done. He had feared only that Horatio would not accept his gift.
Sitting in the bright sunlight on the quarterdeck, Archie bit against the pain and reflected that he would die anyway, and now Horatio would not refuse him.