A/N: This story takes place at approximately the same time as events in The Patriot. Some scenes from the movie are included, but differ in chronological order and context.
Disclaimer: Any lines/scenes quoted from the script of the movie "The Patriot" are done solely for the purpose of continuity between this story and the movie. There is no malicious intent and no profit is gained by the author.
This is the first longish Patriot story I wrote, seven years ago, and it's a bit of a soap opera, 18th century style. Anne gets a major case of Stockholm Syndrome in this story.
Chapter One --Anne's Loss
On the ride back home to Pembroke with her parents, Anne Howard Martin smiled shyly to herself as she remembered her wedding night with Gabriel. Becoming his in every way had been all she'd hoped it would be and more. Though they'd parted only a short time ago, Anne missed him already.
As the wagon rumbled inland toward Pembroke in the early morning sunshine, Anne mentally replayed their night together, wanting to commit every bit of it to memory. Despite the wartime restrictions, the young woman could not have imagined a finer wedding or a more romantic wedding night. She sighed in longing for the husband she'd so recently parted from, wondering how long it would be before he'd be able to slip away from the fighting to pay her a visit.
"I wish we had more time together," Anne said, clinging to Gabriel while her parents waited in the wagon. "I don't ever want to let you out of my sight again."
Gabriel Martin hugged Anne closer, giving her a tender kiss. "Me, too," he agreed. "But I've still got a war to fight and the men are depending on me."
"I know, I understand," she said, leaning her head on his shoulder.
"And Tavington is still out there. I won't rest until he's stopped," Gabriel vowed. "I cannot allow Thomas' death to pass unavenged."
Anne shivered at the mention of Tavington's name. "Be careful, Gabriel," she warned. "He's a very dangerous man." Kissing him again, she added, "Come home to me soon."
"You can count on that."
"Thinking about Gabriel?" Mrs Howard asked gently as the wagon neared Pembroke.
"Oh, yes, Mother," Anne answered with a shy smile. "Always."
Both women fell silent as they saw a large number of Green Dragoons ahead as they approached the southern outskirts of the village. Anne looked at her father with fearful apprehension.
The Howards had encountered increasing evidence of dragoon activity the nearer they came to Pembroke, passing burned-out farmhouses along the way. At one homestead, they'd come upon a man who had been recently hanged from a tall tree near the road. Though they'd been able to forget the war for a short while at the Gullah village, every mile they rode closer to home graphically reminded them of why they'd joined the rebellion. And now it seemed as if the war was waiting for them to get home.
"I wonder what they want?" Anne asked her father, fearfully twisting her handkerchief in her lap.
"I have no idea," her father replied. "But you can be certain that it will be trouble for us."
"Turn around," Mrs Howard urged her husband. "Let's go hide in the woods until they're gone."
"Too late," Mr Howard said heavily. "They've already seen us." He pointed, indicating Captain James Wilkins, who was riding toward them.
"All town residents are to go to the church for a meeting," Wilkins said when he'd reached the wagon. "Colonel Tavington's orders."
Howard did not reply, but followed Wilkins as he escorted the wagon into the town.
When Anne's father stopped the wagon in front of the church, they saw soldiers herding their neighbors inside. As she stepped from the wagon and followed her parents into the building, she noticed a single mounted dragoon watching from a short distance away. Anne shuddered as she recognized Colonel William Tavington, her stomach queasy with fear at the sight of him.
No sooner had Anne and her parents entered the church than they were shocked by Tavington riding his horse into the sanctuary. He suddenly stopped, his horse blocking the door. His blatant desecration of their beloved church clearly indicated to the Howards and others the utter contempt in which Tavington regarded the villagers.
Having gained everyone's attention with this intimidating maneuver, he slowly removed his bear fur crested helmet, then stated, "This town has given aid to Benjamin Martin and his rebels. I wish to know his whereabouts." After a pause, he continued, "So. Anyone who comes forward may be forgiven their treason."
None of the villagers spoke. They glared up at Tavington in wordless defiance.
"Very well," Tavington said, his lip curled in scorn. "You had your chance." He turned, preparing to leave.
Again, there was an uncomfortable silence. Suddenly, Mr Hardwick, who was in the back, pushed his way forward through the crowd. "Wait! This man gives Martin and his men supplies, " he said, pointing to Peter Howard. "He brings them to Black Swamp."
Howard blanched, then hissed, "Quiet!"
"He's in the marsh, by the old Spanish mission," the informant continued.
"You damned fool," Howard growled.
"This man here?" Tavington said, looking at Howard.
"Yes, sir," Hardwick affirmed.
"Black swamp, you say? By the old Spanish mission?" Tavington wanted to make sure he had it straight.
"He's a liar!" Anne exclaimed in frustration.
"Yes," Hardwick confirmed. "Not only that, this man's daughter just married Martin's son." Indicating a young woman just behind Anne, he elaborated, "I overheard her telling that woman over there."
Turning to indicate Anne, Hardwick added, "And this little lady here has been one of the biggest rebel instigators all along. She brazenly shamed herself and shamed her family by daring to speak out in church to urge all the townsmen to join Martin's militia the day his son came to recruit. She's always meddled in affairs that are none of her concern and her parents have never made her behave as a proper lady should."
"That's very interesting," Tavington said, a malevolent grin spreading across his face. "Thank you very much."
Regarding Anne with a predatory expression, he suddenly lunged forward, reaching down to pull her up onto the horse with him. With Anne seated astride in front of him, he moved to leave the church.
"Shut the doors," he called out in a low voice to a soldier waiting outside.
"But what about me?" the informant whined. "You said we'd be forgiven. I haven't told you all I know yet."
"This young woman will tell me," he said, pausing at the door. "It may take a bit of.....persuasion....but she will tell me what I want to know." Smirking at the informant, Tavington said in parting, "So far as forgiveness goes, that's between you and God."
As he rode out, the soldier quickly closed the church doors behind him, then secured them with a chain threaded through both door handles, to which he attached a sturdy padlock. Other soldiers fanned out around the church closing all the shutters.
Captain Wilkins rode up to Tavington in the churchyard and said, "Ready to fire the town on your orders, sir."
"The town?" he said with a snort, looking at Anne intently. "Burn the church."
"There is no honor in this!" Wilkins said, disgust clearly showing on his face.
Before Tavington could respond, Anne cried out, "No! You can't do this!" She struggled in vain to break free of Tavington, who had been holding her loosely around the waist.
Instantly, Tavington slapped her hard across the face. "Be quiet!" he hissed. "That is, unless you want to join them in the church."
Anne did not reply, but began whimpering softly.
Tavington turned back to Wilkins. "Didn't you say that all those who stand against England deserve to die a traitor's death?" Looking at the other man with thinly veiled contempt, he said firmly, "Burn the church, Captain."
Wilkins paused for a long moment, at war with his conscience. Finally, he threw the first torch, with it landing squarely on the roof, which immediately caught fire. Several other soldiers followed suit and the church was soon fully engulfed in flames. Within moments, everyone heard frantic shrieks emanating from the doomed villagers inside the church.
At the sight and sounds of this, Anne began wailing loudly. Tavington slapped her again, harder than the first time. "I told you to keep quiet!" he growled in irritation. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, then roughly stuffed it into Anne's mouth to gag her. Calling to Captain Bordon, who was to his left, he ordered, "Bind her hands."
Anne looked at Bordon with pleading eyes as he moved his horse closer to comply with Tavington's order. Pulling a short length of rope from his haversack, he bound her wrists as gently as he could. Before turning away, he gave her a pitying look. He'd wanted to say something to comfort her, but did not dare in front of Tavington.
"Have the men round up all worthwhile horses they find," Tavington told Bordon. "Also, have them check the houses for whatever money and small valuables they can carry. Tell them to be quick about it; we will move out in fifteen minutes."
"Yes, sir." He moved off immediately to carry out his superior officer's orders.
After leaving Pembroke, the dragoons rode in the opposite direction from where Anne had come in with her family, headed toward the dragoon camp. Anne was quiet now, in numb shock about what had happened to her parents and neighbors, and fearful about what was to become of her.
She slowly became aware of Tavington's breath on the back of her neck. He reached around and removed the handkerchief from her mouth, but left her hands bound.
"I trust that you will either remain quiet or keep your voice low," Tavington told her as he stuffed the handkerchief back into his pocket.
"Where are you taking me?" she asked. "What do you want with me? I don't know anything important."
"Surely you are not that stupid, Mrs Martin," Tavington drawled, saying her name slowly with emphasis. "I have no doubt you know quite a bit of information that would prove to be useful to me."
"I don't know anything," she insisted doggedly
"Eventually, you will tell me everything I want to know," he said casually. "I always get what I want."
"Not this time," the young woman shot back in open defiance.
"Hmm, I think it's time you were taught a lesson in cooperation," Tavington said, a low undercurrent of menace in his voice. "I don't think you quite understand whom you're dealing with."
Anne understood only too well what he meant to do. She'd suddenly felt the evidence of his intentions pressing against her backside. She leaned forward as far as she could, shrinking away from him.
At that moment, Tavington spotted a clearing ahead with a creek running behind it. It was a perfect place for a rest stop. Turning to Bordon, he said, "We will stop here for one hour. Have the men water the horses."
Bordon nodded as he moved to carry out Tavington's orders.
Next chapter: A Lesson in Cooperation