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That Dark Shore

Title: That Dark Shore

Author Eglantine_br

Rating PG

Word Count 581

Spoilers No

Disclaimer Not mine

That Dark Shore

Mostly it was fine. The Indy kept him busy. By the time night came he was ready to turn in. Those nights, his hammock held him like a cupped hand. It smelled of sleep, and he swung in the canvas shadows until his eyes closed. Horatio lay nearby,wrapped neatly in his own canvas and even when they could do no more, they could take hands.

Nights here in Kent were better, were heaven. Tonight was the third night. He had rested back, Horatio had been over him, warm and silky and strong, and Archie had held those hips, and felt the strong sinews under the soft skin. Archie had rocked him down over, over and over, with little words and sounds that built the ache, the joy, until they could take no more. He knew himself loved, Horatio whispered it between kisses as they fell apart spent. Horatio had rolled to face the ceiling, and they had been laughing, sweating, sticky. They had been so far form thoughts of prisons.

So there was no reason to dream. Oh, he knew there was no shame in dreams-- they were phantasies of the mind, they were jumbles of the past. No shame. But he hated this, hated it now with all the force of all the hate he had left. Horatio was curled, like a cat, facing him, breathing light and sweet in Archie's face. Horatio could not feel it. He slept like a child in his childhood bed. He did not wake at night slick with the sweat of fear and shame. Horatio did not know. Archie did not want him to know.

Strange, Cleveland was the one who seemed closest to getting it. He had stumbled over Archie, once sleeping on deck. Cleveland had made some jest, he had not pressed Archie too closely. But some shrewdness had shown in his glance. Not a stupid man, Cleveland.

Tonight the dream had come with darkness of worms, stifling and close. It had been a dream of the living grave. Archie asleep, had felt his mouth dry, his heart race. He had felt the footsteps, pursuing close. He had clawed with his hands, seeking earth like a helpless animal. He had fought in the end, weak as he was, useless as he was. He had not been able to stop it. He had sobbed as they took him, covering his face with his filthy hands.

Not real. Just a a dream. Real was this bed, this room. Real was Horatio. What real was, was better than Archie had ever thought of deserving. During the hours of light he was safe for the most part. He was made fast to the living world. Only at night he dragged his anchor, and he broke on the dark shore.

Well, fuck it. There was nothing for it. He dared not sleep again now.

He took a deep breath, and snaked his nightshirt from where it was pinned under Horatio's leg. “Hmm-love-Archie.” Horatio slurred. He did not wake. Greatly daring, light as moths wing, Archie kissed Horatio's cheek. “Oh. Ham and cheese.” Horatio said, quite clearly. But he did not wake.

Archie's book had fallen under the bed. He crouched to retrieve it. He took the candle, and padded out of the room.

Cloud lay in the hall. She lifted her head at his approach. He stooped to pet her, and glided down the stairs.


Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
anteros_lmc
Sep. 21st, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)
Beautifully, beautifully written.

No shame. But he hated this, hated it now with all the force of all the hate he had left.
This whole passage is brilliant. This is the shadow that France has left on Archie.

Not a stupid man, Cleveland.
No indeed. Very perceptive.

And how very strange, I've just written something very similar, though with a different setting, same thing essentially though. I think on some level our characters are converging :)

Just a dream
I've put that line in Horatio's mouth.

My pow fic is nearly finished now but I'm letting it rest for a few days while I write something rather naughtier instead....
eglantine_br
Sep. 21st, 2011 10:56 pm (UTC)
I am delighted that we are converging. I am writing this with all the POW accounts in mind.

I wonder often how they went on, in those days, without our modern approach to trauma of the mind. Even today, knowing what we know, guilt comes with survival. How much worse, to fight it out all alone in the dark, cut off from the ones that love one the most...

I think the older men have some advantage here, the ones that are not total idiots. Keene knew quite a lot. He is the one, back at the beginning who said that war was a sin and a waste.

And Dr H may have something to say to Archie soon.

I am bonkers with excitement to read your upcoming fiction. And Naughty stuff too. I can hardly wait.
anteros_lmc
Sep. 21st, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC)
Certainly we seem to be converging around Archie's experiences in France and their impact and aftermath.

I wonder often how they went on, in those days,
Oh I know. It fascinates me and bothers me in equal measure. Those young men wrote of their terrible experiences with such candour and restraint but there is a gaping silence as to how they dealt with the fall out. I think it was much worse for those that failed to find a commission on their return and were left stuck on shore with few prospects, from what little I know I think those that were able to go back to sea fared much better.

Keene knew quite a lot. He is the one, back at the beginning who said that war was a sin and a waste.
Gosh. I'd forgotten about that. And he was absolutely right. I'm glad that Archie might talk to Dr H. I think that might do him good.

Had hoped to get a first draft of the naughty stuff finished tonight but I am only half way there. I am a terribly slow writer :} I promise to get something up soon, so to speak ;)
bauhiniakapok
Sep. 20th, 2016 05:40 am (UTC)
I love how the two of you both wrote along the same timeline. They are all woven together in my personal canon. I'm sorry I missed it in real time - but I was busy having babies then, which was also a good use of time, I suppose!
vsee
Sep. 22nd, 2011 01:00 am (UTC)
Brilliant and very moving. I've given this issue a lot of thought as well, but all I've done is just wonder, you know? It's great that you're actually working on the story, instead of dithering like me. :)
eglantine_br
Sep. 22nd, 2011 12:13 pm (UTC)
It is as Anteros says. There is not much written at the time about how they coped afterward. We can guess that the ones with families may have done better.

I am dithering too. I have plot stuff coming up, and I don't really know how I am going to get from A to B, much less all the way to F and G!

I am so full of gratitude that you keep reading. Of course I would love to read anything you wanted to write.
nodbear
Sep. 26th, 2011 09:00 am (UTC)
It is a lovley thought that you might share some writing with us sometime though
for which I endorse what Eglantine writes
nodbear
Sep. 26th, 2011 08:59 am (UTC)
As usual this is marvellously written- love the thought of CLoud sensing that a wakeful Archie plus book might need a companion to share the sofa with...

and Dr H - he might well be able to be someone who could
be an older someone in whom Archie finds a safe place to confide some things he cannnot otherwise.

Archie may be writing in veres form again soon about some of these things
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )