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That Love's Shadow

Title: That Love's Shadow

Author Eglantine_br

Rating G

Word Count 700

That Love's Shadow

“I think I--”

The sound of the fighting flowed around Horatio, but he heard only the roaring in his ears. His arms around Archie, on this strange improper deck. His hands sticky with Archie's blood.

“I seem to have--”

Archie tried again. His face was clenched against the pain, his free hand clamped against his upper arm.

“Let me see--”

Horatio backed them against the taffrail. He slid the jacket off. Archie's shirt was drenched bright. Blood pattered between his fingers to the deck.. Archie had his own gaze averted, his mouth tight.

“Its is bleeding a lot,” Horatio said. “But I think the ball passed through. Can you move your hand?”

He dared a glance up. Yes the boarding was over. They had taken the ship. Bracey, panting, shining, accepting and returning the Frenchman's sword.

Archie wiggling his fingers, gulped.

“Need to sit,” he whispered. Horatio caught him as he sagged.

“We'll get you to the surgeon in a minute. He should have a look.”

Archie shook his head firmly. “Quarters.” He said “You. You can look.”

Archie was sweating now, though the day was crisp. His lips were gone the color of dirty paper. Get him to his hammock, Horatio thought, argue with him later.

The other ship was made fast to the Indy. She had been sea-worthy when they sighted her, but that had been hours ago. She had resisted. There would be work to do, now to repair her deck, and step a new mast. The French Captain was advising, chewing his mustache in sorrowful distraction.

“Here you go, Sirs.”

Styles helped them across the gap to the Indy. He did not miss Archie's wince. Horatio saw Styles' kind face furrow. Styles would remember. Someone would wipe the blood from the deck here too. All the way to a lowly lieutenants door. They would bible the whole way if they had to do so. It would be done as duty, and kindness also. Horatio need not think of it, beyond an estimation of volume lost.

Door shut behind them.

“Down you go.”

Down was easy, Archie lolled against the bulkhead. Horatio folded beside him foolish and angular. “Seems we've been here before.” He said. He was ripping at the shirt now, pulling it over the good arm, and over Archie's head.

The wound was on the outside, flowing, not spurting, but bad enough. Horatio could see the burned edges, the discolored margins of the wound.

Horatio reached behind himself blindly, fumbled in his sea-chest. Bandages. They all kept them ready.

He wrapped them on tight, round and round until the stain was obscured, waited. It came through again, sluggish now. He went around again. Secured the ends.

“There now, how is that?”

“Think I'm--”

Horatio held him as he retched.

“Sorry H'ratio. Don't know why I--”

“S'all right. Come here.”

“Got watch tonight.”

“I'll stand your watch, Archie. You can take one of mine some other day.”


He pulled the blankets down to the deck, as they had done so often before. So many times they had rolled together in shuddering fierce-whispered love. This was that love's shadow.

Horatio pulled off his own shirt, tucked the blankets close. He pressed his heat against Archie's back, wrapped his arms, careful. He felt the sigh, as the shivering stopped. He felt the first breath of healing sleep.

Horatio put his head down, and let his own eyes shut. He imagined the torn muscles, the blood vessels, the outraged skin. He saw in his mind how it would scab, itch, heal. Finally there would be nothing left but a discolored dip of a scar. He had one himself, where Simpson had shot him, so long ago now. Archie caressed him there, sometimes, gently in the dark. A kiss of fingers, where words need not go. In time this would be new geography, to learn with his hands his mouth. It would live behind his eyes in his chart of Archie. It would be all right.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 15th, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC)
Puh! First I thought we would lose him. As always the scene is vivid, almost palpable. Not to mention the underlying emotions. Love and love's shadow...

"It would live behind his eyes in his chart of Archie." My favourite line.

Scenes like this should be real, or been in the movie.

Hat off to you and keep on writing!!!
Sep. 15th, 2012 10:02 pm (UTC)
I love that icon. I cannot bear,of course to write that other injury. (The final injury.) It just is not going to happen. But I found my self thinking today about Aubreyad. They get hurt quite a lot there. So....
Sep. 16th, 2012 06:35 pm (UTC)
Not final. Never final. I know better.

At first, though, I was worried that it would be that one, and was looking for the line "Is that your blood?"

They take good care of each other, always.
Sep. 16th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
They do indeed.

Archie is still unwilling to expose himself much to anyone other than Horatio. I think it is as if, finding someone he can trust, he has kind of said, that it, I don't need to look any more. Horatio has a whole lot of people, (older men,) that he feels he can trust and rely on, starting with his own father.
Sep. 16th, 2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
It would be a useful thing if he learned to accept medical attention when necessary!

And I also hope he learns to trust Pellew, who has his best interests at heart.

But body heat to compensate for shock, and then the embrace to calm his heart rate -- love really IS healing, in that case. It was for my Archie too, in his convalescence in London. Sleeping in Horatio's arms is the best medicine of all.
Sep. 16th, 2012 10:02 pm (UTC)
Yes. Archie was quite shocky there for a minute. But he will heal.He will not wake, when Horatio kisses him and goes to take watch, and he will still be sleeping when H comes back.
Sep. 27th, 2016 09:44 pm (UTC)
In Aubreyad they seem to get injured one or two times in every book, especially Jack. Fortunately Jack has Stephen to sew his ears back on. I'm sure our boys would have been getting partially cut up on a fairly regular basis.
Sep. 17th, 2012 12:14 pm (UTC)
As always - beautifully done if a little alarming at the first glance on the page

I suspect that Archie will not escape the old men entirely and he will be ok - thouhgh we do not know yet a great deal about Peter Niebuhr, the Indy's surgeon I think it unlikely that Ned would have countenanced anyone less than hugely competent.

Clearly snuggled up to Horatio is the place to be though and if it leaves a peaceful,fever free Archie resting is the best medicine.

Amaraal is right too ( as she often is!) it is the hallnark of you that one can sense == almost touch- the scene

Ned wishes to say jst by the way that he thinks it a very affecting scene but he is just a bit worried = if he is not receiving the french captain's sword and he is not supervising the tending to the wounded what is he up to? He is anxious that he is not being a neglectful captain - I tell him that there is writers licence and he can't be in them all :)

as usual many thanks and much appreciation for this latest

Sep. 17th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
I would like to reassure the Admiral. He was indeed overseeing the care of the wounded. The butchers bill was minimal, but nevertheless demanded his attention.

Lt Kennedy was doing that thing he does where he hopes to escape the notice of his elders and superiors. He is not shirking work, he is avoiding being somehow seen. He can make himself nearly invisible. Luckily, Lt Hornblower knows all his tricks.

And i have no doubt that the surgeon is a good and competent man. Mr Kennedy feels some residual lack of trust for the medical profession.
Sep. 17th, 2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
Archie is doing what is right for him and will feel safe

I Am glad horatio is up to snuff on this case

and for the old men,he will not have been unnoticed - but that does not necessarily mean he will be made to realise it- they are a trio of great dicsretion when they choose to be

the admiral is wanting to say thank you ma'am for the reassirance and to reiterate that you spin a good yarn.
Sep. 27th, 2016 09:53 pm (UTC)
I love the old men seeing Archie and letting him think they don't. I hope some day he can trust them. It will probably have to be AU.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )