Title: Snow Angels
Word Count 898
Disclaimer I did not invent them
Archie's hands were on his neck like relentless cubes of ice.
“G-way.” Horatio burrowed down into his blanket and hammock. He brought his own hands up to protect his face and neck.
“Get up Horatio. Come see, on deck. It's so beautiful. Its the first snow. Nobody's even walked on it yet.”
Horatio squinted up in outrage.
“What are you ? Six?” he asked bitterly.
Archie did not lower himself to answer such a base accusation. He simply grasped the front edge of Horatio's hammock, and dumped him to the deck.
“Come see the snow.” He said. “You have watch in an hour anyway,”
Horatio picked himself up growling. He had no idea why Archie had gone out onto the freezing deck when he didn't have watch, in the first place. And as to why he was chirping like a jay-bird, in the middle of the night... sometimes Archie made no sense at all.
He dressed himself warmly, and quickly, in silence. He did have watch in less than an hour now, and if he wanted coffee, or the use of his brains, now was the time to get up. But he was not going to give Archie the satisfaction of admitting anything.
Archie had to be sore, anyway. Horatio was sore.
Yesterday a ferocious storm had coated the entire ship with ice. The decks had been covered with it, and they all fell, at least once, before they got soot and sand over it. Horatio knew his bottom was purple with bruising. Archie had told him so. Even Mr Bracegirldle had fallen. Horatio had watched. Mr Bracegirlde was old. Maybe he would break a hip or something. But he had simply rolled like a boy, laughed to himself, and gotten to his feet.
But worst of all, the rigging had been coated with ice, and the railings and everything. It all had to be removed. The weight of all that ice could pull the Indy right over, sails down into the sea. It had to be removed – with hammers. The work was dangerous, awful. The ratings were all put to it, everyone working like demons, cold and sweating and shivering. A man was panting tired after an hour of it, and so all the midshipmen were put to it too. It had been horrible. Pellew had given double rum rations to everyone, and he almost never did that.
So Horatio was sore. His arms ached, his legs were tired, and there was a horrid pulling in the muscles of his chest. Archie must feel something. But here Archie was, grinning like a jackenapes, and exhibiting the same sturdy strength as he ever did. It made Horatio want to dump something on his head.
Well. He would go. He reached for his greatcoat. It was wet. He had worn it all yesterday, and the damp wool had chafed his wrists, and he hated the sight of it.
“Take mine.” Archie said. “I have two, remember.” Fine soft wool settled over Horatio's skinny shoulders. Warm, dry. It was true, Archie had two coats. Horatio had never asked why. Archie had a surfeit of most things, now that Simpson was not around to steal from him.
Horatio added a scarf, and he wanted to be angry, some part of him really did, but he felt himself smiling over it, at Archie. Archie was so easy to love. He was so warm and glowing and good. And there was no point in being peevish anyway. Archie would just pretend not to notice.
They went up the ladder, and out into the cold.
“Oh, Archie,” Horatio's voice was hushed. . “its like a fairy-tale.”
“I know.” Archie's voice was quiet too, with half the sound soaked up in snow. “it's so – I had to show you.”
Soft soft while had covered everything, only half an inch or so, but enough to change the shapes of the hard corners, and angles. The air had gotten warmer, when the snow-clouds came. The wind was entirely gone. But here and there the snow had mounded strangely into soft creations that reminded Horatio of food. “Don't play with your food.” he muttered,The deck of the ship looked --- delicious.
The sky above the ship was black near the horizon, but midsky, where the moon rode it softened to the exact gray of Jeoffrey Mitten's back. The stars were obscured, but the moon rested in a jeweled box of clouds, and tonight she wore a rainbow halo.
“It's a moon glory.” Archie said. He slid his hand into Horatio's, and it was warm now, they were both warm. “The rainbow is always 22 degrees away from the moon. Exactly. Always. It's so perfect. Thought you'd want to see.”
The moon was bright enough to cast shadows. Horatio waved his arm, for the childish pleasure of seeing the shadow boy wave back.
Archie brought his hands up, and, curling them strangely together, he made a shadow rabbit with boldly wiggling ears. Horatio giggled and made a flapping butterfly.
“You can do a serpent, Horatio,” Archie said into his ear, “But you'd have to take your trousers down.”
“I'll show you the serpent later.” He promised.
And Archie kissed him, swiftly, under the glory of the moon.