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It Had to be Said

Title: It had to be said

Author Eglantine_br

Rating technical G

Word Count 1957

Spoilers – shoulders of giants more like

Disclaimer Even less mine than usual



This story owes a lot to 'Hearts of Oak.' I cannot find that author to ask or thank. I can only hope she does not mind.


I also want to frontload an apology. I can't tell if this piece worked or not. I can only hope so. If it seems unrealistic, or like a piece of self-indulgent weepy crap, I can only hope you will disregard it. Usual giggles and smut should be forthcoming in the new week.







Archie treasured the feel of Horatio's long warm body, reposed against his own.

Just now, Horatio was on top. His dark curls rioted around Archie's face, and draped the pillow. Lower down Horatio's other crisper curls tangled with Archie's own, with everything warm and damp and replete. Horatio was stealthily resting some of his weight on his elbows, because he had the mistaken idea that he would 'crush' Archie. The very idea was silly. Archie did not crush.


“Hmmm” Archie said, “That was so--”


“I know. Me too.”


“I should get up, Archie I have some other things to show you. I was given ink and paper. We can write letters. We can write home!” Horatio scrambled up, his heat and his bones suddenly all motion.


“Oh?” Archie sat up, and smiled at Horatio's pleasure, but he could see that his own muted response did not please.


“And I have this.” Horatio held up a bottle of brandy. It was not large, but ample for two.


“Now that looks good.” Archie said.


“We'll have to share the cup.” Horatio poured the brandy into the little cup, and gestured with it to the table. You can write your letters first.” Archie sighed.


“I fear they've thought me dead for sometime now.” He said.


“Then there is not a moment to be lost.” Horatio smiled.


“I suppose you are right.” Archie held his hand out for the brandy, and drained the cup in an extended swallow. He stood, naked, holding the cup, flexing the pewter in his hand, wanting to crush it.


“Don't you want to write to your mother? Your father? Imagine their joy, Archie.”


“Well, my mother, I suppose. My father-- its complicated.”


Archie saw Horatio's face become immobile with puzzlement.




Horatio knew precious little of Archie's family. Archie had made sure of that. Archie had become very good, over the years, at turning the conversation to other things. Of course with Horatio it was even more easy. Archie could stop his mouth, stop his thoughts, quite effectively, at least in the short term.. He had made quite sure of what Horatio did and did not know.


“Complicated how, Archie?” Horatio persisted. “I mean, he's your father. How complicated can it be?”


Archie looked at Horatio, for a long silent moment. Horatio loved him. He knew that. And there was so much they could share, could talk about, laugh about, agree about. But sometimes Horatio seemed so young. He was 20 now. They both were. But sometimes Horatio still seemed a boy. Archie had been an exile from boyhood for six years now. Archie had come into Justinian at 14. Horatio knew that. Horatio knew about Simpson, knew more than anyone. But he did not know that the slamming door of boyhood had hit Archie's arse in the months before Justinian. Horatio didn't know why. Archie had not wanted him to know. Now Horatio was sitting in the ruin of the bed, his brows slightly lowered, his hands twisting the way he did when he wanted something. He wanted answers. Well. Horatio loved him. Hold fast to that.


“I am a sore disappointment to my father, I fear.” Archie gave a small brief smile. It felt false on his face, and it faded within a breath.


“I cannot imagine that, Archie. I am sure any man would be proud to have you as a son.” Horatio's voice was calm and certain. But his brows were crumpled in concern.


“You may not be able to imagine it, Honeybee, but I assure you it is true.” Archie said. He was speaking gently. This was, after all painful news about a being Horatio loved. Archie wanted to spare Horatio pain.


“Horatio, did you never wonder why I have plenty of money, but no interest? Why, if my family is so well placed, I was on Justinian? “


“I never thought about it. I was just so grateful you were there.”


“Oh Horatio. The Earl of Cassilis was not best pleased to think his son was a molly.”


Archie said this last word with a careful lack of emphasis. But his chin came up, clenched as if for a blow.


“That is an awful word.” Horatio said.


“His word.”


Oh Archie, I don't think of you, of us...” Horatio stopped. He was floundering, but he went on, with certainty. “I just love you. I never think about girls, or men or anyone else, really.”


“But did you ever think about girls, in that way?” Archie asked.


“Wondered maybe. Wondered if I would want them someday. But once I met you, only you.”


“Well. In the months before I came to Justinian, I was in London. My parents were down in our house in town, down for the season. I spent a lot of time at Drury lane. I helped out with play productions. I even acted a little. Things were difficult, at home. It was best to get away. And I had a lover in the months before I came into Justinian. A man. An actor. My father found out. He was so angry. He was insane with anger. I mean, I had never been what he wanted. The fits and all. But this time was worse. He beat me so hard that I was pissing blood for a week, and --”


Archie had been looking down, as he spoke. Looking away, into the past, into the distance. But some small abortive movement from Horatio drew his eyes. Horatio was in pain. This was hurting him. Best finish it quickly.


My father barred me from the house. My mother and the others were not to speak to me. I went back to Scotland, and stayed there alone. In no time at all, he had found me a place on Justinian. He just wanted to get rid of me. You know the rest.”


“I don't understand. Why? Why did he care so much?”


“He thought me weak, do you see. Unmanly. He was ashamed of me. But things are a little better now. I can write to my mother. He sends me money. But he certainly does not want me home.”


“God, Archie.”


“You are so lucky Horatio.” Archie could not help gulping a little. Stupid, this pain should be old and dull. “Your father, well. You are lucky.”


He looked up then, and was dully unsurprised by Horatio's tears. How many tears had Horatio shed for him? Sure, they could fill a lake.


“I'm sorry I hurt you Honeybee.”


“Hurt me? Me? God, Archie. I never thought. I never knew.”


Horatio was curled now, knees up, chin on them, his chosen position for unpleasant thoughts. His bones stood out, on knees, shoulders. His chin was a point, his mouth a downgoing bow. Horatio, a boy.


Archie put on his shirt. It covered him a little, and he wanted to be covered now. He would write to Captain Pellew. Had to be done, anyway. He sat down, drew the inkpot close. It felt strange to be holding a pen. The smell of the ink, and the scratch of the quill had its own comfort.


“Did you love him?”


“What?” For a moment Archie thought Horatio meant Pellew.


“Did you love him? The—the actor?”


Deep breath. Somehow, facing those eyes, Archie knew only the truth would do.


“Yes. He was a good man.”


“Oh.” Horatio buried his head in his knees. This was a new pain for Horatio. Archie watched him take it, watched him learn its parameters.


“You were 14.”


“He didn't know that.” Archie's response was quick. “I lied. He thought I was older.”




“What was-- what was his name?”




Day-vid, a double beat of sound that Archie knew perfectly damn well his mouth had not formed in six years. Trippingly upon the tongue. It was enough, it was too much.


The pain hit Horatio's face like a sea-wave, like a board. Archie watched him take it. Horatio performed a full body flinch like a boy doused with boiling water and he was suddenly heaving with sobs.


“I'm sorry Archie. I'm so sorry. Of course I'm glad he was good to you. I'm sorry. I don't know. I just thought we were --- I thought I was, I thought oh...”


Archie surged standing, he nearly upset the ink, flailed and caught it. He crossed the room in a step or two, and got his arms around Horatio. Enough, enough pain. Archie let his hands speak, let his mouth warm what it could reach of the shivering top of Horatio's head.


“I never loved anyone but you, Archie. And my father of course.” And the thought of his father, or of fathers in general, perhaps that made was the final unraveling. Horatio wept, against Archie's chest, as if his heart had broken.


“Nobody, ever. I never. I—only you, Archie. I'm sorry.”


“Shhh, shhh now. No. Don't be sorry.”


“I want to go home.” It was almost a wail.


“I know, I know you do.”


Foolish to rock him a little, as if he were a small child. But there was no one to see. Horatio's world had been so lonely and small. He and his father, and Horatio's books. That was it. Archie had been the fortunate one. He knew he had been wicked and selfish to ever forget it. Archie drew a deep breath. His shirt was soaked all down the front now. He pushed Horatio's shoulders back, and pried his chin up with careful strength.


“Do you remember that first night on Justinian?”


Horatio nodded, wetly. “Course.”


“You threw up on my feet..”




“No –I mean, that's not what I mean. You threw up on my feet, Horatio, and you were so dear, and so new, and you were trying so hard. And I knew I loved you, in that moment, and I have loved you every moment, of every day since then. Whatever went before, it doesn't matter. And I don't care what my father thinks, or anyone else. Only you. Do you understand?”


“Yes.” Horatio's voice was mouse small.


“I knew first.” Horatio ventured, after a bit.


“Did you?”


“Yes. You had rain in your hair, and it was all dripping. And you reported to Mr Eccleston, and all I could think of was that the rain must be running right down your back.”


“It was.”


“I loved you then. I have you beat by at least two hours. I felt so strange. Being near you made it worse, and that was all I wanted. I wanted to look at you, speak to you all the time. Never felt that before. I didn't know it was love though. I just thought that I was probably dying”


And there was a small smile at least. The tears had stopped. He had sobbed himself empty.


Archie looked around for the brandy. Filled the little cup to the brim.


“Drink.” Horatio nodded, he drank. He blew his nose, and smiled a little.


“Do you think Clayton knew?”


“Clayton knew everything.” Archie replied.


Archie pushed himself back against the headboard. He set the bottle between them. He took the cup, lifted it.


“To Henry Clayton.”


“Aye aye,” said Horatio lifting the bottle.


















( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
*breaks out the extra large hankie*
Jan. 3rd, 2011 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yes, this one is sad. Made me cry to write it. Esp. poor Archie who thinks he has not been grateful enough!
Aug. 25th, 2016 01:15 am (UTC)
This is beautiful.

I kept hearing about Hearts of Oak/Blackbird from here and other recs, so I did a lot of searching online and actually managed to find the author on a completely unrelated website. She has some of her fiction posted on AO3, but you can only see it if you get an AO3 account and log in. When I was contacting her I asked if I could tell anyone that I'd found her or her stories, and she very graciously said I could share the link.
Aug. 25th, 2016 04:46 am (UTC)
I am sorry that I have been slow to reply to all your words of kindness about my stories.

Things are in upheaval here somewhat. Tomorrow I have an 8 hour drive to take my son up to college. His first time away from home really. I am going to miss him so terribly... I am in awe of the strength it must have taken those long ago parents to send a son to sea! And at 12! My son is an actual grown-up, and I am still worried for him.

But I have been reading your comments, and am so moved and grateful that you are spending your time with my A and H.

I hope you will let this reply stand for all-- I will be back home by Sunday, and have time to write something less hurried then.

PS You found the author of Hearts of Oak!! How wonderful. I admire her writing so much. I have read parts 1 and 2, over and over. I think there is a part 3, but it has perhaps been redacted. I would give much to read it. I believe in her David utterly. Maybe you could tell her that? Or give her a link to my LJ to use if she wishes.

I once joined Archive of Our Own, long ago. I cannot now remember my login...
Aug. 29th, 2016 02:13 pm (UTC)
I passed your message on to her through my secret back door! I will let you know if she replies.

Today my husband took our youngest, age three, to keep him company on a two-week business trip to Central China. Baby was happy with Baba all day long, until bedtime when he wanted Mommy. We talked on the phone and he was happy, but when I said goodbye he burst into tears. So, when I think of taking him off to college...the mind boggles. At least we can keep in touch nowadays.

You may notice my comments have suddenly dropped off completely. Real Life has intruded, in the form of interviewing for jobs. I desperately want to bury my head in the Horatio-and-Archie book cave, but all energies need to be focused elsewhere at the moment. Sigh.
Aug. 29th, 2016 07:19 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean about real life. Job interviews are miserable things-- I hope you get a job you really like though.

And I recall how little ones can be 'big' all day long and then suddenly loose it at the end of the day and want a return to routine and home. I guess we older ones are really no different.

We set up Skype yesterday, and were able to see him in his dorm room, with things he had brought from home. Husband and I quite teary by the end.

As far as the Horatio and Archie cave, it will be there. I may even add to it. I am having great fun reading your comments and wandering back through the story myself. I have noticed some things that need improving! For one thing, they are always asleep. (In my defense, sleep is a big deal to sailors. My husband did 20 years in the Navy. He can sleep anywhere, instantly, in any position. I can totally believe that Archie could march asleep, or that wee Jack Aubrey could sleep in the tops!)
Sep. 17th, 2016 01:46 pm (UTC)
I did get one I like, at the kindergarten my eldest two attended. (I got a bit teary-eyed when I first went around those very familiar classrooms again, remembering when my kids were in them.) The staff all remembers me and we've always gotten along well. The children are adorable. Lesson planning is a challenge. See me reading LJ when I should be planning lessons?

The boys look so pretty when they are asleep, can you blame them? Also, so many of your stories seem to feature them in bed, so sleep would seem to be a logical result...

I don't feel anything needs improving, but I am very glad that you are continuing the story!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )