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Title: Dog-watch

Author Eglantine_br

Rating G

Word Count 450


The cold had seeped in around his ankles. There was a stick poking him in the back. Mr Kennedy had burrowed close. He was leaning against Matthew's arm, he was lovely warm, but heavy and crushing everything numb.

And, now that he was aware of himself, Matthews would have to get up. A boy like Mr Kennedy might go all night, and drink his coffee, (if there was coffee, which there was not,) before his morning piss. But Matthews could not. Not anymore.

He pulled himself free, creaked to his knees, and then feet. Mr Kennedy did not wake. The leaves were soft underfoot. They smelled of green things and mud, strange in his nose, now. He could see the stars, through the trees.

Somewhere a bird was singing. It must be one of those night birds, because there was not even a sniff of dawn yet. Dog-watch just beginning, was what it felt like. (And that was the time that he woke for this nonsense most nights.)

He found a place to water the leaves, and got it done quickly, He could see the lumpy shapes of sleeping men, dark as whales, in the tree shadows. Oldroyd was standing, (well, sitting, really,) watch in the back of the cart. He had been given Mr Kennedy's pocket-watch to hold. Oldroyd gave him a wave. He was a good one. Not the brightest light, nor the sharpest knife, Oldroyd, but if you set him a watch, he kept it.

Mr Kennedy had turned, in his absence, seeking heat. Finding none, he had drawn his legs up, and curled against the base of the tree. He was shivering. Matthews could see the white skin of his averted face. No older than Oldroyd, Mr Kennedy. He was old enough to be a father to either of them.

He settled down again, reached out and drew the heavy sleepy body close. “Here you go, Sir. Warm you up a little.” One could not touch them in the day, of course, not officers. No matter how young they were, no matter how they wept, (at 12 or 13, or 15, or 16.) No matter how hurt they were, or how your own heart ached.

But here under the trees, everything was silver and black and silent. He drew Mr Kennedy close, and the boy gave an snort. Warmer, better. Mr Kennedy said something, short and blurry. It was a protest of some sort, but nothing Matthews could understand. Maybe it was French. Matthews rested his head back against the tree. There was enough time to go back to sleep, if he got right to it.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
Every one of your fics is like a tiny pearl. Where do you find them? I will save this one on my hard drive :) You have your own folder!
Please - keep writing!!! <333
May. 5th, 2012 09:03 pm (UTC)
Your comments mean a lot to me. Sometimes i feel quite discouraged about my writing. I am quite thrilled to have my own folder!
May. 6th, 2012 12:20 pm (UTC)
You deserve one :) Don't be discouraged about your writing. You have a way to put emotions into words... Have you ever tried to write poetry??? I bet you could :)
May. 6th, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I try it. Very hard. Leave it to Nodbear mostly...
Sep. 26th, 2016 10:26 pm (UTC)
I loved this one. The loneliness and vulnerability of young officers who hurt but cannot reach out for comfort, and the wise old seamen who do what they can, when they can.

I was reading a novel by Captain Frederick Marryat, The Naval Officer, about the adventures of a midshipman. Have you read any of his books? In real life he served under the fabled Lord Cochrane, and his midshipmen are especially adorable. There were foretastes of Horatio and Archie there. The young officer steered a fire ship to safety, and also ran off and joined a traveling theatrical group for a time! But there was one scene where he and his little group of men were on a prize ship in an ice storm, with no fuel or food on board. They all slept huddled together for warmth (and pulled their one dead body to the outside of their huddle to shelter them from the cold.) It made me think of Matthews and Kennedy here.

I can't imagine it was always easy for Archie to sleep with someone else without suddenly waking in fear. Do you think here that he can accept Matthews' warmth because he feels safe with him, or has his long time of healing with H'ratio helped to ease him in general?

Edited at 2016-09-26 11:04 pm (UTC)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )