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Small Moment

Title: Small Moment

Author Eglantine_br

Rating G

Word Count 582

Small Moment

He was working. He was.

Here was his
pen in his hand. He was making notes. He was. Anyone could see that.
And if Horatio had his ear was trained on the sound of cannon below,
and his heart on the latch of the door-- well.

The roaring ended. The silence beat
like wings. He was holding his breath. A minute, maybe two, no more
than five, if all was well.

And there was the step. He twisted
quick, to face the door.

Archie's eyes were red from smoke,
his nostrils rimmed with black. The his face was pale where it was
not caked with soot. He was still wearing the sling, over his uniform
jacket. And he was smiling.

“How did it go?”

Horatio took the dirty hand, pulled
Archie to stand between his knees

“Oh, they did very well. Came in
under time. I had my watch out, but I could feel it. They were

Horatio nodded. He knew. Speed was
the thing, and the need to move smoothly in the heat and the noise
and the crushing sweaty danger. That why they drilled, over and over
and over. That is why His Majesty had a Navy that could out-shoot any
on the sea. Practice. It was work.

But sometimes they soared. Sometimes
there was that perfect evolution, when everything moved with
synchronous speed. And when it was over, and the sweat stung the eyes
and the ears were ringing like bells in the silence, men who were
only human, could grin with justified pride.

Archie had been out two weeks. He had
been frighteningly ill. He had kept his arm, but it had been a near
thing. No one had said it to the men he worked with, the men he
commanded. Not in so many words. But the ship was a small world. His
men had given him perfection, to welcome him home.

“Sit down, you are swaying.” He
gave the hand a tug.

“Aye, I am tired.”

Archie came willing to the deck, to
sit, and lean against Horatio's knees. He tilted his head back with a
deep sigh.

Horatio leaned forward. The kiss was
upside down. It tasted of soot and smoke. It was none the worse for
that. He rested his cheek on Archie's hair a moment.

“How is the arm?”

“Didn't think of it.”

Horatio had.

“I am to have the stitches out today


“I don't really want to go all the
way up there and wait on the physicians convenience, Horatio.”

Archie said this with a slight curl of
the lip. His tone was glacial. Horatio thought again of the small
sick boy that Archie had been, and the adults who could only hurt him
again and again, and not cure.

“Will you take my stitches out for
me, Horatio?” And the airy diffidence hurt to hear. An old pain,
this one, for them both.

“All right. In a minute.”

Horatio brought his hands to slide
under Archie's hair. The braid was heavy and bright, even in the
shadows where they sat. Archie tipped his chin down, and now Horatio
could feel his neck-bones. Horatio pictured them, stacked, delicate,
luminous, safe within strong muscle. He pressed into the muscle to
ease the clench, and he heard Archie sigh.

“Better now?”


“Let me see the arm then.”


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 19th, 2012 08:36 pm (UTC)
*purrs* Wonderful small moment. Full of action and peace at the same time. I wonder, if YOU could write a sequel of Hornblower or the second part for Master and Commander :) I bet you could :)

PS: A parcel is on its way to you :)
Dec. 19th, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC)
It is funny, I feel especially humble towards you. You can make such beautiful physical things, things to look at, as well as stories. And you are so kind.

I had wanted this to be longer, with more going on, but it seemed to stop there, so I stopped.
Dec. 20th, 2012 11:20 am (UTC)
It stops at just the right place I think - and it is just perfect as one of the many 'Small moments" which would constitute the wamrth and worry the pride and memory of those boys..
two of the historical boys were writing to each other years later in 1816 sfter the victory of ALgiers.Nick,who had not been there and Will who had, the latter sharing with the former how things has been
he writes of gun drill = " we had general exercise from half past nine to half past eleven and again in the evening"

so it was indeed the backdrop to so much on any ship, squadron or fleet commanded by EP
Echoing too your comments about the talented Amaraal = though the wonderful thing about this world of fandom is sharing the different skills and gifts.I go on wondering at your ability to tell so much story in so little word space - I can do disciplined in a sonnet or a vilanelle, but in prose I have no chance at all !

you can smell the smoke and you can feel Archie's unspokenness and Horatio's intuiting of it - marvellous
Dec. 20th, 2012 12:10 pm (UTC)
It stopped at the right place because even with Archie there is nothing romantic or erotic about taking somebody's nasty sutures out! Especially on a man who is all sweaty, and hasn't had a real bath in forever!

Evolution in this sense is a peculiarly Navy word. Mike used it-- 'the evolution was--' bad or good or whatever. But I thought it was a modern thing. So I was quite surprised to find it in 18th cen Navy too. I am sure you have run across it in your research. Strangely modern sound.

I was imagining Archie's nameless and faceless division. I am sure they loved him.
Dec. 20th, 2012 03:01 pm (UTC)
There is so much trust between them and you always show that so well in your stories. Lovely.

The kiss was upside down. It tasted of soot and smoke.

What a sweet image.
Dec. 21st, 2012 12:34 am (UTC)
They are cute as buttons, and even though he should know better, I think Horatio is quite sure that they invented sex and love!
Dec. 21st, 2012 04:09 pm (UTC)
I read this yesterday morning no the bus on the way to work. It was dark and it was raining and this was perfect. I love the way that you've captured the connection between them. No matter what Horatio is doing or where he is, his thoughts are always with Archie.

Archie tipped his chin down, and now Horatio could feel his neck-bones. Horatio pictured them, stacked, delicate, luminous, safe within strong muscle. He pressed into the muscle to
ease the clench, and he heard Archie sigh.

That made me sigh too :) And, like vintagehearted I also love the upside down sooty kiss. I hope Horatio remembers to brush the soot off before he goes on deck!
Dec. 21st, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
Archie is his true North.
Dec. 22nd, 2012 04:15 am (UTC)
Pole star of his heart, even? :)
Sep. 28th, 2016 11:08 am (UTC)
This is so sweet and precious - the kiss and the men who love Archie, and that sigh of relief after his long illness. Al this time that I have been reading your RL and Marlowe, as good as it all is, there has always been that little anxiety underneath - "how is Archie's fever?"

Edited at 2016-09-28 11:08 am (UTC)
Dec. 22nd, 2012 04:14 am (UTC)
I think I'm reduced to the tumblr-flailing of MY BABIES!

Oh, Archie, and the well-earned impatience with doctors. Yes, trust Horatio's hands.

*smishes them*
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )