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29 September 2004 @ 01:51 am
Horatio Hornblower fic: Rappeler (HH/AK)  
Title: Rappeler
Pairing: HH/AK
Rating: R
Spoilers: All, basically.
Summary: Four ways Horatio won't remember Archie, and one way he will.



1.

When Horatio is next in Kingston, it will still smell like death, but he won’t think of Archie’s body, or how beads of sweat rolled down his tanned cheeks like tears after he died. Or how Archie’s fingers – usually twisting and kneading the fabric of his bed sheets as he spoke – lay still and relaxed against the old, cheap linens.

He won’t think of what Archie looked like as he died – the queer smile, and his white teeth, or the way his eyes squeezed shut, lashes dark from perspiration. Or the way his hair already looked brittle and dull before his chest moved up and down for the last time.

Horatio won’t remember the wet, rattling sound of Archie’s breathing as he walks up the steps to the Admiralty, or greenish pallor that had begun to spread itself across Archie’s shoulders the night before he died. He will not let himself remember how the room smelled like decay, long before Archie stood up in court, or the thick, dense heat of the sick room.

Archie deserves better.

2.

When Horatio is married, the space between his hand and his wife’s sleeping body will be filled with sheets, creased and folded into peaks, waves. The space between them will be a gulf that he cannot navigate, not in the dark of their still room, or in the light of day as she reaches for him, as she tries to pull him closer. He will feel alone beside her, more alone beside her than he has ever felt before in his life.

And he will not think of Archie, standing so close to him, Archie’s breath puffing against his ear as he taught Horatio how to mend his torn shirts. He will not think of Archie’s fine, broad hands holding his own, Archie’s fingers against his as Archie wound knot after knot.

He will not think of Archie’s hair, brushing against his cheek as Archie reached past him. Horatio will not think of the spicy, dizzying scent of Archie.

He will not think of Archie’s eyes, so blue in a pool of lamplight as he swayed in his hammock, hands moving fast beneath the brown blanket. He will not think of the way Archie bit his lower lip, how his eyes sought out Horatio’s in the dark, how he watched Horatio’s face until he threw his head back and came. He will not think of the sounds Archie made, the half-groans and stifled gasps. He will not dare to remind himself that once or twice, Archie called his name.

Horatio will most certainly not let himself remember that always, always after Archie rolled over, and went to sleep, he would watch the line of Archie’s back and take himself in hand and, in ruthless silence, satisfy his own lust.

It will not be proper.

3.

When midshipman Hammond freezes in battle, Horatio will not think of the strangeness of Archie’s spells on the Justinian. Horatio will not remember how Archie would slip deep, deep behind his eyes – so deep inside himself that there would be no hint, no sign of Archie Kennedy in his face.

He will not think of bruises the shape of Jack Simpson’s hands all over Archie’s back. He will not remember how Archie would hold himself after a beating, the stiff set of his gait. He will not remember the fear in Archie’s eyes, in his voice. He will not remember the reasons Archie had to be so afraid, because he will not have the time for rage.

And Hammond is nothing like Archie. Nothing at all.

4.

When Horatio sits in his cabin, staring down at his log book and the black ink spattered across it and the room is quiet, so quiet save for the creaking of boards, he will not remember the courtroom in Jamaica, or Archie’s voice as he confessed, as he lied. He will not remember standing in the doorway and staring at Archie, who shook, and whose hands whitely gripped the bar before him.

He will not remember how Archie lifted his chin defiantly, or how clear his expression was. He will not think of the way Archie’s words seemed to bound and rebound through the small, dark room. He will not remember the careful, fragile grace of Archie’s movements as he gave what was left of his life for Horatio’s.

Horatio will not let himself dwell on the way Archie caught his gaze, and held it. How Archie’s lips turned up, how Archie *smiled* at him.

Archie’s courage will still be humbling, and Horatio will have work to do, to deserve it.

5.

This is how Horatio will remember Archie:

It’s sunny out, and wind whips bits of his hair out of the queue at his neck, reddish gold wisps that hang across Archie’s brow. He is tan, and healthy, and his shirtsleeves are rolled up to his elbows. The waves are chopping up, and Archie’s feet are planted firmly on the deck as the boat jerks and tosses over the water.

He’s holding the spyglass in his hand, and he turns to Horatio, smiling. His eyes sparkle, and he puts a hand on Horatio’s shoulder. It’s warm through Horatio’s shirt.

“Come,” Archie says, holding the spyglass out, lips twitching enough to turn his smile mischievous. “Have a look.”

Horatio won’t know whether or not this has happened. He won’t know what Archie was watching – if it was just the horizon, the sky and the water coming together, or something else. He won’t know if he saw it as well, but this image – Archie, happy and golden and beside him – will be the first thing he thinks of every morning, and what lulls him into sleep. It will be his touchstone.

Archie always was.
 
 
Current Mood: bouncybouncy
Current Music: In The Cold Cold Night - The White Stripes
 
 
 
Celli: sadcelli on September 28th, 2004 10:59 pm (UTC)
Man. I've only seen a little bit of this, but I think I'd be crying if I had never heard of the characters before.

That's *really* well done.
(Deleted comment)
FairestCat: Secret is to know when to stopfairestcat on September 28th, 2004 11:12 pm (UTC)
*sniff*

Oh, that is lovely.

Oh. Just oh.
stoffel on September 29th, 2004 12:17 am (UTC)
*sobs* this is so touching and very well written.
Hafrenhafren on September 29th, 2004 01:29 am (UTC)
Just love this, will rec it to everyone in sight
Widget: folie a deuxwidget285 on September 29th, 2004 04:33 am (UTC)
Gah!

*sob*

Oh that was lovely. the poor, dear lads. So much heartache.

*sob*
Black Hound: archie dreamblack_hound on September 29th, 2004 06:33 am (UTC)
Just beautiful.
thia_cat: immortal seathia_cat on September 29th, 2004 07:27 am (UTC)
Beautifully written, in a way that tugs.
The girl with the Strawberries in her hairsparklegirl79 on September 29th, 2004 11:46 am (UTC)


Oh. That just brought me to tears, which is a very unusual thing. Thank you, it was beautiful.

~

Nin: Booknindulgence on September 30th, 2004 06:50 am (UTC)
Rappeler (HH, HH/AK)
Lovely use of language throughout, but I especially liked this line:

Horatio will not remember how Archie would slip deep, deep behind his eyes--so deep inside himself that there would be no hint, no sign of Archie Kennedy in his face.

Thanks for writing!

~
(Anonymous) on September 30th, 2004 07:02 am (UTC)
Re: Rappeler (HH, HH/AK)
How lovely this is, and what an unusual form...

Thank you for adding an incredibly touching vibe to a fandom which is already so beautiful that it hurts!!

LadySmith: CWS OPTlady_smith on March 24th, 2005 06:03 am (UTC)
I don't read this fandom, not in it, know precious little about it.

You made me cry all the same.

That last paragraph just made me ache. Brava.
Regina Bellatrix: hornblowerreginabellatrix on March 24th, 2005 03:33 pm (UTC)
Oh! This is just beautiful. Perfectly bittersweet. And the last two lines... exactly right.
Annie: Heartbroken Tomout_there on March 24th, 2005 07:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, that is heartbreaking in the most perfect of ways. Utterly beautiful.
off jumps jack: HHprairiedaun on March 26th, 2005 03:52 pm (UTC)
This was heartbreakingly beautiful. Good job.
pete and gabe's collaborative dicks: fredinlovewithnight on June 7th, 2005 04:18 am (UTC)
I've just found my way to this fandom, and have been working through the crack_van memories...I first read this story about two weeks ago, I think, and keep coming back to it over and over, and tonight I realized that I've been a very bad reader and never commented.

It breaks my heart and heals it again, every single time. Beautiful. :)
Ninjabear: coming for a stealth hugdangermousie on June 23rd, 2005 11:09 pm (UTC)
Stumbled on this through a friend's friend's friend's journal and now I am crying. This is brilliant and breaks my heart.
Liss: shinyinalasahl on August 18th, 2005 12:36 am (UTC)
Oh, my. I definitely have the sniffles. Very well done.
welcome to the antverse: HH - archie <3 horatioant_power on July 3rd, 2006 03:23 pm (UTC)
Hey there! I've just discovered the HH fandom, and I've made my way here via a reclist on fairestcat's LJ. I'd just like to say that this is maybe the most terribly beautiful thing I've ever read. I have this awful ache in the back of my throat from it, but in a good way if that makes any sense. I'm not even sure if it's the wonderful way you've written it or the content that's affected me so much, but I guess it's probably both.

If it's okay with you, I'd like to friend you. (Not just because of the fic, but I've been looking at your journal and I think the pirate minivan attack is nothing short of genius.)
bauhiniakapok: Kapoksbauhiniakapok on September 22nd, 2016 01:40 pm (UTC)
This moved me to tears.