Commander Horatio Hornblower
by Lady Laura

This story has a missing scene from The Duel, I like Eccleston, and thought he should be brought back to the series, at least my series.
Please note Mary(Marion Driskell) is my own creation, she reflects me, therefore please do not use her in your own stories. Thank you.
-Lady Laura



Horatio Hornblower sat beside the bed that held Archie's lifeless body, wishing that Archie had not died in disgrace.

He was so lost in his thought that he did not hear the prison cell open and close.

It was Commodore Pellew. But Horatio had no desire to see anyone, not even the commodore. He put his face in his hands, hoping that Pellew would leave him be.

" Mr. Hornblower?" Pellew put a hand on Horatio's shoulder.

" Sir." Horatio raised his face up to him.

" The Spanish ship Gaditano was briefly under your command, wasn't it?"

" Yes sir."

" She had been renamed Retribution. Mr. Hornblower?"

Horatio had closed his eyes. Right then, he had no desire to remember what had happened during the past few months, it'd bring back memories of Archie.

" Are you all right, Mr. Hornblower?" visions of the distraught Horatio after Muzillac came flashing back to Pellew's memory.

" Fine, sir."

" And so they've appointed a captain for her. The sloop will be ready to sail tomorrow, once they've finished outfitting her."

" Who's the captain?"

" You are."

" Me, sir? Mr. Bush was second in command."

" Mr. Hornblower, Mr. Bush is not you, in case you didn't know that."

" No, sir."

" He is being promoted as well. Mr. Bush is the first lieutenant in the Retribution. He is a friend of yours, is he?"

" Yes. A good friend."

" Your orders." Pellew handed him a packet of papers, dispatches.

" You are to return to Portsmouth as soon as your ship is ready. And you're sailing with your old ship and captain, Indefatigable." Pellew smiled.

" It is a honor, sir."

" It is for both of us. Mary will be accompanying you. She and Mr. Bush have special instructions from me to watch over you."

" Sir?"

" You have just lost Mr. Kennedy, sir. For awhile, you will be vulnerable until you cope."

" Aye aye, sir. I will see you on the morrow." Horatio left, stunned.

Mary and Bush were waiting for him. Mary took one look, and opened up her arms to him. He gratefully flew into her embrace

" Come on, Horatio. Let's go to the inn." she said.

" Yes, Mary. You heard the news?"

" Yes! You are in Commodore Pellew's squadron! Congragulations."

Horatio followed Mary and Bush to the inn, went to his room that he and Bush shared, and sat by the window, remembering.

A January day, being rowed out to his first ship, Justinian. Horatio was nearly on the verge of seasickness, about to turn his stomach inside out when he saw a smile like the blinding sun, and his enthusiastic greeting.

"Welcome to Purgatory."

He and Archie had become fast friends, laughing at Archie's jokes, especially when he heard Archie refer to their ship as the "Slough of Despair."

Horatio went over his memories of Archie, thinking Archie was a brave person, funny, good-natured, and a good friend.

And now to think he won't ever see Archie's face again, his sapphire colored eyes, blonde hair that had been bleached by the sun, and his funny humor. Archie was the one who could make Horatio laugh.

Mary had often spoken of that, whenever a situation seemed pretty bad, Archie was there with his humor to lighten things up a bit. Horatio had agreed with her. Now with Archie gone, Mary would have to take over the humor part of Archie.

" Archie, I won't survive if you don't help me."

Horatio's words came back to him. He wasn't sure Archie had believed it, but he turned around from wanting death, finding out what he really wanted was a good friend.

Now, Horatio realized he really wouldn't survive if Archie hadn't helped him. He had gone down like a hero, yet will be buried simply like a mutineer.

" Please take what I offer. Just take it and say good-bye."

It felt like Archie was there, talking to him, reassuring him. Archie would be buried the next day, after Retribution was to set sail.

Horatio became aware of the tears streaming down his face. He got onto his bed, and sobbed his heart out.
" Mary?"

" Yes, Mr. Bush?"

" You can call me Will. Mr. Hornblower, I am most concerned about him."

" Over how he's coping with Archie's death? Me too."

" I fear for him. I've known him for only a few months, but I know he'll beat himself up over the littlest things out of his control."

Mary raised a eyebrow.

" Will, you've just made him sound like a control freak!" she teased, taking a drink of beer.

" So I have! And you've just banished a stereotype I had about women."

" What is that?"

" That women don't drink beer."

" Ah, there you go! You can consider me a women's patriot for breaking a stereotype." she sarcastically said.

" I'd best go check on Mr. Hornblower." Bush said, gripping Mary's sarcasm, and suddenly wanting to get away. He went upstairs, where he entered the room he and Horatio shared.

" Mr. Hornblower." he said gently, not certain whether Horatio was asleep or not.

" Mr. Bush?" Horatio sounded very young and vulnerable.

" Yes"

" Could you send up Mary?"

" Of course."

" Thank you."

Mary appeared in the doorframe. Bush went to her.

" He's terribly distraught. See if you can comfort him." he whispered.

" I'll try. He'll keep contradicting me until he's blue in the face." she told him.

Bush left, Mary sat down on the edge of Horatio's bed.

" Horatio, I'm here." she said, running her fingers through his hair gently.

Horatio allowed Mary to embrace him, he sobbed into her shoulder, making a mess, but Mary didn't care.

She sat there, rocking him in her arms like he was a boy, calmly answering him in a soothing tone of voice until he wound down.

" Time heals all wounds, Horatio."

" Yes, but it sure doesn't feel like it."

" Archie died only hours ago! You must give it more time than that."

" Yes, I do." Horatio buried his face in Mary's shoulder.

" Do you want me with you in bed tonight? Just to be there if you need me?"

" Yes."

" All right. Here, wash up! You look a fright!" Mary gently teased.

" And go to sleep. Sleep heals also, you know." she added, going downstairs.

Horatio didn't think he would, but he did.
Mary and Bush went upstairs after dinner, Mary telling Bush that Horatio wanted her with him as he slept, for moral support.

" All right." Bush watched as Mary slid beside Horatio, and closed her eyes.

Late that night, Horatio awakened from a nightmare, then saw Mary beside him.

" Horatio, what is it?"

" Dreams." he said in a low tone.

" Use your regular voice. I don't think Bush can hear us."

" What?"

" Bush is snoring so loud, he won't hear us." Mary giggled.

" Hey, the windows are rattling!" Horatio observed. It was a windy night, and the windows rattled when the gusts blew against the inn.

" Go to sleep, Horatio." Mary kissed his forehead, and he pressed her close to him.

The next day, Horatio, Bush and Mary met Pellew at the docks.

" Good luck to you, Commander." Pellew enjoyed watching Horatio blush to the tips of his ears.

" We will follow the Indy, sir. What are the other ships in your squadron?"

Dunbarton, Catherine, Sophia, Apollo, and Minerva." Pellew got himself into the jollyboat.

Horatio, Mary and Bush got aboard the Retribution, and Horatio got settled in the captain's cabin. There was a room adjacent for Bush and Mary.

" All hands to make sail!" Horatio bellowed. Pellew watched from the Indy, positively bursting with pride for his protege.

Among the crew, Matthews and Styles were there, from Justinian, Indefatigable, and the Renown.

" I think I will retire now. Who has the watch?" Horatio asked Bush.

" Lieutenant Riley, sir."

" Good night, Mr. Bush."

" Good night, sir."

Horatio put a entry into the ship's log, and went to bed. Mary was somewhere on board the ship, exploring.

The next day, Bush was on watch, Horatio went over, talking with him until Mary appeared.

" All's well. I gathered some notes on the crew."

" Do tell." Horatio and Bush listened.

" Lieutenant Riley and one of the midshipmen, Stevens, do not get along. I met our surgeon, or Chief Mate as they now call it, Dr. Gibson, he is not a drunk, nor a laudanum addicted surgeon. Matthews and Styles are around, keeping order. They are the best, Horatio."

" Good." Horatio was satisfied. He scratched his shoulder, the gold braid on his uniform chafing his skin.

" You'll get used to it." Bush noticed.
The sail to Portsmouth was uneventful. The wind was in their favor, they followed their squadron successfully, and had no attacks, strangely enough.

Four days after, they docked at midnight in Portsmouth. Mary hustled them to her farm, on the outskirts of town.

Horatio woke up, confused about where he was. He looked out the window, then remembered that Mary had bullied him and Bush to get to her farm as soon as they can.

Bush was up already, enjoying breakfast in the kitchen. He gave Horatio a blinding smile as Horatio stumbled in, prepared for the day.

" Well, Mr. Hornblower. I think Mary will keep us going all day long." he announced as Horatio sat down.

" Where is she?"

" Mary? She went to give her friend a letter from Mr. Kennedy. She'll be back soon."

" Oh." Horatio stared out the window.

" Commodore Pellew said he was impressed by your ability to maintain a ship." Bush got up.

Just then, Mary entered. She threw off her gloves, and assigned chores to the two men.

They did them reluctantly, taming the pigs and cows while Mary tackled the horses was no easy task, but they stuck to it. Horatio remembered what Lord Edrington and Mary had told them, " Show 'em who's master." and he did.

At 5 P.M., Mary announced she was going for a swim. Horatio joined her. Bush was very reluctant.

" I can't swim!" he protested.

" We'll teach you!" Mary plunged beneath the water, and came up in front of him.

" All right!" he let himself go into the water. Horatio and Mary were patient, teaching him the basics.

" Time to go in, gentlemen!" Mary ducked underwater, and came up on the shore.

" Pellew will be here tomorrow! Let's go in." she raced them to the door of her house.

She fed them a late supper, and tucked them into beds like they were children.

" Mary, I could never thank you enough." Bush said tiredly. Mary closed the windows a bit.

" It'll get cold tonight. Don't worry, Will. You and the others have allowed me on a exciting voyage on the Renown. I just wish to repay you for it."

" Good night." she went to see Horatio. He was sleeping comfortably. Mary closed the windows a bit, then went to her room.

The next day, Bush was out and about, taking in a walk. He slipped on a smooth rock, and plunged 7 feet to the ground, unable to move.

" Mary, Horatio, HELP!" he cried out, seeing the blood gush out of his right arm. He tried to stand, but there was a horrible pain, and he guessed his ribs were broken.

Horatio heard Bush's voice, and told Mary.

" Bring a blanket, Mary! Bush's hurt." Horatio dashed off with Mary close behind.

They dashed to where Bush was lying, got him on the blanket, and took him back to the farmhouse. Horatio and Mary put Bush on the kitchen table, and Mary gently examined him.

" Where do you hurt, Will?"

" My right arm, my chest." he was barely able to say.

" Horatio, sedate him."

" All right." Horatio made Bush take laudanum, and Mary began to examine him.

" Horatio." Bush said.

" What, Will?"

" On the Renown, I was never so impressed by a young lieutenant. . . . you proved your worth time and again. . . "

" I wasn't the only one, Will."

" No, you and Mr. Kennedy. . " Mary began probing Bush's abdomen, checking for broken ribs. Bush cried out at her first gentle touch.

" Ahhhhhhhh! Horatio!" Horatio took Bush's hand, allowing him to clench it.

" Four of his ribs are broken." was what Bush had heard last. He closed his eyes.

" He's out, Mary." Horatio observed.

" Good. This is the most painful." Mary, with Horatio's help, managed to bandage Bush's wounds, and transfer him to his bed.

Horatio had a flushed look to his face, looking pale beneath his tan. Mary noticed immediately.

" Are you warm, Horatio?"

" A little." Mary pressed her hand on Horatio's forehead.

" Get to bed." she ordered. Horatio had no strength to argue.

Once Horatio was installed in his bed, Mary asked him questions, and diagnosed what he had.

" Scarlet fever, Horatio. Take as much water as you can, and sleep. If you want me, just rap on the wall a few times. If I'm not here, I am taking care of Will. Ok?"

" All right." Horatio slid into fever-induced sleep. Mary sighed. She would definetly need help taking care of Bush and Horatio. She knew just who to call.

Mary quickly wrote out a letter, and hired a neighborhood man to run it down to the docks.

" To the HMS Indefatigable." she directed, and went to snatch some sleep.

When Mary woke up several hours later, she found Pellew there.

" Edward! Why did you not wake me when you arrived?" she asked sleepily.

" I did not wish to disturb your rest." he put a wet cloth on Horatio's forehead.

Horatio muttered something in his sleep, something that Pellew didn't catch.

" How is Will, Edward?"

" Still asleep. What happened to him?"

" He lost his footing on a slippery rock, and fell seven feet." Mary got up to go and check on Bush.
Horatio was on the deck of the Justinian, with Archie beside him. The two were joking around a bit, and stopped when who should appear before them was Simpson.

" Kennedy, take Snotty here to the mainmast." he ordered. Archie had to do so. Simpson tied Horatio to the mainmast.

" Bring me the cat!" Simpson bellowed.

Who should appear but Bunting, handing over the cat. He turned to Horatio and sneered.

" Now ye can experience what I felt!" he gloated, and turned away. After one whipping, Horatio saw a familiar face among the crowd.

" Hunter! Help me!" he cried out. Hunter went to Horatio and asked,

" Is there a problem, sir?" he also sneered.

" Hunter, this is madness!"

" So it is." Sawyer's voice said. He took the cat from Simpson, and whipped Horatio with it.

" Once more, and let it be." Eccleston's voice sounded. Horatio tried to remain conscious, but it didn't work.

The next thing he remembered was waking up in the sick berth with Dr. Heppelwhite.

" What was I punished for?"

" You don't know? For disobeying Simpson."

" Is Archie all right?"

" Kennedy? The little lady?"

" Answer me, goddamnit!"

" Watch your tongue, or you'll be at the gratings again." Heppelwhite left.

Horatio groaned in despair. He suddenly felt someone beside him.

" Now you know how I felt." Bunting's voice sounded sinister.

" Bunting, you were actually doing something forbidden."

" Not as bad as disobeying a superior."

" Look who's talking!" Horatio got up, and saw Simpson, who'd tied up Archie, and was tossing over him over the side.

" Say good-bye to Kennedy!"

" ARCHIE!!!" Horatio screamed.

Mary woke up, hearing Horatio. She saw him, his eyes closed, and talking in his sleep.

" Horatio?"

" Hunter, help me!" Horatio cried out. Mary put her cool hand against Horatio's forehead.

" Is Archie all right?"

" Horatio, wake up!" she demanded. Pellew came to her.

" He's delirious, talking in his sleep. Horatio won't wake up from it."

" ARCHIE!" Horatio screamed. He began thrashing about in his bed, thinking he was going to save Archie. Mary and Pellew restrained him the best they could.

" Mr. Hornblower!" Pellew's stern voice seemed to bring Horatio around. Horatio blinked, and looked up.

" Sir."

" You were trying to save Archie in your sleep, Horatio." Pellew explained, relinquishing his hold. Mary stood up and smoothed out her hair.

" It's the fever talking. You'll probably get worse before you get better."

" How is Will?"

" Still senseless. He'll come around soon."

" Horatio, how did you contract this disease?"

" I don't know, sir." Mary didn't know either. She left to tend to Bush.

" Eccleston. . " Horatio said delirously. Pellew put his hand on Horatio's forehead.

" Eccleston is dead. He died after the cutting-out raid, remember?"

" Yes. . . he thought me a coward."

" No, he just thought you were unusual."

A light went off in Horatio's head. He fully focused on who was talking to him.

" Commodore Pellew!" he said in surprise.

" At ease, man. You're sick."

" Yes, sir." Horatio drifted off.

Mary was tending to Bush at the same time. Bush was perceptive, and he knew from Mary's demeanor that something was wrong.

" Mary, what is it?" he asked weakly.

Mary gave him a half-smile.

" Nothing much, except trying to keep you away from infection."

" That's not it. Tell me." he demanded, putting his hand on Mary's shoulder, his eyes pleading with her. Mary sighed.

" Very well, Will. Horatio has come down with scarlet fever. He will be well again, but it will take awhile."

Bush tried to get out of bed, but Mary was perpared. She pushed him back down gently, not willing to disturb Bush's injured ribs.

" How is he doing?"

" Not well. This is the second day, Will. This sickness he has will get worse before it gets better." she confided.

" I must see him!" Bush protested.

" You must let yourself heal from your fall. Horatio isn't going anywhere. If you insist on injuring your ribs further, I will have to drug you to sleep."

" Nevertheless, I must." Bush would not give up. Mary took out the laudanum, and called Pellew to restrain Bush while she administered it.

Bush had no choice but to take it. He remembered Mary looking at him wistfully, and then he knew only blackness.

For a week, Horatio was very sick. His fever would not break. Mary and Pellew were despairing, Bush was also standing watch over Horatio, after a argument with Mary.

" Will, how is he?"

" No worse, no better." Bush stood up. Mary helped him back to his room.

" Notify me immediately if you please."

" No problem." Mary went to sleep, with Pellew watching over his protege.

Horatio was not having good dreams.

" Mr. Hornblower!" Horatio looked over to see who was talking to him.

" Loosen the sails!" Eccleston was fighting off Frogs with Chadd. Horatio climbed up the mainmast, and got over to the sails with his division. They were working fast, when Horatio saw Archie adrift in a jollyboat.

" Archie?" he saw a sudden flash of light to where Simpson was pointing at him.

Horatio yelped, and took his hand away from his head. He saw blood on his hand, and felt his senses leave him. . .

" Sir!" Finch's voice yelled out. He plunged into the water, and saved Horatio.

Matthews and Styles, with Oldroyd, went to see the two lieutenants.

" Sir, Mr. Hornblower fell from the mainmast sail, we would like to row out and look for him."

Eccleston had thought Horatio was a silent, proud type, and when he saw Horatio walking out on the sailmast, he had a profound respect for him. He wanted Horatio back also, and gave permission to find him.

Matthews, Styles and Oldroyd found Finch clinging to Horatio, and hauled them aboard. They got Horatio aboard the Papillon, and tended to him.

" Thank god." Eccleston appeared beside Oldroyd.

" Is he alive?"

" Yes, sir." Styles propped up Horatio's weak form.

" What happened?"

" Someone shot him in the head, sir." Matthews examined Horatio's head intently.

Eccleston crouched down beside Horatio, and checked his pulse. It was there, but a bit thready after the blood Horatio had lost. He straightened up, and went to the quarterdeck with lieutenant Chadd.

" Horatio." a familiar voice said. Horatio jerked his head up in surprise. He was on the deck of a unknown ship, and someone was talking to him, someone he hadn't heard since the cutting-out 6 years ago.

" Lieutenant Eccleston!" he said.

" Yes, Horatio. You're in Purgatory."

" Purgatory? Where's-"

" Archie and Wellard? They're here. I'll take them to you, but first there are two people who want to see you." Eccleston led Horatio away. Horatio saw lieutenant Chadd, who smiled at him.

" Congragulations on your promotion, Mr. Hornblower." Eccleston and Chadd said.

" Mr. Finch and Captain James Sawyer." Eccleston left to give Horatio time alone with each of them.

" Finch!"

" Mr. 'Ornblower, sir!"

" I'm glad to see you again!"

" I too, sir! You're a cap'n now? Congragulations!"

" Thank you, Finch." he moved to meet Sawyer

" Yes, congragulations, Mr. Hornblower! I believe Captain Pellew was the first to say he saw something in you. You'll be as famous as I soon, if you keep it up!" Sawyer smiled, the first time Horatio had ever seen him smile.

" Thank you, sir. Mr. Eccleston." Horatio commanded.

" This way, Commander." Eccleston teased Horatio, seeing him turn red to the tips of his ears.

" Archie! Wellard!" Eccleston stood by while Archie, Horatio and Wellard talked.

" Horatio, you must get well again." Archie's blue eyes looked into Horatio's brown ones.

" I know."

" You won't get well if you grieve so badly for us. I, Wellard, and Eccleston keep a close watch over you, Bush and Mary."

" You know of Mary, Mr. Eccleston?" Horatio asked.

" Yes! I sent her to you, Horatio."

" Sir?"

" I foresaw the future, and sent her to you."

" I thank you sir. She is the finest lady I've ever met."

" Yes, she is."

" Horatio, time to wake up now." Mary's voice sounded.

" Good-bye, Mr. Eccleston." Horatio opened his eyes.

" It's about time you woke up." she teased him gently.

" How is Will?"

" Awake and walking around. He's been at your side almost nonstop."

" Why?"

" Why do you think? You're very sick." Mary checked Horatio's fever. It seemed to be down a bit.

" Go back to sleep, Horatio." she brought Pellew in, and went to the kitchen to just sit, and think for awhile.

" Mary?" Mary jumped. She'd been so deep in thought, she didn't notice Bush standing next to her.

" Yes, Will?"

" What's the matter?"

" Nothing. Horatio's fever has not broken yet, and I wonder."

" About him?" Bush sat down next to her.

" Yes. It's been a week since Archie died, and he draws into himself further each day."

" He'll come around."

" He mentioned a familiar name today."

" Who's?"

" Eccleston. If only Horatio knew."

" What is it, Mary?"

" Eccleston is not dead. He and I had a long relationship, and I broke it off."

" Where is he now?"

" He lives near me. Perhaps Horatio needs him to help recover." Mary got up and put on a cape.

" You two stay here until I get back." she tugged on a pair of gloves.

" Aye aye." Bush went into Horatio's room.
" How is he, Commodore?"

" Not good. His fever is higher." Pellew sighed. They had done all they could for Horatio, and yet the fever still burned. Whether Horatio was actually dying, nobody could bring themselves to even consider the fact.

Horatio, in his fever-induced condition, started talking in his sleep. Bush and Pellew's heads jerked up.

" I must save Mary!" he protested.

" Mr. Hornblower!" Pellew grabbed Horatio's hand.

" Mary!" Horatio cried out. Bush took Horatio's other hand.

" Horatio, it's all right!" they soothed him. Horatio seemed to calm down a bit.

" God, hurts." Horatio muttered.

" What hurts, Horatio?" asked Pellew.

" My. . stomach. . hurts. . help me." he trailed off.

Bush ripped the covers off, and Horatio was immediately chilled. Pellew comforted him the best he could. Bush delicately explored Horatio's abdomen, and when he touched one particular spot, Horatio cried out.

" It's all right, Horatio. We won't let anything happen to you."

" He's worried himself sick, sir." Bush put the covers back up. Horatio quieted down and drifted off.

" What will we do, Mr. Bush?"

" Just let him fight it out, I guess." Bush sat down, not letting go of Horatio's hand, Pellew didn't either. It was their way of telling Horatio they were here for him.

" I hope Mary has luck with Eccleston."

" Eccleston's dead."

" No he's not. He survived the cutting-out mission."

" How?"

" He'll tell you that."

" Let us pray." Pellew muttered.

Mary arrived at Eccleston's house, a few doors down from her farm, and rapped on the door.

Eccleston opened it, and looked quite surprised at seeing his ex-girlfriend standing there. He let her in.

" Mary! To what do I owe the unexpected pleasure?"

" Stuff the formalities, Gerald. Horatio is at my house, and he's dying of scarlet fever. I want you to come and help us." she stared him in the eye.

" Mr. Hornblower?"

" Yes. Bush, Pellew and I don't know what else to do. He's possibly dying-" her voice cracked. Eccleston wrapped Mary in a hug, which she appreciated. She drew away after a moment.

" Will you help us?"

" To help Commander Hornblower? I will." Eccleston bundled himself up against the cold, locked the door of his house, and followed Mary.

Pellew was roused from sleep by hearing a door open and close. He looked at Horatio, then at Bush, who was also asleep.

" Edward, we're back." Mary's tired voice drifted to him.

" Mr. Eccleston! I wish we could have met under more happy circumstances."

" I, too. Commodore." Eccleston looked at Horatio's weak form in the bed.

" Is this Mr. Bush?" he saw Bush asleep in a chair beside Horatio.

" Yes. Don't disturb him, he needs to sleep as much as Horatio does."

" Why don't we go into the kitchen, and you can tell us how you survived the Papillon cutting-out?" Pellew suggested.

" Yes. Though Mr. Bush should hear it, also."

" I've thought of that." Mary woke Bush up, told him what was happening, and set the door to Horatio's room ajar so he could hear everything.

" So, what's happened to you? Why did you let us think you were dead?" Pellew began, sitting down at the kitchen table.

" I sent out a letter to you, telling you I wasn't dead. You never recieved it, apparently. I served on another ship in a different squadron, the Goliath."

" With Captain Knight?"

" Yes, sir. I served there until a year ago, when I met Mary. She and I were together for a few months, then she broke up with me."

" And how did you end up here?"

" I needed to get away, so I rented a house here two weeks ago, and I've been here ever since."

" Oh." Pellew said. Mary got up.

" Let's see if you can reach Horatio." she left, letting the others trail behind her.

" How is he, Will?"

" The same." Bush looked into Horatio's fevered face. Mary sat down on the edge of Horatio's bed, Eccleston did the same on the other side. Pellew sat down in a chair, and waited.

" Horatio." Eccleston said. Horatio woke up easily this time, surprising everyone.

" Mr. Eccleston?" he asked, confused.

" Yes, Mr. Hornblower. Mary brought me here to see you. I'm glad she did." Eccleston smiled at Mary. Horatio's gaze shifted to her.

" How do you feel, Horatio?" she asked, almost dreading the answer.

" The same."

" Mr. Hornblower, you must get well. If I have to, I will order you to." Eccleston pronounced.

" I'm higher. . . ranking than you. . sir." Horatio mumbled.

" So? But you must get better. Think of those whom you love that are here."

" True." Horatio said faintly.

" Don't let them down, Mr. Hornblower. You didn't let me down during the cutting-out when you unfurled the sails."

" Sails. . . "

" Yes, Mr. Hornblower. Please get well again. Don't deprive England of one of it's finest captains."

" Retribution. . " Horatio faded into sleep again.

" Good work, Gerald." Mary was obviously impressed.

" I sincerly hope he does get better." Eccleston worried.

" Now you shouldn't worry. Horatio's worrying has put him in this spot." Mary lectured.

" I won't." Eccleston reassured her.

" I believe I will retire for the night. Please awaken me if there's any change."

" I will." Bush tended to Horatio, with Pellew there, sleeping in his chair.

Mary was sound asleep within 15 minutes. She was so deeply asleep that she did not notice her door open, and Eccleston come in.

He walked to her bedside, and sat down near her, looking into her sleeping face.

" You've got courage, Mary. That's what I loved about you from the start. I confess I still have feelings for you." he leaned over, and kissed her on the cheek.

Mary stirred, but did not wake up. Her eyelids fluttered open, and then closed, giving Eccleston a glimpse of her dark brown eyes, so much like Horatio's. He could see how they were meant for each other.

He ran his fingers through her hair, and sighed. He wanted her back, but there was no way she would get back together with him. Mary shifted in her sleep, putting her head right on his hand that was on her pillow.

Oh well. Eccleston could find someone for himself. He just had to give it time. He gave her a affectionate look, and left.
Meanwhile, Horatio was dreaming.

He was on a sandy beach, listening to the waves collide with the shore, sitting on a large rock. Seagulls screamed overhead, a distant sailing ship was going nearby, Horatio could almost hear the sail canvas whispering as the wind drove it onward.

A lone figure came strolling along, and Horatio recognized the person. Light brown hair, that when it caught the sun, it looked blonde, snapping blue eyes, like the sea at night, when it was turning a medium-color blue when the sun went down.

" Archie!"

" Horatio! I have yet to congragulate you on your fine voyage to Portsmouth." Archie's face lighted up with his killer smile.

" Archie-"

" I know. There are a hundred flaws on your ship during it's first voyage. It'll get worked out in time."

" No, Archie-"

" Of course Bush was there, you'd think that he'd have been running the ship flawlessly since you have shut yourself up in your cabin, grieving for me-"

" MR. KENNEDY!" Horatio finally bellowed.

" What?"

" Give me a chance to speak!"

" What's stopping you?"

" Shut up! Listen, I have been grieving for you, but so what? People grieve all the time!"

" 24 hours a day, while neglecting your captain duties? I never thought YOU of all people would do such a thing."

" It's hard, Archie." Horatio gazed at the distant horizon.

" It'll get better."

" I am sick, Archie."

" Then you must fight. You must get better."

" That's what they told me."

" Then, they're right."

" But what if I don't survive?"

" The Lord will know you committed suicide, and you will be put in limbo."

" For eternity?"

" Yes. You will get better, Horatio. Have faith." Archie faded from view.

Horatio decided that he would get better.

" Horatio, you must have something to drink, now." Pellew whispered to him.

Horatio opened his eyes a bit, letting out a low moan of pain, which broke Pellew's heart to hear it. He took a drink, and seemed more alert than he previously had been.

" Where's Mary?"

" Sleeping."

" Bush?"

" They're all asleep, Horatio." Horatio drifted off.

The next day, Horatio seemed better. He was awake more, and chatted with everyone at least twice.

" You're never this talkative, Horatio." Eccleston laughed.

" I feel better, actually." Eccleston checked Horatio's fever.

" I think your fever's gone!" he went to tell Mary. She was in her room, sound asleep. With nursing Horatio all the time, she was exhausted.

" Mary! Wake up." she opened her eyes to find Eccleston beaming.

" What is it, Gerald?"

" Horatio's fever has broken." he announced.

" Great!" Mary put on her robe, and went to Horatio's side. He was in a deep healing sleep, and Mary didn't rouse him.

" Thank god!" she said.

The next few days, Horatio was permitted to get up and move around. He found Mary in the kitchen, tending to Bush, changing his bandages.

Bush had his eyes closed, and he could hear their conversation.

" Horatio!" Mary giggled girlishly as Horatio sneaked up behind her, and wrapped his arms around her waist.

" How is Will?"

" He's healing. How are you?"

" Fine."

" Oh, really?"

" Yes."

" Will, you're all set. Do you know where Pellew and Eccleston are?"

" They went for a walk. I'm going for a ride, okay?"

" Go for it. It's a beautiful day out there."

Bush left, Horatio pulled Mary into his room, and shut the door.

" Oh, you want a piece of me?" Mary lay down on his bed. Horatio pounced on her.

Eccleston and Pellew came back from their walk half a hour later, and checked on Horatio and Mary. They were asleep, with their arms wrapped around each other.

" I think they have matters in hand." Pellew went to bed. Eccleston left also, go to go sleep.

Later in the afternoon, Horatio went to Mary's side, and studied her sleeping face. He thought of her vigil at his bedside, how she recruited Eccleston to help Horatio recover when Horatio thought he was dead.

" I am in debt to you forever, Mary." he kissed her lips. She didn't move. Horatio went to sleep with his arms around her.

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