Family
by Simon

The OC's in this story were borrowed from Allison James wonderful
story "Landfall", with her kind permission. She is in no way to blame
for what I've made them do here!


Chapter Ten

It was after midnight and Horatio and Mavis weren't sleeping.

The dinner earlier that evening had gone well. The Pellew's and the
two Hornblower's had gone to dine at Sir Edward's favorite club. The
roast pheasant was seasoned to perfection and the conversation had
flowed easily for the first time since the Doctor had arrived for the
wedding. He and Horatio had apparently come to some sort of
understanding and, although they weren't about to stroll arm in arm,
they were beginning to enjoy each other's company.

There had been several toasts to the young couple's happiness and the
proprietor had even been moved to send them a bottle of his best wine
as a wedding present.

Returning to the house, both Sir Edward and Lady Sophie had asked
Mavis and both Hornblower men into the study for a late glass. After
they were all assembled the elder Pellew's announced the wedding gift
they had decided upon for the young couple. They were to be made a
present of a parcel of land which lay just a short mile from the
Pellew's own home. Although it was currently undeveloped, they were
told to think on what they would like there, as a house would be
built to their specifications.

Horatio, overwhelmed, protested that it was too much and would they,
please, reconsider? Mavis added that she knew the lot was one her
parents had planned to build their own new home on and, really, they
couldn't possibly accept such generosity.

"You can and you will, darling. The more I though about it, the more
I realized that I simply don't want to leave this old place." Lady
Sophie was unbending, Edward firm beside her. "Absolutely. We can't
have the two of you sleeping in some gutter, you know."

Bowing to the inevitable, hugs, kisses and handshakes were exchanged
all around.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So, Horatio and Mavis weren't sleeping.

"You realize that this will likely be my last chance to have my way
with a young and innocent maiden"I'd not likely pass this up. After
this it's an old married woman or nothing"

"And this will be my last opportunity with dashing and unattached
Naval Officer under my parents roof. And them just down the hall"
She moved her hands up and down the planes of his chest, moving
against him and quickly bringing him to a state of readiness

"Miss, please, you threaten my virtue."

"And you, sir have taken mine."

He looked at her closely, suddenly worried that there might be true
in her joking. "Have I Mavis? Have I truly taken that from you?

Mavis suddenly became serious. "You've taken nothing I didn't give to
you with all my heart. This time tomorrow, we'll really be married.
You'll be my husband." She looked at him almost with wonder. "I've
thought about this for so long, since I was a child, but I never
really understood what it truly meant. You and I will become our own
family. We will"

"We will what, love?"

"We will be two halves of a whole."

Horatio looked at her thoughtfully. "Yes, I suppose that in a way we
will." He gave her a small smile, kissed her gently and long and
rolled atop her. "The sum is greater than the parts. Two halves of a
whole. Yes."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Two miles away James Sawyer was also awake.

Damn Hornblower.

He'd been to the club for a simple dinner away from the ship with
George Hastings, an old shipmate in port for a fortnight. A simple
meal out with a friend, was that too much to hope for? It had been a
pleasant time until he'd looked up to see that small party of people
being seated in the far room. The Pellew's and Hornblower along with
some man who could only have been the Lieutenant's father.

Even here he was being followed. Oh, certainly they would have called
him mad if he had come right out and told them to leave him alone.
They were pretending to tend to their own business, pretending to
ignore him, pretending that they hadn't even seen him. Oh, yes, to
another it might have looked like a family celebration, but he knew
what it really was.

The lying fools.

He knew what they were doing. They were watching him. Hornblower and
Pellew, both of them, the entire evening. Never took their eyes off
of him. He saw them. And then later in the evening when Pellew had
passed by on his way to the necessary...pretending that it was just a
casual coincidence that brought them both there at the same time. A
friendly nod and he kept walking

As if the Commodore hadn't spent the entire night with his eyes
riveted to his table. As they were leaving he'd even had the temerity
to politely inquire "So, we'll see you tomorrow evening, won't we,
James?" There had been nothing for it but to smile and reply how he
looked forward to it.

Then he had heard them all laughing. He knew that they were laughing
at him. They had been doing it all evening.

Bastards.

God, he hated them all.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Edward and Sophie weren't sleeping anymore than the younger couple
down the hall.

"This evening went well, don't you think, dearest? Horatio and Jacob
seem to have made some headway."

"Can you imagine if they hadn't? I fear that we'd have been dodging
the cutlery all evening."

"Oh, stop. They were both in fine formthe children seemed pleased
with the house, didn't you think?"

"They'd be bloody fools not to be pleased with that kind of offer,
for the love of God. No one ever made a gift like that to me in all
my years. I fear that I'll have to capture the entire French fleet to
pay for the blasted thing."

"I've no doubt you'll make short work of it, dearest."

"I thought that the idea was for Mavis to live here, especially if
she's expecting. You two could keep each other company while Horatio
and I are at sea."

"Of course we will. She'll stay here while the house is being
designed and built and the interior is finished. That will take at
least a year, if not more. By then the baby will be born and she'll
have her own home. Every woman wants that when she marries, Edward.
And Horatio won't want to live under our roof when he's home. Not if
he has a wife and a child."

Edward had listened silently. "Sophie, if he doesn'tI mean if
something should happen to him. I think that Mavis should be here
with you."

She turned to look at him in the semi-darkness. "Yes. I know. If need
be, the other house can be sold."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In the small guest room Jacob was lying awake, attempting, and
failing, to read his beloved Robert Herrick.

The sounds carried through the walls from the next room over. The
room where Horatio and Mavis were, all too obviously, making love.

At first he had heard the soft murmurings of quiet conversation, but
now they had ceased talking.

He wasn't a prude and he didn't care that they were sharing a room
before they were actually married. It was just that it made sleep so
damned difficult with those sounds coming through the walls all night
long.

No wonder Horatio had those circles under his eyes. Heaven only knew
when the lad got any rest. It was probably a damned good thing that
he was leaving in a few days. He'd probably need his sleep by then.
Jacob knew that he certainly would.

Turning the page, he attempted to concentrate on another poem.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The next morning the house was in a state of controlled chaos. The
kitchen had been declared off limits to any but those with business
there, the conservatory was being banked with more flowers and
candles by the score, the pianoforte was home to a musician who was
turning the thing while the dining room was being prepared for the
food which was being prepared in the kitchen. Upstairs, the lady's
maid was pressing the gowns for later and the valet was looking over
the men's clothing.

If Edward or Sophie had ever doubted that Preston was every bit as in
command as the Commodore was on the Quarterdeck of a ship, all doubt
was abandoned then and there. He ran their homes and the varied
servants with efficiency and aplomb. Gratefully, Sophie allowed him
to have at it, permitting her to think about Mavis and her own need
to ready herself for the evening.

She allowed the rest of the family, including the Doctor to sleep in
to past ten. It was unheard of, but they would all need their
reserves later.

She arranged for all of them to be served a simple breakfast in their
rooms so that they wouldn't be underfoot of the help. She had the
requests made for baths all around after luncheon was finished. She
saw to it that the wedding bouquet included Mavis' favorite golden
roses along with the white ones and the sprigs of myrtle. She did all
that she could to be sure the evening went as the young people hoped
it would.

A little after eleven she heard the door to Mavis' room open and
close and the sound of footsteps going down the stairs. Walking down
the hall, she lightly knocked at the green door, pushing it open at
the soft "Come in."

She found her daughter sitting at her vanity brushing her hair,
wearing a simple day dress.

"Sweeting, are you excited?"

"I think that I'm just very happy, Mama"

"Horatio is a wonderful young man, dearest, you couldn't have found a
better one."

Mavis laughed out loud. "I know! He's just so, so" She laughed again
with pure delight.

Sophie laughed with her. "And where is Lieutenant Wonderful off to?"

"He said that he needed some air. He's more nervous than he'll admit,
so I suspect that he's hoping to walk it off somewhat. I think that
his father went with him, if I heard him correctly."

"It's good to see those two are starting to talk with one another."

Mavis nodded as Sophie took the hairbrush, as was her mother's
habit. "What did you say to him?"

"Whatever makes you think that I had anything to do with it?"

"Of course you did, Mama. Well, it doesn't matter what you said,
whatever it was seems to have worked."

There were several minutes of quiet as they were both enmeshed in
their own thoughts. Finally Mavis broke the silence.

Shyly she looked at her mother standing behind her, reflected in the
vanity mirror. "I'm late, Mama."

Lost in herself, Sophie didn't really respond. "Late, dearest? The
ceremony isn't for hours yet."

"No, Mama. I'm late. My monthly should have started three days ago."

Hesitating, not wanting to appear overly excited, Sophie responded
with a calm statement of fact. "Darling, that could be just the
excitement of the last couple of weeks. You know that can cause
things to beoff."

"It never has before. You know you always said that you could set the
clock by how regular I am. I'm late. I've never been late before."
Turning face to face, she threw her arms about her mother. "Oh, Mama!
I'm pregnant; I just know that I am! I felt it the second that it
happened. I was sure."

"Sweeting, it's too soon to know"

"Mama, I am! I'm sure. This is the best wedding present that I could
give to Horatio. He'll be so happy!"

"Yes, Sweeting, He'll be thrilled, but I think that you should wait
until you're absolutely positive to tell him. You wouldn't want him
to be disappointed, now. Would you?"

"No, of course not, but if I wait until we're certain, then his ship
will be God knows where and he won't learn for months and months.
That doesn't seem fair."

"Darling, please. I know, why don't you ask Dr, Hornblower? He's said
to be quite a good physician, perhaps he'll have a way of telling
early."

Disappointment clear on her face, she agreed that, perhaps, that
might be the prudent course of action.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Horatio and Jacob walked along the streets of Portsmouth. The day was
a clear and sunny one and they were in no hurry to be anywhere just
yet. They had ambled along for several hours, stopping for
refreshments at a tavern. Horatio surprised himself to realize that
he was, in fact, rather enjoying his father's company. God, how many
years had it been since that had happened?

"Father, I truly am glad that we've made a start with each other. I
fear that if we had not, it would have become one of the regrets of
my life."

"And of mine."

"I've often wondered, why did you never remarry, Father? Surely you
might have found someone who would have made you happy. If you don't
mind my asking."

"No, no, I don't mind at all. Yes, I suppose I might have. I nearly
did, you know. I almost married Rose when you were about eleven. I
thought that you would benefit from having a mother and that you
might then be willing to come home."

"Rose, your housekeeper? So, why didn't you? I might have returned
then, feeling as I did at the time."

"She wouldn't have me. She said that she had no need of a husband. I
couldn't think of anyone else whom I might have been able to abide. I
stopped looking after that."

Horatio was about to respond when a passerby grabbed his arm.
Startled, he turned, ready to defend himself and instead found
himself engulfed in a bear hug. "What on earth were you thinking? You
know that you couldn't go through this without me!"

"Archie! My GodI thought that you were still in Londonwhat are you
doing herewhen did you get back?" They broke the embrace, their
hands still on each other's arms.

"The Commodore had a message sent with the daily dispatches to the
Admiraltyspecial delivery care of my father in the House of Lords to
be sure it got the attention it deserved, no less! I was ordered back
here to do my duty or face the consequences. So here I amready to
serve as you see fit, Sir." He saluted sharply, the professional
effect being somewhat diluted by his grin and civilian clothing.

"God, I'm glad you're here."

"Wild horses couldn't have kept me away after I heard Bit sudden,
isn't this?"

"You don't know the half of it."

A discrete cough turned them to the third man standing with them.

"Forgive me, Father. May I present Lieutenant Archie Kennedy, fourth
Lieutenant of Renown and my friend. Archie, my father, Doctor Jacob
Hornblower."

They shook hands, tactfully sizing each other up. Archie had often
wondered about Horatio's family, which he never spoke of and Jacob
was equally curious about his son's friends. Thank God that Horatio
has some friends, was all he could think at the moment.

"It's an honor to meet you, sir." "The honor is mine. Perhaps we
might stop for a tankard of ale so that we can get acquainted, Mr.
Kennedy?"

"Why, yes, I'd enjoy that. Horatio? Shall we go over to the Lion?"

The ringing of local church bells brought Horatio back to business at
hand. "Damn, what time is it? Lady Sophie will have our heads if
we're not back in time to get ready. It's three already. We're in for
it if she sees us."

"Would you rather that I join you later or should I come now?"

"Oh, God, now. We'll be able to talk a bit and you can calm my
nerves."

"Fine, but I have to stop in there," He indicated one of the better
inns across the street which they happened to be passing. "I'll need
my dress kit for tonight. I'll just be a minute." He slipped across
the way, leaving the Hornblower's on the street.

"He's a good friend, Horatio?"

"We're brothers." Jacob had no reply for that answer. Whatever he had
been expecting, that wasn't it, not from his reserved, solitary son.
Not knowing what to say, he remained silent.

As Archie rejoined them, they started back to the house.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The rest of the afternoon, as far as the main events participants
were concerned, was taken up with bathing and dressing.

Lady Sophie and Preston made a final sweep of the house, checking the
arrangements. The candles and flowers met her approval, the
pianoforte was tuned to perfection, and the food smelled tempting.
Extra servants had been hired to take cloaks and hats and to serve
food and drink. They were ready and well trained.

By half past six, everything was set.

She went upstairs to the guestroom Horatio had originally occupied,
now pressed into use as a dressing room for him and Lieutenant
Kennedy. Approaching the open bedroom door she listened from the
hallway for a moment.

"Archie, help me with this damned thing. It won't knot correctly."

"Well if you'll stand still, I'll have it in a minute. God, if you
could face the Don's and Frogs and fire ships, you should be able to
handle this, one would thinkHoratio, stop fidgeting or I'll not be
able to do this."

"She's not too young, is she, Archie? You don't think that she's too
young for me?"

"I think that you have found the woman you'll spend our life with.
You're not having any real doubts, are you?"

"No, no---it's just that she's only sixteen and I'mwe'releaving in
a couple of daysand"

"And she obviously has been in love with you since she was a child,
just as you are equally fond of her."

"Yes, but..."

"Her father is a serving line officer. She knows what that means. She
will be fine." Archie started laughing. "Lord, Horatio, in all the
years that I've known you, I've never seen you in this kind of a
state."

"Bugger off, Archie." Sophie heard the laughter again.

"Horatio, she will be fine and so will you. You love each other and
you'll be happy together. Now, deep breathes and off you go."

A silence, then, "Archie?"

"Umm?"

"Thank you for doing this, for coming back from London early for me."

No laughter this time. "Of course. Brothers, remember?"

Sophie walked away without disturbing them. She crossed over to
Mavis' room. Knocking softly, she entered.

Mavis was standing in the middle of the room, the maid putting the
finishing touches on her gown and the fresh flowers which were
twisted and pinned into the soft rolls and curls of hair

"Mama, is it all right?"

"Dearest, you look perfect. You are the most beautiful bride that any
of them will have ever seen." She crossed the floor to where the
young woman stood, embracing her carefully so as to not disturb her
careful preparations. Kissing her cheek, she softly said, "You've
never looked lovelier than you do at this moment and I've never seen
you happier."

"Oh, Mama, I'm so happy." She said it so calmly and with such
assurance that it almost broke Sophie's heart. Would that it could
ever be so. "Is Horatio ready? I thought that I heard talking over
there."

"Yes, just about. I've got to make sure that your father is all set.
You know he won't wear his star and ribbon unless I badger him, and I
think that he should tonight." With another kiss to her daughter's
cheek, she was out the door.

When she entered the master bedroom she saw Edward looking at a
sketch of Mavis that had been done years before back on Gibraltar.
She couldn't have been more than twelve in the picture.

He turned when he heard her behind him. "God, it seems like it's only
been ten minutes since I would carry her to bed after she'd fallen
asleep on the couch."

Putting her arms about his waist she quietly answered, "Now Horatio
will do that."

"Yes, he will. Our guests will be arriving. We should go downstairs."

They turned to leave the room. "Did I tell you that you look lovely,
my dear?"

She smiled at him as they walked out.