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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 Eleven

"-Dearly beloved, we are gathered here this evening to join this man
and this woman-"

The minister spoke the familiar words to Mavis and Horatio as they
stood with their assembled friends and family in the conservatory.

The walls were banked with flowers and dozens of candles; the room
was filled with the people who had come to share in the wedding.

Archie stood on Horatio's right shoulder, looking proud enough for it
to be his own wedding.

"-Do you, Horatio, take this woman-"?

Looking at the crush of people, Horatio saw the Pellew's standing
together, holding hands. He saw his father a bit apart, but appearing
happy for them both. There were the men of his division, with as much
right to be there as any Admiral or Captain---perhaps more. They were
cleaned and shaved and looking as though their own favorite brother
was being married to their favorite girl. And in a way they were.

There was Captain Sawyer next to Clive. Clive seemed slightly drunk,
as usual and Sawyer appeared to be wary, as though he was on his
guard for some reason.

"-For my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold-"

As Mavis had walked through the makeshift aisle toward him a few
minutes ago, he had thought that he had never seen a more beautiful
woman. He saw the look on her face, realizing that as far as she was
concerned, they were alone in the crowded room. Her attention was
wholly on him; her smile was directed at him alone.

"-With this ring, I thee wed-"

He was as happy as he had ever been in his life. He knew this and
marveled at the realization. All his life he had felt apart, alone.
Tonight he felt, for perhaps the first time, as though he belonged.
He knew, with a rock solid certainty, that what they were doing was
right.

"-And thereto I plight thee my troth-"

He smiled down at her, her hand held gently but firmly in his own.

"-pronounce you man and wife."

The silence of the room was broken by the applause started by the
division men. After a somewhat shocked moment of silence, the rest of
the guests followed and the applause and cheers were loud and
sustained.

Turning to face their friends, the newlyweds both started laughing at
the reaction. Immediately, the throng of well-wishers, much like at
the Admiral's party two weeks before when their betrothal was
announced, but multiplied at least tenfold engulfed them.

God, the evening was going by so fast, it was a blur to Horatio.
There was too much happening, too many people to take it all in.

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

Sophie's thoughts went back about an hour to the beginning of the
evening.

She had walked downstairs to be met by a crush of first arrivals.
There was Admiral Cornwallis and his wife, there was Mr. Bracegirdle"
Edward was so fond of the dear man and it was so sweet of him to step
aside when he learned that Archie had arrived.

Ah, just coming in the door were some of Horatio's division. They
really were a rough looking bunch, but he had sworn that they would
be on their best behavior and they certainly seemed to have cleaned
themselves up for the occasion. Here came some of the officer's from
Renown. Oh, dear, she really didn't know them too well. Was that the
ship's doctor? That man over there with the bad wig? Well, Edward
would likely know.

Ah, good. The maids and Preston were taking the coats and cloaks and
hats as quickly as they were removed. And here came another servant
with glasses of wine for the new arrivals. Things were under control.

Looking into the conservatory, she saw the minister in his robes
chatting with the Port Admiral. Good, he was ready.

Moving smoothly through the crowd, she greeted people at every turn.
Edward was just a few paces behind her, but his own friends taking
his hand and offering their congratulations quickly sidetracked him.

Now, where had Jacob gotten himself to? Quickly, she ran up the
stairs with the steps of a much younger woman. Coming to the open
doorway of Horatio's room, she paused out of sight, hearing voices
inside.

Jacob was there, asking if he might have a word with his son, Archie
tactfully said he had to ask Lady Sophie something and walked out,
stopping next to her. Moving slightly, she saw the Hornblower's
reflection in the hall mirror.

"Son, I know that you've got to go downstairs, but I just wanted to
say"well, I hope that you'll be happy. That's all."

Horatio looked at his father standing just two feet away from him,
saw the earnestness on his face and heard the plea in his voice.
Taking a step forward he put his arms lightly around the old man and
softly said, "Thank you, Father. And I want you to know that I'm glad
that you're here."

Pulling away he saw the Doctor's lips quivering and his eyes welling
up. "Thank God."

Embarrassed, Horatio stepped back. "I'm expected downstairs." He
escaped out of the room. Jacob managed a smile as he left.

 

Now, immediately after the ceremony, with the well-wishers
surrounding the young people, Sophie saw Horatio slowly make his way
over to where the three parents were standing. His arm was around
Mavis' waist as he guided her through the crowd. Without a word, he
grasped Edward's hand, smiling as broadly as it was possible for him
to do then leaned over to kiss Sophie's cheek as Mavis hugged her
Stepfather. Turning slightly, Horatio faced his own father. Gently he
put his hand to the old man's neck in a gesture somewhere between a
stroke and a caress. Jacob's own hand came up to touch that of his
son's, the old eyes damp. Unable to speak, he simply nodded.

The well wishers caught up with them all by now and the young
officers who were more Horatio's contemporaries and Mavis'
girlfriends swept them around for more hugs and backslaps and ribald
comments about the evening's final conclusion.

The musicians were starting up now, the pianoforte and the fiddle
player in good form and some of the couples were dancing while others
moved to the dining room where food had been arranged. Others headed
over to the bar and there were those who simply searched out a quiet
corner.

Horatio and Mavis started to circulate to greet those guests whom
they hadn't yet managed to speak with.

They found the division men still where they had hugged the walls in
the conservatory, huddled in a group.

Briefly leaving Horatio, Mavis went up to them. "I'm so glad that you
all decided to come this evening. Horatio said that he thought you
would, but I was worried that you'd not want to be surrounded by all
these stuffy old officers my father insisted we must have." She gave
Styles and Matthews kisses on their cheeks. "I know that you'll look
after him for me." Then she brightened. "You know, you don't have to
stay in here. There's plenty of food in the dining room. Why don't
you get plates and bring them back here?"

Matthews gave her his sweet smile. "You've nothing to worry about
now, Miss. We'll see that nothing happens to that lad. We'll make
sure that he comes back to you safe and sound. You mark my words on
that."

Her eyes dampened slightly. "Thank you. I know that you'll bring him
home to me." She hugged the little man and then Styles, smiled at
the others and seeing Horatio approaching from the friends he's
managed to disengage himself from changed the subject. "You men enjoy
yourselves now! Don't let all that lace intimidate you for a minute!"
They laughedlittle chance of that. They knew their places, but they
were glad to see this for themselves. Hornblower was their favorite
and they'd known Miss MavisMrs. Hornblower now since she was a
little girl. And seeing Pellew's home! Well, he was certainly in the
chinks.

"Thank you for coming tonight, men. I'm glad that you're here."

"That's all right, sir. It's good to see you so happy, if you don't
mind my saying so."

Horatio smiled, took Mavis by the waist again and wandered over to
other guests.

As they made their way about the various rooms and spoke with the
different guests, neither one noticed that Captain Sawyer watched
their progress. H e smiled whenever anyone came up to him, he ate the
food and drank the wine, he raised his glass for the toasts and he
engaged in pleasant conversation. But what he was really doing was
watching Hornblower.

So young, rising so fast, aligned with the top officers in the fleet
and now married to a Commodore's daughter.

God, he hated the bastard.

Finally, about eleven, the guests were leaving, the servants had
begun the cleanup and the newlyweds had been duly toasted and feted
by their friends. Mavis had made her excuses and had gone upstairs
after saying her goodbyes and her thanks.

Horatio found Archie chatting with a young lady who he knew to be one
of Mavis' friends.

"Archie, thank you for today. I really am glad that you're here. It
wouldn't have been right without you standing by me."

Looking at him contentedly, Archie simply answered "Of course -
Horatio, haven't you still a duty to perform?"

Blushing his usual deep red, Horatio managed a shocked, "Archie,
really!" With any other comment drowned out by the Lieutenant's and
the young lady's laughter, Horatio made his escape upstairs.

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

Mavis had gone up about twenty minutes before. The maid helped her
out of the new gown Mama had insisted on for the ceremony and had
then assisted her into the new dark blue silk nightgown and matching
wrap that had been an additional wedding present from her mother. It
was beautiful, trimmed with lashings of creamy lace, full sleeves
billowing and a lovely train.

Strange, she thought as the maid left her alone. She knew that
Horatio would be with her shortly and although they had been sharing
a bed for several weeks now, she was nervous and excited.

It was different, somehow. It was"real now. Before they had just been
lovers, now they were a married couple. In an inexplicable way she
felt different. Just last night she had been a girl with her beau
now, somehow, she felt as though she was a woman waiting for her
husband to join her. It wasn't the same. It was better.

She crossed over to the vanity, sitting and looking at her
reflection. Her hair was down and she thought that she looked too
young for him. Where was he? She was suddenly overwhelmed by the
thought that he wouldn't come to her, that he'd stay downstairs with
his friends or her parents.

The door opened and closed. Her eyes fixed on the small mirror, she
didn't move as she saw him approach her.

He placed his hands on her shoulders, standing behind her, felt her
lean back in to his embrace.

He moved to her side, taking her hand and pulling her up to her feet.
His arms went around her and she reached up, standing on her toes, to
kiss him. Moving over to the bed, her hand in his, he began to remove
the dark blue silk from her shoulders but she moved away.

"No, let me." She pushed him gently to sit on the edge of the bed as
she removed the light garments that her mother had insisted on her
having.

As she went to her husband, as she started to remove his clothing,
she laughed to herself.

"She should have saved the money."

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

Downstairs, the Pellew's and Jacob were in the conservatory, amid the
party rubble. They had pulled three chairs together and were sharing
the last bottle of champagne.

"It went well, I thought, Sophie. You did a splendid job of it all,
my dear."

She smiled at him, tired but happy. "Yes, I thought that it was what
they had hoped for. Mavis certainly seemed happy. And Horatio"I've
never seen him smile that much in one evening. They are lovely
together."

"They're upstairs now, are they?"

Sophie gave him a look telling him exactly what she thought of his
asking a foolish question.

Jacob spoke up. "I was speaking with some of his men. His division?
Is that what they're called? I was pleased to hear them speak well of
him. I'd never thought of the fact that he truly does command men.
Silly of me, I know."

"He's had the same division since the first day he came aboard the
Indy almost seven years ago. They were the roughest bunch on the ship
and he had them turned around within just a few weeks. They'd credit
him with walking on water if you asked them."

"Edward, forgive my asking, but in truthhow good is he? Between
these walls."

The commodore paused a minute as he sipped his drink. "He's the best
officer I've ever seen, and I include myself in that. He has more
intelligence, more native ability and creativity that any three men
together. And more importantly, he has an unparalleled ability to
effortlessly command loyalty. In all candor, his future is unlimited.
As I've told him myself, there will come a time when he will surpass
me. I've no doubt of that."

Jacob stared at the other man. "Surely you exaggerate. He's bright,
of course, but - "

"I tell you the truth as plainly as I know how to, sir."

Horatio's father seemed somewhat stunned by at he had just
heard. "Does he have any idea?"

"No, I don't think that he does. He's also one of the most modest men
I've met. He quite amazes me."

"Jacob, Horatio is an extraordinary young man, Edward and I have
often remarked on him. And you must know that we truly couldn't be
more pleased about this marriage."

"You've been so kind to him, Lady Sophie, both of you have. I'm
grateful to you for that."

Sophie raised her glass. "To the happy couple."

The men seconded her toast. His eyes fixed out the windows to where
Renown lay at anchor below, Edward added another. "To a safe voyage."