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 Eight

Much later that night, Mavis woke to Horatio muttering and thrashing.
Frightened, she put her hand on his shoulder.

"Horatio?" She could barely make out his mumbled words. He seemed to
be apologizing for something, pleading--promising to make something
better. She moved her hand to his forehead, stroking while calling
his name again. Unable to wake him, she finally placed her hand
firmly on his chest, feeling the tension in the muscles, she calmly
spoke into his ear.

"Horatio, wake up. You're having a dream, wake up. It's not real,
it's just a nightmare."

His eyes flew open, unseeing. His breath was ragged and he was
trembling violently.

"Horatio. It's just a bad dream. You're all right. I'm here. You're
fine now."

His eyes moved to her face and slowly seemed to focus as he
recognized who she was.

"Oh, God. Forgive me. I didn't mean to"

"Sshhhh. it's alright. You just had a bad dream. You're fine. You're
all right. It wasn't real."

His arms went around her in a death grip. His entire body had a sheen
of sweat and he continued to shake badly. Mavis spoke soothingly into
his ear, meaningless sounds which slowly began to calm him. His arms
still clenched about her, he slowly began to come back to himself.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Mavis. It's been so long since I've had one
of these. I thought that I was over them years ago. I'm sorry."

She began stroking his hair, holding him close, using her smaller
body to shield his larger one. "Sshhhh, it doesn't matter. You're
safe, you're fine. Nothing will harm you here." Startled, she felt
tears leaking from his eyes. Gently she wiped them away with her
fingers, stroking his face, his cheeks, and his forehead. "Tell me.
What was it? Please tell me."

He pressed his head against her, as a child with a skinned knee
presses against its mother for comfort, his arms still around her.

"It was my mother's death. I relive it, just as it happened. I hear
her in the next room, asking my father to allow her to see me. I was
carried in to her and placed on the bed next to her. She held me,
kissed my forehead and told me that she loved me. She felt so hot. I
remember that. It was the fever. But she seemed like she was burning.
I remember that. The heat seemed to radiate from her. And her arms
were around me, but she had no strength. I was afraid to hurt her.
She seemed so weak, fragile. He hair was loose on the pillow. I
remember that. She always wore it up, but it was long, like yours is,
and all around her. I remember that it was damp. It was from the
fever, I suppose. It was only down when she was in bed. She was so
sick."

"Horatio, Sweeting, sshhhh. You're upset, love, it was just a dream."
He was lost in his own memories, going on with his nightmare.

"No it wasn't. Don't you understand? I relive it. When she died. I
was on her bed for a short while, just minutes and she was embracing
me, then she began to cry and my father carried me back to my own
bed. I was crying that I wanted to stay with her, I hit him and I
think that I was kicking, but he was so much larger than I was and so
much stronger. There was nothing that I could do. He put me in the
bed and told me to stay there. He left and closed the door. I heard
him go back to her and then, just a few minutes later, she died and
then he was crying. I heard him. I had never heard an adult cry
before, so I crawled out of bed and down the hall to their room. He
was kneeling on the floor next to her and holding her hand and crying
and she was dead."

Mavis continued to hold him as he went on and on. Stroking his head
as he pressed against her.

"I wasn't allowed to go to the funeral. I guess that they thought me
too young and I was still sick anyway. About two weeks later, I was
better then, up and about the house. My father told me that he had
decided that I would go to another school, one that would be good for
me. I left the next day. It was fifty miles away from our village. I
only saw my father on school holidays after that and after the first
few years I realized that I was underfoot when I went home, so I
stopped going. I just stayed at school. At first the headmaster
didn't know that I was still there, but when he found out he would
bring me food and give me books to read. I was the only one who
stayed during the school breaks."

"How old were you when all this happened?"

"I was six when she died. I think I must have been nine or ten when I
stopped going home."

"But didn't your father go to get you?"

"No, he would have someone fetch me"he was busy with his patients.
One day I refused to get in the carriage, so they left me there."

Finally, Horatio seemed to have talked himself out, resting quietly
curled against her. Moving up further against her, his hand gently
turned her face down to his. Kissing her gently, just pressing his
lips to hers, he caressed her cheek. Again, again he pressed his
mouth to her skin, on her mouth, her cheek, her neck and shoulders.
Gently, almost as a parent would kiss a young child for comfort. He
both took and gave calmness to her. He moved his body up so that they
were lying evenly together, pressed skin to skin from toes to knees
to thighs, groins and hips, bellies and torso, shoulders in contact,
arms wrapped around each other, kissing tenderly.

"I'll never hurt you, Horatio, I promise that I'll never cause you
harm."

"I know that. But I'll hurt you. I don't want to, but I will."

He had pulled back to look at her as he said this last. Not answering
him, she returned his look and felt his fear.

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

That morning at breakfast, despite the bustle of the wedding
preparations, the family and their guests were a small island of
relative calm.

Sir Edward was, as was his custom, reading the morning paper, Lady
Sophie was a gracious hostess to her guests while quietly answering
the numerous questions Preston would silently whisper in her ear.
Doctor Hornblower was maintaining a pleasant stream of small talk
about the locals in his village and Mavis and Horatio were subdued,
causing Sophie to wonder if something was wrong between them.

About half way through the meal, the Captain remembered the note that
had arrived the night before.

"Horatio, this came for you after you had retired."

Opening it and quickly scanning the contents, Horatio said to the
table's approval, "Mr. Bracegirdle has agreed to serve as my
supporter tomorrow."

"Good, so things are falling into place. Mavis, are you sure that
your new gown is the one you wish to wear? It's lovely, of course,
but I fear that everyone will remember it from last week."

"I suppose that some will, but we hardly have the time to have
anything new made up. It will be fine, Mama."

"I saw something at Mrs. Whiting's shop last week which might suit
you, one of her samples. It looked to be almost exactly the size for
you. I've asked her to bring it around this morning, if you don't
like it, you needn't have it."

Mavis didn't seem at all interested, but attempted good
manners. "Yes, Mama, thank you. I'm sure that it will be lovely."

"And, Horatio, when you're in town today, please get yourself a new
shirt if you would. I fear that the cuffs on the ones you own are
quite beyond salvage. I'll have them replaced for you before you
leave, but I'd rather you found yourself a decent garment to be
married in."

Horatio, as uninterested in his garments as his intended, smiled in
politeness and nodded his acquiescence. He had to pick up the ring
today, and getting out of the house would be a welcome respite from
the arrangements that were starting to build to a peak

"Horatio, if you have a few minutes before you're off to town, I'd
appreciate you joining me in the study when you're done eating".

"Yes, of course, Sir Edward. I'm done now, if you'd like."

His father's eyes fixed on him, gratefully, he made his escape.

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

"You look like the very Devil, man. Not having second thought at this
late date, are you? Or is Mavis keeping you up till all hours?"

Blushing a bit, "No sir, not at all. I fear that I slept badly. I'm
fine. You wished to speak with me?"

They two men sat in the two chairs before the fireplace, now burning
with a low fire. The captain took a moment to marshal his thoughts.

"Horatio, I truly have no wish to intrude into your own family, but
your father is making an effort at rapprochement and as far as I can
see, you've rejected him at every turn since he's arrived."

Horatio was silent, obviously thinking about the man who had,
nominally at least, raised him. He took several breaths, seemingly
discarding more than one attempt at response. Finally he spoke.

"Mavis wants me to speak with him also. I gather that Lady Sophie
would like if I did so, too." Another pause. " I simply can't. I have
no idea what to say to the man." He looked as though he expected
Pellew to upbraid him, but no rebuke came.

"He's your father, whatever problems may exist between you, that fact
remains."

"He sired me, he's no father to me." This was out of his mouth before
he could stop himself.

"Could you not see him as an old man who is lonely, then?"

"See him as an object of pity?" His expression was bitter. "Any
loneliness his lives with is of his own creation." He saw the grim
look on Edward's face. "I'll be civil to him for the sake of everyone
in the house and the occasion, but I have no desire for more. Perhaps
if he had " He stopped, shaking his head.

"If he had what?"

Horatio had withdrawn into himself again. "Forgive me. I fear that I
simply have no desire to have a close relationship with the man.
Whatever his own desires in the matter are, my own are that things
remain as they are."

Pellew looked as though he were about to say something further, but
instead remained silent. There were boundaries that he wouldn't cross.

"If you'll excuse me, sir, I have several errands in town." Rising
and nodding to the captain, he turned and walked out. Pellew heard
the front door open and close not three minutes later and saw
Hornblower walking past the front windows, headed in the direction of
the shops.

Several minutes later Sophie found her husband still sitting in the
same chair.

"Did you make any headway with him?"

"Not so much as an inch. He is nothing if not stubborn."

She sat down in the chair that Horatio had just vacated. "I spoke
with Jacob last night after you were asleep. The poor man. He told me
that he was down here looking for a book to read, but I'm sure that
he simply didn't want to see Mavis' closed door and know that Horatio
was in there with her."

Edward seemed surprised. "You think that he had moral reservations
about them being together?"

Sophie laughed aloud at that. "Oh, really, Edward! I'd very much
doubt that he cares about that side of things. He seems to be a
practical man, for Heaven's sake! I think that he wasI don't know
jealous, I suppose. They're right next door to him and those walls
aren't ten feet thick."

Edward raised an eyebrow at this thought. "Jealous of what, then?
Their being together?"

"Not that. I think he's sad that Horatio has found someone and will
now most likely never really need his father again. It's almost as
though it closes a door that Jacob hoped Horatio would still,
perhaps, be willing to go through."

"I hadn't thought of it like that." He stood up, gathering some more
dispatches that had arrived that morning and needed his attention. "
Have you managed to learn what the problem was this morning with the
lovebirds? I don't think they said three words all during breakfast."

"Mavis told me that Horatio had the most frightful nightmare. I
gather it woke her and then they were talking for quite a long time
afterwards. I suspect that they were simply tired."

"A nightmare? That doesn't sound like him."

Sophie made a sympatric face. "My mother used to say that a dream
tells you more about yourself than you might like to hear. Perhaps
Horatio should listen to himself."

"Edward nodded in agreement. "How is Mavis taking all of this? Is she
all right?"

"Mavis is over the moon. She knows that tomorrow she'll marry the
young man she's been in love with since she was a child and that he
loves her in return. She told me this morning that she wants to
become pregnant before he leaves."

"Well, there's no guarantee for that. They've only beenwellfor a
week or so."

"Aren't you the one who said that once is all that it takes in
theory? You know that she wants this."

"You'd mentioned that. I can hardly see how she's going to avoid it
at the rate they're going."

"No wonder poor Jacob couldn't sleep." They both began laughing.

"Sophie! You quite shock me."

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

Mavis was in Horatio's room looking over some of his clothing with an
eye to preparing his sea chest when Jacob walked in. She turned,
startled.

"Forgive me, my dear. I didn't mean to frighten you. I was merely
wishing to thank you for your lovely note the other day. I was
touched that you would extend me such a kindness."

She smiled, slightly embarrassed by his gratitude.

"I know that there is some unpleasantness between you and Horatio,
but I do hope that we will be friends. I would like that very much."

"As would I." He stood for a moment, as awkward as his son could be
in an unfamiliar situation. "I'm so very glad that he has found you,
my dear. You both seem to be well suited to one another. I've not
seen him so happy in many years. " He paused as he considered his
next phrase. "I know that my son has no warm feelings towards me, but
I hope, with all my heart, that the time will come when that changes.
Though he would scoff, I do love him deeply."

"Actually, I think that he would believe you, I just don't know
that" She faltered.

"That he would care? No, I fear that you are right about that."

"Doctor Hornblower, Horatio is such a good and gentle man, I know
that he will come about in his stance towards you. It will take some
time, but I believe that he also wants this, though he won't yet
admit this."

He smiled at her indulgently, as an older man to a child who thinks
that wishing can make something so. "Well, perhaps, my dear."

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

Horatio had just about finished with his errands, having picked up
the ring and a new shirt, when he heard the familiar voice. "Horatio?"

Turning he saw Lieutenant Bracegirdle approaching him from a
neighboring shop.

The two men came together with a slap on the younger man's
shoulders. "I thought that was you, lad. Holding up till tomorrow,
are you?"

Smiling, "Yes, fine. Just finishing up some last minute things."

"And getting away from the center of the storm, perhaps?"

They laughed as Joss suggested, "So, have you had your luncheon yet?
What? Up to your old tricks again, are youit's well past four bells
in the midday watch. Well then, come along. I'm not sure, but I think
that my main task as your supporter is to see that you stay out of
the line of fire the day beforeand get enough to eat so that you'll
have the strength to do your duty on the morrow."

They headed into a nearby pub known for it's good and inexpensive
fare. Finding an empty table they gave their orders for beef stew and
tankards of ale.

As they waited for their food Horatio turned to the older man. "I
would truly like to thank you for standing with me at such sort
notice. It's good of you to do so, Joss."

"I'm honored that you would think of me. I take it that Archie is not
available?"

Horatio looked embarrassed. "Well, I think that he went up to London
to see his family and"

"And the wedding is short notice and he won't be back in time? No
need to feel strange about it, lad. I know that you two are close
friends. I'm sorry for you that he won't be there next to youhe'll
be sorry, too, when he hears about what he's missing."

The plates of stew arrived with slices of bread and their ale.

"Your young lady is charming, Horatio. You're a lucky man to have
her. And I'm sure that the Commodore is happy with the match as well."

Horatio looked up sharply, judging the intent of the remark. It
seemed harmless. "Sir Edward and Lady Sophie have been quite good to
me over the years. And Mavis has been like a sister to me since she
was a child."

Joss burst out laughing. "I certainly hope that you've changed your
perceptions of the lass or tomorrow night will be an awkward affair!"

Turning as red as he ever had, the young man tried to extradite
himself from the hole he'd put himself in. Just as he was about to
speak another voice cut in between the two friends.

"Ah. Mr. Hornblower and, I believe Mr. Bracegriddle. I glanced
through the window as I passed by and received the pleasant surprise
of seeing the both of you sitting here."

Both Lieutenants' stood for the superior rank.

"This is Lieutenant Bracegirdle, sir."

"Bracegirdle, yes, of course. Please do forgive me, sir."

Joss nodded at Captain Sawyer who had by now seated himself at their
table. "Well, sit back down. You're not going eat your dinner
standing are you? No, no, I haven't time to join you for a meal,
thank you all the same, gentlemen."

"Might you at least join us in a tankard, Captain?"

"You're more than kind, Mr. Brace-girdle, but I fear that I must be
away. I merely wanted to add good wishes to Mr. Hornblower here on
his auspicious alliance with the good Commodore. And his lovely
daughter, of course. I look forward to the celebration tomorrow,
gentlemen. I trust that I'll see you both there."

"Yes, sir, you will."

"Good. Very good. Well, I'm sure that you both have much to do with
time growing so short. Again, my heartiest congratulations,
Lieutenant. I'll take my leave now, if you don't mind. Until
tomorrow."

After Sawyer had walked away, Joss turned back to Horatio. "That was
odd, didn't you think?"

"Not particularly for him, no."

Refraining from saying anything else, Bracey simply looked at Horatio
in alarm.

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

"Yes, darling. That gown is simply perfect and fits as though made
for you. You must have it. I insist."

Sophie and Mavis were up in the master bedroom with the dressmaker
trying on some garments she had brought over to look at.

"But, Mama, it's so expensive. Papa will be furious when he sees the
cost of this on top of the reception and the party just two weeks ago
and the new draperies and all."

"Sweeting, this will be your wedding dress, so it should be something
absolutely perfect and special and wonderful. You will wear it again
for dances and dinners for quite a while."

"It is beautiful"

"And you'll want to enchant Horatio tomorrow evening, won't you?"

Mavis smiled with a glow as though she were lit from within.

"Well, then. It's settled. Mrs. Whiting, we'll take this gown and
that lovely sapphire night dress and wrapper, also."

"Mama, no!"

"Hush, darling, it's my present to you. It's almost Navy blue, isn't
it? I'm sure that Horatio will like the color, don't you think? Look
at this lace around the neck and down the front. It looks like
whitecaps on waves, doesn't it? And the pattern in the silkjust like
wind rippling over the water." She turned to the woman standing just
off to the side. "Mrs. Whiting, just leave these things here and
have the bill sent to us. You were so thoughtful to bring these over
to us to save us the time today. You're always so kind, I can't thank
you enough."

"Oh, Mrs. Pellew, it's my pleasure, you know that. Miss Pellew here
will be the prettiest bride in Portsmouth, I'll stake my life on it.
You just be sure to be good to your young man now, and you'll both be
just fine."

"Thank you, Mrs. Whiting, I know that we'll be terribly happy. He's
so marvelous."

The dressmaker smiled as she made her exityoung and in love. Was
there anything better?

Mavis threw her arms around Sophie, hugging her tightly. "Thank you,
Mama. He is brilliant, isn't he? And you and Papa love him, too. That
makes it even more perfect."

"Yes, he's quite an exceptional young man."

Mavis was as happy as Sophie had ever seen her. She looked shyly at
her mother.

"I think that I'm going to have a baby. I'm sure of it."

Not really surprised, Sophie said, "But darling, it's too soon to
know. You'll have to wait at least a month or two to be sure."

Mavis nodded. "But I'm sure. I can just tell. I can feel it. I knew
the minute that it happened. We hadwell, you knowbefore, but it was
different that time. I just knew."

Sophie did, indeed know what she meant. She had felt the same way
when she had conceived Mavis.

"Have you told Horatio?"

"No. He's asked me to promise to let him know as soon as I'm sure. I
wanted to be really positive before I told him. I don't want him
disappointed in case I'm wrong."

"That sounds prudent, dearest."

Mavis threw her arms around Sophie once more, dancing her about the
room. "But I am sure, Mama, I am."