Horatio and Mary
by Lady Laura

Author's note: Marion Driskell is my own creation, she reflects me,
please do not use her in your own stories. Thanks.
-Lady Laura


It was a day like any other day on His Majesty's frigate Indefatigable. Ratings were up in the riggings, repairing ropes, stitching together new sails, making sure the ensign was flying high and proudly from the stern of the ship. It was a sunny day, as Horatio Hornblower and his friend Archie Kennedy were supervising Horatio's division in cleaning the guns on board the Indefatigable, when Mr. Bracegirdle came to them.

" Captain wants to see you, sirs." he told them.

" Aye aye, sir." Horatio and Archie stood up, and went to Captain Pellew's cabin, where he was musing over a situation.

Horatio knocked on the door.

" Captain Pellew, you wanted to see us?" he called, Archie by his side.

" Come in." Pellew's irritated voice sounded from within the cabin.

Horatio and Archie came in, seeing the captain gazing out the window, deep in thought.

" Sir?" Archie said, knocking the captain out of his thoughtfulness.

" We will soon have a passenger on board the ship. A lady." Pellew stated.

" A lady?" Archie asked. Pellew gave him a look.

" Yes. Her name is Marion Driskell. She's from America, and wants to come aboard this ship to go home to England."

" American, sir?" Horatio sounded taken aback.

" Yes. You've never met a American before?"

" No, sir."

" Not to worry Mr. Hornblower, she's a very good natured girl, quite tough. If my memory serves me." Pellew grinned.

" I take it you have met her before?" Archie hinted.

" Yes, Mr. Kennedy. I have. Anyway, she will come on the ship tomorrow. I am telling you this because there is a shortage of cabins, and she'll have to bunk up with you two. Is that a problem?"

" No, sir." Archie saluted. Horatio didn't say anything.

" You start for the shore first thing tomorrow morning. She will be waiting for you at the pier number 7."

" Aye aye, sir." Archie left, dragging Horatio behind him.
That night, Horatio couldn't sleep. He wondered what Marion would be like as he listened to the ship's montonous creaking motion, and the slight shudder as the Indy cut through the gentle waves. He heard his division snoring through the wooden walls. Finally, he got up and went on deck, idly talking to Mr. Bowles when Archie came up as he was ending his watch.

" Join me on the fighting top, Horatio?"

" Certainly, Mr. Kennedy." Horatio and Archie ascended to the platform high abovedecks. Once they were there, Archie sat back, and retied his hair, which had come loose during the ascent. He gazed at the distant horizon, absentmindedly counting the stars, and breathing in the fresh sea breeze while Horatio merely sat, and worried some more.

" I take it you are worried about making a good first impression on this lady. Am I right?" asked Archie when Horatio didn't answer right off.

" Yes. It'd be easier if I knew what she was like." Horatio gazed into the night sky.

" Same here. Are you still thinking about Mariette?" Horatio jerked his head back to look at Archie. He locked his brown eyes on Archie's sky blue eyes as Archie waited for a answer. Mariette was a French Republican woman that Horatio had protected during the time they were in the village of Muzillac, trying to get rid of the Republicans. He wanted her to come back with him to the ship, but she was shot and killed as they were approaching a bridge.

" Yes." he admitted, hanging his head.

" Get over it, Horatio! Put the past behind, where it belongs. Mariette is gone, you couldn't have helped her anymore than you did."

" Archie, she died when I was with her. I should have watched her more closely. I should have known she'd be a easy target." Horatio buried his face in his hands.

" Horatio, what's past is past. You can either sit here on the fighting top, brooding over what is past and can't be changed, or you can join everyone in the present time. Since you got back from Muzillac, you have been very different."

" I didn't know anyone had noticed." Horatio said bitterly. Archie fixed Horatio with a stare that made Horatio cringe and look away.

" Everyone had noticed. We're like a family on this ship. You cannot go on brooding over the past. Captain Pellew has been asking about you recently."

" Really?" Horatio looked at Archie.

" Yes! He thinks you're still in shock over that battle. Everyone else thinks you miss your father, which I am certain that you do."

" I do. I miss the way he looked after me when I was sick."

" Dr. Johnson is a fine doctor, as you and I have seen many times. Now come down off this fghting top, and go to sleep."

" Why did you drag me up here, anyway?" Horatio asked as they climbed down.

" For privacy, Horatio. This watch is always looking for a story to gossip about. Whoever said that women were the real big gosspiers, anyway?" Archie joked as he led Horatio down the ratlines and down below to their cabin.

" I tend to believe that men are even worse." Horatio said as he opened up their cabin door. Archie flung himself on his cot, obviously in a very good mood.

" Just think Horatio, a lady on this ship. Maybe she can help us with the men."

" How?"

" Captain Pellew told us she's a tough girl. I think she can stand up to some men that are sexist on this frigate."

" Like who? I never realized some men on this ship were sexist." Horatio mentioned, lying down on his bed. Archie also lay down on his, pulling the covers up to his shoulders. Horatio watched his friend as he talked.

" Styles is the one who's sexist. Whenever I'm around him, and someone mentions women, he'll always make some rude remark about ladies."

" Go to sleep, Archie." Horatio closed his eyes.

" Yes, sir." Archie grinned, then fell asleep.
The early morning watch that in charge on the Indefatigable prodded at the edge of Horatio's consciousness, who woke up, and looked over to Archie's bunk that was a few feet away from his. Archie was up and gone. Horatio sighed, got up, dressed, and shaved. He went to the mess, where he found Archie talking to Horatio's division.

" Hello, Archie." Horatio sat down.

" Morning, Horatio!" Archie flashed Horatio his smile. Horatio grinned.

" So you're bringing a lady to the ship?" asked Styles. Horatio was eating, and he could not answer. But he listened to Styles intently.

" Yes. Her name's Marion Driskell."

" A lady's not to be on a ship." Styles commented.

" Let's not get into a debate here, Styles. Finish up Horatio, and meet me on the top deck." Archie said, diffusing the potential argument. Archie left as Horatio had to smile to himself. Archie always diffused the argument before it grew into a ugly fight.

Horatio finished up, and stood up, fixing Styles with a glare.

" Let us hear no more of this anti-woman talk. Am I understood, Mr. Styles?"

" Aye aye, sir."

" Good." Horatio straightened up, and left the mess to go and meet Archie.

The wind was blowing strongly as Horatio walked up to meet the captain at the tiller.

" Is everything all set, Mr. Hornblower?" Pellew had to yell because of the wind.

" Aye aye, sir!" Horation yelled back.

" Good! Then go and bring back Ms. Driskell!"

" Yes, sir!" Horatio left the deck, climbing into a jollyboat with Archie.

" All this wind might make it hard to navigate!" Archie told him. Horatio nodded his agreement.

" Pull for shore!" Horatio ordered. The crew obeyed.
The windstorm subsided by the time they reached shore at pier 7. Horatio and Archie tethered the boat to one of the bitts, and walked to find Ms. Driskell.

" Bet you that's her." Archie muttered, pointing to a well-dressed woman who was lying back against some rocks, looking up to the sky. Around her were a few small satchels.

" I think you're right." Horatio agreed. They both went up to her.

" Ms. Driskell?" Horatio's voice made the lady jump. She was lost in her own world, thinking about the world in the sunshine.

" Yes, I am Ms. Driskell." she said, looking at the two officers.

" Leftenant Horatio Hornblower of the Indefatigable." he kissed her hand.

" You appear to be quite the ladies' man, Mr. Hornblower. Is this acting leftenant Archie Kennedy?" she asked.

" Yes, miss." Archie took her other hand.

" Come, let us escort you to the jollyboat." he told her.

" Let me just get my things." she picked up her satchels with Archie and Horatio helping her. They helped her into the boat, and they rowed back to the Indy.

" Indy's a nickname for our ship, miss." Horatio explained.

" I see. It will be more convenient for me to call her that instead of her full name." she giggled a bit. Archie grinned.

" You gentlemen may call me Mary." she announced to them, tossing her hair back. Horatio thought she looked beautiful with her hair down like that. The sunlight shone through her hair, making the blonde highlights through it more visible. Horaito blushed, and turned away.

Mary leaned to Archie. " I will have to ask you more about Mr. Hornblower. He seems so withdrawn." she told him, her brown eyes dark with worry.

" Can I tell you later? He'd be furious if I told you in front of him." Archie told her. He was impressed by Mary's deduction of Horatio. She appeared to be super sensitive to people's feelings.

" Of course, Mr. Kennedy." Mary's smile lighted up her face. Archie grinned shyly.
Horatio brought the jollyboat to the Indy, and ordered a chair lowered for Mary.

" No! I'm not afraid to use my muscles!" she headed for the ladder, and was about to climb up when Horatio blocked her.

" Captain's orders." he said calmly, feeling his cheeks turn red. Mary took no notice.

" Then I will talk to the captain as soon as I am up there!" Mary boldly pushed Horatio aside, and climbed up the ladder. It was a miracle that none of her skirts got snagged as she ascended. Horatio watched her, his mouth open in shock. Archie grinned at Mary's courage, and climbed up the ladder next.

" Welcome aboard the Indefatigable, Ms. Driskell!" Captain Pellew greeted her, kissing her hand gallantly.

" Thank you, Captain Pellew. It is a honor to sail with you once again." she smiled.

Horatio and Archie brought up her things from the boat. Mary took them, and the two officers escorted her to their cabin.

" I thank you gentlemen for letting me stay with you." she set her satchels down on the bed.

" It is our pleasure, Mary." Archie kissed her hand. Horatio hung back, unsure of what to say.

" Please, take me on a tour whenever you are able to. I enjoy seeing these frigates. I have sailed all my life." she smiled at Archie.

" Of course, Mary. Right this way." he led her out of the cabin.

" Mr. Hornblower, won't you come?" she asked Horatio.

" No thank you miss. I've got to get ready for my watch." he smiled politely, turning red. Once again, Mary did not notice.

" Please call me Mary, sir. I look forward to seeing you again." Mary beamed her contagious smile at Horatio. He smiled back as Archie led the lady around the ship.

Horatio got ready for the watch, and asked to speak to the captain. Pellew was on the ship's bridge as Horatio went to him.

" Something the matter, Mr. Hornblower?" he asked.

" Yes! This woman is a burden on us all! I demand her to have her own quarters as to lessen the burden on Mr. Kennedy and I!"

Pellew looked behind Horatio, which is where Archie and Mary were. Horatio looked back, then at Pellew.

" Is that how you see me? A burden on everyone?" Mary asked icily.

" Only on Mr. Hornblower, it seems." Pellew retorted.

" Well, I thought you were a gentleman, Mr. Hornblower. I guess I was wrong. If you'll excuse me, Mr. Kennedy and I will keep the tour going."

" I must talk to Mr. Hornblower first, Mary. Is that all right?" Archie asked her.

" Yes, that's fine. I will be down below." Mary left the bridge, her head held high.

" What is the matter with you, Horatio?" Archie hissed.

" She's taking up unneccesary space! Why couldn't she had caught the next frigate, not this one?!"

Archie sighed. " Horatio, her father was a captain. She is accustomed to these conditions that we are, and Pellew thought it would be nice to have a female influence among us."

" Yes, but why now?"

" She told me that her mother is very sick, and Mary needed to catch the first ship heading for England. Mary told me this in confidence, and don't spread this around." Archie turned to look for Mary, then turned back to Horatio.

Horatio looked taken aback. " I-I .. I." he stammered.

" I'll talk to you later." Archie left to find Mary.

Horatio watched him go, his jaw scraping the ground. Pellew left the bridge, leaving Horatio to deal with his own problem.
Archie found Mary facedown on her bed. He sat down next to her.

" Mary?" she raised her tear-streaked face.

" What's the matter?" Mary handed Archie a letter.

" I just got it before you came." she said after he finished reading it.

" Your mother's dead?"

" Yes. I have to go and attend the wake." Mary put the letter in one of her books.

" I can certainly sympathize. I lost my mother also. So did Horatio." Archie put his arms around Mary.

" When Horatio said I was a burden on everyone here, something just snapped in my head. I started thinking of everything in my life, and I realized that I had nothing to make me happy, or even smile." she confessed, crying again.

Archie rocked her back and forth a bit, letting her cry it out than to say something, and maybe make it worse.

Mary cried on his shoulder, grateful for Archie, whom she had met about three hours ago. They were both startled by the door opening and closing.

Horatio had entered. Mary raised her face, and looked at Horatio with bloodshot eyes.

" What happened?!" he exclaimed. Mary turned her head from Horatio. The bastard didn't like her, so she didn't talk to him. Archie frowned at Horatio, and motioned for him to back off for a bit. Horatio understood, sitting on his bunk and pretending to read while he shamelessly eavesdropped.

" Now Mary, get some sleep. You'll feel better after, okay?" Archie looked her in the eye.

" But-"

" No buts about it, Mary. Lie down." Archie eased her back, and when Mary was lying down, she looked up at Archie, her brown eyes suddenly very bright.

" Go to sleep. Close your eyes." Archie said in a soft tone. Mary obeyed. Archie waited until she was deeply asleep, and went to talk to Horatio.

" What's the matter with her?"

" She found out she had lost her mother before she went with us, and she told me that when you said she was a burden, something just snapped, and she came down here, when she realized there was little to nothing in her life to make her smile." Archie lay down on his bed.

" She's got plenty to smile about! She has you!" Horatio protested.

Archie grinned. " Thank you, Horatio. When Mary wakes up, we'll take her to the mess for dinner. Now, I'm going to follow my own advice, and sleep." he closed his eyes.

" Sleep well, Archie." Horatio said softly. Archie couldn't hear him, he was already deeply asleep. Horatio closed his eyes, and before he knew it, he was asleep too.
Around 5 P.M., Horatio woke up, seeing Archie and Mary were still asleep. He got up, and roused Archie.

" Archie, it's dinnertime." he said. Archie woke up.

" Mary, time to get up." Horatio said softly, gazing into her sleeping face.

Mary awakened, seeing Horatio above her. She groaned.

" I suppose you'll tell me in detail how much of a burden I am!" she glared at him.

" Not at all. Come to dinner with us." Horatio offered her his arm, and she took it, and Archie's left arm. They all walked to the mess, where they were served. The crew ate in silence at the lady at their table.

" This will never do. Horatio?" Mary asked him. Horatio jumped.

" What?" he grumbled.

" Think fast!" Mary threw some food at him. He glared at her, then retaliated, throwing his whole plate at her. She ducked, and it hit Archie.

" You're on my team, Archie!" she laughed, grabbing his arm. They battled Horatio and the crew for a little while until Mary heard the captain coming down.

" Quick!" she hissed, wiping the food from her dress. All of the crew quickly brushed the food off them, and under the table.

" Everything all right here, gentlemen and lady?" Pellew said.

" It's quite fine, thank you sir." Mary grinned.

" Carry on, then." Pellew eyed her, and then left. As soon as he was out of earshot, everyone burst out laughing.

" Have you ever been in a food fight before, Mary?" Horatio asked, laughing.

" No, I haven't! Until now!" she giggled.

" I guess we fixed that!" Archie laughed.

After the food fight, Archie took Mary around the ship some more, showing her how Horatio's division were cleaning the guns.

" Ladies shouldn't be on this ship." Styles grumbled.

" They're only good for housekeeping! Right, boys?!"

" Yeah!" Horatio's division cheered. Horatio was about to lecture them when Mary stepped in.

" I say, sir. Women can do alot more than just keep house. I myself am a restless soul, and I travel alot. I would rather travel than keep house. If you want to tell it to me different, talk to my other enemies. They'll tell you what I did to them."

" What did you do?" Styles asked, humoring her.

" I let them know how I felt in a way they'll never forget. They are all still recovering." she smiled slyly.

" My apologies, miss." Styles told her.

" Thank you, Styles. Carry on, gentlemen, you are doing fine work." Mary called to them, and they all cheered for her.

" You handle them quite well, Mr. Hornblower. You have my respect." Mary told him.

" Call me Horatio, Mary."

" All right. I'll see you later, Horatio." Mary left with Archie.
Horatio walked back to the cabin, exhausted after a day on the Indy. Mary Driskell had certainly made it more eventful for them. That food fight she had engaged his division in, he still had to laugh whenever he thought of it. The captain's confused look when he came down to the mess, Archie and Mary flinging food at Horatio, it was the best time he had on the ship in awhile.

The best time since Mariette had died. . but Horatio didn't want to think about her as he opened the door to the cabin, and found Mary and Archie on their beds, each one was reciting a line from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

Mary glanced up at Horatio, and jumped. Archie set his book down grimly. He lay down on his bed wordlessly.

" Time for us to sleep, Mary." he told her.

" Right. Good night, Archie." she said pleasantly.

" 'Night." Archie drifted off. Mary looked at Horatio, who lay down on his bed, looking at her.

" Maybe it's the salty air." Mary advanced on Horatio.

" Or maybe it's me, but since I have been on board this ship, I have been wanting you." Mary knelt down beside Horatio, letting him run his fingers through her thick hair.

" I've wanted you also." Horatio admitted. Mary smiled.

" Come into bed with me." he suggested.

" Not tonight, Horatio. I need my sleep." she yawned.

" Good night, then." Horatio echoed her yawn, and watched her get into bed, and drift off.

Horatio fell sound asleep soon after Mary did. The Indy was quiet that night, no gales at sea, and no attackers.
Three days later.

Mary woke up at 6 A.M., feeling hotter than usual. She had been sick recently, but had been well again.

Lying back down, she decided to get some more sleep before they all had to get up. She kicked off the blankets, unable to sleep when it was hot. It took her half a hour to get to sleep.

Horatio woke up at 9 A.M., took care of his morning rituals, and woke up Archie.

" Time to wake up, Mary." Horatio said, shaking her shoulders gently. She was sweating like crazy, and Horatio put his hand on her forehead.

" She's burning up! Archie!" Horatio cried out. Archie came to Horatio's side.

" What?"

" She's sick! Let's get her to sick berth. Mary, wake up!"

" What is it, Horatio?" she asked.

" You're very sick. Come with us. Dr. Johnson will look after you."

" Anything to make me stop hurting." she got up, and went to sick berth, assisted by the two officers.

Dr. Eric Johnson was studying his medical books when Horatio and Archie came in, helping Mary.

" What is it?" he asked.

" She's running a high fever, Dr. Johnson. What can you do for her?" Archie asked as Horatio settled Mary in a hammock.

" Let's take a look." Dr. Johnson examined Mary gently, asking her questions.

" We'd better give her my cabin. She won't get better with all these other sick men here." Dr. Johnson said quietly.

" Right." Dr. Johnson led them to his room, which was bright and cheery. Horatio and Archie put Mary in the bed, and asked the doctor what he thought Mary's ailment was.

" Probably just a sickness." Dr. Johnson replied.

" But she told me she was hurting!" Horatio protested.

" It is best to wait and see, Mr. Hornblower." Dr. Johnson told him firmly.

" I'll be by her side." Horatio sat down in a chair.

" Yes. Mr. Kennedy, you'd best go and get some sleep if you can. I'll give you some laudanum if you like." he offered Archie.

" Of course, sir." Archie and the doctor left.

Horatio sat up with Mary throughout the day, giving her water whenever she was alert enough to take any. She spent her day in a dreamless sleep, and was delirious whenever she was awake.

At around 8 P.M. that night, Captain Pellew arrived to see Mary.

" Mr. Styles told me everything. How is she?"

" She seems to have taken a turn for the worse, sir." Horatio took Mary's left hand, which he held. Mary seemed to know Horatio had taken her hand, she unconsciously squeezed it back.

" Well, let me know whether I can be of some assistance to the doctor, Mr. Hornblower. Right now, I have to leave." Pellew stood up and left.

" Aye aye, sir." Horatio fell asleep in his chair, not letting go of Mary's hand.
" Mary!" Mary blinked and looked around. She was back in the woods of her childhood.

I'm dreaming. She told herself.

" Mary!" someone came running out of the woods, and clung to her.

" What is it?" she exclaimed, seeing Horatio holding her.

" Simpson's after you. Come, I'll protect you!" Horatio took her hand, and they both dashed into the woods, where they soon came to a river.

" Quick! In the river!" Horatio wasted no time plunging in. Mary followed him as Simpson came to the shore, laughing as he watched them. He set off in a rowboat, and battled them in the river.

" Horatio! Look!" Mary pointed. Horatio followed her gaze. Simpson was upon them in his boat.

" You will never win, Jack!" Horatio pulled out his knife as Mary watched.

" I can, Snotty!" Simpson shot Mary as Horatio lunged for him.

" Mary!" he saw her go underwater.

" I won, Snotty!" Simpson crowed. Horatio took a chance, and plunged his knife into Simpson's heart. He then plunged into the water to save Mary.

Mary was rapidly descending to the bottom of the river, when Horatio caught up to her, and pulled her back to the surface. He pulled her to shore.

" Mary, wake up!" he cried, seeing her motionless. Simpson's shot had pierced her heart. She was dead.

Horatio leaned over her, hugging her body to him, and crying out for her.

Up above, Mary's spirit saw Horatio.

" No, Horatio! I'm not dead! I will never leave you!" she cried out.

" Mary, wake up!" Horatio's voice sounded.

Mary blinked, and opened her eyes. She was in Dr. Johnson's room, which was bright. She narrowed her eyes at the sudden brightness, and figured it was early afternoon. Horatio was looking at her strangely.

" Bad dream?" he asked her.

" The worst." she told him. Horatio put a hand on her forehead again.

" You're getting worse." he reported.

" How worse?"

" I would estimate you're fever has reached 105 degrees. That's deadly."

" More good news." she grimaced.

" What is it?"

" My stomach hurts badly. Call the doctor." she fell back asleep.

" Dr. Johnson!" Horatio called. Dr. Johnson came in.

" What is it, Mr. Hornblower?"

" She told me her stomach hurts her badly. When are you going to do something about it?" he demanded.

" What?"

" I told you she was hurting three days ago! She's been in pain, having nightmares, and her fever's about 105 degrees! How much more convincing do you need? Every minute we're wasting, she's getting sicker!" Horatio's voice cracked. Dr. Johnson pulled back the sheets from his bed, then examined her. He put his hand on the lower right side of Mary, right near her hip, and she cried out in pain, a sound that broke Horatio's heart to hear it.

" I believe you must inform the captain, Mr. Hornblower. This sounds to me like appendicitis. I will have to operate immediately."

Horatio balked. " Seriously?"

" Yes! Let's get her ready."
They put Mary on a examining table, and Dr. Johnson woke Mary up for a moment.

" We're going to operate on you now." he told her.

" All right. I'll do it for you and Archie." Mary said, seeing the tears streaking down Horatio's face. He had informed the captain, who asked to be notified when the surgery was over immediately.

" I'll be right here with you." Horatio jumped up. Mary took the laudanum that the doctor gave her, and Horatio talked to her until she was passed out.

" Are you sure you want to stay beside her through this? She wouldn't think any less of you if you didn't." Dr. Johnson told him.

" No, I'll stay here." Horatio took Mary's hand, and squeezed it.

" As you wish, Mr. Hornblower." Dr. Johnson began the operation. While he was standing by Mary's side, he watched the doctor for a few minutes. Horatio saw the doctor's hands red with Mary's blood. He nearly passed out himself.

Then, Horatio began wondering about Mary. How was it that she could change the atmosphere of the ship in such a short time? He guessed she was well liked by all, and in talking to the divisions, she had unknowingly changed their attitudes towards various things.

A few minutes later, Dr. Johnson removed Mary's appendix, and stitched her up.

" Well, that's done." the doctor said, cleaning his instruments and mopping up all the blood.

" We'll put her in my room, and when her fever goes down, she can be moved back to your and Mr. Kennedy's quarters."

" Thank you, Doctor." Dr. Johnson waved Horatio's words aside.

" The best thanks I can get is when I see a patient recover from what they were stricken with."

Dr. Johnson and Horatio put Mary back in Dr. Johnson's room. Dr. Johnson left as Horatio tucked the blankets in around Mary's still form, and sat down by her side in case she awakened and needed him.
Meanwhile, Archie Kennedy was having bad dreams. He had heard that Mary was being operated on, and he feared for her life, obsessing about it until he fell into a disturbed sleep.

" Archie!" Archie was back in the Spanish prison. Horatio was calling his name.

" Ohmighod, Archie!" Archie was covered in blood.

" Guard! Mr. Kennedy's fallen, he's hurt!" Horatio rapped frantically on the door.

The guard put Horatio in charge of Archie, and put them in sick berth room.

" This might hurt you, Archie." Horatio began cleaning the blood off of Archie, who winced and cried out.

" Sorry, Archie." Horatio checked Archie's injury. He had been shot in the heart.

It was a fatal shot.

Archie would never survive.

Horatio continued to clean off the blood, and he bandaged it the best he could.

" Horatio. . it's useless. . . I'm . . . . . dying." Archie gasped out.

" No you're not." Horatio contradicted.

Archie gasped again, and coughed to clear his lungs. Horatio winced at the intensity of Archie's coughing.

They clasped hands as Horatio saw the fight leave Archie's eyes. He began to look more peaceful as his heart slowed down.

" Horatio. . my friend. . . my brother. . " Archie whispered.

" What?" Horatio leaned down to Archie's level.

" Thank you . . . for being there. . for. . . me."

" You're welcome, Archie." Horatio smiled through his tears. Archie closed his eyes, his wheezy breathing stopped.

" Archie!" a familiar voice called.

" Archie! Wake up!" it was Horatio's voice. Archie blinked, and looked at Horatio.

" Horatio, what is it?"

" You were crying out in your sleep. Mary survived the operation, all we have to do now is get her fever down." Horatio grinned.

" Yes! I must go see her!" Archie got up. Horatio led him to the sick berth.
Mary was warmly wrapped up, and she was sleeping soundly when the two officers came in.

" She looks so much better now." Archie whispered, unwilling to disturb her rest.

" Yes, she does." Horatio agreed.

" Mary! Wake up. Archie is here to see you." he told her. Mary woke up.

" Archie!" she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.

" I won't leave your side tonight." Horatio declared.

" I've got to get on watch." Archie said good-bye and left.

There was a storm raging as Horatio lit a fire in the fireplace. Mary was having bad dreams, he guessed, sitting back down in his chair.

About a hour later, Mary awakened Horatio, crying out in her sleep deliriously.

" Horatio!" she cried out. Horatio's head snapped up.

" Horatio!" she cried out again. Horatio saw her left hand quivering, and quickly went to her side. Mary was breathing hard, like she had just run a marathon.

" Mary, I'm here." Horatio said soothingly, not intending to wake her up. Mary was still breathing hard, but she looked more peaceful now that Horatio was there for her.

" Breathe deeply Mary, the nightmare is over." he whispered to her, checking her temperature, and he put a hand over her heart. Mary's eyes opened.

" Horatio. . "

" Shhhhh, Mary." he put his index finger to her lips. She understood, still gasping for air. Horatio gazed into Mary's dark brown eyes, which looked so much like his own, and he saw the depths of her soul.

" I had. . horrible. . dreams, Horatio. . " Mary said.

" You're all right now. Go back to sleep." he told her.

" I don't want to go to sleep, I don't want any more nightmares." she protested.

" How will you get your strength back if you don't sleep?" he reasoned.

" Good question. I just want the nightmares to end. You think I'll make it through this?"

" Of course! You'll get stronger. Even though I have only known you for a few days, you don't seem to be the type of person who lets a illness kill her." Horatio grinned at her. Mary smiled back.

" Right now, you're going to sleep, you're going to get well, and I will be by your side." he declared, not moving from Mary's side. He blinked back sudden tears that were threatening to fall.

Mary closed her eyes, letting a tear trickle down the side of her face. Horatio's heart broke at the sight of his weak and fragile young friend. He had seen her as a strong, loudmouthed and opinionated young woman, and this was too much to bear.

" Mary, it's time to sleep." he eased her weak frame back onto the pillows.

" All right." Mary put her head back and fell asleep, exhausted. Horatio watched her for a moment, then looked up at the crucifix mounted on the wall.

Archie had come in while both were asleep. He smiled to see Mary fast asleep in her bed, and Horatio in his chair. Yet, Mary's hands still were in Horatio's hands.

Archie had smiled, and walked off.
One week later.
Mary went topside with Horatio, and watched him do his duty. A violent windstorm was kicking up, and Horatio ascended the fighting top to help with the sails.

" Be careful, Horatio!" she called.

Just as Horatio was straightening up after tying down a sail, a flash of lightning sizzled across the sky, and Horatio staggered back, temporarily blinded. His foot slipped, and he fell into the sea.

" HORATIO!" Mary screamed. She jumped into the icy cold water to save him.

" Mary!" Archie yelled. He sighed, and jumped into the water to help her.

" Horatio!" Mary yelled. She looked around wildly.

" Horatio!" she ducked underwater to look, and didn't see him. She came up, gasping for air.

" Mary?!" Archie called.

" I'm here, Archie! I can't find Horatio!"

" I'll find him, don't worry!" Mary and Archie linked hands, not to be separated, and ducked under again. Mary and Archie swam deep, where Mary saw Horatio sinking. She signaled Archie, and they brought Horatio back to the surface.

" Mary! Archie! I'm fine!" he yelled after regaining his senses and retching the sea out of his lungs.

" Help me get him up!" Mary yelled to Archie as they got to the ladder. Horatio climbed up, and immediately collapsed on deck.

" It's okay! He's just tired." Mary told everyone.

" Come on, Archie. Let's get him in dry clothes, and let him sleep." Mary and Archie lugged Horatio down to the cabin, where they changed his clothes and put him to bed.

Archie and Mary were exhausted from their swim, so they changed clothes and went to bed as well.

About four hours later, Archie awakened, and saw Horatio was awake. He went to Horatio's side.

" Archie, is Mary safe?"

" Yes, she's asleep right now." Archie reassured him. Just then, they heard bangs, and were immediately on alert.

" Everybody up! We've got a sea battle raging!" Matthews said, flinging open the door. Horatio and Archie jumped. Mary awakened.

" Horatio, Archie." she said weakly, extending her hand. They went to her side.

" What's going on?"

" Sea battle. You're to stay here where you're safe." Horatio commanded.

" I think not! I can help you!" Mary sat up.

" Fine." Horatio and Archie assigned her the job of bringing gunpowder to the cannons belowdecks. Archie commanded the guns from there. She worked like mad, picking up empty canisters, and bringing new ones. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion and a deafening roar.
Horatio heard the explosion as he was commanding the guns to fire. Fortunately, the attacker was backing off, so Horatio could go belowdecks to make sure Mary and Archie were all right.

" Mary! Archie!" Horatio screamed as he went below. Archie stumbled out from a corner in the wall he was blasted to from the explosion.

" Archie! Are you all right?"

" I'll be fine, Horatio. Mary's all right also." he assured Horatio, stumbling to the sick berth. Horatio gazed at his friend for a moment. Archie had burns on his arms and legs, but other than that, he seemed fine. Horatio prayed that Mary wasn't any worse.

Dr. Johnson and Archie came rushing belowdecks, and helped Horatio search for Mary.

" Mary!" they yelled. Horatio's keen eye caught sight of something. A movement to starboard.

" Over here!" she choked out, unable to move.

" Good god Mary, you scared us to death!" Archie and Horatio took Mary in between them, making her feel more secure.

" You don't seem too bad, Mary. You did loose a lot of blood, though."

" That's easily cured." Mary said loftily. She winced as she rubbed her left wrist.

" What is it?" Archie asked.

" My left wrist hurts. I think I sprained it."

" No, you have dislocated it." Dr. Johnson said, looking at it. Mary breathed heavily.

" I should put you under for this." Dr. Johnson gave her some laudanum, and she fell asleep a few moments later in Horatio's and Archie's arms. Dr. Johnson set the bone back in place, and demanded that Archie and Mary were to be put in sick berth immediately.

" The first few hours after the accident are critical." he said firmly, waving aside protests.
Archie reclined on a hammock, falling asleep. Horatio was by his side, as well as Mary's side. She was still asleep, and soon Horatio and Archie found themselves asleep also.

A few hours later, Mary woke up, seeing Horatio and Archie still deep asleep, oblivious to her. She gazed at Archie, then at Horatio, who moved, stretching, and he opened his eyes. Mary quickly closed her eyes to hear what Horatio might say when she was pretending to be asleep.

" Mary, thank god you lived throughout that explosion. I'd go crazy without you, and Mr. Kennedy, here." his glance flicked to Archie. That was all he said. Mary heard the doctor come in and say the two patients were free to go.

" Great!" Horatio woke up Archie, who went off to start his watch, then Horatio got up Mary.

Horatio escorted Mary back to the cabin, where he shut the door and lay on his bunk.

" Why Horatio, we're all alone." she smiled slyly. Horatio grinned. Mary lay down on Horatio's bed while he kissed her, necking. She lifted up his shirt, he lifted up hers, and they clung to each other, making out.

Later on, Archie came in to see Horatio and Mary asleep side by side.

" He's quite the ladykiller." Archie grinned as he fell asleep.

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