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Snow and Sun
by Susan

Horatio was having a bad day. His was stuck in the snow. In enemy territory.
His blue navy cloak provided little warmth and even less stealth. He hid as
best as he could in the relative shelter of trees surrounding what looked to
be an encampment of several hundred chiily french troops.

Hornblower grumbled to himself about his own arrogance to think he should
take on this mission alone. His trusted second in command and friend William
Bush and a few crewmen were waiting for him a few miles back, but that is as far
in as Horatio allowed them. Honestly, he knew it was dangerous. The fewer
the number the less get caught...or worse. He was going purely on instinct.

Suddenly a figure walked past him. So fast, Horatio wasn't entirely sure he
didn't imagine it. His keen eyes scanned for its location. Then he saw it.

Long curls peeked past the hood of a cloak so white it made the fresh snow
look sallow. What the bloody hell is a woman doing here? Doesn't she know how
dangerous it is?

Horatio quickly moved to another tree and another and so on until he got
near to her.

"Miss!" He whispered. Then thought of where he was.
"Madamoiselle!" He called again, but got no answer.

The figure appeared not to have heard him as she resumed her walk. Still
wary, Horatio followed her ducking from one hiding spot to another. But she was
in clear site. Why did the troops not notice her?

Finally, the figure led Horatio to a small clearing and out of view of the
french, but they remained in his view. Horatio heard rawdy voices coming from
several yards away. From where he was originally hiding. It was a set of very
intoxicated frenchmen. If Hornblower had still been in that spot...he shook
the thought from his head. The woman in white had saved his life.

Just then, he heard noise behind him. He turned, pistol drawn and cocked. It
was Bush with the men.

"Sorry sir. We were worried. You've been gone a long time. We thought you
might have been done for"
"It's alright, William. I might well have been if it wasnt for that woman
over there. I followed her and apparently her white cloak concealed me from the
troops as I moved. "

Bush looked around then back at Horatio, eyebrow raised.

"Woman, sir? What woman? " Bush asked cautiously.
" Is something wrong with your eyes, man?! She is right there! " Horatio
whispered irritated.
"Sir, I see no one there. "

Horatio turned to look at the figure wondering if he was imagining it. But
how could his imagination save his life? Protect and shield him from those
french troops?

"Who are you? " He breathed out, too quietly to be heard.

Just then the figure turn to look at Horatio. She looked familiar. Her long
curls, full lips, big brown eyes filled with....was it love? Yes....but
why......

Realization came to Horatio like a warm ray of sun. Tears fell down his
face as he heard the woman say faintly ' I will always be with you and love you,
my sweet boy ', just before she evaporated as quickly as she appeared. It
was then Horatio fell to his knees.

"Sir? " Bush was getting worried again. He had rarely seen his friend cry.
Now, he was on the verge of sobbing.

"Sir? " Bush said again, placing a supportive hand on his friends shoulder.
In all the time he had known his captain, he had never known him to
hallucinate or be given to whims. So, if Horblower said he saw something...he did.

"I'll be fine, William. Thank you. "
"Who...who was she sir? Who saved you? "

Horatio looked through wet eyes at Bush as a shuttered breath tore from him.

" My mother."