by Lady Laura


This is a story where Edrington and Captain Dreadnaught Foster come back into the picture. I think Foster is misunderstood, and in this story, he gets what's coming to him.

" Mary!" Mary blinked, and opened her eyes. Horatio was having one hell of a nightmare. She, Horatio, and Bush were laid up with fevers, Pellew and Eccleston were looking after them. They had the three friends in the living room, on three cots in this order: Horatio, Mary, Bush.

Mary was in the middle because it was very important for the two officers to see her at all times, she was the most fragile then she was weak.

" Horatio, wake up!" she said, jiggling his shoulder a bit. He came around, opening his eyes.

" Mary. . . you're not dead."

" Nope. Neither is Will." they both looked at their sleeping friend.

Before Mary could say anything more, she fell asleep.
She was on the deck of the Renown, looking out to the sea, wishing Archie was back with them, but it was futile to wish back the dead.

Buckland was in charge, though he was a useless drunken sot, like Dr. Clive, but Dr. Clive actually performed his duties without getting drunk much. Buckland was in bed with a bottle most of the time.

Horatio and Bush had been making up for Buckland's frequent absences through their own experiences at sea.

" What are our orders, Horatio?" Mary sidled up to him casually.

" We have to find a Spanish ship, and basically sink her."

" What's the name of the ship?"

" Cerdo."

" Pig? That's very odd, they must have been at a loss to name her."

" Whatever. We find her, and take her." Bush had overheard.

" Good. I want some action." Mary grinned, and went off to supper.

At the end of Horatio's midnight watch, he came into his cabin, and found Mary in his bed, waiting for him.

" Careful my love, Bush is right next door." he cautioned.

" Bush? He snores the ship down. Trust me, he won't hear anything." Mary grinned slyly.

So, they went to it.

The next day, around 1600 hours(4:00), Cerdo was sighted.

" Mr. Hobbs, we can take her! Fire a shot into the mast to slow her down!" Horatio barked.

" Aye aye, sir!" Hobbs roared. He did so, and part of the mast collided with the mast on the Renown, and fell on Horatio.

" Horatio! Mr. Bush, help me!" Mary and Bush lifted off the mast. Horatio was lying still, blood coming from his mouth.

" This is not good." Mary said.

" What?" asked Bush.

" Blood from his mouth means internal bleeding. Matthews! Styles!" they took Horatio down to the sick berth, where Dr. Clive performed surgery, but there was no hope at all.

" His ribs are crushed, his spine is fractured, and so is his head. He's got no chance."

" Come, let's take care of the ship. Dr. Clive, how long will he last?"

" About a day or so."

" Come on, Will!" Mary and Bush assigned a prize crew, erected repairs, and they had to tackle one last issue-Buckland.

Buckland had managed to drink himself silly, and was trying to sleep it off when the battle came. He complained loudly, then fell asleep.

" Mr. Buckland!" Mary jerked him up by his collar, and shouted at him.

" Mr. Hornblower is dying because of your neglect! Get up and do your duty, sir!"

" But-" Mary slapped Buckland in the face, and told him to dress, in a low, even tone of voice.

She left Buckland with Bush trailing behind her. They both held a vigil over Horatio until he managed to come to his senses. Bush leaned over and tapped Mary's arm.

" Hello, Horatio." she tried to sound nonchalant.

" Am I done for?" he asked.

" I'm afraid you are, Horatio." Bush put in.

" All because of stupid Buckland. What a drunkass he is." Mary muttered.

" Mary forced him to work, Horatio. You shoulda seen her." Bush grinned a bit.

" Will, take care of her." Horatio locked hands with Bush.

" I will." Mary gave Horatio a long good-bye kiss. He was dead when she lifted her lips from his.

Mary cried on Bush's shoulder, then fell asleep in his arms. Bush put her to bed in his hammock, and took care to see Horatio's body was tended to properly.

After a night of feverish dreams, she woke up in Bush's hammock, and saw him looking at her wistfully.

" Will, is it time for his service?" he nodded. Mary got dressed, and joined him on the larboard orlop deck. Bush read out the service, and they committed his body to the deep.

" Ms. Driskell?" it was Matthews and Styles.

" Yes?" she looked tired, and older than her years.

" We want to say if ye ever need someone to talk to, ye can come to us." Matthews told her.

" Thank you Matthews, Styles. As I'm sure you know, Horatio was very fond of you two. He was always talking about you."

" He was always talking about ye too, miss." Styles retorted.

" I must go to sleep. Good day, gentlemen." Mary walked away. Two pathetic attempts to cheer them and her up. She scolded herself. Could I have done better?

Probably not.

Mary did not remember the rest of the voyage. She found herself in Bush's house in Plymouth. Mary had been suffering for almost a month, and Bush was very kind to her, taking her in when she just would have sat around in her farmhouse, and let everything go to hell.

" Will?" she asked. Bush was in the living room, and reading when he heard Mary call out for him. She was still dazed and confused from the whole ordeal, but at least Buckland's alcoholism had been addressed to the admirals.

Bush put his hand on her forehead like she was sick. Mary wondered what the hell he was doing.

" Will?" she asked again.

" Shhh, Mary. You've been sick since we disembarked. Do you remember?"

" No."

" Just relax. I'm here to take care of you."
One month after Horatio died, Bush made a confession to Mary.

" I love you, Mary."

" You do?"

" Always and forever." Bush gently eased Mary into his arms.

" You've been wonderful, Will."

One year later, Mary and Bush were sleeping together, Bush was awake one night, staring out the window. He was feeling a little guilty at taking Mary away from Horatio, but Horatio was dead, wasn't he? Mary wasn't married, so technically everything should have been okay.

" Thank god." said a familiar voice. Bush turned around. Mary hadn't stirred, she was sleeping soundly.

A vision of Horatio was in the room.

" Horatio?"

" Yes. I am with Archie now. You're taking good care of Mary, I see." the ghostly figure smiled.

" It's not what you think-"

" But it is. I don't mind. She's got nobody now but you. I'm glad."

" Thank you, Horatio. I love her."

" I know. Archie and I will always be watching over you two until your souls are set free to go with us. Adieu." the ghostly vision vanished as Mary stirred.

Bush lay down next to Mary, and ran his hands through her dark brown hair. She was something special, he knew.

" Relax, Mary. Nobody can hurt you. I'll protect you." he whispered. Mary seemed to relax, and fall back asleep.
Bush woke up after that dream. He was not as feverish, but he was still warm. Mary was asleep, as was Horatio. Bush pondered the dream. Was he infatuated with Mary? No, he was infatuated with her friend, formerly Archie's girlfriend when he was alive. Lily Brown, a outgoing girl, much like Mary herself.

" Mr. Bush! Glad to see you're awake." Eccleston appeared suddenly, giving Bush a little fright.

" Mr. Eccleston. When do we set sail?"

" About a week, if you're all well enough." Bush understood. They'd want Mary on their next voyage, and without her, it wouldn't be as lively.

" How is Horatio and Mary?"

" They're both resting peacefully." Eccleston left. Bush silently watched Pellew tend to Horatio.

" Horatio." Pellew whispered, propping up Horatio's head so he could take medicine without choking.

" Commodore Pellew." Bush's voice rang out, strong and clear.

" Yes, Mr. Bush?"

" How did we get so ill in the first place? When?" Bush was understandably totally confused.

" You were on leave here, all of you, then you became the first one stricken. You gave them quite a scare, feverish and delirious for two days. Mary was next, then Horatio. He sent for Eccleston and me."

" How long?"

" Over a week. Do you remember anything?"

" No. Just feverish dreams." Bush propped himself up.

" That is to be expected. You can get up and walk around tomorrow." Pellew notified Bush.

" Good." Bush laid back down, and went to sleep.

The next day, they recieved good and bad news.

" Major lord Edrington is going to be sailing with you. So is Captain Foster, on his way to resume command of his ship, the Dreadnaught."
Pellew informed them.

" Good old bastard, Foster is." Horatio muttered.

" Care to explain yourself, Horatio?" Mary and Bush were understandably confused.

" Foster managed to blow a supply ship out from under him about 5 years ago. Commodore Pellew does not like him at all. Remember Captain Hammond?"

" Black Charlie? Yes."

" He and Foster are brothers."

" Interesting." Mary mused.

" What?"

" I'd be interested in meeting this Captain Foster. If he's a dumb as you say he is, maybe I can help him."

" You think you can help a reckless captain?"

" Why not? I'd like to try. What about this Major Edrington?"

" Oh, that's a long story." Horatio told them about the Muzillac disaster.
Boarding Retribution the next day was tough for Horatio, knowing he had to transport Foster back to his ship. But, if Foster made any move to usurp Horatio's authority, Horatio'd let him have it.

" Cheer up, Horatio. It's such a beautiful day out here on the sea." Mary chided him, taking his arm.

" You're right. Let's go introduce you to Major Edrington." Horatio led her to Edrington's quarters. Captain Foster had been situated in his quarters, right beside Horatio's cabin. Edrington was put into the cabin next to Bush's.

" My lord, Ms. Mary Driskell." Horatio formally said. Edrington grinned, and kissed Mary's hand.

" Ms. Driskell."

" My lord." she said. Horatio told Edrington they were about to weigh anchor, and asked his attendance at dinner that evening.

" I would be delighted, sir."

" Excellent. Time we were away, Mary." Mary unlocked her gaze from Edrington, and followed Horatio, where Captain Foster was coming on board.

" Commander Hornblower, sir." Foster addressed him.

" Captain Foster, may I introduce Mary Driskell."

" Hello, Ms. Driskell. Has Mr. Hornblower told you about his sail on a plague ship?"

" Yes, he has, sir. We will discuss that at dinner, if you are so inclined."

" Styles here will show you to your quarters, sir." Horatio motioned to Styles.

" Right this way, sir." Styles led Foster off. Mary glanced at Horatio.

" Interesting." she thought aloud.

" Weigh anchor! Get the ship underway, Mr. Bush!" Horatio bellowed, in his best Captain Pellew imitation.

" Aye aye, sir!" Bush gave orders for the sails to be unfurled, and the course set. The second lieutenant, Riley, was busy making sure the anchor was properly cranked in.

At dinner that evening, Foster was telling the officers about Horatio, and the plague ship.

" I heard there was a scare on the Caroline, was there not, Mr. Hornblower?" Foster's opening to insult Horatio if he said yes or even no.

" There was, sir." before Foster could open his mouth, Mary barged in.

" I believe Mr. Hornblower confirmed that it wasn't the plague by taking the seaman, and smelling the scent of alcohol on him. The sailor was drunk off his ass."

Horatio maintained his composure, coloring a bit as Mary slowly told Foster, enjoying the look on his face. Doubtless Foster would have dumped the man overboard without a second thought.

Edrington was impressed. He glanced at Horatio, who was turning red at Mary's gloating.

" Most impressive, Mr. Hornblower." Bush commented, quickly changing the subject. Mary was fast, and she never hesitated. Horatio's color returned to normal.

The rest of the dinner went by fast. Edrington told of his adventures in the army, Foster tried to brag about his most recent encounter with the Spanish, but was cut off by Mary, diverting the subject to sailing methods while in a storm.
At last, Horatio took his leave, and left. Mary followed him as Bush went on watch. Foster took a stroll around the deck, while Edrington, determined to know as much sailing as possible while he was on board, went to the sailing master on board, Mr. Griffith.

Mary took Horatio's arm as they watched the sunset from the quarterdeck, a few feet away from where Edrington and Mr. Griffith were talking.

" It's beautiful, Horatio." she said.

" What?" his mind was a million miles away.

" This! Being with the man I love, on a ship in the middle of a vast ocean. This is the life." Horatio drew her into his arms as the sun vanished.

Edrington studied the couple, while still managing to keep up a conversation with Griffith.

Captain Foster saw them kissing from where he stood. He stared at them, knowing he was being rude, but he couldn't help it. Finally, Horatio and Mary left the quarterdeck, and went to bed, not knowing what they were up against tomorrow.

Horatio, Mary, and Bush slept soundly. Edrington on the other hand, was not. He took walks around the deck, and saw Mary at the railing, surprised she was still up.

" Ms. Driskell, what are you doing up so late?" Mary practically jumped.

" My lord, nothing. I thought a stroll would ease my frazzled nerves."

" Ah. I see."

" Do you really? You've heard Foster's story, and have you heard of his reputation?"

" Yes. I know he is considered somewhat reckless-"

" Reckless be damned!" Mary spat out, her disgust evident in her tone.

" He has killed a record number of men on his ship as far as I'm concerned. If he gets Horatio killed, I don't know what I'll do." she sighed, her eyes searching for answers in the night sky.

" He won't. Mr. Hornblower is a remarkable man, Ms. Driskell. He won't let Foster usurp his power."

" You're right, my lord." Mary straightened up.

" Please call me major."

" You're not one to parade around a title, are you major?"

" You have no idea." Edrington grinned.

Mary finally fell asleep after Edrington walked her back to her quarters she shared with Horatio.

Edrington spied Foster lurking around outside Mary and Horatio's quarters after he exited.

" What are you doing, sir?"

" Just strolling around abovedecks until I can sleep, my lord." Edrington turned, and went into his quarters, thoroughly disgusted with Foster's high-and-mighty attitude.

The next day, Horatio was barely awake when his second lieutenant opened his door, and told him a Spanish frigate was coming.

" Beat to quarters!" Horatio bellowed, dressing in a hurry. He alerted everyone, and came up on deck.

" I believe this ship is the Amalia, sir. A small sloop, not even 36 guns." Riley reported.

" We can take her." Bush was positive.

" Fire as she bears, Mr. Bush!" Horatio crowed. Foster came up beside him.

" Damnit Hornblower! Take up a reef! You want those sails to tear!"

Horatio had a vision of Sawyer and Wellard about a torn sail. He rid himself of that image, and ordered the reef tackles secured.

He tended to his duty the best he could, doing his best to ignore Foster behind him, barking out orders.

Edrington was helping command the guns, Mary was assisting anywhere she was needed. She came up to Horatio as he made a brief announcement.

" Captain Foster is not in charge of this ship! You will only obey me and my officers!" he barked out. The statement was redundant, but the ratings obeyed Foster. Foster was staring wide-eyed at Horatio.
Mary was by the number 10 gun when it happened. Foster was so angry at Horatio that he left a gun unsecured. Horatio was right in front of the gun, and the ship lurched suddenly, and it ran into Horatio's left leg.

" Mr. Hornblower! Are you all right, sir?" Foster asked with false concern. There was a cord of wood lodged in Horatio's leg as well. He moved to take it out, but Mary stopped him.

" No, Horatio." she snatched his hands away.

" Pass the word for the surgeon!" Bush barked, coming up to them.

" Well, take that wood out of him, Ms. Driskell!" Foster ordered. Mary acted as though she hadn't heard him.

" Taking the wood out would help you bleed to death. I know you don't want that." she soothed Horatio.

" Take the wood out of him, Ms. Driskell!" Foster repeated. Mary had enough of Foster's superior attitude. While Horatio was being examined, Mary let him have it.

" Captain Foster, I assume you left the number 10 gun unsecure so you could accidentally injure Mr. Hornblower, and usurp his command." she stated. Foster turned red. Bush was listening intently as Edrington came up to see his wounded friend.

" I did no such thing! Retract your statement at once, miss!"

" I will not! For attempted mutiny, you will be put in your quarters until we reach Gibraltar."

" You'll swing for this." he grumbled.

" That's a risk I'm willing to take." Mary smiled slyly. Edrington and Bush exchanged glances, and watched Mary.

" Will you go by yourself?"

" I will not go at all!"

" MARINES PRESENT!" Mary yelled. Every musket was trained on Foster.

" Sergeant Lowe, escort Captain Foster to his quarters, keep him under armed guard!" Mary ordered.

" Aye aye, miss." Lowe walked away with a disgruntled captain.

" Wow, Mary." Bush stood up.

" What?"

" You really let him have it!"

" I had to. I'll probably swing for it, but he had to know what a jackass he was being."

" Let's focus our concerns on Horatio right now."

Horatio was operated on, and established in the sick berth. Mary was his personal nursemaid, and Bush stood a 16 hour watch.
Mary realized Bush was still on deck. He'd assigned lieutenant Riley to escort the
Amalia to Gibraltar, and was standing out on the deck in the pouring rain. She went out to him, wading through small puddles on the deck.

" Will! Come inside where it's warm!" her yell shocked Bush back from his half-asleep state.

He was in no condition to argue. Mary guided him to the sick berth, and helped Dr. Gibson settle him in.

Bush finally came around, opening his eyes, seeing Mary and Edrington standing over him.

" You were right, doctor. Soon as he was settled, he'd come around." Mary's sweet voice brought Bush to full wakefulness.

Edrington tucked in the blankets more securely around Bush. He looked at him respectfully as Mary gave Bush something to drink.

" Standing a 16 hour watch, Mr. Bush? It's a miracle you have no ailment other than exhaustion."

" You must sleep now, Mr. Bush. If the doctor finds you awake, you'll be subject to pokings and proddings. I suggest you sleep through that, it's not at all comfortable." Edrington teased gently.

" Horatio?" Bush managed to say. Mary stepped aside, and they saw Horatio, asleep.

" Good thing you ordered Foster into his quarters, Mary." Bush said.

" Shhh. Go to sleep." Mary and Edrington turned, and left the sick berth.

" Time to talk to Foster."

Mary went into Captain Foster's quarters, and sat down across from him at his desk.

" Captain Foster, I will overlook this whole mess if you offer a public apology in front of the entire ship."

" What?" Foster said. Mary stayed her post, her face like stone.

" You do not have to face a court-martial if you apologize to Mr. Hornblower for intentionally hurting him."

To her surprise, Foster did not jump up and scream bloody murder. He looked thoughtful for a moment, then agreed.

" Excellent, Captain Foster. You are the youngest in your family, am I correct?" she stared him in the eye.

" How did you know?"

Mary smiled and leaned forward. " Because I am also the youngest in my family. I figured I could get away with anything. I did, most of the time, and then I caught what was coming to me."

" You are the third daughter of a lord, aren't you, Ms. Driskell?"

" Yes, sir. My middle sister is now a heiress. She will be the next Lady Driskell when she gets married."

" What about-"

" My eldest sister? She's serving a prison term for now, into her fifth month sentence for trying attempted murder on me. I do not want the responsibility of being a Lady. I prefer this carefree sailor life."

" I understand that."

" I'm glad. I must go and check on Mr. Hornblower, and Mr. Bush. Can I trust you to not give any orders to the men, 'cause you are a passenger on this ship?"

Foster fumed, but he maintained his composure. " Aye aye, miss."

" Oh, Mr. Bush will be off duty for awhile, so will Mr. Hornblower. Will you give orders for repairs as needed?" Mary remembered.

" Aye aye, miss!" Foster stood up, and saluted. Mary gave him a smile.

" About your work, then." she left.
Mary went to go and see Horatio. He was resting, also keeping a eye on Bush. Bush was sleeping peacefully after his close call earlier.

" Good news, Horatio! Captain Foster is erecting repairs on the ship." she announced. Horatio looked at her like she'd gone mad.

" Captain Foster! You let him usurp my power!" he nearly yelled. Mary knew she hadn't told him all of the story yet, so she kept her patience.

" Yes, I talked with him, and-"

" You let him take over my ship! How dare you! I think you're working with him to let him command my own ship! You whore!" Horatio shouted, startling Bush out of his sleep.

Mary looked like she'd been punched. She knew Horatio was tired of lying still while his ship was partially wrecked, but that was no excuse for what he just said to her.

" I am no longer talking to you, SIR." she said in a low even tone of voice that sounded so sinister Horatio flinched.

She fled, Bush could see her brown eyes were almost drowning, and he got up to go after her.

" Stay where you are, Mr. Bush." Horatio's ominous voice rang out. Bush paused.

Horatio was staring him down. Bush meekly went to Horatio's side, and secretly put some laudanum in Horatio's drink. He told Horatio to drink it, and he did.

Bush watched Horatio fall asleep, and went up to see Mary. He could sense a major storm in the air, and thought they'd best be prepared for it.

There was a full force gale on the sea, and Mary was by the railing, watching it idly, a expressionless look on her face. Horatio had verbally abused her, and now Bush hadn't the time to go to her side. Both Major Edrington and Captain Foster had noticed her withdrawn and sullen mood, but gave her time to think about what had happened.

Lightning flashed, thunder cracked, and Bush was about to go and tell Mary to get below when he saw her silhouette on the deck. She hadn't moved from her spot, and waves were crashing over the deck. He had just reached her when a rogue wave lashed at the ship, and Mary was thrown off by it.

By the time Bush had got to where she was, he could only hear her scream as she was plummeting into the sea.

" Oh my god." he said, ignoring the dripping rainwater that was running down his hat, directly into his face.

After the gale had cleared, Bush got into dry clothes, then went to inform Horatio that Mary was dead.

" Mr. Hornblower." he said. Horatio looked up at him from his bed.

" Mr. Bush."

" It is my sad duty to inform you that Mary Driskell is dead." he said, not sugarcoating the truth.

Horatio looked like Bush had slapped him.

" How?"

" During the gale last night, she was thrown overboard by a huge rogue wave."

" So I see." Horatio whispered, his eyes downcast.

" It is my punishment for yelling at her."

Bush, still angry with Horatio after how he had treated Mary, offered him no sympathy.

Horatio exhaled slowly before talking again.

" And to think I was going to give her this." he held up a ring with a sparkling ruby.
" What is that, Mr. Hornblower?" Bush could not believe it.

A sly grin tugged at the corners of Horatio's mouth.

" It is a engagement ring, Mr. Bush. She was born in July, just like me. I always believed we were soulmates."

" Come sir, I will help you to your cabin." Bush helped Horatio hobble up to his room.

The next day, Horatio was looking over the repairs of the ship when Bush approached him.

" Mr. Hornblower sir, the regular lookout's ill, may I substitute for him?"

" You may, Mr. Bush."

" Thank you, sir." Bush climbed up the ratlines, hoping to spot Mary's body.

Two days later, the lookout had not recovered, Bush was up manning his post. Captain Foster was standing beside Horatio, not saying anything.

" Captain Foster, who did these repairs?"

" That would be me, sir." Foster responded.

" You? What about-"

" Ms. Driskell? She and I talked, and I promised to help her out. Mr. Bush had passed out from exhaustion, the third leftenant had been assigned to sail the prize to England, you had been badly wounded. It was all up to her."

" And now she's dead." Horatio muttered. He turned to Foster.

" Will you watch the deck for me, sir? I will be below."

" Yes, of course." Foster replied, guessing at what Horatio was about to do.

" Take your time." Horatio nodded numbly and left.

Bush had been idly studying the color of the ocean, not seeing anything that would hinder their ship's course, but no sign of Mary's body, either. He had almost given up hope when he saw it.

A sliver of white, just off to starboard.

Training his telescope onto the object, he focused intently. White on the sea. It was calm today, not roiling with whitecaps, so where did the white come from? He gulped, and looked harder.

A arm hanging onto a barrel, a head with brown hair. Bush wanted to jump for joy at finding her body, but he had to maintain his composure, and he scurried down the ratlines.

" A body four points abaft larboard!" he barked, rushing to a ship's boat.

" Launch a jollyboat and go retrieve it!" Bush waited anxiously for the boat's return.

When it did, Styles brought Mary's body up, and Bush immediately pressed his hand against Mary's heart. It was moving! Mary was breathing shallowly, he discovered after applying his ear to her nose.

" She's alive! Take her to the surgery!" Bush ordered.

Bush dashed for Horatio's cabin, telling Major Edrington on the way, that Mary had been discovered, and she was alive. Edrington hurried down to go and see her.

" Mr. Hornblower!" Bush cried, dashing in. Horatio jumped, his face wet.

" What is it?"

" Come with me." Bush dragged Horatio down to the surgery. Dr. Gibson was settling Mary down on his examining table. He carefully probed her all over.

" Well, doctor?" Horatio prompted. Dr. Gibson told Edrington and Foster to put her in a hammock while he cleaned up,

" She's most severly concussed, and has several ribs broken." the doctor lifted up Mary's head, and examined it more closely.

" Will she live?" Horatio asked.

" I do not think so. At this point in time, it'd go either way, but I've never seen someone survive more than 4 ribs broken. She's also burned on one arm a bit."

Horatio went to Mary's side, and looked into her black and blue marked face, and wished he'd not yelled at her.

" How soon will she wake up?" Bush asked for Horatio, who couldn't speak.

" Impossible to say. She's in a coma right now, from the shock of the injuries she has sustained. It'd be best if someone sat with her until she has awakened."

" I will." Bush volunteered. He took up a place at Mary's side.

" It's like she has so wish to return." Foster mumbled to Edrington.

" That's enough! Everyone out!" Horatio ordered.
Reluctantly, everyone left except for Bush. He studied Mary's unconscious face intently.

" I'm sorry, Mary. I should have come after you, but Horatio is commander, and I had to obey him." Bush paused for a minute.

" He had no right to yell at you. We were understaffed, you had no choice." he had to stop. Thinking of Mary as possibly dying was not a happy thought for anyone.

Bush settled himself in for a long night of staying by Mary's side.

Horatio had gone to his cabin, and tried to sleep, but his sleep was troubled. He had dreams of blood and death, and did not want to sleep anymore. Mary was lying near death, and it was all his fault.

He sighed, and rolled onto his back. The next day, he would take over for Bush, watching over Mary until she woke up, no matter how long it took.

Captain Foster and Major Edrington were not sleeping well either. They both had become very fond of Mary, and prayed that she would come out of her comatose state soon.

Deciding that sleep would not come easy, Horatio got up, went over to his desk, and penned a letter to Commodore Pellew, and lieutenant Eccleston.

Commodore Pellew:

It is my sad duty as commander to inform you that Mary Driskell might be dying. She managed to get washed overboard by a rogue wave. Lieutenant Bush had sighted her body out at sea. Dr. Gibson says she has severly broken ribs, slightly burned arm, as well as numerous black and blue marks.

If she recovers, it would be amazing. Unfortunately, she and I had a fight before she was washed overboard, and she might have no wish to return to us.

I am sorry to be the bearer of such sad news, we should be in Plymouth in about 4 days' time. Mary is comatose and very weak. Mr. Bush is sitting up with her now. Major Edrington and Captain Foster have surprisingly taken quite a shine to her, and pray for her recovery.
Commander Horatio Hornblower,
HMS Retribution.



Meanwhile, Bush gazed into Mary's senseless face, and wondered what she was dreaming.

Mary, Horatio, and Mr. Bush were out riding one day when a snake spooked Mary's horse, and the horse ran wild throught the woods. Bush and Horatio went after her, but they were too late. Mary had been thrown off, and was lying on the ground, not moving.

" Mary!" Horatio dismounted, as did Bush, and both went to her. She managed to come to her senses as Bush propped her up.

" What happened to you?"

" I believe I was thrown off, Horatio. Snakes are notorious for spooking horses." she said.

" Still, I always thought I would be the one to be thrown off." Horatio remarked, checking Mary over.

" No broken ribs like we saw with Mr. Bush when he fell off a slippery rock." Horatio and Bush stood Mary up.

" Can you walk?" Bush asked. Mary was able to. She re-mounted her faithful horse, Danny, and rode back to the farm.

When they got there, Bush was hanging up the saddles when he saw something off in the corner. When he got closer, he saw it was a rat, dead, with two holes in its neck. He said nothing of it, just disregarded the sight, and went inside the house.

Inside, Horatio and Mary were doing housework when Mary winced, and gripped her left shoulder.

" What is it?" he asked her. She had gotten full use of her left wrist back since she had dislocated it some time ago.

" I might have damaged some muscles when I fell. See if there's a black and blue mark on my back." Horatio undid Mary's dress top, then her corset, and saw a nasty-looking black and blue mark.

At that moment, Bush walked in. Horatio hastily threw a blanket over Mary's bare shoulders, biting back embarrassment. Bush momentarily turned red, but gave no mention to the sight before him.

" You should get some rest, Mary." Horatio said.

" I suppose that would be neccessary." she sighed, letting Horatio guide her to her bed.

" You're not above playing nursemaid, are you Horatio." Mary joked.

Horatio winced, remembering how he had played nursemaid to Archie at El Ferrol, and countless times when Archie was sick. Of course, Archie had returned the gesture, when Horatio was released from the oubliette in Spain, and had a fever brought on from exhaustion.

" Sorry if it brings back memories, Horatio." Mary had seen the look on his face. She tiredly settled into bed, Bush standing in the doorway.

" Good night, Will, Horatio." Mary surrendered to Horatio's kiss, and was asleep even before he had finished it.

" Good night, Mary." he said softly, tucking her in.

Bush had watched the affection of these two wordlessly. He felt like a third wheel, but he knew Mary and Horatio both cared for him.

" Rest well, Mary." he went to his own room to sleep.

Around 1 A.M., the window to Mary's room opened by itself, and a bat flew in, blowing a cold breeze into Mary's body. She shivered, and pulled the blankets up closer to her.

The bat that was watching her materialized into Archie Kennedy. He leered at her at first, but soon the look faded from his face.

" Dear Marion Driskell. I shall make you my wife." he whispered into her ear. Archie's eyes flashed red, and two of his teeth grew into points.

He relentlessly sank his fangs into Mary's throbbing pulse. Archie drank her blood deeply, reading her memories that outpoured with the blood.

Finally, one hour elapsed. Archie knew his mission that night was done. He had just drained her enough to know that she'd never recover from the loss, and Archie would be back tomorrow night to finish the job.

Mary whimpered in her sleep. Archie looked into her face, and remembered how strong she had proved herself to be. He was almost sorry to see her weakened so, but remembered she'd be his wife before long.

With a sinister smile, Archie turned himself into a bat, and disappeared.
Mary woke up the next morning at about 11. She could never recall being this tired, even when she had suffered at the hands of her sisters. Then again, Jessica was on her side now, Sarah was serving the fourth month of her prison sentence, and all was right with the world.

Her musings were interrupted by Bush entering.

" Good morrow, Mary. How are you?" he asked cheerfully, coming to her side.

Mary despised feeling weak and sick around her friends. She quickly tried to cover up how ill she was.

" Well, thank you." she shielded her eyes for a minute after Bush opened the curtains from the window by her bed.

He took a closer look. Mary was white as a ghost.

" You don't look well. What is it?" he asked, sitting down on the edge of the bed near Mary's face.

" Such horrid dreams, Will."

" What about?"

" Like someone sucking my life's fluid out of me, while knowing all of my past memories. There was that man. . " she trailed off.

" What man?" Bush said.

" I remember nothing." Mary mumbled.

" It looks like someone didn't want you to remember." Bush stood up.

" Get some rest while I get Horatio." he left. Mary obediently closed her eyes.

Horatio examined Mary, then discussed her ailment with Bush.

" It's nothing I've ever seen before, Horatio."

" Neither have I. We can only wait and see." both looked down into Mary's unconscious face.

Later that day, Horatio was sitting by the fireplace, thinking of the debacle with Captain Sawyer.

" Oh, Archie. Mary's sick, and she needs you. I wish you were here. Eccleston and Commodore Pellew have left for awhile. Bush is outside, walking. He said walking helps to offer him solace when things go bad." Horatio stared into the dying embers of the fire, letting his grief immerse him.

Horatio went into Mary's room. She was sound asleep. He went to her side, and knelt down. Taking one of her hands in his, he cried, wanting her to be well so she could help him through the darkness.

" Horatio." a hand was on his shoulder.

" Will." he acknowledged.

" Come on, let's go to bed." Bush tucked Horatio into his bed like he was a child.

" I hope Mary gets well again. . " he faded, relenting into the void of sleep.

" I as well, Horatio." Bush went into his own room, and tucked himself in.

" I as well." he repeated, going to sleep.

Around the same time Archie had come last night, he appeared in Mary's room, baring his fangs, eyes flashing red. This time, it would do no harm to wake Mary up before he killed her.

And so he did. Mary saw him, and couldn't believe it.

" Archie?" she whispered faintly.

" I'm back, Mary. Quiet! I'll kill you if you make a noise." Archie clamped his hand over Mary's mouth.

" Now, Mary. Close your eyes." Mary did as instructed. She felt someone puncturing her neck, and then someone's mouth was on it, scaring Mary badly. She was too weak to defend herself, but she wanted to.

Suddenly, it seemed as though her heart was giving up. It strained once, causing Mary great pain, and stopped. Her receding consciousness remembered Archie giving her something to drink before the blackness came, and she remembered nothing.
Horatio woke up, did his morning rituals, and checked on Mary.

Bush was already there, applying his finger to her neck, checking for a pulse. He looked up at Horatio, wearing the saddest look he was capable of.

" No!" Horatio checked for himself. Mary was dead.

" I didn't get a chance to say good-bye!" Horatio cried, letting Bush take him in a embrace, rocking him back and forth.

They contacted Pellew and Eccleston, who arrived promptly.

" Where is she?"

" In her room." Mary was left as they found her, to symbolize the fact she died painlessly. Each man was given a few moments alone to say good-bye. Horatio was first.

" I have always loved you, Mary. I want you interred wearing this." Horatio put a ring on her left ring finger, the stone sparkling in the light.

" It's ametheyst. You were always crazy about that stone." Horatio shakily smiled.

Horatio leaned over, and gave her one last kiss. Bush was next.

" I remember when I first met you, Mary. I thought you were a stuck-up bitch, but I soon saw that wasn't true. You impressed me by taking a gunshot to your arm. A lesser woman would have whined about it, but you, you're one of a kind." Bush kissed her on her cheek, and left so that Eccleston could have his turn.

" I always thought I would die first, Mary. I was never more impressed by you and your personality. Now, I wish you to rest in peace." Eccleston bid her adieu by kissing her on the lips.

Commodore Pellew was the last. He eyed Mary, her arms folded in front of her, her face peaceful, even in death.

" I cannot thank God enough that I came to know you." Pellew kissed her on her right cheek.

The next day, the funeral procession was made in the Driskell monument, generations of Driskells had died, and were interred there, each in their own coffins.

Commodore Pellew read out the service as the others put Mary, still in her coffin, on a clear patch of dirt near the entrance.

" It is a grim day for all of us." Eccleston meditated. Soon, they had all said their goodbyes, and sealed up the vault.

Mary lay only a few feet away from where her mother was interred. Annie Driskell, who looked beautiful on her wedding day, was now rotting away under the lid. Annie had wanted everything for her three daughters, and was mortified that Sarah had turned evil. Jessica just followed her sister, but Mary had stood up to them.

Annie had despaired that all was lost, but Mary had comforted her before she had to leave for Gibraltar. Annie had been sick, and Mary had not expected her to go so quickly, but what's how it happened.
Horatio, Eccleston, Bush, and Pellew were sitting in front of the big fire in the huge fireplace that Jessica had installed, making it a present for her little sister. They all sat around, telling tales of Mary.

" Mary was with her sisters in a bar when I met her." Eccleston was saying.

" She was arguing with them, I don't remember what they were fighting about, and she won the fight. It was love at first sight for me. Mary and I became friends, then I had made a move one night, and kissed her."

" I met Mary one day. She was sick, and her mother, Annie, asked me to help take care of her. I accepted her offer, and I bonded with her instantly." Pellew put in.

" Mary and I met when we had to convey her to Portsmouth. She had just learned of her mother's death, and I was comforting her when I realized I loved her." Horatio said.

" Horatio and Mr. Kennedy were aboard the Renown when I first met her. She's got spirit. After I got to know her, she showed me what she was really like." Bush told them.

" I will have to retire, gentlemen. Good night." Horatio left. Pellew went after him a few minutes later.

" Mr. Hornblower?" he asked, looking in Horatio's dark room.

" Sir?" Pellew knelt down at Horatio's side, stroking his protege's hair slowly.

" Go to sleep, Mr. Hornblower. Everything will turn out okay."

" First Archie, then Mary. I wonder if I'm next." he said bitterly, all the emotions that he had repressed since Archie's death came flooding back.

Pellew continued stroking Horatio's hair until Horatio's breathing became even, telling Pellew Horatio was asleep.

He straightened up and left.

Meanwhile, Archie walked into the wall of the vault, and came out the other side, making his way to Mary.

She was right where he expected, and he slowly pried off the lid of her coffin. She was just beginning to awaken.

" How are you, Mary?" he assisted her up.

" Shaky."

" That's to be expected. Your body is adjusting to your new job."

" Which is?"

" Sucking blood out of the living, my dear."

" Vampirism!"

" That is correct. Now, I am going to teach you the ways of us vampires." Archie slit his wrist, and told Mary to drink. She looked disgusted, but did as she was told.

" Are you less shaky now?"

" Yes." Mary looked around.

" My family's monument, is it not?"

" It is." Archie watched Mary walk around, reading the names of the dead that were etched into the wood lids of coffins.

" Joseph Driskell. He was my grandfather. Claire Driskell, my grandmother."

" Mary."

" Hmm?" she paused in reading a name that said PAUL DRISKELL JR. on it.

" Come!" he offered her his arm, and together they walked through the wall, to feed on the living.
Horatio woke up at 4 A.M., unable to bear his torment any longer. He dressed in his dress uniform, and took out a loaded gun.

Bush heard the pistol cocked, guessed what was happening, and jumped out of bed to save Horatio's life.

He made a diving save just as the pistol went off. Horatio yelled in surprise, and was knocked on the floor from Bush.

" Horatio, what the hell do you think you're doing!" Bush stormed, giving Horatio a hand up. Horatio looked fierce for two seconds before he broke down completely.

" It's all right, Horatio." Bush soothed him, lying him down on a couch. Horatio felt a slight pain in his arm, and saw Bush was injecting something into his bloodstream.

" What are you drugging me with, Will?" he asked, seeing the needle go deeper into his arm.

" Laudanum. It'll help you." Bush answered, withdrawing the needle. He cleaned it, and then watched Horatio's eyes close.

Archie and Mary preyed on the living for two days when Archie decided she would test herself by feeding on Horatio. But first, Mr. Bush.

" Kill Will? Well. . " Mary trailed off, realizing that they were near her farmhouse.

" It's a way to test your faith to me." Archie grinned.

" Well, okay. You go ahead. I'll be a minute." Mary quickly wrote out a note to Horatio and Bush, asking them for their help.

" Go to sleep now, Mary." she found herself in the vault, in her coffin. She took Archie's advice, and fell asleep deeply.

Bush was walking around the farmhouse when he discovered a note. He read it, then hurried to Horatio.

" Horatio! Listen to this!" he cried. Horatio sat upright, dazed.

" Will and Horatio: I am a vampire now, serving with Archie Kennedy. Any reported sightings of me is true. I still live in the vault. You must destroy Archie, it is the only way I will be restored. -Mary."

" Mary's alive! Well, relatively." Horatio jumped up and armed himself.

" To the vault, Will!" he opened the door, and led the way.
Mary was sound asleep with Archie watching over her. He stroked her hair, caressing it gently, not willing to disturb her rest.

" You are mine forever, Mary." he whispered.

" He can never take you away from me."

" Oh yes he can!" Horatio's voice boomed. Archie protectively stood in front of Mary's coffin. Bush stood beside Horatio, prepared for action.

" Prepare to die again, Mr. Kennedy!" while Horatio and Archie fought, Bush knelt down to Mary's side, and made her drink laudanum, to keep her unaware of what was going on.

Horatio had Archie tackled, Bush restrained him, and Horatio bravely drove the stake through Archie's heart.

" I thought you would join me." were Archie's last words. His body turned to dust, then disappeared.

" I liked him for the friend his was, not the monster he had become." Horatio sighed.

" How's Mary?" Bush and Horatio went to her side. Horatio pressed his hand over her heart. It was cold, not thumping normally, her lips and fingers were turning blue.

" She's dead, Horatio." Bush put his hand on Horatio's shoulder.

" I thought she'd be resurrected once Archie was dead." Horatio sobbed. Bush protectively took Horatio in his arms, and waited for the tears to subside.

" No!" cried Horatio. He jerked away from Bush, and cradled Mary's dead body to him.

Bush woke up, then wondered what Horatio was doing. Horatio was in his cabin, sleeping for the first time in days

Horatio dreamed.
He was in a church, looking at the brilliant stained glass panels that decorated the windows. Horatio was captivated by the artwork, but the aching pain he felt was still there.

Recognizing the place, he found out that he was in Kingston. He found Archie's grave, which overlooked the ocean.

" If only I was dead instead." he muttered. Someone appeared next to him.

" Is that your wish, Mr. Hornblower?" Horatio looked up. The person was in a black robe, his hood masked his face.

" Yes. Things would be better off if I was dead." he meant every word of it.

" I see." the person said.

" You want Archie back so badly, and with Mary slowly dying, you think the world would have been better off without you. Well, I am your guardian angel, so I will oblige the wish. You will be transparent, no one will see or hear you."

Horatio thought such a thing was impossible, but all of a sudden, he felt a tingle like lightning strike him, and he cried out in pain.

" You are dead, Mr. Hornblower." the person's voice said. Horatio gasped, and crumbled to the ground.

When he revived, he found himself on the deck of the Retribution. He saw Bush, in a commander's outfit, talking to Matthews.

" Matthews, how is everything?" he asked.

" Just fine, sir." Matthews sounded as tired as Bush.

" We set sail tomorrow." Horatio noted Bush didn't sound energetic anymore, he wasn't himself.

" We are taking Mary back to England. She's pretty sick, as you know."

" Aye, sir. On the account Mr. Hornblower died."

" Yes. He should not have died so soon. Captain Sawyer's mind, and Buckland the blockhead killed him."

" Sir?"

" Buckland drugged him with poison, Matthews! After Mr. Kennedy died, Buckland poisoned Horatio."

" Sir!" Styles came running up.

" Ms. Driskell wants to see you, sir."

Bush went to her room. Unnoticed, Horatio went too. Mary was lying on her sickbed, not moving. She heard Bush come to her side, and she grasped one of his hands.

" I'm dying, Will." she could barely talk. Horatio's jaw dropped open.

" You musn't think so, Mary! You will live!" Bush cried out, unable to suppress his emotions anymore.

Bush could barely comprehend this. First Archie, who died of a shot by a Spanish colonel, Horatio, who'd been drugged by Buckland, and now Mary, dying of grief. She had been sick for some time, it had been cholera, and her spirit was tired from the long fight.

Without even realizing it, Bush took Mary in his arms, sitting with her on her bed. He was taken aback by Mary's weakness, it disturbed him greatly to think of the strong woman she had always been so fragile.

She'd always helped the underdog. Bush remembered when she had supported Wellard through Sawyer's floggings. Mary had been strong for him, he had in turn, helped her through the mission that Horatio had planned out for them.

Bush sighed, and looked down at Mary's white face, her eyes were closed. He could feel her heartbeat growing weaker. She had only a few more minutes left in her body, then she would depart, depriving Bush of another friendship.

Mary opened her eyes a little bit, then looked up at Bush, her head on his left shoulder. Bush looked down at her with tears in his eyes.

Transparent in the background, Horatio was brought to his knees by the dramatic scene before him. He wanted to appear in the flesh, tell Mary to recover, and see Bush. Horatio could tell Mary did not have long left, her breathing was shallow, her heartbeat growing weaker every minute.
If only he could appear to her! Horatio was frustrated that he could not.

" Mr. Hornblower, you wanted to be dead. I am giving you a chance to see what the world will be like if you were dead." the strange person's voice echoed in his head. Horatio swore, then watched.

It was near. Mary felt her time was near. She relaxed a bit, content to let Bush hold her for as long as she lived, sure that it wouldn't be long now. Mary felt the virus wreak havoc in her body, and didn't care. She couldn't fight anymore. Even if she could, what was she fighting for?

Opening his eyes, Bush felt a slight shudder pass through Mary's weakened, disease-ravaged frame. He prayed that Horatio knew Mary was coming.

Mary's breathing changed. She wasn't breathing regularly anymore, sometimes she didn't take a breath for thirty seconds. Her body was gradually shutting down, oxygen wasn't needed now.

" Good bye. . . Will. . . " Bush heard, and felt the life leave her.

Bush held her for a little while longer, and left to prepare the service for her.

Horatio went to Mary's side. He checked her over, she wasn't breathing, she was like a statue.

" Mary, you must live!" he cried out, heedless of the sobs wracking his transparent body. Mary did not move.

" I entreat you to live!" he repeated, not expecting a response.

Suddenly, the scene began to blur, and he found himself at the grave of Archie again.

" So that is how things would be if you died." said the figure in black.

Horatio raised his wet face to the person.

" Come with me." Horatio went with the person to a remote area of the graveyard. Two caskets had not yet been buried. The person gestured to one.

" Look." he said. Horatio opened up the lid, and saw Commodore Pellew.

" Commodore!" he cried out.

" Look in the other one." Horatio did.

" Mary!" he fell back on his knees, sobbing once again.

" Yes. Mary died first, out of grief for you. Pellew died soon afterwards. They both loved you, Horatio. Pellew thought you were like his son, Mary loved you like a husband." the figure pointed to a person, standing at a grave.

The person followed the other person, Horatio followed the black-robed figure.

It was commander Bush. He took something from his pocket, and put it on a grave.

" Mr. Bush!" Horatio yelled, but Bush ignored him, and left. Horatio looked at the tombstone, but it was too dark to tell whose grave it was.

" Let me show you." said the person, like he'd read Horatio's thoughts.

Horatio saw a outline of a body after he had paused in digging. He got into the grave, and brushed the dirt from the face of the person.

The face he saw was very familiar. Horatio brought the lantern down.

It was his own face, slowly decaying. The shock of seeing his own dead body in a grave was too much for Horatio, and he passed out cold.
Horatio awakened in a church. He had been put on a long bench so that he was bathed in moonlight from the moon's eerie glow. He sat up, and saw Bush in the church, on his knees, also in moonlight, praying for his dead friends' souls.

" Mr. Hornblower." the black robed figure said. Horatio groaned.

" I assume you've seen enough?"

" Who are you?" Horatio shouted.

" Why do you torment me with these visions? Haven't I suffered enough?!"

" You know the reason, Mr. Hornblower." the figure said, Horatio's yelling had not fazed him in the least.

Horatio was aware of Bush leaving the church, his handsome face streaked with tears for his fallen friends.

" Now, you want to know who I am." the person pulled back the hood, and revealed their face. Horatio gasped in astonishment.

" Captain Sawyer?" Sawyer smiled, and shed his black robe. He was in his captain's garb.

" Allow me to explain, Mr. Hornblower. You're so broken up about the way you treated Mary, you think dying would be better, so that you don't harm her."

" Yes."

" But that'd hurt her more. Take my advice, just go on with your life. A great future awaits you, Bush, and Mary."

" Your order will be obeyed, sir." Horatio saluted, which Sawyer acknowledged, giving Horatio a smile-something Horatio had never seen before.

" Mr. Hornblower?" Bush's voice.

What luck! He can see me! Horatio realized.

" Horatio, wake up! We're about to dock in Plymouth." Horatio opened his eyes, and looked into Bush's sea-blue eyes.

They docked, and Horatio went to see Mary before they took her ashore.

" I'm sorry, Mary." he whispered, stroking her hair. Horatio could hear the Retribution being moored, but he had to say one last thing.

" Please come back to us." Foster's words echoed in Horatio's mind:

It's like she has no wish to return.
End of part 1.
Monday, November 12, 2001

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