A Winter's Tale (Hornblower/Dr. Who Crossover)
by Sarah

Horatio Hornblower sat on his bunk a blanket wrapped round his shoulders to keep out the cold. He also wore the scarf and mittens Maria had knitted for him, haven put them on out of desperation to keep at bay the perishing cold. The ship like many others were stuck in port because of an unusual cold spurt had taken hold. The whole port was frozen and the surrounding area was covered in a thick layer of snow. It had been like this for three days and the men were getting restless. Twice he had caught them at some scheme or other to escape across the frozen water to the quay. Once it had failed spectacularly when one of the sailors had fallen through a hole in the ice and now lay in bed with a fever.
Horatio looked up as his colleague and friend William Bush entered, brushing the snow from his greatcoat. He shivered.
"Its unearthly cold out there," said William, trying to rum some heat into his frozen hands. "You will have to get Maria to send me some of those gloves."
"I'llha-h'm, pass on the message," replied Horatio, uncomfortably.
William paced up and down his hands behind his back a frown on his face.
"Is there something the matter?"
"It's the weather, playing havoc with the men. It's just not right all this sitting around just waiting. We should be out there fighting the frogs. They're probably out there now laughing at us. We need to keep our skills sharp."
Horatio pondered this a moment, and then was suddenly struck by an idea.
"We can have war games."
"I do not think it's appropriate to waste the admiralties resources on a game."
"It wouldn't be the admiralties resources. We could split into two teams and each would defend their territory using snowballs."
"Frivolities-,"
"It would keep the men from getting cabin fever. If only we could persuade the captain."

***

"FIRE!"

The snow cannonballs slammed into the snow wall that protected the trench belonging to William's team. He soon returned the favour with a broadside of his own propelled by an ingenious contraption rigged up by Styles. The rough sailor had smiled when the lieutenant had questioned him as to where he had obtained the various materials. He suspected that they had been obtained without the owner's permission.

"RELOAD!"

"FIRE!"

Horatio grinned, ecstatic. His team had made good ground and were just ahead of William's group. They had drawn lots to decide who got who on each team. If any of the players got hit by any of the snowballs they were 'out'.

"Hazzar! That one hit soundly, men," he yelled, popping his head above the parapet. "Again!"

"You are going down," replied William, ordering another barrage.

In the distance William could see a blue box sitting in the snow. He almost smiled. That familiar form was always there as if it was following him around. Like a guardian angel it watched over him and kept him safe. There came a shout from the opposing team. Horatio had been hit and his team surrendered.

"Whose shot was that?"

William looked round no one claimed the hit.

"An extra tot of rum for the man who did-," he suggested hoping to elicit a reaction.

Style's stepped forward.

"I'm afraid in the melee we didn't see, sir. But as it must have been one of my inventions that launched the shot," he grinned, sticking out his stomach and pulling at his lapels. "I suggest I get the reward, sir."

"Damn, it man. Everyone on the winning team can have an extra tot of rum."

William strolled over to Horatio and shook his colleague's hand.

"You are a worthy opponent," he offered.

Horatio swallowed. His pride was a little bruised by his ignominious failure, but he couldn't begrudge his friend a victory.

"The best man won," replied Horatio.

***

In the distance watching was a stranger. He was dressed in fawn trousers, silver waistcoat and green velvet frock coat. The man seemed unaffected by the cold, even his breath did not mist in the cold like it should. He smiled, a twinkle in his eye.
"Good shot, Doctor," he said to himself. "Very good shot."

The End