Actions

Work Header

I Accept Their Verdict

Work Text:

They begged for his counsel.  We need you. Tell us how to save him. You are the only man who knows what really happened, and you also know the why.
He turned away because he couldn't look into their eyes, just as he couldn't look into the boy's eyes before when he cried out to him for help.
"No. Pronounce your verdict."
He knew what it would be.
Death. Hanging from the yard-arm.
It was his silence that condemned an innocent man. He could have lied. He could have saved him, yet he didn't.
For the truth was the unspeakable, and a war raged inside him.
His officers saluted and left. He caught Redburn's look before the lieutenant shut the man always saw him as his hero, his idol. And now...  He judges me. He despises me. He KNOWS.
When Vere was left alone, he managed not to collapse. He couldn't even move as if he turned into marble. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Pale as a ghost, looking more dead than the dead man lying on his cabin floor, the man who dragged him into this trap.  Did you know he would kill you? Was it your plan all along? To take him down with you? 
It would be easy to blame Claggart for everything and think of himself as the victim of the circumstances, but it would be a lie. This monster and him, the man of culture, had more in common than anyone would have thought.
You knew. You saw through me. You knew we shared the same... the...
The very thought made him fight for breath. He couldn't name it. No. It was taboo, he would not mention it, he would not tell the truth about Claggart's intentions because it was impossible. Things like that had no right to exist. They were best kept in the darkness, in the deepest corner of his mind.
He didn't save Billy because he was afraid. Afraid of himself. Afraid of the painful nights, of the dreams he had no power to control.  Everyone called him an angel , Vere was the first to do so. But in those dreams he desperately tried to ignore and forget about, he did not just worship the lad from afar as he did in daylight. In those dreams, he burned with a passion he had buried so deep he thought it nonexistant.  Where is the stoic now, where is the impeccable, cold gentleman?
Feverish, ashamed, broken, he fell on a chair, looking at the door of the small room where Billy awaited his verdict. You will die at dawn, and you will die in disgrace, but I envy you. You're too innocent to understand what you have done to us - what you have done to me...
He sighed and began to pray.  There are so many battles before us .  Have mercy on me, my Lord. Do not force me to live with this guilt.
How long had it been before he collected enough strength to stand up and face the lad? He couldn't tell.  Will he understand? Will he believe my lies, for I cannot tell him the truth? Can he ever forgive me?
Opening a door has never been more difficult.