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Comfort

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Horatio Hornblower
The Adventure Continues:
Retribution!
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Comfort:
to bring somebody relief from distress or anxiety.

~

The guard had shouted Archie awake and gave order for him to dress. By the time he managed the last button on his dark blue frock, there was a slight tremble to his hands, which he fisted at his sides as he was lead from his cell. He hadn't used this much energy since he was shot on the Renown and found a place to sit and perhaps die before Horatio came upon him.

He was being led away to the rope. But surely they would not have wanted him dressed in his Naval Lieutenants Uniform, they would not want to soil Her Majesty's reputation. It was far from politic. But surely if he were free, Horatio would have been in company…

Confusion and anxiety sickened Archie's stomach as he lengthened his stride to try and keep up with the leading guard, pulling at his abdominal wound. But he refused to let that or the pain show across his reserved officer's face.

Archie fought valiantly for his natural want to know and question. Sometimes silence is the best option, Horatio reminded him. He was needy of the answers—Was he to his death, his freedom, or continued imprisonment?

And just as suddenly as he'd been freed and marching in the dank passageway, he was blinking into the bright, hot glare of the Jamaican sun; the first he'd seen since they made port at Kingston—though he was not bombarded instantly by baying cries of a gathered crowd or struck with lobbed with rotting food to the noose's rig.

He was alone, left stranded at the top of the court steps. He was... released? That meant that the court martial was over with, they found their scapegoat. But if not himself, then...

Archie spotted two men dressed in uniform, heads of black curly hair, backs turned at the bottom of the stair. And he easily and instantly picked out Horatio's slighter frame between the pair. Desperate relief propelled him forward.

His legs were already in motion, jumping down the stair, "Horatio!"

The man turned at the sound of his name and was instantly met with an armful of his Mate. "Archie," he sighed in pleased relief, arms encircling the trembling Beta.

"What happened? No one would tell me anything! I thought--" he chocked on the words as tears of happiness flooded his blue eyes.

"Careful," Horatio murmured into his ear as he petted his hair. "I need you healthy for when we set sail soon."

A long moment passed, in which Archie had no care, not for the scene that the two embracing officers illustrated or anything else that extended from the embrace of his Mate, until the Alpha's words finally sunk into his conscious.

Archie quickly palmed dry his tear damp, pale cheeks before he separated from Horatio with the least possible space while also looking like he wasn't trying to sink into the man. He caught an award shift of dark blue from the corner of his eye and remembered Bush's presence.

Archie cleared his throat, straightening. "You are looking well, Mr Bush."

Bush inclined his head in turn. "And you seem in much better health to when I last saw you, Mr Kennedy."

And Archie turned his attention right back onto Horatio. "What do you mean, sail? What happened at the court? We are freed? Just last night you told me--"

"Mr Hobbs--"

"Hobbs?" Archie was utterly taken aback. "They arrested Hobbs?"

Both men shook their heads. "It was Mr Hobbs' testimony to the board that granted our release." Horatio stated.

Archie made a wordless sound; now he was utterly taken aback. "Hobbs saved us? Are you sure we are thinking of the same man, Horatio?" he was dubious on the matter. "Because the Hobbs I'm thinking of would be shouting all our names and ‘bloody, black mutiny’ from the battlements."

"A lot has changed while you were out of commission, Archie, with captain Sawyer and Mr Wellard's deaths." Horatio explained, sharing a look with Bush.

"You seemed to have missed all of the... excitement, Mr Kennedy." Bush agreed.

"Perhaps next time I shall endeavour to get bayoneted instead of shot." Archie replied dryly but with a friendly undertone.

"Neither would be appreciated." Horatio commanded firmly, taking both men into his gaze. Both Lieutenants shared looks of agreement.

"So, who…?" Archie wondered.

"Mr Buckland." Horatio said.

"Mr Buckland has been dismissed and charged," Bush said.

"Buckland…" Archie murmured, giving himself a moment of satisfaction with the announcement. He inhaled deeply. Archie looked to his Alpha, feeling a twitter of excitement in his chest. "So what was this that you were saying about sailing soon?"

Horatio allowed a smile to brighten his brown eyes. "Captain Pellew approached me with written orders, I'm to captain one of the frigates that we captured, renamed Retribution."

Archie gazed at his Mate, "Rank suits you, Mr Hornblower." He smoothed a hand over the Alpha's jacket lapel.

Horatio could not help but enjoy the Beta's touch. "Mr Bush is my 1st Lieutenant and you are--"

"Your second," Archie grinned. "Did I not declare this very situation?" he laughed happily, light-hearted for the first time in what felt like a long time. Horatio was getting what he deserved and Archie got to be by his side for it.

- Comfort Series END -

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Horatio Hornblower
The Adventure Continues!
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