The war between France and Britain is one of great interest, to the former colonies, as removed as they are from most of the action. Alexander can’t really bring himself to give a shit about it, beyond worrying about Lafayette and his family, but he does keep an eye on the papers and what they say about it.
He and John and Eliza and John’s dragon Eleutheria keep an eye on Georges, too. Kid’s missing his family something fierce, and Alexander can’t do shit for him, because hell, he’s the one who argued for neutrality. He can still hear Jefferson in the back of his head, spitting, did you forget Lafayette?
How could he forget? But their nation, so young and so full of conflict, can’t survive wading into another war so soon after the last one, not even with the surplus of dragons that they have. How could Jefferson fail to see that? Then again, it’s Jefferson, guy’s a dick.
So Alexander keeps an eye on the news overseas, writes letters upon letters and keeps on working.
In France, they crown Napoleon Emperor.
Scandals pass. Silence passes. Even the time Alexander spends on bedrest after what Angelica calls “the stupidest fucking duel” passes, and eventually he can stand again with the help of a cane.
Across the Atlantic, the war goes on. Georges takes off for France once more, and they still exchange letters—John still has duties in Paris to attend to, and he and Eleutheria fly back and forth often. Once, John even comes back with a story to tell.
“So did you know,” says John, after coming back to the Grange and getting nearly bowled over by Alexander’s troop of children, “the British tried to infect the French dragons with a plague?”
“What,” says Alexander.
“What,” says Eliza, just as outraged and even more worried. “Eleutheria, how is he—”
John waves a hand, and pets his dragon’s head. Eleutheria lets out a snort and shifts a little, mumbling something about sheep. “He’s fine,” says John. “A British aviator by the name of Laurence came to France with the cure, before the plague could truly take root in him. Little shit wanted to stay, though—he got addicted to the chocolates.”
“Of course he did,” says Eliza, patting the dragon’s flank as well as Alexander sits down in the grass outside the Grange. They’ve put up a small pavilion, here, large enough for Eleutheria’s desires, made slightly less large by the sheer amount of treasure he’s happily accumulated over the years and Alexander’s quills. “I’m glad you’re both well, anyway.”
“Laurence,” says Alexander, musing. “Hey—the guy from, what was it, Dover? Did you get to talk with him about that, I figured you’d have liked the opportunity.”
“You know, thing is,” says John, “I tried to talk to him? But the moment I had some free time he and his dragon were haring off back to England.”
Alexander stares at him. “You’re fucking kidding me,” he says.
John is not fucking kidding. There’s an item about Capt. William Laurence’s treason in the newspaper after that. Poor sucker, Alexander supposes, but then what was he expecting? The guy’d committed treason, after all, and as a revolutionary and thus technically a traitor to the British crown, Alexander knows damn well what the punishment for treason is.
He doesn’t expect to hear anything more about Will Laurence for a good long time. “A damn shame,” he says to Eliza, “I’d have liked to shake his hand.”
Napoleon’s reign ends, and he’s exiled to St. Helena. Alexander sends a letter inviting Lafayette and his family to the Grange, for some rest and respite, and presses it into John’s hand.
“You realize I’m not actually your courier, Hammie?” says John, dryly.
“What, you don’t like my methods of payment?” says Alexander, winking.
Eliza rolls her eyes at him, and presses her own letter into John’s hand. “Stay safe, John,” she says, pressing a kiss to his cheek.
“Where’s my kiss, huh?” says Eleutheria, his head coming up. Eliza laughs and pecks a maternal kiss onto the top of the dragon’s scaly head, and Alexander can’t resist a small laugh, either, leaning on his cane. “Try not to get into any more duels, Alexander, while we’re away. Who else would John try to—”
“That’s enough, Eleutheria,” says John, blushing scarlet.
“I’m just saying,” says Eleutheria.
John comes back.
He says, utterly deadpan, “So guess who was visiting when I dropped by Lafayette’s new place?”
“Oh god, was it Jefferson?” says Alexander. “I’ll punch him in the dick.”
“Don’t punch Jefferson in the dick, Alex,” says Eliza, sewing up Lizzie’s torn dress. Little Lizzie’s taking an interest in becoming an aviator now, and Alexander’s just waiting on the day she decides to follow in her Uncle John’s footsteps and steal a dragon egg for herself. He regrets the day they told their kids about that. “You have a cane, and you have a habit of swinging it when you walk.”
“If it was Jefferson he’d already be walking funny,” says John. “No, Lafayette was entertaining this big, black Chinese Celestial, and they were talking about abolition and the economy in the wake of Bonaparte’s fall.” He coughs. “And, uh.”
“Uh, what?” says Alexander.
“I may have mentioned your name,” says John. “Lafayette may have encouraged him and his captain to come visit. We may be expecting a twenty-ton dragon and his captain showing up within a fortnight.”
There’s a moment’s silence, during which Alexander mentally calculates the cost of feeding and housing a twenty-ton dragon and his no doubt stuffy as hell captain. Unless the captain should insist instead on using one of the rental pavilions that have been erected some time in the past few years, but then that leaves feeding, and do they even have room for a Chinese Celestial? Oh, god, what about the crew? Oh, shit, the crew.
“How many men will there be?” says Eliza. “Did the captain deign to mention?”
“Maybe like, two or three at most,” says John. “That’s what the dragon said, anyway. I’m to understand they made him a member of Parliament, and he’s resigned his service from the Corps.”
“Oh my god,” says Alexander, marveling. “It’s a fucking miracle. British Parliament actually made an inch of progress.”
“What’s his name?” says Eliza.
“Temeraire, I think,” says John. “Weird name, for a British dragon.”
The dragon, thankfully, does not squash the little garden Alexander’s cultivated in the backyard.
“Holy shit it’s a Celestial,” little Philip cheers, racing out of the house. Alexander grabs hold of his collar before he can get squashed in his lack of caution, and makes a mental note to rein himself in so his kids don’t pick up swear words from him.
The older Philip, home from college, follows behind, squinting up at the dragon. “The hell?” he says.
“Oh!” says the dragon. His voice is deep and sonorous, nothing like Eleutheria’s higher register, or the merchant dragons that sometimes come by. “This is the Hamilton Grange, is it not?”
“Yes, it is,” says Alexander, recovering quite admirably, handing off the younger Philip to the older Philip and shooing them off into the house. “I am Alexander Hamilton. You must be Temeraire—my friend Laurens has spoken of you admirably. I will go fetch him out, if you like, only he may be engaged with Eleutheria right now.”
“Oh, the other Laurens,” says Temeraire. He sounds a little peeved by John’s existence.
“What,” says Alexander, caught off-guard as Temeraire’s captain descends, offended on John’s behalf. “I—had not realized Laurens had any relatives in England.”
“He does not,” says the captain before Alexander can go any further, a man with windswept hair the color of gold, skin somewhat tanned from time in the sun. “My name is William Laurence, Mr. Hamilton.”
“You’re sleeping on the couch,” hisses Alexander to John. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You’re the one who wanted to shake his hand,” says John, cheerful. “Plus, I thought the part where I mentioned the Celestial was a clue.” He does not sound sorry about omitting just who the captain was.
“You told him?” says Alexander, turning to Eliza, who’s dragged them both aside so she can prepare dinner.
“Yes,” says Eliza, cheerfully. “Lizzie, help me with the plates!”
Alexander’s house is full of traitors.