Safe and sound and home again.
The bed was not familiar. Comfortable, yes. But not familiar.
Something was itching at the back of his mind, wishing to be let out, to explain what he was doing here.
Laurence cautiously sat up, that was his name yes, at least he knew that. William Laurence, First Lieutenant, no wasn’t he Captain now? That seemed more right, Captain of HMS Reliant. He let out a pleased huff, he may not have been sure where he was exactly, but he at least knew who he was.
Where he was though was certainly not on the Reliant.
Nor, in fact, on any ship at all.
The room seemed lavish in its decorations. It certainly contained more wealth than the typical drab wards assigned to even officers when injury forced them ashore. The most likely reason for his current situation, Laurence thought.
Glancing around the room a small writing desk caught his eye, on top he could make out a neat pile of letters. Correspondence. Something that ought to be able to explain what was happening and why he had somehow fallen asleep in his cabin aboard the Reliant and woken ashore... here.
Just as he began to shift his weight to the side of the bed, a soft noise drew his attention to the other side. A man with dark eyes and complexion looked up at him. Laurence could see that his shoulders were bare, though the sheets hid anything more from view.
Laurence quickly looked away, focussing his gaze across the room. The panic he had unknowingly suppressed bubbling to the top. What was going on? What had he managed to forget? Who was this person? Where was he? Why…? What-? How?
“Who are you?!” Part of him was mortified by the rudeness of the question, the rest was burning too bright for the answer of what was happening.
“Will…” The man sounded distraught, and entirely too familiar to consider the situation proper by any means. “Laurence. What year is it?” The change in tone caught him off guard, the man’s voice had completely shuttered, devoid of any emotion. Laurence turned to look at him, confused.
“Have you thought that I have taken leave of my senses?” The accusation rung hollow even to his ears.
“Just answer the question, please.” Although his tone was for the most part flat, it was as if more could be inferred behind it, if only he knew the man.
“1802. Now who are you? Please…”
“Tenzing Tharkay, a… friend.”
“Tenzing,” The name was familiar in the same way the face in front of him now was. “Tenzing, how could I…?” ‘Forget you’ hung in the air between them, unsaid but clear to both their ears.
“It’s not your fault Will, I am just grateful that you have remembered so quickly this time.”
“Yes, it is a relief…” Still, things itched at the back of his mind, wanting to be remembered.
Let the waters roar, Jack.
Debris filled the water around him. Every moment he found a new piece as it cut into his skin and bruised his flesh. Something hit him from behind and the breath he had so desperately been holding onto escaped his lips. The bubbles dispersed in every direction giving him no more knowledge of which way was up.
Laurence struggled to keep himself in one orientation. The water taking him one way then another
The roar in his ears seemed to fade.
It seemed more deafening than ever.
Everything else around him was fading.
His chest burned.
A sharp pain spread across the back of his skull.
Since we sailed from Plymouth Sound,
“I have to admit Tom, I have somewhat lost my bearing. Quite how far do you put us off land?”
“Half a day’s flight at most, less if you were to hurry.” Laurence frowned and turned to question the strange gauge of distance. He almost managed to conceal his shock at the colour of Riley’s coat. There was no hiding the shock at the sight of the heavyweight dragon led on the deck behind him, however.
“I must admit, Tom, that I seem to have lost somewhat more than just my bearing.”
“Sir, would you like to take a seat?”
“No, I am perfectly-” Laurence was about to finish the objection that it was not necessary when he noticed that he seemed to be listing alarmingly to the side. “Maybe I will take that seat.”
“Begging your pardon, sir?”
“I said I will take that seat.”
“Oh, for goodness-” Laurence went to perch on the coil of rope to his immediate right only to find himself already sat on a chair instead. His view was not of the sea and sky but instead of the wooden inside of the ship. The multitude of bottle green coats surrounding him did little to alleviate his confusion.
Neither did the pitying looks directed at him.
Four years gone, or nigh, Jack.
“That he has lived for so long at all is a miracle.”
“But there must be something else you can do to help him.” The dragon’s pleading was obviously meant to be hushed but the words still reached Laurence as clear as day. Temeraire, Laurence recalled, the name bringing with it faded feelings of black hide beneath him and the wind around him.
“I am sorry, but with the way it is progressing, I would not give him longer than four years at a push, and most of those he will not be coherent.”
A low keening sound filled the air and Laurence heard another voice talk to the dragon, comforting him. Why a dragon would be in need of comfort was beyond Laurence, unless, he supposed, his captain was lost.
Maybe that was why Laurence was here. Maybe he knew something of the captain, only he didn’t recall having seen the dragon before.
Laurence closed his eyes, shutting the world out.
What was that noise again?
Was there ever chummies, now,
“Tenzing.” The name on his lips was familiar in a way the face before him was not.
Such as you and I, Jack?
“My dear, how could I ever forget you?”
“But you just have Laurence, and a dozen times before that.” The hurt was evident in Temeraire’s voice, “I begin to think that you might not want to ever remember me.” He muttered.
“Temeraire, I would never willingly give up my memories of you, not for the world. It pains me to see you distressed so. I must make my sincerest apologies for my apparent lapse in memory.”
“Oh, but you mustn’t blame yourself. I’m sure you did not mean to get that knock on your head.”
“And you must not blame yourself for my own forgetfulness,” Laurence rested a hand on Temeraire’s nose for a moment before continuing, “In any case, would you have me read for you?”
“Of course Laurence, could we have dear Principia again?”
“Of course, my dear. If there is one thing I am sure to remember, it would be that book, with the amount of times we have read it.” Laurence said with a small smile. “Just let me send off for it.”
“But is that not it under your arm?” The book in question looked rather battered and worn when Laurence pulled it out from were it was tucked. However, on the front the title was still clear.
“Ah yes, so it is. Well shall we begin?” Temeraire shifted his foreleg and Laurence climbed up to settle himself into the crook of his elbow. The book in front of him looked well read, the pages thumbed through many times, the Latin familiar off his tongue, the contents wholly new to his mind.
Long we've tossed on the rolling main,
“Someone get a hold of him!”
“Laurence? Laurence are you quite alright?”
“Just focus on flying Temeraire, we’ve got him.”
“Are you quite sure you have?”
“Yes, I am- Shit. Laurence?! Will? Will! Temeraire, get us down to ground now!”
“Get us down! Where’s that fucking doctor? Quick, go fetch Worthing.”
“C’mon you bastard, breath, please…”
Now we're safe ashore, Jack.
There was something white.
It was not consistent.
Parts lit up bright, blinding, against the blue behind then faded back, dull, subdued again.
There was noise as well. Voices coming from above, from all around. Other noises as well, a fluttering as if a flag were blowing in the wind.
The flag was still fluttering above as other figures came into view, ones in green and ones in red and blue.
The ones in green were moving slowly, carefully. The others were not.
There was a steady ringing in his ears, under that there was the rise and fall of another sound coming from the figures.
Words ebbed and flowed, seemingly without meaning or direction.
One of the voices seemed to filter through the rest.
“…please don’t shoot…”
Don't forget yer old shipmate,
“Admiral John Granby of Iskierka.” The man in front of him looked to be in his late 60s, too old to still be serving, retired then Laurence supposed. “Used to be your first mate in the war, back before I got my Iskierka.” That did not sound right. Even factoring the time it would have taken him to reach Admiral, Granby still seemed too old to have served under Laurence, especially in combat.
“My apologies but I seem to have misheard-”
“You didn’t.” Laurence was taken aback by the curt response. Granby looked resigned. Laurence just about managed to catch what he muttered to himself, “-wish Tharkay was still with us, he was always the better one at-” Granby glanced up and caught Laurence’s eye. “We might as well get it done with.” This still seemed to be mostly spoken to himself as Granby searched the desk in front of him.
Finally, he held out something for Laurence to take. Laurence accepted before examining it closer. A portrait of an old gentleman stared back at him. It took him a moment to realise that the portrait was moving. Laurence frowned down at it as the older man frowned back.
The shattering of glass filled the air.
Faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!