Title: Forlorn Hope
Author: Eggbert(delurking with a sheepish grin)
Feedback: Please :) mbejane2000@y...

Summary: In the aftermath of the Peninsular War, Daniel Hagman finds
his peace only to have it destroyed at the Battle of Waterloo.

Pairing: Hagman/Harris.

Rating: PG-13 to R, depending on your sensibilities.

Spoilers: For both the book and the T.V. film, 'Sharpe's Waterloo.'

Disclaimer: Invented by Bernard Cornwell, these guys are not mine,
damnit. If they were, 'Waterloo' would have had a much happier
ending.

A/N: In the books, Harris doesn't exist. In the films, he doesn't
even have a first name. So he's Stephen. I have no idea why. Any
reticence on the part of the characters to display open interest can
easily be explained. In nineteenth century Britain homosexuality was
illegal. They didn't kill you for it, as they did in less enlightened
times, but the punishment wasn't exactly a day at the beach.
Secondly, homosexuality was and still is not allowed in the Armed
Forces. Any historical inaccuracies, on canon inaccuracies are
entirely mine.


Dedication: To Acassha with love. I knew I wasn't the only one who
saw these two as a strong possibility....




 

Forlorn Hope

 

by Eggbert


He was the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes every morning, a
tuft of red hair resting on whatever we had managed to snag as a
pillow the night before. And I was filled with a ridiculous sense of
happiness at the sight.

We were on our way through Belgium to join up with the Prince of
Orange's men. Bonaparte had escaped and the rumour was that he was
planning a last battle. We had never been ones to shirk a fight and
the prospect of re-joining the Army had made us both exhilarated and
sad.

Sad because this would probably be the last time I could ever hold
him in my arms like this, or love him the way he deserved to be
loved. We were soldiers. This was an aberration, something base and
disgusting, if you believed what was spouted in churches and by well-
meaning fools who had probably never known love in their lives.


He stirred and I found myself looking into a pair of green eyes,
still heavy with sleep.

" Morning, Dan. " he murmured and leaned in for my kiss. Far away
from prying eyes and ears I took him then and there under the
scratchy blankets, revelling in the feeling of his warm body under
me, the soft sounds of his pleasure igniting my own.

There was a stream nearby and he left me to bathe. Still gloriously
naked, he rejoined me as I boiled water for tea. I must have been
smiling for he cocked an inquisitive eyebrow at me.

" What's so funny? " he inquired, as he pulled his shirt over his
head and laced up his moleskin trousers.

" I were just thinking. " I said, as I poked the fire, " It were when
you was washing yourself in that bloody stream in France that got me
all worked up in the first place. Remember? "

A hint of pink stole into his pale cheeks and he laughed.

" Of course I do. " he replied. " I wasn't sure whether you wanted to
have me or run a mile. "

" I don't think there were any doubt about that at all. " I replied
gruffly.

We sat in companionable silence, sipping at the scalding brew; both
of us lost in our own thoughts.

The memory of that fateful day assailed me, making me smile....

It was the end of the Peninsular War, according to Major Sharpe
anyway. Soon we would be off home to England after a job well done.
Boney was off to Elba in exile and there was nothing else for us to
do. It was up to the nobs now. The lads got very pissed that night, I
recall, but not me. I was content to sit by the fire and pluck
fretfully at my violin. What future was there for me in England? I
was too old for any job and I had known little else but the Army for
many years. Here I was respected, a crack shot, a Chosen Man, one of
Sharpe's Finest. Back there I would be less than nothing, fit only
for the midden heap. A slender figure emerged from the gathering dusk
and plonked itself down beside me.

" Why aren't you out celebratin'? " I asked sourly. Stephen Harris
merely smiled at me. Being the oldest of the Chosen Men, I had always
had paternal feelings for them. Stephen especially who had never
known a father and was better educated than most of the officers.

" I missed you at the tavern. " he replied simply. " I came back to
see if you were all right. Besides, the lads are whoring well
tonight. I thought I'd leave them to it. "

Was it my imagination or did a faint expression of disgust pass over
his face?

" So, d'you mind if I read for a while? " he asked, putting on his
spectacles and removing a thick book from his pack.

" Nay. " I couldn't understand his fascination with the printed word.
After all, a poacher has no need for his letters, but I had covertly
studied him sometimes as he read, emotions flitting over his fine
features. And all that conjured from some words on a page.

" What's the book? " I asked. He smiled and my heart skipped. Just
once. I put it down to the roast horsemeat we had eaten.

" Homer's Odessy. " he replied. " It's the story of how Odysseus
returns home after a ten-year voyage to his faithful wife. He has a
few adventures along the way, mind you. "

" Would you..." I believe I blushed here and blamed it on the heat of
the fire. " Read me a bit? "

" Of course. " he said. I closed my eyes and listened to his
beautiful, cultured voice as he recounted parts of the epic tale.
Even though I couldn't understand most of it, I continued to listen
just to enjoy the timbre of his light tenor voice. It was more
beautiful than any choir, or the voice of any woman offering me her
wares. Lulled and strangely content I fell asleep.

The following morning I awoke to find the camp almost deserted.
Sargent Harper told me the lads had gone foraging, some had gone to
bathe and the others were on piquet duty. I was free to amuse myself
and, on balance and from the powerful odour of black powder and stale
sweat emanating from me, I decided that I should bathe.

The river ran nearby and was in its senile stage. Discreetly screened
by trees it would be perfect. Quickly I stripped off and plunged in,
gasping at the cold shock of the water, hastily scrubbing myself from
head to foot before climbing out again. Bloody freezing it was, but
the grime was gone from my body and I felt refreshed. I was trying to
untangle my long black hair and weighing the merits of taking my
bayonet to it when I heard a splash nearby. Curiously I peeked
through the screening trees, about to give whoever it was a genial
warning about the water temperature when I saw it was Stephen Harris
and the words died in my throat, only to be replaced by my heart.

His slender muscular body glistened with the river water and, as I
watched he bent forward and began to scrub himself with handfuls of
river sand. I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life, and
I realised my feelings weren't paternal at all. I wanted him. And the
ache in my groin only intensified the fact.

This was wrong. I had to get away but my sudden movement startled
him. With the speed and grace he was so noted for, he leapt from the
river to the place I was skulking in.

" Dan! " he exclaimed. " Training to be one of Nosey's spies? "

The tone was light but I noticed how his eyes wandered over my body
before fixing my gaze with his.

I was completely inarticulate. I had to get away before he noticed my
arousal, before his beautiful face became a mask of disgust and he
condemned me forever.

" Were you watching me? " he asked. I nodded. What would be the point
of denying it?

" Did you like what you saw? " he asked lightly. I couldn't answer.
He gave me a meaningful look before his gaze moved swiftly to my
groin.

" I see you did. " he said solemnly.

" I'm sorry..." I began. I had escape from the almost unbearable
tension. But he swiftly closed the gap between us until he was within
kissing distance.

" Don't be. " he breathed, and closed the gap. His mouth tasted cool
and fresh from the river water but his body was afire. I couldn't
help myself, I responded, spurred on by his obvious delight in what
was occurring, tangling my fingers in his fiery red hair, exploring
his mouth with my tongue, my hands mapping his body until it became
almost too much to bear.

I lowered him to the ground and that part of France, on a stark
riverbank, became a tiny piece of Paradise as I made love to him, and
when I climaxed inside his body I felt only a dark, flooding triumph.

So we became lovers, taking every opportunity to be with each other
and, instead of returning to England, we stayed in Europe, working
where we could, poaching when we couldn't and sleeping every night in
each others arms.

And now the idyll would end with the first cannon shot as we returned
to do what we did best.

" Promise me, after this is all over that we'll go home. " I said to
him as we continued our journey.

" Yes, why not? " he replied, a mischievous smile playing around his
lips. " You can be the gamekeeper and I can be a teacher. Or
something like that. No more Army, no more wars. Just time for you
and I, Dan. "

I felt blessed. Love had been a long time coming but, now that it
had, the future looked bathed in a golden glow. Stephen, my Stephen
would be with me until I drew my last breath.

Of that I could be sure.




The end.



 

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