|No rights infringement intended.
No infringement of the following characters and situations is intended.
Warning: Rated [MA] Mature Adults only. May contain strong sexual scenes, violence, coarse language, drug use, horror and adult themes.
Author: Calico Kat
Notes: Movie-verse. Set after the events of Sharpe's Battle.
After the hard victory at Alora, Richard Sharpe retook command of the South Essex with little relief, the days moving on as they ever did, filled with the drills and inspections of the routine days soldiers spent awaiting battle. The chosen men’s small encampment seemed quieter with the absence of their youngest member. Ramona’s presence was a relief to them all as she moved among them, taking care of their laundry and making their dinners, the picture of quiet determination.
In the afternoon, after news reached Sharpe’s ear that a great deal of brandy had been sold into the camp by traveling Spaniards, Harper inspected the men’s packs and confiscated the alcohol they’d accumulated, reminding them duly that Sharpe didn’t ask much of them but not to get drunk save with his permission. Sharpe, in turn, searched Harper’s belongings while he was gone, and confiscated his brandy, jerking his thumb towards it when Harper returned to camp to tell him to set the other bottles beside it.
“Seems a bloody waste, it does, sir,” Harper lamented, setting the sack of bottles he carried down beside his own. Sharpe smirked, shaking his head ruefully.“No help for it, Pat. The frogs are getting desperate. We could like as not be deployed in the morning.”
“Doesn’t mean we couldn’t use a little relaxation,” Harper replied, something pointed in his words that said ‘we’ and meant ‘you’, for sitting on his stool by the campfire, Sharpe looked like a man dealing with too many expectations on too little sleep.
“Aye, that we could,” Sharpe agreed ruefully, his smile grim as Harper sat down beside him to pour himself a glass of tea.
“Begging your pardon, sir,” Harper began, leaning forward to hang the pot above the fire.
“Requesting permission for Major Richard Sharpe to get himself soused… sir.” He seemed very concerned with something off towards the ground, existing only in his thoughts, and took a thoughtful sip of his tea.
“What?” Sharpe asked, his eyes, already on Harper, searching the Irishman’s face now, then snorting and looking away. “No. No, I can’t. Pat, I can’t. It’s dangerous, is what it is. Wellington won’t stand for it if he puts in the call and I’m hardly on my feet.”
“It’s wearing you down, sir. I can see it. Ramona can see it. Hagman and Harris can see it. Sooner or later then men’ll catch sight of it, and where will your authority go then? Take the night off, sir. You deserve it.”
Sharpe fell quiet, lost half in thought and half not wanting to think, drinking his tea slowly, and Harper didn’t press the matter. The logs popped and cracked and the sun began to set, and some twenty feet away Hagman began to sing. The sounds of men talking and laughing further away murmured from the distance, somewhere far off a horse neighed. Finally Sharpe sat his tin mug down and rose, pushing a hand back through his loose-cropped hair. He ran his tongue across his lips wettingly and crossed the campground to the burlap sack Harper had left at the edge of the campfire circle. He tugged the string that held it shut loose and reached in to dig out one amber-glassed bottle, and then another.
“No good drinking alone,” he said, returning to Harper’s side and thrusting one of the bottles into his free hand.
“Wouldn’t dare argue that,” Harper agreed with a smile, setting his tin cup down beside the fire as well. He happily began to work the cork out of the bottle, his smile widening at the satisfying thwp of the cork coming free.
They drank deeply and spoke on pointless things that could as easily as not be forgotten in the morning. They spoke neither of women nor the war. Sharpe made a valiant effort to match Harper drink for drink, but it was a fool’s aim to keep up with an Irishman at liquor, and sooner than he would ever admit he was drunk half to senseless while Harper picked up the failing threads of his attempts at conversation, nudging his words back on track.
“It’s long past sun down,” Harper observed at last, when their last thread of conversation trailed off into silence. He took Sharpe’s head nodding listlessly as distracted agreement. “Come on, sir, let’s get you to your bed,” he said, setting his rum down and pushing himself to his feet. He carefully took the bottle of brandy Sharpe was on from his hand, and Sharpe, looking woozy and tired, relinquished it without wanting for more.
Harper slipped one strong arm beneath Sharpe’s, supporting his body as he helped him to his feet, feeling comfortably warm from the alcohol in his blood, and being not half so intoxicated as the slimmer man slumped against him.
“Only a few steps to the tent, now,” he assured him, smiling. He could feel Sharpe’s fingers digging into his shoulder, and the Major moved towards him, his heated breath damp against his skin, and then his lips were pressing hot kisses against Harper’s dusty cheek, feverishly insistent, and then his drooping eyelids drifted open, and he looked towards the tent.
“Pat…” he breathed, his gaze dropping towards the ground as his eyes fell shut, and Harper, not smiling now, helped him forward, one step and then the next, and ducked him down and slipped inside the tent with him, strong enough to move unstaggared although Sharpe shifted almost all his weight upon him.
Harper helped the Major onto the bed, which Sharpe fell upon heavily, and turned over to drop himself as heavily, sitting down. He remained seated there in liquored thoughtlessness, his hair sticking to his sweat damp cheeks. Harper turned, and pulled the tent shut properly. He began to undress.
There was no need for slow seductions; Sharpe wasn’t in the mind to appreciate them. Harper stripped naked with military efficiency, the Major watched blearily, Harper’s form a shadow silhouetted by the dim orange glow of the fire beyond the closed flaps of the tent.
He was more aroused by the rough touches that came next than by his disconnected vision, Harper’s hands pushing his coat off his shoulders, tugging it free of his arms, his own fingers fumbling clumsily with the fastenings of his uniform, Harper’s, large and blunt, pushing them aside, undoing the clasps for him. Then he was kicking his boots off, Harper tugging, unfastening his pants and stripping off his shirt. His blood was pulsing hot in his ears and the rush of cool air over his suddenly bare skin felt like ice water. Everywhere the sound of fabric rustling, fabric falling, fabric being stripped away, and then he was on his back against the blanket of his bed, his head hitting the pillow, and Harper’s lips on his own, their kisses hungry and messy, Harper’s hands on his body, his lips on his body, his breath coming heavy now, the air thick with the stench of alcohol, sweat, and the rank scent of their own unwashed bodies. Sharpe struggles suddenly, twisting, Harper keeping him down with strong hands and the weight of his bigger body, until Sharpe’s sweat is Harper’s and Harper’s dirt is his and Sharpe’s given up, gasping in air and growing exhausted.
Little time for preparation, and little that Sharpe asked for, two large fingers probing the way, digging in a little, telling his body Hey, get ready. Hey, this is what you wanted, isn’t it? They felt sort of pleasant in a way that made his cock jump a little, made it say I remember this! until pleasure throbbed through it with his pulse.
And then the fingers were gone, and then there was pain, but not so much pain, not like a bullet going into his leg, or a sword into his skin. Not something boring a way through him where it shouldn’t, but fitting up right where it should. It was only nights like these that let him give up the fight, let him be bested and overwhelmed without suffering for the desertion of control.
Sharpe was breathing out “Pat” between ragged breaths, his cracked, blunt fingernails digging into the bare skin of Harper’s back. He ground his heel into his side at an awkward angle, grasping to him as if he could bring himself any closer, drive his lust any deeper. Harper kissed at his jaw and his neck, his big body rocking steadily, unswayed by the Englishman’s fervency. And Sharpe continued to whisper “Pat, Pat…” in a thoughtless blur of alcohol and skin.
Sharpe lay with his head on his pillow atop of his blankets, his body aching from strange strains, his blood hot from alcohol, his skin hot from sex. Sharpe, exhausted and reeling, and Harper, gentle now, soothing the tension from him with hands and lips until the shadows above spun into a blur and reason was flushed from him in a wave of release.
Harper climbed his lean body, licking his lips, and offered a smile as he lowered himself to stretch out beside him.
“You should go to Ramona,” Sharpe whispered, his voice husky, sounding distant to his own ears. He closed his eyes and listened to the rise and fall of his own breath, feeling sluggish, drunk, and satisfied.
“I will,” Harper promised, laying an arm over Sharpe’s chest anyway, studying the contours of his dozing face in the deep shadow. There now, his body said, it’s safe here. You’re safe here, and you can relax, and Sharpe listened, and did, and let thoughts leave him for a little while, in a place where he was neither responsible for the lives of any number of men nor for the fate of any nations, where someone else shouldered the burden of vigilance, and that body was warm and protective beside him. It was a solace he could not find in the arms of any woman, for a woman curled naked at his side, the weight of a soft breast resting against his chest, slender fingers soothingly stroking his stomach, was another body to whose defense he would eventually have to rise, as calming as her presence might be and as sweet and thought-stealing the slick warmth within her.
Harper knew, and understood, and said nothing, but was there in his bed beside him in the end. Ramona knew, and welcomed Harper back to her bed whenever he returned smelling of Sharpe and sex and alcohol, and kept her complaints to the fact that he would not marry her and make her an honest woman and not what he did out of necessity for a friend who would always be closer to him in ways she knew better than to mind. It was one thing, the love of a man and a woman, and another the bond forged between two men in battle and hardship—all that she asked, silently, with dark eyes, was that it was her he came home to at the end of the night, and so, always, he did.
When the Major’s thoughtless lull began to drift into sleep, Harper helped him beneath the covers, and tucked him in fondly, and carefully, for his skin was damp with sweat and his smaller body the more easily chilled. He dressed himself, then, tugging on clothes that stuck against the sweat on his own skin, and slipped out of the tent into the night, where the campfire was dying to embers, popping its last sparks into the cool night air.
He makes his way towards the tent where Ramona and the baby are sleeping. Hagman has already gone to bed, Harris is stoking his fire up to try and finish the last pages of some book he has found. Harris knows, as Hagman does, as Ramona does, also, he shares a smile with Harper that says It was about time, and Harper smiles tiredly in return, He’s too stubborn to know what’s good for him. Harris’ smile tips towards a grin, he snorts and returns to his book, and wonders how long it will be until Sharpe finds himself a woman again and they’ve slightly less brooding to put up with from him. Harper ducks beneath the flap of his own tent, Ramona is asleep on her side, their child in her arms. Harper undresses a second time, and climbs under the covers to lie at Ramona’s back, still in his undergarments. Her scent and the shape of her body is familiar, and he knows that he loves her. It has never come into conflict that he cares for Sharpe in a different way, and if that is love, too, he is thankful she does not grudge it of him.