Author: Classics_Lover classics_lover
Pairing/Characters: Gillington with Groves on the side(lines). Naval love.
Word Count: 895
Rating: 12A, PG, Nothing naughty going on here at all.
Genre: Oh, I'd say this is Angst. A bit of Romance. Is *awwwww* a genre?
Summary: Theo and Andrew get James to open up about his worries. *awwww* ensues.
Disclaimer: They are Not Mine, and Not Stolen. Borrowed, savvy?
Spoilers: This fic assumes DMC never happened.
Warnings: You're gonna need hankies.
Notes: The Prompt is Stolen. The Powers of Wicklow are real, it was they who built Powerscourt House and Gardens. Feedback would be treasured.
Special Thanks: I don't use a beta, so all mistakes herein are mine. Dedicated to hms_dauntless for being generally wonderful.
“I’m worried about James,” said Andrew Gillette to his friend over their morning coffee.
“Why is that Andrew? Keeping him up too late at night, are you?” Theodore Groves asked, deadpan.
“He’s gone quiet,” Andrew said simply.
Theo raised his eyebrows in disbelief.
“Andrew, James is the most reticent man in the Navy. How can you say he’s “gone quiet” all of a sudden?”
“He has, though. He used to talk to me, but now… I don’t understand it, Theo. He hasn’t been the same since the last lot of letters from England arrived.”
Theo could see that Andrew was genuinely worried. And that worried him, because Andrew was not the sort of man to get unduly concerned about, well, anything, really.
“Well then, Andrew, we’ll just have to force whatever it is that’s got him all quiet out of him, even if it takes all the alcohol in the Indies. That’s all.”
“’That’s all’ he says. As if a few drinks would loosen his tongue. You know he really believes that Loose Lips Sink Ships claptrap, don’t you?”
“Then we’ll just have to be sneaky,” said Theo calmly.
Late that same night, at a time when the only wakeful occupants of the Fort were the Night Watch, the prisoners in the gaol (and not all of those were awake), and the men whose dedication to His Britannic Majesty outweighed their common-sense.
There was more of that latter category than any civilian would suspect in Fort Charles. And those men took their cue from their leader, one Commodore James Norrington.
Of course, because he sequestered himself in his office, nobody realised that he was not, in fact, working, but staring off into the middle distance, thinking deeply on something. Or, perhaps, on nothing, it was hard to tell the difference.
James was thinking so deeply that night that he did not even notice when Andrew Gillette and Theodore Groves entered the study and sat down opposite him. Until his ears picked up one important word in their speech.
“What, exactly, was stolen, gentlemen?”
“Oh, good, we have his attention. If you must know, Commodore our peace of mind was stolen. By you these last days,” said Theo.
“James, have you lost trust in us? In me? Why do you not speak of what occupies your mind?”
Andrew’s concern and the determination in his expression thereof startled all three men. None of them had realised the scale and depth of Andrew’s care for his lover and friend.
“I …” James was taken completely aback and unable to speak.
He thrust a letter at Andrew, from the top of a pile that seemed never to shrink. Clearly this letter was of utmost priority to James. Andrew scanned it quickly, fearing the Worst. Had their illicit affair been discovered by someone other than Theo? Had one of them been transferred? Then, realising the letter was not an official missive from the Admiralty he wondered: had somebody died?
“James, I don’t understand. Your brother and sister-in-law have had twins. Surely this is good news? All three are healthy aren’t they?”
Theo looked just as baffled as Andrew. He offered to leave, but James shook his head. It didn’t matter if Theo overheard this conversation; he’d wheedle it out of them at a later point anyway.
“Andrew … My family has two other sons to carry on the family name, which task, as you can see from the letter, they are performing well. But you, you have no other brothers to provide heirs. And I wondered if … perhaps you would at some point wish to do so. I do not want you to wake up, years from now, and resent me for stealing your chance to continue the Gillette line.”
James spoke carefully and clearly, for all that his chin was tucked against his chest as he stared at his lap, unable to meet Andrew’s gaze. He did not want to see the truth of his calculation in Andrew’s eyes, for he felt it would surely be there.
For once in his life, Theo Groves was struck dumb; the sheer awkwardness of being privy to the conversation interfered with his characteristic cheerful buoyancy. He cleared his throat and kept his eyes trained on the floor.
Andrew Gillette, too, was silent. He had not expected this kind of conversation to take place. Or, at least, he had not expected it to come at this juncture in time. Perhaps a few years down the road, when he made Post-Captain, or when James made Admiral and was sent away from the Caribbean, but not now.
“Think on what I have said, Andrew. I happen to know for a fact that the Powers of Wicklow are looking for a handsome young Naval officer for their second daughter. You could do worse than that, you know,” said James, voice cracking slightly.
“I have already done better than that, by far, James,” said Andrew softly. “And for all that my ability to provide heirs to the Gillette name is somewhat hampered by your inability to have children, I would not change a thing of my life. You have stolen my heart, and I am happy to leave it in your custody.”
James looked up for the first time since the conversation began. Seeing the truth of Andrew’s words in the younger man’s face, he smiled.