Title Richard Sharpe and the Prettymen
Crosspost to sharpe_thinking
Category FPF/S Pairing: Richard Sharpe, Frank Hopkins from Hidalgo, Plus The Chosen Men, James Purefoy, Gerard Butler, Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniel Craig and others.
Rating NC 17 Touch of bondage later.
Chapters 20. completed.
Disclaimer. This is all imagination. It has nothing whatsoever to do with poor Mr Cornwell and his books, I have only borrowed his lovely men in green. The other gentlemen's names are just to toy with with no malice aforethought. I hope no-one will be offended, and no-one will ever make money from it!
All mistakes are mine. Absolutely!
Richard Sharpe was cursing his highest officer in the rudest words he could find. He was trudging through almost ankle-deep wet mud, the flapping sole on his boot really starting to come apart as Harris's temporary mend of fish-glue still smelt and didn't stick now. Why does Nosey have to have his tent at THAT end of the camp and stick me and me Chosen at this end, the wet end, where all the water seemed to run. Bloody Officers, bloody spoilt lot... and he carried on, muttering and cursing solidly until he slipped and skidded his way up to the top of the hill, in the still pouring rain.
Outside the big tent, he sheltered as best he could under the edge of the awning, trying to wipe the rain from his hair and eyes. It was running down his neck, and soaking his uniform. Someone was coming out of the tent, so he stood beside the entrance. As he squinted through the rain, the tall hat of the outcoming Dragoon hit the awning, lifted the sagging waterlogged canvas, and tipped the gathered bucketful of rain straight down on to Richard (Probationary, cursing, fuming, and bloody mad) Major Sharpe. He leapt back, spluttering, splashing, letting out an involuntary "SHEEEIIITE" as the ice-cold deluge really finished off his soaking.
"Is that Sharpe I hear out there?" the voice of Nosey, Lord Wellington called.
Richard stamped his feet trying to shake the worst of the water off "Sir! Yes, it's Sharpe. Sir!"
Hogan's trumpeting sneeze preceded, "Well, ye'd better be comin' in then, you dozy dorkin-lad."
Richard (fed up) Sharpe saluted, his sleeve spraying droplets in the direct of Hogan's snuff box, Wet snuff doesn't get sniffed up noses and make really filthy great sneezes all over everything. It smears on your nose and makes yer look bluddy daft! He hoped the drops had travelled sufficiently far.
"Take a seat, Sharpe. you look a bit damp. Not going to take cold, I trust, as we have a little job for you? At least, it will take you to somewhere a little less inclement and somewhat warmer." A small difficult smile reached for Nosey's eyes. "Don't look so alarmed, my lad, it's not trekking into hills looking for red-booted Russians again."
Richard stared at Nosey's black eyes, and wished he could go looking for red-booted naked Russians again. Them drawings that were painted all over the hard muscled chest...
"Did you want to find him again, eh? Sharpe, I said, DID you want to go looking for your Russ... oh, you are with us. Good." Lord Wellington trimmed the small smile from his lips. "I am sending you to Lisbon. In Portugal. You do know where that is? It's on the coast, and is a big city, with inns and whorehouses which should please you, and some of your men. It also has a Port, for ships. Sharpe! Will you pay attention please? Stop looking like a drowned rat!"
Richard Sharpe straightened his back, and tried to wring some water from his jacket. Then he glared back at Nosey. The damned wet was all round places he liked to stay warm, dry and airy. He surreptitiously pushed the water with his extended hand from both thighs down to his knees, his thumb and wide-spread fingers firmly stretching across his hard-muscled upper legs, raising ripples in the green serge.
The Duke of Wellington's eyes followed the movements as if hypnotised, the scrape, push, ripple... "Ah, yes, the Port, where there are... ahem... er.. ships. Yes. Ah, Hogan, if you will..." and his eyes continued to watch the sliding and smoothing of his junior officer's large, firm long-fingered hands that could ... err...
"There's a ship that'll be coming from the grand city of London, and Their Lordships - or rather, Your Lordships, Sharpe, me boy, are sending you to pickup a rather smart pretty uniform we hope we can use."
Sharpe switched his eyes from the black ones of Nosey to the innocently blue ones of Hogan (Major Confirmed) that twinkled above the snuff-stained moustache.
"Me, Sir, a pretty uniform, Sir, a 'pretty' uniform?" Richards mouth staggered over the words. Me, in a pretty uniform, wot in hell is he blethering on about now? Tis daft!
"Yes, Sharpe, very pretty, lots of epaulettes and feathers... you'll do well to tidy yourself up a bit before you meet him." Richard's heart sank even further. Oh god, a pretty uniform filled with a pretty head and oh, shite, I have to smarten meself up... oh, Pissenshit. I hate these jobs!
"His name is Lt. Colonel Winstanley, The Viscount Blakeney, Royal Hussars, and his three adjutants. Captain Craig, Daniel, Captain Butler, G. and another Major, also Probationary, by the unlikely name of Gyllenhaal. Jacob. I gather the latter is from the American north, one of the dissenting States I believe. You will take your Chosen Men, all smartened up. Please, young Richard, 'smart' as in 'immaculate,' and you will attend a Dress Parade before leaving." Hogan heaved another huge sigh, hesitated, then let the air out again. No sneeze, Richard grinned. Then ducked as a sudden unexpected roar nearly blew the papers sideways off the table.
"The reason," said an ice-cold voice above thin fingers collecting and tidying blown papers, "for this escort duty, is the importance of this Winstanley person. He is apparently of the highest intelligence, and is to be considered an asset in the formulation of strategy on and off the battlefield. He is unmarried, seemingly unattached, and is, I understand, teetotal. I may be misinformed on these facts, but as far as I can ascertain, they are approximately correct. So please, also take care with your comportment, Sharpe, and that of your men. Choose your most sober and least disreputable to accompany you. The mounts," Richard's ears perked up, Mounts... he means hosses and I hates hosses. SODDit. "The mounts will be supplied to you by the cavalry and they will send two grooms with you. One, I gather is a master with horses, and can solve almost any problem that may occur in relation to the animals."
Richard Sharpe just wanted out of this. OUT. NOW! A bloody ride all the way to the coast, to pick up a pretty - a sodding PRETTY boy, to fetch offa bote. And his minders, all very 'pretty' too, no doubt, and bring 'em back here, from a city. A City, full of life, and beer and wimmin and whores and card-games and whoring and drinking and bedding wimmin, and... And the bastard... Giving me a sodding teetotaller - a non-drinking, probably non-whoring-non-breathing nasty little worm of a... Richard Sharpe's heart fell right to the bottom of his soaking, squelching, once-scarlet boots.
"When, Sir, when have I to do this?" Hopefully when he was 82 and nearly dead...?
"The ship docks in three weeks I shall expect you to be there, rested and fit. So you had better leave by early next week, at the latest. That should give him long enough, eh, Hogan? Do you think that enough time?"
Hogan twinkled at Sharpe, who glared resentfully back. "Aye Sor, plenty of time to sew his buttons back on, and," smiling winningly at the sour face of his Duty Boy, "get that split in the back of your pants sorted. Eh, Richard, me lad, Ye'll get it all done, nae doubt?"
Richard spent the next six, very wet days in one of the worst moods he had ever possessed. His men cowered. Ramona swore at him when he swore at her. Patrick just looked very, very hurt and rolled his eyes at the Heavens, crossing himself piously whenever he saw Richard's glowering face. If the face addressed him, Patrick would sigh, lower his shoulders, and agree. Whatever it was, he would agree. Then he'd go and do what ever he, Patrick, thought was necessary to cover the badly phrased, surlily grunted orders.
The Chosen Men, picked from the usual twenty or so, had been marched off to the Camp Clothing Officer, who was told in a very thick Irish brogue, in no uncertain terms, to fit them all out in "Dacent breeches, fair-smart jackets wit' ALL dem buttons on proper." Real leather, soft pack straps, and canteens, "wit' de boockles sewed snap-on." A small number of coins passing hands and Hogan's name being also misused, made sure that eight Chosen Men with Sgt Harper in charge, presented themselves to the scrutiny of Major (Confirmed )(Richard always spat that out) Hogan on the day before departure. Major Hogan found himself impressed. Quite surprisingly impressed, and said so in a back-handed sort of way to Major (Probationary) Sharpe.
"Not a bad bunch, but the clothes don't maketh the man here. Couldn't you find a more agreeable set of visages, eh, young Richard, me lad? But on the whole, laddie, on the whole, they'll do."
Richard snorted. He knew his men were the best there were, and he knew Hogan knew it. That's just his way of being nice. Richard could do without Hogan sometimes. But he couldn't help it... he had to like the bastard. He mentally counted his own buttons on his new green jacket. All there and nicely, tightly 'snapped-on' as Patrick referred to sewing. His breeches weren't new, but they had been very carefully repaired, washed, and brushed. Richard liked the feel of his well-fitting green trews. Be nice if someone else liked the feel, especially if he was wearing his own scarlet boots. Aaaah, Nickolai, of the long legs, and the suns and stars on that...
The horses were scrutinized with even more care. Mounts, on this hilly, stony soil had to be fit, nimble and level-headed. No jumpy blood-silly animals could be allowed to danger men or equipment. The Head Groom, a slim tawny-dark-haired man, with blue-grey eyes that saw into far distances, was seen to be everywhere. His hard brown hands feeling fetlocks and hooves, stroking shoulders, lifting tails and inspecting for signs of worm. His voice was apparently a small song for the horses, they followed his murmurs with their ears, and whatever he wanted, they appeared to be doing almost before he asked. Richard was as impressed with this horseman as Hogan was with his own turnout.
He had asked Hogan the name of this groom. "Frank. Frank Hopkins. He's been all over with horses. Has no interest in anything but his horses. I gather he has won some fine wagers with his mustangs that run. And," Hogan sniffed, reluctantly, " I have to say, even as an Irishman, that this Hopkins knows more about bloody horses than most of my countrymen. Damn his hide. Lost quite a sum once, betting on an Irishman and not this Hopkins fella." Hogan harrumphed away, leaving Richard with a feeling of pride almost. He was getting someone who had beaten Hogan - at his own game almost! Richard began to appreciate and like Frank Hopkins.