In the bleak mid winter

Fan Fiction about Sean, non 18+

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sharpshooter1
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In the bleak mid winter

Post by sharpshooter1 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:08 am

In the bleak midwinter...

Sharpe and Harper - Wish they were mine but they aren’t. They belong to the divine Mr B Cornwell. Written with love no filthy lucre has exchanged hands. Just making sure they have a good Christmas. Enjoy

For dear CM always ...

Christmas Eve somewhere on the plains of Spain

In spite of the cold, the threadbare uniforms, the cracked worn boots with holes in them and the sore chilblained hands there was a happy atmosphere in camp. Carefully horded treasures bought out to be shared. Half bottles of rum and bottles of stolen wine, cooking pots full of good hot stew made from ‘liberated’ chickens; even ‘found’ loaves of new bread had been added to the growing pile of treats. All over the camp the fires burned bright and little groups of comrades and friends gathered around their fires.

*********

By the Chosen Men’s generous fire Hagman sat carefully tuning the frayed strings on his fiddle, a smiling Perkins huddled next to him watching the dancing flames and flying sparks that lit their smiling faces. Tomorrow morning there would be a long, boring and cold religious service conducted by a drunken pastor. Yet the true spirit of Christmas was alive in the camp; a special night full of sharing and giving good wishes to each other.
Ramona looked across at Patrick
‘Did they invite him?’
‘No, I don’t think so. I brushed his least dirty uniform, polished the buttons and even his boots. Just in case, but they’re still in his tent.’ Patrick sighed.
‘Malditos, que pena.* what are you going to do?
‘I don’t know. I’m not even sure where he went, snuck off so he did. His pockets are empty and he feels ashamed in front of his men. Maybe he wants to be alone; maybe he needs to be alone, he’s a proud man Ramona.’
‘Tsk you are his friend, no need to speak, just sit with him. Bring him back to the fire; bring him back to his friends.’
Oy! You - Harper quick over ‘ere give us a ‘and with this, its bloody ‘eavy.’ Sighing, and muttering ‘No peace for the wicked’ Patrick stood up.

*********

Still cold even in his great coat he sat hunched, alone, the camp fires a vague glow in the distance. He tried to make sense of how he felt, of the sour taste of disappointment in his mouth. After all it had been a good year, a promotion; he was now a captain with some good solid victories behind him and most of all, his beloved wife and daughter safe in Casatejada until the spring.
‘Alright maybe I’m a bit out of place, but being neither fish, flesh nor fowl in this man’s army is hard. I wouldn’t have gone anyway. I know my place’ he muttered savagely. He looked up to the silent stars shining in the clear sky and sighed to himself puzzling ‘Still, a handshake, even a “well done” and maybe a bottle of something to share with the lads would have been nice.’ The miserable fact that unlike the other officers he had no spare coin to buy even a bottle for his men stung like salt in an open wound

*********

The conversation he had had with Hogan that morning chased round in his head.
‘Don’t take it in a bad way, Wellington knows, understands even, that you might find it socially erm a bit difficult.’ Hogan had explained when he told him he was not invited to the officer’s Christmas Eve dinner. Hogan had even patted him on the back and whispered.
‘Richard, the way you’re going you will end up a general then you can hold you own dinner party.’ Sharpe shrugged and answered
‘Way I’m going I’ll be dead before next Christmas.’ Hogan had shaken his head, and then laughed and squeezing Sharpe’s arm he told him.
‘Don’t sell yourself short Richard, not over a dinner party full of drunken fools. You’ll be the guest of honour by next year. Remember you have the one thing they don’t -Wellington’s respect.’
Finally cramped and chilled Sharpe stood up ready to head back to camp, he turned and in the dark he saw Harper, a flaming torch in his hand, coming across the open ground, searching for him.
‘There ye are sir; sure the lads are waiting on you to drink your health, so they are. And there is something you need to deal with right away.’ Harper puffed.
‘Probably more bloody orders, aye well let’s go back see if anyone has any spare bottles to share a bevvy or two with the lads.
An arm went round his shoulders and Sharpe welcomed the warmth of a friend’s touch as they walked back to the camp fires.

*********

Sharpe frowned at the large unwieldy parcel wrapped in sackcloth and smelling of blood dumped outside his tent. He gingerly unfolded the paper attached to the parcel and read
“Sharpe
I am sure you and the chosen men will make good use of these.
Much obliged to you.
W.”
Within was a huge joint of beef, several fresh loaves, three bottles of decent brandy and a large bag of dried fruits. Soon the smell of roasting beef filled the air and there was laughter and old jokes making the rounds. Harris cut the meat and eagerly pushed it on to sticks, licking his lips as he knelt by the fire. To much laughter Hagman called across saying ‘Oy careful you’ll put fire out with your drooling Harris.’

*********

Perkins and Cooper had never tasted roast beef before and they laughed and wetted their lips in expectation of this rare treat. The rich meat and the hot fat did not disappoint.
‘I never tasted meat as fine as this, it’s better than chicken or rabbit’ mumbled Perkins as he stuffed another slice into his mouth. Cooper wasted no time on compliments but chewed and filled his belly with the hot meat, the rich smell all the sauce he needed.
Hagman smiled and took a small thin slice, wrapped it in some bread then it dunked into the hot fat. His teeth now too old, worn and painful to chew much, yet the taste brought to mind the haunches of meat he had put on his family’s table when he had been a poacher. Sad, yet precious memories of faces long gone but never forgotten.
Patrick took a large helping cut it into pieces and fed Ramona with his fingers, saving a portion for himself. She licked his fingers clean.

*********

Sharpe watched smiling, his heart finally at ease to see his lads enjoying such a feast. The New Year would bring more battles, more blood, and more losses but now, just for one night, they had full bellies and tots of good brandy to keep them warm. What more could any soldier ask?
After the chosen men had eaten and drunk their fill they called to other men from the camp to come and share this Christmas bounty. The honeyed flavour of the dried figs, apples and other rare fruits sweetened their mouths and good wishes were exchanged and toasts proposed.
‘To Captain Sharpe a real gentleman and the finest officer in the King’s army.’ Called Patrick amid noisy cheers, bottles and mugs were raised.
‘To General Wellington the cleverest general in this army’ called Sharpe and they drank to their General.
When all were well fed and settled down Hagman played and they sang together the old half remembered Christmas songs of their brief, sad childhoods.

*********

Wellington looked down his long nose as one of his drunken officers staggered then vomited outside his tent.
“Disgusting. Useless creatures most of them, pathetic canon fodder’ he remarked disdainfully to Hogan then asked
I trust all is well with Captain Sharpe and his men?’
‘Yes I checked a while ago. They are all well fed and Sharpe shared some of the bounty with all the other men camped near them.’
‘Clever Sharpe, you can never have too many friends to watch your back in battle’
They exchanged formal Christmas greetings, shook hands and went to their beds.

*********

The camp was finally quiet and peaceful. Two old friends sat by the dying embers of the fire. ‘That was the best Christmas ever. Never had so much good meat to eat nor such fine brandy to drink before.’
‘Aye, good to know just for once that Wellington appreciates us.’
‘And so he should, so he should.’
A large hand reached over and they shook hands
‘Seasons greetings to you sir’
‘And to you Pat’
‘Tired’
‘Aye, I am that’
‘Shall we?’
‘Aye, let’s to bed’

Fin

* damned people, how sad
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ziadada
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Post by ziadada » Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:55 pm

Very very beautiful... thank you sharpshooter :-D :-D :-D
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sharpshooter1
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Post by sharpshooter1 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 1:06 pm

My pleasure - I like to think of them having a good Christmas cheerssanta.gif
Way2prickly
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Post by Way2prickly » Thu Dec 01, 2011 2:33 pm

Well-written, as always! I love your tales!
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Cymbalom
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Post by Cymbalom » Thu Dec 01, 2011 2:48 pm

I love it, Sharps! Thanks, and a Merry Christmas to you! :drinking:

Angie
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Moominmamma
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Post by Moominmamma » Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:53 pm

That was lovely and has really put me in the Christmas spirit. I actually made a start on the Christmas shopping today and have started on the cards! abighugs_gif

Thank you so much! cheerssanta.gif
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Czechmade
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Post by Czechmade » Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:38 pm

YOu know my heart...now it is full, thank you, dear! :flower:
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