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geeking out on shakespeare's histories
[FICATHON] This Deed Was Done at Otterburn, for speak_me_fair 
3rd-Sep-2011 04:40 pm
Title: This Deed Was Done at Otterburn
Author: gileonnen
Play: pre-1 Henry IV (and technically pre-Richard II as well)
Recipient: speak_me_fair
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Hotspur, Douglas, various other assorted Douglases; implicit Hotspur/Douglas fantasy
Warnings: Liberties taken with Shakespeare, history, and meteorology
Rating: PG-13
Summary: In the aftermath of the Battle of Otterburn, two foes meet for the first time.

"Listen," says the man they call Black Archibald, and his son does as he's bid. He sits hands-on-lap at the long table where they dine their guest--for Black Archibald only calls their guest a prisoner when he's speaking to other Scots--and he listens to Henry Percy speak of war.

The words don't matter, really. The words have never mattered for young Archibald, hands-on-lap and fiddling with his dagger hilt as the Hotspur of the North arranges salt-cellars into palisades. Here, he says with his hands and his knife. His cuff slides up over his wrist as he indicates the smooth plain past a ridge of mutton. Here I slew the last Douglas, when he waved my pennon in my face. His voice stutters and cracks, rich and broken as drying clay, but every gesture is sure and clean and strong.

Lord Gordon makes a sour face at the tale, toe tapping against the rushes strewn over the floor. Young Archibald can't remember whether he has lost family in the battle--and he should remember; it will be the duty of the Douglas to remember, and his father is old enough that Archibald must keep himself ready to become the Douglas at a moment's notice. "Listen," his father tells him. "You'll learn as much about managing men from listening to fools as you will from sages."

As he drinks in Hotspur's rolling Northumbrian accent, though, his crooked grin and shock of copper hair and the way his voice catches on the t, Archibald Douglas doesn't want to manage men. He wants to face a single man like this on the field of battle, and to be tested and repleted in the encounter.

His blood pounds hotly at his cheeks, and then a peal of thunder rouses him from his reverie. Outside, the rain will be lashing the wood and scoring the surface of the Tyne.

The conversation must be turning toward the conclusion of the battle, for the men are toasting each other and toasting Lord Montgomery for bringing in their "guest." Hotspur himself rises to his feet, flagon clutched in one powerful hand, and declares with his toast, "I may've yielded, but by'r lady, the company's better among my warlike Scots!" The men cheer him, for they love nothing better than to hear an Englishman sing their praises.

In the silence that comes after--a laden silence, Archibald will remember later, heavy and fetid--Lord Montgomery asks, "And what about your father? Not a very companionable man, that one."

He watches Hotspur's face go red; something changes in the set of his jaw, as though he has bitten down hard upon iron and doesn't much like the taste. "Say another word about my father and I'll massacre the lot of you," he snaps, and he drops hard into his chair.

Hotspur says nothing for the rest of the evening, although now and then Black Archibald tries to chivy him to speech. Instead, he drinks steadily as his eyes burn coal-bright.

Hotspur wears no chains at the table of the Scots, but young Archibald Douglas is a good listener; he can hear them rattling nonetheless.

3rd-Sep-2011 10:01 pm (UTC)
Oh. Oh.

Oh my goodness, this is more than I ever expected -- delicious history and ballads and pre-play all wrapped up into something marvellous.

The undercurrents, and Hotspur's quicksilver moods, and Douglas as the listener -- it's purely and utterly wonderful.

Moments I adored, shamelessly:

His voice stutters and cracks, rich and broken as drying clay, but every gesture is sure and clean and strong. Hotspur's voice as the broken vessel, now there is gorgeous imagery.

He wants to face a single man like this on the field of battle, and to be tested and repleted in the encounter. YES OBVIOUSLY THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE REALLY THINKING ABOUT. *ahem* I mean, yes, that would be interesting, wouldn't it? I wonder what would happen if they ever -- OH WAIT.

The whole 'toast' scene -- Hotspur being painfully honest in his own odd and awful way, the only way he knows, of being polite, and then not being able to stop being honest, and shutting up so very badly.

And the last line. Oh my heart, the last line.


9th-Sep-2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
^_________^ I've already said it, but I love your comments. I love how much you get my subtext, and I love how wise you are in considering the characters' feelings and motives. That painful honesty that I was trying so hard to convey--yes. Yes, that. You got that. <33
4th-Sep-2011 07:49 am (UTC)
Oh my! Everything they said above, LOL.
9th-Sep-2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked it!
8th-Sep-2011 02:48 am (UTC)
Nicely done. I really love this take on Douglas, and the echoes of both men and their fathers.
9th-Sep-2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you! You know how I am with Percy Daddy Issues--I thought it was time for some Douglas Daddy Issues, as well.
9th-Sep-2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
Bravo! And it makes total sense.
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