This Deed Was Done at OtterburnAuthor: gileonnenPlay:
pre-1 Henry IV
(and technically pre-Richard II
as well)Recipient: speak_me_fairCharacter(s)/Pairing(s):
Hotspur, Douglas, various other assorted Douglases; implicit Hotspur/Douglas fantasyWarnings:
Liberties taken with Shakespeare, history, and meteorologyRating:
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.