TITLE: A Reputable Scandal.
RATING: PG just in case.
WORD COUNT: 889.
PAIRING, IF ANY: Very vague Horatio Hornblower/Captain Amelia.
SPOILER WARNING: None.
DISCLAIMER: I own nothing here.
SUMMARY/NOTES: Archie Kennedy finally becomes a captain and gets a new command. But this particular ship has an unusual quirk.
“There she is!” Archie said, gesturing proudly to the small ship docked in front of them, “Isn’t she lovely?”
Captain Amelia Drake slowly ran her eyes across the ship, taking in all the details. It was a fifth-rate frigate, like the Legacy, though newly constructed instead of weathered by use. The paint still seemed to gleam in the afternoon light, the dark red color a startling, but not unwelcome, change from the pinks and golds of most of the fleet. The sails were still pure white, the rigging securely tied with new rope. While it might not have the grandeur of a ship-of-the-line, it was still a pretty thing, nevertheless.
“A fine ship indeed, Kennedy,” Amelia said at last, nodding in approval, “And quite a prize for a newly minted captain to be given command of her. Wouldn’t you agree, Horatio?”
She glanced at her husband, only to find him staring at the rear of the ship in disbelief. “What’s the matter?” she said, stepping forward to look for herself. When she caught sight of the name carved there, her eyes widened in surprise. But where Horatio was struggling to keep his mouth from falling open, Amelia chose a different response; she burst out laughing. “It’s perfect, Kennedy. Absolutely perfect.”
“Isn’t it?” Archie said, he and Mr. Bush having joined the group in looking up at the name, “I’m considering having part of the ship repainted with green highlights, just to emphasize the Scottish connection.”
“Oh, is that what this is?” Amelia said, still chuckling, “And no doubt they selected you to captain her because of your Scottish roots.”
Horatio finally found his voice. “How?” He said, his voice almost cracking in horror, “How could the Navy possibly come up with a name like…that?”
“I believe it was taken out of their hands,” Archie said, “In an attempt to maintain public support for the war effort, Parliament suggested that the public be allowed to choose the name of the newest ship. This was the result.”
“But why this?” Horatio demanded, waving vaguely in the direction of the name, as though he wished to acknowledge it as little as possible.
“Who knows?” Archie said with a shrug, “Perhaps they were making an editorial statement by choosing a name that many of the older generation would find ridiculous. Or perhaps they just wished for something to amuse them. Regardless, I personally think it’s a fine name. I am not ashamed to be the captain of HMS Boaty McBoatface.”
Hearing it said out loud just made Amelia laugh even more. “Don’t offend my ship, Captain Drake,” Archie said, even though there was a twinkle in his eyes, “She hasn’t been tested yet, and is a bit sensitive.”
“Oh, believe me, I understand the sentiment,” Amelia said, wiping at her eyes, “You must admit, however, that it will take some getting used to.”
“That I do,” Archie said, before lowering his voice conspiratorially, “Truth be told, it took me over a dozen attempts before I could say the name without laughing myself.”
“Tell me, Archie,” Bush said, as he glanced from the name to Archie and back, “Did you actively campaign to get this ship, or was it assigned to you?”
“The latter,” Archie said, “Though once I heard the name I was positively delighted. Why?”
“Because it seems that Captain Kennedy may be developing a bit of a reputation,” Bush answered, “The Admiralty cannot deny that you’re a fine officer, as evidenced by your promotion, but they’re also well aware of your irreverent streak, and thus, assigned you a ship that most of them were a little embarrassed by.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Archie said, even as his mouth curled upwards slightly, “I always attempt to be nothing but a gentleman.”
“I believe Mr. Bush may be correct,” Amelia chimed in, “Remind us what the original name of your first command was?”
“The Disgraceful Strumpet,” Archie said fondly, while Horatio turned a deeper shade of red, “She was a lovely ship as The Betsey, but I wouldn’t have minded keeping the original name. After all, it might have distracted the French enough for us to get the drop on them.”
“There we are, then!” Amelia said, “The Admiralty was aware of your fondness for the name, and decided to give you a second chance. But you had best pray that this doesn’t continue; it might be somewhat embarrassing to be an Commodore who is only stationed on ships named The Arse or The Plucked Chicken.”
“I don’t know…” Archie said thoughtfully, “A ship called The Arse would offer so many wonderful opportunities for unusual colors or figureheads…”
“That’s quite enough of that!” Horatio yelped, “Would you be kind enough to show us around the ship proper, Mr. Kennedy?”
“Of course,” Archie said, waving them towards the gangplank, “The Boaty McBoatface awaits, gentlemen.”
Horatio spluttered again. Amelia made eye contact with Bush, and saw the amused gleam in his eye that indicated he, too, had no serious objections to the name. Giving him a slight nod, she followed Archie onto the Boaty McBoatface, eager to see what she’d find. Perhaps she could offer some decorative tips that would perfectly match both the name and Archie’s newfound reputation. Given Archie’s temperament, she was sure he wouldn’t mind in the least.