Title: By the Light of the Full Moon
Word Count: 498
Pairing: Horatio Hornblower/Archie Kennedy
“Do you know what Styles does, night of the full moon?”
“Knits socks for sailors? Writes sonnets?” Horatio gave Archie one of “those” looks. The one that meant “what the bleeding hell are you on about now?” “I suppose you’re about to enlighten me.”
“Not if you’re going to be so touchy.” Archie chuckled. “I shall leave you to wonder about it. My lips will be sealed.”
“That will be a first, then.” Horatio turned his attention back to his studies.
Archie watched, waited and consulted his timepiece by the dim light of the gunroom. Two minutes and forty seven seconds, at an estimate. In the event Horatio barely lasted over the minute and a half before saying, “What is it, then? I know you’re dying to tell me.”
“He comes over all hairy, for one thing.”
“He’s always hairy.”
“Hairier than normal, then. And his teeth change and grow.” Archie used his best “weird sister” voice.
“How do you know?” Horatio’s studies were left untouched for the moment; his interest had been piqued. “Have you seen him?”
“Yes and no. I saw him but didn’t realise it was Styles, not at first.” Archie lowered his voice, leaning closer to an intimate distance they only usually kept for nights ashore. “It was last time we were here in Portsmouth. I’d been running an errand, early one morning, do you remember?”
“How can I forget? A matter of national importance or so you said. You never stopped talking about it.” Horatio rolled his eyes, which was definitely the saucepan calling the kettle black. “Back to Styles.”
“I saw this strange creature, making his way to Spice Island. Hair springing from every part of him and a great slavering maw where his mouth should be. The only way I knew it was our shipmate was the clothes, and he was bulging out of them. He was heading for the butcher’s shop.” Archie leaned closer still. “I understand that these were-wolves like their manflesh, but in the absence of meat on the hoof—or the foot, I should say—they settle for a cut joint.”
Horatio, eyes wide, was clearly torn between belief and scepticism. “What happened?”
“I followed him, at a safe distance. He raided the place. Came out with a shoulder of mutton under one arm and half a pig under the other. And the butcher chasing him down the road, cleaver in hand!” Archie chortled. “Then the sun started to come up, and the most amazing thing happened. The hair just sort of dissolved and the ugly maw was replaced by Styles’s normal potato face. He just looked at the meat in his hands as though he’d never seen it before.”
Horatio, deeply drawn into the story, whispered, “What happened then?”
“A constable arrived, alerted by the noise. Poor old Styles was arrested and charged.”
“With being a werewolf?”
“No. With chop-lifting!” And, with a gleeful cry, Archie sprang out of punching distance and headed for the deck.