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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-12 10:00 am
Entry tags:

SHARPE'S RIFLES: Fever. R, Sharp/Harper

Summary: Harper takes care of Sharpe.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.

It was freezing cold, and there were caves, and Sergeant Patrick Harper was not a happy man.

It wasn't that he was ever, as it were, particularly happy in the first place, but now he was actively unhappy. They'd been stuck in this villanous mountain pass for three days while the snow howled outside and the men crouched like steaming animals inside the caves, around fires that smoked and made the taller mens' eyes water, cooking the last of their wretched, bug-infested food.

Harper was tall enough that his eyes watered continually and he had banged his head on the roof of the cave no less than eight times. He'd spent as much time as possible out in the thunderingly bad weather, collecting snow for water and scavenging for wood they could dry out and use to feed the fires.

"We won't move till he's dead or walking," he'd said, on the second day, and the men had taken this extremely well, as it meant they didn't have to march out into the elements. He kept a close eye on them, though. Cabin fever was more than due to set in.

He ducked out of the main cave, and tramped through the snow, slapping his hands together to keep them warm. He collected up a store of branches from the pile he'd managed to make near the cave mouth, and carried them in his large arms towards another dimly-lit opening, a ways down the path.

Inside was a different smell from the stench of many men in one place, unwashed and ragged; this was the smell of a military medical ward, sweat and sickness. It was a smaller enclosure, barely big enough to fit his height, and almost filled already, between the rucksack and fire and the man huddled under a pile of coats and one or two moth-eaten blankets.

Harper set the wood down near the fire, so that it could thaw and dry, and turned to the half-asleep man.

"Now then, Lieutenant," he said, taking a chipped and enameled cup out of the fire with a stick, and adding a little snow. "What news?"

"Fuck you, Harper," came the hoarse voice of Lieutenant Richard Sharpe. Harper smiled. As long as the man could swear, he wasn't too worried. "Shoot me now."

"Could get in a bit of trouble for that, sir," Harper answered.

"Insubordination!" Sharpe answered. He coughed, deep in his chest, nearly choking on it. Harper, who was not known for his gentleness, pulled him up by the half-done collar of his shirt, until he was more or less sitting upright. He held the cup of hot water in a rag, and Sharpe drank greedily, almost choking again in his eagerness. Harper took some bread from his pocket, and soaked it in the water, offering it to the Lieutenant morsel by morsel, as if he were feeding a bird.

"Blasted fever," Sharpe muttered.

"Be over soon, Lieutenant."

"One way or another," the man agreed, wiping his face, where a thin sheen of sweat showed the fever more clearly than his bright, glassy eyes, or the slight tremble of his hands.

Harper was a big man, and he'd fought big men in his time; he'd even fought Sharpe, once, and knew that the Lieutenant's wiry, rangy body belied a punch like a music-hall boxer and a kick like a mule. He was not a man to admit often to fear, but it frightened a deep-down part of him to see Richard Sharpe decimated by illness.

"You're cold," he said, stabbing angrily at the fire with a stick. "Won't get better this way."

"Burning," Sharpe moaned, falling back on the makeshift bed. "It comes and goes."

Harper rearranged the coals to his liking, and then regarded his commanding officer intently. When the trembling turned from fever-shakes to actual chills, he shook his head. The blankets were thin and full of holes; the jackets -- his own, Hagman's, and Sharpe's -- worn and elderly. He'd had fevers before, though never, it was true, in a set of caves in the hills of this godforsaken country. If he even knew which country they were in anymore, which was a pretty big if.

He pondered a moment, until he heard the click of chattering teeth and saw Sharpe's eyes close in an effort to prevent his body from shaking too badly. He snorted, unbuttoned his own shirt enough to give him room to move his shoulders comfortably, and slid down on the other side of the fire from the Lieutenant.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Sharpe asked, somewhat muffled by the fabric of Harper's collar.

"Don't take it too much to heart, Lieutenant, I'd just like to keep you alive," Harper replied. "Don't fancy leading these men down the mountain myself."

"Coward."

"Oh aye."

Harper felt Sharpe's cold hands clutch at his shirtfront, digging underneath it and warming against his skin. He tried not to wince away. Sharpe's face found the corner of his neck and shoulder, burrowing against him.

"My god," Sharpe said softly. "I didn't know it was possible to be this warm..."

Harper snorted. He felt awkward, being clung to by a sick man; not that they'd never shared beds in the army, God He knew, but this was different. This was illness and healing, and weakness shown when no weakness ever ought to be.

He felt Sharpe's breath against his chest, slowing and evening as the chill subsided. He could sleep here, but he oughtn't to; one never knew what soldiers would get up to when left unattended.

The Lieutenant's hands were still half-clenched in his shirt, his own arm wrapped over one shoulder and holding the back of Sharpe's neck firmly.

It was quite warm, this was true, and a lot less chaotic than the larger cavern where the other men were sheltering. He shifted, to relieve the growing numbness in his arm, and Sharpe moved with him, hips hitching slightly.

Harper froze.

Sharpe did not.

He moved again, drawing even closer, thighs pressing against Harper's. He could feel the heat on his skin, through their trousers -- and -- things he shouldn't be feeling through any man's trousers....

There was a soft breath, almost a moan, against his neck.

"Lieutenant," he said quietly, but Sharpe was in some fever-dream of his own, and for all he knew Harper might be a whore in some sunny Spanish town somewhere far away from war and the French.

Not a bad dream, that. Harper rather wished he could share it.

Sharpe bucked against him, and a real moan left his dry throat this time, setting off spikes of sensation along the skin of Harper's neck. Hell, the man was sick, but then again they did bleed people for illness, and a purge was a purge.

Sharpe moaned again, and Harper felt their cocks brush beneath the layers of fabric; he sucked in a breath against the sensation. It had been a long time...

He tried to hold still, but his own hips bucked against the thrust of Sharpe's, and that felt good enough that he tried it again, and then he was pulling the other man against him, enfolding him in burly warmth as they bucked and moaned, fingers knotting in shirts and legs tangling, Sharpe's too-warm mouth latching onto his neck, low and uneven sounds of pleasure vibrating on his skin.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph --

Richard Sharpe.

There was a silence and a tension and then a low moan from the Lieutenant, who shuddered in a way entirely unrelated to fever, before he relaxed completely. Harper was vaguely aware of this, caught up in his own orgasm, which was surprisingly enjoyable, considering he was hunched against a feverish man in a smelly cave in a snowstorm.

Sharpe coughed again, and Harper pushed himself up, scrabbling for the mug of water, helping him to prop himself on one elbow, to drink. He watched carefully, noticing how Sharpe's eyes stayed on the mug, eyelids brushing low over them, sleepily.

"Lieutenant?" he said uncertainly.

"Jesus Christ, Harper," Sharpe answered. "Next time I'm dying, call a whore. I feel better already."

Harper frowned, puzzled this out, and then grinned, crookedly.

It didn't matter. Sharpe had made a joke about it. They would march on, as they always had. Nothing had changed.

Nothing really had, he supposed, since he'd been blackmailed into his promotion.

In the night the fever broke. At least, that's what Harper told the men, as the reason he'd spent most of the night in the cave. Sharpe was up and about on the fifth day, and walking steadily by the sixth. On the seventh day, they moved onward, through the treacherous damp and snow and wind and God knew what else.

Sharpe always pointed to Harper as the reason he survived the fever, and Harper always scowled and shook his great shaggy head when he did so. But the next time he was ill, despite the fact that they were in a town with two brothels, it was still Harper who sat up night with him.

END

[identity profile] julesoh.livejournal.com 2008-11-24 11:43 pm (UTC)(link)
I've had a desperate urge for Sharpe fic recently, and this is definitely my favourite find so far - it has everything I love about their relationhip and them, and your tone is just right!

Thank you! I wish I had a Sharpe icon now - another thing to search out! :-)
ext_1611: Isis statue (sharpe)

[identity profile] isiscolo.livejournal.com 2009-04-06 10:38 pm (UTC)(link)
I like this!