Men of War
Disclaimer: Not mine. What isn't from Good Omens belongs to history.
Disclaimer 1: This is fanfic. That means I do not own any of it. I just borrow it to play with for a little while and let people see the pathetic
results if they really want to.
Disclaimer 2: I'm not making any money from it. It's just for fun.
Disclaimer 3: What isn't borrowed is all made up. None of this is real or most likely at all realistic. Please don't trust any of the information in here.
Most likely you know more about whatever I'm writing about than I do.
Disclaimer 4: Attitudes, views and opinions expressed by the characters or in the story are not necessarily those of the author. Even when writing Science
Fiction or Fantasy I do not tend to attempt to create perfect/better worlds in which everybody gets a happy end ... or whatever is best for them. Please
accept that some characters will have a bad ending or be unhappy.
Disclaimer 5: I intend no insult to anyone. If I offend anyone I'm very sorry. Please understand that it was an accident as I tend to be very clumsy in these
Disclaimer 6: If my characters' conversations seem odd or they appear to be talking past each other the latter might occasionally be intentional, but most
likely it is an accident and I'm not aware that they are. It's just my bad communication skills.
A/N: I couldn't resist one of the prompts for last year's GOE, but I didn't get it. So here the story is.
Men of War
"I thought I'd told you to get the hell out of Europe," Wellington snapped, hardly glancing up from his writing at her entry.
The harsh, commanding voice sent shivers down her spine.
"I did, but I missed you. We had so much fun together." A coquettish posture would avail her nothing. He wasn't looking at her anymore. So she let it be.
"You may have had fun, but I certainly did not," the Duke returned coldly. "You disgust me, War. All you can do is destroy lives, livelihoods, entire countries. There is nothing but death, suffering and destruction wherever you go."
Perhaps War didn't know the art of seduction all that well after all. She could get most men to worship her without even trying, but with this man she'd been trying for years and he remained immune to her charms. She should have turned her back on him long before, but unfortunately the more he resisted, the more she desired him.
"I made you one of the foremost men in Europe," she pointed out. "Without me, you'd be nothing."
"I did my duty to my king and my country. My duty to avert you or end you wherever I could. And you cost me much more than you gained me. You took so many of my dearest friends from me before their time, crippled others, prevented me from seeing my sons grow up. They were babies when I left for Portugal, schoolboys when I finally returned."
Ah, how cold and beautiful his eyes were! And that self-control even when he was angry!
"You were quick enough to leave them again and go to Vienna," she challenged. She didn't know how to be meek, but that couldn't be the problem. His wife was meek and sweet and he despised her. Surely he must want a partner as strong and aggressive as he was? And was she not that?
"To ensure lasting peace. And I shall do so yet. All you have achieved is a setback. I shall win this war nobody wants and then have peace in Europe."
He was as stubborn and determined as ever. It was beautiful, admirable and frustrating.
"Kiss me just once before I go?" she suggested. "For old times' sake?" Not that he ever actually had. There'd always been others, never her.
"I am a married man."
"That never bothered you with all those other lightskirts!"
His eyes flashed, but as always he stayed in control. "I liked them. They were stimulating and clever and entertaining. You only disgust me. You always have and always will. Now get out of my camp before I have you thrown out."
It was a preposterous idea to order War herself thrown out of a camp of war on the eve of battle and she was pretty confident that she could prevent it, but his voice was firm and determined, and if his soldiers failed him he was apt to do it with his own hands.
For a moment she considered making him go through with it. If he had to touch her himself to achieve it, she'd finally feel his hands on her – but it would be in defeat. It would not be the lover's caress that she desired. She decided to walk out with her pride intact.
She could find another companion for the night quite easily. On either side there were young soldiers eagerly awaiting their first battle, dreaming foolish dreams of glory and heroic deeds, veterans that knew her inside out, old lovers she'd spent one or many nights with before. She wasn't dependent on him for her night's entertainment.
But he was the one she desired, the one she'd loved for so long, the one who always refused her, even though so many other women, ordinary, mortal women, had had him. A vigorous lover he was, they said, though she wasn't sure how many others they'd had to compare him with. She was convinced that she'd only be able to judge his performance once she'd sampled it herself.
One last attempt, she decided as she reached the door.
"I'll get drenched the moment I set foot outside in this storm," she protested. "Do let me stay until it stops raining."
"It's your own fault," he replied coldly. "You know it always rains before my battles. Now get out. I have work to do."
She did as he told her to, because she couldn't help wanting to please him. It was pathetic of her, she knew. She was supposed to be the embodiment of war, an unstoppable conqueror, a force of nature. How had he turned her into a weak worthless woman?
She needed something wild and fun to distract her, so she directed her steps out of the tiny village of Waterloo and back to Quatre-Bras. Perhaps Ney was having a victory celebration there, even if that would be entirely too soon.
She had had fun there yesterday, in any case, and Ney had always known how to please her in every way – or at least he had until he'd gotten married. Since
then he'd become a little harder to drag away from hearth and home. Nevertheless, he was a dear old friend and perhaps a few glasses of wine and a good long
chat with him were just what she needed.
"Oh, it's you again," Ney welcomed her uncharacteristically grumpily, but pulled out another camp stool for her obligingly.
"What, no smile for an old friend?" she asked, honestly disappointed. "And no victory celebration?"
"What victory?" Ney countered. "Wellington gave up this position at the news of the Prussian's defeat at Ligny and fell back - to face Napoleon in a more favourable position most likely. And so I'm standing where the Emperor wanted me to start with. There is no victory here, just a battle to prepare for tomorrow."
He filled another cup with wine and held it out to her. Ney was too practical-minded to bring fragile wineglasses along into battle and it didn't make a difference to War anyway.
"Ah, and it'll be a great one," she promised.
Ney only shook his head at her, though. "I'm afraid I've seen too much of you lately," he said sadly. "I still have nightmares of the Russian campaign, you know. And then my poor France was invaded and now just when I thought I could finally settle down for some nice quiet time with my family in my peaceful little farmhouse in the country here He comes again and brings you back. And then my own soldiers ..."
He didn't finish his sentence, but then he didn't have to. War should have realised that he wasn't over his troops that once would have followed him anywhere deserting to Napoleon in droves upon his return from his exile on Elba.
"It's not that I've got anything against you. You know I'm always happy to chat with you. It's just ... I'm tired of it all," he stated raising his glass to her as if in a toast.
"I suppose I've been overdoing it a little lately," she admitted. "After tomorrow, I promise to take it a little easier myself. Just don't run out on me yet. Tomorrow will be the biggest one of them all. Your great-great-grandchildren will still be talking about this one, and you do want them to say that you were there, don't you?"
Of course he did, but he wasn't as enthusiastic as he used to be and his mood was dragging her down. So War drank another glass of wine with him, clapped him
on the shoulder and excused herself to check up on the Prussians. She did have to make sure that everybody was ready for tomorrow after all. It wouldn't do to
suddenly discover a large body of troops had wandered off out of reach just when the two armies were about to open fire.
The Prussians had been driven back from Ligny and in the dark it took War a little while to find them again. In the end she was glad that she'd come, though. Old Prince Blücher was still in bed after having fallen off his horse and being ridden over twice in the battle and his useless second in command wasn't at all inclined to fight again so soon.
Not that he didn't have good reasons for his decision, but what would become of her beautiful battle if it were to be fought without the Prussians? Her Arthur would be badly outnumbered and simply overrun by the French. That was what would happen. It might be a nice slaughter, but not the epic battle she'd promised Ney.
She didn't bother to stay and coax the man, however. She went straight to Blücher.
The old man was sitting up in bed, which was a relief to see, and greeted her with a wry smile.
"I am getting to old for your games, my beautiful," he told her. "Just look at me. Black and blue all over."
"So that's it?" she asked mockingly raising an eyebrow. "One little defeat and a few bruises and you are going to abandon the English to defend all of Europe on their own?"
Alright, so they were really a lot of very ugly bruises, and Blücher was over seventy years old. She'd known some fine men that had no longer even been able to mount a horse at that age. But no, old Blücher was not about to retire yet.
"Of course not. I gave Wellington my word, and I mean to keep it. Don't you let those fools outside worry you, beautiful. Tomorrow morning I'll be back in the saddle and marching against the enemy."
"Ah, I knew I could count on you," she kissed his cheek in parting and went on her way. The old man needed his rest tonight, no youthful bedmate.
Oh Arthur! Arthur! But alas, he wouldn't have her and Napoleon certainly would.
She hesitated for a moment, wondering whether she ought to check up on Grouchy first, but she was cold and wet and it was much too dark for another long
search for troops whose exact location she didn't know. Besides, Grouchy would follow his orders. He always did.
Napoleon greeted her with the same enthusiasm he'd always had for her. After the disappointment with Ney it felt especially good.
"Ah, my Lady! My goddess! See what I have wrought for you? Is it not glorious? Brussels is ours!"
"Yours, Napoleon?" Very few were allowed to address him so familiarly, but War claimed the privilege. He was as good as her son after all. She had stood at the cradle the day he was born, been there as he grew up until they'd sent him off to school in France. And even then it had been her that he'd studied. "And what of the allied army standing between you and it?"
"The allied army? Pshaw!" he laughed it off. "The so-called army of the Netherlands is pathetic. New unblooded troops, militia units that have never seen battle? I beg you. The Prussians were a more serious challenge and see how easily I have defeated them wherever I've met them? And right now they are on the run again. I've ordered Grouchy to follow them to Wavre. I hope for your sake that they'll make a stand there and don't just run all the way home."
To Wavre? Perhaps she should have visited Grouchy after all. The poor boy would be in some distress when he realised that the Prussians were going to Waterloo to fight if his orders said they were fleeing to Wavre. If he made the wrong choice it might keep his troops out of the battle entirely. But alas, it was too late to go and visit him now. Not unless she was content to sleep alone tonight. She decided to stay where she was and hope for the best. The battle would still be great even without Grouchy. After all Napoleon still had his undefeated guard in reserve.
"That leaves only the English under that overrated fool Wellington."
War winced. How dare he disrespect her Arthur!
"You should not underestimate Wellington, my dear," she cautioned. "Remember Portugal? Remember the lines of Torres Vedras? And what of Spain? Sabugal? Vittoria? He already defeated some of your best marshals: Massena, Marmont, Soult ..."
"Pshaw! They are nothing! I am Napoleon. I am the greatest of them all. Wellington is nothing. He has no imagination. Always playing it safe. Always acting in the same old pattern, silly old fashioned infantry lines."
"Why change it, when it works so well? He has taught your columns to fear his lines and places his soldiers where the tactics they are most familiar with will be most efficient. I think he has it all figured out very nicely."
Napoleon glared at her. "Perhaps so. Perhaps it is a good strategy to use against lesser generals, but he has me to deal with this time and he has overextended himself. All his best regiments are stationed too far to the West to reach us in time for this battle. Most of the ones he has here are Dutch militia and newly recruited second battalions."
"You did trick him quite nicely by attacking here rather than on the Enghien road as he expected," War allowed with a seductive smile. "He was quite surprised by that, but he knows where you are now and has made new dispositions accordingly."
"They are too slow to be here in time. They just can't march as well as French soldiers. Nobody ever could. Wellington will be long beaten by the time they arrive and I will have Brussels."
She continued to smile and licked her lips as if tasting victory, but her thoughts were on Wellington's camp, cataloguing the soldiers and uniforms she'd seen there. Oh yes, there had been a lot of very young, very foolish boys, but she'd also noticed the green uniforms of the 95th regiment dotted here and there all over the line. The dreaded British sharpshooters were apparently here in force. Then there were the guards. Especially the foot guards had seemed very determined to prove themselves better than all the rest, and Adams' brigade of Peninsular veterans that she'd seen by the Enghien road only three days ago was also lying in the mud near Waterloo now.
Still, Napoleon had a lot more veterans and everybody feared his guards.
"No, goddess, no need to worry," Napoleon assured her bending forward to kiss her. She obligingly lowered her mouth into reach and received the tribute properly. "Remember who I am and that I have you by my side. Remember that I have never lost a battle."
"Neither has Wellington," she answered with a smile. "Ah, tomorrow will be grand!"
"Indeed, now come, my one true love, share my bed here tonight and tomorrow in Brussels."
War shook her head at him, but accepted his arm to allow him to lead her into his bedchamber which she noted was more opulent than a camp of war had any right to be, though of course it was nothing compared to his palace in Paris.
"Your one true love?" she teased while she undressed quickly. Napoleon never had had the patience for much foreplay. "Do remember your wife."
"What her? I only married her because I needed an heir. She has given me one. I care no more about her."
Naked, she lay on top of his bed, stretched luxuriously and spread her legs for him just as he liked it. She wondered whether Arthur preferred to watch his women undress slowly, to talk with them and caress them ...
"Then remember Josephine. Did you not love her more than any other once?"
"I still love her," he admitted as he entered her – for the last time, she decided then and there. "But never as much as I love you. There could never be any other above you."
Tomorrow would be her grand finale and it should go to her beloved Wellington and dear old Blücher. They deserved it. And then she'd leave for a few decades, just as Wellington had asked her to, just as Ney secretly wished. She could do that much for her men even if it meant that she had to abandon her almost-son forever. They'd given her great times, but soon they'd all grow old anyway. It was time to move on.
She closed her eyes while he thrust into her and thought of Wellington. For a fleeting moment she wondered how Napoleon would react if she cried out "Arthur!" during orgasm, but there was no danger of that. He didn't give her an orgasm at all, he spent himself much too soon.
Perhaps Wellington would have done better, but then she'd never know. Napoleon was the only one she could have tonight and she would not return to Europe
until after Wellington's death, she told herself. Maybe she'd go to India for a while. It had a lot of potential for conflict, was full of memories of Arthur
and they knew some very interesting positions there that she hadn't tried yet.