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Novella: Convoy Duty Part 3 of 3

Author: clonesgirl
Fandom: The Sinking of the Laconia
Rating: NC-17 for sex and mild violence
Pairing: hartenstein/mortimer
Timeline: 1943, 1943 A/U
Word count this section: 6,730
Total word count: 15,260
Warnings: Historic and fictional characters, some violence and angst
Spoilers: None
Disclaimer: Characters borrowed from BBC strictly for playing with, not profit. No offence intended. This is purely a work of fiction.
Summary: Back in the Fourth Realm Hartenstein continues to be plagued by a nightmare.
Beta: None. If you find goofs please let me know.
A/N: This is a direct sequel to "Not a Hollywood Movie". If you haven't yet read that fic then you really need to go back and read it first as this won't make a lot of sense otherwise.



The blue skies and calm waters of the Fourth Realm soothed the frazzled nerves of Captain Werner Hartenstein and his sigh of relief was audible at the sight that met his eyes.

In the distance and on course to pass by them was a U-boat escorting a liner. He found himself smiling at the sight. Now he knew he was truly back in the Fourth Realm. Using his binoculars he saw that it was U-507 which was commanded by his old friend Harro Schacht. He knew that it had been assigned recently to escort the British liner Oronsay, new to this realm and recently out of drydock. He focussed his binoculars on the ship - black hull, twin stacks, approximately 20,000 tons. That certainly looked like Oronsay, he thought, deciding to hail the U-boat.

The U-boat answered promptly, identifying itself. After exchanging pleasant greetings with his friend Schacht he was told that they were headed home escorting the liner Oronsay carrying survivors from the Carnaervon Castle who had made the transition. Hartenstein requested permission to tag along, a request which was welcomed by Schacht and they promised to get together later in Homeport which they would reach in four hour's time.

On arrival, they were greeted by Titanic's deep horn, U-156 answering. The telephone was no sooner connected than it began ringing. The first call was from Admiral Strong expecting to see Hartenstein promptly. The second was from Dr Cora Benson's assistant requesting him to come to an appointment. Mortimer informed the captain that he was coming along lest she talk the him into any more fool ventures. The third call was from Captain Andrews requesting their presence for dinner on Titanic, that is, if they felt up to it. Both men readily agreed.

The crew had gone ashore, all happy to be back in the realm they now called home. As Hartenstein and Mortimer also left the boat they, too, were more than content to be back where they belonged now. It was early afternoon and music and happy throngs of people beckoned them. They were now well known there and several people greeted them as they made their way to the large circular building that was Admiralty headquarters.

On arrival they were escorted to Admiral Strong's private quarters where he greeted them warmly, shaking their hands and congratulating them on the success of their mission.

"Because of your bravery we firmly believe that the war in the Third will be considerably shortened," he announced over scotch and cigars. "This realm owes you both, and all of your crew, a debt of gratitude and this will be noted on your records. Captain Hartenstein, I believe you reported taking two hits from torpedoes."

"Indeed, sir. I fear the boat will need a spell in drydock."

"Quite. If the damage is as you've reported then we're looking at about four to six weeks. We'll know more when the engineers have had a chance to scrutinize her. At any rate I'll see about getting you and your crew some leave. I'm sure that would be agreeable to you?"

"Yes, of course, sir."

Strong turned to Mortimer.

"Mortimer, I believe you were at one stage lost overboard. I trust you are well recovered now?"

"Indeed, sir, I am well recovered."

"Glad to hear it, glad to hear it. And now, gentlemen, I must press on and I believe you have an appointment with Cora."


The appointment with Dr Cora Benson largely consisted of her asking probing questions about their mission to the Third Realm.

"Captain, can you tell me approximately how long Mr Mortimer was lost overboard?"

Hartenstein tried to remember. For him, it had felt like a lifetime as they searched frantically, the boat traversing ever-widening circles as the convoy moved on without them being able to protect the cargo ship they had been assigned to guard. It was on the third and widest circle when they had finally found him.

"Approximately fifteen minutes."

"I see. And, Mr Mortimer, were you conscious most of that time?"

"No. The concussion from the torpedo hit must have knocked me out and I barely remember hitting the water."

Dr Benson seemed surprised at that. "So you were unconscious until you were found some fifteen minutes later?"

"I believe so."

"Then it's fortunate you were retrieved. Were you aware at any time of leaving your body?"

Mortimer hesitated. He had not discussed this with Hartenstein, but then again they had hardly had a chance to be alone together until last night and both were too tired for anything but sleep. Additionally, the boat, in spite of her own damage, had done her customary healing and the following morning they had both woken with raging headaches.

"I believe such an event did take place," he answered carefully, noticing his companion glance at him.

"Would you care to talk about it?"

"I believe I went to the 4D realm." He paused. "I... met my wife and children."

Dr Benson smiled at him. "I assume this was a pleasant experience for you?"

Mortimer smiled. "Yes. It was good to see them again."

"And did they wish you to stay there?"

"My wife understands that I can't stay there and she comes to visit me here."

"And what were your impressions of 4D?"

Mortimer concentrated, endeavouring to remember what it had been like. "Colours. Such bright colours and sounds. It was... indescribable. I... I felt... great happiness there. Captain Hartenstein says I was only missing for about fifteen minutes but, for me, it felt much longer. I felt like I had spent many hours there. My wife told me that I mustn't worry, that my body was being maintained in the Third Realm until I was found."

"And do you wish to return to 4D?"

"Not now. One day perhaps, but not now. I'm where I belong."

Dr Benson smiled at both of them. "I'm very pleased to hear that because I don't know what your captain would do without you."

Hartenstein found himself blushing as she grinned at both of them.

"Admiral Strong tells me you have both done a superb job. Confidentially, he said he knew you wouldn't let him down." She shuffled some papers before turning her attention once more to the two men in the room. "Can either of you remember any odd memories at all?"

Her subjects merely looked blank, then looked at each other and shook their heads.

"Any vivid dreams or nightmares?" she inquired.

Mortimer shook his head once more but Hartenstein hesitated.

"Captain?" she prompted.

"I... had a nightmare in which Mortimer died."

"Indeed?" Dr Benson answered. "No doubt this is a side effect of your time in the Third Realm and Mr Mortimer being temporarily lost overboard. Have you had it again?"

"No."

"Very good. You should not have it again."

"No doubt," Hartenstein agreed.

"Now there is just one more thing. Mr Mortimer, because you were unconscious for a period of time I need to test your memory."

She proceeded to lay some small objects on her desk, asking Mortimer to take careful note of them before covering them up and asking how many he could recall. He managed to recall all of them and she was very pleased.

Dr Benson then directed them to a different part of the medical facility for Captain Hartenstein's appointment with a doctor who would examine his wound. Various tests were conducted which took most of the rest of the afternoon so that by the time the doctors were finished with them they were more than ready to get out of there.


That night they were welcomed aboard Titanic by Captain Andrews who greeted them warmly as always. He explained that she was just back from a cruise and all her passengers had gone ashore with many crew members who were on leave.

"The menu will therefore be the crew's menu which tonight is shepherd's pie," he explained. They proceeded to a private dining room on the starboard side overlooking the harbour where a waiter poured wine.

For Hartenstein, every time he boarded the majestic vessel he felt something special. He had given it much thought but couldn't seem to find a word to describe it. It was more than admiring the vessel's old world charm and comfort. He felt lighthearted; he felt like all was well with the world. Perhaps the word well-being described it, he thought. As he glanced at Mortimer he knew that he felt it too.

As they descended the grand staircase he found himself pausing to admire the scene. The lights were on but the sunset colours were reflected through the overhead dome, the crystal chandelier winking in the light and everywhere the carved wood spoke of the high quality of the craftsmanship. To think that all this had been lost from the Third Realm when she plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean left him momentarily sad. However, he could never stay sad on the lovely, old vessel. She had a presence that was far too alive to permit any but the most fleeting thoughts of depression and loss.

As his companions paused at the bottom of the curved staircase he realized that he was keeping them waiting. "Forgive me. Sometimes I just like to admire the scenery."

"Quite all right, old boy," Andrews replied with a knowing smile. "Even after thirty years I still find myself admiring her. Forgive me if that sounds like I'm blowing my own trumpet but she is far more that the sum of her parts, don't you think?"

The man's hand was on the bottom of the bannister and Hartenstein noticed him stroking the wood. As he descended the staircase he found his hand also stroking the bannister. "Indeed she is," he agreed.

Over dinner they talked of U-156's last mission. There were aspects of the case Hartenstein could not discuss but he was able to speak of the two torpedo strikes.

"Two?" Andrews queried. "That's serious. Is there much damage?"

"Some; mostly seepage so things got a bit damp but we survived. The dockyard engineer is coming in the morning."

"Forewarned is forearmed, old boy," Andrews cautioned. "He's an excitable Frenchman and he's not fond of U-boat commanders who bring back damaged vessels. Says he has enough work to do with four dry-docks constantly in use."

Hartenstein chuckled warmly. "I can deal with excitable Frenchmen, but the boat will have to be dry-docked. She was hit on both sides."

"In that case you're guaranteed he'll scream blue murder. That little hole Titanic got? I thought I'd never hear the end of it. You'd think half her bow had been blown away."

The two U-boat officers merely chuckled.

"And what about you? I hope you weren't injured."

"I fell overboard and the captain took a bullet," Mortimer said with a shrug as though it were an everyday occurrence.

Andrews looked at Hartenstein sharply. "A bullet is serious. Lose a lot of blood?"

"Some, but I'm well recovered."

"And you, Mortimer? I trust you were picked you up straight away when you fell in."

"It... was not that easy," Hartenstein answered, putting down his knife and fork and raising his wine glass to his lips. "It was at night. We had to circle several times before we found him. He was unconscious when he was dragged from the water."

"Half drowned," Mortimer added. "The captain managed to get my lungs working again but I brought up half the Atlantic."

"Good god! Everything all right now?"

"Quite all right."

"Headaches?"

Both U-boat officers smiled and nodded.

Andrews nodded to himself. "Thought as much. Well, a night aboard Titanic will do you both good."

"You always make us feel welcome," Mortimer added.

"Always," Hartenstein repeated. "Once upon a time I never would have dreamt that I would be welcome aboard a British vessel let alone be befriended by her commanding officer. Your friendship means a great deal to us both."

"A very great deal," Mortimer added, his words sincere as he gazed into Andrews's eyes.

Andrews smiled at them. "To think I never even knew any U-boat men. Too busy doing cruises, but then the wretched war broke out in the Third and everything went to pot. Then lo and behold along come you two, a German commander with a British first officer - U-boat men - and I had for some time desired Titanic to undertake rescue missions like the other ships but even though the White Star Line agreed the Admiralty kept turning down my requests saying the old girl was too precious to risk. Then, finally, they granted my request and yours happened to be the U-boat assigned to escort and protect her, which you have done admirably I might add, but I never dreamt that you would become such dear friends." He picked up his glass. "To friendship. Long may it last!" he declared as the other two joined in. "Now... Now it's hard to remember a time when there were no U-boats; when the harbour was much less chaotic than it is today. Now... Now I hear that some ships and U-boats are being sent to other ports on a semi-permanent basis because the place is getting too crowded. Who would have thought. That war in the Third truly is one of attrition." He shook his head. "But you both know. I mean you came from it."

Mortimer took a sip of his wine. "You're either on one side or the other."

"Until you meet the enemy and get to know him," Hartenstein added, his eyes meeting Mortimer's.

"And you find yourself torn between two worlds," Mortimer continued, "wanting your own side to win and at the same time praying that your enemy will live because you can't imagine him dying."

For long moments their eyes met.

Andrews watched them. He felt like an intruder - almost - on their private moment, but then the spell was broken and they both turned to him.

"Forgive us," Hartenstein said sincerely.

"Yes, forgive us," Mortimer added. "We sometimes forget that we're not alone."

Andrews smiled at them. "I'm gratified that you feel comfortable enough in my presence to express your feelings openly."

"I hope you don't mind," Hartenstein muttered.

"Mind? Look here, old boy, I got over all that stiff upper lip business long ago and I'm flattered that you choose to confide in me." His gaze encompassed both of them. "You know you always have my full support."

"We know," Mortimer replied softly.

"And we appreciate it very much," Hartenstein added.


Later, alone in a beautifully appointed suite on Titanic's Promenade Deck, the two men relaxed. Captain Andrews had shown them to the door and said goodnight, embracing them before taking his leave.

"Things to do, always things to do on a ship this size," he complained, disappearing down the corridor.

"That's odd," Mortimer remarked. "He normally stays for a drink."

Hartenstein poured them each a cognac. The night was yet mild and they strolled out onto the deserted deck to stand at the railing and admire the view. The huge harbour with its myriad lights blinking from land and water stretching as far as the eye could see was always an entrancing sight especially from Titanic as she was so much higher that the conning tower of a U-boat. Above them a three-quarter moon rode high in the sky surrounded by a million stars. Even as they watched a U-boat passed slowly by and came to a near halt opposite a departing liner which was being manoeuvred from her berth by a pair of tugs. Once out in the channel the lines were let go and the tugs retreated. The U-boat sounded its horn, the liner answering, and the two vessels proceeded on their way, the U-boat in the lead. Even as they watched four vessels entered the harbour - two more liners with their accompanying U-boats, each proceeding to their respective berths while many other vessels constantly came and went.

Even as he absorbed the scene before him Mortimer thought of a sight he had never seen - German bombs falling on London and destroying the city including his family. Hartenstein thought of the old U-boat base at L'Orient which the Allies had frequently tried to bomb. In their minds both men compared scenes of the war they had known to this busy, peaceful scene and decided that there simply was no comparison. Ships and U-boats coming and going side by side with no war, no conflict; the U-boats escorting and protecting the ships instead of sinking them. Another U-boat passed by accompanying two damaged merchant vessels into the inner harbour.

Mortimer turned to his silent companion whose gaze reflected the harbour lights, taking the now-empty glass from his hand and depositing both on a nearby table. As he turned back to his commanding officer he found that the man had turned to look at him.

In silence both reached out as they stood side by side, Mortimer's arm around his companion's shoulder, the other's arm now around his waist. He found a bearded face and warm lips pressed to his cheek.

"How fortunate we are, meine liebe," the other whispered. "For us the war is almost over."

"We have all this and Titanic too," Mortimer replied in hushed tones.

Hartenstein turned to face his lover. "And we have each other. Most of all we have each other."

It was late now and a chill wind arose to buffet the two men, swirling around them and ruffling their hair.

Mortimer grinned and beckoned, his companion following as they retreated into their luxurious suite, closing the door firmly behind them as another gust of wind blew against it, the sky outside rapidly growing overcast. Inside, the occupants closed the drapes and turned down the lights, their eyes meeting in a look that spoke of promise and desire; of need and anticipation. Drawn together like moths to a flame they removed each other's garments, their movements neither hurried nor prolonged, but deliberate; a touch here, a caress there as each new piece of bare flesh, softly glowing in the subdued lighting, was revealed to the other's avid gaze.

Together, they turned down the deep rose chintz quilt as they climbed up onto the high bed and slid between smooth, snow white sheets.

For Hartenstein, from the start of their shared dreams, Mortimer had always made him feel special and that had never changed. His warmth, his acceptance of their relationship even in the face of his continued sinking of British vessels, had been a revelation to the German commander and only made him long for peace even more so that they would be able to have a life together after the war was over. They had that now, more than he ever could have dreamed. They had the freedom to be together with no risk, no condemnation, merely curiosity and that was mostly because they had both come from the Third where their countries were at war.

Mortimer was kissing his way around his neck - and it felt so good.

"Meine lieber," he murmured. "Have I told you how much I value our collaboration?"

"If you have I've forgotten." Lips travelled up to the lobe of an ear. "Tell me again."

"Mmm..." Hartenstein sighed. "It is everything to me. Each time we are intimate I am reminded of how much I need our collaboration; how much I value it. My dearest Britischer, you are the world to me. I thought I had lost you."

"Never. You'll never lose me. We'll find each other always."

"How do you know this?"

"I know. I know this since our little adventure back in the Third. We'll always find each other. You have my word."

Hartenstein hugged him. "As you have mine, meine liebe. Nonetheless on this last mission I could not help but fear for you. You were in the water for so long and they told us that, because we were in the Third, there was the possibility of the cessation of our bodies and..."

"Shh... Shh. And if my body had died where would I have gone? Here of course. Never will I go to 4D without you. I belong with you. We belong together. They have told us we're a true pairing, that we belong together. They won't split us up. You suffered anxiety but that was the other purpose of the mission - for you to release some of your karmic debt, which I'm sure you did," he added. "In any case it's over now and I won't have you taking on any more missions like that. It's too hard on you."

"But you suffered too, my British love. You were blown overboard and nearly drowned. I could not bear to have that happen to you again."

"Shh, it's all right. We've survived and we're together on this great ship. What more could we ask for?"

"You're right, meine liebe. Forgive me for being maudlin but I keep seeing you in my mind being blown overboard and then when we couldn't immediately find you and the minutes ticked by and..."

"You worry too much." Smiling, Mortimer leaned down so their mouths could meet in luscious kisses that took their breath away and left their bodies longing for more - more kisses deposited by soft lips, more trails of fire left by playful tongues and fingers.

All thoughts of Mortimer falling overboard disappeared in the space of a blink as his lover tenderly kissed the scar where the bullet had entered before slowly rubbing their cocks together, the sensations driving both men wild.

"Good?"

"Come here."

Hartenstein grabbed his lover and rolled him over to run his hands down his back, kneading the strong muscles there and occasionally sweeping down to the firm buttocks he knew and loved so well until Mortimer rolled onto his back.

"Could it be you are a collaborator, my German captain?"

"Never! How could a loyal German officer possibly be a collaborator?" He trailed kisses over Mortimer's belly and ribs. "After all, you are the enemy - and how could I fall for the enemy?"

Mortimer was sucking on lovely pink nipples which hardened immediately at the touch of his tongue. "And how could I fall for a German commander? How could I be so disloyal? I'm not a collaborator."

A playful tongue dipped into his belly button making him giggle and they rolled over again, Mortimer burying his face in the crook of the other's neck to inhale the scent of eau de cologne and pure Hartenstein. He licked at it. "Mmm... I'm not a collaborator but you're good enough to eat - and I'm going to devour you." He trailed his tongue up the throat and on up to the bearded chin - only to have the tables turned as he was captured and brought level with the other's face to be devoured by lips, teeth and tongue in a kiss that caused both men to groan aloud.

"No, you're not a collaborator," Hartenstein panted, his smoky gaze meeting the other's blue eyes, "but I will do my best to tempt you."

"You're doing a good job of it," Mortimer panted, "and you're damn sexy."

"Ja, and I rejoice in sinking Allied ships - and you are my prisoner and I can do anything I want with you."

"You're evil," Mortimer rejoined as his lover dipped a long finger into the oil.

Hartenstein grinned. "Ja, and you're mine!" He grabbed his lover's tempting arse and began to rub his the oiled finger against the opening, playing there; sometimes pushing, sometimes barely touching. He paused only to dribble more oil on the opening whereupon he teased some more, his lover grinding his hips into the bed in an effort to force his lover to act.

"Stop that!" He held down Mortimer's hips, stopping him from moving. "I don't want you coming yet."

"Then stop teasing me and do something!" Mortimer retorted.

"When I'm ready," a husky voice murmured.

However, the tension was mounting for Hartenstein and he pushed deeply with his finger, sliding it around to rub over the place that he knew always drove his companion wild.

"And now, Mr Mortimer, you are my prisoner!" he accused, gazing down at his lover's ecstasy.

"No! I will not give myself to a German," Mortimer gasped.

"Let me see..." Hartenstein added more oil and inserted a second finger causing a long drawn out groan to escape the other's lips, swollen now with kisses.

"Evil German," Mortimer moaned.

"And you are mine; my prisoner, and I can do as I wish - and I fully intend to fuck you."

"But that would make you a collaborator," Mortimer moaned.

"We shall see. Raise your nice British arse so I may enjoy it." Without further ado he reached under Mortimer and pulled his hips up to meet him, entering him slowly before burrowing deeper.

"Your German prick's in a British arse - that makes you a collaborator," Mortimer moaned.

"I am merely making good use of a prisoner of war - and you're my prisoner," Hartenstein added, pushing deeper on the last two words for emphasis. "And how is that, my British officer? How does it feel to have a big German prick deep in you?"

"I think your German prick wants to collaborate with my British arse," he used internal muscles, "and I have it trapped."

Hartenstein grinned a feral grin as they changed position once more. "I think you are highly dangerous."

"Of course. I intend to make a collaborator out of you, my German captain - and I have." He took his lover's hand pulling it down to feel their joining. His voice was a husky whisper in the other's ear. "Feel us together. Feel your prick in me. Feel me squeeze it." He matched action to words. "You love it when I squeeze it, don't you. You love everything about our joining. You love to fuck a British officer."

"So I do. What does that make me?"

"A collaborator."

"And you? Do you not love to have a German prick up your arse?" Hartenstein inquired between hot breaths that came faster and faster as their movements sped up.

"So I do. What does that make me?"

"Exciting."

"And we are both guilty of horizontal collaboration," Mortimer gasped, unsure how long he could hold out, the warm hand manipulating his cock and the desire for oneness becoming too much for either to hold out any longer, their shared pleasure vibrating their bodies as muffled cries escaped their lips.

Slowly, their breathing returned to normal, the echoes of orgasm leaving them entranced, bodies and minds united as they lay still for untold moments, their only movements that of their heaving chests which gradually quieted.

Finally, they separated, looked at each other and laughed.

"We really were back in the Third," Mortimer remarked as they cleaned up.

Hartenstein, however, was silent, his mood somewhat pensive.

As they settled down for the night Mortimer was wondering what was wrong.

"Ok, what's the matter? Something is clearly bothering you."

"It's nothing, meine liebe, merely a dream."

"The same nightmare?"

Hartenstein nodded. "The same... but each time there is more detail."

"Want to tell me about it?"

"When... When we were back in the Third Realm I dreamt we were prisoners of the British and you were to be executed for treason; for collaborating with a German commander."

"With you, you mean?"

Hartenstein nodded. "I told them it was my fault; that I had tried to get information out of you but you were loyal to your country and you were not a collaborator, but they wouldn't listen. They were still going to execute you and I was trying to save you and..."

His companion was becoming more and more agitated and Mortimer was alarmed.

"Shh..." He held him, stroking gently. "Shh. That didn't happen. That will never happen. We're safe now back in the Fourth Realm where there is no war and no one to accuse us of collaboration of the French kind, or any other kind," he added. He stroked a bearded cheek. "It was only a nightmare, perhaps caused by the fact that we were back in the Third. Besides, I rather enjoy our little collaborations..." He gazed slyly at his companion.

This brought a smile as Hartenstein leaned closer, their lips meeting gently. "War or no war I always want to collaborate with you, my Britischer."

Mortimer hugged him. "That's better."

Outside the wind gusted against the portholes trying to push the big liner out into the main channel and causing her to tug on her moorings. Inside, the two men drifted off, happy in their surroundings and content to be together. However, one of them returned to a nightmare in which his lover was going to be executed, but this time it was worse. This time the dream went further and he was forced to watch helplessly as Mortimer was made to stand before a firing squad and they raised their guns and took aim. As the multiple shots rang out and his lover slumped he was sure that he, too, had been shot as his world came to an end, and he screamed - only to be abruptly calmed.

"Hush, my child," a gentle voice murmured.

Gasping for breath, Hartenstein's tear-filled eyes snapped open to behold a tall figure he knew well, from her flaming red hair to her sword and armour.

Lady Brunhilde placed her hand on his forehead. "Hush now," she murmured. "All is well."

He gazed into her large green eyes, feeling himself calmed. "My lady! You come to me?"

"It's over now and I would not have you suffer further. You're an honourable man; your karma, such as it is, will be banished soon enough. At that time you and your dear one will progress together."

"But the dream? It's like a nightmare and so real."

"I know. I know, dear one."

"Please, my lady, can you tell me of its meaning. I have never had such a nightmare before."

"That's because it was real." Hartenstein stared at her. "Yes, it really did happen. I changed your memories of your sojourn in the Third Realm as I knew you could not bear the thought of seeing your dear one executed and the prospect of living your life without him."

Hartenstein stared at her. "It... happened? You're saying that... that Mortimer was executed in the Third? But... but that's impossible. I was with him all the time except when he was overboard."

He looked down at himself. He was sitting up in bed but beneath the covers he was naked. Briefly, he glanced at Mortimer who seemed to be sound asleep. "Er, my lady, may I get up?"

"Of course. I will turn around." She smiled to herself as Hartenstein jumped out of bed, donned a robe and poured himself a scotch.

"My lady, may I offer you something to drink?"

"You may." At his look of surprise she continued, "I was never a teetotaller," he poured a second scotch, "nor an angel. Let us be comfortable," she said, repairing to a pink chaise longue, her companion following.

"And now, Captain, allow me to answer your questions. What really happened was that when Mortimer fell overboard you jumped in to rescue him. However, instead of being rescued by the crew of your U-boat you were both lost and you were picked up by one of the American cruisers and subsequently handed over to the British. Mortimer was accused of treason for his friendship with you, the enemy. At his trial an American officer, who had been based on Ascension Island and was later transferred to England, testified that there was an injured man with a bad limp amongst the German raiding party which had blown up facilities on the island. He identified Mortimer. Additionally, the officer swore it was both of you he saw that day on Ascension Island. Under oath, Mortimer admitted that it was indeed him. So the military tribunal had no choice but to find him guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy and he was sentenced to be summarily executed. There was no appeal. You begged the tribunal to spare Mortimer's life and take yours instead, but your dear one said no. He was willing to go to his death to spare your life. That is the depth of your love for each other. As a consequence of watching your loved one shot to death you suffered greatly."

Hartenstein found himself shaking his head. "Mein Gott!" he moaned. "But... But that means we were both back in the Third Realm for much longer than we thought."

"Yes. You were there for almost six weeks. When we retrieved your U-boat you were not on it and we had trouble finding you. It wasn't until the extreme emotions you both felt at Mortimer's execution that we were able to perform a successful retrieval for both of you."

"But Mortimer, he doesn't seem to remember any of it."

"I have spoken with dear Cora about this and she agreed that I would alter your memories to what you remember now - Mortimer was knocked overboard, you found him, saved him and completed your mission without further incident. Your crew also remembers this. This is why these missions are dangerous. Things don't always work out the way they should. Cora has agreed that I should alter your memories, which I have already done. It apparently worked with Mortimer as he has no memory of his execution, but you, my dear captain, dream of it. That is how traumatic the experience was for you. I would not have you suffer with this every night. Even here on Titanic, a ship famous for its healing powers, you are still suffering the nightmare of Mortimer's death at the hands of his own countrymen. Indeed I had hoped that she would be able to heal you, yet that, too, has not been possible. Far from it, you are remembering more and more. Even with your loved one by your side this sorrow in your psyche runs deep. This is why I came to you tonight. Will you allow me to heal you?"

Hartenstein turned to look at Mortimer who was still sleeping peacefully.

Lady Brunhilde noticed this. "I have given him a pleasant dream so he will not awaken."

Hartenstein gazed into her green eyes. "It was real..." he breathed. "I was sure there had to be more to the dream. I saw him. I saw the firing squad and I... saw his body collapse." He shuddered in horror. "I wanted them to shoot me instead."

"It's over now." She gazed into his troubled eyes. "Come." Reaching out, she took his hand as she rose to her feet. As he, too, arose she urged him back to the bed. "Now lie down beside your loved one and allow me to heal you."

"I... I feel like a coward that I cannot live with this. After all, it's in the past."

"When Mortimer was shot you were too. You lived it with him, felt it with him. This memory is a deep wound and it is my duty to heal it. I will not have you suffer from this nightmare every night with neither your boat or even the famous Titanic able to take it from you. I would have you live your life here without this memory to constantly bring you sorrow."

He sat on the bed. "If... If I kept the memory would it not help my karma?"

She looked down at the troubled man. "I will not deny that it would but this was never part of the original intention. You are doing well in that department and this aberration is not necessary. The memory of your dear Mortimer lost overboard is more than sufficient. There is no need for you to remember his execution."

"But... But he was executed because of me." There were tears in his eyes now.

"He went willingly to his execution, his heart filled with love for you. He wanted only that you should live."

"As if I could live without him."

"Shh. Come now. Lie down."

Quickly, he removed his robe and slid under the covers to lie beside Mortimer who remained fast asleep.

"Are you ready?"

He nodded. "I thank you, my lady, for your wise counsel. You have been a great comfort to me tonight."

She smiled down at him. "Now hush, my child, and relax. Close your eyes."

Stepping back, she unsheathed her sword and held it above him, slowly moving it from his feet up to his head, pausing there for long moments, her face contorting slightly as she felt his pain.

"This memory is not for you, my child. Release it to me. Release your pain. Yes. You will forget. It's gone now. It's gone - and now you will heal," she murmured. "Sleep now and when you awaken you will have no memory of this."

Opening her large eyes once more she sheathed her sword. Both men before her were sleeping peacefully. Even as she watched Mortimer rolled over and took his captain in his arms, Hartenstein burying his bearded face in his lover's neck with a murmured sigh.

With a smile she covered them up before leaving as she had come.


In the morning, bright and early the two U-boat officers took their leave of Captain Andrews, thanking him for his hospitality before hurrying down the runway and back to their boat. They had no sooner arrived than the senior French engineer from the docks arrived with two assistants bearing equipment.

After introductions the three men commenced work examining the boat inside and out and taking measurements. Occasionally, there was a muttered oath in French and a shaking of the head.

Some fifteen minutes later the three men emerged once more, climbing down onto the deck to confront the captain.

"Sacré bleu, M. Capitaine Hartenstein! To take one torpedo hit is unfortunate; to take two speaks of carelessness! Your U-boat, she is twisted like the corkscrew and she has lost four point five inches of her length. This is not easy to fix. This is not an overnight job. The holes, the cracks, they are easy; the straightening out, she is much more difficult. You have a good boat, M., why do you not take better care of her? Disgraceful! Look at her! She goes in, she goes out; she is bent on both sides. This, M., is sabotage," he accused.

"M. le Gonville, with all due respect, at the time I was unable to defend myself."

"M. le Capitaine, surely you don't expect me to believe that. You have guns, you have radar that can fool other vessels and there is always the diving."

"M., at the time I was under orders to take no action to defend myself. That's why the boat is damaged."

"Huh! Unbelievable! Has the Admiralty gone mad? I shall speak to them. Well I can tell you, M. le Capitaine, this will take a month in drydock, and all the drydocks are fully booked for the next month. This war in the Third makes slaves of us all. To conclude: You go nowhere for the next eight weeks. You will receive a copy of my preliminary report to the Admiralty. The final report cannot be done until your boat she is out of the water and I can make a final determination. I wish you good day, sir."

With that the French engineer turned on his heel and left, his assistants hurrying after him.

Hartenstein sighed, shaking his head as he watched the three men walk down the gangway to the dock. However, Mortimer caught his eye, a mischievous grin on his face.

"He may be French and a pain in the arse but he knows his Oscar Wilde," the British officer remarked. At Hartenstein's blank look he explained. "Carelessness?" Hartenstein still appeared blank. "The Importance of Being Earnest. It's playing in a theatre nearby. We can go and see it."

"Sehr gut, and I must speak to the crew about their leave."

"Several weeks worth of leave..." Mortimer mused.

Hartenstein couldn't help but notice that his companion was grinning like - as the British would say - a cheshire cat.

* * *