Rating: PG for now (?)
Characters: France/England, cameo from Canada
Summery: A long time ago Francis made a promise. Snapshots from their history together, to see when, and if, that promise is fulfilled.
Notes: Someone commented that it seemed as if the chapters were moving a bit fast, and I think its supposed to be that way. These are mere moments in their lives captured into words. I hope you like it :)
The rain fell hard across his shoulders and onto the muddy ground below. His hands sunk deep into the dirt, staining brown but he didn't care. It was so much better then red. But all at once it felt as if even the ground was mocking him and he sat up, desperately wiping his hands on his tattered uniform. This New World he had decided to call his own was tuning on him, biting him. He was being attacked from all sides, from the rain and the dirt that caked his hands and Alfred was-
Alfred was gone.
In his frenzied attempt to clean his hands, Arthur didn't hear the sound of boots squelching in the mud, coming closer. He had been the only one on the battlefield for what felt like hours, knowing that no one was coming to retrieve him. It wasn't until the owner of the boots was a few feet away that he froze, hearing only the rain and the sound of the second thing alive on the field.
Clambering to his feet he whirled on the intruder, drawing his sword and pointing it straight at Francis' heart. An eye for an eye, "This is your fault!" he screamed, fingers shaking around the hilt from the cold of the rain and only that, as he would later try to convince himself, "You did this!"
Francis regarded him, features expressionless and eyes calm. The Frenchman was drenched just as he was, the heavy fabric of the uniform clinging to his limbs like tar, "He was going to leave, Angleterre. You couldn't have kept him."
"I could have bloody well tried!" Dropping the sword he charged, pushing them both down into the mud. He was practically on top of him and still Francis didn't react, serving only to enrage him more as his blood pounded through his veins, the sound of marching soldiers retreating. Arthur grabbed the man's shirt, shaking him, eyes full of enough raw emotion to make up for Francis' lack, "If you hadn't intervened he would still be mine! He's slipped through my fingers and its all your fault!"
"He would have left."
"Stop saying that!" Swinging his arm back he threw a hard punch to Francis' cheek, sending his head jerking sideways into the dirt. It was the first time he'd been able to actually get to Francis this whole war and he'd be dammed if he was going to waste it, "I could still be there for him if you had just stayed out of it! He's going to need me and he just doesn't realize it yet! He's still a kid compared to me!"
"And yet he's beat you. The great British Empire," Francis said, looking back up at him, face covered in filth and drops of rain falling onto his face from where they dripped off his hair.
"Only because you-"
Before he could even finish Francis jerked up, grabbing his shoulders and flipping them so quickly he barely had time to react before he found Francis looming over him instead. Now his blue eyes were alight, burning down into his own, "You are a blind fool, Arthur!"
"He's been growing away from you for years! And as he tried to figure things out on his own you tightened your grip which only made him want to leave you more!"
"No! That's not…!" He shook his head. This wasn't because of him. All he wanted… All he wanted was that feeling again. The feeling that someone cared. The feeling that Francis had torn away so long ago, "Its your fault!"
Francis leaned down even closer, hissing, "I was never going to join the war!"
Arthur stopped struggling, looking up at Francis, "What?"
"I was going to leave you two fools to fight it out for yourselves. But then I took a moment, and I thought about it," Francis bent by his ear, whispering through the rain, "We could have been equals, and you took my precious Matthew away. You took him away and yet still called on me to fix his food and bruised knees and bad dreams. But none of this moment is for my sweet Matthew. This is for her."
His eyes widened, knowing at once what he meant. Ignoring the jolt that shot through his system at the very mention of her he arched his back, trying to escape Francis' hold, "What does that have to do with anything? That was over three hundred years ago!"
"Oui. And it still aches like a thorn in my side. So tell me, Arthur. How could I pass up the opportunity to cause you the same pain?"
Suddenly the weight on top of him was gone as Francis stood, wiping the hair out of his face. Arthur shot to his feet, fists clenched at his sides, "You bastard!"
The glare he received was like ice, "You betrayed me, cher."
"You betrayed me f-first!" he yelled at him, wincing at how his voice cracked, "This isn't revenge, this is making the wound deeper!"
Francis strode closer, grabbing his chin between ice cold fingers, "How could I betray you, Arthur, when you have assured me time and time again that I am the thing you hate most? Well?"
Arthur gaped at him, mouth open and at a loss for words, "I-I… I…" he jerked his chin free, "I don't need to explain anything at all to you! I'm the bloody British Empire!"
"If you say so, Angleterre," Francis wiped the dirt and water from his face. For a moment, as he stared at the skin still so perfect even after the turmoil of their lives, Arthur knew he didn't want things to end like this. He didn't want their parting words to be ones of hatred again.
And then the moment is gone.
"I do say so, you miserable frog! I've still got the rest of the world under my thumb! One confused colony and one surrendering arse that likes to mouth off aren't going to change that!"
Once again Francis gave him that look, that cold, tortured look of someone hardened against the world. Arthur imagined he must look the same by now. It was what life did to you, apparently. If he tries, below the filth and the anger, he can almost see the eyes of the first Francis, the one that wore girly clothes and would tease him before holding him. And again he wants those moments back, to hold them close and never let go. If only the scars didn't run so deep.
"If you say so, Angleterre."
Francis walked off the battlefield. And Arthur was alone again.
Arthur frowned deeply, shuffling papers on his desk. The world had grown to be a very costly place, especially if he were to continue living in the life he was accustomed to. But he was sure he could find a way to maintain it all.
A hesitant knocking at the door made him look up, quickly ordering everything in his workspace, "Come in."
"U-um…" A pale hand curled around the door, followed by half of a head, "Arthur…? I-If you're not to busy…"
A smile spread across his face. Finally a distraction, "Of course, Matthew. Come in, please."
The Canadian takes a step inside, working his lip with his teeth and running his hands together. Even his clothes seem nervous, all rumpled and un-tucked and-
As his eyes fell on the white lily in Matthew's breast pocket he froze, shoulders stiffening, "Matthew? What's…"
"O-Oh, this?" he looked down, blushing a little, "I-I know that you don't really like Papa right now but he sent some over the other day a-and I just thought that they looked so nice…"
At that moment Arthur knew that it was all over. The flower could have meant next to nothing but yet somehow he knew. By the end of the meeting Matthew had his independence. He doesn't tell Francis.