Author: Teenage Mouse PM
Twelve year old Arthur decides to try a spell to find out the identity of his soulmate. Hints at USUK in the future, but they're just kids at the moment.Rated: Fiction K - English - Friendship - England/Britain & America - Words: 4,403 - Reviews: 21 - Favs: 92 - Follows: 23 - Published: 12-13-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7635183
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
~ My Soulmate ~
Twelve year old Arthur Kirkland didn't just believe in magic – he was an active practitioner.
For now it wasn't anything too world-changing or complicated (though one day he would discover just how deep the supernatural world ran through the veins of reality). At the moment it was more receptive magic: if he asked properly and gave something fair in exchange, then the world would give him the little gifts it thought he deserved.
And one day he summoned the courage (not using a spell of course – you had to have the real willpower to ask for these things, or you shouldn't be allowed them) to perform a little enchantment he had always wanted to try.
He was dreadfully worried that it wouldn't work. What if the world didn't think he was good enough for this information? It was absolutely sacred after all, and he was only a little boy. He could try again later, of course, when he was more powerful – but he really, really hoped it would work now. To find out what he was asking to know would encourage him for years to come, he just knew it. Even at twelve years old he was lonely, and people made fun of him for his belief in magic and fairies. And he didn't plan on hiding that part of himself any time soon so he knew it would only get worse. He was starting senior school next month and as soon as people met him they were going to reject him.
But if he had this person to think about, then he could make it through. He just knew it.
His soul mate.
That was what he was asking for now: to know who his soul mate was.
The enchantment wasn't about introducing them and starting the relationship, heavens no. That was the sort of thing no magic could interfere with – human beings had to do these things themselves.
But if the spell worked then the world would make sure it led them to each other. Just by chance, just for a moment – something they would easily forget under normal circumstances.
But Arthur wouldn't forget. He would remember, for as long as it took for them to meet again, because he would know he had somebody to look forward to. Someone who would like him and stick with him no matter what.
He smiled at the very thought of it.
He worked hard all summer holiday on the spell. It meant tweaking ones he found in books and online, because he knew that although these ones weren't the truth anymore, the ancient elements were still there sometimes. And he had a knack for figuring out what was old and real and true, and what was just modern filler rubbish. A flower he grew by hand, as it said in this spell; the images on which to focus, he discovered on this webpage; Sunday, it said in this book he found at the library…
Near the end of August it was all ready. So one Saturday night, a very blue night with a lovely creamy moon, he went out into the garden while his parents slept, performed his precious ritual carefully and dedicatedly, and went back to sleep with a hand-grown rose under his pillow.
The next day found him sitting on the edge of the fountain in the middle of the town square, warm sunshine beaming down at him as if encouraging him that this was the right place to be.
He'd let his instincts lead him there. A warm breath of air beckoned him down this street; a pretty song drifting through an open window carried him on; a wonderful smell from the bakery round the corner, and now…here he was.
Nervous, agitated and…well, to be honest, downright terrified.
What if she didn't show?
There were several terrible reasons why he might be let down, Arthur couldn't help but morbidly remind himself.
He had no soul mate. He would be alone forever.
She was dead already. Children died sometimes, it happened. And then he would be alone forever.
The world decided he wasn't to be trusted with this information. He wasn't good enough at magic yet.
The world decided he wasn't to be trusted with this information. He would never be good enough at magic, so he would never be allowed this valuable information.
Possibly the worst part was that if she didn't show up, he wouldn't know why – any of those four options could be responsible. He could wait for her forever and she might just never show up…
Arthur got up, too fidgety and anxious and worried to sit still for long.
He walked forwards a bit until he could see all the way up and down the busy high street. He glanced in one direction and then the other very pointedly – to show other passers-by that he was expecting someone, not just that he was a loner who randomly sat around on fountains like a weirdo.
The fountain itself was outside the little village town hall, which was set back a bit from the surrounding buildings to make a (very) little town square where the fountain sat. Pedestrians bustled leisurely up and down both sides of the high street, doing their Sunday shopping and errands.
He didn't see anyone his age around. And he doubted that his soul mate would be so much older than him that it could be one of these ladies rushing to and fro, happily and busily on the bright Sunday afternoon.
He turned back and stared at the little fountain, a monument to his town's centennial and the location he (or destiny) had chosen to make his meeting place today.
It was old, the grey stone of the round basin very much worn and rough to the touch. A rabbit, of all things, was the centrepiece, once bronze but now a soft, minty green with age. The rabbit perched in mid-leap on a small vine-decorated pedestal only a head or two taller than Arthur. The water bubbled up and out of the rabbit's shoulders, looking like long drooping wings as the water poured in thick streams down to the pool in the basin. The water sparkled in the sunlight, blinding him when it caught the light too perfectly, and giving the whole statue the image of being surrounded in magic fairy dust.
He was transfixed for a moment, watching the afternoon sunlight catch the flickering, endless movement of the water as it flowed down, splashing softly into the bowl from which it came. The splash as the waterfall met the pool would be there forever – it never settled, and the ripples never ended, and the water in the basin would shoot up through the pillar again and come out and back down and shoot up again, the cycle going on forever…
Before he even had time to notice that his peace of mind had been shattered, something was crashing into him, jarring every inch of his mind and body as he was knocked clean over onto the cobblestones.
"Dude! Sorry! You okay?"
Arthur blinked dazedly at the ground (why was it so close to his face?), feeling completely disorientated. What was…What was going on?
You're righteously indignant right now, that's what's going on, was the first instruction his brain supplied. Well, that he could manage, no matter how confused the rest of him felt.
He got up slowly and carefully, brushing himself off and glaring over at the little boy behind it all who wasn't looking nearly sorry enough.
Arthur was very angry all of a sudden: a number of problems all boiling up at the same time and finding a perfect opportunity to let themselves out with a bang. The boy expected to get yelled at right now, so Arthur wouldn't need to feel too guilty letting loose for a moment.
"I'm fine, no thanks to you! You can't just go barging into people like that! You could really hurt someone!"
"Well, I didn't do it on purpose," the boy pouted, looking petulantly at the pavement and just annoying Arthur even further.
"Maybe not, but you're completely inconsiderate. Only thinking about yourself, running around, not caring if you knock into someone."
"Dude! Why are you being so mean?"
Arthur choked. He had every right to be whatever he wanted to be to anyone! How dare some kid question him?
"I don't have time for this. Just go away and carry on with whatever you were doing. But be more careful!"
The boy frowned at him in confusion, nodded slowly, and wandered off at a controlled leisurely pace.
Arthur went back and sat on the edge of the fountain feeling grumpy, sad, and let-down.
A few minutes of silence passed, Arthur staring at the ground and forgetting to scan the people walking past him for a soul mate because he was just feeling so discouraged.
Suddenly, though, he realised that the shadow which had just passed close in front of him was coming closer and…sitting down next to him.
He looked up with vulnerable hope in his eyes and saw the boy who had crashed into him. His face must have darkened as much as his emotions had inside because the boy almost cowered away from him.
"Um, sorry about a minute ago. You want some?" And he held out a box of chocolate covered sweets of some kind.
Arthur's face softened a bit, though the offer did nothing much to lift his spirits.
"Thank you," he said, and then added before he chickened out: "Sorry for yelling at you. That wasn't fair of me. It was an accident after all."
"No problem, dude! You're having a bad day or something, I get'cha!"
And Arthur couldn't help but brighten a little at the beaming smile that burst on to the boy's face as he was absolved of his earlier crime.
"Don't call me 'dude'" complained Arthur, because he didn't quite feel like being entirely happy again yet. "My name is Arthur."
"Cool. I'm Alfred. Anyway, here, I seriously bought them to share with you." Alfred held out the bright red box of chocolates, popping one into his own mouth to show they were edible.
Nobody had shared anything with him for God knows how long, let alone bought something specifically to share with him! Obviously the boy hadn't meant the simple little gesture to mean something that big, so Arthur wouldn't let a simple act of human kindness get the better of him.
Arthur reached in and touched one, then drew his hand back in shock. "They're so cold!"
"Duh! It's ice cream!"
Alfred bit one in half carefully, wincing as the cold stabbed into the tips of his teeth, and showed Arthur the inside. He had never seen ice cream like this. They were little bite-sized pieces of chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream. And it turned out they were wonderful.
"It's delicious," Arthur said, when he realised Alfred was staring at him, obviously waiting for some sort of verdict. Alfred nodded, his smile crinkling his eyes shut, and crammed some more of the ice cream bites into his mouth.
"Thank you," Arthur said again.
They sat in silence for a minute, Alfred swinging his legs to and fro as they didn't quite reach the ground from the edge of the fountain where they were sitting.
"Weren't you in a hurry to go somewhere?" asked Arthur, expecting this little shining moment of having company to disappear soon when Alfred remember he had somewhere more important to be.
"Yeah," Alfred chuckled sheepishly. "Ice cream." He held up the nearly empty box of ice cream bites.
Arthur raised one of his thick, dark eyebrows at the boy. They were very good at expressing any emotion the volatile English boy needed to get across, leaving Arthur free to keep quiet when he wanted to.
"Mom's shopping and I was bored, so she said I could go buy ice cream and meet her here later."
"Oh," said Arthur.
"What are you doing here?"
Arthur glanced at the innocent little face of his newfound companion. He hadn't expected Alfred to be that perceptive as to realise other people had their own stories to tell, too. He assumed that Alfred was one of those 'the world revolves around me' types of people. For all Alfred probably cared, Arthur was sitting here waiting for him because Alfred would want company while his mother shopped.
Although, why he was judging someone he'd only just met was a bit unwarranted, Arthur admitted to himself. Alfred was just a little boy, give him a break. Not everyone he would ever meet in his life was going to be as untrustworthy and insincere as the family and schoolmates he was used to now.
This little boy with the golden wheat-coloured hair, the TV accent and bright blue eyes might actually be a genuinely nice person for all he knew.
"I'm waiting for someone."
Everything led to more questions with this boy!
"I…I don't know. I've never met them before." And now things would get ugly.
"Oooooh…" gasped Alfred, eyes widening as some worrisome realisation struck him. "You met them on the Internet? That's dangerous Arthur. You shouldn't do that."
"No I didn't bloody meet them on the Internet, you moron! I'm not stupid!" Arthur snapped, face flushing at the very thought of what Alfred was suggesting about him.
"Then…how do you know them?"
"I don't know them. Yet. And they don't know me. We haven't planned to see each other today. It's just that today I'm going to…meet someone by chance and they'll turn out to be someone very important in my life later."
"Like…like you have a gut feeling about this? Or…" Alfred trailed off, obviously trying to understand, bless him, which was better than what most people offered him.
"Sort of. I…" He hated lying about magic, because he loved it and was proud to be a part of that world. But…Well, he didn't want this innocent little boy turning on him like everyone else. That would just be depressing. "I just kind of hoped." It wasn't a lie – just not telling the whole truth.
"So you're just going to bump into someone? That's all you want? And it'll be like destiny, and that person will end up being your friend one day?"
"Yes." To put it in its simplest terms, anyway. Then again, Alfred was a child.
There was a pause that Arthur didn't really notice. He was staring out at the crowd again but not even seeing them anymore. The empty box of ice cream bites sat between them, and Arthur's mouth was still cold from the taste of them.
"So has it happened yet?" asked Alfred eventually, unable to keep the genuine curiosity out of his voice.
"No. I've been here for hours and…nothing."
"Well…" Alfred paused and fidgeted, sitting on his hands. It looked like he was almost too shy to suggest what he wanted to say. Like he was intruding on something he shouldn't be. "You met me didn't you?"
Arthur opened his mouth to retort and then whipped his head round to stare at Alfred, completely dumbstruck.
He was right.
This was what he'd asked for. This was what he'd wanted.
I mean…Alfred wasn't a girl, but…Well, that was kind of strange, in all honesty, but he couldn't deny that it wasn't possible. He was just a little boy, was he really going to assume that he knew better than the world when it tried to tell him something?
He hadn't asked the world to deliver him a soul mate made to his specifications. He hadn't asked to meet a girl. He had asked to meet someone. And the world had given that to him. A gift. He wasn't going to ignore it when it was actually exactly what he'd asked for, and he knew that the world certainly knew better than he did. Who was he to reject what the world had given him when he'd asked for guidance?
"It's nice to meet you," said Arthur.
Alfred's face scrunched in a bewildered smile, which soon turned into the beam that Arthur was quickly coming to gather was the boy's trademark.
"It's good to meet you, too!"
He looked at the boy a lot closer now, trying to memorise every detail for the hard years ahead.
A round face. Bronzed skin – certainly more tanned than English weather permitted. And that accent – he was from America. And actually that golden hair, tanned skin and those shiny blue eyes reminded Arthur of a wheat field: a wide open, golden space, warm breeze, big arching skies – all empty, but comforting, and growing and full of life, with no restrictions.
He would remember Alfred. When life got hard and he felt alone, he'd think of a wheat field, think of running his hands over the crops and staring up at the sky, and he'd feel better. He was sure of it.
Just a small meeting, something Alfred would forget. But it had given Arthur a happy place to go to in his mind when he needed to lift his spirits when it seemed the most impossible.
This enchantment, this meeting, was the best magic he'd ever found. Who knew he would get so much out of something so small?
There was just one thing he wanted to know before he let himself get too excited.
"Alfred, do you believe in magic?"
As certain as the response sounded, Arthur couldn't help but worry. Alfred was just a little boy – one day he would stop believing.
"You know grown ups don't believe in it, right?"
"I know. Isn't that lame?" laughed Alfred. "I mean, they know that Santa Claus comes every year and the tooth fairy goes around giving people money and they still don't believe in it! Grown ups are weird!"
"Well, Alfred, there are different kinds of magic than that, too," Arthur said, carefully. "Stuff that most grown ups don't know about, but even if you told them they wouldn't believe you." Alfred was watching him closely, trying to follow the serious turn the conversation had taken. "It's very hard to believe in things, especially as you get older. You get so used to what you know that you refuse to believe in anything else. It's sad, because it means you miss out on a lot, and it hurts the people who do believe in those things. Just because you live one life, doesn't mean the things that other people believe in are wrong. You know?" He looked up at Alfred for confirmation, and Alfred nodded. "So…I know we only just met bu– "
"But we'll be friends one day," Alfred interrupted, offering a smile. "That's what you said, right?"
Arthur couldn't help but smile back. "Right. Anyway, I just want you to…promise me that you will try and believe in magic for as long as possible." He blushed, feeling ridiculous for saying this. This was probably putting Alfred off more than just saying outright 'I do magic and that's how we met today.'
"Even when you're too old to really care, and it doesn't seem important to believe in magic anymore," Arthur continued, examining the hands he twiddled in his lap to avoid looking at the bewildered expression that must be on Alfred's face. "Just make you sure you don't reject everything you hear just because it sounds stupid to you. It's not like you know everything about the world, right? So try not to forget that magic might be real. Okay?"
Alfred shifted, making Arthur look up. The younger boy was facing him more directly now, his torso twisted at an odd angle from his waist. He held a hand over his heart and looked with all the seriousness he could muster into his new friend's eyes. "I promise that I will keep believing in magic. Even when people tell me it doesn't exist; even if it ever starts sounding dumb to me. I'm a hero, and heroes have to keep an open mind because they always have to expect the unexpected."
Arthur so wanted to reach out and hold his hands. But he didn't quite dare. He'd have to wait till next time.
"It takes a hero to keep an open mind when the world tells you to shut it. But I know you can do it, Alfred."
Alfred beamed, and despite himself, Arthur really had faith in him. He knew he should at least try and be a bit cynical so that when the day came and Alfred rejected him for being a weirdo, then he wouldn't feel too crushed. But he just couldn't find it in himself to believe that's that what would happen. He could trust Alfred, he just knew it. Alfred wouldn't let him down.
Now that that was over, they talked.
Favourite movies, video games, sports, books, then comic books (because they weren't the same thing, Arthur insisted), food, and so on. And Arthur learnt little details that he quickly stashed away because they would be important for later.
Has a twin brother named Matthew; lives in Virginia (just here for the summer vacation visiting family); wants to be a hero when he grows up; better at science subjects than arts, so they probably wouldn't end up meeting in the same courses at university (it seemed a little early to ask "So, Alfred, what university do you think you'll go to?" but he hoped that that's where they'd meet again, because he didn't want it to take too long)…
The sun had sunk well below the red tiled rooftops of the high street, and the fountain had fallen into shadow without them noticing how chilly it had gotten. A pretty young blonde woman appeared, called to Alfred to come with her, offered a smile to Arthur, was here to bring an end to his magic spell.
Alfred swung himself off the fountain and turned to look head-on at Arthur. Arthur stared at him, wishing he could tell him not to go, to stay with him because he was going to be lonely without him and they were supposed to be together anyway, so why wait?…
But he knew that that wasn't what this enchantment was for. He had been allowed to meet Alfred. To give him a ray of light to lift him up when he was in the dark.
He would have to get lucky and meet him properly again on his own.
"I'm happy I met you today," was all that he decided it was safe for him to say.
"Yeah, me too. And we'll meet again, right?" he added, looking nervous and hopeful.
"Abso-bloody-lutely," smiled Arthur, then shrank back looking sheepish as he hoped that Mrs. Jones hadn't heard him swear.
Alfred laughed. "Well…I can't wait." He was almost blushing. God, Arthur was going to miss him. But at least he had their future meeting to look forward to.
"I'll see ya then, Artie!"
He'd been flustered at the nickname, passing it off as annoyance when actually he was delighted, right down to his core, that someone had given him a nickname like they were close friends.
"See you later," said Arthur, not just to be polite.
Alfred waved and walked away towards his mother.
"Wait! Alfred how old are you?"
Alfred turned around and smiled, despite the bizarre question and the desperate voice it had been shouted in.
"I'm 8! What about you?"
Arthur deflated. "Bloody 12…" he muttered.
"Cool," said Alfred, not getting what was going on. "See ya!"
"Bye…Alfred." As soon as they were out of sight he added "My soul mate" just to see how it tasted.
He had to wait a while and make sure that he wouldn't run in to them on the way home, or he was sure he'd grab Alfred and never let him go.
8 years old. Oh, Alfred, that's not fair. When I'm 18 you'll only be 14…Now I have to wait for you even longer…
I had a few books on Wicca when I was a teenager and would look up stuff online because I found it really interesting. This one spell was always cropping up: 'find the person you're going to marry'. Some of the common elements of the spell (or the versions of the spell that I read, anyway) are mentioned in the story.
Arthur is not a Wiccan in this story, by the way. That's just where I got the idea. I don't think England's magic can really be classified as any particular type of magic or spirituality – it's his own particular brand.
Arthur is very not tsun tsun in this. In fact, it appears that he will be actively seeking out Alfred's love in the future. What blasphemy is this?
But don't worry: he will still be the Stuffy McGrumpypants we all know and love when they meet again. Because by then he'll have become more cynical and not believe in something so convenient as soul mates (despite remembering the spell); he'll never let himself believe that Alfred could like him, anyway; and he'd be resentful that he loves Alfred hopelessly, despite all that.
But never fear: there will be a happy ending for these two.