Author: Lusky PM
Arthur Kirkland is whisked out of his dreary life in London to attend the Academy at Pangaea, a United Nations programmed school for the exceptionally gifted. Within this new, surreal atmosphere, he discovers much more about the Academy - and those confined to it - than he ever thought he would. Gakuen AU, EnglandxBelgium.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Sci-Fi - England/Britain & Belgium - Chapters: 20 - Words: 162,885 - Reviews: 55 - Favs: 29 - Follows: 36 - Updated: 05-22-13 - Published: 05-31-12 - id: 8169565
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Version 1.2, updated 22.06.12: Complete story reformat, several punctuation and grammatical mistakes fixed, interrobang now included.
A/N: I am usually so-so with the concept of high school AUs. They usually do not appeal to me. However, as Gakuen Hetalia is considered part of canon to an extent, as is Hetalia Fantasia and Cardverse, I warmed to the idea as it was in my head. The storyline seemed to work better in a Gakuen setting than in the canon setting.
Anyway, I haven't written a piece of fanfiction for quite a while, so anything constructive in the criticism department is much appreciated. As of now, I have an idea of where the story is going to go, but in certain aspects I'm not sure whether to follow my head or my heart. One of these aspects is pairings. I can inform you that the primary pairing will eventually be EnglandxBelgium, as stated in the outer summary. To a minor extent, pre-established Denmark/Norway is also included. There will also be references of OCxOC pairings; as the story stands so far, SerbiaxFYRMacedonia (pre-established and depicted as het), and CzechiaxSlovakia (also pre-established and het). In spite of this, I must stress, romance is not the driving force of this story. Yes, it's going to be included, but it will never subtract from the main theme.
Which leads me to say that there will be usage of headcanons and, obviously, OC countries in this fic. They will not be used in complete excess, but I suggest that if neither of them are to your tastes, you don't read on. There will also be references to OC versions of canon nations; not to replace the canons, however, but to complement them. You will see what I mean, as the story progresses.
Um, alright, disclaimer time. I don't own Hetalia, Gakuen Hetalia, or any of the canon characters. This story is entirely for entertainment purposes and not for profit... What do you think this is, Fifty Shades of Grey?
Now, without further ado, please enjoy!
'Nor shall derision prove powerful against those who listen to humanity or those who follow in the footsteps of divinity, for they shall live forever. Forever.' -Khalil Gibran.
If anyone had asked Arthur Kirkland one month prior to his transfer that he'd be leaving his job behind to head to a boarding school, attended by only a select few and situated on a secluded island in... God-only-knows where (it was top secret, or so he had been told), he'd have told them, word for word, that they were 'absolutely bloody mental'.
He had never once in his life considered himself boarding school material. That wasn't to say he wasn't intelligent, no, far from it; he felt he was exceedingly intelligent. However, his life so far hadn't been favourable, by any standard. There were dozens of reasons why this was, and were one to enquire, he'd explain honestly; though, he would be disgruntled by the subject. The main reasons that he never thought he'd ever find himself in a boarding school were quite simple enough. For one, he had been brought up by a struggling single mother. Arthur could detail why she struggled, asides from the fact that she was alone, however, again he thought of it as a personal matter, and would not be too happy if questioned about it too much. In a nutshell, the household funds were low, and – as Arthur would tell anyone whom enquired – in the end, his mother could barely afford to take care of herself, let alone a child. From when he was eleven to the age of sixteen, he had lived in a children's home. These factors taken into account, it seemed more likely to him that Hell would freeze over before he'd go to a boarding school. In fact, it was so ludicrous to him, that he'd never even taken it into consideration before.
And yet, there he was... Almost. He was still on the car journey from the island's docks to the school itself, pinching at his wrist every so often to make sure this wasn't some incredibly detailed, incredibly ridiculous dream. Perhaps if he pinched hard enough, he'd wind up back in his cramped little flat in London... Most likely with a terrible hangover, too.
This had all begun one week ago. Just less than, actually, were he to make an estimate. Despite the job he had scrubbing sticky pub floors every night after closing time, ready for them to be covered in beer and blood and... Other liquids the next evening, for him to clean up once again, and so on and so forth, Arthur considered himself a musician, above all things. By day, he would play his guitar in the underground stations of London, for whatever extra money it would make him. So, when he had been approached after finishing one day by a man in a black suit, he thought at first that he'd been caught playing down there illegally. When – to his relief – he discovered the man wasn't from the authorities at all, he suspected he was a talent scout of some description. And in a way, that was true.
"I'm not here to sign you up to a record label." The man had explained to him. "I'm here to offer you a different kind of opportunity."
He spoke with the man for at least an hour, perhaps two, back in his flat, upon the man's request. Once the initial wall of suspicion that Arthur had put up died down, he had switched to being a little flustered at inviting him into a cheap, rented place that looked like a bomb had hit it, but it didn't seem to be much of a bother to the man. He had explained to Arthur that 'the Academy at Pangaea', as he had called it, was part of a program designed to cultivate genius minds. A secretive United Nations project; there was one person from every country attending, as a representative of sorts. The delegates were carefully selected, and each and every one of them excelled in intelligence, and were possibly gifted at a skill. These skills were to be honed at the Academy until they were nothing short of perfect.
And when they meant perfect, they meant near superhuman.
It just so happened that, out of all the possible choices from England – of all the Oxford or Cambridge graduates that were most likely on the list, of all the overly intelligent and overly wealthy young men and women that could have been selected – that Arthur Kirkland, a seventeen-year-old (1) street musician, was chosen to fill his country's spot at the Academy.
"This all sounds terribly farfetched." Arthur had told the man half way through the conversation, peering at him over his cup of tea with a heavy eyebrow cocked. "Who do you think I am, Harry Potter?"
Arthur kept that mentality for the rest of the week. Even as he packed his belongings, even as he set out for the flight to New York, and the connecting flight to an unspecified location. Even as he got on the boat from there, all the while being escorted by not just one, but several men in black suits. Part of him began to wonder if he was in trouble with the FBI and not actually going to a secret high-level boarding school in the middle of the ocean. It wasn't until he actually caught sight of the massive white-brick walls that surrounded the school, marking its location, that it really sunk in.
He was, by nature, initially distrustful of people. He didn't know, himself, why he had accepted the offer. Surely he could have turned it down, surely they could have chosen someone else to take the place. But somehow, it seemed like this opportunity sounded, in a way, a damn sight better than the repetitive and – were he entirely honest with himself – lonesome life he led in London.
At first, he thought the walls looked more like they bordered a prison, and something inside him decided panicking was a good idea, although, he swallowed down any comment; stuffed into a car between two rather bulky looking men wearing sunglasses ('of course', he had spat mentally, 'of course there would be bloody stereotypical security guards here'), he decided saying anything particularly off-hand about the 'school' was a bad idea. The car had stopped for authorisation at the gates, but once they had driven on inside, his fears seemed to disappear.
There were several buildings, four he could see from the car; all a beautiful flawless white brick, each vast in size and grand-looking. He had to try very hard not to stare gaping out of the window (again, however, his position squashed like a sardine in the car made it difficult to do so anyway). If that was not the boarding school that had been described to him, it was certainly the most marvellous prison he'd ever seen.
The car pulled up at the front entrance. When Arthur got out, the sky was still as blue and the air still as warm and as fresh as it had been at the docks. He was grateful for that... For the time being, at least. What he wasn't particularly grateful for, however, was being told by one of the guards to go ahead alone into the school. They left his suitcase and guitar with him, gotten back in the car, turned and gone back the way they had come, down the long drive to and from the gates. He'd stood staring at the car, watching it leave in a sort of disbelief. How could they just leave him there!? He thought that quite disorganised and, dare he say it, rude of them. Huffing a colourful swear word under his breath, he glanced around for a couple of moments. It was mid morning, and he was alone out there; the other students and the staff were all inside, he assumed. In class, or such. He heaved up his luggage and turned towards the pristine steps of the entrance.
The school was very new, if he remembered rightly. The project had only been conceived fifteen years ago, and only opened ten years ago. It made sense that the buildings would still be in very good condition, everything else like the fact that it belonged to the United Nations aside. Upon entering through what he could only assume were the front doors (having to juggle his luggage at the same time, which he found a pain, too; couldn't those suited men have at least stayed to help him with that?), he stared around again. He had – in all honesty – expected a ridiculously overly-fancy interior, with a high-ceilinged foyer and marble flooring; although both of those were apparent, the hallway was very clean and open, much like the exterior. Despite its simplicity, it amazed him... He'd never been in a place like this before in his whole life.
"Hello there." A voice spoke to him plainly, drawing his attention away from the scale of the ceiling. Only then did he realise he had been gaping like a fish out of water at it, which lead him to become slightly irritated with himself, especially since someone else had been watching.
He was approached by deeply tanned man, wearing an intricately detailed red and gold kurta (2), and a polite smile. Arthur wondered why, in such a plainly coloured room, he hadn't spotted this man first, before staring around like an idiot.
"Erm. Yes, hello." He replied awkwardly.
"Arthur Kirkland, isn't it?" The man offered his hand to shake. "Amitav Shaatri (3), to give you my real name, but please call me 'India'. The rest of the school is in assembly right now."
Arthur shook his hand. India? He could tell that the man was Indian, yes, that was very clear from his appearance and his accent, but why did he asked to be called by his country's name? He suddenly recalled, as if it had been completely obvious the whole time, that this was a school for national delegates... That was the most obvious explanation, still, he wondered exactly why.
"But we heard you were arriving soon, so I've been waiting for you here. Perhaps you'd like for me to show you to your dorm? I expect you're exhausted from travelling."
"Ah... Yes, I am rather." He replied. There were many other things that Arthur wanted to say now that he was here; many other things that he wanted to ask, but he decided to keep them to himself for the time being.
"Right this way, Arthur."
He picked his belongings back up and walked with India. The entire building seemed silent, and their footsteps rang out on the hard flooring. Arthur lagged slightly, though he tried to disguise it. The man was right, he really was exhausted – he'd just only realised now it had been mentioned.
"We've been looking forward to having you here." There was something serene about the way India spoke and carried himself. It was calming, but Arthur at the time wasn't very appreciative. Arthur felt like it could send him to sleep whilst he was still plodding along, his posture quite hunched in comparison to the other man's.
He said nothing.
"You understand what you're here for, don't you?" India enquired, as they left the back doors of the foyer and stepped out into an empty quad in the middle of the buildings.
"To an extent." Arthur replied, staggering a bit when India came to a sudden halt, forcing himself to do the same. "Urk-!"
"On your left are the male dormitories." India made a slight hand gesture to the left side of the quad, the smile still on his face, as if he were completely oblivious to Arthur almost tripping up next to him. "On your right, are the female dormitories." He motioned to the right side, before motioning in the same manner forward. "Across from here is the auditorium, where assembly is being held." He withdrew his arm and made a quick turn on his heel to face Arthur. "Now, do you have any questions?"
'Plenty', Arthur thought, but he didn't seem to be able to muster the energy to reel them all off. He considered asking bitterly if India was going to leave him to find his dorm himself, as the guards had done when escorting him there. He opened his mouth, but decided to shut it again, shaking his head.
"Then I have one for you, if you don't mind."
Arthur's tone of voice went cautious, for a moment. "...Yes?"
"Do you mind me calling you England now? I understand it can take some getting used to."
He stared longer at India at that moment than perhaps he should have. The man smiled sedately the entire time. Awkwardly, Arthur glanced away again, clearing his throat a bit. "Erm. Yes. I honestly don't see the reason why, but I suppose if it's the done thing here..."
India gave a slight nod. "It is purely a formality." He turned again, beginning to walk. Arthur scrambled for his suitcase and guitar again. "You will refer to teachers by their country's name, and they will refer to you in the same respect. Outside of class, your friends – however – you needn't."
Friends? Arthur frowned at the word. He'd never really been all that good at making friends. He'd had one or two at his old school, but he preferred his own company. Well, that was what he liked to think, at least. Still, walking with India again, in the direction of the male dorms, he said nothing on the subject, though he did have something else to ask about, "Are you a teacher, then?" He was asking for confirmation more than anything. India didn't seem to carry himself like a student would, although he could have been wrong, and maybe he was just a prefect of sorts. He seemed to be older than Arthur was, at least.
"That's correct. I teach Advanced Mathematics here."
"I see..." Arthur muttered, another question crossing his mind. "So then, there isn't a student from India here, I imagine?"
"Not any more, no." The man chuckled lightly as he opened the door of the dorm building and stepped in, at least being courteous enough to hold it open for Arthur. "I attended from the year the school was opened, but as the teaching slot needed filling, I stayed after graduation."
"Oh." Arthur said out of politeness, but he didn't think he really cared about the details, though it made enough sense. India hadn't exactly seemed old enough to be a teacher otherwise. "So, only one delegate from each country, right? For both students and teachers?"
He thought India might have gotten annoyed at being asked a question that Arthur – in his opinion – should have been told about before coming. But the man remained as calm as usual. "There are a couple of exceptions, but generally, yes." (4)
It was when they began to climb the stairs up to the first floor that his demeanour changed.
"So... Assuming there was one, where's the England before me, now?"
As soon as Arthur asked that, he saw the smile drop from India's face into a flat line. He was one step behind the man on the staircase, and he wasn't looking back at him, but he could see that the emotion suddenly drained from his eyes, too. A pang of guilt hit Arthur inside... He didn't know why, but he shouldn't have asked that.
"Erm... Oh, sorry." He muttered, though it didn't sound too genuine.
India had been looking forward the entire time, but he glanced back over his shoulder then at Arthur, offering him another smile. "Don't let it trouble you." He faced back forward, then.
He figured it was none of his business, given that he received no actual answer. That was alright, he supposed, but he was curious nonetheless. Had India been close friends with the last England? Perhaps they had both been teachers and England was forced to leave suddenly. He walked with the man down a wide corridor of wooden doors, each labelled with a number on a gold circular plaque, and reasonably spaced out from each other. They were very obviously the dorm rooms.
India came to another halt at a door roughly halfway down the corridor. He reached into a pocket in his kurta, took out a key and turned towards Arthur, extending his hand. "Your uniform is in your room. I expect you're still tired, so you're free to sleep for some time if you'd like; however, please take a look at the class list and return your options to the front desk this evening."
Arthur took the key, half-mumbling a, 'Thank you'.
"If there's nothing else..." India stepped backwards, and motioned to the door. "I'll be sure to let everyone know you're here."
That sounded a little more foreboding than it perhaps should have. "I, erm... Alright." Arthur glanced at the door for a moment. The plaque read 118, as did the the tag on his key.
"Have a good rest. See you later, England."
India walked around him. Arthur watched him head back down the hallway for a few moments... England. It sounded strange, as a title. He hoped he'd be able to get used to it. His attention back on the door, he placed the key in the lock and turned it.
He'd had to put his suitcase down to accept the key, but once the door was opened wide, he picked it up and had to try very hard not to throw it into the room. There were two beds in the room, on opposite sides, separated by a wide window, through which the sun was shining and pale blue curtains hung. From what he could see, the room backed onto a field outside, meaning the rooms opposite would overlook the quad. One of the beds had various books and what appeared to be a couple of magazines on it, but he was tired, and his arms were hurting, and so he didn't care too much about that bed. The other bed had the Academy's blue and yellow uniform on it, neatly set out; a shirt, plaid pants, a tie and a sweater. There were duplicates of each article of clothing folded up neatly in a stack next to them, too. Upon closer inspection, after having brought his belongings inside and shut the door, Arthur indeed found that there was a class list and a few other notes on top of the bed sheets. Deciding he was well and truly too weighed down by the jet lag, among other things, he folded the clothes up as best he could, setting them on the floor by the bed in an organised pile, and placed the papers under the lamp on the night stand.
So this was it, he thought, whilst lying down on top of the bed facing the wall, resting his head on the pillow and immediately shutting his eyes, blocking out the brightness of the room. Part of him still didn't quite believe he was really there, at that fabled Academy he'd been told about one week ago. Arthur still expected that, when he opened his eyes, he'd be back in his flat, and it would have all turned out to be a dream.
(1) – Ages have been tweaked to roughly work within a high school setting.
(2) - A kurta is a traditional piece of menswear in India. I wasn't sure how to describe it other than use the correct name for it.
(3) – India doesn't have a human name, and I don't have one for him myself, so I went with one that I found. If it wasn't clear, human names and country names will both be used in this story.
(4) - I changed this line because I realised if this wasn't the case, I wouldn't be able to include characters such as Prussia or Romano in later chapters.
Reviews are love, and I would appreciate it if someone would check over my grammar, too. I'm pretty sure it's okay but it's always nice to have a second opinion to work with. Thanks guys!