The crisp smell of fall air filled my nose and I smiled. I was smiling at nothing I suppose; maybe the smell of maple leaves in the fall was a comfort to me. And the sight of the red leaves slowly and gracefully fluttering to the ground in the soft wind of fall made my heart swell a little. This sight was so simple and yet so beautiful and I was the only one watching it. It was almost a snow of leaves and the sound of the leaves rustling in the trees was so pretty and calming I felt almost selfish. I felt selfish because it was if I wasn't sharing some wonderful thing like a book or present. I wished he was here with me to see this. Maybe he wouldn't appreciate it as much as I was but he would at least be close to me…

I sighed and leaned my head against the tree I was sitting against. My strawberry blond hair flew over my face and I brushed it away with my fingers. It wasn't particularly cold but it was chilly enough to make me thankful for my over sized hooded sweatshirt. The sun was setting slightly causing the air to become colder. As my skin prickled with goose bumps I wished his arms were wrapped around me and keeping me warm.

I sighed again and my smile turned into a slight sad frown. He never noticed me, nobody did. It was as if I was truly invisible. Not one person ever had even said my name before. I was always that one guy in the way, or just that noise that no one could ever figure out what it was. I had gotten used to being this too. Whenever I said something the whole room would grow silent and questions like "did you hear that?" and some excuse would come up and things would go back to how they were a few seconds before. I had gotten used to being invisible and unnoticed. I rarely spoke, rarely sat near anyone, rarely even tried to make myself noticed.

If I had gotten so used to it then why had I gotten these feelings? How had I gotten these feelings of warmth and wanting whenever I was near him? He barely said a word to me and hardly gave me the least bit of attention. He never remembered my name and was always accidentally hitting me but never noticing. If he treated me so horribly then why did I feel such a huge urge to be close to him?

Why did I want to stroke his blonde hair and why did I want to look into his blue eyes and have him stare into mine? Why did I want his strong arms strengthened by various wars around me and most importantly why did I want his lips to kiss mine? My heart would pound furiously when the idea even crossed my mind. It was foolish of me to think that though. It was foolish of me to even wish that. On the rare occasion he did talk to me he wouldn't remember my name. Sometimes he would forget what land he was in, in fact in the previous week he thought he was in Texas when he was actually in Ontario. It made me smile but also made me sad.

I still remember what had made me like him. It was all the little things that he did that made me smile and made my heart beat faster and my face blush. How his single strand of cow licked hair reacted with his head movements. How when he smiled he always had that mischievous look in his eye. How when he was bored he'd play with whatever was close by like a pen or a piece of paper. And how he would take off his bomber jacket, I would temporarily lose my breath. As I thought of all of these things I could feel my face reddening and grower warmer in a blush.

I couldn't lie to myself anymore.

I was in love with Alfred F. Jones.

I let myself admit this and it made me even sadder as I realized he would never know I did. He would never know how much I wanted to hold him while he held me and kissed me. He would never know how I felt because he never noticed me. But how much of that was my own fault? I had tried to talk to him but he always got distracted by Arthur or Francis or whoever else was around. I had sat next to him in meetings and he had gone through the entire meeting without directing a single sentence at me.

It was not as if he never said anything to me, it was just I never held his interest. The minute someone else walked into the room I would be forgotten. And he had never said my name… ever. The words Matthew Williams had never been said from his lips. Every time he walked away from me, he took a little part of me with him. It hurt… it hurt a lot. But I was too shy and he was too distracted for me to say anything.

I sighed and then an American song came into my head. I had heard it on the radio and it had made think of Alfred. Before I realized it, the lyrics were being sung from my mouth.

"Watch my life

Pass me by

In the rearview mirror

Pictures frozen in time

Are becoming clearer

I don't wanna waste another day

Stuck in the shadow of my mistakes"

It felt nice to sing and let out what I was feeling and wondered why I didn't sing more often. Then I remembered I was too shy to sing. As I got to the chorus though, my voice grew louder and I sang with more strength in my voice.

"Cause' I want you

And I feel you

Driving underneath my skin

Like a hunger

Like a burning

To find a place I've never been

Now I'm broken

And I'm faded

I'm half the man I thought I would be

But you can have what's left of me

I've been dying inside little by little

Nowhere to go but going out of my mind

In endless circles

Running from myself until you gave me a reason for standing still

Cause' I want you

And I feel you

Driving underneath my skin

Like a hunger

Like a burning

To find a place I've never been

Now I'm broken

And I'm faded

I'm half the man I thought I would be

But you can have what's left of me

Falling faster

Barely Breathing

Give me something to believe in

Tell me it's not all in my head

Take what's of this man

Make me whole once again

Cause' I want you

And I feel you

Driving underneath my skin

Like a hunger

Like a burning

To find a place I've never been

Now I'm broken

And I'm faded

I'm half the man I thought I would be

But you can have what's left-"

I heard the unmistakable sound of feet crunching on top of maple leaves and immediately stopped singing. My head jerked the other way to see who had walked into my woods. It could be one of my people or even an animal. And I had just been singing but still…

But as I saw who it was my heart stopped and my eyes widened as a deep blush crept across my face. Alfred was standing there with his mouth slightly open and was staring at me. I couldn't breathe for a few seconds and just sat there staring at his eyes that were staring into mine and it was completely silent. I don't think I even blinked and a million questions raced through my mind.

"Did he hear me? How long has he been standing there? Why is here? Did he figure it out? Is he lost? What should I say? Should I let him say something?"

His voice snapped me back to reality as he said," Hello how are you?"

I shot off the ground and walked the few feet over to him. I brushed the back of my jeans and sweatshirt off and kept my gaze downward from embarrassment.

"A-Alfred what a-are you doing here?"

Alfred had only come once before but he had been lost then so it was probably the same now. Any second now he would go running off and I would be left in the dust. I braced myself for his leave.

"I came to see you."

I flinched in surprise and my heart started to pound. I had to remind myself to breathe and tried to hide my confused smile. I tried to look up and I knew my face was red. I laughed slightly as I replied quietly to Alfred," Oh but uhm you never come to see me…"

Alfred stood with one hand in his pocket and ran his other hand through his hair. He sighed and let out the words," I get busy a lot…"

Alfred missed what I was trying to say. I meant that he, and as a matter of fact no one, even bothered to visit me. That resulted in me usually keeping to myself and no one coming up to my land. I wondered to myself if he was lost and just trying to hide that fact with a lie.

"I just meant… I mean you came up here one time and you thought you were in Texas…"

"I needed to go there and I can't read maps, it was probably upside down."

He shifted his gaze away from mine and crossed his arms. I knew what this body language meant when it was from Alfred. He was lying about something…

But he couldn't be lying… could he? Had he actually meant to come to see me and tried to cover that up with a lie? No, not a chance… something was probably just… on his mind…

I giggled nervously as I remembered a few days earlier when Francis had told me a joke about the geography of America when Alfred brought up how he couldn't read a map. I remembered I had tried to yell at Francis but he had just glared at me and reminded me that I should hold my tongue since he technically founded me. I shook the memory out of my head and Alfred was asking me a question.

"What's so funny?" He asked me with a warm smile and my heart sped up.

"N-nothing it was just something France said…."

I realized this was the wrong thing to say as his eyes darkened and his eyebrows pulled together and his lips formed a frown. Alfred and Francis had never gotten along and bringing Francis into a conversation around Alfred meant disaster.

"Okay," I thought I was in the clear until he asked," What did he say?"

I didn't like the look on Alfred's face and I played with my strand of curly hair nervously. It killed me talking about this… or just remembering.

"He made a joke about uhm… Florida…" I whispered Florida and a knot formed in my stomach. Alfred just smiled out of humor and I didn't want that smile to ever fade.

"What did he say?"

I didn't want Alfred to get mad at me or run off since this was the longest conversation we had ever had. And since no one else was around he couldn't get distracted. I twirled my hair around my finger even faster and mumbled," That Florida was your uhm…" I tried to pick out the right words but none sounded right. I finally just spit it out. "… Your 'lower' anatomy…"

Alfred's face went red and then anger crept its way across his eyes. I could feel my cheeks getting hotter and I knew he wanted to go and beat up Francis. But if he did that Francis would know I told… no Alfred can't find out… he could never find out what was going on…

"Uhm don't tell him I told you… he told me not to and he founded me so I can't get mad at him and I owe him and- and…"

His face darkened even more and I tried to explain but I stumbled over my words and it all came out as nervous ramble.

"I-I'm sorry Alfred, I-I could try to tell him t-to stop but I-I tried that and-and it didn't exactly work and uhm he wouldn't listen… usually he doesn't notice me when I try to talk…" Sudden sadness panged at my heart as I finished my sentence. "A lot of people don't notice me…"

I hung my head and looked at the ground as my face reddened and my heart beat furiously.

"What do you owe him?"

I didn't know how to answer that question. I didn't think I owed Francis but he insisted I did that day and told me all the reasons. I just repeated them to Alfred.

"He founded me and h-he helped me a l-lot during wars… and" Slight tears choked me and my throat hurt as I remembered the day Francis told me that. I kept my gaze down at the ground and shut my eyes tight to try to fight off the tears.

Suddenly I heard more crunching of leaves in front of me and Alfred's arms were suddenly wrapped around me. My heart skipped beats and I forgot how to breathe. I had no clue what to do. Should I say something? Should I hug him back? I was about to do something when he said quietly," I notice you."

His words sounded almost sad as he said this and I wondered if he was sad about what Francis said or maybe… something I had said. I had said that no one noticed me and he opposed that by saying he did and I was more confused than I had ever been.

"A-Alfred are you o-okay? I mean y-you've never hugged me before a-and you sounded worried about me a-and angry about France and-"

"You like me right?"

I choked on my own air and suddenly I realized how close Alfred was to me. I backed away a little still shocked and unbelieving Alfred had just asked me that.

"H-how do you mean?" I could feel my face going even redder and I hoped with all my heart foolishly he would respond with the same feelings I had.

Unfortunately he replied with," Brotherly love?"

I expected as much. "Oh… yes I like you." I didn't mean for my voice to sound as disappointed as it did but my heart hurt too much to control how my voice sounded. My head was turned down again but then it was tilted upward by a strong hand and I was looking directly into Alfred's eyes.

"How about a little bit more than that?" he whispered to me.

I tried to jerk away but his grip on my face was too tight and I asked nervously," W-what do you mean A-Alfred?"

"You heard me."

I wanted to tell him. I wanted to tell him everything. How whenever he was near me my heart would pound. And how he just hugged me made me forget where I even was. How my heart was pounding…

Just like how it had been a few days previous…

"Francis? Are you in there?"

"Yes come in."

I walked in to see Francis sitting with his fingers laced and his face resting on top of them.

"H-hello…" I nervously tried to greet him but his eyes were scaring me.

"Thank you for coming; you know why you're here non?"

"You wanted to discuss land maintenance I think…"

He smiled and I got a sick feeling in my stomach. I didn't like it…

"Correct. Did you bring a map?"

"Yes I did, should I uhm sit down or uhm is your desk not big enough for the atlas?"

He stood up and gestured me to a long table and I handed him the map I had brought. I couldn't find any maps with just my land or his on them so I had to settle for a world atlas. He chuckled to himself as his hand grazed over Alfred's land.

"You know what Florida is non?"

"Part of America…"

He glared down at me and said sharply," Don't be smart."

I fell silent and he continued to laugh. "Florida is Alfred's co-"

"FRANCIS!" I immediately clasped my hands over my mouth and realized how loud I had shouted. His eyes were questionable and looking at me.

"What's the big deal?"

"I-I don't think you should joke about Alfred so dirty, he would probably get mad. And that's not really something to joke about. I mean how would you feel if someone-"

"Watch. Your. Tongue."

I fell silent again and he glared at me. My pulse was beating furiously and I felt sick.

"I founded you! I raised you and half your people speak my language and I helped you in your wars! I think you owe me…"

"H-how so?"

He smiled at me and slammed me against the wall.

I yelped in pain and surprise and my glasses flew off from impact.

"F-Francis wah-what a-a-are you d-doing?"

"Oh this is just payment for all the things I've done for you."

I was about to ask something else and I tried to push him off but he pinned my wrists with one of his hands against the wall.

"Ow, Francis that hurts…"

"Didn't I just tell you to watch your tongue?" He smiled at me and then leaned forward and pressed his lips to my neck. His other hand was removing the belts I had on my chest and they fell to the floor.

"F-Francis no!"

He slapped my face and said to me sternly. "I can take the land I gave you back just as easily as I gave it to you."

"No please don't."

"Then be quiet."

He jerked my coat open and moved his mouth to my chest and down to my stomach. I whimpered and held back tears. I didn't want this…

He pulled at my waist line and I was about to yell but he clamped a hand over my mouth and came back up to my face.

"Remember what I said."

I shook with sobs as he moved his mouth back down to my waist and oh God no… not there… no…

I hate him. I hate him touching me. I hate him kissing me. I hate him.

I tried to push this painful memory out of my head. How when France was done he said I could leave and how I ran home and sobbed on my bed and screamed Alfred's name. How I had wished so hard that it hurt that Alfred was there to hold me and tell me it was going to be okay.

I tried to say something but words wouldn't come out of my mouth. All I could do was think of what to say and none would come out. How when France touches me it means nothing and how I hate it and want to run. But when Alfred is simply even near me…

I looked at Alfred and anger was livid in his eyes. My face went completely red as I realized I just had said my last few thoughts out loud.

"He touched you?!"

I had told. It slipped out… but now Francis would take my land. No I could still fix this. I tried to smile and I speak normally.

"Oh it's no big deal… it's my own problem. It's nothing I promise."

"Please tell me… I want to know…"

Sympathy was in his voice and he sounded worried. I choked on sobs and tears were flowing from my eyes and I said weakly," You wouldn't understand…"

"You can tell me anything."

I trusted him. I trusted his words. I broke down in sobs and told him. I told him what France did. I was shaking and sobbing and telling him what happened. It hurt to say it and it was painful to talk about. How I stood up for him and faced consequences. My heart ached and I sobbed and words just kept flowing from my mouth.

"I tried to push him off. I really did! But he was too strong and he kept going and I couldn't yell and- and…"

The feeling of when Francis did what he did to me came into my mind and I let out a scream. My breathing came in quiet gasps and I continued to cry. I felt silly crying there like an idiot with Alfred watching.

He said shakily," This won't happen again."

He didn't understand; I knew it. He didn't understand how I couldn't fend off Francis by myself. I could try to meet him in more public places… I could bring people with me… I certainly couldn't threaten…

"Maybe…" Francis had always touched me on my chest and backside but had never acted on it until a couple days previous. There was no way of stopping what had been going on for years…

"Huh? What do you mean?" He was close to me again and his voice sounded concerned and worried. My sobs had calmed a bit and I could talk normally again without choking.

"I-I'll be fine, I-I'll leave doors and windows open when he has to talk to me… and I'll scream and yell and-"

"Um no, he's not gonna get to you again."

I snapped and started shouting.

"How?! How Alfred how?! I'm weak! And he's too strong and I can't even stand up for myself!! How in the world will I be able to stop him next time!? What if he tries to ra-" A choked scream came out of my throat and suddenly I couldn't talk. Alfred was close and he said quietly but sternly," I will protect you. He'll never touch you again."

I was relieved and happy and confused and scared and so many other things. I wanted to say so many things to him. I met his eyes with my own tear stained ones and asked," Why are noticing me? Why are you worried about me?"

He eyes locked with mine and he said," I love you."

I stepped forward and reached for his hand. His hand was warm clasped around mine.

"You mean brotherly love?"

"No." He leaned closer to me and I was still looking into his eyes. Finally my feelings came out.

"I love you too… in the way that every time I see you… my heart races. Every time I hear your voice my breath stops and whenever you're near me I want to be closer."

Alfred wrapped his arms around my waist and held me close to him. He whispered," You have no idea how long I've been too afraid to say any of this."

"We can be brave together…" I nervously brought my lips to his and held him as he was holding me.

"I love you Alfred."

"I love you too Matthew."

And as his lips were brought back to mine and I felt as if I was flying I realized he said my name.

Maybe people really do see me.

It doesn't matter.

At least he sees me.

He's the only one I want to.

The only I want to see me and me entirely is him.

I love him.

He loves me.

Happiness and peace have never felt so close.

~HC Afterword

I seriously have NOTHING against France! Really he's one of my favorite characters! I may do a part two for this so if you want keep your eyes open!

Thanks for reading!