Author's Note:This is a fanfic I'm writing for the fic and art-athon over at livejournal's USxUK community (which I moderate /plug). This story will be three chapters you enjoy!
Waltzes, Minuets, the Whole Lot
By Everything is Magic
Vous-même et un invité êtes cordialement invités à venir à un bal donné par France
Chateau de Versailles
Place D'Armes, 78000, Versailles, France
Vendredi, le 19 juin 2009.
"Yourself and a guest are cordially invited to a ball given by France. It's at Versailles on Friday, June nineteenth at six p.m," America read the elaborate gold embossed card out loud and tossed it to England.
"You have got to be joking," England grumbled as he turned the invitation around in his hands.
America grimaced, resting his chin on his hands. "It does sound terrible."
England shook his head and set the invitation on the table, then ran his hands through his tousled hair in exasperation. The pair were at America's house, and the younger country had just returned with the mail. The gold sealed invitation was the sole item occupying his mailbox.
"He's throwing a ball at Versailles," the Briton said. "How utterly foppish of him."
America allowed himself a grin. "Yeah, pretty much." He frowned again. "My boss will want me to go, I just know it. He's all about good diplomatic relations, about repairing our alliances with the rest of the world."
"That's hardly a bad thing, but when it's France…"
"D'you think you got an invitation?" He tapped his fingers and took a swig from his glass of Coca-Cola.
"Oh Christ, I hope not." England rolled his eyes.
America shrugged and leaned back in his chair. "Can't exactly go by myself."
England, who had just taken a sip from his mid-afternoon cup of tea, spat it out. "You do not expect me to go to France's ball with you."
The younger country reached across the table and slid his hand on top of England's. He shot him a cock-sure grin. "Misery loves company, right?"
England let out a groan of frustration, realizing that there was no way he was going to get out of being dragged by America to this… event. He considered France's previous balls. Centuries ago, he threw them all the time. But when his country was thrown into a turmoil that lasted decades, they ebbed and completely ceased. The Frenchman always loved a good party, but they never did pick up again after that. Now it was 2009, and France had randomly decided that perhaps it would be fun to do it again. For old time's sake? To screw with them all? To see gorgeous ladies and handsome men in high fashion? Who knew? England didn't dare even try to comprehend the mind of France. It was too disturbing a notion.
He picked up the invitation again and read the back, which featured more details on the celebration. Period fashion was encouraged, food would be provided, and the celebration would undoubtedly last long into the night. England crinkled his nose at that last part, and then his green eyes widened in realization.
"Well this is a ball, right?"
America blinked. "Yeah, that's… what it says."
England feigned innocence. "Oh well, that means they'll be quite a lot of dancing."
The American bit his lip. "Well I'm an awesome dancer."
"No, you idiot. Proper dancing. Waltzes, minuets, the whole lot," he elucidated with a huff. "I reckon you haven't done anything like that for a very long time."
America laughed nervously. "Ehehe, not at all. I know some basic stuff, enough to get me by for a few turns at the Inaugural Balls or at other stuff like that, but… I've forgotten everything else."
"Well knowing a 'few turns' won't get you by at one of France's balls," England countered.
America nodded and glanced away, momentarily lost in thought. He pulled his hand off of England's. He recalled a ball at the Crystal Palace, that glittering symbol of industrialization that shone as a beacon in drab London for so many years. He'd fancied himself a decent dancer, although being in rustic America most of the time; he rarely had a chance to attend European parties.
He and England were still not on speaking terms at the time, a curt sentence or two being the only words that slipped between them. But as with any event the two of them attended, America tried not to let the air between he and England get him down. He waltzed with lovely ladies and a few charming nations he was meeting for the first time. Those in the know regarding what America was congratulated him on his recent birthday- his hundredth birthday. Not truly a birthday, per se, as America had come into existence long before the War for Independence. But the birth of him as a nation, and the end of his life as a colony.
"Bonne anniversaire, once again," France said with a wink. He was surprised to see France at a party in London but assumed he had likely invited himself. He and France had been… strangely close lately, what with the older nation even asking one of his artisans to craft a most spectacular gift for his centennial. He'd seen the prototype sculpture. It was spectacular.
Slipping away from France, America found himself approached again. One nation came up and slung his arm around America's shoulder, clearly quite tipsy. He congratulated the young nation, and it was then that America's eyes flitted to the side, and he saw England out of his peripheral vision. The Briton was frozen mid-movement, and he scowled when his green eyes met America's blue ones.
Those green eyes were betraying his expression, because even America couldn't miss the remorse they held. His stomach dropped, and he pulled away from the other nation, excusing himself to the 'water closet' (still a rather new and exciting invention). He didn't see England the rest of the night, and when he asked around, no one else had seen hide or hair of him either.
After that, the ball hadn't been a joy any longer. No amount of dances with lovely ladies, or alcohol, or nations congratulating him made his mood any less sour.
And that was the last time America had done a lot of proper dancing. Waltzes, minuets, the whole lot.
"America?" England said, snapping the younger nation out of his reverie. "You all right?"
"Hmm yeah, fine," America replied, turning back toward England with a sigh. "Guess I'll have to learn again then."
"How to dance properly, of course," he explained, holding a pinky up in mockery as he took another sip of his Coca-Cola.
England threw the invitation back onto the table and grumbled, "Well you have almost a month. I'm sure you can easily find a proficient dance teacher and schedule some private lessons."
America averted his eyes and cleared his throat.
"What?" The Briton queried.
He tapped his fingers on the table and then shot a fleeting look at England.
"What are you---" His eyes grew wide when realization dawned on him, and he waved his hands in front of him vehemently. "No, no, no. There is no way I am doing that."
"Why not?" America raised an eyebrow.
"Because I'm not!" England crossed his arms.
The younger country grinned. "You'll do it."
"You will. I know you."
"What makes you think I--- "
And it was then that America put on his best face, or rather his worst, because it was so damn good. Shameless, pathetic, adorable; the kicked puppy. His blue eyes were large and his mouth formed a pout. He glanced down, dejected. There was nothing innocent about it though, because America knew the effect it had on England. You'll do it. "Please England? C'mon. It could be fun…"
England exhaled. "You are terrible. Why do you want me to do it anyway?"
America shrugged, dropping the act. "'Cuz I don't want some random prissy dance teacher to show me how. I'd rather have a prissy England do it."
"You could explain yourself without mocking me," England retorted. The younger nation slid out of his chair and sauntered over to the counter, lifting the lid off his favorite cookie jar. He snatched up a chocolate chip cookie and shoved it into his mouth.
"Want one?" He asked, mouth still full.
England rolled his eyes. "Sure, fine. Now answer my…"
"D'you want a glass of milk with yours?" America interrupted.
"No. I don't want a bloody glass of milk!"
"Okay, geez." He sat back down, shoving a cookie across the table toward England. "I just want you to, all right? Can't I have my reasons?"
"Not if they involve you thinking it's a surefire way to tease me." The older country took a small bite out of his cookie.
America's brows furrowed and he slammed his palms onto the table. "They don't," he spoke firmly. "It's not that at all England. I just…" His cheeks pinked. "I want it to be you," he finished, his voice softening as he did so.
"…W-when shall we begin, then?" England inquired, irritation leaving his voice. His cheeks flushed as well.
The American beamed. "Really England? Umm… how long do you think it will take?"
"Hmm," he considered, "quite some time, if you're that rusty. How about we start next week after Tuesday's summit?" America nodded his approval. "We'll do it at my house. I've got a nice selection of classical albums." The younger country snorted. "Oh, shut up. Do you propose we waltz to Kelly Clarkson?"
"Nah, if I wanted to dance to pop music, we could just raid your Kylie Minogue collection."
"I have no idea what you're talking about." He went back to sipping his tea.
"London. The Wembley Arena. December 2007. I just HAD to come to her comeback show with you, no ifs ands or buts," America accused.
"I did not force you to come. You could have said n--- "
"Oh America, I've got two tickets. It would be a waste to not use one, since they're front row seats. So if you want to come along and see some real pop music, you can take it."
"That was me asking if you wanted to- "
"No, that's Englandglish for 'come or I'll be upset and you'll have ruined my night.'" America slurped down the last of his Coca-Cola.
"Englandglish?" The Briton sounded positively appalled. "Honestly, you could just say English. I am England, after all. It's my lang--- "
"No, Englandglish is totally different from normal English. Only you speak it." He smirked.
"You are moronic," England quipped.
"Takes one to know one," America countered. When England opened his mouth to argue back, the younger country cut him off. "So next Tuesday then? Classical music and dancing at your place?" England nodded. "We can get a bite to eat before hand. Maybe stop by a chippy?"
The other nation smiled lightly. He, for some anomalous reason, found great amusement in America using any of his slang (at least, when he wasn't doing it mockingly). "A chippy would be fantastic."
Amazing Grace, England's cellphone ringtone, emanated from the countertop. England walked over and picked up his phone. "'Allo. Yes, sir." He turned his head back to America. "Hold on a moment. It's the Prime Minister."
England stepped out into the living room to take the phone call, leaving America alone in the kitchen. He pressed himself against the chair, closing his eyes and rolling his head back. Fuck, why does England have to question everything? If anything, he should be happy I'm actually admitting that another nation is better at something than me. He's always complaining about my pride... He reached under his glasses and rubbed his eyes, thinking back to a time long before Texas rested on his nose. Before he was a nation, even.
His suit had felt tight and foreign, the button near the waist especially discomfiting. But England had picked it out, and he assumed England knew what he was talking about. He was a great nation after all.
It had been when England took his arms to teach him the waltz that America found himself truly uncomfortable. The shorter man's firm hand was in his own as he guided them through the steps, one, two, three, one, two, three. His voice was soft but commanding. The dance was not that difficult, America assured himself; but that didn't stop him from tripping on England's feet repeatedly. The country cursed under his breath, and his colony pulled away in embarrassment.
"Sorry England. I don't know what's gotten into me." America blushed and rubbed the back of his head.
England smiled. "It's all right America, let's try again?" The country was of course, playing the part of the female in the dance so America could learn the part he needed to know. This meant that the colony was forced to put his hand back on the small of England's back. He coaxed America to begin the dance again.
He didn't understand. He'd been taught how to dance by a French dance master years before, and he'd been a quick learner to the craft. He wasn't particularly graceful, but he was more than competent. And he, if he could say so himself, was very good at the English Country Dances.
"One, two, three, one, two, three."
This time America stumbled entirely, tripping on England's feet and falling forward. The country fell spectacularly backward, slamming against the floor with a gasp. America landed on top of him, catching himself with his hands just centimeters before his body would have pressed against England's.
America could feel the heat rising to his cheeks, hot heat, not merely warm. He imagined his face must have been red as the blood beneath his skin. And England was staring right at him; his wide green eyes into America's startled blue ones. And his cheeks were crimson as well.
England cleared his throat in a rather undignified manner and shoved America off him. The Briton gathered up his coat and belongings and left America behind in the room with a curt 'goodbye' and a scowl. The colony did not see the nation for the rest of the day.
It had been the first time the two had a moment like this. A moment where, if England had felt anything like America, he'd ached to lean closer to the other man, to take his lips in a kiss.
America rubbed his hand down his face, brought back to the present by the sound of England traipsing down the hallway and back into the kitchen. He shot his partner a smile as he entered. "What'd your boss want?"
England sighed. "Just a parliament meeting he wants me to attend. I've got to go right now, actually." He was standing next to America now and leaned down to capture the other nation's lips in a goodbye kiss, which was fully returned. He pulled away and gathered up his belongings from the countertop. "Goodbye, America. I'll see you on Tuesday."
"I'm sure we'll see each other before then," America replied.
"Probably." This time, unlike so many years ago, England smiled at him before he vanished from America's sight.