Title: Every Little Reason
Fandom: Axis Powers Hetalia
Characters: England (Arthur Kirkland), America (Alfred Jones), Boston (Elizabeth Jones), Continental Army's youngest general (Nathaniel Greene)
Notes: Yes, there is an OC. *dodges brick* Elizabeth is, in essence, Alfred's daughter, and is therefore Arthur's granddaughter/niece (depending how you look at the Alfred and Arthur relationship), so there is no possibility of shipping. See end of story for more notes. I am using their human names because of the nature of the story, even though I generally prefer their nation names. Also, Nathanael Greene is definitely my favorite.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from Hetalia. Himaruya-sensei does. I also lay no claim on Nathaniel Greene, as much as I would like to. "The Man He Killed" totally belongs to Thomas Hardy. Elizabeth Jones/Boston does belong to me, though.
"Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown."
-Thomas Hardy, "The Man He Killed"
"What are you fighting for?" the young blue-eyed man asked him. Arthur loosened his grip on the edge of the bar. He had been sitting in a small inn located in a Massachusetts orchard town when a rebel division marched in. The men were welcomed by the townsfolk, and given free food and lodging. Because he was alone, Arthur was treated with a cool detachment, and he counted his blessings that he wasn't sleeping in an orchard tonight. Perhaps they thought he was a deserter.
Things weren't going well at all for him, desertion being one of his smaller problems. True, for Alfred's ragtag gang of farmers things were worse-he had a commander who found the entire fighting force to be intolerably ill-bred-but Arthur was still suffering from the cold as much as he had suffered from the mosquitoes and the unfamiliar terrain. (The fact that it was unfamiliar broke Arthur's heart a little, even though he would never realize why.) The lovely city of Boston, even though she was a traitor and traitors deserved punishment, was being most cruelly treated. The soldiers were tearing down buildings and ransacking homes. Arthur had gone to his camp, to the medical tent where she was being held, to formally apologize for their actions. He was taken aback at how she looked, resting on the camp bed. Her dark hair-something that Arthur loved-was knotted and matted with old blood, her light skin was marred with wounds, and as soon as she laid eyes on Arthur, a deep-seated loathing burned in the blue that he had heretofore never seen. He thought that she cared for him. The bedridden city mustered up the strength to sit up and spit in front of his boots and tell him how she really felt. "If you were really sorry about what's happened, you'd 'a left by now, and you wouldn't be hurting Father anymore." A burn blossomed on her collarbone, but she kept speaking, ignoring the pain. "Your campaign is pointless. Didn't you listen to Fox?" He was surprised to hear that she had heard of his speech in the House of Lords.
"No! I'm BOSTON. You lost the right to call me Liz when we lost our rights." The burned flesh blackened at the edges but she paid it no mind. "Leave. Now."
(Arthur wouldn't speak to her again for five years)
It was getting cold, and Arthur was getting the feeling that a winter in America would be a punishing one. So he found himself sitting alone amongst the enemy. None of the soldiers harassed him, but they clearly wanted nothing to do with him. And judging from the drunken laughter behind him, they were probably enjoying a joke at his expense. Arthur had been studying the grain of the bar for about five minutes when the stool next to him scraped against the floor and he found himself with a neighbor. The man was young, younger than most of the soldiers. He wore a faded but well-made blue coat and worn out clothes.
"Sir," he said, "what brings you out here alone?"
"I haven't antagonized you, Yankee. Leave me in peace."
"You misunderstand. We aren't fighting. True, we are enemies, but this is no battlefield. I asked you out of pure curiosity."
Arthur sighed. "I visited a relative of mine. She is very ill, and I thought she would be even slightly pleased to see me. She wasn't. She is very sympathetic to your cause, and violently condemned me for my actions."
"Sounds like the family of my friend's wife. She had to run away with him because they were such Tories they couldn't stand the thought of the two of them together. Maybe if this relative of yours knew why you were fighting, she wouldn't be so angry. I'm not saying that it would solve all of your problems, but it might help. So why are you fighting, lobsterback?"
Arthur growled at his impertinence. "Because you colonials don't realize how good you've got it. Because you fail to see that even if you do succeed, you won't be able to protect yourselves. Have you really forgotten what France-" he just barely managed to leave the '–is' off the end "-did to you?" Arthur rubbed his head. "I guess it's also because I don't want this place to be vulnerable to the world. America is a lovely land."
The man nodded, looking thoughtful. "So it's almost a paternal need?"
Gazing into the bottom of the tankard, Arthur contemplated the early days. When Alfred was young, he was so fragile-seeming. Arthur always felt the need to keep him out of trouble so that gentle face would always smile. "Yeah. You could say that."
"Well, with reasons like that, I can't completely resent you."
"Why are you fighting, farmer?"
He laughed a little. "I'm not a farmer. Each man has his own personal reason, but as a whole we fight for liberty."
"I know that."
"Do you really? I think you know that we're fighting to be free of you, but I mean liberty. The right to stand up on our own, the right to make our own decisions. We are the ones who know what needs to be done. England no longer knows what's best for us. Like children, we cannot live in our parent's house forever. We must someday go out into the world, and sometimes that world is unfriendly."
The innkeeper came by and refilled the two tankards. Arthur immediately grabbed his and took a deep draft from it. The rebel put coins on the bar, enough for both the men's drinks that evening. Arthur coughed around the ale and put up a hand in protest. "You don't have to do that. We're enemies, n'all that."
"Not here, I should hope." The man held out his hand. "Nathaniel Greene."
Arthur took it. "Arthur Kirkland."
Later that year, after Boston (he hadn't been forgiven yet) returned to Alfred, the two countries crossed paths again. Alfred looked at Arthur with wide blue eyes that betrayed apprehension and anger, but he did nothing more than tighten the grip on his musket. Arthur looked him straight in the eye as they passed. Just as they passed each other, Arthur spoke.
"I understand a little better now."
"Do you?" Arthur felt heartened by Alfred's civility. Perhaps they made progress.
"Yes." Alfred grabbed his shoulder and turned him so they were face-to-face. This time his eyes were frustrated, dismayed, disappointed.
"Then why are you still fighting?"
End Notes: Sorry about the angsty ending. The thing about Washington being unable to stand the New Englanders- 100% true. He felt that they were ill bred and mannerless. In letters he sent to family and friends, he complained about them a lot. Not a very productive attitude, but it got better. He did admire their tenacity and ability to get by in very hard situations, though. The "Fox" that Elizabeth referenced was Charles James Fox, who proclaimed to the House of Lords that the seeking conflict in America was something which could only bring Britain "poverty, disgrace, defeat, and ruin." Also, the friend Nathaniel referenced was Henry Knox, and he and his wife Lucy did elope. Nathaniel and Henry were BFFL during the Revolution. One last point: lobsterback=my favorite insult to the British troops ever. The fact that lobsters are only red once they've been boiled alive combined with them being bottom-feeders makes it perfect.
Wow, I'm a total dork. Please review! :D