A/N: As with everything else I do I'm hijacking Axis Powers Hetalia and doing with it what I do best.

The Maiden


Francis watched as the people shouted, crowding around a pile of wood, straw and a single young woman of little more than nineteen years old strapped to a single post. Her hair, which, as he could remember it, had once been short like a boy's, wavy, that was the palest, most delicate gold in color. Now it had grown dark with dirt, oil, and long from her imprisonment. She was wearing a simple shift that was as dirty as the rest of her. However, those blue-green eyes of hers remained as defiant as they had been the day he watched her help the men of France take Orleans.

Jeanne La Pucelle was to be burned as a heretic and any number of other charges that had been stacked on top of her and it broke Francis Bonnefoy's heart to see her. He tried to surge through the crowd, but he knew he couldn't do anything. The defeat inside him was strong and made more so when he saw the one who took her captive come into his vision. Arthur Kirkland, at one time like a little brother to him, was now his bitter rival and had for the past hundred years been eating at the borders and taking cities in the name of England with other Englishmen.

A flash of light and Francis retreated a bit, shaking. He smelled the fire start, he heard the people shouting louder at Jeanne. He fingered the little metal cross he wore around his neck and felt the hot tears trickle over his pale cheeks. The King of France wouldn't save her. No one would be allowed to touch her. She wasn't useful anymore. The blatant betrayal toward the one who had helped the men of France take back what was rightfully theirs was gut wrenching and made Francis want to vomit.

The fires licked at Jeanne's feet and she gritted her teeth and bore the searing pain. She choked on the smoke as it began to be the only thing she could breathe. She panted for a breath of clean air and found none for herself. She scanned the crowd through watery eyes and landed on the face of her captor. He no longer held the look of contempt he had held for her previously. Now, only sickness set in, a look that clearly spoke, "What have I done?"

"CROSS!" she cried out, pain striking itself into her voice as she spoke in the English she had been forced to learn to be able to speak in her own trial. "I.. I NEED A CROSS!"

Francis moved without his mind telling him to do so. He moved swiftly through the crowd and yanked the cross from his neck as his hood fell back, golden, wavy hair flying as he moved. He thrust his hand through the smoke, his arm feeling the heat of the fire, but he did not retreat. He put the cross in her hand and moved back as arms latched around him and pulled him away from the flames.

"Non! Go back! Vous ne devriez pas ĂȘtre ici!" cried Jeanne. She didn't want anyone hurt besides herself! And then she saw who it was that had given her the cross. She gripped it in her hands as Arthur wrestled Francis backward, a feat for someone who was much shorter than the blonde Frenchman. Arthur pulled the fiery tunic off of Francis and tossed it to the ground where people stepped on it to put the fire out.

"Jeanne!" cried Francis as he tried to get himself away from the smaller, wiry Englishman. As he looked up at her, tears streaming down his cheeks from those beautiful blue eyes of his, she smiled down at him peacefully, holding the cross in her fist.

"Merci," she said, "Merci beaucoup, Francis."

As the fire raged Francis watched the extraordinary, beautiful young woman become engulfed in the flames. In his heart he felt the pain, a stabbing sensation, as the piece she occupied within it was cut out from his body and burned away. Arthur stood away from Francis, looking away from the fire. Time moved at a snails pace for them as the fire seemed to rage faster and faster before burning down the once fragile looking young woman to nothing but ash. The people who had been shouting were silent to the both of them. Neither one even noticed when the people had started walking away.

Arthur, disgusted with himself, walked away. He was no Robin Hood or King Arthur. He had become the villain, the wicked Sherriff of Nottingham and Prince John, the evil Mordred. He was no fairytale hero, not anymore. No, the fairytale hero was really that woman he might as well have sentenced to death himself for all that he had done. But, what of the war? She took the role of any soldier and went headlong beside her men, wounding English men and taking the lives she had to. It was war. That was what happened in a war. Men, women, and children all died in war. As a participant in war she could be seen as no different as the rest of the men Arthur had fought. If he had killed her in battle it wouldn't have hurt the same, though. In battle she would have died a warrior. Here, she died as something unwanted by everyone.

Francis didn't look to Arthur or even acknowledge him. He simply watched as the fire died down and the last glowing embers started to fade away. He then walked to the ash and stuck his hand into it, but pulled his hand out as the burning embers underneath seared him. He pulled his dagger out and pushed the ash away, digging through it until he found what he was looking for among the orange, glowing wood still burning slowly. He grabbed the little metal cross he had given Jeanne and held it tightly in his hand as he closed his eyes and prayed softly to God that her sacrifice was not in vain and that she could rest peacefully in Heaven.