The evening had fallen, and the night that came was blinding. Darkness fell heavy inside the room, laying it's shadows on the furniture, it endowed the space with it's color, staining the room an imperfect black, Broken only by the blue hue of places kissed by moonlight, the bedroom was dipped in perfect shadow. The wind that blew in was tinged with nature's scent. Warm, and relaxing, it smelt of the trees and grass.
The perfect night for resting well, but Francis was still awake. He lay sprawled easily on the bed, partially undressed, his trouser hung loose, exposing the flesh of his hips, and the fabric of his undergarments. His shirt, half unbuttoned, had ridden up, exposing his navel. He let his eyes roam to the window, lazily allowing himself to focus on the moon, full and vibrant despite the night.
Despite the years, Never changing. Ever constant. Many faces, but still the same entity. The same being. The same object. The same light. Francis sighed. If only people.. He quieted his wandering mind. An immortal being has no place to yearn. A lesson he learned harshly from the days Rome guided him forward by the hand. Despite the trials of the time, the land will forever remain. He sighed, and rolled over, begging his mind to still, but it refused, and he thought back on a foggy infancy, a young England, a violent past, of a young girl he loved and lost.
Francis cursed, he was foolish. But the memory lingered of the flames that licked the body of that tender youth, he shook his head of the vision, of the smell, and his mind flew to earlier, of that young passionate girl, struggling to lift her sword, while he laughed in the background. War was no place for the fairer sex, he had cajoled between burst of mirth, stay back and let the men fight this battle. but she had scoffed, laughed back, and continued on. Such spirit. Dedication, and with time, the sword obeyed her flowing movements. She was an unflinching warrior, the best of all the men. Brave, flawlessly brave. Was it love that he felt for her?
His hands had followed her curves, and she had lingered back, touching tentatively. It ended with a slap that stung, but even now, France could feel her hands tracing his flesh. Briefly. A single blink of an eye, among millions. The one woman he was never able to lay with, Who would never allow him, even if she had lived three hundred lifetimes. He closed his eyes, he could almost feel her, almost hear her voice, feel the heat that came from her body, almost touch her….. His heart mourned the lost, and with the wrenching pain, his eyes flew open, prickled with something that weren't tears. Not for her. Not for……
"Jeanne d'Arc" he whispered to the dark, and was replied with a surprised intake of air. France bolted upright, and turned toward the source of the noise.
He had company, but whomever it was stood silent, Francis eyes strained to see through the gloom, Perhaps he was hearing things… This was England's residence for when he visited the new world, after all. And with England, came mysterious creatures. He lay back down, eyes closed, but other senses alert. Minutes passed, and slowly, he felt his mattress dip with the unsteady weight of a body trying to scale the mattress height. Francis paused, "Mathieu?", the dip in his bed was relieved rapidly, and with a thump, his mysterious visitor fell back heavily to the floor.
A faint whimper, a hiccup, then a wailing sob.
France scrambled to the side of his bed, and reached a blind arm toward the floor. His hand connected with a head of hair, soft and silky, but slightly more rough and shorter than his beloved Mathieu.
"A-Alfred???" the head under his hand sniffed and nodded slowly. Francis leaned down, and scooped up the boy. He lifted him easily, and placed him on his lap, His eyes adjusted to the darkness, and through the gloom he could see the tears streaking the child's face. The boy appeared terrified. He was supposed to be in Virginia with his caretakers. What was he doing all the way over here?
"Mon dieu… Did you walk all the way over here?"
"H-horse…" Alfred managed to blurt out between a flood of tears, his hands had clenched determinedly onto Francis' shirt.
Horse, Indeed. The boy smelt of the beast. Sweeping the boy off the bed with him, and balancing him on a hip, France made his way out of the room. A maid handed him a candle, and after thanking her quite exuberantly, he gave her a chaste kiss and promenaded elegantly down the hall, turning leisurely to request heated water for a bath.
Alfred allowed himself to be carried, nuzzling close to Francis. He had come to see if England had come here to visit Matthew, but upon arrival he saw no sign of his older brother, and alone, he was frightened. He wasn't familiar with the house, it was large, and full of strangers, and important people he had been told repeatedly not to bother.
He spent the evening wandering around the estate, looking for the building England had taken him when he had first visited, But he was uncertain, all the houses looked the same, and twice he had ended up in the servants quarters. A man had yelled at him, and chased him, but he didn't speak English, and America ran away, afraid. It turned to night, and he was beside himself with fear, He had wanted to return, but someone had led away his horse. Finally, he found the building he was looking for, and entered. There he tried his luck with a bedroom door, and to his relief, he sensed the aura of another country. France.
In the doorway, Alfred had a sudden realization. He had made a foolish mistake. His hands twisted fearfully in his clothes. He wanted comfort desperately, but not the drama of a long lecture about the dangers of a colony trekking alone across the American wilderness. He stood frozen in the doorway. The man was asleep.. Wasn't he? He would just go and lay beside the sleeping country until he wasn't afraid, and then go find Matthew, use him as a shield…
But his plan had fallen to pieces, and he was sore from his long ride here and his fall. He leaned his head against Francis' shoulder, and took in the comforting scent of roses and wine. France held him loosely, but securely, a strong arm gently swung around his lower back. With a sniff and swipe at the wetness around his eyes, Alfred entangled his hands into France's shirt and felt the smooth movements of the man moving. Relieved to be in someone's arms again, he was already half asleep by the time he felt himself being put down. He stumbled, but Francis caught him, steadying him. The older nation gave a chuckle,
" What, sleepy?"
America nodded, Francis ruffled his hair, and began to undress him.
For once, Alfred allowed himself to be bathed with out protest or struggle, Francis washed the grime off him quickly but efficiently. Finally clean, he slipped on one of Canada's nightgowns on the boy, and gathered the exhausted child in his arms. Alfred wrapped his arms around Francis' neck, and snuggled close, Francis stopped in surprise for a moment, it was gesture he had not experienced since the days long ago when Arthur was young and fallen ill, Mathieu was far too skittish and shy to be openly affectionate.
He smiled sadly at the memory of a small feverish England, clinging to his tunic, begging France to stay and protect him.
"Don't go yet…you idiot."
The strained words that beckoned him, pleaded his presence. A voice, usually hostile, soft and pleading. Where those the words that made him remember? Or was it the memory of the weight and warmth of a child on his lap?
If he could freeze time, to stop that world from ending… He sighed, and adjusted his grip on Alfred. He walked back to the bedroom, and lay down with the dozing child on top of him. He ran his fingers through the boy's golden locks, stroked his head until he felt the boy's breathing slow. He grinned, Alfred's sleeping face was adorable, just like Arthur's.
Arthur. That English child, Francis closed his eyes as the memory of the first vision of those vibrant green eyes flashed in his mind. Of the smile that lit that child's face when France had brought him rabbits, of the tears that fell in defiance of that boy's struggle, and insistence that his siblings' words had not touched his heart. The squirming and squawking of the boy when France had swept him into a hug, the sword that they had swung at each other despite the bond between them. Of the angry words and spilt blood.
He smiled, That world ended, but when his hands had touched Alfred's golden hair, he suddenly realized that the world had moved on. Arthur had found himself children, and even if France had lost a son, he had gained another. America and Canada were joined forever by shared land. Nothing would tear the boys apart, and France himself was permanently settled in the foundation in both of them.
Francis glanced at the sleeping child, The colony of England had found his way to France's bed, and Francis knew it would not be the last time he would wake and find the boy by his side.
He laughed, England would never be free from him, they had eternity together. Together, with themselves, and the children of the New World.