Dark Lady Devinity
A/n: This is for the challenge cycle on the livejournal site What the FrUK.
Theme: From what I gathered, a date night as gentlemen during "La Belle Epoque."
Time period: 1890-ish
It was a cool crispy night that sang with the sound of young couples walking the streets. Their lullaby of love drifted in through the open hotel window and tickled at his ears. But his English stiff upper lip would not allow him to melt into the chair and be moved by the sweet melody. Later, when he retired for the night, he would capture the song in his embroidery.
For now, he'll just work on the meditation techniques that he had seen in India. It would not do for him to lose his temper on his first real date with Francis.
Arthur sighed and straightened his cravat- oh wait, it was called a tie now- before he began his search for his top hat. One of the fairies did not approve of this courtship and took any means necessary to bring chaos into his life. Thus, she often hid his things.
"Over here, dear." Titania said as she gilded through the air gracefully with wings that shown with moon light and dusk. Arthur followed the fairy queen to the bathroom and discovered his hat in the sink. Luckily, the fairy that had taken it did not turn on the tap.
"Do not mind Rosario. She is merely going through a young girl's jealousy over a crush. She'll soon grow out of it and wish for a lover of her own breed." Titania said. "Now go. Your pretty frog should be at the entrance soon."
Arthur looked around the hotel room, wondering if it was too late to back out. Why had he agreed to let Francis court him and why did their first date have to take place in France?
When Arthur stepped out of the hotel doors and onto the street he was assaulted by the sounds of people hurrying about in a very French manner. Up in his room, the noise seemed like a love song. Now, facing the reality of it and his own nerves Arthur felt like he had stepped into a war zone. Then he saw France and all thoughts of war fled his mind; just what the hell was Francis sitting on?
"Bonjour!" Francis cheerfully and he waved. The Frenchman was gorgeous in a deep black suit with a cream coloured vest embroidered with dark blue swirls that matched his eyes. His shirt was clean and white but the tie he wore was a matching hue to his vest. He had tied his hair back with a velvet ribbon and his hat and gloves sat beside him on the strange thing with three wheels.
"What is that thing?" Arthur asked, trying not to feel inferior to Francis; his own clothes were simple in comparison. His suit was black and the rest was white. Nothing was embroidered as Arthur did not know if his needle work was refined enough for a night such as this one.
"It is a gift from Ludwig. He calls it a Motorwagen." Francis said. "It is like a carriage but there are no horses needed for it to move. It moves itself."
"I am not getting on that thing." Arthur said.
"Is l'Angleterre frightened? I never thought to see the day!" Francis teased.
"I am not frightened!" Arthur yelled, not caring that all the young couples out that night had stopped to stare at him. The Englishman's voice added a harsh cacophony to the song when he raised it. However, he didn't care. He could not let Francis get the better of him. Arthur thought to himself think of what India taught you and get on that motor contraption. The motor wagon was not too roomy and Arthur's thighs were in contact with Francis'. Arthur fought down the blush.
"Where are we going?" Arthur finally asked when they were ten minutes into the trip. Francis had not said anything as of yet and Arthur had been busy marvelling at the German made machinery.
"We are going to the Folies Bergere. I wish to show you a night of culture. I know you are frightfully short on it." Francis said with a light chuckle.
"I have no culture? You are the one who is lacking in culture. What are we going to go see, naked ladies upon the stage for male sexual entertainment?" Arthur snapped in his most pompous British voice.
Francis laughed deeply and honestly at that. "Oh, Angleterre, je t'aime. When you talk like that, you are so very cute. It makes me wonder why we never courted one another before."
"Because I do not like you!"
"Then why did you choose to raise children with me?"
"You idiot, I took Matthew from you to avoid French contamination."
"And yet, I was in both his life and Alfred's. It was my fatherly touch that nurtured their French hearts. I saw myself in Matthew's Quebec and Alfred's Louisiana. But you are too much of a mother hen and wish to keep our lovely sons all to yourself." Francis smiled. "Non, my dear, we could not date. You were too young, I think, and then, with the children, there was no time for it. But now, I will make it all up to you!"
Arthur huffed but did not argue. Instead, he said, "We're not going to go see strippers and prostitutes are we?"
Francis smiled softly and beautifully. "That would not be very appropriate for a first date with one such as yourself. What you're thinking off would be found at the Moulin Rogue. The Folies Bergere is much more tasteful. There will be some nudity, yes, but there is also song and dancers and clowns and jugglers. A little something for the both of us."
"Idiot." Arthur murmured but the word was tinged with affection.
The rest of the trip was spent with insults, a near fight, and quiet laughter. Eventually, they arrived at the former opera house. Arthur let Francis take his hand and help him off the automobile. He decided to let Francis play the role of the male suitor while Arthur was the equivalent to the female for tonight. When they courted one another in London, their roles would be reversed. There were a few girls standing in the entrance way, taking coats for those that wished it, and both nations tipped their hats to the girls. Francis then winked suggestively at them and Arthur elbowed him in the stomach.
"We are supposed to be acting like refined gentlemen Arthur." Francis whined.
"Refined gentlemen do not wink at a young lady." Arthur said. "And speaking of gentlemen, are there none here? I see men still wearing their hats."
His companion waved it off. "This place is more relaxed than others. You may leave your hat on and smoke too if you wish it. Let us sit down and order something. Have you eaten yet?"
Arthur shook his head absentmindedly. He was busy thinking that Rosario could not embarrass him by stealing his hat while he was wearing it. Everyone would think the cabaret hall haunted.
Before he knew it, they had been seated and a waiter had taken their order. A beautiful dark haired woman walked on stage in a very short, sheer snow coloured dress and began to move her hips in a nearly indecent way before she started to sing a marvellously uplifting love song. It was faster than the song that had entwined itself into the curtains of Arthur's hotel window and it reached a higher note. Still. It felt like it belonged to the same piece of music as that heard on the streets; the lullaby becoming a song of morning sun.
The waiter returned with a bottle of champagne. Francis had been very proud of the alcoholic beverage as if he had perfected it himself. Arthur took a small sip from his glass, fighting the shiver that the look in Francis' midnight blue eyes gave him.
"What do you think?" Francis asked.
Arthur leaned forward and placed his gloved hand on top of the Frenchman's. As he leaned forward, close enough for Francis' breath to caress his face and his cravat to tickle the bit of skin exposed on his neck, Arthur placed a quick, chaste kiss upon his companion's lips. It was quick and simple enough for no one to have taken notice of it.
"What do you think?" Arthur asked.
"I think maybe it is not a proper thing for a gentleman to say in public." Francis said.
Arthur gave Francis a proper smile. To the francophone's mind, there had never been anything more beautiful. Not even a sweet melody could compare.
Cravats started to be called ties after 1815
Benz (of Germany) developed the Motorwagen and 25 were sold from 1888 to 1893. It's considered the first automobile.
Champagne was perfected during "La Belle Epoque."
This era was also when Cabaret became popular.
The Folies Bergere was a popular cabaret club that was a little more expensive than the others but was well liked due to its relaxed atmosphere: talking, eating, smoking and leaving one's hat on were okay. It was originally built to as an opera house.
The shows contained female costumes that were revealing and there was lots of nudity.
The Moulin Rouge was a cabaret club in the red light district
Found all these facts on Wikipedia so they may not be the most accurate.