A/N: Because Arthur needs love. Seriously. XD And yes, while playing around with him I made him be knighted, which makes sense to me. It was a spur of the moment thing that I slapped in when Arthur was introducing himself formally. *shrug* And yeah, I was watching From Hell with Amanda. Eh.. heh… heh heh…. Heh… Oh and a goodly part of Aashiyana and Arthur is taken from a role play with my good friend Alexiel. Aashiyana Singh/India is Alexiel's creation, by the way, just like Mia/California.

The title was also thought up by Alexiel. I'm keeping it for now until a better name comes along.

British Raj, My Rani

Chapter One

Sir Arthur Kirkland, the embodiment of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, walked along the dark, damp street, his hat on his head, his coat wet from the light rain that London was having, his cane helping to keep him upright when he slipped slightly on the slick street. He was a very handsome young man, very gentlemanly looking with his crisp, clean shirt, his waistcoat always kept nice and clean, his tie never out of place, his usually very wild blonde hair slicked back; he was the epitome in appearance of a proper English gentleman.

Underneath that gentlemanly appearance, however, laid the memories and the deeds and the heart of a thief and a pirate. A child who played and danced with fairies and unicorns, who stole fruits from vendors when they weren't looking and hid up in trees to shoot arrows at strangers to watch and laugh as they ran away in fright lay inside him. A young man who, when he first laid eyes on his new queen, with her fair skin and wild red hair and her determination to rule, immediately let her take his heart as her own even if she did not return the affection he held for her. A young man who gladly sailed out and was the scourge of every single Spanish sailor he came across.

Did he see unicorns anymore? Could he play with them as he once did? He hardly ever saw them anymore unless he went to the countryside where the forests were still plentiful. His beloved fairies never left him and he reserved for them a tree in his own back yard so they could live peacefully without worry of being mistaken for bugs or pests. The unicorns, however, troubled him the most, now more than ever.

Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, was keeping him very busy. She kept him from leaving with special men in her employment that would keep him from boarding a ship and leaving to the open sea, or better yet India. He barely got any sleep, he sometimes forgot to eat properly; he was a mess. Outside he was the very epitome of the English gentleman, but inside he was caged and kept silent. Orders were orders and he did not have yet permission to go back to India to see the embodiment of India herself, Aashiyana Singh. So, he kept himself silent and caged, kept his mind elsewhere and did other things to keep himself awake when he was strapped for time on things. He dulled his senses when they got in the way.

He stepped into his house and was greeted by his butler, Bernard, an older man who had once served in the royal military in India. "Sir," said Bernard as he took Arthur's hat and coat and cane, "Dinner is ready. Would you prefer it if I brought it up to your room for you or would you like to eat in the dining room?"

"I'll eat later," said Arthur, "I'm not hungry at the moment." Indeed, his usually intense, unnaturally brightly colored green eyes looked dull in comparison to how they appeared normally. Arthur smiled tiredly at Bernard when Bernard gave him one of his rather infamous stern expressions. "Then, I'll take it in my room," said Arthur.

"Very well, sir," said Bernard, then he walked off and put Arthur's coat and hat and cane away. Arthur made his way up the stairs and went straight to his room. He pulled his jacket off and laid it on the trunk at the foot of his four poster bed as well as his tie. He pulled out of the pocket of his jacket a bottle of laudanum and small canister of snuff. There was a knock on the door and he moved toward it, opening it up.

"Thank you, Olivia," he said.

"Ah—begging your pardon sir, but my name is Anne," said the maid as she held up the tray for him. Anne? Wasn't there an Olivia that worked there? Looking at her he could see she wasn't the auburn haired young woman that had worked for him before. It hadn't been that long ago, really, but to him it seemed so strange and far away.

"Where is Olivia?" he asked her.

Anne looked puzzled. That was because, as realization dawned in Arthur's mind, he had seen little, shy Olivia disappear from his hire to become the wife of a very nice young American man who took her away from England to Boston, Massachusetts no less than five years ago. Was he that muddled in his head now? Was he that old inside his own mind? His age was tied to the age of the nation; he grew older as the nation grew older. However, as the decades went by, the centuries, Arthur supposed he sort of just lost track of most of the time since it just flew by in his mind.

"Thank you, Anne," said Arthur and took the tray from her and walked away, closing the door behind him in front of her. He set the tray on the small table in front of the large windows where his little bottle of laudanum and his canister of snuff lay. He sat down and nibbled on some of the food that was prepared on the plate before him, looking out the window at the fairy tree and watched as the little fairies buzzed about, glittering and shimmering through the branches of the tree. It brought a smile to his face.

His mind drifted to Her Majesty that afternoon, to the news that morning that there was a madman on the loose that she wanted found and put away. "As unfortunate as these women are, the more unfortunate possibility is that this madman should begin killing other women of higher standing," said Victoria, her usually hard eyes even harder as she looked to Arthur.

"Yes, Your Majesty, but what should I do? I am not a detective, an inspector or even a policeman," said Arthur.

"You have been in our royal military since you have been able to hold a sword have you not, Sir Arthur?" asked Victoria.

"Yes."

"Then, you have more than enough experience in making sure that the detectives and police capture this animal and bring him to justice," said she, "And do make certain you do something about your appearance, Sir Arthur. You look dreadful."

"If I may speak freely, Your Majesty," said Arthur.

"You have."

"I haven't been able to sleep properly since you've been keeping me so very busy, Your Majesty," said Arthur. Absently he scratched at his knee, picking at the cloth with his nail. "If I could be allowed a sort of vacation from England a short while I think I could be better to task."

"No," said Victoria as she eyed him with those cold, unfeeling eyes of hers, the eyes of a hard woman though she was a very good queen, "We still need you here, Sir Arthur. If you need a vacation then you should try taking one to the countryside instead, however, after you capture this villain."

"Actually, I was hoping for India," said Arthur.

"We know." Victoria didn't even flinch when she spoke, she didn't show the slightest bit of sympathy. She was always very authoritative. Arthur wouldn't have minded so much if he could at least get a break from it to India where he knew he would be able to unwind a little easier than staying on the island.

With that meeting over with Arthur had then made his way to check in to see what had come up in the investigation so far. The prostitutes that had been murdered had organs taken from them both, their throats slit, their bodies sliced up in very disturbing ways. What made them so disturbing was not the blood and gore of it, but the precision with which it had been done. At first the inspectors thought perhaps it was just one of the common criminals in White Chapel, but then they realized that the manner was far too deliberate and precise to be just a common murderer. And now there were two women who were dead in the same manner.

So, Arthur sat beside the window and looked out at the fairy tree, nibbling just a little until he pulled out a fresh bottle of Absinthe and a glass. He put the silver strainer and sugar cube on top of the glass and poured the Absinthe in over it. He drank the strange green liquid, the lamp beside him making the strange forms appear inside the glass, and continued to stare out the window. He sniffed some of the snuff and wiped his nose off before drinking more from the glass and let the chemicals take effect on him.


Aashiyana sat at her vanity, braiding her hair over her shoulder with fingers that were covered in that strange brown ink the women wore almost constantly in the most beautiful designs. She was the epitome of exotic beauty. Her dark eyes lined in khol, her skin smooth and soft and warm, her movements always graceful and her stance always regal. She was a queen in her mind and she would always remain so.

Arthur stared at her, dressed in far more constricting clothing than Aashiyana ever wore that stifled him even though he was accustomed to them. They stifled him in the moist heat of the jungle. "I said that you are to leave for London, Aashiyana," said Arthur in a far sterner tone than he usually used when speaking to her.

"I'm not going," said Aashiyana.

"Your Empress is expecting you," said Arthur, clenching his fists at his sides.

"If she is expecting to see me then she is very welcome to come here herself," said Aashiyana.

"I don't think you quite know your own position, India," said Arthur, glaring at her, "You don't have that authority. Her Majesty does and that means I do."

Finally, Aashiyana turned and looked slowly toward Arthur with those black eyes of hers. "I do know my own position, Britain. To you I am a savage that doesn't know what's best for her. To the Empress I am a savage and little better can come of me. So, as a savage, I can only say that she must come and see me for I might become more of a savage in her own court."

Arthur's cheeks were flushed from both anger and the heat, the heat getting more to his head than her words. "I would prefer to do this civilly than to drag you out to the fucking boat kicking and screaming," he snapped.

Aashiyana, already quite used to his temper, eyed him calmly and simply stood, looking to him with her chin held up like a queen. "All right, then let us negotiate civilly."

"All right," said Arthur, fingering his collar and tie, "You have to come with me all the way to England because the queen, your Empress, is quite busy and can not come over here on the whim of her colony."

"And I am busy over here. Should she not come over here and speak with my Maharajas directly?" said Aashiyana, still quite calm.

"They are her subjects. She does not come to their call, they come to hers," said Arthur.

Aashiyana sat down again at her vanity, turning away from Arthur so that all he saw was her back. "Then, she'll have to wait," said Aashiyana, her voice finally losing its calm. Arthur clenched his teeth and walked right over to her, grabbing her arm closest to him and pulling her up only to be met with a curved dagger to his throat from the other hand. His bright, unnaturally colored green eyes opened wide at the feel of the sharp metal against his skin, then frowned at her, determined not to be out done by British Raj. "You're trembling," she said.

"Would you so easily spill my blood?" asked Arthur in a calm tone.

"No," said Aashiyana, her voice becoming quieter, softer to his ears as she gazed at him though her tone was still quite hard, "My very last wish is to harm you, but I will not be made to do something I have not consented to, Britain."

"I can do nothing but obey my queen," said Arthur. He moved forward against the blade, looking her in her black eyes, loosening his hold on her arm as he lifted his other hand to her cheek and stroked the warm, smooth skin with his calloused fingers. The blade bit into his skin, his hot blood oozing very slowly from the flesh wound onto his collar, but he hardly cared.

Aashiyana's gaze grew gentler, warmer as she looked at him, her voice gentler in tone. "Your fever is high," she said, but then she stopped when he moved a bit closer and looked to the side of his face slightly. "Don't move and let go of my arm," she said in a low voice. Arthur did as she asked. "Don't speak and don't look down. Keep still." He then heard the faint hiss of a cobra near him and he stiffened. "Keep still," she said again.

In a single flash of movement, Aashiyana dropped down and grabbed the snake behind the head and lifted it away from where it had slithered close to Arthur's leg. It whipped wildly, hissing and trying to get away from her, because it couldn't bite her. Arthur looked to it and found he had been holding his breath when he heard that hiss. Had he been bitten he would have had to endure a great deal of pain while his body healed the poison, or he would have died and would then have to wake up from that great pain. Either way, it wasn't a pleasant thought at all. As a nation he couldn't die unless the people lost their identity, unless the nation itself actively died. As he was in a human form with human blood and bones and flesh he could die, he could endure wounds that most would never recover from, but he would heal and he would wake up from that momentary human death.

A bodyguard rushed in at once and Aashiyana gave him orders to take the snake in a basket with fresh goat's milk to the temple to be honored. When the bodyguard did as he was bid, Arthur finally started to breathe properly and put a handkerchief up to his neck, trembling slightly. "I'll send a request to Her Majesty that the meeting should be postponed until a better date can be set up," he said in a rushed tone as he moved toward the door.

"One moment, Britain," said Aashiyana before he could get far. Arthur looked over his shoulder toward her, his skin very pale from the encounter. "Are you not going to purify yourself?"

"What do you mean?" asked Arthur, frowning faintly.

"I must purify myself because I have defiled one of Sheshnag's children and kept it from its prey. You, by Shiva's blessed hand guiding my eyes and saving you from it, owe your thanks," said Aashiyana, looking to him as she put the curved blade away. He gave her a look that clearly stated he was in no mood to favor her religious beliefs in the slightest, so she said to him, "If anything, dear Britain, the cool waters will help your body cool and take you out of those thick clothes."

Arthur looked away and dabbed at his neck with his handkerchief silently. "It was just a snake, Miss Singh; it was hardly divine providence that you saved me from it. It was just you."

Aashiyana's eyes gentled as she looked to him and sighed. "If you keep this up you will surely suffer from heat stroke, Britain."

"I am a British gentleman," said Arthur sharply, turning away from her, "I will weather through this heat as I have everything else!"

"Arthur…"

It was the first time she had ever used his name in the many years he had known her, learned her language, and learned of the culture there. It was the first time she had ever uttered his name at all in that time. Arthur's heart jumped in pace, pounding in his chest upon hearing it. Slowly, he looked over to her and saw her looking at him in genuine concern. "I must insist, Arthur," she said softly.

For one moment, he smiled faintly; the corners of his mouth crooking up ever so slightly as his green eyes lit up at his name being spoken by her. Then, he wavered and had to catch himself on her vanity to keep from falling from the dizziness in his head. His heart pounded harder in his chest as sweat dripped slowly over his cheeks. Aashiyana moved closer to him and caught him in her arms around his waist, helping to steady him. "Come," she said softly, "Follow me."

Arthur could do nothing else but follow her instructions as he walked him to a great pool where there was a screen of sorts separating the pool in half. Actually, it was more or less a sheer cloth on a line that separated the two sides. Arthur guessed that one side was for men and the other for women to keep some modicum of modesty in place. There was a heavier screen where some attendants were standing and waiting for them to come near. Aashiyana spoke to them in hushed tones that Arthur didn't hear before moving away from him to behind one side of the heavy screen, leaving Arthur with the attendants moving closer to him in almost a menacing fashion.

"Wait—no, I need that—hold on! That's my—no, stop—don't touch there!" Arthur quickly tried shake off the attendants but they proved a very worthy set of adversaries. They stripped him bare and then into the pool all while closing their eyes and barely touching him. He stood in the water, stunned by what had transpired and looking down at the loincloth they had put him in. On the other side of the pool behind the sheer cloth he saw Aashiyana also in a loincloth with her back turned to him as she cupped the waters and let it fall on her body.

Arthur's cheeks flared up as he gazed at her lovely back, the curtain barely hiding anything from view. Her long black hair was out of its usual braid and lay over her shoulder. Somewhere Arthur heard musicians playing, but he couldn't find them. Incense burned around the pool and water lilies scented the air around him until he felt as though perhaps he was being drugged. To keep his head about him he then busied himself with washing instead of looking to the very lovely back of Aashiyana. She began singing to the music being played and, as he looked over, he saw her turn slightly, the side of her breast showing as she turned just a little toward him. Arthur grunted softly and ducked under the water to attempt to cool his head.

Aashiyana chuckled softly and turned away from him as he popped his head back up from the water and pushed his hair back. "You're amused, I see," he said in annoyance.

"Your women are not allowed to show anything of themselves save for their hands and face, am I right? How troubled you must be right now to see such a savage being as I in such a savage state," said Aashiyana in a light tone, still chuckling at him.

"A gentleman keeps his shirt and trousers on in front of women," snapped Arthur, "You forgot that." Then, he ducked himself back under the water, groaning a bit while under it. Bubbles troubled the surface of the water above him, raising yet more laughter from Aashiyana. He glared at her slightly as he popped his head back out of the water.

"Tell me," said Aashiyana, "What of your comfort? Must you keep your heavy clothes on even in the heat of my weather?" She looked over her shoulder at him and smiled faintly before turning away to hide the bitter look on her face as she spoke, a little of it breaking through. "As I am one of your colonies, this is your home. Can you not be free even in your own home?"

Arthur stayed silent as he looked at a water lily near him, his thick blonde eyebrows furrowed slightly. After a moment, listening to her wetting her hair under the water and surfacing, he moved out of the pool and went to the changing area where the attendants had left his clothes. This time, however, his clothes were not present. Instead, what he saw in front of him were the light cotton men's fashions set out for him. He frowned deeply and looked around. "Where did my clothes go?" Then, realization dawned on him. Those were his clothes for the evening.

A small sound of movement in the water made him turn and see Aashiyana now on his side of the curtain with her elbows on the side of the pool, her chin resting in one hand, her breasts covered for the moment by the side of the pool. "Is something amiss?" she asked in a rather playful, amused tone. "I suppose our fashions are not as civil as yours."

"Naught is amiss," he said quickly and started dressing, keeping his back to her and his focus away from the thought of those breasts being revealed to him. Aashiyana moved out of the pool and walked to her side of the screen; she pulled a white linen wrap around her and then sat down to braid her hair. Arthur, meanwhile, sat down near the edge of the pool, his knees up and his arms resting on top of them, a strange sort of nostalgic look in his far away gaze. "You know," he said softly, a tone not often heard from him, "I think I liked it most when I was on the ocean as a pirate, where I only had my ship and my crew to contend with and plenty of ships to plunder."

Aashiyana eyed him from where she sat, silent as she tied her hair off. He didn't seem to notice, though, as he kept speaking with a bit of a smile on his face, lighting his features up. "Elizabeth," he said the name with reverence and affection, a lot of affection; more than any affection that she, India, had ever heard from him. His cheeks pinked a bit as his eyes grew brighter, the image of Elizabeth when she first took the throne with her long fiery red hair and fair features burned into his heart. She was the first woman he had fallen in love with and swore his heart to until the day she died. "She was a real row starter," said Arthur, chuckling.

Aashiyana's eyebrows shot up slightly. Arthur hardly took notice however, his smile turning to a mischievous grin. "She told Spain to kiss her lily white arse and then sent me and several other men to make life hell for them. We picked them off easily. It was fun making that idiot's life hell. Spain, I mean. Whenever we captured him we would ransom him off for yet more gold and it would just start all over again. It was brilliant!"

Aashiyana smiled gently as she looked to Arthur. His face looked much younger than previously, he looked wilder, less the gentleman and more the pirate he professed to miss being with his hair standing up in every direction possible without order and that smile on his face that shown brilliantly as his eyes. Then, the smile faded as his eyes grew nostalgic and sad. "I think she only loved a few men," said he, his voice softer as though speaking to only himself, "She never married and never continued her line. I don't think she found anyone suitable enough to her that would allow her to still be in power. I wasn't the only one that was sad to see her die."

And he was indeed very sad. He didn't cry, for time had passed long enough that the memory wasn't as sharp anymore. Instead, the ache of Elizabeth dying simply ached. No more did he see that good queen. No more did he hear her talk to him about strategy and giving the Spanish a good lesson. The only thing left now was the ache of her passing and the faint memories of her life as he saw her.

Aashiyana stood up from her place and walked to the curtain on one of the windows across the chamber. She pulled it back and looked out at the greenery before her. "It is the way of things. Humans are born and die so quickly and we feel it when they go. Still, there is always a chance you might see them again." She looked at him over her shoulder and smiled faintly. Arthur's cheeks flushed faintly as he gazed at her in no small amount of appreciation of her.

"Yes, I know," said Arthur. Aashiyana then walked back behind the separation screen and when she came out again she was wearing the under garments of her usual clothing; the petticoat—a long skirt that hung low on her hips—and her shirt which bared her stomach to him and left little to his imagination what laid beneath the pretty fabric. She also had in her hands a small basket. She walked closer to him and sat down next to him, pulling out a few bottles of what Arthur recognized as cleaning solutions for wounds and a cloth for cleaning and another for bandaging. "It's just a small cut," said Arthur, leaning away from her a little, "I've had worse."

"The smallest cut can fall the greatest warrior," said Aashiyana, "Now hold still." Then, she applied the soaked cloth to his neck and watched as he winced slightly at the sting of it. "You see? You already have an infection started. It could keep you in bed for weeks. If you weren't what you are it could likely kill you."

"It still might," Arthur grunted. Aashiyana simply chuckled a little at him and continued cleaning his cut. "At least you have me at your mercy, then."

Aashiyana flicked those black eyes up to his and smirked faintly before looking back to his neck. "Given the look you held for me when I pressed my blade to your throat you likely wouldn't mind that." At that Arthur's cheeks turned brilliant red, though he dared not shove her away. She continued cleaning and then bandaged his neck with a cotton cloth wrapped around and tied off. Arthur fingered it thoughtfully as he watched her take the basket away. A strange woman she was, though not as strange as some he had seen. She outright defied him, outright defied Queen Victoria, put a blade to his neck and then, conversely, she kept him from being bitten by a cobra, let him bathe and alleviate himself from the stifling heat of his heavy clothes, and tended to a wound that he had caused on himself.

She held herself like a queen no matter what. Before then she was just as proud and now she was even more so. It made him feel small, almost insignificant in a lot of ways to be next to her and yet he knew he was not, would never be and to think so was foolish and unnecessary. She was beautiful beyond any of the other nations, beautiful and regal, exotic and enchanting. She was a fairy tale queen come to life.

He looked to the window and saw it was far too dark outside to return to the ship he had come to India on. Likely he would have to at least stay the night until he could either convince Aashiyana to come with him or to write a letter and send it off to Queen Victoria about postponing the meeting and sending it off in his stead.

"It is getting very dark outside, Britain. Come. I'll show you to your room this night," said Aashiyana when she came back from putting the basket away. Arthur nodded and stood up, following after her through the halls to a nice room with a nice bed in it, good furniture and the like. There was even a nice wash basin and mirror. The room, as Arthur noticed, was right next to Aashiyana's bedchamber.

The fairy that usually traveled with Arthur flitted into his view and landed on his hand as he offered it to her. She fluttered down and sat on his hand with very little impression she was there at all, smiling brilliantly up at him. "And where have you been, hmm?" he asked the fairy.

"Flying," said the fairy, giggling.

"I take it she enjoyed looking around my home," said Aashiyana as she pulled the sheets away from the bed and checked the pitcher for water in it for the wash basin.

"Yes, I expect so," said Arthur absently. Then, it dawned on him sharply what she had said. He pointed to the fairy and stared at Aashiyana in surprise. "You… you can see her? My fairy? You can see her?"

Aashiyana looked over at him and then looked to his hand. "Fah-ree? Is that her name?"

"More like a word to describe them, a label as it were. It's pronounced 'fair-ree'," said Arthur, "There are more of them in my backyard living in a great tree I've reserved for them, but… normally no one else can see them. Why can you?"

"No one else?" asked Aashiyana as she lit a lamp in the room for Arthur.

"My name is Mustardseed," said the fairy, her little voice clear as a bell ringing.

Arthur directed his attention to the fairy, Mustardseed, finally, frowning. "You never told me your name before—wait a moment. That's from Midsummer Night's Dream, you little fink. You're the one that's been messing up my library aren't you!"

Mustardseed immediately took flight and flitted away from Arthur to the top of an armoire. Aashiyana laughed softly as she watched Arthur try to get at the fairy by hopping up and trying to slap the top of the armoire, but he was a bit too short to do such a thing. Mustardseed finally fluttered away out of his reach and then landed on Aashiyana's head, nuzzling into her hair happily. Arthur huffed a bit at Mustardseed, but there was some amusement in his gaze. "Always so mischievous," he muttered.

"I can see that very plainly," said Aashiyana, chuckling softly as she tilted her head up toward the ceiling in an effort to see the little fairy. It didn't work, but that didn't matter. Mustardseed eventually left Aashiyana's head and went over to the armoire again out of Arthur's reach and sat there watching them. Arthur looked away finally from Aashiyana toward the bed as Aashiyana moved past him to the door. "I'll have a scribe write to your Queen Victoria," said she softly as she looked over her shoulder at him once more, a strange light in her eyes; a strange hint of green that Arthur had not seen before, "Good night, Britain." Then, she left him alone.

When she left, Arthur rubbed his face and groaned softly to himself, lying down on the bed proffered to him and buried his face into one of the pillows. The smell of her was clinging to every surface as though she were still there with him. The smell of curry and henna, of spices and hot, humid jungle both made it easy to dream and difficult to sleep. His mind, instead, replayed the image of her bathing; her brown skin shown to him, her breasts barely hidden by her arms as she turned slightly to look at him with no small measure of amusement. He could see the water rolling over her body as she splashed herself with it. He wanted to lick it from her skin, be the very water that clung to her taut nipples.

He tossed on the bed uncomfortably. The heat pressed in on him. He opened his tunic and that didn't help. He pulled it off and tossed it away from him and that only made it feel marginally better. He groaned when he looked down at the state he had worked himself into and tried his best to calm himself down. Nothing worked, though. "God is against me, isn't he?" he muttered to no one, his arm over his eyes.

He tried to empty his mind of everything that was that fairy queen known as Aashiyana, her unfurled hair, her warm, smooth skin pressed against his. He tried to not imagine what she would look like writhing under him as he thrust into her, the heat of her enveloping him, the taste of her kiss or the taste of her most intimate place. Defeated, Arthur sighed with no small measure of frustration and slid his hand slowly over his stomach to his trousers where he released his stiffening manhood and rubbed it and stroked it gingerly. He shivered at the contact. His heart beat quicker as he touched himself, his breathing growing heavier, his hips soon joining the effort.

He tried to stifle the noises he made as much as he could. Faintly he was aware of eyes watching him, the feeling of Aashiyana closer to him than just through the wall. The magic in his blood sensed her presence like nothing else and it seemed to just make it that much more erotic for him at that moment. His muscles were accentuated by the darkness of the room, moving with every thrust of his hips. His chest rose and fell visibly with his labored breathing; his hand moved at varying speeds. After a moment, he didn't feel her so near anymore, but it didn't matter. He pulled a pillow over his face and strangled the noises he made. Then, all at once, his muscles twitched and his mind grew white as he spurted his hot seed onto his stomach.

He lay in bed, now disgusted with himself for succumbing to his own base desires. He felt dirty and loathed himself then more than he had in a long while. What sort of animal played with himself when the woman that inadvertently created his state was just through the wall? Eventually he got up and cleaned himself off before straightening his trousers and heading back to bed. At least with that out of the way he might be able to actually sleep. It was then that he heard a shuffling sound through the wall and the sound of something falling to the floor. Arthur ran from the room and into Aashiyana's room quickly, keeping to the door way to keep from intruding.

Aashiyana was getting up onto the windowsill to sit, the room too dark to see her properly. "India? Are you all right?" he asked softly.

Her voice came out strangled, as though she were having trouble breathing. "Y-yes, I am… I am fine," she said.

Arthur frowned. "May I come in?"

"I am hardly decent," said Aashiyana, her tone more strangled than before. He recognized the sound now and that made it even more urgent for him to walk in. He made his way over to her quickly. In that time she coughed violently, shaking against the window frame. He had to put his hands on her to keep her from falling off the windowsill. When she brought her hand away it was coated in blood. It was beyond anything Arthur had ever seen from any other nation during wartime or when various plagues had scoured the lands. France had suffered great losses when he found Arthur, but even then he did not cough up so much blood as Aashiyana did right then.

Arthur's face went pale as he reached down and picked her up into his arms. He placed her on her bed and got a better look at her. Her eyes were hazy, barely registering him as they looked at him. She was dizzy, that much was certain, but there was a strange ring of bright, unnaturally colored green around her pupil. It was faint, still forming, but it was there and it contrasted greatly with the black of her eyes. The front of her white bed clothes were stained red right then. It was phenomenal that she had kept this in for so long, kept him from knowing what was wrong with her. She was losing millions.

Her breathing became worse, her skin heating up feverishly. The color drained quickly from her skin far too quickly. "Aashiyana," he said softly, "You should have said something."

"Now," she said, swallowing hard, "Now you see why I can't—why I can't leave this place. I did not want you to see… how pitiful I am right now."

Arthur stood then and walked into his room. He poured fresh water into the wash basin and grabbed his tunic and walked back quickly to Aashiyana's room. He knelt down next to her and wet his tunic; he placed it around her neck and over her forehead to alleviate the heat from her body. It barely helped, though. She began to choke on the blood coming up, so she moved to her side and let yet more blood come out of her. He moved the water and himself away from it. He took the wetted tunic and kept wetting it and wiping at her gently as he sat on the bed and tried to comfort her as best as he could.

"How… how easily conquered I am," she gasped before she vomited yet more blood.

"I'll go back to England, Aashiyana," said Arthur in a hushed tone, "I'll go in your stead."

Aashiyana laid still for a long enough time that Arthur felt that perhaps her spasms were over with for the time being. He sat up against the pillows and pulled her up against his body so that she sat up. Then, he continued to gently wipe her down with his wet and now bloodied tunic; wrapping it around her neck carefully to help alleviate the fever in her body. Aashiyana stayed silent for a long moment, her eyes closed. Arthur hummed softly to her to help her calm down. When she spoke again, her voice was a little easier, a little freer from the strangulation of the blood coming up. "I'm sorry that I ruined your time before," said she.

Arthur frowned at her faintly in confusion. "Pardon?" Slowly she moved her hand up his thigh, dangerously close to his hips. He stiffened slightly in response as his cheeks grew red. The faint memory of her being closer to him came back to him and he suddenly realized that she had watched him through the crack in his door. "You… you saw me…"

"I did."

Arthur clenched his eyes shut and silently wondered if this humiliation was his punishment for succumbing to such a state. "It doesn't matter," said Aashiyana softly, "This house is yours, after all."

"Fuck the house, Aashiyana," he snapped, "Don't try to speak. Just try to concentrate on breathing for now."

Aashiyana chuckled softly, though it was short and sort of strangled. "You don't need to feel ashamed."

Arthur felt he could argue the point of that, but decided against it. Instead, he pulled her closer against his body and kissed her on the top of her head. She turned slowly to face him and wrapped her arms around him, snuggling close against him. He laid his cheek on top of her head and held her securely in his arms, attempting to forget the fact that she saw him touching himself inappropriately.

"Did you think of me, I wonder," said Aashiyana softly against his bare chest. The movement made his heart flutter slightly, but he ignored it.

"You are the reason I couldn't sleep," said Arthur in a soft voice.

"Is that so?"

"Just try to sleep," grunted Arthur in annoyance.

"I'm all right," said Aashiyana, "It doesn't matter though, anyway."

"What do you mean?" asked Arthur, frowning faintly at her.

"What we are suffering is a famine. If it continues I'll simply die and you will be made greater for it, won't you?" said Aashiyana into his chest. Arthur gripped her tighter against him, curling over her as though to protect her.

"You idiot," he said roughly, "Of course it matters if you die." Aashiyana moved to look at him, but the way he held her barely allowed so much movement and instead she just still against him. He nuzzled gently into her black hair and sighed. "Just sleep, Aashiyana. Please."

She finally managed to move herself away from him a little to look up at him. The unnaturally bright green ring around her pupil now more apparent than it had been before; he smiled at it, feeling strangely proud it was there. "That's an interesting mix."

"It's your fault."

"I think it's pretty," said Arthur. He gently stroked her cheek, pushing her hair behind her ear slowly. His cheeks flared up once more as he had a notion to kiss her, but, instead, reigned himself in and very carefully moved his face away from hers. "I'll go in the morning. I'll leave on the ship back to London and tell the queen of your troubles, Aashiyana. I'll get aid over here as quickly as I can, but I'll be gone a while. I'll expect you will be glad to be rid of me, of course."

"No," said Aashiyana, "If she is to see the plight of my people then she must see me."

"Don't be daft. You can't go anywhere in the state you are in now," said Arthur.

"Nonsense," muttered Aashiyana as she moved away from him and sat herself up on the bed. She looked steady enough for the moment. "As you said, the queen will not come to the beck and call of," she paused with no small amount of apprehension, "of a colony."

"All right," said Arthur as he got off the bed, "But you will be sharing a cabin with me on the ship. And you will want more modest clothing when you reach England. The weather is far chillier there than it will ever be here."

"Don't press your luck," said Aashiyana in irritation, "I'll wear what I wish."

"I said more modest clothing, idiot, not what my countrywomen wear. I know there are more modest styles here. Believe me, you will want to wear them when you reach England's shores," said Arthur in just much irritation, "Otherwise I might likely have to continually deprive myself of my coat to keep you warm and covered."

"I will manage, Britain," said Aashiyana, looking away from him. Arthur frowned at the new usage of his national identity.

"Fine," said Arthur snappishly, "Then, I'll see you later, India." Then, he started to walk out of the room.

"What do you think of me?" she asked softly, looking at him with a strange light in those strange eyes of hers.

Arthur contemplated telling her a lie, that he hardly thought anything of her, but instead he spoke what was on his mind. "You're stubborn. You're hard to deal with. You—you're beautiful, graceful, intoxicating beyond all." He turned to look at her and the gaze she held for him was softened, gentler than previously. It was warm. Some of her color had come back to her cheeks, the moonlight from the window making her look as magical as the fairy queen Tatiana.

"You should sleep," said she with a very small smile on her pretty lips, "I expect you will have to make arrangements in the morning."

"Yes, I should," said Arthur as he watched her stand from the bed and walk to her wardrobe and took out some fresh clothes. She kept her back to him as she changed out of her night clothes, a secret smile on her face. Arthur stared, transfixed, at her back; her lovely curves, the suggestion of her breasts being visible to him. "Do you need help?" he asked when he noticed it was taking a lot of effort for her to manage such a small task.

"Getting dressed? I am hardly a child, Britain," said Aashiyana in amusement, "Though I am sure you could undress me just as well. Though, I am quite certain you have spent yourself for the night."

"Hardly, but that doesn't matter," muttered Arthur as he put a hand to his face and rubbed his eyes a bit. "Look, do me a favor and get some sleep, please. I will do the same."

"As you wish, Maharaja," said Aashiyana softly.

Arthur turned away then and walked to his room again, closing the door this time and settling into his bed as he muttered to himself, "That fucking woman will be the end of me. I know it." With that, he fell asleep soon after.