I think Alfred looks too old in the anime (and in the manga too, I suppose...) I think he should be about 16 (if he were human, that is, haha)... it fits in with "rebellion" to have him in his mid-to-late teens. So if you imagine him like that, just for this fic, I'll love you. And Matthew would be about the same, maybe a year or two younger. Anyway, here we go!
PS - I dedicate this chapter to Nima Loves You who I've only known for like, a fortnight (XD) but she keeps giving me lovely supportive reviews and advice. Hopefully one day I'll write something where she doesn't hate England XD (Not today, dear...) Anyway. Thank you :)
March 6th, 1770
Matthew put his hands slowly into the warm water, feeling the heat spread up through his fingers. He wouldn't have usually heated water to clean the kitchen, but it was a crisp, chilly morning, and this gave him an excuse to light the stove and sit near it for a while, letting the room be filled with golden streaks of sun, toasting himself quite comfortably.
As he rung out his cloth and began to scrub the table, he heard a clatter from upstairs, footsteps thumping down, and the bang of the door in the next room.
"You bastard," spat a voice he recognised as his brother's. "You bastard!"
"Listen to me, Alfred," rushed Arthur, his accent giving his identity away. "I didn't mean-"
"You never mean it, it just keeps happening!"
Matthew stood up, wiped his hands on his front and pressed an ear to the wall.
"The British retaliated! The rebels were throwing rocks-"
"Oh, eye for an eye!" chanted Alfred sarcastically. "It's only fair that when someone throws a stone at you, you shoot them dead!"
"Shoot them dead...?" whispered Matthew. Surely... surely Arthur hadn't killed someone?
"D'you know what they're calling it?" he heard Alfred shout. "D'you know?"
"Oh, please, enlighten me," said Arthur sardonically.
" It's hardly a massacre-"
"It doesn't matter how many people it was! You-killed-four-Americans!"
Matthew flinched away from the wall. He'd never heard Alfred shout so much, or so venomously, and certainly not to Arthur. He went to the door quickly and sped down the hall, fearing for Arthur's life, as he hadn't heard a response to his brother's outburst. The reason became apparent as drew up beside the door frame. Arthur was speaking very quietly and steadily.
"I'm very sorry that this happened."
"No you're not-!" choked Alfred, and Matthew was able to hear a certain crack to his voice that made him sure that he had started to cry (or at least, he was holding back from doing so).
"Yes, I am," insisted Arthur. "And you know that I haven't killed one American, although the prospect is becoming more and more endearing... oh, I meant you, you idiot," he sighed sharply. "It was a joke."
"Don't... make jokes... like that..."
"I'm sorry." Silence. "Do you believe me?"
And there was hush again, so Matthew very, very carefully craned his neck around to see into the room. They were both standing in the very centre of the pink-golden light from the window, their shadows stretching onto the opposite wall, Alfred's an inch or two taller than Arthur's, quite still, until the taller nodded his head hurriedly.
"Good. Now, please, go and get some sleep."
Alfred nodded again, and turned toward the door, forcing Matthew to leap back and pretend he hadn't been listening. He spun in the direction of his room, took a few strides, then whipped around again when his brother stepped into the hall, so as to look as if he'd just been walking from that direction.
"Sorry. Did we wake you?" asked the American conversationally, as if the fight hadn't just happened.
"Not really," he shrugged in reply. "What's wrong?"
Alfred sighed and continued to walk, forcing Matthew to turn for the fourth time (and he was getting dizzy with all this spinning) to keep up with him . "There was a thing last night... I don't want to talk about it."
"Please? I'd really like to know-"
After looking over his shoulder to the room he'd just left, Alfred shook his head at him then cocked it in the direction of their room. He followed faithfully, and, upon entering, his brother closed the door, bolted it and threw himself onto his bed looking at the ceiling. Matthew perched on his own, observing carefully.
"The Redcoats shot five Americans last night," explained Alfred finally. "And he's pretending it's no big deal."
"Y'know, five people isn't a lot-"
"Shut up. It doesn't matter how many it is," he echoed from his earlier debate. "It's what it stands for."
"And what does it stand for?"
Alfred slumped upright, blond hair falling in front of his usually inquisitive blue eyes, which had taken on a darker guise. "That we're not equals anymore. That they don't care about what we think."
"Of course Arthur cares what you think!" sputtered Matthew before he could stop himself.
"I didn't say anything about whether he cares," he replied, his eyes narrowed, "... which he doesn't. He said he was sorry, even though he said he didn't do anything."
"He just wanted to make you feel better."
"Guilty conscience. Why would he tell me he was sorry if he's innocent? He's not sorry."
Don't you believe him? - Matthew went to say, but stopped himself, feeling that it would give away the fact that he had heard everything that had been said. "Why don't you trust him?"
"I do, I just... don't..." Alfred shrugged and started to chew his lip. "I don't know what I do."
He looked up with clouded eyes, and Matthew hurried to his bed to sit with him. "The Americans are fighting the English, and I'm American, so I c-can't be on his s-side, or I'll be against... against America, and I... I can't be, I can't do th-that..." at this point, Matthew put his arm around his brother's shoulders and pulled himself closer. "But I can't fight h-him..." he trailed off, crying quietly.
Matthew felt a twinge spring in his stomach. It was indeed a very undesirable prospect, and one that didn't really bare thinking about. "It won't come to that, Al," he promised. "You won't have to fight."
Alfred nodded into his brother's shoulder.
"And y'know," continued Matthew, "... he's not so bad when you get to know him."
He felt Alfred snicker through a sob. "True," he agreed, half-smiling.
"Hey, Matt... what's wrong, buddy?" The addressed wiped his eyes with his sleeve and looked up at the boy grinning in front of him. "You're not still cryin' about Francis, are ya?"
Matthew shook his head stubbornly. "Non."
"Why're ya still speakin' French?" asked Alfred, crouching and cocking his head.
"Je n'aime pas l'anglais," he replied after a beat, looking down at the polar bear he was clutching to his chest.
"You don't like England?! What's wrong with him?" questioned the little American defensively.
"Rien! J'aime l'angleterre, mais je n'aime pas la langue..."
They each waited for the other to speak.
"I'll be honest, Matt, I don't really know what you're telling me."
"I said," he whispered, irritated. "There's nothing wrong with England, but I don't like the language."
"Well, you're speakin' it now!" grinned Alfred in victory. Matthew gasped and glared at him. "It's not so bad, right?"
"No," he reasoned. "It's not really..."
"So why don't you like England?"
"I do like - well, he's kinda scary, I guess..."
"Nah, he only seems that way." Alfred sat beside his Canadian brother and gazed off across the yard, a light breeze tousling his blond hair. "He's great, actually. He always looks like he's busy, but he's just an air head, and if you're scared at night he stays with you until you fall asleep..." he beamed. "You can tell him anything. He's like, my best friend."
"Really?" Matthew felt himself strengthen a little. Maybe he could do this.
"Sure! Oh, you can be mine too, Matt! Don't look so sad!" Alfred stood up again, fists on his hips. "All I'm sayin' is, he's not so bad once you get to know him. Now c'mon, wanna go and adventure?"
Matthew took his brother's outstretched hand uncertainly. "I don't really know how..."
"I'll show ya!"
And with a triumphant, "yeeee-haaa!", Alfred succeeded in pulling his brother down the hill to run out to the prairie, laughing all the way.
"Hey! Don't go too far!" shouted Arthur somewhere behind him, but he was too busy being an adventurer to notice.
Those of you who know your history will be wondering why Alfred said "four Americans" rather than "five Americans". This is because three men died at the scene, one died in the early hours of the next morning and one died two weeks later as a result of his injuries, and since this is only the 6th and the event took place on the 5th, only four men would have been dead by then (in fact, he should probably only know about three of them, since news doesn't really travel fast in 1770, but I'm getting a bit too pedantic now.)
Thank you so much for reading :) I'd be very grateful of reviews 3