Author's Note:A note to the reviewers and readers that have stuck around long enough to read the end: Your support has motivated me to no end and I hope that I can continue to write as well as many of you claim that I do. I really cannot say thank you enough for taking your time to read and review my fanfic.
Finally! The very last chapter!~~ This is the first time I've finished an entire fanfiction, so for better or worse I present to you the ending~
Please note that this chapter, like the others, is considered a first draft and after leaving this fanfiction alone for a week or so, I'll be revising and editing the entire thing before I label this fanfic as complete~
Warnings: Light Yaoi, and light swearing (( they're British swear words…well one word…said twice, courtesy of Arthur's pirate mouth)) ~ :3
~.::*::.~Turning Point: Gettysburg~.::*::.~
Part V: July 3rd1863: Pickett's Charge
England had a sinking feeling…almost literally. He was underwater with something wrapped firmly around him and dragging him deeper. Forcing his eyes open England looked down to see a thick tentacle that was curled around his upper torso and no matter how much he fought against it, the living rope refused to budge. If anything it squeezed England tighter.
How fitting, England mused dryly, that a pirate gets dragged into the depths by the leviathan…I'll likely meet Davy Jones if I go any deeper.
As he stopped fighting against the tentacle, he began to hear a sad sound. Whatever it was that was holding onto him was crying…and it was in pain…so much pain.
The underwater surroundings began to blur and change, the tentacle split in two and transformed into two arms. England drifted out of the dream and came face to face with the very one who was gripping him so tightly.
England blinked groggily for a moment before his eyes widened with realization. The battle must have already started again!
He started to pry at America's arms and reprimanded, "Why didn't you wake me up? When did it start? Alfred, Answer me!"
Alfred gave his head a small shake and buried his face further into Arthur's shoulder, his arms still desperately clinging onto the frustrated nation.
"Alfred." Arthur started in a gentler voice, "Please…Let go. We need to stop the bleeding."
"What's the point?" Alfred mumbled obstinately, "It's just going to open up again anyway. I…I don't care anymore."
It took all of Arthur's limited willpower not to slap some sense into Alfred for saying something like that. Instead he took advantage of Alfred's weakened state and forced his arms away. In a continuous motion he turned till he pinned the disheartened nation to the bed.
"Didn't I already say I'm not going to let you die?" Arthur asked in a dangerously low voice, "Now when did the attack start?"
Taken aback by the severity of Arthur's tone, Alfred only managed to croak out, "D—Dawn."
Arthur snapped his head up and towards the window; the morning light was streaming in through the gaps of the curtains. Surely it must have been an hour since sunrise.
As he forced himself to take a steadying breath, he finally felt an uncomfortable stickiness around his abdomen. Glancing down, his stomach turned slightly at the sight of blood that must had seeped into his shirt from America's wounds. Before he moved back to his usual chair, he peeled off the shirt and unceremoniously tossed it to the floor. There would be time later to find a fresh shirt.
It took some persuading, but England managed to get America to sit up so the bandages could be changed. The youth pointedly kept his eyes straight forward and took every effort to avoid any conversation with England. After the last two days of intense bleeding, it became apparent that Alfred had lost much, if not all, of his hope.
He refused to make a sound until 1 PM that afternoon.
In the period of calm just before that time, America had fallen asleep and England was in danger of dozing off as well. The two days of constant anxiousness had drained much out of him as well, but unlike America, he wasn't stubbornly trying to give up. He had finally nodded off when it happened.
Like the explosion of cannons, a terrible cry was torn out of America's throat.
Said nation's eyes snapped wide open instantly and turned towards the tortured country who was desperately wrapping his arms around his torso yet again.
He continued to yell, "Make it stop! Please…make it…" He didn't finish his sentence as the Confederates launched a fresh barrage of cannon fire. It would be a matter of time before the Union soldiers did the same.
America's entire torso truly felt as if it was in flames from the enormous amounts of constant cannon shells. He writhed around ineffectively, experiencing absolutely nothing but pain and this scene was enough to tear England apart.
At first he tried to hold down America's shoulders to hold him still but when that didn't work it came to the point where he was sitting on America's thighs to keep him from tossing around. Finding nowhere else to go, the younger pushed himself up enough to tightly hold onto England.
England held onto the back of his head and let him press his forehead against the base of the Empire's neck and shoulder. His incessant yells stretched the limits of his voice to an unbearable point, and yet…he couldn't stop. Slowly, his cries started to have larger and larger gaps of time between them until the false calm and silence arrived once again.
The cannon fire had lasted two hours.
In the moments that followed, America's ability to sense the movements of troops on the land sharpened exponentially the more he focused on Gettysburg. Suddenly he stiffened and his hands clutched at the skin over England's shoulder blades.
"No…What are they doing?" He whispered frantically and raised his voice as he pulled back far enough to look up at England. Confused green eyes greeted his sudden alarm.
"They're going through open fields England!" The pitch of his panicked voice went higher, "They're all going to get killed! All of the—" His words were cut short with a sudden coughing fit that forced America to clamp his hands over his mouth. He fell back onto the bed and as much as he could with England sitting on him, he turned away until the coughing stopped. His throat was painfully choked up with some liquid that never should have been there, because when he pulled away his hands he saw them stained with his own blood.
Pickett's Charge had begun.
What started as a slight trembling in his fingers spread to his entire body shaking uncontrollably. On the battlefield, literally every single shot that the Union fired had hit one Confederate or another. This vast massacre of troops resulted in a literal blood bath where America sat. Pulling him up, England wrapped his arms around the youth in an attempt to stop the shaking. Automatically, Alfred's arms came around as well, only this time when he hung onto the elder's back his tense fingers had curled in and his nails accidently punctured the bare skin.
England didn't allow himself to make a sound and simply ground his teeth together; if America found that he could stand the pain of this horrific maneuver then England could handle these minor cuts.
Both of them lost track of time until, completely exhausted, America let his arms fall limp to his sides and he slumped into England's embrace. The very light breath that he felt on his collarbone assured the island nation that his former colony was still alive. Of course, tired tears that followed the end of the charge arrived as well, causing England to shiver as the cold drops hit his skin, despite the summer heat.
They didn't move until England finally came to his senses and realized that America had slipped into unconsciousness. England moved slowly as he picked him up to move him to the other side of the bed, where the sheets were not soaked in blood. As the afternoon ended, he wrapped the wounds one last time before taking the time to clean himself off.
Taking advantage of America's sleep, he also requested a nurse to patch up his back. There was also enough time to slip on a new shirt so he could avoid having to explain his injury to America, who likely had no awareness that he caused the scratches in the first place.
When the American finally did wake up, the Confederates had lost more than fifty percent of their total troops by the final attacks of the day. Completely decimated, the turning point of the Civil War left the Confederates with absolutely no chance to win. At this point it was only a question of how long they could continue to defend themselves.
America gazed listlessly up at the ceiling, he seemed to be stuck like a broken record and kept repeating, "So many lives…senselessly wasted. So many. All of those men…" A small motion, and England's hand silently clasped the American's, but he did not dare interrupt.
"Those soldiers, no, those Americans…" He paused and blinked as if just realizing something, "My Americans…" In that instant, something in him snapped and he sat up abruptly, surprising England, who quickly moved to sit on the side of the bed just in case he needed to restrain America once more.
"Why do wars have to exist, England?" He asked tiredly, "Why do we…we, the nations themselves, have to feel the pain of war? What did we do to deserve a life like this!?"
"America…" These were questions he couldn't answer, especially the last one; England's mouth just opened and closed wordlessly and he blinked away the building moisture that blurred his vision.
America's eyes began to look wild as he started again, "It would be better if it just ended…if there was no more pain. So many have already died…one more makes no difference."
"What are you saying?" England interrupted the frantic rant and caused America to finally look straight at him, the momentary insanity clear in the juvenile's eyes.
"I'm saying…that I don't want to go through this again. It would best if I were dea—"
A resonating slap echoed across the room. There was absolutely no way that Arthur would allow the disillusioned teen finish that statement.
The island nation's patience had all but disappeared. Of course this also meant that his civility had vanished and he was no better than a pirate once more.
With one hand pressed against his stinging cheek, even Alfred's anger had gotten the best of him.
"It's my wish to die, Arthur!" He exploded, "What right do you have to interfere with that!?"
"I love you, that's why!" Arthur yelled back, "I love you and I have every right to be selfish with you. Like hell I'm going to let you die you bloody, oblivious git!"
Despite his attempt at continuing to be infuriated with Alfred, irate tears streamed from green eyes and his anger dissipated.
Alfred could only stare silently as Arthur battled the interfering tears and choked out, "…And it's not like a brother's love either…It's different…completely different."
No more words were needed and it wasn't as if Alfred found himself able to say anything anyway. He suddenly felt much too aware of himself as went forward untill he was close enough to comfort the Briton. He knew that as he brought Arthur into a secure hug that their positions were supposed to be the other way around…yet it had been the other way around for the last few days. As Alfred rocked back and forth as much as his torso would allow and as he caressed the elder nation's messy hair, he said softly, "The Confederates are retreating you know. I…We won Arthur."
A sigh of relief. A tired smile. Both played on each of their lips as the realization that the horrific events of that day and the past two days were at a close. The myriad of turning points had passed; they were complete.
When Arthur finally calmed down, he pulled back and carefully turned his head away. A subtle flush had touched his cheeks and Alfred had to keep himself from smiling as he put one hand to the Briton's chin and turned his face towards him. It was the perfect chance. The perfect moment.
"Shall I draw up a bath for you…Mr. England…?" A timid voice of a maid had floated into the room and England whipped up two fingers to block Alfred's lips, which were a mere inch from their target. He then got up to face the girl who had entered.
"No that will be quite alright. We have decided to retire for the night." England answered.
She glanced at Alfred's pout (which was caused by his thwarted plans) and then at Arthur's relieved smile. Recognizing that she had likely interrupted…something, she curtsied hurriedly and left with a light blush.
"Arthur." Alfred called out for the British man's attention. In a childish moment of selfishness he tiredly raised his hands up, in the familiar motion of wanting to be picked up. Arthur complied readily, and there was a marked difference this time as Alfred curled as closely as he could and wound his arms around Arthur's neck. He would have to wait just a bit longer till he found yet another chance.
They had finally moved back to Arthur's temporary room and just as they laid down to sleep, Alfred hatched another plan that was nearly foolproof.
"I nearly forgot…My birthday's tomorrow…" He almost regretted his words when he felt Arthur stiffen in response. Almost.
"I see." A curt, predictable, response.
"Looks like I won't be able to throw a party this year will I?" Alfred pretended to grimace and look disappointed.
"In your condition, it certainly does not seem like it." Arthur answered in a dry voice and Alfred felt all the closer to his goal. Although the situation screamed at him to drop the touchy subject, he chose not to read the atmosphere and continued on as he was.
"Do you have a gift for me?" He smiled brightly as he felt Arthur twitch.
His own nation is falling apart at the seams and he can still worry about such things? Arthur wondered before yet another thought came to add to his disbelief.
…And…I'm in love with a joker like this…?
"No." Arthur lied.
"Liar. You always have a gift. You just never put your name on it. Do you think that I don't realize that?" Alfred asked, "Besides…"
He paused and silently thanked the dim light of the gas lamps for concealing his blush, "all I want this year for my birthday is for you to stay here with me…I know it's not a good day for you but just this year…can we put everything aside? Just for a little while?"
"…" Arthur contemplated this and he accepted that if he was ever to move on he would have to face this one day, "Alright then…one more day won't make a difference."
He relented to the younger one's request and then gently brought him close enough to place the customary kiss on his forehead.
Arthur didn't notice Alfred swallow a smug grin when he suddenly felt the teen's hand come up to his cheek and coax him to look down. Quickly, Alfred went forward to place his lips on Arthur's. He pulled back just as hastily after just barely grazing the elder country's lips.
Flushed pink, Alfred held his breath and waited for Arthur's reaction with beseeching blue eyes.
There was a momentary pause before Arthur wordlessly pulled him into what began as a chaste kiss. It was only after Alfred kissed him back that Arthur lost his self-control ever so minutely. He had deepened the kiss too far. He had pulled Alfred much too close and as the proximity irritated the young country's wounds, Alfred was forced to break off with an involuntary gasp. Well...there went the perfect atmosphere.
Arthur immediately loosened his grip and distanced himself, almost to the point that he was barely touching Alfred.
"You bloody git!" Arthur exclaimed, but after watching Alfred cringe slightly he lowered his voice, "Do you want me to put you through more pain than you've already been through?!"
"No!" Alfred quickly responded, "I just…um…lost control?" He offered a sheepish grin with only a frown in return, but he didn't mind; he had fulfilled his objective.
"You…You…stop smiling like that else I will be the one to lose control."
Even in the dim light Alfred could see his face darken with a crimson blush, but before he could nab a second kiss, Arthur once again wrapped his arms around him just enough so Alfred could not move. As an extra measure, he pushed Alfred's head down till he could tuck it under his chin.
"You are injured. You should be sleeping." He insisted stubbornly.
"Aww" Alfred whined, "Do I get a good night's kiss?"
"You just did!"
"…What about a 'good morning' one?"
"I'll think about it…Now go to sleep!"
(In Arthur-speak: That meant yes.)
"Good night then," Alfred said as he let his eyes close, being obedient for once. He then added as an afterthought, "I love you."
Arthur mumbled his reply into Alfred's hair, half hoping that the younger nation would not be able to hear him, "Yes, yes…love you, too…"
Finally, they could move onward and even though they had no idea what troubles the future had planned…at the very least they managed to take a few tentative steps away from the past. A past that each of them wished that one day would no longer be reminisced.
Until then, they would strive for that pure happiness.
Author's Note: Well, there you have it, my first completed Fanfiction~ ((I keep thinking this was either epic…or an epic fail~)) but I will repeat that this entire fanfic will be revised before I consider it satisfactory, so I kindly request that you re-read it once it is improved significantly ((because I don't know if the story itself might change))
In any case, THANK YOU so very much for bearing with my novice-ish writing till the very end. I greatly appreciate it~
K. Nariko ~ :3