It was a cold night when a sleeping boy was placed on the floor of the lobby of a certain hotel. With everyone bustling about, no one paid him any attention let alone noticed the boy. Clutching the bear in his arms tightly, the child stirred. The man hesitated. But when the child continued sleeping soundly, he let out a heartbroken yet relieved sigh and placed a final kiss on the other's head. If he opened his mouth to say the farewells he wanted to, he knew he wouldn't be able to go through with what he was about to do. So, brushing a few strands of silky hair out of the boy's face and holding his breath, he turned and left the building and into the snow where his driver was waiting for him.
The chauffer gave a polite nod, "Êtes-vous prêt, monsieur?"
After a long stare towards the hotel, he nodded and stepped into his ride with a sullen, "oui, allons-y."
Arthur Kirkland walked into the lobby after finally finishing another meeting and took off his top hat to brush off the snow when he noticed something small leaning against a wall near a large potted plant. Catching sight of blond hair and a small figure curled up, he frowned and made his way over.
He couldn't help but feel a little irritated; after all, he'd told Alfred not to leave the room well over a dozen times now. He looked down at the sleeping boy he'd adopted nearly a year ago and sighed, "Come on, let's head back, lad," he muttered, picking the boy up. The boy muttered something in his sleep, hugging the bear close to him and Arthur wondered idly where he'd gotten such a thing but passed it off as nothing since he knew well enough that children had a natural talent for finding the most random things.
When he finally reached his room, he blinked when he realized that the door was locked. Hopefully their room hadn't been broken into…gulping slightly, he unlocked it and went inside. It was silent. Quietly, he let out, "…is anyone here?"
"Artie, you're back!" Was the excited reply as a little boy ran up to him and gave his legs a tight hug.
"A-Alfred!?" He looked down at his adopted son then to the boy in his arms, "what's going on?"
The boy merely tilted his head curiously, "who's that?"
Not wanting to admit that he'd mistaken another boy for him, he shook his head and placed a finger to his lips, "shh, keep it down lad, he's still sleeping, I'm going to put him to bed first then I'll tell you, alright?"
Making his way to the bedroom, he put the boy down and inwardly hoped that no one was looking for him. The resemblance between the boy and Alfred was uncanny. The boy rolled onto his side, still asleep, and revealed an envelope that'd been tied to the stuffed animal's neck. Curious, he detached it and opened it, hoping that there'd be some clue as to who to return the boy to. But instead, inside was a letter addressed to, he assumed, the sleeping boy…
Mon Mathieu chéri,
Je suis vraiment désolé…
Even though he wasn't particularly skilled at French, he understood exactly what the letter said. The note was short and straight to the point though the tail of the last é was dragged out a bit as though the writer had wanted to add more but decided against it. The Englishman sighed, well, that solved the question as to whether or not someone would be looking for the boy. He slipped the letter back into the envelope and put it into a nearby suitcase, there'd be no need for the boy to know he'd been abandoned by his father.
From the door, Alfred peered in curiously, "so who is he? Did you bring me my brother like I asked you to before?"
"That's right, you used to have a brother, didn't you…?" Arthur stole a glance at the two and thought about their likeness again. When he adopted Alfred, one of the caretakers had mentioned something about how the boy used to have a brother but the younger had been adopted months prior to his arrival.
"He was supposed to come in a pair, but the younger one, Mattie, Matthew Williams, he was adopted by another gentleman a few months ago."
"Matthew Williams? Why are their surnames different?"
"The thing is, sir, if people knew they were brothers, their chances of being adopted would've lowered…people that come here generally only want one child, and if they found out the two were related, they would've felt obliged to take them both in and that simply wouldn't be a very…popular idea. Especially not after the war we've just been through, the people who can still afford to raise children are only looking for replacements for their sons, you know?"
"…I would've taken them both in…" he muttered grimly.
The matron looked a little surprised before shooting him a sad smile, "Sir, as pleased as I am to hear that, I really wish you came a few months earlier, the boys would've been so happy. Poor Alfred cried himself to sleep for weeks when his brother left…"
Really, he thought, there was only one truly logical reason for the boy's name and appearance. And to think he'd spent all that time trying to track down the other boy…
He straightened himself up and walked over to the child and picked him up, "you know what, Alfred? I believe I've just found your brother, this boy's name is Matthew, here, take a look at him, do you remember what your brother looks like?"
The boy's eyes widened as they drew closer, he let out in an excited manner "y-you really found Mattie for me!? How'd you manage to find him in the middle of nowhere!? How'd he get here!?"
Arthur gave a soft laugh and set him down beside the bed, "keep your voice down, lad, you'll wake him up. And if you must know, this place is called Canada, it's not the middle of nowhere."
Alfred protested at this, "But the orphanage was in England!"
"U.K," he corrected the child, "he must've been brought here by someone…"
The blond turned to him and asked, "Artie, when do you think he'll wake up?"
"It's the middle of the night, Alfred, I think it's about time you went to sleep as well."
"But I can't anymore! I'm too excited to sleep! You found Mattie!"
He rubbed the back of his neck, trying to suppress the smile on his lips from growing too big, "are you sure that's him, though?"
Alfred nodded, "yea, I wasn't a baby when he got adopted, I was 4 already! Of course I remember my own baby brother! Watch, when he wakes up, his eyes will be sunset purple!"
And just then, their conversation must've woken the boy up because his eyes fluttered open and true to Alfred's words, they were violet. The child looked at the two in confusion and asked timidly, "où est papa?"
His brother immediately jumped up and down beside him, "you're awake, Mattie! Do you remember me? It's Alfred!"
The boy merely continued watching the two in question.
Hesitantly, Arthur decided that dealing with it in the morning would be a better idea and gave a small laugh. He picked up Alfred and tucked him in next to 'Mathieu', "go back to sleep Matthew, you too Alfred, you can play with him tomorrow."
Alfred gave an excited grin and immediately snuggled next to his brother who couldn't help but also smile softly at the happiness the older boy radiated. And soon, the two of them fell asleep, contentedly huddled together. It was only when he was sure that the pair were asleep that he turned the lights out and went back out to the main lounge, wondering how he was going to deal with the situation the next morning.
The next day, he was waiting for room service to arrive since there wasn't a kitchen in the room, when one of the boys walked up to him. He blinked, "Alfred? That's rare, you're up early. Is something wrong?"
The boy looked at him hesitantly, maybe even a little frightened, "j-je suis Mathieu, monsieur…"
Arthur blinked again, "oh? …oh! Matthew! Of course, I was just waiting for breakfast to arrive…" unsure whether the boy understood or not, he muttered clumsily in French, "petit…petit déjeuner…?"
Violet eyes shone in understanding and gave a nod.
Then there was uncomfortable silence between the two, so he tried asking the limited questions he knew in French, "quel âge as-tu?"
The boy held up four fingers, "j'ai quatre ans."
"Four years old, hm? You're a year younger than Alfred then…"
By that time, Matthew was staring at his feet, getting ready to ask him probably the same question from last night, "Excusez-moi…"
Just as he began, a yell came from the boy's bedroom. "Mattie!? Mattie!? Where'd you go!?"
Matthew gave a start and hugged his bear tightly before running back to the room he came from, a little panicked, "ici! Je suis ici!"
A relieved laugh came from the room. "Oh, there you are! Let's go see what's for breakfast," a moment later, a cheery Alfred appeared with the other in tow, "hey Artie, what's for breakfast?"
Arthur looked over at the two, "good morning Alfred, I ordered something light for this morning, it should be here soon. And then after, we can take Matthew to town to get him new clothes and such, he'll have to wear your clothes for now."
The boy was content with that answer and went back to playing with his brother, but then a minute later, his name was called again, "hey Artie?"
"Mattie's speaking weird English."
He sighed, "It's called French, Alfred. It's alright, he's a smart lad, if you keep talking to him, he'll pick up English in no time."
Alfred nodded eagerly and turned his attention back to the other boy. He pointed to himself, "Hey Mattie, I'm Alfred! Al-Fred, now you try!"
The younger boy looked around hesitantly before doing as he was told, "Al…fu-red…?"
Matthew's brows furled in concentration as he fixed his pronounciation, "Al-fred…"
"Good," he shot the younger boy a look of approval before pointing to the Englishman, "that's Artie! He's our dad now! Ar-ty."
Alfred pursed his lips for a moment before shrugging, "close enough."
Arthur frowned, "hey, if you're going to teach him, at least make sure he gets everything right!"
The boy waved a hand offhandedly, "Don't worry about the tiny details! He'll get it eventually! Alright Mattie, let's go find some books to read! Can you say hee-ro?"
"Alfred! Don't just move on like that!" The man gave an exasperated sigh. He would've never expected the two to be so different but continue watching on as Alfred did all the talking and Matthew merely watched his brother wide-eyed and replied in that mild-mannered way of his.
Alfred continued keeping the boy so busy that he didn't even have time to cry for his papa. And soon, the word completely stopped coming out of his mouth altogether.
And before he knew it, fourteen years had already rolled by…
Here's a serious-ish fic! So yes, sorry if my French is off. And I'm pretty sure it's obvious who papa is by now, but yea...lots of pairings coming up ahead, including GerIta, SpaRom, PruHunAus, and other family-relationship pairings though I suppose you wouldn't really call it pairings...anyways, below are a couple of translations you might want be curious about. And enjoy!
Êtes-vous prêt, monsieur? - Are you ready, sir?
Oui, allons-y. - Yes, let's go.
Ici - here