Foghlaidh - An Irish Gaelic byname that means pirate or plunderer.
Sassenach - Gaelic word mainly used by the Scots to designate an Englishman.
Tara - A fairly common name in Ireland (and other parts of the world). In Ireland, it refers to the Hill of Tara, the seat of the kings of Ireland from circa 5000 BC to the 6th century or so. In that reference, it could mean Queen.
The meeting was not interrupted by the usual fights and shouts; instead, a cell phone playing Rule Britannia quite loudly made most of the arguing quiet down as Arthur quickly snatched up his phone and stepped out from the room. When the door closed, all of the G8-members stepped closer to try to catch up bits of the conversation.
"What do you mean, you don't know what to do?!" Arthur sounded rather distressed. "What?! Seamus is there too?! What the bloody he-... Merfyn. Merfyn! I can't understand a bloody word... What the hell was that crash? Alright, I don't care how you do it; just get them out of that room!"
A cry that seemed to come from the phone could be heard even through the door, and Arthur let out a loud curse.
"Don't tell me. Angus has his axe there? .... Oh, so it's- Oh, alright. Just... Wait, they broke what?!" He groaned. "Merfyn, upstairs in your old bedroom. A bow and a quiver with arrows should still be in there. Get it. I'll get back as soon as I can, so take out th- Yes, that one. The chest in my room, yes. It's wrapped up in a grey cloth... Alright, thank you. Yes, I'll hurry. Be careful, okay? No, I just don't want either of them to chop your head off, and try to keep them from waking up- Ah, good... Alright, bye."
The other nations backed away from the door mere moments before it opened. Arthur looked surprisingly tired, not to mention annoyed.
"I need to go home," he said. "Family emergency, and Wales needs a little help with it."
Before anyone had the chance to object, the Englishman ran off, leaving seven surprised nations behind him.
"That sounds like an interesting emergency," Francis muttered with a sly smirk. "I would pity him if I wasn't so glad about not having to go there..."
"What the hell was that about?" America stared at the door for another moment before looking at the Frenchman. "France? What was that?"
Francis chuckled silently and patted the young nation's shoulder before returning to his seat. Of course he knew what was going on.
"You all know that Angleterre has siblings," he explained. "L'Ecosse, le Pays des Galles and l'Irlande are his brothers." He sighed at the confused looks he got from everyone except Canada. "Scotland, Wales and Ireland. You've all met Ireland." Slow nods. "Now, sometimes they visit their little brother at his house. Normally it's only Wales, but every now and then the others decide to show up." He grinned. "And then it can get a little bit difficult for our dear Angleterre, since they all truly are brutes. Wales is just a quiet brute, and his temper doesn't flare quite as often. But once Scotland and Ireland begin to argue about something, the fight is inevitable."
The others glanced at each other; everyone knew that England had quite a temper and that it was a bad idea to really upset him. They knew that some of the older nations might vaguely recall that he was extremely dangerous once he got his hands on a sword or an axe, or any other kind of sharp weapon that should preferably be far out of his reach.
"In short, he went back home because his siblings are there," Francis finished. "And apparently fighting, judging from that phone call. We should let it slide, for this time. After all, anyone would rush back home if their siblings were trying to kill each other and in the process wrecking the house."
Alfred sank down on the bed in the hotel room; since the meeting had been held in England, he had considered if it would be a good idea to visit the older nation when it was interrupted, but considering that phone call... It might be a better idea to just call and check if the old man was still alive. He picked up his cell phone and dialled the number, having engraved it in his mind almost as a force of habit. One signal, two... And surprisingly enough, Arthur picked up after only two signals.
"Yes, America, what is it," asked the Englishman. "Make it quick, I'm busy."
"... Er, I just... I just wanted to see if you were okay, but I thought that I shouldn't come there right now..."
"I would've been glad if you did, I might need a bloody hand with Scotland- Oi! Put that down, you sodding bastard, or you'll never see the bloody daylight again! I'm sorry, Ireland was... I told you to put it down! No, I don't bloody care that you're angry! For fuck's sake, if you don't put it down I'm going to go to your house and smash everything in sight! I might even decide to drop a bomb on Newgrange if you don't leave that fucking painting alone, do you hear me?!" A loud wail was heard in the background, along with loud cursing in an incomprehensible language. "Put it down, you motherfucking little bastard, or I'm going to eat your fucking eyes for dinner! A poor meal, but it'll give me a certain damn satisfaction!"
Alfred winced. He knew that Arthur had a rich storage of insults and general curse words, and the temper was nothing new... But he had never been able to imagine that the Englishman would threaten with bombing some place...
"Anyway," he said slowly, trying to catch his old mentor's attention again. "Uhm... Has everything calmed down a bit now...?"
"They wrecked the lounge," Arthur sighed. "I hope I'll be able to fix the sofa, though... I like that one, and it was expensive..."
The American blinked; he knew exactly which piece of furniture Arthur was talking about. That couch was old, but nice and comfortable. He had slept on it a few times after paying surprise visits to the other man, or when he brought the guy home drunk.
"They wrecked the couch," he said slowly. "Uh... Anything else?"
"I'm going to miss my armchair..." Arthur sounded a bit sad now. "I mean, it was old, but it was so comfortable... And I've had it for ages... And now it's just..." A deep sigh. "I think there are a few splinters left... My chair has been demoted to firewood..."
Alfred held back a low chuckle. Of course he knew how much the Englishman loved that chair, anyone who knew him was aware of it. You didn't scratch that chair and live, absolutely not. And now the chair was gone.
"My deepest condolences," he teased. "She was a good chair, sturdy and comfortable. Always eager to have you in her-"
"If you continue, I'm going to wring your neck. Don't compare my chair to a prostitute."
"Who said I did?"
"Did you call for a reason?"
"Well yeah, I was going to see if you were alive. And you are."
Arthur sighed deeply, before suddenly starting to yell at someone again. Alfred could only just make out "haggis-shagger", so he assumed that the one being yelled at was Scotland (he was no good at recognising countries, but Arthur had mentioned his brother and the man's love for haggis quite many times).
"Look, should I come over?" He smiled to himself. "I can be a hero and chase them away."
Immediately, he had the Englishman's attention again.
"Are you bloody mental," Arthur shrieked in horror. "They'd flay you and eat you alive! You'd be dead within a few minutes! I am not letting you come here now, America!"
Alfred chuckled silently and shook his head.
"I'm sure they're not that bad," he replied. "I'm coming over, so just wait, okay?"
He heard the older man yell something at him just before he hung up, but he was wrapped up in his happiness over having something heroic to do. He didn't care about what Arthur had said, at least not right now. Right now, the Brit obviously needed a hero, and Alfred was the man for the job, as always.
The trip to his old caretaker's house was uneventful enough; no sign of any police-cars or anything. So at least it couldn't have been that bad, right? Or could it? Was it even possible to put countries, or parts of a country, in jail? He'd have to look into that later... Then again, there was that time when Arthur had landed in a cell for a night when he was drunk... So perhaps it was possible. The cabdriver poked at him a third time to call him back to reality and told him that they had arrived, and Alfred quickly paid him and got out of the cab. And began to stare at the house. The door was hanging off its hinges, several windows were smashed, and it looked like someone had thrown something through the roof... He could only imagine what it would look like inside. Slowly, he walked up to the door and knocked on the doorframe.
"Iggy," he called. "Are you there?"
A brown-haired man poked his head around the corner, a pair of large green eyes blinking in surprise.
"Eh... Arthur said nothing about visitors," he said, a slight frown forming. "Who are you?"
Alfred stared. This man looked like a brown-haired slightly taller Arthur... Well, that was something he hadn't expected.
"I'm America," he replied as he stepped into the hallway. "Are you one of Iggy's brothers?"
The man smiled a bit and nodded.
"I'm Wales." He stepped out properly, revealing that he was about as tall as Alfred, that he wore a knitted green and white sweater and brown trousers... And that he held something that looked like a sheep in his arms. "I don't have a nickname like you've given Arthur, but if you want to, you can call me Merfyn." He chuckled at Alfred's confused look. "It's my name. Merfyn Crowther-Kirkland."
Alfred smiled a bit and nodded slowly. He was not going to ask about the weird name... Because seriously, who would ever take a name like "Merfyn" and be okay with it? Then again, this was England's family... They were bound to be a bit messed up, right? Just as he thought this, two other men stepped out into the hallway; he recognised one of them, a tall man with freckles and curly red hair and green clothes, as Ireland; the only country who actually spent the World Meetings drinking whiskey and got away with it. The other man was even taller, perhaps around Russia's height. He had red hair as well, and his chin was covered with equally red stubble; he wore something that Alfred had already in his mind labelled a plaid skirt, along with a white shirt and high boots. Three pair of green eyes stared at him.
"So, ye're America," the tallest man said. "Pfeh, ye don' look very tough. I could take ye down wit' me right hand, I could."
"If you do, Arthur will hit you again," Ireland replied with a smirk. "But aye, that's America. The most obnoxious brat among all of the nations."
"We should be nice to him," Merfyn said with an innocent smile. "Shouldn't we, Seamus?"
"But of course, Merfyn," Ireland chuckled, his smirk turning into a grin. "Foghlaidh is always bugging us about treating guests well, eh? So let us treat this guest as well as we can. What do you say, Angus?"
The tallest man smirked, a dangerous glint in his dark green eyes as he nodded.
"Aye," he said. "Come 'ere, laddie. Ye'll have t' wait fer th' Sassenach anyway. 'e went up t' check on something."
They dragged Alfred into the lounge, surprising him with their strength. He could probably have fought back and won if he wanted to, but he couldn't deny that they were very strong... And now, he sat there, on the only intact chair in the wrecked room, with the three brothers staring at him.
"Now," Seamus started, still with that eerie grin. "This, my brothers, is America. Or Alfred F. Jones, as he so happily proclaims if someone asks. The Alfred F. Jones."
"Aye, 'tis quite obvious," muttered Angus. "But I wonder why 'e came 'ere. Not tha' I complain, been longing t' take a swing at 'im."
"Mmh, we all have, Angus," Merfyn said softly. "After all, we look out for our dear brother, don't we? We protect him from things, like good brothers should. We don't run, we don't hurt him."
Alfred blinked and frowned. He wasn't certain about what they were talking about, but he knew threats when he heard them. He felt himself get tense, ready to defend himself if it would be needed.
"What the hell are you talking about," he asked, slowly clenching his fist. "I never ran from anything..!"
Seamus moved behind the chair and placed his hands on the younger man's shoulders.
"Of course you never ran," he cooed. "Because the great America doesn't back down from a challenge, right? But does the great brat America understand that he hurts people with his actions?" He grabbed Alfred's arms, pulling them behind his back to make sure that he wouldn't try to hit anyone. "Does the great America understand what he did when he rebelled?"
Alfred sputtered and tried to break free from the Irishman's firm hold, but froze as a hand grabbed his hair and yanked at it, forcing him to stare into a pair of shimmering green eyes beneath a thick brown fringe.
"Does the great idiot Alfred F. Jones know what he did to a specific person," asked Merfyn, his voice as smooth as silk, and as venomous as a snake. "Does he know what he did to someone who is both hated and loved over the world, someone who once held the world in the palm of his hand?"
Angus cracked his knuckles, his eyes flaring with anger.
"Does 'e know what 'e did t' th' embodiment o' England," he growled. "Does 'e know 'ow th' man 'e once called 'is brother cried? Does 'e know 'ow England begged fer 'is precious America t' come back, even after ev'rything tha' 'appened?"
The fist slowly lifted, ready to inflict pain, and Alfred involuntarily flinched. But before Angus could move an inch further, a cold voice sounded in the room.
"And just what do you wankers think you're doing to my guest?"
Arthur glared at them from the doorway, wiping his hands on a towel. Seamus immediately let go of the American and backed off, but Merfyn and Angus moved a bit more slowly, reluctant to obey the unspoken command.
"We were about to teach him a lesson," said Merfyn honestly. "Until you showed up."
With a deep sigh, Arthur walked over to Alfred and patted his shoulder.
"I would've been more careful with introducing you to them," he muttered. "These are my brothers. Seamus Finnegan, Angus MacKenzie and Merfyn Crowther." He pointed at them in order. "You already know Seamus a little, so..."
Alfred smiled weakly and got to his feet. Arthur really didn't seem that fazed by the fact that his brothers had been about to beat the American to a bloody pulp before he came into the room... Then, his eyes caught the splashes of red on the towel the Englishman held.
"... Arthur, are you bleeding?" He grabbed the older man's hand. "Are you okay?! They didn't hurt you before, did they?!"
Arthur shook his head and pulled back his hand.
"It's not mine," he explained. "It's my sister's."
Alfred blinked, and then frowned.
"But... You don't have a sister... Right...? At least you've never said that you have one... I mean..."
Arthur rolled his eyes.
"Alfred," he said seriously. "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Ring a bell? Northern Ireland is my older sister and Ireland's twin. She's still a mess after the Good Friday Agreement, still healing up after the Troubles... She got into the fight earlier, and I was just helping her change the bandages." He smiled a little bit. "She'll be down to meet you in a little while."
The American could only stare. A sister? Arthur had a sister? And no one knew? ... Or wait, was it possible that France knew? Perhaps... He had only mentioned Arthur's brothers earlier, because no one had asked about anything else...
"Oi, little brother, who's the pretty-boy?"
The voice was strong and deep, though definitely female, and rich like honey. And as Alfred turned around, he saw a quite beautiful woman in the doorway. Her curly red hair reached down to her waist, and even the parted fringe reached down to her jaw. Her skin was pale, and just like Seamus, she had freckles on her face. Her bright green eyes (luckily not overshadowed by a pair of bushy eyebrows) watched him carefully, and she crossed her arms over her quite ample bosom. She wore a dress, a white and green one that reached about halfway down on her calves.
"He's America, Tara," Arthur sighed. "America, this is my sister, Northern Ireland."
Alfred hesitated for a moment, and the woman sent him a surprisingly cheerful grin as she stepped over and grabbed his hand.
"If you call me Northern Ireland, I'll slap you," she stated matter-of-factly. "I'm Tara, Tara Finnegan-Kirkland." She eyed him approvingly. "Hmm... You look like you've got some muscles, at least... You might be able to survive us." A clear laughter escaped her lips, and she patted his shoulder. "I have no objection against having you as my brother-in-law!"
Alfred's eyes widened, and Arthur's face turned an interesting shade of red.
"Oh, bugger..." The Englishman grabbed his sister's hand. "For the last time, there is nothing between America and me!"
She blinked and smiled; the true picture of purest innocence... Not that Alfred ever believed that anyone related to England could be pure or innocent...
"Are you certain, little brother," she asked sweetly. "There's really nothing? Nothing at all?" Her smile widened suddenly, reminding Alfred of a certain Russian. "Then you won't mind if I..."
She lifted her free hand, clenched it to a fist and drew it back as if to hit the American. Arthur immediately pulled her away and glared angrily at her.
"If anything, I only see him as a brother," he growled. "Alright? Don't hit him, Tara, I don't want to start a war because you couldn't keep away from any sort of mischief."
She suddenly laughed again, slipped away from his grip and danced out from the lounge.
"Liar, liar, pants on fire," she sang happily as she raced down the hallway to the kitchen. "Liar, liar, pants on fire! Nose is as long as a telephone wire!" As Seamus, grinning just as happily, hurried after her, she continued loudly: "Deceiver, dissembler, your trousers are alight! From what pole or gallows shall they dangle in the night?!"
Arthur groaned and massaged his temples.
"And she just had to quote that, of course... Bloody hell..." He glanced at Angus and Merfyn, who both smiled innocently back at him before they slipped out from the room. "Just because there's a guest here doesn't mean that I won't force you bastards to fix my house!"
"Shut up, Foghlaidh," shouted Seamus from the kitchen. "We're having a conversation here! Besides, I'm an independent nation; you can't force me to do a bloody thing!"
"I'm sure I can force you to do a lot of things if I can force America to shut the hell up during meetings, you bleeding little wanker!"
"You're the wanker, brat," Tara replied cheerily. "Where do you hide the eggs, by the way? I don't see them!"
"Second shelf, Tara! And why the hell do you need eggs?"
"Because I'm going to bake! And you're not getting anything if you keep yelling at me, Arthur!"
Alfred blinked; he remembered Arthur's horrible cooking (there was nothing in the world that could wipe out that memory or the survival instinct that came with it)... And hadn't the Englishman explained that his brothers were just as horrible when it came to cooking...?
"I-Iggy, should you really let her..."
Arthur raised an eyebrow.
"She is an excellent cook," he muttered. "I bet that she could make even your stupid hamburgers heavenly, you git..." He groaned at the look he got. "France liked her cooking, Alfred, that should be proof enough for you."
It proved to be a fairly trying time; although Arthur had explained that things normally calmed down once Tara decided that she was going to bake something to cheer everyone up, that still didn't stop the occasional bickering. It didn't stop Angus from getting into a wrestling match with his youngest brother and holding him in a headlock either, while Arthur shouted various insults at him. Luckily, Alfred didn't need to interfere as Tara suddenly exclaimed that she'd had enough, spun around and hit them both with the wooden spoon in her hand.
"Neither of you are children anymore," she yelled. "Now, act your bloody age, or I'll bloody well bash your heads in with this spoon and scoop your eyes out and feed them to the crows!"
With that threat in mind, the brothers backed down. Alfred continuously held back chuckles as he listened to the siblings when they bickered; it seemed that though Arthur was technically the one "in charge", he had very little control over his wild older brothers. Or his sister, for that matter. Tara seemed to be a very interesting person, to say the least... One moment she acted like a typical older sister, or even a mother, and the next she was just as impossible and wild as her brothers. At times when her brothers would start to raise their voices against each other in subjects that Alfred could only deem as very sensitive ground, she'd suddenly let out a sound that was suspiciously alike to a choked sob and they'd immediately keep quiet and glance worriedly at her. She had some sort of strange control over the others.
Could have something to do with her being the only girl, muttered a voice in the back of Alfred's mind. I mean, look at her. Alone with these idiots? She's either batshit insane, or just strong and brave enough to stick with them...
The thought was stopped as a hand waved in front of his eyes. He blinked and looked up, finding himself looking at a cheerfully smiling Tara.
"You're spacing out, brat," she chided. "I said, if I let the cookies cool off now and make some proper food, do you want some too?"
With a smile, Alfred glanced quickly at the rest of the Kirkland family; Angus was currently threatening Arthur with bodily harm if he tried to do something else than show Tara where he kept the ingredients, Merfyn sat with his sheep in his arms and watched the scene with an amused look on his face, and Seamus had apparently decided that the discussion was nothing he wanted to get into and was now reading a newspaper instead.
"Sure!" Alfred sent the woman his trademark grin. "Need any help?"
She blinked, then smiled warmly and patted his head.
"It's fine," she chuckled. "But thank you anyway. You're a good kid; it looks like Arthur managed to raise you well after all!"
Alfred blinked. Arthur had suddenly torn away from the heated discussion with Angus, and was now glaring a bit at his sister, who blinked innocently.
"We had an agreement," he growled. "I wouldn't mention that period, and you wouldn't talk about-"
"Shut up." Tara's expression didn't change; but Alfred, who remembered having to deal with Ivan Braginski all too well, could see a cold and unyielding look in her eyes. "I'm going to cook something now. Can you please show me where you keep everything, little brother, so that I can get started?"
Arthur flinched involuntarily, but sprang to his feet and began to take out the different ingredients she asked for. Merfyn smirked and lent over, poking Alfred's arm to get his attention.
"She's sensitive on that spot," he said quietly. "But she knows how to use it against him."
"Why do they even do that if they know that it's sensitive," asked the American with a slight frown. "I mean... Even I don't try to touch the whole thing with how he raised me anymore, unless I really want to tease him..."
Merfyn gave him a lopsided grin and shrugged.
"You could say that it's our way of making each other grow stronger," he replied. "To poke and prod at sensitive subjects and so on, until the person it's aimed at doesn't get riled up anymore. Tara's is more recent than Arthur's, so we try to be more careful with her." He chuckled and pointed at Tara, who now hugged her little brother from behind and pinched his cheeks. "Besides, she's a mother hen. She doesn't treat him like this all the time, but I think her maternal instincts sort of woke up when we found him. So she doesn't stay mad at him for that long."
Arthur squirm in his sister's firm grip, yelling something muffled about that his cheeks hurt. Tara only laughed and pinched harder for a few seconds before dancing away again to start cooking. And to Alfred's surprise, the slightly disgruntled Englishman did not yell at her, but rather sat down and crossed his arms over his chest.
If I had done that, he would've hit me, he thought. ... So it's a sibling-thing? But I'm supposed to be his little brother...
He tilted his head, still watching his old mentor in silence. Arthur had mentioned his brothers before, but never with any kind words. Whenever he spoke to Ireland during the World Meetings, an argument would soon begin. But seeing the older man with his siblings like this, in a completely normal setting while acting just like siblings should (i.e. quarrelling and joking around with each other), Alfred wondered quietly if there was any truth to Japan's words about England being... oh, what was that word... tsundere. Yes, that was it. Besides, siblings always claimed to hate each other, didn't they? He could easily recall times when he and Canada had argued with each other, and then there were the Italian brothers... Maybe Arthur really was just a normal little brother who just made a big deal of having been bullied by his siblings in the past. A sappy smile appeared on his lips, only to disappear when Angus raised an eyebrow at him.
"Jes' what are ye smilin' like a pansy 'bout?"
"It's nothing," Alfred replied. "Just thinking." He blinked. "And I'm not a pansy!"
"You sure look like one to me." Ireland threw himself into the discussion, apparently seeing his chance to bait the poor American. "I mean, seriously. You just have this pretty-gay-boy-look, even more than Arthur."
Alfred rolled his eyes.
"It's ruined for him because of the eyebrows," he shot back. "Which you have as well. Seriously, what's with those things? Do they breed, or what?"
"Blame Angus, he's the oldest and had them first," said Merfyn with a challenging look in his eyes. "Besides, we can actually pull off the big-eyebrows-look and really make it look sexy. You can't even pull off the pretty-boy-look. You just look like a pansy."
"I do not look gay!"
"Denial ain't jes' a river in Egypt."
"I don't look gay, shut up!"
"Really though, we all thought that Arthur was the gay one at first," Tara chimed in with a wide grin on her lips as she turned away from the stove. "Looks like he passed that on to you, though. Or maybe you looked like a pansy even as a little kid?" She put on a mock thoughtful look. "That would explain why all male countries fought for dominion over you..."
"Hey! I'm not gay! Stop it!"
Arthur let out a quiet chuckle and gazed at the younger nation with mirth sparkling in his eyes.
"I have been wondering for a while, I admit," he said. "Really, Alfred. Fussing over your weight? Or the times you literally take hours to just take a shower? Getting annoyed when you can't make your hair look just right? You are such a pansy."
"I have good reasons for all that," Alfred protested. "I'm not gay!"
Laughter broke out from the siblings, and Angus reached out and patted the American's shoulder.
"We're jes' messin' wit' ye," he grinned. "Ye're more fun t' tease than others, laddie, an' th' fact tha' ye really look like a pansy 'elps."
Alfred growled and drew back his hand to take a swing at the Scotsman's grinning face, but was immediately whacked on the back of his head by both Merfyn and Tara.
"Thank you," Arthur said with a grin. "It's a bit hard to do that when I'm on the other side of the table."
"You could've kicked him," Seamus reminded his little brother. "Always worked on you."
Arthur rolled his eyes, but didn't rise to the slight challenge in the Irishman's words. It seemed that he knew better than to get his brother truly started on this "baiting-game".
"I know what you're trying to do, you dork," the Brit muttered. "I'm not falling for it."
Alfred laughed silently when the bickering began again. He had never quite imagined that the family would be like this. And he never thought that he'd be welcomed like one of them... It felt rather odd, really. This was maybe not the world's most normal family, but it was a family he felt strangely comfortable with. Despite the way they acted.
These guys are pretty fun, he thought. Iggy isn't normally like this... But I like it. The way he acts is nice... I haven't seen him like this for ages.
He watched as Arthur and Angus got into another argument, the Scotsman once again capturing his little brother in an unyielding headlock, and smiled. Perhaps this was the most dysfunctional family ever to exist, but they loved each other. And wasn't that everything that mattered in a family? They might not be very good with words, but they could read each other like open books. They didn't need words.
Perhaps this is what a family should be like, Alfred mused. Not needing words to communicate... Never needing to talk... Just look at each other to know what they feel... He sighed, a smile still on his lips, when he saw how the other siblings began to pull the two quarrelling ones away from each other. This is how Arthur grew up... This was the way he worked with his feelings. No wonder he always acts weird when he's embarrassed or sad... Or angry.
"Oi! Angus, let go of Arthur this instant," Tara shouted. "I said, let go, you big oaf! Let go, or I'll shove the kitchen knife where the sun don't shine! It won't be pretty, I tell you!"
Alfred laughed along with Seamus and Merfyn. A weird and dysfunctional family, but one that didn't need words. He rather liked that idea.
Alfred went back to the hotel quite quickly and grabbed his things; he wasn't going to stay in England for long anyway, so he was going to spend the last few days at Arthur's home. For once, the Englishman didn't object to it, since Tara was the one who had suggested it. In a rather strong way. He didn't quite dare to do it, since he wanted his sister to be happy. And if she wanted the American to stay there, then it'd be allowed. So once he came back to the house, he was led straight to a guestroom.
"Don't get me wrong," Arthur muttered. "I'm only allowing this because Tara thinks it's a good idea, and you shouldn't stay that long after the meeting either..."
"No worries, old man," Alfred replied with a wide grin. "I don't want an overdose of "old man", you know."
Arthur grumbled silently and looked away for a moment. He was clearly not that happy about having the git around, but he wouldn't say anything more about it. For a moment, Alfred just watched him, and then he chuckled softly and dragged the older man into the room.
"Don't be so stodgy now," he teased. "You're just being nervous, aren't you? You're not used to being around me and your siblings at the same time." As Arthur sputtered in protest and began to flail, the American only pulled him into a tight embrace. "I'm happy about being here, you know. Really happy. I mean, you're finally showing me just what you can really be like."
He chuckled and ruffled Arthur's hair, still holding him tightly.
"You're a bleeding moron, Alfred," the Englishman muttered, shoving weakly at him. "Shut up, alright? You're just a gigantic prat."
Alfred laughed softly and let go, calmly sitting down on the bed. Arthur only watched him, a vague smile on his lips. He could barely remember the last time it was like this... Or well, it had probably never been like this before. After all, Arthur had never had his siblings demand that he let the American stay...
"I apologise about my siblings," he said. "They're not normally around when I have guests... Things get too loud, and since the arguments can't really be stopped..." He sighed. "I'm sorry. They shouldn't even have been here in the first place..."
Alfred laughed and pulled the older man down on the bed, giving him a warm bear hug.
"I don't mind," he replied. "I like them, they're actually kind of funny. And I seriously don't see why you complain about them, you seem to get along with them."
Arthur groaned and tried to wriggle out of the younger man's tight grip. It wasn't that he disliked the hug; it was more the fact that America was actually hugging him as if they had been this close for ages.
"I do not get along with them," he grumbled. "They're morons. Angus and I can barely be in the same room, and Seamus always manages to get drunk and then I have to bail him out of a bloody cell whenever he visits. Merfyn always speaks in that infernal language that no one else can understand. And Tara takes every chance she gets to embarrass me, all for her own amusement."
The American only smiled and shook his head.
"Well, it seemed fine just now. Or is that only when they have someone else to make fun of?"
Once again, Alfred let go of the other man and smiled. He would've liked to talk a bit more, but considering that both he and Arthur were holding back yawns, it would have to wait.
Waking up early in the morning was quite normal for Arthur; it was almost like a ritual to him, waking up as soon as the sunbeams first hit the house. Normally he'd consider sleeping in for a few more minutes, but he always ended up getting out of the bed and padding down the stairs to get some tea. This morning, however, was a little bit different. True, he did wake up early, but he found that he wasn't alone. A strong arm was wrapped around him, holding him close to a muscular bare and positively male chest, and his head was tucked safely beneath a chin. After some squirming, he finally managed to turn around, only to find himself staring at a sleeping Alfred's peaceful face. His first impulse was to yell and shove the brat off the bed, but he forced it back. Instead, he merely watched the lad.
Dear lord, he thought. Did he have a nightmare again...? I can't believe he's still that childish...
A gentle smile appeared on his lips, and he trailed his fingers through the soft blonde hair. He didn't want to wake Alfred yet; the brat would probably only complain about what time it was anyway, so he opted to let him sleep. He looked so very peaceful when he slept, just like when he was a child... Arthur sighed and closed his eyes, carefully embracing the younger man, when he suddenly heard a low chuckle in the doorway.
"Well, isn't this cute!"
He blinked. In the doorway stood Tara, dressed in a white nightgown, and eyed the two in the bed with a wide smile.
"Good morning, Arthur," she greeted. "I was going to ask about if you wanted some tea, but I suppose that can wait... I mean, I don't think you want to leave your lover's embrace just yet."
He sputtered, but she only chuckled and closed the door again; he could hear her hurry down the stairs, calling for her brothers.
"Lovely," he muttered. "She just couldn't shut up..."
He cursed silently and glanced at the younger man again, who blinked slowly to clear his vision.
"Just... Go back to sleep, Alfred," he mumbled. "I'll wake you later..."
Alfred smiled blissfully and hugged him tightly.
"Mmh... Only if you stay... 'kay?"
Arthur sighed quietly, but closed his eyes and allowed himself to smile.
"Alright... I'll stay..."
Once they finally got around to the meeting again, Arthur showed off an almost eerie calm while Alfred was just about as giddy as usual, although he kept glancing at the older man. As if he was waiting for something. But once they truly got started, he was as loud as ever. However, once lunch drew closer and everyone began to consider what they wanted to eat, there was a knock on the door, and when said door opened, Arthur and Alfred could only stare as a redheaded woman danced into the room with a bag in her hand.
"I'm terribly sorry to interrupt," Tara chirped as she walked over to Arthur and put the bag down. "But I wanted you to have something decent to eat, Arthur, not those terrible scones. You need decent food, you know, it's a wonder you haven't died from food poisoning."
"Blame Angus," Arthur muttered and rolled his eyes, his cheeks turning an interesting shade of pink. "It's his fault that I'm more or less immune... Why did you come here?"
"I told you, I brought food."
"I don't need it."
"Yes, you do. I'm not letting you eat those horrible scones, and I'm not letting young pretty-boy there feed you those greasy burgers."
"Hey!" Alfred glared slightly at her. "Burgers are awesome!"
"No, they'll clog your arteries, and you'll die." Tara rolled her eyes. "Death by Big Mac. Is that the words you want on your headstone?"
As Alfred looked like he was seriously considering that possibility, Arthur took his chance to get up, grab his sister's arm and lead her to the door.
"Well, thank you for bringing me something," he muttered. "Please, just go home now..."
His eyes widened slightly as he realised that his older sister was pouting at him. And the pout was incredibly similar to how Alfred had pouted when he was little.
"You never let me have any fun," she complained. "Please, Arthur, can't I stay? I promise I'll be good!"
He pushed her out, muttering silently about how manipulative she could be, and closed the door behind her, letting the last quiet giggles fade away. As he turned around, he noticed just how people were staring at him. Francis had a knowing smile on his lips, Alfred looked a bit amused... The others seemed to be utterly confused. He sighed deeply.
"If we can just have lunch now, I'll explain what that was about..."
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