UST to the Max

Part Eight: Into the Sunrise

"Alright, is everyone clear on the plan?" Alfred glanced around at the group gathered in front of the tree. Most were chattering excitedly with one another, while others were staring up at the tall evergreen as if it were about to kill them.

Namely, Arthur.

He was staring at the tree in a daze, eyes unfocused and perhaps a little misty. Not because he was upset. Not at all. He was just… He had a leaf in his eye. That was all… and maybe a bit of nostalgia for the blond hair and blue eyes that had looked at him so kindly in front of a similar tree so many years ago.

"Okay, since I thought of the idea I get to go first." Alfred's voice snapped Arthur out of his daze long enough to watch as the American placed a small ornament on the tree. He gazed studiously at the vial for a moment, as if it held the answers to all of life's problems, before turning and allowing the mob of other countries past.

They all seemed so happy, glad to put their deepest wish on the tree in the hopes it would be granted. Arthur could already tell what half of them would say.

Feliciano would wish for pasta. Perhaps Ludwig to be happier. Or some other ultimately inconsequential item.

Lovino would wish for Ludwig's death. And Antonio to gain a brain cell or two.

Antonio would wish for Lovino, though he already had him.

Natalia would wish for her brother.

Ivan would wish for the world to be his.

Ludwig would wish for Feliciano to be less useless.

Everyone was predictable. Easy. Obvious. Every one of them would wish for someone else. Because that was the one thing they valued most, whether they admitted it or not. Each other.

Arthur snorted. As if that was true.

Arthur watched as the others chatted and left, leaving him alone in front of the tree.

"Cher Angleterre, you wouldn't be getting cold feet, would you?"

Apparently he wasn't alone after all. Of course he would be stuck with the one person he wanted to see the least.

"No, Frog, I wouldn't. I was just…thinking." Technically it wasn't a lie. Not that he cared if he lied to that bastard, it was just too troublesome.

"Ah, I see."

What it was Francis saw, he didn't know. All he wanted was to get his ornament up and get home to be left alone until this whole horrid season was over.

Of course he wouldn't get that, now would he.

"I'll show you mine if you show me yours?"

Arthur blinked at him, not really seeing Francis. His mind replaced him with a younger, more innocent person. One who had asked the same question of him so long ago now that he was sure the tree they had stood before was long since dead.

Just as last time, he gripped his vial close to his chest and shook his head in the negative. He didn't need to see what trivial thing Francis wanted. And he certainly didn't want Francis to see his.

Really, it had been a spur of the moment idea. Born of nostalgia and several things he did not want to think about in present company. Or any company, for that matter. The only reason he had written it at all was because no one would see it. He could keep it a secret.

"Well, I'll allow you to see mine anyway, oui?"

Arthur opened his mouth to protest, but Francis was already taking the small roll of paper from its intricately carved vial.

"Je souhaite pour l'Angleterre de devenir mon ami une fois de plus."

Francis grinned at him, rolling the paper up and hanging it on the tree while Arthur was busy trying to figure out what exactly he had just been told.

"Perhaps we shall both get out wish, oui, Angleterre." He grinned once more, giving Arthur a small peck on each cheek and his forehead.

Arthur continued to stare up at the tree for a long time. The street lights had all gone out and the sun was beginning to shine over the horizon by the time he allowed his feet to carry him up the steps to place his plain vial next to the ornate one that contained the wish so like his.

I wish I could be friends with France again." He whispered to the winter air, a small smile curving the edges of his lips up at the corners. It was a far cry from the smile he had shown that blond boy so long ago, but at least it was a start toward something entirely different.

Perhaps they really could get their wishes this year.

Two vials clanked together as Arthur disappeared into the sunrise.

Clearly I'm feeling symbolic today. But this came out so much better than I thought it would when I first had the idea. Actually, this is my favorite chapter, even if it isn't my favorite pairing. Also, this is my Christmas/New Years story, since it has the ornaments (entirely stolen from a part in the House of Night series) and the resolutions (sort of...). Honestly, I can't explain this...

In more awesome news, I finally got the stuff for my Prussia cosplay and I can go to Megacon this year! So tell me if you're going to the one in Orlando in March so I can say hi to you! And thank you for putting up with my insane stories and updates (though thank you even if I can't see you, I know I'm kind of sporadic...).