This is just an idea that wouldn't leave me alone and that I wrote to pull me out of a writing slump. I'm not quite sure how I feel about it because I've never really written these characters like this... at least I don't think so... But, in my defense, these guys do have a complicated relationship. And I don't think its always been pretty and happy. Yeah, this is Canada centered.... I like Canada, ok?! (...Somewhere America is crying in a corner...). But yeah, so, experimental fic FTW?
Summary: It's always been complicated between them. Matthew understands this.
Warnings: Language, violence, accidental historical inaccuracy (I blame Alfred's education system), OOCness,
Pairings: None (...yet...), but there might be hints sprinkled throughout. Wanna pick them out? ;)
EDIT: I fail so hard at proofreading. So I edited, adding and subtracting a few things. Thanks to people who pointed out my mistakes, I appreciate it! ^.^
Arthur smirked, dark green eyes, arrogant and cold, focused on the blond Frenchman across the room standing next to his ambassadors. The other nation was stony-faced, a sharp contrast to the pathetic, utterly defeated man that had fallen to his knees before the island nation earlier.
Arthur had stowed that particular memory away fondly.
Dull eyes, once as bright as sapphires, flickered towards him and Arthur's grin widened when he caught glimmers of restrained hatred.
Francis always was a sore loser.
When the delegates of each country filtered out, the two nations stayed behind.
"Oh, do cheer up, old chap." Arthur said soothingly. But the mocking undertone did not go unnoticed by the elder blond. The sandy-haired nation watched the continental nation's shoulders stiffen, but still the other did not lash out. Instead his eyes narrowed a fraction.
That wasn't enough and Arthur frowned.
"So, where is my darling acquisition?" The Englishman asked casually, watching as Francis's aristocratic hands curled into fists.
Before Francis could respond, the doors opened again and a harried looking woman in dark clothing rushed in, a squirming, red-faced and wailing child in her arms.
Wordlessly, the Frenchman moved and took the toddler into his arms and began to rock him, cooing endearments and reassurances. The nurse bowed and quietly left the room, satisfied that her charge was calming down.
Though this was not the first time Arthur had seen the colony, he was still struck by the lad's similarities to his southern neighbor and his colony, Alfred. When the nurse first rushed in, Arthur had very nearly said "Alfred" and taken the child from her himself.
But it wasn't Alfred. And Francis had moved faster.
The child in his arms sniffled loudly, cheeks still damp with tears, and snuggled into Francis's coat.
It wasn't Alfred, but Arthur won't deny the flare of jealously that rose when he saw how the colony clung to Francis, not even paying the slightest bit of attention to the other nation in the room.
"Mathieu." Francis said softly, smiling sweetly at the tiny boy.
"Matthew." Two pairs of eyes looked at him. "His name is Matthew. He's English now."
Francis's pale face darkened with rage.
Still not the reaction he wanted, but, dark green eyes under prominent eyebrows gleamed, it was enough.
Arthur regarded his young colony thoughtfully, emerald eyes hazy under heavy brows. Matthew returned his gaze, lips curved into a half-smile, his demeanor pleasant.
As though his guardian and brother weren't at each other's throats. Again.
"Matthew," Arthur began, clearing his throat sharply, "I am sure you must know by now that your brother has declared war against me."
"Of course I know. I'm not oblivious like Alfred. Oh, and, perhaps if you didn't interfere with his trade and seize his sailors then maybe..." Matthew said lightly, his expression deceptively innocent.
Arthur scowled. "Mind your tongue, boy." He knew his young colony well enough to realize that the lad was irritated. During their first meeting so long ago, Matthew had smiled sweetly and Arthur had believed his new colony was meek and sweet-tempered. When Francis had stoically transferred Matthew to the Englishman's hold after years of fighting, Arthur had been met with wide eyes that shimmered pretty shades of blue and purple. He was convinced he was holding another Alfred, despite the distant and cold attitude of the child, and had plans to dote on Matthew just as he doted on Alfred.
The very next day, his darling colony made it very clear that he and Alfred were only alike in appearance. Whereas Alfred had loved freely and loudly, Matthew placed distance between his self and his new guardian. Arthur tried to show his love in his own way (a more sensible and proper way, not flamboyantly like a certain pervert), but it was rebuffed. And Arthur didn't have the patience to keep trying so he left the boy in the care of servants and governesses. It was easy at the time. Matthew was a quiet child and stayed out of trouble, unlike Alfred, so Arthur never had reason to worry. And, between being an Empire and dealing with a demanding Alfred, he could not waste time on trying to win over each of his colonies.
Looking back now, he'd admit that perhaps he gave up to quickly on his new colony, despite having been eager to take him from Francis. And, realizing how loyal and kind Matthew turned out to be (to him, to everyone), it almost made him feel ashamed.
But despite his pleasant disposition, gentle manners and kind heart, Matthew could be colder than ice and as scathing and vicious as the winter wind when roused to anger.
"I know you're not happy—"
"He burned down York." Matthew's eyes turned dark with rage and Arthur shuddered.
In a few quick strides, Matthew was leaning over Arthur's sturdy desk and tearing down his collar. A grotesque scar marred otherwise flawless, pale skin. The scar stretched across the young colony's heart, scarlet and ragged. Memories of that night came unbidden to Arthur's mind. Images of finding Matthew screaming himself hoarse, eyes damp with unshed tears and hair matted with dirt and sweat, as his skin blistered and bubbled even as the roar of the fire shook the night air. Soldiers flinched and stood helplessly as Matthew's sobs echoed through the fort, the pain of his wound, of the destruction of his town and death of his people replayed in his mind.
The next morning, Matthew was silent. Hand over his heart, uncaring of anything else.
It was then Arthur saw the angry purple bruises on his young colony's wrists.
Matthew voice tore him from his musing and he looked up into wide eyes staring imploringly down at him.
"Please, father." Matthew whispered.
And Arthur remembered how, after Alfred finally left him that day in the rain, he had rushed to Matthew's house, uniform torn and muddied, hoping and chastising himself for hoping that perhaps…
And Matthew had opened the door, dark shadows under his eyes. Before Arthur could say anything, Matthew just looked away and said, "I told him no."
He looked so young. Arthur had embraced him, his voice failing to communicate his relief and joy and apologies for the past and Arthur's mistakes. And Matthew had called him Father.
He looked like Alfred. But he wasn't Alfred.
He was Matthew. And he stayed.
He still looked so young.
"Go ahead." Arthur sighed, resigned.
"I think it looks much more interesting like this." Matthew commented mildly.
Alfred could only stare in horror at the inferno before his eyes. He could feel the heat of the roaring flames and rivulets of sweat slid down his skin and disappeared into the thick fabric of his uniform. He could feel his skin sizzling and distantly noted that he and Matthew would have similar scars.
One more similarity.
"I know you told me not to take it personally, but…" Matthew trailed off with a small shrug.
But Alfred didn't see it. He could only see his once beautiful, pristine building ablaze with the fires of Hell itself. He could hear the malicious crackle and distant shouts of people. He hoped his Boss made it out safely.
"Why?" He whispered, feeling hot tears slip down his face. He could hear soft footsteps and then the solid presence of his northern neighbor at his side and the brush of curls against his heated face. Matthew's lips were at his ear, his normally pretty eyes reflecting the vibrancy of the scene before them.
From the corner of his eye, he could see his brother, face tear-stained and illuminated by the high blaze and he felt awfully proud to be the one to knock his normally proud and exuberant brother down from his pedestal. He wanted Alfred to suffer just as he suffered that night. Alfred needed to realize that Matthew was not a pushover, was not one to be trifled with.
Alfred understood. And the same words he said laughingly to Matthew were thrown back at him without ornamentation. "It's a war, after all."
Alfred's blood froze and Matthew leaned closer to place a chaste kiss on the corner of Alfred's lips. "Don't take it personally." He breathed, comforting words that scorched the other blond's skin.
And then he stood gracefully and, with one last glance at his handiwork, turned and disappeared into the night's embrace.
Alfred could still feel where Matthew's lips had fleetingly pressed against him long after the younger blond left.
Matthew knew from the beginning that Alfred was Arthur's favorite. He knew from the moment Arthur forgot about him as soon as Alfred announced his hunger after their first meeting. And, yes, he might have been hurt in the beginning but not for long. He wasn't exactly fond of the Englishman either.
And the servants doted on him and his governesses mothered him. Arthur performed the duties of a father and Matthew was fairly impressed that Arthur still attempted to make himself likable.
Of course, Arthur wasn't like Francis. Francis had spoiled him, announced his love at every opportunity. Francis was the one who took care of him. He only had a nanny when work called the Frenchman away from him.
But Arthur did try. He visited and took Matthew to town. He gave Matthew gifts and tucked him in at night after a bedtime story. But Matthew knew the other man didn't know what else to do to win over his new colony.
And Matthew started to feel guilty. He didn't exactly make it easier for the older nation. At first he had been bitter and angry at being taken away from Francis. Arthur, unlike Francis, was strict and demanded that Matthew speak English at all times and follow a stringent schedule.
But the loneliness got to him, reaching a point where even the people who surrounded him and Kumajirou couldn't even soothe the ache.
So he vowed to give Arthur a chance. Maybe he could become more than a tolerated guardian. Perhaps he'd be around longer than Francis had, longer than those strangers that visited his home in those boats long ago.
But it was too late. Arthur stayed away for longer periods of time and Matthew went on with life. They remained distant. Arthur often forgot his name and Matthew just smiled and forgiveness came easier over time.
Until Alfred came to him, bright-eyed and enthusiastic, and tried to convince him to take independence as well. As tempting as it was (because he was fond of the other blond), Matthew had declined. Even when Alfred's sky blue eyes darkened and his voice rose, Matthew had remained unmoved.
"I said no."
"Fine. Coward. Be subservient to that guy forever! I don't care." Alfred had snarled and Matthew had impassively watched as his neighbor stormed out of the house. He wanted to say that he wasn't staying because he felt he owed Arthur. He was staying because Arthur would one day let him go. Alfred might not.
Years later, when Alfred pinned a writing Matthew against the unforgiving ground as smoke suffocated their senses and fire illuminated the night sky, the older blond said coldly, "Maybe if you had just said yes."
Alfred had wanted Matthew to regret his decision.
Matthew regretted nothing.
Matthew had to stay silent during the negotiations. He glared hatefully at Arthur the entire time.
Arthur pretended not to notice.
Alfred didn't take his eyes away from Matthew.
Matthew didn't speak to Arthur and the Englishman left early the next morning.
*scampers back to her hiding place* Comments? Criticisms? General thoughts? Oh, and any questions too. I'll do my best to clear stuff up.