Les Fleurs Des Hiver

Spread along the mud, he was sickening. The bright blue of his uniform crusted in filth, hair matted and sticking to his face. Sickening, but somehow, sort of beautiful. Sort of gorgeous while he tried to catch his breath, shaking with defeat. Ludwig had always been aware of the one called Francis. Ever since he was born, opened his eyes to see Bruder. He'd always been at the corner of his mind. On the edge of existence.

When he was little, Bruder had taken him to see Francis. The Frenchman had fawned over him, pinching his cheeks and kissing his forehead, then turned to Bruder to joke and laugh. He remembered thinking that Francis was very pretty with his autumn wheat colored locks and his summer sky blue eyes. He remembered thinking that Francis always looked like he wanted to cry, even as he smiled charmingly.

It was the same now. The same eyes that appeared dewy and pained, even as he pulled himself up from the ground, a front. Francis was good at fronts. Always had been. So good that Ludwig thought he had long forgotten how to smile as though he meant it, smile as though he were truly happy. But this was war, and good fronts were important. If Ludwig were stupid, he would have thought Francis was not afraid at all. There was no sign of it. No sign of fear.

In fact, Francis smiled, brushing himself off calmly when he stood on shaky legs. He didn't hiss like a cat, the way Ludwig expected. He didn't even appear panicked. There were no tears. No screams. Ludwig had occupied countries. Ludwig had crushed countries beneath his feet. He knew that they scream. They rage. They attack. Francis did none of those things.

"I see. You won." And it was the smile of all things that was sickening. The smile that annoyed him endlessly. He hated the dishonesty of it. Francis's beauty, that was bad. The way he leaned up, a hand against Ludwig's chest, slinking like a tiger as though he were still in control. And he was, because Ludwig had never dealt with anyone like that before. Didn't know how to handle someone so out of the norm.

"Aren't you going to--?" He cut himself off, because the question would reveal too much. Francis smirked, regarded him through half lidded eyes in a practiced expression of lust, and it was the knowing gleam that told Ludwig he knew. Knew precisely what he meant and would use it against him later.

"No, No, mon Cheri. I'm much too tired." The flower that Francis had been before, and he had been a flower, Ludwig had seen it. He had been pure. White and indestructible, small and fragile. But now that flower was covered over in frost. The results of winter and war. And Ludwig hated it.

He hated the endearment more. Hated the way Francis rolled it on his tongue. Hated the kiss that Francis pulled him down for more than that, the way his thin fingers twisted in his collar. Everything about Francis sickened him. The bruises on his cheeks. The frailty of his wrists. The hollow cunning look in his eyes.

Was he just going to take it laying down? Was he just going to give up and let Ludwig own him? If Francis was exactly as everyone had told him, would he just spread his legs for him and smile invitingly? He couldn't understand that. Was Francis so weak? So immoral? He realized suddenly that Francis had always seemed infinitely strong. In those days of Napoleon, Francis had grinned and torn him apart, vicious and hungry. A tiger. But he had been mighty.

He was still mighty. Still immovable. He was still a force to be reckoned with. Easily caught, maybe. But that's what made the feverish gleam in his eyes that much more disconcerting. That much more worrying. He was a tiger. He plotted. And when Ludwig's back was turned he would strike and tear apart again.

Francis sighed softly, breath warm against Ludwig's chilled skin, fingers buried in Ludwig's hair. His smile was a smile of fangs. The flower that he must have been had long since been crushed in an iron fist of insanity. Had long since been sacrificed for power. While he would never doubt that such a thing had burned, he couldn't help but pity Francis. Pity him for what, he wasn't sure.

The creature before him now. The tiger that stalked his prey. That bid his time and waited. Those eyes, sickening sky blue, glowed with knowledge. He would be the death of the German empire. Not in war, no. But here were other things that he could easily crush.

Francis forced Ludwig's hands to his hips. Holding them there, leaning up to keep kissing. And there was no denying it was good. Slow and sweet and toxic, seeping into his bones and making him want. Ludwig flushed when Francis pulled back. Didn't want to see the vicious smile that was so fake it might as well have been Francis anyway.

He felt his own flower being grasped, clawed, chewed up and spat out. Frozen over and destroyed. Francis was of winter. Frosted pure white. And deadly enough when below zero.

"Fall to my knees before you, mon petit? I don't think so." And it was an assurance. A promise. That he would seek him out and destroy him. Wouldn't stop until he had crushed Ludwig and laughed over his corpse. He would appear peaceful, while in all truth he would stab him in the back and enjoy every minute.

Take it laying down? Ludwig wasn't so stupid to believe that.