This time, I wasn't even thinking about Hetalia. Then my roommate came in and said, "Do you have paint?" I said no, and before I could ask why she needed paint, a plot bunny came out of nowhere and started attacking. Evil, vicious, rabid little things that don't let you sleep until you finish writing. -sulk- And then this was born. Unoriginal? Perhaps. Inaccurate on many levels? Probably. Alfred/Matthew? You bet your sweet tush.

But, let me just say this: Semi-period work with sex in the moonlight.

Do you understand why now? -whimper-

Warnings: AU, language, sex (in later chapters), OOCness, cliched premise, other things that escape me

Pairing: Alfred/Matthew

Disclaimer: I don't own. Trust me, its a good thing.

The charcoal moved against the smooth page of the sketchbook swiftly, leaving heavy, dark lines in its wake. Slender fingers, calloused from manual labor, held the stick with gentleness not normally associated with rough hands, deftly maneuvering across the page, gradually connecting lines until definite shapes formed against the crème colored background. Reverently, patiently, the artist focused on his task, golden hair damp with the sweat of the warm day plastered to his forehead and tongue sticking out in concentration.

The young man was so focused on his task, that he didn't hear the voice calling his name angrily until the door of his room flew open, slamming the wall with a heavy thud. The blond jerked at the noise, his steady hand loosing its balance. The charcoal, once gracefully dancing across the page, stumbled. An ugly, black bruise marred the page where the instrument had slid and where the young man's wrist had smudged his hard work.

"Alfred!" The man who had stormed in regarded the blond sitting at the table with an angry gaze. A guilty expression overtook the other's face under the intense scrutiny of the newcomer and sky-blue eyes dropped to the ground.

The man who had stormed in, planted his hands on his waist and just glared at Alfred. Emerald eyes were sharp under thick, bristling brows. "I've been calling your name for the longest time. Why on earth did you not…" the man trailed off, catching sight of the ruined paper sitting before the blond on the heavy oak table. "For the love of the Queen, Alfred! There are more important things you could be doing than wasting time drawing! You could be helping out in the tavern! You could be out there learning a proper trade!"

Alfred scowled and stared stubbornly at his older brother. "Art is a trade."

"It's a useless, ridiculous thing." Arthur snapped. "Indulged in by men who care not for responsibility or are too lazy to do honest work."

Alfred, feeling righteous indignation flare in his gut, rose to his feet and leveled his most vicious glare at the other man standing in the doorway. "Dad was an artist!"

"He was an idealistic dreamer." Arthur said, dismissively. "He wasted all his time drawing and painting, died penniless and left us all to fend for ourselves." He said coldly. But when he noticed the stricken look on his younger brother's face, Arthur felt some of his rage cool. He sighed and carded his fingers through his short, sandy-blond hair. "Father was talented, I know. And so are you, Alfred. But you cannot think that you will be able to survive as an artist. So don't be a fool." Shaking his head, Arthur turned on his heel. "I've spoken to the blacksmith. You start your apprenticeship tomorrow."


"Its already been done." Arthur said harshly, not looking back lest he see the hurt in his brother's eyes and loose his resolve. "Get to bed. You'll need your energy for tomorrow."

And then he was gone. Alfred glared hatefully at his back before slamming the door shut. Leaning against the rough, he cursed loudly at the unfairness of everything.

"Stupid Arthur." Alfred snarled. "Ass thinks he can always order me around. Think he knows best." With a pout, the blond turned around and tugged open the door, "I hate you!" He shouted down the hallway before slamming the door shut and stomping over to the bed. Hoping Arthur heard him and still upset, he collapsed onto the old mattress and glared at the ceiling.

There was a small part of him that knew Arthur had a point and was only trying to be helpful. It had been difficult, after Dad died. The man had never been able to hold down a job for long, and often tried to reassure his exasperated wife and skeptical sons that his artwork would sell and they'd have a good life. Alfred had been the only one to believe him. With wide blue eyes filled with awe and curiosity, the blond would sit next to his father as the man would painstakingly sketch and paint images of the landscape. For hours, the pair would sit on the rocks on the outskirts of the town and create.

Of course, back home, Arthur and their mother would be struggling to run the tavern left to their father by his father. Alfred and his Dad would trudge home, happy and accomplished, only to be faced with silence when their newest work would be presented. Alfred's mother would tear up and cry into her hands. Arthur would refuse to look at their father and instead lead Alfred to bed.

Soon, their mother had passed on.

Arthur ran the tavern by himself, mostly. Sometimes he would guilt his father into helping for a few hours. Usually he would refuse to speak to the man, not even warming towards him slightly when the man managed to sell a painting.

Alfred, though, adored the man and often clumsily drew alongside him on their excursions.

Soon, however, their father also passed on. Arthur now struggled to run the tavern and educate his younger brother. Alfred, however, mostly ran free and played with children and, once called home, would stay up in his room and draw using his father's art supplies. Arthur had sighed and let him, loving his brother too much to stop him.

But soon Alfred grew up, slipping into manhood and Arthur didn't want to see his only brother drawn into the indolent life that he always believed his father led. He had been a harsh man, forcing Alfred to study on his own and go out and find some work, if not some apprenticeship. And Alfred had obliged, grudgingly, knowing that his brother couldn't do everything alone.

And he had odd jobs, here and there. But he continued to draw, it being a compulsion and soothing habit, often doing so when he ought to have been working. Then he was fired and the cycle began again.

Arthur tried time and time to stop the drawing, but Alfred had found ways and often drew secretly. When he was caught, he brushed off Arthur's anger and even threw back some of his own.

But now he was nineteen and Arthur was unshakable.

Alfred frowned and rubbed at his eyes with the heels of his hands. He loved Arthur, truly, despite his hatred of his art and stringent ways. The least he could do would be to try and succeed at this new job his brother procured.

And Alfred, feeling the rage leave his body, now only felt lingering guilt. He was a kind-hearted boy, despite his selfish tendencies and inability to listen. He could see the strain Arthur was under, had always been under.

As much as he hoped he could become a renowned artist whose paintings were demanded, desired by the entire aristocracy, the chances of that were fairly slim, even with luck. He was good, but he had no formal training and just because his work looked nice, was it really?

Ever the optimist, however, Alfred decided with a bright smile, that maybe Arthur would be more accepting of his drawing if he showed the older man how dedicated he was to his new job. If Alfred could succeed at that (which he was fairly certain he could), then Arthur wouldn't mind him drawing and maybe even give him more pocket money for supplies.

And, who knows? Maybe Lady Luck would bestow her affections on him.

"Well, I had my doubts about you, boy. But it seems you're not as lazy and useless as they say." The blacksmith, a burly, graying man with sharp eyes and a booming voice, said.

Alfred grinned brightly, his youthful face tan and smudged with soot and shiny with perspiration. He had been working under the blacksmith for a few weeks now and had proven himself quick and fairly dedicated worker. Sometimes the urge to doodle came about, and, with itching fingers, he would sneak out a blunt pencil and scraps of paper. He would sketch swiftly, half-eaten sandwich in his mouth. In those brief, quiet minutes he had to himself during lunch, he would produce dozens of miniature sketches of anything and everything. After his sandwich was done, however, he was quick to shove the paper and pencil back into his small bag, just managing to stand as the blacksmith lumbered in and gave him instructions.

It was tough work, but Alfred relished challenges. It kept him occupied and the science and craft behind him kept him interested. Sure, he got a few burns and bruises, but he was too tough to let those slow him.

And Arthur would always look pleased and proud when he trudged home. The shorter man thought his brother was finally growing up and putting that 'silly, childish habit' behind him. And Alfred, though slightly guilty, never told him otherwise.

"Looks like Lord Bonnefoy has guests." The blacksmith said off-handedly, looking up from his work, hammer poised in midair. Alfred looked up from his task and watched as the sound of trotting grew louder. Soon an opulent carriage, with the swirling initials of the nobleman emblazoned on the side, came into view, led by well-groomed, chestnut horses. Alfred was rather disinterested with the entire affair and was about to go back to work, when he saw the curtain of the carriage move. Turning in curiosity, he saw a pair of eyes peek out and flicker towards him.

Alfred felt his breath catch. Those eyes were like none he had ever seen. They were absolutely stunning in their strangeness. Swirls of dark blue and rich purple danced together, shimmering and entwined and Alfred, for the life of him, couldn't give a definite name for that shade. But it was absolutely lovely and, despite the ephemeral glimpse, Alfred refused to believe that anyone with those eyes could be anything less than beautiful.

"It's probably some noblewoman coming to throw herself at Bonnefoy." The blacksmith said with distaste. "Women these days."

Alfred, eyes still wide, nodded absently.

The next day, the entire town was a buzz with the news that Lord Bonnefoy's distant cousin had arrived. Apparently, the young man and the Lord had been promised to each other since birth. Now the young man, Matthew Williams (the youngest son whose father was a prominent diplomat and son of an old and distinguished family and whose mother was a childhood playmate of the Queen and a favorite member of Court) was visiting in order to acquaint himself with his future husband.

The wedding was to be held the following spring.

Alfred listened, rather bored, as the blacksmith went on and on about the current news. Despite what one was led to believe by his appearance, the old blacksmith loved to chat and gossip as much as any housewife. Alfred, still enchanted by the mysterious figure with those charming eyes, only half-listened. It never occurred to him that the person on his mind was the very person everyone was talking about.

"They say the union is alright because the Lord is a second son and independently wealthy. And Williams, though he is a favorite at Court, is also the youngest. The Queen blessed the marriage herself." The blacksmith continued on.

Alfred nodded, eyes unfocused.

"They say the young Williams boy inherited his mother's beauty and father's mind. But his eyes are his own."

"Wait, what?" Alfred asked, suddenly dragged back down from his daydreaming. He looked strangely at the blacksmith.

"His eyes. Are you going deaf, lad?"

Alfred bit back a retort and asked, "What about them?"

"Oh. His parents both have brown eyes. When he was born, some whispered his mother had been unfaithful. But the rumors died soon enough. There was no mistaking his heritage."

"Hmm." Alfred wouldn't lie, he was rather intrigued now by this Matthew Williams fellow.

"Oh no you don't." The blacksmith said suddenly and Alfred looked at him quizzically. "I know that look. Ever since you saw that carriage. You're smitten."

"I am not." Alfred argued.

"You are too." The blacksmith retorted. "And let me tell you know, boy. Put it out of your head. He's already promised to another and he's an aristocrat."

"I am not smitten." Alfred snapped. "You crazy old man."

Smitten? Him? Sure, the guy had pretty eyes. But that hardly meant he was in love!

The blacksmith looked unconvinced but let the matter drop.

Alfred, now fairly miffed, added, "You just want something to talk about when you go to your knitting circle."

"I thought I told you never to mention that, boy!"

The two continued to rib each other, playfully. All talk of Alfred's supposed infatuation was forgotten in the good-natured banter.

Matthew looked over his new bedroom with some disinterest. It was richly decorated and overlooking the now in full-bloom garden. The bed was big and welcoming, with a pile of plush pillows resting on a scarlet duvet. The curtains of the bed were tied near the posts with a wide, velvet bows and all the furniture was new and made of exotic, imported wood. It was a big room, pretty and fit for a king.

But it was too extravagant for Matthew's taste.

His room back home, though no less expensively decorated, was relatively sparse. It overlooked the green lawn and neat trees. It was decorated with paintings and shelves of books that he had moved to his room out of the manor library.

The blond may have been used to expensive things, the best things. But he didn't like extravagance. His parents, though popular and wealthy, were a modest couple. They raised him to be mindful and appreciative and socially aware, but never gaudy or foolish.

He knew Lord Bonnefoy was trying to impress him and found it fairly laughable. He was fond of Francis, to be sure. The man was charming and kind and loving. And though Matthew didn't love him, he didn't think he'd ever have to worry about straying. He was Francis's and the other man should be secure in that fact.

Though, a dark voice whispered in the back of his mind, Francis is hardly faithful himself.

Matthew frowned, remembering sweetly hissed rumors of the older blond's dalliances with men and women alike. His eyes suddenly rested on the vase of fresh roses that had been in his room along with a note. The note had been brief, wishing Matthew welcome and inviting him to make himself at home, stating that anything he wanted, he could simply ask and would receive. It also mentioned the hope that Matthew would be happy and also enjoy the roses that were from the garden, raised by Francis himself.

The roses were the favorite part of his new room.

Matthew smiled faintly. Francis may be flirtatious and questionable in his affairs, but the man couldn't be so bad.

This new town wasn't so bad. The people had looked friendly and the staff was quite kind. It was quite different from the Capital and from the court. He believed there wouldn't be as much intrigue or carefully disguised belittlement. As much as he loved the Court and his home, the cunning and slyness was repulsive. He could play the games as well as anyone else, but he didn't enjoy it. This new town, quiet and far away from the Capital, appealed to him and he wanted to explore it as soon as possible.

Matthew decided he'd ask Francis. He had a feeling the other would have no objections to his request.

"I am surprised, mon cher, that you wanted to see the village so soon." The taller man said pleasantly. "I had thought you'd be tired from your journey."

"Nonsense." Matthew replied, regarding the buildings and people with wide eyes. "I rested all of yesterday. I couldn't resist the call of this town any longer."

Francis smiled indulgently at the younger man. Behind them, trailed one of Francis's bodyguards. Though nobleman frequented the village often and was well regarded by the people, he wanted his fiancé to feel secure. However, the blond hadn't even noticed the guard and was far more interested in the bustle of the townspeople.

It was endearing.

"It's so different from the Capital." Matthew mused and Francis nodded in agreement. The Capital was incredibly noisy and polluted and Francis much preferred this little town to that monstrous metropolis.

The pair stopped outside the baker's and Francis stepped in, leaving Matthew alone for a moment. Across the way, Matthew could see the blacksmith's forge. There, sitting at a small table was the boy Matthew had seen from the carriage as he entered the city.

At first, he was struck by their similar appearances. The boy had short blond hair and a single cowlick that stuck out in front. Blue eyed and bigger, the other boy now seemed to be deeply engrossed in something. Sandwich haphazardly sticking out of his mouth, he seemed to be furiously scribbling something. Interest piqued, Matthew started to walk away from the bakery and towards the young man.

When he got close enough, he could see that the blond was drawing something. Now even more curious, the paler blond, ignoring the heat of the forge, asked, "What are you drawing?"

Alfred, surprised, looked up and found himself face to face with a slender young man. More striking, however, was the fact that Alfred recognized the youth in front of him as the mysterious Matthew Williams and the owner of those stunning eyes.

Eyes that were regarding him with curiosity.

"….eh?" Came his intelligent response. Alfred could've kicked himself.

But the nobleman laughed softly, a shy grin spreading across his lips. Tucking a wavy lock the color of the morning sun behind his ear, blue-violet eyes twinkled in mirth and Alfred couldn't help but laugh a little too.

"So what is it you're drawing?"

"Oh, just…a little doodle." Alfred said, shrugging, not really looking at the attractive nobleman. His face felt hot and he sincerely hoped that if he was red, the other blond would attribute it as being a result of the heat. After all, even the other blond's fair complexion was becoming rosy.

"May I see?" The slender male asked politely and Alfred, a little embarrassed and not used to people taking an interest in his work, wordlessly handed over the slip of paper. The nobleman leaned over and took it, looking at it silently.

Alfred held his breath. He was fairly certain the other would say it was a good try and hand it back and walk away, all interest gone.

Instead, much to his surprise, the blond looked at him, eyes serious, and said, "This is amazing work."

Now Alfred was positive he was blushing.

-somewhat speechless- Good? Bad? Continue? Don't continue? Interested? -crawls away somewhere to sleep-