Olivia's Academy for Girls
By Shyro Foxfeather
"Your grandmother, Elizabeth, has sent a letter." Uncle Francis declared, flouncing down onto the couch dramatically. Arthur looked up, a decidedly weary look on his face.
When his uncle said no more, he internally groaned. "…And?" He asked, having no patience for this kind of suspense. His grandmother was old, possibly senile, and was the main flow of life-sustaining money in their account right now. Heaven forbid she croaks or his uncle's life of being a 'free-lance artist' would bring them to ruin.
His uncle eyed the middle-distance, scratching his chin in thought. "She says it's time you ought to go to a proper school, mon neveu."
Arthur perked. "Really?" He asked, sputtering when the Frenchmen flashed him a grin at his obvious excitement. His grandmother had promised for as long as he could remember that she would pay for his schooling, but he was already half-way through high school and he had thrown out that hope as merely being the ramblings of an old woman.
"Oui, although…" His uncle frowned, looking put-out.
He turned a critical eye to Arthur, who stared back resiliently. He was used to this look, although usually not from his uncle. "It's… nothing. Pas de soucis." He flapped an envelope like a fan against the heat—Arthur watched it cautiously; it looked like the envelope. "We shall just 'ave to prepare for your departure this coming month."
Arthur's heart fluttered. "You mean…?" His uncle nodded.
The boy grabbed his book and fled the room, lest his uncle see the grin that was about to split his face. He rushed upstairs to his room and flopped onto his bed. Behind the closed door he still attempted to maintain some composure, but even he would admit he was doing a lousy job of it.
He would be going to a new school! He would be going to a place of dedicated learning with lots of books and peers who could actually keep pace in a conversation! He rolled onto his back, clutching a pillow in his arms.
Best of all, he would never, ever see the leering faces of his peers. His face fell at the thought, years of bullying and humiliation overbearingly taking his emotions hostage. He wouldn't let his peers at this school know about his 'abilities'. He would have tried to hide it the first time around, but he had only been six years old…
His mood darkened. How could… how could children be so cruel? How come they never grew out of it?
He ripped his face away from the ceiling—it's grainy, white visage small comfort. Rolling onto his side he eyed his bookcase. His collection was meager, since he mostly borrowed from the local library. He wondered with hope how big the library at his new school would be. A small smile snuck onto his face.
He was leaving behind a small world and venturing into something bigger. He would have almost felt guilty over abandoning his uncle if he didn't know how much he was a financial burden on the man. Although, his uncle would never say that—he didn't think it. He was purely relieved for the boy. He even claimed that he was the one that inspired such a notion in his grandmother once, but Arthur knew that was impossible. His parents had done that…
His gaze leapt to the framed picture on his desk; his mother and father's faces beamed back at him.
He wilted. He would be leaving them behind for now. Although, he fully knew they would be happy for him. He would have to visit them at cemetery before he left. He eyed his wallet on the bedside table wondering if he had enough money for some nice flowers.
"Look at all the people…!" Arthur exclaimed before catching and reeling back his excitement. The train station was bustling with its own thrilling little life.
His uncle clasped his shoulder. "Oui. Although a mere 'andful of them is enough for you to call out at, my little shut-in." He ignored the strained glare Arthur shot him. He would have gone outside more if there had been something worth seeing out there. When you lived in a town of only three-hundred or so people, there wasn't really a whole lot to do that didn't involve getting caught up in town drama.
Arthur gripped his ticket, sweat beading in his palms. The Elder Line was printed in bold at the top, but he didn't need to look at it to know that. The information on this card had been burned into his memory days ago. The ticket had even earned itself a noble perch of being securely clipped on his corkboard, much to his uncle's amusement.
It would arrive in twenty minutes.
His heart leapt into his throat and he thoroughly chastised it before knocking in back down to its rightful place. This was no time for nervousness. He didn't want his peers' first impression of him to be that of a nerve-rattled, semi-sheltered teenager. That simply would not do. He was determined to carve his own reputation there and no one was taking that away from him.
The minutes flew by so fast, yet ticked by so slowly, that when he heard a train make its way into the station his head was swimming rather violently. He was sure he was shaking, but if his uncle noticed he didn't mention it. Small miracle, that.
"Are you ready to board, mon neveu?" His uncle asked. Arthur snapped his eyes up to look at him and then at the clock. It was well into boarding time. How did he miss that…?
"Y- yes." He replied, his own brows furrowing at his stutter. God, he hoped that didn't become a habit.
His uncle gave him a warm smile before pulling his artists bag forward to rifle through it. When had he brought that, Arthur wondered. He was sure he would have noticed something like that.
"'ere are your directions," he was informed as he quickly swiped the slip of paper from his uncle, "and 'ere…" at this his uncle paused and gave him one last scrutinizing look. He had been giving him that look a lot lately. Arthur was beginning to wonder if the man was having inappropriate thoughts about him. There was absolutely no way the man would be lonely without him. He might feel guilty if that were so, so it simply wasn't.
The Frenchmen cleared his throat before dropping a package into the boy's lap. It was rather large and considerably heavier than it looked. He mindlessly, all nerves, reached for the edge to tear into it when his uncle slapped his hand away. Arthur looked up, extremely startled.
"This," his uncle gestured to the package, "is only for opening at the end of your train trip. An 'our before your stop." At Arthur's incredulous stare he continued. "I'm not sure you would know what to do with yourself if you opened it any earlier." He tapped the boy on the nose. "You will figure it out then. Comprendre?"
Well, if he did his uncle the favor of waiting to open the package it obviously legitimized his leaving and no guilt was to fall upon his head, right?
He nodded, clutching the package. It squished under his hold and he tucked it into his duffle. It had room to spare—he didn't own that much.
Then, as if in a blur, he was ushered onto the train, led to a room by his uncle and an attendant (who was informed then about Arthur's sheltered-ness, much to the boy's distaste), and then left alone with his thoughts. And a package sitting curiously in his duffle.
He was just thankful his uncle had chosen such a non-crowded line to take him to his new town. The train was almost empty and it gave him a chance to come to terms with the fact that he would soon be parting with his solitude.
He was going to a private school. With people everywhere. Including roommates.
He wrung his hands nervously and sighed a puff of steam onto the window.
He eyed the contents of the package warily, his stop exactly one hour away.
What the bloody hell was this! If this was a joke he was never directing any sort of kind thought at his uncle ever again. What did his uncle think he was?
Ignoring the blouse and skirt—along with a number of other femininely horrible items—he ripped open the letter that had been inside the package.
'Mon neveu,' he silently read, 'I am so sorry for not informing you sooner. You are too precious a youth to spend your time holed up in your room. The private school your grandmother decided to send you to is single-gendered and I am sure you can guess which one by now. I debated telling you, but you absolutely could not pass up this opportunity ! I have included in this package everything I could think of that you would need. Including a guide, which you will see inside. Please do not take this too badly; I was only thinking of your own good, I promise…'
The letter went on for a bit. A lot of apologizing throughout and all kinds of advice—some downright lewd. It was like the man was right there, ranting on and on at him.
He couldn't understand much of it. He was seeing too much red. He was absolutely livid, furious, and insurmountably angry. Coupled with his nerves he was close to breaking down.
A flash of his bullies back home taunting him while he wore a woman's dress snuck into his thoughts, his mind gleefully supplying an image of the trouble he would get into going through with this, and he paused, staring down at the skirted uniform.
He… he would never see them ever again. And all he had to do was wear this? As long as he kept his gender a secret it would be fine, right? And that was actually possible—his uncle had said once that he had very womanly legs, for which he punched him very hard for. The package even had a kit with some items his uncle had 'lovingly' advised he tame his eyebrows with.
It was plausible. Arthur did even consider himself a rather good actor if only to his bedroom walls and his past efforts to remain unaffected by those back home.
Those back home.
It had a delightful ring to it. It sparkled with the lilt of distance.
He determinedly stared at the uniform. There was absolutely no way he was going back home just because he was afraid of a skirt and a building full of girls.
Notes: This is shorter than normal chapters will be, I think. I didn't want to flesh out his entire back story at once. Information overload, anyone? (This whole story takes place in no specific country, but you could just say England.) And I don't own Hetalia, nor do I claim to, so let's just get that out of the way here.
(Also, I'm sorry if there are any errors. I appreciate people pointing them out.)
French: "mon neveu" means "my nephew". "Pas de soucis." means "No worries." (I'm not sure if this is correct). And "Comprendre?" means "Understand?". As well, in France's letter he puts a space before the exclamation mark. This is on purpose. It's correct to do when writing in French.
"Elder" is a type of tree that means 'transition, evolution, continuation' [in Celtic, given] according to a website I found. So, the train line is named that on purpose.
France was semi-written out of the story because I needed someone who would do this to England. And honestly the way things are looking there was no one to really pair France with, so… I'm sorry to all the France fans. (And he's not really England's uncle, but a really, really close family friend. This isn't really that important, so I reveal it now.)
And Arthur's grandmother, Elizabeth, is like an elderly Hungary (Elizaveta) and did this all on purpose just to see what would happen. I couldn't write out Elizaveta, since I need her to fulfill the role of 'girl' and 'schemer'.
Yes, faux-fem!Arthur will have pigtails. Reviews are awesome like Prussia.