A/N: This is based on real events. The shoe in question actually exists, it was found during a dig. The film can be found under Time Team specials, Jamestown on 40D if you're in the UK, or if you search for 'Time Team Jamestown' on Google, it comes up in video results. It's really interesting!
"Alfred F. Jones, get back here right now!"
There was a loud laugh from somewhere between the houses ahead of him, and Arthur pushed himself forwards, trailing after the little blonde terror that was currently sprinting through Jamestown, shoelaces trailing behind him and shirt already half undone. God have patience on him, but Arthur had done the best he could with him, dressing him smartly, teaching him the King's English and his manners, and he had started with schooling as well, but there were sometimes when there was no way of denying that the young Nation was still wild.
Arthur had to pause in his chase to pick up a little shirt of good linen, thankful that the ground wasn't muddy and it wouldn't take up much to clean. When he looked up, his breath caught in his throat – Alfred was climbing up onto the walls of the well, shoelaces still loose and eyes wild. He cried out, dropping the shirt again as Alfred stood up on the thin wall, and took a step, his foot coming down on top of the shoelaces of his other shoe.
With a desperate surge forward, Arthur managed to grab Alfred just as he fell, his little, new, leather shoe falling away, down and down until it finally hit the water with a distant plop. Arthur sunk down against the wall of the well, clinging onto the boy in his arms almost as tightly as Alfred was now clinging to him, burying his face in Alfred's hair. Alfred was still for a little while, and then started to wail, clinging to Arthur tighter, and Arthur rocked him lightly, stroking his hair and calming him down, waiting for the shock to wear off.
Eventually, Alfred fell quiet, shivering and clinging to Arthur, his face still buried in his shirt. Arthur kissed his hair, and waited for him to uncurl. A few of the residents passed and asked if he and his charge were all right, and Arthur nodded and told them that they were, bluntly, his attention still on the boy in his arms.
When Alfred did uncurl, he looked up at Arthur with blue eyes still wide with tears. "I-I'm sorry, Arthur." He mumbled.
Arthur used rough thumbs to brush tears off Alfred's cheeks. "Apology accepted." He told him, gently. "Did you hurt yourself?"
Alfred shook his head quickly – too quickly – and Arthur expected to find a bruise on his shin or a graze on his knee sooner or later. But for now he nodded, and wrapping his arms around Alfred's legs and waist, rose with him still in his arms. "Let's get you cleaned up." He said, gently. "And perhaps this time we can manage it without you running off, hmm?" Alfred, who had buried his face in Arthur's shirt again, nodded, little fists curling into the expensive material. Arthur kissed his forehead and started to carry him back to the house that had been built for Alfred. "You'll have to repay me for those shoes, though."
Arthur groaned and blinked. He groped the bedside table, hitting the alarm clock to no avail until he realised it was the phone that was ringing. Groaning again, he pushed the alarm clock to one side and grabbed the phone. He accepted the call and prepared to swear at the tosser who disturbed his well earned sleep.
"Alfred you fucki-"
"Arthur~! Artie, I'm so glad you picked up! Guess where I am!" Alfred's excitement was palpable and not just from the way he cut over the start of Arthur's tirade. It was all over his voice, and Arthur guessed that he was all but bouncing on the spot.
"Alfred, I honestly couldn't care less about where the bloody hell you are. I wa-"
"I'm in Jamestown, Artie!"
Arthur was actually silenced by this and he starred at the phone for a moment. "I thought it was 'lost'? Are you there by yourself?"
"No, they found it again! Without my help! We're excavating it, Arthur! They found the three walls and everything! Guess what else we found?"
"We found the well, Arthur! Do you remember it? We got all the way down to the bottom!" There was a long moment of silence as Arthur took this in.
"A-all the w-"
"Artie! Artie, guess what?"
"Do you remember that shoe?" There was an even longer pause. "Artie? Are you still there? You haven't fallen asleep on me, have you, old man?"
"I am not an old man!" Another moment of silence. "Did you really?"
"Yep! They were talking about it being one of the kids from the settlement, but I recognised it immediately! And then they found a whole load of other stuff too!"
Alfred started to rattle of a description of what they had found, but Arthur tuned him out. He was now thinking of a shoe that he had somewhere upstairs, in amongst the stuff that he couldn't bear to throw away even after what Alfred had done, the pair to the one that Alfred was talking about. And the replacement pair, which had been 'lost' when Arthur when home, and the second replacement pair, which had been floated downstream gleefully, none of which had ever been paid for, despite Arthur's insistence at the time that they would have to be. Arthur couldn't help but smile.
"Arthur? Are you even listening to me?"
"Hmm? Sorry, Alfred." Arthur yawned into the phone, and there was a moment of silence from the other end. "What did you say?" He could almost imagine his pout, and Arthur smirked to himself.
"I was saying that I know you're interested in all of this history stuff too, and though you'll probably be a snob because it's no where near as ancient as you are, I thought you might want to come over to see it." There was a brief pause. "You can stay at my house if you like."
Arthur automatically sneered, then hesitated. Alfred was inviting him to come and stay? "What's the catch?" He asked slowly.
"No catch, Artie! Just you 'n' me and some ancient stuff that still ain't as old as you are!" Alfred said, cheerfully.
"Brat! I am not old! And it's 'isn't'." Alfred blew a raspberry into the phone, and Arthur seethed. "Git!"
"Come on Artie, don't be such a stick in the mud. I know you want to come."
"Why the fuck would I want to come and stay with you?"
There was a pause. "I just thought you might wanna see stuff, and it's cheaper than a hotel, so…"
Arthur paused as well. Goddamn Alfred, running him round in emotional circles, pissing him off and then saying something like that. "Fine. But I'll phone to arrange the details at a decent time." He glared at the clock.
Alfred chuckled on the other end. "Okay, okay, I get the hint. Oh, and Artie?"
"This counts as payment for all of those shoes, right?"