Alfred pressed his face into Arthur's neck with a small yawn. "Story~." He demanded.
Humming, and stroking Alfred's hair, Arthur smiled and kissed his forehead. "Are you going to go back to sleep?" He asked, as he thought of a story to tell Alfred.
Shaking his head, Alfred just smiled up at Arthur brightly and lightly wrapped arms around the older nation. "I'll stay awake, promise!" He nodded, looking up at Arthur excitedly.
Arthur chuckled. "Don't stay awake if you need to sleep." He told him, gently. "I'll just tell you the rest when you wake up."
"I don't feel tired though, promise! Story time!" Alfred nodded.
"Hmm." Arthur didn't sound too sure about the promise, but he smiled anyway, letting Alfred settle in against him. "Sleep if you need to. I promise I won't be offended, and I can tell you the ending when you wake." He closed his eyes for a moment, and settled in against Alfred before starting.
"Once, when the world was young, there was a little boy who lived with the fairies. He was loved, and cared for, and never wanted for anything. They fed and clothed him, and gave him fairy wine to drink. When there was dancing, he always had a queue of partners, and at feasts he was always seated at the high table. He was even tutored, in history and literature, and in languages. They taught him how to speak, and how to bow, how to dance, and how to make a speech. He was taught the art of poetry and of the kings and queens and the countries of the world, and he was even tutored in magic, both black and white.
"But there were some things that the fae could not teach him, simply because they didn't not know themselves. They didn't know how to make music, or how to paint. They couldn't sing, and they marveled to hear him do so, and begged him to continue. And they couldn't teach him how to cook or how to deal with the human race that he was born of.
"As the boy got older, the fae would allow him to wander, trusting him to return to them. After all, they were his family and all that he had ever known, so why wouldn't he return to them? They always sent a guard though, invisible to all but the boy, just to make sure that he didn't get hurt.
"One day, as he was walking, he saw a beautiful princess in a field, making daisy chains. The boy spotted her from a distance and crept up to see her better, but he missteped and fell, startling her so that she fled, leaving her daisy chain in the grass. The boy ran after her, but she had gone, so he was left with just the daisy chain – which the fae wouldn't allow him to take.
"The boy returned to the spot every day that he could, but never saw the girl again. One day, however, he caught a scent that he hadn't smelt before, and followed it down to the riverbed. The girl was crouched on the bank there, leaning over a fire where she had put a fish to roast. The boy, who had never tasted meat of any kind, felt startled at how hungry the smell made him, and he watched her from the trees for a while until his hunger over came him, when he stepped out from the cover, ignoring the fairies that were tugging on his hair and shirt.
"The girl jumped up and made to run away, but he held out his hands. 'Wait, wait!' He cried, and she did, glancing at him like a deer caught in a trap. The boy took a few steps closer, but she backed up again.
"'What do you want?' She asked.
"He pointed at the fish. 'I want that.'
"'Take it.' He didn't need a second offer, and he fell upon the fish. Even though it was hot, he tore chunks off with his fingers and gobbled them down, spitting fish bones out onto the fire.
"As he ate, the girl slowly moved, coming to crouch on the other side of the fire to him. 'Are you hungry?' She asked. 'Where do you come from?'
"He didn't say anything until he'd finished the fish, though, when he looked up at her with a serious look. 'Teach me how to do that.' He demanded.
"She laughed at that, having relaxed. 'You'll have to catch another fish first.'
"'I'll do that.' The boy replied, standing up.
"She looked at him from across the fire. 'How do you intend to do that? You don't have a rod.'
"He wasn't sure what she meant by that, but he had already thrown his cloak off and was wading into the shallows, finding the right spot. She followed him into the water, splashing and scaring the fish, and he glared at her. 'Out!' The princess flinched and drew back to the bank, watching him from there as he waited, staring into the water until a fish came too close. He gabbed it easily, snatching it out of the water and handing it to her easily, still alive. 'Teach me.' He demanded again.
"Staring at him, the girl took a moment, then took the fish and killed it. He stared at her, and she frowned. 'What did you expect?'
"He shrugged his shoulders, and waved a hand imperiously. 'What next?' She showed him how to prepare and cook it, and then sat down beside the fire to wait.
"'Where do you come from?' She asked again, but he refused to answer, and nor did he tell her his name. She babbled on, telling him her full name as though she had always known him, telling him many secrets about herself that she shouldn't have: about her home and her family and her likes and her dislikes. He ignored her, watching the fish as it cooked, until she finally pulled it out of the fire. She pulled off a little bit for him to eat, and then ate the rest herself.
"'I want to try.' The boy said, when she had finished, but she shook her head and caught his hand, stopping him from going to the river.
"'Not today. Come again tomorrow.'
"And so he did. By the time she arrived, rod in hand, he'd already caught a fish and lit a fire, and she watched him as he prepared and cooked the fish, chatting away again, not caring that he didn't answer her questions. But when he pulled it out of the fire, it was burnt and inedible. He threw it down in a huff, but she laughed. 'Try again tomorrow?'
"And so he did. And the day after that. They met as often as possible, though there were some days that he came down and cooked but she didn't turn up, and other days when she lit a fire and caught him a fish, but he didn't turn up. Despite this, and no matter what she tried, he never managed to cook a fish so that it was edible. He taught her how to catch fish with her hands, and she taught him how to use a fishing rod. And slowly but surely, the boy started to open up to her, replying to her questions and talking a little himself.
"'You can't teach me!' He complained, one day. 'You said you would.'
"The girl rested her chin on her hands and looked at him. 'I promised that I would teach, not that you would learn.'
"He frowned. 'Well, teach me to cook something else then!'
"She smiled at him. 'Not if you ask like that.'
"The boy hesitated and looked at her. 'Please. Please will you teach me to cook?'
"And so, while she never did teach him to cook, she did teach him his manners."