The rain turned the battlefields to a soupy mud, driving visibility to near zero.
It really didn't matter, since the youth that was at the center of England's attention was so close that he could see the whites of his eyes.
He looked exhausted, scraped, bruised, spattered with blood that could've been his own, or someone else's, all running in the rain. Arthur knew he didn't look any better- actually, he knew his appearance was much worse. After eight years of fighting, he was losing this war.
"...From now on, I'm independent!" the words worked their way through the haze of bone-weary tiredness. America had been repeating the same things for years, and England was so very tired of hearing them. "England, I choose liberty. Acknowledge it- "
The fool. Alfred was so sure of himself. So certain of his own victory that he'd dropped his guard.
Something in Arthur snapped at the words, and he whipped his rifle back up, charging the short distance to Alfred before the younger could do more than block the bayonet with his own rifle. A quick and powerful flick of his arms sent the weapon flying from his opponent's hands, leaving America wide-eyed with surprise- and possibly fear. Those sky-blue eyes.
"You fool... so naive.." He had the advantage. He had Alfred- America at his mercy. If he shot now, this would all be over. Vaguely, Arthur heard an order to fire, unsure whether it was Alfred's desperate troops or his own.
For a long minute, he stared at the boy he had raised, the memories of happier times tormenting him. How trusting, how lovingly those eyes gazed up at him- how neatly the child's hand had fit in his own as they walked together.
"Idiot..." The water sliding down his cheeks now was warm, and his breath came out in something resembling a sob. No. He couldn't cry. He was an Empire- but he couldn't kill this beautiful child. His beautiful child- England had already been defeated. The rifle fell from numb hands, splashing in the mud beside Alfred's. England fell to his knees in the cold mud, closing his eyes. "There's... there's no point in firing, is there."
"England... " He could no longer contain the hurt. Arthur let out a sob. "You-"
In the back of his mind he registered the sharp crack as the firing of a musket. British standard issue- The sound of impact, and the feel of something hot splattering his face.
His eyes flew open at the inarticulate cry of pain, to see Alfred holding his hands over his face- over his eyes.
Arthur had but a moment to reach out before the staggering figure fell, hands falling away, revealing the bloody mess where his eyes had been. (Beautiful blue, like the skies and the southern seas, one could get lost in those eyes full of life-)
"Oh God- No!" The body slumped over him, red blood soaking into his redder coat. "No-"
"You used to be so big..." the words were whispered, slurred, as consciousness fled his former colony.
It took more than that to kill a nation, which is what Alfred had become.
Arthur knew this, as he gently laid the boy down, the shock stopping his own tears.
"No..." The colonists- the Americans, Alfred's people were advancing, anger in their faces, and he had to retreat. Had to leave. He had lost this war, as soon as he dropped his gun. But his boy-
The memory of that moment haunted him all the way back to London.