Author's note: My main source for historical stuffs, unless otherwise noted, is the Wikipedia page for the topic. The "United Kingdom - United States relations" page was very helpful (sooo much "cannon-fodder"! :3). Plus, it turns out the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. actually has a formal term: "The Special Relationship" (which has it's own page too XD ). Other pages used: "Death of Diana, Princess of Wales"; "Diana, Princess of Wales"; and "Montreal Protocol." (If you need more specifics, I can give them to you.)

Disclaimer: I don't own, or claim to own, Hetalia or any of its characters.

. . .

On August 31, 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in Paris, France. She had been fatally injured in a car accident. The British people were shocked and grief-stricken. The American people shared their grief for Lady Di.

This same year was the 10-year anniversary of the creation of the Montreal Protocol, which was an effort by a group of countries to prevent further depletion of the ozone layer caused by chloroflorocarbons. The idea that CFCs could be damaging the ozone layer was first proposed by two scientists working in the U.S., but it was a group of British scientists working in Antarctica that discovered the ozone "hole" that proved their theory. The 1987 Montreal Protocol has since been revised many times at meetings held in London (1990), Nairobi, Copenhagen, Bangkok, Vienna, Montreal (1997), and Beijing.

The following story is loosely based on these events.

. . .

Chapter 1 - Montreal, Part I

Montreal, Quebec, Canada - 1987
Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer

The meeting had been long and Arthur was feeling a bit worn out. He was grateful it was over. All the countries were standing up and beginning to stack up their notes. He stood up as well and began to moodily put on his coat – it was bloody freezing outside – when Alfred materialized in front of him.

"Hey Arthur, good work! I really appreciate your guys' dedication to science." He grinned and began to shake Arthur's hand before Arthur realized what he was doing. "I mean, who else would have thought about going to Antarctica, right?"

"Oh – right. Least I could do."

"Hey, what do you say you come over for a quick cup of hot chocolate before you go? It's freezing outside."

What the hell. "Sure." Arthur allowed himself to be dragged out the door while Alfred yelled a hasty "Thanks Matty!" over his shoulder. "This whole thing is going to be great," he told Arthur as an aside as they trudged through the snow. "I always knew there was going to be a disaster like this that I would get to save everyone from."

"I think we're all saving everyone from it together," Arthur said dryly.

"It's still pretty cool that I figured out the chloroflorocarbon thing, right? I mean, you can't deny that. Like I said, your guys did some nice work, but really." Alfred slung an arm around Arthur's neck and grinned at him. Arthur said "tsk" and turned his head away, but he didn't protest the contact. After a moment Alfred let him go. They listened to their boots crunch on the snow and for once Alfred seemed content to be silent. Arthur often forgot that the level of noise Alfred emitted declined in proportion to how many people were around.

"Ah, home sweet home!" Arthur looked up. He was always a little surprised at how big Alfred's house and his younger brother's house were. They just didn't quite compare to anything back home.

Alfred ran up the walkway. He scrapped his boots about a bit on the doormat while he unlocked the door, and Arthur scrapped his own boots off thoroughly before following him inside. Arthur almost sighed in pleasure at the warmth. Alfred was very fond of his thermostat.

"Make yourself at home," said Alfred, throwing his coat over the back of an armchair. "I'll go make the coco." Arthur removed his own coat and carefully hung it on the coatrack, which was extremely untidy and full of old coats and umbrellas. He sat down on the couch carefully but let himself lean back slightly. After a minute, Alfred reappeared with two steaming mugs. "Here you are." He handed one to Arthur and sat down in the armchair with the other.

Alfred took a sip and made an appreciative noise. Arthur took a sip and immediately regretted letting Alfred "make" him any. He had forgotten that Alfred was very fond of instant drinks that were much too sweet.

"It's been a while, huh?"

Arthur nodded vaguely. Alfred grew quiet and started at a spot in the air somewhere behind and to the left of Arthur. Arthur took another sip of the chocolate and let him think.

"I thought you would visit more often."

"What?"

Alfred scratched his head absently. "I mean, not right after. We weren't talking, and then it was awkward and stuff, but you've never really come over before except on business."

Arthur hadn't expected this to be brought up quite so suddenly. Actually, Arthur was pretty sure this was the first time it had been directly mentioned. Had it really been that long ago? He let the heat from the mug warm his fingers. "I thought you didn't want me to visit."

"Not at first. But you know, friendly diplomatic relations and all that." He was looking at Arthur over the edges of his glasses.

"Why didn't you come over and visit, then?"

"Well sure, but I couldn't. I mean, I was pretty busy building a new country and all." He laughed and took a swig of his hot chocolate to finish it off. "Want a refill?"

"No thanks." Arthur set the mug down on the table while Alfred went back into the kitchen. He leaned back a little and sighed. Alfred never really seemed to understand how much he had injured Arthur by leaving. He was over it now, of course, but it had been hard at the time. He had been positive he was going to be protecting Alfred forever. He supposed the fact that they could talk about it now was a sign of how close they had become, but it was still nothing like it had used to be.

Alfred came back. "Don't you ever get lonely?"

That was a strange question. "Do you?"

"Well, I have a lot of friends, but they're not really friends. They're more like business partners I'm friendly with. Like you. I can't always tell what's genuine."

Arthur felt a little offended at that. "You can't always tell if I'm genuine?"

Alfred leaned back and was looking at Arthur in a way that could almost be considered serious. "I don't know you as well as I used to. I miss being able to talk to you whenever. Can we be friends again?"

Arthur wanted to say, Well, that depends, because asking someone to be your friend was about the least genuine way of going about it that Arthur had ever heard, but it was Alfred. When he was uncertain of what exactly to say but knew what he wanted to say, Alfred had always been very blunt. "Sure. I guess we didn't get it right the first time."

Alfred laughed. "Yeah, I guess not."

When Arthur got home, he took of his coat, made himself a pot of tea, sat down on the couch, and began to think about things that he hadn't seriously thought about for a long, long time.