A/N: Hey guys! This is my first multi-chaptered pairing fic for FrUk (since Rusted Labyrinth isn't going so well). Anyways, hope you guys enjoy it, and Chapter 1 should be coming along soon.


Prologue

He couldn't bear it... he couldn't stand to watch as the light disappeared from once deep and clear blue eyes, slipping away with every drop of blood that fell. The wounded man lay in his arms, not a single movement coming from the silent form as he clutched it close.

"Francis..." The Englishman breathed, shuddering as tears streamed unwillingly from pools of liquid emerald, his eyes alight, trying to deny what had happened. He did not know how the war could have come to this... the one man he had always cared for, even if they argued incessantly, now inches from death in his very arms. France's blood not only stained the vibrant blue of his once flashy uniform, now torn and tattered, but the dirtied and tainted green one of Arthur's as well.

He had not believed it when Alfred had told him that the war had ended... that day, the boy had come to him, also just as time-worn and covered in minor injuries as he himself. Despite it all, relief was immediate as his people celebrated the much deserves peace from such terrible destruction. For the briefest of moments, he was happy, knowing that no more endless nights of pain nor hopeless mornings of regret would come. But it was not to last... he had seen the grief in eyes behind the spectacles his son wore and demanded to know what was wrong.

"It's... Francis. Iggy I-I don't... he's hurt." The words had come in an undertone, fists shaking when Alfred tried to steady his own voice. "Not many French soldiers came back… most were wounded too. One said that- that they didn't know where….they couldn't find…." It was only as he had watched tears fall from Alfred's sky blue eyes that he knew that this was no ordinary wound. They were nations after all; every one of them had survived many wars and battles, lasting hundreds of years!

But this was different. What could have happened, to make the great United States of America cry...?

Before Alfred could attempt to explain further, his ally had disappeared. Arthur had literally run to the country which he once pretended to despise, the beauty all around him ravaged by battle. Flowers and plants now lay dead, houses scattered to ruin from fire all around... there was nothing left of the city of romance Paris had once been.

There were so many people about, trying to rebuild, searching for survivors… but Arthur was looking for only one in particular. He could not be sure where Francis would be, but something led him away from the well known regions of the city; a feeling... nothing else.

Passing a fire and the battered remains of a schoolhouse, he realized in terror that the battle had truly been fought there, as it had only in centuries past. The enemy had not just fought the country of France... no, they had fought Francis Bonnefoy, one on one. As he came nearer and nearer to the most abandoned and desolate area of the once great City of Love, he could finally see him; a figure in blue, laying across an expanse of dirt and rubble, motionless as a lone soldier's corpse amidst a field of war.

It was just as this analogy had crossed his mind that Arthur's heart froze in its housing of bones, the cage holding it threatening to burst. Could Francis be dead? Was he already too late, coming only to view the body before Mother Earth claimed the once great Nation? He could not afford to think such things!

England shook his head fiercely, already unruly hair only falling in worse heaps as he tried to rid himself of the water stinging half-lowered lids. Running as fast as his legs would permit, he stumbled across rubble which threatened once firm footing, ignoring pain even as discarded wiring and pipes cut at any exposed skin.

Red was the first thing that met his eyes, even before any other colors or shapes came into focus. Blood was everywhere, staining clothes, hair and skin; streaming across the ground in small pools, the soil pounded down by hundreds of soldiers not allowing for liquid to pass through. Even as the man kneeled down beside his fallen comrade, hefting the terribly too-light form into trembling arms, he feared the worst.

For a moment, it did seem that Francis had passed, his eyes closed in unhindered solitude from pain or suffering, blood dripping from parched lips opened but a crack. Arthur only stared, eyes wide as if he feared blinking would make him miss some minuscule indication of remaining life.

Then he had heard it... a voice once dripping with romance now shattered to the shallow gasp of a broken man. "Mon cher... so you did come...?" Francis opened his eyes a fraction of the way, a slender and unsteady hand coming to touch Arthur's cheek. Fingers white as the reaper's own barely touched the other's slowly paling flesh, once beautiful and delicate digits left to naught but bone.

The Brit let out a choked sob as he held the frozen hand in his own. "It'll be alright... don't worry I'm going to help you. It'll be fine... you'll be just fine..." England kept repeating this both to himself and the other as he tore his jacket off, pressing it to the large and gaping wound that Francis bore across his midriff. Blood quickly soaked black against contrasting colored fabric, no leap made in stopping the precious liquid from escaping.

Arthur openly sobbed as he knew there was nothing he could do. Soiled jacket now discarded, he tore off his sleeves and the lower end of his shirt in strips, tying them around France's shaking body to no avail. The white, too, was soon drenched scarlet as the color of death presented itself clearly. He could deny it no longer... in a few minutes, the Frenchmen would be dead.

"Mon cher..." a cough, harsh and soaked in blood as all else seemed to be, escaped the man's lips. "I'm s-sorry... I wanted to... share your victory... too..." he smiled so warmly despite the agony wrecking a once beautiful frame. Through the fear and the sorrow, he knew there was no going back. It was all over.

France would finally fall.

"No... don't talk, please..." Arthur pleaded in vain, hoping to preserve the spark in those blue eyes he so longed to see for another millennium. Yet even as the words escaped his own mouth, he knew that such talk was false. He wanted nothing more than to hear his precious person's voice again, no matter how quiet or pain filled it was.

He could not handle it... he couldn't stand to lose someone else, not after all the death the fighting had caused! Somehow, his heart told him that if Francis died, his own mind would shatter as well… unable to control such grief. Even as the smile his companion's lips had held slipped and eyes slowly closed, a million different ideas and scenarios ran through Arthur's mind.

Yet no matter how he searched through years of experience, no solution presented itself. He could not just magically wish every wound away, and all would be better! No matter how talented, even doctors could not-

And then it came to him. He was right; he knew nothing that could help... nothing medical. But there was something, something only he could possibly do.

There was but one possibility. It was either try it... or simply allow France to die.

Yet rational mind slowed his decision, and Arthur made no move of what to do as he weighed the risks. It was not until he realized that the one in his arms was speaking again that a choice was made. Francis had used what little energy reserves remained to lean in close to the only warmth against his body that did not bring pain. One arm limp at his side, the other still resting in the island nation's slightly smaller hands, he spoke so softly that his love had to bend close to hear.

"Je t'aime... Arthur. Remember that... alright?" And slowly his hand receded, slacking in the other's tender grip. His breathing was nearly non-existent as the faint pulse fluttered unsteadily beneath a chest hardly daring to rise. It was then that Arthur knew... he couldn't allow it to happen.

No, he wouldn't allow it to happen. France would not die, not if he had any say in it.

With words whispered in soft tones, Arthur left the body to stand, staring at the expanse around him. It would suffice... there had to be time. Habitually, he set his lips upon a single finger, teeth gently gripping the fabric of a glove which rested there. The object was tugged off thusly while he used the other hand to reach into the pocket of his pants, a small white object retrieved.

The chalk had remained unscathed regardless of how much blood lay about, though Arthur feared for the second item he required. Retrieving the crumpled form of his jacket, he reached into an inner pocket, pulling out a small leather bound book. The paper was yellowed and wrinkled from age and use, words written long ago in ink stroked from a quill pen. Upon its surface no letters were inscribed, only a marking formed from circles and intricate symbols of a language few knew.

Green eyes saw nothing but the lines of white, like dust of a fairy as the chalk spread to his will, intricate circles forming in grand sizes around himself and Francis. He worked without pause, afraid to loose precious time, or incorrectly reproduce the symbol which the spell required should he stop. Arthur had learned long ago to use magic sparingly, the art of his ancestry presenting greater and greater risks which each more powerful spell. Never had he dared something with such a high factor for failure, but the thought didn't even cross his mind that day. He did not know the consequences of what was about to be done, that would come later...

That moment, all he knew was the mission presented... nothing more, nothing less.

Time stretched thin around them, each heartbeat suddenly a deadly threat to one...but the deed was finished in a record span. The magic circle encompassed nearly the entire area, at least one hundred feet in diameter. Arthur had only ever drawn this particular circle before, and that was simply for the practice of it; the spell had never been used.

Taking in a shaking breath, he spoke. "Blood sacrificed to the circle, payment to be granted use of the most ancient of arts." The ceremony had started now as Arthur picked up a piece of glass scattered from some window unseen. In one swift movement a small cut adorned his thumb, allowing the smallest of drops to meet the inner circle of white.

The man ignored he who lay at his feet, the body seeming unnervingly still as it had upon arrival. Arthur did not allow himself to dwell, instead turning to the next time weathered page, beginning to chant in the language now dead to man. His voice was low as he stretched out one hand, forcing his will upon the appendage and stopping the trembling which threatened to take over.

"Redde animam lapsus,
perducat sanguine caro et anima retro in.
Do tibi mercedem Gesta maximum
di veteris non ipsum denuo!
"

Suddenly alight as wind swirled in unnatural spirals, the circle glowed a bright purple against gray skies overhead. Like a torch being passed, the light extended from within the inner circle outwards in one great wave. Dirt shifted as the wind blew dust away from where Englishmen stood, smoothing the ground further. Small rocks suddenly took to the air, hovering as if time had ceased and allowed gravity to release its iron-tight hold.

And as everything seemed to peak, the crackling of magic standing the hairs on Arthur's neck on end, he watched Francis desperately. Blood seemed to be disappearing as wounds slowly healed, evaporating to nothingness before his eyes. Lightning struck down from the cloudless heavens, spiraling around both, but touching neither.

Arthur had to force himself not to loose focus, eyes stinging from dust and harsh winds. He could hardly see the body below for the light which now surrounded it. Everything would be over soon, then he could rest and all would be well. Already he could feel the strain of such powerful magiks, his body shuddering as exhaustion slowly crept in.

Repeating the previous verse once more, he closed his eyes for the final word, that which would seal the contract. It was after this was fulfilled that a price would be requested of him, one that he could not deny. Arthur did not know what would happen, but opened his eyes once more, voice firm in his decision as he spoke.

"Do solutionem pro anima sua.

Sumatur ut praestet, et líbera eum manus mortis!"

Hell broke loose the moment the final syllable left his lips. Energy seemed to blast from the center of the circle, forcing past England and crumbling the rocks that hovered nearby to dust. Anything within fifty feet of the chalk's path shattered, metal fragments turned fragile as glass beneath the overbearing touch of the ancients.

Suddenly what appeared to be liquid darkness surfaced before England himself, splitting into strands as if tentacles of some otherworldly creature. For a heartbeat of a moment, they moved not but for the slightest swaying as if with a far gentler wind. Then as Arthur drew breath, the six gruesome appendages shot straight at him.

Bound in place by the ceremony, shadows ripped through flesh and he could not help but cry out, eyes turned to saucers from the sudden attack. Pain dripped from him as blood was given to the circle once more, though it would not simply cease there. The tentacles retracted, pulling backwards as they tried to return. Yet somehow, without wrapping around his body, it felt as though they were dragging their captive with them. Fire drove through Arthur's entire being as if from knifes pulled through embers. He heard a strangled scream without realizing that the sound had emitted from his own throat as agony blinded all vision.

He almost welcomed death, any release from the terror ripping him in two that moment. Perhaps this was what would happen... his life in exchange for another. But it shouldn't have been that way! That was not what he wanted…

If it were so Francis would cry too, just as he would in their reversed roles... he had wanted to escape death together.

As more pain came, the agony seeming to last an eternity, warmth spilled from his lips without the need for speech. At that time, he had found himself ready to let go, not even the image of Francis in his mind keeping him sane. In another moment, all would cease and darkness would take him away. But even as the pain reached its peak, he was not torn in half, nor dragged into the unforgiving earth to join countless others. Instead, something changed... something inside.

As the strands of shadows pulled further, Arthur watched in a daze as a silvery form appeared, spectral in origin and bearing his likeness. The doppelganger appeared to have come from his very body, this man cloaked in silky robes that flowed like water, eyes closed and knees drawn up. Believing himself to have finally lost any proper mentality, the Brit only watched as his clone was pulled away, arms and feet starting to separate from their host.

That was when he saw it. Among the golden light of the angelic mirror, a brighter green light shown through. This dazzling sight took the form of a solitary sphere, hovering in the hands of the other Great Britain. The sphere seemed to send warmth all around, and as it was pulled further and further away, Arthur felt himself growing cold, icy hands clawing towards his chest.

Mind fogging and vision beginning to darken where pain still throbbed, he managed to reach one hand out as if to grab the other, watching himself be torn away and slowly wrapped in the liquid darkness. As if consumed by tar, the black substance swirled around and around his twin, slowly but surely dragging him beneath. This continued until all that could be seen was the smallest bit of the warm emerald glow before it too, vanished.

As the black dripped into dirt like a monster's blood, all the power vanished, taking the wind and light along. All that remained to show what had occurred was the faintest of chalk lines, debris torn to bits at every corner, and blood which now stained England's once white shirt, spreading fast.

As the adrenaline rush caved in on itself, Arthur fell to his knees, hands clutching at his own stomach as he tried to wish the pain away. He felt so tired... so very tired... but his conscious would not let him rest until he knew.

"F-France... can... can you hear me?" he asked from afar, unsteadily returning to his feet and stumbling to the side of his companion. The one in question did not stir, eyes still closed in sleep. "Francis, come on... get up y-you b-bloody-" Arthur called, shaking the taller man's shoulder lightly in hopes of waking his slumbering ally.

Though the Frenchmen did not wake, an answer came in the smallest of forms. The fair-haired man frowned slightly and sucked in a shuddering breath, head turning to one side as he stirred. His chest moved up and down slowly in a normal rhythm now, breathing steady and light. He was alive... alive and well. Where cloth had ripped from battle, no wounds could be seen, only traces of spilled blood leaving gruesome echoes of what had passed.

"Thank you..." words whispered as a sob escaped, Arthur hugged the man close, crying out in relief and joy. He rested his head against Francis's chest, eyes beginning to flutter closed. Knowing that everything had worked, he could rest peacefully, exhaustions crashing into his entire being like an anvil. There was nothing holding him to reality anymore…..

Even as pain throbbed beneath his hand and blood spread to the ground below in dangerous amounts, he sighed with relief and let unconsciousness overtake his mind, finally letting go...

X X X


A/N: Well, there you have it! By the way, the title of the story is Welsh, and the first one to figure out what it means will get a preview of Chapter one. Please Read and Review everybody! I want to know what you think!