Hey there, guys! How you all doin', hmmm?~ From some miracle of fate, you were able to find this little fanfiction within the snarls of thousands of other Axis Powers Hetalia stories, so congrats, our hats off to you! Please remember to review/favourite/alert/subscribe to this story if you like it, or are even the slightest bit interested in it! This chapter may be a bit of a slow start, but it's needed to sort of introduce our dear heroine and for you to understand the circumstances in which this fanfiction was born. So without any further delay, enjoy!
-Miharu and Mitsuki
Chapter One: Optimism-Pessimism
"Artists just starting out tend to have an incredibly low if not nonexistent salary for their artwork, and are usually only able to make ends meet by working a few part-time jobs, doing art in their spare time. If an artist is able to find a good opportunity to sell their art to a collector or find a job that commissions art in their line of expertise, they have the potential to make around twenty-thousand to seventy-thousand dollars a year, though this does not occur frequently or easily. Sometimes artists suffer in poor conditions for years before their art takes off, and some artists' work never takes off at all. Studies show—"
Well if she didn't know the first seventy times she'd read that opening paragraph on her laptop about the success of art students after college, she certainly knew now. She knew that she wanted to strangle that damn paragraph in the hypothetical neck. Seychelles gritted her teeth, slammed her laptop shut and stared huffily out the window, telling herself that if she kept rereading that article, of course she'd get angry, of course she'd feel discouraged, and yet… Seychelles stared sideways at the laptop, as if making direct eye contact with it would condemn her to a life worse than death. Which was impossible, but nonetheless…
"Damnit, Seychelles," She muttered scoldingly to herself, a habit in which her grandfather had pointed out should be broken soon lest she be mistaken for a schizophrenic, "You are on a goddamn plane to England, and you are going to England because you want to go to art college, and you want to go to art college because you want to be an artist, and you want to be an artist because you know that you can do it. So just do it."
Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale… Seychelles sighed deeply, resting her chin on both intertwined hands. Who was she fooling, anyway? For the millionth time since she'd woken up that morning, a sinking feeling overcame her, and she had to close her eyes. She felt her senses dull, but she could vaguely hear a female voice announcing to the passengers that they would be landing soon through the misty half-asleep state she was in. That, however, was not enough to keep her awake, and after what seemed like a precious few moments of wonderful sleep, Seychelles awoke to a slight nudging sensation on her shoulder. Her eyelids lifted slightly, and she looked to her shoulder to see a gentle hand much paler than her own resting on top of it. She jumped slightly, her eyes travelling upward to the owner of the hand's face. She looked around again to see that all of the passengers were in the midst of or already had vacated the plane, and felt an embarrassed blush sweep across her tan cheeks.
"Oh!" She exclaimed feebly, looking back to the gentle-looking young man who had roused her from her sleep, "Je suis très désolé, je devine je me suis endormi, essayiez-vous d'obtenir par?" She smacked a hand over her mouth and laughed sheepishly, "Er, what I meant to say was—"
The boy cut her off suddenly, saying softly in perfect French, "C'est tout à fait bien. Je suis sûr que tout le monde a été après fatigué un tel vol long. Aucun besoin de s'inquiéter, j'ai voulu m'assurer juste que vous avez obtenu de l'avion sans accident."
Seychelles stared at him for what felt like half an hour, her jaw falling open with a soft "pop!", and then, once realizing that her reaction could be seen as incredibly offensive to the poor man, shut her mouth and replied, still shocked,
"Si je le prends vous êtes français aussi?"
The boy smiled delicately, and simply responded, "Oui." in a somewhat shy voice, and then seemed to drift past her politely, fading almost, onto the steps and out of the plane. Seychelles stared at the empty space he'd left for a long couple of minutes, surprised and rather confused at the same time, and felt a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. Wordlessly, she grabbed her luggage and her laptop and stepped off the plane, walking out of the airport with long, fast strides and, once outside, breathed in the crisp London air.
She couldn't help it, couldn't hold it in any longer. Raising her arms to stretch as far to the sky as possible, she exclaimed with a big smile, "I'm in London, mother of miracles! Alright then…" She pulled out a crumpled-up sheet of paper from her jeans and studied it for a moment. "First thing to do is to find a place to spend the night. Adequate lodgings must be secured. Hmph!"
And with that, our dear heroine began her journey.
Five hours later, all the joy she'd displayed at finally arriving in London had dissolved, and the poor puzzled lodging manager was left with a very tired, frustrated Seychelles in front of him.
"Erm, how may I help you, miss—Eep!" The manager couldn't help but yelp out as Seychelles' firm hand gripped his shoulder, watching as she doubled over, soaking wet with rain, huffing from all the running she'd been doing for hours, breath ragged.
She swore briefly in French, trying to catch her breath, and managed to pant out, "Is… there… a room… I can rent… tonight?"
"Erm, yes." Said the manager, giving her all the standard information. After the girl paid, she stumbled up the stairs and over to room 24, letting out a tired groan and shutting the door. The manager was left standing in silence, wondering what had happened to the girl to make her that exhausted.
He never did get his answer. The next morning Seychelles woke up with a firm resolve and a determined gleam in her chocolate brown eyes. Rising from the creaky twin bed and stretching out her long arms and legs, she exited her room and walked hurriedly down the stairs, sweeping a discarded newspaper from the lodge's coffee table as she walked out the door.
It was time to find a place to live.
Groping around in her pocket for some cash, she stepped into a nearby coffee shop and ordered a large double double coffee and blueberry muffin, extracting enough loose change to pay for it and sit down at a lone table in the corner. The place was bustling with activity, and she smiled to herself. It was a nice kind of feeling, having all these people around. She was so used to it being just her and her grandfather a lot when she was a kid, so it was sort of refreshing to her. She took a nibble out of the muffin, spread the newspaper open on the small table and scanned its contents. Every so often in the middle of her highlighting spree she would gulp a shot of the hot coffee down, and then resume her work. When she was done, she had seventeen ads highlighted for rooms for rent in London. Finishing her muffin and licking her lips, she dumped her trash, pocketed the newspaper page, and exited the shop.
…Or that was the intention, anyway. Slamming into a flat chest on her way out, she observed in hindsight that looking right ahead of her would have been a much better method of walking. It took at least a minute before she realized that, upon bumping into the stranger, she hadn't fallen, as gravity would have forced her to do. Blinking confusedly with wide eyes, it was another thirty seconds before she realized that the person who she'd ran into had actually caught her before any public humiliation could occur. She felt hands on her shoulders, and felt a strange sense of deja-vu, except the hands today were steadying her, not nudging her, and the grip was a bit more firm.
"Are you alright, then?" Asked the blonde man in a nice British drawl, though Seychelles made no inclination of having heard him.
Staring up at the man, she was about to thank him, when her eyes zeroed in on something.
Or rather, two somethings.
Les grandes sourcils… She thought in wonder, as she stared at the man's incredible, monstrous eyebrows for a long stretch of time. It was only when the man cleared his throat and stared at her with a blend of concern and befuddlement did she snap out of her daze, blushing furiously in embarrassment.
"Ou—Yes, I'm alright. Thank you so much, sorry." She said, firing the apologies and statements off in rapid succession, effectively finishing them all in one breath. As soon as she felt the warm hands leave her shoulders, she cried out, "G-Goodbye, then!" and booked it out of the coffee shop.
Arthur Kirkland just stood there for a long moment, face etched with confusion. "…Strange girl." He commented to no one in particular, and entered the coffee shop.
Meanwhile, Seychelles walked through the busy streets of London at a leisurely pace, stopping every so often to ask directions or admire a particularly lovely piece of architecture. Taking out the paper after about a half hour of walking, she double-checked the first address highlighted, smiled, walked up the steps and rung the doorbell.
An older gentleman answered the door with a polite smile and practised flourish, asking for her name and her reason for the visit.
"Good morning. I happened to come across your advertisement in the paper this morning for a rented room, and was wondering if I might be able to stay here?" She asked respectfully, stumbling over words nervously. She hoped it didn't seem a strange thing to do, just knock on a person's door and say it right off the bat like that.
The man gave no inclination of offence or surprise, so she assumed she hadn't said anything wrong, but then offered her an apologetic smile. "I'm very sorry, young miss, but I'm afraid someone else has visited sooner, so I don't have a room for you."
"Oh!" Said Seychelles in surprise, feeling, without need, like a fool. "Oh, I see, then. Thank you anyway. Have a nice day."
Seychelles shook her head. She wasn't going to give up that easily. Fishing the paper back out of her pocket, she read the next address, hurried to it, and told herself that if she wanted good things to happen, she had to believe that good things would happen. Several hours later, however, she felt herself thinking that that homey advice was a load of bullshit. Every address she tried was a bust. Feeling rather hopeless, she sat down on a nearby bench, sighed heavily, and balanced her cheeks in her palms, closing her eyes. Things just didn't seem to be getting off to a very good start. As if accentuating this point, rain began to fall; first lightly, then with a vengeance, all in the space of a few short minutes. Thunder thumped in the distance and lightning flashed dangerously on the horizon, and Seychelles couldn't help but feel like God had just kicked her in the face with steel-toed boots.
"Oh, come on!" She screamed at the sky, startling innocent passerby with her incredulous outburst. She saw from the corner of her eye that they began to walk faster. She heaved another sigh, feeling her lower lip trembling. Damn hormones.
Suddenly, she heard an amused giggle from behind her, and turned, mortified, to come face to face with a tall brunette woman who held a secret mischief in her green eyes.
"Hi there." Said the woman in a singsong voice, holding up a hand and wiggling her thin fingers at Seychelles in a friendly greeting.
Oh wow, she's so pretty… The island girl found herself thinking in wonder, staring up at the smiling woman before her. "H-hello…" She stammered out, in a daze. Like really, really pretty…
The woman smiled cheerfully. "So what's a young lady like yourself doing standing out in the rain? You'll catch a cold if you keep this up, you know." She chided gently, opening up an umbrella. "Come with me."
Seychelles stared at her with wide eyes as if she were a spectacle, feeling the rain cease to beat at her head as the woman stepped closer to her and sheltered them both under the umbrella. Seychelles tried to remember, tried to remember all the times her grandfather had warned her against talking to strangers, against taking offers from strangers, against walking alone with strangers, but unconsciously disregarded them as quickly as they had popped into her head. For some unexplainable, intangible reason, Seychelles felt a firm impression that this woman was okay, safe. And for that vague reason, Seychelles smiled, nodded thankfully, and followed the woman into the dark, cloudy afternoon.
Maybe things were looking up…
Or maybe… not…
"Welcome back, Mistress!" Chimed what seemed like a small army of frilly maid costume-clad girls, smiling charmingly at the woman Seychelles had been duped into thinking was, god forbid, actually normal.
Seychelles' lips twitched at smiling fakely for so long. It took everything she had not to book it out the front door, screaming about strange women with maid-fetishes and umbrella-induced-hypnosis. "U-Um, excuse me…?"
"Oh! Elizabeta, who's the girl you brought with you? Is the Monaco's replacement?" Asked a shyly smiling girl with short, platinum-blond hair and the hugest breasts Seychelles had ever laid eyes upon in her lifetime.
D-D-Dynamite boobs… Seychelles thought, stricken, suddenly feeling very small and inadequate in comparison. Looking up confusedly as the green-eyed woman with the umbrella, Elizabeta, rested her hand on Seychelles' head, mussing her hair affectionately a little. She blushed slightly. She really was beautiful, if not a bit shady.
Seeing Seychelles looking at her, Elizabeta gave a scheming, almost catlike grin, and replied cheerfully, "Sure is! Just picked the poor thing off the street, from the looks of it had nowhere to go, so…"
"N-no! That's not it, not at all! I-I'm not homeless or anything, I was just out for a walk!" Seychelles said defensively, feeling a bit ashamed of herself. Really, she waltzed right into this situation without a second thought, following a stranger to such a strange place… Foolish. Her grandpa would have scolded her silly for it.
"Well, yes, but…" Elizabeta said, and, still grinning widely, gestured to the newspaper page with a flourish. "You are looking for a place to stay, aren't you?"
Seychelles didn't say a word, fearing that one wrong word that fell from her lips would land her in a god-awful position. Saying nothing didn't work, though, seeing as Elizabeta seemed to take her silence as an affirmative.
"Well, my dear, this is your lucky day! You see, as it turns out, since one of my employees, Monaco, left just a few days ago, I have a lovely room above the shop for renting! How about it?"
Seychelles gaped at her. A room. A room. A goddamn room. The thing that she'd been searching ever-so-desperately for this entire day, and here it was, being delivered to her ever-so-nonchalantly. …By the owner of a maid café, no less. Could things get any more ridiculous today? Seychelles hoped not.
There had to be a catch.
"How… How much does the room cost?" Seychelles asked cautiously, feeling very much like a tightrope walker on a slippery string.
Elizabeta smiled. "Including the costs of use of appliances, the bathroom, and electricity, it would all add up to a tidy little sum of 195 pounds a month."
If Seychelles had a drink, she'd have spat it across the room by now. Doing the mental calculations in her head, she surmised that there was no way that she could live more than three weeks in that room with the money she'd saved up after spending most of it on her college fund, and there was no part-time job that could accommodate her everyplace class schedule and still earn enough to pay the rent. Elizabeta must have seen her flabbergasted expression, since she smiled kindly and said,
"You know… If you worked part-time here after your classes, I'd be willing to down the price to accommodate your budget."
The pigtailed girl's eyes widened. "E-Eh?"
"If you work here during the week part-time, then you can have the room. Just let me know what your schedule is, and we can work the hours out. I'm willing to compromise if you are."
"Y-You… Actually would let me stay in the room if I work here…?" Seychelles asked, slack-jawed.
"Of course. It seems like a good deal, doesn't it? No one has to pay so much rent if we have another person pooling in, I get the room occupied, I get a new employee to replace the old one, and you have a place to stay. Seems reasonable enough to me." The older woman said with a big smile, thrusting out her hand to Seychelles. "So, how 'bout it, deal?"
"…" There it was again. That strong feeling that this woman was safe, not dangerous, kind, not cruel, friendly, not shady. Her hand moved on its own, closing the distance between Elizabeta's palm and her own.
"Then it's a deal." Said Elizabeta. "If you can get me a copy of your schedule, you start tomorrow."
"Okay…" She replied, still a bit overwhelmed. A sudden thought occurred to her. "Oh! But wait… How did you know that… I attended classes…?"
Elizabeta stared at her blankly, then burst out laughing. "Why, doesn't every high school girl? Ah, hey, why are you so depressed-looking all of the sudden?"
Seychelles patted at her chest. "I'm average, okay? I'm average…" She mumbled, moping. "And I'm a college student, not a high school one…"
"Oh, really? Sorry, honey! You just—well, you'll hold out better than the rest of us in old age, that's a perk, now isn't it?" Said Elizabeta with nervous cheerfulness, tittering this and that to try to make the small tan girl feel better about her, erm, slight womanly deficiencies.
Seychelles pouted. "Sorry I can't be miss Dynamite-Boobs over there…"
"Eh?" Said the busty Katyusha in shock, turning a bright pink.
"Huh? Oh crap, did I say that out loud?"
Elizabeta just smiled amusedly. "Oh yeah, we're going to get along just fine."
HOLY TEN PAGES LONG, BATMAN. :O
Chill out, people, we will get to some romance yet. And also will introduce Matt and Romano to the main storyline, so don't you fret. But otherwise, how did you like this chapter? It's our first time writing anything hetalia-related, so we want your input! Did we keep everyone enough in character? (Though since Seychelles is a rather minor character, does she even have one? Ahaha… XD;;) Also, there will be tons of love triangles/ love rivals in this fanfiction yet to come! Also, see if you can guess the stranger Seychelles met on the plane. (It shouldn't be too hard to guess.) If you get it right, we'll give you a shout-out in the next pre-chapter note!~
Here's the French translation for their conversation, by the way:
"I'm very sorry, I guess I fell asleep, were you trying to get by?"
"It's quite alright. I'm sure everyone was tired after such a long flight. No need to worry, I just wanted to make sure you got off the plane safely."
"So I take it you're French as well?"