This is for the 2011 Sweethearts Week over at the Special Relationship USUK community on LJ. Except I fail at LJ so I'm posting it here and hoping that Narroch puts the link up for me before midnight, lawl. Today's theme is 'Across the Universes', comprising of AUs only.
How do you put WWII and The Little Mermaid together and force them to fit?
Like this. XD
And therefore obligatory Denmark is obligatory.
[Where the sky meets the sea]
The sand goes crumbling sideways beneath his boots as he half-sprints across the beach, flight goggles bouncing and banging against the knot of his tie. The air here is clear and cool, fresh, untainted by petrol and gunpowder and smoke (which makes a change); and the beach is dark, the sand silvery and the black waves ebbing quietly, whispering, at the jagged shoreline.
Their plane went down about half a mile away and Alfred F. Jones has no idea where he is.
"Matthew?" he calls again. He stops on the empty beach to gather his breath; his shout of his twin brother's name flits forlornly away into the clear, cloudless sky overhead. There is no reply. "Matthew!"
Nothing. Alfred exhales deeply, worriedly, and glances up and down the deserted seashore. There are no other footprints on the damp sand but his own. The silent wind ruffles the fur on his collar and he unzips the bomber jacket so that he can breathe a little easier. It hardly matters, he reasons bitterly, whether it's open or not. He's clearly wearing an American uniform—
Although he's not so clear if he's in an enemy territory. There doesn't seem to be any life in this area. He woke up unconscious with only half of the plane and no co-pilot/brother after they were separated from their RAF escort by the Luftwaffe and shot down. Perhaps France, he notes, but that could be good or bad. Free France and he's laughing; Occupied France and he's in serious trouble.
And what about Matthew? Did he survive the crash? Where is he and the half of the plane that has all the communication equipment in it?
Alfred sinks onto the sand and sits for a moment, tipping his head back, closing his eyes and trying to think about what to do. He knows he's definitely not back in Britain. Is it too much to hope that he's landed in neutral Switzerland? Oh, wait, Switzerland is land-locked, isn't it...? He shakes his head. He really should have paid attention in Geography class. He finds a washed-up twig nearby and reaches for it, trying to draw a map of Europe as best he can from memory to work out exactly where he is. He and Matthew and a few other American pilots had accompanied the RAF raid on Berlin but the entire group was chased back out of Germany by a Luftwaffe squadron after the bombing, causing them to go out of formation and scatter. The British Hurricane they had been following had been driven away from them and shot down and they themselves had been chased by two persistent German ME-163s, gaining another few miles before being isolated completely and meeting much the same fate as the Hurricane.
Alfred looks at his deformed map of Europe and sighs. He can't even remember where half of these countries are supposed to go. He tosses the twig away and stands again, stepping on the map with its English place names as he dusts himself down, patting off the sand as he considers what the hell he should do next—
There. Movement. It's out of the corner of his eye but he's well-trained, whipping out his M1911and aiming it at—
A rock. There's nothing there but a rock. Alfred inhales, not lowering the gun as he glances about. Perhaps he's just being jumpy. There really isn't anything here. He steps closer to the rock, a great ragged boulder surrounded by a cluster of smaller spikes, the kind of treacherous shoreline that tears small boats to shreds.
Hesitant about using his voice, about his accent and his language giving him away as an Allied soldier when he doesn't know where he is, he keeps silent, his hand still tight on the gun. Perhaps he imagined it but you can't be too careful. He watches the waves foam and froth about the hem of the rock, breathing deeply, his heart pounding.
He's always been like this. Afraid of ghosts and make-believe things he reads about in books. Matthew used to tease him about his overactive imagination when they were kids. He breathes out, knowing that he can't stay here all night with his pistol pointed at a rock. On the count of three, then, he'll lower it. One, two—
A slim hand slips around the edge of the rock and then a shoulder and a face follow it and Alfred just about panics as he realises that he's very much not alone, being observed shyly from behind a rock on a deserted beach in god-knows-where by what looks like a teenager with yellow-gold hair and vibrantly-green eyes.
Alfred raises the gun again, his arm rigid, and his admirer flinches, fleeing back behind the rock again.
Not armed, then. Not that Alfred is going to lower his gun. He's not stupid.
"Hey," he says in a low voice. "You speak English?"
The boy ventures out again at his words but doesn't say anything, looking at the young pilot as though studying him very intently. Alfred can see both of his hands now and notes that he genuinely isn't armed.
He also appears to be naked.
"English," Alfred repeats, lowering the gun just a little in case the boy is too intimidated by it to speak. "Can you understand me?"
The boy nods once, not taking his eyes off Alfred.
"Can you speak it?" Kind of a dumb question—
He shakes his head and taps at the base of his throat, his expression darkening very briefly – the change to his face takes Alfred aback, for his large green eyes narrow noticeably and his thick eyebrows lower until he almost looks rather frightening.
It barely lasts, however; it's gone in an instant and he blinks up at Alfred again.
"You can't talk?" Alfred frowns, lowering the gun completely. He pauses, watching the boy for a moment, before clicking on the safety and putting it back in its holster.
The boy doesn't offer any kind of response this time but he shivers a bit and for the first time Alfred notices that he's actually wet; which makes sense, since he's in the water, hiding behind the rock, but his hair and his skin are wet as well. What with the war, god knows what this kid's back-story is; he could be a refugee from some burned-out town or a lost evacuee or perhaps he was shot down as well or—
"Here." Alfred shrugs off his bomber jacket and offers it out, stepping forward into the sea. "You'd better come out of there, buddy, before you catch your death."
The boy takes one look at Alfred's outstretched arms and panics, backing away from him very rapidly.
"Hey, I'm not gonna hurt you," Alfred says, reaching out and taking the boy's wrist. He pulls him towards himself, noting that he twists and flails madly, utterly panicked; Alfred is as gentle as possible as he bends to put his other arm around the boy's back and lift him out of the water—
Holy shit. Tail. Tail tail tail. Alfred drops him with a yell and stumbles back as the fucking mermaid shoots back behind the rock. Wait. No. It's clearly male. Merman? Merboy? Whatever. Alfred tries to catch his breath, his heart slamming in his chest from the shock, as he steps back onto the beach. Gender technicalities aside, it's a fucking mermaid.
Of the kind that doesn't exist.
Gathering his wits, Alfred notices the creature make a return, peeking shyly out at him again. He feels guilty. He frightened him, clearly, acting as though he was going to take him out of the water. (Which he was, but only because he thought he was a cold wet naked evacuee and not a fucking mermaid.)
Merman, he corrects himself again blandly. He's not wearing a seashell bra.
"Sorry." He shrugs his jacket back on. "I didn't mean to scare you." He composes himself and steps forward again, the seawater sloshing at his ankles; the merman hides again, this time Alfred catching a liquid flash of his tail flicking out of the water as he retreats further behind the rock. Pausing, Alfred thinks for a moment, wondering how to approach him without frightening him. He's certainly not going to chase him around the rock like an idiot.
The rock. Alfred steps back out of the water, puts one foot into a jagged crevice of the boulder and hoists himself up onto it, sitting on the flat top of it and leaning across so that he can look down over the edge of it. He sees the merman curled around the contour of it, looking about confusedly, and whistles to him, catching his attention.
"Hey, up here!" Alfred reaches an arm down towards him. "You want up? You can easily jump back in the water if you don't like it."
The merman frowns at him for a moment – and then he lashes out at Alfred's arm and grabs onto it, tugging at him as though trying to pull him in. Alfred laughs at his effort and easily pulls back, lifting him out of the water, curling his arm around his back to support his weight. The merman flails at Alfred flips him onto the rock and backs guardedly away after righting himself, looking very disgruntled.
Alfred crosses his legs under himself, getting comfortable as he looks at his find properly. Right. Merman. That's one for the books. Youngish – Alfred thinks that he wrongly took him for a teenager before, for while he has a small build, facially he looks older, perhaps early to mid twenties. His blonde hair is wild even whilst wet and his eyebrows make his scowl very impressive. He has a few scars on his bare torso, pale skin giving way at the bottom of his belly to fine white scales which gradually grow greener and greener so that his tail, complete with its wide translucent fin, matches his eyes.
He's certainly not the most absolutely beautiful thing that Alfred has ever seen but he has to be the most amazing thing he's ever laid eyes on; he can barely speak for staring at him, too stunned to utter a sound.
The merman tilts his head to the side a little, noting that Alfred hasn't done anything else other than pull him out of the water. He presses forward, pulling himself towards Alfred with his hands, his tail wetly gleaming green as it slithers after him.
"Uh... hi," Alfred says, blinking as he finds the merman suddenly very much in his face. "So, um, you got a name?"
The merman ignores his question, beginning to paw curiously at him, drawn particularly to things that shine and glint in the moonlight. He looks at Alfred's zip, he tugs at his buttons, he prods interestedly at the metal military stars on his uniform; he claws at his dangling flight goggles and pulls at the belt at his waist, trying to figure out how the buckle works. Then he turns his attention to Alfred's glasses, reaching for them and trying to take them off.
"Ah, no, I seriously need those," Alfred says, stopping him. He reaches under his shirt collar and fishes out his dogtags, the two metal rectangles clinking merrily together on their chain. "Here's something shiny, though."
The merman takes them in his hands and leans in close so that he can read them; he smells sharply of salt, Alfred finds when he comes close, which is understandable. The merman looks up at Alfred and turns the topmost tag towards him, running his thumbnail under one of the words.
"Right!" Alfred enthuses. "That's my name!" He laughs. "But gee, I coulda just told you that. What about you, huh? It's getting kinda tiresome just calling you "merman" in my head."
The merman looks at him irritably.
"Right, no voice." Alfred snaps his fingers and begins hunting inside his bomber jacket. "If you can read, surely you can write. Here." He produces a pencil stub and a pocketbook. "Write down your name."
The merman lets go of the dogtags and takes the items offered to him, looking curiously at them.
"Ah." This is going to be a long night. "Look, like this." Alfred takes the pencil back and pulls the paper, still in the merman's hand, towards him. He writes his full name, Alfred F. Jones, on the pocketbook's back cover. "Now you."
The merman takes the pencil stub and writes something, showing it to Alfred.
You're very demanding. And nosy.
Alfred bursts out laughing.
With the pencil and pocketbook a secure means of communication, Alfred finds out a lot about the merman, who has no voice but quite a lot to say; his name is Arthur, he's twenty-three years old, he was born and lived most of his life in the English Channel and that their current whereabouts are the coast of Denmark.
Nazi Occupied Denmark.
"What happened to your voice?" Alfred ventures to ask some time later, hoping that the subject isn't too touchy (apparently the eyebrows are).
Arthur writes his answer down; he is wearing Alfred's bomber jacket, draped around him when Alfred noticed that he was shivering from being wet and out of the water. It's too big for him.
Someone stole it from me, Arthur's answer reads.
"Oh." Alfred is nonplussed. "That... that sucks. Why would someone do that?"
To stop me from singing, Arthur replies.
Sang. And yes. I'm a merman. Haven't you ever read any mythology?
"Well, yeah, but I figured it was exactly that," Alfred admits. "Mythology. I didn't think any of it was real."
Arthur smirks as he scribbles down his next words.
Don't I seem real to you?
Alfred laughs again, rubbing at his skull.
"I don't know," he admits. "Maybe I hit my head pretty hard when I crashed." He looks up at the clear sky, the moon perfectly round like a quarter in its black velvet expanse. "Hell knows what I'm gonna do. I don't speak any Danish." He grimaces. "Or German." He looks back at Arthur. "Long shot, but I don't suppose you saw a guy who looks kinda like me wander past, did you? Maybe calling my name?"
Arthur shakes his head and Alfred wilts in disappointment even though he hadn't been expecting much. The merman nudges against him as though to offer the best comfort he can, resting his head on Alfred's shoulder as he curls into his grasp – Alfred suddenly finds himself half-cradling two armfuls of mythical sea being as Arthur makes himself comfortable.
"Uh... hey, you're not falling asleep, are you?" Alfred prods at him and gets slapped in the ribs by the merman's tail for his trouble. "Well, okay, I guess this is fine too."
Arthur settles again, curling his tail around Alfred. It's very heavy, Alfred observes; and long, extending to a thinness at the end not unlike a whip before fanning out again into a petticoat of fragile fin. The green is deep and precious like a rare jewel and each and every tiny scale glitters and gleams when he moves. His small frame is angular and sharp but his skin is smooth from being constantly awash with saltwater and his chest and belly are slim but soft. His strength, Alfred realises, is in his tail.
What to do. Alfred rests his chin on Arthur's head, tapping his fingers on the rock's flat surface. He can't move with a merman clinging grim death to him and Arthur doesn't seem like he's going to be moving any time soon. Not that Alfred's entirely sure that he wants to up and leave. This is pretty nice, actually, cuddling with a mythical being he didn't even believe in an hour ago which seems to have taken quite a shine to him.
"So you're pretty affectionate, huh?" Alfred muses. "I heard merfolk were only interested in luring sailors to their deaths by entrancing them with their beauty. Or I read that, anyway. You know. In mythology books."
Arthur lifts his head and leans back again, frowning.
"Uh," Alfred amends, "n-not that I meant any offence or anything!"
Arthur reaches for the pocketbook and the pencil and starts writing.
You're somewhat inexplicably attracted to me, though, aren't you?
"Well," he says, pushing the pocketbook down so that he can meet Arthur's gaze, "that's a bit presumptuous, don't you think?"
Arthur looks at him boredly and underlines aren't you? several times.
It's not your fault, he adds. We do have an allure about us that makes us irresistible to humans.
"I don't know about irresistible, Eyebrows," Alfred replies crossly, looking away. His face is warm and the merman is smirking at him; he can see it out of the corner of his eye. "Well, so what?" he asks defensively, still not meeting Arthur's gaze. "Fine. I can't help it. But don't go getting all full of yourself – you said yourself that your being half-fish makes us mere mortals want to pound you into the sand."
Arthur tosses the pocketbook aside and presses close to Alfred again; noticing the closeness, Alfred turns his face towards him again, opening his mouth to ask what he's doing—
Arthur kisses him.
Taken aback, Alfred reels, not sure what to do with his hands as the merman curls closer still into the gap between his open legs. Arthur is a good kisser, confident but not overpowering, but he doesn't taste terribly pleasant, very salty with a hint of metal beneath it. Alfred doesn't react for a long moment and Arthur pulls back with an irritated little snort.
"Sorry," Alfred manages to get out. "Y-you just took me by surprise, is all."
Arthur rolls his jade eyes and leans in again, putting his hands on Alfred's shoulders; Alfred is ready for him this time, bracing himself for the choke of salt as Arthur's mouth presses back against his. He slips his hands under his own bomber jacket and lets them settle on the curve of Arthur's waist, thumb and two fingers on skin and two on fine, feathery scales. Arthur responds in kind by wrapping his arms around Alfred's neck, clinging to him tighter than ever, and his touch makes Alfred want to never be separated from him henceforth (beginning to formulate half-coherent ideas at the back of his mind for how to sneak Arthur home with him. Would a merman be okay in a fighter plane?)—
His thoughts are interrupted as the world suddenly tips and he finds himself on his back with the merman on top of him, still kissing him. Not an altogether discomfiting turn of events, to be honest. Alfred wraps his arms around Arthur's waist, feeling his tail unfurl to its full length across the rock; the weight of it presses heavily between his legs, the pressure not really all that unpleasant (because when he shifts, the sparks make Alfred squirm). He's just about on the verge of wrapping his legs tightly around Arthur's tail to keep that friction where it belongs—
Matthew. Alfred recognises his twin's voice immediately and sits up, Arthur pulling away from him at the sound of the call.
"Oh, thank fuck for that," Alfred breathes, seeing his brother in his long camel coat on the beach, accompanied by a blonde man in black that Alfred doesn't recognise. "Matt! Over here!" he shouts, waving.
He turns towards Arthur as Matthew catches sight of him and beckons to his companion.
"Hey, Arthur, you can meet my brother," he says brightly.
Arthur scrambles away from him, shaking his head. Alfred frowns.
"It's okay, he won't hurt you," he promises. "He's way gentler than me, wouldn't hurt a fly—"
"Hey! American!" Another voice, thickly-accented – belonging, Alfred sees, to the man in black. "Grab that fucking merman and drag it onto the beach so that I can finally kill it!"
The man, sprinting towards the shore, is wielding an axe on a long pole; Matthew comes scrambling after him, looking confused.
"Wh...?" Alfred glances at Arthur, whose face has taken on that ugly, vicious look again as he backs towards the edge of the rock. "Arthur, I won't let him hurt you!" He tries to grab for Arthur but the merman recoils.
"Hurry up before it drags you in and drowns you!" the man in black bellows, stopping at the rock and reaching up to haul himself onto it.
Alfred doesn't even have time to react one way or the other; Arthur is gone, diving over the edge into the sea, bomber jacket and all.
"Wait!" Alfred snatches for his tail as it disappears from his view and misses. "Arthur! Come back!"
He's about to jump in himself after him, seeing his tail vanish beneath the waves, and is grabbed by his belt by the man, who throws him backwards so that he lands hard on his butt.
"You idiot!" the man seethes, the edge of his axe flashing close to Alfred's throat as he stands over him. "Why did you not do as I asked? You are lucky that thing did not kill you!"
"What...?" Alfred blinks up at the man, baffled and incensed. "I don't... what the hell? I don't even know you!"
"Alfred!" Matthew finally reaches the rock and looks up at his brother, smiling with relief. "Thank god we found you! I was so worried that you didn't survive the crash!"
"I'm fine," Alfred says icily. He pushes away the axe and slides off the rock, landing with a shallow splash next to Matthew and thumbing up at the crazy axe-wielding merman-hunter, who is shouting at the sea in another language. "Where'd you pick up this lunatic?"
"He saw me crash and came to investigate. He's the head of the Danish Resistance cell in this area so he helped me when he figured out I was an Allied pilot," Matthew says in a low voice. "He said to just call him Denmark. Codename, I guess." He looks over Alfred's dishevelled appearance. "Um... are you okay, Al?"
"No, I'm not okay!" Alfred snaps, turning towards the rock. "Hey, you! Denmark or whatever you're called! Are you done? 'Cause I'd kind of like an explanation for your behaviour!"
Denmark glares down at him.
"You would like an explanation?" he asks coolly in his heavily-accented English. "Very well, stupid American pilot." He slides down, swinging his axe over his shoulder as he gets into Alfred's face. "You are extremely lucky to be alive. That thing has killed more people than I can count."
"Who, Arthur?" Alfred asks incredulously.
"Oh, we are on first-name terms with the beast," Denmark sneers; he throws the pocketbook at Alfred. "A nice little conversation you seem to have had with him. You clearly do not know anything about merfolk."
"You're wrong!" Alfred says hotly, clutching the pocketbook with all of Arthur's pencilled answers in its pages. "You're the one who doesn't know anything! Arthur would never hurt anyone!"
Denmark murmurs to himself in what is presumably Danish, rolling his eyes.
"Yes, a charming little way he has about him, hm?" he says, looking Alfred up and down. "You seem to be quite taken with him. I fear he may have already poisoned you."
"...Poisoned?" Matthew grips at Alfred's shoulder.
Denmark gives a dismissive wave of his hand.
"Metaphorical," he says boredly, eyeing Alfred. "Did you kiss him?"
Alfred flushes and debates not answering before finally giving a nod.
"Then he has your heart," he says. "Come, it would be better to get you away from the sea. As lucky as you are that he did not simply drag you under at first sight and drown you, he will undoubtedly come back for you."
"Th-that's fine!" Alfred struggles as Matthew and Denmark take hold of his arms. "I want to see him again!"
"Alfred!" Matthew drags at him. "You're being ridiculous. Come on, it's dangerous out here. This country is occupied by the enemy, remember!"
"Let go of me!" Alfred snarls, trying to wrestle out of their grasp. "Let go!"
He is ignored and hauled away from the shoreline up the beach, falling still and silent and seething as the empty waves become too distant for him to strain to see a flash of green scales.
"He's gone, Al," Matthew says as Alfred stumbles silently along after them.
"He'll be back," he replies lightly. "This is his hunting ground."
"We have contact with a British unit stationed in Free France," Denmark says, taking off his coat and propping his axe against the wall. "They will know of any Allied battalions in this area who can get you out of occupied territory."
"Do you have a telephone?"
"Of course, this way."
Matthew glances at Alfred, who is lurking sulkily by the door.
"Al, are you coming?"
"No." Alfred sinks into a chair around a small dining table in the middle of the room. "I'll stay here, thanks."
"Very well." Denmark leans over, takes a key from his pocket and locks the front door. "We will not be long."
Matthew shoots Alfred a despairing look as he follows Denmark out of the room. Alfred exhales deeply and closes his eyes, reaching his forefinger and thumb up under his glasses to rub at them. It has suddenly hit him how tired and sore he is. He was incredibly lucky to get out of the plane crash as unscathed as he did but his body bemoans it now.
He looks out of the window. They are still near the beach but he can't see the shore. If only Denmark hadn't locked the door and taken the key, he could have bolted for it. Nothing overwhelms him quite as much right now as the desperate need to see Arthur again, to hold him, to kiss him, to simply be in his presence. He didn't even know of his existence barely two hours ago and now the only thing in his head is the first and only merman he has ever had the pleasure of meeting. It is obsessive, his sudden burning longing for him. He wants to be stolen away by him, to be taken by the hand and led deep beneath the blanket of the ocean, down into an impossible world where it is only the two of them together. No war and crazy Danes, please.
He thinks of Arthur sitting forlornly by himself on the shore, wondering where Alfred went and why, huddled in the bomber jacket he was still wearing when he took off in a panic, and despairs, leaping up and going to the door. Poor Arthur! How awful for him – it was clearly love at first sight for them both and now Arthur will think that Alfred left him and—
"That door is double-locked. You will not get out."
Another accented voice, softer, gentler, slightly different from the abrasive Dane's. Alfred whirls, panting from the exertion of wrestling with the door, and finds a small man with pale blonde hair, white skin and near-lilac eyes gazing at him from across the room. A silver cross glitters in his hair and he is wearing blue.
"Let me out!" Alfred goes for his gun – and finds the holster empty. "What the fuck—?"
"Looking for this?" Denmark again. He reappears behind the new boy, Matthew hot on his heels, with Alfred's M1911 swinging idly from one finger. "I took it when we were wrestling you up the hill. People infatuated with merfolk tend to start getting a bit unreasonable if they are parted from them for too long."
"It's not infatuation!" Alfred snaps, clenching his fists. "I love Arthur!"
"Are you listening to yourself?" he asks.
"Alfred, stop being silly," Matthew pleads, looking very worried. "This isn't like you at all."
"It is not his fault," says the new boy calmly. "Merfolk are powerful beings." He looks to Denmark. "I cooked."
"Excellent!" Denmark pats him on the shoulder. "This is Norway. Well, that is what you can call him, anyway." He glances at Matthew. "You cannot be too careful. There are Nazi spies everywhere."
Matthew nods. Norway goes to fetch the food and Denmark accompanies him. After forcing Alfred to sit and pushing a plateful of food towards him, he settles enough to at least eat and quell his hunger, though he looks at Denmark and Norway with immense dislike between bites.
"Would you like to know about the merman?" Norway asks dully, politely, addressing Alfred directly.
"His name is Arthur," Alfred growls, "but please, if you're willing."
"He is of a particular species of merfolk often nicknamed "Empire" in the study of the creatures," he explains blandly, "due to their aggressive territorial behaviour – they expand their territories by killing other merfolk and sea dwellers. They are native to the Atlantic and are well known for sinking ships. They are also notorious for hoarding treasure and defending it even though they have no use for it and they drown humans by either taking them by surprise and pulling them under or by attracting them sexually and luring them into the water with them." Norway played with his fork. "I suppose you might say that anything bad you have ever read about mermaids is generally true of the Empire genus."
"How could Arthur sink a ship all by himself?" he challenges. "He's one little merman!"
Norway arches an eyebrow.
"The voice," he says. "They sing beautifully and coax sailors to run their ships ashore. This is common to all species and to sirens."
"Arthur hasn't got a voice!" Alfred says triumphantly. "Someone stole it."
Denmark grins as Norway examines his fingernails.
"You are looking at the thief," the little blonde says expressionlessly. "He would run ships aground almost every day until I took his voice from him. Now he cannot call to them."
Alfred feels the rage boil up in him as he stares across the table at Norway.
"You're the one who stole his voice?" He stands, slamming his hands down on the table. "What did you do, cut his throat open?"
Denmark leans back in his chair and laughs.
"I would have thought after mermaids," he says, "that you would have opened your mind more, American!"
"A spell," Norway says bluntly. "I took his voice with magic. It needed to be done. He sank several Nazi ships but he also sank Allied ones. I could not be expected to stand by whilst one non-human, a creature unaffected by the war, fetters our chances of winning for his own pleasure. You must understand that, given that you are an Allied pilot."
Unable to answer, Alfred turns to Denmark.
"Fine," he says icily. "So he can't sink ships anymore. Isn't that enough? Why are you chasing him with an axe?"
Denmark gives an unattractive snort.
"Do you think being voiceless is enough to stop a murderous creature like that?" He shrugs. "I must be fair, it is in the wretched thing's nature, but he drowns at least one unsuspecting person per week. We have warned locals not to go to the shore alone but he manages to claim victims nonetheless." His piercing blue eyes narrow. "Tonight it should have been you."
"He wasn't going to kill me!" Alfred insists. "He liked me!"
"Ah, so many times we have heard this," Denmark says dismissively. "This is their way. Humans cannot help but fall in love with merfolk and go willingly to their deaths. If you go back, it will be to your grave."
"No!" Alfred shakes his head. "You're wrong! Arthur wouldn't... he would never..."
"Alfred." Matthew reaches for his twin's wrist and squeezes it. "Please. Stop this. Listen to them."
"You don't understand!" Alfred says desperately, looking at Matthew.
"But I do." Norway speaks up, looking very intently at Alfred. "I have been in love with your merman as well."
Alfred can only blink at him, silenced.
"And I believed that he loved me back," Norway goes on. "He had a voice then and he would sing for me – I talked to him about many things, stories and magic and my life in my home town when I was growing up. He liked to hear fairytales very much and would always ask me to tell him some – and in return he would sing old English songs about Robin Hood and King Arthur. I met with him every evening for over a week, sneaking out to the shore in defiance of the curfew imposed by the Nazis." Norway pauses. "And then, as we were parting that final night and I promised to come back the next evening, he wrapped his tail around me and pulled me from the rock I was sitting on and under the water. He almost killed me."
"I saved him," Denmark cuts in, wrapping his arm around Norway and squeezing him. "I had been watching that merman for weeks – I knew he was going to kill someone. They are dreadful creatures. Two mermaids used to drown children where I lived when I was growing up." His smile twists. "Anyway, since that day I have made it my vow to hack that merman into as many pieces as I can." And, looking at Alfred, he adds coolly, "If you had only thrown the thing onto the beach when I told you to, I could have done it this very night."
Alfred is quiet. He sinks back into his seat, unable to say a word. Matthew reaches for his shoulder but Alfred angrily shrugs him away.
"Well," Denmark says cheerfully, kissing Norway on his pale cheek. "Your magic is as strong as ever, Norge. Here is another being you have rendered utterly speechless."
(Alfred feigns sleep on the sofa and Denmark leans over him, the key to the front door glinting in his hand.
"I'm not having you break a window," he hisses, slipping the key under Alfred's pillow. "Go to him if you want – but know that I and my axe will not be far behind you.")
"So which of you is the better actor?"
Alfred's voice echoes across the quiet beach (tinted all shades of pink-gold blush on the sand and the lapping waves deep purple beneath the bruise of the dawn horizon). Arthur's long tail has a coppery rust to it beneath the light like autumn leaves beginning to dapple brown and die. The merman is lying on his stomach on the rock, tail hanging over the edge and curled like a crescent moon beneath him, fin flicking idly back and forth. He is still wearing Alfred's jacket, soaked though now, and his eyes are bright and curious as Alfred approaches him.
"I don't know his name," Alfred continues. "He just calls himself Norway. He said he loved you." He pauses. The words are painful because he knows them to be true no matter how much he doesn't want to believe them. "He said you tried to drown him."
Arthur smiles at him, resting his chin on his arms. Beneath the rising sun, his hair gleaming brilliantly gold, he suddenly looks very beautiful – and very inhuman.
"But you drown lots of people, don't you, Arthur?" Alfred goes on, stepping closer to him. "Just because you can. Because that's what you do." He gives a wry smile. "Do you want to drown a crash-landed American fighter pilot?"
Arthur sits up, looking at Alfred guardedly.
"I'm probably being followed," Alfred says, "so we don't have much time. I don't want to have led him to you even if you do deserve to be hacked up and strewn into the sea."
Arthur appears amused, watching as the pilot hitches himself up on the rock, sitting next to him with his legs dangling over the edge.
"If you're going to drown me," Alfred says in a low voice, "then do it now before they find me. I don't mind." He smiles at Arthur. "I don't mind being lost at sea if I can stay with you."
Arthur frowns and motions with his hands for some paper; Alfred fetches the pocketbook from his uniform jacket and hands it to Arthur with the pencil stub. The merman writes for a moment and holds out the note.
You're only saying that because you can't help but love me for what I am. You're not thinking straight at all.
"I am," Alfred insists, taking hold of Arthur's wrists. "I was fortunate this time, surviving that crash. Next time I might not be so lucky. I'm going to be shot down by some Nazi bastard, Arthur, and I'm going to die in a flaming twisted wreck of a plane. So I figure... well, call it what you like, call it magic or infatuation, but I can't ever be satisfied now that I've met you, even if it was only once and for barely even an hour. I can't go back out into a world without you in it – and you won't be in it. You're not supposed to exist." He looks at Arthur very intently. "So why not go with you now and end it? I'd prefer it this way. Drown me, Arthur. Make me yours."
You're mad, Arthur writes, looking rather cross.
"What's wrong?" he asks. "You only like killing if the prey struggles and fights?"
I don't want to drown you, Alfred. I'd have done it by now if I did.
He shrugs off the wet, heavy jacket and puts it over Alfred's lap.
You should feel honoured, he writes. You're the only person I cannot bear to kill.
"And why's that?" Alfred challenges.
Because I want you to live.
"Well..." Alfred looks at him desperately for a moment before glancing up the beach. He's certain he can see the gleam of an axe-head in the dawn's golden glow, though it might just be his overactive imagination again. "I want you to live too – and he's going to kill you if he catches you. Go away from here. Go back to England. Go somewhere where no-one can hurt you. Please."
Arthur pauses, looking at him very intently. He writes again.
I know where there's a boat
"A boat." Alfred looks and looks at the declaration. "A... a boat."
Arthur nods. Alfred finds himself nodding with him. It's madness. It's insanity. It's perfect.
It's no crazier than the war, now is it?
"Yeah, okay," he says breathlessly. "A boat. Let's go. You and me. We'll... I don't know. We'll go somewhere and get away from it all. We'll be together. It'll be okay."
I am eloping with a merman I didn't even believe in twenty-four hours ago.
Alfred jumps back off the rock with a splash, slinging his wet bomber jacket onto the sand; he blinks at it as dozens of jewels and pearls spill out of the pockets, bouncing and glittering along the beach. He looks wildly at Arthur, who shrugs at him as if to say 'Well, what on earth was I going to do with them?'.
"Matt can have 'em," Alfred says. "And Denmark and Norway – who knows, maybe it'll buy 'em a new hobby."
He reaches up and pulls Arthur into his arms, wading out waist-deep into the sea with the merman in his grasp; Arthur slithers out of the grip as he hits water and circles Alfred, his movements fluid and powerful. Alfred pulls off his flight goggles and throws them onto the shore with a splash as Arthur takes his hand and leads him into the sea.
("It is to be expected of love between humans and merfolk," Denmark breathes, trailing his axe behind him. "None but dead men can enter the Mer-king's palace.")
The boats rocks gently from side to side as it drifts across the horizon. Alfred lies full-length in it as though it's a coffin and looks up at the sky. Arthur curls around him, the end of his tail trailing in the water and his head on Alfred's chest.
Alfred pulls off his dogtags, all of his information blazing as the sun flashes across them, and tosses them overboard.
They are lost in the place where the sky meets the sea.
Denmark's line "None but dead men can enter the Mer-king's palace" is an actual quote from Hans Christian Andersen's original story The Little Mermaid. Seemed fitting to give him at least one. =)
Three reasons why England is the best Hetalia character/country to mermaid-ify:
One: Island nation. We're surrounded by water on all sides!
Two: Britain became an empire and a superpower due to naval supremacy.
Three: Pirate. Say no more.
Ahhhhhh, seriously, I've had this idea for like a million years (well, a year, at least!) so I'm really glad I finally go to write it! This seemed like the best excuse to get it done!
...It took me until writing this to realise that German and merman rhyme. Lawl.
EnglandxNorway. Awesome pairing never yet explored!