I can't just take a break like a normal person. I can't just...chill out and maybe study instead of retreating to the Internet. Damn you plotbunnies. Damn you Mr. Floppsie. -punts said plotbunny into the sun- Stop trying to fill the hole in my heart from "Want You to Want Me" and making me write lame AUs.
Oh well. I guess I'm also trying to make up for the fact that I haven't updated my other stories. -shift eyes- Yes, those ones...Maybe during break? We'll see...-wanders away-
Warnings: language, stupidity, OOCness, AU, slash, fail, twisting of fairy tales and mythology
Pairing: eventual UK/Can
Disclaimer: Its really, really good that I don't own Hetalia. For the childrens sake.
Arthur Kirkland didn't like people very much. Actually, you could say he detested them. You see, he had some bad experiences with people.
Arthur was a warlock. A very powerful one, now, but when he was younger (a century or two younger), he wasn't very powerful at all and wasn't able to defend himself from his fellow villagers.
After a long period of hounding, the villagers pinned the arson of a nearby barn and the death of all the horses (which, surprisingly, was not Arthur's fault. Surprising because he had been practicing a spell that actually set fire to a good acre of forest when it went awry. It could have very well struck the barn, but it didn't. It curved right. In reality, a horse burned down the barn because the stupid farmer left a lit lantern in its stall.). So, the villagers had tied stones to his feet and tossed him into the lake.
Arthur would've died but the knots weren't tied very well and the rope was kind of shitty, so they untied on their own and Arthur swam to the surface. When he crawled out of the lake, waterlogged and extremely put out, he decided that people were very stupid and horrible and sod all, he was leaving.
And so he left. Eventually he settled down, created a coven, lost his coven (you know how things go), and became very bitter and harsh.
Of course, he wasn't very pleasant to begin with.
But there was something about Matthew that made him give the boy benefit of the doubt.
He wasn't sure what it was. It could've been the startling resemblance to his former familiar. But that illusion was shattered at a closer look. It might have been the quiet acceptance in his bright eyes. It might have been the unassuming way he was sitting on the rock, hunched over with his chin resting in the palms. It could've also been the first thing he said when Arthur asked why he was sitting there and why, in heaven's name, was he chained to the tree?
"Oh. You can see me?" Matthew asked curiously, sitting up a little straighter and looking surprised as the cloaked man stared right at him.
"Of course I can." Arthur blinked, adding, "Git." Then, pulling himself up onto the short crag where the blond was, he asked, "Why wouldn't I?"
"Because there's a beautiful patch of flowers over there." The boy replied, nodding at the beautiful patch of flowers. "Everyone who passed before you stopped to admire them."
The sandy-haired warlock gave him a strange look. "Why the bloody fuck would I give a whit about some stupid weeds?"
The blond frowned. "They're actually quite rare. They only grow in this kingdom." He explained.
"I'm more interested in why you are chained to that tree." Arthur said curtly.
Matthew (though, let me just tell you, Arthur didn't know that was his name just yet) sighed and, a little sadly, said, "Because this kingdom is plagued by a dragon. Through an unhappy accident we discovered that the dragon will not attack our livestock and crops if it eats a human. So, now, we sacrifice one human, through a random draw, every summer to appease the dragon." He smiled softly. "And its my turn."
"That makes sense." Arthur said slowly. "It takes longer for dragons to digest humans."
The blond nodded, his blond hair fluttering around his face. "Yes. And the dragon will probably arrive soon so you should probably go now."
"Aren't you afraid?"
"No." The boy shrugged. "I've had a full year to come to terms with my death."
"And you're not going to ask me to help you get free?"
Matthew looked stunned. "Of course not. As prince of this kingdom, I cannot simply—"
"You're the prince." Arthur stated. "And you're being sacrificed?"
"Its only fair." Matthew shrugged, hands palm up. His chains clinked softly.
"Has anyone tried to kill this dragon?"
"Its not as easy as you make it sound." Matthew said, voice hushed and violet eyes wide.
Seeing fear overtake the young blond's face, Arthur raised an eyebrow and slowly turned, cloak swishing around him.
…An enormous, Hungarian Horntail. And he was staring right into its narrowed golden eyes.
"What are you?" Matthew asked, awed, eyes wide. He was still chained to the remains of the tree, his pale face covered in soot and golden hair charred at the ends from when he had barely managed to dive out of the way of a stream of fire. Now, sitting on his knees, he watched as the stranger pulled his sword from the soft underbelly of the beast, intestines spilling out of the gaping wound.
Arthur, wrinkling his nose at the stench of the steaming innards, swished the sword he had summoned (lets just say he retrieved it from his hammer space, any more detail and it'd be far too complicated and annoying to explain) and, with a twist of his wrist, transformed it back into a long, thin, bumpy wand. Putting it back into his cloak, he turned to look at the prince.
He didn't realize how intimidating he looked, wrapped in a billowing emerald green hooded cloak and standing in a puddle of hot, crimson blood with a half-decapitated dragon with a split belly behind him, half off the crag. He glanced at the prince, cheeks heating up at the amazement on the other's face. But he pushed through the fleeting feeling.
"I am the one to whom you are now indebted." He said simply.
"I didn't ask you to save me." Matthew said quietly, eyes suddenly distrustful, not trusting himself to stand up.
"You also didn't ask me to leave you to die." Arthur shrugged fluidly, not liking the way the other's face grew stormy. "Most would be grateful."
Nevertheless, the prince gracefully stood and nodded at the warlock. "Fine." He said curtly, annoyance melting from his fair features. "Accompany me to the castle. My father will reward you handsomely."
"Whatever you want, name it and it is yours." The king, a flamboyantly dressed blond announced with a flourish of his scepter, one arm firmly wrapped around his son. "For you, kind stranger, have saved my beloved son and this kingdom. You have our eternal gratitude."
"I wouldn't thank me just yet." Arthur responded. "Because I want your son."
A hush fell over the crowd.
Someone snickered and was promptly silenced with an elbow to the gut.
Arthur realized what he said and quickly backtracked. "Oh bollocks, I meant that I want to…take your son."
That didn't sound any better. Arthur winced as the king gave him a blank look before his azure eyes narrowed.
Matthew looked like he wished the dragon had just eaten him.
"And what makes you think I will simply hand over my heir?" The king, Francis, asked coldly.
Arthur smirked, reaching up and pulling down his hood.
The court gasped.
"Those eyebrows! It must be…" Francis whispered, his expression falling. "Arthur Kirkland." He smirked bitterly, shaking his head. "Would you resurrect the dragon if I were to refuse?"
So it seemed the king knew of his reputation.
I'll say this now. Arthur was neither good nor bad. He simply was a warlock of whatever repute he chose to be at his moment's fancy.
He could just as easily call down a plague as he could save an ill child.
But, everything had its price you know. And through trick or truth, Arthur made sure he was paid.
"Most definitely." Arthur shrugged, green eyes bored. "Now. What is your decision, your Majesty?"
Arthur would never say it aloud, but he was lonely.
(Trust me. When your only companies are magic folk, you go mad. Arthur was already half-mad. And he had no friends. Sad, but true. After he lost his familiar and coven, he found himself terribly alone for the next few decades.)
And something about this prince charmed him. And, well, Arthur was kind of selfish and when he wanted something, he liked to have it immediately.
(It was probably a crush. Matthew is quite attractive. Arthur denies it to this day.)
"So…what is your name?" He asked awkwardly, giving the sulking blond walking next to him a curious look.
"Matthew." The prince responded.
"May I ask why you smell like pepper?
"Because I thought I'd at least make myself taste pleasant for the dragon." Matthew grit out. "But you killed him so I guess I wasted all that pepper for nothing."
Arthur started thinking that maybe he should've just asked for a horse.
"This is it." Arthur said, gesturing to the dilapidated, dark little cottage in the clearing. There was an adorable little bridge over a babbling brook that lead to the dwelling and a thicket of forests hiding the spot away from the rest of the world.
"Its lovely." Matthew said listlessly. "I could imagine dying here."
It wasn't much better on the inside. There was a small sitting area and kitchen, cluttered with dirty dishes and ink stains and quills and dusty spell books. It was musty, dust motes drifting lazily across the room as weak sunlight dripped into the room from the dirty windows. The wooden furniture was dark and heavy and no spot was clean. A fireplace with charred remains of wood and a cracked cauldron resting among the ash was directly across from the door.
"It's a bit messy." The green-eyed man muttered, moving away from the door and dusting off one of the chairs from the table, motioning for Matthew to sit. "But…its home." He finished lamely.
He chanced a look at the blond, expression a little hopeful. But Matthew didn't even seem to be paying attention. His violet eyes were vacant and he seemed to shimmer in the weak lighting, as though he wasn't really there and he didn't want to be there. But then he seemed to deflate, gaze drifting around the room before it settled on Arthur. He smiled wanly.
"I suppose." The boy offered, resigned.
Days pass with Matthew just going through the motions of life. He seems to oscillate between planes of being and sometimes Arthur swears its as though the boy is a ghost. He neither helps nor hinders. Its obvious that he is depressed.
But Arthur does not have patience for such childish emotions.
So when Matthew finally cracks, bursting into tears and sending a vial of rare and expensive pixie blood to the ground, Arthur storms over to the prince and slaps him, once across the face.
It is enough to stun the blond into silence.
"Your life is in my hands." Arthur hisses, green eyes blazing. "Watch yourself, boy."
"What is my life even worth to you?" Matthew snaps back, indignation rising in his tone, cheeks flush with anger. "Why did you even ask for me? You could've had wealth, land, the kingdom, but no. You picked me!"
To be honest, Arthur, at this point, isn't quite sure (he thinks it might have something to do with his recent bouts of talking to himself—intimidating even the fae who find no amusement in dealing with the mentally unfit—and the quiet of his existence grating on his sanity). It had just seemed to be a good idea. Of course, forming a coven seemed to be a good idea too. Enslaving that wendigo familiar seemed like a good idea as well.
Neither of which ended particularly well. So, he has a record of being wrong.
So Arthur lies through his teeth and hopes to bruise the other's pride. "I needed a housekeeper."
Not really. He knows basic cleaning spells. He just doesn't use them.
Matthew looks stunned. And then, rather cruelly, says, "I understand. Even animals clean up after themselves better than you."
Arthur is so angered by the other's comment that he locks himself in his study for a for a week and brews a potion to silence the boy's insolence forever (it could also kill him, which is an added bonus in the furious warlock's mind).
But when he stumbles out of his study, the entire down stairs is spotless. Not a splatter of potion or ink is visible and Arthur is suddenly reminded that what his floor looked like.
He sets the potion on the table, the black liquid bubbling ominously, and sneaks up the stairs. His bedroom is tidy, smelling of pine and lemon, with fresh wildflowers on his dresser and the curtains thrown open to let in light. He tiptoes to Matthew's room, peering in and catching sight of the blond sitting on his bed. He faces away from the door and seems to be struggling with something.
Soon Arthur realizes the boy is grappling with a needle and thread, doing his best to darn a pair of the warlock's socks. The sandy-haired man watches quietly as Matthew pauses every so often, cursing and sniffling, bringing his finger to his lips when he pricks himself.
And something in the warlock's heart softens and he goes back downstairs and dumps the potion into huddle of trees behind the cottage.
(That is also why there is a single stone tree in the backyard.)
Dinner that night is a subdued affair. Matthew had made a relatively simple soup, perhaps a bit over peppered but to Arthur it is delicious because he's been living off meals that taste like charcoal.
But the blond is struggling with his spoon, his finger tips bandaged heavily and Arthur wonders just how hard it was for the blond to actually clean and sew. Normally he wouldn't wonder or care because he thinks everyone should be moderately self-sufficient. But the blond seems to be suffering in silence and Arthur remembers striking him and then planning his death and he sighs heavily, drawing the other's attention.
"Is the soup not good?" Matthew asks quietly, eyes a little red. He is subdued, perhaps even a little humbled, but wary.
"Its fine." Arthur says, amending his words by adding, "Better than I could cook."
Matthew bites his lip, most likely keeping in a quiet "I know" because the boy had eaten burnt stew for the first two days before the fight. Instead, he attempts to spoon some more soup into his mouth but the liquid splashes back down into the bowl and he looks frustrated.
Taking pity on the other, Arthur taps the table, murmuring an incantation. On it's own, the spoon lifts up and dutifully dips into the soup before rising up to Matthew's lips.
Surprised, Matthew glances at the warlock but Arthur avoids his gaze and concentrates on eating his own meal.
He misses the little smile that rises on the other's face.
"Be careful." Arthur called out, leaning in the doorway of the small cottage.
Matthew, gently petting the muzzle of the unicorn that had crept up to him, looked over his shoulder with a quizzical twist to his lips. The unicorn gave Arthur an uninterested look, nudging the blond when his attention drifted a moment too long. Its long, slender silver horn glinted in the sunlight, twisted with a deadly point at the end. Its flank quivered as its glimmering hoofs pawed at the ground and Matthew was quick to sooth it by stroking the length of its body.
"They are vain, mercurial creatures." Arthur said quietly, not moving. "Do not make any sudden movements."
Unicorns preferred a virgin's touch. They would become irritated at anything impure by their fastidious standards.
The last thing he wanted was to see the blond speared by that terrifying horn. Blinking away images of life leaving that kind face and a pool of blood staining those flaxen waves, he ordered Matthew to come back.
The prince, not taking kindly to the hard tone of the warlock's voice, ignored him, leaning closer to the ethereal creature and giggling something into its flicking ear.
"Matthew, please." Arthur repeated, his tone softening.
With a soft sigh, Matthew patted the creature once more and began to back away, not turning his back to the creature. Snorting, the unicorn whinnied and gave the retreating blond a pleading look.
"Come along then." The sandy-haired man said briskly, ushering the boy inside. "You need to be more careful."
"I'm sorry." Came the carefully practiced response.
Arthur sighed heavily, moving past the immobile boy.
Two months and Matthew had yet to open up to him.
"What are you working on?" A soft voice asked curiously from behind him.
Whirling around and knocking over his carefully placed ingredients with his elbow, Arthur glared at the intruding blond viciously. Matthew seemed to curl in on himself at the hard look.
"Get out." Arthur said lowly, green eyes sparking dangerously as the spilled ingredients began to smoke behind him. He hated being disturbed and thought he had made it obvious that the other was never to enter his workspace. There was even a bloody sign. "Now."
Matthew did so.
That was the day Matthew attempted to escape.
"Did you think it would be that easy?" Arthur asked, hands on his hips as he stared at the trapped boy with a quirked eyebrow. "Honestly. I'm a warlock, boy."
Matthew, soaking wet and held captive by chains formed by the water of the creek, merely gave him a dark glare from under his soaked bangs. He is sitting in the creek, shivering.
"I mean, honestly, my familiar mortally wounded me in his attempt to escape me. You just stormed out the front door."
"I hate you!" The prince shouted suddenly, before a terrified look shot across his face. He seemed to pull away with his body, giving the other a very wary expression.
Arthur was silent, revealing no sign of hurt at the comment. He wasn't really hurt, honestly. He was used to being hated.
But, it rather stung when Matthew said it. He had thought they were starting to get along smashingly even though the other seemed to avoid his company.
"Well, that's to be expected." Arthur began and Matthew gave him an incredulous look. Defensively, the warlock added, "I did take you away from everything you held dear."
"You're horrible." The blond slumped, lower lip trembling. "You don't even care that you ruined my life."
"Just because you're not a prince—"
"Its not that!" Matthew interrupted. "You took me from my family, my friends, my pets. But I still went willingly because you did save my life and my home. I don't even mind cleaning and cooking—its quite therapeutic and I like to imagine the dirt I'm scrubbing is your face—but you don't talk to me. I don't even know why you brought me here. I know I'm not interesting or attractive or good company, but you did drag me to this place. I mean, if you're going to just ignore me—"
"But I do enjoy your company." Arthur said quietly. "I realize I am not pleasant to be around, but I have been alone for quite some time. You make this life…less lonely."
Matthew quieted, staring at him with a thoughtful, frustrated look. "You kicked me out of your study."
"You shouldn't have been there."
"I didn't know."
"There's a sign."
"I can't read ancient runes."
Yeah...this is what happens when I start looking up old Disney movies and reading fairy tales in order to convince myself that the world isn't a hellish place full of exams and responsibilities. -grumble grumble- But, yeah, I wanted to try my hand at writing a fairy tale (why haven't I tried it earlier? Oh right...because its kinda cliched...I LIKE CLICHES THOUGH :D).
So, yeah, this story was partially inspired by the story of St. George slaying the dragon. And, you know how kings in fairy tales offer whatever the hero wants and the hero asks for the princess and just gets her? Well, what if the princess didn't want to go with the hero. Huh? What then?
And what if the hero isn't such a noble dude? XD
(-is shot for making Canada a princes-prince-)
Worth continuing or should I go lock down this computer and actually study? /should stop drinking mountain dew in place of all other fluids