Well, aren't you all lucky? XD This has actually been done for a few days but I didn't have time to post it. I also wasn't very pleased with it but oh well. This originally was going to be a one-shot but it got dragged out. By which I mean: I was typing it and it started getting long so I decided to split it into parts and maybe expand it. Howeer, I don't expect it to be very long. I mean, I hope its not.
Also, the wendigo familiar? Its Alfred. No, I do not plan to incorporate him into the story. Please don't ask for him to appear because he's not really relevant to this story.
Anyways, thanks for all the lovely reviews and response to this story! Its not meant to be really original or ground-breaking. I might tackle fairy tales in the distant future. This is just intended to be a pleasant little read. So...enjoy~
Warnings: OOCness, language, slash, fail, silliness, previous warnings, AU
Pairing: eventual UK/Canada
Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia.
"Can't you just…wave your wand and make me dry?" Matthew asked, eyebrow quirked, as he looked over his shoulder. He had stripped off his soggy clothes and was only in his underpants. Now, kneeling in front of the fireplace, having started up a fire, he attempted to warm himself in front of the crackling flames.
"Magic is not a quick, fix-all." Arthur chastised, brow furrowed disapprovingly. He had escaped upstairs to get a blanket as soon as he saw the prince begin to undo the ties on his shirt. At first glimpse of pale skin the warlock had disappeared to retrieve the blanket himself instead of just levitating it from the linen closet.
Which, you know, would've been easier and he probably wouldn't have stubbed his toe on the way up.
"Is that why you also don't cast household spells?" The blond asked curiously, wiggling his fingers closer to the warmth.
The flames cast a warm glow on his face and Arthur was pleased to note that his lips were no longer tinged blue.
"I think its good to be able to do simple things without magic. In my opinion, you're just useless if you can't even sweep or thread a needle."
"…Right. There was dirt older than me here." Matthew said moodily. "I don't think you're a powerful wizard at all. The dragon slaying must've been a fluke."
"Warlock." Arthur grit out and the fire popped ominously, little embers sparking out and scattering across the floorboards. For a brief moment, the fire twisted and transformed into a rather, bestial leonine form, snarling at the stunned prince before collapsing on itself. "And, if you're going to continue to make snide comments about my abilities, then I might as well tell you that magic is not as easy as you stupid mortals make it out to be. It is easy to cause rampant destruction. There is no rhyme, no reason required to level a kingdom."
He stepped closer to the kneeling boy who seemed to be holding himself still.
"But, some other spells, require a more gentle hand." He explained softly, unfolding the blanket. "They require intense concentration, a soft touch, and patience." He dropped the blanket onto the boy unceremoniously. "None of which I have patience for, chit."
Matthew sputtered, immediately clawing at the blanket and attempting to see. Arthur smirked as the blond eventually freed his head, giving the warlock a dirty look, his hair mussed and sticking up. "You're just not good at them." He accused.
"Better than you."
Matthew made an indignant noise and gripped the blanket so hard his knuckles turned bone white. But he didn't say anything, just turned his face towards the fire, his mouth twisted into a frown.
"You know, you have taken me away from everything I love." The blond began slowly, the fire reflecting off his bright eyes. "You have emasculated—"
"There is nothing emasculating about cooking and cleaning."
"I used to spend my days with tutors, including the Captain of the Guard who made me practice my swordsmanship for hours until my palms bled. You have me wearing an apron. I baked a pie." He paused, giving the warlock a hurt look. "Which you didn't even notice—I spent all morning slicing those apples and whipping cream."
Arthur blinked and chanced a glance towards the kitchen where, indeed, there was an innocent, golden-brown pie sitting on the wood-burning stove.
"Not to mention the delicious stew I have going in the oven." Matthew added.
And, indeed, the smell of cooked meat and spices was very present in the room.
"I mean, I clean, slave over a hot stove, and mend your damn socks." The prince continued, eyes narrowed as he glared at scrape on the floor, unleashing the full force of his disdain. "For what? Not even a 'thank you very much Matthew'." He blanched. "And I'm even nagging to you about it because you don't notice anything. But I accept it and don't put shards of glass in your food—even though it'd probably still be a step up from the monstrosities you make—"
"That was out of line—"
"I'm miserable!" The blond burst out. "I have taken everything quietly—the chores because they keep me busy, you ignoring me, and the god-awful silence. I have tried to make the best of this. I've tried to talk to you—"
"No, you have not." Arthur said triumphantly, finding a flaw in the other's argument.
Matthew gave him a dark look. "Its like you don't even hear me. I've insulted your eyebrows so many times and you just ask me to pass the peas."
"Well, it has been a while since I've lived with anyone." Arthur snapped, feeling very cornered.
"And I have lived my entire life surrounded by people and still ignored." Matthew said in a hushed voice, shoulders slumping. "But it was okay because I was someone. I learned to deal with being overlooked, even as prince. I have learned to keep busy until someone realized I was there. And my father never…" He paused, closing his eyes tightly. "But you have literally taken my life for your own. You have made me into a nobody and you know but you don't care." Silvery tears began to slip down his cheek, falling onto the blanket as the prince just cried silently. "I hate you."
Arthur suddenly realized why his mother never let him have a pet.
Arthur could go ahead and take the boy back to his kingdom. But he didn't want to.
He was getting rather fond of this 'having company' thing. Just knowing that there was someone with whom he could talk was lovely. And he might not be the nicest man around, but he wasn't a complete beast. He'd just have to make Matthew see that. It'd be better for both of them.
Of course, the prince was already set in his conviction to hate Arthur. So, it wouldn't be easy. And, normally, Arthur wouldn't really care.
But Matthew had sounded so lonely and hurt. And Arthur had felt his heart squeeze painfully when he emerged from his study and found that the boy had locked himself in his room.
(Arthur, incompetent man he is, had been momentarily distracted by the fact that Matthew had finished cooking the stew and just how delicious it looked. He had been about to ladle some for himself when a fairy whistled sharply next to his ear and glared at him, going so far as to attack his hand. In the end, Arthur didn't eat and he felt guilty.
Guilt and an empty stomach are the worst combination.)
As the boy's self-imposed exile continued, Arthur's guilt only worsened.
And it only increased tenfold when the boy, on the third day, came out and treated the warlock with a frigid sort of civility.
He had sounded so lonely.
But what could he do? His attempts to start conversation had been coldly rebuffed by one-word responses and noncommittal grunts. There seemed to be a perpetual frown on the boy's face and Arthur missed the faint smiles the other would give when Arthur would eat his meal with gusto or levitate over wet floors to keep from tracking dust onto the clean area. He missed the way Matthew would press against him to see whatever products he would get from the nearest town, the way the boy would quietly criticize his inability to pick out ripe fruit while prodding at their bright flesh.
There had been a certain sort of warmth to their interactions, as standoffish as they had been, but now that was gone.
Now they were both miserable. And Arthur knew the other's misery was entirely his fault (knew, mind you, not understood completely or would admit).
So, on his next trip to town, he was stomping aimlessly through the crude streets and paused in front of a shop suddenly, green eyes widening.
Maybe that would work.
"Stop squirming, you blasted thing." Arthur hissed over his shoulder to the entirely animate thing he held behind his back. "I said stop—Ah, hello Matthew."
"Hello." Matthew mumbled. "You could've just unlocked the door and let yourself in." He added, taking his seat back on the bed and not caring when the warlock sat right next to him.
"I could've…" Arthur nodded. "But…I want to respect your space."
Matthew seemed to snort at that but said nothing.
"Listen up, lad." The sandy-haired man began awkwardly. "You can never go home."
Matthew seemed to curl in on himself, his wavy blond bangs shielding his face.
Arthur mentally kicked himself. "It sounds harsh…but even if you make it past my spells, you will never make it out of the thicket on your own. So, it'd be best that you start to think of this place as your new home." He looked for a reaction, finding none, continued, "And, go ahead and hate me. In fact, it's good to have a healthy hate of something. I hated my brother so much I turned him into a potato. He starved."
The prince covered his face with his hands and trembled. Arthur quickly backtracked.
"Not that I'll turn you into a potato…I don't hate you. In fact…I wasn't lying earlier. You do make this life less lonely. And…I was so concerned with me that I didn't realize how hard it was for you. I regret I could not make this easier."
Matthew still didn't look at him, so Arthur pulled out the creature he had hidden behind his back. Giving the blond a quiet look, he held the bear up to the other's face.
The white bear, tilting his head cutely, reached out and pawed the other's golden tresses. "Who are you?" he demanded.
Matthew turned quickly, violet eyes wide. He leaned away and gave Arthur a wary look. "What…?"
"You hate me. I'll accept that." Arthur said quietly, green eyes soft. "But I can't accept that you are lonely."
He knew loneliness. He could deal with it because he chose it. Matthew didn't choose it.
"So…please don't be upset anymore." The warlock finished, pushing the squirming bear towards the blond.
Matthew numbly took the animated toy, slender fingers brushing over the white fabric and feeling the stuffing by pressing his fingertips into the bear's stomach. Large black eyes, unblinking, looked at him when the prince held the bear up to his face.
Then, tipping forward, the bear's snout (topped with a soft pink thread nose) bopped against the other's nose. "Who are you?" repeated the toy.
"I'm Matthew." The violet-eyed boy whispered. "Do you have a name?"
"Kumajirou." The bear paused. "Who?"
"Matthew, Kumaji." The prince scolded, a lilting tone to his words. His lips twitched into a not-quite-smile.
Arthur let himself out.
"Be careful, Kumaroo!" Matthew scolded, his blond hair pulled out of his face with a twisted bit of fabric. He was on his hands and knees, a scrub brush in one hand and a bucket of lukewarm, soapy water at his side. He had been furiously scrubbing the spot where the bear had knocked over a bowl of half mixed batter while playing on the table.
Now the bear was pawing at the bowl of berries on the dining table with a curious air.
"Oi! Watch it unless you want to go back to your shelf." Arthur scolded, just now coming out of his study. He stormed over to the table, plucking the bear up by the scruff of his neck.
Kumajirou growled and swatted at the warlock who merely held the toy further from his body.
"You okay down there?" Arthur asked, hesitantly, looking at Matthew.
The blond snuffed a bit of air through his nose and wiped his forehead with the back of his wrist. "Yes." He answered, looking up at the green-eyed man. "He's just very lively."
"Could fix that." The older man mused, giving the bear a disdainful frown. "Quick spell and—"
"Oh, please don't." Matthew protested, scrambling to his feet and saving his pet from the warlock. He smiled, cradling the bear to his chest. "He's just curious. Bears are curious. I have…had this pet bear—Winnie—and she was…is so sweet but—" He paused suddenly, looking very troubled and bashful. "I'm sorry. You probably needed something."
"I…" Arthur began, looking away. Honestly, he had finished all his work for the day and was feeling bored. The fae had been chatting his ear off for the better part of the morning and he wanted to escape from them for a few hours. "Not really." He finished lamely. "Please, continue."
Matthew blinked, looking rather adorably bemused as he idly scratched Kumajirou behind one of his ears. "Should I finish…?" He twisted around, gesturing at the abandoned cleaning supplies.
Arthur peered around him. "Don't bother." He shrugged, pulling out his wand. With a sharp swish and stab, the brush spun around and dove into the bucket before plopping out and starting to scrub at the stain jerkily.
"We'd best go outside, however. Just in case."
"Just in case what?"
"It decides we're stains that need to be cleaned as well."
"—and the cook was so furious!" Matthew laughed, violet eyes sparkling. "Winnie had jam all over her snout and I was covered in syrup."
Arthur laughed lightly, more fascinated by the way the sunlight lit up Matthew's bright hair and the way the boy liked to punctuate his stories with animated hand gestures. His cheeks were chapped from the brisk wind and his wavy hair whipped around his face. The tip of his sharp nose was pink and Arthur found even the little scar on his chin was endearing.
Matthew had pointed the faint discoloring of flesh and merely stated, "I was a horribly wild little boy."
"I have difficulty believing that." Arthur responded dryly, his arms loosely resting on his bent knees. He was looking at Matthew with his head resting on his arms, sideways whereas the blond was leaning back on the crooks of his elbows, his legs lazily thrown out before him.
"What about you?"
"What about me?"
"What was it like when you were little?" Matthew explained, dropping down to one elbow and looking at the warlock curiously.
Kumajirou was tumbling around in the grass in front of them, far more interesting in the grasshoppers and occasional dandelion.
Arthur was silent, thinking back to his own childhood so long ago. "It is not a time I like to remember." He answered finally, noting the other's disappointed frown. "It was a darker age." The sandy-haired man added on, hoping to be done with it.
"I'm sorry for asking." Matthew said sincerely. He fiddled with a blade of grass, the silence between them dragging on. "Thank you for giving me Kumamaru."
"Kumajirou." Arthur corrected automatically. "And…you're welcome." He muttered. "I'm not so bad, you know." He added into his arms defensively. "I'm not like bloody Glinda or that posh fairy godmother, but...I'm not Maleficent either..."
"No." Matthew mused, propping his chin in his hand. "Maybe not…"
"Arthur. This isn't marmalade." Matthew said slowly, turning the heavy jar in hand.
"No, of course it isn't, you silly sod." The warlock scoffed, tapping the side. "Its red. Its some sort of berry."
"But you always eat your toast with marmalade."
"Maybe I wanted something different." Arthur huffed, looking everywhere but at the prince. "Maybe the jam woman was out of marmalade. Maybe the crone died and the only other jam vendor was an old man who specialized only in the berry fruit spreads."
"The cook used to serve this same jam to me on pancakes. I mentioned that just a few days—"
"Well, it's a bloody pleasant coincidence, yeah?"
Matthew blinked as the warlock stormed into his work area, slamming the heavy oak door behind him. He stared at the door, still holding the jar loosely. Then he looked back down at the jar and began to chuckle, covering his mouth with one hand, shaking his head softly.
"This jam is really quite good." Matthew said innocently, licking any remaining trace of the sweet spread from his fingertips.
"Enjoy it for now." Arthur grumbled, resolutely not looking at the prince. "Because I'm never getting it again. It's too sweet." He took a long drought of his tea.
(Arthur got both marmalade and that same berry jam the next time he went into town. When Matthew thanked him softly, the warlock claimed that it was a two for one special. He was blushing, however.)
(It was kind of cute, in my opinion.)
"Stew again?" Arthur asked, crinkling his nose as he peered over Matthew's shoulder to watch the blond absently peel carrots.
"If you don't like it, you're more than welcome to wave that silly little stick of yours and conjure up something else." Matthew retorted. "Better yet, why don't you cook something? Oh right…you can't—"
"Git." The warlock scowled. "Food doesn't taste right if its conjured. It always tastes like bog water."
"I'm sure it would still be an improvement—" Matthew quieted suddenly, realizing that the sharp knife he had been using to peel the carrots was now a smoking pipe. Pursing his lips in displeasure, he gave the sandy-haired man a cross look. "That was very mature."
"I'd fancy meat pie for dinner." Arthur said in an overly jovial voice, smirking when the other's eyes narrowed.
"Make it yourself." Matthew replied.
The older man merely snatched the pipe from his fingers, brushing over the bowl, and taking a deep puff, little tendrils of grayish smoke escaping towards the ceiling. "But you make them much nicer." He said, very matter of fact. "Please?"
"I don't have the ingredients." The blond, after another moment of sulking, admitted.
"What do you need? I'll just apparate into town—"
"I want to come with you." Matthew interrupted. "Please?"
"Absolutely—" Then indigo eyes seemed to glisten and glow and Arthur found himself very unable to finish his original thought.
After six months, Matthew finally got to see the outside world again.
(Arthur noticed how much more cheerful the prince was and decided, grudgingly mind you!, that maybe he'd let the other tag along again.)
And, for the first time in decades (possibly a century), Arthur was hugged.
He also got his meat pie for dinner.
"He's a strange one, isn't he Kuma?" Matthew whispered into his pet's ear as he watched the warlock seemingly yell at an invisible crowd outside. "Do you think he's talking to the fairies?"
Matthew had never seen a fairy, even though Arthur swore up and down that they were following him, but sometimes he could hear the faint bell-like laughter of the mischievous creatures and feel the delicate brush of a not-quite breeze against his errant curl. Arthur told him it was good that he couldn't see them, anyways, because they'd probably try to lead him into their world.
"They think you're beautiful enough to be one of them." Arthur had said gruffly, quill scratching across parchment as he sat with the blond around the hearth.
The warlock gave a snort of derisive laughter. "Hardly. If the Fairy Queen thinks you're prettier than she, she'll ruin you. And if the King thinks you're prettier than she, well…"
"I don't think I'm pretty." Matthew pointed out quietly. "Princess Katyusha…she is pretty. Her sister is also very pretty. I am—"
"A far more pleasant sight than either. I've met both. The blond is a crybaby and the younger is disturbed. You are more charming in company and appearance." Arthur cut in, pointing to a word on the parchment with an ink-stained fingertip. "Did I translate that right?"
"I can't read ancient runes, Arthur." the blond had sighed, hugging Kumajirou close to him.
Now, Matthew blushed at the memory, burrowing his face into Kumajirou remembering the other's compliment. It was strange. For every infuriating comment, there was a rather sweet, albeit awkward, one that made it very difficult for the prince to choose an appropriate response.
"Who is he again?" The bear asked, almost bored.
"That's Arthur." The blond reminded, cheeks warm. "And before you ask, I'm Matthew."
Awww, they're getting along~
Alright, so Arthur's home-just for reference. The interior is supposed to be like the inside of Sleeping Beauty's cottage from the disney movie. The outside is supposed to be similar to the 7 dwarve's home in the disney movie. Kumajirou was a stuffed bear that Arthur brought to life with a spell. I am channelling some Beauty and the Beast. I was gonna go the "one thousand and one nights" route but that felt too forced. Maybe another time...