Author's Notes: written for hetalia_kink, the prompt: "" I apologise for extreme sap. Historical notes down bottom. The Russian-French alliance was also known as "The Dual Alliance", and this is where my title comes from.
France is sitting on a stool at a bar, alone, eyes blurred with drink and a glass of red wine in his hand, the bottle beside it. Despite himself, Russia finds himself smiling and sitting next to the man.
"France," he says as he pulls the bottle of vodka from his coat pocket. "Hello."
"Bonjour," says France. "I thought I would talk to you. We have not spoken in awhile, non?"
Russia frowns, considering this. "Nyet," he says. "Then again, I do not speak to many people."
"Shameful," says France – Russia wants to defend himself, but what France says next makes his meaning clearer. "Why do we not talk? We are not fighting."
"Indeed," says Russia. Something in France's tone gives him pause, though.
"...Are you lonely, Francis?"
"What?" France spits out his wine, and Russia cannot help but smile.
"Don't be embarrassed. I am lonely," Russia says. Then he becomes more pensive, smile frowning. "I suppose I am not widely supported. Since Germany let our treaty fall through, I suppose I am largely alone in Europe."
France's eyes shine with fury. "Germany? Prussia and his states?" France says, almost scary. "Let him burn in flames, scum of the Earth! Let him suffer the pain of a thousand invasions for what he has done! LET HIM KNOW THAT THE GRAND NATION OF FRANCE WILL NOT REST UNTIL THE PRONVINCES OF ALSACE-LORRAINE ARE RETURNED TO WHOM THEY BELONG, AND THEY HAVE SUFFERED IN PENANCE FOR THEIR ACTIONS!"
There is a slightly uncomfortable pause. "...I suppose I am still somewhat resentful of what happened there."
"I know," Russia says cheerfully. "You have not exactly made your desire to string both Prussia and Germany up by their ankles, slice their torsos open and watch their guts fall out a secret."
"I would never be that crudely descriptive," says France. "In any case, I apologise."
"Do not," says Russia. "I resent Germany for letting the alliance fall through, and for his treatment of my stocks. To hear you speak out your plans for vengeance is quite pleasant, truth be told."
France looks surprised, then accepting. "Yes, I suppose that makes sense. After all, when is it not satisfying to be able to voice your hatred for a particular person to someone who shares that hatred?"
"Da, exactly," says Russia. France smiles as he takes another sip of his wine. "We should be friends," Russia says before he truly means to. It is a little embarrassing to just say this, but... "Clearly, we share interests and enemies. That resembles the start of friendship, da?"
"Oui; I could not agree more," says France, and he clinks his wine together with Russia's vodka.
"Russia? Are you alright?"
"Nyet," Russia answers, running his hands through his hair – it isn't fair on poor France, his friend, but he is stressed and right this second wants merely to be left alone. "No, France, I am not okay. My army is falling to bits and my economy is a shambles; I cannot possibly rebuild and I do not know what to do, so I do not have time for friendship at this moment."
When he faces France, he believes he has been too harsh, however France appears unoffended and this confuses him. "Oh, mon cheri," says France, striding forward and taking Russia's head between his hands – Russia is not entirely sure what is happening. "Is that the problem? You need money?"
Russia can only nod. "Da."
And France grins at him. "Then I shall lend it to you."
"...What? I mean... you would do that?"
France smiles. "Yes. Because we are friends, non? And that is the purpose of friendship. That we help one another."
Russia blushes and smiles. "Thank you," he says. "I am glad to have a friend like you."
"Oui, me too." There is an uncomfortable pause with Russia's head still between France's hands; he is not sure what he's meant to do now.
He chooses to take his own hands and wrap France in a hug. He half expects the smaller nation to pull away, but he doesn't, and Russia feels so much less vulnerable than he has done for years.
Germany. Oh dear.
They are simply taking lunch at a French cafe, discussing unimportant things as Russia is finding they do, and they are approached by Germany. Oh dear.
France's eyes are already making war and Russia is a little fearful, so he reaches across and squeezes France's wrist to calm him. He does not think about how it might look.
And France's eyes cool, slightly. "Germany," he says with barely restrained rage. "Do you want something?"
Germany stares like he did not hear France. "Russia. France," he says blankly. "I did not know you two were allies."
Russia blushes. "We're not officially allies," he says, before France has the chance to. "We are merely... friends."
"Indeed," says Germany, like he doesn't believe a word of it. Russia finds himself blushing deeper. For god's sakes, he feels like a foolish schoolgirl. "Well... are your Tsar and President okay with this?"
Ah. Germany always expected there to be too much of an ideological difference for Russia to have good relations with France; this was not true.
"Completely, Germany," says France for him. "This is to the benefit of both countries. Now, would you mind leaving? We were enjoying our lunch."
Germany gives a stiff nod, and walks off. He appears confused, and maybe...
"I think he may be scared of us," says Russia, half thinking aloud. "If we ally. We do both border onto him, after all."
France smiles. "Perhaps," he says. "I would appreciate your help if anything were to come to pass with Germany."
"I believe you would have it," says Russia, and France looks a little surprised. Russia is blushing again, but he decides to place his cards on the table anyway. "We are friends, da? We help one another. Also, I hate Germany."
France laughs and stands.
"Where are you going?"
"Where you are going," says France. "He has spoilt my appetite. Come, let us walk."
Walk they do. Russia doesn't know where they're going, but he enjoys the walking.
They are in a dark, secluded alley way when Russia muses "We are still not technically allies."
"No, we are not."
Russia frowns. "Is our relationship truly appropriate, without us being allies?"
France laughs. "Mon cheri, I am France, the nation of l'amour. Appropriateness does not always work in my favor."
Russia tries not to blush again. He must have a skin ailment of some sort. "I – I believe I – may like to – well..."
"Be my ally?" says France. "Oui. I believe I would like that too."
France laughs. "Oh, Ivan."
And his hands are back on either side of Russia's face, and he is confused, and then France is kissing him and – oh.
Russia is not entirely sure what to do, so he simply allows France to kiss him and France appears satisfied with that. Russia's hands come to rest on the small of France's back, and it is easy. Russia almost wants to say thank you.
They break apart, and France is smiling up at him. "Oui," he says, slightly breathless. "We should be allies."
Russia is not sure what to say, so instead he lets France kiss him again. It is nice, and Russia does not have a lot of nice things.
Russia knows alliances are not that simple. Once he gets home, he begins drafting. It is tiring and confusing, and he hardly notices when Ukraine walks in.
"Brother Russia? What are you doing?"
"Ukraine!" he cries in surprise. Then he is left with the choice of what to tell her. Then again, as she is currently a part of his country, he supposes she will know eventually no matter what he does. And beside – he thinks this is a good thing. "I – I believe I may have found an alliance."
Ukraine looks surprised, but not unwelcoming. "With who?" she asks.
"Well, that's unsurprising," she says. "He does lend you money and make so many diplomatic trips, you play La Marseillaise for him – I guess, truly, it has been simply a matter of time for awhile now."
"We have a common enemy, and I need an alliance with a power in Europe," he says. "You cannot embarrass me."
She nods. Somehow, she embarrasses him without a word.
"Alright, he is... special," Russia admits.
They meet in France's bedroom, pieces of paper in both their hands.
"Secret letters," says France with a smirk. "Quite the romance, is it not?"
"Da," says Russia. "This is – special?"
"Of course," says France. "You have always been special."
"Thank you," says Russia.
He hands his papers to France, and vice versa. They sit and things are signed, and Russia cannot help but look up under his eyelashes at France working. He does not truly know why this feels so important. It is just another alliance. France has had alliances throughout Europe, and so has Russia. There is nothing making this... the way it is. But it is that way, and it is good. Russia believes what they have is – special.
The papers are done, and France looks him in the eye again. "Ivan, you do not have to hide. You may stare as much as you like." He licks his lip. "Indeed, I believe you may be doing a fair amount of staring from now on."
"...Oh," says Russia. He stands. "Well? Do you wish to stand, so I can stare at you fully?"
"Why, of course." And France does, and Russia looks over him. It makes sense, da?
"Why are we special?" he asks quietly. "I do not complain, but – why has this always been, well, different?"
"I do not truly know," says France. "I believe it has something to do with my being in love with you."
"Ah, but that is what is different about it," says Russia. "Love. So that cannot be the cause."
"Well, in that case I will dismiss causes," says France, stepping into his personal space. "They cannot be the important part."
Russia can't help but agree as France steps into his personal space, and kisses him again.
It is not that easy. There are still enemies and economies and peasants starving in the streets. But he does not feel alone.
NOTES: Russia had a pact with Germany that Germany allowed to expire in 1890, despite Russian requests for renewal. Also, Germany banned some stocks of theirs from trading on the stock market, messing with the economy. France lost the Franco-Prussian war 20 years earlier and gone through isolation thanks to Prussian policies. Both these situations led to Russia and France feeling vulnerable in Europe and not liking Germany much.
In 1888, France started giving cheap loans to Russia to help them rebuild their military and such (yes, this happened before the Germany pact thing mentioned previously, but I'm calling it artistic license).
Germany felt comfortable letting their pact with Russia fall through because he thought ideological differences between Republican France and Tsarist Russia would prevent them becoming allies, so Germany would not wind up having to fight a two-front war anyway. Germany was wrong.
In 1891, the French Fleet visited a Russian naval base and were welcomed by Tsar Alexander III. This was the first time La Marseillaise was played on an official occasion in Russia; previously, it was a criminal offense.
The Alliance started being drafted in 1892 and was 1894. It was not actually debated in the French parliament; the alliance was finalised through a series of secret letters (this was just to preserve secrecy, but come on - secret love letters; how was I meant to resist that?).