Meeting at the Cliffs: Part Two
Heading north, the young Frenchman braved his fear of the unknown and walked forward, pausing his trek at some point to lift the other onto his back, the poor thing was so tired. Rightfully so- dying twice in a day did take a toll. A few hours inland (and after many stops and awkward silences), Francis finally found a trace of humanity. The night was falling once more, and he could spot light from afar. Arthur long asleep, he hurried towards the cabin, careful not to stir the sleeping child.
Francis knocked on the door, hoping the resident would be kind.
Adhamh swore under his breath, approaching the door. He was about to set out to look for his lost brother- he didn't need company. Arthur was more trouble than he was worth. Then again, he didn't have any worth- he represented nothing. A mere human being. Weak, fragile. When they finally noticed he was gone, they hadn't cared much.
Running his hand through his unruly red hair, he opened the door. Behind it stood a teenager and a small child, both dirty and tired looking. Both blond. Adhmah grunted, acknowledging them and their blondness. It wasn't until the older of the two entered the house with a gracious smile that he noticed that the child looked oddly familiar.
His voice was loud and booming, waking the child up. The moment he opened his eyes Adhamh knew that it was indeed his brother. He was elated, smiling at the teen. Now he didn't have to go out and look for the rascal. Perfect.
Adhmah approached the two, gesturing for the teen to hand Arthur over. For some reason, though, the other shook his head, smile changing into a frown. So did Adhmah's. He turned to the child, questioning him.
"What are you doing here? Where were you? Who is this? What happened?"
As a voice suddenly interrupted his silent and black dreams, and Arthur was startled so much that his grip faltered on Francis's clothes. He opened his eyes abruptly, finding his vision connecting with a pair of emeralds not dissimilar to his own. He felt his heart thud dramatically in his chest, beat elevating with the shock.
"A-Adhamh-h...?" He spluttered out, surprised. Glancing at Francis's back, he felt slightly internally betrayed. What if Francis was working for his brother? Why else would they be there? Arthur stammered, feeling his petite hands shaking. If Francis was on the Scot's side, then surely he wouldn't have protected him from those evil men on that boat - right? The little boy was confused, all until the moment that the French teenager shook his head at Adhamh's request.
Why did he have to fall asleep? He could have directed them both away from this place! The child was shivering in fear.
"I-It's not..." my fault we're back. "-I-I-" I killed myself, because of you."I, erm, he's... he's my..." friend.
I have no idea what I am even apologising for.
Adhamh glared at the child, folding his arms across his chest. He would deal with Arthur later- but for now, he had to get him first. Turning to the other, he gestured towards his younger brother, voice cold.
"Thank you for bringing him here. What do you want for him?"
The moment he felt Arthur's grip on him tighten and his body shivering against his back, Francis pulled him from behind to his chest protectively. Whoever this person was, it was obvious the child was terrified of him. His assumptions were confirmed when the other stuttered in whatever language he was using. The young Frenchman's brows furrowed, taking a few steps back. He wasn't sure what the red haired man was telling him, but it seemed like he wanted him to hand Arthur over.
"Je ne comprends pas vraiment ce que vous dites, mais ne vous avisez pas de le toucher."
The nation blinked, taking a moment to register the language. So he was French, eh? Weird. He hadn't seen any French around the area recently. What was he doing with Arthur? And what right did he have to deny him of having his brother?
"Je suis son frère, j'ai bien le droit de le toucher." He responded, frowning and walking towards the entrance, blocking it with his build. To his brother he whispered in annoyance. "Where did you meet these man? Making friends with the French, hm?"
Arthur held onto Francis continuously; the pressure increasing even more now that he had the French teenager's arms around his torso. He could feel the Frenchman's withdrawal any from his brother, and Arthur related perfectly.
Even without his vicious attitude showing through - Adhamh was not a person to be reckoned with. Internally the other was aggressive, rude, and downright lazy at the best of times; though he was a lot stronger than the child in Francis's arms and obviously so. Even without the age gap, Arthur probably would have grown up terrified of his oldest sibling.
Arthur sighed with relief as they began to swerve for the door - but he quickly learned that there was no point in being willful. The English child frowned readily as his brother moved in front of the door and blocked their path. The annoyed tone to Adhamh's voice stirred the little heart beating in Arthur's chest painfully in shock; although what shocked him more was the Scot's knowledge of the strange teenager's language.
"He came from the sea," Arthur answered, knowing that it was better to answer Adhamh quickly before the other got mad. "...He saved me..."
Fingers tightened on the Frenchman's clothes.
Having heard enough, Adhamh narrowed his eyes at the two of them, new and old hate combined together for both Arthur and Francis. Arthur for being the helpless, useless brother and Francis for his hidden intentions. Oh, yes- had he thought Adhamh wouldn't be able to see through his disguise? This was all part of his plan to take his lands away from him, using Arthur as an ally (though what good that would do he wasn't sure) and guide. Or was it the other way around? In any case, he wouldn't allow it. He had to separate between the two now.
"Listen here, Arthur. Either you come to me willingly, or this 'friend' of yours gets hurt. I mean it."
Francis was offended somewhat at being ignored in the general discussion. The other man seemed to know French well enough- why continue speak in that awful language of his? Besides, whatever he was saying seemed to scare and intimidate Arthur even more. He said that they were brothers- then why was the child so terrified?
Making his way to the door, he was stopped by his host. Pangs of fear shot through his chest, feeling the other's fingers grip on his shirt tighten. He had to protect Arthur from this bad man, but how was he supposed to do that when he was scared himself?
The little English boy's eyes flashed with worry then, listening to his brother's voice. He knew that the Frenchman didn't know their language - even his brother's rather bizarre form of it - and so couldn't hear what sort of danger he could he in. But Arthur didn't want to let go of the Frenchman nestling him in his arms. It was possible that the tone of voice could alert him, but the particular cause for anger was obviously unknown.
As Francis ignored whatever the brother had said earlier, turning for the door; Arthur was glad that the teenager was trying sharply to get out of there quick as possible - him in tow. But he was worried about what Adhamh had said. He knew he could hurt Francis very easily, without any regards for his safety... as the Scotsman got in the way of the door, Arthur panicked as well - feeling Francis go rigid behind him. His fingers clenched even harder.
Thinking fast, Arthur blurted out; "Y-You can't kill me...!"
Yes, because that would really stop him being bullied by his brothers. It seemed like more fuel for the flame.
Francis felt himself tense. What the stranger had said seemed to make things wrong, and Arthur responded keenly to whatever threat the other opposed. This was a bad place, and they had to get out of there. Fast.
"Qui que vous soyez, s'il vous plaît, laissez-nous passer. Sinon, je serai obligé d'utiliser la force."
It was not as if the wirey teen would be able to cause actual damage or injury to the Scotsman, who was much bigger and stronger, but it was worth the try. At least he would be able to get through if the older nation moved. So what was a small punch here and a kick there? Nothing the young Frenchman couldn't handle.
Until the stranger took out a knife from his pocket.
"Say I can't, can't I?" Adhamh smirked, mocking the younger Anglo. The urge to finish it off right there and then and demonstrate his power was tempting. Oh so tempting. It wasn't as if the teen's comment helped quench the fiery anger that was building up inside him at an alarming rate.
The Scot could always simply tear Arthur away from his guardian, kill the fellow in front of the child's eyes as a warning, and return the lad home. But before he could do anything as brash, he had to find out who the French kid was. What if he was someone important? It would be a shame.
Arthur looked horrified at his brother's words, realising that it had been completely the wrong thing for him to say. The very notion of him being immortal just like the Scot and his other brothers meant that they could have even more fun in bringing him pain and misery. He was not just their pointless little punching bag. Although they had the perfect right.
The hierarchy of family relations was not complicated at all. The oldest rules the family while the youngest was the runt. It almost never changed. Why then, did Adhamh have to be born first? Did the world just not have any decency at all?
When a brief flicker of light arched into his eyes, shone by the moonlight onto a bane of silver - Arthur felt like his body crumbled into ash right then and there. It would have saved him the time and pain, had it been true. No doubt, burning was not against his morals. Among other torture. More than ever, Arthur wanted to go with the French stranger. Although his chest was jumping in fear for the French boy just as much as it was for his own sake.
"A-A-Adhamh, but-But... I-I'm just like you! I'm a nation too! You... you can't...!" The little boy panicked, unsure whether to cling back onto Francis or to obediently go to his brother's side like he knew he should. More than anything, he wanted to just run. Run away from there as fast as he possibly could, and pray that they never manage to find him...
The Scotsman laughed humorlessly, eyes full of loathing. His grip tightened on his blade, forcing his knuckles to the palest shade of white. So the runt was running around, claiming he was a nation? Immortal?
It was an insult of the highest degree. How could Arthur know the burden of representing a nation? A country? Feeling the agony of his people? He was too young, nothing but a blight on the family. Different in every way. But now he was claiming to be part of them? Identify with them? He would never allow it.
Arthur glared in offence when his brother laughed bitterly at his claim, though the tightening of his hand on that very pointed blade made the little English boy cease in his tracks. He stared at the knife, feeling his whole being shiver as he glanced at the very tip. If that wandered anywhere close to the French boy that held him protectively - much more of a brother-in-arms than the relation of his opposite - then he was sure that Adhamh would not hesitate in making that knife stab to kill.
The blue-eyed stranger was the only hint of kindness he had in this world, and as unusual as his ways were already proving to be, Francis felt bizarrely safer to be with than to be here. To have him removed from his life, his small little world, meant that he was alone again - just like he used to be. Just like the way Adhamh and his other brothers forced him to be. He was a stranger in his own land.
Lunging forward, Adhamh grabbed for the child, eyes burning dangerously as he was denied his want by the blue-eyes stranger. The Frenchman pulled away, wide-eyed and trembling, rushing towards the door.
Which was locked.
Adhamh could only shake his head in wonder. Why was this young man risking his life for the likes of Arthur? Perhaps... perhaps there was more to the child's claim than he initially thought?
"If you're a nation… prove it." The Scotsman sat down in his chair, raising a reddish-brownish brow.
Arthur swallowed slowly, eyes wide and luminous as Adhamh spoke again. Prove it. There was only one way that Arthur had ever experienced that proved his credibility as a nation of the world. His eyes flickered to the knife again, and felt a sudden cold chill dominate his body. It had to be done.
He shook out of the French boy's grip, landing on the ground with a soft 'flump'. The child wasn't exactly big, after all. With cautious steps, he headed towards his brother with his expression glum and bravery forced. Once he got without valuable proximity, he raised his hand, indicating for the knife.
"Give me the knife and I will prove it," The child said quietly.
As Arthur squirmed out of Francis's hold, the adolescent cried out in alarm, trying to take hold of him once more before something horrible happened. But it was too late- the child had already approached the Scotsman. It was all the Frenchman could do but stand there and watch, eyes narrowed in distrust, muscles tensed. If the man were to make an unwanted move towards the boy, the French nation wouldn't hesitate to pounce and hurt him. With what and how, he didn't know.
He jumped forward a couple of steps when the elder shot his hand out with the knife, offering it to the child. But to Francis's surprise, Arthur didn't flinch or run away. Instead, he grabbed it, his small hand looking lost in the other's huge palm. An uneasy feeling spread through his body.
What was going on here?
As the knife slipped into Arthur's fingers, the boy fumbled a bit - trying to get a good grip on the weapon. His hand had jolted when the entire weight fell into it, and the little boy frowned discontentedly. It was difficult to hold onto, fingertips tightening warily over the polished deer-horn hilt. He couldn't help but notice that the blade was weighted perfectly between the hilt and to the tip of the blade. Brilliant for a hunter, but just even more detrimental to the boy's confidence now.
Tilting it, Arthur stared at the unknown figure glaring at him back through the silvery surface. He knew it was himself, but the child he saw looked far more like a stranger. Their eyes were shining brightly, pupils wide and eclipsing the earthly green sky. Seaweed, sand and other anonymous grit was clogging his hair - and his face looked pale as anything. To be expected.
Arthur looked at his brother, to Francis, and then back to the knife. It was meaningless, doing what he knew he was about to do. To kill yourself just to prove that you were what you believed you are, was absolutely insane. He didn't even have a reason to prove it - other than his brother's own demand. Demeaning and cold, Adhamh did not seem at all disturbed by the thought of his own, sweet, childish little brother ending his own life in front of him. For him. It was all about approval. If the nation before him acknowledged his existence, then he would be satisfied. Even if Adhamh continued to try kill him. Even if his brother never left him be.
It was worth it, just to know that he had something worth holding onto, and Adhamh knew there was a spirit there that he would not ever defeat. Because despite it all, Arthur was not going to give up and let himself be destroyed by anything. He had something to fight for. The English were always going to be free. And he would see to it had he would never be destroyed, by anyone else's hand.
He did not think, for a moment, about his own.
Tiny fingers trembling, the knife rose to lightly graze at his chest. He looked up at Francis - catching the surprised expression on the other's face - and smiled at him to try indicate that everything was okay. The boy was set alight with fear, and the pressure build up and up until it burst within one single moment. With a choke, Arthur went blank and soulless again, and he tumbled to his knees. Then the floor. Blood leaking and knife lodged deep in his chest.
Adhamh stifled a gasp, eyes widening in surprise. Plain surprise, not fear or terror. Not compassion or regret. Surprise. Surprise at the fact that Arthur had been stupid enough to take his own life to prove a point he could never prove. Why hadn't he simply admitted to his lie and go in peace with him back to the main house and receive his punishment? He had expected the child to drop the knife when it was handed to him, or perhaps give it back. Not... this.
Oh, well. Too bad- he had a fondness for picking on the lad. At least he did not need to deal with him anymore. Pulling out the bloodied knife from the child's body, the Scotsman studied the stream of scarlet liquid pouring out of the other's body, making no effort in stopping it. He paid no heed to the young Frenchman who let out a strangled cry and ran up to the corpse, trying to block the blood from flowing out of the wound.
The foreigner seemed... more concerned than grieved. He did not stop to cry, but focused on his futile efforts. You cannot bring a mortal back to life by simply stopping a gush of it's vital fluid...
Or could you?
The body stayed absolutely motionless, stilled like a corpse should be. Blood still erupted from his veins, bleeding the little boy out. Though it was already quite fruitless. The child had, by now, died from the heart puncture and tearing of one of his most important veins. His body was limp in the French boy's arm, unmoving and drained.
His skin had gone a vivid grey from the loss of blood, deflated and empty. Arthur's big, bold emerald eyes stared at absolutely nothing - just being present like unnoticed and dull jewels.
Several pints by now had left his little body.
It was taking too long. Something was wrong...
Francis felt a wave of panic begin to course through his body, resulting in a break of cold sweat. His frantic fingers felt numb and heavy, and his heart beat matched his racing pulse. Nothing that of human ability. Then again, he was not human. Just like Arthur. But looking down at the cold body in his arms, the young Frenchman began to have his doubts.
Tearing his gaze away from the lip corpse, he settled it on the Scotsman's face. "Regardez ce que vous lui avez faitfaire,"he hissed venomously, blue eyes impossibly cold. He didn't flinch away when the redhead placing a strong hand on his shoulder, pushing him down with his weight.
"Ce n'est que le fruit de sa propre bêtise," Adhamh answered, eyes scanning the body of his dead brother. They then turned back to the foreigner, something dangerous gleaming within. "Tu as l'air de beaucoup l'aimer. Même au point de le suivre dans la mort ?Je me demande bien..."The grip on his shoulder tightened.
The young Frenchman froze, gazed fixed on a certain spot on the floor. He couldn't afford to loose any more blood, nor waste time on regaining strength. The thing he had to do, without fail, was get the two of them- alive- out of this hut and back to France. His homeland. He saw Arthur's revival before- there was no reason for him not to do so again. It was only a matter of minutes. Slapping the menacing hand off of him (with some difficulty), he managed to lift the fragile figure into his arms. His next move was to step on the elder's foot. Hard.
Scotland let out a gasp of surprised mixed pain and cursed loudly, bending over a little and backing away. He then swore to get rid of that runt if it was the last thing he did. But when he looked up...the young Frenchman was gone.
Before the other could say nor do anything, Francis had taken off, like he would find himself doing quite a lot in the coming years. He paid no heed to the ache of his back or the pain in his legs until he had reached the accursed beach of that accursed land, finally stopping. Finally feeling safe enough to place Arthur down. He took his handkerchief and washed the blood out in the sea water, using it again to mop up the dried fluid and cleaning the child's face with it. He still hadn't woken up from his eternal sleep.
There was an explanation to why, of course, Arthur couldn't revive immediately. While he only received the one injury when he was murdered - a neat line straight across the sensitive skin of his neck; the injury he received now was far greater. It takes no time at all to recover from a death with such a shallow wound. The smash of his little body on the rocks did take a long time to heal, though Arthur couldn't tell how long. Time didn't seem like it passed, for him. The sky only grew darker and that was all the young boy knew.
In Arthur's case now; he had an entire heart to heal. Every heart string had to be reformed, each cell revived and reconnected. Only when his heart was fixed could the boy come back to life and reanimate.
With the salt water cleansing his cherub features, the child looked almost angelic as he laid motionless in the adolescence Frenchman's arms. Similarly, he was rough and raw. Like a real emerald, unrefined for its beauty. Chip the tragedy away, and there was something truly endearing about that little boy.
The child remained still for far too long. Why, whywas he not waking up? It worked the last time- what was so special about this one?
Francis was still young and inexperienced in the laws and traits of this new world. What he really was, what he meant and what others like him affected him were all clouded information; unclear. He had yet to experience most of it, and bit by bit was trying to live his life- if he was able to call it that- as carefully as he could. Learning something new every day. The past couple of days seemed to be truly fascinating- the roughness of the sea and its gentle caress; the aspect of new land with its precious beings and barbarians. Death and life. He was still trying to figure it all out, put every piece of the puzzle in place.
A new lesson to be learned. Life for an immortal was precious, but disposable. One could be alive for one moment, dead for the next, and back to living and breathing the next moment. Or the next hour. Or the next couple of hours. However long it took...It was the promise of nature that kept him beside the still form until finally, when it looked like there was no hope left and several hours had certainly departed since Arthur took his own life; the tiny lungs kicked into motion, and he gasped out for breath - sucking in air like a fish out of water.
Francis was stunned for a moment, taking the absurdness of it all. But not less than a moment later he was all but squeezing the same life he had waited for so long out of the poor thing, hugging him to pieces. Really, he was not sure why Arthur meant so much to him at that point. Perhaps it was the theory he brought with him that taught the young Frenchman that life was not to be played with, that not everyone he held dear would always be with him.
The little English boy fought for air, clinging onto his renewed life just like his grip on the young Frenchman. He rasped until his lunged her filled with something other than salt and blood, or at least until the horrible grinding wispy sound had disappeared from his throat. Eventually it calmed down, several minutes after his initial returning breath, and Arthur cuddled into Francis.
He looked around, smelling the sea surrounding them. The sky was brighter than he remembered it was, making Arthur wonder just how long he had been officially classified dead for. The child shuddered, huddling the boy he came to nonchalantly start trusting like a final lifeline to the world - like Francis was the only reason that Arthur was able to revive himself again. How on Earth did they get back to the sea? Where was Adhamh?
If his brother was not there - Arthur glanced around in shock, trying to find him somewhere in the surrounds but found nothing - then it was all meaningless. He killed himself to prove that he could survive. What good was it now that he was not dead, if his family was not there to see it? He'd be classed an unimportant runt forever at this rate.
"...No." Arthur said quietly, wincing still at the pain nearby his heart. "No, no, no, n-no, no, no!"
'No'. 'No'. It sounded so familiar to his own language, Francis realized. Could it be that they shared a word? A first and basic bond? The expression of distress on Arthur's face matched the meaning. But, au nom de Dieu, what was the child regretful about? He was alive. He was free from his so called 'brother'. He had... he had Francis there, willing to do pretty much anything for his new-found object of childish affection. What was there to be sad about?
The adolescent French simply sat there and pulled the child closer, trying to comfort him by simple touch and soothing words. What else could he do?
He could take him away.
Arthur didn't exactly hug back against Francis, although he didn't fight him either. He was locked in stasis, unable to tell what was going on around him at all. The tiny English boy made a pained noise like that of an injured deer, and looked around frantically - as if he was looking for a light on the distance, any sign of other life surrounding them. He had to prove his life. The child didn't want to be left behind, believed dead by people that didn't even care for him anyway.
Last morning, he had taken his own life. Now, he had no idea where he was or what he was doing. The white cliffs decorating the sides of the sea in the distance to the side of them felt so nostalgic, and Arthur couldn't tell why. Heavy heart thundering in his chest, he remembered seeing their chalk coated expanses as he fell to the death he wished he could have had. Why did he have to live?
He pulled back from the young Frenchman, fighting against his grip. "No, no. I have got to go back! I have to...!"
It confused and distressed him, this young one's persistence in feeling down. Francis could see nothing wrong. Perhaps... Perhaps that child was still attached to his brother? His sadistic, treacherous brother? And wanted to go back to him?
The young Frenchman decided, then and there, that such an encounter will never happen again. He will take Arthur away from this blood-thirsty land... for his own sake, of course.
A stern look on his face, Francis stood and picked up the struggling child carefully and nestled him against his chest. The other was still too weak to oppose anything strongly, yet. Now, looking about him, the French nation felt a feeling of fear form in his abdomen. How will he get them out of there? Was he to be stranded there forever?
Feeling those arms encompass him once more, Arthur didn't stay still this time. He swivelled around in his grip, hitting the Frenchman with a tiny fist. The child shook his head repeatedly, trying to capture Francis's deep blue eyes into his own. Couldn't the other see the terror on his face? Why didn't he understand what he was worried about?
Arthur punched him again, and wriggled to try get free. "No, nooo... Francis, Franci—Francis, let me go. I need to... You don't understand!"
The English boy was bound to this place. He wasn't sure he was even physically able to leave, when he was tied to the land like this. Though while fate gave him legs and feet to walk on, Arthur still knew it was a bad idea to leave.
For Arthur, the boy understood why he was different - why he could survive death. He was a nation; child of the land and ruler of men and women alike. But Arthur was oblivious to the fact that Francis and he shared the same fate. He could not go with this 'stranger from a strange land'. To his interpretation, the Frenchman was just a civilian. Just someone that would eventually disappear. Immortals should not mingle with the mortals. Because then they would suffer when the other perishes...
Arthur managed to break off again, and started running up the beach - feet digging into and tapping audibly on the soaked sand. He stumbled each time it gave out underneath him.
He couldn't let himself be abandoned. If he really was an immortal, he didn't want to be alone.
Francis cried out in alarm as the other slipped out of his arms, resisting furiously. He couldn't find the power to run after the boy- after all, he had been on his feet for the past couple of hours nonstop. He couldn't see why Arthur would want to stay in this accursed land and deny himself the luxury of France. What was his problem?
"Monseigneur, tout va bien?"
The nation turned around hastily, looking around frantically to find and identify the voice. He had spoken French, and addressed him with all due respect. Who in this barbaric country knew of Francis's importance? To his astonishment, a pair of finely-clad men stood behind him, smiling in excitement and relief. The moment their eyes met, the two bowed low. "Nous vous avons enfin trouvé!" The shorter one exclaimed in sheer happiness.
Francis nodded pleasantly at them when what he wanted most was to cry and hug them senseless. They were his salvation. And, as he quickly found out, his rescuers. A whole fleet had been sent out in search of him, and the pair had happened to stumble across him on an idle walk. The ships were further off, they said.
Content and relieved, Francis smiled and followed the noblemen. It was a couple of steps before he realized that he was forgetting something. Or, to be accurate, someone.Turning around, he could still make out the figure of the small child making his way up the beach with his baby-sized steps. At that moment, Francis had made a decision. Arthur would come with him, like it or not. For both of their safeties.
Indicating for the taller of the two to go after and retrieve the child, Francis continued forward, allowing the other to guide him. He couldn't show how much Arthur meant to him... Who knew what would happen, then? Better make it seem like he was a little trinket he was so fond of collecting... Raise no suspicions.
The small English boy ran as fast as his little legs could carry him, a regret brewing inside of him for leaving Francis behind - but there was not a chance that, to the young child's mind, he would understand the urgency of his need to stay with his brothers, especially now that he knew that he was imbued with the blue blooded royalty of a nation. Not only was there the language barrier to break, but there was the fact - or belief, as it were - that Francis did not share the same immortality. This was where the Frenchman and he were supposed to part.
Curiosity granted him one small will, and one that probably did change his fate throughout history. He allowed himself to turn around, to catch one last glance at the French teenager that he had broken away from. Though instead, his eyes were filled with the sight of a second boat - different to the one before, he noticed - and the men surrounding Francis. His little voice was shrouded by the sound of the waves when he shouted for the adolescent in a panic; convinced that he was going to get hurt.
When they turned and started towards him, his heart leapt within its confines. Something was not right, and the child could instantly feel it. He scrambled at the sandy ground and started running once more - fright clear in his eyes. Then, above him, he saw the vague remnants of figures in the distance. Three of them, to be precise.
The air cracked as an object rushed straight past him, heading in the direction of the Frenchmen. He turned once again and caught sight of the object, sticking out in the wet sand it landed upon. The arrow landed in-between Arthur and the men heading towards him, as a warning shot. Then, suddenly, a hand gripped him from the top of the tunic he had been given; and he was dragged into the air, while he shouted and flailed at the capture. Besides him, he heard an all too familiar chuckle.
"Why is it that you are always the one that has to cause a trouble, Arthur?" The brother from Hibernia said with a bitter chuckle, clutching onto him tightly, as the brother from the Welsh highlands prepared for another shot.
The Scotsman, the red in his face matching the ginger roots of his hair, scowled down at Arthur from his brother's grip. "You should have told me that you had some sort of immortality to you before I tried to kill you, brat! God, you could have ruined everything!" He looked just about ready to stab the young boy again, given the chance. But at that moment, it was important to keep Arthur safe. Drawing his sword, he glared down at the intruders, teeth bared.
If Arthur was kidnapped, who knew what would happen to the very ground they were standing on.
He spotted the French foreigner from before, who was the cause of this whole escapade. Letting out a roar of rage, the Scotsman rushed down the hill, agile and speed amplified by the physics of the place. Fatal with the blade, he ran towards the surprised Frenchman, stabbing the pathetic and unarmed guards on the way.
Francis turned his head at the first sign of trouble. The silent but deadly sound of an arrow piercing through the sky alerted him as he quickly stepped out of harm's way, startled. He was quick enough to see his men murdered and the crazed man from before running towards him, a murderous glint in his eyes. Panicking, the Frenchman's hand fumbled inside of the folds of his tunic, trying to find something to protect himself with.
Finding none, he did the next best thing. Run. It might be cowardly, but it was his only option. He was halfway back to his ship when he suddenly remembered what this was all probably about- Arthur.
Holding onto Arthur was a momentary struggle for his brother, who wrangled to keep the child in his hold. The Irishman had no idea that he had so much strength in his little body; though truly it was a natural phenomenon. When pumped with adrenaline and want to save another or oneself, it was not too unusual for someone to kick out ruthlessly with far more energy than should be possible. It was nothing that his older brother could not control, but it was quite a handful.
He should not have been surprised. When Arthur saw the eldest of his kin charge with sword in hand at the French boy, a little bit of his mentality broke. After he had done all he could to try stop Adhamh hurting him, the boy felt no less than useless as he watched the scene before him unfold. His voice even emitted a distressed squeak when he caught the silhouette of his Welsh brother raising his bow again, equipped with an arrow and all too ready to shoot.
"Will you ever stay put?" Aodhan growled, before capturing his brother's arms in a vice-like grip, keeping him from getting away with more efficiency. Flail as Arthur might, he just could not get away - and the new grip meant that if Arthur twitched too abruptly, he would have been likely to snap his arms. Honestly, the Irishman considered it. Any way to rid the boy of the capability of getting away again.
Spinning around in alarm, Francis's eyes darted towards the small and distant form of the English child struggling in a stranger's grip. As much as he knew that he had no chance of saving him, nothing would stop him from trying. He couldn't just leavethe boy like that, unprotected at the mercy of those who had shown the ability to kill. God knew what they planned on doing with him.
He started to run back, to reach the poor thing. But those few moments of hesitation had cost him dearly, and he was practically like a mouse running back into the jaws of a cat. Surprised for the best, the Scotsman changed course and ran towards the other, who was trying to run past him.
Grinning, he was able to reach Francis before the other reached Arthur. Raising his sword, he stabbed the Frenchman's side, watching with a smile how the area around the wound quickly became damp with a deep-red fluid. He watched how blue eyes turned wide and unseeing, a proud figure crumpling to the ground.
Arthur saw it was useless to escape much later than he should, finally stopping and falling still enough in Aodhan's grasp for the elder to look at him worryingly. Time seemed to slow down, and the waves seemed to go that bit quieter when the Scotsman finally caught up. Then the ominous silver sliced through the air, and then-
-Then it was all over. Arthur screamed out loud, green eyes wide enough to pop out and chest heaving, and Aodhan jolted with shock. He continued to shriek as his Welsh brother, Alwyn, stopped what he was doing and rushed over to try silence the boy too. Despite both of his brother's efforts, Arthur fought against them; making grabbing gestures in the air, flexing his little fingers in want for the murdered French boy. His eyes teared up and he was almost sobbing in seconds.
The boy he had grown accustomed to so quickly... dead. His heart thundered in his chest, yearning.
"Francis!" He called. "No, no, nooo!"
The cold and malicious feel of the blade against his waist, a fraction of a second prior to the inevitable pain, alerted Francis a moment too late to his fate. Sapphire orbs widened in shock as the breath in his throat hitched, chest tightening in panic. It was a natural reaction, one that belonged to the human aspect of him. A fear of death, so obvious that it was pathetic to even bother thinking about it. Last seconds should be devoted to loved ones, treasured moments of his life.
But unlike other mortals, Francis had the luxury to think of whatever pleased him at the moment of his death. Nothing differed them from any other seconds in his existence, aside from the consuming darkness that enveloped his consciousness eventually. It was almost a familiar feeling, death; unpleasant, but not a rare occurrence. As the personification of his nation, he could afford a few minutes of nothingness. He wasn't quite at the point and stage that of treasuring those moments of freedom from his demanding routine yet, but it would come. But for now, there was a reason for panic.
Arthur. What would become of him? As the acute pain evoked the expected scream and the crimson liquid made a warm and sticky trail down his leg from his wound as he fell to the ground, nothing but the thought of the poor boy left alone for those few vital minutes came to mind.
And then, darkness. For the first time, he had tried to fight it, to prolong his consciousness. But no one, not even a nation, can fight death. He could only revive from it once it had done whatever it wished to his physical body. He closed his eyes.
It took less time than usual to wake up on Francis's behalf, his injury not as complicated as some. Lashes fluttered open and he raised his head up, in-taking the sharp sea air with small and slightly pained breaths. He was confused, his mind still clouded from death.
His eyes immediately shot upwards, searching for the boy in the skyline. For a brief moment, he saw a little blond head and emerald eyes looking at him, widening. The shout that followed the look for a second or so hurt his ears, unaccustomed to the sound in his new life, but his heart hurt even more, hearing the anguished cries. Francis groaned quietly to himself, reaching out a quivering hand that immediately fell to the ground in the child's direction. He was weak. He couldn't do a thing for Arthur now.
The frantic little boy kept shooting glances over Aodhan's shoulder, desperate to see a little ray of hope. One single sign that Francis was just like him; different, immortal, undying. Forest green orbs widened frighteningly ajar, world ceasing and collapsing around his ears, as there was a twitch. A hint of life. He screamed for him before Alwyn covered his mouth, silencing the small useless pair of lungs.
Until they next met, of course.
France did come back to England to claim him from his brothers eventually, after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. By then, England had become a lot more hostile and used to his freedom, so naturally France's 'rescue' was unwelcome – especially as Guilliame the bastard (William the Conqueror) tore up the landscape to suit his ideals and stole English resources. Things at that time for England were very grim indeed.
Thus, history continues.
Hope you liked this story/extended history lesson!
Love, DestinyShiva and Hannaadi88.
Credit to Serya-chan for the French Translation!