Disclaimer: I do not own neither Hetalia nor Marguerite Volant.
Warning: Angstigity angst. Gilbert being a dick. Natalie being an opportunist bitch. Arthur being his usual sexy British self. Also, I was too lazy to reread before posting.
Lady Natalie entered the small, dirty apartment with a look of pure disdain. She could the distinct sound of drunken laughter behind the kitchen door. She opened her fan to cover her nose in a vain attempt to block the putrid smell of cheap alcohol. She opened the door and entered the kitchen, where she saw Gilbert growl angrily and punch the table, making the tokens jump shakily. The other men gathered around snickered as he threw his last coins at them. Natalie hid her own grin behind her fan. Then, finally noticing her presence, the men rose from their seat and left, though not before sending a meaningful glance at Gilbert.
''Gilbert... always such a pathetic loser. Won't you ever learn?'' She chuckled to herself, walking aimlessly around the room.
''Shut up, you witch.'' Natalie, shook her head at the childish response, smiling still.
''I suppose, from what I've seen, that you won't be able to pay me this week either.'' She turned to him at last, raising an elegant, but haughty brow. Gilbert looked away and took a quick sip from his bottle of wine.
''When I'm married-''
''Married?'' Natalie snorted. ''Please, Gilbert. Little Mathieu has yet to reply to any of your petty letters, has he? Otherwise you wouldn't be here.''
''I'm leaving tomorrow!'' Gilbert barked.
''Oh? And what do you hope to accomplish, pray, do tell me.''
''Mathieu is naive. A few pretty words and he'll be mine. His father already approves of our union. The rest is but formality.'' Natalie did not look too impressed.
''His father only approves because he thinks you are a...'' She looked around her, trying not to laugh. ''Gentleman.'' Gilbert threw her a warning glare, which Natalie promptly returned. ''Don't you dare look at me in this manner, Gilbert. You know what I am capable of. The little bit of reputation you have left, I will rob from you. If you fail to marry Mathieu-''
''I will not fail!'' Natalie frowned. She looked at the albino meaningfully and walked slowly towards the exit.
''You better not, Gilbert. You have three months.''
''Three months?'' Gilbert cried out in disbelief. Natalie turned to him one last time.
Mathieu slowly walked down the quiet hallways of the mansion, a little disturbed by the conversation he had just had with his father. Francis had asked his son why he had not gotten visits or invitations from Gilbert yet. Mathieu had reminded him of the incident of the ball, but Francis still firmly believed that it had been a work of his drunken imagination. Mathieu managed to end the discussion without quarrelling, but his father had made it very clear that if needed, he would write to Gilbert himself. It was something Mathieu did not look forward to.
His musing were interrupted by the crackling sounds of the fire. He turned to the source of the sound and saw the door to the second living room was opened. He took a few mouse steps to take a peep into it. He saw captain Kirkland sitting by the fireplace, a small pocketbook in his hands. He was so absorbed in it, that he did not notice his presence. Mathieu felt his cheeks heat up as he kept on looking; it was so much easier to find the man handsome when he was not wearing his redcoat. The Englishman had indeed taken off his military suit, in favour of a simply white shirt over which he wore a simple black waistcoat. The fire, Mathieu observed, gave to the man's skin -already tanned from being so much outside- an exotic tone, and made his normally deep green eyes appear strangely clear and bright. Handsome seemed an understatement. And then, those enigmatic green eyes turned to him at last, finally having noticed his presence. The captain blinked in confusion before finally coming to his sense and rose to greet him.
''Please don't trouble yourself.'' Mathieu said hurriedly, holding his hand up for Arthur to sit back down. Arthur did so reluctantly. Even after all this time, Mathieu still could not get used to Arthur's overzealous decorum. The man acted like an old fashioned gentleman; he bowed every time they met, rose every time he entered the dining room for dinner, and rose when he retired from it... Mathieu briefly recalled the dance they has shared a littler over a week before. The captain danced so well, it made him wonder what kind of family he was from, back in England. And to be captain at so young an age... For sure, the man had important connections. Mathieu, however, did not think it would be polite to ask. ''I'm sorry to interrupt your readings, Capitaine.'' He said.
''Not at all.'' Arthur replied, looking still a little embarrassed. Mathieu and he had not shared more than a few cordial words since he had -Arthur still chastised himself for it- made his desires known. An awkward silence followed, and Mathieu turned back to the hallway.
''Well, goodnight Capitaine-''
''Wait.'' Arthur suddenly rose from his seat, startling the younger blond. Arthur cursed his spontaneity. ''Will you not sit down?'' Mathieu looked to the side, hesitant, and for a moment, Arthur worried that he might refuse. But the young Canadian walked back into the room and sat down on the chesterfield facing him. Arthur sat back down. Another silence followed.
''Would you-'' They both stopped, wanting to let the other finish. They chuckled a bit before Mathieu invited Arthur to start. ''I simply wanted to apologize for the other night... my behaviour was uncalled for.'' Arthur confessed, though he could not help but rejoice in the blush his apology invoked in his interlocutor.
''You were a great comfort. Let us think no more of it.'' Mathieu chose to pretend he did not know the extent of Arthur's feelings. It would make things much simpler. Arthur, of course, was not fooled by it, but played the game for the sake of harmony. ''What are you reading?'' Mathieu swiftly changed subject, hoping to lighten the mood. Arthur was grateful for it.
''A collection of sonnets by Shakespeare.''
''I see you are a very loyal subject of the British court.'' Mathieu teased.
''Indeed I am.'' Arthur smiled, and looked down briefly at his book.
''We have a few translations of Shakespeare's major plays in our library, but I've never read his poems. Will you not read one aloud for me?''
''With pleasure.'' Arthur smiled. He skimmed through his little book, looking for one particular sonnet. Once he found it, he quickly re-read it to prepare so that his translation would not come out too awkwardly.
''Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.''*
Arthur looked back up, looking directly into Mathieu's troubled blue eyes. The light-blond blushed under his burning gaze.
''It is very beautiful.'' Mathieu managed to say at last. ''You are very lucky to speak two languages. The knowledge and art you have access to doubles. I am quite envious.'' He admitted, smiling.
The two young men continued in quiet, trivial conversation, with Mathieu daring to enquire a bit after Arthur's home. He learned that the captain normally resided the greater part of the year in London, though he did not specify anything else and Mathieu did not push the matter further. Arthur, then, shared his views on living in the city -like in London- versus living in the countryside -like in the Seigneury. Mathieu shared his own anecdotes, telling Arthur how the gentry of Montréal envied nobles like the Bonnefoy, who lived near Quebec City and owned a house there. He explained that because of its being right beside the St-Lawrence river, Quebec city always got the goods imported from France first, leaving the Montrealers with what Quebeckers had been so kind as to cede to them.
It is only when the fire slowly started to die that Mathieu realized how late it must be.
''I think I better retire for the night.'' Mathieu said, fighting back yawn. He rose from his seat, stretching his arms lightly. Unsurprisingly, Arthur was quick to rise to his feet as well.
''Of course, sorry to have kept you up so late.'' Mathieu smiled in reply, too tired to scold the captain for being formal to the point of silliness. He walked up to the threshold and looked back at Arthur. They shared a long look.
''Good night, Capitaine.''
''Good night...'' Arthur watched longingly as the other exited the room. Once out of sight, he let himself fall heavily back into the armchair.
Arthur, despite everything, was glad that he and Mathieu had fallen back into the -relatively- comfortable camaraderie they had previously shared. Mathieu often came to him for some labour or other, and they shared some conversations from time to time. Another important change had occurred in the family, though. The father, having partly recovered from his numerous losses, was slowly taking over some of the tasks the landlord of a seigneury required. While the patriarch held clear disdain in his person and in his regiment, Arthur could not deny the good it brought in his love interest. The young Bonnefoy, with lighter workload and the great happiness of seeing his father getting better, had greatly improved his mood. While he understood Mathieu to be a generally cheerful young man, the return of his father (both in body and spirit) had brought back in full force that pride and special spark in his eyes which had impressed Arthur so much upon the night of his first seeing him. It had improved his looks as well; the dark circles under those clear blue eyes had disappeared, along with the worry and anguish which had obscure his beauty. Arthur noticed that it made the Canadian look younger. Much younger. To the point where Arthur wondered exactly how old the young man was. It was in their next conversation that Arthur tried to uncover the mystery. Subtly, of course.
''How old are you, exactly?'' Nicely done, chap. He thought stupidly to himself. Mathieu stared at him, blinking in confusion.
''Uh... Well, that is...'' It was then that Arthur remembered an important detail. ''You did not fight the war. I was wondering if it was...'' Arthur did not dare to finish his question, much too afraid that his guess might be right. Confusion cleared itself from Mathieu's face. That, at least, was good.
''Oh no, I was old enough to fight.'' Mathieu provided. Arthur fought back a sigh of relief. ''But my uncle -the priest of our seigneury- kept me in the monastery so that I wouldn't have to. Both he and my father did not think it was a place for me. Not that I believe it is a place for anyone, but God knows I wouldn't have last long on the battlefield.'' He chuckled. ''I'm actually eighteen.''
''Eighteen.'' Arthur repeated dumbly. A timely knock on the door was heard before Isabelle entered.
''Dinner is served.'' She announced. ''Monsieur Bonnefoy will be joining tonight.'' Mathieu's face brightened instantly.
Since the arrival of captain Kirkland's regiment, Francis had avoided dining in the dining room. It was already incredibly humiliating to have the British officers stay in his own domain, he certainly would not dine with them on top of that. Francis' spirits, however, had improved enough so that he would join them tonight, if only for his children's sake.
''Well, this is awkward.'' Alfred said, unable to bear with the uncomfortable silence any longer. The master of the house had either thrown daggers at him and Arthur or completely ignored them. The rest of the little assembly had not dared to utter a single word. ''Oh, right, I forgot!'' He turned to his captain, who sighed deeply.
''It seems that is all you can do, lieutenant Jones... forget things.'' Mathieu looked warily to his right, where his father sat, to see him observing the two British officers with calculating eyes.
''I received a letter from Colonel Kingsford this morning. There will be a royal proclamation this Sunday. As captain, you are expected to read it aloud in Ange-Gardien square.'' Alfred continued, wisely choosing to ignore his superior's comment.
Mathieu saw his father's first clench tightly around his fork, then Mathieu turned toward the two officers when he heard the name of their hometown. He then looked to his sister, who was as confused as him.
''Couldn't you have told me earlier, you twit?''
''Well actually, with you being so close to the governor, I thought you might have known already.'' Alfred replied sheepishly.
''That's the silliest excuse you could-'' Arthur stopped abruptly when Francis stood from his chair. He looked up at the man who, to say the least, looked perfectly outraged.
''Messieurs,'' Francis started warningly, looking dead in the eyes of each officer. ''at my table, in my house, we speak French!'' He looked at each one of his children. ''Élizabeth, Mathieu...'' The two rose from their seat as well and followed their father out of the dining room. Mathieu, before walking out the door, turned sharply to throw an angry look to the captain.
''Certainly, the situation is beyond awkwardness now.'' Alfred said once the Bonnefoys left. Arthur sighed heavily, massaging his temple. It seemed like every time he managed a step forward, something happened to mess things up.
It was the first snowfall of the year. The snowflakes were fluffy, but fragile. Mathieu followed the snowflakes down with his eyes, watching them as they melt as soon as they touched the grass. He sighed softly, his breath condensing with the cold. He heard steps coming from behind him, but chose to ignore them, not really caring to know who it was. He heard the sound of rustling clothes. His eyes widened slightly in surprise when he felt a warm cape cover his shoulders. He briefly looked down at it and recognized the customary grey colour of the British army's capes. He turned around to face Arthur. The older man looked perfectly uneasy. He sighed softly and looked back into the distance. If only the captain was not such a good man.
''Do you even realize what your mere presence means to my father? To my whole family... everyone!'' Mathieu asked after a short silence. Arthur straightened himself and sighed.
''We won the war, Mathieu. You are now a British citizen just like me. You will have to accept it.'' Arthur said calmly. Mathieu frowned.
''I'd be careful if I were you, capitaine. People will not accept being oppressed.'' Arthur snorted at that. The boy was being ridiculous. Mathieu clenched his first in anger. ''I know how your country treats his other conquered colonies.'' Arthur hardened his stare.
''You think France is better, per-''
''What I'm saying,'' Mathieu interrupted. ''is that it's already hard for us. To know we'll probably lose everything of what we have left. Our religion, our titles, our rights, our businesses and possessions... As soon as a final treaty is signed, God knows what will happen to us.'' He looked away, taking the man's cape off. ''Until then, I expect a minimum of respect.'' He turned back to Arthur and handed him the cape. ''I won't let you destroy what's left of my family, capitaine.''
Arthur sighed deeply as he watched Mathieu go back into the mansion. He looked at the landscape Mathieu has been observing. The mansion was situated on top of a hill, giving a beautiful view of the nature surrounding it. Down the hill, he could see the smoke coming out of a few houses along the road which went led to Ange-Gardien town. He could see the faint lighting candles and chandeliers in the buildings provided. He could also make out the tavern, where probably many of his officers were at this time, getting into drunken fights with the few French men that remained.
Élizabeth woke with the morning light. She still had not gotten used to waking to an empty bed. She turned to right where her husband would normally have been sleeping. She fought back her tears and got ready for the day. Once dressed in her most modest black gown, she tied her hair back in a simple bun and walked to her husband's wardrobe. With trembling hands, she took out each article and carefully packed them into leather chests. She then went down the stairs, looking for the young lieutenant. After searching through the house, she finally founded him outside, repairing the wooden fence surrounding their kitchen garden.
''Lieutenant Jones?'' The young British soldier stopped and looked at her. He straightened himself and cried enthusiastically.
''Yes m'am!'' She could not help but smile.
''I need your help with something, if you don't mind.''
''Not at all, m'am. What can I do for you?''
Alfred followed the woman inside and gathered the heavy leather chests as she instructed him. He carried them into the carriage and prepared the horse for the ride. The lady had informed him that they would go to madame Tremblay's place, where his friend, officer cadet Dawkes, resided. The ride to the farm was a relatively short one; about twenty minutes. It seemed much longer to Alfred, however. The widow always had this sad, distant look in her eyes. He knew not what to say to cheer the lady up, which was something he could not bear. He hated being powerless in the face of suffering, but he also knew that it could not be helped. There was nothing else that could cure a broken heart than time. Still, he gave what little comfort he had to offer.
''I sent four of my soldiers in Saint-Benoit village. There have been robberies and other forms of violence which we believe were caused by your husband's assailants. I'm sure we'll catch them soon, m'am.''
''Thank you, lieutenant.'' She gave him a brief smile.
Once arrived at Mrs. Trembay's farm, Alfred helped Élizabeth out of the carriage, and Mrs. Tremblay, who had seen the carriage arrive as she had been outside with the kitchen, instantly went to greet them.
''Lieutenant Alfred Jones, under captain Kirkland's command. At your service m'am!'' He said energetically, saluting the small, middle aged woman. The latter laughed, looking him up and down.
''You're quite good looking for an English.'' She teased, hands on each sides of her hips. Alfred blinked once before laughing out loud. Officer cadet Dawkes arrived, saluting his superior. Then, the two Britishmen carried the chests out of the carriage and into the house. Mrs. Tremblay looked at them entering her house before turning to Élizabeth.
''I brought you my husband's clothes.'' Élizabeth informed. ''I thought you might want to use them to make warm clothes for your children.'' Mrs. Dawkes smiled fondly at her.
''You're just like your mother. So generous.'' Élizabeth smiled guiltily.
''The truth is that I just had to get ride of them. It's too painful to keep them.'' Mrs. Tremblay gently held her hand. Élizabeth knew that the woman had lost her husband in the war, leaving her with six children; they did not need to share words to comfort each other. The two watched silently as Dawkes and Jones carried the remaining chests inside the house.
''I think my guest has grown fond of my eldest daughter.'' She mused, earning a smile from Élizabeth.
''Really?'' She chuckled.
''Yes.'' The woman nodded. ''And judging from the way she looks back at him, I suspect the feeling's mutual.'' There was a short silence. ''I know my late husband would have never approved... but he's a good boy, and a hardworking one. I'm really grateful to have him around. Captain Kirkland's done a great job around here. Everyone feels safer, and with most of our men gone, the soldiers can do the hard labour for us.'' She turned to face the young lady Bonnefoy. ''If their little crush develops into something serious, I won't come between them.''
Saturday, the day before the proclamation, was a bright and sunny day. Mathieu was out in the kitchen garden with Isabelle. It would be the last little harvest before winter, probably, as the first snow -though brief and quite early even for Canada- had still damaged some of the vegetables. He got up to his feet from his crouching position and wiped his forehead, basket full of carrots in hand. Something red caught his attention. Curious, the young Frenchman walked to the front of the mansion and, adjusting his glasses, finally recognized the silhouette.
''What is this riffraff doing here?'' He whispered angrily to himself before entering the mansion to drop the carrots in the kitchen and quickly washing his face and hands. He went into the living room where he had left his vest and was about to walked back outside when a knock on the door was heard. It was a servant who opened the door, Gilbert standing tall behind her. Mathieu folded his arms, expression grim, and signalled for the servant to leave. The young girl nodded shyly and closed the door behind her. ''How dare you come here.''
''I don't want to hear your excuses.'' Mathieu interrupted sharply, turning his back to Gilbert. ''I know what I heard.''
''Indeed you heard right, Mathieu.'' Gilbert's voice was soft and full of guilt. ''But please, let a poor man explain himself. I am not worthy of you, be if I could only explain and relieve myself from my guilt and have your forgiveness...'' The man trailed off. Mathieu, though still suspicious, turned to the white-haired man, willing to listen.
''You said I was just a game for you...'' Mathieu said with a trembling voice. He cursed himself mentally for not being able to control himself better.
''I know...'' Gilbert took a few steps nearer to him, clenching his three-cornered hat in his gloved hands. ''But Lady Natalie had been tormenting me, saying that you were spending a great deal of time with that English captain, and that you might be falling in love with him...'' He looked to the side, taking a deep breath. ''I was sick with jealousy and said horrible things.'' He looked back at Mathieu with begging eyes. ''And my foolish pride cost me the man I love.''
Mathieu's eyes widened, cheeks burning bright at the declaration. Gilbert smiled tenderly and offered his hand. Mathieu hesitated before giving in to his palpitating heart and laced his fingers with Gilbert's.
''I love you, Mathieu.'' Mathieu looked down to their linked hands bashfully, glad that this had been a misunderstanding after all. He looked back up, smiling to the man standing in front of him.
''If you truly love me, then you won't mind waiting for me, will you?'' He squeezed the other's hand gently. ''Please tell my father you don't plan on proposing until spring... I need time.'' A flicker of disbelief flashed in Gilbert's blood-red eyes, sending shivers down Mathieu's spine.
''B-but... I could never wait this long.'' Gilbert took another step forward and cupped Mathieu's flushed cheek. ''Please Mathieu...'' He whispered seductively, leaning in slowly for a kiss. Mathieu blushed deeply and moved his face slightly to the side so that the lips would land on his cheek. The taller man erased all remaining distance between the, and dig his nose into the crook of Mathieu's neck. The blond's eyes widened in panic.
''Gilbert, stop this.'' He said firmly, trying to push the man away. The other would have none of it and continued to kiss along Mathieu's neck. Mathieu felt disgusted, he struggled out of Gilbert strong grip and slapped him across the face. Gilbert grunted in surprise, covering his abused cheek with his hand. Mathieu took several steps back, almost knocking the table behind him. He was panting, eyes wide with fear. ''Get out.'' Gilbert, recovering from his initial shock, glared at the small blond.
''Get out!'' Mathieu repeated. Gilbert shot him an angry glare and, putting his hat back on, promptly exited the room. Once alone, Mathieu sighed deeply in relief then hurried to his father's study. He briefly knocked on the door and barely waited for permission before storming inside.
''Gilbert is an evil, disgusting man and I will never, ever marry him!'' Mathieu declared as soon as he entered the room. Francis looked at his son, looking genuinely surprised by his outburst, but did not look otherwise troubled by the content of the it.
''Gilbert has the necessary qualities to take care of the seigneury, and will undoubtedly know how to... adjust to the British regime.'' He stated calmly. Mathieu stared, not believing his father could remain so cold.
''He tried to impose himself on me while we were alone!'' He felt his eyes water slightly at his own words. Francis looked taken aback for a moment, but quickly regained his blazé countenance.
''You cannot blame the weakness of a man in front of your charms, Mathieu.'' He tried to argue, but Mathieu was only more outraged.
''You don't really care about me, do you...'' He said in a soft, resigned voice after a long silence. He turned on his feet and walked out of his father's study, slamming the door behind him.
Francis felt his heart ache deeply at Mathieu's words. He flinched when the door banged. A dull whistling sound irrupted in his ears and he felt ill for a brief moment. He ran his hands on his face, trying to come back to his senses. He let out a shaky sigh and slowly walked to the nearest window. He leaned tiredly against it and watched numbly Kirkland's regiment train down the hill, one of the soldiers waving the Union Jack in time with their march. It came like a lightening... the realization of the extant of his worthlessness. Unable to protect his country which then abandoned him, unable to protect his family and make his remaining children happy, and not strong enough to simply move on...
Sunday, the day of the proclamation. Mathieu joined his sister downstairs in the main entry hall. He had chosen solemn clothes in neutral sandy and earth colours, and his sister, also fully dressed, still wore his morning gowns. They waited for their father. Most of the villagers near their seigneury had left, and the British soldiers had left even earlier to prepare the place where the proclamation was to be read. Isabelle appeared with Mathieu's coat in hand. He thanked her and told her should could leave when ever she wanted to join the rest of the villagers. She did so at once. Soon, Ludwig entered the house; he would be joining them for the royal proclamation. A few minutes only passed before their father came out of their study. What they saw stunned the two siblings.
Their father was wearing his French navy uniform. The bright blue and white immaculately clean and the cut of the uniform was sharp as their father stood tall and proud. Mathieu smiled at the sight, heart racing with admiration. The French commander walked to his children and took one hand each in his own and squeezed them gently.
''Won't you provoke them?'' Élizabeth asked worriedly. Francis looked at her and smiled fondly.
''Don't worry.'' He then looked over to his son and was surprised -and glad- to see the young blond's eyes bright and sparkling with pride.
''You look well, Francis.'' Ludwig said softly.
He smiled at his cousin and kissed his children's forehands before announcing, ''Let's go.''
Once they arrived, almost the entire village had gathered. The Bonnefoys advanced to the front of the crowd to see that a large wooden stage had been built for the occasion; several English flags were shamelessly decorating it. On the stage, several chairs at been laid out for the noble families such as the Bonnefoys. The three of them walked up on the stage, all eyes fixed on them, or more particularly, on Francis. Whispers could be heard from the crowd and Mathieu noticed the grim expression on captain Kirkland's face. While, as always, his demeanour stayed calm and in control, Mathieu was starting to know him well enough to know that the Britishman was far from pleased at the show. On the captain's left was another high ranking officer -also captain, Mathieu observed, as the uniform suggested- which Mathieu had never seen. He must be from another regiment which was also on mission like Kirkland somewhere near Ange-Gardien. Mathieu turned his attention back to the chairs in front of him and recognized the two other families sitting there. The Bonnefoys took their seats silently, and the whispers subdued after a short moment.
Mathieu saw Arthur look briefly at him before his unrolled the document he was holding and began to read.
''His Most Christian Majesty renounces all pretensions which he has heretofore formed or might have formed to Nova Scotia or Acadia in all its parts, and guaranties the whole of it, and with all its dependencies, to the King of Great Britain: Moreover, his Most Christian Majesty cedes and guaranties to his said Britannic Majesty, in full right, Canada, with all its dependencies, as well as the island of Cape Breton, and all the other islands and coasts in the golf and river of St. Lawrence, and in general, every thing that depends on the said countries, lands, islands, and coasts, with the sovereignty, property, possession, and all rights acquired by treaty, or otherwise, which the Most Christian King and the Crown of France have had till now over the said countries, lands, islands, places, coasts, and their inhabitants, so that the Most Christian King cedes and makes over the whole to the said King, and to the Crown of Great Britain, and that in the most ample manner and form, without restriction, and without any liberty to depart from the said cession and guaranty under any pretence, or to disturb Great Britain in the possessions above mentioned.-''
Roars of disbelief echoed from the crowd and Mathieu struggled to remain calm as well. It was an utter abandon from France, promising never to even try to regain the colony of Canada. Mathieu looked worriedly at his father, who remained -on the outside at least- completely unperturbed. Perhaps he had seen this coming.
''His Britannic Majesty, on his side, agrees to grant the liberty of the Catholic religion to the inhabitants of Canada: he will, in consequence, give the most precise and most effectual orders, that his new Roman Catholic subjects may profess the worship of their religion according to the rites of the Romish church, as far as the laws of Great Britain permit.-''
Here again, captain Kirkland was interrupted by the crowd who, this time, seemed relieved to hear the declaration.
''His Britannic Majesty farther agrees, that the French inhabitants, or others who had been subjects of the Most Christian King in Canada, may retire with all safety and freedom wherever they shall think proper, and may sell their estates, provided it be to the subjects of his Britannic Majesty-'' Mathieu heard some nobles curse loudly behind him at that, as well as some habitants, unhappy to hear that Britishmen hand found another way to rob what was theirs ''-and bring away their effects as well as their persons, without being restrained in their emigration, under any pretence whatsoever, except that of debts or of criminal prosecutions: The term limited for this emigration shall be fixed to the space of eighteen months, to be computed from the day of the exchange of the ratification of the present treaty.'' **
Arthur then proceeded to read what Britain had ceded over to France in exchange for the her North American colonies. Mathieu, of course, already knew this information from his father. The villagers, however, did not take well being handed over so complete and humiliating manner for a few islands of slaves, sugar and rum. Protests became louder and more numerous and the villagers began to throw anything they could find at the soldiers. Mathieu watched, frozen into place as some threw their groceries, and others even threw their money.
Arthur had ceased reading the proclamation and stared, not knowing what to do. The other officer standing beside him, captain Davis, clenched his fists angrily, losing patience.
''Fix your bayonets!'' Arthur stared at captain Davis in incredulity, then watched as both regiments fixed the bayonets upon their weapon and aimed them at the crowd. The villagers stepped back, crying in panic.
Mathieu gasped, covering his mouth in horror. He saw his father promptly rising from his seat and stealing the nearest English soldier's weapon and fired in the air, earning everyone's attention and scaring everyone into silence. He then threw the weapon angrily in front of him and walked up to the two captains.
''Go ahead. I dare you to order to fire.'' Francis said darkly, staring into captain Davis' stunned eyes. He moved his gaze onto captain Kirkland's, who looked much calmer. The two stared unblinkingly at each other.
''Bayonets down, men.'' Arthur ordered, not looking away from Francis Bonnefoy.
Élizabeth and Mathieu sighed in relief and quickly rose to join their father, Ludwig following close behind them. Mathieu took his father's arm, who suddenly felt the adrenaline leave him and found himself slightly dizzy. He gratefully accepted his son's support and the Bonnefoys left the stage silently.
Arthur looked at them leave and saw that the villagers were gradually doing the same. He turned to captain Davis.
''You are a dangerous, mad man'' He growled, earning a glare from his counterpart. ''A report will be sent no later than tomorrow morning, of that you may be certain, sir.'' Arthur declared before walking away, leaving a quite distraught captain behind him.
The ride home had been silent and solemn, and still not a word had been uttered when the Bonnefoys entered their home and took of their coat. Francis slowly walked in the direction of his study, his two children hesitantly following behind him. He turned to them and looked at them for a long moment. He took their hands, squeezed them gently and offered them a weak smile.
''I need to be alone.'' His children silently acquiesced to his request and let him enter his study, closing the doors behind him.
Élizabeth and Mathieu looked at each other, took each other's hand and went into the living room with Ludwig to rest and wait for their father.
Captain Kirkland was slowly riding his horse back to the mansion, his lieutenant and most of his soldiers behind following hims. He saw his lieutenant catch up to him, a worriedly look on his face.
''Are you okay, captain?''
''Of course.'' Arthur sighed. ''I'm only upset... that damn captain Davis almost caused an uprising. Almost killed those people. As if we weren't already hated as it is.''
''Not all of them hate us... Oh, you mean Mathieu?'' Arthur looked sharply at him, but found he had nothing to say for his defence. Lieuenant Jones smiled knowingly. ''What will you write in your report?''
''Enough to have him discharged. Our mission is to restore peace, not kill our majesty's new subjects-''
Arthur was cut short by the sound of a gunshot coming from the Bonnefoy's mansion. Panicked and fearing for the worse, he turned to his soldiers. ''Follow me, quick!'' He whipped his horse. ''Come on!''
Mathieu, Élizabeth and Ludwig froze. They looked at each other briefly before running to Francis' study. Mathieu was the first to arrive and banged at the door.
''Father! Father!'' The door was locked and wouldn't open. Ludwig gently pushed him away and kicked the door open. The three of them ran into the room and stopped at the sight.
Francis Bonnefoy was sitting in his chair, eyes closed, an enormous, bleeding gash in his stomach. The gun was still smoking slightly from the shot and was held loosely in Francis' hand, which rested, unmoving, on his lap.
Mathieu was the first to move. He took slow, careful steps toward his father. He did not utter a single sound, tetanised with complete and pure horror. Once he reached his father, he fell to his knees, eyes burning and filled with tears. He gently gathered his father in an embrace. The latter remained unmoving. Mathieu sobbed loudly as he held his father's lifeless, but still warm body. He heard his sister gasp and chock on her breath behind him, then she flew to the next room. He heard her scream and sob, throwing everything she could find on the floor – tables, vases... His sister's hysteric outburst only made him sob louder.
''Élizabeth!'' Ludwig ran to her and caught her arms to stop her from causing more damage.
''Let me go! Let me go!'' The young woman trashed and screamed, trying to get out of Ludwig's arms.
''Élizabeth, stop this... stop this. It's over.'' Ludwig said in a trembling, but strong voice as he gathered her in a strong embrace. Élizabeth finally gave in and cried into her uncle's shoulder.
''Be on your guard!'' Arthur heard his lieutenant shout as he and his soldiers dismounted their horses. Several neighbours and field workers had already gathered at the mansion's front yard. As soon as they passed through, Arthur saw the main door open.
Mathieu came out, walking straight up to him, eyes in daze and red with tears. Arthur's breath caught up in his throat and he struggled to remain composed.
Then, Mathieu lifted up his arm, holding a gun and aiming it straight at Arthur's face. Barely an inch separated the weapon from him. If people gasped around him, he did not hear it, as he could only hear the sound of his own beating heart. Time seemed to slow down. He looked, eyes wide, at the tip of the gun so near his chin, then back into Mathieu's eyes. Tears were falling down his cheeks, and the boy looked just as dazed.
He heard a small click, saw a small spark coming from the gun, but nothing else came.
He was still alive.
Arthur released a shaky breath as Mathieu closed his eyes in defeat. Alfred was the first to react and took the gun away from the young man. He set the gun and successfully fired towards the sky.
Arthur's eyes widened in horror and stared down at Mathieu, but he boy was looking away, resigned. Arthur swallowed thickly and said in a strong voice.
''Put mister Bonnefoy under arrest and bring him back to his quarters.'' He ordered to no soldier in particular, still looking intently at Mathieu. The latter rose his gaze to him.
''You are accused of attempt murder on an officer of his Majesty.'' He finished in a trembling voice. Mathieu did not look disturbed by the accusation. Arthur could not read the young man's expression at all. Two of his soldiers grabbed Mathieu unceremoniously by his arms and dragged him inside the mansion.
Arthur took a deep, shaky breath and looked at his lieutenant, who was still staring down at the gun in disbelief.
For a moment, Arthur wished he had died; then, he wouldn't have to live on with a shattered heart.
* Shall I compare thee to a summers day, Sonnet 18, by Shakespeare.
** You can read the full treaty of Paris online.
NOTE: ... Yes, a very random and spontaneous update. I suddenly felt like continuing this. I even have a sequel in mind. I don't know if much people will read this, but oh well.
I know what you're thinking: Matthew (especially Matthew) and Arthur are being total stupid and brainless twits... but I wanted them to be, because if they weren't, they would have thrown themselves at each other's arms right from the beginning and there wouldn't have been a story lol.
Don't worry guys (if you are still reading this). They will get the happy their happy lovey-dovey ending.
This chapter was probably super awkward and badly written since I haven't been writing/into this story for ages... I hope it didn't suck too hard.