Title: Star-Crossed (1/10)
Genre: humor, romance, angst
Pairings: USUK, side France/Seychelles, Belarus/Russia, Austria/Hungary, brief one-sided America/Taiwan
Warnings: adaptation, poor attempts at humor, rampant character deaths (no one to fret over)
Summary: This is a story about many things. But mostly, it's about a boy and a star. Stardust AU.
Notes: This is the something I've been working on. It's an adaptation of the movie and novel entitled Stardust by Neil Gaiman. It is one of my favorite stories and it is scary how well it fits into Hetalia-verse. I hope you all enjoy this and please remember, reviews are love 3
Part One: Beginnings
Most stories start with the usual 'once upon a time.' While that certainly has a nice ring to it, it gets somewhat boring after a while. After all, all stories have to start upon a certain time, don't they? So while this story may start with a quintessential once upon a time, it also starts with a letter and a necklace. The letter was from a boy and the necklace from a king, and they occurred nearly two decades apart. However, one could also say this story begins with the death of a prince or the birth of a boy, and those people would also be completely correct. To be honest, stories, such as the one you are about to hear, usually have so many starting points it's impossible to narrow them down into one, each event feeding another to culminate into one, single story, which of course simply serves as the beginning of many others after. In this story's case, however, there is a singular starting point from which we can spring from, a summation of all the beginnings mentioned above and the many more left out (such as the curiosity of a princess or the forbidden love of a witch).
So, let it suffice to say that this story starts, first and foremost, with the stars.
The stars lead to the letter mentioned earlier, and the letter leads to a young man named Roderich Jones who lived in a small village by the name of Wall, so named for the curious, man-height wall that ran alongside its border that was said to keep a most wondrous secret. You see, young Roderich wrote a letter to the illustrated and respected science academy in London with an unusual question regarding the stars and if they could be seen the same way from wherever one was on the planet. Now, that may not sound out of the ordinary at all, as it is very much a truth that the stars would look the same no matter where one stood on the Earth, but that was merely the prelude. What Roderich truly wanted to know was whether or not it was possible for another world, a secret one, could exist without our knowing and if the stars would look the same from that side. An unusual query you must expect.
Understandably, the response he received was not the kindest and suggested he seek some sort of help for his delusions—that did not deter Roderich. Instead, he stuffed that reply in his coat pocket and marched himself out of the village and to the wall, where an ancient gatekeeper kept watch of a small, conveniently placed gap in the wall. The gap revealed a normal, unassuming field on the other side which gave no hint it was anything other than a field, but Roderich had to know for himself. Had to know if all the stories and rumors he had heard about the wall had any truth to them so to the wall her went and the old gatekeeper, who liked to call himself Old Rome for some odd reason, was unable to stop him from leaping through the gap and to the other side.
And, on the other side, he found that the academics and scholars had been wrong, and he right. The wall hid the magical kingdom of Stormhold, a world as vast as the Earth but through a veil, connected only by that small gap in the wall.
Roderich, having been proven right and relishing in his success and cleverness, took a small, winding road down to a bustling, wildly colorful village called Market-town, where he saw all manner of odd things; people and goods alike. He was content to just wander and soak in the feel of this new, strange land, when he paused and saw a girl, a most beautiful girl dressed in dark green, her long, honey-brown hair twisted up into a loose bun that tumbled down her slender shoulders and back. He stared and she smiled at him, her green eyes playful and kind—he could not resist her gaze. He walked toward the bright yellow caravan where she sat but before he could reach her, another woman stepped in front of him, an unimpressed expression on her weathered face.
"I don't deal with time wasters," she said to Roderich. She was not old, but not young either, her blonde hair curly and cut short at her shoulders; it was held back from her face with an orange headband. He imagined she had once been very pretty. "Tend to the stall, I'm off to the Slaughtered Prince for a pint."
And just like that, the blonde woman was gone and the young girl had shimmied forward, a smile on her lips and her head tilted to the side. "See anything you like?"
Roderich stammered at first and made a complete fool of himself, though the girl found him quite endearing. She smiled prettily at him and he found his voice once more. He looked down to the wares and saw that the girl was selling glass blown flowers, small enough to tuck into your jacket but expertly crafted. He picked up a blue bell and looked at the girl from over his glasses. "Ah, yes. These ones, how much are these?"
"They might be the color of your hair. Or maybe all of your memories before you were three." He blinked at her, not sure if she was serious, but she continued to speak, not letting him give an answer. "Anyway, you don't want the blue bell. You want this one, snowdrop—it'll bring you luck."
She held up the tiniest flower of the bunch, a white blossom that drooped down like a teardrop and then tucked it into his coat pocket. He glanced down at it and then back up into the girl's eyes. "What does that cost?"
"This flower…costs a kiss." He met her grin and leaned in as she titled her head, offering her cheek. At the last moment though, she turned and her hand came up to cup his cheek, guiding their lips to meet in a brief, but sweet kiss. When she pulled away, Roderich had to blink a few times to be rid of the dream-like expression on his face. "Is she gone?"
Roderich assumed she meant the blonde woman and nodded. She smiled devilishly and took his hand, leading him to the yellow caravan. As she walked, Roderich heard a jingle—he looked down and saw a long chain of silver looped around the girl's ankle, just above her bare foot. She sensed his hesitation and looked down to appraise the chain, a flicker of disgust ghosting across her face before she met his eyes again. "I'm a princess, tricked into being a witch's slave—will you liberate me?"
Roderich nodded and took out his pocket knife, slashing through the silver chain with one, swift stroke. But hold, the chain simply reknit itself! Roderich looked down at the silver chain in his hand and then back at the girl, who looked at him kindly, not surprised. "It's an enchanted chain I'm afraid. I'll only be free when one of the Moon's children falls of their own will. Or she dies, one of those."
She shrugged and stood back up, her dress falling about her gracefully, still smiling; she looked quite unworried about the prospect of a life of servitude. Roderich's face fell and he tucked the knife and chain back into his coat. "If I can't liberate you, what do you want of me?"
She lowered her lashed and grinned devilishly, tugging him up and into the caravan, shutting the doors and windows behind her tightly.
Well, you can gather what happened behind those doors, so no need to dwell, especially when the important part of that union occurred nine months later, when Roderich was back home in Wall, content to let the experience and night live in memory alone. Until one night, when Old Rome brought a small basket to his door in the dead of night—and in the basket was a baby boy with bright gold hair and curious blue eyes that blinked up at Roderich. He took the babe, of course, no doubt that despite the boy's coloring he was his own and he named him Alfred.
Alfred is who this story is truly about—well, him and a star. But don't worry loves, well get to that.
Alfred Jones was not having the best of days, or so he thought. Sure, he'd probably had worse and he should have strived to stay upbeat and positive even with his struggles—but it was awfully hard to do that after he'd lost his job, gotten humiliated the night before in front of his lady love, and got that odd, sad look from his dad when he saw him at home with a steak on his face. His dad had understood everything, he was always understanding about everything when it came to Alfred, but he still hated that he felt like such a failure. He was hero, he knew it! It sucked to feel so bad.
But still, the day wasn't over yet his dad had said and told him that if he loved Mei, he was going to have to be willing to do whatever he had to win her over. Alfred was only seventeen, but he was fairly sure that Roderich Jones, renowned single father of Wall, was not the best one to give advice on how to woo a lady. Still, it was his advice or none at all so Alfred had gathered up his savings and had bought enough food and champagne for an elegant picnic, eager and nervous to prove his love for Mei. His dad had wished him luck as he set out that night and Alfred took a deep breath as he walked down the roads to Mei's home, his feet knowing the way by heart after making this same journey near a hundred times before. They would have known the way anyway though, they always did.
Alfred was not an unattractive young man; on the contrary, he was quite good-looking and many of the ladies in Wall thought so. But Alfred was a bit…odd. With gold hair and blue eyes, he didn't look a thing like his father and was taller than most of the young men in the village, even back when he'd been young; he didn't talk like anyone else in Wall did either. He never got lost, he was stronger than normal, and his eyes were so deep a blue they looked almost unnatural if you stared too long. He was different—and being different in Wall made getting a girl or boy to notice you was kinda hard. Not that he really mentioned that he wouldn't mind a nice boy—he was weird enough already. And being weird made it hard to get the most beautiful girl in Wall to return your affections, especially when that foreign merchant's rich son Yao kept butting in and ruining everything.
Alfred shook his head and continued to march towards Mei's home—he couldn't be distracted. He needed to focus so he could convince Mei why he would make a better boyfriend than Yao! He reached her home and picked up a stone, tossing it at her window with just enough strength to make a tapping noise. He heard a round of giggles and then Mei was poking her head out the open window, her dark hair spilling over her slender shoulders, a smile on her pretty face. He grinned up at her, but her smile morphed into an expression of annoyance when she saw it was Alfred waiting for her downstairs.
"Alfred, I thought I made it clear that—"
"I know, I know, you didn't want me to bug you anymore. But this isn't me bugging you, this is your birthday present!" Alfred grinned, undeterred by the roll of Mei's eyes.
"It's not my birthday for another week."
Alfred shrugged and lifted up the picnic basket. "Yeah, but that just means your celebration starts early, right? Come on, it'll be fun and I promise to be a perfect gentleman!"
She studied him for a moment before sighing heavily and calling down for him to wait a moment for her to get a robe. He did a small victory dance while he waited and then offered his arm for Mei to take when she slipped out, looking pretty as a picture in a long, dark blue robe and tiny slippers on her feet. They didn't really talk as he made his way to a small, grassy spot underneath a tree just outside the town, but Alfred didn't mind. He had a tendency to babble nervously when he was around Mei; she seemed fine with the silence and even gave a small smile as he laid the picnic blanket out with a flourish and poured her a glass of champagne after they sat down.
"This is delicious! I've had different champagnes before and none of them tasted like this—how does a shop boy afford all this?" Mei motioned to the spread of small, finger foods that Alfred downright hated but knew that Mei would love.
"Well, not exactly a shop boy anymore." Alfred grinned sheepishly and took a sip of the bubbly drink—it was all right but he certainly didn't think it was delicious.
"Oh my, I heard about that. Sorry you know, for asking you to walk me home."
"I don't regret it, I mean, I got to spend more time with you!" Mei blushed prettily and demurred, taking another sip of her drink. "And besides, I wasn't ever a shop boy, just happened to work in a shop. Now I can go ahead and have adventures, live my life the way I want!"
"You sound like Yao. You know that he's going all the way to Ipswich just to buy me a ring!"
"Ipswich? Mei, I'm talking about the big cities, distant countries across the oceans, the North Pole even! Ipswich is like, ten miles away, hardly an adventure and—wait a second, did you say a ring?" Alfred looked at her and frowned, her last words breaking through his own haze of excitement about all the places he dreamed about visiting. She finished the rest of her drink and gave a nod, eyes bright in the candles he'd lit earlier for light.
"He's going to propose to me on my birthday. Exciting, isn't it? So romantic of him to plan it perfectly!"
"Are—are you going to say yes?" This was so not how he'd wanted the night to end up going.
"Well, I can't very well say no, after he's gone all the way to Ipswich!"
"Mei, Ipswich? Really? Come on, I'd go way further to get you a ring! I'd go to London or Paris or even India, battle huge armies and pirates to get the perfect ring for you!"
Mei tilted her head and glanced at him from over her empty glass, popping a small fruit-thingy in her mouth. "Really?"
"Hell yeah I would! I'd go to the Americas and bring you back a ton of gold or—or I'd go to Africa and bring you back a diamond as big as your head!"
Mei giggled and Alfred scooted a little closer, a hopeful smile crossing his face. She smiled at him before she shrugged and turned away a little, looking back up at the sky. "You're funny, Alfred, and very sweet…but people like you and me—we just don't fit, you know? Not really."
It felt like someone had punched him right in the stomach and Alfred looked down and away, frustration and sadness bubbling up inside his throat. "It's really late, I think—I should go."
"No! I mean, it's all right—let's at least finish the champagne, it is your birthday present." Alfred was devastated and unhappy, but it seemed a waste to just toss all the rest of the picnic after he'd spent most of his savings on it. He mustered a small smile for Mei and waved the bottle in front of her enticingly; she laughed again and nodded her head, holding out her glass for more. He didn't refill his and they sat in silence for a moment, Mei staring up at the stars and Alfred staring at the ground.
He honestly didn't mean to be so different, but he was beginning to wonder if he'd ever truly fit in around Wall. Mei didn't want him, he couldn't keep a job—maybe it would be best if he explored the world a bit, tried to figure out his place in it and everything. Maybe if he did that, he'd be more impressive to Mei and she wouldn't care about his oddness anymore. He looked back up and was about to ask her what was so great about Yao anyway when a bright light filled the sky, drawing his gaze upwards. A bright ball of light streaked past them and over their heads, disappearing past the horizon on the other side of the wall. Mei gasped and let out a beautiful sounding sigh as she gazed up at the night sky.
"Oh, a shooting star! Beautiful!" Alfred looked over at the enraptured look on her face and then glanced at where he thought he saw the star fall.
"More beautiful than a fancy ring from Ipswich?" Mei looked at Alfred curiously so he continued, moving to sit on the heels of his feet next to Mei. "I could go and get you that star and bring it back. I'd cross the wall and bring it back in time for your birthday and I bet it'd be more awesome than any ring Yao could get for you!"
"Cross the wall? No one crosses the wall, Alfred, you know that."
"I'd do it; I'd do it for you definitely!"
Mei tapped her chin against her glass and gave Alfred a speculative look. "My very own star. And, if you get it for me, you want me to marry you?"
Alfred nodded and sat forward a bit more, excitement spilling from every inch of his body. "I'd love that."
She looked at him a bit longer before she smiled and held out her hand for Alfred to shake. "I believe we have an agreement, Mr. Jones. You have one week to bring me my star or I'm marrying Yao."
Alfred grinned and shook her hand tightly. He could totally do this.
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