Well, happy Fourth of July for everyone! Well, during the burning of Washington I pictured Alfred suffering, especially after watching several documentaries about it. This focuses only on the Burning of Washington. Alfred's going to be in pain because his capital - what people normally say is his heart - is being burned.
I don't own Hetalia, America or England... Doesn't that bite?
The city was on fire. A young woman stared at it with wide emerald eyes. Terror lined her features despite her best attempts to reel it in. Her long brown hair was sleeked with mud and water droplets, making her look like a drowned rat as she ran in the rain, even while the city burned. Her clothes were more like rags and were as well worn as her features, seeing as she was an orphan and no one took care of her, rather than she took care of herself. She was pale as moonlight and shaking as the rain poured down. She could see people running everywhere, frantic, desperate to get away. She too was running, hitching up her skirts in an unladylike fashion that at one point she may have been scolded for. Right now it was necessary so she just flat out ran like the men did, trying to escape with her life. People yelled and shoved her when she bumped into them as she ran. She didn't even have the breath to apologize. Her head was ducked as she ran in a blind panic.
Washington was on fire.
Everything was burning, burning to the ground and like the few frantic people she was running for her life. An agonized scream pierced the air. It sounded like someone had just lost everything dear to them. Frantic footsteps where heard all around her. Men were yelling at the tops of their lungs while their wives shrunk back in fear. Their home was being destroyed. There wasn't a thing they could do to stop it. She was scared for so many things. Her home, her friends and her family, all of it was yanked away in one moment all because they thought they had evacuated the entire city. There had been a few homes missed. She fell once but quickly she got back to her feet, ignoring the burning in her scraped palm and the ache of her bruised knees. She had to escape, she simply had to. But despite the overwhelming desire to flee, she felt shame in the soldiers, for running as easily as they did, for allowing this to happen. Had they fought harder, had they stood their ground a little longer, perhaps their capital would not have to suffer.
"The British! The British!" a man shouted, "The Brit-"
His cry was silenced and she felt a choked breath leave her lips. She could only assume the man was dead. He had been close behind her. The fear that she would be next was nearly enough to strangle her in anxiety, whispered fears and the horror of the fallen. She was pretty sure she had run past a body or two but she was moving so fast that it felt that even the ground blurred beneath her feet. She just wasn't fast enough. The British were right behind her and they would catch up if she weren't faster. She should have realized a day ago that when the politicians left the city things would not be safe. The soldiers were doing their best to help those left behind escape but their priorities were fighting off the British. Terror had nearly erased everything from her mind, but that was until she ran headlong into a soldier. He was wounded, groaning and holding his hand over his heart, as if he had been shot. He reached towards her, mouthing the word, 'Run.'
"Sir!" she cried.
His blue eyes were the brightest she had ever seen. She feared that they would lose their color. He swayed as he took a step towards her. His face looked pale. As his body thudded to the ground she could feel her hope going with him. He coughed up blood, hacking as she stood there and watched him die right in front of her, as sweat slid down his head from the heat of the flames. An expressionless gaze peered at her through near lifeless eyes. His hand reached up to her but stopped moving altogether, as it dropped to the ground. She checked the area he was holding. There was an enormous amount of blood. She was surprised he hadn't died of blood loss. It soaked his uniform in some sort of macabre sense of horror that she would never forget, for as long as she lived.
"Run…" he croaked.
A powerful wave of energy bubbled up inside her chest as the tears streamed down her cheeks. She ran to man's body and she took him, cradling his head in against her chest. Tears splashed onto his horror filled face. She put a hand on the bleeding wound, trying her best to stop the bleeding for the poor man. She knew that if she stayed there she could die too but she would never have been able to live with herself if she knew she had fled and left behind a bleeding soldier, a man who had fought to the best of his ability to get her and other civilians out of there, or at least stall long enough so she could get away, perhaps at the cost of his own life. It was enough to bring salty, bitter tears to her eyes. She wanted to sob but was too afraid that would draw the attention of the British military.
"Please, please!" she cried, "Wake up! You have to fight!"
The man looked up at her. She found himself staring into eyes that seemed as if they could read the hearts of other people, inside and out, and gauge their intentions. Flinching, she pulled even further back, seeing in those eyes an ability to read people that could only come through years of experience, and an unnatural maturity that should not exist in someone so young, at least her age. There was a weak smile on his face. Tendrils of blood coated the muddy ground and his discarded gun sat harmlessly a few feet away. She leaned down with uncoordinated shakiness to place the shell of her ear against his chest to check for a heartbeat. There was a pulse, a weak one but albeit still there.
Wincing slightly, she moved her body into a kneeling position by his side and began to prod him tentatively, finally resorting to shaking him by the shoulders in a gentle, urgent manner.
"Do you… Do you feel it?" he whispered, "Do you feel my pain?"
He took her hand and pressed it to his heart. Her eyes widened. She felt an uncomfortable tingle running through her hands. She shook her head, despite the fact she felt a jolt underneath her fingers. She jumped when she realized she had propped his head up on her lap. The woman didn't know how to answer the soldier's seemingly innocent question. She would start to reply only to halt midway and attempt to begin again. There wasn't a single word in her vocabulary that could have explained it thoroughly enough so that the soldier would understand. There wasn't a single word in her vocabulary that she could have used to explain it thoroughly enough so that she could understand it. She shifted and tried to sit up the best she could without jostling him to the point of being uncomfortable.
"W-We need to get out of here… C-Can you stand?" she asked.
He nodded weakly despite the grimly set grimace on his face. She felt like she couldn't breathe. Each mouthful of air seemed to leave her lips a little faster than she wanted it to. She had to calm down or she'd hyperventilate and pass out. The man eased a hand around her stomach, somehow managing to help her calm down. She then frowned, determined and very much serious about getting the two of them out of there alive. They weren't going to be just another casualty that night. She was going to make sure of it. The two of them were going to live. They were going to get out of Washington and then get back at the Brits another day. She gripped him firmly and pulled as hard as she could to help him stand. He slumped against her once he was upright, unable to bear his own weight.
"You should just leave him lie, woman…"
The woman jumped. She looked up. There was a man standing across the way. Flames danced behind him. His emerald eyes were burning in the gleaming light of the dancing flames. Unlike many other soldiers this man wore a black garb, suiting of a prince or a general of war. His shirt was made from the finest black satin and his velvet pants were stained red with crimson liquid. His black cloak was fluttering in the wind, whipping around with the flames. He looked like a demon. Her heart felt like it was made of ice and her lungs felt like they were going to pop. They could die right then and there. The soldier was unarmed and she didn't think enough to grab his gun. It wasn't like he could have used it anyways. He was injured and she had never shot a person before. She didn't even know how to work a gun.
The soldier pushed away from the woman, trying his best to stand on his own but he still had to hold onto her for some sort of support. He was far too weak from the blood loss to deal with the man. He pushed her behind him, reaching for his gun, only to find it was still lying in the mud a few feet away from them. He swore under his breath but still stood in front of her protectively, as if he had known her his entire life, as if they had been good friends and he was the only one who could do something. The thought terrified the woman. Her mind tries to come up with a rational explanation for what she's seeing, but as soon as the person in front of her turns around to look at her over his shoulder and she's met with those ice blue eyes the young woman lost all train of conscious thought. She honestly felt safe with him.
"Getting up again, Alfred?" the man asked.
"Of course," the soldier croaked.
The man smirked. Then, all of a sudden his maniacal laughter echoed in the empty clearing in a cacophonous chorus of devilish glee. Alfred raised his head and glared at the man before him with as much hate as he could manage. If looks could kill, the other man would be long since dead. Alas fate was not so kind to Alfred or to the woman who rescued him and the man was very much alive. The woman could tell Alfred was very much in pain because of his wounds but his wound and his pain proved that he was still alive. If he were dead, he would feel no pain. That was his only consolation in this battle. That and he would die protecting someone. But that was what soldiers did for civilians just like her. That was honorable enough in a way to die. Dying for one's country and their people was a good thing, but if he died so did the country.
"I swore… I'd protect them…" Alfred muttered.
Alfred seemed to know the woman was looking at him in surprise but he had to focus on armed man in front of them. He was far too dangerous to allow distractions, no matter how brief it would have been. If he allowed a single thing to draw his attention away it could mean the difference of life and death – of victory and defeat for maybe him and the woman at his side. The woman was pretty sure Alfred was fighting a battle he could not win. She wanted to grab his hand and run but something kept her rooted to her spot. She was unable to flee, even though everything inside of her ached to do so. She did not want Alfred to get hurt for her. She did not want Alfred to die in front of her the way the other soldiers were, especially not in front of her. It was hard for the civilians to watch the soldiers die for them when they knew there was nothing they could do for them.
"You swore to whom?" the man asked.
"To no one," Alfred said, "But… Myself!"
Alfred lunged at the man, snarling and growling as he seized the bayonet the other was holding. He was trying to force the gun away from the woman and himself. The woman gasped in surprise at the swift motion of American soldier. She took a step back from the two struggling men. Her back was pressed against the wall of a building. Luckily it had not started burning yet or it would have burned her back. She didn't want to get in between the two of them as they growled and snarled at one another in the most primitive battle of masculine strength. They were dangerous to her, especially since she had no weapon of her own to use against them. Alfred was trying to force the man back. He was trying to get the gun away from that same man to protect her and to save the two of them. Other buildings around them were going up in smoke.
"You continue to fight for these pompous fleabags?" the man taunted.
Alfred didn't respond to the other soldier's taunts. He only grit his teeth as he continued to push against the man's gun, trying to wrestle it out of his grip. The screams of other men and women had softened as the three of them just stood there, unable to do anything else but wrestle for the gun and stand, uncertain as to what to do. The heat around them was getting hotter and hotter. And because they weren't running the flames were growing closer and closer. It was more and more unbearable to just stand there. The woman licked her lips. She took a step towards the two soldiers. The other soldier was stronger than Alfred was and he was pushing him further and further back. Alfred wasn't going to be able to get him to get the other soldier to get away from them.
"Why?" the man asked, "They hate you. They didn't fight for you..."
"Shut up!" Alfred barked.
Alfred pushed heavily on the bayonet, finally making the man stagger back so he wasn't pushed down and the gun wasn't taken from his hands. That gun decided so many things. The woman knew this and she was afraid of just how many bullets that the British soldier had. They weren't afraid of shooting unarmed civilians, just as the British soldiers weren't afraid of shooting at American soldiers. But it was truly saddening. War made innocent young men into murderers all for the sake of valor, safety and honor. Conditions for living were hell when in battle. If a gun didn't kill you, sickness, weather, wounds and illnesses would. Men could die off the battlefield, dreaming of the homes they might never see again.
"I have had enough of being told what to fight for," Alfred told the man, "I came here of my own will. No one knew I was coming."
"All you have ever wanted was to cling to old memories from the Revolution," the man continued.
The gun was knocked aside. It fell to the ground with a clatter. The young woman gasped and cowered. The stranger turned, catching Alfred by the throat. Alfred gasped. Panic crossed the teen's face as he tried to pry the man's hands back. His feet were now dangling off the ground as he fruitlessly struggled to free himself. He gasped, trying to take in a breath but it felt like his lungs were on fire from the lack of the precious oxygen he needed. Tears streaked down his face as he looked down at the blond haired attacker. The man looked back at him with a passive look on his face. Slowly, he pulled a gun out of the folds of his cloak. The young teen's eyes widened and he tried to pull away as the man held the gun close to his forehead. He unlocked the safety as he pointed the business end of the gun between the boy's eyes. He swallowed, knowing that his death was near and there was nothing he could do to prevent it. He was going to die and that was it.
The woman's eyes widened. She dove for the gun in the mud. She lifted it. The woman was crying now. She was scared for so many things. Her home, her friends and her family, all of it was yanked away in one moment. All of her pain and suffering traced back to the one man holding Alfred against his will – the one man who was standing right in front of her, oblivious to her people's suffering. Tears streaked down her face but she didn't back down. She gripped the gun tighter. Her finger gently traced the trigger. Her finger was itching to pull it back and be done with it but she waited still. Gritting her teeth she glared at the man the best she could through her cascading sadness. She took a deep breath but it shuddered. No one noticed her uneven breath but they would. She would make them pay attention to her because now, she was armed too.
"D-Don't move or I'll shoot!" she cried.
Both the man and Alfred turned to her. The man snorted when he saw the trembling woman with the gun. She was of no threat to him. She could barely stand straight, let alone hold the gun properly. He doubted that she had ever shot someone before in her entire life. He doubted that she could even shoot an animal because of the way women were so tender hearted about small creatures. He stared at her and started to laugh darkly the moment he saw the gun in her hands as she trembled. However, her anger was nearly suffocating. She wanted to hurt him, make him suffer the way she had suffered, the way her family suffered. He had caused people to die. No amount of apologies the man could offer would ever make this okay for her. In fact, she was pretty sure she would never forgive him for as long as she lived and breathed. The word 'sorry' didn't even cover what had happened. It was such a trite word and very useless in the current situation.
"Put the gun down, love, you don't have the guts to shoot me."
She cocked the gun, taking off the safety, just as her father did before he went on a hunt and as her brother did before he was enlisted in the American army. She was proud of her father and her brother but because they left, she was forced to learn to fend for the family since their mother died of sickness when she was young. She had four little brothers and sisters to take care of, all of them depending on her to be strong for them. Luckily they had been sent off to their uncle's in the next town over during the attack of the soldiers. She didn't have to worry about them at the moment. If she died, their uncle could look after the little ones. However, to the soldier in front of her, she didn't look like she could even fight off a small child let alone the man who had laid waste to her home, especially with the way she was shaking like a leaf.
"Put him down!" she ordered, annunciating every word.
Alfred looked at her with a pained look in his eyes, trying to convey to her what he was feeling and what he wanted her to do – to run – to get as far away from there as possible. If he died, the nation failed but his people were of the utmost importance to him. England was going to kill him but he couldn't let a civilian die. Her horrified eyes locked with his and for a moment they just stared at one another. The rest of the world was lost between their single glance. The gesture broke down the walls and let emotion rage through her — anger, fear, heartache, despair. Alfred looked broken as he dangled helplessly. It made her heart ache alongside his. The stranger would pay. Every fiber in her being screamed that the stranger would pay. He had hurt an American soldier just for the sake of hurting the American soldier. It was her mantra that was being repeated in her head: the stranger would pay. He would let him go or suffer the consequences.
"You'll blow him in half if you try to fire at me…"
"I'm warning you!"
The man scowled. She aimed and shot. The shot missed the soldier but it came so close to his head that he froze. Alfred wheezed. He was running out of oxygen but he was still impressed with his civilian. She was just as strong as any man was, if only she were a man. He couldn't bring her into a battle. It was improper for a woman to hold a gun, but he knew some women could shoot and could hunt just like the men. They had to learn in order to survive during the war because men were taken from home and sometimes no one was there to protect them except for them. They took after the farms and the hunting. Perhaps in future generations women could prove just how valuable they were but Alfred would keep this tucked into the back corner of his mind for the moment, because really, the opinion men held of women wasn't going to change any time soon.
"Take one more step and I swear I won't miss this time…" she threatened.
The British soldier – England himself – obeyed. He let Alfred go, though it was rather reluctantly. The American soldier fell to the ground, gasping in precious life giving air into his air deprived lungs. He was glad he could breathe easier now. He took a step back. The American woman took a step forward. She narrowed her eyes. Both soldiers had to admit she looked much more confident than she did a few moments before. She was strong. It was unfortunate that she was a woman or else she may have made the rank of a general in the army or at least that of a commanding officer. The air around her was slightly intimidating, had the two other men not been nations, she may have scared the both of them with her new and radical attitude that was a complete break for normal standards for women. This woman was a radical.
The British soldier sneered at her, thinking no more of her than he thought of the American soldier. However, he had to commend the woman for being strong enough to stand up for her home when it was being taken over, but as all Americans were, she was nosy. She should have stayed out of America's business. It was not her concern if America died and yet there she was, standing with his rifle, protecting some man she had never met. She would die for a complete stranger. The British nation, dressed as a soldier, smiled though it went unnoticed by the two Americans. The woman was too focused on making him leave. Alfred, well, Alfred was still gasping for breath. He had gone a good five minutes without any oxygen in his lungs. England could have killed the woman and gone back to killing Alfred. The woman cocked the gun again. It wouldn't have fired again. She didn't put in a bullet or any gunpowder.
"As you wish…"
And he turned his back to her. He marched right through the flames behind him. The woman was made to wonder if he wasn't a demon or Satan himself in a human form. The flames didn't touch him. He didn't scream. He didn't howl in agony. The fire did not even touch his clothes. And as England left, he didn't need to turn around to know the woman had thrown down the gun and had dropped to her knees. She was fussing over the soldier she still didn't know. She was binding a wound with one of her kerchiefs. England turned only after he was a good distance away. Alfred leaned against the woman like a crutch. She helped him get away. So the idiot would live for now. England may have been angry at America but he still couldn't kill the boy. However, grudges like his didn't go away overnight. His most recent scar would be the one he would seek the most vengeance for. That scar was America's succession from his control.
Well, please read and review!