Alfred didn't have time to actually react and catch Arthur, but he was standing so close behind him that the shorter man sort of fell onto him. Alfred half supported, half dragged him onto the couch and looked over at Francis curiously. Of course he had heard stories about Jeanne, or as she was known in America: Joan. But, he had never seen her in person and had no idea what the significance was regarding the events that were taking place.
"What is he doing here?" Jeanne shouted, her voice breaking into a higher pitch than normal. Francis went to her and put his hands on her shoulders.
"I can't explain everything now, my dear." He said calmly. "But you've been gone for hundreds of years. Much has changed."
Jeanne glared and shrugged the hands off of her. "Years may pass, but that doesn't change what that man did to me! To your nation! I believe that God had a plan and called me back when the time was right, but that man killed me, Francis. And now what? Are you handing him over to me to be killed again? Are you Judas?"
Francis inwardly winced at every sentence. It hurt, especially knowing that Jeanne didn't trust him, but he couldn't focus on that now. His friend was literally shaking with a fright he had never seen on the strong woman before.
"You know I would never," Francis responded in an even voice. "And while it might not have felt like a long time to you, six hundred years is nearly an eternity, especially with you gone. Much has changed with the history of the world. While he did fight against me in the war, he would later come back and aid me in my country's most desperate time of need. Some would argue I wouldn't be here without him, as I wouldn't be here without you. The world has changed, Jeanne. In politics, alliances are broken and formed."
Jeanne took a shaky breath and glanced over at the couch. Arthur was sitting up and staring at her curiously. She averted her gaze and shifted back to Francis.
"I apologize." She said quietly. "Should I get the tea?"
While Francis didn't like the idea of Jeanne acting like a maid, he let her go to give himself time to present a quick explanation to his friends. After Jeanne had left to get the tea, he turned over to the other men.
"God brought Jeanne back from the dead." Okay, not the elegant explanation he was hoping for, but it certainly got right to the point. Arthur's eyes widened and he did a half nod, wondering if he heard Francis correctly. Alfred burst out laughing.
"Okay, okay, good one! Now really, who is she? A friend of yours, Francis?" He asked. "Maybe one of Artie's one night stands?"
Arthur shot Alfred a glare and sighed. "I don't want to believe you, Francis. But I know that's her. What the hell happened?"
"I was driving home and nearly hit her. We don't know how or why, but she's here."
"How long do you think you have?"
Francis fell quiet and simply shrugged. He hated thinking about the day Jeanne would once again be out of his life.
Alfred glanced between the two older men with a confused look on his face. "Is this a joke or something?" he asked. "I mean, you guys can't be serious! And why did she look so ready to kill Arthur? I mean, besides the usual reasons?" He cracked a half smile in the hopes they would break character and tell him it was all just a big joke. Believing that God brought someone back from the dead would force him to confront some very serious ideas about religious beliefs that he really didn't want to think about.
"Her name is Jeanne," Francis explained kindly, before Arthur could speak in a ruder tone. "You may know her as Joan of Arc. She helped me during the Hundred Year's War, all the way back in the early 1400s. She was killed by some of Arthur's men." Arthur opened his mouth to protest and Francis held up a hand. "I know. It wasn't your fault. But she doesn't know that."
Before Alfred could question the explanation, Jeanne returned carrying a tray of tea stuffs. She set it down on the coffee table and stood back, looking to Francis. She felt rather awkward and refused to look back to Arthur.
"Let's sit." Francis suggested, walking over to the couches. Jeanne followed and sat down next to him. She struggled with whether or not to keep her head held up. While it would be much easier to get through this moment with her eyes downcast, she knew it was neither appropriate nor strong of her to do so. So she kept her chin up with her eyes intensely studying a blank spot on the wall. She could feel Arthur looking her up and down. She wondered if it was with murderous intent, but really, his lips were pursed and he studied the girl. He had never meant to hurt her, and he hated how her death affected Francis. It was something he knew was not let go quickly.
"So…." Alfred said, drawing out the last vowel sound until his voice died into a whisper. That usually broke awkward silences with laughs and the beginnings of a conversation, but the nations plus Jeanne were too busy in their own thoughts. Alfred thought for a moment before sighing as he put a folder he had drawn out earlier back into his briefcase. "So, we're not getting to that economics report are we?"
Francis snapped out of his thoughts and looked to the younger nation with a smile. As annoying as Alfred could sometimes be, he was playful and Francis appreciated that. "No, I suppose not," he said as though he was going to continue the thought but stopped there.
"Jeanne," Arthur finally spoke. She hesitated for a moment before gently looking over to him. "Jeanne, it really is… Wonderful to see you here today."
Jeanne was a little taken aback by the comment. "You are?" she blurted out before she had time to stop herself.
Arthur nodded. "I know you won't believe me now, and you might not ever. But I was not… happy with what happened to you." He grimaced, knowing that "happy" was not the appropriate word. "What I mean is, I never wanted you to be killed. That was never my intention. I had a war to win, yes, but I knew how much you meant to Francis and I simply wanted to keep you out of the way until the war was over. But the religious zealots in my troops wouldn't have it. I have always struggled with religion, even after the war. And being in the state I was at when that war was going on, I didn't have the power to stop them."
Arthur hadn't meant to launch into that monologue, but once he began explaining himself, he couldn't stop. His eyes shone with honesty, and even though her dislike, Jeanne knew he was telling the truth.
"I'm sorry." Arthur said after a moment of silenced filled the room.
Jeanne studied him for a moment before responding, "I forgive you." It was the right thing to do, after all. And while it might have seemed that she forgave her captor all too quickly, there was nothing that could be done about the situation now. As easy as it would be to hold onto hatred, the world had changed more than she could even understand in the time she had been gone. If Francis had invited Arthur into his home, something must have changed. Of course, she was still wary of the whole situation and didn't completely trust the man, but forgiveness was perhaps long overdue.
Arthur nodded to her and offered a soft, friendly smile. "How long have you been with us?"
"A few weeks," Jeanne answered. "I do not know how long I will be here, though."
Francis frowned. "Hopefully a long time."
"Yes," the girl said. "Hopefully." She stressed the last word more than she had meant to.
"So, how do you like the twenty-first century?" Alfred asked, speaking for the first time with the hope that the final bit of awkwardness would vacate the room.
"It's… Alright. There is still much I don't understand. But life does seem easier."
"It's amazing what humans could do!" Alfred exclaimed. "I mean, I've been around for so long, but I could never do what some of these little guys do in the span of, like, twenty years! Sometimes even less! Immortals are always toted as the above all, end all, but I think humans are pretty cool too!"
Arthur and Francis nodded in agreement. Jeanne paused, before nodding. It was pretty amazing what humans had come up with, and she knew from Francis' mini history lessons that the new technology she was using was invented by humans. Some even by women, like her.
Arthur was watching the woman carefully. There was some sort of magi going on here; he could feel it. It was strong, but he had it had been just barely stronger when he first entered the house. While Alfred and Francis talked with Jeanne responding every now and then, Arthur focused his mind on the energy being emitted from the woman. After about five minutes, he felt a flicker at the same time Jeanne let out a yawn.
"Ah!" Arthur exclaimed before he could stop himself. The other three turned to him. He paused for a moment, trying to figure out a good cover. "Sorry! I just realized that you… Changed your curtains."
Francis looked behind him at the window and frowned. "I thought you saw these before." He commented.
"Did I? Oh, I must have forgotten. I'm sorry, carry on."
Alfred glanced at Arthur curiously. Something didn't feel right about the comment. Arthur didn't really care about the color schemes of one's home, and even if he did, he wouldn't have complimented Francis like this out of the blue.
Arthur, on the other hand, was worried. There was something amiss with Jeanne. He was sure it was really her; this wasn't some sort of illusion. But her energy was off, as though she only had a limited amount.
Arthur has come to know this kind of energy using the metaphor of a water bottle. With humans, there's only so much energy they can hold at one time, but it can be refilled. However, at some point, their water bottle becomes too old and damaged to hold anything, they pass away. Nations always have water in their water bottle, as they live forever. Jeanne seemed to have her bottle filled most of the way up, but it couldn't replenish. It was in fine shape with no leaks, yet there was no way to open it and refill it. Yet, somehow it was still leaking. Energy was dripping out just a tiny bit, so she had plenty of time if Arthur's theory was right. But with no way to replenish it, she would be gone within the next few months.
But, it was only a theory, so Arthur brushed it aside. He had never been the best with magic, though he hated to admit it. Energy was a fickle thing and even someone as old and versed as him could misinterpret it. Besides, Francis seemed so happy, and nothing was wrong, so there was no reason to put fear into his heart where there was no reason to. Until something happened, Arthur decided he would keep it to himself, but he would look further into the subject.
After another hour or so, the tea was gone and the two foreign nations decided to head back to the hotel. With the meeting over, they would go sightseeing for a day and then fly back to their respective countries the next day.
Francis helped Jeanne clear away the dishes, as he felt bad for making her do all the work earlier. Jeanne was especially quiet that evening as they sat around the television set with the news on in the background. Jeanne had picked up some knitting items and was working her way through a scarf. Admittedly, it could have been going better, but Jeanne had never been one for hand crafts. The only thing she could do with her hands was wield a sword, and she had yet to be able to find the connection between that and knitting needles.
"Are you alright, my dear?" Francis, asked, knowing the answer to the question. She was probably rather shaken with Arthur's appearance, but didn't know how to approach the topic.
"I'm alright." She said, not looking up from her work.
"I'm sorry for the sudden intrusion. I had completely forgotten we were supposed to get together and work on a report. We've decided to put it off until next meeting, which shouldn't be a problem."
Francis studied the woman for a moment. "I know you're feeling off about seeing England again. He's all bark and no bite, though. What he said was true, but it did take me quite a while to believe him."
"No, I believe him," Jeanne insisted and finally looked over at Francis with a sigh. "I've missed a lot, haven't I? Not just with technology or you, but with the world in general."
Francis nodded solemnly. "But you've learned so much already, and you'll only learn more. It shouldn't take long to get you into the swing of things in this crazy technological world. Why, you could be using the computer in no time!"
Jeanne cracked a small smile, knowing that wouldn't happen for a while. She had seen Francis' small, sleek laptop computer and had thought it to be rather interesting, but knew she couldn't get very far without knowing how to read. She still hadn't told Francis about that one, and didn't want him to find out. In today's world with everything being so dependent on text, it would be so embarrassing for a nineteen year old to not know how to read!
"I would not go that far," Jeanne said. "But perhaps. No, I just worry that I won't be able to catch up. I have so much to learn and it's all so overwhelming."
"It is," Francis agreed. "And while being able to communicate with anyone wherever they are is wonderful, sometimes I wish we could go back to simpler times. People don't actually talk as much as they used to. Sure, the number of conversations has increased. You can talk to anyone, at any point in the world with a click of a button. But no one knows how to actually talk to anyone anymore. Job interviews often go terribly, and people don't know how to speak to someone without a computer screen between them. It's a shame." He began to continue, but realized he had been rambling. "I'm not the biggest fan of technology. I listen to the news, that's about it. I'd rather read a novel or sew or do something constructive with my time."
Jeanne nodded, listening to every word. What a world it was, where anyone had access to all the information in the world, yet didn't know what to do with it or how to use it. She imagined books upon books upon internet sources and so on had been created explaining how to communicate with others, yet she knew Francis was right.
She set down her knitting items and stood with a small stretch. "I think I'm going to turn in for the night." She said, walking over to Francis to give him two customary kisses on his cheeks. The Frenchman returned the gesture and bid her a good night.
So I've come to the decision that I will try to wrap up this story and Pinky Promise. They're my two best stories, as they were the last stories I worked on. When I say best, though, I don't mean they're my best writing ever, and some of the plot might take a different turn from where I had intended it to go four years ago. Forgive me for any plot holes; I'll try to fix them up. I'm also not writing as God anymore. Sorry!
Thanks to old reviews, I've decided to give up my dream of writing this entirely in French. Kidding! But I obviously don't know it, so there you go.
As I said with Pinky Promise, I am not back in the fandom and I don't know the canon. I'm going by what I remember and then tweeking it to make the characters more real. While they're based off the Hetalia characters, they're more or less my own now. Hopefully they're not too OOC after so many years, but if so I apologize for that.
As I also stated with Pinky Promise, none of my stories are up for "adoption." While I am so very honored so many of you enjoyed my stories, they're mine and they used to mean a lot to me. I have to treasure that memory for myself and for my younger self. I'll try to do justice to these two stories, but the others will just have to die with grace.
I'm also going to try to wrap up quickly. I just feel that these stories deserve one more shot. I might also drop them like a rock, I don't know, but we'll see. Thanks for reading, and if you've been waiting for this email for a while, Merry Christmas!