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Author's Note: When consulted on my favourite US/UK reminder songs, I answered this as one of them because it seemed like the sort of song that would fit with pre-revolution US being frustrated with matters. I think it fits particularly nicely, and developed an urge to write a piece for it. So, here we go.

Historically inaccurate as all hell since I couldn't be bothered to research worth a damn, and I preferred to let the story meander its own path and at times ignored some facts that I knew, etc.

Songscape: King of Anything, of course, since this is a songfiction.

Let me hold your crown.

Keep drinking coffee, stare me down across the table

While I look outside

So many things I'd say if only I were able

But I just keep quiet and count the cars that pass by

Alfred was livid. Not that it showed.

It was like Arthur breathed opinions, and he was spitting them at Alfred with every sip of his tea. They splattered across Alfred's face; trade this, do this, I don't want you doing that, you're my colony and you'll damn well do as I say. There was a few fresh cuts on his face, no doubt some war with France, or another pretty little colony for his new obsession with collecting territory. It was like the guy was compensating for something.

Tiredly, Alfred twisted to look out of the window. He didn't want to be here, listening to this tirade. He had more important things to do. He could be building cities, and helping the ground produce the food his people, his people, needed. All of these things were more important. Alfred had only come by since for once Arthur would be home, and now he wished Arthur hadn't been.

Arthur stared him down across the smooth surface of a tea-cup: the pond in miniature. He blew another breath of what he thought was best, and the tea rippled. "And of course you will only trade with-"

Alfred whipped round. "Now hold on Arthur."

"Don't interrupt me, Alfred, now as I was sayin-"

Alfred continued heedlessly, "I am a developing economy! I need free trade, not just trade that can be done with anyone and-" Arthur cut over him bluntly, and Alfred sighed.

"They'd skin you alive; you're just a boy." Arthur sipped his tea at its murky depths and deep colours, satisfied with that response, and with all the best intentions, prepared to restart his natural demands. However, now, Alfred resisted, and now it showed; transparent and pale. He pushed his own cup away from himself, the china chattering excessively.

"Arthur, I also need less taxes. It's too much for my economy right now, I'm trying t-"

"Alfred." Arthur snapped. "One of these days, you have to learn to grow the hell up."

End of discussion.

You've got opinions, man

We're all entitled to 'em, but I never asked

So let me thank you for your time, and try not to waste anymore of mine

And get out of here fast

Alfred stared at Arthur for a few moments, then pushed his chair back. "I'm leaving now." Standing up, Alfred looked down at the table – the tea, the sugar cubes, the crumpets, the tea. The tea. That damn tea.

At first, Alfred had resented being left alone. At first, Alfred had been lonely, shivering in the forests that had once been so homely and important to him. At first, Alfred had curled into a little sleepy ball, and clung to the various details of English behaviour. Gloves in the summer, and tea. He didn't even like tea.

That was at first. What did Arthur expect him to do? Waste away? Like Alfred needed him? At first, maybe, but the disinterest of his former parental-figure had bred a sense of responsibility, autonomy – hell, independence into Alfred. He had discovered something incredible, freedom, and it tasted like white-wine air, and rushing grassland, like full moons, and bright optimism. The long coils of America's body and culture had stretched out, and some rustic sense of survival in him had jumped to the task.

He no longer shivered in his old forests, but walked through them, and made use of the wood. He built from it.

But how could he build like this?

"Fine. I'll see you another time, then Alfred. Don't forget to pass along the usual tax on the tea, or I will be charging you for it being over-due."

That damn tea. That damn, damn, damn tea.

I hate to break it to you babe, but I'm not drowning

There's no one here to save

Alfred swept his hand across the table, smashing the entire teatime to the ground. "I don't even want your fucking tea, old man!"

Arthur shot to his feet. "Sit down." He ground it out, like he was just waiting to spit some more opinions at Alfred.

Alfred looked up and down Arthur; he was in full-ferocious-anger-mode, and you couldn't have cut the tension in the air with a diamond-dusted saw. Arthur was nothing short of powerful, despite being shorter than quite a few nations, small things had to be much more vicious and spiteful to protect themselves. Spiteful enough to claim every last area of land on the planet. To crown himself king over every last scrap. Which made Alfred a scrap, and not even an important one, considering how little he saw of Arthur.

Arthur was imposing.

Alfred, gritty, movements sharp, and disjointed, and every scrap of his body screaming in protest, in sheer rebellion, sat down.

Who cares if you disagree?

You are not me

Who made you king of anything?

So you dare tell me who to be?

Who died and made you king of anything?

"With…" Alfred swallowed, gulping down his pride like a hot mouthful of tea. "All due respect. I don't want your tea."

"Hn." Arthur didn't care.

"It's only more costs to my over-taxed population. Arthur, I need you to let up."

"Oh?" Apparently Alfred had walked into a trap. "And what makes you think you're entitled to that? What, pray tell, is so special about you America? Why should I treat you any differently to any of the others?"

Alfred spat out his pride again, unable to swallow it anymore. "I don't think I'm special at all Arthur! Because obviously I don't deserve any visits from your sorry ass unless you're asking for money so you can damn well have your crown, throne and empire, so no, I don't think I'm special at all!" Alfred got to his feet again. "I'm leaving now, okay, so fuck off and conquer India or New Holland or whoever the hell is important enough to you."

"Alfred, get back here a-" Arthur's confident (parental, so certain and sure it would be heard) demand was stopped by Alfred promptly throwing the entire table into the nearby wall. The antique shuddered and shattered into a burst of woodchips, and with a whirl, Alfred left.

You sound so innocent, all full of good intent

Swear you know best

But you expect me to jump up on board with you

And ride off into your delusional sunset

"Alfred, will you come out and listen to me?" Arthur demanded, tapping his foot. "You're behaving like a two year old." There was a tired sigh. The sigh of a nation who had come home from yet another war, and hadn't found a nice hot cup of tea waiting for him. The sigh of a man who had wanted his home-front to at least be pleasant. "I'm only trying to help, Alfred."

The insistence of a man who truly thought this might be helping.

"Taxing me to death is helpful?" Alfred spoke through the door, having hidden himself in his room, and barricaded it fiercely against the other nation. At first, Arthur had said that Alfred was in trouble for damaging the furniture, but after a few days wore by, Arthur had let up and settled on trying to cajole his colony out. Alfred simply wished he could go back home, because this castle was feeling less and less like one.

"It all helps you in the end."

"Leaving me for weeks is helpful?"

"It all helps you in the end." Arthur sounded weak with the effort to say that, and Alfred dutifully unlatched his door. Pulled the bed away from the doorway. Lowered his defenses. In some strange way, Arthur truly believed this was probably the only way to make the world safe for Alfred – don't play favourites, and crush anybody who could steal Alfred away, and if Alfred ended up atrophying from being kept in this pretty little place, well, at least he would be safe. Arthur would keep Alfred safe.

Alfred opened the door, and the two looked at each other for a few moments. England swallowed, "You… are special Alfred." Slowly, with the wariness of two wild animals sniffing noses, they embraced.

It occurred to Alfred that Arthur was a lot shorter than Alfred remembered.

I'm not the one who's lost with no direction

But you'll never see

That brief peace did nothing to help, for within a few days, Arthur was being demanding again, critical to a t, and soon left again. Alfred waved goodbye, his fingers numb in the bitter beach-front air, and hair whipping all over the place, he watched the tiny figure of Arthur disappear into the horizon. Arthur, however, on the prow of his ship, had already turned away, and was preoccupying himself with being a captain, a king, and all of his own little world. It was so tight in it too, and the acrid, smoldering sensation of the air was making Alfred's throat taunt, and his breath choke up.

Alfred lowered his eyes, curling slightly on the spot. In the cold air, the hot tears that had began to splash up against his will made his glasses mist over. Alfred made no bid to stop, but only to disguise what was happening to him. His body shuddered almost imperceptibly, and whilst he didn't try and wipe his eyes, he instead ground his teeth, and refused to sob in reaction to what could only be the sudden, suffocating feeling flooding his lungs. Pressing down onto his chest and drowning him.

He did not try to stop, because he knew he could not. All he could do was wait it out.

And when it had finally passed, he walked away; no fuss, no folly. He had important matters to attend to, like how he was going to scrounge the money to support another flowering bud on his economy. He had wasted enough time indulging in his strained, stressed body. It would have been criminal to waste the day because of a moment's weakness.

You're so busy making maps with my name on them in all caps

You got the talking down, just not the listening

When Arthur returned, they both pretended they hadn't parted at all. Just that made Alfred want to scream. The fact Arthur seemed to be pretending they hadn't spoken about the matter at all. That made Alfred try to talk about it even more, but the only person who ever got to talk was Arthur.

War-maps. Territory maps.

"Alfred, my boy," Arthur grinned. "The sun doesn't set on the British Empire, how's that for impressive?"

("I'm sorry about being behind on my payments; I can't get the revenue because I'm only allowed to trade with you.")

"Look at this- -are you even paying attention, git? Alfred, look at this map. This is the British Empire. Magnificent isn't it?"

("And everytime we trade, the debt is getting bigger.")

"And you were the first, but look, now India is one of my jewels. Absolutely top-notch."

("Please. I can't do this. Listen to me. I can't. And I can do anything. Anything except this, except you.")

"It's been good to see you, but I'm tired, and I think I shall call it a night. Thank you for the tea Alfred, it's been a pleasure. It's so good you're finally growing up."

Quite frankly, the fluid was starting to taste downright revolting. It left a foul and bitter taste in Alfred's mouth, and the acidic feeling made him want to cry.

Who cares if you disagree?

You are not me

Who made you king of anything?

So you dare tell me who to be?

Who died and made you king of anything?

Alfred's body simmered, boiled, bubbled and frothed against his will, so that every move he made was another demerit point. Uncomfortably, he shifted in his seat, and his chair creaked against the wooden floor. "I wish you wouldn't scrape against the floor like that." Arthur reminded his charge, pouring tea into Alfred's cup. "Cream? Sugar, Alfred?"

"I'm fine." Alfred's fingertips gripped the table edge, wrinkling and disaligning it with creases. With a smooth movement, one hand replacing the teapot, Arthur slapped Alfred's wrist away from the cloth. Alfred directed his eyes at the ceiling. "How was Africa, Arthur?"

"Too much of a bother, Alfred; hot and painful." Arthur sighed, and Alfred looked at him for a few moments, before carefully leaning his head on his hands, as thought there were cracked pieces of porcelain on the tablecloth, and pools of hot and painful tea for him to burn himself on. "Get your elbows off the table." Alfred jerked, the bolting fire in his bones shuddering, and he quickly dropped his hands in his lap. "I had to head Portugal off regarding Mozambique, and that girl never gives in without a fight."

"I thought you two had an alliance." Alfred mumbled; it wasn't exactly a question, but it wasn't exactly a fact either. At least, judging by the way Arthur seemed to have dealt with the matter.

"She's been a bit of an upstart recently," Arthur sipped his own tea, and looked over it at Alfred. Alfred was getting tired of being seen behind teacups, but at least it felt as though Portugal wasn't really who they were discussing at that moment. "Must be this Imperial Game we're all playing."

"Some game; you came in here all bloodied and bruised from India." Alfred pointed out, already forgetting himself, and all that broken china. It was easy to forget a ruined teatime when you spent your days watching the roots of a city settle into the ground.

Arthur laughed, and Alfred smiled. He reached for a plate of strawberries (imported, no doubt, from somewhere where the sun always shined on english dirt), and Arthur swatted his hand away in reprimand. Alfred gave him an incredulous stare. "Hey!"

"Those are for dessert." Arthur replied crisply.

"Then why the hell are they on the table, now?" Alfred gritted his teeth. He could think of a place on the British Empire, where the sun most certainly didn't shine, and right now he would have liked to shove Arthur's table manners right up it. A few seconds ticked by, and Alfred added. "You don't have a real reason, do you?" It came out a lot more snide than it had sounded in his head.

"Because." Arthur snapped.

"That's not a reason." Alfred crossed his arms, and leaned back in his chair, and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose using his middle finger. A subtle grate against the chafing restrictions Arthur had placed down.

Arthur eyed him for a few moments, and apparently found no point in continuing the discussion. "Let's not ruin our dinner." He whispered with the same deadly quiet he likely used on Portugal, and reached for Alfred's breadroll, ripping it open and buttering it. "Now let me do that for you."

All my life I've tried to make everybody happy

While I just hurt and hide

Waiting for someone to tell me it's my turn to decide

This was never going to change.

Alfred had always known things were never going to change, but it was so hard to believe it. He had tried so hard, and in the end he admitted, that, if he could just be honest, it was because. Because of picnics in the park, and a beautiful laugh as a small child coughed and exclaimed "Icky!" after begging to have a sip of that tea. Because of falling asleep on the couch, lying half across his legs, but waking up in his own bed. Because he truly loved Arthur, with all his heart, completely and forever.

He was scared that Arthur wouldn't love him afterwards, but surprisingly, was not scared of being hurt.

Arthur had always been so strong, and powerful, always so tall, but things felt further and further away from that with every country Arthur had dragged under his rule. Alfred was beginning to realize (but he had always known, it was just so hard to believe it) that he could stand on his own. After-all, it was Arthur who had started to cut Alfred loose. It was he had began by leaving, leaving Alfred to stand on his own.

The last lesson Arthur had taught Alfred, after how to correctly hold a tea cup, and how to brush his hair, and how to shoot a musket, and how to not cook, and how to sail, and how to waltz, and how to brush his teeth, and how to raise a people to be great, that last lesson. That final, complete, and total lesson, was freedom.

Who cares if you disagree?

You are not me

Who made you king of anything?

So you dare tell me who to be?

Who died and made you king of anything?

It felt like that was a revolution inside of Alfred; burning, and wavering like a startled flag. Alfred stood taller, walked with more confidence, and laughed like he could see the stars. The great stripes of change in his land, and all those wishes, that murmured through his heart. Yet, there was still doubt. He was still afraid that Arthur would never love him again. But he was not afraid of change, of mutiny; only afraid of not-love. And yet? It was time to grow up. There are things worse than Arthur not loving him, and that was not loving Arthur – that was unstoppably worse – and he could never love Arthur if there was no he. It was time to grow up, and realize there are many things worse than what you thought would make your chest crack in.

( Alfred did not even consider telling Arthur he was rebelling. Arthur would never listen. Arthur would never take it seriously. He would need to act. )

There are things worse than dying, for example, and it is those things that built Alfred into who he was. Pride, honour, hope: Arthur's refusal to abstain from his monarchy, Arthur's refusal to forget his manners and his past, Arthur's refusal to ever need King Arthur to rise from Avalon, because he would never fall ever again. There are seven ravens in the tower of London with clipped wings, but Alfred was not a raven, and he wouldn't save Arthur. Pride, honour, hope, yes they were important, yes they made a hero, a hero. There are things worse than dying, and one of them is being a captive.

( Even though he was merely a prisoner of love; love is a pretty cage, and Alfred knew he was scared to leave. It is still a cage, no matter how gilded. )

He had to grow up.

His body burned with revolution.

And he threw the damn tea in the pond.

Let me hold your crown, babe.

You don't have to be King of Anything.

(And you are not the King of Me. With love, Alfred)

"I hate you, Alfred!" Arthur screamed this, and it made Alfred's heart shake, and shiver, but he knew, hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is. Alfred was not surprised by scratched muskets, or how badly Arthur missed him, or the fact that this couldn't be the last they would see of each other. Arthur loved him, completely and forever.

May your quills be ever sharp.