Guys, guys, guys. I'm sorry for making you panic about the last chapter. But, remember, unless a story is marked 'complete' it is incomplete. XD
Anyways, thanks so much for the reviews and support! And for the fanart! It's all so lovely~ ^_^ Here's the final chapter. It's short, but I couldn't drag it out any more.
Warnings: previous warnings apply
Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia.
Matthew stared out at the ocean, sea breeze ruffling his blond locks, a frown tugging at his lips. The water was still, waves lapping at the posts of the dock, white foam hissing and clinging to the rotting wood. The dock was quiet save for the soldier on patrol and the odd child from town playing among the ropes and barrels.
The blond was briefly reminded of Peter and he smiled sadly, waving to the soldier and hopping onto the beach, kicking up sand with his leather boots as he trudged along the tide that crawled up and skimmed his shoes. He continued to walk, leaving the outskirts of the town behind him as he headed towards the hidden cove a mile or so away.
He glanced back at the ocean, at the clouds, and looked for the dark hulking mass of Queen Elizabeth's Revenge.
Matthew's lower lip trembled, still haunted by the press of Arthur's lips against his. Maybe he had rushed. Maybe he should've kept his mouth shut.
Love? How could he have said that?
He did want to come home. He was happy at home in Port Royal. His mother had hugged him and his father smiled, looking years younger.
When the high society lords and ladies of Port Royal cornered him at the next ball and asked him about his return to London, Matthew's smile had tightened and something in him clenched and he grit his teeth and quietly excused his self.
It was then he realized all of Amelia's portraits had been taken down and that his mother had been wearing black when he returned on the merchant's ship from Tortuga.
"You were ready to put me into the ground as well." He had said quietly to his father, storming onto the balcony and hopping into the garden.
Now he was pretending that everything was fine and wonderful.
No one wanted to hear of the past year. His mother was already talking about marriage. His father was talking about him starting at the business that autumn. Amelia was off on the high seas with her lover.
And Matthew was on land, pining for a man who fucked him and left him alone in a tiny inn in Tortuga. He had thought he was better for it, that he had composed himself and never looked back.
Arthur had let him go. But Matthew couldn't let him go.
But Arthur had to have cared.
"So this is how you look out of the dress."
At the gruff voice, Matthew scrambled to his feet, sand clinging to his breeches and palms. He started towards the man before holding himself back and ended up falling on his rear onto the sand.
Alistair snorted and James just shook his head.
The two pirates were dressed respectably, having abandoned their mismatched clothes and traded in for well-tailored trousers and overcoats. Alistair had a scarf around his neck to hide his tattoos and James wore gloves to hide his scarred hands.
"What are you doing here?" Matthew asked, voice low as he looked around, rising back to his feet. "You'll be hanged." He fretted, now straining his neck to find any soldiers patrolling.
"I don't know how we didn't realize it before." James said mildly, cocking his head. "He is remarkably masculine."
"Explains the lack of…" Alistair trailed off, making a vaguely obscene cupping gesture with his hands in front of his chest.
Matthew looked scandalized.
The Scotsman laughed. "Never mind. 'Tis our Margaret through and through."
"Matthew." Both James and Matthew corrected.
"So…you both know?" The blond said, awkwardly shifting.
"Arthur finally told us a month after we left Tortuga. We kept nagging him about just leaving you and being too much of a coward to wed you." Alistair sighed. "Then he just sn—."
"Told us." James interrupted, giving his brother a hard look.
"Bloody hell!" Arthur had roared, crumpling the maps on his desk and sweeping them off violently. The sextant and compass flew off and clattered to the ground. The pirate swore indiscernibly, fingers coming up to grip his hair as he slumped onto the table. Alistair and James stood, watching. "There is no blasted Margaret. It was just stupid boy who had the misfortune of being in a dress." He said quietly, wounded. "He wasn't supposed to stay on the ship. I was going to ransom him off and be done with it but…" Arthur stopped, voice thick. "What have I done?"
"How is he?" Matthew asked quietly, picking sand off his palms.
And how could Alistair and James tell the boy that Arthur had stayed locked up in the cabin for days, coming out reeking of rum and eyes bloodshot and temper fouler than a wounded kraken?
So they didn't.
"Same as ever." Alistair said brightly.
Matthew looked miserable.
"And Peter?" Matthew asked, violet eyes shimmering in the dusk as he interrogated the two pirates about the rest of the crew.
Alistair sighed. "Arthur decided that the ship was no place for a child and left him at a church orphanage in Kingston."
Seeing Matthew's horrified face, James cut in smoothly, "But, like the good lad he is, Peter ran away from Arthur less than a foot inside the gate of the church and hid in a carpenter's workshop. Arthur went to drag him back but found him with the carpenter—a enormous Swede with cold eyes and a penchant for baking—who decided to keep Peter as an apprentice. The boy is spoiled rotten. Cakes and biscuits whenever he wants them." But James looked pleased and Matthew smiled, exhaling in relief.
"Art took that hard too." Alistair added, earning a glare from James. "What? Apparently he was fond of that little bugger."
Matthew stayed quiet. It wasn't his place to tell Alistair and James that Arthur had to leave his only child.
"Look, Matthew." The red-haired pirate began, ignoring his brother's attempts to silence him. "Artie has had a hard few months after you left. Peter is gone now too and we had to leave Alfred with Belle in Tortuga. His health took a turn for the worse."
"Oh god." Matthew gasped. "What happened?"
"He thinks he was being some sort of hero by sticking with Arthur after that nasty business years back." James explained, still giving his brother a dirty look. "Didn't even notice his health was waning and Arthur has always been dense. He's doing better with Belle."
"Me thinks there is a little love in the air." Alistair grinned. "Perhaps Belle will have better luck with this marriage."
Matthew shook his head. Then, something occurred to him, and he gave the two pirates a nervous look. "Um…about the charade—"
Alistair held up his hand to silence the blond. "It isn't my place to speak, lad, especially considering how happy you two were."
James nodded. "It was Arthur's idea, anyways. No one would consent to wearing a dress for so long."
The blond flushed, pink spreading up to the tips of his ears.
The two pirates got up to leave and Matthew stood as well, grabbing Alistair's sleeve and pulled the taller man to his level.
"I'm sorry." He whispered. "I am so sorry."
Alistair gave him a mysterious smile and patted his hand. "Not everyone is suited to that salty wench, the sea, boy. It had to happen eventually. And know," He leaned close, blue eyes glinting. "that Arthur missed you. Don't you dare believe otherwise or else. Because I believe we will meet again and, when we do, I'll bring you something pretty." He patted Matthew's head and the blond gave him a strange look.
"And here I thought you were sober for once."
It didn't hit him until he was halfway home that Arthur missed him.
And eyes widening, he didn't see the cracked cobblestone and he promptly tripped.
Matthew is unbuttoning his shirt with careful fingers when a breeze brushes across his nape and he stiffens, turning slowly.
Arthur is sitting on the sill of his window, dressed in a less flamboyant black waistcoat and straight trousers tucked into dark boots. He doesn't have his hat and his hair is windswept and he's staring out at the dark sky.
"I can see why you wanted to leave." Arthur began, voice casual and cold. "A big, pretty house overlooking the town, the ocean. The finest clothes and best food. Servants to wait on you hand and foot." He glanced at Matthew, emerald eye calculating. "Though, you know, love, I have plenty of wealth. Enough gold and jewels to pay a princess's dowry."
"It was never about the money." Matthew said quietly, pulling his shirt together, refusing to rise to Arthur's taunting. "And you know it. So don't sit there and regurgitate all the lies you told yourself to make it easier to abandon me."
"And what sweet lies have you told yourself?" Arthur gave him an incredulous look that made way for resentment.
"Only that you loved me as well." Matthew whispered, fingers curling into his palms.
"Funny." Arthur said after a moment, forcing distance, tone cooling. "And why would you tell yourself that?"
Matthew gave him a hurt look, violet eyes frosting over. "Because I wasn't lying that night and you know it. I hated you and I tolerated you but when you fell asleep, begging for forgiveness like a child instead of a great pirate lord, and I had the chance to kill you, I couldn't do it because I knew I loved you." He gave the pirate a sad, soft smile.
And it had struck him, sudden and soothing like a crashing wave, that night. And maybe it was being held prisoner. Maybe it was some terrible disease.
But he knew that he shouldn't have missed Arthur as much as he did.
He should've been happy that morning in Tortuga.
"I hated you when I woke up alone."
"So you made a mistake."
"No." Matthew said, quiet and faltering. "I have my duty and you have yours and its just better if we part again. Even if it hurts. Even if I can't bear it again." He sniffled.
"You're less emotional in a dress." Arthur noted quietly.
"Go to hell." Matthew snarled, weeks of simmering hurt sparking in his chest and anger at the other's cavalier tone. "Go away and leave me to my lies, you bastard."
Arthur swore loudly as Alistair proceeded to manhandle him off the darkened ship.
"Get back over there, you bastard." The Scot ranted, gripping the other's coat with strong hands. "Or I'll drown you."
"You're an idiot, Arthur." James added, dark eyes disapproving. "And don't think we won't mutiny over this."
The rest of the crew, realizing that the only way to get their captain back to his stern but fair self instead of this half-crazed, prone to fits of sobbing into a ratty pink gown, and less understanding and more trigger happy madman, was to get back Margaret/Matthew, nodded.
Oh, by the way, guess how many navigators died?
Too many to joke about.
"Matthew, I want to say—is that a bath?" Arthur looked confused, half leaning into the room from the window.
Matthew gave him a cold look. "I am about to bathe." He said haughtily. "Pirate."
"Oh come off it." The dread pirate snorted. "Pet—"
"Don't 'pet' or 'love' me." Matthew snapped, stomping forward. Then he realized what he said and he blushed and then he shook his head and just glared. "I hate you."
"Shall I take that as proof of your everlasting adoration?" Arthur grinned, good humor evaporating when Matthew attempted to push him out the window.
After a brief struggle, the two fell to the ground, Arthur sprawled on top of the blond. It was only then that he realized Matthew's eyes were red and his cheeks were hot.
"How can you come back, say such horrid things to me and then pretend that nothing happened?" Matthew shoved him off but Arthur stayed put. "Just go. Just leave me. I want you out of my life and I hope you drown."
"I left you because you wanted to leave me." Arthur interrupted, grabbing the other's wrists and pressing them to his lips. "I can't eat without your constant grimacing and complaining about weevils. I can't sleep peacefully without the threat of being murdered. I can't even find pleasure in the whores of Tortuga without thinking how much more lovely you are in a dress."
"You went to a whore?" Matthew hissed, jerking against Arthur's hold.
"I was trying to get over you, love. Try not to focus on that and realize that I'm confessing my love."
Matthew scoffed and continued to struggle and Arthur continued to hold him down. Both of them, cheeks red in exertion, grappled until the pirate snapped.
"If you really wanted me gone, you'd have yelled out."
Matthew stilled, blinking up at Arthur. And then he opened his mouth.
"It's for your own good, love." Arthur said with an awkward laugh, patting the blond's cheek.
Matthew was tied up on the bed with bed sheets, arms twisted behind him and ankles tied together, Arthur's scarf gagging him. The blond gave him a hateful look and said something that was muffled by the fabric.
"Now, I know you, darling. You tend to become prickly and detestable when you're upset." Arthur began, a little condescendingly. "Oh, don't give me that look. I love you all the more for it. And I know I've hurt you. I came here to see you, not to hurt you more. But as soon as I saw you, looking so much better than you were with me, I couldn't stop myself." The pirate touched his cheek. "I adore you. I wish I could've kept you with me but you wanted to leave and you would've hated me and I would've hated you and we'd have taken the world down with us, love."
Matthew leaned into his touch, eyes fluttering shut, finding solace in the familiar scent of sharp salt and sweet rum. Arthur finally untied the scarf that was gagging him, tossing the sodden fabric to the side.
"I wish it could be different." The boy said quietly. "But I can't. You can't."
"Don't give up so easily, love." The pirate whispered. "Let me go have a bath and we'll discuss this."
Matthew blinked, watching as Arthur began to disrobe. "That's my bath." He said, a little petulant. "And aren't you going to untie me."
"I rather like you like that." Was the response, along with a mischievous smirk.
Matthew, eyes progressively narrowing, watched as the pirate bathed. Bright eyes grazing over familiar lines and scars, remembering the exact ridge of muscle and curl of hair and puckered edge of scar tissue under his fingertips as his cheeks warmed.
Finally, Arthur finished, standing and reaching for a towel.
"Arthur." Matthew called softly. The pirate glanced over at him, eyebrow raised. The blond just smiled and beckoned him with an attractive tilt of his head.
Arthur seemed confused for a moment before understanding dawned on his fingers and, with a roguish grin, he raised a finger and mouthed 'patience' before grabbing his discarded overcoat and rummaging for something.
Matthew huffed and squirmed, body aching and warmth pooling in his lower belly. The dread pirate finally slunk over, reaching around Matthew, body still wet.
The blond leaned forward and kissed his neck, lips molding to the thrum of his pulse and warmth of the muscle, pressing his chest against the pirate's.
"Matthew." Arthur warned, voice husky. "I have something important, pet. Stop…distracting me." And he grabbed Matthew's bound hands, sliding something cold and heavy onto a spindly finger before untying the knots.
With a curious glance, Matthew lifted up his hand and saw the ring Arthur had slipped on.
"Took it from the Spaniard so it was already stolen." Arthur shrugged, looking away with a faint blush. "It's my color. I thought it might shut you up for a while and that it might look nice on you but you—" The pirate was cut off by Matthew bowling him over, arms wrapped around him.
"You are an idiot." Matthew shook his head, a brilliant smile on his face. "And I wish you would stop treating me like a woman."
"Yes, well, you are wearing trousers now so I suppose…" Arthur trailed off, palms coming up to cup Matthew's rear.
Matthew's smile softened, palms smoothing down the curve of Arthur's shoulders and chest, nails digging slightly and leaving jagged red lines. He breathed out, and looked up, meeting Arthur's gaze.
"You should come away with me." the dread pirate captain whispered. "You're brilliant with a rapier. You have your sea legs. How can you come back to all this posh nonsense when the open sea calls you?"
"My parents." Matthew answered, lashes lowered. "I would, but I can't."
Matthew grinding down against him, the warmth between them unbearable. "Stop it." He commanded. "Not now, please, Arthur. I just want you to touch me."
"And that's it?" James asked quietly, coming up behind the sandy-haired man. Arthur stood, leaning against the vessel wall, staring longingly at the port town.
"That's it." Came the subdued response.
"And that's it?"
Matthew stiffened, turning to look at his mother. The woman, beautiful in spite of the wrinkles at the corner of her eyes and sickly complexion, just smiled gently at him.
"You will just stand here and see him off?" The woman asked, vivid blue eyes shrewdly examining her son.
"I don't know what you mean." Matthew said firmly, turning back to the horizon. "Mother, you should be inside. It will be unbearably hot, today."
"I faced much worse, my child. The Williams family is made of a much hardier stuff." She answered. "Your sister is off gallivanting with one of the prettiest girls in the world. And you are settling because of duty."
"I really don't know—"
"You think a mother doesn't know when her child is receiving a gentleman caller?" She sighed. "You and Amelia always assumed I was ignorant."
"You were with pirates for a year, my sweet. You're wearing stolen Spanish gold." Matthew hid his hand but his mother continued, "Just go. I do not mind being motherless if my children are happy."
Matthew just stared. Heart beat picking up and swelling. And he smiled.
And then he embraced his mother, arms wrapping around her slender frame and holding her close.
"Arthur, come on."
The dread pirate captain shook his head stubbornly and refused to move from the beach. He had taken the dinghy back to shore, refusing to leave Matthew, even if he swore to the boy he would leave and never look back. "I've decided we're going to burn this entire wretched place to the ground and I shall have Matthew and we will dance upon the ashes of this hell."
Alistair and James exchanged looks.
"Be thankful your crew didn't see." James chided.
Arthur, glowering at the pair of them and tied to one of the benches in the dinghy, remained silent. Then, perking up, he looked above their heads.
Both Alistair and James turned.
Matthew, was running towards the hidden cove where he knew Alistair and James hid the boat (because the towers could not see it in the fog), nearly slipped on the sand but managed to reach the shore, throwing himself into the oncoming tide, frigid water soaking his breeches. He waved his arms, now in waist-deep water.
Alistair reached over and tugged Arthur out of his ties and the pirate captain proceeded to jump out of the boat and swim to shore.
Of course. He couldn't swim.
So Alistair had to jump in after him and drag the dread pirate over to Matthew.
But it was worth it because Matthew tackled the sandy-haired man, lips landing on his cheeks and eye patch and lips in between mad laughter. Arthur, grinning, fell back into the water, sea foam enveloping them, clothing ruined, as he sought the other's lips.
"No dress this time." Matthew whispered, hair damp and dark gold from the ocean spray. Salt clung to his eyelashes and lips and Arthur kissed him again and then once more.
Yes. That's it. It's done for real this time. I hope you all enjoyed it.
Now, I did not put smut in. I did it on purpose so please no 'aww you should've written sex'. I didn't want to cheapen it so its sorta implied.
Also, this wasn't going to be a happy ending. It was going to end with Arthur and Matthew parting and living apart but with Arthur coming to visit sometimes. But that's too much like Pirates of the Caribbean 3. So, happy ending yay~ :)
How was it, all in all?