Pardonner et Oublier
(French: Forgive and Forget)
A/N: Here's the aftermath of Moya Lyubov (My Love) that I never expected to write! You don't have to read that one to get this - just know that England heard Russia and America up to some "activities", and France knows about it because England told him.
This continuation came at the suggestion of kingdomheartslover13. The FrUK came at the suggestion of my brain's endless plot bunnies.
"Good morning, everyone," Ludwig greeted politely, standing from his seat. "As you all know, I am leading the meeting today. When I am finished with my presentation, the order will proceed counter-clockwise around the table."
Arthur groaned, rubbing his forehead. This was a world meeting, so it would take a good five hours, if not more. Why did every bloody country have to talk? He'd barely gotten any sleep last night thanks to the plaguing nightmares he had of them, and now he'd be fighting to stay awake the entire time.
Oh, goodness, the terrible images he'd managed to conjure up... Now he had them stuck in his brain again. He loathed admitting that it was even an issue. Since the bloody emotion called envy couldn't resist rearing its head, the very thought of Alfred with Ivan, of all people, disgusted him. But, then again, he couldn't call the shots. Alfred was - as much as he didn't want to say it - Ivan's. In more ways than Arthur cared to mention.
Throughout the entire meeting, he stole glances at the offending nations, pretending not to notice that Francis was doing the same to him.
Three agonizingly slow hours later, it was finally Arthur's turn to talk, so he slowly rose to his feet. "I..." Then a word in, he'd forgotten his entire presentation. In disdain, he closed his eyes and sighed through his nose. "I have no presentation additions." He sat back down, ignoring the multiple gapes he was getting.
Of course, you were allowed to pass up speaking - a lot of the countries, like Toris and Lovino, did - but everyone knew Arthur always spoke, especially at world conferences. They would be confused, and for once, Arthur simply did not care.
It took a moment, but the meeting continued with Yao, who brought up his usual point of how much money he was owed, before passing the floor to Francis. There was hardly a pause before the Frenchman stood and announced that he had nothing to say.
It was a lie. In fact, he'd been ready to bring up one of his best points in a while, but he passed up every bit of glory he would have gotten just to hear the next person speak.
The floor went to Alfred.
Normally, the last thing in the world Francis would want would be to hear the personification of America speak, but throughout the meeting, he noticed how uncomfortable Arthur looked, and everything dawned on him at once. The previous night, when Arthur had told him about Alfred and Ivan, he hadn't noticed how hurt he sounded.
Well, he was about to do his duty as a friend (a terrible one, albeit, but oh, well) this one time and do what had to be done. Arthur might not exactly thank him for it, because if things went as far as Francis saw the potential to, it might affect Alfred down to the very problem at hand. He had the power to break them up, in other words. It wouldn't be his initial plan, but if Alfred was as sensitive as Francis thought about the relationship with his supposed enemy, then...well, the rest would work itself out accordingly.
"My presentation is about improving foreign affairs," began Alfred, tapping a small stack of index cards on the table as he rose to his feet.
Francis saw that the American had to check the front card before he introduced his subject, the humor of it giving him a boost of courage.
"My relations with certain places have been a little rocky," Alfred explained, subconsciously glancing at Ivan. "And, so, I think it would be best if I cleared that up by stating the following." He checked his cards again. "The United States of America does not intend harm on any country of the world. If any of you have had muddled relations with me in the past, I apologize." Finally, Alfred put the note cards in his pocket and concluded his short speech, leaving a few countries looking stunned, but most looking bored. "Any questions?"
Francis raised his hand a little quicker than he'd meant to, but Alfred missed it anyway, calling on Arthur instead. The latter tilted his head slightly before asking, "Why are you so suddenly apologizing?"
Oh, wow. Francis blinked, lowering his hand. Looks like Arthur had the same idea he'd had. Not at all what he was expecting.
...Damn it. That meant he'd given up his speech for nothing. He sighed miserably, sinking into his chair. The one time he tried to be a good friend...
"I know Francis was wondering the same thing," the Brit continued, snapping said Frenchman out of his daze. "And you know it is serious when I notice something about him." Yao chuckled and Matthew smiled, signaling they agreed.
Alfred blinked. "Because... I mean, I just realized it." He tried to say it matter-of-factly, but the statement seemed kind of tense.
"You just realized that you've been a huge asshole to the world?"
Francis watched as a startled look passed Arthur's face, like he hadn't really meant to say that aloud. Or, at least, hadn't meant to word it that way. Still, the man didn't say anything to take the statement back.
Between the two of them, the air was tense.
Right as Alfred opened his mouth to rebuke, Elizaveta loudly announced that they should all break for today and conjoin again in a few days. Everyone readily agreed, and that was that. No one was going to argue with her, of all nations.
Francis rushed to catch up to Arthur, whom had been the first to leave the room. "Angleterre, wait!"
"Shut up, Francis," Arthur snapped, the venom in his tone surprising himself more than Francis.
"Why did you say that to Alfred?" the aforementioned Frenchman asked, ignoring Arthur's angered request entirely.
Arthur sped up his pace; Francis persistently followed, reaching out to catch the man by the shoulder. "I don't know," the former barked in an effort to shake the latter off. "I...I don't know why I said it." He finally calmed his voice, and his steps slowed a bit.
Francis was really beginning to get worried, and concerning their not-so-great status together, that was saying something. "Arthur," Francis said softly, halting the same moment the Brit did. "I... Is...? Uh..."
For a moment, he contemplated whether to tell Arthur that he knew what was wrong, or play dumb and ask him why. He didn't have much of a time frame to answer, however, as his subject was beginning to walk again. "I know why you're upset," he blurted quickly.
Smooth, Francis. Even the ever-dense Alfred could pick up on the panic in your tone.
He cringed upon thinking of Alfred, but the feeling was short-lived. Suddenly, Arthur spun around, eyes narrowed. "Of course you do! I told you yesterday, didn't I?"
"Well, you told me that they were-"
"I know what I told you!"
Francis looked over Arthur's tensed shoulder to see a startled Matthew standing next to an irritated-looking Elizaveta. The latter was the only one to meet Francis' gaze, but when she did, her eyes softened, and she hassled Matthew off down the adjoining hallway.
All was silent until Arthur cleared his throat. "I don't know why I'm telling you this," he said, his voice cracking like glass. "But I guess... I guess you're the only one that would understand."
"Come, tell me everything," Francis gestured to the room to their immediate left. "My room."
Hesitantly, Arthur nodded, watching as the man unlocked the door and gestured inside. Tossing aside all suspicion and contempt, he went in. "I hate to say it, but everything you think is probably correct," he started, sitting on the edge of the bed without even waiting for Francis to turn the overhead light on.
"What is it that you think I think?" Francis inquired as he flipped on the light and locked the door behind them. Arthur barely noticed the change in lighting, and didn't hear the sound of the lock clicking - he was already talking.
"I don't think you think anything, I know you know."
Francis smiled humorlessly and sat on the bed next to Arthur. The poor man was so absorbed in his words that he didn't even realize that the two of them were now sitting thigh-to-thigh. "You know I... I had... I have feelings for the boy."
"And you know that he's with..."
"I suppose that's it, really. It's so petty... Never once would I have dreamed of falling to such lows in my time."
Francis laid a hand on Arthur's knee, and for the first time, the man looked up. Before he could protest, however, the Frenchman closed the distance between them, locking his mouth onto the other's.
A few tense seconds passed, and slowly, hesitantly, Arthur pressed back.
The two pulled apart, the younger of the two with a dust of pink over his cheeks and a bewildered expression, the elder with nothing more than a small smile. "It isn't a low point, Angleterre. It is amour, and you have no right to berate yourself for it."
"I-I have plenty of rights to! I'm - It's... Oh, never mind." Arthur lowered his gaze to his lap, where he noticed that Francis' hand had subtly crept higher, to the middle of his thigh. "Fr-Francis..."
His breathing hitched once he realized what the man was up to. Quickly, he grabbed his wrist, sending Francis the best glare he could, which, as both of them knew, wasn't that intimidating with the way his hand was shaking as it held the other's away from the front of his pants. "What in blazes name are you doing?" he asked, as if he didn't already know.
Francis smiled. "I've decided to help you with your sexual frustration."
"S-sexual...what? I-I don't-!"
The Frenchman effectively cut him off with another kiss, and like the last, Arthur returned it, a little less hesitantly this time. The two broke apart; Arthur dropped Francis' hand. "Stop doing that, you bloody wanker!"
"Why not, mon cher? You liked it, no?"
"It is possible that you do not love Alfred, you know."
A lump formed in Arthur's throat. He wanted so badly to rebuke, to say something - anything - that held a hint of sarcasm so that he could hide his confusion and guilt. But, for reasons unknown to him, he could not even speak a word.
"I understand that you probably did...and that it may have been a bit more than friendly, or brotherly love. I know amour, Angleterre. You can trust me when I say that it is complicated; it is not as simple as some people make it sound." Francis paused to tuck a strand of Arthur's hair behind his ear, which earned a slight protest but nothing else. "I know that better than anyone."
"Hell," Arthur muttered suddenly, dropping his head into his hands.
"I love you..." Arthur laughed weakly, then added, "You damned frog."
Francis grinned, leaning his head down so their foreheads were touching. "Then why don't you show me?"