Title: Snow Angels
Character/Pairing: France, Canada
Author's note: For the spring Franada com challenge: 12-France gets Young!Canada dressed up for their winter walk. Human AU. I always meant to claim it, but I got swamped with stuff.
Melly birthday package get!
The little voice was grating. And oh, he loved his little Matthieu dearly, but his hangover was killing him.
The voice came more insistently. Francis tried to turn, sending a whole new painful sensation in his head, but he heard the pitter-patter of little feet and Matthieu going to the other side. Matthieu tugged on the cover several times.
"Papa needs to lay in the dark," France groaned. "A very quiet dark place."
He heard shuffling going out of the room, with the sound of that giant bear he'd gotten for him being dragged along. He never went anywhere without that bear, and Francis had to wash it constantly to keep it from getting full of germs and stained. The whole time, Matthieu would dolefully watch the washing machine and wait for his friend to return. Francis sincerely hoped for both of their sakes, that the bear never shrank in the wash, or was wrecked somehow.
He felt poking. He turned and it was agonizing. One bloodshot eye to the room and it felt like his head was a drum and Gilbert was doing one of his clumsy, loud drum solos.
"Juicy Juice," Matthieu said. He held out the carton of orange juice. Condensation dripped down over the wood floors. He'd have to wipe that up as soon as possible, before they got damaged.
Francis tried not to think about what it meant to have a four year old who already knew about hangover cures. A five year old whose vocabulary accidentally contained menage a trois and some of the more creative curse words from the time they had spent in Quebec. But his head hurt too much to think. He drank and prayed that he wouldn't vomit it all up.
"What is it you wanted?" He asked, his voice grown husky.
"Walk time," Matthieu said, pouting.
"I'm sorry, mon chou. Papa is not feeling good today."
"You saiiiid," Matthieu cried.
Francis sighed and made himself sit up. The window was practically frosted shut with lacy little patterns. What he could see outside through that pattern was a whole lot of grey and white. Francis wrinkled his nose.
"Honestly, you're more Canadian than French by now," Francis said. "If I leave you a moment, you'd run off to live with the bears, you little wild thing."
Matthieu giggled. Francis picked him up, and pulled him close.
"I fail to see how you could like that snow so much," Francis mused. "Must be your mother's side. You certainly haven't inherited my hot-blooded nature. Hmmm. How about you and I take a nice long, quiet nap together and—"
"Waaaaaaaaaalk," Matthieu cried.
Francis fell back and sighed. "You will be the death of me, mon petit."
Matthieu jumped off the bed and ran out, dragging his little bear which was almost as big as he was. Francis enjoyed the few seconds of silence and began to sip more of the orange juice. He'd need as much of it as possible if he was going to go out into all that white. Even more if Monsieur Soliel decided to come out, making everything blinding and shining.
He finished off the carton and took a quick trip to the bathroom. A casual glance to the mirror showed he looked a fright. He wished he could shower before he went, but he'd have to wait until he came back. There was no going out in the cold with a wet head, after all. He settled for at least washing his face, and not even the full beauty regimen and relieved himself, feeling somewhat more steady with the orange juice in his system. He wiped up the little wet trail from the orange juice with his thick socks as the walked out to the living room.
Matthieu was dragging his little snowsuit and waiting patiently. His little red and white hat with maple leaves and matching gloves were in a pile next to his boots. His snowsuit had French colors, red and white and blue.
"Now, is there anything you need to do before we go?" Francis asked. He stared meaningfully at Matthieu. Matthieu shook his head.
"Go off to the bathroom," Francis said.
Matthieu pouted, but Francis would have none of it. Finally, Matthieu stalked off towards the bathroom. For once, the bear was left alone. Francis had instituted a strict 'no bathroom' policy with the bear.
He put the little bear-sized red snowsuit on the toy as he waited. He tied the knitted cap with holes cut for the toy's ears and then surveyed his handywork.
"Did you wash your hands?" Francis asked.
"Let me see," Francis said. He examined them. They smelled strongly of the Wild Berry No Tears soap. A scent which never stopped to make him smile. He'd never thought he'd have No Tears children's soap and shampoo next to his Herbal Essences. That he, of all people, would be buying safety scissors and putting safeguards on his outlets.
"Okay, starting this again," Francis said. "Hands up."
Matthieu put his hands up. His little bear sweater rose up with it, revealing his little bellybutton. Francis couldn't resist but to bend down and tickle him senseless for a moment. Matthieu giggled and squirmed.
"Paaapaaa," Matthieu said.
"All right, all right," Francis said. "Now we're getting dressed."
He always made sure Matthieu dressed properly, but for him it was still the same tight jeans and stylish coat with a scarf that was more decorative than anything else. But his little Matthieu would be so tightly bundled, he waddled more than walked.
He helped Matthieu step into the snowsuit, then pulled it into place and zipped it up. Then came tying on the thick red and white hat; Matthieu could put on his gloves himself. A fluffy white scarf with little bears on it tied over his face, and then it was to the final part. Matthieu sat with his feet up, waiting for the little white winter boots.
"Here's the bunny ears," Francis said. "Then the bunny goes into the hole..."
He knotted the laces. Matthieu hadn't quite gotten the hang of it himself, but he'd get it eventually. He was a fast learner. Matthieu took his bear by the arm and was nearly bouncing at the door to go out. Francis steeled himself, and finally went outside. The cold stung his face. He tried not to think about what it was doing to his complection, or how much hot oil treatment he'd have to do for his hair later.
Matthieu waddled along the path. The trees were bare, save for the evergreens which were coated in a thick layer of frost. Francis thought these days lovely, but best viewed from the inside with a cup of some warm drink to stave off the cold. The pavement had been newly salted, for which Francis was grateful, given Matthieu had taken quite the spill last time and he'd been horribly worried when the tears came. But it was just a bruise, not a concussion or broken bone. Still, he'd felt anxious and worried most of that day, and couldn't resist checking several times while Matthieu was asleep just to make sure that he was really okay.
When they came into a particularly snowy house with darkened windows—it was owned by an elderly pair of 'snowbirds'–Matthieu fell right into the drifts.
"Oh, be careful–" Francis began.
He stopped when he realized that Matthieu hadn't fallen by accident, but by design.
"Come make angels with me, papa!" he called. He kicked his little legs out and flapped his arms like he was going to try and fly away.
Francis really wasn't dressed for playing in the snow. The thought of going out there and getting his jeans wet and spending the entire time shivering and possibly losing his limbs to frostbite wasn't an appealing thought. But he looked so cute there, looking up at him that Francis finally gave in. In just a few years, Matthieu would be too old for snow angels and winter walks. He'd be dressing himself and Francis would no longer be the person he idolized and tried to emulate in everything. He'd start rebelling, breaking away until he was all grown and off for college.
Francis didn't fall, however, but carefully lowered himself down. When he was finally down, he made a snow angel, one a lot more orderly and bigger than his little Matthieu's.
"See, Kumajiji is making a snow angel too," Matthieu said with a big grin. He'd lost his two front teeth just recently, and new teeth hadn't filled the gap yet.
"That he is," Francis said, trying to smile though he was, quite literally, freezing his balls off. For not the first time, Francis wished he could sacrifice fashion for common sense, but in his mind, beauty always came first. And while his little Matthieu might have looked adorable all bundled up, like a walking marshmallow, he wasn't about to get in one of those suits. Last time he did, Gilbert had teased him for days about gaining weight.
Finally, Matthieu popped up and grabbed his little bear. Francis pushed himself up. Matthieu waddled ahead of him, dragging his bear along as Francis brushed himself off, and then fell in step. The good thing about these walks were that Matthieu's little legs got tired pretty soon.
"How about we go in for a nice cup of hot cocoa, hmm?" Francis said. His would be a nice glass of wine, though he tended to try and at least pretend he was drinking cocoa. Matthieu saw through it with alarming clarity, however.
"Can I have minty minty co-co?" Matthieu asked. His scarf had fallen down when he took the tumble for making angels. His round little cheeks were rosy, and his eyelashes and eyebrows had frost entwined in them. Francis leaned down and retied the scarf. Matthieu leaned up and tugged on Francis' beard.
"You can have all the minty cocoa you want," Francis said, his voice filled with affection.
Matthieu reached up for his hand and Francis took it as they began walk home. Dark came early in the winter, especially up here. Soon, it would be cold and dark and Matthieu would be sleeping early so he could wake up and scamper around and ensure that Francis never ever slept in.
"Ju taimy, papa!"
"It's je t'aime," Francis gently corrected.
"Ju taimy, ju taimy, ju taimy!" Matthieu said over and over.
Francis sighed. Matthieu's pronunciation was taking the strangest turns since they moved here.
"Moi aussi," Francis said, smiling. "Can you say 'Moi Aussi'?"
"Moi Austie," Matthieu repeated.
Francis chuckled and let it slide. There would always be time to work on it later. He ruffled Matthieu's silky little hair as they reached the steps, and the look Matthieu gave him was of such love.
"What pajamas are you going to wear to bed today, hmm?" He asked.
"The ones with bears!" Matthieu said.
He kissed Matthieu's forehead as he began to peel off the little boots, the now-wet snowsuit, the hat, the scarf and gloves.
A few years ago, he couldn't have imagined being a father. Now, he couldn't imagine a world where he didn't go on winter walks, get woken up early and try and correct mangled French.