AN: Hello people! I'm here to present you another story. It's actually a oneshot that just happens to be in seven chapters, for it somehow expanded rather long. ^_^; Enjoy it anyway!
On Rainy Days
Basically, Francis stopped over just because it was raining.
There were numerous little boutiques on the streets of Paris, but when rain caught Francis Bonnefoy on the hop on his way back home from the café he was working at on that particular Saturday afternoon in early August, there was only one in sight – and of all possible names, it proudly announced above the door: The English Shop. Francis had noted that particular boutique already some time ago, but his French pride would never allow him to enter it. He couldn't even begin to understand why there was an English shop in the middle of Paris to begin with, but, as it has been said, it was raining, and the Frenchman didn't want to get wet.
A little bell rang above the door as Francis entered the small shop, but there was nobody in sight to note his presence. Slightly relieved by the absence of staff – he had, after all, ended up in the shop unwillingly – Francis decided to have a look around now that he was there, until the rain would decrease enough for him to continue his way.
The boutique was rather small; there were simple shelves of light wood on the three walls of the shop, a wooden desk with cashier taking the fourth one, and two other shelves precisely in the middle of the room, altogether forming three aisles in the shop. There was a doorway to another room, too, but it was behind the cashier and covered with a dark green curtain. The products were arranged accurately on the shelves; those handmade little wooden figures, artistic maps, neat embroidery and small British flags (who the hell would buy a British flag in France, anyway?) clearly had all their places despite the lack of any visible order.
Francis wasn't a great fan of all possible kickknacks, but he had to admit that it gave the boutique kind of an original atmosphere. Actually the boutique was quite charming in all its cosiness, the Frenchman almost guiltily marked. Subconsciously he glanced around to make sure no one was still around, as if fearing to be caught on doing something forbidden, and stepped closer to the nearest shelf. Not daring touch small, wooden toy soldiers on display, he leant forward and inspected them carefully from distance. Yes, they were definitely handmade – every soldier was different from its companions, each of them even having personal, though simple facial expression. The uniforms of the soldiers caught Francis' attention and he gave a small chuckle; it was like time had frozen and put on display the armies of Britain and France from about 16th century – Lilliput style. Almost like from his childhood.
The wooden figures had got the Frenchman to forget himself, hence he didn't hear soft steps behind himself. He saw a wooden globe, size of man's fist, and took it in his hands, eagerly checking how detailed it was. The globe was painted with light colours, obviously by hands, too. It was incredibly precise, and though not perfect, Francis could see that whoever had made it had put his heart into his job. Smiling slightly, Francis admitted that the tiny boutique did have a spirit, if nothing else.
A very English spirit, as he was immediately to notice.
"Sir? How can I help you?"
The voice coming from behind him made Francis jump and he turned around to meet a young blonde man with short but messy hair observing him. Recovering from surprise, Francis' lips curled into a pleasant, customary smile of his, attempting to cover his embarrassment for being taken by surprise like that. "Hm, excuses-moi, monsieur?"
For some reason his charming smile was received with thick, risen eyebrows and unimpressed face. "I asked if I could help," the man slowly repeated in clear English with native British accent, looking like he was talking to a simpleton.
"Oh," Francis uttered, feeling being insulted by the other's tone. So this man, apparently closed away in his English shop from the city he was living in, seemed to be arrogant enough to speak English and apparently expected everyone else to do automatically the same – in France. Patriotism immediately rising its head within the Frenchman, he adopted a shallowly polite smile. "Oh, no, I don't think so," he answered in English, making sure to emphasize each word so that uncivilised Englishman would understand, and at the same time gave a ridiculing glance around the shop. "Unless you happen to sell umbrellas here," he added in a tone that clearly didn't expect such luxury from a humble boutique like that.
Irritation flashed in bright, green eyes of the shopkeeper but he, too, didn't slip from false politeness. "Sure, umbrellas are right over there, if you didn't see," he said with hinted mockery, pointing to the cashier and indeed; there stood a box with said items.
"But of course you would have them." Well, Francis knew the game of hinted offending, too. "Since you are coming from that horribly rainy country of yours, non?"
Both men glared at one another for a moment or two, then the shopkeeper smirked. "Why, yes," he said all too kindly again and crouched to pick an umbrella. He handed it to the Frenchman with a smug smile. "Naturally this is the only fashion I have." He opened the umbrella to proudly reveal its unmistakable, bright Union Jack illustration.
Had Francis been less good at controlling his composure, his jaw would have dropped. Oh that arrogant little bastard... "Oh well, I'm good. I'll look from somewhere else." On sweetly uttering the words, the Frenchman turned his back to the shopkeeper and swearing to himself to never return, proudly left the damned boutique and its owner.
Into the still pouring rain.