Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia. Please note that the opinions, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, actions and events contained within the following work of fiction do not necessarily reflect those held or endorsed by the author (sometimes, quite the opposite).

An explanation is in order: Y'see, I had a thought. When inspiration hits, it often refuses to go away until I have written at least a chapter of the story, or a scene which is most vivid in my mind. This means that I have quite a few drabbles, excerpts and 'first chapters' sitting in my files. I already have several stories currently in progress, so chances are it will be quite some time before I'm able to take on any new ones. So! Instead of letting them moulder, I thought perhaps I could publish them here; and when I'm ready to tackle a new story, I'll remove the related segment from the collection and publish it seperately. Does that make sense?

So, this is the first installment in what will be a collection of first chapters, scenes and excerpts from upcoming stories. They'll be a bit rough and unrefined, but they'll give you a taste of what's to come.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure it's a great idea; but you never know 'til you try, right?

I decided to kick it off with the first chapter of a story that was inspired recently. Without any further ado, I give you the first chapter of the story tentatively titled:

'None So Far.'

"Ah, Arthur! You came!" Francis greeted the Englishman standing on the doorstep with excessive enthusiasm. "C'est bonne, now we are all here! And you've brought wine! And flowers!"

"It's customary to bring a gift to your host." Arthur responded a little gruffly, handing them over.

"Aren't you sweet." Francis simpered, and ushered his guest inside. "Come, into the garden. It's such a beautiful morning, no? I was thinking we could-"

"What is he doing here." Arthur growled, stopping in his tracks at the sight of the man already sitting at the table in the garden. "You didn't tell me-"

"Now, now." Francis flapped his hand dismissively, interrupting his complaints. "I'm sure you two can be civil for the course of one simple breakfast, hmm? We're all gentlemen here, are we not?"

"I'm a gentleman." Arthur muttered as they approached the table. "He's a brigand and a-"

"Arthur Kirkland! How good to see you!" Antonio greeted cheerfully, waving from his seat at the table. "I didn't know you were coming, too! Isn't it a lovely morning?"

"It was until I saw you." Arthur muttered under his breath, and smiled tightly. "Yes. Isn't it."
"Arthur brought wine. Be a dear and open it for us, Antonio?" Francis handed the bottle to his guest to open, and waved his other guest to a chair, arranging the flowers into a vase he'd conjured from apparently nowhere. "Sit down, Arthur, I'll pour you some tea in a moment." Flowers arranged to his satisfaction, he set the vase in the center of the table, and busied himself with the tea things, chattering amiably all the while. "I was just saying to Arthur that I'm sure you two can enjoy a simple breakfast together without incident; don't you agree?"

"Of course we can." Antonio agreed amicably, expertly popping the cork. "All business aside, we're just men, no?"

"Some of us are backstabbing, cutthroat bastards." Arthur grumbled, frowning across the table at his sometime-rival as he accepted a cup of tea.

"That's certainly true." Antonio acknowledged, handing the bottle to Francis, his smile taking on a sharp edge. "But I can overlook your faults for now. It's just one breakfast, after all."

"Now see here," Arthur nearly slammed his cup into the saucer, sending most of the tea sloshing over the rim. "I don't have to take this sort of lip from you of all people. I didn't even know you were going to be here, I wouldn't have come to this ridiculous breakfast if I had known."

"Arthur, my china." Francis chided mildly, handing Antonio a cup of tea as well. "This is my favourite tablecloth, too."

"That's fine with me." Antonio answered cheerfully as he accepted his cup. "I don't mind if you leave, hm? Francis and I can have a lovely, peaceful breakfast without you."

"You'd like that, wouldn't you." Arthur accused, using his napkin to mop up the tea he'd spilled. "Always looking for a way to get one up on me. Well let me tell you-"

"Boys, boys!" Francis fluttered, hands over his heart. "There's no need to fight over little old me. After all, love is meant to be shared, is it not? I love both of you equally, do not worry~!"

Antonio just laughed, but Arthur flushed, spluttering. "I- don't be ridiculous, you damn idiot! This has nothing to do with you!"

"Arthur, darling, don't be shy." Francis leaned on his friend's shoulder, fluttering his lashes. "Love is nothing to be ashamed of. I understand perfectly- I'm quite a catch!"

"You two do look very cute together." Antonio offered, chuckling into his cup as Arthur coloured furiously.

"I haven't come here to be made fun of." Arthur stood stiffly, drawing himself up with all the hauteur he could muster. "If you're just going to make a mockery of me, then I shall take my leave."

"Arthur, sit down." Francis ordered, his tone brooking no refusal. Arthur sat, somewhat reluctantly, and Francis poured him a new cup of tea. "I only tease you because you make it so easy, mon cher. I invited you —and Antonio, so you'll have to get used to it— here because I enjoy your company, and wanted to share a pleasant meal together with my friends, without any fighting or silly rivalries. That's not too much to ask, I think, do you?"

Arthur muttered something unintelligible that could be taken as an agreement, sipping his tea. Francis smiled in approval, handing him a plate of crepes filled with fruit and cream.

"Now," He said once everyone was served, seating himself. "Let's catch up, hmm? It's been quite a while since we've seen each other, what with one thing and another. What has everyone been doing lately?"

The sort of small talk customary in such situations ensued. It surprisingly remained civil, and even bordered on relaxed and friendly, aided by the fact that Francis' idea of 'catching up' meant telling everyone all the amazing and wonderful things he had done or said since he'd seen them last. Since he had little to do with the others' 'work' on the whole, it effectively diffused any tensions on that front.

The rum he'd slipped into the tea didn't hurt, either.

After an hour or so, Antonio and Arthur were quite tipsy and rather more pleasantly inclined toward one another. The conversation turned nostalgic, and they began to reminisce about the simpler times of their childhood.

Which was exactly what Francis had wanted.

"...and then of course I fell off the damn thing. Never did get used to those." Arthur chuckled, and hiccupped, holding out his empty teacup for a refill.

Antonio chuckled, too, pouring his sometime-rival more of the doctored tea, topping off his own cup as well. "Still, at least you had the opportunity to try. We never had them in my neighborhood."

"Oh? Well, if you'd like you're welcome to mine." Arthur offered, generous in his inebriation. "I've still got it around somewhere."

"I think I'm a little big for them now, but that's very kind of you!" Antonio laughed, slapping his back. "You're an unexpectedly nice guy, Kirkland!"

"Speaking of unexpectedly nice," Francis jumped in, deciding the two were sufficiently loosened up for his purposes, "I've been working on a new cake. I'd like you two to be the first to try it, hm? Here you go," he set a plate of cake in front of each, "let me know what you think. Don't hold back!"

"It's very good." Arthur said, chewing thoughtfully. "Not too sweet."

"Mmm. It's so light and moist!" Antonio closed his eyes, humming thoughtfully. "And is that lemon zest?"

"It is." Francis nodded, pouring glasses of wine to go with the cake. "I was thinking it would make a lovely wedding cake!"

"It would!" Antonio agreed wholeheartedly.

"Who exactly is getting married?" Arthur asked, frown returning.

"Oh, I've just been thinking, lately." Francis smiled, leaning onto the table, chin in hand. "I saw the most adorable mock wedding not too long ago. One of the neighbors was having a tea party, and you know what the theme was? Weddings! The mothers brought their children, and dressed them in white dresses and little suits- it was the cutest thing, you should have seen it!"

"Awwww!" Antonio mooned, waving gesturing with his fork. "I remember when the mothers in my neighborhood used to do that. It was so adorable! All those tiny little brides and grooms, it was the cutest thing! I haven't seen one in a while, though."

"Yes, they used to have them around here, too, but this was the first I've seen in a while. It brought back so many sweet memories~." Francis sighed nostalgically.

"Sounds ridiculous to me." Arthur rolled his eyes, frowning. "Who in their right mind would do something like that to children? Honestly."

"It's all in fun, Arthur. Part of the fun of having children is dressing them up, non? Those little faces, those little tiny dresses! So cute!"

"Ahhh," Antonio sighed, leaning his elbows on the table. "I wish I could have seen it! It must have been adorable."

"It was!" Francis agreed. "If only we had children, we could hold a little wedding of our own! Ahhh~, alas, we're all lonely bachelors."

"So true." Antonio nodded. "But at least we're bachelors together! We'll always have each other, Francis."

"Oh, Antonio, you're so right." Francis reached across the table to grab his friend's hands, cupping them in his. "We may be forever alone, but at least we're alone together!"




"Not to interrupt your little 'mutual appreciation society'," Arthur interjected, irritated, "but I'm not alone. I may be a bachelor, but I have a child. And if I'm not mistaken, 'Antonio~', you do as well."

"That's right, I do!" Antonio realized, releasing Francis' hands. "My little Lovino would make a lovely bride!"

Arthur blinked. "...Isn't your child a boy?"

"Bah." Antonio waved dismissively. "It doesn't matter when they're little! He'd make an adorable little girl!"

"You're demented." Arthur stated, shaking his head.

"Actually, Antonio darling, I was thinking Arthur's little boy would be the bride." Francis said, rummaging under the table. "And I was hoping Lovino would be our groom."

"My little Lovino, a groom?" Antonio clasped his hands, teary-eyed. "They grow up so fast!"

"What are you talking about?" Arthur put down his cup, glancing between the madmen he was sharing a table with. "'Bride'? 'Groom'? They're children! And Alfred is a boy." He added, frown deepening. "He can't be a bride. It isn't done."

"Arthur, Arthur! You need to loosen up, see the possibilities!" Francis chided, opening the box he'd retrieved from under the table and reaching inside. "Look at this and tell me you can't imagine Alfred wearing it." He produced a miniature wedding gown, all lace and white ribbons and ruffled silk. "Wouldn't it be adorable?"

"But it's a dress." Arthur protested, staring at the (admittedly adorable) confection in question. "And where did you get that, anyway?"

"Pshh, details." Francis waved aside his protestations and questions. "You're thinking too much, Arthur! You always do, that's why you're such a bitter man. Stop thinking, and feel for once!"

"I'm not bitter." Arthur protested weakly. Francis rolled his eyes, and scooted over to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with his friend, thrusting the dress into his hands. "Look at it, Arthur, and open your mind! Can't you just see little Alfred in it? Imagine him dressed up in all these tasteful little ruffles and lace, with little white slippers... little flowers in his hair, holding an adorable little bouquet in his hands; and to top it all off, a pure white veil. Can't you see it?"

"Ah..." Arthur's eyes went wide at the mental image his friend painted, and he blushed. "Well...I suppose it wouldn't hurt...he is very young..."

"I knew you'd agree." Francis smiled warmly, patting his shoulder. He turned to Antonio, pulling a little suit out of the box and holding it out. "Now, Antonio, here's the suit for our little groom. You go and get Lovino ready, and Arthur, you go and fetch Alfred, and we'll meet back here in the garden, comprenez-vous?"

"And what are you going to be doing?" Arthur asked, suspicion colouring his voice more out of habit than anything else, as he was still distracted by the image of his son as a bride.

"Preparing things for the wedding, of course." Francis answered, starting to clear the table. "There's so much to do! I have to prepare the arch and get the decorations up, and get out the lanterns and oh! I'll be terribly busy."

"This suit is so tiny!" Antonio crowed delightedly, turning it over and over in his hands. "Lovi's going to be so cute! I can hardly wait!"

"Oh! I nearly forgot." Francis exclaimed, as his friends rose from the table, and dove back under it. "Hold on one moment! Now where did I... Ah-ha! There it is~." He came back into view, waving a parchment over his head with one hand, holding a pen in the other. "We have to sign the marriage contract!"

"Ohh, good idea!" Antonio reached for the pen. "You wouldn't want to forget that!"

"Excuse me?" Arthur balked, doubts rising once more. "Why would you need a marriage contract for this?"

"To make it more authentic, of course!" Francis explained as if it was obvious. "What's a marriage without a contract?"

"Not a marriage at all." Antonio agreed as he signed the parchment.

"But it's not a marriage. It's just pretend." Arthur frowned in confusion, ready to refuse. "...Isn't it? I don't-"

"There, all done!" Antonio announced as he straightened, handing pen and parchment back to Francis.

"Oh my, so many titles." Francis said, deeply impressed as he looked over the contract. "You're a very powerful man, aren't you?"

"Of course I am." Antonio set his hands on his hips, swelling with pride. "I do have my own empire, after all."

"Oh my." Francis simpered theatrically, lowering his lashes and gazing up at Antonio admiringly. Arthur scowled in rising irritation and downed his glass of wine, untouched 'til now. "That's so impressive, Antonio! It must be very hard, being so powerful. It seems like a lot of pressure, no?"

"Not at all!" Antonio grinned with easy confidence. "Some people may find it stressful, but it comes easy for me!"

"You must be very strong." Francis leaned in, laying it on thick. "Strong and powerful."

"I guess I am!" Antonio laughed, soaking it up.

"Give me that." Arthur snarled, snatching the contract from Francis' hands, thrusting the dress at his friend to hold as he signed it, all caution overridden in his desire to one-up his rival. "There."He said finally, signing his last title with a flourish (two more, he noted smugly, than Antonio), and slammed the parchment down in front of the others. "How's that for power, frog!"

"Ooohhh~" Francis swooned, as he and Antonio leaned over the contract. "So many titles! He has even more than you, Antonio!"

"That's right." Arthur huffed victoriously, satisfied that he'd won this particular little contest. "Carriedo's not the only one here with an empire of his own."

"We're both very powerful men." Antonio nodded, impressed. "Just think, Arthur- with all your power and mine, once our children are married, our family will rule the world!"

"Hm." Arthur rubbed his chin, his alchohol-fuzzed mind processing that thought. "Ruling the world, eh? I can't say I don't like the sound of that."

"No-one's going to be ruling anything if we don't get on with this wedding." Francis reminded them, amused by the ease of his success. He rolled up the contract and tied it with a ribbon, saying, "Now, why don't you two go and get the little darlings, hmm? I'll have everything ready when you return."

"I'll be right back with Lovino!" Antonio waved, hurrying away.

Arthur turned, but paused, remembering, "Ah- I forgot the dress for Alfred."

"Ah-ah-ah," Francis denied, holding it away from him. "I'll be keeping this right here. As powerful as you may be, my dear Arthur, you know nothing about things like dresses and veils and ribbons and flowers. I'll be preparing our little bride when he arrives. You just worry about getting him here, hm?"

"Oh. I suppose you're right." Arthur nodded. Now that he thought about it, he didn't want to have to deal with stuffing the child into all those ribbons and baffling feminine things. He really wasn't sure where everything went, anyway.

"Of with you then, and hurry back." Francis encouraged, pushing him out the door. "Bring our little bride here straightaway. I need time to make him ready!"

"Okay, okay." Arthur agreed, wobbling a little as he set out to fetch his son. "I'll return shortly with the boy." He blinked muzzily up at the sky, throwing up his arms in grand announcement. "Ruling the world! Muahahaha!"

"Arthur! Stop terrorizing my neighbors, and get on with it!"

Francis was just putting the finishing touches on the preparations when Arthur arrived carrying his son, who had fallen asleep on the way over.

"This is all rather elaborate, isn't it?" Arthur remarked as he handed the child over. He looked around in mild awe at at the wreaths and garlands, the petal-strewn pathway leading to the exquisitely decorated arch, the lanterns strung from the boughs of flowering trees. It was hard to believe Francis had time to do all this in the short time he'd been gone. He blinked at a long table off to the side, barely noticing the small feast and bottles of champagne it bore in favour of the huge, tiered wedding cake which dominated the center, and his brows furrowed, suspicion rising. "How long have you been planning this?"

"What, this?" Francis glanced around the garden, gathering the sleeping child in his arms. "Don't be silly, Arthur, I've had it for ages. This is a perfectly spontaneous event."

"But..." Arthur hesitated. "What about the marriage contract? Why would you have it if you hadn't-"

"Oh, Arthur." Francis rolled his eyes, exasperated. "Really. I have tons of those laying around, you silly man. I am a registered officiant in several countries, you know. I join couples in holy matrimony all the time."

"Well... I suppose that's true." Arthur acknowledged.

"Absolutement. Or did you think I'd somehow manipulated you into marrying off your only son to Antonio's little boy, in hopes that bringing your families together will end this ridiculous rivalry between my two favourite men once and for all?" Francis teased. "That's a bit farfetched, non? Someone like moi, pulling the wool over your eyes? You, the powerful and experienced Arthur Kirkland?" He fluttered his lashes. "You'd see right through me in an instant."

"Hahaha, it is a bit silly, when you put it like that." Arthur chuckled, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment.

"You're too suspicious sometimes, mon couer. Must be the instincts of a powerful man working overtime, hmm?" Francis tossed his hair, winking. "You know me, Arthur. I just love weddings. Now, I'll just go wake our little bride and get him ready. There's tea and crumpets next to the wedding cake, help yourself while you wait~!"

Arthur made his way over to the table, pouring himself a cup while he admired the elaborate wedding cake. Really, five tiers? Ridiculous. But also so very Francis. He shook his head, and paused. Wait- how on earth could Francis have had this cake 'just laying around'? Something like this had to have taken a while to prepare, and he'd only been gone a short while, so...no, no. He shook his head again. Francis was right, he was being too suspicious. His business mind was working overtime, no doubt. People were always telling him he needed to relax, have a little fun; and maybe...maybe they were right. Well, today he was going to do just that. After all, Francis obviously had put a lot of effort into this little spontaneous event. No harm in enjoying the results of his friend's labours, hm? He bit into a crumpet. Oooh, gooseberry filling! His favourite!

"Roma, stop fiddling with your collar." Antonio chided, peeling his son's hands away from the neck of his suit. "You'll mess it up! You want to look good for your wedding, don't you?"

"It itches, dammit." Lovino protested, lips pursing in his customary pout. "And I don't see why I suddenly have to get married, anyway. It's stupid."

"Now Lovino, we knew this day would come." Antonio patted his head. "You should be excited! A wedding is a happy occasion!"

"Maybe for you, bastard." Lovino muttered under his breath. "You're not the one being sold off to some stranger for power." He'd known he was probably going to end up in an arranged marriage someday, but he'd been expecting it to be much later in life. Sometime after puberty, at the very least.

"Ahhh, you're so grown up." Antonio sighed, with tears in his eyes. "Soon my little Lovi will be leaving home and starting a new life with his lovely wife!"

"...Just what are you expecting me to do?" Lovino asked, frowning incredulously. "You know I'm still a kid, right?"

"That's right. Don't you forget it. You're not allowed to leave so soon! I won't allow it!" Antonio wiped his eyes, sniffling. "But you grow up so fast! Getting married already! My little Lovi, a groom!"

"..." Lovino could only stare at his father, speechless in the face of this fresh idiocy.

"Ah, but such an adorable little groom you are!" Antonio continued, brightening. "So handsome! Just wait 'til Francis sees you! He'll be so impressed!"

"Just who am I marrying, anyway?" Lovino wondered, curious as to which of his father's business partners had conned his father into this arranged marriage. Must have been a pretty cutthroat bastard, to not care that he was only a child.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you, didn't I? Arthur Kirkland's-"

"Kirkland?" Lovino interrupted, taken aback. "I'm marrying Kirkland's kid? I thought you two hated each other!"

"We've had our differences in the past," Antonio allowed, vastly underplaying years of bloody rivalry, "but we've put all that aside for the wedding. Just think, Lovi, once you're married, you and your bride will rule the known world! Isn't that wonderful?"

"I don't give a damn about that, stupid." Lovino followed along, eyes on the soft leather of his boots, mind working rapidly. Arthur Kirkland? Now it all made sense. He hadn't even known Kirkland had a daughter, but it was just like the bastard to be heartless enough to push his daughter into an arranged marriage for more power.

He only hoped the apple fell a long, long way away from that particular tree.

"Ohhhh, you look absolutely adorable!" Francis cooed, admiring his handiwork. "Now sit still for just a little while longer so I can pin these flowers in your hair, that's a good boy."

"Okay~." Alfred agreed, trying not to fidget while his hair was tugged and twisted and things poked his scalp. "Uncle Fwancis?"


"Why aw-" He paused, concentrating as he corrected, "are you putting flowers in my hair? Awre we going somewhere?"

"Your lisp is improving." Francis noticed. "You're speaking so much more clearly now, Alfred!"

"Yep!" Alfred beamed, happy he'd noticed. "Awthur says listhping is 'childish and th- s-siwly', so I've been working haw- hard!"

"I'm sure Arthur is very proud of you, mon chaton." Francis praised fondly, patting his head.

"Reawly?" Alfred turned his head for confirmation, brightening hopefully.

"Ah~, don't turn your head." Francis returned the blond head to its previous position, continuing, "How could he not be? You're such a good boy, hm? Anyone would be proud to have such a son."

Alfred blushed happily, folding his hands in his lap so he wouldn't fiddle with the dress, and trying hard to sit still like a good boy should. He couldn't help asking, though, "So awre we going somewhere?"

"You're going to get married!" Francis answered, reaching for a ribbon. "Isn't that exciting?"

"I'm going to 'Mawwied?" Alfred repeated, brows furrowing confusedly. "Where's that?"

"Marriage isn't a place, Alfred, it's something you do." Francis corrected, tucking another flower into the golden strands. "It's a ceremony, darling. Two people joined together in holy matrimony, to love and cherish and support each other for as long as they live! It's a wonderful thing."

"It is?"

"Oh, yes! You see Alfred, in all the world there's one person meant only for you, and you're meant for only them. One person who belongs just to you. It's destiny, you see? True love! And when you meet your true love, you fall in love and get married, and spend your whole lives together. Through sickness and health, and good times and bad, sharing everything and loving and supporting each other through it all. Fighting and making up, making love and falling in love all over again. Ahh, the romance~!" He sighed, tying off another ribbon.

"But, I haven't met anyone." Alfred pointed out the flaw in Francis' explanation. "How can I get mawwied?"

"Ah! Not to worry, Alfred. I've found your true love for you." Francis carefully fixed the veil on the little head. "Some people can spend their whole lives searching for their true love- it's a very, very big world out there, n'est-ce pas? But your Uncle Francis loves you and wants you to be happy, so he went out and found his little Alfred's one-and-only. Aren't you grateful? I'm so kind!"

"Thank you Uncle Fwancis." Alfred beamed, a little excited now to meet his true love. "But, how come you awren't mawwied? Haven't you found your twrue love?"

"Ahh~." Francis smiled a little mournfully. "My true love is a little stubborn, non? He doesn't realise things yet. Sometimes these things take time." He sighed, tucking his own hair behind his ear. "But I will wait, and pour out my love, and wrap all his stubbornness and obliviousness up in it until someday, he will realise he loves me, too."

"Oh." Alfred thought about this, frowning a little. Uncle Francis' true love was a dummy-head. Francis was so nice! Who wouldn't love him? And he sounded so sad. Anyone that made Uncle Francis sad was stupid. "But, why don't you just tewll him? He'll understand then, won't he?"

"If only he would." Francis sighed. "I've tried, but he just...doesn't understand."

"Uncle Fwancis, youwr twrue love is a dummy-head."

Francis snorted, laughing. "Yes, yes he is."

"Why do you love him, then? Can you reawly have only one twue love?" Alfred pressed, doubtfully. Francis had said there was only one for everybody, but how could there be only one person for you in the whole world? You might never find them! "Can't you find a new one?"

"Mm, I probably could." Francis acknowledged, with a wry little internal sigh. Alfred, though usually quite oblivious, could be surprisingly intuitive at the most inconvenient moments. Especially for truths you didn't want him to see. "You're right. There are many loves, but... some things are worth waiting for, Alfred. You'll understand when you're older. The heart wants what it wants, and sometimes love is true because you make it so."

"Oh." Alfred didn't really understand Francis' answer, but remembered it anyway, just in case it was important. "So did you reawly find my twrue love, Uncle Fwancis?"

"Of course I found your true love! And if I didn't, you can make it so." Francis assured in a confident, sing-song voice, knowing Alfred would listen more to his tone than his words that way. He came around to kneel before Alfred, adjusting the veil, adding more seriously, "Now, Alfred, I want you to remember- you might not love each other at first, hm? You don't know each other yet, after all. But with time and patience, you can learn to love each other very much."

"Yes Uncle Fwancis." Alfred said obediently.

Francis exhaled deeply, taking the little face in his hands. He looked into the honest, earnest blue eyes that stared back at him, and his lips quirked up, and he murmured, "À coeur vaillant rien d'impossible, hm? If it's you, I think it'll be alright."

"Uncle Fwancis?" Alfred asked, not understanding.

"Nothing, darling, nothing." Francis pressed a kiss to the little forehead, before pulling the veil down over the tiny face. "Now, let's go show your father how beautiful you are, hmm?"


"Oooohhhhhh isn't that just darling!" Francis' excited squeal upon seeing Lovino could very nearly have shattered glass. He pounced upon the child, taking his hand and dragging him into the house to make the final preparations to the little groom, exclaiming delightedly all the while. "Oh my oh my oh my look at youuu~! Comme il est beau! So dashing! Ahhhh~ it will be love at first sight!"

"O-oh course it will, bastard!" Lovino asserted, suddenly nervous. It was starting to hit him- he was getting married! Right now. It seemed unreal. Barely an hour ago he'd been catching caterpillars out in the tomato plants, and all of a sudden he was suited up and marrying someone he hadn't even met yet. What if they didn't like each other? Wh-what if, what if she didn't like him? His hands started to sweat, so he crossed his arms, surrepticiously wiping his palms on his sleeves. "I, I, I'm super lovable, dammit! ...r-right?"

"Absolutely, little Lovino, sans doute." Francis assured him, going down on one knee to pin a flower to his chest. "Are you nervous, ma chatte?"

"No." Lovino lied, staring at his feet.

"That's good." Francis patted his shoulder kindly, and began fussing with his hair. "Because there is nothing to fear, hm? Your Uncle Francis has chosen the perfect bride for you, my little love. A match made in heaven, hm?"

Lovino looked up, brows furrowing. "You did?"

"But of course!" Francis smiled, lifting the boy's chin with a finger. "Who else?"

"Oh." Lovino's lips pursed as he thought about this. To be honest, he was a little relieved. Antonio was kind of an idiot sometimes and could easily have been tricked into marrying him off to...well, anyone. Uncle Francis might be a little (a lot) perverted, but he was very good at reading people, and he always said that love was the most important thing in the world. Lovino would never, ever admit it out loud, but he trusted Francis' judgement in these matters as much as he trusted anyone's. Maybe more. But..."A-antonio said...marrying...Kirkland's..." He muttered almost unintelligibly, flushing.

"Ah." Francis nodded, understanding. "Your father told you it was arranged with Arthur, and you were thinking he may have been tricked into something? That the marriage would not be a happy one, perhaps?"

Lovino flushed deeper, eyes sliding off to the side. "M-maybe, a little."

"Lucky for you your Uncle Francis is looking out for you, hm?" Francis winked, and stood, taking his hand. "No one could have chosen better." He led him over to a cabinet, which he opened, pulling out an ornate jewelry box, and sat, lifting the lid as he changed the subject. "Speaking of choosing, why don't you help me choose the rings, hmm? I know you have an eye for these things."

"Uhuh. I'm the best there is." Lovino nodded, frowning thoughtfully at the rows of rings displayed inside. "Besides, if I left it to you I'd end up with something so gaudy I'd be embarrassed to wear it, dammit."

"Such cheek!" Francis sniffed, mock wounded, and pulled the box away, standing and making as if to leave. "Just for that, I should let Arthur choose them."

"What? No!" Lovino exclaimed, horrified, and clung to Francis' trousers, backpedalling furiously. "I didn't mean it, I didn't mean it, I'm sorry! Don't make me wear something that bastard chooses, Uncle Francis, please! His taste is terrible!"

Francis paused, pretending to consider it. "You promise to be nice to me, hm? And be a good boy during the ceremony?"

"I promise, dammit! I'll be good!"

"Alright, since you promised." Francis chuckled, sitting back down and opening the box once more. "Now hurry up and choose the rings, hm? There's no telling what Arthur and your father are getting up to in our absence."

Lovino having been whisked away the moment they'd arrived, Antonio had wandered into the garden to have some tea and crumpets while he waited, and found Arthur and Alfred waiting there before him. The moment he'd laid eyes on Alfred as a little bride, Antonio had been so overwhelmed that he spent several speechless moments twitching and flailing frantically, emitting high-pitched squeaking noises. Arthur had been convinced at first that he was suffering some sort of seizure, until Antonio had calmed sufficiently to regain the power of speech, and he realized from the ensuing stream of praise and adoration that the man was simply overcome by the sight of his son in a dress. He could understand that, as he'd had a...similar reaction himself. In a much more dignified fashion, of course.

Sending Alfred to sit quietly in a seat a little ways away, Arthur opened one of the many bottles of champagne lined up on the table and poured the man a drink to settle his nerves. He'd poured one for himself as well, since, well, he was feeling the need of it after all this...this whatever this was. It was starting to feel a little too much like a real wedding for his liking, despite his reassurances to himself that it was only a little harmless play-acting. No doubt he'd feel better after a little drink.

And once they'd finished, Antonio had proposed a toast, in celebration of the occasion, and that had seemed like a good idea, so he'd poured them both another drink. And then Antonio had suggested that Arthur should propose a toast, and the bubbles in his champagne had thought that was a brilliant idea. And then there'd been another toast, and another. And another, and then that bottle was done, so they'd opened a second, because there were such a lot of things that needed toasting.

And then a third.

Really, it was surprising how quickly two men could go through a few bottles of champagne.

"To our future!" Antonio slurred slightly, face flushed, raising his glass in another toast.

"Our future!" Arthur lifted his glass a little clumsily, champagne sloshing over his fingers, and they tossed back their drinks. "Ano-" he hiccuped, "another toashst?"

"I, I think it's yourerer turn." Antonio paused, trying to decide which of the four glasses floating in front of him to fill first. Funny, there'd only been two earlier, hadn't there? He squinted one eye closed. Ah, there- two glasses again. He tilted the bottle, overshooting slightly, but managing to get most of the liquid into one glass, then the other.

"So it is. Ah, thank you." Arthur stared at his glass, trying to remember what they were toasting. "Wh, what should I toasht?"

Antonio tilted his head thoughtfully, blinking slowly at nothing in particular. "Your daughter?"

"My daughter!" Arthur agreed, thrusting his glass in the air.

"Your daughter!" Antonio saluted, and they guzzled greedily.

Arthur lowered his glass with a gasp, wiping his mouth with his sleeve, and leaned against his drinking partner, confessing, "I didn' know I h, had a daughter."

"Sshure you do." Antonio assured him, slinging his arm around Arthur's shoulders as he looked around. He waved his glass vaguely at a chair at the other end of the table. "Over...over there."

Arthur grunted, turning his head to stare at the small child in the white dress, sitting in the chair Antonio had indicated, playing quietly with the tableware. "Oh. So I do."

"Sh's verr', verr' cute." Antonio slurred, resting his forehead on Arthur's shoulder.

"Sh's gettin' ma, married." Arthur informed him solemnly.

"Ohh!" Antonio exclaimed drunkenly. "Thas', thas's something to ce, celebrate! Have a drrrrink." He lifted the bottle to pour another glass, shaking it perplexedly when nothing came out.

"S', s'empty." Arthur observed sadly.

Antonio lifted it to his eye, peering down the neck, and lowered it with a sigh. "It ish." He tossed it over his shoulder into a rosebush, and reached for another bottle. "But, we're in l-luck! There'shsh more!"

"Sh' a miracle!" Arthur exclaimed. "Like the loafsh and the fishshes!"

"To miracleshs!" Antonio waved the bottle.

"Miraclesh!" Arthur waved his empty glass. They lifted corked bottle and empty glass to their lips, slurping expectantly.

And lowered them, frowning.

"'S gone." Antonio said sorrowfully.

"We, we drank the miracle." Arthur agreed, with equal sorrow.

"Alll gooone~." Antonio sang, swinging the bottle slowly.

"Alll gone." Arthur sighed, tipping his glass upside down. "No morrre miracle." They lowered their heads, mournfully contemplating the transitory nature of all things, especially alchohol.

Which is how Francis found them. "What on earth-" He exclaimed, interrupting their mourning. He gaped at the scene before him, taking in their rumpled, drunken state, the empty bottles of champagne scattered around their feet, and flailed in disbelief, unsure what to address first. "What-, You-," He exhaled frustratedly, pinching the bridge of his nose, and waved in dismissal. "You know what? I don't even want to know. Let's just...get on with the wedding. Lovino, you take your father and go and stand next to the arch." Lovino nodded, taking his father's hand and dragging him along. "Al, honey, you come with me. Arthur, you too. Now," He knelt down, fussing with the bouquet in Alfred's hands, and lowered his voice to address him privately, "your father's supposed to walk you up the aisle, but I don't think he can walk straight right now so it looks like you'll have to be walking him, okay?" Alfred nodded, eyes wide behind his veil. "Just hold onto his hand until you get up to the arch." He gestured to the arch at the end of the pathway. "I'll tell you what to do from there. Are you nervous?"

"A little." Alfred confessed, looking down.

"If it makes you feel any better, Lovino's just as nervous as you are." Francis chuckled, patting his hand. Lovino? Alfred leaned sideways to peer curiously at the boy at the end of the aisle, who did look a little nervous. "But don't worry, there's nothing to be afraid of."

"Okay." Alfred smiled bravely, taking hold of his father's hand.

"Good boy." Francis winked, and stood. "I'm going to go wait at the arch, and when I nod to you, you lead your father up the aisle, understand?"

"Yes." Alfred held his bouquet tightly, watching as Francis took his place at the end of the aisle, shoulders straight, hands folded, looking very official in his robes, and nodded, smiling encouragingly. Recognising his cue, Alfred set off down the aisle, holding fast to his father's hand.

Nervous, heart thudding, palms sweaty, Lovino stood next to his father, watching the small veiled figure advancing towards him up the aisle with rising trepidation. This was happening. He was getting married. In a few seconds she would be here, a few more and the ceremony would begin, and in a few minutes from now they'd be married, and then he'd be spending his whole life with this person coming up the aisle. He was going to have a wife. He was going to be a husband.

And they hadn't even been introduced yet.

He wasn't sure he was ready for this.

He hoped she liked tomatoes.

Finally (far too soon) she took her place beside him, released her father's hand, and turned her head to look up at Francis, who smiled fondly. "Lift your veil." Francis mouthed, miming the action. The little bride fumbled with the gauzy material, nearly getting her bouquet and arms caught up in it. Francis nudged Lovino's shoulder, and tilted his head significantly to indicate that Lovino should lend his assistance. He stepped forward, heart pounding, and untangled the veil, lifting it clear of her face.

She looked up at him, eyes and nose crinkling in a smile of thanks.

And his heart stopped.

She was beautiful.

The rest of the ceremony passed in a blur. There were vows, which he'd repeated automatically, and at some point they'd exchanged rings, which Francis had put on chains for them to wear around their necks since they were too big for their fingers. Francis had been saying something about marriage and love, and he had the vague impression that his father had been crying somewhere in the background; but he couldn't remember anything in detail, except for his bride's face.

And the kiss. He remembered the kiss. He'd nearly fainted.

His first kiss! It'd lasted barely a fraction of a second, true, and she'd had to kiss him 'cause he'd missed his cue, but it was soft and sweet and she'd smelled of flowers and sunlight and earth, and then it was over, leaving him dizzy. He didn't remember anything after that.

His lips still tingled.

He followed the small white figure dazedly down the aisle, and they stood together on the grass while Uncle Francis and their fathers gathered together, presumably to talk about business matters and finalize the papers this whole arranged marriage would call for. He stared at her for a while, trying to think of something to say. She stood next to him playing curiously with her necklace, and looking around the garden at the flowers and things. She glanced up, smiling, when a bird flew overhead, and turned to him, grabbing his hand, chattering excitedly; and all thought fled at her touch. She pointed to where it had flown, but he couldn't look away, not with the way her excitement was making her eyes sparkle, and her whole face light up. After a few moments the bird was gone, and she was looking around the garden again, curious eyes taking it all in. Her gaze wandered over to where the adults clustered together, and she tilted her head, causing a golden strand of hair to come loose, brushing the curve of her ear. Her mouth moved, and she turned to him, brows furrowing in puzzlement. He realized she'd been talking to him, asked him a question, but he couldn't remember what. He stammered some kind of response, not really sure what he was saying. She blinked, looking taken aback, one side of her mouth pulling back uncertainly.

Shit, what had he said? He tried frantically to remember.

Then her hand was gone from his, and she was moving away, leaving him to stare after her, wondering what had happened and how he could fix it.

"That was such a beautiful wedding." Antonio wept openly as he signed the marriage certificate after the ceremony, putting his name on the witness line next to Arthur's.

"Yes, it was, wasn't it?" Arthur sniffed, wiping his eyes with his handkerchief. "I, I must confess I was... rather moved by the vows."

"And when they exchanged the rings." Antonio sighed, eyes shimmering. "I bawled like a baby."

"I got a little teary-eyed myself." Arthur admitted, tucking his handkerchief into his pocket.

"And when they kissed! So sweet! So innocent!"

"Quite touching, wasn't it? They looked like little cherubs." Arthur agreed, voice growing rough, and pulled his handkerchief back out as his eyes welled over.

"I can't believe our little babies are married." Antonio sniffled, tearing up once more.

"I know. It seems like only yesterday they were in diapers." Arthur reminisced, blowing his nose. He sighed, rallying. "Come now," he patted Antonio's shoulder companionably, "we knew this day would come someday. There's no use crying about it, eh? Let's pull ourselves together, old chap. It's not the end of the world."

"You're right, you're right." Antonio wiped away his tears, and gave him a watery smile. "It's a happy occasion, isn't it? We should be celebrating! Let's have a drink."

"Good idea." Arthur encouraged. "I could do with a drink, myself. A couple of good, stiff draughts and we'll be right as rain."

"Let's make a toast!" Antonio suggested, as they made a beeline for the champagne.

"I say, that's a brilliant idea!"

Francis shook his head, smiling to himself as he collected the marriage certificate and waved it, waiting for the ink to dry. Honestly, sometimes those two made it too easy. But, that was part of their charm. There was a tug at his robe, and he looked down to see Alfred staring up at him.

"Uncle Fwancis, I don't think Wubino likes me."

"Oh? What makes you say that, Alfred?"

"I keep twrying to talk to him, but he won't say anything." Alfred explained, brows forrowing perplexedly, and looked over his shoulder. "He just keeps stawring."

Francis followed his gaze to where Lovino stood staring, wide-eyed and blushing, at his little bride. He pretended to cough to cover his laughter, and patted Alfred's head, careful not to dislodge the flowers. "Lovino's just a little shy, Alfred. I'm sure he likes you just fine."

"He called me a bastowd." Alfred confessed in a whisper, frowning. "He said a bad word."

Francis chuckled, kneeling down to Alfred's level. "I'm sure he didn't mean anything by it. He's a bit rough around the edges, I'll admit." He confided, smiling fondly. "But he's not a bad boy. It's just that he gets very flustered and embarrassed, and doesn't know how to handle it, so he acts tough to cover it up."

"Oh." Alfred nodded, understanding. "Like Awthur."

"Exactly." Francis affirmed. "But he's a good boy at heart. And very sweet." He added, winking. "Just be yourself, and I'm sure in no time at all you'll have him wrapped around your little finger."

Alfred glanced down at his pinky, and back up at Francis, confused. Why would he want that? "I think he's too big, Uncle Fwancis."

"Just an expression, mon petit. It means he'll adore you." Alfred nodded automatically, not really understanding. "Now, why don't you go and try and talk to him again, hm? Your Uncle Francis has some things to put away, and then I'll bring you some cake, would you like that?"

"Uhhuh!" Alfred nodded, beaming. "Can I have some juice, too?"

"There's some juice on the table, right over there by the cake, do you see? Why don't you get some for yourself and Lovino, and then wait for me over by the roses, and I'll set up a little table for the both of you." Francis sighed, glancing over to the long table already set up, where Arthur and Antonio were toasting anything and everything under the sun, and added with wry resignation, "I think your fathers are having a little too much fun."

"Okay~." Alfred answered obediently, and turned, trotting back to Lovino. Francis watched him go, biting back his laughter when Lovino's eyes widened further at Alfred's approach, little hands anxiously fisting the hem of his jacket.

Nothing to worry about there, then. Looked like that would be coming along just fine. He smiled to himself, satisfaction rising, and turned to the house, tucking the certificate into his pocket.

She was back! She'd come back, and apparently had forgiven him for whatever he'd done, because she was standing there in front of him and speaking to him; something about roses and cake and Uncle Francis. Lovino tried to listen, really he did, but he couldn't really hear anything over the blood rushing in his ears. She was smiling at him and toying with the ring hanging from the gold chain around her neck, her adorable little fingers playing delicately with the circle of gold. He realized she was looking at him expectantly, as if she was waiting for some kind of response. Had she asked him a question? He tried to recall what she'd been saying, but her wide, blue eyes were drawing him in and making it impossible to think and everything seemed to be in slow motion. The sunlight caressed her sun-gold hair; kissed her rosy, cherubic cheeks, bathing her in its luminescence, her pearly teeth exposed in a tentative smile, as petal-pink lips moved again, forming exquisite shapes. His stomach sank as her slim golden brows furrowed in a quizzical frown, and her face fell in disappointment— what had made her unhappy? But then she was smiling again, and moving closer, and his skin was burning and she laid her hand on his arm and that burned too, and her lips were moving again, forming words, and he struggled to understand but the only ones he could make out over the pounding in his ears were the last two: "'wait here.'"

Yes. He could do that. Anything she wanted.

He watched her cross to the table, where the exquisite little creature (his wife!) went up up on her tiptoes to grab two cups from the settings. Then she moved further down the table, where she set the cups on the table so she had her hands free to reach for a pitcher sitting next to the cake. She was too short to reach, though. It was placed too far back, near the center of the table. Despite stretching her arm to its fullest extent and going up on the toes of her little white slippers, she was only able to brush the handle with the very tips of her fingers. She stepped back from the table, hands on her hips, and huffed, pursing her lips in a thoughtful little pout. Looking around for something, she brightened upon seeing a nearby chair, and went over to it, grabbing the arm and dragging it over to where the pitcher waited. Climbing up onto the seat, she filled both glasses, spilling a little but managing to get most of the contents into the cups. Finally she set the pitcher down, and climbed down from the chair, reaching up to take the now full glasses from the table. She turned with a triumphant smile, pleased at having managed the difficult task all by herself.

And then the two men at the other end of the table jostled it, hard, and the pitcher fell, splashing its contents over her.

For a moment she stood, eyes widening in surprise as juice trickled down her face and neck, soaking into her dress. Then her face crumpled, blue eyes welling up with tears, little mouth twisting in distress, and sobbed.

"A-ah!" Alarmed, Lovino ran to the table, grabbing handfulls of napkins, and hurried over to his bride, where he began to dry her off. "D-don't cry, idiot! It's okay!"

"I-it's c-cowd." She hiccuped, shivering slightly as her chest heaved in little sobs. "I, I, I..." She looked up at him, hair plastered to her temples, tears dripping down her chin.

"You mean cold, idiot?" He asked, blotting her dress with the napkins, and she nodded.

"I'm c-cowd, W, Wu, b-bino."

"Hm." Frowning in concern, he shrugged off his jacket, pulling it over her shoulders. "Is that better, dammit?"

She nodded again, shivering a little as she tried to pull herself further into the jacket, hindered by the cups she still held. "Give me those." He said, taking them from her. "Now put your arms in the sleeves." She did so, struggling a little with the sleeves, which were too long for her. Once she had it on she rubbed her eyes with a chubby fist, and smiled at him, sniffling slightly.

"Th-thank you."

He blushed and looked away, holding out one of the glasses. "Here."

When she'd taken it, he grabbed her free hand, leading her away. "C'mon, let's get get away from here before those stupid bastards cause any more trouble."

"Okay." She agreed amiably, following along. "Uncle Fwancis said-"

"What did you do to your dress?" Francis exclaimed, coming towards them over the grass, frowning at the juice-stained dress in vexation. "It's completely ruined! I-"

"It's not our fault!" Lovino countered, stepping in front of his bride to scowl up at Francis. "It was those bastards who did it! They knocked the pitcher over and it spilled on the stupid dress!"

Francis blinked, torn between being amused at the way the little boy was being so protective of his 'wife' and upset over the state of the dress (he'd slaved for ages making that!). "Is this true, ma ange?" He questioned Alfred, knowing that while Lovino would lie to protect someone he cared about (and wasn't it adorable that he was already so protective of his little bride), Alfred wouldn't lie to him about something like this.

Alfred looked down, nodding his head. "But, I don't think they meaned to."

"They're stupid and they made her cold." Lovino informed him, eyes narrowing. "Yell at them, Uncle Francis."

"Oh, they'll get what they deserve, mon cher, make no mistake about that." Francis agreed, glancing irritatedly over at the two men, who were apparently having some sort of arm-wresting match at the far end of the table. He shook his head and sighed, turning to the children. "You two go and wait by the roses. I'll be right there with the cake."

"Alright." Lovino grunted in acknowledgement, and tugged on Alfred's hand. "C'mon, let's go."


Francis watched them go, hands over his heart as he fawned silently. That was sooo cuuuute! He was so glad he'd thought of it. Everything was turning out better than he could have hoped!

Although, he admitted to himself with an internal sigh as he left to fetch the cake, this had been the easy part.

The rest depended on them.

"Yay for cake~." Alfred sang, bouncing on his toes as they stood hand-in-hand near the roses, waiting for cake. "Uncle Fwancis makes the best cake. The best cake evow."

"He does make pretty good cake." Lovino allowed. "But my dad makes good cake, too. He's teaching me."

"You can make cake?" Alfred turned wide eyes on Lovino, looking at him like he'd said he could fly or something amazing like that.

"Uhuh." Lovino answered proudly, then honesty forced him to add, "Well, almost. I, I need help with the oven, but other than that, I can make them on my own!"

"Wow." Alfred breathed, deeply impressed. "Fwrosting and everything?"

"Yep." Lovino answered, swelling with pride.

"Wow." Alfred repeated, awed.

"I can cook a lot of things." Lovino informed 'her', gratified by his bride's reaction. "Antonio taught me to cook all sorts of things."

"Reawly? Awthur pwromised to show me how to make some stuff." Alfred said, adding a little sadly. "But, he's always busy at work."

Lovino shuddered a little. Kirkland's cooking 'skills' were legendary. "It's okay." He said generously, happy to have escaped potential death by food poisoning. "I'll do all the cooking. You don't have to worry about it, okay?"

"Okay!" Alfred agreed, smiling. "Can we have cake evewry day?"

"I'll have to have my dad help with the oven, but sure."

"Yay! Thank you, Wubino!"

Lovino hesitated. He hadn't really listened to her saying his name before. Apparently she had some trouble with it. "You know, you can call me 'Lovi' if it's easier."

Alfred tilted his head on the side. "Wubby?"


Alfred's brows furrowed in concentration. "Wwwubbby."

"...Y'know, maybe you should just call me 'Roma'. My dad calls me that sometimes. After my grandfather."


"...Close enough."

"You can call me 'Awl' if you want." Alfred offered, happy that they were getting along so well now.

"Your dad calls you 'Owl'?" Lovino asked, a little bemused.

"Haha no, siwly! He always calls me Awlfwred. He says nicknames awre diswrespectful, but I think they're nice."

Lovino blinked. His wife's name was 'Owlfowred'? Holy shit. Apparently Kirkland's naming sense was as bad as his cooking. He was definitely going to stick with 'Owl'. At least that was sort of cute.

There was a loud, sustained crashing noise on the other side of the garden, followed by the tinkling of glass breaking. Both boys' heads swivelled towards the sound, but the rosebushes blocked their view.

"What was that?" Alfred wondered.

"Probably my dad. And yours." Lovino guessed, accurately.

"Do you think they're okay?" Alfred asked, going up on his tiptoes to try and see over the bush.

"Not after Uncle Francis gets ahold of them." Lovino guessed again, equally accurately. A couple of loud thudding sounds followed his statement, accompanied by muffled, swearing apologies. A couple more thuds, and everything fell silent.

"Are you ready for cake?" Francis appeared a few moments later carrying a platter and with a cloth draped over his arm, looking flushed and a little ruffled.

"Yes~!" Alfred sang, bouncing excitedly.

"It's about time, bastard." Lovino complained, hungrily eyeing the platter.

"Sorry, I got a little distracted." Francis smiled a little apologetically as he spread the cloth on the grass. "I know I said I'd set up a table, but it looks like you'll have to settle for the tablecloth for now. It'll be like a picnic, hmm?"

"They broke the table, didn't they." Lovino guessed, keeping his streak alive.

"Just one of the legs." Francis smiled tightly, setting the platter in the centre of the cloth. "I brought what was left of the cake, but there's just one plate, so you'll have to share, hm?"

"They broke the dishes, too?"

"Only most of them, the savages." Francis rolled his eyes heavenward, mouthing a prayer for patience. "However!" He added, a little more cheerfully, "I managed to save the top tier of the cake, just for you. Bon appetit, my little newlyweds! I'll be back later to check on you." He stood, pulling a ribbon from his pocket, which he used to tie back his hair, and sighed deeply. "I must go and begin cleaning up."

"Want us to help, Uncle Fwancis?" Alfred offered, to Lovino's private dismay. But Francis just chuckled, shaking his head.

"It's alright, your Uncle Francis has it all under control." He winked, waving as he left. "You just enjoy your special day, and the delicious cake I made especially for you~."

"Okay~. Hey, look Woma, there's flowers!" Alfred exclaimed, already on his knees next to the cake. "Made of fwrosting!"

"Oi, don't touch it!" Lovino caught the little wrist before chubby fingers descended on a frosting rose. "You'll get dirty! Use a fork, idiot."

"I don't have one." Alfred said, looking around the plate. "I don't think their awre any."

"There's one over here." Lovino discovered a fork under the rim of the plate, after careful exploration. "But I only see one. Francis, you idiot. How are we supposed to eat it, dammit?"

"It's okay, I can use my fingows." Alfred said philosophically, reaching for the cake once more. Lovino caught the hand in time.

"D-don't do that, Owl! You'll get dirty." He scolded.

"But I'm awlready dirty." Alfred pointed out reasonably. "I got juice all over my clothes."

"That doesn't mean you have to get cake all over them too, dummy."

"Then how am I supposed to eat it?" Alfred asked, brows forrowing in a frown. "You have the fowrk."

After a brief internal struggle, Lovino thrust the fork at his bride. "Here. Y, you can use it. I'll, I'll wait 'til you're done."

"Thank you, Woma!" Alfred beamed happily up at him as he accepted it.

"J-just eat the cake, bastard." Cheeks heating, Lovino looked away and sat down, crossing his arms. He blinked when a forkful of cake was thrust under his nose a few moments later, and turned his head to see 'Owl' leaning towards him, holding it out with a smile.

"We can shawre."

His flush deepened, and he opened his mouth to refuse, but all protest died on his lips at her happy smile. "A-alright." He muttered, taking the bite, eyebrows raising as he chewed. "Hm, it's good!" He exclaimed, flustered feelings forgotten in the taste of buttercream and lemon. He took the fork from her hands, reaching for another portion of cake. "Here, you try."

"I want a flower." Alfred hovered as Lovino worked, staring eagerly at the cake.

"Yeah, okay." Lovino acknowledged, making sure to scoop up one of the icing roses. "Here." Alfred leaned forward, taking the proferred bite, rose and all.


"Good, right?"

"It's so yummy! Hewre." He took the fork and scooped up some cake for Lovino, holding it out. "Youwr turn!"

An or so hour later the plate was empty save for a few stray crumbs; and sated and a little sleepy, they lay side-by-side on the tablecloth, watching the clouds go by.

Alfred yawned, lifting an arm to point at a particularly fluffy one overhead. "That one looks like a bunny."

"What? No it doesn't, idiot, it looks like a tomato." Lovino murmured, blinking slowly.

Alfred wrinkled his nose, tilting his head and squinting. "But it has eawrs."

"Those are tomato leaves."

"Maybe it's a tomato bunny." He decided.

Lovino looked at it, and nodded. "Okay. It's a tomato bunny."

"Tomato bunny~." Alfred sighed, yawning again, and reached for his hand. "...Woma?"

"Mm?" Lovino responded drowsily, barely able to keep his eyes open.

"I'm glad it's you." Alfred confessed, eyes drifting shut.

"...Me too." Lovino squeezed the hand in his, eyes already closed, feeling the weight of a little head settle against his shoulder as he nodded off.

Francis found them that way a while later, and indulged himself in several moments of silent adoration, taking in their little sleeping faces, mouths covered in crumbs and traces of frosting; plump, rosy cheeks glowing, their joined hands, Alfred still wrapped in Lovino's jacket, the way they were curled up together, oh! The little cherubs! If only their fathers were awake and sober enough to see this!

Eventually, he recovered his senses and carried them inside the house to clean them up, change them into night clothes and tuck them into bed, cooing internally when they reached for each others' hands once more.

"Ahh~. I've done my best for you, mon bébés. From here on out, it is out of my hands." He sighed a little wistfully, brushing the hair out of each tiny face in turn. "Tomorrow, your papas will take you back home, and then..." He lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug. "Who can tell? Perhaps they will forget. Perhaps, you will forget." He withdrew his hand, and stepped back. "Avec le temps, ça s'arrangera, hm? Things will sort themselves out in time."

He turned to go, pausing at the door to look back at the two children curled up together in the bed. "Il n'y a que les montagnes qui ne se rencontrent jamais. That is my prayer for you." Blowing a kiss, he left the room, closing the door softly behind him.

'There are none so far apart that fate cannot bring them together.'

AN: It's a bit of a mess, I'll admit. I wanted to make Francis Femme!Francis in this so badly. I just seems more appropriate, don't you think? Alas, I'm reluctant to do so until the official name for his female self comes out. I'm guessing it'd just be 'Frances', since that's the female of 'Francis' in French, but still. We'll see. Don't be surprised if, when I eventually post the story, Uncle Francis has become Aunt Frances.

A little backstory for you, which in a roundabout way is the inspiration for this story. When I was very young, about 3 and a half, my mother sent me outside to play while she was packing for our upcoming move. While I was outside, some of the neighborhood mothers called me over. They were having a little party, you see, and they'd dressed up one of their little girls in a wedding dress, and needed a groom. I was given a suit to put on, and sent out to wait for a little girl in a white lace dress, whom I was then 'married' to. Afterwards, the assorted women cooed over the 'couple', and I was given cake, and the little girl was ushered off, and I was allowed to return home, leaving me with the distinct impression that I was now married.

We moved the next day, and I spent the next several years periodically wondering how I was supposed to find my 'wife' when I grew up, and if she was upset that I had left (I was a very serious child, in some respects). I barely remembered what she looked like (long blonde hair, very fine; green eyes, white lace dress- but I suspected she wouldn't look the same anyway once we'd grown); she'd probably have moved, and what if she'd married someone else by the time I found her? Which would be alright, of course, she very well might have forgotten after all those years that she was already married, and after all, for all she knew I'd abandoned her, never to return.

Concerns like these troubled me on and off for years, but over time I slowly stopped thinking about it, though I never forgot.

Finally, when I was about...oh, twelve? I was doing some research on wedding customs and laws (for a random project, different story entirely), and I realized that wait a second- there was no way that had been legal! I wasn't married, they were only play-acting!

Which was a weight off my shoulders, let me tell you. Spousal abandonment, intentional or not, had not sat well on my conscience.

Besides, I still hadn't figured out how I was going to find her.