"Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur Nomen Tuum;
adveniat Regnum Tuum;
fiat voluntas Tua,
sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a Malo
scuto amoris divini. Amen. "
Matthew's quiet voice echoed the others as the service concluded. He opened his curiously coloured light violet eyes and subconsciously adjusted his glasses. Filing out of the pews with everyone else, he was somewhat grateful to exit the cold solemn interior of the church. Outside it was still chilly - it was winter after all - but the sun's soft rays provided some warmth, peeking out from the grey clouds almost wistfully. Looking up at the clouds, Matthew frowned and pulled his coat a bit tighter around him, savoring what little warmth the flimsy clothing generated. Alfred had taken the warmer fur coat with him, leaving him with only a light, cloth jacket. As always, he headed off to the town centre to buy supplies for his father, who was a minister with the local church. But now, and for the last few weeks, he had been taking the trek alone - Alfred wasn't with him anymore.
Alfred was the older brother, the popular one. Everyone liked Alfred, and Father had high hopes for him. Matthew was always forgotten, the invisible one hidden under Alfred's shadow. The only time he shone was when he sang in the choir, his sweet voice spreading the words of God. People would call him an angel, even his strict father, and as usual, he would blush at the compliments and shrink back, unnoticed again, into the crowd. He had sometimes wondered what it would be like if Alfred didn't exist, whether Father would notice him more. Immediately he felt guilty again - he really was too innocent - because it had come true. Alfred had run away with Arthur not too long ago, for the sake of their "love."
"Disgusting," his father had called it, "utterly repulsive."
Now, Matthew felt so lonely - Alfred was the only one who ever remembered him outside of choir, and he had always included him whenever someone left him out. Father was so infuriated with Alfred, he had decreed that even his very name was taboo. All reminders of him - drawings, stories, cliques he had founded - were removed. He had disgraced Father, rejected their society, and for it he would never be remembered for anything ever again. Matthew was lonely, yes, but most of all he was terribly bitter. Alfred had everything Matthew had ever wanted - popularity, friends, acknowledgement - and he had thrown all of it away. He had thrown all of it away, and for what? Love? Matthew shook his head, looking down at his feet.
He sighed, tucking a stray lock of curled blonde hair. Life was so bland and routine, the same things day after day. Sometimes he nursed ideas - sinful ideas - of "could have been" and "maybe." What if he had gone with Alfred and Arthur? What would he be doing then? Matthew snapped out of his thoughts and quickly muttered a prayer for his soul under his breath. He reminded himself of the grave consequences and shivered.
If he had gone with them, he would surely be destined for damnation, to burn in the flames of Hell. Homosexuality was considered one of the most abhorrent crimes against God, after all, it was unnatural and unlawful - against how He had created them to be. Vivid images of Hell were painted across the chapel wall (and of Heaven as well), spread across the ceiling. Many a time had Matthew wondered if he would ever make it there – wherever "there" was. The others called him "Angel" - the name was a cage. People expected him to be naïve, innocent, kind - pure. On the inside though, he felt so guilty - he was nothing like that. The name was like a mask that he hid behind. Had anyone known of his thoughts, he would have been beaten and whipped until he bled - and he would have deserved it. Lost in his thoughts, Matthew continued staring at his feet as he walked, head lowered solemnly.
"Ah!" He let out a little cry of surprise as he bumped into something - no, someone - and fell down onto the hard, cobbled road. He rubbed his arm painfully.
"O-oh, I beg your pardon! I wasn't w-watching where I was going." Matthew mumbled a feeble apology. He looked up sheepishly.
The stranger was tall and cloaked, the dark shadows from his dark hood obscuring his features. He offered a rough calloused hand and Matthew gratefully accepted it. He was about to thank him but the words caught in his throat when he caught the stranger's gaze. They were bright scarlet, the color of blood, or perhaps fire. The color caught Matthew off-guard, and he backed up uncertainly, not sure to trust this strange man who had the eyes of…of a demon. He snuck another cautious glance and quickly took back his previous thoughts - they weren't exactly the colour of blood, or fire, as he had thought - or anything else he could think of, either. He couldn't describe it as scarlet or crimson, just a perfect shade in between, rich with tones and highlights of pink and yellow. Matthew could do nothing but stare, in horrified wonder, at the unnatural color of them.
Something uncertain, doubt, or fear perhaps, flickered across the stranger's face when Matthew met his scarlet eyes. Matthew's caution must have shown on his face, because the stranger caught the slight shifting of his eyes. The stranger drew back his hand quickly, as if he was touching fire and ran off, taking long quick strides, leaving Matthew very confused. Did he do something wrong? Groaning a little he picked himself up and continued on his way.
Suddenly, he paused. Red eyes...and Matthew had sworn he had seen a strand of white-silver hair peeking out from the hood. Was he an albino? Matthew gulped fearfully and looked at the direction he had ran off in. He remembered the tales his father had told him - albinos were the offspring of demons, forbidden, violent monsters. They violated God's code and they were said to have no thoughts except for blood-lust. He thought back to his encounter - he was sure the stranger had borne no ill will towards him. He tucked the thought away in his head and continued his walk to the town centre - something in his gut shifted uncomfortably and told him that was not the last time he would see the stranger.
Why did it come to this? Gilbert stared at the body lying at his feet, forcing himself to look away from the pooling blood and the obsidian knife in his hand. He was just a boy, he had just killed a boy...Gilbert sank to his knees, horrified. Gulping back waves of nausea, he bent down to close the eyes of his victim, God help his soul. His short light blonde - almost white - hair was matted and stained with crimson and his dark purple eyes stared vacantly until Gilbert covered them, cupping them with his hands. He had a scarf wrapped around his neck, absorbing some of the blood and slowly turning bright red. The eyes haunted him; the boy's voice taunted him as he stumbled away from the crime scene.
"Demon! Worshipper of Satan!" The labels that were branded onto him with those hateful eyes…
God, please forgive me! He had to do it… the boy had found him; saw his red eyes, his strange pale skin, his unnatural white hair. The boy was one of those Puritans, the extremist religious faction that was trying to kill him, and…and "his kind." With his appearance, there was no way he wouldn't be condemned to death. No matter what he said, what he did, they would simply twist his word back on him, tormenting him and sentencing him to death. Was it so wrong to want to live?
He shook his head dizzily, crossing himself messily. He recited the words his priest had taught him, blinking back tears.
"In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen."
He quickly murmured a short prayer, stumbling over some of the Latin words. He wasn't even supposed to speak the sacred language, but he found solace in his religion that had ostracized him all his life, attending Mass faithfully every day, under the disguise of his dark cloak. He clasped his hands together and recited the words his priest had taught him. His priest…before the Revolution had started, he had helped Gilbert and taught him much. When the onset of the Revolution had started, he had been killed – slaughtered in front of Gilbert's eyes for daring to help an "abnormal" – anyone, not just albinos were killed, excuses half-heartedly accepted before the cycle of blood started over again. These were dangerous times, and any comfort was treasured.
"MEMORARE, O piissima Virgo Maria,
non esse auditum a saeculo, quemquam ad tua currentem praesidia,
tua implorantem auxilia, tua petentem suffragia,
Ego tali animatus confidentia,
ad te, Virgo Virginum, Mater, curro,
ad te venio, coram te gemens peccator assisto.
Noli, Mater Verbi,
verba mea despicere;
sed audi propitia et exaudi.
He was an idiot, a bloody idiot. The irony wasn't lost on him, and Gilbert found himself holding back a dark smile. He was everything they said he was now, wasn't he? He was a filthy murderer, eyes red and mad with evil intent. He felt horrible, his insides gnawing at him furiously. Gilbert recognized the feeling as guilt, and slumped down as he ran into an abandoned alley, hugging his knees to his chest. What was the kid's name? Ivan? The Russian kid had never liked his kind. Gilbert held back a sob as he checked his bloodstained face, reminders of what had just taken place. He did the only thing he could do – he ran.
As much as Gilbert tried to convince himself that it was the only thing he could do, doubt ate at him. Did he have to kill him? Couldn't he just have fled? All because of a stupid mistake...he'd bumped into a boy from Mass – Matthew, was it? - who had noticed his eyes. He'd panicked and ran, and his hood had come off at some point, and Ivan just had to been there - at the wrong place, wrong time - to scream and call him a demon. He had just reacted instinctively, whether it was from anger, or the urge to eliminate all threats - he wasn't sure. He remembered it in excruciating detail - he had clamped the boy's mouth shut and wrapped his elbow around his throat, pulling him into a dark, twisted alleyway and pushing against the wall, knocking the wind out of Ivan, who couldn't have been any more than 14. Gilbert felt sick, remembering the cloying feeling of the blade sinking into the soft flesh…the wet sound when he pulled it out, and the dark satisfaction he had gotten when Gilbert had watch him fall slowly and crumple to the ground as his hateful eyes unfocused, still clouded with fear…
The albino swallowed the bile rising in his throat, fighting the urge to vomit. They were right, they were all right. He was an instinctive murderer - he couldn't deny that it had felt so natural when he had sunk the blade into Ivan's stomach, rejoicing darkly in the muffled screams of his victim, feeling the pulse slow and eventually stop, his arm still around his victim's neck. The scarlet had looked so pretty, contrasting Gilbert's pale skin… Minutes later, Gilbert had snapped out of his trance, senses returning to him as he stared in horror at the bloody scene in front of him. He tried to keep any further thoughts of this out of his head, and simply kept walking, slowing to a limp, breaths coming in ragged gasps, head spinning.
Nearly there...Ludwig's place is only a few houses away…
He struggled on, looking and feeling very much like a drunk, swaying and leaning on the dirty walls for support. Sometimes he thought he would collapse but he would prop himself up again. Finally he reached the only safe haven he had – the relative safety of his dear brother's house.
"Bruder! Öffne die Tür!" He hammered at the door for good measure, leaning on the other side of it and staring blankly at the wooden gate, his eyes clouded and unfocused.
A few moments later, the heavy wooden door swung open to reveal a rather annoyed, tall and well-built man. His short blonde hair was cleanly slicked back but a few strands dared to defy the rest. His sky blue eyes were bright but a little tired looking, his grave face added to his stoic impression - and to think that Ludwig was the younger brother.
Ludwig sighed. Gilbert was probably drunk or hung-over – probably both, if he knew his brother correctly.
Wordlessly, Gilbert bundled Ludwig into the house before coming in himself, slamming the door shut and locking the bolt into place.
"Bruder, what is it?" Ludwig asked again, a little concerned with his brother's behaviour. He saw small bloodstains on Gilbert's clothing and skin and stiffened.
Gilbert said nothing, instead throwing up, his back bent over the sink uncomfortably. After emptying the contents of his stomach, he was still feeling his throat spasm painfully. When it finally ended, he was lying on the tile kitchen floor, blinking back tears and clutching his throat. There was a disgusting sour taste in his mouth.
God must be punishing me, he thought.
"W-water." He managed to croak out, his throat burning from the acid, head aching dangerously.
"Bruder, what's wrong? Are you drunk? Sick? Poisoned?" Ludwig asked as he brought back the requested water in a mug.
Ludwig had stayed beside him the whole time, comforting him, watching in dismay. Once again, Ludwig's gaze strayed to the blood on Gilbert's face, casting a worried glance at his brother. He closed the window, making sure no one could see his illegal brother - all "abnormals" were to be killed at birth. Gilbert was an exception, kept alive by his father's high social status and his mother's kindness. After their mother had died, their father had always wanted Gilbert dead - preferably as painfully as possible. After all, he was just another stain on his "spotless" record, an abomination.
Gilbert hesitated before speaking - how would Ludwig react? But he was his brother, after all, and he couldn't lie to his brother. He drank the water gratefully and gave the mug back, getting shakily to his feet.
"Bruder, you should get some re-" Gilbert cut Ludwig off with a silencing wave of his hand.
"...I k-killed a boy." He was having some trouble saying it out loud. Admitting it to someone else made it all the more real – it became reality, more than just a bad nightmare. The image of the body flashed beneath his eyelids. He shuddered and put his hands on the wall again, steadying his shaking body. The nausea was back with a vengeance, but Gilbert bit it back as best he could and forced himself to look into the eyes of his brother.
"Killed?" Ludwig was shocked, but there was no disbelief in his stoic gaze. It was ridiculous, yes, but Gilbert wouldn't joke about something like that. He looked deadly serious, and he looked quite traumatized. Ludwig swallowed nervously, fidgeting about. If he had a killer in his house...
"...Ja, bruder…I'm a murderer. A boy, barely 14 - he saw me. He tried to report me to those damn Puritans that are going around eliminating all abnorm- …my kind. I guess I'm just another fucking murderer, huh? Maybe they were right about me after all..."
They called him a murderer, a demon. He laughed darkly - he'd become exactly what they were trying to condemn him for. He laughed again, a low chuckle that steadily rose in pitch till he was in hysterics. Gilbert punched the wall, his fists raw and bleeding. Ludwig swallowed nervously - was his brother going crazy? Gilbert was acting as if he had lost all semblance of rational thought…
"Calm down, Gilbert." His request was unheeded.
"Gilbert!" He tried to grasp his brother's shaking shoulders and force them to be still. But he just threw back his head and laughed harder, tears streaming from his open eyes. His eyes were unfocused and clouded, but Ludwig could see the self-disgust and anger written in them.
"Gilbert!" Ludwig slapped Gilbert, trying to bring him out of it.
If Ludwig thought Gilbert's hysteria was frightening, his sudden, still, slumped quiet was worse. He was like the living dead, his eyes red and tired, staring at something only he could see. His brother trembled, tears streaming down his cheeks, leaning on Ludwig's hands on his shoulders. He muttered something under his breath.
"…I-I'm just as bad as they say I am, aren't I? I'm just a useless, murderous monster. You think so too, don't you? I've seen it in your damn eyes, bruder. Don't fucking lie to me!" Gilbert talked louder and louder until he was yelling at his brother, tears not once stopping. He sobbed slightly and sniffed.
Ludwig was clueless on what to say. He hesitated, deliberating his options. Then quietly he picked him up. Gilbert didn't struggle, going limp in his brother's arms, sobbing into Ludwig's shoulder.
"I'll take you to your room, bruder."
Why? Why? The question echoed in Gilbert's mind as he ran through the darkening streets. His bare feet were torn, dirty and bleeding. His breath came in ragged gasps and his lungs ached for oxygen. He didn't know where he was going - he just had to escape - to get away from here. He could hear them, their yells, and the flickering lights of their torches. He took a glimpse backwards, they haven't caught up yet. He had a chance.
Why was he trying so hard? Why did he want to live so badly? He didn't deserve life...he didn't deserve any damn minute of it. So why didn't he just fucking die already? He thought back to that morning…
"Hey Ludwig, open the door will you? I want to pop out for a bit." He casually asked, bored from lying in bed all day. He hadn't recovered fully from the shock or guilt of killing yet, and he was still weak. He wanted to see the sun's rays again - he doubted they had sunshine wherever he was going.
"Hey Ludwig? Bruder?" Where was his damn brother? Why wasn't he saying anything? Gilbert scowled, a little irritated, and was about to repeat himself when he was interrupted by his brother walking through the open door, a sad, distant look on his face.
"Entschuldigung, Gilbert…but you're a murderer."
His eyes widened with shock as he took in the scene in front of him. Ludwig paced out of the room, and he could hear his brother speaking to someone, probably the church minister - Father Williams, was it? Gilbert's fears had come alive and swallowed him whole, disjointed thoughts running through his head – Ludwighatesme - afraid ofhim - turned inPuritans.
Like father, like son, Gilbert thought, crimson eyes flashing across the room.
The only person that he thought had cared for him had left him to die at the hands of the Church - had practically condemned him to die. Gilbert knew that his chances of surviving this were small, but he had to get out of there now. The red eyes that had caused him so much misfortune darted around the room, stopping at the window.
It was only the second story, and there was a smaller outcrop at the first level. He prayed that this would work, running over to the window and swinging himself over the windowsill, letting himself drop onto the outcrop with a loud thud.
This thing better not fucking break on me! Awkwardly crawling to the edge of the ledge, he looked for some soft place to land, and found...nothing. Gritting his teeth, Gilbert asked himself what he had expected. A nice mattress to fall onto? He swore loudly. He strained to hold himself to the edge while narrowing the gap between him and the ground as much as possible, then he let go. The impact jarred his unprotected feet and he stumbled, almost tripping his feet.
"Lady Luck, you're a fickle bitch," he swore as he noticed the crowd gathered at the front of the house. He could hear their insults, their tone, the way they sent stabs of pain and guilt through his body. He kept telling himself that he was okay, that as long as he still felt guilt that he was still human, still normal...
"Kill the demon! Kill the demon! The murderer of my child!" He knew they were right - he was a murderer, a demon. Did that give them the right condemn him, though? They knew nothing about him. These so-called "Puritans" - what right to they have to go around preaching their "words of God?"
They kill - they kill people like me, and say it's right 'cause we're different. Fucking hypocrites - don't they say we're all family or some shit like that? 'Cause I sure as hell don't see them killing their kids as very familial - but hey, don't take it from me, I'm just the friendly neighborhood demon. Gilbert's thoughts raced as fast as his feet, churning impossibly quickly. Sink or swim, fight or flight - it was an instinct, and Gilbert just let it take over and control him.
He ran - if he stayed there any longer, he would snap and go up to those people and spit their words back into their face. That was suicide, and he wanted to live. He had a head start; they wouldn't realize that he was gone yet - if he could just get out of the city... He didn't have his hood, so he wouldn't be able to get a lift - at least from any sane person. He'd have to go by feet, during the night, and hiding during the day. Even better, maybe he could steal a hood. That could come later - for now, he just ran. Though he was running for his life, he relished the way the wind beat against his face - the speed, the freedom, to just let his legs carry him wherever he wanted.
Gilbert didn't know how long it had been, but he was racing down unfamiliar streets, and turning into shady alleys. The only light that illuminated the city came from the crescent moon and the weak oil lights laid out on the sidewalks. His eyes adjusted easily to the darkness – they were extremely sensitive to the sun, as was his skin, and Gilbert had always felt the most at ease in the darkness.
Dammit! There are people over there! He ran in the opposite direction but also could see the light their fire cast on the walls.
Shit! He took a third fork but it was another dead end. Tall buildings loomed on either side; there was nothing he could climb - fuck, dammit! He could hear them, closer and closer, their shouts and the pandemonium they were making soon overpowered the rapid thumps of his heart. He was trapped, like a rat - a pest to be exterminated. He finally gave up, leaning his back on the wall, slowly slumping down. He faced the encroaching crowd with a smile, closing his eyes and praying as he was jerked roughly to his feet and his world went black.
"Domine Iesu, dimitte nobis debita nostra, salva nos ab igne inferiori, perduc in caelum omnes animas, praesertim eas, quae misericordiae tuae maxime indigent..."
Matthew found himself half lying on the table, half sitting in his chair with a drool soaked sleeve.
I fell asleep? On the dinner table? He rubbed his sleep filled eyes and readjusted the glasses that had hung askew across his face. He frowned a little, trying to remember why he was there. He took off his jacket and threw it into the wash bin.
Ah! I was waiting for Father to return and I fell asleep… he flushed, feeling a little silly. The regular ticking of his father's pocket watch filled the silence that Matthew sat in. He snuck a quick glance at the clock. 1 o' clock?
Why is Father so late? The racket outside was growing and it drew his attention.
He opened the front door a crack, shivering as cold air found its way in. Outside, the town's people lined the sides of the streets. What exactly was going on? He huddled his arms closer to his chest.
"Um, excuse me?" He tried to ask the closest person to him, a middle aged lady that he had seen around before.
He went unnoticed, as usual.
"Excuse me?" He asked again, a little louder, and yet still she paid him no attention. He sighed, and decided that he would have a look for himself. Pushing into the crowd he was jostled and squashed but finally came out on the other side. The streets were empty, but somewhere, in the distance, he could make out the faint orange flames of torch bearers and the noise of the people that were already gawking at whatever spectacle was being paraded. The procession slowly drew closer; he could see his father at the lead, describing the demon he had caught.
"Demon, eh?" he muttered under his breath. Matthew doubted whether it was a real demon - surely such a true sinful creature would have slaughtered them all already?
And then he caught sight of him. The "demon" was a ragged looking youth, the scraps that covered him were filthy and bloodstained, and his head hung in defeat. He had been beaten and lashed, and his eyes were clouded, almost feral. Heavy iron chains wrapped around his thin pale limbs, occasionally used to tug him along. The only unusual feature was the unruly mop of pure white hair, but even that was tainted with dirt and dried blood. In Matthew's opinion, he looked more like a fallen angel. He was still staring when the albino turned and their eyes met for a split second, both widening in recognition. The soft-spoken blonde felt the urge to look away, to break the "demon's" almost magical hold on him. He was mesmerized by the crimson color - and it hit him - he was the boy from earlier, the one with the beautiful red eyes. Matthew could see so much pain and a haunted, hurt, expression on his face - almost like an abused animal. The white haired boy whipped his eyes away and the connection was lost. Matthew could almost feel the physical connection breaking, shattering, and it hurt, somehow. The procession passed Matthew and he strained to watch the boy as he was swallowed into the darkness, spit on and jeered at by the rest of the small town.
He had never doubted his religion, but there was one thing Matthew was sure of - that boy was not a demon. He didn't follow the procession, instead going home. He was sure of the fact that they would meet again - and Matthew had no idea what would happen when they did.
A/N – From Nyx: Whee~ First chapter's up! Enjoy!
From Sunny: _ Hope everyone enjoys it! Oh, and are we supposed to do a disclaimer? Never really got the point of them but everyone seems to do it so; WE DON'T OWN HETALIA!
R&R for faster updates! ^_^ I hereby decree that nobody can favorite without reviewing :)