A/N: Technically speaking, nothing in this chapter takes place in the twentieth century, but as the bulk of it is set only ten measly months into the twenty-first century, I thought it fit here rather well. (The 1703 date is random and meaningless, by the way) Cookies for anyone who figures out where they are and what they're talking about before it's stated!
"Arthur, Athur!" Arthur turned to see Alfred running toward him, a piece of paper clutched in his tiny hands. He stopped before him, beaming up at him with pride. "I've been practicing my letters like you told me to. I made this for you!" He wiggled in place slightly as he held up the paper and opened it for Arthur.
On the page, in large, sloppy letters and speckled with ink blots were the words, "I LOVE YOU," and a heart shape drawn beneath them. Arthur nearly melted, scooping up the boy into his arms.
"It's beautiful, Alfred," he said, pressing a kiss to his cheek. "And I love you too."
Alfred cuddled against him contentedly. "And soon, I'll be able to read the letters you send me, and write back, instead of having the maid do it for me! Oh! Oh!" he bounced a little in excitement, "and I'll be able to read stories by myself. But I'm sure they'll still be better when you tell them."
Arthur kissed the top of his golden hair. "I would love to read your letters, Alfred. And maybe, one day," he mused, "you'll write your own fairytales."
Alfred was quiet for a moment. "Arthur? Who's your favorite writer ever?"
Arthur paused. "Oh I don't know. I like so many…" he thought for a bit and finally answered, "but I suppose I'm still quite fond of Shakespeare."
"Shakespeare," Alfred repeated thoughtfully. He turned his face back to Arthur. "What did he write?"
"He wrote several magnificent plays, and lots of beautiful poetry as well." His eyes took on a far-away look as he recalled a time over a century past. "Oh Alfred, he was incredible. He could take a story everyone already knew and make it completely different, completely his own."
"Mm…" Alfred swayed a little as he mulled this over. "Do you think I'll ever have someone like that?"
Arthur shrugged. "You might. You are young and full of potential Alfred. Anything could happen."
"So…"Alfred started uncertainly, hands in his pockets as they followed the small crowd out of the theater and through the last few museum exhibits to the exit. "What did you think?"
Arthur smiled and slipped his hand into Alfred's. "I thought it was lovely," he praised, watching the American's face light up. "It was a wonderful telling of his work and his vision, and his person, as I remember him, though of course you knew him better." They stepped outside and Arthur added, "And it certainly puts all of this," he gestured around them, "into perspective."
"Yeah…" Alfred glanced around at the bustle of movement and noise around them. "This was his dream, you know? Though I don't think he ever dreamed it would get this big." He turned back to the theater and the image above it of the man who had been his friend, who had become an icon and idol in his short life. "I think he'd be proud. I know I'm proud of him."
As they weaved their way between a group of college students and a family of six, Arthur squeezed his hand lightly. "Alfred," he asked, "do you remember, when you were a child, you asked me if you would ever have your own Shakespeare?" When it was clear Alfred was trying to reach into his memories and coming up with nothing, Arthur continued, "I've thought for a long time that your Walt Disney just might be the closest thing the world will ever see to a modern-day William Shakespeare."
He had only a moment to enjoy the shock on the other's face before Alfred pulled him into a crushing hug. "Seriously? That's gotta be, like, the best praise ever coming from you!" He released Arthur and smiled. "Man, I wish he could hear you say that."
Arthur smiled and shook his head. "I'm sure he did, love."
Alfred nodded, quiet for a few moments, and then he checked his watch. "Oh, our dinner reservations are in twenty minutes, come on. And then we should have just enough time to get back to Magic Kingdom for the fireworks show."
Two hours later, Alfred leaned against a bit of railing in the most famous of the Disney parks, arms resting comfortably around Arthur's waist as they watched the fireworks exploding over Cinderella's Castle, set to a wonderful medley of songs and quotes from classic favorite films. When Tinkerbelle flew out over the crowd, Alfred squeezed the Brits waist gently and whispered, "Hey, Arthur?"
"Hm?" Arthur questioned absently, eyes still fixed on the sparkling lights.
"Are there…" he paused and bit his lip, "are there real fairies here?"
Arthur started slightly, his expression melding quickly from shock to something softer and warmer. Alfred had finally accepted the existence of fairies – though he couldn't see them – a while back (notably when they repeatedly stole and hid his things), but it still surprised Arthur sometimes.
"Really?" he asked quietly, studying Alfred's face.
Alfred nodded. "I mean, all the stuff that's supposed to seem like magic is all mechanical and that's cool, but…it just feels like there's still something magical about this place. I can't place it, but it's always here."
"But won't knowing ruin the mystery?" Arthur asked, smile still lingering on his face.
Alfred shrugged. "I'm just afraid to hear the answer is no."
Arthur turned around fully and slid one hand up to cup Alfred's cheek, a knowing twinkle in his eyes, intensified but all the lights around them. "I'll let you in on a little secret, Alfred. There were fairies hanging around Walt from the day he was born." Alfred's eyes widened and Arthur's smile only grew. "They were there the day I met him, and they told me they had just sensed that he was special." Arthur swept his gaze over the park. "They're here now, some of them, as are some of my friends who have chosen to stay over the years. This park is every bit as magical as it seems, even if the real magic is invisible.
Alfred beamed and Arthur turned to watch the last of the fireworks burst in the sky, glancing back to see them reflected in Alfred's eyes – and those of the fairy sitting happily unnoticed on his shoulder.
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A/N: I love Alfred and his friendship with Walt Disney. I also think the comparison between Disney and Shakespeare is fairly obvious (imaginative storytellers who didn't always create their own plots, but made their plays and movies very distinctive and lasting), and I don't think Arthur would be ashamed to recognize it. The second portion of the story is set in Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM) park in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, in the "One Man's Dream" exhibit, which opened in October 2001. If you ever get the chance to go to WDW, that's one thing to make sure you see.
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