Author's note: Melly was :| and needed some proposal fic, so she is damn well getting it.
Title means "always" in French.
Matthew had felt a bit nervous all day, and he couldn't place why. He had a habit of gaining the characteristics of those who raised him. With France, it had been silky hair, and with England it hadn't been simply eyebrows, but a sense of how the world was. He couldn't read auras, or anything like that. But sometimes he'd sense things, an atmosphere his brother could never seem to read. Francis had been singing in French, some old song in an era Matthew hadn't know him. His blond hair was tied back in a ponytail, and he had a large unadorned apron over his clothes, which were a bit plainer than the fancy suits he often wore. He still managed to fill out those tight vintage jeans like it was nobody's business. Matthew craned his neck to take another look. He had been cooking all morning, and a fresh spray of roses adorned the middle of the wide metal table with its filigree and glass top. It looked like it belonged in a roadside café somewhere.
It looked like France had redecorated again. Matthew had to wonder if he bought a warehouse somewhere just to save all his valuable furniture which he had to switch out, or if he really would sell it. He had to ask sometime. The kitchen was chic and classic with black and white checkered tiles and thin filmy curtains with a vintage feel, though they were probably some designer thing or another. There were only a few oriental rugs spread over luscious wood floors. There was a theme of roses and the fleur de lis, though never together side by side in a design. The living room was painted a deep maroon with a specially painted border of slightly lighter roses, and that pattern followed each room, as if Francis wasn't satisfied with simply having his gardens outside, but had to make their likeness in his living quarters as well.
Francis had been especially perfectionistic and divaish today, but Matthew had been trying to keep him calm, though it wasn't exactly helping. Francis had asked today to be simply human. No mentions of politics allowed, only the transient, the carnal and amorous gestures were allowed. Matthew had offered to help with whatever he was so determined to finish, but no, Francis was ruthless in his affairs today. He'd even offered to get flowers, but Francis had wanted a hand in that too. It was like he couldn't leave anything to chance.
He was a little worried, really. He hadn't seen Francis this driven for perfection in a while. Of course, he hated what he deemed 'low-class' things, but this was beyond simple snobbery. He was starting to worry that he'd forgotten some major anniversary or holiday. He mentally counted off the saints days, but none fit. He'd been sitting out so he wouldn't be underfoot, feeling something like a child being scolded for getting in the way of pre-holiday cleaning.
Maybe he should've just taken the later flight to when Francis wasn't acting like a Bridezilla.
Francis looked like the food was a challenge he was not going to let get the best of him. He'd only seen Francis look this determined a few times, and most of them involved him besting Arthur.
Perhaps that was it, some age long grudge brought to light for them to bicker over. With his luck, that's how Francis would spend what little time they had together.
Maybe it was his roots showing, but Matthew really needed a drink. He would've opened something up out of Francis's impressive wine cellar, but he noticed a couple glasses of champagne already poured. He figured it wouldn't hurt if he drank his a little early, after all, it could be just refilled. He could even refill it with the way Francis was ignoring him for making the perfect meal to spite Arthur.
So he got up and pulled out one of the glasses stuck beside the fridge behind a package of something, almost as if they were hidden. Usually, Francis would lecture him not to spoil his meal, and if he was going to drink he should at least have a roll as if Matthew didn't drink like it was going out of style.
Francis was prone to fretting over little things, so Matthew usually took it without a complaint, though he took a lot of things without a complaint.
Instead of sipping it, he started to drink it right down, willing the alcohol to calm his nerves and dull this uncomfortable nervous feeling which was itching over him. The legendary chugging contests between Al, Schuyler and him had given him something near superhuman alcohol skills. Filled with the power of two legendary drunkards, and forged by his brother and friend's drunken parties, he could probably drink his weight in whatever.
Or he'd like to imagine.
Fond thoughts got pushed away as he felt something go over his tongue which definitely not supposed to be in a glass of champagne. He coughed, fighting for air as he felt something rough lodge itself in his throat. The glass fell from his grip, shattering on the floor beneath him.
Francis swore. Merde and even some of his own religious themed profanity which Francis usually wouldn't touch. Tabernac and câlice, and for a moment he thought he heard him take The Holy Virgin's name in vain, or perhaps that was a prayer as well.
He wouldn't die, but the temporary dying wasn't pretty. It was frightening, feeling his body air being closed off, slowly losing consciousness and thinking that maybe this time, he wouldn't make it back.
The first was the worst before he realized that he would come back. He'd died in battlefields, went through periods of sicknesses that made him wish he could die to get over it, and drowned once when it was small, the most frightening time.
Glass crunched under Francis's feet. He'd kept his stylish black designer shoes, while Matthew had left his dirty sneakers at the door. Francis looped his arms about his waist, like he had so many times in gentle hugs. But this time it was quick and desperate as he entwined his hands at Matthew's abdomen and made a rapid draw against his chest. It took three times to dispel what was lodged in his throat, with Francis swearing or praying even more furiously each time. At that point it seemed like he might be doing both, railing at God and praying to the Holy Mother at the same time.
He heard another sound of glass breaking as whatever Matthew had ingested went flying. There went the other glass. Champagne spilled over the countertop, flowing off into the floor making it a slippery, sticky and dangerous mess.
Francis didn't let him go, he kept wrapped around Matthew in an embrace, nuzzled tight into where his neck met his shoulder.
He kept murmuring his name, gentle thanks and maybe even prayers of thanks as well. His French was so rapid that Matthew could barely catch the words.
"Did...did I swallow an olive?" Matthew gasped finally, letting out one last cough. His throat felt scratched raw.
"No," Francis said. "No, it wasn't anything like that."
"No, you're right, that'd be in a mixed drink."
He shook his head. One near-death experience and he was already losing his alcoholic-fu.
"Sorry, I just needed a drink, I didn't realize there was anything in it–"
Knowing Francis, these were quality crystal, probably antique. And whatever he'd broken probably wasn't replaceable, unless they had a time machine handy. He'd ruined the set and probably ruined whatever special day Francis had planned–even if it was probably some stupid thing to piss off Arthur.
"–I didn't mean to break anything," Matthew finished.
But Francis didn't let go.
"I don't care about the glass," Francis said. "I care about you. I thought you'd die right there in my arms."
Matthew shifted slightly. "I'd come back to life later, though."
"Yes, but it's rather a mood killer," Francis said. "And I don't want you to be hurt, even for a little while. Do you have any idea how much it would hurt me to watch you simply topple over and die and have it be all my own fault?"
Matthew closed his eyes. He knew all too well, having watched France turn from an ally to the Vichy under German control. If Francis had died during that time, he didn't talk about it. It was one of the few times Francis always said this is too vulgar for your ears, mon amour and would distract him with gifts or kisses, words of affection.
"Ah, let big brother take care of things, though. The floor is covered in glass."
Matthew stood still, daring not to move. His socks had gotten a little damp, and would probably have to be thrown out. They weren't exactly special, anyways. Francis would probably be glad to be rid of them.
Francis wasn't a weakling, but he didn't have the kind of raw power that Alfred had. But he still plucked up Matthew, bridal style.
"I haven't done this since you were a little one," Francis said. He groaned a bit, straining as he put Matthew down. He rubbed his back, and took a little longer to rise, showing his age just a little.
"You sure have gotten a lot bigger since then, mon amour," France mused.
"Or maybe you got smaller," Matthew said. Francis set him down on the nearest chair, probably another antique treasure. He pulled off Matthew's socks, and took them with him.
"Oh, you are being a naughty boy today," France said, shaking his head. "I will only be a few minutes cleaning this up." And then, he heard another round of cursing, and smelled smoke.
Francis's dinner which he had been so focused on now smelled about like something Arthur would make.
Matthew padded out to his sneakers, leaving sticky patches on the floor as he walked. He pulled on his sneakers, without bothering with looking for another pair of socks. He didn't want to leave all the work to Francis–even if at this point, he was making more work for Francis, he thought ruefully.
When he got back to the kitchen, Francis had gotten a lot of the glass swept up, though the broom had become wet and sticky in the progress. The pan that Francis had been stewing was spewing out a thick smoke, and the oven was turned off.
"As you see, it's become a disaster," Francis sighed. He looked out at the wreckage of what should've been a great night.
And it was all his fault.
"S-sorry," Matthew said. He bent down to the cupboard, to where Francis kept his old doggy bags for the glass. He plucked up the one left on the counter, only to find something still within it. Both sides had broken, but it had been balanced against the side of the wall, and whatever he had swallowed had eventually come to rest at the bottom of what was left of the glass.
"Angleterre probably cursed me, knowing him," Francis said.
"Probably," Matthew said.
Matthew extracted it form what was left of the glass, and turned it over in his fingers. It was a small ring, surprisingly not garish, given Francis's tastes. There was a pattern of leaves and roses, and it was adorned in white gold and a coppery red.
"It was for you," Francis said. "The whole day was, but now it's been made such an awful mess..."
Francis was saying more, but Matthew couldn't hear him. He just kept staring at the gentle weight in his hands, a promise in keepsake form. To have and to hold until death do you part. For humans, that might be a mere century, but for countries like them, it would be centuries, or perhaps even forever.
"–And before you say anything, we wouldn't be married as countries. You'd still have your independence and I..." Francis shook his head. "Nothing would change in that respect."
Matthew looked up. Francis wasn't so cruel as to play a prank, and there was nothing to draw him to bind his country to theirs, not even the sense of one-upping Arthur for that victory so long ago.
He understood now, the sense of unease he'd felt, how Francis had been so determined to make it utterly perfect. Francis was all for grand gestures, and he must feel crushed now, that his romantic night was all broken to pieces.
"You know my answer already," Matthew said.
"Well, I'd certainly hope I know," Francis said, smiling ruefully. "Though, if no, I'd just keep asking."
"Maybe I'll take it back now that you said that," Matthew said.
"What, don't you want to be pursued? Given love letters and serenaded and showed every grand moment of l'amour?"
Matthew stepped closer, hearing a few of the remaining pieces of glass crunch under his shoes. He entwined his hands with Francis's as they stood close together in the wreckage of Francis's fairytale romance proposal. But from its ashes was something more true, more real, and to Matthew, more appealing for its sincerity.
"I want you and if those come with it and you feel like romancing me, then yeah, I want that," Matthew said.
They leaned together, their foreheads brushing in a faint caress. He felt Francis's hair tickle his cheek, his breath warm and smelling faintly of mints, as if he'd been preparing for even this.
He didn't need a perfect moment, he'd had lots of perfect fantasies, filled with other men and woman's poetry, their love letters the closest he'd get to hearing France say the words. He'd rather have a smoking kitchen covered in glass and have France here, France fully his.
"Then you can have me and all the romance I have," Francis said, leaning in, the breath and scent of roses with a hint of smoke. "Is that a fair compromise?"
"Yeah, I think so," Matthew said.
He held on tight, the reality of this moment far more beautiful than any daydream.
Schuyler = Netherlands.
Most people know merde means shit and the pet names by now, right?
The reference to Tabernac and câlice refers to Quebec's own special swear words, all based on things the Catholic church banned.