Arthur awoke a little surprised. It seemed only moments ago he was a child once more in a bright sunlit shoreline, waving goodbye to his father as he sailed off again. As he opened his eyes, he had to adjust to the sudden darkness. He rubbed his eyes gently, trying to see better in the dark.
He looked up at the large grandfather clock.
It was 2:00 in the morning.
Such a bloody ungodly hour…
He closed his eyes again, trying to drift back to sleep, and to shake off the stupid dream he just had about his pathetic childhood. Just as he felt like he was about to fall back to sleep, he heard a strange noise followed by a thud, coming from Francis' room.
Oh for the love of all things…WHAT IS HE DOING NOW?
He groaned, irritated as another thud was heard. He growled softly as he got out of bed and marched out of his room. Francis was going to get a piece of his mind. That stupid oaf shouldn't be making goddamn noises in the middle of the night.
He stood outside the door and then yanked it open.
He was ready to yell at him or at the very least scold him for waking him up at such an early hour. He was ready to insult him and his stupid inconsideration. But he wasn't prepared for what he saw…
…he wasn't prepared at all…
Francis was sitting on the floor, beside his bed and leaning on the wall. He was curled up, with his face in his hands, a soft whimper coming out of his lips. Arthur stared at him, deeply astounded and shocked. For a good minute or two, he couldn't do anything but stare. Then he gathered his senses and spoke up rather hesitantly.
"…What the hell are you doing up so late?" he asked, a light annoyance coating his words
Francis looked up, but not at him. He stared straight ahead, his blue eyes, wet and shining against the subtle moonlight from the window. Even in the dim light, Arthur saw how pale Francis was. He grimaced as a sudden ache crept up the inside of his ribs.
An ache that he soon realized was worry.
Why was he worried for him? Why? Because damn it people don't just randomly go cry in the middle of the night that's why.
Francis' voice was barely audible "…sorry Arthur. I'm sorry for bothering you. Just go back to sleep now"
Arthur felt some sort of guilt, which added uncomfortably to the stupid worry he felt. Francis still thought about him instead of whatever it was that he was dealing with.
Arthur shook his head and took a step closer. "Hey listen you twit, how do you suppose I will go back to sleep now that you have woken me up…?"
He didn't really mean to say that, but for some reason he didn't want to leave him. Not yet. He wasn't irritating at this moment. Francis just cracked a small, tired smile before running a hand through his hair. They were also quite shiny and luminous as he moved them. Arthur snapped his eyes back to Francis' eyes.
"I suppose it is my fault…it's my entire fault. Forgive me for having woken you up…" he mumbled, a little louder now.
Arthur took another step towards Francis, without being aware of it. He was still frowning, but there was no conviction to it. "You haven't answered my question, toad. Why are you awake?"
Francis looked at him and Arthur flinched. Good lord how he wished Francis didn't look at him like that. Though his face was calm and cool, his damp eyes were tortured. His mere look sent a shiver up Arthur's spine. The only thing he could read from those eyes was pain.
"Just a bad dream…" he muttered.
But judging from the crack in his voice, it was far beyond just a bad dream.
Arthur didn't know what to say. He didn't know what to do. So he walked towards Francis until he was standing right before him. Finally he sat on Francis' bed and watched Francis with scrutinizing eyes.
"Want to tell me about it…?" he said a little embarrassed. He was willing to listen anyway. There was no going back to sleep for him, his senses were wide awake and he wasn't willing to sleep anymore. He'll probably just get started on a few things after this.
Francis stared at him. His legs uncurled slightly and he took a deep breath. "…it's a girl...just a regular girl…"
"And…what's so frightening about that?" Arthur asked curiously
"It's terrifying" Francis started "…it frightens me because I wasn't able to save her…"
Arthur frowned "…in your dream?"
Francis looked at him "…and in reality…"
And in reality?
"What do you mean?" Arthur slid down the bed and was now sitting on the floor just in front of Francis.
"Her name…is Jeanne…"
And so Francis began to tell the tale of his lover. A lover he was just about to marry, when she was brutally taken away from him by a group of people who worked for a man whom her mother was indebted to. To pay for her unpaid dues, she sold her daughter to them as their possession. When they discovered that she refused to work for them, before Francis could rescue her, they burned her mercilessly.
"…it's my fault. I know that…I should have been there on time…" Francis mumbled, unaware that there were tears in his eyes once more, rolling down on his pale cheeks.
Arthur was horrified. It all seemed so real to him. He could feel the pain of separation and loss, leaking from Francis' every word. He was silent for a while.
"It's not your fault Francis…" he mumbled. Slowly he lifted a hand, a little awkwardly mayhap, to Francis' arm. "It's her wretched mother's fault…she sold her daughter. Even you can't save her if her own tragedy is her parent"
Francis began to sob again. Arthur was unsure of what to do next so he rubbed his hand on Francis' arm soothingly.
Francis slowly looked at him, his eyes drenched in tears, the delicate drops clinging gently to his long lashes.
For the love of God Arthur stop staring at him like that…
"Arthur…I'm sorry. I…" he began with a stammer "I didn't mean to wake you up…or get you into this… Sorry for bothering you." He tried to stand up, his legs still trembling.
Arthur helped Francis stand up, grabbing him by the arms. For a second they looked at each other and then Arthur let him go with an annoyed frown.
"Well? Back to sleep you go then!" he half-shrieked before marching to the door, leaving Francis seated on his bed already. He was very ready to go back to his room when suddenly
"Hey Arthur…" he called out weakly
"Yeah?" He replied not even looking at him
The utmost sincerity and the fervor in his voice were hard to miss. Arthur took a deep breath before turning to Francis with a small smile "You're welcome"
Once outside of Francis' room, he half-ran to his room and shut the door, leaning against it. He put one hand against his chest with a scowl.
Why is my heart beating twice as fast?