Title: The Rose of Spades
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Humor
Word Count: 2,279
Pairing(s): USUK, mild RusEng and RusAme
Rating/Warnings: T, for language
Prompt: For Sweethearts Week at lj, Day Two—One Upon a Time: Fic or art must feature aspects of fairy tales, legends, mythology, folklore, etc. Whether it's an AU storyline based on a legend, fairytale, or featuring magic, a canonverse piece featuring mythological creatures or England's magical friends, or whatever. Go wild!
Summary: Alfred is the heir to the throne of a modern day Spades. Instead of looking for a queen among the eligible noblewomen who are available, he's too busy fantasizing about old fairy tales. When that fairy tale comes to life, Alfred wonders if he's bitten off more than he could chew.
Notes: Well, I believe this may end up being a multi-chapter fic. Haha, I really shouldn't start another one while still writing my first. Oh well. I don't think this one will be too long, but I hope you enjoy it regardless. Please leave a review and tell me what you think. I always love constructive criticism.
It was an archaic estate, surrounded by woods and unruly forest. Small towns bloomed nearby in its shadow, grateful to be under the watch of such prosperity. It was the epicenter of culture in the land—a kingdom of blue and silver, where clocks grew on trees and flowers bloomed all year round.
The Kingdom of Spades.
Its wealth and power was envied throughout all of the land known as Cards. It was at the height of its power and culture, the Golden Age of its land. The streets were filled with happy vendors and villagers, where even a beggar could eat a slice of bread a day.
A single monarch, Queen Arthur Kirkland, ruled this kingdom.
He ruled the country sternly and effectively. There was nary a crack in his financial decisions. His punishments for crimes were strict, but deserved. He was revered for his intelligent naval plans, his scholarly intellect, and above all, his beauty.
The kingdom was coaxed into trusting this lovely queen with wheat blonde hair, emerald eyes, and skin unblemished and alabaster pale. He was only legitimate heir to the throne, and inherited it upon his parents' deaths when he was nay but sixteen years old.
His beauty, of course, attracted the attentions of suitors from the neighboring kingdoms. They wanted not only his body, but also the wealth and power the regime of Spades would bring as dowry. Every eligible noble sent out notice to the queen, asking to court him in exchange for his hand in marriage.
Queen Arthur turned each and every one of them down. Some, he did harshly so they would never return, and some, he let down gently. No one knew why the queen refused to take a husband, but everyone assumed something different; maybe he was scared of change? Didn't feel the need for one? Wanted the power all to himself? Was actually an angel and needed to preserve his virginity for God?
No one knew the true answer except for Arthur himself—he was gifted with The Sight.
In addition to be able to see the fey of the forests and have conversations with the fairies that tittered about amongst the blue and silver flowers of the garden, he was able to see strings. He could see the strings that attached married couples, lovers and, sometimes, complete strangers.
He could also see his own string wound tightly around his ring finger. However, the string had no ending. The Queen did not have a soul mate, and no matter how far he followed the string, it did not get shorter. The string was endless and unnerving and every time he glanced down at his finger, a stony visage would appear in jeweled eyes.
It upset him terribly.
So he refused to marry. He would not marry for anything except love. His politics were sound, his military capable. Who were these nobles that they thought he needed a husband by his side to rule properly? He may have inherited the title queen rather than king, but he was still a man and could handle his country on his own.
The Kingdom of Clubs disagreed rather freely. Their king, Ivan the Terrible, had attempted to court Arthur many times, without success. Each time, he was turned down more harshly than the last. Arthur's patience wore thin with the man, whose attitude was like Clubs' climate—cold, icy, and terrifying.
Arthur, however, paid little heeds to the signs of warning the much larger man was giving off the last time they met.
"My dear Queen," King Ivan cooed, his childish voice making the milk in Arthur's stomach curdle, "why do you refuse me though? I could give you everything you want. Jewelry, clothing, respect—"
"I have all of those," Arthur snapped back, glaring into amethyst eyes, "I do not need you for my people's respect, nor does my kingdom desire your meager wealth. Now, if you please, I believe your time is done. I will not marry you, and that answer is final."
Ivan gave off a chilling aura as he took a step closer to Arthur. The queen in question took a step back, positioning himself defensively against the man, "But, darling," Ivan calmly put his hands behind him back, "Don't you realize? If you don't marry me, your kingdom will crumble. I promise it."
Arthur barked a laugh, "My kingdom will crumble? Simply because I don't have the alliance of a country so deep in snow, your caravans can scarcely manage to leave? I doubt it. Be gone with you, and don't return to my country." He waved a hand dismissively, and Ivan simply tilted his head to the side.
"Oh, but I'll have to return. This country will be mine."
It was calm and pleasant, but only aesthetically. To a truly learned listener, one could hear the malice in the king's sweet tenor. It sent a shiver down Arthur spine, "Not so long as I live." He breathed, doing his best not to show fear to the behemoth of a king.
"Well. We may just have to fix that. Your kingdom will be mine, with or without you, my dearest Arthur. Then again, it would be such a shame to kill such beauty. Perhaps I can figure out a loophole, da?" With that, the ice king left, leaving the queen stunned in the courtyard.
Clubs was not heard from for several years after that.
Business went about as usual, and the queen worked tirelessly to ensure the wellbeing of his kingdom. However, since the eerie promise of the terrible king, the economy slowly began to decline. Winters began to last longer and famines were plaguing his people. Even Arthur himself, for the good of his people, came to know the pains of hunger.
Arthur thought nothing of the king's warning, seeing it as a simple coincident, and that things would eventually correct themselves out in time. After all; nature is unpredictable.
However, things took a turn for the worst in the dead of night. Arthur had gone to bed early, feeling feverish and tired. Gripping his head and escaping for his room, he collapsed on his silken sheets.
Arthur was bedridden by the next day, running a high fever and only barely able to retain consciousness. Word spread quickly that their dear queen had been poisoned and wasn't expected to live long.
What truly happened next was unknown. Many suspected that the queen died of the fever, yet more hopeful hearts had come up with a more romantic side of the story.
The legend goes that the queen finally fell completely unconscious, but blood still pumped through his veins. In fear of the queen being attacked, they locked him in a room with no windows in a portion of the castle that was locked under the spell. With Ivan's words in mind, they cast a spell on the queen, making it so that he would live until his true love kissed him on the lips.
If the queen did not have a true love, than the Queen would sleep forever and never die. If the queen never died, the prophecy of King Ivan would never come to fruition.
It was a noble sacrifice.
That single fairy tale had never ceased to excite the young mind of Prince Alfred Jones. It had always been his favorite, and he had spent numerous hours as a child trying to hunt down the hidden room. He'd come back unsuccessful each time, but his mother always encouraged him to look again the next day.
Later on, he found that she had only done that so his energy would be spent before it was bedtime. A rather ingenious one, the queen was, or so her husband would chuckle.
Of course, as Alfred grew into his body, become tall and broad, he'd also grown out of such stories. He remembered the day they learned about the last Queen of Old Spades, before the industrial revolution and modern day. When he had learned his childhood crush (despite never seeing him) had died from a fever of all things, he felt like crying. Of course, he was a man and could not cry in front of the other students at his academy.
That didn't stop him from pouting until he returned to the castle that was his home. Then he just collapsed in his bed and mourned the loss of his childhood.
Alfred had turned eighteen several months earlier, so there was nothing really special about that day. He was bored and his parents were occupied, as was his friend, the future Queen of Hearts. Normally, on days like this, Kiku and himself would plant themselves in front of the HD TV in the main living room and play video games loudly all day. It was no fun to play by himself because there was no one to blame if he lost.
And idle mind leads to rather unusual actions, so when he found himself wandering the halls and stairways of Kirkland Castle, he was a bit surprised with himself. He didn't even know what he was searching for, but his body remained on autopilot.
He climbed stairwell after stairwell until his legs hurt with strain. Finally, he paused to give his sore limbs a break, and was surprised to realize that he didn't recognize a thing.
The concept he first grasped was that the carpets were green, instead of blue or silver like they normally were. The second was that this particular hallway had no windows or pictures. His mouth twisted into a confused frown—he knew he'd never seen this floor before.
He walked down the candle lit hallway (another strange thing—they had lamps everywhere now) with an eerie sense of foreboding. There were no doors on either side of the wall, and he really hoped that a serial killer would jump out, corner him and stab him to death like in one of Kiku's horror movies.
The end of the hall soon came, as well as a door. Pausing, he glanced over the entrance. Roses were engraved in the heavy wooden door and they were plated in gold. He touched the carvings reverently, half expecting to be shocked for some reason. No pain came as he fingered the golden patterns and he decided it would be safe to reach for the handle.
He grabbed it quickly, and again, no harm came to him. Twisting the knob, he forced the heavy door open with all his strength. It was solid wood, so it wasn't going down without a fight.
The interior of the room was lavishly decorated, if not coated in a layer of dust. Everything seemed be made of cherry wood, and the bed, which was mostly hidden by a veil, looked to be dressed in fine silk. He approached the bed cautiously with the intention of testing its softness. He pulled back the veil and jumped about three feet into the air in shock.
A man with skin pale like snow was on the bed. His face was calm and passive, as if he were asleep, but the thin layer of dust suggested he had been laying there for a while now.
"Oh, shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit." Alfred cursed to himself, staring upon the corpse and wondering why it hadn't started decomposing or even smelling yet. That's what usually happens, right?
He took a good look at the man's face—it was narrow and angular, kind of like the statues of old royalty. Everything about the man was pale, even his straw blond hair. His eyebrows were gigantic, unattractively so, but it made Alfred wonder what color his closed eyes were.
Alfred's mind drifted to a fairy tale of a sleeping male queen from a thousand years prior and his heart began to flutter in his chest. Surely, it wouldn't be so bad just to check? The corpse didn't smell, wasn't decomposing, so something wasn't adding up.
With trepidation, Alfred blew the dust off the man's face. It fluttered away and made him sneeze, and he began to have second thoughts. He brushed the rest of the dust off the pale, bloodless face and leaned down hesitantly.
When their lips connected, he immediately felt the body underneath him heat to an unhealthy level, and the man's slim chest began to heave.
Alfred backed away quickly as the man began to hack and cough, and his cheeks began to flush with fever. Alfred suddenly regretted waking the man because he looked incredibly miserable.
The man looked around and mumbled something to himself, "What was that?" Alfred asked nervously, and the man snapped his emerald (and they were the most beautiful shade of green he'd ever seen) to the source of the voice.
"Who the hell are you?" the man demanded, voice wavering a bit from the fever clouding his mind.
"I should be asking the same thing." Alfred returned a bit defensively, "You're the one in my castle."
"Your castle? The bloody do you think yourself to be? You're a spy from Clubs, aren't you?" the man accused, and Alfred was now really regretting waking him up.
"Uhm, no. I was born here. My mom and dad are kind of the king and queen, you know?"
The man's eyes widened, "But I never married." He stated blandly.
Oh shit. It was beginning to become Alfred's favorite and most overused phrase.
"Who are you?" Alfred asked, dreading the answer of a madman.
"Who am I? I'm Queen Arthur Kirkland of Spades, you git! How could you not recognize your own ruler?"
Life just got twenty times more interesting.