A/N: Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Here's a fluffy little present as my way of saying, 'thanks for reading'!
Arthur woke to the obnoxious beeping of his alarm clock.
He groaned, rolling over and shoving his face into the pillow as one tired hand blindly fumbled for the snooze button. Bloody hell... where was that thing? The siren-like bursts of noise were rapidly degrading his nonexistent good mood. After a bit more fumbling, he dragged his head out of the pillow, examining the clock with bleary emerald eyes. God damn it, there was the stupid button. Now why couldn't he find that when he needed to?
Slamming it down, Arthur let his hand fall to dangle over the side of the bed and promptly stuffed his face into the cool fabric of the pillow. "Hnng," he muttered drowsily. His eyelids were slipping closed again, and he eagerly let them, trying to remember the dream he'd been having.
All he could really bring to mind was an image of Francis, his boyfriend of three and a half years, and he groaned again in protest. Bloody alarm... he really needed to learn how to turn it off sometime.
Grudgingly he lifted his head, eyes drifting to the glowing red display. 7:34 AM on February the 14th. He swore under his breath. Valentine's Day. Valentine's Day wasn't exactly one of the holidays he relished, even if it did get him out of work.
Arthur sighed, dragging himself out from within the twisted covers, and trudged to the door. But just as he was about to open it and step out into the hall, something on the ground caught his eye, and he stooped to pick it up. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
In his hands was a large scarlet heart, carefully fashioned of construction paper with delicate lace bordering the edges. There were three short sentences written on it in black marker, the hand elegant and swirly.
Happy Valentine's Day, Arthur! Did you sleep well? There are doughnuts in the kitchen.
Well, um... exactly how was one supposed to respond to that?
Arthur didn't really know, so he just went and checked the kitchen.
Sure enough, as soon as he walked into the room, he caught sight of the unmistakable doughnut box sitting neatly on the table, along with a plate and freshly-steaming pot of tea. Alright, that was just strange. But convenient, so he just shrugged, decided not to protest it and went to sit down.
A puzzled scowl crossed his face when he opened the doughnut box, only to see another elegant heart taped to the inside of the lid.
Go ahead and eat. Don't rush, but once you're done, relax and take a nice long shower.
Well, screw. It looked like someone else had already planned the entire morning for him. Fine, then. The hearts didn't seem to be bent on doing anything more than getting what they wanted, and they didn't seem to be hurting anyone, so why shouldn't he listen to them? He'd needed to have a nice, laid-back morning for quite a while now, anyway. Arthur smiled to himself, ate, and then headed into the bathroom to get the water going, doing as the hearts had instructed.
After his shower, Arthur was pulling the towel off the rack when another valentine fluttered to the floor. He picked it up curiously, flipped it over and read the script.
Are you feeling good yet? Come get dressed, and then go out to the willow tree in the back yard.
Again, Arthur shrugged and did as he was told.
Pretty much the whole day played out that way; Arthur would follow the hearts, sometimes in circles, only to arrive somewhere he'd already been and find that there was a new valentine to replace the one he'd taken earlier. By the time the sun was sinking low in the sky, he had an entire stack of the hearts, from the first big one he'd found on the floor that morning to the most recent tiny one that had been stuck on the side of a building in town, and he'd spent half an hour trying to locate against the red brick wall. It was maddening that the little card seemed to know this.
Aah, so you've finally found it. Congratulations! You're almost there! Go to the town square and find the bench in front of the fountain.
He cast a glance in the direction of the town square, just across the street from where he stood now. As the sunset burst with its brilliant scarlet hues, the square was alive with its own colorful display; the lights.
There were lights that turned on inside the fountain, tinting its waters a beautiful gold color to match the softly glowing clouds of the sunset behind it. The mist from the cascading flow drifted with the breeze, each tiny droplet still lit with the golden light of the fountain it had come from.
Arthur crossed the street, striding toward it and tucking the small valentine carefully into his pocket. His green eyes darted around in search of the bench, and he finally approached it, sitting down and resting his arm over the back while he watched the steady flow of the fountain's golden waters. This was peaceful, he thought to himself. But suddenly his fingers brushed the edge of some familiar lace. The peace was broken as Arthur pulled the heart from the back of the bench, reading the familiar script yet again.
Go to the gazebo directly across from you.
That was all it said.
Puzzled, Arthur turned it over, but there were no further instructions. He tucked this heart into his pocket and stood up, heading for the little white-roofed gazebo as he wondered absentmindedly what the next card might say.
He noticed that there were rose bushes all around it, the blooms still closed for now, but shy pink petals were anticipating the oncoming warmth of spring. Arthur cautiously walked up the shallow set of steps to the gazebo, to see a waist-height podium in the middle, with something small and unrecognizable resting in the middle of it. The sun had gone down fully by now, leaving the rest of the space in shadows. Arthur carefully approached the podium.
Slowly, with shaking hands, he picked up the tiny, square box, and opened it.
Inside the box was a ring. Inside the ring was a miniscule heart. Arthur's breath stopped in his throat.
Will you marry me?
Arthur's eyes widened as a tall, slim figure stepped out of the shadows to be bathed in golden fountain-light, his blue eyes shimmering under the glow. Francis's hair was tied back in a loose ponytail that left a few waves to fall around his handsome face, and Arthur completely forgot how to breathe. He looked... beautiful.
"Je t'aime, Arthur," Francis murmured, pulling the smaller man into his arms and placing a tender kiss on his forehead. "And I want to spend the rest of my life with you..." When he broke away, Arthur's brilliant green eyes were searching through his, searching for an answer to this unexpected question. But suddenly he seemed to find his voice again, uttering three tiny words that made Francis's heart soar high into the clouds.
"So do I."
Arthur leaned forward and locked their mouths together, kissing Francis deeply, tasting vanilla and cinnamon and French, ah, that wonderful French taste that only Francis could have. Everything was so perfect that he could have lived in this moment until the end of time, but finally the Frenchman pulled away. A playful glint danced in those pure blue eyes.
"So, couch or bed?" Francis teased.
Arthur stifled a smile. "...Bloody frog."