Series: « L'histoire française », 20 historical Francis Bonnefoy drabbles. Written for lj/hetachallenge. Find my table at lj/coeurgryffondor.
So much suffering, and for what? To take Russia? This had been a fool's dream from the start.
"Sir," a soldier says behind him, "the emperor-"
"Can suck my dick," Francis mutters under his breath.
"-would like to see you."
"I said," he says through gritted teeth, turning his head so that the man could see his face but not raising his eyes to take in the stupid annoyance, "no."
The solider leaves.
Resuming his position Francis watches Moscow burn. They had started the invasion with a quarter of a million troops; more men meant more mothers to bury their sons, more widows and orphans back in France.
Something across the street catches Francis's eye.
The scorched-earth policy had been clever; Russia was too large a country for the army to keep its supply up without local goods. Why should the Russians agree to meet when they had the upper hand? The people in Russia suffered enough to begin with, what did it matter if they suffered a little more? In the end it was Napoleon's army that bore the brunt of the pain, not used to lives so desperate, so desolate.
Ivan had told him that.
It had been a passing remark decades earlier while the French king looked on: Francis would not like Russia when the weather turned cold, would not like the despair and pain that was part of an everyday life for everyday Russians.
He had laughed and assured Ivan he would never be invading Russia.
Idiots, all of them. Him for listening, Napoleon for not, Ivan for having such a big country, Europe for her constant wars.
He takes one step forward, then two. The soldiers are all ignoring him because Napoleon still treats Francis better than he deserves, the proud emblem of a proud France, not so proud anymore as they haul their asses through barren, foreign land. The fire has been burning for days in Moscow, having already destroyed at least half of the city. Francis had never been to Moscow before, only St. Petersburg; he supposed this probably wasn't the best image of the ancient city one could come away with.
But he keeps going forward, toward the flame, because Francis knows that coat, that tuff of hair above a scarf, that glint in his once-a-friend's eyes. Ivan! his mind screams, willing him to say the one world, those two sound.
There is only silence as he comes to stand before the Russian nation.
So much suffering and yet to only one of them was it a new thing. Francis had always had everything, been respected and spoiled. Ivan had worked hard to get where he was, had toiled under the sun and froze in the long winter nights. Ivan had told him Francis would not like Russia, because for his country he had suffered while Francis had eaten bonbons and slept with noblewomen.
A hand reaches up to touch that cheek so high above him and Ivan's eyes glint something again for just one moment: life, or maybe it's love. The hand continues in to the hair and Francis pulls Ivan's head down to kiss him, his lips cold and rough beneath his. He wraps his arms around that neck and Ivan pulls him to his large body, kissing him just as passionately.
When they pull away they resume the positions they had had before: Francis, with his troops, watching the town burn; Ivan, alone, watching Francis.