The colonies were found by England, but their personification was not. Instead, raised briefly by a Native American mother and then a small Boston colonist family, Alfred F Jones's life takes a much different path without one Arthur Kirkland.
Human names used, mostly AU Hetalia-wise but follows historic events to the best of the author's ability.
Hello! I'm commencing a new fic with mutiple chapters! \(^_^)/
This is the introductory chapter, so not much of anything exciting, but please look forward to more later.
I disclaim, and own nothing.
It was a quiet morning in the peaceful British colony of New Haven. The inhabitants busied themselves with day-to-day chores, the men opening up their businesses while the smell of the women's cooking drifted through the air. It was mid-spring, a chill still hung in the early morning air, but the afternoons were pleasantly warm, not yet having acquired that stifling heat the New World's summers were known for.
The door of one of the many small houses that lined one of the dirt side streets of New Haven opened, revealing a woman, looking to be in her early twenties, her blond hair pulled up in a bun, away from her bright blue eyes. She wore an apron over her long skirts, and had her sleeves rolled up to her elbows as she carried the washing out.
"Auntie Sarah! Auntie Sarah!"
The woman stopped as two pairs of hands grabbed the back of her dress. Shifting the washing to one arm, she looked over her shoulder.
"Emeline! Alfred! Stop that this instant, you will make me drop the washing!"
The pair, a young girl and a slightly older boy, giggled, and grinned identical wide grins at Sarah.
"Sorry, Ma, but Pa said he's gonna come home early today, and to tell you!"
Sarah gave the back of her house a disapproving look, as if her glare could reach her husband. "If your Pa wants to tell me something, he can come tell me! But he has to send two troublesome messengers instead!" Her face broke into a smile, and she reached down to ruffle the boy's hair. "Why don't you two go play in the field while I finish hanging the washing? Perhaps I'll have some maple candy ready when you return."
The little girl squealed, clapping her hands together in excitement. "Maple candy! Maple candy!"
Turning her gaze on the boy, Sarah gave him a slightly sharper look. "Make sure Emma doesn't get into any trouble, and don't let those boys down the street scare her with insects the way they did last time I let you go somewhere by yourselves."
"Sure thing, Auntie Sarah!" the boy exclaimed cheerfully. "Let's go, Em! I wanna show you that creek I found a few days ago!"
Sarah watched the children run off towards the woods, marveling at how Alfred could manage to be so childish and so mature at the same time. She trusted him with Emeline in ways even she didn't understand. But the boy was charismatic, with an infectious smile, and it seemed everyone around him developed an innate feeling of kinship with the boy.
It was amazing, she mused, how a boy she'd introduced seven years ago as the orphaned child of a distant relative had managed to worm his way so thoroughly into the hearts of those around him. She still remembered the night she'd found him, on an ordinary carriage ride from Boston just before she became pregnant with her only child.
Sarah had accompanied Franklin on his business trip to Boston to visit an old friend of hers living there. The trip itself had been uneventful, though enjoyable, but the carriage ride back to New Haven would change their lives.
It had been nearly dark, and the autumn air was had Sarah wrapped up in layers of shawls in the carriage compartment. She had drawn back the curtains to watch the countryside pass by when she caught sight of a small figure curled on the side of the road.
"Stop! Stop the carriage!" she'd called through the wall at the driver.
"Sarah, what are you doing?" Franklin asked, but she'd thrown open the door and hurried to where she'd seen the figure. "Sarah!"
She spotted the little head of blond hair and stooped next to it. Instantly, the child (for that's what it was, a little blond child) started, sitting up suddenly, staring at Sarah with wary blue eyes.
"It's all right, child, I shan't hurt you," she said soothingly, reaching out a gloved hand to touch the boy's face, but he recoiled.
"Wutahshuntar," he muttered angrily. Sarah stared. Had the boy just spoken in tongues?
"Pardon?" she replied, but the boy pursed his mouth into a thin line. Just then, she noticed that he was shivering, wearing only a loose white shirt and short pants, with no shoes.
"Poor child, you must be freezing! Come, I will take you home and warm you," she exclaimed, going into her protective mode. Sarah could never later explain the pull she felt toward the boy, but it was an innate feeling of comfort and need. So she continued to speak soothingly, telling him who she was, of her husband and her home in New Haven with its little garden and stone kitchen, until the wariness faded from the boy's eyes. Reaching out, she took one hand, noting that the other was closed protectively around what appeared to be a pendant of some sort, the leather strap dangling through his fingers.
"Come along, we're going home."
The boy didn't have a name, and from his silence Sarah assumed he didn't speak much English. He'd accepted a warm bath and fresh clothes she'd borrowed from a neighbor, submitting to her affections and gradually reciprocating them. She and her husband decided to name him Alfred simply because Sarah liked the name. She'd wanted to name him Franklin at first, but her husband had said that it was a name he would reserve for his own child. But he did consent to making that Alfred's middle name.
"Alfred Franklin Jones," he had said, "A good name indeed."
"Come on, Em! Come see this!" Alfred energetically tugged his younger sister through the woods, stopping every now and then for her to untangle her skirts from a passing bush or vine.
"Is it a creek? Because I've already seen lots of creeks, Alfie!" she whined, stopping yet again to remove a twig from the hem of her dress.
"No, it's not a creek, Em, it's much more special than that!"
Emeline looked at her brother accusingly, her blue eyes so much like his own. "Then you lied to Ma, Alfie. Pa always says lying isn't good."
"But it's a special thing, just for me and you, not for Auntie Sarah and Uncle Franklin. Telling them would make it not special anymore, see?"
Emeline paused, thinking this logic over. "Okay," she said, "but it must be very special. Is it very, very special, Alfie?"
"Yes Em, it's very, very special," Alfred said exasperatedly. "Do you want to see or not?"
Looking at Emeline's grin, Alfred couldn't help but smile back. He could never stay irritated with her for long at all.
Tugging her through the underbrush, he lead her to a clearing. "Wait here," he whispered, stopping her just at the edge. Stepping out into the grass, Alfred whispered, "Lulu, pyas, Lulu…"
Emeline hung back, watching her brother. She'd never heard the strange words he spoke clearly. He whispered them sometimes to himself, and she often tried to make out what he was saying, but it definitely wasn't the language she spoke. Despite her curiosity, she never asked what the words were. They seemed like something special, just for Alfred to know.
As she watched, his strange whispers were rewarded by the appearance of a small white rabbit at the edge of the clearing. Emeline gasped audibly, earning herself a stern glance from Alfred that clearly told her to be quiet. She nodded, but he'd already turned back to the rabbit, coaxing it towards him with the strange mutterings. Eventually, the rabbit got close enough that Alfred could scoop it up in his arms without any protest. Reaching into his pocket, Alfred brought out a carrot, obviously snitched from the pantry at home. Once the rabbit was happily chewing, Alfred motioned for Emeline to come forward, holding a finger over his lips to indicate she still had to be silent.
Tiptoeing as best she could Emeline made her way over and kneeled beside Alfred. "Her name is Lulu," Alfred whispered. "I think she's comfortable enough to let you pet her." Emeline tentatively reached forward, putting a small hand on the rabbit's back. When it didn't move, she began to stroke its fur, marveling at how soft it was.
"Well, look at that," Alfred said, "I do believe Lulu likes you!"
"How did you find her, Alfie?" Emeline whispered, finally daring to speak.
"Oh, Lulu and I go way back," Alfred said cheerfully. "I knew her ma, and then met Lulu."
"She's pretty," Emeline whispered in awe.
"Keep her a secret from Auntie Sarah and Uncle Franklin, right Em?"
"Why?" she asked, removing her eyes from the bunny to meet Alfred's.
"They might not like Lulu as much as you and I do," Alfread replied carefully, "so she'll be our special secret. Promise?"
"Will I get to meet her again?"
"Of course you can."
One thing the children loved more than anything else was when Franklin arrived home early from work. He was a bookbinder, mender, and seller, working in the ever-growing heart of New Haven. Since he was a child, he'd had a love for stories, and his repertoire was endless.
Emeline loved the Bible stories about animals, and the old fables from England, about magic and fairies and mysterious woods. Alfred, on the other hand, never ceased to be amazed by tales of chivalry and daring by the old knights, or the exploits of Greek heroes. Every time a new story arrived at Franklin's shop, he would first bring it home to read to his children.
The two would be dressed in their identical white nightclothes, curled together at the head of Franklin and Sarah's bed, Emeline leaning on Alfred's shoulder while he wrapped his arms around her. Sarah would sit in her rocking chair, the one her father had made for her mother years ago when they'd first come to the colonies, and sew, mending a torn knee in Alfred's overalls or removing a hem in Emeline's skirt.
And Franklin would sit just in front of the children, a book in his lap, watching as identical expressions of excitement appeared on their faces. Their previous position would be abandoned in favor of sitting on either side of their father, watching over his shoulder as a calloused finger traced the words on the page. Gradually, they'd lean more on his shoulders, their breathing would grow slower, and Sarah would have to lay aside her mending to lift one of the pair off to bed while Franklin carried the other, lest they both wake.
Both would be carried to the room they shared. Emeline would be tucked into her bed and Alfred into his. Sarah would smooth their nightclothes and tighten their blankets, watching as they unconsciously curled into their beds, and Franklin would blow out the candle that sat burning on the table between the children.
And Sarah would dream of running through the woods, finding fairies under leaves while unicorns stood just behind the trees. And Alfred would imagine great stone castles, of riding up on his horse to cheering crowds upon returning from his latest heroic deed. And more often than not, they found the other waiting for them, just over the nearest hill or a face in the back of the crowd, smiling and welcoming.
The Jones family also went to church on Sundays. Though Franklin didn't care much for religion (he recalled his parents, a Protestant and a Catholic, endlessly arguing and attending separate churches to the distain of the other, while he wondered how they managed to get married in the first place or if they were just too religious to divorce), Sarah's family had been deeply religious upon moving to the colonies, and vowed that their children should be the same.
Every week, Sarah was the first up. The house would be clean, a result of last-minute flurry the night before, and breakfast would already be prepared so that they didn't have to work on the holiest day of the week.
"Alfred! Emeline!" she would call, summoning her children to the main room. They would come, bleary-eyed and messy-haired, and she would set about bathing and changing the two into their Sunday clothes fit for church.
Alfred always wore a starched white shirt with long sleeves and a collar, buttoned all the way up. He would tug persistently at the offending neck cover that only led him to sweat, especially in the stiflingly still heat of their church. He also had black pants solely for Sunday wear, lest he tear the knees or permanently brown them as he did with all his other pants.
Emeline had a neat little dress and frock, equally stiff and disliked, but Sunday was the one day of the week that Sarah would hear no protests of any kind from her children.
"Children should be seen and not heard, remember?" she would reprimand, and they would shut up and be content with mouthing words and whispering at one another behind her back.
The family would walk the few blocks to the church, Franklin rambling like an old man about trekking seven miles to and from church every week (uphill both ways, of course) and Sarah constantly pulling Alfred and Emeline away from tempting mud puddles. Upon arriving, she would straighten their clothes one last time, remind them to be silent, and attempt in vain to flatten Alfred's ever-present cowlick.
Alfred never liked church. The morals were the same as those Sarah tried teaching them at home, and this whole idea of "one god" confused him, and didn't match up with the tales of nature spirits he'd heard first. The one time he'd ever mentioned this to Sarah, though, had ended with her reading him Bible stories every day for weeks. So he learned to be quiet and cope with the weekly dressing-up and cold meals to make her happy.
Sarah was proud to say that Alfred grew up in the Jones house a well-nurtured and loved boy.
But it soon became painfully obvious that "growing up" was not something Alfred did.
Emeline's ninth birthday came to the Jones house, making her the same age that the Joneses had guessed Alfred was when they first took him in. By all laws of nature and common sense, Alfred should be in his late teens or early twenties, and yet he looked barely older than Emeline. Whatever change had occurred (an inch or so of height, a slightly less-rounded face) was almost unnoticeable.
Franklin was the first to cite witchcraft.
"We don't know where he came from, Sarah. The boy will not speak of the time before we took him in. For all we know, he was cursed by some witch to remain a child, or is some sort of sorcerer himself!" Sarah had been appalled.
"Franklin Jones! He's our son, and you're saying he's been bewitched?"
"How else are we to explain it? Even Emeline is suspicious by now, and she loves him more than anyone else!"
In truth, Sarah had noticed the boy's apparent lack of aging years before, but had written it off as malnutrition or abuse during Alfred's younger years, or a lack of love and the will of God that had stunted his growth. She prayed often that her household would restore Alfred's health and allow him to age, but as the years passed, no such thing happened.
When Emeline turned seven, Sarah began keeping Alfred indoors, telling the neighbors that he was a sickly boy (when he was the liveliest she'd ever met) lest they grow suspicious as well.
She had explained to Alfred, speaking as if to a child even though she thought he should be at least through adolescence by now, that he couldn't go to market with her anymore and always had to play with Emeline during a certain set of hours. The boy's eyes, always bright and innocent, had grown calm and piercing, something that unnerved Sarah at the same time as assuring her that he was at least growing mentally.
"I understand, Auntie Sarah," he had said quietly, fixing her with a look that left no doubt in her mind that he knew exactly what she was doing.
Time passed to Emeline's ninth birthday, and she proved her father right by finally voicing what the whole family had been thinking to Alfred.
"Why don't you get older, Alfie?" she asked, her voice full of innocence, but there was a hint of the serious young woman she was to become under the surface. "I always remember you the same age."
Alfred stiffened at the question, his face going oddly blank for someone whose emotions were always easily read on the surface. "I am older, Emeline," he said quietly. "I've always been your big brother."
"But you look the same as me," she replied, "so how can you be my big brother?"
"Because I'm older than you."
Franklin stepped in. "How old are you, Alfred?"
The slip was so sudden that Sarah wasn't sure she'd seen it at all. But for an instant, Alfred's blank face became that of someone who looked very, very lost. Turning away, the not-boy spoke, so quietly it was almost a whisper.
"I don't know."
One day, during the fall after Emeline's tenth birthday, Alfred was seen by one of the neighbors. And the Joneses could do nothing but watch as the town of New Haven began to whisper of witchcraft. Soon, everything from the failure of flowers to bloom to an abundance of crows on the town hall's roof to the illness of a family member was blamed on, "that strange Alfred Jones."
Emeline came home one day in tears. "Ma…! Ma, they said Alfie— Alfie is a freak!"
Sarah pulled her daughter into a firm embrace. "Shh… Who said such mean things about Alfred?"
"The other children… and some of their ma's agreed with them!"
Sarah tsked, biting down a surge of worry inside. "Don't worry. They don't know Alfred like you and I do. If they did, they wouldn't be so mean…"
"But they said… they said he should leave! That he was just bringing trouble!" Emeline cried, burying her face in her mother's skirts. Sarah was about to reassure her that they meant no such thing when she caught sight of Alfred, stony-faced, watching from the doorway. He met Sarah's eyes, gave her a quick nod, and turned to go.
Emeline lifted her head. "Alfie?" But he was already gone, the sound of his footsteps on the wooden floor receding. "Alfie!"
That evening was the last Alfred spent in the Jones house.
It was a late November morning when Alfred F Jones announced he was leaving. Emeline had cried, Sarah had pleaded, and even Franklin had asked if it was really necessary. Looking more serious than she'd ever seen him, he replied,
"Yes. I've stayed here long enough. Much longer and the neighbors will start to alienate you as well."
"That's why?" Sarah exclaimed. "We don't care what they say! You are family, Alfred Jones, and I intend to keep it that way!"
Alfred smiled, a sad little mockery of his usual cheery grin. "Thank you for that, Auntie Sarah. You certainly are family, which is why I can't put you in danger like this."
"Alfie…" Emeline sniffed, "don't go."
Alfred ruffled her hair like he always did, despite the fact that Emeline was the same height as him now. "You are especially not allowed to cry, Em," he said, his voice cracking slightly. "After all, the hero always has to protect the ones he loves. And letting them cry would be no good at all."
Suddenly, Alfred reached beneath his shirt, pulling out a leather string Sarah hadn't seen since the day she first found him. It was a necklace, and tied to the end was a small wooden circle, an image of a moon and stars carved into it.
He placed it delicately around Emeline's neck. "This is my most precious possession. Nek gave it to me before she went west. It'll be your good-luck charm, like I'm always here to protect you. Can you keep it safe for me, Em?"
The girl nodded, still teary, and Alfred smiled softly at her. "Good. It's a promise, alright?"
"Don't go, Alfie. Please…" Emeline whispered. Alfred just smiled, and placed a small kiss on her forehead.
With that, he turned and walked away, tiny puffs of dust appearing where he stepped. The Jones family, now of only three, watched the small figure leave their lives as strangely as he had come, his footprints disappearing under the tracks of others as he faded into the distance.
Phew! Teensy explanaition time!
Wutahshuntar- Algonquin name for a white person
Nek- Algonquin word for mother
(I just Googled those, so if they're totally wrong and someone knows, I would very much appreciate it! You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find any Native American languages on the internet... as a result, he speaks the Algonquin language, because I could find that one. They're a tribe that lived in the upstate New York and Ontario area, FYI.)
So... Alfred's life is off to an interesting start. Don't worry, Emeline will return eventually, but I won't say when~. Arthur will also have a few cameos, but the whole premise of this story is the lack of his influence and anyone to personify America, so he won't be a major character... unless I decide to make him so... hmmm...