In which I attempt to fix the angst of the Revolutionary War.
Quotes from the English dub.
"Hey Britain!" Arthur flinched as Alfred's loud voice rang out over the pouring rain. They stood armed, facing each other on the dismal battlefield. "All I want is my freedom. I'm no longer a child nor your little brother. From now on, consider me independent!"
"I won't allow it!" he retorted angrily as if mere words could change years of battle, as if what he wanted could ever happen. "You idiot! Why can't you follow anything through to the end?"
Alfred's significant look shattered his carefully set resolve as he collapsed onto his knees in front of the American, his arms holding the bayonet falling limp. "There's no way I can shoot you," he said quietly, staring at the pair of boots in his line of vision. "I can't." He knew he was supposed to do something, anything, to stop the American and to defend himself, to defend England. But he couldn't. He couldn't shoot the man standing defiantly in front of him, the man he loved.
"Why? Dammit, why?" he asked, tears forming in his emerald eyes. "It's not fair," he said more to himself. It wasn't fair that Alfred wanted to leave him. It wasn't fair that he'd be alone. It wasn't fair that they had to go through this bloody war to get to this point. It wasn't fair that it was his duty to fight against the man he had fallen for.
"You know why." Alfred replied in a tone Arthur couldn't figure out. But did he? Did he really know why? He tried to make some sense of all the illogical reasons and possible explanations racing through his mind, but he couldn't. Nothing made sense now, now that America had left England, now that Alfred was leaving him.
He had a sudden flashback of Alfred as a small child, not too long after they had first met. He held out his hand to the boy to lead him back to the house he had made for the American.
"Come on, let's go home."
And Alfred had taken his hand with a laugh and a smile. Home. Where was his home now? Was it back in England, back in the dreary, miserable, empty house he lived in? He had always felt most at home with Alfred, his Alfred. Could he even call him that anymore? Had he ever been truly able to?
He knew he had given his heart to the younger man ages ago, and oh God, what he would give for that feeling of warmth, of security, of home he had whenever he was with Alfred. But now, in the cold, pounding rain on the battlefield, he felt his heart break, his home fall apart, and the happiness he'd had disappear as the hope he'd held onto shattered. He knew it had been a foolish notion to ever fall in love with someone as free-spirited, as wonderful, as powerful as America. But he had no control over his heart, and now it ached within his chest.
"What happened? You used to be great." Alfred's final words felt like a knife stabbing into his gut, slicing through his broken heart. Alfred obviously didn't love him. He was nothing now, nothing without Alfred.
He had raised the boy, and when he had come back years later, the little boy had matured into a man. A man with the clearest, bluest eyes Arthur had ever seen. A man with perfect, lightly tanned skin from being in the sun that Arthur wanted to caress. A man with hair as golden as a wheat field that Arthur wanted to run his hands through. And every second spent with the younger man, Arthur felt himself falling more and more for the American.
He sometimes wondered if he had been there the whole time Alfred was growing up, if he would have these feelings. Would it have been better that way? Or would it have been better if Alfred knew that Arthur loved him?
He didn't answer the American's statement. He couldn't. He found himself frozen with his eyes downcast, tears not quite yet escaping, unable to look up into the blue eyes that used to give him such hope.
And then Alfred walked away. He just left him there in the rain, in the dark, alone. Arthur dropped the bayonet still laying in his arms, his hands falling into his lap as he stared through watery eyes at the mud swirling on the ground.
He didn't know whether the wetness on his face was from the rain or from the tears that were spilling from his eyes.
After kneeling in shock for seconds, minutes, hours, he had lost track of time, he weakly fell into a sitting position between his knees, then sideways onto the muddy ground. He didn't know how long he stayed, laying still in the mud, quiet sobs escaping him and mixing with the cold, harshly falling rain.
At some point he ran out of tears, his breath coming in shaky gasps as he curled in on himself, trembling.
"Arthur!" he heard a voice call from a distance. His voice. No. He couldn't be here, looking for him. Not after that. The mind always plays cruel tricks when it senses weakness.
"Arthur!" he heard again, a bit closer. There was no reason Alfred would come back for him. He should be off celebrating his newly established independence with his troops, not looking for him, for Arthur, the shattered man that no longer had a place in his life. He was numb. He was cold. He was broken.
His breath left him in a shuddering gasp as a pair of boots came into his line of sight. "Arthur?" He closed his eyes. He couldn't handle this, not now.
A warm, familiar hand brushed his dripping hair out of his face, but all Arthur felt was cold. A sad sigh reached his ears and he didn't know if it came from him or Alfred. Alfred, who had managed to find him, who had come back for some reason. He almost didn't notice the rain softening slightly.
He was vaguely aware of Alfred taking his hand, pulling him up, and leading him back to the house where he had missed seeing him grow up. He blindly stumbled along behind him, feet dragging, boots catching in the sticky mud. His mind barely noticed the warm apple cinnamon scent wafting through the darkened halls. He somewhat registered Alfred gently moving him into the bathroom and taking his soaked, dirty uniform. He only partially felt the American carefully wiping the brown caked up mud from his face, his arms.
"Arthur?" Alfred tried quietly. The Englishman gave no response and the younger man sighed quietly, sadly, and stood up clasping one of the Brit's hands. Arthur saw the large, warm hand close over his own cold fingers, but he didn't feel it.
In his daze, Arthur was led into the American's bedroom, gently positioned on the bed, and tucked in. After a moment of hesitation of a length Arthur was unsure of, Alfred carefully pulled back the covers again and lowered himself into the bed as well. Arthur didn't move; he was still laying how Alfred had set him there, facing the American, slightly curled in on himself. Alfred stared into his eyes searchingly, but Arthur didn't really see what was mere inches in front of him, still lost in his mind.
"I'm sorry," Alfred whispered. "God, Arthur, I'm so sorry." He pulled the fragile Brit to his chest, wincing slightly at the lack of movement from the older man, and held him protectively.
Arthur didn't know how long they stayed like that; he just stared without seeing at the chest in front of him, unable to feel, afraid to feel. He eventually fell into a dreamless sleep haunted by an overwhelming sense of loss and depression.
When Arthur woke up, the first thing he realized was the soft, warm bed he was in was not his own. He blinked awake slowly, vision still unfocused from sleep, and the events of the previous day came rushing back to him. He scrunched his eyes shut again, trying not to let any more tears escape. It was then he realized he wasn't alone; a pair of arms was encircling his chest and a leg was thrown over his hip.
He wrenched one eye open cautiously, not daring to hope, and his breath caught in his throat as his heart stopped. Alfred was holding him, still asleep, looking way too peaceful for someone who had just finished a war.
He knew it should be impossible for Alfred to want him too, and yet he couldn't stop the faintest glimmer of hope that crossed his mind and tried to weave its way into his broken heart. Emerald eyes roamed over the sleeping face that was so familiar to him. He lifted one shaking hand to the American's face, scared this wouldn't be real, terrified it was all a dream and that he'd wake up alone. His breath caught again as the tips of his fingers lightly brushed Alfred's cheek.
Wasn't this all he ever wanted? He traced the lines of his jaw, his nose, memorizing the touch and contours of the face he loved.
The eyes in front of him blinked open, and Arthur retracted his had. Half of him wanted to break the intense eye contact but was unable to draw himself away from the blue, and his other half wanted to stay gazing into them forever.
"Arthur, I-" Alfred started, breaking the silence, and it was enough so that he was able to pull his eyes away from the depths of blue, moving a fraction of an inch backwards, afraid to hear what the other would say.
"No, Arthur, I...I just..." Alfred sighed and caught his hand. Arthur stared at their joined fingers.
"America is independent from England, but I don't want to be independent from you, Arthur," he said in a rush. "It was best for me as a country, but maybe not for me as...as Alfred. And I-I know it was a stupid plan now since it hurt you, but I thought that if I was independent, it I was my own nation, that you'd see I've grown up and you'd be proud of me and maybe we could be together if I wasn't under your control, if it wasn't like we were brothers, because I love you, and I'm s-sorry..." he trailed off as a few tears fell from his crystal blue eyes.
Arthur's own widened slightly as he looked back up into the face of the man he loved. "Alfred?" was all he managed to say, voice coming out in a high whisper, afraid to hope.
The American leaned forward and their lips met with the lightest, gentlest brush. A breath he didn't realize he'd been holding escaped him in a soft sigh, and he could feel again as warmth spread from where Alfred's lips toughed his straight to the pieces of his heart.
"I didn't mean to hurt you, Arthur. I love you." Alfred whispered and captured his lips once more in another kiss. He shyly kissed back as the American's hand came to rest on his cheek, and here, with Alfred, his Alfred, sharing soft kisses in the sound of the gentle rain outside, he was home.