Author's Notes

Sorry for the delay. I was gonna post this when the next chapter was halfway done, but it's not remotely close to being done. Sigh.

I got a Tumblr. URL is givemelibertea. I post a bunch of random stuff, mostly USUK, mainly Hetalia, sooo... If you want, I'm here for ya :U

I also got a pet bunny. His name is Iggy, he's a white dwarf, and he's a rude motherfucker that loves leaving poop everywhere and peeing in his food bowl. But I love himmmm. He's a baby anyways, 1 month old, so I forgive him xD

On again with the usual review roll for all the amazing people that take the time to write to me omg I love you guys sooo much, thank you: punkydo410, PiffBee, HamburgerWithTea, Canada Cowboy, MissFr34k, WRITING IS TIRESOME YEAH, Ember Hinote, Anne Fatalism Dilettante, ZhangArronXun and xXxPrettyinPinkxXx.

Please enjoy the next chapter! ;w;


"I thought we'd find them here." Arthur grumbled so low, Alfred barely heard him above the symphony of death.

"So ... What do we do now?" Alfred asked nervously, gazing over at the royalty of Clubs worriedly.

"We do what we swore to do before the land and the gods." Arthur's eye flashed determinately and he pulled his sword out of its sheath with a ringing noise. "We protect Spades."

Alfred, frozen by such an outcome, nodded dumbly, and mechanically followed his husband's example. When Arthur nodded to him and then motioned forward with his head, Alfred followed without a word. As they leapt out of their hiding spot and jogged towards the other monarchs, neither of them spoke, both of them still numbed by the realization that their nation was breaking.

They dodged the soldiers and stopped in front of the monarchs, who had obviously seen them coming, for they locked gazes even before they'd skidded to a stop.

"And at last we meet again, comrades." the King of Clubs inclined his head in mock greeting.

"Unfortunately for you, it's not behind a negotiation table right now." Alfred barked back, grip clenched on his weapon.

"Why so violent, King of Spades?" the other King asked as if he were inquiring about the weather.

"You're attacking the people I swore to protect, so I will not let you go on like this!" Alfred growled. "Either you call your army off and walk away, either the violence will be necessary."

"Ah but you must understand that as you must protect your people, I must protect mine as well." Ivan sighed softly, undeterred by the bite in Alfred's tone. "My people are too many, and there is famine running amongst them. As their King, I must ensure they find farming lands to feed their families. You must excuse the rude interruption, but I have people that believe in me as well."

"Your tactics are crude and unfair!" Alfred protested, gritting his teeth.

"All is fair in love and war." Ivan's eyes flashed and his smile seemed to grow wider. Alfred paid no attention.

"You are killing our innocent civilians as you seek to feed yours!" he instead retorted in an angered shout.

"No, comrade." Ivan's eyes flashed as he finally swung his feet over the saddle and jumped down, the entire world seemingly shaking upon impact. "I am merely clearing the way." he chuckled, pulling his sword right out of its sheath.

"In that case, I will stand in your way." Alfred gulped down, bringing his sword up into position. He spread his feet. He concentrated on Ivan. He balanced his weight. Just like Arthur had shown him, just like Arthur had taught him, he prepared to fight the King of Clubs. Nervous did not begin to describe how he felt. He was anxious, and afraid, for he knew he did not have as much training as the other King. Nonetheless, he would try, for a man that gave up before trying was worse than a man that died trying.

In a flash, their swords had met, and the dance for dominance had begun.

"Arthur, so we meet again." the Queen of Clubs, Elizabeta, called out to the other Queen from atop her mount. "It is a shame we could not meet under better circumstances."

"Quite." Arthur smirked, watching as she made her way down her horse. "But you know why we fight. For the King." he took his stance, provocative and ready.

"For the King." Elizabeta agreed before unsheathing her sword and jumping at Arthur.

The inferno around them created a ring of fire that seemed to be fueled by the sound of metal against metal, sparks flying as the weapons met only briefly before pulling back. Whilst Alfred was strong, he was no match for the King of Clubs, so he quickly switched to a more defensive position, alert to counter-attack against any heavy blows. The Queens were graceful in their fight, their blades merely grazing each other when they met, their bodies twisting and moving quickly to try and reach out to touch the other Queen. They were both light-hitters, so their blades clashed more often, the soft clanging of their weapons like a symphony to their Kings' ears.

The symphony was ruined when a scream pierced the air. And Alfred made the mistake of glancing to the side.

Though Arthur seemed to successfully have knocked Elizabeta down for the count, the moment of glory was short lived.

"Alfred!" said man's eyes snapped back to his opponent for a second, a second that saved his life as he dodged the incoming heavy blow, rolling on the ground. The King of Spades, avoiding nearly having been cut in half, coughed out dust, and before he could recover, the sword was kicked out of his hand.

Ivan picked the weapon up and then pressed a boot to Alfred's back, admiring the bejeweled hilt of his enemy's sword.

"It's a nice weapon you have, King of Spades." he complimented, then pointed it down at Alfred's neck. "What would you think if I used it to kill you?"

"Damn bastard, face me instead!" Arthur growled, running at him and clumsily swinging his sword in an attempt to get the enemy weapon away from his King. Though Ivan easily blocked the swing with Alfred's sword, the move served its purpose as attention was switched from the King to the Queen of Spades.

"Hasn't anyone taught you manners, Queen of Spades?" the King of Clubs smiled, pushing against Arthur's sword without breaking a sweat. Arthur gritted his teeth. The guy was strong, he'd give him that. "A Queen is inferior to the King, always." he added before putting his weight against the blade. Arthur, smaller than Ivan, stumbled back, and did not recover in time to avoid or block the subsequent punch that sent him sprawling on the ground, face throbbing. "Kneel." Ivan retracted his fist and then turned back to Alfred.

"A-Arthur!" Alfred called, trembling as the pressure on his back grew, hurting his ribs and spine. "Arthur, you okay?"

"You are sweet, da?" Ivan nodded, glancing at Arthur for a second, who was coughing up blood and most probably trying to regain a clear vision and balance after such a hard hit to the face.

"A good King cares for his Queen." Alfred snarled, though his heart was beating too fast.

"A good King also cares for his people." Ivan countered, the smile never leaving his face. "I protect the ones I love. And you protect yours. May the best King win."

"Fine." Alfred gritted his teeth and started wiggling, trying to get up from the ground though he was pinned strong.

"Though you don't look like much of a strong King, flopping like a measly worm in the dirt."

"I wonder whose fault that is." Alfred muttered, throwing a worried look at Arthur, who seemed to be a bit disoriented, down on his knees.

"Look at you, grovelling while your country falls." Ivan continued with no regard for his comments. His eyes went to Alfred's, the King of Spades twisting his head and putting his cheek on the cold ground in an effort to keep eye contact with his foe. "Both you and your Queen." he suddenly moved, putting his other foot on Alfred's wrist. The only thing that touched the ground and probably saved Alfred from being literally crushed under his weight was his heel. With now his entire weight on the King of Spades, he enjoyed the flash of pain in the enemy King's eye and the way he trembled beneath his feet, exerting himself just to be able to breathe.

"Don't... talk about my... Queen like that..." Alfred wheezed, taking shallow breaths and struggling to bear the pain spreading in his ribs.

"But you are all the same, aren't you?" Ivan threw an amused look at Arthur, on the side, who had gotten up and was testing his balance, and then looked back at the man under his feet, literally. "Both destined to fall..." he finally moved Alfred's sword and placed it vertically, right above his open palm. Alfred's eyes widened. "... and stay on the ground."

"We will not bow!" a battle cry came from behind Ivan, who sidestepped the lunge Arthur had come in for, finally moving his foot off of Alfred's back and engaging Arthur. Alfred let out a loud gasp, panting to regain air in his lungs, and winced as Ivan gave his wrist a bit more pressure, going until right before the breaking point, before moving off completely to fight Arthur.

Alfred pushed himself up, chest aching, and stumbled a little, fumbling on his clothes to find some kind of weapon now that Ivan had his sword. Arthur had led the King of Clubs a bit further away from him, blades clashing violently, so he had a bit of time to recover before running back into the fray.

Arthur did not give him the occasion to do so, though. Ducking from under a particularly heavy swing of Ivan's sword, he ran to Alfred's side and grabbed his upper arm.

"Mount Ivan's horse." he ordered in a dry tone, immediately turning back around to re-engage his opponent. This left Alfred alone again, confused by the command.

"What do you mean? Why?" he cried out, palms sweaty as he watched his husband dance to avoid the blades.

"Just do it!" Arthur's tone sounded exasperated, and Alfred momentarily felt guilty for doubting his husband so much. Still, he had no idea what the strange request was about, and he couldn't help but worry, even as he moved to execute it, eyes on Arthur as he jogged up to the horse.

The steed tossed its head and whinnied, but Alfred hushed it with a few well-placed strokes to the nose. Moving carefully and whispering words of comfort that were tainted by the nervousness in his tone, he moved along the body of the horse and then in a swift movement, mounted it. The horse only panicked a bit at first, but Alfred was able to tame it, now having a front seat to the fight in front of him.

Arthur was getting visibly tired. He winced as he blocked a particularly hard swing, the impact resonating through his bones, and stepped back a little. He couldn't see if Alfred had gotten to relative safety already, and his heart was beating fast for both of them. Jumping back a little more, he ventured a look behind him. His eyes lit up as he noted Alfred well-settled on the horse, watching him worriedly. And in the very same second, Alfred let out a startled cry that saved Arthur's life.

"WATCH OUT!"

Arthur reacted instinctively, jumping backwards, and the sword that was coming at him narrowly missed cutting him in half. Instead, the blade cut through his side, right through the leather plate, and with the twisting motion, dragged the gash all the way to the front. Arthur choked a cry as blood splattered on the steel, and his vision momentarily went black. When he came back, he was kneeling on all four, one hand pressed to the injury that was now slowly dripping blood on the ground.

"Arthur!" A strangled cry tore from Alfred's throat as he watched, powerless, as his husband fell to his knees, clutching his side. "I'm coming! Ivan, don't you dare touch him again!"

"Don't move!" Arthur cried out with some effort, panting and shaking his head. Alfred froze in place.

"I am curious to find out what it is you're plotting." Ivan smiled, his tone very calm for someone who was trying to kill them. "If you live long enough to carry it out, that is."

"We will live!" Alfred yelled, his throat raw as he inhaled the smoke of broken lives and burned innocence. "We will live to fight another day and protect the ones we love from people like you!"

"Make no mistake. I, too, work to protect the ones I love. And to do so, I must do all there is to do." Ivan's eyes flashed, his smile faltering for a second.

"Then we have nothing to say." Arthur interjected, panting for breath as blood seeped through his clothes, running on his fingertips. "May the most devoted win."

"Arthur...?"

"Alfred, turn the horse!" Arthur suddenly yelled, cutting through the crackling tension hovering above their heads, in the soot-filled air. "Run!"

"Arthur, what are you saying?" Alfred threw a worried look at Ivan, who only looked amused and didn't seem to want to stop them anytime soon. Like watching pawns in a game. Knowing he had ultimate control in the end, no matter what happened. Alfred gritted his teeth, convincing himself that they were doing things out of their own free will and that Ivan was not manipulating them to his ends.

"Do it!" Arthur let out a roar of pain and pushed himself up to his feet. "Trust me!"

Alfred caught the glint of determination in his eyes and decided to trust him not to die. He'd never given reason for Alfred to doubt him, so he wouldn't.

Alfred hesitated for a split-second, and then pulled on Ivan's horse's reins, turning it around with a whinny. Arthur was already running towards him as he started into a light trot.

"But we're not done yet!" Ivan smiled darkly, standing in Arthur's path and raising his sword at the incoming Royal. "Do stay, da?" And he swung the sword at Arthur's neck.

Arthur took a deep breath and jumped forward, falling towards the ground, the sword grazing the top of his head with an audible whistle. He shivered, but kept his voice to moan in pain as he hit the ground and immediately rolled forward, his side injury sending spikes of pain flooding through his entire body.

Ivan only looked mildly surprised as Arthur rolled to escape him, and got right back up to run towards Alfred, who was already a distance away. The plan suddenly became clear to everyone assisting to the scene.

Arthur was panting heavily as he tried to catch up, his legs pushing him further and further despite the pain coursing through him. His head was pounding, limbs protesting against the abuse, but he could see Alfred looking back at him, apprehensive and worried, and he knew he had to live. Not just for the kingdom, but also for his King.

Alfred was holding his breath. The horse was on a light trot, not going fast at all, but Ivan was already moving to chase Arthur. Despite his hulking figure, he was surprisingly fast, and Alfred did not want to see what would happen if his husband, slowed by his injury, were to be caught by the enemy.

"Take my hand..." He mouthed, breath caught as he leaned back and extended his arm. Arthur raised his gaze, finding his goal and pushing his legs further to catch up to him. He was close, getting closer, but so was the King of Clubs, hot on his tail, unhindered by an injury of Arthur's injury's size.

He was not far. Neither of them were . Alfred let out a shuddering breath and leaned as far back as he could. In return, Arthur extended his hand, fingers outstretched, an inch apart from Alfred's fingers.

"Arthur!" Alfred finally gave in, panic pounding in his veins. The road has become tighter as they'd left the square, and it was harder to maneuver the horse and look out for his husband at the same time. Thankfully, his voice seemed to be the last push Arthur needed.

His fingers brushed Alfred's, grasped on, and then his palm closed on Alfred's. the latter did not waste any time at all, pulling him up, muscles aching in effort. Arthur jumped off the ground, body swinging forward with Alfred's given momentum, and caught his foot in the stirrup, swinging his other leg across the horse and thus ending up reverse-saddled in front of Alfred.

As soon as Arthur was up, the King of Spades kicked the horse's flank, and with one last glance at the King of Clubs, who did not seem too intent on chasing them anymore, they accelerated out of sight.

Sudden pressure against his collarbone brought his attention to Arthur as he placed his face in the crook of his husband's neck, hunched over in pain. Trying to keep him steady on the galloping horse, Alfred wound an arm tightly around his back, resting his hand in his dirty hair and caressing him softly. Arthur was whimpering, his body trembling as it fought to close the wound in his side.

"It's okay. It'll be alright. We're fine." Alfred whispered, kissing the top of his head comfortingly, keeping one eye on his husband and the other on the road. He was vaguely aware of the warm wetness seeping into his skin, but thought nothing of it, deciding that Arthur wouldn't appreciate it if he mentioned the very much human expression of weakness.

They galloped through the back roads, avoiding most conflict and sidestepping past any fight they encountered. Neither of them spoke, having trouble coping with the sights and happenings. They listened to the crackling inferno plaguing the houses once so homely, and silently mourned for the innocent as they fled the city they'd sworn to protect.

"We're leaving the city." Alfred announced as he steered the horse single-handedly upon one of the many smaller dirt paths that lower district inhabitants used for casual exit of the city. Since he'd often used these passages himself, he could recall which path led where, and maneuvered the roads as if he had never left his commoner lifestyle in the first place.

It was a great advantage for them, as he was able to lead the horse through the forest of low branches and upturned roots, steady on the beaten, narrow dirt path. Arthur was still making slight noises on pain once in a while, breathing heavy, and Alfred really just wanted to stop. Still, he knew he couldn't so he pushed on.

They exited the city a couple of hundred meters away from the main entrance and exit, where the Clubs army was concentrated, medic tents set up and soldiers buzzing around. Careful to line the edges of the forest from which they emerged, Alfred led the horse on a slow trot towards the horizon. Only once they were out of sight of the army did he break away from the shadows of the receding night and order the horse into a full gallop.

The night was still dark, though it was clear that day would rise in but an hour or the like. Alfred hoped they could make it someplace safe before the sun rose and exposed them to view.

"Where to now?" He whispered almost subconsciously, gaze sorrowful as he tried not to turn around and watch his home, both his homes, disappear into the darkness, occasionally alight with the devastating fires and the heavy plumes of smoke that clouded what once used to be the bluest of skies.

"Diamonds..." Came the groan from the person in his arms. Alfred looked down, concerned, and rubbed Arthur's back a little more, hugging him close.

"Diamonds is a day's ride away. You won't make it." Alfred protested, frowning. "I'll stop-"

"No!" Arthur hissed. "Absolutely not! We have to keep going as fast as we can."

"Arthur, at this rate, you'll bleed out before you get anywhere at all." Alfred still looked disapproving.

"It'll be fine, I've had worse." Namely, his hand pierced all the way through and pinned to the ground. Then again, his hand wasn't a vital region, and he hadn't been in as much danger back then. His wound was a flesh wound, yes, but it had cut across his side and dangerously close to his stomach. That wasn't good.

"I'm going to stop at the next town." Alfred still sounded unconvinced and worried. Arthur wasn't expecting any less but it was still slightly annoying.

"Absolutely no stopping in towns. Towns have eyes. They will hear and they will see. They'll keep records. We want to leave no traces, throw the enemy off." Arthur shifted and groaned in pain. Now that the adrenaline was dying down, the slash hurt a lot more. His hands, soaked in blood, felt cold and numb.

"I'll have to stop sometime, Arthur. I can't let you bleed out like this. You'll get infected, both of us are tired, and this horse won't be able to get until Diamonds Castle if I keep pushing it like this."

"We can't stop at inhabited places, though." Damn Alfred for making good points. "Ride until the border. Avoid the town perimeters. We'll leave this horse with the border guards and take one of their horses."

"Okay." Alfred bit his lip and ventured a kiss on top of Arthur's matted, dirtied hair. "Okay. That works. You're okay. We're both okay."

"I know." Arthur finally took one of his bloodied hands off his half-clotted wound and wound it tightly around Alfred's waist, holding on for dear life.

Seeing as Arthur was holding on, Alfred gave him one more comforting rub, and then grasped the reins with both hands, urging the horse to run as fast as it could towards Diamonds.

They rode in silence, slowing down to let the horse catch its breath at certain moments, but never dismounting. Their backs ached horribly, having gone numb after the first hour. The horrid pain surging through both their lower backs was nothing, though, compared to the heaviness in their hearts. Still, it did hurt quite a lot, and by the time they got the border in sight, both the day and their bones were breaking.

"We're almost there." Alfred murmured, though loud enough for Arthur to hear him above the whooshing wind.

"Avoid the border guards. Though they won't stop us, we can't let them know we're here." Arthur insisted, panting.

"What do you want me to do, then?" Alfred deviated a little from the line of sight of the patrol building, slowing down slightly.

"There's a line of trees there. Go..." He took a sharp breath, and Alfred's heart flipped in his chest. "... There. There's an entrance in the metal fence there."

"Right." Alfred nodded, and, never taking his eyes away from the road, he turned the horse towards the line of trees that made the border between Spades and Diamonds. As they got closer, they could discern the metal fence that made the entire border between the two countries.

They rode into the trees, slowing down to maneuver the horse right, and stopped when they reached the fence. They then trotted along the fence until they found the entrance Arthur had mentioned. It was a door cut out of the fence, barred with a coded lock. Alfred stopped the horse, and then tapped Arthur.

"Okay, we're here." he announced softly.

"Right." Arthur nodded, and gripped the saddle, finding the foothold and swinging his leg over with a soft cry of pain. Muscles trembling in exertion and exhaustion, he let himself drop, stumbling before dropping to one knee. The human side of the Queen of Spades was starting to poke out as Alfred immediately dismounted to help him up. The numb feeling that came with hours of non-stop horse riding was racking their bodies with pain, causing even Alfred to groan as he shook the feeling out.

Walking to the gate, Alfred supported Arthur, who took the lock with both his bloody hands and shakily entered the code. The lock clicked open, and relief coursed through Alfred as he pulled the gate open.

"Come on." He urged, taking the horse's reins in one hand and Arthur's hand with the other.

Arthur wordlessly followed, waiting for Alfred to escort the horse in before re-locking the padlock.

"The spring where they should have left their horses is not far." He grunted, leaning against his husband as they walked deeper into the trees.

"How do you even know all this?" Alfred couldn't help but wonder.

"We changed the border guard system when we erected the fence that separates Diamonds from Spades. I had to study it and visit the premises ever since I was a teenager." Arthur explained, and it was clear that he was speaking to cover the fact that he was in no shape to be doing anything but rest.

"I see." Alfred couldn't say much, so he kept his mouth shut, saving his breath for half-carrying his semi-conscious husband through the foliage. It was a relief when the sound of a running spring caught his attention, and he emerged from the trees to the sight of a nice clearing occupied by about half a dozen horses.

"There." Arthur grunted, motioning to the spring with a jerky movement of his head. "We can take a few minutes."

"Okay." Alfred let the horse go do whatever it wanted to do and put both his arms around Arthur, helping him limp towards the water. He set him down right on the banks and knelt down next to him, supporting his upper body.

Arthur had his eyes closed, panting heavily. His brow was creased in agony, and his hands were trembling as they clutched at the blood-soaked clothes he wore. Alfred gulped down and reached over, splashing some water on Arthur's sweat and dirt streaked face. After a few splashes, he gently set him down on the grass and started pulling his clothes off.

The Queen whined in pain as Alfred removed the first layer of clothes and worked on pulling the leather armour off of him. As he pulled on the straps, he couldn't help but notice the sizeable slash in the leather. It had soaked up a lot of blood, but it was obvious that had Arthur not been wearing the thick leather chest guard, he would have been cut a lot more, if not cut halfway through.

Arthur let out a particularly loud whine when Alfred pulled the leather away from him, threads of blood connecting the skin to the leather for a moment before snapping. Alfred gulped down and pushed Arthur's last layer, his underclothes, up to expose the slash.

Arthur gave a sharp intake of breath as Alfred ran a finger lightly against the congealed wound. It didn't look deep because it hadn't needed stitches, but it still looked painful and dangerous if left untreated.

Determined, Alfred leaned over and scrubbed as much dirt and blood off his hands as he could in the water, and then pulled his outer layer of clothes off. He dipped the navy blue cloth in the water and brought it back, wringing it above Arthur's face.

His husband barely reacted to the splash of cold water so Alfred started on wiping the wound without further ado. As he wiped the blood off his abdomen, the Queen twitched and gave off small groans of pain. The King quietly pulled his leather plate off of him and followed with his underclothes.

Naked-chested, he ripped the shirt in half and then ripped one half into long strips of cloth. He then folded the other half into the appropriate shape and pressed it against the wound. He then started looping the strips of cloth around his waist to hold the rectangle in place. It was a smart method, but wouldn't hold for long. Arthur needed medical attention as soon as possible.

It was as he looped the last strip of cloth around Arthur's waist that a new reaction joined the blond's previous twitches. Shaking. He was shaking, and his chest was heaving jerkily. Alfred glanced up for a second and realized that he'd opened his eyes, dull green blurred by tears that escaped and rolled down his cheeks. And he was obviously trying to hold himself back, though they both knew he was horrible at it.

Alfred solemnly finished tying the makeshift bandage and then helped Arthur into his bloodied clothes again. Once he was dressed again, he pulled his husband's trembling body close into a tender hug, running his fingers through his hair.

"What have we done...?" Arthur croaked out hoarsely, sniffling and letting the tears of agony and anguish run down his face. "What have we done..." And Alfred said nothing.

They rested for about fifteen minutes, cleaning up the evidence that they'd ever been there by throwing the leather plates into the spring and drinking water as a substitute for food that their growling stomachs demanded. At the end of the fifteen minutes, Alfred pulled his now wet and bloody clothes back on, and picked out a rather strong-looking horse. He considered asking Arthur if he wanted to ride on his own for a moment, but the sight of him, sprawled nearly unconscious on the riverbank, was enough to convince him otherwise.

Thus, tailbones still aching from the previous ride, they pulled themselves up on the horse, Arthur in the front, leaning back against Alfred, who held the reins. Fifteen minutes after their arrival, they were already gone, the only evidence of their presence being the dark-skinned horse branded with the symbol of Clubs that now slept under a tree.

The ride was even more agonizing than the last. Alfred had to stop twice to shake the numbness out of his bones and let the horse drink. Arthur had long since become a panting and whimpering mess of sweaty, tear-streaked skin, and all Alfred could do for him now was ride, ride like both their lives depended on it- and they did.

It was around noon time when Diamonds castle came into view. Alfred's heart soared at the sight of it, and he clutched Arthur tighter, urging the horse to ride as fast as it could. The latter had fainted a small while ago, which came as both a relief and worry to Alfred, who only hoped they'd make it in time.

"Just a little more, girl." He grunted, teeth gritted in determination to make it. Exhaustion burned his eyes and weighed on his limbs, not to mention the unbearable pain paralyzing his lower half. Still, the heavy weight in his arms and in his heart helped him push on until he soared through the castle town's main entrance, ignoring the guards that yelled at him to stop. He was forced to decelerate as he weaved his way through the crowd of inhabitants, but ignored their various looks as they took in the sight of two disheveled, half-dead looking young adults dressed like nobles going to war.

Alfred felt himself going limp as he followed the sight of the castle to the road that led up to the gates. Were he around for sight-seeing, he would have noticed the beautiful, refined architecture and gorgeous flower beds, but right now, his eyes, burning with tears of exhaustion, were only set on the gate in front of him.

The adrenaline dissipated as he slowed down about a dozen feet from the gate. He opened his mouth to respond to the inquiries of the guards that sounded so far away from him, but the only sound that escaped his mouth was an exhausted whimper.

It was like a warning tone. All sounds and light filtered out of his ears all of a sudden, as if sucked out by a powerful vacuum. The tendrils of darkness wound around his aching limbs and pulled him down, quite literally when he was suddenly aware of a flipping sensation in his heart. His last reflex was to hold Arthur safely and curl over his body, and he fell sideways off the horse. His body impacted with the ground roughly, head bouncing with momentum, and he nearly immediately blacked out. He choked out a single word, a mere whisper, and then he was gone.

"Francis..."


Author's Notes

Hope this makes up for the lack of EVERYTHING in the past, like, 4 chapters :U Finally, some action. Which will have to last you a few more chapters because they're safe and sound now, and ready to deal with recovery and counterattack.

I got tired of people making Russia the generic villain for no reason at all so I gave him a purpose. So depending on what side you stand, both parties, Spades and Clubs, can be the evil party. Both of them are fighting for their citizens, and the only reason why Clubs is seen as the villain is because the story is from the point of view of Spades.

As for Arthur's injury, I mentioned that it was a flesh wound, but seeing as it's on his side and on the front of his abdomen, a vital section of his body, it can get pretty bad really quickly, especially if infection settles in. Which is slightly inevitable, since the wound has gotten its fair share of dust, dirt, and bacteria from all sorts of sources. Also, I have no idea how much it would hurt to ride a galloping horse for hours on end, and if it's even possible, but a) they're on adrenaline b) their tailbones are going to hurt like a bitch. Artistic liberties.

Anyways, hope this was decent. Sorry for the lack of updates. I better wish you guys happy holidays and happy new year 2013, and please make me a Christmas present and review! ^^