I know adding this story is going to make it so my highschool!Hetalia fic will updated less often, but I simply couldn't get this idea out of my head. The idea mainly came from me watching The Lion in Winter, in which Richard the Lionhearted is portrayed as gay for King Phillip II, who was the king of France (which is widely argued to be true). It's actually an excellent movie, and I definitely suggest you watch it.
The time period is the late 13th century—I wanted to make it before the tension that caused the Hundred Years' War really started. Also, it will only be somewhat historically accurate, because the King at this time obviously didn't have a son named Arthur. But the general things and the little things will be accurate.
I think I may include one or two background pairings, depending on how I choose to go about doing this story. We'll have to wait and see. Until then, I hope you enjoy the first chapter! ^_^
Grass was surprisingly a very comfortable thing to lie on. Not exactly surprising for Arthur, who knew this fact and had known it for a while, but just surprising in general for someone who knew quite a bit about the world.
Strange, too, considering he was the son of a king; he slept on the finest mattresses one could get in England in this day in age—straw packed together within a covering of soft furs, and if he wanted, he could get servants to get on their hands and knees on the floor for him to rest his feet upon, and yet Arthur strongly preferred grass—the grassy clearing he was lying on at the moment, to be precise. The ground wasn't too hard but it wasn't very wet either, and it was hit by just the right amount of sun and was a good enough distance from the lake that the air had a nice, yet indescribable smell to it.
It was his time in this secluded area away from the town and the castle that Arthur liked best. He liked being closer to nature than other people; he liked relaxing in the grass and resting his head on the ground to listen to the soft hum of the earth, and he liked being near where the faeries were.
The faeries, after all, were the only ones he could really call his friends. His father, mother, and brother were all so annoying and displeasing to be around… and they were quite hurtful towards him about his eccentricities. As a nearly grown man, he supposed he should have been able to take those jives about the fact that he'd probably have been sent to a mad house at a young age if he wasn't part of the royal family and how he spent too much time alone…. And he did pretend to, but they honestly did hurt.
But the faeries never did that. They all liked him, and that made him happy. Arthur rarely smiled when he was not with his faerie-friends….
When the sun was a little less than three-fourths of its way across the sky, a high-pitched buzzing sound whizzed past his ear and snapped Arthur out of his day-dreaming, and he knew at once what it was. Immediately smiling widely, he rolled over onto his back so he could see the three-inch tall faerie flying above him.
"Ah, Tinker! You came to visit me!" greeted Arthur cheerfully, watching her tiny little wings flap as fast as a butterfly's and the glittery dust it emitted, still finding the sight as mesmerizing as the first time he ever saw it. "Did Cherami and Lilley not come with you?" He frowned, wondering where the other two of the faerie trio were.
"Well, they're a little… busy with something," said Tinker in her tiny voice, giving a girlish giggle that created a brief shower of faerie dust from her wings. "But that's why I came, Arthur; I wanted to tell you something!"
Thoroughly intrigued now, Arthur pushed himself up into a sitting position so he could look at Tinker properly. He blinked and opened his eyes a little wider.
"Well, what is it, then?"
"They've… well, they've found a unicorn," she told him in an excited whisper, giggling again.
"A unicorn? Really?" said Arthur in pleasant surprise. "I didn't think any lived around here…."
"Yes, they're quite rare this close to humans…. It's a young one, so we think it might be lost. But you've got to come see, Arthur!"
"Are… are you sure my presence won't scare it off, Tinker?" He frowned slightly in uncertainty.
"Of course it won't!" she assured him, though it was hard for a tiny voice like hers to sound reassuring. "It'll sense the magic in you, just like we have. Come on!" Tinker then flew downwards and tugged on his collar, and her impossible strength (well, magic made it possible, of course) actually pulled him up a bit as she flew upward.
"Okay, I coming," he laughed, feeling himself be lifted, "you don't need to—"
"Oi, there you are, jerk-Arthur!"
The unexpected voice surprised Tinker, who immediately gasped, said something in the faerie language, and flew away. Arthur fell an inch to the ground as her hands released him, and he let out a soft "Oof" at the mild impact. Then, scowling, he turned around and saw what looked like a much smaller version of himself but with darker hair running up.
"Talking to faeries, were you, lunatic?" the boy continued, slowing to a stop in front of him and so carelessly stepping over a Brownie-hole.
He was angry enough at his brother for ruining a once-in-a-lifetime chance for him that he didn't know quite how to express it. "You idiot, I was just about to go see a unicorn!" was definitely not a good thing to say if he wanted to keep himself from being ridiculed or thought crazy even more.
"What do you want, Peter?" demanded Arthur, still scowling.
"Father wants you," the younger boy said with contempt. "He told me to come fetch you, but that was at least an hour ago, because I nearly got lost finding this place!"
"Yes, well, that's the point of the place, isn't it?" Arthur wrinkled his nose irritably, thinking, So gits like you—or anyone but me, for that matter—can't come here. "What does Father want me for?"
"Why should I know? Just come, or he will be angry with both of us. And I'd rather not be scolded because of you, jerk."
"Hmph. Fine." Deeply upset that he'd have to leave the unicorn behind, Arthur pushed himself up and stood up, brushing the bits of grass and dirt off of his tunic. He knew that he'd probably have his mother nag at him later for not trying to keep clean, as "it wasn't proper for a person of such high standing to roll around in the mud like a pig"—as if that's what he was even doing, but he didn't care. He had heard those complaints a thousand times already, anyway.
Frustrated, Arthur started heading back in the direction of the castle, through the sparsely placed trees and down to the path that led to the gates. He hurried up and got ahead of Peter, since he hated his brother and would by no means let him take the lead, frowning ahead and wondering what the hell his father wanted with him right now.
Once the castle was in full view and towering above them, Peter told him that their father had said he would be in the gardens and immediately after that, ran off in the direction of town. Arthur gave a small "Hn" to himself and vaguely wondered what business his brother had being in town. But then he decided he didn't care.
Walking around the stone walls until he reached the expertly-cut grass and hedges and stone statues took a good five minutes, and when his father, who was sitting on a bench, caught sight of him, the man didn't look very happy. Once again, Arthur didn't really care. So he just huffed and continued walking toward him.
"For someone who wishes so determinedly to be King," his father started saying when he was within hearing distance, looking purposefully away from him, "you spend a great deal of time away from the castle and instead off, playing in the dirt like a child."
The teasing tone told him that he was not actually being scolded or punished at the moment, but he still didn't like it.
"I had finished my duties for the day, and I have no obligation to remain within those stone walls," he said firmly and somewhat bitterly, his overlarge eyebrows knitting together in a frown as he stepped onto a stone bench so he could get over it and onto his father's side of the path more quickly.
But then he noticed that his father wasn't alone—on the bench next to him was a man who had been hidden by a hedge moments earlier, and who seemed to be about the same height as Arthur. Despite his long, shoulder-length hair (long for a man, anyway), he was very obviously male—if not by his lack of a dress, then by his masculine face and the light goatee on his chin. His eyes did have a somewhat feminine quality to them, though….
And the first thing Arthur thought when he stopped in front of him and his father was Good Lord, he's gorgeous. He blinked and lightly shook those thoughts out of his head, not so much ashamed of them as he was simply wanting to avoid becoming embarrassed or turning red. The other man was smiling at him, though, so that was suddenly difficult for him anyway. Arthur had to frown and look to his father.
Before he could ask him who this man was, however, his father—more like the King, now—stood up and faced him, folding his arms.
"True, there is no obligation, but a future king must behave like a king, and that means doing things that are worth your time, that are important," he told his son almost sternly. "One would think that you are not grateful for your home in this castle, with how little time you spend in it…. But that is not the matter at the moment. You are aware that our relationship with the French is growing unstable—and so it is important that you have the means to communicate with them if needs be..."
Arthur suddenly frowned more deeply, quickly realizing what this meant. "Are you saying you—?"
"I believe it is necessary for you to learn French, which is why Francis"—he gestured to the man next to him—"is going to teach you. I wanted you to meet him once before your first lesson tomorrow."
So that's who the man was. Arthur continued frowning, now looking back at the Frenchman. Though he felt like he was supposed to, being English and all that, he really didn't hate the French on principle—one of his faerie friends was French, even. Due to his lack of contact (willing, at least) with other people, he had yet to talk to any personally, so how was he supposed to hate them?
Briefly looking him over, Arthur saw that Francis was dressed fairly well—definitely not enough to look like a noble, but better than most peasants. He even looked like he'd taken a bath sometime in the past couple weeks, and his hair looked soft enough for Arthur to run one of his hands through—No, stop it.
"I don't recognize him," he said dully, not realizing that he sounded a little rude—not that he would have cared if he did. But he figured it would have been better to come off as rude, anyway, if only to make sure no one suspected anything. "He's not one of our servants, is he?"
"No; he works in the village," his father told him. "I hired him, as he was the nearest choice on hand for someone who was fluent in French. He will teach you for two hours every day after your breakfast meal—which means no immediate running off to—wherever it is you go. And because I know you will attempt to argue, I shall be leaving now." With that, he gave his scowling son a smirk and a There, beat you sort of eyebrow-raise-and-nod, then started to walk past him. "Francis, you may stay to get to know Arthur—if he's even capable of communicating with other humans politely, that is—and then leave in due time. Good evening."
While the Frenchman was silent but for his returned "Good evening, your 'Ighness," Arthur turned around and glared at his father, sputtering as he got out of hearing distance and getting angry that he would just leave him alone with this stranger like that. Only now, it wasn't so much that he felt uncomfortable having to talk to someone he didn't know well that he felt uncomfortable being left to interact casually with… well, someone he found it almost difficult to look in the eye.
"What the devil is wrong with that old man, forcing me into this…?" he muttered under his breath, but not so quiet that Francis couldn't hear him. "I'm supposed to be done with my bloody schooling…."
"You 'ate me zat much already?" said Francis, sounding quite cheerful about it. Then he laughed, and Arthur found it annoyingly beautiful. The Frenchman stood up from the stone bench and faced him, then lowered his head and held out his hand. "I actually would like to introduce myself personally, zough. I would 'ave spoken before, but I wouldn't 'ave wanted to disrespect your fazzer as much as you do."
…Was that actually an insult from this man who had hardly met him? Arthur couldn't help but raise his eyebrows slightly. Although, he supposed he wouldn't have considered it an insult… just teasing. Very bold teasing, however, considering he was of the royal family and could probably have Francis executed if he wanted…. That was true, though. He hardly respected his father at all.
"Well, he is the King, after all," said Arthur smoothly, looking hesitantly down at Francis's hand for a moment before taking it and giving it a brief shake before letting go, feeling both relieved and like he never wanted to let go as he did. "I suppose that proves that you're neither an idiot nor suicidal, which gives me slightly more faith in your teaching abilities. And that is a very strong 'slightly.'"
Though he couldn't quite define it, the look on Francis's face after that made it seem almost as though he was enjoying Arthur's snarkiness.
"I understand why you would not trust me," Francis said calmly, moving a lock of hair out of his face, "but if you truly don't, zen you should at least trust your fazzer, even if you don't like 'im. As you said, 'e is ze King, so 'e knows what 'e's doing. 'Is 'Ighness wishes me to teach you French, so zat is what I shall do. You seemed more adamant about not learning French at all a few moments ago, zough…."
Well, damn. He hadn't just been beaten at his own game, had he? People weren't supposed to out-snark him. That didn't happen. But… Francis had just turned a clever comment into a mere lie and therefore made him sound like the jerk.
"A-and I still wish not to, but I'm mature enough to see when I have no choice in a matter…!" Arthur argued, feeling he was just barely saving himself. In the pause he took to fold his arms more tightly, the other man simply gave him a small, amused smile and a "Hn."
"I don't suppose you had much of a choice in doing this, though," he continued with a small huff.
Almost at once, Francis's smile grew and he let out a laugh. "Onhonhon, 'oo would dislike ze idea of an easy job in ze castle of ze King of England for an 'alf pound of silver a week? I suppose 'e would 'ave forced me if I 'ad refused… but I didn't."
So this man was going to be paid. Ah, well, Arthur knew his father was hardly as horrible to the rest of the people of England as he was to him.
"Oh, I highly doubt that I will make this easy for you, Francis," he half-sneered, half-joked, a light, devilish smirk on his lips, which the Frenchman mirrored—though he wasn't sure whether or not it was on purpose.
"Non, I didn't tsink you would," he said somewhat to himself, briefly glancing to the ground and then to the sky, where a bird was soaring overhead, black against the pewter-gray clouds. "I 'ave 'eard about you, you know." A smirk somehow charming enough to knock Arthur's heart back for a moment grazed his lips and left a soft glow in his eyes. Almost like magic, Arthur thought—except he knew magic, and that wasn't quite it. "Now, I tsink I would like to leave—may I? Unless, of course, you'd like to stay 'ere and continue talking wis me…?"
For a moment, Arthur was nearly tempted to say he'd rather talk to him, but he quickly shook those thoughts away again and decided it wasn't a good idea to remain in the presence of the source of the feeling in his chest he knew shouldn't have been there.
"No, you go ahead and leave," said Arthur as irritably polite as possible, waving a hand dismissively. "Good…"—he checked the sky and decided it wasn't all too fitting to finish that with evening—"night, Francis."
Without looking at him, Arthur began walking away, intending to take a walk around the garden before going back inside and assuming Francis would find his way to the exit. And he figured he was right, once he heard the other man's footsteps instead of protests.
"Good night, A—oh, what do you wish me to call you?" The footsteps stopped abruptly and Arthur could hear the sound of Francis's shoe twisting on the ground along with his voice. "I will be your teacher, but you are ze King's son all ze same… Prince Arthur? My Lord? …Your soon-to-be-'Ighness?"
Even though he hadn't been looking at the man, he could easily feel Francis's smug grin on his back at that last one. It was annoying. Although, he did like the idea of being called "My Lord"… even more so by Francis than he already did with the rest of the servants in the castle. And he didn't know why. But… after a few seconds' thought, he figured he didn't want that.
After his pause, Arthur turned his head so swiftly he could feel the crack of his somewhat stiff neck and sought out Francis's face in the steadily growing dark. "You may call me Arthur, if it suits you."
Not that that makes you my friend, he thought as he turned his head back around and continued walking. He wasn't quite sure whether those thoughts were true, though.
He wasn't quite sure of anything at the moment, really. Except of the fact that he had missed out on seeing a unicorn simply to meet the man he was being forced to allow teach him French, of course.
But he also wasn't sure whether he was still as upset about that as he had been earlier.
I really wanted to make Arthur call Francis "Frog," but that term actually wasn't coined until the 18th century... :/ I am trying to make this as historically accurate as I can, after all.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it, and I would love for you to review and tell me what you think! ^_^