"Maman?" A quiet voice spoke as a blonde with glasses opened a front door from darkness only to be confronted with more as he stepped into the front parlor. He called out for his mother again, wondering where he, yes he, could be. The blonde was a slim little Canadian; in fact he represented all Canadians. He was Canada. His mother, France, hadn't shown up to the world summit meeting, worrying his favorite son. "Maman," He repeated, "Are you in here? Hello?" he shut the door behind him and turned to the right and moved his hand along the wall, searching for the light switch. After a few moments of searching blindly, he felt the nub of plastic that stuck out from the drywall and flipped it up. He blinked as the sudden illumination irritated his eyes as they tried to adjust. Once the black spots had cleared from his vision, he stared in shock. His mother's usually spotless home was destroyed. Pictures had been torn off the wall, lying broken on the stained carpet. Wallpaper was shredded all around him; the chandelier was on the floor, all of the crystals shattered. There were holes in the wall that looked as if they had been punched in, and in a few places, stabbed. The stuffing had been ripped out of the cushions on the chair and couch and strewn about, looking as if a blizzard had recently occurred inside the manor. The aforementioned stains on the once white carpet were crimson, the spots lightly crusty, almost as if… blood had dried there. The Canadian began to panic.
"MAMAN! S'il vous plait, answer me! Are you here? Are you okay?" The normally very soft spoken boy yelled frantically. He ran around, searching through every room. The older blonde wasn't in the kitchen, nor was he in the den. All of the bathrooms and guest bedrooms were empty of life. Concerned for his mother's safety, the boy dashed up the carpeted stairs, taking two at a time. He tripped and nearly fell several times, but managed to catch himself and keep going. He repeated his earlier process of checking all of the rooms, but still, he had no luck. The boy, Matthew, was on the verge of tears now. He hoped his mother was alright. He was about to turn around and head up the flight of stairs that led to the third floor when he heard a cry from a door at the end of the hall, one he had overlooked in his frantic search. He stopped and stared at the door for a moment. Wasn't that the room he had stayed in as a child before his father, England, took him away?
"Maman?" His only reply was another sob from behind the door. He thought he could hear a faint mumble of "mon bébé, not mon bébé."
He hesitated, scared of what he might find behind the door should he open it. He extended his arm and wrapped his hand around the brass door knob, twisting it slowly and applying slight force against it, just enough to crack it open. He maneuvered his face over to the small gap, allowing himself to peek in. There was a figure huddled in the far corner, knees pulled to their chest. Their long blonde hair was stringy and shielded their face from view. They appeared to be mumbling under their breath while rocking back and forth. If that wasn't disturbing enough, the blood running down the person's arms and the bloody knife lying on the ground beside them certainly was.
"Maman…" There was no mistaking it. Despite the appalling condition of this person, there was no way it was not his mother. Mathew's sight began to blur. What could have reduced his mother to such a pitiful mess?
Upon closer inspection, the Canadian could see that his mother was holding something tightly, clutching it to his chest as if he refused to let it go. It was red and white, though the white part now had some stains on it. Was it his old baby blanket? The crib that was present in the room was tipped on its side, stuffed animals spilled out and scattered. The covers had been ripped off of the small twin size bed opposite the door. He continued to look around at the disaster before him but snapped his head back to his mother as he heard the man whimper again.
"Ne pas mon bébé, not my Matthieu. Please, anything but my Matthieu. England, please! You've already taken Alfred from me, leave me my Matthieu!" Matthew opened the door slowly and stepped in as quietly as possible so as to not disturb the distressed man. The volume of the sobs that his mother was emitting ascended quickly, until it they were practically howls. The blonde with slightly shorter hair approached silently and knelt down by the man's side. The floor board creaked, and this startled his mother, Francis. His pale arm shot out and gripped the other's shoulder tightly and squeezed. He lifted his head, insanity clear in his eyes and yelled, "England, you monster! Stay away from my baby! Give him back! Give him back! Let go of him! GIVE HIM BACK!" The hand on Matthew's shoulder tightened painfully and he yelped. He feared for his shoulder blade. Nations were very strong; too much tighter a grip could crush the bone.
"Maman! S'il vous plaît, let go, you're hurting me! C'est moi, je suis Matthieu! Lâché, Tu me fais mal! Je suis ton bébé! Lâché, lâché!" Matthew cried out, trying to free himself from his deranged mother's grip.
"No England. You can't have him. You've already taken one of my children away from me; I won't let you take Matthieu as well. I refuse." He glared at the punk before him, standing protectively in front of his son. He'd always been more protective of Matthieu. He was so small and quiet. The boy had given his mother quite the scare when he and his older twin Alfred had been born. Alfred had cried immediately, signaling life, and hadn't stopped making noise since. Matthew, on the other hand, made not one sound when he was born. Francis had been terrified he'd lost the boy before he'd even gotten the chance to meet him. It had been his first time going through labor, and he went through it alone, their father not caring about them as anything more than extra land and power (at the time. He grew quite fond of Alfred). He hadn't even wanted the children in the beginning, to be honest. The twins were a product of a brutal rape after all. Francis' body had often been Arthur's prize whenever the long haired man lost. But his religious beliefs kept him from getting rid of them. By the end of his pregnancy, he had already grown to love them both so much however, from the first moment he could feel them move inside his belly. The thought of losing one of his children terrified him greatly. His children meant the world to him.
"I don't care, Francis. I have just as much a right to them as you do. You wouldn't have even had them if it weren't for me!" This angered the Frenchman.
"You raped me and left me! I had to deal with the pregnancy and the labor all by myself! You don't have any idea of how terrifying and painful that was. You had no hand in bringing them into the world other than being a sperm donor, and you have no say in how they are raised! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO THEM!They are MYchildren!" He had been answered with a slap to the face.
"The children's fates are always for the father to decide. It is that way among your people as it is with mine. Therefore, it should be the same way with us. I decide with whom they shall reside, and with your weakness, you are unfit to take care of either, so I shall take custody of Matthew as I already have with Alfred. Give the boy to me." He refused, backing away, a tight hold on his son's sleeve.
"Jamais! You will never take him away from me!" He continued to back up, unknowingly towards some of the Englishman's men. One of them reached out and grabbed the blonde hair that had been pulled back and tugged, causing the Frenchman to cry out and stumble. Another hooked their arm around the blue-eyed man's waist in a secure grip. Francis struggled, fighting to free himself before someone could lay a hand on his child, kicking and screaming. "Unhand me! Let me go! Don't you dare touch my baby, I swear, your heads will roll at my feet! GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF HIM!" One of the beasts had picked Matthew up by the collar of his gown and prepared to throw him to the Brit. The brutes continued to hold him back as his child was launched into the air and caught by the fabric that clothed him. Francis was forced to watch as his baby cried and was immediately smacked and told to shut up. Being a toddler, this only scared the poor boy more and he cried louder, his father jerking him up by his hair.
"Maman! Maman! Make him let go, Maman! He's hurting me! Help me Maman!" Tears poured down his chubby cheeks as he wailed and Francis couldn't help the ones that cascaded down his own as he witnessed maltreatment towards his son.
"Arthur, you bastard! You monster! Let him go! Stop hurting him! I'll do anything; just don't hurt my baby anymore! S'il vous plaît!" The Englishman looked up at him and wicked green eyes met tearful blue. The Briton smirked.
"Anything? Fine. I will take Matthew, and you will let me without a fight. You will have no contact with him, ever. You are never to see him, and you are not allowed to keep tabs on him to see how he is doing. Abide to this, I will not harm him. Break any of these conditions, and I shall beat him to my heart's content. Understood?" The Frenchman, still weeping, nodded and turned away, unable to watch as the Brit decided to hold his son properly and turned his back to him, walking off with Matthew in his arms despite the boys screams of protests and cries for his mother. The men that held Francis hostage relinquished their grasp and followed their leader, knowing that the blue eyed man would not follow as Arthur never made idle threats. As his baby's cries faded into the distance, the long haired blonde fell to his knees and his face in his hands.
"Desolé, Matthieu… Je vous fais aller parce que je t'aime."
I'm sorry, Matthew… I'm letting you go because I love you.
"Maman! You're hurting me!" The Canadian repeated, and the assault suddenly stopped. The Frenchman stared at him, eyes open wide, but almost as if they weren't truly seeing. The older blonde continued to quake however, his arms and hands shaking greatly as he held them out.
"Matthieu…? Is it really you? You've returned to me? He… he let you go…?" Matthew was confused. It was obvious that his mother was currently delirious, but surely he couldn't have been speaking of his father, England. Matthew had gained independence from him more than a century ago. "Arthur really let you go?" What was wrong with him? What caused this hysteria? He figured he should go with it for just a little while until his mother calmed down enough to understand that he'd been taken away centuries ago. Things had been patched up. He's on speaking terms with his entire family now and had mostly forgiven his father. He'd even seen his Mother just last week for lunch. The Frenchman had been his normal, happy, loving self. What happened…? That wasn't important right that minute however. He needed to calm Francis down. He kneeled next to him and wrapped his arms around his mother's shoulders, pulling him closer for a hug, shushing him gently. He spoke softly to him.
"Oui, Maman. C'est moi. I'm right here. And I'm not going anywhere. He let me go. He let me go a long time ago, Maman. Don't you remember? Father let me go in 1867 in the British North America Act. I was the first country to gain independence through legislature. Je suis toujours ton bébé et cela ne changera jamais (I'm still/always your baby and that will never change). Je t'aime, Maman." The other's eyes began to clear, as if they had been clouded before, recognition and understanding returning. His breathing began to slow and he was no longer shaking quite so badly. He looked around, confusion clear on his face.
"Matthieu…? What are you doing here? What happened? Why am I bleeding? The last thing I remember, I was cleaning out my old storage room and found my clothing from back around the time Arthur took you away… I don't remember anything after that…" Canada let out a breath, relieved that his Maman seemed to be back to normal. He gave him a kiss on the top of the head and stood up before helping the other to his feet as well. The only reason Canada could come up with that could explain that entire episode was that Francis had a flashback and freaked out… From now on, He would be cleaning his mother's house for him. It terrified him to see his mother so out of sorts..
"It doesn't matter now, you probably just had a flashback, I've heard we nations get them sometimes, mais, Maman, we should really take care of those cuts, eh?" He looked down at the shallow cuts on his mother's forearms. That weren't too bad, and most likely (hopefully) accidental. They were already starting to scab. It was best to go ahead and disinfect them quickly and wrap bandages around them just in case. Francis nodded and allowed his son to assist him to the bathroom to be treated as his legs were still a little shaky.
Matthew cleaned the wounds and swathed them in white bandages, securing them tightly.
"Merci, Matthieu. I don't know what I would do without you." The Canadian laughed, but his tone changed quickly to a much more serious one.
"Maman, tell me the truth. Has this happened to you before?" The Frenchman looked away. Matthew took that as answer enough. "How often?"
The azure eyed man mumbled, "Not often. Only when I come across something painful when cleaning…"
The blonde with the curly cue sighed. "That settles it then; should you ever want to clean anything, call me first so I can help you. I don't want you to get hurt Maman. Not to mention, your entire house is trashed now. You tore the place apart." The Frenchman looked down at his feet.
"Matthieu, what did I say when I was… out of it?" The violet eyed boy's gaze softened slightly and he gave his mother another hug.
"You kept screaming for dad not to take me away." The Frenchman looked as if he were ready to cry again.
"I was probably looking for you when I tore the place apart. I probably had the knife so I could kill Arthur if I found him…" The last half of the statement brought a smile to Francis's face. "Matthieu, You do know that you and your siblings are my whole world right?"
"Oui Maman, I know. I love you, Maman." He gave his mother another hug and a gentle squeeze, kissing him on both cheeks sweetly.
"Je t'aime aussi, mon bébé. And I will never let anyone take you away from me again, I swear." They both smiled.
"No one is going to take me away Maman. I'll always be ton bébé. Now, let's get this place cleaned up."