The sound of raindrops on pavement awoke Matthew Williams from his dreamless sleep. He brushed away the sand and grit that had gathered around his eyes, noting with much annoyance the stench of the wet cobblestone of the city outside. He hated it when it rained. Water would pour right through the little window high up on the cellar wall, damping not only his bed but also his spirit. Maman had transferred him to the dungeon after the incident 7 years ago. She might as well have killed him then. The emptiness he felt not knowing what ever happened to his friend Alfred was more painful than anything.
"A rainy morning, isn't it?"
Matthew sighed, turning to face the only other man in the dungeon with him. "Isn't it always a rainy morning, Monsieur Kirkland?"
The man in the cell in front of him laughed, his voice echoing through the silence. He raised his head, piercing green eyes staring into Matthew's soul. "It wasn't raining when I got here." he replied smugly, running a gloved hand through his sandy blonde hair.
Matthew raised an eyebrow. "Do you even remember when you got here?" he asked, curious.
The man shrugged. "It wasn't that long ago, lad. Of course I remember, I'm not that old!"
Matthew giggled, walking towards his cell bars. "I don't remember much of the outside world..." he confessed, sadness filling his tone. "I've been here for seven years now. I've stopped imagining what the outside feels like."
"Che." Kirkland spat, laying back on his little cot. "The outside isn't that great, pet. It's cruel and cold, filled with wars and bloodshed. It's better if you stop longing for it."
Matthew nodded. He could still vividly remember when, a month ago, the man he knew only as Monsieur Kirkland was dragged into the dungeon screaming and kicking. He had been painting then when the man was thrown into the cell in front of him. Kirkland was mean and rude, but he was the only company he had in the lonesome cell. Besides, the man mellowed down when he realized who Matthew was.
"Why do you think that old hag sent you here?" he asked after a brief pause in their conversation.
"To protect me." was Matthew's answer.
He could see a smug grin spread on the man's face. "Are you sure about that?" he continued to press on, "I don't think that hag wants to protect you at all. It's her secret she wants to protect."
"No it's not!" Matthew almost screamed. Immediately, his right hand flew to cover his mouth, preventing him from saying any more.
"No need to be so sensitive about it, lad." Kirkland chuckled, "I was just voicing out my opinion. Don't believe everything I've said."
The younger blonde relaxed, turning to lean his back against the cold steel bars. "You said something about breaking out yesterday..." he whispered, "Don't tell me that's a lie, too..."
"It's not..." Kirkland stated matter-of-factly. "I will break out of here... Soon."
"What signal are we waiting for again?"
A few miles on the outskirts of the valley of Ciel, on one of the mountain tops that protected the little country from foreign invaders, a small crew of pirates camped themselves in an abandoned cottage. Specially selected as the best point in which they could spy over their enemy's palace, the cottage was well-hidden from the sight of anyone who stayed in the valley, but to the people staying in it, only a good pair of binoculars was needed to see the bustle of the palace.
"Should you even be here, laddie? You don't seem to know what you're doing." commented a redheaded man, eyeing the young blonde perched perfectly on the edge of the mountain cliff where they hid. "Be careful, Alfred. Artie's gonna kill me when ya fall."
"Psh, I won't fall!" Alfred replied, adjusting the binoculars to a better setting. "You forgot to answer my question again, Allistair. What am I supposed to be looking out for?"
Allistair Kirkland shook his head, leaning on the mountain wall as he studied the energetic blonde. "We were to wait for the white smoke signaling the pesky King's death. With the poison little Peter put into his drink, he'll be dead by sunset."
"Was it really necessary for us to ask a little kid to do that?" Alfred asked, his conscience eating away his mind. "Poor kid probably has no idea what trouble he's getting himself in to."
Allistair shrugged. "He wants to grow up to be like his father." he said with some remorse, "Don't think poor kid knows his father's not really that clean of a guy."
"Did Arthur tell him?"
The question hung in the air, a cold wind blowing through the equally cold atmosphere. Even without turning, Alfred could tell Allistair was bothered by the question. The redhead always looked like he didn't care about the decisions his little brother made, but deep inside, Alfred knew as a big brother he still did.
"Arthur's an idiot." was his only reply. "He knows he can't fix things. He'll try to, but he'll end up making it worse."
Alfred let out a humorless laugh, positioning the binoculars again. "I don't think he has any regrets..." he muttered under his breath, "Unlike me..."
Instinctively, he looked at the tower where he met a beautiful little boy long ago. He's been doing that ever since he learned Arthur had been captured in Ciel. He still hoped he could see Matthew looking out of the tower, but he figured he had already lost the little boy all those years ago. Matthew probably thinks he's dead, Alfred would try to tell himself. Emily had tried so hard to convince him that, until she drew her last breath two years ago. Arthur was the same, telling him there's no use in thinking about someone who had probably forgotten him.
Alfred couldn't help but secretly smile when he saw no one appear from the tower. He still remembered everyone from the servants quarters, taking delight in watching Maria, Sesel, Jason and Kyle work around in the courtyard.
"Spotted anything yet, mate?"
Alfred shook his head. "Nothing."
Allistair nodded thoughtfully, squatting down beside him. "Keep looking. It's almost sunset. We'll see the smoke soon."
As they anticipated, when the sun slowly began it's decent west, white smoke rose from the palace chimneys. Soon, all the houses in the little valley were sending up puffs of white smoke. Alfred kept his eye on the people of the palace. He felt a pang of pain in his heart when he saw the expressions on the faces of the people he used to consider as friends.
"That's the signal." Allistair said triumphantly, patting Alfred's back. "Let's head back to the cottage. We'll soon be packing up and leaving this place. By the time Prince Francis is properly crowned, we'll be there to interrupt the party."
Alfred looked excited, like he always did when he knew a battle was approaching. "Finally! It's been boring without the Captain!"
Allistair laughed heartily, clasping Alfred's shoulder. "Laddie, I'll be sure not to tell my little brother that."
The two men walked to where the rest of their crew was staying. Alfred couldn't help but glance back at the white smoke that was now clearing. It had been a long time since he last prayed, but he offered one to the soul of the King. He was Matthew's father, he could imagine the look of tears on the beautiful boy's face. He didn't want him to cry.
As the white smoke covered the horizon, the light filtering into the dungeon began to dim. Curious, Matthew stood on his cot to look through the little window on the cellar wall. He saw the white smoke blocking out the light of the sun. Instantly, he felt tears prick his eyes. The King was dead.
"The old man finally dead?" Kirkland asked.
Matthew nodded solemly, sliding down unto the bed. He let his tears fall silently, wondering why he would shed them for a man he didn't quite consider his father. "H-He's gone..."
Kirkland grinned broadly, kicking himself off the cot. "Took him long enough! That old man is bloody tough, I can give him that!"
"Excuse me?" Matthew glared at him, angered at the way he regarded someone's death. "What are you so happy about, Monsieur?"
Kirkland shrugged, walking towards the steel bars that separated him from freedom and gripped them with a strength Matthew didn't know the man still had. "Remember that little conversation we had about breaking out, lad?" he asked, a twinkle in his emerald green eyes. "You'll figure out by tomorrow at sunset that I wasn't lying..."
Matthew's amethyst eyes grew wide as he listened to the man's laughter echoe through the emptiness of the dungeon. "Y-You..." he mumbled, "You planned all this..."
"Of course I did!" Kirkland exclaimed, "My men will be making a bloody mess of this place tomorrow searching for me. If you'll be good, pet, I might take you with me..."
Matthew shook his head. "Give me one good reason why I'd go with you!"
Kirkland grinned. "You want to be free, pet. I could give you that freedom, no payment required."
"But the people of this country will pay for it with their lives, won't they?!" he almost screamed, "You're planning to attack this Kingdom, aren't you? That's why you got caught so easily! It was all part of your plan!"
"If only the Queen had bothered to listen to you, they wouldn't be in this situation. Such a shame, really..." Kirkland arrogantly walked back to his cot, seating himself at the edge of it. "It's too late for her, though. When the Prince gets crowned tomorrow, my men will be here to spice up the ceremony. They'll free me, and by the time the Queen realized what's going on, her son will be a hundred miles away from home."
"You're planning to kidnap the Prince, too?!"
"What assurance do I have that they won't come after me and my men?" Kirkland put in, a triumphant look in his face. "Don't fret, lad. I'll leave your cell door open. You could choose whether or not you want to leave."
Matthew shuddered. "There's nobody who can tell them..." he said to himself.
"There's you..." Kirkland replied, "I doubt they'll believe you, though..."
K/N: I'm very sorry with the late update on this one. At least I got it out just a few days after Valentines Day. Consider this a belated Valentines gift from me. There'll be more stories and updates coming... Just as soon as we can get our internet connection back up again. Till next time.