A picture(look) is worth a thousand words.-Frederick R. Barnard

Francis wasn't sure what to expect when he entered Matthew's house. The drive over had been thankfully short, filled with idle and halted conversation about the meeting(dull and uneventful so the usual) and the weather(cold, cold, and oh yeah, butt ass cold).

It was not how he had pictured it at all. Francis hadn't expected to find it so warm and inviting. Matthew's house was a small two story colonial style house that was painted white and accented with bright red trim, neat as a pin on the inside as it was on the outside.

Within it was decorated in almost sensual earthen tones of gold and browns with deeper accents of dark red. The furniture was definitely old but obviously taken care of, the reddish brown of the mahogany wood polished to a high sheen with brand new cushions to compliment it. The house felt lived in but very well cared for, the wide rooms set up comfortably. What surprised Francis most though was the amount of photographs in every room, taking up any available wall space and spare surface. On all the walls and every shelf was some sort of memento or theme, a few of them going back centuries in shades of warm sepia and brittle black and white. Pictures of nations were a rare thing among their kind. Being practically immortal, the beings tended to shy away from having their likenesses captured. It broke the illusion of normalcy they tried so carefully to maintain. The fact that Matthew had so many of them was a small miracle. Francis wandered from room to room staring at them with wide eyes and an unguarded surprised expression.

America's pictures were the most prevalent and noticeable(of course), the frames of which were decorated with stars, glitter, and/or both. The surprising thing to note in them was that in most of them America was not alone, the loud nation often posing with his twin with an iron grip around him.

Images of England were a heavily seconded favorite, his frames far more sedate in nature, made of severe metal or lacquered wooden borders. The usually dour nation was often shown seated, elegantly posed with his hands folded and his ankles crossed. The only odd things about them was that he was smiling softly in most of them, a rare expression for the island nation to hold for an length of time.

Cuba was an obvious third favorite, the happy island nation standing with Matthew on faraway beaches. The pair were dressed in swimming trunks and ugly loud Hawaiian shirts, Matthew looking ridiculous pale next to Cuba. His borders were a mixture of seashells and carved driftwood.

Francis was very surprised to see quite a few depictions of his old partner in crime, Prussia. The albino nation grinned crookedly back at him in more than a few photos, usually accompanied by Gilbird, a very full plate of pancakes, and a rather sticky looking Matthew. Francis noted that his theme was red metallic or chick shaped frames.

Francis was shocked to see pictures of the Nords who usually did not deign to do such mundane things, their accent wall and frames all in shades of silver and glittering blue. Denmark looked especially friendly with Canada, the wild nation usually caught hanging bodily off of the other. Sweden and Finland stood with the Canadian outside of their home with Sealand running around in the background with Kumajirou and Hanatamago. There were even some of Iceland and Norway, the icy pair posed regally on either side of Matthew in several shots. To compound this oddity, both nations were smiling though their expressions still looked chilly. Sweden and Finland also appeared in others with Russia and Canada, all four bloodied and wearing well used hockey gear.

In fact most of the pictures with Russia had a bloody hockey theme to them…that or vodka. The tall scary nation wore a real smile though, not his usual fake creeper one, his arm almost always thrown comradely around Matthew's shoulders, who looked comfortable in the other's company when others would have been pissing themselves. There was a particularly cute picture of the two saluting the photographer with bottle in hand, vodka(no brand since Russia made his own and had been for centuries) in Russia's and whiskey in Matthew's own(he had been profitably making his own as well since his twin's prohibition).

The Netherlands had his own specially reserved spot on a table, a vase placed in its center filled with expertly preserved tulips in all shades. A rather large picture depicted Holland presenting Matthew with a version of his flag, the maple leaf in the middle changed to different (but very recognizable) type of flora. The pair wore dopey grins on their glazed faces, further confirming even the most naive viewer's suspicions on the subject matter.

Most surprising to Francis though were the photos of China and South Korea, the pair often shown very casually, just watching movies or relaxing in Matthew's kitchen as if they lived there.

One wall in particular seemed devoted to 'the family' with more pictures of America and England there, but with Scotland and Ireland among them as well. The two redheaded nations grinned back widely with Matthew firmly in a duel headlock. Their frames were done in various tartan patterns. Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong popped up occasionally, though only more so in group 'family' shots. Francis especially liked the one with a very irate looking England surrounded by a lot of his former colonies, some of which had filled in their own eyebrows to match his famously overgrown ones.

In what Francis had first thought to be a couple of wide landscape shots of rolling prairies turned out to be pictures of Ukraine smiling back shyly, the voluminous blonde's likeness always captured outdoors. There was even one of Ukraine with her sister Belarus who looked oddly sedated and even a little happy.

Estonia covered in a group of strange mochi like creatures rounded out the rest, the Baltic shown holding or cuddling with them. Matthew was actually in quite of few himself, the pair laughing at the mochi's antics.

Studying the pictures as he would any art, Francis could not help but notice the running theme in all of them, in every single picture. All the nations were smiling, really smiling. Not the fake, vacant expressions they put on for each other, but real, genuine smiles, ones that lit up the photos and gave them a true sparkle of life.

Francis also noticed he wasn't in a single one of them. His guts clenched painfully at this realization as his gaze lingered over more of the frozen moments in time. Until now, he had thought Matthew was lonely when all he actually was….was alone. He lived more than Francis had ever imagined or gave him credit for, out and about for all the world to see. Francis became vaguely aware of someone talking to him.

"I'm zorry. What?", Francis answered softly, turning to Matthew who looked worried.

"I asked if you were alright.", Matthew repeated. He had been trying to ask Francis about what he wanted for dinner but his former keeper seemed to have shut down on him for some reason staring at his many decorated walls.

"Oui….Pardon moi, I am just a bit tired iz all, Mathieu.", Francis recovered, "It haz been a long day I am zhinking." He faked a smile at his host.

Matthew bit his bottom lip nervously in answer as the French nation continued to acted heavily distracted. "This isn't going to work out.", he thought, feeling sad and heavy from the thought. Francis looked obviously uncomfortable though he was trying to act normal. Matthew sighed to himself at the act. "Francis….you don't have to do this….if you don't want to. I'm sure there is someone else you would rather be with.", Matthew managed out, a little proud of himself. He had given Francis a way out of this situation and had done it without shedding a single tear or sounding even a little bit upset. Francis's reaction to his proposal surprised him though. Instead of looking elated, the old nation flinched as if physically struck by it.

The offer had been made without a hint of malice or self-deprecation on Matthew's part. It was spoken as if it were a mere fact based statement, like 'the sun is hot' or 'water is wet'. Despite this, it seemed to wound Francis, deeply so if his expression was any indication. Matthew began to regret it.

Francis felt something hot within him break as his breathe left him in a sudden rush. An odd sourness coated him mouth, one that made his tongue dry out to a fine sandpaper like texture. Francis choked on air, embarrassed but grateful for the distraction as he hid his mortified face behind folded hands. Francis had wronged this one for far too long. To make matters worse, Matthew truly didn't deserve it, his silence or his desertion. He was an innocent, a lost treasure. Francis made himself recover in more ways than one, composing himself.

"Mon ami, who would not want to zpend an evening with your lovely zelf?", Francis smiled easily, offering his host an elegant gesture with rose instantly in hand. He was met with a raised eyebrow and an odd half smile in return to it.

"Well…..You.", Matthew mused, tilting his head to the side as if in thought. The rest of Francis's witty banter died on his tongue, eaten alive by his ever hungry guilt.

"Now we have the chance to.", Francis said softly, turning away to study the pictures again.

"Perhaps….", Matthew shrugged in an effort to seem unaffected by the other's words, "Please make yourself at home. I'll go start dinner.". Francis couldn't bring himself to answer, feeling sick of heart and weak in words. So much for him to atone for, so little time…

A dinner invitation, once accepted, is a sacred obligation. If you die before dinner takes place, your executor must attend.-Ward McAllister

Arthur was sweating bullets, his dinner napkin a shadow of its former self from all the knots he kept putting into it. He was sitting in a ridiculously nice restaurant with America of all nations, both of them dressed in suits(they hadn't bothered to change after the meeting) just like he had always wanted, had dreamed….

And now he couldn't think of one damn thing to say or a single viable topic to talk about. Centuries upon centuries of practicing the art of polite, meaningless conversation learned hard won in the cutthroat courts of Europe deserted him in his time of greatness need. Luckily for them both, Alfred filled in the void single-handedly, the young nation barely pausing for breath it seemed at times.

In reality, Alfred was freaking out, talking out in a state of severe nervousness as his brain screamed at him to shut the hell up. Luckily for them both, the food arrived soon enough so that both nations could focus on that instead of dwelling on Arthur's sudden case of muteness and Alfred's mouth vomit of words. Arthur didn't even taste it. His roast beef could be ash on his tongue for all he cared. Alfred seemed to eat more on automatic than anything, his attention obviously glued to Arthur.

"Um, England?', Alfred asked, making Arthur jump at the formal use of his name. Usually, the American addressed him by some idiotic nickname. Iggy was the one that he personally loathed the most, courtesy of Japan.

"Yes, America?", Arthur answered, carefully studying his plate instead of looking into the too blue eyes he just knew were staring at him.

"Are you alright? You're awfully quiet. Do you want me to shut up? I tend to ramble….", Alfred started to do just that.

"Yes! Fine! Brilliant!", Arthur cut in a bit more sharply than he had intended as he started to assault his napkin again.

"Oh…ok. I was just wondering cause you're shredding that napkin and I think its linen…..so….yeah…..", Alfred trailed off to play with his food. This was not going as well as he would have hoped. Meanwhile, Arthur looked down at the remnants of his napkin.

"Oh bollocks."

Anyone who believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach flunked geography.-Robert Byrne

After he had composed himself somewhat, Francis eventually made himself go into the kitchen to find Matthew who was laying out various ingredients around a large pot. The old cook recognizing the makings of chicken soup when he saw it. Wordlessly, Francis picked up a knife and a cutting board to start chopping up the carrots, celery, and onions while Matthew cleaned a fresh chicken, plucking the feathers off of its corpse neatly with a well practiced hand.

The two nations worked together in silence for a time. It was only broken occasionally by the Canadian's polar bear who begged for the chicken's innards. They threw the ingredients into the pot seemingly at random, the art of cooking fluid between them despite their long separation. Cooking was universal it would seem. After quartering and cubing the bird, Matthew opened a bottle of dry white wine, pouring himself a glass before dumping a good amount of it into the pot. He offered the French nation a glass who declined in favor of his own personal red.

"Why do you drink that?", Matthew asked, breaking the silence between them first as the soup began to simmer as he gestured with his wine glass to the French nation's own. Francis gave the question the consideration it as due.

"To get drunk.", the old lecher grinned as he chuckled into the garnet fluid.

"And is that some of the famous wit that I am always hearing about from England?", Matthew rolled his eyes, "You know what I meant. Why do you only drink red wine?".

Francis shrugged in return, partially annoyed at the thought of England talking about him to Matthew. "White wine….iz too pure for my jaded palette. That would be the easiest answer.", Francis mused as he swirled the drink in question around in its crystal container to study its legs, "I need zomething more…..zubstantial to remind me of life with all itz bitter notez."

"That sounds depressing.", Matthew said flatly with a frown. He expected something a bit more romantic from the famously amorous nation.

"One needz bitterness to enjoy ze zweetness of it, oui?", Francis countered, "But perhapz the appreciation of it iz zomething that just comez with age."

"I'm older than you presume.", Matthew huffed, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Experience then.", Francis shrugged in an offhand manner, smiling slightly at the childish gesture.

"I have that too.", Matthew countered, wondering to himself if they were actually flirting or not.

"Perhapz…", Francis let the word linger, hiding his smile by taking a sip of his wine. Matthew looked so cute when he was annoyed but trying to hide it. He didn't pout like America had a tendency to do. No Matthew, acted more like a put out cat, his gestures and movements becoming stiff and his face expressionless. Matthew tasted the soup to distract himself from the lull in conversation. He turned back to Francis when he was done to set his wine glass down with a definite click on the tile.

"Why did you leave me without saying goodbye?", Matthew asked pointblank, making Francis choke on his wine. The Canadian calmly passed the gasping nation a dish clothe as he tried to recover, the alcohol dripping from his lip and off of his chin.

"Do you not know? I am a coward.", Francis laughed weakly as he mopped himself off.

"That's not an answer.", Matthew remained firm, crossing his arms over his chest. He watched as Francis's shoulders sagged under the weight of his inquiry.

"What do you want me to zay?", Francis asked, his tone sounding tired and brittle around the edges as his hands gripped the counter tightly enough to make his knuckles go white.

"Anything. Just give me a straight answer.", Matthew sighed while mentally kicking himself. He had wanted to ease into this line of questioning but damn his temper. Matthew hated the thought that Francis still saw him as a younger nation in need of protection even from the truth.

"Mathieu….you zhould know by now that there are no ztraight answerz with our kind and hiztory, at itz best, iz mezzy.", Francis faltered, releasing his death grip of the counter to hold his head. He couldn't do this after all. Matthew deserved so much more than what he had to offer and not some paltry excuse at best.

"Then lie to me, damn it.", Matthew almost came to shouting, his soft voice raised, "Just tell me something…anything…".

Francis looked back at him with darkened eyes, the sapphire of them dulled with the sea of emotion that threatened to overwhelm him. The older nation went over to the soup to taste it.

"It iz in need of more zalt.", Francis managed out before leaving the room.

I had a lot of dates but I decided to stay home and dye my eyebrows.-Andy Warhol

In continuing with the theme of unlikely events, Arthur found himself being walked back to his room by the American despite the travesty of what had been dinner.

"I do realize that I am a man. You do not have to do this.", Arthur grumbled. He was sure now that Alfred was trying to catch his hand, having caught the American eying the appendage and making several missed feints with his own. Alfred left off his plans of handholding to give the island nation a surprised look before descending into an obvious blush.

"But you are always supposed to escort your date home.", Alfred mumbled, giving up his earlier intent as he dug his hands deep into his bomber's pockets. Arthur stopped dead in his tracks at that statement to stare up at the taller nation.

"This was….is a date? Since when?!", Arthur choked out. Inwardly he did a wild dance of joy in his head. He realize belated his choice of words when Alfred's face fell, the American looking sheepish as he looked down at his shoes with intense interest.

"I guess it doesn't have to if you don't want it to be.", Alfred murmured, swallowing hard as he memorized his shoe leather, "I didn't have time to get you flowers or nothing.". Arthur would have happily slammed his head against a wall at that very moment for his poorly phased questions. He desperately tried to think of a way to save this situation before certain opportunities were lost forever.

"Well, if this is a date, I want to do something else. It is much too early to turn in yet.", Arthur found his voice finally, managing somehow to sound put out in spite of the heady swirl of elation and fear he was experiencing. Alfred looked up at him in surprise, his eyes going wide.

"Like what?", he asked hopefully. Alfred had been sure he had screwed the pooch by calling this a date so soon out loud.

Arthur winced, hiding the reaction by looking for his room's key card. He had no idea. He hadn't been out on a date since…..well…..best not think about it at a time like this .

"How about we go for walk? There is a park near here if I remember correctly.", Arthur fumbled.

"Oh hell no. It's fucking cold as shit out there.", Alfred shook his head emphatically. He didn't like winter in his own lands so he certainly wasn't about to go tromping around in his twin's vicious weather.

"Valid point…um…..", Arthur started to panic. If he didn't think of something soon, this meeting would end and who knows when the next time he would get this sort of opportunity again with Alfred.

"You wanna watch a movie with me in my room? Japan gave me bunch earlier.", Alfred asked hopefully, "They're kinda scary though so if you don't want to….."

"Sounds absolutely brilliant. Lead the way.", Arthur agreed quickly, almost fainting with sudden relief though he still congratulated himself on his persistence, even going so far as to sing 'Rule Britannia' in his head.

One day you will think of me, as I thought of you. One day you will cry for me, as I cried for you. One day you will want me, as much as I wanted you.-Unknown

After some time it became apparent that Francis would not be returning, Matthew did a quick search of the house, finding the older nation in his own bed of all places. Francis's head was buried deep into his pillow, his face firmly hidden from view. His back shook occasionally, his cries muffled by the fabric. Francis tensed noticeably as the bed dipped underneath Matthew's weight, the quiet nation sitting down next to his former keeper. Cold hands started to gently stroke at a heaving back, the touches light and soothing.

"Please go away. I do not deserve your comfort.", Francis whispered, the words almost indiscernible. Matthew ignored him, lying down next to the prone nation to pull him close into his arms. The Canadian sighed into long tresses as his cool nose brushed against the back of a heated fragrant neck. Matthew stroked shaking sides as he whispered softly. It took a moment for Francis to realize that Matthew was actually singing an old lullaby to him, one that he had originally sung. He tried to curl away from it only to be held tighter, his back sealing a perfect line to Matthew's chest. It felt so hot to be embraced like this, to feel so wanted…..so treasured. It broke him.

"I loved you zo much.", Francis gasped out, unable to hold back anymore, "You were zupposed to be mine…..only mine, my perfect angel." It took him a moment to realize that Matthew had left off singing to start pressing kisses to the back of his neck, leaving a path of burning skin in his wake. The trail ended by his ear where the shell of it was nuzzled.

"Why have you never talked to me? Looked at me?", Matthew whispered, using his soft lips to tease the fold of sensitive cartilage.

"How could I? I was too azhamed…..too scared…..", Francis started to sob again, burying his face into his hands, "I waz not joking. I really am a coward." Francis found himself being turned over onto his back, Matthew lying bodily on top of him to prevent escape. Gentle yet strong hands pried his own away from Francis's face as fingers returned soon enough to wipe away tears from the Frenchman's cheeks as Matthew leaned in to kiss the silver paths of salt. It was almost too much for Francis to bear.

"How could I …..how could I ever expect you to forgive me when I can not even begin to forgive myzelf?", Francis asked hoarsely, his cerulean eyes brimming with more unshed tears. Their blurry gaze was met with a calm look in the shades of dying light.

"You could ask.", Matthew said softly. Francis noticed that their positions had changed and that he was now fully underneath the larger Canadian and essentially at his mercy.

"Can you ever forgive me, my beautiful one?", Francis murmured, closing his eyes as he made a vow to himself to accept whatever punishment Matthew decided for him. He could not take the beautiful countenance above him anymore.

Large hands cupped his face, tilting it upward at an angle. Francis kept his eyes shut even as silken lips were pressed to their trembling lids, soft as a snowflake's kiss.

Francis quaked as the butterfly touches left his eyes to trail down his long elegant nose, tangible warmth just hovering over his lips. It was not to be though, Matthew moving right over them to follow the line of his jaw until a cool nose nuzzled his throat making Francis gasp as words were mouthed into his skin, lips and teeth pressed to it hotly.

I don't take the movies seriously and anyone who does is in for a headache.-Bette Davis

"What in the hell in this sodding shite?", Arthur asked himself for what felt like the hundredth time already in the longest two hours of his life. The movie's story was laughable at best, the special effects were horrible, and the acting was atrocious. Arthur had personally seen better lines delivered on a pub's toilet stall walls.

On the hand, Alfred practically hung on every word mis-delivered and appeared terrified out of his mind as he hugged the life out of a pillow. He quaked in fear at every noise, even going so far as to emit little shrieks when Arthur prodded him with a finger to the side, much to his own personal amusement.

The piss poor excuse for cinema ended finally, Arthur breathing a sigh of relief as he got up….or at least tried to. He found it rather hard with all the shaking American on top of him.

"W-where are you going?!", Alfred demanded, still clutching at the pillow as he interrogated the nation beneath him.

"Get off, you heavy git! Where do you think?! Back to my room, of course!", Arthur managed out, but just barely. He suddenly found himself taking the place of the pillow and feeling its pain, Alfred getting up only long enough to scoop the island nation into his arms.

"NOOOOOOOO! You can't! You gotta sleep with me tonight!", Alfred told him frantically. Arthur blanched under the implications of the request.

"I beg your pardon.", Arthur squeaked out in disbelief before he could stop himself.

"You gotta stay here cause….so I can protect you…", Alfred laughed nervously, overly loud. His death hold on the Brits somehow increased, much to Arthur's joy and rib pain.

"From what?", Arthur hazarded, not really caring. It felt ridiculously good to him being this close to the American despite the threat of his insides being crushed casually in the aftermath.

"You know…..from…..stuff….", Alfred pieced together an excuse as efficiently as he could. He was enjoying this closeness as well and finding it just as distracting.

"Well, who am I to argue with that sort of sound logic then.", Arthur muttered weakly.

Life is the first gift, love is the second, and understanding the third.-Marge Piercy

Francis was so pliable in his hands, the older nation responding as a doll would. His former keeper lay trembling beneath his exploring touches, his cheeks still stained with glittering trails and his eyes pressed shut as if in pain. He had asked for forgiveness.

Matthew didn't know quite what to do with himself so he soothed away the creases in Francis's forehead with the gentle touch of his silken lips. It was like every dream suddenly made real for him. Matthew bit his lip to keep from grinning, his fingers traveling upward to start stroking at long shining locks of golden hair, burrowing his nose into their soft depths. Matthew breathed Francis in, his scent all that he remembered and more. Roses, wine, cigarettes, oil paints, and smoke mixed together into an unique bouquet signature to the older nation, Matthew sighing into it.

Francis didn't know if he was in heaven, hell, or purgatory. Heaven-Matthew was above and around him, pressing himself to the line of his body, his lips lingering across his skin. It was everything he had ever wanted and more.

Hell-Matthew was so near and yet so far. The nation was as silent as ever, the quiet a blade that cut slowly down the thinning skin of his sanity. He had finally asked for forgiveness, but with no answer. Just soft touch that tortured him and kisses that broke him further than any physical blow.

Purgatory-the balance on the edges of duel infinities, one of pure soothing bliss and one of continuous rolling pain. One dimension where Matthew would love him forever and another where he would refuse to see him ever again. This could end up being their sweet parting eternally and forever more. Francis didn't know if he could live through another one, the weight of his own history beginning to crush him.

"I really am a coward.", Francis thought, trying to turn and curl away from Matthew to lose himself in the soft comfort of the bed that smelled like the Canadian, maple and cedar combining warmly. He was stopped, strong hands pulling him back over and making him sit up. Francis's eyes flew open when he was forcefully pulled into a lap, his thighs on either side of Matthew's tapered waist. The Canadian's arms wrapped around his long torso, large hands pressed into the small of his back holding Francis securely into place.

"Don't look away.", Matthew murmured. Francis realized he was doing just that, still trying to escape even when it was so apparent that he was caught and not just bodily. He looked back to find violet eyes studying him, open and without any hint of malice.

"I love you.", Matthew said softly, leaning in to press their lips together in the slightest touches of soft flesh, "I have always loved you.".

"When?", Francis mouthed wordlessly, touching their foreheads together so that blue met violet.

"That first snowfall…..so long ago…..", Matthew whispered, his hands moving upward to clutch at Francis's shoulders, pulling him in closer, his fingers digging into his flesh.

"You were beautiful…ztill are zo beautiful…..", Francis was crying again, the tears sliding down his cheeks like liquid silver to be caught on the tip of a clever tongue.

"Don't cry Francis. You are not meant to cry.", Matthew told him tenderly, pressing their cheeks together, one cool to one hot.

"If only zhat were true.", Francis laughed, the sound harsh, "How can you ever forgive me? Me of all nationz, after all thiz time?" He tried to escape from his cage of flesh again only to be held firmly in place, the Canadian making soothing sounds as he stroked his back in wide circles. Only when Francis stilled himself did Matthew speak again.

"Because you were mine and still are mine.", Matthew told him, "You never said goodbye.".

"I-I…", Francis's words failed him as lips were pressed to his own.

"You know it is true, that's why you never could.", Matthew said in-between the moments of his amorous assault.

"I am a coward.", Francis reminded him even as he responded, answering back with his flesh.

"I know. I will always follow you.", Matthew mouthed back, his hands working underneath silk to caress feverish skin.

"I am zo very weak.", Francis gasped, his fingers digging into shoulder length locks of golden hair so similar to his own.

"I know. I will always carry you.", Matthew sighed, his clever fingers making quick work of buttons to reveal creamy skin that sparkled with a sheen of golden hair over it.

"I am old and very cruel.", Francis moaned, letting himself be pushed backward until his back hit the mattress, wandering hand moving downward to part his thighs.

"I know and I will always forgive you.", Matthew promised, placing a solemn kiss over his heart.

"I love and worzhip you, my zaint, my angel, my beautiful child.", Francis whispered as Matthew leaned back over him so that their gazes aligned with each other, their eyes meeting to lose each other in their gem like colors.

"I love and adore you, my poet, my fool, my mentor.", Matthew murmured back before leaning forward. All words were lost to them from that moment on.

When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.- William Shakespeare

Arthur wondered how the hell his night turned out like this, sharing a bed with Alfred who was currently wrapped bodily around him, the American's broad muscular chest to his narrow, lithe back. Alfred was nuzzling his neck in his slumber, moving his lips in sleep talk. Arthur knew this because he had been unable to catch a single wink of sleep himself. He was far too busy memorizing how wonderful Alfred felt, how good he smelled…..what it felt like to be held in his arms…..it wasn't like he would ever get this chance again so what was a little lost sleep to him.

It was also doing horrible things to his self control, but a little discomfort and pain was worth it as long as Alfred stayed asleep and didn't venture too far down south. Arthur had just managed to calm down himself when a sudden question made him jump.

"Hey…are you awake?", Alfred asked, sounding very alert himself.

"Y-yes, but I thought you had fallen asleep ages ago.", Arthur stammered, his breathe catching in his throat as Alfred pulled him even closer, tangling their legs together comfortably.

"Can't sleep.", Alfred murmured into his neck, his chapped lips against heated skin. Arthur bit his inner cheek hard to keep from shuddering.

"Is there anything that I can…?", Arthur started, becoming distracted when he felt Alfred lean up and over him, his hands on either side of Arthur's body and the skin of his back cooling from the loss of contact.

"England…..can I ask you something?", Alfred cut in, his tone oddly solemn.

"I suppose so. What is it, lad?", Arthur sighed, really not wanting to play 20 question but something about Alfred's tone kept him from snapping at him.

"Would it be ok if I….um…..", Alfred mumbled, "…..if I called you Arthur?". Arthur blinked in surprise at the question. He hadn't been expecting that.

"I do not see why not.", Arthur reasoned out slowly. Alfred looked so hopeful and nervous about it. "Anything if it keeps you from calling me those ridiculous names you insist on making me suffer through.", he sighed. Alfred was quiet for so long that the English nation would have thought he had gone back to sleep if he wasn't still looming over him.

"I only call you those things cause I couldn't use your name.", Alfred said softly as he returned to his previous spot of holding Arthur from behind.

"And what was so wrong with England or even United Kingdom?", Arthur asked testily, trying to ignore the arms around him now that Alfred was awake and on this strange line of questioning.

"That's all business stuff. I want more.", Alfred answered hesitantly, burrowing his heated face into Arthur's shoulder. The older nation started to turn around but found the action impossible to do while in Alfred's grasp.

"What do you mean you want….more?", Arthur made himself ask trying not to hope for impossible things. This was Alfred after all. For all he knew, the git could be referring to his god-awful burgers or something.

The old nation suddenly found himself turned over rather roughly onto his back and his lips pressed to Alfred's own in a rushed sloppy kiss. Arthur was so stunned, he almost forgot to kiss back. Their parting was too soon for either of their liking though, the two nations staring at each other as they gasped for air.

"Ah….that kind of more."

In dreams and in love there are no impossibilities.-Janos Arany

They all met in the morning, Alfred practically breaking down the door as he fell through the threshold in an effort to get to the kitchen table that was heavily loaded with pancakes and coffee. Arthur followed him in with far more decorum. He was pleased to see there was some tea brewed as well, a maple leaf shaped cosy over the pot.

"How did you know that we were coming?", Arthur asked, helping himself to the steaming beverage. Matthew and his longstanding relationship bred comforting familiarity. He was surprised and yet not to see Francis there as well, looking a little worse for wear but happy.

"Al always comes over when he is here for my pancakes….", Matthew smiled, "….And I was hoping that he didn't screw up too badly with you."

"Hey! A little faith!", Alfred pouted around a forkful of pancakes.

"Yes, very little.", Matthew said snippily, "Try to keep it on your plate, hoser. Jeez, even Kumajirou eats more neatly than you do." Alfred grinned back as he finally noticed Francis in the room.

"So how'd it go, bro? Get the guy?", Alfred asked bluntly, a wicked grin growing across his face.

Francis raised an eyebrow at him in warning. "How vulgar. How iz my zweet Mathieu even related to you?", he sniffed. His imperialistic attitude flagged though when he noticed Matthew nodding back, a small smirk on his face.

"And you?", the Canadian inquired casually, his gaze moving to Arthur who stared back at him wide eyed. This was beginning to feel like set up to him.

"Mission accomplished, Maple Leader, sir!", Alfred saluted a flippant gesture, a big shit eating grin to go with it.

"It would appear the frog and I have been duped and you two have had this all planned out from the beginning.", Arthur said slowly as he exchanged miffed looks with Francis. The twins did nothing to alleviate their suspicions, the blondes leaning into each other to share a laugh.

"Well not exactly…", Matthew began.

"…..nothing was actually planned…", Alfred continued.

"…..but we did have some ideas…", Matthew picked up.

"….it was just never seemed the right time though.", Alfred finished.

"Bloody hell, I hate it when they do that.", Arthur grumbled into his teacup.

"Then…You have known our intentionz….our desirez all along?", Francis asked, the player feeling played by his own student.

"Pssssh. Like you guys couldn't have been more obvious about it." Alfred scoffed, earning him a look from most in the room, the American famous for his oblivious nature.

"You two were always a little thick headed. I don't know how we could have made it clearer to you that we were interested.", Matthew chuckled with a shake of his head.

"Thick headed! Clearer! You cheeky bastards! In what way did you make it clear?!", Arthur sputtered, setting down his teacup in preparation to argue. He found himself gathered up in long arms and spun around instead, a hand holding his own in place as the other went around his waist.

"Duh, as in crystal.", Alfred said, twirling them around in an impromptu dance, the way they used to do when Alfred was tiny and would stand on Arthur's feet. Now he led his keeper in easy sweeping movements, "I picked you."

"And I picked you.", Matthew told Francis as he offered the Frenchman his hand, the older nation accepting it graciously as he too was pulled into music less waltz.

"So all this time…", Arthur sighed, giving in to being twirled around, "Sneaky little buggers…."

"Learned from the best.", Alfred laughed, as the dancers gracefully switched off partners, Arthur with Matthew now and Francis with Alfred.

"Zo what now?" Francis asked the room, moving a hand downward to cup Alfred's ass. His toes were promptly stepped on.

"Happily ever after?", Alfred posed, as the dancers were exchanged again, the twin dancing in perfect synch with each other, the other pair doing the same as well through ancient ritual and habit.

"Not bloody likely.", Arthur grumped, scowling at his dancing partner who leered back, "And keep your hand right where it is or else I'll castrate you, frog. I will remind you we are in a kitchen. I have access to many interesting things to do it with." Francis shrugged as he gratefully let Arthur be retrieved by his American and Matthew once again took his place.

"Tough shit cause that's what we are going with.", Alfred told the English nation firmly with a definite sort of conviction that usually only children are able to manage.

"I like it. It has a nice ring to it.", Matthew smiled softly.

"I promised you forever once already.", Francis sighed, knowing firsthand some things were never meant to be true.

"That is why we are going to promise forever and a day.", Matthew laughed, bringing the dance to a halt to cup Francis's face with cool hands. Alfred did the same but only after he had dipped Arthur needlessly.

"An infinite day!", Alfred added gleefully.

"Now you all are just being ridiculous and even worse, redundant.", Arthur scowled even as his cheeks bloomed roses of deep seated mixed embarrassment. His heart was so light and happy, his mind ablaze with all possibilities, and his stomach sick with barely contained excitement. He was so in love it was practically painful and almost paralyzing to him. Arthur's revelry was broken when he was bodily picked up, strong arms supporting him easily as he was held close. He was ready to launch into a reprimand of epic proportions when sparkling blue eyes cut him off.

"So forever and a day?", Alfred asked him, looking into clover eyes with a soft yearning gaze.

"Yes Ame….", Arthur began, pausing to reevaluate his answer, "Yes, Alfred.". He barely had time to yelp in surprise as he was kissed with such a force it unbalanced them both. They crashed to the floor in a heap of limbs, still attached to each other.

Francis and Matthew looked on in amusement when it became obvious that their presence was being totally disregarded in every sense of the word as the two nations continued their amorous affections. The couple moved out into the living room to give them some space. They stood in the silence of their own moment, looking into each others eyes.

"Tu me manques.", Matthew whispered, "Give me forever and I will give you a love you will never be able to forget."

"You already have, mon amour."

"Je t'aime de tout mon coeur et tu es mon monde."

"Pour toujours."