A/N: It's been forever since I've written for my OTP, so here's a quick FrUK fluff. 'w'
"It's been a while since we've done anything of this sort, hasn't it?"
There wasn't a response for a moment, as Arthur was preoccupied with his tea and accompanying battered copy of Jane Eyre, but he did allow his eyes to flicker briefly to regard the hearth from which these words had come: An unusually quiet Frenchman whose own eyes were currently shielded by his hair, so that the Brit couldn't determine what emotion his partner was speaking with.
The eventual response was, "We aren't really doing much of anything," and was punctuated by the younger of the two setting his teacup down and gesturing toward the yard in which they sat. "We're just sitting in my garden—in the winter, mind you, so there aren't even any flowers to look at."
Francis hummed noncommittally at this. "But we're together. And we aren't fighting."
Arthur raised an eyebrow. "We haven't been fighting much, anyway, as of late. Well, aside from the grocery ordeal last week, but—" He trailed off here and shrugged, flipping absently through the pages of his book without actually reading from it. "That is a typical domestic dispute."
"I mean…" This thought was interrupted by a frustrated grunt, which was a sure sign that Francis was tangled up in his words. "We're on good terms now, oui?"
"I suppose. Your point?"
"I am glad we're spending some quality time together,"—here, Francis grinned, and Arthur, who caught it from his peripheral vision, rolled his eyes—"however, I don't see the point of sitting here in silence like this."
"So talk. You're generally pretty good at that."
The Frenchman's grin dissolved into a scowl and an indignant scoff. "Well, pardon me for wanting to share my thoughts with you, Eyebrows."
An insult was nearly out of Arthur's mouth, clinging to his tongue and dying to be verbalized, but he repressed it for the sake of gentlemanly conduct. "Oh, bite me."
"Don't tempt me." The usual teasing tone in Francis' voice had reappeared quickly, and it somehow made Arthur feel better, even though he hadn't exactly felt bad to begin with.
That comment went without a reply, and Arthur resumed reading, leaving Francis with nothing to do but watch. And watch, he did; he observed the way green eyes flitted across typed words with a deep-seated interest, even though he knew that Arthur must have read that particular novel more than five times already; he watched each movement of the younger man's hands—how they turned the pages, tapped the back cover of the book, or idly picked at Arthur's lower lip.
The Englishman's hands were extraordinary, really. His nails weren't dirty, though they always seemed to be cut too short (Francis berated him for this often), and his palms were calloused, but his hands were still instruments in themselves, and boasted talented pianist's fingers that were good for much more than piano playing (which Francis was glad to admit.)
Without really thinking about it, the elder of them reached out and caught one of Arthur's hands with his own, prompting the other to look up with an expression of mixed confusion and annoyance. "What are you doing, Frog?"
Francis didn't dignify that with a response. He brought Arthur's hand closer, instead, and began tracing lines on the palm with his finger, occasionally turning it over to brush the pad of his thumb over pale knuckles and long, thin digits.
Arthur's expression softened as he watched the other intently, but the moment blue eyes met his own, he knitted prominent eyebrows together and ignored the light flush on his cheeks in order to repeat himself. "What are you doing?"
"Falling in love, mon cher."
It must have been an unexpected response, because Arthur jerked his hand away and pretended to be immersed in his book again, though it was evident that he was not, for he was merely staring in a fixed spot with widened eyes.
"Why do you like that book so much?" Francis inquired quietly, smiling at him now.
The Englishman didn't relax, but he did, at the very least, stop pretending to read. "I don't know… I suppose…it's because I can relate to Jane's situation."
"So then, you had a difficult childhood because of your family and just wanted to be happy."
Arthur sighed and set the book in his lap. "So you've read it."
"Oui, I have. Surprised?"
"Is that the only reason you like it?"
"Heavens, no! This novel is fine literature, and I herald it as such."
Oh, Francis loved the way Arthur got passionate over his books; the former smiled a bit wider and pressed further. "Tell me some of your other favorite things about it, then."
"I like the characterization—Jane's tenacity. She's got a fiery temper and it really does cause her a lot of problems. Ah, but when she meets Helen she feels more at home, because she really looked up to her, and, as an older girl, she had so many things to teach Jane…"
Francis chuckled to himself; Arthur cleared his throat pointedly and kept going. "They had a strong friendship, but, you know, it didn't last. It isn't like they ever do, in those kinds of circumstances."
"Circumstances don't mean anything if you really love a person."
Arthur looked at the other, and Francis' heart skipped one too many beats thanks to the unanticipated smile that blossomed on the Brit's face. "Yes, but, well, in this particular case, Miss Burns dies with Jane holding her…"
"At least she died in the arms of someone she loved."
Francis just barely caught the squeak that Arthur emitted at those words before he was smacked rather hard on the arm with the book in question. "Don't—bloody hell, don't say that! It's sad enough as it is!"
Despite the younger male's apparent turmoil, Francis had to laugh. "Désolé! I'm sorry, really."
"You don't look like it!"
"I can make it up to you." Francis' laughter faded into soft chuckling, and he shook his head once before lifting Arthur's chin up with one finger. "I'll help you forget all about that sorry scene, tonight, so don't you worry…"
Arthur's face reddened, but he didn't pull back. "Tch. You are the biggest idiot in the world."
"And you are the loveliest idiot in the world," Francis replied airily, catching the Englishman's lips in a kiss before any flustered retorts could escape. He pulled away a mere fraction of an inch and kissed him again on the cheek, coupling this with a murmured, "Je t'aime, lapin."
His shoulder was met with another sharp smack from the paperback Brontë, but Arthur was laughing this time, and Francis couldn't help but think that there wasn't a sound in the world that could make him feel as happy as he did, then.