This is a direct continuation from the last chapter, as you will soon notice. Warning: There is also two flashback/dream sequences in this chapter that might cause some feels to arise to be prepared for that.
Also this is another mostly a USUK (but really it's an Arthur-centered) chapter. Sorry 'bout that, I know you came here for PruCan but this chapter is crucial for their relationship and the events here will be mentioned again in a big way. That I promise you.
ALSO if you now notice... all chapters now have names! I decided to have creative chapter names now haha.
ALSO (x2) thanks for all the reviews so far. I appreciate it. And also to anonymous1; yes Mary Tudor was Queen of England FIRST she also eventually became the Queen Consort of France for only three months since her husband since King Louis XII died (thus she became the Queen Dowager of France). She then later became the Duchess of Suffolk when she married Duke Charles Brandon and that's the title she died with even though she was more commonly known as "The French Queen".
Well... that's enough for my pre-story announcement. Here's chapter 8: Lies to Love
*The Kingdoms of Hetalia*
Arthur bid the band goodbye and walked out of the music room, towel in hand and wiping his face and neck off. Upon his walk to his room he walked past King Ferdinand and Queen Dorothea. He bowed his head to them and they did the same before stopping before each other for idle chatter. "How did you enjoy the dinner this evening?" The princess of the Central Kingdom asked knowingly.
Immediately the king and queen smiled. "It was splendid." Ferdinand replied for the both of them. "Matthew's family is quirky just like him. There was never a dull moment."
"Ah, that's good." Arthur smiled at them. "So you are approving Prince Gilbert's decision then?"
"Honestly…" Dorothea began with a sigh. "I would have rather you married him Arthur. That way our two kingdoms would be forever united."
Arthur laughed then. "Our treaty will remain strong I'm sure."
"Let's hope." Ferdinand said then quite ominously. "The Northern Kingdoms are always fighting with each other and I don't trust the Eastern Kingdom one bit. Even with their depression."
"No one trusts the Eastern Kingdom dear." Dorothea said to her husband. "Not since they started the Great War decades ago."
Arthur sighed. The Great War involved all of the (then) five kingdoms when the Eastern Kingdom decided to be bold (or stupid as many would say) and try to expand their borders. Of course, the only way to do that was to go westward. The vide for land was at first between the Eastern and Central Kingdoms but it spread to the Southern Kingdom and then to the North. Amongst this the Southern and Central Kingdom united while the Northern Kingdom roped the Western Kingdom into an alliance. It would have seemed then that the Eastern Kingdom would have just retreated having all the other kingdoms against them, but King Ivan's grandfather was smart. By hiring a Southern Kingdom assassin, he assassinated of one of the Northern Kingdom's councilmembers and of course the assassin was caught and hung for his crime but this began a three-way war with the Central Kingdom smack in the middle of it all. Just as the Central Kingdom was about to crumble to nonexistence, the news of the staged assassin was released and it once again went back to all hands against the Eastern Kingdom.
After the war the Eastern Kingdom was asked to pay reparations to every other kingdom, most especially the Central Kingdom for nearly demolishing everything to the ground (enough to rebuild). The reparations, though massive, were eventually paid but soon after the Northern Civil War began and the Eastern Kingdom (who traded heavily with them) was cut off due to all supplies being used to the war. Food, supplies and other goods were cut off and they fell into the depression they were in now.
"The queen does have a point Your Majesty." Arthur finally said.
"Yes well… I wish it wasn't the case. Though King Ivan seems like a terror he's really very sweet… underneath it all."
Arthur was about to reply in question when one Crown Prince came yelling and—by God was he skipping?—down the hall, stopping right beside the three chatting royals. "You cannot believe how extremely awesome I'm feeling right now!" Said Crown Prince yelled with a large toothy grin.
Arthur snorted in amusement. "Well… if I ever thought before that you have gone off the deep end now would seem to be that you've drowned in it."
"Kesesesese~!" Gilbert laughed, his whole body shaking with his laugh. "Laugh and insult all you want Princess; but nothing—and I do mean nothing—can bring my awesome mood down from my awesome self!" Arthur looked to the Crown Prince's parents, and they looked at him, before the three broke out into soft laughter. Gilbert deadpanned and pointed a finger individually at the three. "But don't you dare let this out of the palace walls! My awesome reputation will be ruined!"
"What awesome reputation?" Arthur asked with a lopsided grin. "Last I heard it was un-awesome to say the least." A pale finger was jabbed towards him and Arthur just laughed.
"Say what you want Artie… but this is a turning point. Nothing will break the awesome me! You wanna know why?"
"Because you're awesome?" Ferdinand offered.
"Because I'm awesome!" Gilbert yelled as he continued his way down the halls without so much of a goodbye or a goodnight.
The three royals laughed for a moment before they parted ways, all conversation seeming to be nothing compared to what they have just witnessed. Arthur found his way back to the room he was always assigned when he stayed here, his chambermaid standing before his door waiting for him. When she noticed him she bowed. "Good evening Your Highness. May I begin drawing your bath?" She asked immediately.
"Please. Thanks you." He answered as she opened the door, let him in and then followed.
"Would you like any tea and cakes tonight before bed?"
"Just tea. And I'll make it myself."
"Of course Your Highness." She chuckled. She knew he was going to say that. Arthur always preferred to brew his own tea, saying that when others made his tea it was never to his liking. She went into the attached powder room and the sound of the bath being drawn up was heard.
Arthur took his tea pot and filled it with the water in the room left for personal use, selected his tea and placed it in the strainer and stoked the fire himself, setting the pot on the stand above the fire to begin heating the water. He sat there before the fire, thinking as he waited. That Matthew looked a lot like him… but surely… The princess sighed and stood, heading to a basket to throw the used towel in there. Though yes, he had mistaken Matthew at first for him, he realized that the eye color was off and second of all… He can't sing. Arthur thought as a small smile came to his face.
The chambermaid exited the powder room, which attracted Arthur's attention. "The bath is ready Your Highness. Will there be anything else you'll be requiring?"
"No thank you."
She bowed to him. "If you need anything, please don't hesitate to call for me."
She bowed again and quietly exited the room. Arthur heaved another sigh and started to remove his scarf and vest. He decided that he wouldn't bathe until he at least had one cup of tea so he did some work for the musical he would be once again showcasing in the summer festival, did some political work from his country, prepared his tea with a little bit of honey and did some more work. When it came time to bathe he had drank two cups of tea. He proceeded into the powder room, grabbing his night pajamas, and slipped behind the silk screen that blocked the view of the tub and started to strip and quickly get into the tub.
After a few moments he emerged from the powder room in his pajamas and prepared another cup of tea before it got cold. After that last cup he climbed into bed, tired from all the practicing and work he's done lately. Though Arthur always is one to do more work than is required of him, it just now fell upon him like a ton of bricks. Sighing once more he turned onto his right side and closed his eyes.
The sun was shining outside in this fresh day of spring in the Western Kingdom and it was shining with happiness and joy. But Arthur was far beyond those feelings. He had finally escaped the clutches of his elder brothers and father and was currently running through the field behind their lodgings; a task which was difficult because six year old Arthur was wearing a white silk dress—yes a dress, with ruffles around the neck and on the sleeves and everything—and of course his green cloak, with the hood up covering two small twin pigtails that barely could be hung over his shoulders. At least he was wearing his boots which helped in the efforts. Behind him he heard the yells from one of his brothers and he glanced back to see them—all three of his brothers—running behind him but somehow Arthur was outrunning them for once in his life.
"Come back here you little shite!"
"We ain't done playin' with ya yet!" His other brother yelled.
Arthur whimpered and looked straight ahead again, tears springing to his eyes. He saw a tree in the distance and forced his legs to go faster, his feet barely touching the ground as he bounded over. He then climbed the oak as fast as he could, getting to the top branches and pushing himself amongst the leaves, stilling himself just as his three brothers reached the tree.
"Where did the fucker get to?"
"Hell if I know! Yer we're suppos'd to be watchin' 'im!"
"Shut up lads! Us arguing is wasting our time. Let's go!"
By some miracle of God or the force of magic, he had evaded his brothers. Arthur released a heavy sigh of relief, and hand to his chest as he did so. He felt faint. All that running without almost three days with no food was making him dizzy. His head fell back onto the trunk of the tree and Arthur closed his eyes to better catch his breath when he heard a loud voice from below.
"Hello up there!" The voice called up to him. Arthur jumped so much that he came tumbling down the limbs he had climbed and was soon falling through the air. He slammed his eyes shut, expecting pain when instead he landed into something soft and breathing. Opening one eye timidly Arthur saw the face of a young boy, his face scrunched up in pain for Arthur had just fallen on top of him. Suddenly the eyes snapped open and Arthur was looking into blue eyes that shamed the color of the skies above. A grin was soon plastered onto that face. "Are you okay? That was some fall! I scared ya didn't I?!" The boy yelled.
Arthur pushed himself away and back into the trunk of the tree, both eyes now opened as he stared in shock and mild surprise at the boy before him. He was wearing white shirt with a red bow tied around his neck, brown shorts with suspenders going up and over his shoulders with knee high socks and boots. Arthur continued to stare at the boy and said boy blinked before shutting his eyes and his grin growing. "You're a boygi aren't ya? Father told me that boygies are usually the youngest son in a family without girls! That means you have older brothers right?"
Arthur's eyes widened and he soon stood but then winced in pain before falling back onto the ground. Arthur looked to his leg to see it bleeding. One of the branches had gotten him good on the fall. The boy saw this and gasped, immediately rushing over to Arthur's side. "You're hurt! Don't worry! My mommy can fix ya right up!"
"N-no…!" Arthur tried to refuse but the boy moved quickly and picked him up in his arms. Arthur's eyes widened as he looked at the boy in the face. Just how strong was this kid? He didn't look to be any older than him.
"My name's Alfred F. Jones!" The boy—apparently Alfred—yelled as he began to run towards his home as Arthur could only assume. "What's your name?" He asked as he looked down to the boy in his arms that grin still on his face.
Arthur blushed—then wondered why in the hell was he blushing—but continued to blush as he looked down at his hands resting at his middle. "… I-It's Arthur…"
Alfred laughed as he bounded over a small rock that could have easily been ignored. This jump surprised Arthur as he then clung to Alfred's shoulders. "Arthur?" Another laugh. "I'll just call ya Artie! How's that sound Artie?!"
"ARTIE!" Alfred yelled to the top of his lungs as he bounded over another meaningless rock. Arthur's hands tightened in Alfred's shirt and it was then, only then, that he realized he was clinging to the boy so he quickly released him and blushed a darker shade. "Don't worry Artie! I'm a hero so I'll make sure mommy fixes ya right up!" After a small and bubbly laugh he added, "I'll be your hero Artie!" Alfred smiled faintly as he blushed another shade darker, he lowering his head into his chest to hide the blush. "Mommy!" Alfred then yelled as they reached the Jones residence. "Mommy, Artie's hurt!"
"Oh, dear me!" A young Mrs. Jones exclaimed. "Come quickly Alfie! We'll get your new friend all healed and then you two can play, okay?"
"Okay!" Alfred yelled and soon Arthur was transferred over to Mrs. Jones.
Arthur blinked up at the strange woman who was now setting him down on a seat as she opened the first aid kit. She smiled up at him, she having the same eyes as he son. "Don't worry." She said kindly. "You'll be all good in no time."
As she worked on his wounded leg, Arthur noticed Alfred watching over his mother's shoulder, his grin ever present. Suddenly their eyes met and Arthur felt his blush return (it had momentarily went away when they reached the Jones' home).
"We'll be friends forever Artie! I know we will!"
Arthur opened his eyes slowly, a stray tear falling from his eyes. That was when we first met… Arthur thought as another tear followed. His eyes slowly slipped to a half closed position. Arthur was six when he first Alfred, when he just turned five. It was the first time Alfred ever gained a friend. Arthur closed his eyes then and a third tear slipped. His body felt restless so he sat himself up and carefully pushed himself back towards the headboard. He looked dead ahead at the plain wall before him. He didn't want to do any more work, he was tired, but he didn't want to go back to sleep. Nights like these he kept on having those dreams. Dreams that remind him of his terrible past and rubbing salt into his wounds. But somehow, without Arthur willing it, his eyes slowly and reluctantly closed again, and he once again went to sleep.
Alfred was crying.
Arthur had escaped once more and ran to Alfred's home, his only safe place from his family in the Western Kingdom. It had been two years since they first met and month twenty-one of the civil war in the Northern Kingdom. Arthur sat beside Alfred on the bench outside. Mrs. Jones had tried to turn him away, saying that Alfred wasn't feeling to well—by the look of her face she wasn't either, but where else did Arthur had to go? He insisted and thus was granted permission to enter the garden where Alfred was.
Which led to now. Arthur looked over to his dearest and only friend. "Al…?" He tried softly, green eyes full of worry as one hand played with one of the shoulder length twin pigtails that adorned his head. "… Are you okay?" A shake of his head was all Arthur received in response. Arthur felt like crying too—for Alfred—but he tried to hold back the tears as he turned his head away. "I'm… I'm sorry your father died…" Though Arthur couldn't see Alfred nodded slowly in agreement. He was sorry too. There were a few moments of saddened silence when Arthur spoke up again. "Wars suck…"
Alfred managed a chuckle, though it was soft and short. There was another silence in which the two young boys sat beside each other soaking in the other's presence. Alfred, during that silence, looked over slowly to Arthur, whom of which was still looking away, and he noticed, under the sleeves of his long-sleeved shirt on his left side, a rise in the fabric where bandages were wrapped around his arm. "Artie…" He choked out, his voice sore from crying. "What happened?"
Arthur looked over, only to see Alfred's eyes on his arm, before he looked down at it as well. "Oh uh… I, uh… nothing…"
"It's not nothing." Alfred insisted as he turned his body towards Arthur and reached over to take the arm in both of his hands. "You're always coming over with more bruises and injuries…"
Arthur's free hand reached over and gently went under Alfred's chin. Pushing up slightly he urged his younger friend's head up so that their eyes met. Arthur managed an earth-shattering smile. "It's nothing. It's just me being a klutz like always. You remember how we met right?"
One corner of Alfred's lips lifted up into a smile. "Yeah… most painful first meeting ever."
The two giggled together. "Sorry." Arthur apologized. After a few seconds Arthur shrugged his left arm out of Alfred's hands and instead replaced them with his own. Alfred looked down at their joined hands and then up at Arthur's face, his eyes immediately widening for Arthur was crying, fat tears slipping out of his eyes and down his face. "I'm so sorry Al…" Arthur choked.
He was apologizing for everything. For hurting him when they first met. For always lying about his injuries. For always putting on a fake smile when he was in pain. For his father's death. For everything. "Artie…" Alfred muttered as he began crying again, he instantly pulling the elder into a tight hug, his arms wrapped around the body.
Arthur held back a flinch—he apologized mentally for masking his pain once more—and hugged Alfred back.
Arthur was standing over his water basin sobbing outright, his tears falling into the porcelain bowl and into the water he was supposed to wash his face with. The sobs were making his body shake and Arthur subconsciously grabbed his left arm where that bandage had once been. He was sure his face was a mess; his eyes red and puffy, his skin being paler than normal, and his lips chapped. His sobs were becoming hiccups when the sounds of frantic and excited knocking sounded from his bedroom door. Arthur jumped and looked over to the door.
"Artie! Get up!" Gilbert's voice rang through the door. "I'm going out to surprise Birdie and his family for breakfast again and I need you to cover for me this morning like last time! Please~?!"
Arthur released a shakey breath and he breathed in deeply to calm himself. "It's Arthur!" He managed without his voice shaking.
"So I take that as a 'yes'?"
"… Fine…" Arthur called back and from outside Gilbert yelled in excitement.
"Thanks a bunch Artie!"
Arthur stood there for a few quiet moments when another, calmer and more collected knock, came rapping at his door. "Arthur? Sorry for my brother rudely awaking you this morning."
"It's alright Ludwig. Gilbert is Gilbert after all." Arthur answered as he then leaned forward and splashed his face with water.
An irritated sigh was heard. "Unfortunately…" Arthur sighed and wiped his face with a towel by the basin. "Shall I send for your chambermaid?"
"Yes, please. Thanks Ludwig."
"… Are you alright?"
"… Yes I'm fine. Thank you for asking."
"… Of course. I'll go fetch your maid."
Arthur nodded, though he knew full well that Ludwig couldn't see. He moved over to his wardrobe and grabbed his clothing for that day, similar to what he wore yesterday, he has more practice today plus some other basic chores—not to mention Gilbert's work since he knew that if he asked his brother Ludwig wouldn't do it. He retreated into the powder room behind the silk screen and just as he was buttoning up his shirt the knock came at his door announcing the arrival of his chambermaid. Arthur blinked and let his arms fall to his sides. "Come in."
*The Kingdoms of Hetalia*
"Let me get this straight… this has happened before?" Mr. Williams asked, his coffee cup right before his lips as he stared down the table to Gilbert.
"Why yes." Mrs. Jones chuckled. "This was actually how Gilbert informed us that he wanted to court Matthew." She filled in. "I was sure I told you that."
"Must have forgotten…" Mr. Williams muttered as he finally sipped at his coffee.
Gilbert just grinned. "Speaking of which—I have the best luck. Mattie was cooking pancakes for breakfast again."
Matthew smiled. "It must be extrasensory perception. I read about it in a medical magazine once."
Gilbert forked some pancakes in his mouth, chewed quickly and then swallowed. "What's that?"
"Oh, it just refers to the information that one can only sense with the mind and not with your five physical senses."
"Ah… awesome. Cool, then I must have that extrasensory awesomeness."
Matthew chuckled and nodded. He felt much more at ease with Gilbert this go around than the first time. For some reason the dinner last night lifted all of his fears for their relationship. Though his papa was still acting tough, he knew that he was warming up and quickly to Gilbert. His mother was already whooting for Gilbert to be her future son-in-law and Alfred seemed to have gained some respect for him from last night. All seemed to be going so well it was almost a dream.
"Though really," Mrs. Jones began, "I didn't expect to see you so soon when we just saw you just a few hours ago."
Gilbert laughed. "Yeah, sorry about that. It was kind of a sudden thought to me when I woke up this morning."
"I'm sure Crown Prince."
Gilbert smiled at her. "Please, my mother said you could call us by our names now Mrs. Jones."
Mrs. Jones giggled. "Sorry, of course, Gilbert. It was a force of habit."
Alfred raised his brows for a second before lowering them. "So you say this visit was just a sudden thought to you?"
Gilbert blushed faintly. "Okay well maybe not so sudden. The awesome me was thinking about it since I got into my room last night."
"Oh, here it comes." Alfred said as he rolled his eyes. "He's already bringing up the bedroom."
Mr. Williams spit out some of his coffee he was drinking and Matthew blushed, his fork slipping from his hand and onto the plate before he scrambled to pick it back up as if nothing had happened. Mrs. Jones just giggled. "If we're going onto that subject Al," Gilbert said, "then let's bring this subject into your bedroom. I'm sure Artie would like to know what it is you do in there."
Alfred flushed—both with embarrassment and anger—while Matthew chuckled softly. "We're not going into that! And I wanted to say this last night as well but his name is Arthur."
Gilbert raised a brow. "Oh, does it irk you when I call him 'Artie'?"
"Yes." Alfred answered firmly. It was his nickname he used to call him when they were children. When it came from someone else's lips it enraged him.
Gilbert stared for a few seconds before he shrugged and took a sip of his coffee. "You two are alike. He always yelling at us constantly that it's 'Arthur' and not 'Artie'."
"… 'Us'? Who's 'us'?"
"Francis, Toni and myself mostly. My parents, his parents… I think I heard Jeanne call him that once. Elizabeta, some of the councilmembers—"
"Alright stop I get it! The people he's close with."
"Well don't get jealous Al. We'll patch up your relationship with the princess, won't we Mattie?"
Matthew smiled and looked at his stepbrother. "Yeah, Alfred. I want you to be happy and I know nothing will make you happier than Princess Arthur."
Alfred said nothing as he lifted another bite full of pancakes into his mouth. Mr. Williams, who at some point tuned out the conversation and just ate in silence—but still listening to it carefully—as Mrs. Jones nodded and began to speak. "I'm sure it'll make both of them happy—to patch up their relationship at least if not more. They used to be such good friends when they were children… it was a shame he only visited during the spring to the fall season."
"… It's a shame that he was lying about everything…" Alfred whispered to himself. His mother heard it, but she was sure no one else did, so she remained silent.
The breakfast became mundane after that. The conversations shifted to happier and more common topics—which breeds of horses were better for which events or tasks, recent political news, gossips; that kind of stuff. Near the end of the breakfast Gilbert turned the conversation back onto Matthew. "So Birdie… earlier you were talking about reading medical magazines. Is that what you want to go into?"
"Hm? Oh no." Matthew answered. "Animals are more of my specialty. Not people." They don't ignore me as much. He added in his head. "No, I'm studying up how to be a veterinarian but I've been so busy lately that I haven't been reading anything of recent or been attending lessons."
"You're actually taking lessons for it?"
"Well… yes… but I suppose that if we, uh, m-marry—"
"When. When we marry." Gilbert amended with a grin.
"When…" Matthew sounded. "… I guess I'll have to stop learning vet skills."
"Why? After you learn how to be a proper queen continue your lessons. I'll get the best teacher in that field for you and he or she can work with your schedule." Gilbert said in all seriousness.
The Williams-Jones family looked at the Crown Prince with wide eyes. "You… you'd do that for me?"
"Of course. Just because you're going to be a queen doesn't mean to stop what you love; what makes you you. Hell, my father knows architecture and he told me once he retires he'll build homes and whatever money he makes—since he has enough—well be given to charity. Mother is really good at shoe making believe it or not so she says she'll go make shoes for the poor and improvised. Brother can actually cook like a professional, Arthur sings and grows roses—not easy—, Francis also knows how to cook and Toni knows how to make weapons and raise tomatoes—that's how he met his fiancé."
"And what about you?" Mr. Williams asked. "What is your special skill?"
Gilbert smiled softly and chuckled once. It was an expression not everyone sees, in fact Matthew was sure he's seen it before—the night of the ball where they met, at Carlos' party… "Don't laugh but I have a skill at taking care of dogs and birds. I raise chicks since they're my favorite animal and I'm usually the one that takes care of my brother and I's dogs because they just love me."
"So…" Mrs. Jones spoke slowly. "You have an affinity for animals?"
Gilbert shrugged. "I guess. I've always been good with animals."
"Like Matthew…" Mrs. Jones said in a sing-song tone. "Would you look at that? Similarities. I knew you two wouldn't fall in love so quickly if you didn't have something in common. It's true love."
Matthew blushed and chuckled embarrassingly and Gilbert did the same, he speaking for the both of them, his tone soft. "I think we have more in common than just that but… we would need to find out ourselves."
Alfred blinked once. "Who the hell are you? You are not the Crown Prince."
Gilbert grinned then, he returning to his normal self. "Me? I'm just the awesome Crown Prince of the Western Kingdom in love with the awesome Matthew Williams."
Matthew laughed and looked over to his papa who glanced back to his son. Matthew smiled with pure happiness. Mr. Williams was taken aback. He hadn't seen that smile on his son since his late wife was still alive. He looked down the length of the table to look at Gilbert. It seemed then, in that moment, that he was going to owe this once philanderous man more than just marrying his son. He brought back that smile to his son's face. With a sigh Mr. Williams smiled as well. "It seems that I have lost my will to find some sort of flaw in you Gilbert." He said. "Anyone who brings that smile on Matthew's face is more than welcomed in the family."
"… S…" Gilbert sounded as he tried to process everything. "So does that mean…?"
Mr. Williams laughed at the cautiousness of the Crown Prince. "You have my consent to propose to my son whenever you see fit."
"… Kesesese~!" Gilbert laughed as both he and Matthew blushed mad red. "You are officially the best father ever!" Mr. Williams laughed (while somewhere in the castle King Frederick sneezed). Gilbert rose to his feet, strode over to Matthew and picked him up suddenly, holding him in his arms and twirled him around once. "Birdie get ready! 'Cause some day soon—and I won't tell you when—I'm definitely going to propose!"
"Ah…! O-Okay Gil…!" Matthew stuttered as his blush deepened and a huge warming smile spread on his face.
*The Kingdoms of Hetalia*
Okay I am definitely a wimp because a tear fell when I finished writing the second dream sequence. Who else cried? Come on, you can tell me~!
Anyways… be excited because the next chapter we go to the Northern Kingdoms for a filler chapter! YAY! THE NORDICS! They're my favorite group in Hetalia. LOVE THEM! Haha... I might also go visit the Eastern Kingdom if the chapter isn't too long. However I'm just thinking about getting to Eastern side later in the story IDK yet.