Arthur watched the cup of tea on the table before him, the archaic, chipped little cup exuding fragranced steam. Golden sunlight spilled into his living-room, highlighting both the constellation of freckles about the emerald eyes and the bags beneath them. Inky, abyssal night had given way to a mild winter morning- But the ghosts were still there. He had instantly tried to salvage the pride he had left, but following the confrontation with his lover he didn't believe there was much left to prevent her sympathy. She had called it the inevitability of time, he'd called it the consequence of greatness. That power had once been his drug, his addiction- It had slowly deteriorated into madness, but the lust and the greed and the discontent was still there in the back of his mind. Before, before being reduced to this...shell the only thing sharper than his tounge had been his sword-
Now look at him.
As ______ shifted into the room and sat beside him, Arthur regarded her out of the corner of his eye. She'd found him committing horrific acts of libricide, books and tomes scattered around him and his head in his hands; she'd stepped through the war-zone of paper and spilled ink and simply taken him into her arms. Arthur knew madness and greatness were two sides of the same coin. If only the love he felt and was given could restore him to the man he'd used to be. Sneaking out of bed early to defile his beloved history books and dwell on the past had been a foolish decision in retrospect- He didn't need to act like a child to earn the love of so beautiful a woman. Turning his head slightly and watching ________ with tired eyes, Arthur gave in to the debate whether to kiss her or not and slowly pressed his lips to her own. "I'm sorry." He murmured, drawing back and taking his tea-cup in his hands.
"You don't need to be. It was hard for you last night."
"I shouldn't be burdening you with this."
"You said so yourself it doesn't happen too often. I've never known you to be like that in all the years I've lived here."
"I don't want you to see me like that again."
"Is your pride honestly the only thing you care about?" ________ scolded herself for the tone that her voice was taking, squirming closer to Arthur and wrapping her arms around him. "I'm here, we're in love...what else matters?" The Englishman gave a sigh, the sound soft and the sign that he'd finally given in. Gentle breaths expelled from between his lips as he embraced her in return. "You're right." He smiled, but it didn't quite meet his eyes "You always are, always have been."
"I know." The two chuckled, before casting their gazes out the window. A soft layer of snow shrouded everything in their view, the light dancing off the blanket and sparkling- It was serene and undisturbed, a panoramic image that suited a post-card. Arthur had always liked the winter, the way it could be both beautiful and deadly. Today it seemed like something out of a fairytale, not at all a product of the horrific snow-storm that had battered the English countryside. _______ already knew what the blonde was going to ask, because it had become a habit. Arthur still spoke anyway:
"Can we go for a walk?"
The two, bundled up in several thick layers, scarfs and knitted hats strode through the snow, churning up the cold substance. Whether it was summer, spring or autumn Arthur would go for walks like these- It was no exception today, and he kept his lover's hand in his own. "It's beautiful, isn't it?"
"Yes...would you laugh if I said it reminded me of Narnia?" Arthur did laugh, the sound echoing and resonating through the trees. ________ was right though despite the childish sentiment- There was something of a whimsical quality to the woods, and everything looked different in the iridescent light of the sun. "I suppose you're right." He chuckled as they continued through the trees "Though I doubt I'll be able to find us a fawn to converse and have tea with."
"I thought you could see them?"
"I can..." Arthur cast his gaze to his feet, embarrased to a degree "They're all probably just...not here."
"I thought a master of words such as yourself could think of a better response."
"There's no point in me trying to deceive you." ________ rocked on to her toes and placed a kiss on his cheek.
"It's fine." She smiled, remarking to herself how startlingly bright Arthur's eyes looked against the backdrop of white and silver and blue. "Though you told me before that you used to see all kinds of things in these woods."
"I did." A somewhat nostalgic look crossed the Englishman's face "It was even better where I lived as a child, though. Trees and rivers and forests for as far as the eye could see...there was magic then, lots of it. There isn't as much of it now, but it's here too I suppose." Before ________ could respond he continued "When it snowed like this I'd find somewhere warm to hide, and I think there was an old woman who let me sit by her fire when it became so brutal I went blue..."
"Did she know what you-"
"No. Nobody did, and nobody needed to." Arthur shook his golden head, watching a squirrel scamper across a branch above his lover "It was...liberating for a while, but eventually a few people found out. Not everyone was accepting of the truth." He grimaced "A reason why I preferred splendid isolation."
Suddenly there was a tense silence, and the two exhaled slowly as they watched the stillness ahead of them. The emerald-eyed nation stretched out a hand, tentatively cupping ________'s face. "I...I didn't mean..." He sighed "Never doubt that I love you."
"I don't." ________ slid her hand into his again, allowing him the time to think "And I love you just as much."
Arthur could feel the chill in his fingers, and walked slightly quicker to try and coax wamrth into his bones. _________ wandered slightly ahead of him through the snow, just as contemplative as he. The Englishman had finally contained himself and was now trying to prevent the melancholy that had overwhelmed him, sifting through the the strain of his agony and rationality in hopes of cheering himself up. He paused, the snow and his surroundings seducing him into a moment of peace, and when that moment ceased he crouched to the ground and scooped up some snow in his gloved hands. If this wouldn't make him smile, nothing could.
________ screeched at the sensation of cold, hard snow against her skin, the rosy expanse of flesh adorned with goose-bumps. "Arthur!!" She breathed, wincing once more at the bite of the winter morning and then squatting to collect some snow of her own. Her lover was standing some distance away, leaning with a practised grace against a tree with his arms folded and an eyebrow raised. A genuine smile curled at the corners of his dry lips, a dusting of snow across his shoulders and in his hair. The moment she had screamed he had laughed, and she pouted at him as she hurtled back through the snow towards him. "What did you do that for!?" She squealed, the Englishman's eyes widening as he darted as swift as a deer through the trees. His honeyed voice drifted back through the trees to her, a tease of 'Can't catch me~' on the breath of icy air that disturbed her cascading locks.
With that she began to follow, deep in her mind realising that it was good to see Arthur smile and laugh again.
Eventually Arthur had to slow, and let himself come to a halt beneath the shelter of a tree. He hoped he hadn't ran too far ahead of his lover, though if he listened hard enough he could hear the clumsy footfalls on the snow that heralded her arrival. He'd already made another snowball, similar to the one she held, shifting it from one palm into the other as he waited for her to notice him. The grin hadn't left his face the entire time.
"Found you!" The blonde's mouth opened in silent suprise as the projectile came in contact with his face, and he swept the debris of snow and frost from the angular lines of his face.
"You may have found me, _______..." He laughed " But I'm still going to win." He lunged for her, the two shreiking and brawling playfully in the snow as they hurled snowballs at each other. Arthur could feel the pink creeping across his countenance as they played like children, and it was indeed an invigorating feeling- To love and to be loved in return, to act as if he'd shed the hundreds of years of hate and solitude from himself like a snake's skin. This was what it felt like to be young, and he knew for certain that he didn't want anything more.
He finally gave in when the two of them tumbled to the ground, his body pressing against _________'s and her eyes widening as her chest rose and fall. A becoming blush rose involuntrary to her face, but she didn't retaliate or try to shift the Englishman above her. She gave a tentative smile "...You win?" Arthur smiled, but the grin faltered.
"Is something wrong?"
"No, I just-"
"Smile for me." The strain of a certain sadness lingered where it ought not to touch, her eyes mapping his face. "Come on, poppet, I thought you were going to cheer me up?"
Amusement shaped the curve of ________'s mouth as Arthur tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, cool fingers leaving fire in their wake as they skimmed across her skin. The Englishman sighed, still watching her adoringly. "I suppose I'll have to make you..." He murmured, gaze penetrating and probing "Unless you feel it isn't nessecary?" When his lover didn't say a word he pressed his lips insistently to hers, the kiss passionate and warm and loving. He could feel the smile beneath his own mouth, and kissed it hungrily. He drew back, breath steaming in the still morning air. "That's better."
He stood up, brushing snow from his clothes and then extending a hand towards a bewildered ________. "I assume you want to go home now?" He tilted his head to once side in question, helping his lover to her feet. "I can make us some bacon sandwiches, or how about some hot chocolate?"
"I know..." A smirk appeared on the young woman's face.
"What?" She leaned forwards and whispered softly and tantalizingly in Arthur's ear: