Fandom: Axis Powers Hetalia
Title: In the name of love sinners beg forgiveness.
Claim: England (Arthur Kirkland), Fem!France (Francine)
Summary: Arthur has finally found a good flat to stay in, even if his Landlady is quite a woman. On the other hand, there is an awkward conversation with his sister that leaves him confused.
Prompt: #27 - Somehow we managed to apologise without words.
A/N: I finally got this out of my system --and before going back to work, yay!-- and am quite satisifed with this. It's short, but I liked it. I'm also happy because I've decided the name of this AU <3 Yay!.
The young blond man took a deep breath, taking in the moisty smell of the flat. It was badly lit, cold and a thick layer of dust covered the floor along with the windows’ fences. All in all, the kitchen and bathroom’s faucet worked quite nicely, it was secluded from prying eyes and spacious enough for two students sharing expenses –not that he was planning on taking in any stray.
The only thing needed was a layer or two of paint, a good week of cleaning and some airing to get rid of the smell, but he was pleased with the flat.
“Ah, he likes it,” said a blonde woman standing at the doorframe. “Look at that face, he’s almost smiling.”
The young man scowled when turning towards the woman. She was of his same height and her hair fell in waves of gold down her back. She was dressed with a pair of skinny jeans, boots and a light cream coat closed on the front. Standing next to her was another woman with a rosy face and thick black hair peaking from under her colourful bonnet. She was dressed with black tights and a grey and black dress with a pair of high heel boots.
“Good.” The second woman said, nodding approvingly. She had eyes similar to those of a barn owl and her manners were quite brusque. “You will take it, then?”
The young man paused then, reality crashing down on him. He loved the flat and the obvious isolation it would bring him far away from college life, yet close enough to be always on time to his classes. He loved the spacious place and the laundry room as well. The only problem he found was that such spacious place would most certainly cost a fortune he couldn’t afford. Francine should have known that since their parents had cut him off.
“He’ll take it if we reach a good settlement,” she beat him to speak.
“Francine!” the young man hissed, his face turning red like an angry tomato, at the assumption of his companion. “You can’t make those decisions for me – you can’t make any decisions!” He yelled, but bit his tongue before lashing even more in front of a stranger. “Even if I love the place, I’m sure I can’t afford this.”
He would hardly be able to afford a place with half the space; such was the life of a student with limited amounts of money and a fear of going into debt. Francine just shook her head in mild-amusement. Her brother should have more faith in her, not that she deserved it, but wouldn’t that be nice?
“There’s no need to make such a scene, young man. We can negotiate a price that suits the both of us. I’m old, as you can see, the least of my worries is money.” the woman chided him sternly. Chastised enough, the young man nodded lightly. “Good. I’m willing to set the price for 400 pounds per month, electricity, water, gas and internet all covered up.”
The young man blinked, confused for a moment, not sure if the woman was serious or pulling his leg. A place like that couldn’t be that cheap unless there was a catch, and so far everything was on good conditions. As if understanding his hesitation, the woman went on.
“My husband died and left me well-off, young man. My son, Michael, looks after me too –not that I needed him to, but he’s a good son, Michael– and making such arrangement with you will not handicap me. Besides, your sister here has told me all about your scholarship,” she paused to look at the blond with intent, as if she wanted to see through him. “Surely if you got a full-ride to Oxford the last thing I’ll have to worry is undergrad parties in my building, am I right?”
A few years back, when he was still in High School playing the little ‘rebel’ card, he would have laughed and lied through his teeth. Now that he was ‘reformed’ he simply nodded, ready to shake the woman’s hand and sign the lease. The flat was worth at least a thousand pounds and a half and he was getting it for less than half its price. A full, proper flat, all to himself, in Summertown just a few minutes by bus or bicycle from the University.
“You’re right, Mrs Lynch.”
The woman nodded sharply. “Good. Now, the lift isn’t working right now, so you’ll have to use the stairs to bring up anything you need.”
“Understood, no problem,” he nodded, eagerly. He didn’t have that many things to begin with.
“Fine. Shall we go back to sign the papers and go through all the details with a cup of tea? You look like you need one, young man.”
“Gladly,” Francine agreed. “Oh, Arthur, close your mouth. That’s most improper of a gentleman,”
Arthur scowled at his sister, but for once decided that she had earned her moment of peace. He was sure Francine had machined everything from the start to lure him to the flat and he loved it.
“Hush,” he chided, following Mrs Lynch to the exit, ignoring the smirk plastered on Francine’s lips. He still hated that smirk, but just that one time he was, a little bit, happy to see it.
Living in a spacious place had its cons. One of them was how long it took to get rid of all the dust and cobwebs on the corners and inside the kitchen cabinets. Even though Arthur didn’t consider himself a germophobe he spent the better of his first week in Oxford sweeping, vacuuming and mopping the floor. He whipped clean every surface and, on the third day, he sorted out his kitchen appliances and tidied the place up until he was able to fix a proper meal.
Francine’s first words when she dropped by five days after he moved in were: “Wow, this place looks liveable at last!” which Arthur took with pride. He had been working alone, so it had taken him quite some time.
“Yes. I’m almost finished here,” he said, after coming back from the kitchen with two cups of tea and a box of cookies from a shop nearby. “I will let the painting for later”
“I can see that.” Francine accepted the tea and sat on the couch of the medium living room. Everything around her had an IKEA air, but considering it was the flat of an undergrad she decided it looked well on Arthur. “Well, we can consider you officially settled in, right?”
“Yeah?” Arthur gave her an uneasy look, wondering what was she thinking now.
“Ian and I wanted to take you out for dinner, a small celebration but work has got in the way again and I’m afraid it’ll be just the two of us.” Francine sighed, taking a sip from her tea afterwards, waiting for Arthur’s response.
“Why?” Arthur blinked, setting his cup on the coffee table and sitting as well. “This is unlike you.”
Arthur was grateful Francine had forced her presence on him while he was searching for a flat, but couldn’t understand why the sudden interest of his sister. It was true their relationship had improved a lot after she moved to France, but he didn’t consider that they were on such friendly terms.
“After I moved to Paris, dad, Uncle David, Isobel and I had a small celebration dinner to inaugurate my flat. Nothing big, just a small dinner with wine, pretty French for your tastes—” Francine was smiling in that way she only did when speaking of her father, or France in general, as if she had no worries and there was a peace within her that rub Arthur the wrong way. She had never looked so happy while living in Manchester. “Anyway,” she coughed, “it seemed like a good idea to make you and Ian talk to each other.”
«It seemed a good idea since you are as much a pariah in mama’s eyes as I am»
“Ian is not here,” Arthur pointed out, unsure of how he felt with his sister’s comment. He knew she was looking after him. She had spent in Oxford more time than strictly necessary and he had the feeling she would stay there at least another week to make sure he had ‘settled in’ before leaving for Paris again. He was glad, but he couldn’t help but roll his eyes as well. He didn’t need Francine. He had survived well enough on his own after she had abandoned him for—he paused, sighing. “We’ll have beer, not wine. I don’t like wine,”
Some doors were better left unopened. Some words were better dancing in the air, acknowledge, but not dragged into polite conversation. And apologies were for people that loved each other, not people that was learning not to hate the other’s guts.
“Fine, unrefined child,” she let out a painful sigh. “Oh, before I forget, I got you something. It seemed pretty and old, so I guessed it’ll fit in with you and your dusty books and grandpa sweaters,” she rose from the couch and walked to the hall where she left her purse. Arthur was already up when she returned.
“What’s that?” Arthur pointed at the dusty covered box in Francine’s hands. The circles engraved on the surface looked pretty old, some were even fading, and he supposed that long ago it had been a beautiful designed that had become rusted with time. “It looks useless”
“It’s a magic box,” Francine gave her a playful smirk. “That’s what the woman at the shop said, at least. It seems like a music box to me, either way, and it has a key as well but it doesn’t seem to fit. Either way, I thought you would find some us to it.”
Arthur blinked, scowling a bit in confusion. Why would she think that?
“I’ll rinse the dishes,” he shook his head, but did as he said. She followed him with the box on her hands.
“You used to like fairy tales a lot when you were a child. I even convinced you that the fairies were going to take you if you didn’t let them sweets outside your door. The box has a certain fantasy air around it, right? I just thought that you’re already cleaning and fixing this flat, maybe the box would just fit in as well.”
“I still don’t see its purpose,” Arthur said without raising his eyes from the sink. The box was pretty, but he had no use for pretty things. “It’s useless,” like fantasy, he added in his mind.
Francine looked at her brother with half-closed eyes and a sudden sadness took over her as she watched the young man her once lively and fluffy ball brother had become. She had been angry and immature and had taken it all with Arthur, who had just been there like the proverbial lamb waiting to be sacrificed. He was no longer an innocent lamb, no longer the chubby child that followed her around like a shadow. He wasn’t even the same child who had mutely asked her to stay.
She was learning to know this person she called brother.
“Maybe you have to give it a purpose,” she said, quietly, leaving the box on the counter at his side. “Not all things have a purpose, sometimes they’re waiting for you to fix them make something better. Nothing is really useless, is it Arthur?”
Arthur didn’t say anything, but he casted the music box a longing glance, like the ones he used to glance the mushrooms when he waited for the fairies to appear and take him on adventures. He still loved fantasy and still loved his books and had in an unpacked box all his fairy trinkets and his magic set. He just wasn’t going to tell Francine any of that.
“Whatever you say, frog. Whatever you say,”