"Voila! Crepes topped with your favorite fruit ma cherie!" France exclaimed excitedly, grinning as he spun elegantly before placing the dish before you.
You stared down at the beautiful breakfast you'd been presented with...somehow it didn't look as beautiful as it usually did...it didn't look as lovely yesterday morning either...
Taking a break from your food you looked up at France and managed a smile. "Thank you, Francis. It's lovely." you said softly.
You immediately felt your heart sink and tried to keep your expression from following suit when France's blue eyes sadenned and the corners of his mouth turned downward.
"___________________? What's wrong..? You've been acting very strangely since yesterday. Are you no longer enjoying my company?" France asked, forcing a half-smile though he looked more unsure, scared, and hurt by the idea than anything.
"No! I mean I am totally enjoying myself! I've just had a few things on my mind is all." you said, trying to reassure him with the best smile and tone you could manage.
It didn't sit well with Francis. He could feel his stomach still stirring like choppy waters and his mind still not agreeing with your words. He felt the way you might feel after having made an important decision and then immediately thinking "fuck!" when you realize it was the wrong decision and wanting to figure out how you can fix it. Worst of all was his heart though. His general spirit which had gone from a sort of fun "horse galloping in the wind in an apple orchard" sort of feeling to a "here's that ten ton anvil you ordered. Here I'll just set it right here on your chest" feeling. Despite the displeasing weight of the situation dispersed all over his body, France still managed to display one of his best talents.
"Alright ____________________ but you know you can talk to me about anything right? I will always be with you" France said with a genuine smile.
The smile wasn't his talent. It wasn't even offering comforting words. It wasn't being a good friend. No. The talent was the ability to reply without hesitation in a way that appears perfectly normal even under a state of pressure and discontent. You had certainly made him less at ease but he would gracefully tuck those feelings into his pocket in a blink of an eye or less and then simultaneously offer you a lovely and utterly convincing facade. He was a master of disguise when he wanted to be. It didn't mean he liked it though. No Francis prefered being himself if at all possible, but if it meant giving you a feeling of security and that he wasn't invading your private thoughts, he would put on that damn facade. He'd do anything for you.
Fuck. And he was already kicking himself with the last sentence he said. "I'll always be with you.". What bullshit. What complete trash. Oh he certainly wished it were true and that he could go living happily ever after with whoever the fuck he wanted whenever he so desired but life, no, history itself had already taught him otherwise. It wasn't just his past with Jeanne though. Of course not. For God's sake everyone knew the fucking truth right? That there was no being with somone forever. England lost America and how many other countless countries that were part of his empire. China lost Japan. The list went on and on. It wasn't that France exactly sat there counting his losses and didn't believe in miracles, no he certainly believed in a love that can last forever....he had one. He just understood that the person you love may not always be at your side....or maybe they are...just in spirit?
Dear God why was this weighing on him more than usual? Was all this time with you starting to make him think more and more about love and how much he actually believed in it and what about love he believed in? Or was it this sneaking feeling he had had the past few days....yes...for some reason he couldn't shake the feeling that someone had been watching him. Not in the usual way you'd watch someone...no....just...someone sort of "studying" his life. Not really stalking either. Rather this subtle digging...like someone in his life was finding things out about him a little bit at a time whether he tried to stop them or not. What was it? Had he and Spain gotten a little too close as friends and he said something he would have rather kept secret and now Spain knew something a little too intimate about him? No...no...and for God's sake that Spainiard would probably fucking forget anyway. Sometimes France wished he was like Spain. Having the graceful, effortless ability to just forget things. It wasn't that Spain was stupid. No. It was just that he was able to let things go better than France. Spain was of course still incredibly, sometimes ridiculously sentimental, to the point where it annoyed some people, but by nature he was just simply better at tossing past pains aside and calling them "the past" without really letting them bind his future choices and pleasures. France...could be that way sometimes....but most of the time his past decisions and events definately played a primary role in his thoughts and choices in the present.
He wondered what you were like. Were you as painfully attatched to memories as he was? Or were you the kind of person who was able to forget those things easily? Or were you a beautiful, flexible, outstanding balance between the two extremes? Or maybe you were neither? You had no opinion on memories and they-- Oh Jesus this was ridiculous.
"Yes Francis." you said with a smile. "I know I can trust you and tell you anything."
All that thinking had happened in about a millisecond for France. Well at least he got the response he had hoped for.
While France smiled at you, you hoped your facade was working. Jesus the guilt you felt and how sorry you felt for France. It was starting to really hurt. Could you tell him anything to the point where you could tell him about--
Oh for God's sake! Like that would fucking work. Yeah: "Hey France I started snooping around your house like a bitch and then like an even bigger bitch, found something that was private of yours and decided to snoop through it, and then like the biggest fucking bitch that can exist, I delved into it all in detail over the course of several days. I certainly hope you understand."
This weight needed to be lifted. Something had to happen. Something had to give. What would you say? What could you say that would bring back some sort of normalacy or at the least shatter the present, god-awful silence.
"Um Francis?" you said finally.
Did you really dare?
"Oui?" France asked, looking at you curiously.
"Y-you look really good today. Quite..." come on just do it. Humor him. "sexy." wow.
Well the response you recieved definately didn't dissapoint. It was what you had hoped for and could expect from Francis.
His gorgeous blue orbs slowly narrowed as his brow cocked and lips curved upward into a teasing, playful, and yet somehow still sexy grin.
"Oh?" he said, leaning in closer to your face, his expression never once faltering. "I knew that you couldn't resist my wonderful charm and gorgeousness. But really what took you so long?" he asked shrugging lightly. "I'm always sexy~ Everything I do is sexy."
You rolled your eyes but laughed, snapping him out of his "sexiness" monologue for the time being. He had expected you to get flustered and blush but laughing? Well of course he loved your laugh but it hadn't exactly been the response he had planned (and secretly hoped for).
"____________________! It's not funny! Look at me! Look at how gorgeous I am! Everything I'm saying is true!" he cried with a slightly pout and with a level of despair that was much too silly for something this small.
"I know I know. It's just the way you say things that makes them so funny." you laughed out, smiling up at him.
France's dancing eyes and excitable expression slowly began to relax and even out until his expression settled into one of contentment. "I'm glad I can make you laugh, _________________." he said finally before smiling bigger. "Now where would you like to go today? Hm?"
You thought about it for a bit. There were so many things to see in Paris...so many things you hadn't seen yet and had always wanted to...but for some reason those places weren't appealing to you today. You were feeling more in the mood for something else...
"Actually Francis...I was wondering. Could we just spend the day here? Together? Just enjoying the day, watching movies, eating snacks, or just whatever....?" you said finally. Yes...that was what you really wanted. What you really wanted was to just spend a quality day with Francis.
Francis seemed surprised at first, having always been used to every friend of his always wanting a tour of the lovely city of Paris but ___________________.......__________________ was so wonderful....this was wonderful...she just wanted to spend a quiet day with him. Just enjoying his company..yes...his company...
You had never seen a face quite like this one on France before...he looked as if he were in thought and somehow touched by your words. Why was he so surprised...?
"But of course." France finally said with one of his usual "bitch take in all of this grace and beauty" grins. "We can do whatever you'd like, __________________." his grin swiftly morphed into a sly smirk as he drew your chin upward toward his face with his index finger. "It will be like a stay at home date for us, non? And of course being behind closed doors allows for so many fun activities that would be difficult to engage in in public~"
You couldn't stop yourself from feeling flustered as you tugged your head away. "Jeez Francis! You just had to go there!" you said quickly, crossing your arms as he laughed at you.
You finally returned your eyes to his form when his laughter died down, being replaced by a soft smile. "I'm sorry, ___________________. I really am happy..."
You felt yourself melt under his tender gaze and sincere happiness. "I guess I can forgive you this time." you said jokingly as you finished up your crepes and carried your plate to the sink.
It was in that moment that you realized something, yes, realized something quite significant as you rinsed the dish.
You had made yourself so at home here. Eating breakfast each morning, taking turns washing dishes and putting them away, taking showers, getting comfortable. You hadn't even realized it but you had sort of comfortably settled into this temporary co-habitation type existence with Francis. It had all seemed so natural. So easy...like you were meant to be at home here. And that posed the question. What would you do when you had to leave? You could already feel a little sample of how it was going to feel when you really left. Your heart already had a dull ache just at the thought. Leaving Francis would almost be like leaving home...you would miss this. All of it.
You shook your head and smiled. No. For now you'd push all of that aside. For now you would cherish your time here with Francis and enjoy it to the fullest.
So that's just what you did that day. You dressed yourself in only your comfortable lounge clothes and spent your time with Francis. Hour after hour you both chatted and laughed away, sometimes shared things about each other that were embarrassing or that nobody else knew about. You watched more movies than would probably be considered healthy and ate an equally unhealthy amount of junk food along with it, delighting in the best films and making fun of the ones that were so dreadful you wondered how it was ever possible that they were produced, let alone made money.
Francis was a delight all day, and had even gone so far as to give you a gentle shoulder massage during one of the movies, and much to your embarrassment, you had fallen asleep against him during his ministrations. He certainly hadn't seemed to mind though, greeting you with tender eyes and an affectionate smile when you came to.
You wished this could last forever....living with France. Waking up to him tenderly stroking your hair and smiling down at you as if you were the only thing in the world that deserved his attention. You loved it so much...being treasured....at least that's how you felt he saw you...as something to be treasured. Maybe....maybe with Francis....maybe he really did love you....
You felt your heart thud almost painfully hard in your chest as you pondered whether or not France had feelings for you, along with the consideration that perhaps....if he really did care about you as much as you thought....you could tell him. You could tell him the truth. Be honest with him. Tell him what you had been up to. Hell maybe he would even be happy to talk about it! Someone to finally listen to his pains and sorrows...
You jumped a bit at France's voice even though it was gentle and curious, nothing at all to get startled over.
"Yes?" you said hasitly.
"Did you hear what I just said? Have you been listening?" he asked, cocking a brow.
You shifted nervously.
Your brain fought between laughing and feeling guilty when you heard France whine and saw him throw a hand up to his face.
"_____________________! How could you ignore me like that! For most people, my sexy voice alone is enough to keep them interested but you! I can't even keep you focused on my incredibly important words!" France complained as if it were the end of the world.
You rolled your eyes and grinned. "Oh I'm sooo sorry Francis. Do tell me what the important topic I missed was."
Francis huffed and seemed to puff his chest out slightly with a proud grin, trying to look important for some stupid reason. "Well I was talking about this new absolutely intoxicating cologne I recently purchased." He said as if it were the biggest news of the century.
You immediately laughed at him, causing your dear friend to burst into another hissy fit consisiting of a fast-paced slur of whiney French and English.
He kept on ranting....but you hardly heard him. Even now he looked handsome...so silly and cute with that whiney expression as he passionately delcared various unimportant things...Francis...
"Could...I ask you something Francis?" you said with uncertainty.
France eyed you with slight confusion, not sure where your sudden change of mood had come from. "Oui. What is it, ____________________?"
You rubbed a couple of your fingers together restlessly before looking into his eyes. "I um...was curious...did you happen to know Joan of Arc?"
France's left hand immediately clenched in his lap. His spine stiffed, making his frame look brittle and pained. His shoulder muscles pulled taught like a tightrope and you could see his jaw tighten.
"Oui. For a short time." he said trying to look as relaxed as possible.
You could practically cut the tension with a knife. No...you'd need a marble saw to cut through this tension. He looked as if he were imploding. As if hundreds of microscopic needles had been stuck into his flesh all at once. He sat like the couch was made of egg shells and spit, like it and the world along with it would crumble beneath him.
"Oh...that's really cool. She was an amazing girl." you offered, trying to fix what you had done.
"Yes. She was quite special..." France replied, feeling obligated or more or less emotionally and mentally coerced.
You had really fucked this situation...but since you already had and it was obvious there was no going back....and because he seemed to be taking things decently...
"Francis..." you said finally, using an unusual tone. Soft yet firm. Unsure yet certain. Worried yet hopeful. The tone that could only be described as the one used when trying to convey something important that had been kept secret.
"Hm?" Francis seemed to notice almost immediately your current state. "What is it, ___________________?"
"......if...you knew something bad about me....or I told you about something bad that I did...you'd still be my friend right?" you said slowly, looking down at your lap which now seemed to be the best and only place to set your gaze.
Francis was shocked. Not that you could tell since you were staring down at your legs, but he was. "__________________....of course I would..."
You weren't convinced. You dared to look him in the eye finally, feeling like you might cry just from the anxiety. "I mean...even if it was something really bad and stupid...and maybe even something that would hurt you...you'd still like me...?"
"____________________..._____________________ I promise I will always care for you. Really. No matter what...d'accord?" France replied trying to give you the best reassurance he could manage as he took one of your hands in his and stroked it.
You nodded. "I...ok......."
You stared down at your legs again. Your chest was tight. You felt like you couldn't breathe.
"I...found your diaries....the ones behind the mirror in this room..." you finally managed.
His hand didn't move from yours. That was good. This was good. He was getting it! You took a small breath and continued.
"I mean it was on accident at first! I just well found it and was curious and all and just went in and well...I..ended up leaving but then I w-went back and read one and..." you sighed and decided to look up.
....you wished you never had......
France's face was like nothing you had ever seen on a human being before, let alone on his face. He looked so scared, hurt, betrayed, horrified, unsettled, disbelieving, and then....angry...
"You read them?" he said finally, his tone uncharacteristically cold and monotone.
"Well I...I just....I" you struggled, feeling your heart tear in half when he pulled his hand away.
"Why would you do that?!" He cried. His expression was impossible to interpret. So many emotions dancing around at once. And then it got even worse....his eyes widened and he bolted up from the couch.
You felt your limbs tighten against your body like you were inside shrink wrap as you watched him shove the mirror aside and burst into the room as quickly as he could. You felt so afraid. You couldn't even move as you heard him rummaging around francitcally, almost madly, before things went silent......completely silent...then France appeared back through the frame.
"You took the diaries about Jeanne out of the box...." he breathed.
"I-I'm sorry...." you choked.
"You took out the painting too.." he continued, almost as if he hadn't heard your apology at all.
You ripped your brain apart trying to think of what to say. "I-I am so sorry...I just thought that--"
"Do you realize what you could have done!!" France shouted.
You felt your entire body jolt in shock and fear. Francis had never been this angry or hurt before, let alone at you....Francis had never lost his temper with you.
"I put them there for a reason! Why would you do that! You have no idea what they mean to me! How could you go behind my back and...so that's why you've been acting weird...you've been going in there day after day!" he continued, looking as if he may fall apart from the stress.
"Francis..." you whimpered, feeling yourself tear up.
"You...I TRUSTED you! Reading those things about me and going behind my back and looking down at me....what did you even think you could gain...?" he asked painfully, tears threatening to spill from his beautiful eyes.
"I just couldn't--" you started.
"Just go. Get out! I can't even look at you right now!" France cried out, feeling more in pain than he had in years, his voice and heart breaking as he sunk to the floor.
Tears began to spill from your eyes but you choked back your audible sobs as you took off as fast as you could for your room, slamming the door shut, locking it, and throwing yourself onto the bed before finally allowing the dam to break lose as you sobbed in utter anguish.
You had ruined everything....you had ruined your friendship...any hopes of being with him...you had hurt him...hurt him more than you ever even imagined was possible....
'I'm the worst...how could I ever think I deserved Francis at all? Now he hates me. Of course he would still love Jeanne...and of course he would hate me...I deserve this..' you thought as you shoved your face further into your already tear-soaked pillow.
A few rooms down, Francis wasn't doing any better...
The normally cavalier Frenchman held his face in his hands and sobbed louder and longer than he had in so long. He wasn't just upset you had invaded his privacy. He wasn't just sick at the thought that his memories of Jeanne could have potentially been destroyed. No...more than anything he felt sick over what had possibly been destroyed with you....you were so important to him. A treasure. The one good thing in the world when everything else had gone to hell. And he had just yelled at you so awfully....probably made you feel worse than you ever had in your life. He knew you had just been trying to be honest...but those memories of Jeanne....the moment you had told him he just couldn't wrap his head around anything else other than the fact that his few lasting gems reminding him of Jeanne might have been damaged. He could only see things from their face value....what had he done? He promised himself he would never do something like that...
'Any chance I ever had with ___________________ is over.....what reason could I ever give her to try and care for me and come back to me now even as a friend..? I don't understand anything anymore....'