Title: Role Reversal
Rating/Warnings: PG-13 for Arthur's mouth
Summary: After the Revolution, a young Alfred returns to collect the last of his belongings, and finds Arthur an emotional wreck.
Author: Oh, come on, you all know me by now 8D;;
Written as a request from berseker. Since the 'hurt' wasn't specified, I decided to make it mental, rather than physical :'3
The door squeaked quietly as he opened it, and Alfred winced, slipping through and closing it with a soft click. It seemed so oppressive now, and it was hard to believe that this was where he had spent so many precious years of his early life. There was a box at the bottom of the stairs, and as he approached he saw his name written on the top. Arthur had already packed for him. He crouched to check the contents, and out of the corner of his eye saw something on the floor. Something red. Standing, he moved to it and picked it up, quickly recognising it as Arthur’s jacket, still caked in mud and sweat and the stench of gunpowder. He held it tightly to him for a moment, closing his eyes.
The young nation looked up as he heard a soft sound from the room ahead of him. A sob. It could only be England. England was crying.
Arthur was crying and it was all his fault.
He pressed down on the door handle and opened the door, still holding the jacket in one hand. For a moment, he nearly shied away right there and then. Arthur was hunched over, sat in a chair before the fireplace. The fire appeared to have gone out some time ago. A cup of tea was untouched on the table beside him. His shoulders were shaking, and every now and then he would sob – a heavy, heartbreaking sound – before the silent crying resumed.
‘You used to be so big...’ Alfred thought regretfully as he fought within himself. Arthur still hadn’t changed out of the clothes that Alfred had last seen him in. Had he been sat there like that for two days?
Alfred moved into the room, closing the door. The noise made Arthur flinch, and he glanced over his shoulder, only to look away just as quickly. It had been enough, though, for Alfred to see what had become of him. Arthur’s eyes were bloodshot and puffy, his pallor an unhealthy white. Dark smudges were evidence of lack of sleep and his hair was uncharacteristically wild.
“Fuck off, America.” It amazed Alfred how Arthur could make it sound so venomously polite. He stopped just short of turning on his heel and walking out, remembering (with an odd pang of sadness), that he didn’t have to take orders from England anymore. He took a few steps closer, and saw Arthur grip the arms of the chair with enough force to turn his knuckles white.
“I told you to get out,” he spat. “You’ve already trampled me into the mud, why do you feel the need to shove it down my throat?”
“Arthur, I didn’t mean-”
“Oh, you didn’t mean it. Well that makes everything fucking better. Get the hell out of my house.”
Once again, the compulsion to leave was almost overwhelming, but America stood his ground. It was something he had become used to doing of late. A moment later and Arthur was on his feet, and a teacup went flying past Alfred’s head to smash against the wall behind him.
“I said get out!” the Englishman shouted. Alfred took a step back, one arm raised a little in defence against any more objects that came his way. When it didn’t seem that Arthur was going to do anything more than glower at him he closed the distance between them and pulled the shorter nation into his arms, holding him tightly as he struggled and swore and hit his clenched fists against Alfred’s chest. He cursed everything in a rasping, broken voice, from Alfred’s name to the day he ever found him, and Alfred kept hold of him through it all, rubbing gentle circles on his quaking shoulders and murmuring ‘I’m sorry’ over and over again. Eventually, Arthur ran out of steam, and half-collapsed against the taller nation, sobbing bitterly.
“Why..?” Alfred heard him say, feeling Arthur’s fingers curling into the front of his shirt. “Why did you do it? We could have...” He paused, and hiccupped, choking back more tears. “We could have talked things over, made it work... I’ve given you everything, Alfred... I fought for you... I fought so hard... Why did you have to leave me?”
Alfred had no answer to that. All he could do was apologise again and again as England cried, dampening the front of his shirt. Eventually he calmed, though still trembled, leaning against Alfred who cooed comforting words into his hair and lightly rubbed his back.
“I haven’t left you...” he said, his voice quiet. “I’ll still be around if you need me... I just... I had to strike out on my own.”
It worried him to see Arthur in this kind of a state. England had always been so strong-willed, so confident, so sure of himself that to see him like this shook Alfred to the core. With one arm around him, holding one of his hands he guided the shorter nation from the room. His expression was blank, as if he had simply gone numb, and he didn’t say a word as he was taken to the kitchen and sat down at the table while Alfred moved around the room, finding tea and fixing something small for Arthur to eat.
“Come on, Arthur...” he urged softly as England simply looked at what was placed in front of him. After a moment of hesitation, Arthur picked up the cup, lifted it to his lips, lowered his gaze and took a sip. He paused, and his eyes shut. Alfred could swear a small smile flickered over his face.
“Not bad,” he murmured, taking another sip before he set to slowly eating. Alfred watched him, chewing anxiously on his lower lip. He could only hope that England would recover from this. If he had known that this was what his revolution would do to Arthur, perhaps he would have done things differently...
A meal, tea, and a bath (which took some persuading) later, Alfred was silently buttoning up Arthur’s nightshirt, and gently patting the pillow to get him to lie down. He did so, and without prompting, Alfred sat on the bed beside him. Immediately, Arthur shifted and laid his head in Alfred’s lap, and Alfred, after a brief moment of uncertainty, began to idly play with his hair. No longer as distraught as he had been, the crying and yelling seemed to have done Arthur some good, and he relaxed as Alfred’s fingers weaved through his hair, toying with the half-damp blonde strands.
“It feels odd to have you take care of me like this...” He sighed, his mind winding back to the days when America had depended upon him entirely. He didn’t know where he had gone wrong. Maybe he hadn’t gone wrong. Maybe this was just fate’s way of telling him that nothing lasted forever. Still, that didn’t mean he had to like it. At his words, Alfred smiled a little, rubbing Arthur’s shoulder lightly with his free hand.
“I... I’m stronger now,” he replied, leaning back against the headboard and dropping his clear blue eyes to the blonde head in his lap. “It’s my turn to look after you.”
Arthur was quiet for a while after that, and Alfred shut his eyes, wondering if the older nation had finally gone to sleep. He had decided that was the case, finding himself quite wearied by the last couple of hours, and was almost drifting off himself when he heard Arthur mutter.
“I think... that might be nice.”