Match Nine: Confessional:
Italy was like a child. He could sense that something was wrong, but didn’t know exactly what. Nobody wanted to come out and say it. Their smiles looked so painful. His friends distanced themselves for different reasons. Ludwig still was doing his research in the Harel while Kiku locked himself in his house. He still had dream of Lovino killing him after saying that he was too pure for this world. With nowhere else to turn, Feliciano headed to the one point that he knew where he could pour his heart out when he couldn’t reach out to anyone else.
Feliciano walked up to his local church. Despite it being close to midnight, he needed somebody to talk to. The Italian man crossed himself before walking into the church. He made his way into the confessional booth.
“Forgive me, father, but I need somebody to talk to,” Feliciano said.
“You again?” a man’s voice asked on the other side of the booth.
“Please, father, I don’t have anywhere else to go,” the Italian man said. “Everyone keeps acting strange and nobody wants to tell me anything. I know it’s late, but I don’t have anyone else to talk to.”
“What about your brother?”
Feliciano looked down at his hands in his lap. “He’s part of my problems.”
“What about Ludwig or Kiku?”
“They’re part of my problem too. Please can you listen to me? I don’t know what else to do.”
The man on the other side groaned. “Fine, I will hear you out. When was your last confession?”
The Italian did quick count on his fingers. “Three months ago, I think. I don’t remember.”
“What is on your mind tonight?”
Feliciano took in a deep breath. “Everyone’s going crazy lately.”
“What do you mean?”
“I can’t exactly explain it. I have some many things to say.”
“Where do you want to start?”
“Well, I think Ludwig is seeing ghosts.”
“He thinks she’s a real person, but Gilbert, Elizabeta, and Roderich all look worried. They keep whispering to each other. When I ask them what’s wrong, they smile and say everything is fine.”
“Why would your German friend be talking to a ghost?”
“I don’t know. He’s become obsessed with finding out with what happened to the Harel family.”
“Who are they?”
“I don’t remember, but they were some family that went missing during the war. Ludwig stays locked up in his house day and night. I don’t think he’s eating either. I talked to him about when we went out to the lunch other day, but I didn’t get much out of him.” He drew his knees to his chest.
“I’m too scared for him to ask any more questions,” Feliciano said. “Gilbert has tried to get him to stop looking into the Harel family, but Ludwig won’t stop.”
“Anything else?” the other man asked. The Italian man rubbed his forehead.
“Kiku’s getting worse,” he said.
“Kiku… Is that your Japanese friend?”
“Yes.” Feliciano lowered his hand. “I’ve told you everything about him, but there is something new.”
“I was over at his house yesterday and I saw black marks on the back of Kiku’s hands. They looked swollen up and they smelled really bad. I asked him about them, but he hid his hands in his sleeves. Sena made me leave.” Feliciano leaned back in his seat.
“I don’t know what else to do,” he said.
“What about your brother?” the priest asked.
The Italian man sighed. “I still have dreams of him killing me. He tells me that I am too pure for this world. Then he shoots me in the chest. I don’t understand it! Why would he try to kill me like that?!” Feliciano’s eyes welled up with tears.
“I don’t want to die!” he wailed.
“Have you talked to your brother about your dreams?” the other man asked.
“And what did he say about them?”
“He said that he would never try to kill me.”
“Do you believe him?”
Feliciano sniffled. “I want to, but I’m not so sure anymore.” He buried his head in his hands. “I don’t know what to do! I can’t help but feel this is all my fault somehow.”
“How do you mean?”
“All I did was tell Gilbert about this bella called the Woman in Red and everyone is freaking out now.”
“Who is this Woman in Red?”
“I don’t know. Nobody wants to tell me anything. When I ask question, they either change the subject or yell at me. I don’t know what’s going on here. It’s making my head hurt.” Feliciano felt himself starting to cry.
“I don’t know what to do or what’s wrong with everyone.”
“Just let it all out.”
Pouring one’s heart out might be therapeutic and calming like a cold shower, but it would be best to know exactly who you are confessing to. Especially if it ends up feeding gasoline to a starving fire.
Arthur walked back to his flat just before midnight. Summers in his homeland were getting cold. Whether if it was really the case or just him, he couldn’t tell. The Englishman knew that it would be impossible to avoid going home at this point. Her sisters would trail him if he stayed at a friend’s house. In fact, that is what happened last night.
He ended up at Francis’ house of all places. The Frenchman gave him some heated milk.
“Cheers, mate,” Arthur whispered. He took a drink and shivered. “It doesn’t taste like blood.”
“Well, that’s a fine thing to say!” Francis said with his arms across his chest. Arthur shook his head. The Frenchman sat down next to him.
“Britain,” he said. “What’s gotten into you lately? Have you been eating? You look sick. When was the last time you went to the doctor?” The Frenchman reached forward to touch his forehead.
“Don’t touch me!” Arthur shouted in a hoarse voice. He trembled as Francis drew back his hand.
“Please,” the Englishman whispered.
“Have you been sleeping well?” the Frenchman asked. Arthur shook his head. His stomach turned as he realized they weren’t alone. He wasn’t sure which sister was watching him tonight, but he could feel her eyes on his spine. The Englishman held his cup as tight as he could.
“Francis,” he mumbled.
“Yeah?” the Frenchman asked. Arthur lifted his head. His eyes looked so dead.
“We haven’t been on good terms for a long time,” he said. “But I have to tell you this.” Francis gave him a strange look.
“Britain, what are you saying?” he asked.
“We won’t have much time left before the world ends,” the Englishman said. “So I have to say this now.”
“Britain?” Francis asked.
“I used to think you were such a stuck-up jerk,” Arthur said with his voice trembling. “But deep down, you really aren’t a bad guy. You have great food and you have really stylish fashion. You have been through hard times lately, but you managed to have that stupid smile on your face and keep calm and carry on better than I could.” Francis slowly shook his head.
“I don’t understand you,” he said. “Why are you saying all of this? Are you sure you are okay?”
“Please let me finish,” Arthur said. “I’m sorry that we haven’t gotten along over the years. I might not be able to get the chance to bury the hatchet before it’s too late.” He looked so pale as his lips began to tremble.
“What I want to say is I’m sorry and you really are a great guy,” the Englishman said.
“Arthur…” Francis said. The cursed man finished his milk and set down his cup.
“Goodbye, France,” Arthur said. “Thank you for the milk. I do not expect to see you again until this world is close to the end.” Francis watched as his rival/ally rose to his feet and walked over to the door.
“What are you talking?” he asked. “What do you mean the world will end? Are you dying or something? What’s going on? Britain? Britain?” The door swung closed behind the Englishman. Francis lowered his hand.
Arthur made it home about one in the morning. He ran, but he couldn’t escape the eyes of Hecate’s sisters. She would probably tell her sister and mother about his activities for the night. At least now, Francis would be out of harm’s way for now.
The Englishman unlocked his front door. As expected, Hecate sat on his couch in the darkened living room.
“Tell me where you’ve been all night,” she said. Her calm tone chilled him just like the first encounter.
“Nowhere,” Arthur lied. Hecate’s flat, emotionless face didn’t change.
“Do not lie to me, Arthur,” she said. “I do not like it when you insult intelligence.” The Englishman’s eyes shifted back and forth. Hecate leaned forward with a catlike smirk on her face.
“You didn’t say anything you ought not to, did you? To that Frenchman?” she asked. Her prey frantically shook his head.
“No, no! I didn’t tell him anything. I swear it!” he said. The nightcomer leaned back.
“Good,” she said. “Now, my mother will be heading out to Ikebukuro tomorrow to check on the Tadpole Project and make her selections to breed for the gods of the new world.” She closed her eyes and breathed in.
“Oh yes, I can taste it now,” Hecate said. “Dear Yuzuru and Dear Yui are looking for the fifth gate as we speak.” She opened eyes and focused on Arthur.
“We will be using your magic to wake up the breasts in the countryside,” Hecate said. Arthur backed, shaking his head.
“I won’t do it!” he said.
“Funny, I don’t remember asking you.” She rose to her feet and walked up to her prey. The nightcomer was smaller than him, but she still commanded every part of him. Arthur could see himself in her frozen eyes.
“The Great Beast has already been summoned,” Hecate said. “His new master cannot command him yet, but it won’t long. You will get to work summoning the beasts in fields to aid our put of the game. Do I make myself clear?” Arthur’s eyes darted around as she held her gaze.
“Do I make myself clear?” Hecate repeated. The Englishman clenched his fists, but loosened them. He dropped his head.
“Yes,” Arthur whispered. Hecate stood on her tip-toes and kissed him on the lips.
“Very good, dearest,” she said. Arthur could feel himself sinking deeper into hell as the nightcomer threw her arms around his neck. How did he get this weak? When he did get this weak? Meanwhile, Hecate smiled to herself in the darkened room.