From Spain to France
A few hours before the World Conference in France was suppose to convene, said Nation was quietly grumbling at his fate. Francis was strolling through the many rose gardens his Conference Center tended to with pride. He loved the sweetness in the air and the colors that danced with the breeze, but the scene was ruined by a sharp pain that pitched just behind his eyes.
With all those noisy, uncultured Nations in one place Francis was surprised he could stand on his own, let alone walk anywhere. The throbbing in his head was relentless, but he'd be damned to ask any help from the more magically inclined Nations; his dear Rosbif would hold it over his head for the next thousand years and probably beyond.
So the pain laden Frenchman did nothing but take some human medication and loiter about the multiple gardens as he tried, so desperately tried, to clear his mind. The pain, however, seemed to hate him especially that day.
Another burst of pain shot down his spine like bullets and Francis, all the while clutching his head, yelped, "Why can't those buffoons behave with dignity?!"
Francis huffed and massaged his nape and temples, his stride taking a focused footing as he marched away from the Conference Center. If his fellow Nations couldn't be bothered to spare him, then he would put the much needed distance between them himself.
Every and all alarm possible rang through his head which each step he took, but every step also quieted the harsh beat that knocked an out-of-tune rhythm against his skull. While Francis wasn't too happy about the arrangement, the further he walked, the calmer he felt.
God, how he hated this time of the year.
Francis paused in his walk, red roses on his left and white roses on his right, and tilted his head back. His eyes took in the wide, blue sky and the plump clouds that dotted it. Birds flew unobstructed and planes soared even higher. The mixture of natural beauty and humanity never ceased to amaze him and, with that in mind, the last wisp of his headache melted away.
Thankful for the reprieve, Francis sighed and stretched his arms above his head, his lavender shirt riding up in the way he had tailored it to. Francis gave himself a little grin and linked his hands together behind his head.
'Ah, yes, how lovely it is to be as beautiful as me!' Francis thought as he regretfully tugged his shirt back into place. 'If only there was an equally beautiful man or woman around to make this moment all that much sweeter~!'
Francis didn't expect his wish to be granted.
The breeze kicked up and sent a flutter of petals into the wind; swirls of red and white and pink in a light dance, waltzing along the trees. He followed their slow descent back to the ground with his eyes and, down the back of his neck, a chill swept through him. Francis shivered at the strange coldness and stilled with a harsh gasp. A Nation? Here?
And, with ice in his blood, that feeling reminded Francis of none other than a certain Russian brute; he, too, chilled the heart of many once he crossed their border.
Francis' eyes sharpened and glanced around, trying his hardest to pick apart the scenery that, apparently, hid another Nation. With everyone settled in his Conference Center, Francis hadn't noticed them before, but as he walked further and deeper into the rose garden, the chill grew. When it grew no more, Francis walked slower and with more caution. Quite a few Nations didn't care for him, Francis knew that, and didn't wish to get punched so soon before the meeting.
His eyes grew wide and Francis cursed himself. The meeting! What was he doing, searching for another Nation like this?
'Honestly, I am the host for this month! Whoever this is may be late, but I refuse to be absent during my own meeting!' Francis huffed and spun back around, ready to get back to the meeting and his horrible headache. But before he could take a single step, his eyes sought the mystery he had just been looking for and he, again, was swept up in shivers.
There, so delicately folded on a wrought-iron bench, was a vibrant woman. She looked like the feeling Francis had gotten: a chill and shiver that spoke of snowy hills and ice skating, so different from Russia's bone-freezing ice and isolation. Instead of silver hair, she had gold; instead of hard planes, she had soft curves.
Who was she?
This woman had to be a Nation, but Francis had never seen her before - he would eat Arthur's cooking before he would forget this woman, this Prima Ballerina. He would commit her to memory and paint her later, Francis decided. He would start from her legs, how they were adorned in spiraling ribbons and tucked beneath her; how the same pink ribbon tied her hair into a masterful braid. He would not forget the way her head laid upon her hands, as if she were a nameless, sleeping princess. She reminded Francis of a Springtime fairy with her white summer dress and this confused Francis: What Nation looked like her?
It turned out that Francis would not find out that detail that day. Or that month, for that matter.
One step was all it took for her eyes to snap open and dart to him. In a flash of recognition she was up, standing, and Francis was frozen into place. He was so sure to remember her entirely, but when he would paint her eyes later, the canvas would stare at him mockingly, for he would not be able to get the color right. It was the emotion in it that he could not recreate he would say, that the color shifted far too numerous, that some of the colors he saw could not exist.
But in the present all he could do was stare and wonder. Francis could not convince himself that he did not know her, but he could not have known her either. So, when she slipped past him and disappeared into the roses, he did not follow her. Instead, she followed him; her image haunted him as he walked back to the Center and, even with the noise and the pain and the chaos, it did not leave him.
It did not occur to him, until he finally shed his clothes for that evening, that she had placed a budding rose in his pocket.
Ever since Rosbif, that brute, had taken little Matthieu away from him, Francis had not seen him since.
Of course Rosbif would let Matthieu visit him, but that was whenever the mood struck the Englishman, which was practically never. Francis suspected it had something more to do with Canada (how Francis shuddered to recognize his beloved New France's new name) and those eyes of his that begged to see his Papa. But, like every child, Matthieu grew up and no longer needed Francis.
Canada had rightfully gained independence and the Nation himself could no longer be Francis' son, though it pained the Frenchman greatly when he truly realized how short a time he was in Matthieu's life. He was his own man with no need for his Papa to hold him.
It was something that Francis refused to accept, even when he heard the news of his Matthieu burning down his brother's house. Everything just got worse from there.
Throughout the next 100 years Matthew (again, Francis' heart almost could not take the erasure of his ex-colony's French roots) was far too busy to see him, though Francis wouldn't blame him. Francis had given up long ago, it was not Matthew's fault.
Then came those retched World Wars and how fierce he turned. Matthew showed how cunning he was - the true brutality of his native people - and that mercy held no name for him or those he slaughtered. Matthew was a beast, and Francis could no longer remember how sweet his eyes had been.
Matthew, when he was a little colony, always had the most entrancing eyes. How, even in the 90s, they reminded him of that little child crying out in the middle of a storm; of hiding beneath the rose bushes; of going into the library and placing himself on Francis' lap to listen to his old stories.
Now, when he ever had the time to spare a thought, Francis wondered if he should call Matthew. But, of course, his attention went elsewhere and the thought disappeared.
Francis never did wonder about that empty, extra seat.
The World Conference was going as it usually did: horrible.
There was fighting and screaming and kicking; Nations were clawing at each other and making a ruckus. It was as if the entire room was filled with chaos in a gas form and infused itself in the lungs of everyone present.
It was, however, quite a strange meeting as well. Two Nations, whom normally participated with glee, were sitting still in their chairs. Together, though they did not know it, their thoughts were filled with the same mysterious woman.
Yet no one noticed the two's suspicious silence and simply carried on with their own arguments; they did not bother with the unusual silence. The others only noticed when lunch was over with, their stomachs full and attitudes dragging, that these specific Nations had not joined them.
Both France and Spain were in their respective seats, eyes trained on a particular spot in the room, but it was obvious that they were not actually seeing. Most of the Nations were surprised; France and Spain were not known to be analysts or thinkers and none of them were sure if they'd ever seen the two like they were now.
They were so still that they seemed to not be breathing, so the sudden sigh from Spain caused them to jump - including, thankfully, the two comatose Nations themselves. France and Spain blinked and glanced from the empty chairs that surrounded them to the standing, gobsmacked Nations huddled near the door.
It was England who broke the silence first. "Okay, what is wrong with you two this time?"
Prussia, a mostly unwelcome and unwilling guest of the meetings, looked worried for his two friends. He uncomfortably asked, "Yo, Franny? Toni? You two, uh, okay?"
The two snapped out of their confusion quickly and each began to speak. Their words slurred with the other's and all meaning was lost to the confused Nations. In one gaping second of silence, Germany took the opportunity granted to him and shouted, "Will you two stop!"
France and Spain halted completely and Germany said, "One of you explain this. Just. One."
The two old allies looked to each other their eyes silently asking the other if they wanted to speak first. France motioned towards Spain to start first and the Spaniard nodded and took a deep breath before he launched into his story. A few times he was stopped by Germany telling him to calm down, speak slower, and leave out all unnecessary details. So, with another deep breath, Spain restarted his story.
"I had felt a Nation in Spain a week ago," the beginning alone garnered a few uncomfortable looks, most hating having to talk in 3rd person, "and I went to find out who it was since the meeting was here, so no one really had any reason to come to Spain."
Said Nation himself was fidgeting with the awkward explanation, but Spain pushed himself through it, "I both found and didn't find out who it was. There was a woman I found that felt like one of us, but I had never seen her before! I know I have though, she seemed really familiar, but by the time I got close enough to ask, she left! Disappeared! Poofed!"
Spain, in his story, left out the woman's freezing look all together, not wanting the others to take his story as another "interesting human" tale that so many of them had. Unfortunately he could already see the others shaking their head at him - Spain knew he was never considered the sharpest - and so pleadingly turned his head to France.
France caught his look and gave a reassuring nod to his friend. Without any prompting, France began his own story of just a few hours ago, and made sure to stare down the others into understanding that he was absolutely serious.
"Well, while I was just trying to get rid of the headache you all give me by being here all at once," France made sure to glare at England in particular, "I simply stumbled upon the same woman Toni was speaking of. Also, like Antonio, she simply disappeared! She felt like one of us as well, I bargain a Northern Nation, and her eyes!"
Unlike Spain, France did not hold back. He knew how sacred the eyes were to Nations and France made sure to use that to his advantage, "I would describe it for you, but you all know how impossible it is to put history into words."
The others shifted with the knowledge that, somehow, France was right. However, in the silence that followed, China brought up a major question, "How do we know that she was not just an African, Middle East, or Latin Nation, aru? They still have problems on getting to the meetings, but maybe one found their way-?" China was cut off by Spain shaking his head, firm that China was wrong.
France was also nodding with him, "She didn't look anything like one of those Nations, China, or even from one of those countries! If anything, she looked like a citizen of mine. Light hair and light complexion, she had to be European to some degree: Definitely not Latin, African, or Middle East. Besides, they're all darker in tones; even if some African or Middle Eastern Nations are white. Plus, if one of them did make it, wouldn't they be here, in this meeting right now?"
France did bring up a valid point and so, in regretful surrender, Germany rubbed his temples. He knew the two would not let go of the mysterious woman. "France, is she still here?"
France merely sighed and shook his head, "I would not know. Since everyone is here, it would be very hard to tell."
Germany sighed again, but a tug on his sleeve made him lean down to hear whatever it was Italy had to say to him.
The German man raised an eyebrow at the rather smart idea the small Italian had and straightened back up as Italy clung to his arm. Germany ignored his friend and cleared his throat, "I think it would be best that if anyone else were to see this woman in their country, take a picture if you can. We might be able to identify her as such. So, in the mean time, no one goes to someone else's country. If someone does see her, but cannot get a picture, call someone as soon as you do. Perhaps there will be a pattern involved."
Italy jumped from his perch on Germany's arm and asked, "It's pretty obvious everyone is really tired, so can we end the meeting now, Luddy?"
Neck burning at the smattering of chuckles, Germany nodded to his friend's request. Everyone gathered up their things and there was a pretty even divide between them: they either wrote off what France and Spain said to be ridiculous and a waste of time (such as England, Switzerland, and Norway) or they took what they said to heart and wondered if they were going to meet this possibly new Nation as well (like Italy, South Korea, and Denmark).
Either way, every Nation had their mind filled with the woman. But some were more suspicious than others.
Madeline came back from the park, less frazzled than her time in Spain, but weary none the less.Just like in Spain, Kumarie was snuggled up to a pillow that sat on the foot of the bed, in the same position as when Madeline left. However, unlike Spain, Madeline was far too tired to even make it to the bed and practically collapsed on the floor next to it. She closed her eyes in fatigue, the feeling of Kumarie nuzzling her brow and wonderful anchor.
Madeline didn't know why she had given Francis the rose she had bought earlier in the week or why she didn't wait to see that if maybe, just maybe, he would know who she was. She wasn't sure why she did quite a few things at this point and after replaying the moments in her mind, Madeline opened her eyes and sighed.
She didn't even know why she didn't just leave in the first place.
'Because he looked lonely.'
Madeline sat up sharply as the thought gently wove itself through her subconsciousness. But, now that she thought about it, Francis had seemed rather sad. Madeline shook her head, wisps of hair coming undone from her meticulous braid, and thought, 'No. No, sad isn't the word but neither is lonely. Francis was just... he was just stricken.'
With his eyes locked onto her, as if she were a ghost of a past he wanted to forget yet could not bare to part with, Madeline had never seen her former father figure so filled with emotion. He was a wonderful Papa, Madeline would never forget that, but she never saw him as a person either.
Just like a human child, she took her parent for granted.
Madeline wished she could go back to the park to have Francis find her again, but this time, she would give him a hug. Give him a kiss on the cheek and say hello, tell him who she was. But, no, she had a country to get to and clothes to pack. Besides, it would be foolish for Madeline to think that it was just Francis who needed a hug; the fantasy was as much for her as it was for him.
'Oh, well. Nothing can be done about it now. I just hope he found something worth while today...'