You Belong to Me
Prompt 1: Halos
When Gilbert mysteriously disappeared on a cold January morning, they told him to search the Sanssouci palace. When he asked where, Ludwig gave him detailed directions and suggested he buy a few flowers on the way. When he asked why, the German just shook his head and said he'd know when he got there.
So it was with a little bit of worry – and a lot of curiosity – that Matthew Williams paid for a bouquet of blue cornflowers, those flowers which always reminded him of Prussia. He wasn't sure what they were for exactly, but if it had to do with Gilbert then it was probably a good guess to go with a flower so closely associated with the man's long lost nation. Or at least with something that matched the old Prussian uniform.
When he arrived at the palace, thankfully without problems because Ludwig was fantastic at giving directions, Matthew left his car parked on the side of the street and started searching the grounds for his lost lover. One would think an albino would be easy to spot but Gil was hiding incredibly well.
After a while of wandering around the beautiful landscape, Canada heard the last lilting notes of a flute playing in the wind. He froze in his steps at first, amazed to be listening to the familiar flute tones out in the open. Gilbert loved to play but never for the public and certainly never out in the open. It was usually just a secret between the two of them, a special addition to a night here and there scattered among the several they spent together.
And yet that was most certainly Gilbert Beilschmidt's playing. Musicians today did not play like they used to, and no one could compare to a nation who had lived hundreds of years beyond normal human lifespans. There was an unmistakable bittersweet tone to each held note, each carefully placed vibrato.
Then it was over and he could hear Gilbert's distinct laugh carrying through the wind. Matthew smiled and held the flowers close to his coat. He loved that laugh. Now it was time to discover where his albino lover had been hiding all day. Goodness, it was late afternoon already!
Slowly, he made his way around the garden terrace and discovered his lovable albino sitting at a grave site dressed in an outfit Canada had only ever seen in pictures. He froze his steps for the second time and stared at the vision of Gilbert Beilschmidt in his old and faded military uniform from his prime – from the days of the Kingdom of Prussia. There was the familiar flute in his hand, being held gently as always and he was laughing and speaking into the air. Of course he was talking in German so Canada had no idea...
And then Gil turned and saw him and Matthew felt his heart stop. "Hey! Birdie!"
Canada found his voice caught in his throat. There was a wide smile on Prussia's lips and by all accounts he looked to be enjoying himself, but there were tears making trail marks down pale cheeks and there was a sad gleam in those usually annoyingly excited red eyes. What on earth could make his Gilbert be so out of character?
"Come here!" Prussia called, gesturing with his free arm for Canada to join him.
Clutching tightly to his bouquet of blue cornflowers, Matthew made his way to where his albino was sitting on the grass in front of a headstone. When he read the name on the tombstone it was like a lightbulb clicked in his brain and he understood everything, feeling his face relax into a sad smile. He sat down beside his lover and ran a hand over the engraving.
"Fredrick the Great," he muttered.
"Fritz," Gil corrected lightly.
A familiar yellow chick peeped from Prussia's coat, some complaint about the cold weather as it huddled in the confines of the Prussian military cloak. Matthew chuckled at the bird, the little pet that always seemed to be by Gilbert's side no matter where the crazy ex-nation decided to run. Kumajiro wasn't nearly as obsessed – or honestly capable – of following Matthew everywhere.
"I didn't know it was -"
"It's his birthday," Gil interrupted, his eyes on Canada and a smile gracing those lips again when he noticed the confused surprise. "I'd rather visit on a day of celebration than a day of mourning and maybe just to annoy him a bit." Gilbert chuckled. "He always hated it when we remembered his birthday."
"Oh," Matthew breathed.
Gil shrugged and turned to stare at the grave. Matthew watched as the albino touched the stone, fingers almost caressing it like a long lost lover giving a greeting after years of separation. If he could remember his history correctly, the two had been separated for over two hundred years now, but that was the curse of being an immortal nation and loving a mortal human. Come to think of it, France would always do something for Jeanne d'Arc every year, and he'd always shut himself away from the rest of the world on the same day.
Perhaps this is what Prussia did every year on January 24th. A special visit to a special friend of the past. Whether or not...
"You brought flowers, Birdie?"
Having his thoughts interrupted, Canada turned his gaze to meet the red-eyed ex-nation. He blinked and then blushed when he recalled the bouquet of Prussian blue cornflowers in his arms. "Y-yeah?" He answered, holding them out to Prussia and looking away, refusing to meet his eyes as he felt the heat on his face.
He heard a familiar laughing grunt. "For me?"
"W-well, I don't know..."
"You got flowers and you don't know why?" Gil was definitely grinning behind his words.
"Ludwig said -"
"Ah, I see." Gilbert didn't say much more but Matthew brought his gaze back to his albino lover when he heard the crinkle of plastic.
His eyes widened when he saw that Prussia had torn open the bouquet and was bending and toying and doing something to the blue flowers. His first thought was that he had made some terrible error, and he flinched back as he awaited the ire of the usually outspoken Prussian. When nothing happened and Gilbert continued to gather the flowers and – wait, was he tying them together?
"What are you doing?" He asked, exasperated.
Gilbert looked up at him, the flute sitting in his lap alongside a collection of blue flowers and stems. He smiled, almost reassuringly. Matthew only narrowed his eyes in concern when he saw that look. Gil was always trying to reassure him before one of his crazy schemes came to fruition.
Canada groaned. Always the same words, too, because it was always some big secret, some big surprise. At least this time Prussia wasn't kicking him out of the house or pushing him away or keeping him from seeing anything. This time, he could watch as the Prussian worked.
And watch he did.
At first, he flinched every time a flower stem was purposefully broken and tossed to the side, but eventually he noticed the pattern. Eventually he could make out what Prussia was making and he felt his mouth drop open. "Is that -?"
"A flower halo," Gilbert supplied.
Canada shook his head. "That's not what it's called."
"That's what I call it."
Matthew sighed, "It's called a flower wreath..."
"It is not," Gil insisted. "Elizaveta and I used to make these when we were kids. I think I know what they're called."
He raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"To wear, of course. She loved to make things in the flowers and was always wearing them...and making me wear them...even while she insisted she was a guy." Gilbert was laughing at his memories as he continued to work, not meeting Canada's eyes.
Speaking of Canada's eyes, he was currently rolling them. "No, I meant why are you making one now?"
"Oh," Prussia muttered and then gave his typical laugh. "I was just wondering what to do with the flowers you brought, and I kept imagining Fritz with a halo..."
Suddenly, Matthew felt incredibly awkward and like he was intruding on something private. Even if he had been the one to bring the flowers, the sound of the chill wind whistling made him feel as if someone else were hanging around. Gilbert's growing silence only added to his suspicions. What if Fritz's ghost was visiting? Was it crazy to believe or suspect such a thing?
Should he have stayed away and left these two alone? It was one day out of the year; he could leave Prussia alone for one day, even if it had been strange not being glomped this morning or having the rowdy albino clinging to him and whining in his ear as he begged for pancakes or beer or something strange. Now he knew why. This was Fredrick the Great's day, one of the few days where Gilbert separated himself from the rest of society and drowned himself in happy memories.
"There! Finished!" Prussia exclaimed, jarring Canada from his thoughts.
Before he could see what the flower halo made by Gilbert Beilschmidt even looked like, he felt something plop on his head. He blinked and stared into the eyes of his lover, even though Gil was a little focused on placing the halo just so. "Gil?" He said as his hands started to move up with the intent of taking the thing off.
"Hey, hey! You can't touch it!" Prussia said as he grabbed both of Matthew's hands and held onto them. Then he grinned. "You look cute."
Matthew huffed. "Gil, why put it on me?"
"What do you mean?"
Just like that, he was rolling his eyes for the second time. "Isn't today supposed to be for Fritz? Why did you take the flowers that were obviously meant to be left for him and make a silly girly flower halo for me?"
Gil laughed, making Matthew blush like he'd just asked the stupidest question ever. "Ghosts can't use flowers, silly. I never understood why people leave them at graves." He started rubbing Canada's hands with his pale fingers as his laughter died down and he settled for his ever-present grin. "Besides, I bet Fritz has a much cooler halo than I could ever make."
Matthew's words died on his tongue and he spluttered a bit before staring in shock into those sad red eyes – because, yes, the sad gleam was back. Though the albino was looking at him, Canada could tell that his thoughts were elsewhere. It was making him sigh in the cold. The sun was starting to set and the wind was getting harsher, leaves and flower petals brushing across the gravestone.
"Gil," he whispered, seeing his breath form condensation in the cold air. "We should go home. It's too cold to sit out here all night."
It took a while to get an answer, but Matthew was willing to wait as long as his lover needed. One day out of the year to visit an old friend, possibly an old love – not that he was going to ask such a personal question. After a long moment, Prussia breathed, "Ja. You're right."
He let go of the pale hands and stood up, brushing grass from his cold and slightly wet backside. Gilbert took longer to stand up. He had to put the flute up in its case first, and then he had to clean up the grave site, grabbing all the flower stems and loose petals and intruding leaves. His hand traced the letters of his old king's name one last time and then he stood up, smiled and looked down at the gravestone before saying something quietly in German.
Canada didn't want to pry and he started to make his way back to the car, expecting to leave Gilbert alone with his king for a few moments longer. But Gil was by his side rather quickly, the normal laughter back in his step. Matthew opened his mouth to ask something but Gilbert silenced him with a quick kiss, a hand grabbing his and giving a quick squeeze before pulling back.
"Danke," Gil said. "It was nice to share that with you." When Matthew felt himself blush again, the Prussian laughed. "You really do look cute, you know."
Matthew smiled. "So you say."
Back in their homey Canadian dwelling, Matthew was making his normal rounds of turning off all the lights in the house before bed. They had arrived rather late but neither one of them were good at falling asleep right after traveling. So he had made some hot chocolate while snow fell outside like a typical Canadian January night. Gil had retired early to the study, though, saying he had something important to write.
Which translated to: "I'm still writing in my journals like a silly junior high girl but I won't admit to it even if you know."
When Matthew made his way to the study, he found Prussia asleep at his desk, head nestled comfortably in his arms. He smiled softly and grabbed a blanket from the nearby storage closet. Draping the cover over his lover's shoulders, he couldn't help but catch the sight of a still open journal entry.
Today I was awesome. I visited Fritz and played some modern birthday tunes just to annoy him. Kesese. I swear I could hear him play something back, using the wind as his instrument. Even as a ghost, he's still awesome. Birdie came and visited, too. I was happy. I love it when he surprises me like that. By the way, he looks so cute with a flower halo. I should have gotten a picture.
Matthew snorted at the very idea.
Then again...if he could do the same to Gilbert, it might all be worth it.