twistedsheets10: (US_UK_eyes)
[personal profile] twistedsheets10

Sorry this took a while. The accident destroyed my external hard drive, so I had to rewrite this. *winces*

Title: Floriography: The Language of Flowers (4.6/?)
Disclaimer: Hetalia is not my creation.
Pairing: America × England
Rating: PG-13: Because England likes to swear, and so does Tony.
Summary: America finally comes to visit and comes face-to-face with England in his garden for a visit to the injured Nation. Confessions are made, and England makes a choice.

1: Dogwood; 2: Honeysuckle; 3. Roses and Irises; 4. The Truest Language (1); (2); Interlude: Anniversary; (3); (4); (5)

6. The Truest Language (4.6)

July 3, early morning, England’s house

England may be a horrible cook, but he is a brilliant gardener.

In the past, when America was still England’s colony, America often found him puttering about in the garden on America’s yard, spade or trowel in hand, tending over every plant with such tenderness, sometimes even talking to them, and ruthlessly waging war against the pests and the weeds that sought to hurt his precious ‘children’: the vegetables and fruits — leeks, onions, garlic, melons, English gourds, radishes, carrots, and cabbages — to the flowers, shrubs, and trees — roses and lilies, the lilacs and the dogwood. The garden was always bountiful, even if England hadn’t been there to tend to it.

America knows from years of experience and observation that the garden — England’s own garden, and perhaps America’s own in the past — is England’s ‘Zen’ zone. It is England’s sanctuary, the place he goes to seek some peace and quiet when he’s upset or troubled or angry, where he busies himself or relaxes until he’s fine again. It is the place where he pours his heart out and energy as he tends to his ‘sweet babes’.

So it’s really not a surprise that as soon as he arrived at England’s house early morning, after he had put his bags down (and after being scolded by Canada for taking so damn long), Portugal (who he mistook as Spain for a split-second) led him to the back gardens. Figures England would be there.

Of all the places in England’s house, America (secretly) loves the gardens the most. It's probably the best place in England’s house. Maybe except his study, but that’s only because there were several pretty badass archeological artifacts there.

England’s garden starts out as a typical formal English garden at front, with its precision-clipped lawns and hedges and neat rows of beautiful bushes of roses, wisterias arching over the front door, a thick, fragrant cloud of purple and white spikes. A cobblestone path leads to the wrought iron gate entrance to the back garden, where everything grows with feral beauty — the thorns are bigger and sharper, and the blooms abundant and more colorful, the trees thicker and ancient, almost primordial, branches gnarled and twisted to fantastic shapes as it spread out and reached for the sky — like something out of a fairy tale or a fantasy movie set.

(England said once that it was the Fae who looked after the back garden with him, and they liked it to be this way, so he didn’t bother changing it to be more similar to one at the front. But America knows better; he knows a bit about gardens and their owners, and he’s pretty sure he’s figured out why England’s gardens behave this way.)

He and England had snacks and tea at the gazebo (pretty much the only part in the back garden that looked any sort of modern) when he came to visit (at least, when it wasn’t raining, or if England was in a good mood), and though he never admitted it to England — and probably never will — America finds few things more relaxing than sitting in the garden sofa underneath the gazebo, eating burnt scones and drinking coffee and half-listening to England talk in his warm, creamy, accented voice as the hours passed by.

They find England exactly where America expects him to be, under the gazebo covered by rambling stems of tiny pink and cream roses, sitting on a garden sofa, seemingly absorbed in reading a thick book while eating a red fruit, looking hale and hearty except for the bandages wrapped around his head and the slight paleness of his skin. America approaches him slowly, almost warily, not knowing what to expect. Portugal glances back at him over his shoulder and meets his eyes, and he smiles reassuringly.

When America was just a few feet away, England looks up from his book, pausing in the act of taking a bite of the fruit he was eating — a pomegranate, he notes absently — frowning when he sees America. The words that came out of his mouth were not the ones America expected.

“Good morning, America,” England says, quite calmly, expression carefully neutral. “How was your flight?”

“It was OK,” America replies, a little surprised at the polite greeting. He’d expected England to chuck the fruit at him and shout and insult him, as usual. Did the fall damage his brain or something? Canada didn’t say in his call. He opens his mouth to ask England, but then snaps it shut. No need to antagonize England so early in the morning.

“Ah, pardon,” Portugal says with a cough, and America swore he flashed him a grin and a wink before turning to England with a charming smile. “If you’ll excuse me, I must attend to our lunch. Arthur?”

England glares at Portugal for a moment, then sighs. “As you wish. Try not to inflict too much damage to my kitchen.”

This time, Portugal’s grin is open and amused. “I doubt there is anything I could do worse than what you have already done to your poor kitchen.”

England actually pouts and blushes at that. America is more than ever convinced England had sustained some sort of brain damage. England has always been combative over his cooking. The last time America made a throwaway remark about England’s food, he tried to strangle him with his bare hands.

“Well, then. Now that’s settled, I’ll leave the two of you alone.” He nods to England. “If it’s all right, I’ll stop by your vegetable patch to fetch some ingredients.”

“Do remember to bring something–”

Portugal holds up a flask filled with amber-colored liquid. “Already have it. I’ll see you both later.” He gave a jaunty wave, and then set off to the vegetable patch, which was, if America recalled correctly, a few feet away at other side of the garden.

America narrows his eyes in thought as he watched Portugal sauntering over the cobbled path. He wonders if it was a coincidence that Portugal put himself in a place near enough for him to hear any shouting and respond to it, yet far away enough to be out of sight and out of hearing range of normal conversation.

It was probably not. “What’s in the flask thingy for?” America finds himself asking.

“It’s sugar water.” England doesn’t look at America, but continues to eye Portugal’s retreating back until he disappears past the bend round the huge oak tree, behind which was the fenced vegetable garden. “It’s a gift to the Fae who watch over the garden.”

Oh, yeah, speaking of gifts. “Here,” America mutters, holding out to England his get-well-soon gift. The one he took a while to decide to get.

England looks at the bouquet thrust in front of him with a raised brow. “Flowers. Handpicked from your own garden, I see.”

America winced. Trust England to know what plants he kept in his garden. He can probably enumerate them by species and variety. “I swear, if you make a comment about me being a cheapskate, I’m gonna ram–”

“I was only making an observation,” England says, lips curling to a wry smile. He looks at the flowers again, then to America, a strange, searching expression in his face. After a moment’s hesitation, he takes them, and places them carefully on his lap. He touches the flowers, the pads of his fingers gently brushing over the petals. “Blue aquilegias and mauve lilacs,” England murmurs, and to America’s amazement, a light blush spreads on England’s face, and his smile changes into a small, gentle one. “Thank you. They’re lovely,” he says quietly.

America feels his own face heat up at the unexpected compliment, and he has no doubt he’s blushing up to the tips of his ears. He looks away quickly. “Yeah. Well. You’re welcome. I didn’t think they would last through the flight, but one of the stewards was nice enough to put them in a glass to keep them fresh. And–”

“The last time you gave me flowers,” England says, cutting through America’s babble, “was more than 200 years ago. Lilacs from your garden, though they were the purple ones then.” England’s face got that wistful look again, the one he has whenever he remembers the past, back when America was young. America hates that look; it made him feel like England regarded him as a disappointment, a poor replacement for something he considered so…precious. “You were much younger then, with better gift-giving manners.”

Alfred bristled at that. It was so dammed unfair, and England was wrong, and it wasn’t like England didn’t commit his own acts of bad manners in the past. “Oh come on! Please don’t tell me you’re still sore about the DVDs. It just–”

“–shows how little your administration thought of mine,” England cut in coldly. “As if we were some sort of afterthought–”

“Don’t give me that! You can’t believe that crap! Cut us some slack. My boss is new, and he’s busy and overwhelmed from domestic–”

“We were your guests, America,” England said, his voice a whip. He narrowed his eyes, and lowered his voice, perhaps partly out of consideration of not alarming Portugal, but it lost none of its intensity or sting. Around them, the air grew colder, and wind and plants rustling with almost menacing hisses. “We were allies, we stood by and still stand by you in two wars, where my children bleed and die for you, and you gave us DVDs. That did not even work because they were the wrong region. Or were to the taste of my Prime Minister, who, in case you did not know, has problems with his vision in one eye. Tell me, where was the thought in that?”

“You were busy? Everyone was busy and exhausted. Do you think you were the only one having troubles? We are all up to our dammed necks in trouble, America, and yet–”

“You’re just jealous!” America burst out, fed up with England’s ranting. Why did he bother coming here in the first place? He knew it would always end like this. “You’re just jealous because I’m the cool kid again, and everyone likes me again and wants me. You’re jealous because I want to spend more time with them than with you. You’ve always hated when I did that, because you know you need me more than I need you.”

That was a sore spot, judging by how England went white at that, and for second he thought he would leap off from the sofa and punch him. “Oh yes, you love throwing that in my face, don’t you, how much I am politically and economically dependent on you.” England snarls. “Of course I realize that I am not as politically or economically important to you as before, no matter how my past and recent government deludes themselves on this matter, and that it is highly probable that we need you more than you need us if we are to have a say in how the world goes.”

“But if you think that is the reason why I am… dismayed,” England’s voice went deadly quiet, the way it does when he was just simply beyond rage, “then I’m afraid you are gravely mistaken.”

America threw up his hands into the air. “Then why do you keep picking on this? Do you just hate me or–”

“I don’t hate you, America.”

That stops America cold. He didn’t expect that. “Oh.”

“Idiot.” England’s lips curl into a small, bitter smile. “If I hated you, we would not be having this conversation.”

“What sort of conversation would we be having, then?” he asks, genuinely curious.

He snorted. “We would not be having any sort of conversation at all. Or the sort where you’ll call me my Lord, or sir.”

Ooohkay.” That was a bit…disturbing. But it looked like England had calmed a bit now. America took that as an opportunity to let out a sigh and take a deep breath. Dealing with England was could be such a stressful thing at times.

“I suppose,” England says suddenly, once again using that calm voice he had a while ago, “it is rather foolish to be so concerned at such a little thing, but often it’s these small acts that reveal most about ourselves.” His eyes narrow as he regards America, leaning forward in this seat. “I have no delusions regarding my importance to you. But I had hoped I was significant enough to warrant some sort of consideration and thought.”

Then he makes an abrupt, dismissive gesture. “But then I suppose I would be asking too much of you.”

“Hey, I’m capable of thought and consideration. Look what I got your Queen.”

England smiles at that. “Well, yes. Her Majesty did like the I-Pod you gave her.”

“I remembered she likes show tunes!” America says rather enthusiastically, pleased they were moving to a more positive topic. The Queen had been delighted with the gift, and she and the Obamas hit it off great, especially the Queen and his First Lady. “Her song with the Prince was ‘People Will Say We’re in Love’ from Oklahoma!, right?”

“I don’t even know how you found out about that,” England says, shaking his head.

“I have my ways.”

“Sometimes, you do.”

They were silent for a moment, not a bad silence but the awkward, almost companionable sort they had when things went well without them knowing, and realizing this, they have no idea what to do next. It lasts for a minute or so until America blurts out the first thing that comes to his minds.

“So, are you still mad at me?”

Oh, crap. That was a bit not good. In fact, that was very bad.

But instead of starting another rant, England merely looked at him, a little thoughtfully, America thought. “For what, America?”

“I dunno,” he confesses, and he fidgets, rocking back and forth on his heels. “For what we’ve argued about, I guess.”

“You guess,” England echoes, and then he let’s out an exasperated sigh. “No,” England says carefully, not looking at America. “Not really. I was irritated perhaps, but not angry. Frustrated as well. You have a knack for making me feel this way, as you are no doubt aware.”

"...Part of my charm?"

“As for your outburst,” England adds, his voice rising a little, and makes America wince. He braces himself for the possible onslaught. “Your boss’s decision does make sense — no, he has the right of it. You need to talk more to the others, to reach out to them, especially those you’ve managed to…alienate these last few years.”

Wait. What. “I do?”

“Like it or not, you being more engaged and open with other nations does have its positive merits.”

Whoa, was England actually admitting America’s not all that bad?

And while his mind was still reeling from that thought, England then says something that blows his mind away.

“As for your accusation of me being jealous...I suppose I have always been…selfish with you. I have no right to that, not now. Perhaps I never did. And it is past time I accept it.”

And then England smiles at him, sad and wistful, in his eyes were emotions America rarely see, and even more rarely directed at him: fierce pride and a quiet, content but bittersweet joy, and that sends a jolt up his spine and his nerve ends, sends his senses into hyperawareness, the way England is looking at him, as if he is everything to him, as if he is the center of his world in that moment. Like the way he looked at me when I was little, but it’s different. He’s not seeing America the cute, adoring child, but the America now, tall and grown up.

Oh. America’s heart pounds in his chest in strong quickening beats. Oh fuck.

“Besides,” England says softly, and he reaches out and touches America’s cheek, the faintest brush of cool fingertips against his suddenly warm skin, then quickly withdrawn, “heroes belong to the whole world, don’t they?”

The fluttering heat in his belly at England’s touch settles, a heavy, strange weight. America stares at England, stares at that serene face, struck speechless as the implications of what England said hits him.

England is letting him go.

TBC

Next part

Notes:

Don’t kill me. *meep*

Deepest thanks to [livejournal.com profile] miaoujones , who listened to my rambling, and ET, from which the idea of the garden I nabbed from. :P

Have guessed you why England’s gardens are looks like that?

The reason America knows so much about England’s garden? England likes to talk about it a lot (and I do mean a LOT) and somehow the information got absorbed in his brain.

The gifts: The British press made a lot of fuss over the whole “DVD” thing, with some commenting that the gift was almost like some last-minute purchase, and thus being interpreted by the British media as implying cooler relations between the UK and the US, though some considered it as merely a diplomatic gaffe of a relatively ‘young’ administration still learning the ropes. Obama was reported to be exhausted from domestic affairs, hence the lukewarm reception of then-PM Gordon Brown when he visited.

As for the lilacs, I’ll explain more about them in the next chapter.

Blue aquilegias, as the OP of the prompt in the kink meme has said, means “Smile even when you’re sad, because the sadness of knowing you don’t smile anymore is painful to me.” Aquilegias are also more popularly known as the columbine. Some Japanese doujinshi-ka mistook it as the national flower of the USA. I’m looking at you, Koffy.

Writing this was tough. Would you believe some of the lines in this chapter have been written for MONTHS? Guh. JUST ONE MORE TO GO. /collapses God I don't know what I'm doing anymore.
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