Please, I'm begging. More Scotland and Baby Canada.
We've got an awkward ball of anxiety, the world's best uncle and Arthur in mourning. It's just after the amrev and Matt's a gawky wee baby. And somehow even more pitiful than usual. 😭.
If anyone had asked, Matthew wouldn't remember what woke him. Not a dream, maybe memory. Whatever the cause, it certainly hadn't been long enough since he last froze to death.
He sat there a moment, heaving, tearing up and trying not to cry. He can see his breath coming in puffs. Midnight is oppressive and heavy on his chest. He can't get his breath. The dark is leaden, his skin is far too warm, the air far too cold. There is a drumming pounding in his head, and he knows it to be his pulse because it matches the throb in his chest. He's scared and he doesn't know why.
Moments after he's awake, nausea lights up in his guts, and he's barely before the basin stand before he's sick into what should be the morning's wash water. Stupid. Stupid. Better than the floor he'd have to clean up, but so stupid. Someone's going to shout at him for that. The bed creaked under him, and he was so cold and his skin felt so sensitive, he couldn't seem to wipe his watery eyes fast enough before he was crying. The bedroom was freezing. Getting under the covers again would do nothing now, but he did anyway. The narrow bed in the little summer bedroom was cold, too far from the central hearth. It lacked its own fireplace. Sleeping in his blankets on the kitchen floor would be warmest, now, since no one had remembered to help him move the single steamer-trunk of his possessions to a warmer bedroom. But sleeping on the kitchen floor, he'd eventually fall asleep, and the cook would trip over him on her way to do the morning baking, and he'd ruin breakfast again, set Father off like a hurricane before he'd had tea. And that would come after he was shouted at, if not stepped on before the cook realized he was there.
Where else, where else? His body tremored. The housekeeper would have put out the parlour fire and the one in father's study. The barn was always warm with the body heat of the animals, but the thought of bedding down in the hay and the smell of the horses made his empty stomach roil.
He buried his face in the pillow and missed Alfred so much his chest hurt. Alfred would have let him slide in under the covers and steal all the body heat he liked, and only called him a leech when he laughed and ruffled his hair. Matt had once thought leech was English for something nice, Alfred said it so affectionately. He hugged himself and swallowed. Everything ached. He wanted his brother. Father would make sure to point out he was too old to be crying. Alfred shouted back when anyone ever raised their voices at Matthew's and got in the faces of whoever had words he didn't like for his baby brother.
He could try father, if it got much colder. Father would be grumpy as a spring bear if Matthew woke him. He'd gone out with important people in big hats and shiny boots. But if he was very quiet, Matthew could curl up on the bench at the end of the bed with the big overstuffed velvet cushion. Father likely wouldn't even notice as he stumbled down to breakfast smelling like the gin distillery, all bleary-eyed and angry. But worse would be the guilty flash Arthur would let him see for a moment if he did notice. Apologies wouldn't be said, but it would soften reality for a moment. The ledgers of fish, lumber, and wheat that passed through father's ships had to be accounted for, noticed and kept track of. But he was, as father pointed out, sensible and always where he was supposed to be and always doing what he was supposed to be doing.
His vision swam and he gasped, dizzy. He wondered if something was wrong in Halifax. Usually fishing was awful if he felt this terrible.
Halifax. Nova Scotia. He started crying again. Uncle Alasdair had arrived, and he was Nova Scotia now. His uncle didn't mind leeches at all, only flicked them off and laughed and laughed. Alasdair was warm and he liked Matthew. Trembling, he shot down the hall through the dark. Not as fast as he thought, it hurt a little to inhale, and he couldn't quite get his breath, but the door to his Uncle's bedroom felt like balm.
He opened it slowly to avoid the creak, shut it behind him. Alasdair was much larger than father, broad, and he snored like a gentle moose call and Matt cried more when he crawled under the covers and Alasdair automatically opened his arms, turned on his side and held him without waking. He was burying his face in his shirt when his uncle woke properly and cradled him in the crook of his arm.
“Ach,” Came the sympathetic sound. “Lad, you're frozen,”
Acknowledged without accusation, Matthew pressed himself in tighter and Alasdair squeezed him. Father always asked what he had done to himself this time. Even when he said it with a gentle tongue click and a shake of his head, it was clearly Matt's own doing.
Alasdair made questioning words, sounds Matthew didn't catch because his Uncle was warm, and he was shaking. Alasdair sat up, alarmed, covers pooling to his waist. He made Gaelic sounds Matt knew were meant to call him.
“Come here, Alasdair said, and gently nudged Matt down from the death hold around his neck to a more comfortable cradle in his arms as he rested against the headboard. He was getting to gangly to go crying to his uncle but he almost didn't care as the sick feeling was quickly abating.
“What's the matter?” His uncle brushed the hair off his head.
Matt just twisted around, ashamed that he felt so much better just being held. He still felt off, but nothing bad could happen to him with his uncle around.
"Matthew," His uncle sighed.
He responded by shuffling further under Alasdair's arm and pressing his cheek to his uncle's chest and his forehead in the notch between his shoulder and clavicle. His uncle's heartbeat was the steady cadence of a snare drum, and he shut his eyes against it. He felt a kiss to his head and forgot, for a moment, it was selfish to have woken Uncle Alasdair.
“You're as clammy as a frog, lad. What's wrong?”
He was a frog. Nothing but a frog. Matthew didn't know how to say it was mostly loneliness, that his room was as cold as the north side of a January gravestone and he was scared shitless of something he couldn't remember. That at least at home he knew how things grew and could speak easily and he missed home. Saying so was complaining and complaining was ingratitude. He was a small, unprofitable colony and his own household would have been expensive, so in England he had stayed.
His uncle spoke again and Matthew was too tired to translate it. He heard the term for him, though, _a bhobain._ Bobbin. He thought he might come loose and unravel like fine silk sewing thread.
Stomach aching, his crying began again in earnest. He couldn't remember the last time he'd been held, and the thought startled him.
“I missed you,” Matthew blurted, feeling like the most ungrateful child to ever grace the earth. Arthur fed, clothed and housed him without much griping. He wasn't hit. No one minded where he went or how he spent his days. He could spend all day in the moors wandering about if he liked and no one would comment unless he'd done something to his clothing he couldn't mend himself. The library was full of things he could read without comment. He had his chores and no one cared when they were done, so long as they were.
“Ah, lad,” His Uncle squeezed him. “Has your father been away again? It's lonely when we're overseas,”
“No,” Matthew wriggled over. “He's been home."
“Ah,” Alasdair made a knowing sound. “Has he been on you again?”
“No. Not at all.” Matthew hiccoughed, another sob smaller and fading. "He hasn't had anything to say to me in awhile,"
Alasdair sighed and held him close as he laid back down. "That would be lonely. Feeling better lad?"
Buried in the blankets and curled up against him, he was fine now.
"Yes," Matthew replied, ashamed of himself. "I'm sorry I woke you,"
"Don't be. You're always a joy to see. My own wee nephew."
Matthew grinned, despite himself. It was vanity to have bothered him but he was so warm and Matt's body so tired.
"I'm going to bring you to Edinburgh with me. Can't be doing without you, Matthew. You're two very important things."
He thought his uncle a bit delusional sometimes, finding any use for him but he wasn't about to complain. "Two?" .
"Nova," Alasdair curled one arm around him. "Scotia," The other joined the embrace and Alasdair laughed, squeezing him. "Pride and my joy, you are."
Tears welled up, unbidden. He squeezed his eyes shut and Alasdair tucked him against his chest, resting his chin on Matthew's crown. His heart beat was even and Matt felt himself begin to drift.
"I missed you." He said again.
"And I missed you. England's a lonely place," Alasdair replied softly. "Be well, you poor thing. Sleep, now."
Time to spread the ScotFra, SpaPort and Asakiku supremacy
Time to appreciate all of our underappreciated ships! The seventh annual HWS Rare Pair Week this year will be the week of June 20-26 and will be dedicated to making content for ships that don’t see enough action in the fandom! Each day of the week will have a different theme for you to make ship content around!
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