If it hasn't been asked already, do you have any headcanons about France and England's relationship? 👀
Ah, and now we end where I always seem to end. These two cannot get rid of each other, and I cannot get rid of them.
*cracks knuckles* ok idk what you want to hear so I’m just gonna ramble here goes
So before I got my soul stolen by engport, fruk had been, like. Everything. Then I went through a crisis period where I was like 😱 how do I choose 😱 and now I’m like, ok, but why do I have to choose? I think Port and France fill very different roles in Arthur’s life, both of which are essential. Not only that, thinking about engport has helped me better understand Francis and Arthur’s dynamic, so I’ll be comparing a little throughout these hcs.
For me, fruk is a very — latent? — relationship. It’s ironic, bc engport are the ones who actually call themselves best friends and fruk prefer to be known as enemies/occasional lovers, but if you saw them on the street, you’d think France and England were close friends and England and Portugal, are, well, clearly gay for each other. They’re far more openly affectionate, whereas even for those who know them like Spain or Prussia, it can sometimes be hard to believe France and England are dating, let alone head over heels in love.
But they are. It’s just that they’ve been by each other’s side for so long, had those feelings for so long, that they’ve become a part of the background hum, a basic part of their lives. So usually the feelings Arthur or Francis actively feel for each other are mild, everyday things: annoyance, impatience, curiosity, worry. Especially in public/around other nations, they're not touchy or affectionate at all.
But if you know where and how to look, you'll see the signs. A napkin with scribbled math equations, something they argued over at a cafe. A cufflink here, a watch there, all gifts from each other from the hundreds of birthdays they've spent together. Arthur's number listed as an emergency contact on some inane government form. Francis' handwriting on the margins of Arthur's meeting minutes: remember to discuss this with Denmark, the address for a restaurant they're meeting at that night. Francis rereading various titles of english literature, trying to understand him better. Arthur paying for Francis' clothes with his own card without thinking about it. Their lives are intimately, mundanely intertwined in a way that's remarkably rare among nations.
This is actually a rather recent development in their relationship. In my hc Francis and England only started seriously seeing each other right before World War II, and began an "official" (or what passes for official) relationship right after. Then they broke it off for a while again when de Gaulle became president, then got back together shortly after he left office and have more or less gone pretty steady ever since. So that's like, what, a couple decades? A drop in the ocean for a nation. But this easy familiarity they've found doesn't feel new, to them or to anyone else, because in reality they've been building it up for centuries, albeit in unconventional ways. It's almost like through killing, conning, and tearing each other apart, they've lost their fear of each other. Nations have with their own kind a wariness, a constant stumbling block in the back of their mind reminding them no matter how deep their feelings, their interests can never truly align -- and this results in small awkwardnesses like pointedly locked office cabinets and walking away to take phone calls. But such things don't apply to Francis and Arthur. Part of it is the luxury of being allies now, but most of it is the fact that they've seen every side of each other, told every possible lie. Even if Francis did find some shit in Arthur's office, political secrets or otherwise -- what of it? They've planned enough conspiracies with and against each other that short of "I'm plotting a second invasion of Paris with Germany," there's really nothing they can't just scream at each other a little about and then brush off.
Basically what I'm saying is I like my fruk super domestic. But I also like my fruk highkey dramatic. One of the periods in their relationship I think about a lot is right before the American and French Revolutions (Louis XIV era), when I hc that they were in a nearly-entirely-committed, almost-honeymoon-like relationship. This comes from one fic i read that I can no longer find or remember, but where Arthur stays at Versailles for a couple years as the official English Ambassador and they begin a *clandestine* romance that's only half clandestine. This is a time when they were well and truly in love and not afraid to say it -- it was a time when they almost believed they could work out, fairy-tale style. But then the American revolution begins and Arthur is devastated, furious, accusing, betrayed -- they have an explosive fight and their relationship slides right back to hundred years war level hatred for the next century, culminating with Napoleon. The only difference from before is that now Arthur's anger is tinged with a desperate grief ("how could you do this again when you know i love you") and Francis' resentment now has a hint of despair ("I knew we couldn't last, the world is proving me right and i hate it.")
Their relationship slowly, glacially recovers after europe boots Napoleon. In fact, besides a couple proxy wars and shouting matches, the Napoleonic Wars was England and France's last major conflict to date. This coincides with the gradual worsening of Gabriel and Arthur's relationship in the 1900s. At this point Arthur wasn't actually trying to replace Gabriel, and in fact was still deep in denial about his feelings for Francis, but it certainly seemed to Gabriel as if he was being pushed out of Arthur's life and that Did Not Help Anything Whatsoever. Francis, for his part, was incredibly hesitant to push in part because of his lingering fear that they just weren't meant to be, and in part because he actually felt guilty that he was worsening Arthur's relationship with Gabriel, the loss of whom he knew would kill Arthur inside.
I realize I'm going on again so I'll end by saying that now, Francis and Arthur still sometimes have their dramatic moments of "oh shit I'm in love with him, the fuck?" even though the set-piece battles are over. When Francis delivers a particularly elegant speech, for example, or actually puts that mind and sharp tongue of his to work in a pitched negotiation. When Arthur surprises Francis with a weekend getaway, complete with a boat, flowers, and lots of cute blushing and blustering. Or when one of them is seriously ill, overworked, or hurt; when something just snaps one day and all their nightmares catch up to them -- the cold fear and sleepless worry are all reminders of how deep their feelings run, even if they don't constantly make themselves known.
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the life of arthur kirkland (number one beatles fan and eventual directioner) told through beatles songs
[read left to right, explanations under the cut]
the year is 1992, arthur kirkland is 12 yrs old and he accompanies his older brother to a record store. his stomach does a flip when he sees a photo of two young men on the wall. naturally, he asks his brother who they are. he lets him know they’re john lennon and paul mccartney, just before they started the beatles. arthur asks for a record, and his brother scrapes up enough pocket money to get him a second hand copy of ‘please please me’. it’s more than arthur could ever ask for, and from the first song he’s hooked.
he grows to every album the beatles have made, and as he heads into secondary school he realises that the flip his stomach makes whenever he sees a handsome boy is not just a coincidence. but that’s different, he thinks. it’s okay though, he’s got the familiar voices of john, paul, george and ringo to get him through it.
he’s in high school, a new student moves to his school. francis is obnoxious, flirty and french. arthur’s unsure why francis clings to him at the beginning. they argue a lot, and francis always seems to be trying to one up him. arthur’s long streak of solitude is ruined. but it’s nice. when he’s not terrible, francis is sweet. compassionate even. francis contrasts him, the perfect compliment for arthur’s closed off attitude.
even as francis made more friends, which was inevitable with his charisma, he still stayed good friends with arthur. they walked each other home, snuck out to the roof together and now, weirdly enough, arthur couldn’t really imagine what his high school life was like before francis barrelled in. while he hates to admit it, he can’t help but feel attached. he doesn’t know why, but his stomach does a flip whenever he looks at him.
observing the gymnastics his stomach liked to do whenever francis came too close or looked in his direction, in tandem with the many love songs by the beatles he listened to on repeat, arthur slowly came to the conclusion that… perhaps his feelings for francis weren’t wholly platonic. he thinks long and hard, how to let francis know. to know how he feels.
in good arthur fashion, he falls back to his comforts. the music that raised him. they’re on the roof during break, arthur’s got his guitar and impresses francis the only way he knows how. he thinks of paul throughout it, thanks the man he’d never met for giving him the words he couldn’t make himself. francis laughs at his french, and arthur wants to melt into a puddle until francis reciprocates his feelings. a kiss. a small one, a gentle one, but that flip in his stomach feels more like a firework.
it’s an unusually sunny day in london, and arthur picks up francis from his house so they can walk to school together. francis stares up at the sky in it’s uncharacteristically bright glory. he suggests they skip, arthur asks what for, francis shrugs. he knows what his boyfriend would enjoy.
before arthur can process it, they’re on a three hour train ride. the first train they could find to liverpool. arthur can’t help it, he doesn’t think he’s smiled this much in so long. this is where it started - where is favourite band became his favourite band. he feels an immediate connection to it, and almost tears up when he sees the infamous penny lane sign. it’s a memory he holds dear forever.
they’re older now. high school a distant memory, and the new apartment is the new focus of their lives. the relationship is strong, they’re using the cheapest ingredients to cook and have to fix the faucet every other day but they’re mostly happy. they’ve got each other.
though they’ve never been the most easygoing pair. they bicker often, and disagree on a lot of things. finances, date nights, the future. they’re used to it though. bickering has become it’s own sort of comfort. but one day arthur takes it a step too far, pushes francis in ways he normally knew to avoid. the bickering turns into an argument, a real one, the worst one they’ve ever had. francis can’t look at him and arthur’s stomach drops. he’s done it, fucked up the best thing in his life. his favourite, perhaps the most emotional of all of paul’s songs rings clear through his head. he finally understands it. why paul sounds so hurt. so desperate.
in the end, it turns out okay. they talk about it, arthur wonders why francis doesn’t leave him but all francis can do is smile. it was one obstacle, he could never leave him. arthur’s always been such a silly man.
martha my dear
they save up for a piano. arthur’s always loved music (clearly) and the piano is the one instrument francis is actually quite good at. they figure it’s something they can eventually put in their forever home.
arthur revealed this back in high school, why ‘martha my dear’ was one of the songs by the beatles that brought the most comfort. arthur, he says, i thought paul was saying arthur. francis laughs and laughs until his eyes are teary, but keeps it in the back of his mind forever.
they finally have their piano, and francis is often sat there playing whatever melody he can think of. arthur gets home later than him one day, exhausted and upset. francis thinks for a moment before it clicks back in his mind, the familiar tune ringing throughout the small apartment. arthur my dear, he begins. francis doesn’t quite know all the lyrics, but it makes enough sense to register in arthur’s mind. it’s much different to paul’s voice, but francis’ brings butterflies to his stomach all the same.
ob la di ob la da
life goes on. they have better jobs, and a piano is not their biggest investment anymore. it’s a bit rundown, but with some love and care, they bring an old house to a new glory. it’s beautiful, and most importantly theirs. they love each others company, but they’re ready to bring someone new into their lives. two new people in fact, twins. they adopt two baby girls, amelia and madeline. they couldn’t be more different in personality, and they’re certainly a handful but arthur and francis wouldn’t have it any other way.
parenthood is interesting to say the least. they barely sleep, and their days are constantly filled with noise, but they make the most of every minute. arthur can finally listen to ob la di ob la da and relate to desmond and molly jones.
as the girls come of age, they develop their own interests. madeline can’t go two days without being on an ice rink, and amelia only listen’s to one direction to arthur’s initial displeasure. it’s a lot for francis and arthur to handle, but they know they can get through anything. all of them can. the kirkland-bonnefoy’s are a force to be reckoned with.
in my life
he’s been with francis for years. they know each other inside and out. every little quirk, good and bad, was permanently etched into the back of arthur’s brain. they’ve been through everything together. grand moments, memorable events. the sort of stuff you tell your friends at dinner parties to impress them, but it’s the smaller moments. the quieter moments that arthur loves the most. the mornings where francis lets himself sleep in, both still basked in the afterglow of the night before and sunlight from the window.
arthur can study him in full, count every strand of hair, trace his fingers down the curves of each muscle of francis’ body, and whilst he’d never say it to francis, he also starts to notice wrinkles. francis would cry if he knew, but it doesn’t bother arthur one bit. it’s part of francis. arthur understands how one person can impact your life so much, he understands what paul and john sing about. and the usual anxiety that lingers in his stomach subsides.
their kids grew older, but they keep in touch often. friday nights are reserved for family calls, updates. how the girls are doing in their careers, how their partners are. it makes arthur tear up everytime, but whenever he hears their voices or sees them in person, he’s surprised. he never thought he could be so proud. he and francis did well. it’s just the two of them again, in their home full of memories and pictures. arthur feels lost without all the noise, and francis knows this. he pulls out an old record, arthur’s favourite sgt peppers.
it’s the song john hated. sixty four. paul’s granny music. and arthur can briefly remember a time in his teenagehood, when he was so set on hating the world and everything in it, where he agreed. why would paul write something so simple? so sappy? but as he aged, met new people, experienced new things, paul’s simple lyrics and desires resonated. he knew he was his favourite for a reason.
to grow old with someone, that was a pleasure in life that arthur felt fortunate to receive. to have someone be yours, forevermore. and even after all these years, having francis be so close, to look at him in that way as they dance sloppily around the living room. yeah, the butterflies are still there.
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