【英文】Bygone Days Ⅲ

Chapter 3


Note:  I wonder if the author of Hetalia got a character of Portugal, so I created one. The name is Igor, a younger brother of Spain. And this chapter has slight Spain/Britain.



It seems that Napoleon has little worry about the advancing Russian troops in the east. Every day He still handles political affairs on time, and spends leisure time in hunting and rest from Fontainebleau to Tuileries. On the other hand, he immediately raised recruits when he returned to Paris, in order to rebuild the Grande armée which lost more than 500 thousands soldiers in the retreat from Moscow. He also found time to visit Pope Pius VII, who had been living in Fontainebleau as a prisoner since the French occupation of the Papal States in 1809. This time he forces the Pope to sign a new concordant which includes holding the coronation ceremony for his wife Marie and son.


"You will regret allowing him to do whatever he wants." After Napoleon left the room with satisfaction of the new concordat, the Pope shouts at Francis. The terms of the agreement are so humiliating and anti-Catholic that he fails to control himself, "I have prayed to God time by time. How can a being like you obey that usurper who isn't even an aristocrat?"


"Time has changed. This is not the era when ancestry can decide the social status and religion can control the king."


Francis walks to the large glass window and takes sight of the scenery outside. Fontainebleau at dusk is coated with warm yellow. Placid lake reflects the image of burning sky. Some birds occasionally stay at the fountain's brim with sharp beaks sipping springs. Few decades ago, buildings there were dilapidated and all the furniture was sold to raise government funds. Until Napoleon crowned himself the emperor, he began to repair the palace. The scene now makes it hard to imagine how dilapidated once it was.


"I changed too. Before the Révolution, I often heard numerous voices. The voices come from mon peuple. You know what they want most? They are not commandment, fame and money, but Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité."


Tilting his head, Francis eyes the stunning expression on the Pope's face. The light of sunset carves his angular face into interlaced darkness and brightness, which makes his expression unclear at this time.


"Religious leaders Like you as well as the royal families hate and fear the underlying unknown force, because it will destroy your power, status, money and even religion, but he brings me more than you can think of, which will break the millennia hierarchical shackles imposed on Europe and eventually change the whole world."


Behind him the Pope seems speechless by the shock of the speech. He just clenches a fist and blesses himself.


"The authority of the Church is given by God. Anyone who takes the authority away from the hands of God will be punished! Napoleon will fail at last and your dangerous wish will never come true."


The words almost can be defined as an insult, but it didn't make Francis show any unpleasant. The blond country just walks to the angry Pope, patting him on the shoulder, and whispers in his ear, "Even if he fails, the impact is already there and his contribution cannot be denied. History will never backtrack."


Feeling the body in front of him slightly trembling, Francis smiles with satisfaction and let him go. When he reaches the door, he seems to remember something and turns back, "By the way, Does Holy Roman still have no breath?"




When the allies force retreats from the old battlefield in Salamanca, light drizzle float in the grey sky. Losing Madrid again forced the whole army to retreat, and the large amounts of damages caused by the French let the morale sink lower. Fortunately, the angry French did not follow up a victory with hot pursuit. Instead, they just sent a squad of cavalry to pursue in bad weather. The logistical support for the allies in Salamanca was quickly disbanded, which left the exhausted soldiers being starved.


Wellington remains silent on the way of retracement. It seems that he is lost in thought of the mistakes he made in the arrangement and future plans. Arthur rides behind him. The cold rain makes the muddy road more difficult to step farther. Icy waters slid down along his cheeks, with black mud and blood, soaking the uniform, but he doesn't care. Although the allied forces won the Battle of Salamanca and the French army was forced to abandon Andalusia and Asturias, the retreat to Portugal again pushed the victory father.


Arthur knows that Spain is not the main battlefield through the eyes of Napoleon and Francis. If the French troops stabilize the east, it will be only a matter of time that his army is repulsed to the sea. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, although Alfred hasn't got any advantages in naval power, he still doesn't intend to throw in the towel.


Since the United States declared its independence, the relationship between Alfred and him has deteriorated sharply. Sometimes only several words could turn them into bickering. He doesn't know how much impact Francis has on Alfred, especially after the French Revolution, rather than generous material support in military and economy, the spiritual influence seems to be more far-reaching.


------ That arrogant bastard is always good at this.


After cursing Francis for several times in his mind, Arthur raises his head and looks at the grey sky, reckoning the distance that they are able to move forward before nightfall. Then he looks back to the road. Antonio's army was left in the final to deal with the French cavalry. With wandering Spanish guerrillas, it should be quick to get rid of the few French cavalries.


Antonio and Francis have known each other for centuries. Few years ago they were still alliance and they captured Portugal together. Antonio always wants his brother back to his side, while Igor still finds it difficult to get along with him, and the only close alliance he has is Arthur. Their alliance lasts until most of the Spaniards turned against the French intervention in Spanish military and internal affairs. Antonio also disagreed with some of the decisions made by Francis, so he had to change his side to the opposite of Francis. However, Arthur is not sure how much hostility he has to Francis. On the contrary, it seems that they still view each other as bosom friend in the heart.


"We will bivouac along Matilla stream before it gets dark." Igor rides abreast of him and interrupts his thoughts. Seeing Arthur constantly eyeing back, he adds, "Don't worry, soon he will catch up with us."


"I know, your brother is not easy to cope with." Arthur turns to Igor, whose expression isn't as easy as his words described. With experience fighting alongside each other the contradiction between the brothers seems to be eased a lot, but the deep-rooted disagreements still remain. Arthur has thought more than once to ask Igor his opinion of his brother now, but ultimately chose not to touch this sensitive topic.



Until the allied forces finish station along Matilla stream Antonio and his army are able to catch up. The French cavalry seems more intractable than expected and most soldiers immediately take rest when they reach the camp. Antonio squats by the stream, washing off the mud and blood stains left on his face and hands. Igor didn't say anything when he saw the Spaniard coming back. Instead, he went to see the wounded, leaving Arthur to check Antonio alone.


Pouring a hand of stream water on the face, Antonio opens his eyes and finds a clean handkerchief in front of him. He blinks, then looks up and catches a pair of emerald eyes.




He says in a slightly pleasant voice and takes the handkerchief. Arthur squats down beside him, "how about the French cavalry?"


"They retreated before I reach here, but we still cannot relax our vigilance."


Arthur nods, "The French army collapsed in Moscow." He says as he watching Antonio's reaction, "Soon they will move most of the troops here to the east battlefield. The stalemate won't last too long."


"Hope so." Antonio wipes the water from his face with the handkerchief, showing little pleasure for the optimistic situation.


Arthur sighs, "It seems that turning against Francis still rankles in your mind."


Antonio gives him a grateful smile, and then puts the handkerchief in the water to clean, "Being an opponent to Francis always makes me feel uneasy." He murmurs thoughtfully, "Sometimes, I don't understand that man even I'm his closest friend."


"Why do you think so?" Arthur asks, feeling more surprised than doubtful.


"I turn against Francis because my people want an independent country rather than a French Satellite." He frowns, "But the liberals still believe that France can bring them true freedom."


“Then which side are you on?”


"... I don't know. I'm not that type of philosophers or poets who put themselves in an endless battle chasing true freedom or true love." Antonio gently shakes his head with a wry smile. Then he stands up and stares at the distant leaden sky.


“But I trust him.” He says with no doubt and gives Arthur a hand, “Would you like to go for a walk? I know this place pretty well.”


“Sure. We still need to check the security around.”



Matilla stream is surrounded by forests, enchanting but not for military station. The French troops may appear from every side, and use the lush trees to make excellent cover. Antonio and Arthur walk along the stream, one in front and the other behind, although they keep pace quietly as much as possible, but some small animals are still disturbed and occasionally scurry across the jungles. The sky already gets dark with a silver crescent hanging on it. The flowing stream reflects bright silver.


"I like the stream." Antonio breaks the silence, "It reminds me of the time when I live on the sea."


“I was curious about the world on the other side of the sea, meeting with new people and facing different challenges.” He stares Arthur, “I think it is the kind of freedom I always seek.”


It was the golden age of the Kingdom of Spain as a marine colonial empire. They had countless conflicts in Europe, America and the Atlantic Ocean over maritime supremacy. Arthur has no idea how to respond, because it's himself who ended the freedom. So he just turns his sight away.


Noticing Arthur's concern, Antonio changes the topic, "Igor enjoyed it too, but he didn't want me to go with him. That's why we began to compete."


"Igor complained to me a lot about your possessiveness at that time." Arthur smiles.


"He should complain to me directly. Sometimes, you are more like his brother than me." Antonio stops and takes few steps closer to Arthur, "I think you also like it. So you came to the sea and challenged my hegemony. And because of you, Francis started to show interest in sea power as well."


The topic he always tries to avoid is eventually brought up. Arthur doesn't want to quarrel with Antonio at this time, so he just stands there biting his lower lip. The expected conflict doesn't come. Instead, he is dragged into a warm embrace.


"When you tried whatever you can to seize my colonies, I always wanted to ask you. Would you like to travel with me around the world? I can give you the life you want, so we can stop fighting."


Unable to make any response, Arthur stares with dilated eyes, allowing the pair of arms tightening him.


"Antonio, I ..." He pauses, failing to organize fluent words, "I thought you hate me about that."


“I did, but at the same time, I want you to stay by my side like today.” He says honestly and buries his face in Arthur’s shoulder, “Please, just keep still for a while.”


Arthur doesn't say anything more. He just reaches out to hug him back. For a time, only the sound of stream echoes in the dark night.



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