You squealed in delight and ran behind your big brother, Francis. He wasn’t really your brother, but he may as well have been. The blonde haired, blue eyed Frenchman smiled and turned to you, extending an arm to catch your small body before you could run past him.
“Now now, ma chérie.” He laughed as he held you still. You were overly excited today. Today was the day Francis had planned to take you to his homeland; to France. The only reason you still hadn’t seen the place you would be living in was because the two of you had been living in Canada for the last few years. When your parents had died Francis had adopted you and the two of you had lived with Francis’s Canadian brother, Matthew. You supposed Matthew would also be considered your brother, but you didn’t see him a lot. Francis had waited so long to take you home because he wanted to wait until he felt you were old enough to travel to France.
Today, Francis was finally taking you home. He smiled happily and shifted the luggage in his arms. “Avez-vous faim? You weren’t as fluid with French as Francis was, but you had learned quite a lot in the time you had spent with him.
You nodded, strands of (h/c) hair escaping the elegant up-do Francis had put it in before you two had left. “Non, Monsieur. I’m not ‘ungry.” You said merrily, trying to imitate his French accent.
Francis leaned down and patted your hair gently. “Alvays so polite, my little ____. You don’t ‘ave to be so formal around me.” He sighed and grabbed your small hand in his larger one. “Come on zen. Ve ‘ave to get our luggage checked before ve can get on ze plane.”
You followed your big brother obediently, holding on to his hand as you both went through the process of checking luggage and getting ready to board the plane.
You almost ran ahead when the two of you walked down the little hallway from the airport to the plane, but instead you held firmly to Francis’s hand and tried to control your excitement. “Calm down, little one.” The Frenchman laughed and squeezed your hand a tiny bit.
When you finally boarded the plane you rushed ahead of Francis and leapt into the window seat. You couldn’t help but giggle at the expression on France’s face when you did. “’Ey now, zat’s no fair ____.” He smiled, blue eyes happy and teasing. “You’ll ‘ave to ask nicely if you vant to sit zere.”
Francis wagged his finger and shook his head with a smirk. “In French.”
“S’il…vous…plait?” You asked, tilting you head to the side, hoping you had asked the right way.
“Oui.” Francis said and sat beside you. “You’re so spoiled.” He chuckled. “Now buckle up, _____. It’s going to be a long flight to Paris.”
~*Short Time Skip from Sealand*~
You felt your eyes growing increasingly heavy. The sky outside had grown dark; you could no longer see the ocean you knew you were flying over.
“Are you sleepy, _____?” Francis whispered, stroking your hair gently.
“N….non…” You whined back, though your voice was soft and drowsy. “Quit messing with my hair…” You sighed. “Let me play with yours.” You moved lethargically in your seat so you could run your hands through his shoulder length hair. It was just as soft as it looked. In your daze you wondered why yours never felt that soft. His wavy blonde locks flowed easily between your fingers, soothing you even more. You sighed happily and trailed your tiny hands down across the stubble on his chin. “Heh…heh….that feels funny…” You breathed deeply and rested your head on his shoulder, finally succumbing to sleep.
~*More Time Skips*~
You were gently shaken away by someone. They were whispering French into your ear, so you assumed it was Francis. “5 more…minutes…brother…” you sighed dreamily.
“Oui, should I tell Paris to wait 5 more minutes?” Francis teased, prodding your arm.
“We’re in France?!” You asked excitedly, tiny hands fumbling with the buckle on the seatbelt. “Let’s go, brother!” You squealed in excitement and almost fell out of the chair in your excitement.
“Calm down, _____. Paris vill still be zere, non?” Francis laughed and grabbed your hand to balance you. “You don’t vant to fall and mess up your pretty face, do you?” Francis sighed and looked down at you, blue eyes amused.
You took your big brother’s hand and walked all of three feet before literally falling over. “Mmmm….” You sighed and leaned heavily against France’s arm. “I’m…..tired….” You groaned, clinging to the strong arms of the Frenchman.
“Jet lag, oui?” Francis laughed and crouched down, letting you climb on his back. You sighed in contentment into his hair. He smelled like wine, but you didn’t mind the smell of it. It somehow calmed you down to smell it; it let you know he was really there, that he wasn’t going to leave you like your parents had. You still couldn’t understand why they had left you all alone, all Francis told you was that they had to go away for a long time. When you had asked Matthew he had gotten really quiet and just gave you ice cream.
“Oui…” You breathed and quickly faded into blissful slumber.
When you woke up you were in a large room, white pillows and red blankets surrounded you. Dim lighting filtered through the curtains. For a moment you were scared. You had no idea where you were, and you were alone. The frightening feeling of loneliness crept up on you. No, he couldn’t leave. Francis would never abandon you like that. He couldn’t. Tears bubbled up in your eyes as you climbed out of bed quickly, running to the door, vision clouded with tears. “Brother! Frère?!”
Francis was cooking when he heard your tiny scream. He ran down the hall to the room you were in. He opened the door and instantly saw your crying form. Your (e/c) eyes streamed tears and your (h/l) (h/c) hair was messy from where you had just gotten up. You let out a little sob and launched yourself at Francis.
Francis sat down in the doorway and held you close, stroking your back and whispering sweet things to you. “It’s okay, ____. Shh…It’s alright. I would never leave you.” He soothed, gently rocking you side to side.
“I..I know…” You sniffled but you couldn’t stop crying. You were scared. You had thought for sure that he was gone. You thought he had left just like they had. It was the same scenario. To wake up happy and comfortable, and find out everyone you loved had abandoned you.
“I’m sorry, ____. It’s okay….shh….relax…Come on, let’s go eat breakfast. You’d like that, non?” He asked, you could already smell the breakfast he had cooked this morning, so you just nodded. You wiped away your tears with your free hand and took Francis’s hand with the other.
Breakfast was simple, yet delicious. Francis drank coffee, while you drank orange juice. You both ate sliced of baguettes; Francis spread raspberry jam on his where you preferred strawberry. After begging, you got Francis to make some yogurt for the both of you to share.
You were licking your fingers while Francis was putting away the plates and glasses. “Zat’s not very polite, _____.” He said, smiling. His smile widened when you jumped. How had he seen you doing that? He had his back turned!
“Désolé.” You said, blush spreading across your face.
After getting dressed, into a little red dress with a gold bow across your waist that Francis had picked out, the both of you headed out into town. To say Paris was beautiful would be an understatement. You were in awe at the beauty of it all.
Francis took you through many different shops, spoiling you all the more by buying you pretty ribbons and toys.
“____. Would you like some ice cream?” Francis asked, pointing to a stand nearby.
“Oui!” You replied cheerily and skipped behind Francis to the stand. When you reached it you stood obediently and waited for Francis to order the cold treat. Just then you heard someone calling out to you.
“Hey, girly. Do ya speak English? Come here, I need help figuring out how to get to the bank.” The man said. His voice was gruff and he was holding a map. You figured he just needed help so you walked the few feet over to him. It seemed Francis hadn’t noticed your leave, but you wouldn’t be long. “That’s right girly. Come here, help me out, yeah? Follow me into here; my friends here need help too.” The man said, a smirk on his face. You blinked and followed him into the alley, not fully understanding the danger of what you were doing.
“_____!?!” You heard the frantic yelling of your French brother. You hadn’t gone that far, so you called out to him in response. “_____!” He yelled as he entered the dark alley. His eyes widened in fear when he saw the men. “____ what are you doing? Come on, _____. Let’s go.”
The man’s friends stepped from the shadows, each holding guns. “We can’t let you do that. Give us the girl and we’ll kindly leave.” One of them said, smiling evilly.
You were confused by this, so you clung to Francis’s leg. “Non…Francis, I don’t want to…” You whined, trying to hide from them.
“She’s not going anywhere!” Francis yelled, pushing your small form behind his body. You had never seen him so angry before. What did these strange men want? Why were they holding up those shiny things?
“Well…we’ll have to take her by force!” One of the scrawny men in the back yelled and pointed his gun at Francis, he pulled the trigger and a loud blast resounded through the small alley. The whole world seemed to stop with the deafening sound. Things seemed to move in slow motion and you could hardly hear the men freaking out.
“What the hell did you do?!” “You weren’t supposed to shoot anyone!” “I don’t know! I didn’t mean to!” “The cops are coming! Run!”
You watched, (e/c) eyes wide with fear as Francis fell forward to his knees. You were still behind him, afraid to step in front of him for fear of what you would see. Memories flashed through your head. The multiple shots fired, your parents falling to the ground, red liquid pooling from their bodies. A tall man dressed in black walking away and leaving you in the midst of everything.
You ran around in front of Francis, hoping, praying that you wouldn’t see what you knew you would see. He was on his knees, clutching his chest. His blue eyes were darkened but wide. “Francis…Francis…..no…non….what’s wrong, brother? Come on…get up! We have to go! Wh-what about our ice cream?” You wailed, tears streaming down your face. This couldn’t possibly be happening. He had to get up. He would be okay. He couldn’t go.
Francis smiled, blood trickling from the corner of his mouth. “I’m not going…anywhere…._____. Come…here…let me…let me hold you….before…before I…” He trailed off with a cough, more blood trailing from his lips.
You frantically shook your head and rushed to him, hugging him tightly, not caring that the red liquid from his chest was staining the new dress Francis had gotten you. “Non! You’ll be okay! You…you have to be okay…you can’t go! You can’t leave...you can’t go like they did!” You cried, trying to form coherent words around your sobs.
Francis moved his arm slowly and hugged you close. “You’re messing…up…your…dress….” He whispered into your ear, his voice low and strained. He wheezed a little and tried not to cough on you. He knew you were scared. He knew he was going to die. Tears couldn’t be held back as he thought of leaving you. He had always told you that he would always be there for you, that he would never leave you. He felt like he was breaking a promise now, as he felt himself slipping away.
You cried and touched his cheek gently. “Why are..you crying…?” You asked, though you thought you already knew the answer. “You can’t….you can’t….don’t…..go….” You wailed and hugged his chest tightly, trying to ignore the fact that his blood was sticking to your arms and staining your clothes. “You promised! You said you’d never leave me! You promised! You’re a liar!” You wailed, burying your face in a spot on his chest that wasn’t stained with blood. “You…lied….” You whispered.
Francis felt the tears on his face continue to cascade down his ever paling face, but he smiled when he pulled you back so he could look into your eyes. “I’m sorry…______. I’m so…sorry…go home now….call Matthew…tell him….tell him what happened….he’ll come….he’ll come and…he’ll take you home…I’m sorry I can’t….I can’t be here…for you…don’t cry for me…laugh when you remember…the good times.” He rasped.
“Don’t go! I don’t want to go with Matthew! Home isn’t a place! Home is with you!” You cried, searching Francis’s blue eyes for any signs of hope. Hope that said this wasn’t happening, that he would be okay.
“Do you….remember…Matthew’s number?....It’s in the book….by the phone…if you don’t….” Francis continued to speak, trying to get in everything he could while he had time.
You nodded and didn’t say anything. Your throat was so tight you didn’t think you could have spoken if you tried.
Francis, with a little difficulty, leaned down and planted a kiss on your forehead. “Je t’aime.” He whispered then fell back to the concrete floor of the alley.
“Francis! No! Brother! Wake up! Come on! Get up! GET UP!” You screamed as the police arrived. Tears ran down your face and splashed down on Francis’s cheek. You shook his shoulders as hard as you could. “GET UP! YOU PROMISED!” You screeched, wailing in misery.
“Parlez-vous français?” One of the officers asked kindly. You said nothing, but you shook your head slowly, “English?” You nodded, still shaking Francis lightly. “Come with me, little one. What’s your name?” One of the officers asked. He seemed really nice, but you hated the reason he was here.
“__...___...._______.” You whimpered, wiping your eyes as the man led you away. You had no energy left to fight this man, but you’d have given the world to stay with Francis.
“We’re going to need an ambulance here!” The other police man yelled into his walkie-talkie. “We have a man shot in an alley. He’s still alive! Hurry, he doesn’t have much time, he’s lost a lot of blood.”
For the second time that day the world slowed down. He’s alive. He’s….alive…..Francis….is alive. He’s alive.
The police man near Francis bent down and pressed his fingers to Francis’s wrist. You quickly pulled off the little jacket you had over your dress. You ran over to Francis’s body and handed the police officer the coat. He looked at you then back at the coat. He would have questioned you on why but he got the idea and pressed the jacket to Francis’s chest. You were glad he didn’t ask any questions, or refuse to take the jacket.
The ambulance arrived quickly, though it felt like ages. Every second that ticked by was one more Francis may not have. When it got there you immediately clambered into the back. “I’m going with him.” You said simply and quietly.
Francis was put in the back as quickly as they could get him and was rushed to the hospital. On the way over, the doctors in the back with you took off Francis’s shirt and worked on stopping the blood. Another doctor put a clear mask over his face to regulate his breathing. The man in the passenger’s seat kept talking to you, trying to get your mind off the scene in front of you but it was futile. You were so focused on Francis’s body that you couldn’t even hear the words the doctor was saying.
The wait at the hospital was a long one. They had told you that you couldn’t go into the room with Francis while they worked. They asked you if you had any other relatives you could call and all you could think of was Matthew. After giving them his number, which you had memorized due to the many chats you often had over the phone, they called him and let him know what had happened. He got the quickest flight from Canada but it would still be hours before he would be able to get to the hospital in France.
The receptionist let you behind her desk and talked to you. She talked to you and played a few games with you while you waited. She didn’t ask many questions, and didn’t try to make you talk like everyone else had so you were grateful. She seemed to understand that you were in no mood to talk.
After what seemed like ages, a doctor finally came back and asked if you’d like to see your brother. You nodded and jumped up, taking the doctor’s hand. The walk down the hallway to his room was endless. With each step the hallway seemed to get longer and longer. Finally the doctor stopped in front of a door to the right and turned the handle slowly. “He’s sleeping right now.” The doctor said in a whisper as he opened the door and let you in.
You knew at this point that this all had to be a dream. The walls were too bright, the lights hurt, Francis’s skin was too pale. You cried when you finally made it to his bed. All the worry and guilt you had felt over the last few hours had built up and finally spilled over. “Brother…Francis?” You whispered, stroking his hair gently. “You’re okay now….you’re okay…” You said, voice barely audible over the ticking of the machines hooked to him.
Francis slowly, ever so slowly, opened one eye. “_...____?” He muttered slowly and opened his eyes. “I’m okay…” he said and tried to raise his arm to beckon you closer.
You crawled up on the bed and lay down beside him with your head on his shoulder. “I can’t believe you gave up so easy! I thought you were gone!” You scolded, but you could never be angry at him.
Francis smiled weakly. “I’m sorry.”
You sighed in contentment and nuzzled into his shoulder. “I’ll forgive you….eventually.” You grinned and closed your eyes, overdue sleep catching up with you quickly.
As you drifted off you realized that no matter what happened you were never alone.