Title: Those Three Words
Prompt: Day 9 - 'I won't Say I'm in Love'
Word Count: 1419
Summary: Alfred discovers why Arthur is hesitant to declare his love.
Notes: I'm attempting to write a one-shot for each day that eventually connects up into an entire story. Because it was too difficult to make it in order according to prompts, the stories will be out of chronological order ;u;
Hike | How to Make Friends | The Fight | Crush | Lights | Coffee | Date | Explanations | Talk | Those Three Words | Make You Better | Marigolds | Think of Me | Promises
Alfred couldn’t help feeling somewhat cheated. He and Arthur had been dating for a while, but he had yet to hear those three words. By now, he was sure that he wanted to be with Arthur. Everything about the other boy was simply amazing, and Alfred had been quite liberal with his proclamations of love. They’d introduced each other to their respective families and were now very close to graduating—but not once had Arthur said that he loved Alfred.
He knew that he had to be understanding. Regardless of how long they had been dating, he had to be patient. Arthur wasn’t used to saying stuff like that. It was still frustrating though, knowing that Arthur definitely felt something for him, but was unwilling to voice it out loud.
“Alfred, dear, would you like seconds?”
Alfred refocussed. He had been invited to dinner at Arthur’s house, and was currently surrounded by a sea of Kirklands. “Er, yes please, Mrs Kirkland,” he said awkwardly, unsure whether he was supposed to accept or not. He glanced beside him, but Arthur’s face was unreadable.
“How many times have I told you to stop being so formal?” Her voice was chiding but her expression was pleasant as she dished up some more food for him. “You should call me ‘mum’. Or at the very least, by name. But I prefer ‘mum’.”
“Thank you… mom.” Alfred gingerly accepted his plate and began eating quickly to occupy his mouth and avoid saying any more embarrassing things. Beside him, Arthur’s face had pinkened.
“Mum,” Arthur all but whined, “don’t make him say such strange things.”
“How is it strange?” Mrs Kirkland began to clear some of the plates from the table. “He’s your beau, isn’t he?”
“Well yes, but I fail to see how that justifies you forcing him to call you ‘mum’.”
“Isn’t he part of the family?”
Arthur fell silent then, chewing on his lower lip. His father seemed to sense the awkward atmosphere, so he and Arthur’s brothers all quickly excused themselves from the table.
“Arthur,” Alfred began, feeling a bit hurt at his boyfriend’s lack of response. “If you don’t like it then I won’t say it. I know that I’m not really part of your family, but… I thought I’d say it to make your mom happy.” He glanced at Arthur’s mother. “Sorry, Mrs Kirkland, but Artie’s not comfortable with it.”
Mrs Kirkland was gazing at her son disapprovingly. “I see.”
“May I be excused?” Arthur asked weakly. He stood up without waiting for an answer and fled.
“You must excuse him,” Mrs Kirkland said, beginning to clear the table properly. Alfred quickly stood to help her. “He cares for you greatly, he’s just… He’s not very good at showing it.”
Alfred simply shrugged. They worked in silence, and Alfred helped her wash the dishes instead of chasing after Arthur. The other boy had seemed kind of upset anyway, he thought it would be best to not disturb him.
“To be honest,” she began, looking a tad guilty, “I didn’t approve of your relationship at first. It’s wonderful that you’ve stayed with him for so long, though. I know that Arthur isn’t exactly normal.”
“I love him,” he admitted quietly. Mrs Kirkland beamed.
"That’s lovely, Alfred. But please—neither I nor Arthur, nor anyone in the family really, expect you to stick with him for more than you’re comfortable. You’ve done a lot for my son and I am truly grateful, but I know that he has… issues. It will be difficult to deal with that in the future, and I expect it will only get worse as he gets older. We’re thinking about getting him some kind of treatment, but we’re not sure if it’s appropriate at his age.”
Alfred froze. The glass that he was drying dropped out of his faltering grip and clattered into the sink. No wonder Arthur was so desperate to show that he wasn’t crazy. It all made sense now. After all, if his own mother didn’t support and reassure him, then it was no wonder he was so insecure about his mental state.
“I don’t think that you understand, Mrs Kirkland,” he said firmly. “I love your son. I don’t think that he’s crazy. Arthur is perfect, and I love him.”
“I’m happy that you feel that way,” she said, “but just remember that you needn’t force yourself, all right? You’ve already done so much for him. You’ve made him so happy, even if he doesn’t show it.”
“I’m not forcing myself.” The words were beginning to become choked in his throat. “I love Arthur, and I’m not going to leave him if things get a little hard.”
Was this why Arthur was so hesitant? It was obvious that Mrs Kirkland was just doing her best to look out for Arthur, but her efforts were infuriating. If his mother told him on a daily basis that the person he loved was going to leave him, Alfred would be hesitant to open up and declare his love, too.
“Please don’t tell me, or him, that I’m going to leave him,” he continued. “Because it’s not going to happen. I want to be with him.”
“Mum, Alfred—” They both froze as Arthur stepped into the kitchen. “I’m sorry, am I interrupting something?”
Alfred crossed the room in a few long strides and pulled Arthur close. He kissed him solidly, then pulled back and rested their foreheads together. “I love you,” he declared. He watched Arthur’s eyes widen. “I fucking love you, and I’m not going to leave you. I know that you’re not crazy.”
“A-Alfred…” Arthur tore his gaze away, his face flushed. “Not in front of mum…”
“Why not? She needs to know. I’m not giving you up without a fight, now or ever. I love you. I want to be with you.”
Mrs Kirkland’s usually open face was unreadable.
Graduation came quickly, and soon enough they were packing up to go to college. They continued to date steadily, but still Arthur refused to say anything along the lines of ‘love’. It was beginning to become more than a little bit frustrating, but Alfred knew that he had to prove himself. He had to try and undo all of Arthur’s family’s words.
He had to prove that he wasn’t going to leave any time soon.
Alfred found a small flat near the college that both he and Arthur had miraculously gotten into together, and made arrangements to see it. It was at a decent standard and was relatively close to campus, so he signed the contract.
“Arthur?” He was lying on his bed at home, with his boyfriend cuddled against his chest. Arthur mumbled, half-asleep. “Hey, Arthur. I gotta ask you something important.”
“What do you want?” The Briton finally looked up, his oversized eyebrows furrowing.
“Have you found somewhere to stay yet? Yanno, for college?”
“It’s rather early to be deciding that, don’t you think? But mum wants me to stay on campus. Something about being close to the health centre?”
Alfred felt irritation flare up at the mention of Mrs Kirkland. Since their discussion during that dinner, they weren’t as close as they had been. She seemed convinced that Alfred was going to break Arthur’s heart and leave him an utter mess. But then again, it was a mother’s duty to worry about her children, so he supposed he should be more forgiving.
“Listen, I found this place… it’s pretty nice, and close, too, but… it’s kinda big for just me, and I’d miss you if you were living all the way over on campus, so… do you wanna, you know, um… stay with me?”
There was no missing the shock that sparked through those green eyes. Arthur had truly expected to be casted off now that they were out of high school. Alfred had no idea whether to feel angry or just plain sad.
“You… want me to stay with you?”
“Well, yeah.” Alfred laughed weakly. “I do love you, you know. I want to be with you as much as possible. It’d be hard if we weren’t living together ‘cause we’re taking all different classes and stuff, and… I don’t think I’d be very happy without you around.”
Arthur slowly wrapped his arms around Alfred’s neck and buried his face against his shirt. “I… want to. I want to stay with you. I…” he trailed off, but then forced himself to continue in a whisper. “I love you.”