Prompt: Day 13 - 'Once Upon a Dream'
Word Count: 1455
Summary: Alfred is late to their anniversary dinner for... reasons.
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
In all truth, Arthur hadn’t expected much from life.
It was different now, of course. The permeating self-hatred that he’d experienced as a boy was all but gone. He had a sweet, kind boyfriend who loved him despite everything. He had a nice flat and he’d learnt to cope with his Sight. His brothers were attempting to mend their relationships with him, and his parents called every weekend. Everything seemed to be going perfectly.
It scared him to no end.
He was an independent sort of person, and he most definitely didn’t want to become clingy or too dependent on Alfred. But it was a fact that Arthur continued to fear the worst. What if everything that had happened was a delusion of his own mind? What if it just didn’t last? Nothing lasted forever.
He wanted to trust Alfred though. Alfred had promised forever.
Arthur stirred at the pot of pasta absently. He’d specifically asked the spirits to leave him alone for the next few hours, so that he didn’t become distracted and burn the food as usual. Everyone assumed that he just didn’t know how to cook, but that wasn’t the case at all. Arthur could cook perfectly well; it just so happened that whenever he attempted to cook, the spirits and faeries would surround him and babble in their many voices, causing him to overcook food or mix in the wrong ingredients.
He was determined to get it right tonight, though. It was their anniversary, and Arthur wanted to be the one to make an effort, for a change. Alfred always went overboard with his gifts and showers of affection. Arthur had bought just one gift, which was safely hidden where his boyfriend surely wouldn’t find it.
The pasta seemed tender enough, so he carefully poured it into a colander to drain. He gave the sauce a quick stir and went to check on the salmon steaks in the oven. Everything was going perfectly. The asparagus looked almost done, too, so he began to get out some dishes and cutlery and quickly laid them out on the table.
There were only ten minutes left before Alfred was due home, so Arthur hurriedly collected the gift and slipped it into his pocket before dishing up the food and placing the plates into the oven to keep them hot. He sat down and waited.
Twenty minutes later, Alfred still wasn’t home.
It didn’t bother Arthur—after all, the American was late a lot of the time. What did bother him, though, was the fact that Alfred wasn’t picking up his calls or answering his text messages. What if something had happened? What if there’d been an accident, or if the silly American had been mugged?
He sat there, wringing his hands nervously as he repeatedly attempted to reach Alfred’s phone.
Alfred arrived home a solid hour late. At least he had the decency to look remorseful, Arthur supposed, and the kiss and roses only served to mollify him further.
“I’m sorry,” Alfred said, wrapping his arms around Arthur and refusing to let go. “Traffic was real bad.” He finally pulled back a bit and leaned down, his breath ghosting past Arthur’s cheek. “Happy anniversary, Arthur.”
“Happy anniversary, idiot,” Arthur mumbled, pretending to still be upset. He crossed his arms and turned away, but his tiny smile made his relief and happiness obvious. “Sit down. I made dinner.”
“You made dinner?” He winced theatrically and Arthur smacked him soundly. “Kidding, kidding—what’s for dinner then, huh? Smells good this time, sweetheart.”
“Come and help me bring it out to the table.”
Soon they were both seated at the table with steaming plates in front of them and a glass of champagne each. Alfred looked suitably impressed by the meal.
“You actually made this?”
“Shut up! You know that I can cook perfectly well!”
Eventually they settled down, eating slowly and reminiscing about their days together. They were only twenty-two, but it seemed as if they had been through a lot together. They’d been dating since high school, after all.
“It’s really good,” Alfred complimented as he continued eating. “How come you never cooked like this before?”
Arthur shrugged, mumbling an excuse under his breath. When they had finished eating and were up to their second glass of champagne, the two of them simply sat there holding hands across the table. It felt like a dream, but the warmth of Alfred’s hand made it hard to believe that it wasn’t real.
“Hey, Arthur…” Alfred looked away, his cheeks turning rather pink. It wasn’t like him to be so bashful, so Arthur leaned forward and smiled coaxingly.
“We’ve been together for a long time now, right?” The American shifted nervously in his seat. “Are you… happy? With me?”
“Of course I am.” Arthur frowned, suddenly beginning to worry. “Why do you ask? What’s going on?”
“We’ve been through a lot together. I believe in you. I love you.” He suddenly stood and rounded the table, standing right in front of Arthur. “I love you,” he repeated quietly, voice shaking.
“What’s the matter?” Arthur’s voice was rising in fear. “I love you, too—you know that, don’t you? Even if I don’t always say it, I do, honestly…”
“Yeah.” Alfred summoned a weak smile and dropped down onto one knee. “Arthur… I know that we can’t get married or anything. But I don’t need the government or church to tell me that I’m yours, or that you’re mine. I… bought something for you. That’s why I’m late.”
From his back pocket he produced a simple gold band, nestled in its velvet box.
“Will you, uh… wear this for me? Even if it’s not official… I—”
He broke off as Arthur scowled and shoved him lightly.
“O-oh,” he said, crestfallen. “I guess it was a stupid thing to do, right? I mean…”
The Briton pushed his chair away and produced a similar-looking box from his own pocket, blushing and scowling all the while. “It’s not stupid,” he mumbled, kneeling down in front of his boyfriend. “I just… I wanted to be the one to… give you one first. I know that we can’t get married. But…”
They gazed at each other for a long moment, before Alfred suddenly burst into loud chuckles. He clutched at his middle and laughed as Arthur scowled at him. Eventually, though, Arthur also joined in and they sat on the floor, reduced to helpless giggles.
“We’re two of a kind,” Alfred said finally as they wheezed for breath. “C’mon, I’ll put yours on you, then you can put that one on me. Let’s do vows!” He lifted Arthur’s left hand gently and kissed it, grinning. “I, Alfred Jones, take you, Arthur Kirkland, to be my uh, boyfriend forever. To love and to hold and to spoil rotten, and, um, to, er—help me out here, sweetheart!”
Arthur merely shook his head and laughed. “You did fine.”
Beaming, Alfred eased the ring out of the box and slipped it onto his boyfriend’s ring finger. It fit perfectly, gleaming softly in the dimmed light. “Okay, your turn.”
“Must I?” At the American’s insistent nod, Arthur rolled his eyes and took Alfred’s left hand. “I, Arthur Kirkland, take you, Alfred Jones, to be my… um, boyfriend? But that’s ridiculous, we’re already boyfriends!”
“Eternal boyfriends then. C’mon, keep going!”
“… to be my eternal boyfriend, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward ‘til death do us part.”
He deposited a quick kiss onto Alfred’s hand and slid the ring onto the American’s ring finger.
“Oh my God, Artie,” Alfred said, obviously trying to keep himself from laughing. “I knew those romance novels would come in handy one day!”
“Shut up!” Arthur huffed and began to pull away, but Alfred gripped him gently by the upper arms and tugged him closer.
“Can I kiss the bride now?” the American asked quietly.
“You’d have to kiss yourself then,” Arthur scoffed, “because I’m definitely not a bride. Also, it’s ‘may I kiss the bride’.”
They both leaned in though, eager to seal this new promise with a kiss.
Even though Arthur had been terrified at the prospect of baring his heart and possibly being rejected, he knew that Alfred, too, had been frightened when offering the ring.
They’d come a long way since that night in a coffee shop all those years ago. Against all odds, they’d fought to be happy and together, and had won. No matter what happened, they knew that the other would stand by their side through anything.