Beginnings, Chapter SevenThe two walked without direction for some time, allowing themselves to become lost together amongst the sounds of birds and rushing river water. Eventually they came to a boulder that was large enough for them both to sit atop. Matthew struggled to climb it, at which point, Arthur picked him up and sat him on a smooth edge of the rock’s surface. Then Arthur climbed up beside him. The two sat together in a peaceful silence.
As Matthew leaned against Arthur’s body, he felt comforted. His last wisps of nervousness, he realized, were awkward modesty. After all, here was the Earth’s most powerful empire, who had the whole world as his back garden, and he was choosing to spend time with just this one tiny colony. It was an honour Matthew found a little bit overwhelming.
“Aren’t you busy?” Matthew asked. Arthur looked down at him and smiled.
“Right now,” Arthur said, “I am doing the mo
Beginnings, Chapter SixWhen they returned to the cabin, they found it decorated in a fun, albeit unusual way. Streamers of red, white, and blue hung from the rafters, but only on one side of the cabin. On the other, there was a banner that said “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MATTHEW AND ALFRED.” The furniture had been rearranged, although to what end, no one could say.
“Welcome home, boys,” Francis said, climbing down from atop a chair. Matthew and Alfred wandered wide-eyed through the cabin.
“Wow!” said Alfred. “This is all for my birthday?”
“And Matthew’s,” said Francis. Matthew smiled appreciatively as Francis tossed his hair. “Of course, the side I decorated is so much nicer, so please take that as an expression of my parental doting on both of you. Arthur’s side is, well, don’t make him feel too bad about it.”
“I heard that, frog!” came a voice from outside. Arthu
Beginnings, Chapter FiveThe cabin’s interior felt humid and stuffy, yet there was an unspoken agreement between Arthur and Francis not to go outside. What they were about to discuss didn’t need to be exposed in daylight. Besides, it was better to attribute the imminent discomfort to the environs.
“Matthew is growing up so quickly,” Arthur said. Francis nodded.
“Indeed. And he was eager to see you and Alfred. Usually, he is quite shy.”
“Shy, is he?” Arthur said. “Very good. That means he’s less likely to grow up to be a philandering, egocentric libertine.”
The glare in Francis’ eyes had daggers in it.
“Yes, Matthew is rather shy and sensitive. That means he has emotions. You know what emotions are, right, Arthur?”
“Of course,” Arthur replied. “They’re those things you blame for your habit of sleeping with half of Europe.”