"You're lucky you're not dead."
Your voice. It was somewhere to his left, and Arthur closed his eyes, searching for any hidden meaning in it. Were you scared? Angry? Worried? He had no idea. If only he could see your face, watch the way your eyes would darken when you were sad, the way you bit your lip when you were nervous, how you would tap your foot and frown pointedly when you were annoyed.
But that was the problem.
He couldn't see.
"You should be dead." You struggled to keep your voice steady as you tied a bandage around his arm, despite your shaking hands. "If Ivan and Alfred hadn't been there, you'd be dead, Arthur. The Thing would have killed you." You couldn't emphasize that enough. It was a wonder that you had managed to stop the bleeding, for now. The Thing that prowled the rest of the mansion outside the hideout that Ludwig had built was ruthless. You and the other nations had barely managed to escape death quite a few times. And even then, Feliciano was…
You inhaled sharply, blinking away unshed tears at the memory of your energetic friend, lying cold on the floor of that room, not a single wound or scratch on his body. And then right after, learning that Arthur had somehow gone blind…
"It's hard enough for the rest of us to fight the damn Thing, and we can see!" You snapped, shaking those thoughts from your mind and took a deep breath, reaching for another bandage. He had flinched every time you cleaned the numerous cuts and bruises he had received, but he did not complain. That irritated you even more
What the hell had he been thinking?
"Are you starting to develop a hero complex too?" Your tongue chattered on, your hands working independent of your mind. Inside, you knew you were being a bit unnecessarily cruel and unfair, but you continued to talk, desperate for some sound to fill the space between you growing steadily wider, talk and work at his wound and talk and try not to cry and talk and god why won't he just say something?
"We've already got an Alfred, we don't need another idiot going off and getting himself hurt. In case you haven't noticed, we're running low on bandages, and if we run out, I don't know where we'll find anymore…"
Your voice was rising, higher-pitched in the way Arthur knew that meant something was wrong. He clenched his fists, not really listening to your scolding. You sounded scared and angry and hurt and he could just imagine your face, frowning and eyebrows drawn together with worry. He could picture it almost perfectly.
But why can't I just…
Losing his vision had terrified him. He had never really realized how much he depended on his eyesight until then. Now all he had to rely on were sounds and smells and the feel of the table and chair beneath his palms. The Thing could sneak up on him at any time. He was bloody useless in a fight.
Most of all, he felt so…alone. When there was no one to guide him, when everyone else was in the mansion searching for answers, searching for a way out and he was stuck inside the safe bunker Ludwig had built…it was like having to learn to walk all over again. Arthur had stood there in the middle of the room, hands out and reaching for nothing, scared to take a step while at the same time scared not to.
There was absolutely nothing. Like he was suspended in time, an empty, dark universe, nothing in front or behind him, nothing around him. He couldn't feel anything, couldn't hear anything.
That scared him so much.
"Honestly, you can't help anyone if you're dead. Simple logic, I mean –"
"That's enough," He grabbed your hand lingering on his right arm, stopping you from bandaging the cut there. His green eyes were still closed, but you knew even if he opened them they'd be devoid of the life you knew they used to hold.
"That's enough," Arthur repeated, letting go of your hand and lowering his head. "I'm fine now, ____. You should probably take care of your own injuries."
You blinked in confusion, guilt settling into the pit of your stomach. Of course. Even after all your scolding and chastising lectures, he was still worried about you. The stupid Brit still had to be a gentleman even after everything he'd been through. You sat down in the chair next to him and tucked a piece of hair behind your ear, frowning.
"I don't have any injuries, Arthur. The Thing didn't even touch me."
His eyes opened and he raised his head in the direction of your voice."What? Then…why did you scream?"
You bit your lip and lowered your hands to your lap, staring at a spot on the ground. Earlier, you and a couple of the other nations had been in one of the rooms on the third floor of the mansion, searching for a clue, anything to help you escape this nightmare. When the Thing appeared, you had been so ashamed for screaming, even though the Thing had never even reached you. You still blamed yourself for what happened afterwards…
"I was…so scared…" You finally whispered, not able to look him in the eyes, even though he couldn't see you trembling. Even the memory of such fear made you shiver, your blood run cold and your hands began to shake."It felt like…like…like I was going to…to…"
It had been stupid, really, to scream like that. Screaming had only drawn the attention of the Thing towards you. But you had been so utterly terrified, your heart pounding so fast you wondered if perhaps that was what Feliciano had felt when he…when he…
"And I'm still so, so, so scared, Arthur…" You said, not knowing where these words were coming from, only knowing that they kept coming, spilling all of the hurt and worry and anger and sadness you've felt since entering the mansion. "I keep think that we're gonna die. Every time we break one of those clocks, I see it. And then they come back when I sleep, and I'm afraid to sleep because I don't want to watch everyone die over and over and over again…"
You dug your fingers into your arm, trying to stop trembling, even though you were perfectly safe in the hideout. Everyone else but you and Arthur had gone out into the mansion to search for a way to bring Antonio and Lovino back from the past. You had avoided going into the sleeping area of the hideout, because that was where Gilbert and Kiku had laid Feliciano's cold, lifeless body.
"God, Arthur, why the hell did you do that? Wh-what were you trying to prove?" Tears began to spill from your eyes, catching in your eyelashes and rolling down your face. You gulped down air and tried to swipe them away with your sleeve.
Arthur didn't answer. He heard your voice shaking and you trying to control the tears that you had kept in ever since the first day you had come to the mansion.
I…I wanted to…
Dammit. He couldn't do anything, could he? He had no magic, no sight. He couldn't even comfort you when you cried. He hated it when you cried. Even though he couldn't see it, the memory of the few times he had seen you made him flinch.
When you had screamed, he hadn't even thought about it. He had simply acted, running in your direction, running blindly into a fight like he could have done something about it. That was what frustrated Arthur the most. No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't do anything about it. All that had happened was that he had been beaten, badly, and Alfred and Ivan had to divert the Thing's attention before he was killed.
"I wanted to…protect you."
If he had to choose between the Thing getting you and getting him, he'd choose him. Every single time.
I…can't do anything.
I can't see anything.
I don't know when ____ is smiling or crying.
You froze, looking up from the ground. Arthur's fists were clenched, and his tone was slightly bitter.
God, he felt stupid. He would have given anything just to see you, just right now. Were you smiling? Still crying? Disgusted? Angry? How would he be able to tell anymore?
He used to love it when you smiled.
"I just…" He turned his head away, not able to face you even though he couldn't see you. "I didn't want that Thing to hurt anyone else. That's all."
If that Thing had hurt her…
You exhaled sharply, not quite sure what he meant. Did he really mean that you…
"You didn't have to." The words came easily. Like they had already been written in your mind, waiting at the tip of your tongue. Supplied by your parents, who had taught you to be gracious when accepting gifts. And Arthur had sort of saved your life, sounded like he would have gladly traded his own.
But that was a gift you didn't want.
"You didn't have to, I would have been fine. It was my own stupid fault for screaming, you didn't have to –"
"Yes I did."
Why didn't you understand? He had wanted to rip that Thing apart limb by limb, stop it from hurting anyone ever again. He might have been able to, if he had his magic and could see again. But he couldn't and that was what had frustrated him the most, that he couldn't see you cry and he couldn't see you smile and couldn't protect and just…
I just wanted to see you smile again.
If he could have killed that Thing, would you have smiled? Would you laugh? He hadn't heard that sound in a while. It was the most beautiful sound in the world. He would have done anything to hear it. To know that you were happy and you were smiling.
But I can't…
"I can't do anything now, can I?" He said, a small, bitter smile crossing his face. "Unless one of my previous selves left a bit of magic for me, there's nothing I can do anymore."
Nothing I can do.
A hand touched his face, and he flinched instinctively before turning back to you. You bit your lip and wiped away the stray tear that was making its way down his face, trying to ignore your own for a moment.
"That's fine," You said softly, trying not to choke on the words. He looked so…hopeless. Like he had given up. Like nothing could ever put him right again. It broke your heart and made you want to cry even more. "You don't have to. You've done so much already…"
Like taking them back in time once, like trying to take on the Thing by himself, like trying so hard to put thing right.
Like trying to save your life.
Trying to make you smile again, even if he couldn't see it.
Arthur swallowed, a lump rising in his throat. He raised a hand to wipe away the tears that were rolling down his face and leaned against you, shoulders shaking slightly. You stiffened for a moment before hesitantly placing a hand on his back, holding him close.
I'm so pathetic.
"You'll get your eyes back, Arthur," You whispered, tears staining your cheeks as well. "I promise."
Even if I can't see it.
You had no way of knowing whether or not he would ever be able to see again. Arthur knew that. It was a lie, an empty promise. But it was comfortable, and he wanted to believe it. That one day he'd see your eyes light up and laugh.
Let me be weak. Just for now.
Even if it's a lie. Tell me it'll be okay.
"I'm sorry." He said, muffled against your shirt.
You only nodded, tightened your arms around him and closed your eyes.
Even if I can't see it.