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[fic] Fulfillment of Regrets - Part 2

Title: Fulfillment of Regrets
Author: absolutehymn007
Recipient: fivedayslater
Genre: Friendship/Romance
Ratings/Warnings: PG-13 (Arthur uses the word 'bloody' and Gilbert swears occasionally)
Characters/Pairing: USUK, various Hetalia characters
Summary: Arthur Kirkland, who has the ability to see ghosts and other non-living beings, is entering his first year at Creston University. Alfred F. Jones is a newly created ghost who happens to have a strong phobia of ghosts. Arthur meets him in his first week and decides to lend a hand to help him get over his fear. He also finds himself wanting to give Alfred a second chance at the life that he should have lived before it was abruptly cut short.
Notes: It ended up being even longer than Part 1 (10,500ish words vs. 15,900ish words!) *wide-eyed look* However, I hope that you enjoy every bit of Part 2 and that it satisfies your prompt in a fulfilling way :) Please forgive me for any errors that got away - I did my best to re-triple-check it and make sure that it was the best that I could do. *hugs* Merry Christmas to all!



Arthur was currently laying in bed, reflecting on the last last night and all that had transpired. It was morning and the sun was shining brightly through his window, which he forgot to close the blinds to out of rare absentmindedness. He ran his hand through his hair once or twice before sitting up and going to the bathroom. Alfred was a heavy sleeper, or at least, that's what Arthur thought as he passed by him snoring heavily on the couch. He could have simply been pretending to be asleep and purposely had his eyes closed through most of Arthur's morning ritual.

The night before, when Alfred had arrived in Arthur's room, he was shown around and given an explanation of Arthur's schedule and expectations. After that, they promptly jumped into discussing Alfred's deep-rooted phobia of ghosts, which apparently stemmed from scary movies and childhood memories of frightening stories. He described at length and in extreme detail all of the petrifying, bone-chilling, and gruesome ghosts he had heard of or seen as Arthur listened on attentively. Alfred's perception of ghosts were that they were bad spirits that were out to haunt others or to cause terrible mischief. In all of Arthur's time alive, he had never seen any of the ghosts that Alfred had discussed aside from the occasional scary movie that his parents would insist on watching.

That brought up the question of why Alfred wasn't afraid of himself. Even though he wasn't nearly as horrifying the ghosts he described, he was still a ghost. Alfred said that he was unnerved for a few days, but he understood the fact that he was still himself and looked like a human. He explained that his greatest fear from his transformation into a ghost was that now he would be able to be touched and possibly harmed by other ghosts. Alfred was dealing both with an intense phobia for ghosts in general and strong paranoia for being sought after now that he was one of them.

When it was time for Arthur to speak, he started by reassuring him that he had never seen a ghost like he described wandering around anywhere and definitely not on the campus. He said he had met several of the ghosts in the lounge and found out that they were like normal people, just like him and Alfred. Even with this information, Alfred still looked scared out of his wits, but Arthur knew that he would be able to come up with a plan to make things work.

He changed the subject to talking about Alfred's time at Creston and goals that he had wanted to achieve for his future before everything changed. Alfred started off ecstatically explaining his love for airplanes and flying as well as his passion for sports, games, hanging with friends, television, and other entertaining things. He certainly geared towards things that were fast paced and action-packed, which was the opposite of Arthur who enjoyed the quiet, peaceful atmosphere of reading a book, writing, or studying, although he did enjoy playing sports.

When he got into discussing how he thought of himself as a hero to his friends, because he was cheerfully confident, never afraid of anything, and was always the ringleader of their adventures, he started sounding a little somber and wistful. Arthur encouraged him on gently and Alfred ended up confessing that it was his dream to continue inspiring people and to be some type of hero to them, which meant that it was his biggest regret that he was never able to fulfill. The other regret that he could think of was that he never got to have all of the adventures and experiences that he wanted to out of life, and even though he knew he had a physically weak heart for a while, he never thought that everything would end so early.

Arthur surmised that he possibly avoided the human ghosts because their dreams were also unfulfilled, and that they had been stuck in this world for a long time. Alfred didn't mention anything about the human ghosts remotely like that, but Arthur was an observant individual and was sure that Alfred, upon hearing that new bit of information from Arthur by the pond, was uncomfortable with the thought of also being a ghost forever. Especially when he had a fear of them to start with.

It had gotten very late when they finished that topic so Arthur said that he needed some sleep to think over things and where to logically proceed from there. Alfred nodded with a small smile and floated down onto the couch to draw a blanket over his body. He waved to Arthur before closing his eyes, and Arthur could not help but smile back at how precious he looked tucked away on his couch with the smile still on his face.

As Arthur retreated to his room that Friday night, he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep deeply with everything that had been revealed. Alfred was so genuine, positive, and excitable, and Arthur wanted to bring all of that back and more. There were so many things about him that made him special and that touched his heart in ways that no one ever had. It didn't help that Alfred was incredibly gorgeous and Arthur felt his heart speed up every time their eyes made contact.

Back to the present, Arthur had gotten out of bed with a long stretch and a yawn. He made his way towards his closet to pick out clothes for the day - he was planning on going to the library for most of it to do some researching for school, but to also plot in secret what he was going to have Alfred do to be able to overcome his fear. Arthur also wanted to take a look around campus and what it had to offer as well to come up with things to do together that would be enjoyable and rewarding.

As he changed, he realized that there was no doubt that he had fallen in love, but his feelings would have to take a backseat for the time being. It was more important to get Alfred to overcome his fear since it was the reason why Arthur had brought him to his room. He sighed deeply as he reminded himself that it wouldn't even be possible to be together with a ghost since they could only touch inanimate objects, but hoped that maybe his heart would be satisfied if he loved him and was loved in return. Arthur realized life was too short and unpredictable to not pursue what his heart wanted him the moment he had met Alfred.
-----

"Okay, here's the plan," Arthur said, laying out a few documents on his coffee table and Alfred drifted over. His jaw dropped in surprise when he saw how much detail was on the pieces of paper.

"This is very elaborate," Alfred commented as he squinted his eyes to read the tiny writing.

"Well, you have a deep rooted phobia of ghosts so we have to work at it slowly," Arthur explained as he pointed to a chart. "This is a list of ghosts that I'm going to introduce to you in that order. It starts out with very pleasant ghosts and then goes to some rather intimidating ones."

"What?! All of these?! No way!"

"Yes, we are going through with this!"

"No, I refuse!"

"Then I'm grounding you and inviting them here," Arthur retorted as he picked up a cup of tea and sipped it.

"I'm a ghost - I can go through walls."

"No, you apparently cannot. That would be why the ghosts around campus walk through entrances and open doors and such."

"… Damn you…"

"You'll thank me later," he said, picking up another page. "This is a calendar of events scheduled for the semester. Once you can handle a few ghosts at a time, we're going to do these together."

"Attend some of Arthur's classes, Go Gardening, Attend the Cooking Festival, Go Horseback Riding, Play Soccer, Go on a Plane Ride, Volunteer to Read to Elementary School Children, Attend Roderich's Recital, Beat Gilbert in the game Risk… All of these? Do you actually have time in your schedule?"

"I'll make time. I'll have quite a few late nights for sure, but I want to do this. I want to fulfill your regrets," Arthur said, with a hint of plea in his voice that he had not anticipated sneaking up.

"Oh man Arthur, you don't even really know me and you have all of this prepared for me?" Alfred said, fidgeting with his hands. "First you invite me to live with you and now all of this."

"I want to get to know you because… something is telling me that you are going to be a great friend to me," Arthur said, avoiding eye contact out of embarrassment. "You just catch my interest. You're intriguing - you told me that you used to be a bright, cheery, friendly person and now you're not. I want to help you."

"Well, I can't refuse an offer as good as this," Alfred said with a smile, hugging a pillow. "So, when do we start?"

"Right now 'cause Flying Mint Bunny is upset from having to stay in the central commons area for two nights with my other mystical friends."

"Hold on… Who exactly is Flying Mint Bunny?" Alfred said, now a little nervous.

"He's my closest companion. He's a mystical creature, but he's got ghost like properties. And he teleports. Come in Flying Mint Bunny!"

A mint green bunny with little wings appeared in the air. He was extremely cute and he thought it would be the safest thing for Alfred to start with, but it wasn't as simple as he thought.

Alfred's first instinct was to flee, but Arthur had locked his bedroom door and had his other mystical friends barricade the exit into the hall with objects. So he floated very dizzying circles around the room while screaming at the top of his lungs in fright. Of course his freakout knocked over a few objects, but thankfully nothing broke. When Arthur's hollering finally cut through to him to calm down, he froze in embarrassment. Flying Mint Bunny didn't move an inch the entire time, watching the scene in stunned amusement.

"Sorry! Sorry!"

"Okay, he's just a bunny that has wings, remember? And he's just like you."

"Right! I got it!"

"So turn around slowly and look at it."

"No no no!"

"Master, maybe we should try again tomorrow?" Flying Mint Bunny asked tentatively which sent Alfred into another screaming fit, this time collapsing to the ground in a fetal position, twitching as he did so.

"He can do it. He's just being a wimp."

"Wimp! I'm not a wimp!" he yelled from the ground.

"Then what are you?"

"A hero! I've always been a hero!"

"So would a real hero run away from scary things?"

"…No…"

"Then man up!"

Alfred stood up defiantly and looked at the mystical creature. He was still shaking, but a lot calmer than before. It looked like he would find success soon.

"Say hello," Arthur encouraged, taking another sip of his tea.

"Uh… hello…"

"Greetings Alfred."

"I did it, Arthur!" Alfred exclaimed, floating up and down in excitement. "Now what?"

"You can pet him."

"No, he's yours."

"I've petted him plenty of times. Now go on."

"Errr, okay. Come here Flying Mint Bunny," Alfred said, holding his hand out and the creature approached slowly to avoid frightening him. "Oh wow! He's so soft!"

"He really is," Arthur commented as he picked up a biscuit and started chewing on it. "Feeling comfortable?"

"Yeah, I am."

"Good, 'cause the unicorn is getting restless too. He's next in line."

"… Hold on, a unicorn?! Hell no Arthur! Get me out of here!" Alfred said, panicking again, but Arthur ignored him as he pulled out his homework. "Don't you do other work right now!"

"You'll do just fine if you are left to your own devices. Just remember the steps I talked you through with Flying Mint Bunny," Arthur said, uncapping his pen nonchalantly and starting to write his name on his assignment. "Welcome back, unicorn. I missed you."
-----

Several hours later, Alfred was collapsed on one part of the couch with Flying Mint Bunny laying on his chest, also drained. Arthur was all finished with his homework and was having a plate of dinner with a satisfied smirk on his face. The rest of his mystical creature friends were laying either on the ground or on furniture as well, too tired to even think about talking.

"It looks like you managed to be able to handle everyone," Arthur remarked and Alfred groaned. "That was pretty easy. I think that you might be just fine with the human ghosts soon."

"Arthur, I think it was because these are your friends," Alfred grumbled back as he started stroking Flying Mint Bunny who sighed happily.

"What does that matter?"

"I mean, they know not to kill me or hurt me 'cause of you. Who knows what a human ghost or a real creepy ghost would do to me?"

"No one on that list is considered a creepy scary ghost. Those live in the Haunted Hall anyway," Arthur said, cleaning up the spaghetti sauce on his plate with a piece of garlic bread. Alfred suddenly looked extremely freaked out at the mention of the Haunted Hall. "Relax. They don't ever come out of it because they enjoy the dark and dreary atmosphere away from other people. Or at least, that's what the lounge ghosts say."

"Where do the lounge ghosts live?"

"Fifth floor. Alfred, it's okay. They don't go down the hallways or anything to bother the residents," Arthur reassured, setting his plate down on the table and turning towards Arthur. "Is it okay if I lay down for a little bit?"

"Yeah, absolutely," Alfred said and Arthur swung his legs onto the couch, which meant he was laying partway through Alfred's body. He folded his hands on his stomach and closed his eyes for a bit, contemplating what he needed to do for tomorrow. He was feeling elated for having come up with a plan that worked and hoped that the days to come would bring the same kind of quick success.

"Hey Arthur…"

"Hmm, what is it?"

"Do you want to buy me a few things so I can keep myself entertained?"

"Like…?"

"Scary movies and video games!"

Arthur sighed, suddenly feeling like he was going to be taking care of a child. He opened his eyes to see Alfred sitting up with a giant grin like a kid in a candy store that was just bought the largest and most expensive lollipop.

"I'll rent the movies and see if I can borrow a video game console with some games for you. Will that be satisfactory?"

"Yes yes yes!"

"Good. Now go get some rest or whatever it is you do to pass the time. You have a big week ahead of you," Arthur muttered as he closed his eyes again, letting his exhaustion take over.

"You don't want to sleep in your bed?" Alfred asked shyly.

"Nah. I'm too tired. See you in the morning." Arthur dismissed with a smile. He heard some ruffling of something in the distance after a few seconds, the sound of a door closing, and then a blanket being draped over his body before all was still. Arthur was positive that he was glowing brighter than Alfred was and he wasn't even a ghost.
-----

"Heeeeey Arthur. Comment ça va?"

"Don't get so damn close to me, you bloody prat!"

"But your cologne is so exquisite! I must simply be enveloped in your scent…"

Arthur smacked Francis as hard as he could over the head with his book before moving his seat as far away as possible. He was in French class with both Francis and Ludwig, but with his unfortunate luck, he got stuck in the seat next to Francis while Ludwig was across the square table from them.

"Enough Francis!" Ludwig ordered. "The classroom is not a place for you to be displaying inappropriate behavior."

"Oui, je comprends," Francis said, giving Ludwig a brilliant smile. Arthur suddenly had an urge to throw up knowing that Francis was into him as well.

'Francis is probably into anything that walks,' he told himself as he started reading the chapter that they were supposed to be reading. He glanced forward and saw that Ludwig had propped his book up, probably to hide his face from Francis. There wasn't anything that Arthur could do to protect himself though so he pointedly ignored all thoughts having to do with him as he worked.

That is until Francis slid his seat over partway through the hour and leaned really close to his ear. He jumped out of surprise, but was unable to smack him because his hands were suddenly covered by his.

"Say? Are you up for a little adventure?" he whispered and Arthur shook his head vigorously for a resolute no.

"I only asked because Gilbert wants to go to the Haunted Floor tonight," Francis continued, which suddenly sparked Arthur's interest. Francis caught the change in interest and chuckled.

"Who all is going?" Arthur whispered back. "Other than you two?"

"Roderich, Elizabeta, Kiku… basically our entire group except Ludwig and Feliciano. He'd murder us if he found out and Feliciano would tell on us or really freak out."

Arthur looked over to check and saw that Ludwig was completely absorbed in his book. He frowned in contemplation, weighing the risks and the advantages of taking a visit to the floor. Arthur would have to pretend to have similar feelings as most of the group so that they didn't think he was weird, but it wouldn't be the first time that he would have to make something up.

"What about Ivan? You know, the one you pointed out in World History last week?"

"He sort of comes and goes. I don't think anyone asked him to come with since no one really knows him but Ludwig."

"Ah, good point."

"So are you coming with us?"

"Yes, I will," Arthur said, pulling out a blank sheet of paper to do his homework on. "What time tonight?"

"1am in Gilbert's room," Francis said, releasing his hands and pulling away. "Ahem. Arthur, your cologne sends my pulse racing faster than any other fragrant that I have smelled. I simply cannot not have enough of…"

A flying book cut him off abruptly when it hit in in the center of the face. Arthur laughed heartily when he saw that Ludwig was fuming and was currently missing the book he was reading. Hopefully, if they were to be caught, throwing books at them would be all he had in store for them and nothing worse.
-----

"Hey Alfred. I'm going out for a little bit," Arthur said as he came out of his bedroom and headed into the living room. Alfred was sitting by the window staring out of it with a happy smile on his face, but he turned to Arthur with a confused expression.

"Arthur, it's almost 1am in the morning!" he mentioned and Arthur laughed as he started putting on his shoes.

"I know. I have some plans tonight that I am sure you do not want to be a part of."

"Tell me! Tell me!"

"Hold your horses, Alfred," Arthur said as he tied his shoelaces with quickly and precisely. "A group of us are visiting the fifth floor tonight just to check it out."

"But didn't you tell me that the fifth floor is where the lounge ghosts live?" Alfred asked, now with a terrified expression. "And you're visiting that floor?!"

"They'll be scared out of their wits. I just want to see what is up there. I have a few questions that might be answered with a visit. Do you want to come?"

"Absolutely not! I'm staying right here where it is safe. You don't know what scary things could be up there that they never talked to you about."

"Exactly, so that's why I'm going. I'll be back in an hour… maybe an hour and a half," Arthur said as he opened the door. "See you Alfred."

"Argh Arthur! Be safe!"

Arthur chuckled as he left and headed up the staircase at the end of the hall. He climbed quickly and then proceeded down the second floor, looking at the name tags on the doors as he walked. Partway down, he saw a door with Gilbert's and Roderich's name on it and he went up to it to knock.

"What's the password?" a voice asked through the door and Arthur frowned.

"I don't know any bloody password!" Arthur said loudly enough for him to hear, but not so loud that it would wake other people up in the hall.

"Then you ain't getting in buddy."

"Gilbert! It's me, Arthur!" The door creaked open and a hand beckoned him in. Arthur rolled his eyes as he entered and the door was promptly shut before the lights were switched on. Their living room was elegantly furnished with two desks and a bookshelf, but also had a large modern entertainment center. It was the room that definitely looked like it was shared by two very different people, but it just seemed to work well regardless.

"Sorry Arthur. I forgot that you wouldn't know the password," he said, laughing loudly and fidgeting with the back of his hair.

"An idiot forgot to tell me," he said, looking at Francis who tried playing innocent. "Anyway, what is the password?"

"Pure Awesomeness."

"I should have known."

"Perhaps we should get going?" Kiku asked from where he was sitting at the table. "Arthur is the last of us."

"I still think this is an unwise idea," Roderich spoke up from his desk where he was reading his music history book.

"There is nothing that says we are forbidden to enter it," Gilbert reminded him. "It's just scary so no one ever goes up there. Now let's go!" He stood up and headed towards the door with Elizabeta following immediately after him. Francis and Kiku were next, but they didn't have as much gusto or confidence as the first two did.

"Will you stay here, Roderich?" Arthur asked and he frowned, rising from his seat and closing his book.

"I suppose I should come to make sure that they don't land themselves in a spot of trouble," Roderich said exasperatedly and they left together, locking the room behind them. They walked in silence up down the hall towards the main staircase area and then proceeded to climb up towards their destination. When they finally arrived, they were faced with a single door that was framed by two extremely dim lights.

"This looks trés mal…" Francis said, looking at the door. "I think we should turn back."

"No, it's too late now," Gilbert said opening the door and walking inside confidently. They all ran quickly after, desperate to stay in a group in case something happened. The room they were in was divided into parts - a living room, a kitchen, a dining area, and an area with exercise equipment. There were two doors on either side of the room, which probably led to bedrooms. There were a large group of ghosts in the room, but they all had frozen at the sight of humans.

"There's nobody here yet the candles are lit," Elizabeta noted looking around.

"They might be hiding in one of the wings…" Gilbert hypothesized and everyone nodded. "Should we split up and…?" Everyone became paralyzed when both the doors opened unexpectedly. Arthur watched the ghosts poke their head out of the doorways to see what was going on and then they all came out laughing. It was very obvious they were going to scare them very soon.

"We should leave now," Roderich said, apprehensive of the fact that the doors opened on their own. "This was a ridiculous idea to start with."

"Come on! We need to see what the ghosts are hiding!" Gilbert said, throwing up his fist triumphantly.

"Are you sure that ghosts are real?" Francis asked, shivering from fright. "I thought the floor was just haunted to keep people out."

"Arthur, you haven't said anything," Kiku mentioned when he noticed that Arthur was entranced watching their progress around the room. Before he could reply, the ghosts all nodded to each other and started shaking the objects they were nearby in the room, causing obnoxious rattling noises. The other ghosts floated around with smaller objects and tossed them to one another.

The effect was immediate - Arthur's group split off in every direction possible, screaming. The ghosts that could started chasing after them with their objects, laughing wildly. The piano ghost drifted in and sat down at her piano before playing a creepy, haunting melody that filled the echoey room. Arthur ran over, pretend screaming, but stopped when he got close to her.

"What are you doing here, Arthur?" she asked politely as she continued hammering dark chords over the din that was occurring. "I highly doubt you came up with the idea for this visit."

"No, it was a friend, but I kind of wanted to see what kind of environment you lived in," Arthur said back, now pretending he was hypnotized by the music.

"It isn't much, but we make do," she said sadly as the pool ghost drifted by twirling his billiard stick.

"Hey man, what's up?"

"Not too much. Just trying not to laugh as all of my friends freak out," he mentioned when he saw that Gilbert was hoisted up by two ghosts who had rope out. "But I did have a favor to ask of you two."

"Ask away my friend."

"I got in touch with Alfred and now he's staying in my room."

"No way!" the pool ghost exclaimed, dropping his billiard stick. "You really got through to him?"

"Yes and I've worked out a plan to get him over his fear of ghosts," Arthur said hurriedly when he saw that Roderich was approaching out of the corner of his eye. "I just need you to meet him. Come down to my room tomorrow night."

"Of course Arthur. We want to help you," the piano ghost said with a warm smile. "Now start getting scared like the rest of your friends so they don't think something is up. We'll tell the other ghosts this was not your scheme if they wonder."

"Thank you."

"Ahhhhhh!!!!!" Roderich ran by screaming when sheet music started flying after him. The piano ghost slammed her hands on the keys and then chased after the ghosts who had taken her music that she had resting on the top of the upright piano.

"We're GOING TO DIE!!!!!!!!" Francis cried as he was being pelted with worn pillows in a corner by a large group of ghosts.

"Get away from me you bloody billiard stick!!!!" Arthur commanded as the pool ghost started to go after him, spinning his billiard stick sickeningly fast.

"Unhand the awesome me!!!!" Gilbert demanded from where he was tied up on the wall. He sounded fearless, but Arthur knew he was scared out of his mind.

"WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!" an angry voice bellowed into the room and all of the ghosts scattered immediately, taking their objects with them and pushing the rest of the things back quickly. Everything fell quiet when the two doors were shut and everyone let out a relieved sigh. Ludwig's blond hair was still brushed back even though he was sleeping, and his light blue eyes were boiling with vexation.

"Sorry Dorm Leader and cousin," Gilbert said, bowing his head to show he wanted forgiveness. "Just wanted to go on an adventure, that's all." Ludwig rubbed his temples in exhausted anger as everyone collected in the center of the room, shaken from the entire experience.

"Just next time, don't do it the floor above mine," Ludwig said and they all nodded obediently. "I'll let you off this time since there wasn't anything that was harmed, but you are not to go up here again."

"Thank you dorm leader."

"Just get Gilbert off of the wall before you go to bed," he said prior to leaving the room with a heavy sigh. The rest of them went to work as quickly as possible and fled the scene before another round of haunts would occur. Arthur was perfectly fine, but he was sure that no one else was going to get a wink of sleep because of that abnormal and frightening experience.
-----

The next night, Arthur borrowed video games and a console from Gilbert and a variety of movies from Feliciano and Kiku to let Alfred use for entertainment. Alfred's response was off-the-wall gleefulness and zooming around the room in dizzying circles. Arthur did his homework as Alfred hooked up everything and then promptly jumped into Call of Duty 3, which Arthur found incredibly distracting because of the noise and the violence.

The two ghosts had shown up exactly at midnight, knocking on the door softly. Alfred had just finished his game and was relaxing with a happy smile on his face. He asked who was visiting and Arthur said it was his two closest ghost friends. The change of emotion was sudden and Alfred was doing circles around the room for completely different reasons. After pleading with him to calm down and Alfred eventually obliged, he was finally able to let them come in.

Half an hour later, which involved Arthur chasing Alfred around the room to get him to stay still, realizing that that wouldn't work, and having to come up with a new plan that involved all three cornering him to tie him down to a chair and taping his mouth shut until he seemed like he was okay. Then they were able to say hi to him and start having a normal conversation, but they left him tied to the chair as they talked in case he wanted to flee again.

It was a slow process, but once again, they found success when the tape was removed and Alfred was able to converse with them tentatively. By the night's end, the pool ghost and Alfred were having a lively conversation about random things and jumped tangents left and right while the piano ghost and Arthur chipped in once in a while with a smile.

They took the rest of the week slowly - just having either the pool ghost or the piano ghost invite a friend to Arthur's room to speak with Alfred, play video games with him, or watch movies. It worked out well for Arthur too since he had a lot of homework to do and needed a lot of time alone to study for a few upcoming tests. His living friends also came by from time to time to do coursework together, which initially sent Alfred into his bedroom, but he got over that fear very quickly when he remembered it was impossible for them to hurt or even see him.

By the next Tuesday, they had gotten him to work up enough courage to come down to the lounge and see the other ghosts. As a precaution, they barricaded the exits when he entered the room and had rope handy just in case he completely lost it. Arthur had negotiated with the lounge ghosts to approach him in a certain order from most friendly looking to slightly scary looking. Alfred really was getting better at not flying away immediately, but he still was very on edge for the later ghosts. It wasn't until he saw the ghost with chains and a distorted face that he tried to make a break for it and the collection of ghosts trying to catch him made his freakout even worse. He refused to leave his room for a few days after that experience even with Arthur's prodding.

When Alfred felt he was ready to go back outside, Arthur invited him to attend some of his classes. He suggested world history first since his lounge ghost friends would be there to guard him in case something happened. It warmed Arthur's heart to look up towards one of the windows occasionally and see Alfred sitting there with his personal guard, watching the lecture with interest. Each day that passed, he just looked more and more at ease, and Arthur felt amazingly content with his progress.
-----

"Turn that crap off! I'm trying to work!"

"But oh my god, that person is going to die!" Alfred said, huddling under his blankets in fright. "Did you see the zombies too? They're so scary!"

Arthur stood up and retreated to his room for some quiet. Most of the time he didn't mind doing his homework with Alfred in the room, but the horrific noises coming from the television coupled with Alfred's screaming and freaking out wasn't helping him concentrate on what he needed to do. He sighed as he set down his books on the desk and opened the top one.

His Shakespeare class had been reading the play, 'Merchant of Venice' aloud in class and it was his group's turn tomorrow. The teacher had been giving some extra credit points for full-fledged effort and boldness while reading, and even though Arthur was doing well in the class, he didn't want to disappoint her by not doing his best. That was why he needed some quiet so he could practice.

Sometime later, Alfred knocked on the door and asked to come in. Arthur gave him permission and he came in with the blanket wrapped around him. He looked a lot less frightened than he was watching the movie and he had sort of an embarrassed grin on his face. Arthur's heart started pounding faster when it occurred to him that he thought Alfred really looked nice wearing mostly any kind of expression and attire.

"I see that you made it through that movie alive, so to speak," Arthur said, turning back to his book.

"Yeah, totally did. That was an intense movie!"

"I don't know why you subject yourself to that stuff."

"What about you?" Alfred said curiously and Arthur gave him a confused look. "When I turned off the movie, I heard you spouting all of this random gibberish through your door."

"It's SHAKESPEARE!" Arthur said hotly, throwing his book down on the desk. "Don't tell me you don't know who that is."

"I know who that is!" Alfred said back, feeling "I couldn't tell that you were reading that though. It sounded a bit like an ancient language or something."

"Alfred, I don't know what to do with you sometimes," he said as he sat down at his desk. "So, how have classes been?"

"Sweet! I'm going to a few of the aviation classes and I'm in World History with you. I'm learning a lot and it's exciting!"

"That's always good to hear," Arthur said with a smile. He could never be very angry with Alfred - just fairly annoyed from time to time.

"And the great thing is that the teacher can't see me fall asleep in class when it happens!" Alfred continued, rocking up and down on his heels enthusiastically.

"You fool, don't fall asleep in class! You don't even need sleep."

"Can't help it… It was one of my stronger traits from my human life," Alfred said guiltily, rubbing the back of his neck with a laugh. "Anyway, tomorrow, you're going to play some soccer, right?"

"Yes, that's the plan."

"Who is on which team?"

"Well, everyone you know plus two others are going to be on Ludwig's team," Arthur explained, yawning slightly despite himself. "And we're going to be taking on The Nords and their team. Apparently they've been undefeated in all of their matches."

"Are you sure you're going to win with Francis, Feliciano, Roderich, and Ivan on your team?" Alfred asked dubiously as he floated over to Arthur's bed and pulled down the covers. "They don't seem very athletic."

"Ludwig said that he couldn't convince them to not play on his team for various reasons," Arthur said as he stood up and moved to his closet to start changing into his pajamas. "It will be a long shot to win, but I think we can make it work."

"I wish I could play. I love sports in general."

"The lounge ghosts are playing a game at night. They want you to play with them."

"Oh man!" Alfred said happily, pumping his fist in the air. "That is going to be one sweet game. Are they just playing each other?" Arthur turned around and gave him an affirmative nod before resuming what he was doing.

"I gave them the idea to go get some exercise and to enjoy the outdoors. They totally liked the idea after I reassured them that no one can use the sports fields after a certain time."

"Arthur, you are crafty."

"Thank you very much," Arthur said as he finished changing. He approached the bed and climbed in and Alfred draped the covers over his body with a firm pat when he finished. "That felt interesting… having my blanket patting me…"

"It's the only way I can touch you," Alfred said, smiling. "Here, I want to do this…" He moved closer and put his arms around the blanket, and Arthur felt his body get squeezed gently, causing butterflies to start fluttering madly in his stomach.

"Alfred…"

"Er, have a good night!" he said, speeding out of the room with his own blanket around his body and throwing the door shut. Arthur chuckled at how sweet Alfred was and closed his eyes to welcome in much-needed rest.
-----

Arthur's soccer game ended with a score of 8-3, with The Nords claiming another victory and adding to their undefeated glory for the seventh year in a row. Ignoring the score, it was a very intense and well-fought game between the two teams. Ludwig, Gilbert, and surprisingly Ivan, had scored the three goals against their goalkeeper, who was named Berwald Oxenstierna and was this tall, intimidating blond-haired man with glasses. Elizabeta bruised one of their players when she did a slide tackle and Kiku turned out to be a stronger defensive player than Arthur had initially thought. Arthur played goalkeeper for most of the game until an exceptionally strong kick from the tall one with the wild haircut hit him square in the chest and they switched him out to let him recover.

As he watched from the sideline, he noticed that a large crowd of ghosts had gathered to watch, and some of stranger, mystical creatures that he had seen following the boy from The Nords were there as well. Arthur had noted that Alfred looked tense from seeing some unfamiliar, and arguably more creepy, non-living beings, but he gritted his teeth and did not flee from the scene. Arthur would have to praise his resolve later after the game.

Alfred's soccer game with the lounge ghosts was equally as thrilling, and Arthur had a fantastic time watching all of his friends duke it out in a competitive arena. His own mystical friends joined him and they cheered on Alfred, who was playing the center position for his team. They won in the end with Alfred scoring the winning goal against the lord from the Regency era, and his brilliant smile completely lit up the night.

The days after that flew by quickly, but Arthur made sure that he appreciated every one of them. He was doing well in all of his classes and had a good handle on his homework, which left him some free time to read leisurely and to get to know Alfred. Arthur's friends were still joining him at the pond to have lunch, and it was even more exciting to have Alfred out and about, fawning after the ducks and other birds and the occasional rabbit, or sitting on his rock but with a delightfully content expression instead of his miserable one. Occasionally, Arthur would get called out by one of his friends for not paying attention to their conversation or acting strange again, but he would brush it off with an apology.

Once he got to know Ivan during his World History class and got an invitation to go visit the greenhouses with him, they went together with Elizabeta to look at the flowers and plants. It was a nice, peaceful experience and Arthur was surprised at how passionate Ivan was about gardening. They worked in the garden for some time after the tour, and Ivan was exceptionally gentle with the plants, which unnerved Elizabeta a bit since she had thought of him as scary underneath his polite personality. Alfred helped pull the weeds when no one else was looking and then disappeared after that without any explanation. Arthur returned to his room later only to find a bouquet of flowers on his bed and a note that just said, 'Thanks for today'.

During one of the weekends, Arthur wanted to see the horses since he enjoyed horseback riding when he was at home. When he arrived at the stables, he saw that one of The Nords, Berwald, was there, petting one of the very beautiful white horses. Before Arthur was able to retreat out of respect, he was ordered to stop, and then felt very intimidated when Berwald approached him and towered over him with a stern expression. It turned out in the end that he was actually a nice guy, and even though he spoke in short sentences and didn't reveal much about himself or the other Nords, he allowed Arthur to take one of the horses for a ride and accompanied him. Alfred ended up sitting behind him on the horse and had one arm around him as he pointed out everything that he saw that was interesting. It was surprising to Arthur that Alfred would go through all of that effort to simulate that he was riding with him, but the gesture completely warmed his heart.

The cooking festival was torture to Alfred since he couldn't eat a single thing and Arthur was stuffing himself the entire time. He whined about Arthur subjecting him to absolute suffering, but refused to leave when Arthur told him to go if it bothered him so much. Alfred said that he didn't want to leave his side since they were good friends, which caused Arthur to blush brilliant and duck behind Ludwig to recover. The final event of the day was the dish competition, where judges would taste the creations of the participants and give them points for various categories. Feliciano, Kiku, Elizabeta, and Francis, all prepared food that were beyond delicious, and Arthur was astounded that the judges were able to decide on a winner. They celebrated afterwards with a feast in Kiku's room, talking for a bit before watching some of his vast collection of Japanese anime.

Gilbert's room was the place to be apparently, since their group always seemed to end up there for fun get-togethers. He did have practically everything that you could entertain yourself with, and they had their living room set-up well to accompany a lot of people. Arthur's room was the place to retreat to when they wanted a quiet place to study or to have tea together. Francis's room was to be avoided at all costs for very specific reasons as they found out one day when they popped their head in out of curiosity.

One night in Gilbert's room, they took out the game, 'Risk', which gave Alfred a great opportunity to participate. Arthur just listened to instructions from Alfred about what to do and where to move, which brought them victory in the end and caused Gilbert to storm away since he hated losing in that game. Roderich spent half an hour trying to get him out of their bedroom where he had ended up in Roderich's bed, moping while hugging a pillow, but he was back to normal once he was out. Arthur was impressed - Alfred really had a mind for military strategy and was beaming the rest of the night for being able to be a part of something enjoyable, and especially to win at it.

When it was time to read to elementary school children, which was a volunteer program on campus through the English department, Arthur let Alfred go through his bookshelf and pick out an assortment of books to take. He figured that Alfred knew what was best since he was a kid at heart, and keeping him involved only meant good things for the future. It was amusing to see Roderich reading to young children in his articulate voice and proper attire as well as Kiku being tugged on by excitable children and him respectfully telling them to release him. It made Alfred extremely giddy when some of the boys in Arthur's class were extremely interested in an adventure book about exploring a jungle that was one of Alfred's personal favorites.

The plane ride idea somehow morphed into skydiving when Arthur was talking to Ludwig, who was training to join the military and knew how to fly planes. Gilbert happened to sneak behind them while they were conversing and then interrupted with an idea to go skydiving, since it was more exciting and adventurous than a mere plane ride. Arthur rejected the idea immediately, but of course, was roped in by Alfred who heard about it later from a ghost who eavesdropped on Gilbert talking about it in the lounge to Roderich. Even after many hours of arguing that Alfred was dead and wouldn't die again from jumping out of a plane, and that Arthur still wanted to live his life as long as possible, he gave into Alfred's begging look with a large groan.

Somehow, every single person in their group ended up on the skydiving idea, which was completely mind-blowing to Arthur. Even Berwald and the gentle, cheerful looking boy from The Nords were on the plane since the boy had always wanted to try skydiving, and Berwald was almost always near him. He was sure that Roderich was roped into the situation, since he looked extremely queasy on the plane. Kiku looked extremely nervous, but he was too polite to decline the offer. Everyone else was practically raving about the experience they were about to have, and especially Alfred, who was bouncing around in the cabin of the plane. Arthur tried to keep calm by talking with Berwald and the boy, whose name turned out to be Tino, and getting to know them before he plunged towards his potential death.

The feeling of jumping out of a plane with another person and a parachute several thousand feet above the ground was awful since Arthur could have sworn he saw his life flash before his eyes. He also hated the sensation of falling and had his eyes shut as long as possible before the jerk of his parachute opening made him open them. When the velocity of their descent slowed considerably, Arthur felt much better and was able to appreciate the beautiful view he had of the area they were in. He looked to his right and saw that Alfred was floating with him with the widest grin he had ever seen, partially because he was back with his love for flight, but also because he had new material about Arthur to make fun of later.

Each day brought Arthur and Alfred closer and closer together. Alfred was finally over his fear of ghosts and was having a spectacular time with his new ghost friends and going to events with Arthur. Arthur was starting to feel stretched thin from all of his commitments, but it was completely worth getting Alfred's smile back. He would have to admit that he was actually having fun as well, even with the crazier things they had done. His temper still flared quickly and he was still as easy to pick on as ever, but he wouldn't trade anything for the friendships he had developed at Creston University.
-----

The most pivotal event in Alfred getting over his fear happened when Gilbert wanted to visit the Haunted Hall. It was the old, ominous building on East Campus that no one ever dared to step foot near. There were many rumors of creepy terrors, ghosts, specters, and other terrifying things that lived there - the lounge ghosts told Arthur a while back that indeed there were frightening ghosts in there. However, Arthur telling Gilbert this fact while pretending it was a theory did not sway his enthusiasm one bit.

Elizabeta hopped right onto the mission because she was aggressive and hated being outshone by Gilbert, which meant that Roderich was dragged in yet again by being friends with both of them. Ludwig disapproved of the idea completely, but went along to keep a handle on his cousin. Feliciano clung to Ludwig like wet paint on walls, which brought Kiku along since he had become very good friends with Feliciano. Francis was everywhere you did not want him to be, so of course he was going. Arthur's curiosity got the better of him so he ended up tagging along to see exactly how scary it was. Ivan was the only one missing since he was out of town to see his sisters.

When Arthur told Alfred what he was up to, Alfred actually wanted to come along. Arthur insisted he stay in his room where it was safe since he really didn't know what was going to happen, but Alfred declared that they needed to do this together since they had been doing practically everything together that wasn't academically related. Once Alfred's mind was set on something, it was rather difficult to persuade him from it. At least it showed Arthur that he was completely over his fear.

That is, until they got to the scene. Immediately, everyone started having second thoughts except Gilbert and Elizabeta, who boldly charged forward and started to examine the lock. Not wanting to leave two of their comrades, everyone else quickly dashed to join them, and after breaking the lock, they opened the door and entered. To everyone else, the entrance hall looked deserted - only large cobwebs on the furniture and chandelier and the heavy scent of a building that was decaying. To Arthur and Alfred, it was a whole different story.

It was as if someone packed the contents of a nightmare into one room and left them there to grow and mutate. Arthur's voice was caught in his throat and he was unable to respond to his friends muttering about the place. Alfred was also frozen in fear and Arthur dearly wished he could reassure him somehow. Before they were able to dash out, the door slammed behind them, and it was then that all hell broke loose.

Everything started moving in a whirlwind, which caused everyone to run off screaming in every direction. The doors around the room were opening unpredictably to let in more ghosts, but were otherwise tightly closed, leaving no way to escape the large furniture, chains, and weapons flying around the room. It appeared that their intentions were to capture them first before actually harming them, which was the only bit of good news, but it did not take away the gut-wrenching fear of having your life on the line.

Some of them had been captured already, yelling at the top of their lungs in fright. Others, like Arthur, Francis, Ludwig, and Alfred, were shielding themselves behind a large couch as the ghosts were beating against it with other objects. Ludwig was thinking that he was going to break through the door they came in with his brute strength, but he didn't know how he was going to get there. Francis was too scared to go, squeezing the air out of Arthur with his grip around his waist, and Arthur himself was terrorized out of his mind.

It was then that Alfred, despite how pale and petrified he looked, stepped up and said he would help Ludwig. Arthur was positive that he was traumatized by how all of his ghost fears were all true here and he gave him a worried look, making sure that he didn't completely lose it. Alfred said that he didn't want them all to die there and so Arthur told Ludwig to run for it, reassuring him that something will protect him. It was even harder on Arthur to watch Alfred pick up a discarded bat and use it to ward off attacking ghosts so that Ludwig could reach the door, and he felt sick to his stomach when he saw that they were overwhelmed within a minute when the other ghosts abandoned their captives and went towards them.

When it seemed that their last hope was lost, the door opened just as Ludwig tried to throw himself against it, and he fell outside. The ghosts froze and then took off faster than Arthur had ever seen any ghost move, breaking several windows as they made a break outside. Arthur stood up from his spot, shaking uncontrollably and saw that it was Ivan, who looked slightly confused at the scene. Arthur didn't blame him - it wasn't usually to see several of your friends bound by chains and rope with ruined objects and weapons strewn about.

Ivan strode in and said in his politely cheerful voice that he heard some loud noises and saw flickering lights on his walk around usual walk through East Campus so he went to investigate. As they explained to him the strange and horrifying experience they had just went through, they worked on releasing everyone out of their restraints and recollected outside, shutting the door and breathing a large sigh of relief. Arthur was sure that Ivan's dark aura scared the daylights out of those ghosts and made a note to watch out for him in the future and not upset him.

Alfred was in quite a bit of shock, and Arthur reached out for him to show him that he was there for him. No one else was paying attention since they were preoccupied with making sure the coast was clear. Alfred was nodding a bit to show Arthur that he was going to be okay once they were back, and Arthur mouthed to him that he was so incredibly proud of how brave he was to put himself out there to protect Ludwig to give them a chance to escape. Alfred smiled tearfully and Arthur's heart just ached to be able to put his arms around him and comfort him.

Just as they were about to leave, they saw that a group of five was approaching, and that could only mean one thing: The Nords somehow heard about it or knew with their mysterious powers that the Haunted Hall was going to have some uninvited visitors. They all bowed respectfully when they reached them and explained the situation to them. There was hardly any verbal response from them - just a lot of cold, indifferent glaring and the occasional sign of confirmation. When their story was finished, they huddled to deliberate for a minute, and then Berwald spoke up and said that they were going to let them off only if they repaired the windows within the next week. They agreed immediately, knowing that the wrath of The Nords was possibly even more scary than the experience they had just gone through.

Tino said, in a rather gentle tone, that he was glad that they were able to make it out alive and thanked Ivan for his timely rescue. The boy with the mystical creature gestured to the taller one with the wild hair and whispered something. After he listened to him, he announced that all of the ghosts and other non-living beings that spooked them out had fled the campus and were never returning, which brought another large sigh of relief. That revelation explained to Arthur how The Nords knew to come - the boy must have had the information relayed to him by his mystical creatures when the ghosts were fleeing the campus. The only strange thing was that his friends accepted that ghosts existed so easily, but it was probably because they were not thinking straight and were willing to accept The Nords' explanation as the truth.

They were alive and any more schemes that involved places that were haunted were immediately dismissed from their minds. Gilbert apologized profusely, but everyone forgave him since they really thought it was just going to be like their Fifth Floor adventure. Alfred was jealous that Francis was holding Arthur so tightly in the Haunted Hall, and would only speak to him again after Arthur reassured him over and over that there was absolutely nothing going on. Once they were on speaking terms again, Arthur was finally able to say aloud that he was proud of him for being so brave, and Alfred grinned and said that it was simply because he was meant to be a hero.

Their friendships were still intact and life continued on like that situation never happened, which meant that Arthur was in good company to have friends who didn't blame each other for things they couldn't control. People like that were few and far between, and Arthur was truly lucky to have them in his life along with Alfred and his lounge ghosts friends, who were ecstatic to finally have a place of their own. They moved into the Haunted Hall and totally redecorated it to have a lively yet refreshing atmosphere, thanking Arthur, Alfred, and his friends for what they had done for them without meaning to. They were still going to use the lounge on Tuesday and Thursday nights, but save their ultimate parties for their new place of residence with an open invite for Arthur, Alfred, and their mystical friends.

Part 2 continued...

Comments

( 1 Admirer — Katsu no wa Hyotei )
perkyandproud
Dec. 25th, 2011 11:05 am (UTC)
"Then man up!" LOL!!! Okay, that line was fabulous! :-)

"Feliciano clung to Ludwig like wet paint on walls." This statement was win :-)

And Ivan scared the ghosts....oh, that rocked. Good use of Ivan! LOL!
( 1 Admirer — Katsu no wa Hyotei )

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