"Look Gil, it's not working."
Your soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend gave you a questioning look, his expression confused. "What are you talking about?"
You sighed, running a hand over your face and mentally preparing yourself for what you were about to do. It was for the best – the both of you would be better off when it was done.
"Gil, I'm not going to give you the whole 'it's-not-you-it's-me' speech, because that's not how it is," you leaned back against the arm of the couch you were sitting on. It was breaking your heart to see him so confused, but it was something that had to be done. "I've seen the way you look at Elizabeta-"
"______," he started to interject, looking guilty as sin, but you held a hand up to silence him. You offered him a small, understanding smile as you continued.
"I'm not calling you out or anything," you explained gently. "I'm not mad – I know you two have been close for a long time, and it was obvious that you had feelings for her even when we were dating. All I'm saying is that it would be best if we ended things on a good note – I don't want to hold you back from being with you really want to be with, that wouldn't be fair on either of us."
Gilbert exhaled slowly, processing what you had just said. It was true, he couldn't deny it. He was pretty sure you had noticed the way his attention had been slowly but surely switching from you to the brunette Hungarian over the past few weeks.
Frowning, he took your smaller hand in his own and looked you straight in the eye.
"______, I'm really sorry," he began, but you just shook your head.
"There's nothing to be sorry for, Gil. Stuff like this happens all the time. I just want you to be happy."
"You're sure about this? You really don't mind? Or want to kill me in my sleep?" he asked with a completely serious face.
You couldn't help but laugh at the last part of his question. "Yes, I'm sure. I honestly don't mind, as long as you're happy. And no, I won't kill you in your sleep or anything."
Giving you one last brilliant smile – one of those goofy grins you had loved so much – Gilbert pulled you into a hug. "Thanks for being so awesome about it, ________," he said softly. "I'm really sorry thing didn't work out…"
"That's okay, Gil," you hugged him back. With a small laugh, you added, "I did learn to be awesome from you, after all."
"Ksesesese~, yeah I suppose you did," Gilbert chuckled, ruffling your hair affectionately.
You pushed down the burning sense of loss rising in your stomach – it was better for the both of you this way.
"I think you should go find Elizabeta, tell her the good news," you said jokingly, breaking the hug and looking at Gilbert for what felt like the last time. You would still see him around, but this was the last time you would be able to see him as 'yours'.
Planting a kiss on your forehead, Gilbert stood from the couch and made his way to the front door of your apartment. "Thanks again, _____," he paused as he opened the door, looking at you over his shoulder. "I hope you find someone who'll treat you better than I did."
And with that, he was gone.
Only when you were sure he was gone and his footsteps had faded down the hallway, did you let the tears you had kept inside for so long fall freely from your red-rimmed eyes.
**this here be the informal line break**
It had been a few weeks since you broke it off with Gilbert, and you found yourself simply going through the motions, day in and day out. It was hard at first, coming home to an empty apartment with no calls on the answering machine or notes taped to the fridge saying that you were out of milk or eggs. All the little things reminding you that he really was gone.
But you had to keep a positive outlook – if not for your own sake, then for Gil's. If he saw you being unhappy, it would make him feel guilty. And you didn't want that. The whole reason you had broken things off in the first place was to make him happy.
"Hey, _____! Snap out of it, chica!" you were brought back to the present by the impatient snapping of someone's fingers in front of your face.
Blinking repeatedly, it took you a moment to realise that you had spaced out again. You blushed, muttering a quick apology with a sheepish smile. One of your best friends, ______ raised an eyebrow at you and sighed.
"Look honey, I know it's been tough since everything with Gil, but you need to wake up!" she looped an arm over your shoulders and ruffled your hair a bit. "If he's happy, why can't you be?"
You opened your mouth to reply, but closed it again with a sigh. You honestly didn't have an answer for her, and she would see through any sort of lie you tried to tell – she knew you far too well.
On the other side of the bustling cafeteria, Gilbert looked at you over his shoulder and sighed.
"I don't think she's coping, Liza," he shook his head, looking at the Hungarian woman beside him. "I feel bad…"
"You shouldn't. She did it for you," Elizabeta replied with a soft smile. "She wanted you to be happy. When I spoke to her last, she said she'd manage. All she needs is a little time. I don't think she'd want you worrying about her anyway, she's a strong girl," the brunette added with a chuckle.
Exhaling slowly, Gilbert nodded and looked around the cafeteria again. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed someone staring at something behind him, with a forlorn look in their gaze. The albino followed the blonde's line of sight and was quite surprised when it landed squarely on your back. He looked between you and the person he recognised as Arthur Kirkland for a few more moments, just to make sure he wasn't mistaken or anything – because that would be unawesome and all – with a sly plan worming its way into his mind.
A smile lifted the corners of the German's mouth as he turned back to Elizabeta and said, "I've just come up with an awesome plan…"
**well, lookie here, another linebreak!**
"Sooo, Artie!" Gilbert slid onto the bench right beside the blonde Englishman, throwing an arm casually over his shoulder as he did so. "How are you doing?"
Arthur cast him a suspicious look out of the corner of his eye, trying to disentangle himself from the albino's arm. "What do you want this time, you git?"
"So cold!" Gilbert exclaimed sarcastically, clutching as his chest as if wounded. He smirked when the Englishman just rolled his eyes and looked in the other direction.
"Don't be like that, Iggy!" Gilbert scooted closer, grinning. "I just wanted to talk to ya. Isn't that awesome?"
Arthur mumbled something under his breath that Gilbert didn't quite catch, but he pressed on nonetheless. "I noticed you staring at _______ earlier… you interested?"
Arthur proceeded to choke on glass of water he had been drinking, coughing like a man possessed.
"W-what? Where did you get that from, you bloody wanker?!" he spluttered, wide eyed and blushing furiously.
"Don't be so crude, Iggy!" Gilbert laughed, a twinkle in his crimson eyes. "I saw you giving her the eye!" he winked for effect.
Regaining some of his scattered composure, Arthur straightened the collar of his shirt and shot the German a dirty look. "I don't appreciate these false accusations! If you have nothing better to do than waste my time, I suggest you go and find someone else to annoy!"
"Don't lie, the awesome me sees everything," Gilbert chuckled, leaning against the table. "Why don't you go talk to her at least?"
The Brit mumbled something into his glass as he took another swig. Gilbert could have sworn it was something along the lines of 'like hell she'll want to talk to me'.
Shrugging, he pressed on. If _______ could do something for the sake of his happiness, he could at least return the favour. He didn't want to see you unhappy – ever.
"You'll never know if you don't try," Gilbert sighed, looking off into the distance casually. "You never know, she might just like you."
Now that he thought about it, Gilbert had noticed Arthur looking longingly at _____ for quite some time, starting not long after you and he had ended your relationship. He just didn't know why he hadn't put the pieces together sooner.
"C'mon Iggy, give it a try," the albino German nudged Arthur's shoulder, giving him an encouraging grin. "What have you got to lose?"
That suspicious look returned to the Englishman's bright green eyes as he narrowed them, setting his glass down on the table and leaning his elbows in its shiny, white-washed surface. "You're not just leading me on here, are you?"
"Not a chance!" Gilbert protested. His tone softened uncharacteristically as he added, "I just want to see her smile again."
The two of them lapsed into silence for a few moments. Sighing, Gilbert stood from the table and ruffled Arthur's already messy blonde hair. "Just try it, Iggy. She's pretty awesome once you get to know her."
Shooting the albino another dirty look and patting down his unruly hair, Arthur watched him casually waltz back to where he had come from. Sighing, he turned his attention back to his lunch. He found his eyes moving of their own accord, and pretty soon they were centred on you again.
He muttered a few choice curses under his breath and raised his glass of water to his lips, taking a long draught and wishing it was something stronger. Preferably alcoholic.
Mustering his courage, he decided to give the German's suggestion a try. He seemed pretty sincere when he said he just wanted you to be happy. And anyway, Arthur thought, he didn't have much to lose – besides his dignity.
But there was only so long he could watch from the side-lines for. It was time for him to change that.
**2012 – the invasion of the trolling linebreaks**
After the last of your lectures, you were on your way back to your apartment – your empty apartment, you reminded yourself bitterly – when someone called your name. You stopped and looked over your shoulder curiously, wondering who it was that wanted your attention.
Your eyes widened slightly in surprise when you saw Arthur Kirkland jogging towards you. He was in a few of your English literature classes and you had spoken to him on a few occasions, but other than that you didn't know him too well. You wouldn't have minded getting to know him, though – he seemed like a rather nice person when he wasn't arguing with that obnoxious Frenchman or loud-mouthed American.
"Oh, hey Arthur," you greeted as he caught up to you. "What is it?"
He scratched the back of his head in an embarrassed sort of way and you had to restrain a laugh. He looked cute when he did that.
"I was just wondering if you could help me with that assignment we have to do for Film Study," he asked. Mentally, he was slapping himself - it was a lame excuse, but it was the only way he could think of to start an intelligent conversation with you. "I don't have a clue how to get started, quite frankly."
You gave a small laugh and smiled. "Sure, I don't mind helping out."
His sheepish smile widened into a grin. "Thanks, I appreciate it. When are you free?"
You paused thoughtfully, folding your arms and tapping a finger against your elbow. "You could come over to my apartment and we can do it this afternoon, if you'd like."
"Brilliant," if possible, Arthur's grin widened. He offered you his arm and you laughed, accepting the invitation. "Shall we?"
You smiled genuinely for what felt like the first time in weeks. "Such the gentleman, Arthur."
The Englishman blushed and shrugged. "I'm a proper Englishman after all, love."
You laughed again. It felt good. You definitely wouldn't mind getting to know him better.
You and Arthur had been busy on the Film Study project for a good few hours already, but you were having too much of a good time to notice how long it had been since the two of you had started. You hadn't been working solidly the whole time, mind you.
Between laughing at stories of your respective childhoods, crazy family members and those awkward pre-college years, the two of you had managed to get SOME work done. Perched on one of the couches in your living room, you tossed a pillow at Arthur's head and laughed indignantly at a comment he had made.
"What?" he protested with a grin, catching the pillow before it could smack him in the face. "All I said was that you looked cuter with pigtails!"
You snorted and smirked. "Implying that I don't look as good now?"
"I never said that!" Arthur coloured slightly and you laughed even harder.
"I'm joking, Iggy," you giggled. "Don't take everything so seriously!"
Smirking, Arthur chucked the pillow back at you. He was glad he had taken Gilbert's advice – you were actually pretty interesting to talk to once you warmed up to people. He remembered what had intrigued him about you in the first place – your sense of humor, the way you laughed…pretty much everything, really.
You managed to dodge the pillow and flopped back onto the couch, still laughing. You were glad you had agreed to help Arthur with the project – you hadn't laughed this much in MONTHS. When you were talking to him… it was like you could completely forget what happened with Gilbert, how lonely you had been feeling. Arthur made you feel normal again. You liked that. You liked HIM.
You pulled a tongue at the Brit sitting on the couch opposite you, fluffing the pillow between your hands. You glanced down at the still-unfinished assignment sprawled over your coffee table before your gaze flickered to the clock on the opposite wall. You squinted, not quite sure if you were reading it right.
"I didn't realise how late it had gotten!" you exclaimed, standing up from the couch. As much as you didn't want Arthur to leave, you knew he probably had to get home soon. You began to tidy up the papers strewn about the table, saying, "You probably have to leave soon…"
Arthur leaned forward, laying a hand over yours to stop your tidying. "I'm not in a rush, love."
Blushing slightly, you smiled and released the papers. You stood and stretched, unaware of Arthur's blush as he watched you in fascination.
"You want something to drink?" you asked, walking towards the small kitchenette in the next room. "Like tea or coffee?"
"Tea would be fantastic," Arthur stood and followed you.
You set the worn electric kettle to boil and proceeded to pull various things out of your cabinets – a set of mugs, a sugar bowl and two tea bags.
"Sugar?" you asked Arthur over your shoulder, hand hovering over the sugar bowl.
On a whim, he pushed himself off of the small kitchen table he had been leaning on and came up behind you, arms boxing you in as he took the sugar spoon from your hand. "None for me, thanks love," he breathed in your ear, resting his head on your shoulder.
His breath on your skin sent chills racing up and down your spine, and his close proximity made your stomach erupt in a flurry of nervous butterflies. The kettle switch flicked off as the water ceased to boil, snapping your hazy mind back to the present. Reaching for the appliance, you almost dropped it when Arthur wrapped his arms around your waist.
Trying to concentrate on not letting your knees buckle from underneath you, you dropped the tea bags into the mugs and filled them to the brim with piping hot water. You pushed them to the side, not wanting to knock them over as you turned around. Arthur afforded you enough space to rotate, but otherwise didn't move.
You smirked and leaned backwards against the kitchen counter. "I don't know how you're planning to drink your tea like this…"
Arthur returned the smirk and tightened his grip on your waist, bringing you closer. It was now or never. "The tea can wait, I'm sure."
Your breath hitched when the Englishman pressed his lips to yours, almost hesitantly at first, but he soon gained more confidence. Running his hand up your side, you gasped instinctively. Arthur took advantage of the moment and deepened the kiss, his tongue tangling passionately with yours.
He lifted you so that you were sitting on the counter, your knees on either side of his waist. You brought your arms up, encircling his neck and threading your fingers through his unruly hair. Arthur's hand slipped under your shirt, causing your skin to break out in a fresh wave of goosebumps, while his other cupped your cheek.
Grudgingly, you broke the kiss for air, leaning your forehead against the Brit's and grinning like a Cheshire cat.
"I should help you with your assignments more often," you laughed breathlessly, eyes closed.
"I wouldn't mind at all, love," Arthur chuckled. He would make sure to thank Gilbert for giving him the push he needed.