Fandom: Axis Powers Hetalia
Characters: Portugal [OC], England, Ireland [starsandauras’s OC], Australia [unspeakingly’s OC], America, ], Canada, Northern Ireland [later_days’s OC], Spain, Wales [crownings’s OC], Scotland [eats_typos’s OC]. Also Ligeia the stalker!mermaid.
Pairing?: England/Portugal, Ligeia the stalker mermaid → Portugal
Rating: PG-13 for language and stalker mermaids trying to seduce countries.
Summary: During the Age of Sail, Portugal had an otherworldly admirer following him around that only the Isles siblings could see. Otherworldly as in, a mermaid. Yeah, you heard me. Otherworldly cat-fights ensue while England, Ireland and Wales have to do their best to save poor Port’s immortal soul.
Timeframe Mostly the 16th century, with some switches to 2010. ^^
Word Count: 15244 with footnotes, all told; 10794 in this part.
Notes: This fic is proof that I fully embrace the Lighter and Softer trope in this fandom, sob. Ligeia was generously named by Mini misheard, who informs me “It means "clear-voiced, shrill, whistling". Traditionally the name of one of the Sirens, so I guess there could be confusion, but it's also a regular Greek name from what I understand.” I thought it was perfect myself, so here we are. My thanks to go her for helping! <3
Warnings: Hetalia OCs, bad accents, England being jealous, the nasty side of the fae, some questionable uses of magic, and utter crack once again.
Early September, 1568
Somewhere on the English Channel
Arthur had dropped anchor close to Luís’s ship after asking permission to come aboard – because he felt that he had to ask, never mind what Luís would have said about it – and the two of them were now stood on the deck leaning on the rail and looking out at the somewhat choppy waters of the channel.
“I wasn’t expecting to see you up here,” he confessed. “I thought you’d only just got back to Lisbon a month or so ago.”
“Oh? Are you saying you’d rather not see me?” Luís teased impishly – and damn him, he knew, he knew that that would make him blush.
“No, don’t be a prat!” he huffed. “I’m just surprised, that’s all. You don’t often come this far north, and you hardly ever leave such a short space of time between voyages unless there’s some sort of emergency or something.” He took a closer look at his friend, feeling as if he was missing something. There was something different about him, he was sure there was. Something about his eyes, and the way they seemed slightly out of focus. He even thought he could catch the faintest hint of – magic? But that made no sense…
Luís laughed fondly. “For goodness’ sake, Inglaterra, am I not allowed to come and go where I please?” Arthur opened his mouth to answer but stopped as he caught a flash of something in the water out of the corner of his eye. He turned to look at the spot where he’d seen it, and went rigid. Then he scowled. Sitting there in the water, brazen as you like, and braiding her auburn hair casually while she stared up unabashedly at his best friend, was an uncannily pretty mermaid, flicking the water with her tail and giggling.
Luís looked at him oddly. “Is something wrong?” he asked, concerned. Arthur glanced back at him for a second, before returning to staring down the mermaid.
“There is a mermaid down there in the water, staring right at you,” he said icily as he watched the mermaid in question blow a kiss in Luís’s direction. “In fact, it looks like she has been for a while.”
There was a few seconds of almost dead silence, where only the sound of the wind blowing could be heard, and then Luís sighed and said “Arthur, not you as well…” at the same time the mermaid laughed, high and clear and cold, and said “Oh, this one is clever.”
She swam closer to the side of the ship and smiled sweetly up at him, though there was no warmth in her smile. “You’re not blind like he is, are you? You can see everything that’s going on.”
Arthur scowled more fiercely than ever at her and leaned over the side – not too far, though. He had no desire to fall in and be dragged to the bottom of the ocean for his trouble. “Look you, you’ve got nothing to do with him, piss off back to your own ocean and stop… harassing him or whatever you’re doing. Where are you from, the Mediterranean?”
She kicked back in the water, and lay back down on the top of the swell in a manner that was almost sickeningly seductive. “But I like him,” she pouted, undoing the braid she’d just made in her own hair. “And it’s none of your business. I can choose whatever man I please, and he does so love the sea.” She smiled again, and there was nothing friendly or kind about it. “You should stay out of things you don’t understand, mortal.”
Arthur bristled. “He’s my best friend, it damn well is my business!” he snapped at her. “And if you’re fool enough to think you’re just tangling with some mere mortal, your funeral, you fishy tart!”
“Oh?” she said, mock-innocently, and smirked. “Best friends? Is that what it is?” She swam in a circle and pouted coyly. “Or is it that you’re jealous, because you know that if he could see me, he’d pick me over you?”
“Jealous?!” he repeated incredulously. “That’s fucking rich coming from a mermaid bitch like you!” Around his head, some of his fae hissed and spat at the mermaid in the water, Albion let us curse her let us catch her let us pull out her hair and gouge her eyes and make her crawl back to the bottom of the sea we would do it if you only asked us, but he waved them off and shook his head. Tempting as it was, there were limits to the smaller fae’s magic, and he was not going to risk them against a creature that could easily crush or drown them.
“Oh look, he’s got friends,” the mermaid said in a bored voice, tossing her hair. “He’s already been listening to me sing for a long while now, you know. He’s as good as mine.”
“Fuck off back to where you came from, would you?” Arthur shouted, and she laughed melodiously, waving coyly in Luís’s direction. Luís himself was just staring helplessly at Arthur, completely oblivious to what was really going on.
“… Querido, you’re shouting at the air,” he said eventually, in a long-suffering tone. Arthur whirled to face him incredulously.
“She,” he said imperiously, pointing at the grinning mermaid in the water, “Is – she’s all but flirting with you, for Heaven’s sake!”
“Aye, that she is!” came a loud call from an approaching boat, and the two turned to see Brigid, beaming with grim determination and barking orders to her small crew to bring her vessel alongside the other two. She spared a glance for the mermaid, and her eyebrows rose into her flyaway hair. “An’ she’s bein’… rather graphic about the whole thing… which is quite disturbin’.” Arthur glanced back down at the mermaid. He immediately wished he hadn’t, and let off an impressive stream of curses in Old English that would have made the saltiest and most hard-bitten sailor weep. Brigid gave her younger brother a pointed look.
“Are ye quite finished?” she said impatiently. Arthur scowled sullenly at her, but said nothing, and she turned to face Luís instead. “Aye, ‘tis a good thing I decided t’follow ye after all, An Phortaingéil, now I can see how bad the problem is.” She tilted her head expectantly. “’Tis about time we dealt with it, aye?” She glanced sideways at the mermaid, still parading about in the water.
“But first thing’s first, ‘tis to a safer place we ought to be gettin’ ourselves,” she amended.
‘A safer place’, as it turned out, was whatever major port they could easily get to the quickest. So it was that a little less than a day later, the three of them were sat in a small house in Plymouth – of course Arthur kept houses in all of his major port towns – and Brigid was striding into the room, changed out of her sailing breeches and back into a modest, comfortable dress, her skirts swishing slightly as she sat down with the other two.
“Sent a message off to Llewellyn, I jus’ did,” she informed them. “’Tis all the help we can get that we’ll be needin’ for this mess. Should be here in two, three days o’ so, all bein’ well. Would ask me twin too an’ all, but ‘tis trouble at home that he’s havin’ an besides I think he should only rejoice in makin’ the situation worse if he knew.” She scrutinised Luís expectantly now, eyes slightly narrowed. “So then,” she prompted. “How long is it ye’ve been feelin’ light-headed an’ hearin’ voices?”
Luís thought about it for a moment before answering. “Since near the end of last month, on my way back to Lisbon,” he said with a small frown. “So a little over three weeks, I should think.” Arthur swore and Brigid looked nothing less than flabbergasted.
“By the saints, Luís,” she said, awed, “‘tis mighty lucky ye are that ye are such a stubborn bastard, aye ye are! Most men’d be at the bottom o’ the ocean right now an’ no mistake, but th’ only reason ye haven’ thrown yeself right in after her already is yer own stubborn head!”
Luís blinked. “I’m not sure whether or not I should take that as a compliment,” he said dryly.
“Take it as luck, however ye take it,” she sniffed dismissively, waving a hand. “Ye still should’ve told someone th’ moment ye started havin’ funny turns.” Arthur rolled his eyes and huffed impatiently.
“Not to interrupt the lecture, but we have to do something about the stupid tart!” he exclaimed. “Luck or stubbornness or – or whatever it is, it won’t last if she keeps tailing along behind him forever!”
“Aye, ye’re right,” Brigid agreed. “The sooner we get shot o’ her, the better for us all.”
“And how exactly do you propose that we do this?” Luís asked, deciding to humour the two of them for now. The two siblings fell silent, both frowning in deep thought as they drew on whatever arcane knowledge it was that they had in their heads. Luís had to fight back a smile at how honestly adorable it looked.
“D’ye know,” Brigid said thoughtfully, “’Tis unsure I am of the proper way t’deal with her.” She ticked points off on her fingers, eyes narrowing and looking into the distance as she thought. “Selkies, ye take th’skin an’ hide it, Merrows ye steal the red cap off them, but ne’er have I had t’deal with what ye’d call a true mermaid.” She looked at her brother. “Arthur?”
“Nor I,” Arthur said, looking troubled. “I’ve heard plenty of stories and I’ve seen a few from a distance, but when it comes to actually dealing with any…” he trailed off.
“Jus’ our luck,” Brigid commented gloomily. “O’ all the creatures it could be, has t’be the ones we haven’ a clue where t’start with.”
“I love your confidence,” Luís said dryly. Brigid scowled.
“Oi, ye ne’er heard me say we’d be givin’ up!” she retorted sternly. “’Tis only a matter o’ me returnin’ to me own waters an’ havin’ a chat with me own merfolk. Me selkies and merrows are far more agreeable folk than the one what’s chasin’ ye, ‘tis a surety that if I ask they’ll tell me some way o’ takin’ care o’ our fishy friend.”
“That’ll take you at least five days for a round trip, all told, and that’s being bloody generous and assuming a fair wind the whole time, too,” Arthur frowned, the look on his face speaking volumes of what he thought of that plan.
“D’ye have a better idea? He’s survived this long, he has, ‘tis not much t’ask for him t’hold out jus’ a wee bit longer. ‘Sides, ‘tisn’t as if he’ll be alone. ‘Tis sure I am that ye can handle fendin’ off one mermaid till I return, ‘less ‘tis all yer magic ye’ve forgotten.” Nice of Brigid to talk about him as if he didn’t happen to be there, Luís thought to himself.
Arthur scowled. “Of course I haven’t forgotten any of my magic!” he said heatedly. “Well, go on then, this was your idea. If you’re so keen on it then go and ask them already!”
“Jus’ a wee bit on the jumpy side, aren’t ye?” she asked, but she said it with a smile. “Don’t ye be worryin’, either o’ ye,” she added, but it was mostly Luís she was looking at it when she said it. “Ye’ll be just right as rain, an’ that’s a promise, ‘tis.”
Being patient was something that Luís was used to and that Arthur didn’t particularly like to do if he could help it but which neither of them did especially well at, especially when there was nothing to occupy themselves with except the waiting. There was a heavy, almost unnatural mist about that had descended on the town that Arthur said he was almost certain was caused by the mermaid and even Luís had to admit was uncanny. Llewellyn’s arrival after a few days didn’t particularly help matters, as he seemed to be more amused than anything else at the entire situation. However, he was admittedly a lot more graceful about his amusement than many of the other nations – especially Douglas or Francis – would have been. After chuckling a little at having the tale recounted to him on his arrival, he had actually been rather sympathetic, and shared his own tales of mishaps with magical creatures from his youth – more than one having to do with a dragon. Luís himself couldn’t help being a little skeptical about it all still, but the sight of the two Isles brothers arguing over their supernatural wildlife was entertaining and more than a little endearing. It was better by far, too, than simply having to concentrate on ignoring the singing and the restlessness, the call to the sea that wove its way in and out of the wind.
But the fae are tricksy and deceitful beings, especially those of the water, and he couldn’t avoid it forever. It was on the fourth night that his luck finally broke.
The mist had cleared up mysteriously all of a sudden earlier on in the afternoon, leaving the day breezy but clear and the night that followed it much the same. Arthur hadn’t liked it and had muttered under his breath about how this was a sure sign that “that overgrown fish out there” was up to something. Of course, he was right.
The night was still quite warm for September when Luís woke suddenly, started out of sleep for some reason he couldn’t quite place. The restlessness that had been plaguing him for the past few weeks seemed stronger than ever, driving him to leave the bed and go to the window. Judging by where the moon and the stars were, it couldn’t have been more than around one o’clock in the morning. A fine time to be up during a voyage, but he wasn’t feeling all that well-disposed towards the night at the moment.
It didn’t help that he could hear her singing.
With not much else better to occupy himself with while they waited for Ireland to consult with… whoever or whatever it was that she had left to consult with, Luís had learned to recognise exactly when his apparent supernatural stalker was making use of her powers. It wasn’t just the sound of the singing; it was the thick, light-headed feeling that came over him, the overwhelming compulsion to go down to the sea. It seemed stronger than ever now, and even though he knew that following it could lead to nothing good, it washed over him, almost whispering to him.
For a long moment, he stood almost immobile at the window, frustration rising in him even as the wind whispered in his ear and tried to soothe his mind and tempt him down to the ocean. He could just catch a glimpse of it out of the window. The mermaid or whatever it really was would be down there somewhere right now, he knew, but try as he might he could not see her, and he thought that was the most frustrating thing of all about the situation. He didn’t have Arthur or Brigid’s sight, but that didn’t stop him from being able to hear her. The haunting, beautiful sound of the voice wove through the wind and spoke to him. Surely it couldn’t hurt to go down to the water for a little, he thought, and the thought grew even as part of him stubbornly denied it. The heavy, foggy feeling in his head grew stronger; perhaps if he only gave in a little, went down to the shore for a moment, it would be enough. The part of him that was still his own railed against this idea, knowing it was foolish, knowing that it would be his undoing, but it was smaller, ever smaller, and going down to the sea was seeming more and more attractive. How dangerous could it be? he asked himself as he turned the handle of the door, moving almost as if he were in a dream while the music swelled.
The walk to the shoreline seemed long and the moon was only part of the way to full, making the light it cast pale and faint and the shadows strange. Once it was sand giving way under his feet rather than the worn, compact ground of the path, he stopped, some residual, stubborn sense of caution still holding him back. The singing sounded in his ears louder than ever, and for the first time he could hear a bubbling laugh in it, a voice that sent a chill up his spine with how otherworldly it was.
“So you came finally after all. Hello there.”
Llewellyn was not expecting to be woken at such an unreasonable hour, and certainly not with so much unceremonious shaking. He blinked, a combination of shaking the sleep from his mind and complete, disorientated confusion. “Arthur, what on –”
“Llewellyn.” There was something about the way his brother said his name, some almost desperate urgency, and for a moment that seemed to drag out into eternity, the two brothers stared at each other in complete silence while the cogs in the Welshman’s fast-awakening brain turned and fell into place.
Realisation came with a heavy weight in Llewellyn’s stomach and some very uncharacteristic swearing from the usually placid and level-headed Isles sibling.
“... Oh, shite,” he said softly.
There was something very disorientating about not being able to see what it was you were talking to, thought Luís, but somehow, for some reason, he couldn’t bring himself to mind.
“Won’t you come a little closer?” the voice on the wind whispered, and though most of him couldn’t help agreeing, thought it was a splendid idea, there was something that kept his feet rooted to the ground.
“That would be easier if I could see you,” he said instead to buy time.
There was another laugh. “Why would you need to see me?” she – for he couldn’t deny anymore that the voice was anything other than a woman’s – said, in a tone that couldn’t be described as anything less than seductive. “I could teach you to see me, if you really wanted.”
“How do I know that you aren’t lying to me?”
A swish, as though something were moving in the water. “Why would I lie?” He could almost hear the pout in her voice. “I only want to get to know you more.”
He couldn’t miss the implications of that, and though a tiny, quiet part of him – the same part that kept his feet firmly rooted in place despite the rest of him yearning to draw closer – protested in outrage and disgust, he found himself nodding slowly. Why wouldn’t he also want to get to know better something so undoubtedly beautiful? Even her speech, otherworldly and still faint in his ears as it was, was musical and haunting.
“That’s bold, considering that I don’t think we even know each other’s names.”
“Names?” she laughed. “I’ll tell you mine if you will give me yours,” she replied. The water moved again as she did. “Come closer!”
Compelled by the sound of her voice, he walked closer to where the sea lapped the edge of the beach. When he was almost upon it, he felt a faint pressure against his hand – almost as if a hand made of a more solid mist was grasping one of his.
“So,” she said, drawing him irresistibly further into the edge of the waves. “Your name, good sir?”
“Luís,” he told her, and he didn’t quite know why except that it seemed like a good idea.
“Luís,” she repeated thoughtfully, rolling the name around on her tongue. A second faint hand took hold of his other one. He was now knee-deep in the water. “Call me Ligeia,” she whispered.
He opened his mouth to reply, but before he could, there was a loud crackling and a bright flash, and Ligeia screeched in surprise, anger, and – pain?
“Excuse me,” said Arthur in a dangerous voice, cold fury dripping from every word, “But I think you’ll find that’s mine.”
Luís turned to look, wide-eyed, towards the sound of his voice. Both Arthur and Llewellyn were striding purposefully towards him, Arthur with a deep-set, livid scowl, Llewellyn with a look of grim determination. The grip on his hands suddenly became vice-like despite her hands still feeling faint and mist-like.
“This one is mine, human,” Ligeia hissed, and he felt himself being dragged with alarming speed further into the ocean. The fog over his mind was suddenly cleared, the spell broken by the shrill hiss of her voice and the sudden break in her singing. At once, he began to struggle, pulling back and digging his heels into the sand, planting his feet wide apart. As one, Arthur and Llewellyn rushed forwards and grabbed an arm each, adding their own weight to his, straining to pull him back towards the shore. But they were in her territory now. This was her domain, for all that it was the very edge and that they themselves might sail over it and style themselves masters of it. Her grip remained tight, and she pulled with a frightening supernatural strength that slowly forced the three of them to take a step forwards. He heard Arthur swear through clenched teeth at his side. Llewellyn just held on silently in dogged determination.
“What in blazes is it I have to do, ward off the whole damn island?” Arthur snarled in the direction of the mermaid. “You –” the three of them were forced another step forwards “ – are not having him. Not on my fucking life!”
“You say that as if you think you have a choice,” came the reply. Luís himself bristled at that, feeling his shoulders tense and rise in anger. Enough of this. Enough.
“Actually,” he said coldly, “I’d like to think that I do.” Raising his foot, he lashed out quickly, aiming a kick at where he was reasonably sure her midriff was. He felt the kick connect – he wasn’t sure with what – and Ligeia gasped in surprise, her grip loosening. Seeing their chance, Arthur and Llewellyn pulled him, and he half-swam, half-scrambled, was half-dragged back up towards the shore even as she tried to reach for him again, her hands brushing his own. Arthur muttered something that Luís couldn’t quite catch and raised his hand. Light played about his fingers for a moment – and then there was another sudden crackle, another bright flash, and Ligeia shrieked in defeated frustration as the three nations were thrown backwards, tumbling into the ankle-deep surf and onto the beach.
Llewellyn was the first to recover, sitting up and gazing out to sea with narrowed eyes as he kept a watch for their opponent. “I think she’s gone for now,” he said after a moment. “Your aim’s a little off, brawd.”
But Arthur’s aim was the last thing on either of the other two nations’ minds. “She’ll be back,” Arthur muttered darkly as he scrambled to his knees himself, covered in sand and seawater, before he grabbed Luís’s arms with an almost furious look on his face. “The Lord damn it all, Luís, don’t do that to me!” he said heatedly, his hands gripping Luís’s upper arms tightly. “Bloody well near gave me a heart attack, damn you,” he added in a voice that was all but a whisper, “being such an idiot tosser.” Luís, shaken by the whole encounter now that the spell of Ligeia’s voice had passed completely and the implications of what could have happened were beginning to sink in, just shook his head numbly and pulled the Englishman into a tight hug.
A profound silence was hanging over the room, the listeners now completely spellbound. Matthew was hugging Kumajiro even tighter to his chest, Terra had her knees drawn up against hers, and even Alfred, the most skeptical of them, looked troubled. All three had looks of wide-eyed shock. Not even Douglas was smiling anymore, now looking sullenly to one side as he played with the chess piece in his pocket. Even the sound of Brigid’s needles had stopped.
The silence was finally broken by Connor. “… Shite,” he said in an awed voice, his ever-present hip flask frozen halfway to his mouth. “She really nearly did get you, didn’t she?”
“It was a close shave,” Luís agreed quietly, a ghost of a smile appearing at Connor’s reaction.
“Too close,” Arthur put in, scowling, and Llewellyn and Brigid nodded in agreement, the latter murmuring something under her breath about how it could have been avoided if someone had just opened his eyes for once. There were no prizes for guessing who it was that she meant.
“So how did you get rid of her in the end, anyway?” Alfred said abruptly. “I mean, it seems like she was, uh… pretty into you.”
“Well,” Luís continued, “Brigid got back sometime during the next day with the answer of how best to take care of her.”
Mid September, 1568
Brigid returned sometime during the afternoon with an almost palpable triumphant aura in her wake to find the three men looking, at best, serious and subdued, and she stopped in her tracks.
“’Tis a sight for sore eyes th’three o’ ye are, an’ no mistake,” she said, astonished. “What ‘tis it that’s happened t’make all o’ ye look like a wet Wednesday?”
They saw no point or reasonable way of keeping the previous night’s escapade from her, and so it was with more than one false start and hasty interruption to amend someone else’s point that the three of them told the night’s events. Brigid, who had seated herself on the arm of Llewellyn’s chair while she listened to the tale, was left shaking her head with an incredulous expression by the time they reached the end of it.
Then, without warning, she leaned over and cuffed Luís on the back of the head again, to an indignant cry of “Oi!” from Arthur and a surprised intake of breath from Luís.
“Must you keep hitting me?” he demanded with more than a little ire. Brigid sat back, untying and then re-tying her long red hair into its ribbon.
“T’was just me way o’ checkin’ ye weren’t still under, t’was,” she explained, although privately Luís thought she was enjoying it far too much for that to be the case. Arthur clearly thought so too, from the way he was scowling and rolling his eyes at her.
Smiling a little, Llewellyn nudged his sister. “Did you find what you were looking for, chwaer?” he prompted, in an effort to get her back on track. Brought back to the news she had originally been about to share, Brigid’s face lit up in a triumphant smile once again.
“Aye, that I did,” she said, beaming. “T’was a good chat I had with th’merrows near Waterford, an’ on th’subject o’ our watery lass, ‘tis apparently a much simpler thing than we thought. ‘Tis her hair that gives her her power, so ‘tis her hair that we have to be goin’ after to be rid o’ her once and for all.”
“What,” Arthur said slowly, “You mean it’s as simple as just hacking it all off? That’s it?” He sounded a little skeptical, and remembering what had occurred last night, Luís couldn’t help agreeing with him; surely it couldn’t be that simple? But the next moment, Arthur had sighed and shrugged, and said instead, very briskly, “Well, alright, suppose that is the way. How exactly do you propose restraining her long enough for us to cut all of her hair? She almost had all three of us at the bottom of the channel last night.”
“Oh, aye, givin’ up ere ye’ve e’en begun, Arthur, why don’t ye,” Brigid snorted. “We’ll find a way, aye we will.”
“I’m all ears,” said Arthur in a voice that was practically dipped in sarcasm. Brigid rolled her eyes slightly but otherwise ignored her brother’s tone.
“Tell me, me brothers, how’d ye go about catchin’ a fish?” The three of them looked at each other and then at Brigid, all of them clearly wondering if she had gone a little mad.
“With some bait and a line, or a net if one happened to be available,” Luís answered her with a small frown, not quite following. “How is that relevant?”
“I’d like to know that too,” Arthur cut in. “I know that she’s nothing more than an overgrown fish with too many ideas, but honestly –”
“Aye, ‘tis an overgrown fish she is,” Brigid agreed before her brother could get any further, “An’ so ‘tis like a fish she’ll be caught. Which means we’ll be havin’ a need for some bait.” Following this pronouncement, she looked at Luís in a way that was, quite frankly, more than a little unnerving.
Arthur caught the look and said flatly, “No.”
“We have a need o’ some way to be catchin’ her,” Brigid retorted. “An’ if ‘tis easiest t’be catchin’ her like the fish she is, why, what better way ‘tis there than t’lure her in with what ‘tis she’s after?”
“Oh, and throwing him right into the lion’s mouth is really the best way to go about it, of course!”
“D’ye have a better plan? ‘Tis An Spáinn we could make use o’ if ‘tis that unhappy ye are with it all. They look alike enough, they do.”
“They don’t look that much alike,” Arthur scowled, looking faintly sickened by the notion.
“I’d have to agree with that,” Luís put in. “And anyway, as truly tempting as it is to throw my idiot brother to the predatory mermaid, I’d rather if we didn’t, all the same. Quite apart from anything else, I am sure that there are laws somewhere forbidding fratricide.”
“Aye, but ‘tis tempting still, isn’t it?” Brigid said with a wicked glint in her eye, winking cheekily at him, and he couldn’t help grinning.
“Don’t be daft,” Arthur said firmly. “Much as I’d like to chuck him to the tart as well, we can’t use that daft idiot Spain, he blathers Port’s true Name about all over the place just like he breathes, and if she gets ahold of that bit of information we’re finished. No.”
Brigid looked thoughtful. “I’ll admit I hadn’t given thought t’that.” There was a beat, then the next moment, another wicked smile spread across her face. “’Tis always a possibility that we could use An Fhrainc as our bait, ‘tis.”
Arthur stared at her for a few seconds, blinked, then smirked widely in a way that could only be described as evil. “Oh, if only we could do that, that would make my day,” he said with a small chuckle. “It’s a pity he looks nothing like Luís at all and she’d spot it from a mile off.”
“True, sadly,” Brigid agreed. “But at th’ very least ‘tis possible that they’d rid us all o’ each other from th’other’s sheer vanity, aye?”
“Ie, or he might enjoy it too much, chwaer,” Llewellyn said quietly with a wry smile. As one, the three other nations present all pulled identical faces of disgust at the thought.
“… Aye, ‘tis somethin’ we should probably consider, him bein’ th’ pervert he is,” Brigid said at length, still looking mildly nauseated. “Not An Fhrainc, then.”
“I don’t suppose I get a say in this, since it’s my immortal soul on the line?” Luís said with a slight edge to his voice. “If you must use me as bait and you’re that certain you can catch her, then I don’t mind. If that’s what will help get rid of her, then let’s do it. I’ve been mocked by her for long enough.” For a second, Arthur stiffened and shifted a little out of his seat as if he was going to say something, but then he thought better of it and sank back down.
“We still have no real way of holding her,” Llewellyn mused, half to himself. “A net wouldn’t hold her for long enough, and she could still cause a storm that’d drown all of us.”
“That she could,” Brigid acknowledged with a troubled expression. “If we only had her Name, why all the easier t’would be, but…”
“Her name?” Luís frowned, looking from one sibling to the other in confusion. “Why is her name so important?”
“If you Name a fae – with their True Name, I mean – you control them,” Arthur explained, a little shortly. “As far as I’m aware it works for most magical beings any of us have come across, with a few exceptions.”
“But she told me her name,” Luís said. “Last night, in fact.”
There was a short silence in which the three siblings’ faces went through identical throes of stunned shock, dawning realisation, and triumph. Brigid actually sprang off of the arm of Llewellyn’s chair and hugged him tight before anyone could say another word, her face filled with glee.
“Aye, said t’was lucky ye were, didn’t I?” she cried. “’Tis jus’ as well for all o’ us she that thought she had ye an’ let it slip!” She released him and beamed at him. “Then we have all we need t’put pay t’ her, aye, e’en right now if ‘tis what we want!”
“Hold on a moment,” he said firmly, holding up a hand to curb her enthusiasm, although he couldn’t quite help smiling himself. Brigid’s happiness certainly was infectious. “If I am going to be used as bait in this trap of yours, I at least want to be able to see what it is I’m being the bait for.”
“I cannae teach ye t’see again what ye’ve forgotten how to overnight, An Phortaingéil,” she replied. “’Tis not so simple t’reopen what’s shut up tight, an’ ‘tis too mired in faith ye are, like I said.”
“There must be a spell or something, though,” Arthur reasoned with a thoughtful look. “He doesn’t need his sight back permanently, a day or two should do it.”
Brigid thought for a moment before nodding. “Aye, good call,” she said. “If I’m rememberin’ rightly ‘tis an incense we can make t’call back his sight for a wee bit. But it has need of an overnight spent on it an’ a waxin’ moon.”
“Well, that’s alright,” Arthur shrugged. “The moon’s waxing right now as it is.”
“Mmm.” Brigid stared off into the distance for a while, ticking something off unobtrusively on her fingers. “Gum mastic, cinnamon, juniper, musk, ambergris, sandalwood, and marshmallow. ‘Tis really patchouli we’d be needin’ an’ a Wednesday for preparin’ it, but t’would be difficult to get some at short notice an’ we have a great enough need now not t’wait for the right day o’ th’week.”
“Do we have all of the other things to hand?” Llewellyn asked mildly.
“’Tis sure I am that between th’three o’ us we can make it up,” Brigid answered confidently. “Know that Arthur at least keeps a box well-stocked for things like this, he does, as do I. T’think of it, could e’en cover him with sandalwood oil if any o’ us has some t’hand.”
Luís gazed at them with a small frown on his face. “You’re asking me to get involved with witchcraft,” he said flatly. Three pairs of green eyes turned to look at him with varying levels of curiosity, resignation, and sheer disbelief.
“’Involved with witchcraft?’ ‘Tis that which worries ye?” Brigid said, incredulity clear in every word. “’Tis involved with witchcraft already ye are since ye have a mermaid tailin’ ye, aye ye are!”
“It’s one thing to be thrown into it completely against my will,” he countered obstinately, standing his ground. “But willingly going along with this spell, or whatever it is? That’s different.”
Arthur sighed, rolled his eyes, and muttered something mutinously under his breath that may or may not have contained the words ‘bloody Catholics’ and ‘so glad I’m shot of that religion’. Luís ignored him.
“Ye’d be a bloody fool not t’take th’help what’s offered t’ye,” Brigid said with some heat in her voice. “Knew ye and yer brother were drunk on faith I did, but t’was more brains I had accorded ye in me head than that, An Phortaingéil, aye I did!”
“Well, what would you have me do?” he demanded, a little stung. “It’s heresy, Irlanda!”
“Oh, aye, and ‘tis a witch an’ a heretic both that ye’re sharin’ yer bed with an’ all, or had ye forgotten?” she laughed scornfully. “If the good Lord can forgive ye that trespass ‘tis sure I am he will forgive ye this!”
Arthur spluttered at this. “Brigid! Shut up!” he snapped, turning bright red as he did so.
“The point is,” Llewellyn said evenly, hands and voice raised slightly in an effort to keep the peace, “The way I see it is that you can either be blind when you take on this girl or you can see, boyo. And despite what the Church wants you to believe, not all magic is evil.”
“’Tis jus’ arguin’ for th’sake o’ arguin’ ‘tis, an’ very little common sense,” Brigid snorted, brushing off her breeches in the absence of her usual skirts to smooth down. Luís glared at her.
“It’s just one spell, Portugal,” Arthur said with a little impatience in his voice, his cheeks still slightly red from Brigid’s outburst before. “It’s not much. And it’s hardly like we’re asking you to make a deal with the Devil or whatever other sort of bollocks it is people think magic involves. It won’t even last longer than a day or so.” Luís glanced at the Englishman, recognising the terse explanation for what it was; a reassurance, albeit somewhat veiled in irritation.
“T’would be safer t’see an’ know what ‘tis ye are up against, too, an’ all,” Brigid interjected in a calmer voice than before, “As ye were probably thinkin’ yeself when ye earlier asked. ‘Tis not forever ye can remain willfully blind.”
Luís sighed shortly, not altogether happy with the situation. But he couldn’t deny the sense in what the others were saying, not even to himself.
“Fine,” he said curtly, throwing his hands up, “fine. We’ll do it your way, and I for one will hope that this is the last incident like this I ever need to deal with.”
“Touch wood,” Llewellyn murmured. Brigid nodded, apparently satisfied.
“Aye, that’s that settled then,” she said. “Arthur, with me. I’ll be havin’ need o’ ye an’ yer store if I’m t’make this timely-like, an’ ‘tis sooner rather than later we ought t’start.”
Just as Brigid had said, it took the entire night to prepare the incense, and in the meantime she charged the two with otherwise idle hands with the task of finding a net large and strong enough to hold a large fish. “Or a few,” Arthur interjected, ever sarcastic and pessimistic. Clearly he didn’t want to take any chances with their quarry, and Luís couldn’t really blame him.
It was in the early hours of the morning, when the sunlight was still pale and the morning mist was still clinging to the shoreline, that everything was finally ready. Each of them had a knife (Ireland, of course, had her customary eight, most of them hidden) and Llewellyn had managed, along with the net, to procure some rustic yet serviceable scissors from a local house the previous evening, with the promise that they would be returned in the same condition they’d been borrowed in as soon as he was finished with them.
Almost as soon as the incense was finished and deemed fit to use, Brigid had set to burning it with Luís in the room, saying briskly that the sooner it was able to work, the better. Soon enough, the room was full of a fragrant smoke that hung slightly in the air.
“We’ll know if it’s worked if you start going on about seeing an overgrown fish, I expect,” Arthur said dryly to head off the inevitable question, causing Llewellyn to crack a slight smile and shake his head fondly at his brother. It was only when all the incense was burned that the foursome moved on to the next step.
The plan itself was simple enough; almost too simple, although that may have simply been Brigid’s usual manner making it seem that way. The four of them would take a small ship some way out to sea, far enough away from the land that whatever strange weather may be whipped up wouldn’t trouble anyone who had nothing to do with it. Luís would then go out in a small rowing boat alone to tempt the mermaid out while the others remained hidden so that they could better ambush her. From there, Brigid had said, it would hopefully be simple enough for the others to Name her, overpower her and cut off her hair before turning her away.
Of course it sounded simple, Luís thought to himself as he sat in the little boat a short way away from the ship. A small frown was on his face as his fingers checked for the presence of his knife and the scissors, every part of him alert for the sound of singing, or perhaps even a glimpse of his pursuer.
The fog over his mind came before he was even aware of the singing this time. But as soon as he had realised how heavy his mind was feeling, he also realised that he could hear it – that haunting, beautiful tune that spoke of waves and salt and clear, blue water, thousands of miles under the surface. With an effort, he turned to face the clear sound of the voice.
And he saw Ligeia for the first time.
She was leaning her arms on the side of the boat, resting her head in the crook of her elbow with a smile as she sang. It almost seemed to him that she was a little blurry in his eyes compared to everything else around her; but he could see her now, and that was the main thing. Unfortunately, now that he could see her, he could also recognise, uncomfortably, how beautiful she was, and that combined with the sound of her voice just served to make his head dizzier and his throat quite dry. He dug his nails hard into his own palm in an effort to keep his own mind.
“Our last meeting was rudely interrupted,” she said coyly, twirling a strand of auburn hair between her fingers. “I had thought…” and here she looked almost as if she was hurt, and he had to remind himself with difficulty that it was a lie, “I had thought that you would not return to the sea.”
“Then you thought wrong,” he said lightly, focusing as best he could on the pain in his palm and not the sound of her voice or the strange light in her eyes. Her smile widened when she realised that he was looking directly at her, and not just guessing at her position from the sound of her voice.
“You can see me now, can’t you?” she asked, her tail beating the water in delight. “How wonderful!” She leaned closer, her weight making the boat rock slightly, and he was acutely reminded of how easily the boat could be capsized with enough weight hanging from one side. “We could leave now, if you wanted,” she purred in a voice that was only just above a whisper. “There are many things below the sea, wonders which you land-dwellers could only dream about.” She tilted her head, her hands reaching into the boat. “Wouldn’t you like to see them?”
For a moment, the “yes” lingered just behind his lips, wanting to push out, just as the wind and the waves and the sound of her voice and the fog in his own head were encouraging him to let it. Her eyes were a green-blue, like the Mediterranean she came from, and caught his gaze and held it, tempting him further. But no. He couldn’t. He knew he couldn’t. He could only vaguely remember why, but part of him stubbornly insisted on no.
Unable to answer either way, he simply shook his head. “Sorry,” he said, and felt an overwhelming sadness as the word left his lips, even as a great flood of relief washed over him.
“Sorry?” she echoed. Almost as if on cue, a distinctly Irish voice rang out:
“I’m thinkin’ he means for this.”
Before either of them could react except to turn in surprise, a large net flew over Luís’s head and covered Ligeia completely. She shrieked in surprise, then laughed and began to struggle to free herself.
“Fool!” she laughed, coldly. “You really think that this will hold me?” As she struggled, she opened her mouth and sang again, but this time the song sent chills down his back, and as she sang the clouds began to thicken and darken, hanging low in the sky with rain. Around her, the waves slowly began to roll higher as the first drops poured out of the heavens.
“Nay, I know it won’t,” Brigid shouted back over the rising sound of the water. Her voice sounded surprisingly close by, and Luís looked to find that she and Arthur had dived into the ocean, ropes tied around their waists to act as lifelines leading back to the ship. Soaking wet, the Irish woman smirked defiantly. “But I know what ‘tis that will!”
“No-one knows that,” Ligeia hissed, though she sounded unsure even as she clawed at the net and worked closer to freedom. “No one!”
“Oh, I always knew you were an idiot,” Arthur said with a smirk. “I know your Name.”
At once, the arrogance in Ligeia’s eyes turned to fear. “You can’t!”
“I do and I would!” Arthur shouted. “I Name you Ligeia, and I command you to stay where you are!”
Before he had finished the words, Ligeia had let out another futile scream and dived, net and all, for the side of Luís’s small boat, pulling down with all her weight on the side. The boat rocked, tipped, then overturned completely as water filled it, throwing Luís into the churning waves. He barely had time to hold his breath as he went in, and for a few terrible seconds his world was a rush of roaring water as he righted himself and kicked for the surface, praying that he wouldn’t feel supernatural arms dragging him down.
But he didn’t. He broke the surface with a gasp only inches away from Ligeia herself, who was now thrashing about to no avail; the enchantment, whatever it was, compelled her to stay where she was. She shrieked again and glared at them all with wild, hateful eyes, her hair hanging low over her face and fanning out where it met the water.
“I can still sing,” she spat. “You haven’t and can’t forbid me from that!” She reached again for Luís and her hands met his shoulders, grasping them tightly and pulling him through the water.
“You could still come with me,” she said, the last desperate attempt of a cornered woman – a cornered animal – to wriggle out of her fate and get what she wanted. “He doesn’t control you. Take me away, and I can take you down, we could go together, I –”
For a moment, the part of his mind that was still wreathed in the fog and the sound of her voice made him pause and look at her and her frantic expression, even as the rain lashed down ever harder. He reached a hand forward and gathered her hair together in one auburn cascade, spilling down into the ocean between them. Then he shook his head firmly at last.
“Not for all the gold in the Americas,” he told her. She stared at him dumbly in shock, and it was a few seconds before she caught sight of the scissors in his other hand.
She screamed again, a terrible, high, long scream, but it was too late; the scissors did their work and cut roughly through her hair leaving great swathes of it floating on the surface of the water. As her hair fell, the rising storm fell with it; the rain stopped, and the clouds and ocean lightened, leaving a sky and a swell that was overcast, but calm. Luís felt his own head clear suddenly as well, and he pulled himself free of Ligeia’s grip, backpaddling nearer to the other nations. Ligeia glared at them with a look of pure poison, gazing sullenly at them through the net and her jagged, dramatically shorter hair. Arthur let out a breath that he hadn’t even realised he’d been holding.
“It’s over, then,” Luís said softly, not able to quite believe it himself. Treading water at his side, Brigid nodded.
“Aye, ‘tis. An’ ‘tis well ye did there, Luís,” she smiled. Then, quick as a flash, her hand came up out of the water and cuffed him across the back of the head again, only this time with the added insult of a great deal of excess seawater.
“What was that for this time?” he frowned, turning to her again. “Or dare I even ask?”
She grinned. “That was t’make sure ye don’t go divin’ into somethin’ like this again, o’ course,” she informed him. For a minute, he stared at her in incredulous disbelief, not sure how to react; then, not quite knowing why, he laughed.
“You beat her by cutting her hair?” Alfred said in disbelief. “Seriously?” Both Terra and Matthew looked equally as bowled over by the revelation. Llewellyn just smiled, amused by their looks of sheer incredulity.
“Magic is like that sometimes,” he explained with a laugh. “It doesn’t always take something like a fight to sort things out.”
“I knew it. You guys are crazy,” Alfred said flatly, though there was a look on his face and a note in his voice that made it sound as if he didn’t know whether to be impressed or resigned.
“Still, mate, they got rid of her in the end,” Terra reasoned. “That’s somethin’, ay?”
“So what did you do with her after you caught her, anyway?” Connor asked, unconcerned; he alone of the younger nations had been unfazed by the way they had robbed Ligeia of her power.
“Sent her away with her tail between her legs, we did,” Brigid answered breezily, back to counting stitches in her knitting. “… Not literally, though,” she added hastily after a second’s thought.
“What, and she just left like that?”
“She didn’t have a choice in the matter,” said Arthur briskly. “I told her to go away and keep her nose out of our business in future, and since I was the one telling her, she couldn’t very well argue.”
“It seems kinda anticlimactic,” Alfred groused, pouting. Arthur snorted at him.
“Oh yes, of course you’d say that. I hate to break it to you, America, but not everything in life is an action film,” he snarked.
“Geez, England, I was just saying!”
“Well, so was I!”
Ignoring her arguing father and brother, Terra sprang up and sat next to Luís on the windowsill, slapping him on the back with a grin.
“Never mind those daft boofheads,” she declared. “Ya know we’re never gonna let ya live this one down, right?”
“I never expected anything less,” he said with a long-suffering smile.
“Aye, I thought as much,” Ireland grinned, gazing at him over her knitting. “Let’s see how long it takes Terra to spread this one around, shall we?”
“Oi!” Terra exclaimed. “C’mon, Auntie, I wouldn’t go spreadin’ this around, bloody oath I wouldn’t!”
“I should hope not,” he quipped, nudging her slightly, and she smiled sheepishly at him. “I’d like to save some of my dignity.”
“Dignity?” said Douglas, eyebrows raised. “Think for a wee moment about who it is ye’re sittin’ with!”
“Doug’s got a point, you know,” Connor smirked, turning back to his chess game and freezing. “Did you take my queen off the board, you bastard?”
“Me? Do somethin’ like that?” Douglas’s grin stretched from ear to ear. “Nah, laddie, ye must be seein’ things!”
Luís shook his head as Connor launched himself at Douglas in an effort to reclaim his missing chess piece, Terra and Alfred began cat-calling, and Arthur left his chair to try and help Llewellyn pull the two squabbling nations apart as they scattered chess pieces left and right. Unnoticed by those caught up in the fight, Matthew moved unobtrusively further away from the scuffle and Brigid moved to the window to get a better view.
“You mustn’t think you’ve been let off the hook so easily ‘cause they’re distracted now,” she said to Luís with a grin. “’Tis as soon as they’ve finished that fight they’ll be back to teasing you, you’ll see.”
“I hold you responsible if they do,” Luís told her with a small smile, rolling his eyes slightly and nudging her. She prodded him back with the blunt end of her knitting needle, a wicked grin on her face, and they watched as Connor emerged from the pile of people clutching a black chess piece in his hand and crowing triumphantly.
Mid September, 1568
Somewhere on the English Channel
Llewellyn had pulled the three soaking wet nations back up onto the ship with an exasperated laugh, telling them that they looked like nothing more than drowned rats with the amount of seawater they were bringing back aboard the ship. Arthur had rolled his eyes at him and told him sharply that he wouldn’t look any better either if he’d been swimming in the middle of a near-storm, bloody hell, Llewellyn, cut us a bit of slack. Brigid had just laughed at her oldest brother and flipped her soaking wet hair in his direction, splashing him with a good deal of residual water, before she went to the side of the ship and began squeezing her hair out into the sea below. Away to the west, the sun was setting now, and the bottoms of the clouds were burning a fierce red.
“You’ll be leaving for home soon, I suppose,” Arthur said to him as they gazed out at it, the two of them still dripping from the sea. Luís nodded.
“Sim, probably. I feel like I’ve barely stopped in the past few months. It’d be nice to spend time at home for a change,” he said with a small laugh. He turned to look at Arthur, and blinked as he saw a small, almost glowing near-humanoid creature hovering near his head. He raised his hand to point at it, a little uncertainly, and it waved at him. “Arthur…”
“What?” Arthur turned his head and saw it before he smiled a little in realisation. “Oh… yes. I forgot that you could see them now, can’t you?”
“Is –” he, she, it? How was one supposed to tell gender when it came to magical beings?
“Is she mine, you mean?” Arthur shrugged. “As much as she can be, I suppose. You can’t really claim ownership over them.”
“I’m almost sad that being able to see her is only temporary,” he said a little wistfully, watching the tiny creature settle itself on top of Arthur’s head. “But it’s probably for the best. I’m not made for dealing with this world that you and Irlanda seem so comfortable in.”
“You can say that again,” Arthur said quietly, with a wry smile. For a moment, there was a small quiet between the two, but a small frown came across Arthur’s face, as if he was hesitating to say something and didn’t know whether or not he should. Luís looked at him strangely.
“What is it?” he asked, knowing he was likely never to get an answer without prompting. Arthur started and his frown deepened. Then he said haltingly, some reluctance in his voice, “Well… it’s just that for a moment back there, you were really going to go with her, weren’t you?” Luís’s eyes widened and Arthur scowled and huffed, waving his hand. “Never mind, that was stupid of me. Just – forget I said anything,” he said irritably. He turned away and looked back out towards the sunset.
Luís frowned himself and turned Arthur to face him. “Hey.” Arthur looked at him balefully, a small frown between his eyebrows. “Perhaps for a moment, I did think that I was going to go with her,” he conceded. “But I didn’t. You know me better than that, Inglaterra.”
“Yes, I know,” Arthur sighed. “Which is why I said it was stupid of me to bring up. So can we drop it?”
Luís looked at him for a long moment, but finally, he nodded. “Alright,” he said simply. “I’ll drop it.”
“Thank you.” There was a small pause, then he added, “I do know you better than that. I was just –”
“Being foolish?” Luís said with an impish grin. “Foolish, maybe, but utterly endearing all the same.”
“You – shut up!” Arthur scowled, giving him a good hard shove that made him laugh even as he staggered to catch his balance. “I don’t know why I bother with you, I really don’t –”
“Oi! Could ye both try not t’drown yeselves o’er there, if ye don’t mind!” Brigid called over. “Else I’ll be throwin’ both o’ ye back in, I will!”
“Sorry, Irlanda,” Luís called back, a laugh still in his voice, at the same time Arthur called “Oh, please, I’d like to see you try!” Brigid shook her head at them and continued the process of wringing her jacket out of the seawater that seemed to be saturating every inch of the material.
“We,” said Arthur suddenly, “Are going to freeze if we stay out here soaked through like this. Come on,” and he grabbed Luís’s hand to drag him below deck. Luís grinned, and he squeezed the hand that held his as he followed his friend below.
- Mermaids: Fae. Are not. Nice. Mermaids even less so. Mermaids are long-lived and they have no souls and therefore no morals; like most of the fae, they are cruel and delight in fun for themselves. In British folklore, mermaids are actually seen as an omen of disaster, either warning of it, or bringing it themselves. And of course there’s the legend of mermaids seducing and tricking sailors with their voices into falling in love with them before they drag them down to drown in the sea. Or you know, just going the whole hog and causing the entire ship to run aground on the rocks, whichever. Amusingly, they were also a symbol of lust in many church stained glass windows, warning churchgoers to beware of such carnal passions. Anyway, a mermaid’s power came from her hair and her vanity; an ugly or somehow “imperfect” mermaid lost all the power that came from her voice. Merrows and Selkies, peculiar mostly to Scotland and Ireland, are like a Lighter and Softer version of the “traditional” merfolk and are better at co-existing with humans on the most part.
- “Some trouble with Holland”: 1568 is generally accepted as the start date of the Dutch War of Independence from Spain.
- Lusitania: This is Portugal’s oldest name and logically following his True Name as well (more on that later). Spain keeps calling him it largely from force of habit but also as a subconscious expression of him clinging to the past when he and his brother were one country. :’>
- Albion: As any classical scholar knows, Albion is England’s oldest name in much the same way that Lusitania is Portugal’s. England doesn’t use it or draw attention to it much because of the power there is in the magic of a Name.
- Power of a Name: To quote the Doctor from Doctor Who: “That’s old magic.” As far as the fae are concerned, to Name a fae is to put it under your control completely. Which is why England and Ireland were so pleased when they realised that Port had inadvertently found out Ligeia’s name. :’D
“Would ask me twin too an’ all, but ‘tis trouble at home that he’s havin’”: Scotland was actually in the process of throwing Mary, Queen of Scots, off the throne during 1568. After abdication, imprisonment and then escape, she would flee to England and her cousin Elizabeth I for protection, which would begin a whole new series of problems.
- Ireland’s incense for temporary second sight: This is actually a real recipe for an incense designed to promote second sight, provided for me by the lovely Stars (starsandauras). I took a little creative license in that it only promotes an increase in the second sight and doesn’t actually give it to you straight up like what happened to Port in this fic, but I am using the excuse that they’re Nations and besides, it’s Ireland and England, I’m sure that with their magic, the stuff could easily have a little extra oomph. As for the reason patchouli would have been difficult to get ahold of at short notice, it’s native to East Asia and I can’t find any evidence of it being widely shipped, used or known in Europe before the 18th century or so. (Interestingly, I discovered during this that Portugal actually had a virtual monopoly on the cinnamon trade during the 16th century. o3o) So I decided to play it safe and substitute it with something a little more attainable, therefore, the marshmallow. ^^
- … On the witchcraft/Catholicism thing: This note may take a while, but I just thought I’d clear up a few points that may or may not be clear. ^^; The 16th century was of course the time of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and Portugal and Spain were a large part of the latter group, being two of the most fervently Catholic countries in Europe – there’s a reason the Inquisitions of both countries (yes, there was a Portuguese one) are still burned into our collective consciousness today. As Portugal rightly says, the practice and even the belief in the power of witchcraft was heresy and blasphemy to the Christian Church at large, which is why he takes so much issue with the spell at first and why in my headcanon he lost his second sight. The extent to which the Iberian brothers take their faith is a point of some ire for Ireland (pun not intended), who tends to allow her faith and magic live side by side.
As for England and Ireland; Ireland, although Catholic, practiced a branch of Catholicism which was more self-contained and Celtic than the main Roman Catholic branch. England was in the 16th century very religiously confused all around and switched between Protestant and Catholic more than once before Elizabeth I established the Church of England, which was a very pragmatic (and mostly established on lip-service) blend of elements from Catholicism and the new Protestant wave. Wales, as part of the Kingdom of England at this time, was also expected to follow the new religion, although these days I believe there is a more substantial Presbyterian and Methodist following there. But anyway. Protestantism of any form was looked upon by the Catholics as a form of heresy as well, and the “witch an’ a heretic both” that Ireland is referring to is of course England himself. :’D
As for why Portugal tolerates and/or turns a mostly blind eye to his godless in-laws… well, after instilling mostly unnecessary guilt in ourselves, there’s nothing us Catholics do better than good ol’ hypocrisy. And there’s a reason the Sacrament of Reconciliation exists, after all. :’>
- Language notes!: Hermano, irmão, and brawd are respectively the Spanish, Portuguese and Welsh words for ‘brother’. Chwaer is Welsh for ‘sister’. An Spáinn, An Phortaingéil and An Fhrainc are the Irish Gaelic words for Spain, Portugal and France. Irlanda and Inglaterra are, of course, the Portuguese words for Ireland and England.