Title: On a Night Like This
Word Count: 2,830
Summary: Cardverse. With the help of his Queen and Jack, America pulls off his first Inter-Kingdom Games opening ceremonies.
For usxuk's 1st prompt for the writing Torchbearer events. The prompt was "light the torch".( In all of his 23 years, America had never seen a festival as grand as this one.Collapse )
This is a lot longer than I thought it'd be. =w=;; Still, it was fun to write~
Please excuse the sloppiness, this hasn't been edited yet!
In all of his 23 years, America had never seen a festival as grand as this one. His wedding was the only possible comparison he could make; perhaps even his coronation, though that hadn’t been as joyous an occasion as the others . But as far as America could see, here along the high street in the heart of the city, there were nothing but smiles on his citizen’s faces. The capital city in the kingdom of Spades was positively bursting with life and excitement at the arrival of the summer Inter-Kingdom Games, where representatives from each of the four kingdoms would come and compete in a variety of athletic events in order to help cement peace between the kingdoms and celebrate the end of war between the four. The Games were held every four years –for the four participating dominions- in a city of one of the kingdoms, and each took turns hosting. As Diamonds had been the last to host, it was now Spades’ turn, the realm’s 5th time to do so. His Queen had been present, early in his reign, during the last Games held by Spades twelve years ago, but this was to be America and their Jack’s first year. However, America had never even been to a hosting city during the Games in all of his life; as a child, he had grown up listening to the events through the radio and cheering on his kingdom from thousands of miles away. The double burden was exciting and daunting all in one. Seeing his people’s excitement, however, helped to lessen his anxiety considerably. They could do this, they were ready. Whether their king was or not, his people would be the ones to make this memorable to the countless visitors flooding the capital city for the next two weeks. None of this was about him at all, really, he was just there as yet another representative; and that was the way America felt it should be.
The final countdown to the start of opening ceremonies was close at hand, and he fidgeted in his seat awkwardly, waiting for the show to finally kick off. England sat beside him, looking seemingly comfortable, but America knew better. While his Queen and husband like to put on airs that he was calm, America could just pick up on the signs of eagerness coming from the older blonde. The way his eyes sparkled, the slight smile tingling his lips, and the fact that he continually glanced at America’s pocket watch to check the time.
On America’s other side, China was watching the audience with interest, drinking in all of the people who travelled all the way to the capital city just to cheer on their respective teams. He pointed out something or another to Canada, who had been granted to sit with them on the grounds of being the king’s brother, and the two grinned broadly in their excitement.
Suddenly, many of the gas lamps and torches were extinguished, leaving the stadium in a dimmed light, and the crowd cheered and hollered in approval. America inhaled sharply and his hear pounded in his chest, while an announcer took to his place before a microphone in the box seats.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the opening ceremonies of the 24th Inter-Kingdom Games! We welcome you with a presentation from the Kingdom of Spades!"
More lanterns and torches were lit, making the arena more visible, and the orchestra situated in a corner of the bottommost seats began to strike up a slow, soothing melody.
America looked on in awe as countless of hours of dedicated planning and practice unfolded before him. Hundreds of people filed out into the arena, which was divided into three geographic sections. America was amazed to see that a small mountain had even been erected into one part of the field, and a river of glittering glass in another among rolling green hills; the third was a familiar expanse of tall windswept grass.
As the orchestra began to strike up a tune, the group of people placed along the “river” began to move, their motions fluid and ever-changing. And in their dance, America felt an odd sensation as if he were at the seaside at the palace in Britain, feeling the powerful push and pull of the waves as the dancers moved. He saw others pulling in fishing nets, more still building ships and ferrying cargo. They lurched in time to the music, a slow steady beat that pounded in his ears with the rhythm of his heart.
Then, to the far left in the field, another team began their own steps, twirling and whirling as carefree and spirited as the sky, as substantial as air, yet with the power of an untamed horse. The people here were galloping about on horses, working fields, and dancing in their freedom, their joy expressed through the light and quick sound of the orchestra.
The last group finally took their cue as the music softened once more, with a chorus of drums keeping them in time. They began a series of slow, careful steps, slowly building into a flurry of life and movement as they spun about the “mountain”, others even moving up along the slope towards the very top. They mimicked the working of iron, and sparks of light and booms of gunpowder sounded off while children ran about with little firecrackers.
But then the mood changed completely, and the three sections began to merge, their hostility so electric that America could practically feel it from his seat. The dances became more deadly, and joy replaced with malice, as the dancers staged a mock battle. Canons fired puffs of smoke into the air, cracks of lights mimicked flames, and the ring of steel on steel sent a shiver down his spine.
But wait, was that…? Yes, there among the fighting was a young boy twisting and flipping, beginning a series of gymnastics in-between the soldiers. And there! A young girl kicking a ball back and forth from one foot to the other. Steadily, an entire group of children had begun to play with one another, regardless of which territory they came from, and the adults ceased their conflict to watch. As one, they, children and adults, began to help one another rearrange the arena, while more figures in black and others in white joined the scene, aided by the others as they situated gas lamps and melded together parts of buildings into even greater structures.
A tall statue of a robed woman rose up from the fields in the west raising a large torch, while a thick wall bedecked in lanterns slithered down the false mountain in the east, an even greater one emerging from the center. Towards the middle, everyone converged, dancing and working pieces of stone –but it couldn’t possibly be, it would be too heavy!- into a high tower, while figures on cables slid in from the sides of the arena to affix a large clock face to the front. But there was more. At the very top of the clock tower replica, a large bowl, larger than the torches from the other two areas of the arena, stood tall and proud.
America gaped, and shot a glance at his husband; England eyed him smugly and nodded back towards the arena. With the gas lamps connecting them, the three structures helped to make a giant spade, with the clock in the center. It gonged once, twice, and all remained still, eerily quiet, and it was as if the entire arena, every one of the thousands packed within, held their breaths. On the third toll, a figure carrying the banner of Diamonds marched out onto the field, leading a pack of men and women bedecked in shades of gold.
“May I present to you, the representatives from the Kingdom of Diamonds!” An announcer boomed into his microphone, and a great cheer rose from a mass of spectators in yellow and orange.
As the Diamonds team circled the field, passing first the statue representing America’s very own home province, a mass of green entered in their wake, sporting the great flag of Clubs.
“The national team from the Kingdom of Clubs!” the announcer boomed, and a score of green rose up as one in the stands.
The team from Clubs followed the path of the group before them, tracing the pattern from “Columbia”’s Goddess of Freedom to the Great Path of “Zhongghuo”.
“Here we have the team of Hearts!”
Red colored the stadium as a sea of athletes donning the very same marched in to join their companions from the other nations along the path to the ‘tower’. Diamond’s team had already reached the end and planted their flag at its base.
Before the announcer could even officially introduce them, a great roar rose up and blue filled every corner of the arena. America himself stood up and cheered with his people when their team finally made their entrance.
“And representing the host nation, the Kingdom of Spades!”
The response was deafening, and America swore that every blue-clad supporter was on their feet as their team did their lap across the field. While they curves around the Goddess of Freedom, England rose from his seat.
“Come on, love, best be heading off.” He murmured into America’s ear, and the two bowed out from their seats as discreetly as possible, leaving China, Canada, and a score of officials behind in the box seats.
As the last banner was set into the ground before the replica “Queen’s Clock Tower”, a stream of athletes bearing torches gathered at each of the tributes to the provinces of Spades, followed by a group that broke off from their fellows at the base of the tower. It was supposed to be symbolic; the oldest athletes from the previous Games held in Diamonds now passed off their torches to the youngest competing here, the beginning of a new start. All but one. The very youngest sprinted across the arena up into the stands leading to the very spot were the royal family had sat previously.
Once he arrived, the athlete grinned broadly, excitement dancing brightly in his eyes, as he bowed and passed the torch to the China, who copied the gesture.
“Thank you, good luck tomorrow.”
“Thank you, your majesty.”
From there, China mounted a set of stairs specifically designed for this event that fed into the actual Tower of Britain that stood just behind this section of the arena. The Jack took off at a steady jog up the last few flights of steps of the clock tower, where the queen stood waiting for him. At the second landing, he slowed momentarily in order to pass off the torch, but before England could grasp it, America darted in between them out of nowhere and took off at a mad dash, his booming laugh resonating off of the stone walls of the tower.
The king’s mirth only increased, and he kept a good few steps ahead of his trailing Suit-mates until he reached the fourth landing, where he paused to wait for them.
“You were…. supposed to carry… it… last.” England wheezed, stumping up the steps heavily.
America smiled warmly and met him halfway, leaning forward to press a kiss to his lips. “Nah, I thought you deserved the honor, Honey.”
The queen flushed as he accepted the flickering torch, and China chuckled.
“Come on, let’s get this over with.”
They scaled the steps as one, England in the lead with America and China climbing side-by-side behind him. The night air embraced them warmly as they took their place on the landing in front of the massive glowing clock face, calming them with each step. In the corner of his thoughts, America could feel the thousands of eyes locked on their every move, could hear the collective breaths draw in.
England finally slowed and turned to face them, and he handed the torch back to America with a kiss.
“Do your best.” America murmured to him, pressing his lips against his husband’s once more.
“Same for you.”
Three guards filed in, two bearing a boxy wrought-iron lantern each, and the third a squat round one. Each lantern had stained glass lining it in a different color; shades of blue for America, purple for England, and the round one was China’s, which was done in shades of indigo.
England accepted his and America’s lanterns from the guardsmen, and China stood at the Queen’s side with his own. Together, they nodded to America to proceed.
The king inhaled sharply, but closed his eyes and released his breath slowly and calmly before turning his back to the expectant crowd. He held the torch against the wick within China’s lantern until a small sliver of flame took to life, warming the inside of its new home and emitting a soft, warm indigo light. England was next, unlatching the small hinged door of his own lantern so his husband could light it as well, and then America’s after. Once all three were lit, they slipped the ring at the top of each onto metal pegs set into the tower, normally reserved for the watchmen’s lanterns during any typical day. However, England and China’s were set parallel to one another, while America tucked his into the notch in the center and slightly above the other two.
He had to pause for a moment and admire the effects of the diffused glows bathing the stone tower with a harmonious assortment of the spade colors. His heart felt warm from their light, and he saw the very same reflected in his Queen and Jack’s eyes. He couldn’t believe it. He was actually here at the Queen’s Clock Tower, moments away from lighting the torch that would signal the official start of the Inter-Kingdom Games. Him, America, the blacksmith from Nowhere, Columbia Province. Even his wildest of boyhood dreams couldn’t have compared to this moment; human flight had seemed far more possible. Nor could he have possibly imagined that one day he would not only become king –king!-, but also the husband of the Queen of Spades and close friend to the Jack of the very same. It was all too surreal.
This time, the true tower struck, its powerful voice resonating throughout the entire city. Once it had finished its chorus, the young athletes gathered around the representative sites of the three provinces lit their torches.
Instantly, the Goddess of Freedom’s proudly raised torch burst into flame, its embers dancing towards the heavens. The lantern on the Great Path exploded with color and crackled with the simmering of firecrackers once its inside had been lit. And finally, in the center, the bowl in the “Queen’s Tower” smoldered as the flames dipped down into the bottom, building ever so steadily.
It was then that America passed off his torch to England, who slipped of the brass cone handle. The king’s jaw dropped. That wasn’t a true torch at all, it was a flaming arrow. Canada approached England with a bow and glove, which he slipped on without thought. The Queen gave America a warm smile as he drew back on the string, the arrow lined up perfectly with the bowl down in the stadium. He seemed to be counting to himself for a few moments, then he released, as quickly and sharply as a snake strike, and the quiver split the air with a whistle, down into the brass basin below. It was instantaneous, the arrow struck, just as the crawling flames from earlier reached the center, and they all converged into one, bursting forth with a great roar of life. Firecrackers shot off from all around the stadium, melding seamlessly with the cheers and cries of delight from the crowd, bolstering the quick and lively tune floating through the air.
At the Tower, England withdrew his arm and laughed in delight, while America gave a great whoop of approval. The city glowed brilliantly beneath them, surrounding them with hundreds and thousands of glowing lanterns mimicking the summer’s fireflies and the very stars themselves. Countless colors glowed from every home, every building, and even the ships anchored out about the harbor. The view was breathtaking, and America’s heart practically swelled from the sheer beauty of it all.
England took his hand gently, twining their fingers together and leaning almost imperceptibly against his arm, while China clasped a brotherly hand to the opposite shoulder. Behind him, he also felt Canada resting a hand on his back as he admired the view.
Overhead, fireworks boomed and screeched, filling the night with even more color and raining back down to earth. The sparks twinkled in England’s eyes, offsetting the brilliant green and accenting the beautiful smile painting his lips. There was hardly a more beautiful sight, and America couldn’t help himself as he swooped down and captured his husband’s lips in a kiss.
“I’d say that we’re off to a good start.” England murmured with a lopsided grin.
America smiled himself and pressed their foreheads together. He couldn’t express his joy and excitement properly, words couldn’t frame it. Instead, he chuckled and embraced his Queen, sharing a kiss once more.
Let the games begin.
After I wrote this, I realized just how similar the opening ceremonies were to the actual beginning of the ceremonies in London... but that was one of my favorite parts, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised. XD
My submission for the 5th speedfic prompt is a continuation from this universe, after the closing ceremonies, feel free to check it out!
Note: “Zhongghuo” is another name used for mainland China (if this isn't right, please tell me so I can fix it!). In this universe, the 3 territories within the kingdom of Spades are named after older or different names for China, America, and the UK, since the original nation names are kept for the characters.