Alenka is Fem!Slovenia. Viktor is Serbia. Kristijan is Kosovo. Stjepan is Croatia. Liridona is Albania. The name "Gypsy" has a different meaning than what we know it as. This is Canada/Fem!Slovenia fic. Human names used. Human/dystopian AU.
Rated M for adult elements and situations. Mentions of past rape, character death, sex, and imprisonment in a forced labor camp.
Everything Matthew knew was a lie.
There was no such thing as love. Matthew knew that. There was no such thing as choice or freedom. Matthew knew that. There was no such thing as flavor or color. Matthew knew that. There was no such thing as dreams. Matthew knew that. There was no such thing as different. Matthew knew that.
Matthew lived his whole life in a bleak world. There was no music or merriment. There was no art, no culture, no beauty, no literature, no religion. Everyone spoke one language. Nobody ever left and nobody ever came. For as long as Matthew could remember, he had been surrounded by the same people. The only thing different was the fact that nobody shared last names, except for two duos of brothers: Gilbert and Ludwig Beilschmidt and Lovino and Feliciano Vargas. Those four were the only exceptions to the rule. Not even Matthew and his own brother, Alfred Jones, shared last names.
Everyone lived with "caretakers." Sometimes a person's caretaker would be an older sibling or a grandparent; in other cases, like Matthew's, their caretakers were two random people. One thing remained constant, however, there were no parents at all. The entire generation that should have been Matthew and his peers' parents was missing.
The world was always in black and white. Everyone was assigned a role in life. They all ate the exact same food: breakfast was a slice of dry toast and a glass of goat milk, lunch was a ham sandwich and a random fruit, and dinner was a mystery meat (no one knew what, but it was always the same), potatoes, and a random vegetable. When it came time, everyone was assigned a young person, or ward, to look after and possibly a mate of either gender, if they were lucky.
Nobody ever stated their opinion and they were to follow the rules that their wise leader, a man who was all knowing, set forth. Nobody knew what the world was like before their society came into existence, only their leader, a man whose name nobody knew. All they knew is that the world was horrible. Wars and strife and discord plagued it.
There were a few rumored people who didn't conform to society's laws. They were the outcasts. Normal people referred to them as "Gypsies," a word who's meaning had long changed from what it used to mean. The Gypsies, people said, spoke of strange lands. It was rumored that long after curfew, they sang and danced and drank. They played cards and laughed and ate food that wasn't what everybody else ate. It was rumored they could see color. The gypsies, they said, feel in love.
But the Gypsies were just a rumor, Matthew knew. There was no such thing as love, or color, or flavor. There was nothing than the dull, boring world Matthew lived in. There was no such thing as fun or different, so there was no way Gypsies could actually exist.
Matthew knew all these things as truth. Then Matthew met her. She was the most beautiful and intelligent and dangerous thing he had ever seen. She was the girl with the long, wavy hair, opposed to the short style that all women Matthew knew wore. She was the girl who spoke in tongues Matthew never heard before. She was the girl that laughed and sang and played a wonderful instrument called the violin, something she said her father had taught her. She was the girl who claimed to see color.
Her name was Alenka. Alenka Zupan. She said "Alenka" met "torch" and was a Slovene form of Helen, like in Helen of Troy. Matthew, needless to say, was bewildered. He had never heard of Helen of Troy nor had he ever heard the word "Slovene." He had never heard of half the things she talked about: opera, piano, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, wine, horses, agriculture, the Alps.
She, Matthew concluded, was a Gypsy.
Alenka was from the outskirts of town, Matthew discovered. She didn't attend the state mandated school like Matthew and his brother did. She claimed she was homeschooled by her mother and father, or "Mati" and "Oče" as she called them. She told Matthew that they weren't actually her parents; they were just people who took her and one of her brothers in after they ran away from her ex-caretaker. Her ex-caretaker, she said, was her older brother, Viktor Knežević.
Matthew knew Viktor. Viktor was close to one of his peers, Ivan Braginsky, who happened to be Viktor's cousin. Viktor was a controlling man. He always had to know where his siblings were, even though the only one left in his house was the youngest, a ten year old named Kristijan Agim whom Viktor shared custody of with a woman named Liridona Besnik. Matthew remembered hearing from one of his own caretakers, Arthur Kirkland, that two of Viktor's siblings ran away, his only sister and one of his brothers.
Everybody said that those two were strange. They would always speak in an abstract way and question why things were they way they were. Viktor was hard on them because questioning the norm was a dangerous thing to do. One day when Viktor woke up, they were gone. Nobody knew whatever happened to them until Alenka walked into Matthew's life.
Matthew knew something was up when he began dreaming. It was in black and white, as everyday life was, but it was still a dream, and nobody dreamed. In the dream, he saw Alenka. She was smiling and he was holding her close, swaying back and forth. He would spin her and she would laugh before they went back to swaying. He could hear a slow, beautiful melody playing in the background.
When Matthew told Alenka of the dream, she laughed. She told him that was a normal thing to do; that she had dreams every night. When he asked her why they were swaying in the dream, she replied that they were dancing. She then proceeded to grab his hand and show him.
He felt a jolt run through his body as she grabbed his hand. Her hand, he noted, was soft like silk. She began to hum a melody more beautiful than the one in the dream. Together, they moved all over the abandoned warehouse that was their meeting place.
Matthew went home that evening in a daze. He felt light headed, but not the way one feels before they pass out. It was a good feeling. It was a feeling that Matthew couldn't identify.
Next time Matthew met Alenka, something was different. She wasn't in black and white. Her hair was a dark color but it wasn't black. Her skin was a light color but it wasn't white. Her clothing was a bunch of colors Matthew couldn't identify. And her eyes. Her eyes were beautiful, even if Matthew didn't know the color. She laughed when he told her he could see color.
She said that the color of her hair was brown. She then listed things that were brown: the bark of a tree, wood, chocolate, and more. She said her skin was white, but not in the way he knew white. She said the closest color she could think of was peach. A very, very light peach. She explained that human skin was a variety of hues, kind of like the shades of gray Matthew was used to seeing.
When Matthew asked what color her eyes were, she replied blue, like the ocean. Matthew decided the color of her eyes, blue, was his favorite color. She spent the rest of the time identifying colors for him. Her jacket was green, olive green to be specific. The emblems on her jacket lapels were the Slovenian flag and coat of arms. She said the top of the flag was white, the next band was blue, and the bottom band was red. The stars on the coat of arms were yellow. Her jeans, she said, were navy. The color of her shirt was pink, she told him. And her sneakers were purple.
Matthew saw more colors on his way home. Hues of the colors Alenka had shown him and completely new colors, such as one that was close to yellow but wasn't yellow. He saw blends of them, such as red and brown or blue and purple. The world, he decided, looked nicer with color; however he didn't dare reveal this to anyone.
Alenka was dangerous, Matthew knew. But he didn't care. Everything he knew up until he met her was gone.
The next time they met, Alenka introduced him to taste. She brought an apple and what she called an orange (Like the color, he asked? They didn't have a better name, she replied.), or what he knew as "citrus." She explained that there were many different kinds of citrus: lemons, limes, grapefruits, tangerines, tangelos, and oranges. Society just referred to them all as citrus indiscriminately since nobody could see the difference in color or taste the difference.
The apple was sweet, she told him, and the orange was tangy. She gave him a pretzel and called it "salty." She gave him a lemon and said it was "sour." The dark chocolate was bitter, the cheese was rich, and the pepper was spicy. Matthew could taste the difference in each thing she pulled out of her bag and he never saw food the same way again.
Alenka had a sad life before going to live with her Mati and Oče. In her early years, Viktor refused to let her have any friends because she was different; she could see color and taste flavors. She was a Gypsy and Viktor was afraid. He was afraid of what would happen to her if anyone found out. He was afraid of what would happen to his family. She was an outcast in school because she questioned the instructors and broke the rules, two actions that had severe consequences.
Alenka and her brother, Stjepan Kasun (who was also a Gypsy), ran away to protect their family. They lived on the streets, toward the edge of town where many of the criminals lived. She and her brother had to steal to survive and were beaten when they were caught. She watched the criminals beat up her brother as he protected her. One day when he was out, several criminals broke into the abandoned slum they were living in and gang raped her. She wouldn't speak for months and feared everybody, even her own brother. As for Stjepan, he was about to be arrested for slitting the throats of her attackers.
That's when they were saved. A man named Rodreich Edelstein and his partner, Elizabeta Héderváry, saved Stjepan from arrest by claiming him as their ward and saying he was with them when the murders happened. They then went to the slum where Stjepan and Alenka were staying and took the two home with them.
Rodreich and Elizabeta were different, like Stjepan and Alenka. They, too, were Gypsies, but nobody knew. They were well respected in the community and had ties to the wise leader of Matthew's society. They took the two orphans under their wing. They taught them culture, identified tastes and colors, let them read literature. Rodreich was a talented piano player and musician. He let them pick out any instrument they wanted and taught them to play. Their ward, Feliciano Vargas, the brother of Lovino Vargas who had ran away for being like Alenka, taught Alenka to paint.
Alenka began to trust again and she started speaking. Rodreich and Elizabeta taught the two siblings other languages: German, Italian, Hungarian, Slovene, Croatian, and some Russian. Since Elizabeta and Rodreich were well respected, nobody knew of their difference, they lived on a large property at the edge of town. As Alenka, Feliciano, and Stjepan weren't their official wards, the three of them were home schooled.
Alenka considered herself lucky to be in the care of such wonderful people, but she was still lonely. Which is how she came upon Matthew.
Alenka took Matthew home with her one day and introduced him to her Mati and Oče. They were wonderful people. Elizabeta had long, wavy hair that was the same color as Alenka's and green eyes, so she could pass as Alenka's birth mother. Rodreich had a darker shade of brown hair and a strange cowlick, similar to Alfred's but it stuck up further. His eyes were a violet shade that were lighter than Matthew's own, which were a blue-violet, but not as light as Ivan's, a lavender shade. Feliciano was about twenty, four years older than Alenka and a year older than Matthew. He had honey colored eyes and auburn hair with a strange curl that stuck out. Stjepan was the same age as Feliciano, twenty. He had warm brown eyes and messy brown hair a shade darker than Alenka's with a scruffy beard to match.
Rodreich was a stern man but he was affectionate towards his wards and his partner (whom he referred to as his wife, something nobody ever did). He played the piano beautifully. Elizabeta was a kind woman that was motherly towards her wards. She sang beautiful songs in a tongue she called Hungarian, but Alenka informed Matthew that most of them were morbid. Feliciano was excitable and ecceteric and he kept his amber eyes closed most of the time. His art was the most beautiful Matthew had ever seen (not that he had seen much) and Feliciano talked of Ludwig Beilschmidt (whom he referred to as "Luddy") the entire time in a dreamy way. Matthew remembered that they had been best friends before Feliciano ran away from his grandfather's house and it sounded as if Feliciano was in love with the stern man. Stjepan was loud and mischievous. Alenka told Matthew he was a weird combination of lazy and wild.
They were much different than Matthew had imagined a Gypsy family to be.
Francis Bonnefoy, Matthew's other caretaker, noted that Matthew was gone most of the time he was out of school. He asked over their disgusting dinner of mystery meat and potatoes one night where Matthew was during the day. Arthur agreed. Where have you been Matthew Williams, Arthur had demanded, using Matthew's last name as if another Matthew was sitting at their table.
Matthew lied. He said he was out improving the community. He was out picking up garbage. He knew better than to reveal he had been hanging out with Alenka. One thing was for certain, if they found out about Alenka, there would be trouble. Alenka and her wonderful family would disappear and Matthew and his own would be in huge trouble.
He knew better than to say when he looked in the mirror, he saw blue-violet eyes staring back at him and wavy blond hair with a hint of orange at the ends and a strange curl sticking out of his bangs. He knew better than to say that when he looked into Arthur's eyes, he saw a field of emerald. That when he looked into Francis' eyes he saw sapphires. And when he looked into Alfred's, he saw the vast blue skies. He didn't dare say that they were all blonds.
He knew better to say when he ate his meals, he tasted the differences in flavor and texture. He knew better to reveal that he dreamed at night, in color. He knew better than to say he was beginning to question why everyone was missing out on color and flavor and dreams.
He knew better than to say he thought of Alenka every waking moment. That all he thought about was the sparkle in her ocean colored eyes when she laughed. How hypnotizing her voice was when she sang. How her laugh lifted his spirit.
He knew better than to say where he was and what he had learned.
Alenka told Matthew they were all their own unique individuals; that they all had the freedom to make choices. That was something Matthew's society didn't allow. Everyone was assigned a job, was required to attend school and study the same classes, and was required to apply for and receive a ward. They weren't allowed to choose whether or not they received a partner; their wise leader did. And if they were lucky enough, they had no say in anything about their partner. Not appearance, not personality, not even gender.
Alenka told Matthew this was unnatural. Humans should always be free to make choices. They should be unique. They should be their own individuals.
Alenka's Gypsy lifestyle allowed her to nurture her own individuality. If she were like Matthew, she would be being evaluated for her future career. She wouldn't know how to paint or play the violin or read literature or speak many languages. She would be like everyone else.
Matthew liked that about Alenka. She was different. She was an individual. Matthew hoped one day he could have individuality too.
Matthew felt like he was floating when he was around Alenka. To him, she was the definition of beauty. He was mesmerized by her. He dreamed about her every night. In school, he couldn't focus on his work without relating it to her. What she would think if she heard what they learned, how she would turn it into something beautiful and interesting.
He told her one day how he was feeling and then told her he couldn't identify the emotion. She just laughed that beautiful laugh of hers and told him she knew what it was. He asked her what it was. She leaned in closer and said love before she pressed her soft, red lips to his.
A spark went through his body as he pressed his lips against hers, returning the kiss. It was heaven on Earth. He could feel her breath on his. She tasted sweet, like honey. He could smell her perfume, a scent he identified as roses.
Matthew began to get risky. He started staying out later with Alenka. They snuck out of the town to the nearby forest where they stayed for hours. They would lay on their backs and Alenka would identify the constellations. Gemini, Orion, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Andromeda. They were beautiful. Alenka said they were essentially balls of hydrogen and helium thousands and thousands of light years away and the light they were seeing was the atoms running into each other to create new elements.
Everyday Matthew fell more and more in love with Alenka. She taught him about the world he was missing. She taught him about art, and culture, and science, and history, and geography, and nature. She said one day she was going to run away and see the world. She said she'd take Matthew with her.
However, their time together was rapidly coming to a close. As soon as Matthew turned twenty in July, he'd be expected to receive his job assignment and apply for a ward (one didn't apply for a partner; the lucky few were chosen on their twenty-first birthday). As Alenka officially didn't exist and was turning seventeen in June, she would not be his partner.
Matthew saw it as unfair. So he told her if she was going to run away, now was as good of time as ever. She just gave him a small smile and said she couldn't do that to her parents yet, not after everything they had done for her. Besides, as far as she was concerned, he was her husband and she was his wife. They didn't need to have an official partnership and they would find a way to stay together.
Husband. Matthew liked that term better than partner.
Matthew ran away on Alenka's seventeenth birthday. She was surprised to find them in their new meeting spot with a bag and his few personal belongings. She cried when he told her that he wasn't going home. He tried to reassure her that it wasn't her fault but she said that's not why she was crying. She was crying because she didn't want Matthew to experience what she did when she ran away.
So she took him to her parents house. Rodreich and Elizabeta were hesitant but they caved when Alenka said she loved him; that she considered him her soulmate. They said he could stay in the basement, not the upstairs since he was technically running away from his societal responsibilities which was a crime. Matthew felt bad that he was putting them out but was glad that he had a place to stay until he and Alenka ran away to see the world like she planned.
Matthew and Alenka continued meeting in the forest in the cover of the night, not in Rodreich and Elizabeta's home since that was asking for trouble.
On Matthew's twentieth birthday, they married officially, or as official as they could. They married in the cover of night with Alenka's family as witness and Gilbert Beilschmidt, who, like Matthew, had run away later in his life. Gilbert presided over the ceremony as he was a long time friend of Rodreich and Elizabeta and could be trusted.
Afterward, Alenka moved into the basement with Matthew. She still was allowed upstairs during the day, but it gave her and Matthew time as husband and wife without having to meet in the forest.
Their first night together, Matthew lost his virginity. He was careful with Alenka, knowing her past. He knew better than to be too rough with her and he was prepared to stop when she said so. She was hesitant, at first. They had finally come across something she didn't know. But it was she that instigated the act.
Matthew had never felt so wonderful. He never felt so open. Alenka was the only one who had ever seen him so vulnerable, physically and mentally. It was as if he had shared a sacred secret with him.
He was glad that Alenka was his wife and soulmate.
Alenka and Matthew lived happily together for two years. They were confined to Rodreich and Elizabeta's house as neither legally existed anymore.
Their lives and marriage became in danger when Alenka discovered she was pregnant. When women became pregnant, they disappeared. If they were upstanding citizens and carrying their partner's child, they returned after the child was born. Alenka, however, would disappear forever if she were caught. She was different. She was educated in the arts and science and she could see color and taste flavor. She also didn't have a legal partner.
And if Alenka was caught, Matthew and the rest her family would disappear too. She couldn't risk that. So Matthew woke up one morning to find her missing. Feliciano said she had probably ran away in the night to protect them.
Matthew couldn't leave his wife to fend for herself and take care of their child alone, so he set out after her.
Matthew found Alenka in the forest, gathering her things for the journey to nowhere. She pleaded with Matthew to go home, to tell her family she loved them. She said she loved him, but he was in danger. She begged him to forget her, to live out the rest of his days peacefully in her parents' house.
Matthew told her no. He loved her and they were in it together. They stayed there the whole day. Just before dusk, Alenka's family came to them with supplies. Each member of the family gave them both a hug and told them they were loved.
Rodreich told Matthew to take care of his daughter and tell his grandchild and future grandchildren about their family. Elizabeta told Matthew that she had come to consider him a son and was proud that her daughter had fallen in love with such a wonderful man. Stjepan told Matthew that he approved and his other brothers would approve. He commended Matthew for bearing the danger with his sister and asked her to take extra good care of his baby sister, as that was his only one.
Matthew smiled and took Alenka's hand before they slipped into the darkness of the forest, not knowing where they were heading. Neither Alenka nor Matthew looked back at their family for if they had, they'd never leave.
Alenka and Matthew had been on the run for eight months and had almost made it to the border when the authorities caught up with them. Both of them were taken into custody and treated as state enemies, which they were as they embodied everything that went against the societal norms. They were charged with being Gypsies and sent to a forced labor camp.
There, they were exposed to extreme weather and forced to work to the point of exhaustion. They were fed little and became sick rapidly.
Alenka gave birth to their twins in the pitiful hospital on the grounds with Matthew by her side. The two children were taken away immediately and Alenka was left to die. Matthew refused to leave her side as she laid hemorrhaging on the pathetically thin, diseased straw mattress. Not even when the guards held a gun to his head and yelled at him to move.
He stared into Alenka's beautiful eyes, the same color of blue that would always be his favorite. He gave her a weak smile which she returned before he kissed her hand. The guards gave him one final warning before pulling the trigger. There was a bang and everything went dark. The last thing he saw was the light leave Alenka's beautiful ocean colored eyes.
At one time, Matthew knew there was no such thing as love. He knew there was no such thing as as color or flavor. He knew there was no such thing as dreams. He knew there was no such thing as individuality.
But now, Matthew knew there was color and flavor. Life was boring without them. He knew what it was to dream. Life was boring without it. He knew what it was to have individuality. Life was boring without it. Most of all, he knew what it was to love and be loved. And life wasn't worth living without love.
Matthew knew what he had been missing the first nineteen years of his life. With Alenka he found the pieces that weren't supposed to be there and filled in the holes. And he wouldn't change anything that happened.
Everything Matthew knew before meeting Alenka was a lie, but he found the truth. And it was worth the risks, for life is not worth living without color and flavor and dreams and individuality. And love. There was no point to life without love. Matthew knew that.
I wrote this to practice writing descriptive paragraphs because I noticed I write way too much dialog. I wanted to write a story with little to no dialog and this is the result. My best friend says it's good, but I don't know how to feel about this. I really don't. I'm only posting this because my best friend threatened to post it on her account if I didn't (because I kind of gave her editing rights to the document).
Anyway, there's another part of the ending told from another character's P.O.V. (he was mentioned but didn't actually appear). I'm not sure if I'm going to release it because I wrote it on a whim and it's kind of weird considering I told the entire story from Canada's P.O.V. before switching to this other character.
Thanks for reading this.