A/N: Hey, everyone! This is my first fanfic and reviews/constructive criticism will be greatly appreciated. Just so you know, there will be other chapters and they will all probably be twice as long as this one.
Warning: This story is angsty. Germany is angsty. Like, really angsty. At least, I think it is, let me know if I'm just paranoid. There will be lots of cursing in German, not much in English. I also made this story super canon. There will be numerous flashbacks throughout the story based on episodes of the anime and the comics. This entire story is based around the ending of Buon San Valentino, for heaven's sake. (If you haven't read it yet, I would suggest doing so. I think this first chapter pretty well summarizes it, but it probably will make things make more sense.) I'm also trying to tie in actual history with this in the upcoming chapters, so... you have been warned.
I do not own Hetalia: Axis Powers. All credit for that wonderful manga/anime and the characters goes to Hidekaz Himaruya.
With all that out of the way, enjoy this GerIta~
Germany was pretty sure he was having a breakdown. At least, he would be if he was sure of anything anymore.
No, that wasn't true. He knew his heart was ready to jump through his skin. He knew his ragged breaths were tearing his sandpaper dry throat. He knew that he was burning up, but the fever was all in his head. He knew that the only way he was going to get through this was to take a step back and analyze the situation from the beginning and just find some logic in this, somewhere.
Ludwig had always been alone. He couldn't remember if it was simply his nature or a reaction to all the insanity over the centuries, but he had always been stiff and distant. Aloof. No country ever helped him when he was young, so he had little to do with them. Sure, he cared for his neighbor Austria, and even his brother Prussia to some extent. But that was mainly out of duty, and it's not like they were ever grateful for his help. The Allies liked nothing better than to drag him through the mud time and time again. He still twitched every time he remembered how they had forced his people into the gutter after World War I… but that wasn't the point. The point was that it had always been this way. Germany had learned how to be alone a long time ago. He knew how to march on.
Germany most certainly did not know how to deal with that miserable excuse of a descendant from Rome. The spineless, pasta loving idiot had cost him battles time and time again. Italy wasn't an ally; he was worse than dead weight. At least dead weight didn't go get himself lost or beaten up or needed help in the simplest of things. At least dead weight didn't cry, or annoy him, or cook for him, or sleep in his bed, or say the stupidest, cutest things, or make him unbelievably happy and exasperated at the same time…
That was the problem with Feliciano, really. Italy didn't follow the rules, no; Feli changed the rules. If Germany allied with anyone, it was for military advantage, through a cordial but distant relationship. Maybe he would warm up to the awkward, quiet, half-understanding friendship like with Japan, but that was it. There was no casual affection in Germany; every single thing was deliberate and could be neatly categorized at the end of the day. Germany did not bode well with things like confusion and uncertainty. But lately, that's all he had been feeling. Thinking. Remembering.
Italy came running up to Germany, crying about something. Germany had to contain a groan. What was it this time? At least, it didn't look like any one had been beating him up. Those French and English saukerls had pissed him off enough already as it was with their damned rumors and propaganda. If they had hurt his ally…
"Germany, Germany~ Do you hate me?!" Italy sobbed.
The question took the German completely by surprise. "Huh? Uh, uhm, well-" Italy stared at him, tears filling his eyes. Germany stared back, becoming more and more flustered. Feelings were not discussed openly; especially not when those Allied bastards could overhear them!
But as Germany continued to look at Italy, his stony heart began to soften a little bit. Damn proper etiquette, he had to reassure his friend. "Hmm… well, I don't… hate you… yeah…"
Apparently, that was enough for Italy because he was immediately back to his cheerful self, tackling Germany with a tearful hug.
From the moment they had met, Italy had always been like an optimistic burr clinging to one of Germany's boots. Italy had immediately trusted him and tried to be his friend, no matter how many times he had tried to dump him with the Allies. He was always sweet and understanding, and the only time he ever really got upset is when he thought Germany was mad at him. He was ridiculously naïve and innocent, and in need of a protector. How the country had survived so long that way, Ludwig had no idea. But he did know that he didn't really mind having to save Italy anymore, because no matter how stupid the pasta lover was, he was grateful. He appreciated Germany, and that's something no country had ever really done before. Italy trusted him, and he found that he was starting to trust Feli, too. And that was only the beginning. Just when Germany had gotten comfortable calling him a friend, Italy had gone and given him those roses.
Germany had always known that Italy cared for him, that much was obvious. The Dummkopf showered affection on everyone. But before that day, he had never fathomed how deep that care could run. He never allowed himself the possibility. After all, Germany still wasn't used to the idea of countries caring about him. The idea that someone could love him, the arschloch that he was, even if that someone was a man… well, Germany wasn't exactly in any position to turn him down, although the thought of that still made him blush. But he felt more than just flattery and gratitude. He had really felt like a better person since he and Feli had started dating. His boss had remarked on numerous occasions that Germany seemed just… happier than he had in a long time. If Italy was changing the rules…he might be changing them for the better.
Yet somehow, everything had gone to pieces. Ludwig had gone to pieces. In the middle of a restaurant, too, with everyone staring at them (including a particularly horrified Swedish waiter). Italy was freaking out and apologizing, which was normal enough (getting in trouble with Germany was a pretty normal occurrence for him), but that wasn't how this date was supposed to go. Germany didn't know what to do. He had tried to keep up with Italy changing the rules. He had memorized manuals on how to make this work; he had maintained order the best he could, like only Germany could, but it still hadn't been enough. Little black claws of despair began to sink in as he realized the truth. This wasn't something Germany could control or rationalize. Things were changing far too fast for him.
He felt like someone was twisting a knife around in his chest. His brain felt ready to implode. More emotions than he had felt in centuries were swirling around him, beating him, burning him. All the heartbreak, pain, and shame that he had kept so carefully locked away flooded out in a tsunami of consternation. He couldn't focus on one of his frenzied, churning thoughts for more than a couple seconds. Why isn't this working? Why is he staring at the ring like that? Oh God, maybe the tomato was a bad choice. Maybe I should have picked a meatball, or, or- Why did I do this here? If the waiter would just stop gawking- This could have been avoided- Where's the boy who gave me roses? Was he ever really there? Have I just imagined this whole thing? No, he can't, I can't, what am I doing? Why can't it- just-
Then Germany became too hysterical to think at all anymore.
"Ve~ you're hurting my arms, Germany, too tight… G-Germany are you all right? Ger- Germany?"
All the panic and embarrassment and longing and confusion just boiled over into white hot pain until everything in him was just pure emotion and chaos. It burned through any logic or defense that his brain could put up.
That was when the last of Germany's walls came crumbling down.
All the hysteria in Germany just seized up and there was only a flickering memory back in the farthest reaches of his mind. He concentrated on it, hoping the shuddering glimpses would somehow make something make sense.
A little girl in a maid's uniform was gathering purple flowers. She turned around from her work to look bashfully at him. His hand tucked one of the flowers into her cap. The maid grabbed an armful of flowers and turned back to him, but she was getting farther away. Fading. He could still feel her presence, those scrunched up, adorable amber eyes, and shaggy brown hair. Those soft, chubby cheeks and sweet, shy smile. He knew that face. He had loved that face.
He tried to call out to her, to stay, to please stay, to come with him, her name rolling off of his tongue- "I- Italy!"
And then memories began to slam into Ludwig's brain with such force that he staggered backwards. Memories he had worked so hard to bury, to move on from, overwhelmed him with all the emotions he had been repressing for so long. At that precise moment, everything clicked in his head. It all made sense now, finally. The only problem was, for once in his life, Ludwig didn't want the truth. He didn't want that truth, those ghosts to rear their ugly heads, for them to torment him, after all this time he thought he had them beaten. Logic and reasoning appealed to Ludwig because numbers had no emotions. Categories could not feel or cause pain. Except sometimes, the only logical explanation was one that stabbed and sliced open a scab, a scar. He never knew how the truth could cut him like a knife, how much it could hurt. Ludwig would do anything to escape this avalanche, this ancient pain. But it was too late. There was no way he could rebuild his walls again.
Ludwig turned away from Italy and ran, ran, ran, ran, as far and fast as he could away from that miserable café. Once, he was better than that. A German, a soldier, would never be so disorderly, so cowardly, as to flee from the face of chaos.
But the Holy Roman Empire most certainly would.
A/N: Handy-dandy translator for the German:
Saukerl: pig, bastard, etc.