SOY: this is a long–time project for an APH fanfic with angst, and an actual plot that moves from the WWII onwards. Short–ish chapters, though.

Please check the warnings before you start reading, it's important.

Germany/Italy main pairing. HRE/Chibitalia past pairing. HRE!Germany theory applies here. it'll get a bit to get there, though.

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Rating: R

Story Warnings: Shounen–ai. Yaoi. A bit dark. Angst. NC17 happening at least twice in the course of this fic. This is placed partly in WWII, with some flashbacks at certain times, interaction between countries, but then it'll move afterwards, in present times. The main pairing will be , with past HRE/Chibitalia. HRE!Germany theory applies to this fic. Some minor pairing might appear in the background, such as Spain/Romano?

Chapter Warnings: the death of a nation. Holy Roman Empire's last moments.

Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia.

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Growing to…

Prelude – a Nation's end

The once beautiful land, with lush green grass and trees shivering softly because of the wind, was now barren –the ground soiled with blood that had been shed moments before, extracted from a battle that had escalated for years and had now ended.

It was a massacre. Just like war always was.

Bodies were scattered everywhere, both wearing enemy uniforms or allies' ones; some were still struggling under deathly wounds, and were going to die, but couldn't let go of life, others simply waited for help to come –or the hands of an enemy to end their life.

Eyes lost to the sky, wanting to look at something wide and clear and empty as the last thing they could see, instead of the endless sea of blood and the corpses they were part of.

Desolation, sufferance, despair…

France was struggling to keep standing, his legs almost ready to give up under the weight of his body, and he took a shuddering breathe, gasping for air; his clothes were bloody and tattered and dirty, his lungs filled with disgusting stench of corpses and death, his eyes…

… his eyes were darkened up, unable to look away from the gruesome sight that made his heart clench in his chest.

Everywhere he could look, everywhere he turned, was the same.

People dying. People shuddering, in pain, some crying, some sobbing, some attempting to drag their unresponsive bodies away –some lying there, having given up.

Had France not been accustomed to that, he would have yelled in despair, running away, and even with his experience he could barely stand still anyway.

This was a wanted sacrifice.

And yet, the war had ended with this battle. They had won… and again, the victory was tasteless, bitter, empty.

This sight, this outcome… again, it was heartbreaking. Lives lost, lives that would never come back. He could feel each loss deep inside his chest, the blood seeping through the soil. The pain was sharp.

Far too much.

He had won, though –at least that knowledge helped him ignore the pain, making him grimace but not look down.

"Francis… monsieur…"

France turned. It was one of the soldiers still alive, even though he was clearly exhausted and pale for the blood loss.

The general, the commander, him (a name that would be remembered forever, France knew it) had already left the site, leaving the soldiers behind, but Francis had remained, unwilling to leave until–

Gritting his teeth, the French Nation stared at the human. He wasn't really in the mood to talk with his people, but he had to. The man was a fighter, he deserved attention… he had fought hard for him, for France.

"Qu'est ce que vous voulez, soldat?" he asked brusquely.

"We… we found him" the man coughed.

France stiffened. Before the attack he had asked the soldiers to look out for someone, and apparently, they had.

Finally forcing his numb limbs to move, he followed his soldier through the maimed, dead bodies, to the one he had known far too well since his early childhood.

They had once lived in the same house, ate the same food, spoke together… but that was the past. They had turned enemies then, fought for years.

He was… so small.

In death, the body of his enemy looked even smaller, hair no more composed under the familiar hat, eyes closed, a blood trail seeping through his lips and down a pale chin. He was barely bigger than the last time he'd seen him, unable to grow, with all the impositions and fights and territory leaving him…

'So… I fought for this…' he thought, his eyes narrowed.

Looking at it like this… looking at the small body between so many… that cloak, dirtied with blood and soil… eyes that would not open again… France was hit suddenly by a shocking thought –he had just killed… one of his own.

Not humans. No, this had been a Nation, like him.

Tears welled up in his eyes and he clenched his fists. In order to aid his allies, in order to make space in the world… he had aided in destroying, killing and ripping through one of his own; when had been the last time a Nation had truly, really died? Disappearing in a pile of blood and territories, to give birth to other Nations, spreading through others?

'Will I have to explain this to Austria?' he had not spoken to the man in… what, centuries? Or was it just months? Time lost its meaning when you were a Nation. It didn't matter much.

Then, another thought hit him, and brought a pain way stronger than any other. France hissed and turned his back to the body, unable to look at it anymore, the face of the dead Nation melting into another one –just as chubby, just as little and helpless.

"How… how will I tell Petit Italie about that?" France's voice, that had never wavered before, now shook to the core. "Mon Dieu… what will I tell him? I… I killed Holy Roman Empire…"

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Darkness.

There was darkness all around him, black, oppressing, choking him–

What was happening? Why did everything hurt?

He tried to open his mouth, yell, cry, because the pain flaring through his tiny body was scorching him… but he couldn't. His body was not responding him anymore, his eyes didn't open, his mouth kept close…

'Am… am I dying?'

A fleeting thought hit him like a rock, and he remembered where he was. He had lost against France. He was broken. Ripped. Conquered. Just like Roman Empire… he had been defeated. His life… his life was at its end. He'd fought with all his wavering strength, but in the end, it had not been enough.

His chance was gone.

'Oh, God…' hot tears burned down his cheeks, but he couldn't feel them.

He couldn't feel his body anymore… just the burning pain –because even in his last moments, he was a Nation… and the pain of his people was his own. And he knew what was going to happen, and he couldn't do anything.

If he couldn't feel his arms, his legs, his chest –did that mean he was already disintegrating? Did it mean his fingers were already vanishing in thin air, to return to the soil they had been born from?

He had looked too high in the sky. He had wanted to be… he had wanted to be something he could never be.

He had failed his promise to…

'I… Italia…' the tears fell with doubled intensity as the cheerful face of his beloved, Italia, flashed through his rapidly vanishing mind. 'My sweet Italia… you were right…'

Regret –a painful flame so strong it managed to overwhelm the physical waves of agony that washed through him in constant waves; he wanted to go back to that little maid. Listen to her words of wisdom… she had been so right. Hurt by her own grandfather, Roman Empire, and his death… would she cry for him too, now that he was dying of a similar death?

Would she keep a memory of him in her heart as she grew up? Would she still love him, despite everything, even though he'd ignored her warnings, blinded by greed?

She would grow up beautifully, and be strong for herself, and she would never fall into the same mistakes he did.

'I'm so sorry… I loved you so much but in the end, my dream of a house where to protect you and love you forever… will never… never…'

Sobs wracked him from the inside.

Oh, God, nothing had ever hurt as much as the thought of leaving her behind forever.

Over his lost territories, over his lost pride, his pain, his defeat… Holy Roman Empire, in his last moments, cried for his lost love, that he would never see again.

For the love that filled his thoughts and his life, for the love that gave colour and taste to a otherwise empty desire for power, giving it a heart and a spirit and a soul. A love that he had nurtured as much as he could, a love that offered him happy moments.

Silent tears trickled down his now transparent cheeks, the very essence of his being losing strength, losing will to exist–

'I wish I had more time to spend with you. To see your smile, to touch your lips again…'

Then, the Nation allowed darkness to consume him, and take him away where Italia could not follow.

'Goodbye, my lovely Italia…'

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SOY: the prologue is out. Will you please drop me a comment to know whether it's good or not? Thank you!

Qu'est ce que vous voulez, soldat?(French) – What is it that you want, soldier?

Petit Italie (French) – Little Italy.

Mon Dieu (French) – My God.