There was no longer any doubt in Russia's mind; he loved Alfred. Perhaps in a much different way than most love, but he did love him. But that feeling wouldn't hold up against his need for pain and death.

He could see only one solution. Only one thing that he could do to stop this twisted merry-go-round. Which is why he went to go look for Alfred and found him descending the double staircase into the main hall.

Looking over his shoulder by chance, Alfred saw Russia at the top of the stairs, looking down at him with a strange emptiness akin to that of when he attacked him in his eyes. "H-hello," He stuttered, torn between running away and staying put. Opting for the latter, he stayed shock still, hoping nothing was going to happen to him.

Walking down the stairs steadily, his mind already made up, Ivan stood in front of America and lifted his hand. "Here." He passed along pictures to the blond, just pictures.

Confused, he took the pictures from Ivan's hand and started to look at them. He wasn't too surprised to see that every one of them featured himself, but just what some of them were made him blush slightly. There were the ones he knew about like the one of him eating on the floor like a dog and when he was forced to stretch himself, but there were also some that he had no idea where even taken. "I don't get it." He said, looking back up to the taller man.

While Alfred had been looking at all the pictures, Russia had reached inside his coat, his hand grabbing onto what he was looking for. When it became visible, he heard America gasp.

"I'm sorry, Lithuania, but I can't keep my promise."

His eyes wide with fear, Alfred started walking backwards down the stairs, trying to put more room between the two of them ineffectively. America opened his mouth as if to say something as Ivan cocked the gun in his hand, causing him instead to swallow thickly as it was aimed directly at his head.

BANG

Alfred's limp body crumpled to the floor, blood seeping from the wound. The pictures fell with him, scattering around him on the white floor. Ivan sank to his knees beside the body and picked up one limp hand. He bent and placed his lips on it softly, tenderly. "Always remember that I love you." A single tear escaped his eyes as Russia brought the same gun to his own temple.

A second shot rang out in the large room.

Doomed, from the start. History repeats itself. Roman Empire; fell. Chinese Empire; fell. Mongolian Empire; fell. And now, the Russian Empire - fell.

.oOo.

Bringing the fine china to his lips, England was just about to take the first sip of his freshly brewed Earl Grey when a strange feeling washed over him. Since he had become so used to the ever present aura of Ivan's control, feeling it disappear was like taking a breath of fresh air. But if it disappeared, wouldn't that mean that Russia must have relinquished his power over everyone or died? How could such a powerful empire suddenly die?

'America,' Arthur's brain told him. Alfred could have finally become fed up with being under Russia's control that he finally fought back, and won. If that was the case, what was he doing sitting still? With the world free from the giant oaf, then he and America could finally be together again. That is, if he would accept England after forcing him out of his home.

Trying to not think about it, Arthur put his teacup down gently without taking a sip and hastened to his room, grabbing America's bomber jacket. He, of course, had lied terribly when he said he never wanted to see the blond git again, and had felt utterly horrible about just what Russia had forced him to do. Since at the time he was under Russian control, he had no other option then to follow through, breaking both his and Alfred's hearts in the process.

Hastily putting on a pair of winter boots and a jacket he got specifically for visiting Russia's home country or anywhere else cold, he then went outside and locked his door before running off to where his helicopter was. It took him a few minutes which had left him slightly out of breath, but it was all worth it. America was finally free; for real this time. England could now confess his own love for him and the world would rise from the ashes.

Everything was going to get better, he just knew it.

Placing the coveted jacket on the seat beside him, Arthur started up the helicopter as fast as his now shaking hands could. Putting his headset on, he tried desperately to remember just where Ivan's mansion was in the expanse of his true land. Alfred had flown off towards the East mostly -he could remember watching him leave through the window with tears falling silently from his face- so that would have to be his best bet. After that, he would have to follow his own instinct.

His hands still shaking, the Briton took a deep breath before coaxing the machine into the air. Hovering for a second, he then shot off into the sky, too anxious to wait much longer. With Russia gone, he could be sure that every other country under his rule could feel the lack of his oppressive aura, so he didn't have to worry about contacting anyone else to tell them the good news. Plus, the longer he waited to find America, the longer it was until he could set everything back to normal. He didn't even want to think about what could have happened to him during the months he didn't see him, but it didn't matter any more. Ivan was dead, and America was free. They all were.

As he flew over Europe, England could not help but re-live the last year in his head. Everyone -not just he- had been turned into shells of there normal selves. After losing Alfred for the third time (Even though he never enjoyed thinking about his violent independence) Arthur was reduced to staying in his bedroom for the first few weeks afterwards. He had found the brat's jacket in the foyer after he left and promptly broke down; unable to let go of the piece of clothing even as he slept. The scent of it had filled him with hope and dread at the same time: hope for a better future and dread for what was happening at the time.

When the landscape turned from white tipped mountains and hills to thick snow, he knew he was getting closer to Ivan's mansion. After walking the expanse, he could somewhat judge how long it would take to get there by air, but it was by no means an exact science.

There! Seeing the large building, he set his course for there, landing in the courtyard beside another snow covered figure that he assumed was Russia's own helicopter.

Shutting it off, he quickly undid the seatbelt, took off the headset and shut off the copter. All but running through the thick snow, England couldn't wait to see the man that had single handedly saved the world, and won his heart.

.oOo.

Matthew woke suddenly from his sleep. What had woken him up? Not the cold; he was used to that. It wasn't noisy anywhere. He settled down in bed once again, set to fall back asleep, but something wasn't right. It was almost like something was missing.

Then, the feeling of being under Russia's rule disappeared, like a candle snuffed out. What did that mean? Was Russia beaten in a battle? But no one was strong enough to go against him and win, surely. The only other explanation was that he was dead. Was that the reason he had suddenly woken up?

Getting out of bed, Canada dressed, wanting to know what had happened. After all, if Ivan was dead, than his brother...

That was it! Matthew's eyes opened in shock. Of course, that was why he suddenly felt like a part of him was missing, and part that had been there his whole life. It was the part that twinged when America had been bombed by Russia, just a year ago. A part of him had known something had happened to his brother - his twin - before news had reached him.

The first tear found its way out the corner of his eye, soon to be followed by many. He would rather be ruled by Ivan than for Alfred to be dead. And that was definitely what was wrong, he could feel it. He just knew.

Matthew didn't have a helicopter of his own, so he had to get one from the air force. There were some curious looks at his tear-stained face, but no one questioned him.

Flying with blurry eyes was difficult, but Canada managed. Soon he was seeing white lands that weren't his own. Since he had been to Russia's house, he found it quite easily.

The salty tears went into his mouth, not wanting to take a hand away to wipe them off. He landed beside another helicopter, this one with a British flag on it.

.oOo.

As soon as Arthur got to the door, he yelled out, "Alfred!" only to gasp as he saw the scene in the middle of the foyer. Not only was there Ivan's body like he suspected, but America's was there as well, lying next to him in death. Immediately his throat tightened with grief as his heart beat increased. How was this possible?! Only Russia was supposed to be dead! Didn't Alfred kill him? How could he be dead as well?

It wasn't possible, that's how. Completely in denial now, England walked over to the bodies, clutching the worn leather jacket with white knuckles. Even the blood that was making its way down his face wouldn't let him believe the obvious truth.

Pushing Russia's body away from Alfred, Arthur went on his knees next to him, putting his head on the still chest. "Come on, come on...." He muttered, willing a heart beat to start. Taking out a handkerchief from his pocket, the Briton wiped the blood off of America's face with shaking hands. He couldn't believe it. It just couldn't be possible. Just how could he?

England hadn't heard the sound of another helicopter landing, so he didn't even turn around as the second figure made its way into the mansion. He was far too wrapped up with his illusion to break it now.

Exactly as he had expected. Well, Matthew had considered some other possibilities as well, like them dying in bed, them dying outside, but from the looks of things, it was basically how he had expected. Murder/suicide, and judging by the fact that the gun was in Ivan's hands, it was he that had done the killing.

He went over to England's side. Reaching a hand over Alfred's face, he closed his eyes with two fingers.

Looking over his shoulder at the person that had just shut America's eyes, England glared up at them, tears threatening to fall. "Who the bloody hell do you think you are, closing his eyes! He's not dead! He can't be dead!" Not waiting for a response, he just reached down, grabbing onto Alfred and holding him close. "He can n-never die!"

Desperate, he then pressed his face against the cooling body, willing it to come back alive. It's not possible... He never even got to apologize!

Matthew closed his eyes and looked away, more tears falling from his lashes. How could the human body possibly posses so many tears? He opened his eyes to see England's body wracked in sobs, crying into America's chest. "Arthur, you have to put him down. He's dead."

"No!" He screamed, his voice raw with emotion. If anything, he just held onto the body tighter; if that was possible. How dare Russia take him away from the world? Even though Russia was dead, saving the world from his might, the fact that Alfred was gone as well just crushed England's hopes. "I can't.. He'll g-get cold..." He said quieter, muffled by the fabric of America's shirt.

"Dammit, England! He's already dead!" Canada wanted to mention that he should be more sensible but knew it wouldn't do any good. Arthur lifted his head, looking at Matthew with a tear-stained face. He almost said sorry for his outburst but instead pointed to Alfred's forehead. "Could anyone survive after that?"

Instead of answering the question, he asked his own, "How can you just stand there? He's your bloody twin, Matthew! How can you.... How can you just stand back and accept it?!"

Slightly surprised by the fact that Arthur actually knew who he was, Canada sat down on the floor. "Just because I'm not in hysterics doesn't mean I don't..." His voice cracked slightly, a lump forming in his throat from holding back sobs. "care." He finished, looking to the floor where he noticed a lot of strange pictures. The nearest one was the one he had seen when making the deal with Russia. God, please don't let Arthur see it.

His face still glistening with his shed tears, Arthur placed his face lightly on the cooling chest. He desperately didn't want to believe it... But he had to. "But we're nations.... We aren't supposed to be able to die..." He mumbled again, tears falling silently down his face; dripping on the still body.

Matthew didn't say anything to that. Yes, they were surely nations, no longer colonies. He thought back to then, still little kids, climbing into each others beds when they had a nightmare. Of course, Alfred had hardly ever had any nightmares, but he came to Matthew's bed just as often. He let out one strangled sob, knowing full well that things like that could never happen again, even if by some miracle Alfred bothered remembering him.

As Canada started crying beside him, it was now Arthur's turn to become the silent one, opting now to grieve silently. As much as it pained him to realize, there was nothing that either of them could do now. Yes they were free, but it came as a steep price for the two of them: one a brother, the other a hopeful lover.

While they both continued to suffer, neither of them noticed as the double doors were opened once more; this time letting two people inside. Even as focused as they were on lamenting the loss of America, they couldn't ignore the shrill shriek that pierced the still air of the foyer.

After yelling, Natalia ran past the pair bent over America's corpse and dropped down beside that of Russia. "Brother!" She yelled once more, throwing herself over the body. With the flurry of motion, it made both of the other nations look up at the woman who was now latched onto her older brother's frame, just as England's was to Alfred's a few minutes ago.

Ukraine stood behind her sister, her hand covering her mouth. Her little brother... dead? Was it even possible? Although he usually frightened her, he was still her brother... Silent tears pricked at her eyes, sitting beside Belarus and clutching a large, cold hand.

"Brother!" Belarus screamed again. "How dare you die! We were supposed to get married!" She punctuated, pounding the cool body with her fists, "Married, married, married!" Each time, she hit the corpse harder, finally breaking down into sobs.

Beside her, Ukraine continued to cry silently, wiping them away only to look over at Arthur and Matthew. "Wh-what happened?" She asked shakily, her eyes filled with unspent tears.

Knowing Arthur was in no state to reply, Matthew opened his lips but couldn't think of a response. It probably wasn't the best idea to tell her that he suspected in was a murder suicide. Knowing that their brother had killed himself wouldn't be best. So he closed his mouth and shrugged his shoulders. "We don't know. We arrived after."

Nodding shallowly, Katyusha just held her brother's hand tighter, wiping the new tears away as soon as they blossomed. Judging by the bullet wound in his head as well as the gun in his other hand, she could piece together that he had most likely killed both of them. That fact did little to comfort her, but she kept silent. If she was to tell her sister, then who knew what she would do.

As Natalia continued sobbing into Russia's coat, she used the end of his precious scarf to wipe away the blood from his temple. "It's ok, мой брат, everything will be alright. You're little sister will make who ever did this pay."

Ukraine continued to cry silently. She was going to miss their brother desperately, even with everything he had done to everyone -her included.

Matthew looked at his brothers face. It looked so calm. If it wasn't for the pasty white skin - and blood - he would just look like he was sleeping.

None of the tear stained faces looked up from their respective bodies as a symphony of helicopter blades were heard from outside. Like flies, the rest of the world had congregated to witness the fall of a hero.