One Last Fairytale: A Story Within A Story

His life was a fairytale. At least, that's what Alfred wanted to believe. Because, no matter what horrible things happened in fairytales, the last words would always be "And they lived happily ever after." He wished his life was like that, a place where such useless wishes came true. But if he took a moment to look at his life from a distance, he was sure he would see anyone else's ideal fairytale.

Alfred was royalty, the youngest son of the Kings of his country. Kings, plural. Yes, in many ways, his life being a fairytale made a lot more sense, as the matter of his birth was an issue he questioned his parents on often, with no direct answers. Mostly just funny sideways looks from King Arthur, and rather creepy giggles from King Francis. It was a suspicious situation to say the least.

And his home was the same. He never understood why the stories he was so fascinated with were called fairytales when fairies themselves were more real than any of those written lies. His father's prized steed was a beautiful, silver furred unicorn. His older brother had slain a dragon or two. And his other father had once met a siren. To Alfred, fairytales were like life, except with a happy ending to wrap it up, rather than the dark reality he knew really existed. .

But that didn't mean he never enjoyed the stories he was told. Until he was seven, his fathers would read them to him before bed. He remembered various tales, but his favorite was the one about the forbidden love of the Prince and Princess. One his father Francis told, and that Arthur would only listen, occasionally butting in saying that part of it was incorrect.

"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess of the Kingdom of Hetalia. On her eighteenth birthday, she was set to marry one of the many prince's of her nation. But she disliked them all, and snuck out of the castle one after noon for some fresh air," was how Francis would always start out the tale.

"That's when she met the handsome prince of the Southeast Kingdom. He was bold, and dashing, and brave and-"

"And full of crap," Arthur would cut in, "Just get on with it, Frog."

"Oui, cheri," Francis would laugh, "So, the prince and the princess met, and had many adventures together on the castle grounds. They swam in the lake with the sea serpent in it, and they rode the princess's prized unicorn. And one night, they even saw a fairy ring by the far north wall. And they kissed for the first time while the fairies danced and played around them."

At this part in the story, Arthur would always get a faraway look in his eyes, as if he was lost in a memory, rather than the actual tale itself. And Francis would smile, "And the angleterre and the prince fell in love. But unfortunately, the next morning, the king and queen announced the name of the prince they'd chosen for the princess to marry, and it was not the prince she loved. Furious, she asked as to why, to which they replied that because the prince she loved was the second son of the Southeastern Kingdom's High Prince, and the child of a mistress, rather than the Queen, that he was unworthy of her hand. She tried to get away, but her parents locked her in her room, and set the castle guards to kill the prince should he attempt to see her."

The next and final part was always told by Arthur, "But one night, just when the princess thought she would never see her prince again, there was a commotion in the stables. The prince came riding out on her unicorn, cutting down any guards that got in between them. And the princess climbed out the window to meet him, and they rode off, jumping over the drawbridge just before it closed. They got away, and they were never caught, riding away to a place where they could live without the rules of the Nobility. And they lived happily ever after."

That was one of the only stories Alfred felt had some truth in it. In normal fairytales, the prince and the princess would remain prince and princess, yet here, they gave up their titles to be together.

From age eight to the present, the stories came to his ears in soft whispers by his older brother Ivan. The year that he had turned seven, however, was the year he hadn't listened to a single story. That was the year he'd learned that his own life, though it may resemble a fairytale, would not end with that longed for "Happily ever after." He'd given up. His parents practically had to force him to eat, and his brother hadn't fared much better.

In fact, it was the eldest prince that finally forced Alfred to want to live again. The blond had given up; lying on his bed with eyes closed to the world he felt had betrayed him. He was only seven, and already, it hurt too much to see anymore of it. Ivan had snuck into his room, fingers brushing soothingly over the comatose-like child's hair. When Alfred had jolted out of his state of semi-consciousness, protesting and drawing away from his touch, the older had lifted him bodily off the bed, carrying him across the hall to his own room.

Lavender eyes met blue with determination. "Alfred," the eldest prince had murmured, holding up a book in his free hand that wasn't tangled in his sibling's hair. "It's okay to keep believing in happy endings. I want you to believe that everything can one day turn out all right again."

Alfred tried in vain to jerk away again, only to be caught by the arm and pulled against his older brother's chest with a strangled sob. "Let me go!" he wailed, digging his nails into Ivan's hand, tears stinging the corners of his sky blue eyes. But he refused to let them fall. "I don't want to read those anymore!" They're nothing but lies! There's no such thing as Happily Ever After!" He sucked in a shaky breath, "There's . . . There's only death . . . Please, Ivan, just let me die too."

Ivan growled under his breath, pulling the child impossibly closer, burying his face in his younger brother's hair. "I can't do that Alfred. I know it hurts, he was my brother too. But . . . Even so . . . He wouldn't want you to be like this. You don't eat, you hardly sleep . . . You've . . . You've never cried for him, not once."

The younger prince shook his head fiercely against Ivan's shoulder, "I can't! That would be admitting that he's gone . . . And I . . ." He swallowed, forcing back the tears that threatened to overwhelm him, "I promised! I promised that we'd be together forever! We were born together, we were supposed to die that way too! It's not fair!" He clenched his fists against Ivan's shirt, "It's not fair!" And this time, he didn't care that the hot tears trickled down his cheeks, or that the uncontrollable sobs wracked his body. Because deep down, he'd known all along. In real life, death couldn't be overcome by True Love's First Kiss. It was permanent, cold, and painful. And crying, or not crying, would do nothing to bring his brother back. So Alfred cried, clinging to Ivan as though he was a lifeline, choking out the name he'd refused to say for nearly a year.

"Mattie, Mattie . . . Ivan, why did it have to be him? It's not fair."

^-^ ^-^ ^-^

The golden haired prince crept nervously down the halls, pillow clutched tightly to his chest. It's not like he was doing anything wrong, this was his castle after all. Okay, his parent's castle, but still. Actually, it was said parents he was afraid of running into this late at night.

"It's a little weird for you to keep doing this at your age," Arthur chided, "I'll have no more of it."

"He's only seventeen . . ." Francis started.

"Which means that in a few months he'll be eighteen! Legally old enough to inherit our throne should we die!" Arthur spat in reply.

Francis looked aghast, "Mon cheri! You're going to jinx us saying such things! Quick, knock on wood!"

Arthur leaned over to tap the wall just to make his husband shut up, when the older of the pair had said, in slight exasperation, "Not that wood." To which Arthur had merely stared at him blankly. Francis grabbed him around the waist, whispering something in his ear and watching with a satisfied smirk as the king blushed furiously, before dashing off with Arthur still in his clutches.

Alfred never got to hear the end of that conversation (he was rather glad he didn't), but he suspected that Francis had probably caved in the end and agreed that the young prince could be punished should he do it again. The blond struck a pose in the middle of the hallway, feeling a bit put out at the thought. "Oh who cares! I'm the hero! I should get to do what I want!"

"A very loud hero who had a nightmare and snuck out of bed again," a voice said irritably from behind the door to Alfred's right, making him jump.

Picking up the pillow from where he'd tossed it on the floor in order to strike his princely and heroic pose, he shuffled into the room, locking the door behind him. Narrowing his eyes, he glared at the person sitting up in the bed on the far side of the room. "Well that's your fault," he muttered, "you're the one who switched your room to the north wing, when mine is in the south."

Lavender eyes blinked slowly in reply, "I did it because you're so clingy," Ivan deadpanned. "And you're too old for this," he added, repeating their father's words.

Alfred stuck out his bottom lip in protest, "It's been a month since I last snuck in, bastard. And besides, you know that this is a bad week for me."

Ivan continued to glare at him for a moment, before he sighed, "Fine, come here."

The younger prince let out a whoop, belly flopping onto the bed and winding the older man. He wiggled across the covers until he could slip in beside him with a broad grin, ignoring the annoyed look Ivan gave him. "Tell me a story," he prompted softly.

The other sighed again, running his fingers through his ash-blond hair before he leaned over to playfully ruffle Alfred's, "Once upon a time-"

"Tell the one about the prince and the beautiful servant girl," Alfred interrupted.

Ivan's gaze darkened briefly, his smile faltering before he replaced the look with his usual mask of happiness. "Once upon a time, there was a prince. The prince was served by a beautiful lady in waiting, one who was almost the same age as himself. But in the kingdom, it was forbidden to marry anyone without noble blood. So even if the prince fell in love with her, they could never be together."

"Did they fall in love anyways?" Alfred asked, though he'd heard the tale many times over.

"Yes," Ivan murmured near his ear, a word that was almost a sigh as he hooked an arm around Alfred's waist. "They did fall in love. And after a few months of meeting in secret, they decided to run away together. Escape the castle, and the laws that prevented their love."

"And did they get away?" Alfred yawned.

"They did," Ivan whispered, something flickering in his eyes. "And they got married, had children, and lived happily ever after." He bit his lip as Alfred snored softly against his chest, thoughts churning through his mind. Even if it was his brother's favorite story, Ivan hated it. Because he knew, better than anyone, that that was the one story with a lie at the end. He flinched slightly, tasting the blood that came from the bite mark in his mouth. He wished life were as perfect as a fairy tale. Where the "princess" and the prince would have never had to return to the castle that forbid their love. Where a prince, and his devoted servant could have gotten away. And where two twin brothers could have lived side by side forever. Instead, he could only taste the blood on his lip, tainted with memories of "fairytales" stained with crimson endings.

RANDOM AUTHOR RAMBLE

Hello all! Nice to meet u and welcome back! *bows* this one is turning out to be my pride and joy. The original idea for it came when I heard the song Down by Jay Sean (or whatever) on a Hetalia video, and I pictured a masked ball with all our Hetalia charies. But in my head, there were two key characters missing, and slowly, the fact that they were missing developed into a fairytale like setting of this story, the castle in the kingdom of Hetalia and the people who lived there.

Now, to explain the workings of their kingdom. There are three main "mini" kingdoms inside it, ruled and watched over by a High Prince. The King and er . . . King, live in the center of the Kingdom, they have control over the entire land and the three High Princes inside. The "mini" kingdoms are: The North Kingdom, currently watched over by High Princess Natalia (reasons for this will show up later, chapter 3 or so) - The West Kingdom, ruled over by High Prince Gilbert - and the Southeast Kingdom, governed by High Prince Antonio. There's a very extensive family of the Nobility, (the people of the castle in the center of the kingdom) as well as a neighboring Kingdom across the sea where a certain little love interest for Alfred came from originally. Everything will be explained in due time, no worries.

The next three to five chapters (not sure how many yet) will take place in the past, explaining everything leading up to the Tragedy of Eleven Years Ago. And then we'll skip back to the present. Alfred will take up the story then again, as he will hardly be in those 3-5 chapters. But no worries, Ameri-tan is our main hero here.