One Last Fairytale: Dream a Little Dream of Me

Gilbert knew he was dreaming because his hands were larger than he remembered them to be. His fingers were calloused, the sort of rough marks that came from years of wielding a sword. He felt taller too, though there was no time to test that theory.

It was snowing, and he was riding a horse through the light downfall of white. He kicked the animal into a canter as he caught sight of another rider not too far ahead, and realized that he had been following the hoof prints in the snow below. His heart stopped when he drew up beside the other, unease coursing through him.

If he had thought he seemed taller, Ivan towered over him, even on horseback. His lavender eyes were fixed on the ground as he made his steed circle round and round, searching for something. "They've covered their tracks," Ivan hissed between his teeth, looking so furious that Gilbert's breath caught in his throat.

His own words came unbidden, almost as if it wasn't himself speaking them, "Fuck, Ivan . . . Just let them go. There's nothing you can do. And even if you do catch up to them, what would you do? Would you really deny Alfred happiness? That's not the Ivan I know-"

"Who says I'm the Ivan you know then?!" Gilbert forced his horse to back up, shocked at the gaze of utter anguish and rage. "I stopped being the Ivan that you know years ago, Gilbert! I don't believe in happiness anymore because everything that I do only ends in pain!" He growled and looked away, angry tears stinging the corners of his eyes, "I just don't want to watch Alfred go through the same. He's all I have left."
A flash of irritation went through Gilbert at this, "Who says he will?! You're not even giving him a chance, Ivan! And what's that utter bull-shit about him being all you've got?! Arthur and Francis fucking
raised you when they could have left you to fend for yourself. God damn it, Ivan, I don't think there's a parent in the world that loves his children more than Arthur loves you and Alfred. And what about me? I promised that I would always be here for you, and you've just thrown that aside like it meant nothing to you! Am I nothing to you too, Ivan?!"

"I never asked you to promise that!" Ivan shrieked, pushing his horse to trot closer so that they were suddenly side-by-side. "Promises are useless when everyone is eventually going to die and leave me behind!"

"I'd fucking sell my body and soul before I went around dying without you!" Gilbert snapped. He kicked his heels into his horse's side and backed up again, not wanting to be on the receiving end of anything should Ivan choose to lash out. It was then that his eyes caught it. The glint of steel in the snow filled moonlight. He couldn't make a sound, there was no time for a warning. The sword the perpetrator was holding was suddenly sticking out of Ivan's chest, the handle against his back.

Ivan's eyes widened in shock, but no words came out when he opened his mouth. Nothing except for blood as he coughed, gasping for air, a panicked look in his lavender gaze. Gilbert screamed, drawing his sword from his belt to lop off the head of the stranger who had stabbed Ivan right through. But it was too late, and Ivan slumped forward off his horse and down into the snow without a sound, already dead.

He screamed, and screamed, and screamed, realizing as he returned to the waking world that that his screams were entirely real there too. And he couldn't stop. He could still feel the sword in his hands, and the blood on his clothes. He could still see Ivan, falling, falling, falling. Dead. His screams cut off as his bedroom door burst open, revealing Roderich and Elizaveta in the candlelight of the hallway. Roderich hung back, looking concerned, while Elizaveta rushed forward, wrapping Gilbert in her arms and making soothing shushing noises as she held him against her chest.

A few moments passed before Gilbert let his body slump against her, relief and reality slowly washing over him. He gasped and choked back the pure anguish that the dream had coursed through him, tangling his fingers into the folds of her nightgown with a strangled sob. Elizaveta ran a comforting hand through his silver hair, tilting her head down so that she was more level with him, "Nightmare?" she asked quietly. "What was it about?"

"A death I could not change," Gilbert replied, words muffled against her clothes. He tightened his grip and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to take comfort in her condolences and warmth. Since his father had died in the siege on the Nobility seven years ago, Roderich and Elizaveta had taken over his position as regents of the West Kingdom until Gilbert came of age. That meant that for now, they were as much of his parents as Arthur and Francis were to Ivan. He swallowed, trying not to recall the dream at the thought of the name, to little avail. "It was . . . too real . . ." he whispered, biting his lip to keep from crying out again as the bloody scene ran through his mind again.

Roderich drew up beside the bed, candle held aloft in his hand, "Have you ever had a dream like that before, Gilbert?"

"No."

The man's eyes narrowed, and Elizaveta looked up at him with worry, taking note of his contemplating gaze on their foster son. "It is not uncommon for those of higher blood in the three great kingdoms and the nobility to have true dreams, Gilbert," he said after a pause.

"True dreams?" Gilbert echoed, lifting his head from the crook of Elizaveta's arm with widened eyes.

"Dreams that will one day come true," Roderich explained. "It is well known that Roman had them, as well as your father. Katyusha too, if I am not mistaken. It's most common in the High Princes and Princesses. I wouldn't be surpri-"

"Then that dream will come true?" Gilbert interrupted, shaking slightly at the thought.

"If you had not dreamed it, it would be inevitable," Roderich said, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "But now that you know what's going to happen, you have a chance to change it, correct?"

Gilbert chewed on his lip, letting his head rest on Elizaveta's shoulder again. It was impossible. How could he stop an assassin he'd never seen before, on a dark, snowy night too far in the future for him to know. He sucked in an uneasy breath, resolving to do whatever he could to change the outcome of the dream, no matter what he had to do.

^-^ ^-^ ^-^

Natalia kept one small hand over Kiku's mouth, restraining him from crying out. The other she used to cover the sounds of her own shallow breathing, wondering fearfully if the intruders could hear the heartbeat that thundered in her chest. Their footsteps echoed outside of their hiding place, the sound of papers and tapestries being torn down off the walls and flung out of drawers. She dared not lean close to the small sliver of light between the doors of the cupboard they crouched in, even as an eerie silence settled over the room. Kiku's hands fisted into the folds of her dress, his eyes shifting between the doors and her, his shoulders shaking slightly in the darkness.

There was little time to scream as the doors were suddenly ripped open, large hands shoved inside and grabbing Natalia by the front of her dress. She bit down on the offending hand as she heard Kiku wail in fear behind her, twisting in the man's grip to catch sight of him being torn from the cupboard and slammed up against the wall. The man holding her yelled as she dug her teeth into his hand, drawing blood, and she was flung against the wall.

Her breath escaped her in a rush, and she faintly heard Kiku scream again, though it sounded far off and distorted. The man's hand was at her throat, and she struggled to open her eyes, hearing words like North, heir, and traitor. Kiku's scream stopped abruptly, unnaturally, and she flailed in the man's grip, twisting and trying to see what had become of her companion. But all she could see was a dark stain of crimson on the wall.

She didn't realize she'd been screaming until strong hands shook her awake. "Natalia! Natalia!"

Arthur leaned over her, a brief look of relief crossing his features as she blinked open lavender eyes. "Shhh . . ." he soothed, sitting down on the bed beside her and running a hand through her long ash-blond hair. "What was the nightmare, Natalia?"

Natalia chewed on her lower lip, raising a hand to rub the tears away from her eyes as she shook her head. Even if Arthur was her father, she didn't want to discuss the contents of her dream with him. He smiled understandingly, lifting her up out of the bed to tuck her securely against his chest. "Let's go to the twin's room, hmm?" he murmured near her ear, allowing her hands to tangle into his nightshirt.

He carried her down the hall, tiptoeing past Ivan's room so as not to wake his oldest child who was a very light sleeper. Arthur couldn't help but feel unnerved at the frequency of his adopted daughter's nightmares of late, knowing that prophetic dreams ran in her bloodline. But he didn't question her on it, nor would he force her to tell him what she had seen. He just hoped he'd be able to help should the dreams ever cross into reality.

Silently, he cracked the door to the twin's room open, only faintly surprised to see that there was already an intruder in their bed. Kiku was buried under the blankets against Alfred's back, small hands entangled in the elder twin's nightclothes. He wouldn't question the servant child what he had dreamed about either, he knew well enough. Yao told him of his sibling's nightmares. Of the waking sobs and shakes, revelations of fire and snow, and a castle crumbling to the ground. Of a heart wrenching scream in the cold air of dawn. Arthur knew the memories well, and he wished that the young child was not haunted by them too. Too young at the time of their happening to recall them with clarity, to old to forget entirely.

He sat down on the bed, releasing Natalia from his arms and allowing her to crawl across the blankets to nestle in between Alfred and Matthew, noticing the way her shoulders slumped and relaxed as she curled up between them. Arthur couldn't help but smile, "Will you be all right now?" he asked softly, running a hand through her hair comfortingly again. She nodded and he stood up, leaving the door open a crack behind him as he left.

The first thing Alfred saw when he awoke every morning was Matthew. The younger twin's eyelids always flickered in that way people's did while they were in the midst of dreams. One hand rested between his cheek and pillow, damp with drool. The other was wrapped tightly around a large white stuffed bear.

Alfred always faced his twin when he slept, even though he tended to sleep on his stomach. Today, he found his left hand tight in the grasp of his sister Natalia, who he was only faintly surprised to see tucked between the two of them, and his right was wrapped around another small hand, his own doing this time. He blinked and turned his head to the other side, smiling slightly. Both intruders to his bed had become such a common occurrence that he didn't even wake up anymore. He laughed softly as Kiku's light, sleepy puffs of breath shifted sandy-blond hair from his eyes. Although the other child's brother Yao was training him to be a servant to the castle, Kiku spent more time with the twins than doing any actual work. Just as he spent more nights in their bed, plagued by nightmares as Natalia was.

And he knew well enough too what they dreamed of. While Kiku's were of a past they were not allowed to discuss around Ivan or his fathers, Natalia's were of a time that had not yet come to pass. And that was what worried him the most. Slowly, he wiggled both hands out of their grasps so he could roll over onto his back and sit up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes with a wide yawn. It was a Saturday, so he wouldn't have to sit through boring history and maths lessons today, and that thought cheered him immensely. Matthew stirred on Natalia's other side, awakened by his twin's movement.

"We need a bigger bed," Matthew mumbled sleepily, burying his face in the pillow again with a groan.

Alfred laughed, "Oh, like you care. And besides, where else would you have them go? Dad's room?"
"God no," Matthew shuddered into the pillow. "I'm scarred for life because of that. And I don't even know what they were doing exactly."

"And yet Ivan goes to their room all the time. Nerves of steel," Alfred whistled.

"Or brain of mush," Matthew added, sitting up with his chin resting on the stuffed bear's head. He watched with glazed eyes as his brother shifted in the blankets, standing up on the mattress with his arms raised and facing Kiku. "Umm . . . What are you doing?" he asked quizzically.

"Waking them up," Alfred grinned, taking a step closer to Kiku, who was still sleeping soundly despite Alfred's loud voice. Matthew merely rolled his eyes, glad that he always woke up right after his twin so that he was not given the same treatment. Alfred abruptly laughed, leaping into the air with a cry of "belly flop!" and falling down right on top of Kiku.

And he wasn't much surprised to see the older child open his eyes with a breathless gasp of surprise, winded from Alfred's weight on top of him. "M-master Alfred!" he stammered, struggling to push the larger boy off of him.

Alfred simply laughed, turning to settle between the other's legs and resting his chin on Kiku's chest with a snort. "It's freaking weird when you call me master, Kiku. Cut it out."

"But-"

His words were cut short as Alfred leaned over him, their noses brushing, "No more master, kay?" Kiku's only reply was a blush and a small squeak before he finally shoved Alfred off of him, scrambling back a few feet until his shoulders hit the headboard of the bed. Alfred grinned again and stood up once more, facing Natalia this time, though his movements were lighter and much sneakier as he inched towards her.

The exclamation of belly flop was left out as he jumped in the air with every intention of giving her the same awakening as Kiku. What he received however, was Natalia rolling over onto her back, hands and feet in the air as she threw him to the side, causing him to go sailing over the edge of the bed and fall with a huff of surprise to the floor below.

Matthew laughed, leaning over the side of the bed to stare down at his sibling, "You never learn, do you," he smiled.

Alfred lay flat on his back on the carpet, chest heaving, "One of these days . . ." He muttered, "One of these day's I'm gonna get her. I swear."

"Well, good luck with that," Matthew smirked, "cause even Ivan can't pull it off."

Natalia sat up, running her fingers through her hair and untangling a knot with a bored look on her face, "Not gonna happen," she said after a moment, "you and brother are much to loud."

"I was being totally quiet!" Alfred exclaimed, "What about me was noisy at all?"

She turned to look at him with a contemplating gaze, " . . . Your breathing," she said finally.

He raised an eyebrow in confusion, covering his nose and mouth with his hands as if he could somehow hear his breathing that way. A frown crossed his face as he raised his eyes up to her again, "Nuh-uh . . ."

Matthew ignored their banter, stretching his arms up over his head with an audible yawn, "What's for breakfast?" he asked after a moment.

"Pancakes for you obviously," Alfred said as he crawled back up onto the bed, "Eggs and bacon for Ivan, waffles for me and Kiku, and whatever is halfway to Ivan's mouth for Natalia."

Another wide yawn, "I don't understand why you like waffles better," Matthew commented, "they're the exact same as pancakes."

"As if," Alfred snorted, as if his twin knew nothing about the subject. "Waffles have little syrup holding squares all over them so that you get the maximum amount of sugar in every bite. Except that Kiku just eats his naked, which is weird," he turned to stare at the dark haired child accusingly, but Kiku just fiddled with his nightshirt absentmindedly, pretending to be oblivious to the look.

Arthur was only mildly surprised when the four of them paraded into the kitchen, demanding their various breakfast orders and fighting over who got to sit where around the table. Natalia triumphing in the match as she shoved Alfred off of her favorite chair. Arthur laughed under his breath, trying in vain to untangle a dazed and still half asleep Francis from around his waist from where he stood with Yao over the gas stove. Rolling his eyes, he motioned to the dark haired teen beside him, "Go wake up Ivan, why don't you." And then to Francis, "Hey you. If you don't cut it out right now I'm gonna have to make the breakfast."

Francis immediately untangled himself from his spouse, snatching the pan and spatula away from Arthur with a panicked look, "Anything but that cheri!"

The younger man frowned, "Strange how that is one of the only two things you're afraid of. My cooking is perfectly fine, thank you."

"Fine as a method of torture on our enemies," Francis grumbled, placing the waffle pan over one of the burners and pouring the batter Yao had whipped up into it.

"Bloody frog," Arthur muttered sourly.

The other only smiled, "Oh, but you love this frog, cheri. What would you ever do without me?"

"Live a peaceful life?" Arthur smirked.

"So mean," Francis pouted, flipping the waffles over and taking out another pan for the pancakes.

"How else would I keep you in line?" Arthur teased in reply, reaching over to squeeze Francis's hand. "And besides, you know very well what would happen to me if you weren't here."
A sad smile flitted across Francis's features, and he leaned in to give his husband a brief kiss, laughing at the exclamations of "Ew!" from the children behind them, "Oui, mon cheri. And it won't happen again." He turned back to his cooking with a whirl, flipping the waffles onto two separate plates and rushing them over to Alfred and Kiku before beginning work on the pancakes, "Did you want pancakes too, Natalia?" he called over his shoulder.

"Sure," she relented, glancing at the empty seat that should have been occupied by her brother, though she dared not follow Yao in to wake him. Ivan was the worst out of their whole strange little family at mornings. And that was saying something compared to the mixture of Arthur and Francis.

Yao himself had trouble with the task even, and for the third time in the past few minutes since he'd vacated the kitchen, he shook Ivan's shoulder. "Come on ~ aru. If you don't get up you can't have breakfast." He sighed as Ivan merely grumbled something incoherent into the pillow, shoulders hunching as he moved away from the offending person trying to rouse him. Yao bit his lip, leaning over him again, "Ivan ~ aru! Get up this instant!"

Ivan cracked open an eye, staring at him a moment before rolling over onto his back and reaching up a hand. Yao gasped in surprise as he was suddenly tugged down on top of the younger teen, their lips crashing together as Ivan's fingers tangled into his long ponytail. He pressed his hands to Ivan's chest, pushing himself away, "Ivan ~ aru!"

The younger stared up at him with a frown, "You're no fun, Yao," he said after a moment's contemplation, turning over again so that his back was to the other.

Yao sucked in a frustrated breath through his nose, resting a hand on Ivan's shoulder, "And you're stubborn ~ aru," he whispered. "I really wish you'd stop messing around."

"S'not messing around," Ivan grumbled, "I really meant it."

"You didn't ~ aru," Yao said softly, "You just think you did. You're still young, Ivan. And your judgment is skewed." He smiled as Ivan growled in annoyance under his breath, "You have much greater things ahead of you ~ aru. Do not trouble yourself with me."

Ivan rolled over onto his back again, a dark glint in his eyes, "You say that as if you are some sort of burden to me."

"Which I will be if you continue to pursue this ridiculousness," Yao snorted. He rolled his eyes as Ivan sat up, pulling him into another forced kiss, "Might as well give up ~ aru," he mumbled, "I'm not going to kiss you back."

Another frustrated noise escaped Ivan as he drew back, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and making his way towards the door, "Fine, be that way." He started as Yao grabbed his arm, pulling him up short, "Wh-"

"No, I'm still not going to kiss you," Yao frowned, "But I would like it if you'd listen to me, just for a little bit." He pushed Ivan back onto the bed, wandering slowly over to the bookshelf. His long, smooth fingers skimmed over the book's spines, up and down and across the shelves. "Have you read all these stories, Ivan?"

Ivan raised an eyebrow, contemplating the question for a moment, knowing Yao's words always had some deeper meaning to them. "Yes," he said finally, resting his elbows on his legs and his head in his hands, watching the other carefully.

"What about this one?" Yao asked, removing a volume from the shelf and holding it up. Snow White. Ivan nodded. "Do you remember the traits of Snow White? Specifically, what she was aptly named for?"

"Skin as white as snow," Ivan said evenly, eyes half closed, "Fairest in the land, blah blah blah. So what?"

Yao laughed softly, "Yes. Do you remember what saved her from the spell that had been cast on her? The death-like state she was in?"

"A kiss," Ivan deadpanned, "Woo-hoo. And the point is . . ."

The older teen ignored him, placing the book back on the shelf and withdrawing another, "And this one? What saved the girl in this one, Ivan?"

"Aurora was saved by True Love's First Kiss," he frowned, as if it was obvious, eyes lingering uneasily on the ornate cover of Sleeping Beauty for a moment longer than he intended.

"Correct ~ aru," Yao nodded, moving on to an other book on the shelf, "And this one?"

"True love, again," Ivan said, biting his lip, still feeling unsettled by this procedure. What was Yao getting at? "The Beast was saved by Belle's love for him."

"That he was," Yao smiled slowly, placing the thing back on the shelf, wiping away a bit of dust from the wood with a frown. Mental note, he thought, dust Ivan's room ~ aru. "Remember these stories, Ivan. They'll be worth more than you know one day." He shifted his hand across the shelf until his fingers rested on Snow White once more, "Especially this one. Remember how her life was saved, and why she was called Snow White."

Ivan sighed, standing up again and placing a hand on the doorknob, "I was half hoping that would lead to something about you wanting me to choose my true love or something."

"That was part of it," Yao smiled in reply, flicking the dust from his fingers absentmindedly.

"Well, just so you know, I'd like to have you as mine," Ivan whispered, mostly to himself.

"And as I told you, you're destined for greater things, Ivan," Yao said softly, "Now go, eat breakfast before King Arthur comes looking for you."

The younger teen turned away and shuffled out into the hall with an exasperated groan. God, why did Yao have to be so difficult, he just didn't understand it. Yeah, sure, maybe he was only fourteen, but still. Another long, drawn out sight and he began to trudge down the hall, scuffing his feet in the carpet as he let his thoughts take over. Skin as white as snow, yeah, sure. He snorted in frustration, trailing a hand along the wall. "Well, if I ever meet someone like that, I'll be sure to keep an eye on them," he muttered after a moment, trying to recall if he already knew anyone like that. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized he ever took time to notice anyone's specific skin tone. Only creepers like Francis and Antonio did that. He made a face at the thought, imagining his adopted father running up to people just to see exactly how tan they were. Weird.

Kiku was holding a massive stack of fresh towels as he followed his older brother down the twisting hallways of the Main Hetalia castle. There would be guests arriving tomorrow, and they had to have all the spare rooms prepared. The two nights from now would be the anniversary of the fall of the Old North Kingdom, and as usual at this time of year, all the high class royalty nationwide were invited to the castle to join the kings in the mourning rituals. Yao had told him a little over four years ago now the story of the North Kingdom's fall, and he hadn't forgotten it. So even if it was just this little bit, he felt that he should be honored to help in the preparations. Except that he wasn't.

How could he be, on this warm July day? It really wasn't fair that he was stuck inside folding and carrying towels willy-nilly around the castle while the sun was shining outside. But he supposed that he'd just have to suck it up. After all, he was a servant in training, or something like that.

A tap on a nearby window startled him so bad he nearly dropped al his towels as he smacked into Yao's back, the older having stopped to see what the commotion was. Who could possibly be tapping on the window? It was over five feet off the ground, after all. It couldn't possibly be-

"That young High Prince and his brother are going to get themselves in big trouble one of these days," Yao muttered, turning to take the stack of towels from his sibling. "Go and play with them, before they kill themselves in efforts to get your attention.

The younger brother bounded over to the window, unlatching it to push it open and peer down at the perpetrators. Alfred was balanced on Matthew's shoulders, the pair swaying dangerously, and Natalia stood some distance away firmly rooted to the ground as if she had no desire at all to participate in their shenanigans. "A-Alfred! Hurry up! You're heavy!" Matthew whined, "How many waffles did you eat today anyways?"

"Six, one for each year like usual, now hush," he turned back to the window, blue eyes gleaming with mischief, "Come on Kiku, let's go play." He held out his hands for the other, ignoring Matthew's groan of protest as Kiku obligingly took said hands and climbed out of the window, causing the twins to wobble a second before Matthew squeaked and they came crashing to the ground.

Alfred groaned after he'd gotten his breath back, deciding that he should be the one to hold up his twin next time, since he was stronger. But still, it was way more fun to be the one who got to knock on the window anyways. Rolling over onto his stomach, his eyes widened slightly as he noticed Kiku sitting next to him, head clutched between his hands and eyes watering. "Ah! Did you bump your head?" he asked, worry washing over him even as Kiku shook his head. "Don't lie, let me see."

Kiku sniffled and removed his hands from the sides of his head, watching out of the corners of his eyes as Matthew got sidetracked with his stuffed bear, which had gotten covered in dirt in the fall, "S'okay," he mumbled, flinching slightly as Alfred gingerly touched the growing bump on his scalp.

The blond frowned, sitting up on his knees and tangling his fingers into Kiku's hair briefly, leaning down to place a careful kiss on the swelling. "There, better now?" He laughed as Kiku blushed furiously and started to stutter out a reply, "Ha ha, come on, let's go throw rocks at the lake monster, kay?"

Ivan paced back and forth in the halls of the lower part of the castle, his feet eventually leading him down to one of the darker places in the underground storage rooms. He wasn't sure why he kept moving, only that it felt uncomfortable to stand still. It was almost as if he was unconsciously searching for something while lost deep in his thoughts. He shrugged the idea off, glancing around at the barrels of various still maturing alcohols. A little taste test here and there wouldn't hurt, now would it.

He crouched down next to the nearest barrel, reading the label with faint interest before popping the top off and dipping a finger inside. A small frown crossed his face at the taste. Not even close to being ready yet. Better find an older one. Grinning, he read the date on the next barrel, pleased to see that it was over ten years old already. Perfect. Prying the lid off, he dipped his whole hand in, licking the stuff off with a satisfied smirk. Francis really did know how to brew up a good wine, no doubt about it. He was just about to move on to a third barrel when the door to the storage area swung open, casting the room in the unexpected glow of candlelight. Startled, and not wanting to be caught for sneaking around in here again, Ivan darted behind the nearest pile of wooden barrels.

Footsteps echoed off the stone walls and floor as the intruder made their way down the stairs and around a few of the barrels. Ivan didn't dare risk peering out of his hiding place even as the person began to fill up a bottle from one of the barrels. "Ah, what's this ~ aru? Who left one of the barrels open?"

Ivan didn't know whether to flinch at his stupid mistake, or to sigh with relief that it was only Yao. He stood up, dusting off his pants as he did so, "Sorry, didn't know it was you," he smiled.

Yao frowned, "You know you're not supposed to be down here ~ aru. You're still underage."

"And you're still stubborn," Ivan drawled, stepping a bit closer. He reached out and grabbed Yao's arm as the other tried to instinctively backpedal. "Just listen to me, please," he begged, eyebrows furrowing together. "Not everything has to have that fairytale ending, Yao. You said I was 'Destined for greater things,' but so what! Who says that I have to play by the rules of destiny? That's ridiculous! I want to make my own destiny, thank you very much."

"Ivan, don't-"

"I'm an inch taller than you are now," Ivan interrupted, "So isn't it time you stopped playing my caretaker, and started playing something else?" He leaned in close, his mouth only a hair's breadth from Yao's ear, "Don't tell me that you don't love me."

"You're cruel ~ aru," Yao whispered. "What am I supposed to tell you then? That you're the most important person in my life? Because it seems you already knew that, didn't you ~ aru." He bit his lip, frustrated tears welling in his eyes, "A servant and a prince hardly go together, Ivan."

"And neither do peanut butter and jelly," Ivan smiled, "but guess what, they work pretty well together, don't you think?" He kissed the side of Yao's neck, pressing him up against the wall, "So, what harm will it do if you humor me, Yao?"
"It'll harm my dignity," Yao huffed, sucking in a shaky breath as Ivan moved a bit to catch his lips. The older teen tangled his fingers into the back of Ivan's ornate nobility shirt, drawing back a bit, "Ivan, please-"

"Too late to change my mind," Ivan warned softly, kissing him again and pressing their bodies together.

Yao hissed between his teeth, trying to back up only to have his shoulders scrape against the bricks at his back, "Stop, Ivan, you don't know what you're-"

"Shush, I know exactly what I'm doing," Ivan murmured near his ear. "Stop treating me like a little kid, Yao." He traced one hand down the other's chest, slipping it beneath the hem of Yao's pants.

"Ivan!"

"Don't treat me like a child, Yao!" Ivan snapped, "Because you're hardly one either anymore, are you?" He smirked as Yao gasped, face growing red as Ivan took him in his hand, "This part of you doesn't lie, Yao," he smiled, kissing him again as he ran his thumb over the head, pushing the other's pants down a bit farther.

Yao groaned, unconsciously jerking up into his grasp, "Ivan-" He jerked away from the kiss, pressing his face into the taller teen's shoulder with a moan as Ivan only gripped him tighter, moving his fingers along his length.

"Just go ahead and come, Yao," Ivan urged, "You know you want to." He smirked as Yao gasped again, bucking up into his hand with a strangled noise of pleasure.

The older teen shook his head, biting his lip and digging his nails into Ivan's back as he couldn't help but comply, spilling out hot seed into Ivan's waiting hand, hips still jerking. "You're . . . So mean ~ aru," he whispered hoarsely, blushing furiously as he realized what he'd done.

Curious, Ivan licked some of the stuff off of his palm, "You clearly enjoyed it," he remarked smoothly, watching as Yao narrowed his eyes in response. "Tell me you love me, Yao. And none of your lies this time, da?"

Yao snorted, pulling up his pants to their proper place and striding past him, grabbing the bottle he'd come down here to fill as he went. He was at the top of the stairs before he turned, a defiant smirk on his face, "Wo ai ni, Ivan, you jerk."

Ivan smiled, "Let's do this again sometime."

^-^ ^-^ ^-^

Gilbert paused to wipe the sweat from his brow, gripping the hilt of his sword tight in his other hand. "Don't stop now," he urged as Roderich stalled on the opposite side of the room, "I'm not tired yet, aristocrat."

Roderich rolled his eyes, "You should be. We have to head out towards Main Hetalia tomorrow, you should get some rest, Gilbert."

"And that's exactly why I'm not resting," Gilbert huffed indignantly, "I need to get more practice in."

"And what exactly are you planning to do with all of it?" Roderich asked, taking up a defensive stance again as Gilbert gripped his blade with both hands once more.

"You never know," the albino smirked in reply, darting towards him. His blows were easily parried off by the much more experienced Roderich, and his sword nearly flung from his grasp by an unexpected swing from below. He ducked, twisting out of the way and around the other's back before Roderich had time to breathe, pressing the tip of his blade against his spine. "My win," he smiled.

"Then that makes us ninety-three to one," Roderich deadpanned. "So now that you've moved up a step, can we please get some rest now? I'll be asleep on my horse tomorrow at this rate."

"And wouldn't that be hysterical," Gilbert remarked. He was promptly hit upside the head by a reprimanding hand.

"And you'll be even worse for wear then he will be," Elizaveta scolded, "Now off to bed, the both of you."

Gilbert groaned, but shuffled away, hanging up his sword on the rack near the door as he went, and almost colliding with the person standing just outside the room. "Jesus Ludwig! What are you doing up so late?"

The young blond scuffed his feet against the wooden floor, staring at the wall, "Why are you working so hard at your lessons all of a sudden, brother?"

The question put Gilbert slightly off balance, "Well, that's . . ." He hesitated, unsure of what to say exactly, and he rested a hand on his sibling's head reassuringly. "There's . . . Someone that I want to protect, West. Do you understand?" Ludwig nodded, "Good boy. Now come on, we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, ja?"

RANDOM AUTHOR RAMBLE

Hmm . . . Dun know what to say this time except that there was a shit ton of foreshadowing all over the place. And that's about it. Been super busy as of late, overloaded myself with work AGAIN. And speaking of work I have overloaded myself with, it is self-promotion time. If you are a fan of France/England (Francis/Arthur), or America/Japan (Alfred/Kiku) then please take a look at my new joint fic with Myriad Lapse called One Day Too Late. It's on our joint account What The FrUk.

Here's the summary, if you're interested.

Arthur Kirkland has dreamed of falling in love his whole life, of becoming one of the princes in the old stories he used to read, brave and courageous enough to rescue the princess from evil. But deep down, he knows he's the one that needs saving, from his weak heart that is slowly killing him. And he starts to give up hope until he runs into a mysterious man who just may offer the key to his salvation, if only he were willing to give it. And while Arthur tries to convince his possible savior to save his life, another shadow stalks them, searching for the same sort of cure for an entirely different problem. What is the price for immortality? Keep out of the full-moon light.

And finally, I have an age list for anyone who cares. Because even I'm getting their current ages mixed up in this fic. In most Hetalia stuff it doesn't matter, but in AU's where they actually age, yes it does. So here are their ages in THIS chapter. A new one will be added after we get back to present times like in chapter one.

Age List

Francis - 32

Arthur - 30

Antonio -34

Yao -17

Ivan - 14

Gilbert - 15

Elizaveta - 33

Roderich - 33

Vash - 32

Liech - 27

Ludwig - 8

Feliciano and Lovino - 7

Natalia - 7

Kiku - 7

Alfred and Matthew - 6