I always imagined that Germany would be connected to both Italies, to Romano as well as Feliciano, in his bewildered, awkward but considerate kinda manner. I think that if either of the Italies was hurt, in pain or trouble, Germany would step in and do his best to help, as he always has. What started out as a comfort fic went to, well, this. Maybe I'll write the other rough version another time. Enjoy!
Romano had died.
Germany stood in front of the gravestone he had come to silently frequent, staring intently and empty at the name Vargas, and the Italian script etched into its stony surface. Behind, a kind, welcoming angel with wings gently folded and arms spread, watched over with sad, blank eyes.
It had been an accident. Some rogue WMD experiment, a debt being repaid, some said, a tragedy of war. No one had meant to eradicate him in this way, to hit the South so completely. The world had been horrified. Spain was devastated. But not like Feliciano.
Feliciano grieved loud and passionately for months, and all nations looked away humbly from the sight of the damage of his loss. He was constantly inconsolable, rapidly losing all the joy and vibrance he possessed from his grief. While the world shied away out of politeness and the war raged on, Germany remained. He was always wish he never had, because watching Feliciano stop singing and dancing and drawing and laughing, even smiling, broke something inside of him. He had to bear witness to Feliciano falling apart, in agony from this separation, that half of his body and spirit felt dead. He spent endless nights learning how to cook pasta so he could hopelessly give this offering to help the pain, and offering all the kinds of ridiculous and silly things that Italy had once asked of him in hopes of at least a look that wasn't completely despairing.
The pasta had been ignored, the offers declined. He had once pleaded with Italy for a hug. His hopes of a smile became ambitious; his hopes of a laugh became themselves laughable.
Like a human, Feliciano became increasingly depressed and isolated. Germany had never seen something so gradually appalling in his many years of war – something he was still in the middle of, by the way. Germany became doubly strained with his worries of Feliciano and the multiple fronts he was fighting, now with significantly less troops at hand. Like many times in his life Germany was stuck between a rock and a hard place, working furiously under intense pressure. If he let up on Feliciano, inevitably they would both suffer, and if he didn't put all effort he could physically manage into the war, there would be even greater consequences. But they were both of utmost importance.
Feliciano began avoiding him, and while Germany tailed after and switched between being gentle and being firm to stop him from wandering astray, he was eventually called away and had to leave him to whatever he was up to on his own. The stress of his concerns were now proving immense.
Then one day Feliciano turned up to training. He had pants on, his uniform was on correctly. While even with the circumstances were making this already very concerning, his level of focus and vigour was utterly alien. Germany even came to the point of protesting and suggesting (then demanding) Feliciano ought to go home, but he was ignored. His brows knitted tight because of an impending migraine and wearing a worried, stoic frown, Germany finally relented.
Feliciano continued to wear pants and his uniform and be on time to everything, his war effort improving at rocketspeed. He was reliable and obedient, focused and motivated, intuitive and competent on the battle field. It was everything Germany had ever wanted right? All those times he spent berating Italy for being late, or snapping at him with embarrassment when he turned up naked from the waist down, imposing on the Italian how important it was that he got stronger. Italy had replied he didn't like fighting....and that Germany would protect him, right? He would gruffly stutter 'T-that is hardly the point, Italy!' And that was how it went.
Truth was Germany didn't like it. Didn't want it. He missed all of Italy's faults on the battlefield, his naivety and his joy and his passion. All the silly things he asked and even the way he invaded Germany's personal space. He missed his ramblings about pasta and everything he loved to cook and make. He missed the childish tears when he hurt himself and missed having to console him each night being it thunder, having to eat wurst for dinner or having berated him a little too harshly.
Germany supposed, as he watched Italy just not beingItaly, he had lost these things with Romano. This was Feliciano's grief. Or revenge? Maybe he was terrified he was going to die too, or even Germany was.
Because this newly battle-competent state in the middle of war, tokens had been placed at the grave like many of its kind all around the yard. A helmet on the top, and crosses on a string hanging wrapped on each horizontal branch of the little white crucifix. Tokens of love, tribute and remembrance, Germany knew; miserable ones.
The tragedy of the death of Vargas had caused a ripple across the entire world, one so great it had caused a terrible chain reaction to all his neighbours. The ripple lost strength in distance, but that had been enough.
Germany visited every week. But he knew it could not go on forever, he would be forced to continue with other matters. When would it become every month? Every year? Feliciano would be upset with him if he didn't attend, if he let Feliciano be here alone.
As Germany looked down at the adorned grave in front of him, his eyes crawled away from the words inscripted there and onto one of the hanging crosses swaying in the breeze. His jaw tightened in the same fashion of his brow and he gently leant down to balance it in his fingers. He carefully unwound it, placing the heavy Iron Cross in his palm, stroking his gloved thumb over the surface.
Ultimately, because of him, the war had claimed the Vargas brothers. While Italy had grown into a soldier, he had transformed into something unnatural of him. This full-out throwing himself into the war meant he got caught up in it, and the poor boy had been killed. Germany had promised to protect him, Germany had started the war and Germany had told him to be a better soldier. He might've well of put the gun to Feliciano's head himself.
He had killed Italy.
And the world never stopped to argue with his conclusion when he finally fell to his knees and surrendered.
When the funeral was being arranged among all the others, the man in charge of the cemetery had ridiculously offered to inscript 'Dolce decorum est pro patria mori' into the grave of this fine Italian soldier who had died valiantly in battle. Germany had almost struck him dead right there and then. He instead stiffly declined.
'It is sweet and right to die for the homeland'?
'It is glorious and honourable to die for one's country'?
It was the Roman Empire's tongue, it was Italy's grandfather's language, and it was a phrase that the world at war had lived by. His brother had, he had. But now Germany could agree with what Owenhad said. It truly was the old lie.
For a moment Ludwig felt overwhelmed, closing his eyes tightly when they began to burn with liquid fire, hot salt water collecting there. The pain of the burn, a physical hurt, was something he was well accustomed to. But it had its own terrible, alien unpleasantness that he felt deep in his flesh. He gripped his free hand in a fist, still holding Feliciano's gift from the Pact of Steel tenderly in an open palm.
The brothers had been buried together - everyone had seen to that. Romano's headstone was right beside that of Feliciano's, adorned too with tokens. Flowers, a Roman Catholic rosary. Even a clear, air-tight plastic bag with a tomato inside - put in there to preserve it from decay. At first Germany had thought it was some sort of joke but over a number of weeks of visits he came to know better.
It was growing dark. He had his people to return to, even though it ground his stomach with each stride he forced himself to take each week he had to leave. He considered he ought to put the cross back, but his arm remained unresponsive. He'd... rather keep it, for whatever nameless reason was welling up inside him. Deciding it didn't deserve a pocket to be forgotten about inside and it being too rude to wear it around his neck with his own, Ludwig curled his fingers around it carefully and cradled the cross in his hand.
For moment it was just he and the two graves alone in the growing dimness, the last remains of the descendants of Rome, evidence that the line of the Roman Empire had finally come to rest. Like the great Roman Empire's collapse, his only grandchildren had been stolen away in the harsh reality of war.
Ludwig gave the twin graves a final, grief-saturated glance.
"I'm so sorry, Feliciano."
With that, Ludwig turned on his heel and walked away from the twin gravestones, grip tightening on the cross in his hand with every step.
I hope you enjoyed, and feel free to review!